Saturday, January 14, 2012


Kansas Republicans have an overwhelming edge over Democrats in the state's legislature.  Republicans have a 73.6% of the House and an 80% share in the Senate.  House Republicans outnumber their Democratic members 92 to 33.  In the Senate the ratio is 32 Republican senators to 8 Democratic senators. With the retirement of Dennis Moore and the loss of that seat Kansas Republicans have captured all four Congressional districts.
Our record in sending Democrats to the United States Senate is worse than our record in the House.   Kansas has only had three Democrats go to the Senate.  John Martin (1893 to 1895), William H. Thompson (1913 to 1919), and George McGill (1931 to 1939).  McGill was elected to fill the seat vacated by Charles Curtis when he became Herbert Hoover's Vice President. 
The good news is that all the bad governing going on in Topeka is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Kansas Republican Party.  Two items on the radar include Governor Sam Brownback's abdication of Kansas' responsibility to educate school children and (fronting for Wichita's Personhood Kansas Committee) Representative Randy Garber's Personhood Amendment.

Brownback has a simple plan for education.  Shift the burden to the school districts.  If you happen to live in a wealthy county you can expect, under the Brownback plan, to see you kids and grandkids go to really great schools, with well paid teachers, and tons of extracurricular activities.  If you aren't from such a county you can raise your property taxes, but you can't compete.  This means that Johnson County, the 43rd richest county in the nation, will have all the money it needs for schools.  The per capita income for Johnson County is $30,919 making it the richest county in Kansas.  Miami County, which is just south of Johnson County, comes in next at $21,408.  Not many folks around are here hankering to have their property taxes hiked up so they can compete with Johnson County for something that should be equal across the state for all of our children.  Wyandotte County sits to the north of Johnson County with a per capita income of $16,005 making it the 86th richest county in the state out of 105.
Wyandotte County is a microcosm of wealth disparity with its four school districts.  They are Turner USD 202, Piper USD 203, Bonner Springs USD 204, and  Kansas City USD 500.  Comparatively the Piper district is doing well because of all the investment and development in the Northwest Wyandotte County.  Piper has an enrollment of about 520 students.  The Turner District passed a bond measure to build a new school for its approximately 1,100  students.  The Turner area is a solid blue collar area.  Bonner Springs High School has about 780 students, the area is in Southwest Wyandotte County with a per capita income for the city of $19,730.  Note that roughly half of the Bonner Springs District comes from about 25% of Lake Quivira.  Lake Quivira is a wealthy suburb.  If you want to move there you not only get to pay for your house, but there is the onetime $20,000 initiation fee as well.  Then there is the Kansas City School District, with five High Schools.  The per capita income in Kansas City $15,737, roughly half of that enjoyed by their neighbors south of the Kansas River.

Brownback's plan runs afoul of Kansas law on wealth disparity and equal educational opportunity.  In Montoy v. Kansas the District Court for Shawnee County said "Accordingly, whether any Kansas child is of a minority race, or is a slow learner, or suffers a learning disability, or is rich or poor, or lives east or west, or any other consideration that child is “our child” and our constitution guarantees that child an equal educational opportunity consistent with his or her natural abilities. Differential funding, always suspect, must always be justified by a rational explanation (basis), which will usually be related to varying costs incurred in providing essentially equal educational opportunities. This test seems to be adequate for all purposes relevant to the current controversy." (Emphasis added).
Kansas law is clear, there must be "essentially equal funding is to guarantee an equal educational opportunity for every child."  Brownback's plan panders to the wealth of Johnson County and turns the equity analysis by the courts on its head.

