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In Other Words

"Justice in the life and conduct of the state is possible only if first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens."
Plato, 427 BC - 347 BC

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1882 - 1945

"The highest office in the land is that of citizen."
Harry Truman, 1884 - 1972

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."
Margaret Mead, 1901 - 1978

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. You will be changed, events will change you, but you have to decide not to be reduced."
Maya Angelou, 1928 - present

"If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time."
Noam Chomsky, 1928 - present


Welcome! From throughout our country, these engaging blogs are authored by ordinary citizens with things to say about social, economic, environmental, human, or political conditions in our nation or world. We hope you will sign in and add your comments, too.

September 15, 2014

Re. NAFTA

Posted by Ken Poland on September 15, 2014

Angelo, thank you for your observations on NAFTA.

The lobbying of Pres. Clinton for NAFTA was never one of his stellar accomplishments.

I'm an agricultural producer of corn and that agreement benefited me some. But the loss of domestic buying power of the factory and assembly workers in the U.S. cost us dearly.

Corporations started exporting unfinished products to Mexico, where non unionized workers assembled them at slave labor compensation and then imported those finished products back and sold them at the same prices they would have needed if produced totally in the U.S. This produced a double whammy on the working class and agricultural producers here at home.

This created disparity in the Mexican economy as well as the U.S. economy. Big business and their stockholders were the major beneficiaries of the NAFTA agreement. Small independent companies and consumers never benefited. Mom and Pop businesses and small farmers seldom benefit from, so called, open trade and unregulated economies.

September 14, 2014

NAFTA and Illegal Immigration

Posted by Angelo Lopez on September 14, 2014

I'd been doing a lot of research on illegal immigration and immigration reform these past few years and one question that I kept asking myself is: what is motivating these illegal immigrants to leave Mexico to the U.S.? One of the big reasons for the increase in illegal immigration in the past two decades has been the bad effect of NAFTA on Mexico's agricultural workers. Ever since NAFTA was enacted in the early 1990s, it has had both positive and negative effects on the Mexican economy. One of the negative effects has been with Mexico's poor farmers and agricultural workers. When Mexico signed the NAFTA agreement, Mexico agreed to get rid of its subsidies to agricultural products like corn. The United States, though, didn't have to take away its subsidies to its farming products. So many Mexican farmers couldn't compete with the lower prices of the American corn, wheat, soybeans and other products that flooded the Mexican market after NAFTA was passed, and a result was that 2 million agricultural jobs were lost in the 1990s and early 2000s. Before NAFTA, illegal immigration was actually in decline. After NAFTA, many of the agricultural workers who lost their jobs migrated to the United States to look for work. This is one of the reasons that illegal immigration grew in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Read More Here ...

September 13, 2014

If the Republicans Win The Senate, What Happens To Immigration Reform?

Posted by Angelo Lopez on September 13, 2014

Most experts predict that the Republicans will take the majority in the Senate. It's not something I want, but according to many articles, the political winds seem to be blowing against the Democrats. The Democrats still have a chance of winning enough seats to keep their majority in the Senate. The experts have been wrong before. But I think most Democrats like me have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If the Republicans win the Senate, I wonder what this will mean for immigration reform. So I have a few questions.

Read More Here ...

September 1, 2014

The Kansas Democratic Party Platform: An Exercise in Democracy

Posted by Diane Wahto on September 1, 2014

Reading a political party platform is probably considered by most people to be at the ho-hum level of watching paint dry. However, it is in the platform that people can discover what a political party values and what it stands for. .

I don't know how Republicans develop their platform. I do know, since I'm a Democrat and active in the Kansas Democratic Party, that the Kansas Democrats develop their platform with the input from a platform committee. This committee is made up of people holding elected office, Democratic Party officers, caucus chairs, county chairs, and district chairs. Democrats throughout the state have a say by letting members of the platform committee know about issues that need to be addressed.

Read More Here ...

