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Author Archives: Rhonda Holman
Nov. 9, 20136:00 a.m.
Neither Kansan in the U.S. Senate was among the 10 Republicans who helped pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Thursday. In the unlikely event that the landmark bill passes the currently GOP-led House and becomes law, it will add protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to those that bar workplace discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender, disability and age. It exempts religious institutions and the military, and was amended Wednesday to protect religious groups further. The Kansans’ “no” votes were not surprising, especially considering that Sen. Pat Roberts (left) has a GOP primary challenger next year. But it’s disappointing that neither Roberts nor Sen. Jerry Moran was willing to take a stand against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, recalling memories of their votes last December against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.
Nov. 7, 201312:48 p.m.
Even as some pointed to Ken Cuccinelli’s loss of the Virginia gubernatorial race as a signal that tea partiers should moderate their extremism, Leawood radiologist Milton Wolf (in photo) lashed out at “surrender Republicans” in a USA Today commentary and called for conservatives to push harder. “This fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party is not just about winning elections,” Wolf wrote. “It is about saving America.” Wolf, a cousin of President Obama, is challenging Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in the GOP primary next year.
Nov. 7, 20136:00 a.m.
Jean Schodorf, the Wichita Republican turned Democrat who is challenging Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is making her signature issue the 17,000-plus voter registrations “in suspense” because of the law requiring proof of citizenship to register – and no wonder. It’s appalling that so many would-be voters are being blocked by the new document requirement, and that Kobach is so unconcerned about the problem. But Schodorf has a less-than-clear message to convey about the law, which she voted for as a state senator. “My constituents wanted it. I don’t like the bill. I voted for my constituents,” she told Associated Press. Another bit of confusing nuance, as noted by AP’s John Hanna: “Schodorf said she’d support efforts by legislators to repeal the law, but she also said that she’d work to make its administration go more smoothly.”
Nov. 5, 201311:46 a.m.
Toppling three-term Sen. Pat Roberts (in photo), R-Kan., would be a long shot for anybody, let alone a little-known district attorney. Further complicating Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor’s decision of whether to run is that Kansas Democrats’ most recent victor in a U.S. Senate election was George McGill in 1932. But a recent SurveyUSA poll, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, indicated Roberts isn’t invincible, finding 54 percent disapprove of his job performance. And it’s healthy for the state for voters to have choices, and for someone who has served on Capitol Hill as long as Roberts (32 years) to have to defend his record and justify re-election. Taylor said Monday that he will conduct listening tours around the state before deciding on a 2014 Senate run. Roberts also faces a long-shot challenger from the right, Leawood radiologist Milton Wolf (a distant cousin and harsh critic of President Obama).
Nov. 3, 20136:01 a.m.
When asked about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, 63 percent of Kansans polled by SurveyUSA last week said they disapprove of the job she is doing now, while 53 percent said they approved of her performance as Kansas governor. In the poll, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12 in Wichita, 68 percent said Sebelius is somewhat responsible for the Affordable Care Act’s website woes and 41 percent said Sebelius should resign. Curiously, only 32 percent said they voted for her for governor, though she won her first term in 2002 with 53 percent of the vote and her second term with 58 percent.
Nov. 3, 20135:59 a.m.
“There was some good news today for embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Obamacare will cover all her injuries after the White House throws her under the bus. She is totally covered.” – Jay Leno (in photo)
“Sam Brownback of Kansas: one great governor reforming government to cost less” – Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, on Twitter
“We are at the end of the food chain, and things run downhill.” – Johnson County Manager Hannes Zacharias, on how state tax cuts harm county governments
Oct. 31, 201312:04 p.m.