Democrats will best serve Kansas by proposing a Constitutional Amendment that provides for the equal funding of students.  Then it will be settled that each Kansas child whether from a minority race, or a slow learner, or suffering from a learning disability, or  rich or poor, or living in the east or west, or no matter whatever consideration will be entitled to an essentially equal education and the financial resources assuring that education will be allocated fairly.
Gametes, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are phases of human reproductive development.  These gametes, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses may or may not result in a live birth.  Sabetha Freshman Republican Representative Randy Garber is fronting for a group called The Personhood Kansas Committee.  Garber and The Personhood Kansas Committee think they have a way to fix their religious ideas into the Kansas Constitution so as to not only outlaw abortion, but also to rid our society of birth control.  I think these people are nuts, probably well meaning, but misguided, and they definitely have not thought through their scheme.

Much has been said about who or what a person is in this election cycle. Mitt Romney told us that corporations are persons too.  It used to be that the corporation was just a legal fiction, but not was a person under the law.  That changed when the Fourteenth Amendment passed.  A former Congressman, Roscoe Conklin, representing a railroad company successfully argued that the intent of the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment was to make corporations persons under the law.  Now corporations enjoy the legal rights formerly belonging to the living human person with which we are all familiar.
Now comes Representative Garber and he wants to make the gamete, the zygote, the embryo, and the fetus persons.  Can you imagine what a couple of liberal Democrats could do with that?  Why they could start a bank of frozen embryos, which would have to be included in the decennial census count, and could swell the population of Kansas by hundreds of thousands of persons.  Then, eighteen years later, they could register those persons as voters, and by absentee ballot vote, exercising the right as next friend, for all of those thousand and thousands of frozen persons.   That is unless the courts determined that keeping those frozen persons frozen constituted a form of slavery and violates the Thirteenth Amendment.  Or sanity could prevail and Garber's Gambit could die a quiet death in the State Legislature. 

And what would the 1% do with Garber's Gambit?  They would wreck havoc on the law of property by making a mockery of the rule against perpetuities.  The 1% wants to control wealth by controlling property.  The rule against perpetuities was written to curtail that greed.  A future interest must vest within the lifetime of any of one of several named persons, plus 21 years, if it is to vest at all.  So if the Koch brothers wanted to give a future interest in valuable real estate, it would have to vest within the lives of (here you insert the names of about a dozen really well know babies) plus 21 years.  If the life in being is the frozen embryo, the 1% will keep amassing and retaining their property until they own everything.

Where Garber and the anti-abortion go afoul is equating soul with person.  Gone, apparently, are the days when God was coming to judge the "quick and the dead". Garber has us arriving to a new Creed where God will come to judge the "conceived and the dead".  And having saved these gametes, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses from abortion, how does Garber plan to baptize them, especially the frozen ones? 

Garber and the anti-abortion crowd forget that Jesus said you have to be born twice to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Of course, if you have to be born twice you first have to be born once.  That is the starting line, it needs to stay the starting line.
Abortion is an awful choice and I seriously know of no woman who has undertaken that decision frivolously.  That woman, and her physician, and her trusted family and friends, and they alone must make that choice.  Forty years later the anti-abortion crowd just can't accept that they don't make the rules for everyone else, they don't get to establish their view of religion and make it the law of the land. 
We should all know how birth control works.  Planned Parenthood answers this question.  They say, at 
It's pretty common for people to be confused about how birth control pills work. Here’s what it boils down to: birth control pills are made of hormones. Hormones are chemicals made in our bodies. They control how different parts of our bodies work.

Some birth control pills contain two hormones — estrogen and progestin. These are called combination pills. Some are progestin-only pills. Most women on the pill take combination pills.

The hormones in the pill work by keeping a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs — ovulation. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm. The hormones in the pill also prevent pregnancy by thickening a woman’s cervical mucus. The mucus blocks sperm and keeps it from joining with an egg. 

The hormones also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
That last sentence is the big bugaboo if Garber's Gambit prevails.  If the fertilized egg is a person and the birth control pill creates the risk of preventing the person from attaching to its mothers uterus, then the birth control pill has to be illegal. 
There is nothing at all that makes sense by Garber's Gambit.  

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