August 31, 2014

The Freedom of Speech and Respecting Differences of Opinions

Posted by Angelo Lopez on August 31, 2014

One of the things that I think is bad about the political climate of today is a lack of respect for differences of opinion among the various sides. Especially with the Tea Party and many of its supporters, I've seen how they've voted out of office any Republican who deviate in any way from their conservative philosophy or who talk about compromise with Democrats about any issue. Personally I've gotten into conflicts with people who think all liberals are socialists and are un-American. I realize that people on the Left can be guilty of intolerance of different views as well. But today, it's the Right that has been most guilty of contributing to the intolerance of different views. This democratic republic that is the United States works best when differing views are debated and when there is a genuine respect for differences of opinions.

Read More Here ...

August 25, 2014

Liberal Democrats and a History of Bipartisanship

Posted by Angelo Lopez on August 25, 2014

One of the things that I dislike about the Tea Party is their punishing of any Republican who works with Democrats or who deviates in any way from their conservative philosophy. I don't understand how they could do this and complain about a lack of bipartisanship. I think this sort of obstructionism is bad for the political climate and plays a large part in the bitter partisan climate in our country today. Recently Congressman Eric Cantor was voted out of office by Tea Party members who were angry at Cantor's willingness to compromise on immigration reform. Senator Bill Bennett of Utah and Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana are two other examples of conservative Republicans who were defeated in Republican primaries by Tea Party voters who favored more partisan candidates. In a May 8, 2012 Huffington Post article by Michael McCauliff, the article describes the difference between Lugar and Richard Mourdock, the candidate who defeated Lugar in the Republican primaries:

Read More Here ...

August 18, 2014

Muriel Rukeyser and the Freedom To Speak Your Mind

Posted by Angelo Lopez on August 18, 2014

One of my heroes is Muriel Rukeyser. Muriel Rukeyser was a poet who was involved in many left wing causes from the 1930s to the 1970s. In spite of her championing of many left wing causes, Muriel was often criticized by leftists because Rukeyser was independent minded and wouldn't follow any party line. Muriel Rukeyser was leftist, but she wasn't doctrinaire, and her independence of thought is something I admire.

Muriel's son William Rukeyser would write about his mother in the book How Shall We Tell Each Other of the Poet:

My mother invented her own career and she invented her life. She broke a lot of rules and she paid the price. In the thirties she didn't fear to embrace the Communists- for what they believed, or at least what they said they believed. But she wasn't timid about rejecting Communist dogma or thought control. For her pains she was vilified by both sides in many battles because she wouldn't follow anybody's party line except her own

Read More Here ...

July 31, 2014

A Cartoon On Central American Refugee Children

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 31, 2014

These past few weeks, a national debate has been taking place over the great numbers of refugee children from Central America who have been crossing the border for the past few years. Over 50,000 children have traveled through dangerous terrain to escape gangs and escalating violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Honduras and find a safer place to live and pursue greater opportunities. There are justifiable worries about the strain that accepting these refugee children will put on our already strained social service programs, and many Americans feel that we should focus instead on our own struggling poor. If we deport these children back to their countries, though, are we putting these children at risk to being forced into gangs or put into risk of being killed? Many conservatives have framed this issue as being an immigration problem, but I agree with those who feel that this is really a refugee problem. I made a cartoon for the July 23, 2014 Philippines Today on the plight of the refugee children.

Read More Here ...

July 27, 2014

The Letter

Posted by Diane Wahto on July 27, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, the Wichita Eagle, my hometown newspaper, ran a front page story about David Koch and his philanthropy. Roy Wenzl, a fine Eagle reporter, wrote the story. From the content of the story, it appears that Wenzl went to New York City, where Koch lives with his wife, children and dogs in a Manhattan apartment building.

According to the long, front-page article, David Koch gives money to such institutions as a cancer center, an art museum, a ballet company, and other New York City based cultural and medical establishments. This giving is a good thing. Koch etches his name on each of the buildings housing these institutions. Among his motives, of which there are many, is his desire to help these cultural and medical establishments flourish so that others may benefit from them.

Read More Here ...