Kansas just can’t shake the “Wizard of Oz” connection, which several members of Congress made during Wednesday’s House testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Madame Secretary, while you’re from Kansas, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Some might say that we are actually in the Wizard of Oz land, given the parallel universes we appear to be habitating,” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. After a couple of other strained allusions, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, suggested those not from Kansas shouldn’t do Oz allegories. But “those folks worked awfully hard to go down the yellow brick road,” Pompeo said. “At the end of the day when they got there and pulled back the curtain, they found there was nothing that they didn’t already have. And as we pull back the curtain on the Affordable Care Act, I think people are finding that it’s not exactly what they’re going to have worked so hard to find their way to as well.” Responding to Twitter grumbling from Kansans about the “Oz” mentions, NBC News associate producer Ali Weinberg tweeted: “Listen, Kansas – if NJ has to tolerate ‘oh, JOISEY’ all the time, you guys have to tolerate Wizard of Oz references from out-of-staters.”
Oct. 31, 20136:00 a.m.
During a Tuesday hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, the National Security Agency’s director, Gen. Keith Alexander, gave Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, a rave review for one of his TV appearances a few months ago, when the congressman stood out from some of his colleagues for defending NSA surveillance and its congressional oversight. “When everybody was slamming something, saying ‘I didn’t know about A,’ ‘I didn’t know about B,’” Alexander told Pompeo, “you stepped forward and said, ‘I did. We looked at it. We did this right,’ and even though it was unpopular to do…. You and other members of the committee have all stood up and done that, and I think that’s huge, and what our nation expects of our congressional members and us.”
Oct. 30, 201311:30 a.m.
The Veterans Affairs system is supposed to ensure that those who risk life and limb defending their fellow Americans do not face financial ruin once they return home. So it was heartbreaking to read in the Sunday Eagle about the foreclosure worries of 44-year-old Wellington homeowner Jerrod Hays, who was severely wounded serving in Iraq in 2007 with the Kansas National Guard and called the prospects of losing his home “worse than getting blown up.” The Eagle’s reporting brought an outpouring of concern and offers to help Hays and his family. And this week Hays learned that the VA had approved him for 100 percent disability status, which will boost his income, and that his mortgage lender is working with him on a solution. Hays’ story and its public reception confirm the willingness of people to step up to help make things right for our veterans. But what about all the others whose stories are going untold? The VA system needs to reliable for them, too.
Oct. 28, 20136:02 a.m.
Making her time in the political hot seat complete, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (in photo) got the “Saturday Night Live” treatment over the weekend. Cast member Kate McKinnon opened the show as the health and human services secretary, offering “friendly tips” to deal with the Obamacare website’s technical woes. “Have you tried restarting your computer?” she asked, also suggesting enrollees sign up in Icelandic or another language. “Sebelius” also endorsed the site’s “helpful” links (including to “doctor-themed pornographic websites”) and “frequently asked questions” page, including “How have I been on the same page for three hours?” and “Does Obamacare cover mental health issues caused by using this website?” Before being interrupted by her own ill-timed glitch, she said: “So enjoy your new health care system, America, and be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook. Oh, look at that. We’re already up to three ‘likes.’”
Oct. 28, 20136:00 a.m.
To his credit, Gov. Sam Brownback continues to press for visionary action on water, calling last week for administration officials and community and business leaders to come together on a 50-year plan by next November. Speaking at the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas in Manhattan, he singled out sustaining the Ogallala Aquifer and the state reservoirs as “top-of-the-barrel” challenges. “This is not to cast aspersions on anybody,” the governor said, according to the Salina Journal. “This is where we are. Work together and work it out. We have to solve a problem.” Solving that problem would make water planning rival tax cutting as Brownback’s legacy.
Oct. 27, 20136:03 a.m.
“A 25-year-old man in New York was arrested for trying to join al-Qaida. Here’s the amazing part: He said it was easier to join al-Qaida using their website than it was to sign up for Obamacare.” – Jay Leno
“President Obama is urging Americans who are having trouble with the Obamacare website to sign up for health care by calling a 1-800 number. The number is 1-800-we-didn’t-think-this-through.” – Conan O’Brien
“You can wait for them to get the site fixed or you can enroll in medical school, graduate and then just take care of yourself, which would probably be faster.” – Jimmy Kimmel