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Opinion Line hits the two-decade mark

Hard to believe, but The Eagle’s Opinion Line marked its 20th birthday on Saturday. A few favorites from the archive of anonymous comments:

“The real question about Clinton’s upcoming trial in the Senate is whether he should be tried as an adult.”

“I hope no serious injuries were sustained by our local politicians patting themselves on the back at the BTK news conference.”

“When we finally get serious about locating Osama bin Laden, we will simply tell the AARP he is over 50.”

“You know the economy is in bad shape when you see a Jaguar sporting a Papa John’s pizza delivery sign.”

“Don’t believe in voter fraud? Just try to find someone who voted for Obama.”

“You have to love Opinion Line – Wichita’s community restroom wall.”

The case for rights, freedom

The Declaration of Independence expresses the will of a brave group of Americans who put their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the line to fight a monarchy that saw the oppression of its subjects as a divine right. On this Independence Day, spend a few minutes reflecting upon the words of our nation’s founders as they made their case for human rights and freedom.

Remember nation’s war dead

On Memorial Day, many of us pay homage to loved ones we’ve lost to injury, illness and time, decorating their graves with spring flowers and visiting them in our memories. But the holiday’s reason for being is our nation’s war dead, making the somber occasion a precious annual opportunity to reflect on their service and honor their sacrifice.

Send prayers, help to Oklahoma

The images and accounts of the tornado Monday in Moore, Okla., are terrible. Those wishing to donate money to the relief and rescue efforts can do so online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling 800-725-2769. Checks can be sent to Oklahoma Tornado Relief, Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157.

Delegation blasts State of the Union speech

Members of the Kansas congressional delegation were particularly critical and dismissive of President Obama’s State of the Union address. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said that Obama “delivered the same message of higher taxes and spending, more regulation of our lives and businesses, and refused to address the need for solvent Social Security and Medicare programs. It is no wonder our economy is shrinking and businesses not hiring.” Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., complained that “rather than at least a path toward fiscal responsibility, we got another campaign speech.” Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, said that Obama “just doesn’t get it. The government doesn’t drive the creation of successful manufacturing. All the government has to do is get out of the way and American businesses will take care of the rest.”

Yes, there really is a ‘best of Opinion Line’

Visit our website to read the “best” of Opinion Line for 2012. Among the favorites:
The GOP has become a “Father Knows Best” party in a “Modern Family” world.
Contrary to what Hollywood and the Democrats want you to believe, most of us don’t have a homosexual family member and Sofia Vergara would never marry a guy who looked like Ed O’Neill.
At this stage of my life, a zombie apocalypse would be a lot of fun.
Everyone should learn to play a ukulele.
Just when I’ve given up on the younger generation, I hear about alcohol enemas.
The reason more men are grocery shopping can be summed up in two words: yoga pants.

Reflect on words of founders

As is our Fourth of July tradition, we’ve published the Declaration of Independence on The Eagle Opinion page. Take a few minutes today to reflect upon the words of our nation’s founders as they made their case for human rights and freedom.

Few Kansans balk at buckling up

There was a time when many Kansans thought seat belts were for sissies. But a recent SurveyUSA poll, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, found 88 percent of Kansans surveyed claiming to use their seat belts all the time. Only 6 percent said they never buckle up, including 10 percent of men and 18- to 34-year-olds. As for the state’s wimpy $10 fine for not wearing a seat belt: 46 percent said it was too lenient, but 39 percent considered it about right.

More people who dislike Ike’s memorial

The proposed memorial to President Eisenhower in Washington, D.C., continues to draw criticism, especially for its statue of the 34th president as a boy and 80-foot metal “tapestries” depicting images from his Kansas childhood. Washington Post columnist George Will called the design “an exhibitionistic triumph of theory over function – more a monument to its creator, Frank Gehry, practitioner of architectural flamboyance, than to the most underrated president.” The Daily Beast’s David Frum added: “Go back to the drawing board. Shrink the monument’s footprint. Then hire a designer who has something to say about Eisenhower and his time.”

King’s legacy

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the first since a towering, powerful chiseled portrait of the civil rights icon took its proud place among the national memorials in Washington, D.C. Twenty-seven years in the fundraising and making, it is a historic and appropriate honor for the “black preacher with no official rank or title who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams,” as President Obama called King at the memorial’s October dedication. King’s likeness is now in stone in the nation’s capital, but his legacy can be best appreciated and tended in its neighborhoods, workplaces, classrooms, churches and lives.

Brownback still backing Perry

Gov. Sam Brownback is still hopeful about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (in photo) chances in the GOP presidential race, despite Perry’s fifth-place finish in Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses. “Perry’s getting his sea legs under him,” said Brownback, who campaigned for Perry in Iowa this week. “Things are stabilizing and moving up. The organization is coming in. And he can put together the resources.” Brownback compared Perry to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who finished fourth in the 2008 Iowa caucuses but eventually won the nomination. Comedy Central’s Indecision blog thought the comparison was appropriate, noting that McCain “fought through a difficult primary season, defied many experts’ expectations and lost decisively.”

Joy to the world, and to Wichita

Always a race to the finish for some shoppers, the Christmas season also has been a roller coaster this year. For the country, violence tempered joy over the end of the Iraq War as partisanship brought the federal government to the brink. The community has fretted about whether Boeing will leave town, as the Salvation Army and other charities have struggled to make their seasonal goals. Yet the spirit of this holy Christian day prevails, as families and friends come together to exchange gifts, share food, renew their hopes for the future and, most important, celebrate Jesus’ birth. Joy to the world, and to Wichita.