July 4, 2014

Loving This Country on the 4th of July

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 4, 2014

Another 4th of July has come upon us and I reflect on this country that I have lived all my life. My parents came to this country from the Philippines 60 years ago and they both deeply love this country. They instilled in me and my siblings a deep love of this democratic republic, a love of the history and the great reformers, and a reverence of the American ideals of freedom and equality. I'm a big fan of the sports, the arts, and the culture of this land: the music of Gershwin and Frank Sinatra and Brian Wilson; the athletic feats of Ken Stabler, Larry Bird, and Bo Jackson; the art of Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Schulz, and Jack Kirby. Though this country has its faults, it is a wonderful country.

Read More Here ...

June 24, 2014

Living in Kansas, a Beautiful State

Posted by Diane Wahto on June 24, 2014

This morning's Wichita Eagle carried an article that rated the states according to how much fun they were to vacation in. It's no surprise, I guess, that Kansas was near the bottom of the rankings. However, having grown up and then returning after being away for close to fifteen years, I know Kansas is beautiful in ways that aren't always obvious to those who don't look closely.

I grew up in the southeast corner of the state. Baxter Springs is a small town, named for its founder and for the springs that people went to. On the east side of town is the Spring River. People fish there below the small dam. The river also supplies hydroelectric power to the area. In the country just outside of Baxter Springs, someone thought to dam up the river and turn it into a crystal clear swimming hole. In the summer, everyone in Baxter Springs drove to Five Mile to escape the heat. If you were a teenager and you didn't go to Five Mile, you just weren't with it.

I live in Wichita, a city of many fine examples of architecture, both new and old. My husband walks around the city every day and takes pictures of sites that can be reached only by walkers. It's amazing what treasures are hidden just out of sight of people driving cars. Then there are the city parks, with great expanses of grass, tennis courts, baseball and football fields, and areas for walking.

My children and their families live in the northeast, so I often drive on the Kansas Turnpike to visit them. The rolling hills in that part of the state put the lie to the idea that Kansas is flat. At the crest of one of the hills, the eye takes in miles and miles of pastureland, trees, creeks, wildflowers, and the other natural sights that live in those hills.

I once traveled to Western Kansas on my way to Colorado. Yes, it is indeed flat out there, but it's also beautiful. As I was driving, off in the distance, I could see an elk standing in solitary grandeur, looking out over prairie. Rivers and streams cut through outcroppings of limestone. Fields of wheat, soybeans, domesticated sunflowers and corn are a testament to the importance of Kansas agriculture.

It's not a problem, I guess, that people don't want to visit Kansas for their vacations. I see the fewer people, the less congestion we have. And, after all, we do have Kansas City, a major U.S. city, and Lawrence, one of the greatest little cities in the world.

June 22, 2014

Wonderful blogs, Ken and Diane

Posted by Angelo Lopez on June 22, 2014

These are wonderful blogs, Ken and Diane. I have always been intimidated from writing poetry, so I appreciate you writing about the poetry process. These past couple of years, I've learned to appreciate poetry from reading the blogs of you and of Melissa Tuckey. And Ken, I agree with your insights on Iraq. I read the latest news in Iraq with some dread. I just recently returned from Washington D.C. While we were there, my wife and I visited Arlington, which was a sobering experience. I don't always agree with the wars this country gets in, but I admire the courage, sacrifice and patriotism of the men and women who serve in the military. It's important to make sure these soldiers are not put in harms way in a war we do not have to get involved in.

June 20, 2014

Who is to blame in Iraq now?

Posted by Ken Poland on June 20, 2014

Thomas Sowell’s contribution to the Salina Journal editorial page on Friday, June 20, is an example of poor memory and illogical thinking

“Wrong from the beginning” for the major headline and then “Obama has been wrong on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the world will suffer for it” in bold print.

President Bush defied his Dad, former President Bush, and others, who advised against entering a sovereign nation to overthrow its government. It is one thing to chase an invading army out of their neighboring country, but quite another thing to attack a country on their own turf to facilitate overthrowing its leadership.


President Bush declared mission accomplished as soon as Saddam was deposed and then we spent years trying to put a government in place. You can’t establish a government ‘of the people and for the people’ when the people aren’t willing to take on the responsibility of governing themselves, democratically.

Enough is enough. We can’t govern the whole world from Washington D.C.

Read More Here ...

June 19, 2014

How to Write a Poem in One Easy Step

Posted by Diane Wahto on June 19, 2014

Thanks to Angelo Lopez for suggesting I write this.

****************************************************************************************************************************

My writing critique group meeting comes along every month without fail, except for December when we all go out for a holiday lunch. Every month, I try to have a poem or two ready to take for the group’s perusal. The members of this group, all women, are all sharp-eyed, experienced writers who have good instincts when it comes to improving a piece of writing. This month, having gone through a long dry spell and having been involved with graduations and other family events, I didn’t have anything I could take. I did, however, have the germ of an idea.

I listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac every weekday on KMUW radio. I also get the transcript online. One day last week, Garrison announced that it was Soren Kierkegaard’s birthday and gave a summary of his philosophy. He mentioned Kierkegaard’s notion of “the leap of faith,” which says that a person finds faith in God only through taking that leap. Kierkegaard also believed that in order to have faith, one must also have doubts.

Read More Here ...

June 15, 2014

Ecumenism isn't dead!

Posted by Ken Poland on June 15, 2014

Pope Francis and many other Christian leaders have joined with other religious leaders, Christian or not, on social issues and economic equality.

With few exceptions, most all world religions profess to believe they are responsible to a higher power than themselves. True, we don't all address our petitions or worship the same higher power. Some acknowledge the God of the Orthodox Jews, some The Christ of the New Testament and others give their allegiance and honor to various and sundry other gods, idols, etc. And some have a mixed up muddle of pagan, Christian, and mythical faiths.

But we all have somethings in common, the welfare of mankind and this world, as we know it. Why can't we work together on those things instead of warring between ourselves over our differences? You may worship the Sun in the sky and I worship the Son of God. But, does that mean we can't work together on world issues for the benefit of all mankind?

There are radical extremists and bigots in all religions. Why must we let those extremists set the agenda for everyone?

Christian Parents Supporting Their LGBT Children

Posted by Angelo Lopez on June 15, 2014

In 2008 in California, many leaders of the Mormon, Catholic and Evangelical churches lobbied successfully for the passage of Proposition 8, a law that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman and would make same sex marriages illegal. Though several Catholics, Mormons and Evangelicals spoke out for LGBT rights and against the passage of Proposition 8, a majority of Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelicals in 2008 voted for Proposition 8. Six years later, in 2014, a huge change has taken place in the opinions of many Catholics, Mormons and Evangelicals about marriage equality and LGBT rights. Recent polls have found that 58% of American Catholics now support marriage equality and LGBT rights. Though 70% of older white Evangelicals are holding firm against LGBT rights, around 50% of younger Evangelicals now support same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. Around 32% of Utah's Mormons think same-sex couples should be allowed to get state-issued marriage licenses, and 65 percent say they should be permitted to form civil unions or domestic partnerships. One of the groups that are leading the charge in these denominations for changing attitudes on gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people have been the parents of LGBT Christians.

Read More Here ...

June 14, 2014

Pope Francis Speaks Out Against the Persecution of Christians

Posted by Angelo Lopez on June 14, 2014

For the past few years, there has been a wave of persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt, Christians are the target of Islamic extremists. In Nigeria, the terrorist group Boko Haram has been seeking to eradicate the Christian population of northern Nigeria. In communist North Korea, Christians are jailed for owning a Bible and 50,000 Christians are trapped in concentration camps. In India, Christians face discriminatory laws and have to fight persecution from Hindu extremists. In Israel, Jewish extremists have persecuted the Christian minority and put anti-Christian graffiti in Christian churches. One of the great Christian voices speaking out against this persecution is Pope Francis. As the head of the largest Christian denomination in the world, Pope Francis is in a unique position to speak to religious and government leaders about the growing persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. Pope Francis has reached out to his fellow Christians, to Muslims, to Jews, to Hindus and to all religious people of good will to collaborate in a united effort to stop the violent persecution of all religious minorities.