Romney bet was big but not a big deal

It was a bit odd during Saturday’s GOP presidential debate when Mitt Romney bet Texas Gov. Rick Perry $10,000 to prove a point. Why $10,000? Still, it is hardly the big deal that other candidates and pundits are making it out to be. During the debate, Perry repeated a claim he has made several times, including in a TV ad. He said that Romney wrote in his book that the Massachusetts health care plan should be a model for the nation, and that Romney removed that from the book when it was reprinted in paperback. Romney said that wasn’t true and bet Perry to prove it. The size of the wager has since been spun as an example of how the wealthy Romney is out of touch with average Americans. Are the debates and campaigns really that shallow? The more important question ought to be: Who was correct? A Washington Post fact-checker said that “Perry is making a phony claim.”

Brownback: GOP voters are ‘mad and scared’

Asked during his meeting Tuesday with The Eagle editorial board why Republican presidential primary voters seem so hungry for an alternative to Mitt Romney, Gov. Sam Brownback said “they are a combination of mad and scared” and advised against counting out his friend Texas Gov. Rick Perry. And is Brownback sorry he’s not in the fray this time, as he was in 2008? “I’m a happy camper. I’m delighted to be governor,” Brownback said, predicting the solutions to the nation’s problems will bubble up from the states.

More Kansans down on Brownback

Gov. Sam Brownback’s approval rating in Kansas took an 8 percentage point nosedive in September to 40 percent in the latest SurveyUSA poll, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12. That’s his lowest approval number — and the first time his disapproval (52 percent) has been higher than his approval — in monthly polling since he took office in January. Meanwhile, President Obama’s approval rating in the state stood at 37 percent, up 4 percentage points from August. Nationally, Obama’s job approval currently averages 42.5 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.

Lobbyists have close ties to supercommittee

Beyond the intransigence of members of Congress, here is another reason to be doubtful that the “supercommittee” will craft a fair and balanced deficit-reduction plan: According to a Washington Post analysis, “nearly 100 registered lobbyists used to work for members of the supercommittee, now representing defense companies, health care conglomerates, Wall Street banks and others with a vested interest in the panel’s outcome. . . . Three Democrats and three Republicans on the panel also employ former industry lobbyists on their staffs.” Watchdog groups also have complained that the members of the supercommittee are allowed to raise money while they work on the deal, creating more opportunity for lobbyists and special interests to influence the negotiations.

Castile inspired others

Wichita was shocked by the death Friday of Sue Castile at age 50. It was also diminished — because of Castile’s dedicated, caring leadership in the community since 2009 as executive director of Inter-Faith Ministries and, before that, as leader of Diversity Kansas for a decade. Her inspiring professional advocacy on behalf of the homeless and the poor, and for causes such as racial and ethnic understanding and equality, seemed to come from a pure and personal place. “The future of Kansas depends upon how we work together, how we see one another and how we lift up one another,” she once wrote in a letter to The Eagle. The best way to remember and honor her will be to keep doing all of that and more.

Happy Fourth of July

Amid the celebrating, take a few minutes to read the Declaration of Independence published on today’s Opinion page. Reflect upon the words of our nation’s founders as they made their case for human rights and freedom.

Constitution has its flaws

Especially among tea partiers, the Constitution is regarded as infallible. But its framers “were fully aware that the Constitution was a product of compromise and urgency,” said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. In Roll Call, Ryan Teague Beckwith enumerated a “few bugs” in the Constitution: There is no means of removing a severely ill or impaired Supreme Court justice who refuses to step down. Inflation has hugely expanded the Seventh Amendment right to jury trial. It empowers, but doesn’t require, Congress to change the size of the House of Representatives to reflect population growth. “The vice president could preside over his own impeachment hearing.” And “slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person when determining the size of Congress.”

Pause to remember

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. On this Memorial Day, we remember those thousands of servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home,” wrote Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on today’s Opinion page. “On this day, we remember that freedom is not free.”

Let the 2012 debates begin

Anyone wondering where the 2012 presidential race has been hiding will get an answer of sorts with the first GOP debate tonight in Greenville, S.C. But will the eventual nominee be there? The confirmed participants are former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (in photo), former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Hermain Cain and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Only Pawlenty is considered “even close to top-tier material,” noted Washington Post bloggers Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake, who also wrote that “the debate will be more defined more by who isn’t there than who is.”

Times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan sold out years ago. And according to his memoir, “Chronicles,” he had no interest in being an anti-establishment leader, even during the 1960s. Still, he is getting grief for his recent concert in China in which he agreed to let the government approve which songs he would sing. “He sang his censored set, took his pile of communist cash and left,” columnist Maureen Dowd wrote.

No shutdown of jokes

The possibility of a government shutdown is serious business, but it is also good fodder for humorist Andy Borowitz. His recent Twitter comments include:

My local post office has been rehearsing for a government shutdown for years.

Don’t worry: In the event of a shutdown, the government will still provide essential services to Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Terrifying: Michele Bachmann proposed shutting down all the parts of the government she doesn’t understand.

If Congress shuts down the government, we should hire replacement congressmen from Canada.

Congress will still be paid during a shutdown. That’s like eliminating the fire department and sending checks to the arsonists.

Navy was correct in removing captain

By relieving Capt. Owen Honors of his command of the Enterprise because of the raunchy videos he starred in, “the Navy moved quickly and decisively to get in front of a bad situation,” Jonathan Capehart wrote, agreeing with others’ conclusion that “there is no place for that type of frat-house behavior.”

What were the biggest issues of 2010?

questionmarkOur editorial on today’s Opinion page ranks the top 10 political issues of 2010. We tried to base the rankings on issues that generated the most public passion, not just big news stories, and we gave preference to local and state topics. Issues included the elections, the role of government, the sales-tax increase and the smoking ban. Did we miss any big talkers?