Read More Here ...

June 13, 2014

Japanese Americans Supporting the Muslim American Community

Posted by Angelo Lopez on June 13, 2014

Recently I've been seeing a rash of anti-Muslim posts and comments on the internet. Many people are angry and worried at the recent wave of Christian persecution in the Middle East at the hands of Islamic extremists, and these people make the mistake of equating all Muslims for the actions of its extremists. The persecution of Christians in the Middle East is deplorable, but it is wrong to think that all Muslims are to blame for this. Many Muslims have condemned the persecution of Christians in these lands, but this has made many of these more moderate Muslims the target of Islamic extremist threats and violence. Since September 11, 2001, the Muslim American community has been subject to prejudice and sometimes violence at the hands of misguided Americans. One American group though, has reached out to help the Muslim American community and to defend them from unwarranted prejudice. Many members of the Japanese American community, who were the victims of anti-Japanese prejudice during World War II, have reached out to the Muslim American community to share of their common experience of being targets of fear and hysteria.

Read More Here ...

June 12, 2014

Christians for LGBT Rights at Pride Parades

Posted by Angelo Lopez on June 12, 2014

This June is LGBT Pride Month. At this time, Pride Parades will take place in various cities in this country and across the world to show pride for LGBT people. One of the great things that has happened has been the growing number of Christians from all denominations who are supporting LGBT rights and have participated in the Pride Parades. These Christians are fighting for full equality for their LGBT friends and family members within their churches, so that LGBT Christians and LGBT individuals in general are treated with dignity and respect. Many of these Christians have been deeply involved in the fight for Marriage Equality and for laws to end discrimination in the workplace and in housing and medical care. Here are some youtube videos of Christians participating in Pride Parades.

Read More Here ...

May 23, 2014

Identity

Posted by Ken Poland on May 23, 2014

Both "Women's Lib" and "feminist" have somewhat negative identifications for me. Both of those terms have been used to justify attitudes and actions that I consider not becoming to the female species. That doesn't mean that women should not be liberated from being 2nd class and subservient to men.

I am all for women having freedom to be themselves without having to get prior approval from men. If they want to smoke, drink, cuss, spit like an inconsiderate male then it is only themselves they are demeaning. I don't consider females who imitate males in this way to be appealing nor ladylike. Neither do I consider men who do these things to be gentlemen. I don't think holding women to higher standards than men is proper, either. Nor the other way around.

Equal pay for equal work is fair and equitable. Some women can do manual labor as well as some men, but the difference in structure and anatomy is that men usually are stronger physically. I'd have paid a girl equal pay with the boys in hauling baled hay, if they threw as many bales. I'd have paid the girl more than the boy if she outworked him. Some girls are more mechanically inclined than boys. If so, then reward them for their abilities. There are few occupations anymore that require brute strength. If the girls can out think the boys or out pace them in whatever the task, they should be recognized and rewarded. If the boys show better aptitude at some of the jobs that used to be considered 'women's' work, then reward them for it. Neither 'Sissie' nor 'Tom Boy' were ever popular labels in our family.

I grew up in a family of 4 boys and 3 girls. There was never a gender connotation to what work either were to do. Mother or Dad determined who was best qualified for the job and you did it. Mother worked side by side with dad at what ever the job was, until one of the boys became bigger and stronger than Mom. She still helped, if needed. We all washed dishes and swept floors when asked to. We all worked in the field, did chores, etc. There were no job distinctions between men's work or women's work. Ability to do the job is all that mattered and we were encouraged to develop the ability for all jobs. We never got by with complaining that other kids didn't have to do those things. We were simply told, "You are not other, you are you."

Dad never gave birth to a baby or breast fed one, but that's about only thing I know of that was exclusively Mom's job. The only thing I know of that Mom never did that I saw Dad do, was wield the knife when neutering male animals. But, i'll bet she could have if it had been necessary.

Today's political flap about gender and orientation is simply a struggle for dominance and control.

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