Monday, June 30, 2008

Is Thornburg Playing Politics with the November Ballot?

Is Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh playing politics with the November ballot?

Ballot Access News reports

The ballot-qualified Kansas Reform Party held its state convention back on May 31, and nominated candidates for office, including presidential electors pledged to Chuck Baldwin for president. On June 27, the party turned in the paperwork for these nominations.

The Kansas Secretary of State has hinted that he won’t allow the party to do this. He has not ruled definitively, however. Now that the party has finalized its choice, he will need to either honor the nominations, or explain precisely what provision of Kansas law purports to tell the party that it cannot nominate the presidential candidate of the Constitution Party. In 1980, the American Party of Kansas was allowed to nominate Frank Shelton for president, even though the national convention of the American Party had chosen Percy Greaves. Also, in 1968, the Conservative Party of Kansas was permitted to nominate George Wallace as its presidential candidate, even though the Conservative Party was not affiliated with George Wallace’s American (also called American Independent) Party.

I'm certainly no friend of the Reform or Constitution Parties and I think Chuck Baldwin is a creepy right-wing theocrat, but Thornburgh's actions seem very questionable. The Kansas Reform Party has been on the ballot ever since Ross Perot's first Presidential campaign. They have run numerous candidates for federal and state office. In the last two elections, they have filed candidates in a number of legislative districts where one of the major parties has failed to field a candidate. Moreover, in 2004, Thornburgh placed on the ballot a number of Presidential candidates for non-ballot qualified candidates. (They received, 4, 33,5 and 5 votes)

UPDATE SEPT 17 Ballot Access News reported on Sept 15
...Kansas held an administrative hearing to determine the presidential nominee of the Reform Party of Kansas. The committee holding the hearing consisted of the Secretary of State, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Attorney General. After taking testimony, the group voted to place Chuck Baldwin on the ballot as the presidential nominee of the Reform Party of Kansas. The state party had unambiguously desired this outcome, but a doubt had been raised because a national Reform Party convention had chosen Ted Weill.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Slattery Questions Roberts’ Role in Removal of Buy American Provisions

At a press conference in Wichita today Jim Slattery criticized incumbent senator Pat Roberts’ role in the removal of a precisely worded Buy American provision from the 2006 Defense Authorization Bill. The removal of the provision allowed EADS to compete with Boeing for the Air Force tanker contract.

“Roberts had two chances to fight for Boeing and Kansas,” Slattery said. “First as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and then as a member of the conference committee for the 2006 Defense Authorization bill. On both occasions, Roberts failed.”

The explicit purpose of the provision was to prevent EADS from competing against Boeing for the Air Force tanker contract.
“This is not just about Buy American provisions,” Slattery said. “This is about a narrowly written section of the bill aimed at preventing EADS from winning the Air Force tanker contract over Boeing, its American rival.”

In an article published in the Wichita Business Journal last week, a Roberts’ spokesperson claimed Buy American provisions were “protectionist” and “impractical.”

In response, Slattery said, “Roberts should have protected the 3,800 new jobs the contract would have brought to Wichita. What was truly impractical was Boeing being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars cleaning up a mess Roberts could have prevented in the first place. Roberts should have known that it was unfair to ask Boeing to compete with a company subsidized by European governments.”

Roberts’ office also argued that President Bush would have vetoed the defense bill had it contained the Buy American provisions.

“It’s time Roberts put the best interests of Kansas ahead of old party politics,” Slattery said. “Roberts had an obligation to do his job and stand up to President Bush on behalf of Boeing and Wichita.”

Slattery said Roberts should be fired for failing to protect Kansas jobs. “It is time to replace Roberts with a senator who will care about Kansans and champions the issues important to them,” Slattery said.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Steve Hatfiield/Wichita Creative Music Society

Tuesday night I dropped by B-side Gallery above Rewound Sounds (817 W. Douglass) to hear one of the summer concerts being put on by Wichita's Creative Musice Society.

Drummer Steve Hatfield led the group, played a bunch of tunes from his CD Just Being Wally, which I bought. It's a great CD. Post-fusion electric jazz. Electric guitar, keyboards and bass.

There are shows on Tuesday nights 8-10 for the rest of the summer. Well worth checking out.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kansas Federal Democratic Candidate Web Sites

US Senate
Jim Slattery KSDP Info page website

Lee Jones KSDP Info page Website
Candidate for US Senate
US Congress

James Bordonaro
Candidate for US House 1st District KSDP Info Page Website

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda
Candidate for US House 2nd District KSDP Info Page Website

Congressman Dennis Moore
Candidate for US House 3rd District KSDP Info Page Website

Senator Donald Betts
Candidate for US House 4th District KSDP Info Page Website

Updated: June 24, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why Won't Tiahrt Endorse McCain?

Via Daily Kos, the Washington D.C. insider newspaper The Hill reports that 14 GOP Senators or Representatives have declined to endorse John McCain for President. Among them is Wichita's Todd Tiahrt. (Another dozen won't comment.)

Doolittle’s and Tiahrt’s offices did not specify their disagreements with McCain, but both lawmakers were ardent opponents of McCain’s push for campaign finance reform six years ago

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kansas election outlook after the filings

Today noon was the filing deadline for Republican and Democratic primaries in Kansas.

Kansas Democrats are is an upbeat mood with a

full slate of candidates running this year for federal office and the State Board of Education and will also have more legislative candidates on the ballot than ever before.

In 2004, Kansas Democrats contested 62 Republican-held legislative seats. This year, the Kansas Democratic Party has candidates running in 134 seats, including 77 seats currently held by Republicans.
The Lawrence Journal World reports that 4 of 40 Senate seats and 44 of 125 House seats will be uncontested. They then quote Republican Secretary of State Ron Thornburg as saying, "I think it’s getting tougher and tougher to get people to run for office." But, neither Thornburg or the LJW provide any evidence. Are there more or less contested general election races this year than in 2006 or 2004? Seems like we ought to know before passing judgment that it is harder to get candidates. Maybe it's just harder to get Republicans.

Wichita area races here.

Lawrence area here

State Board of Education Races

The narrow 6-4 moderate margin on the State Board of Education is up for grabs again this year.

The Topeka Capital Journal has a run-down on the State Board of Education races here. Looks like there will be moderates vs. creationists battles in each of the 5 districts. At least two open evolution opponents--incumbent Kathy Martin and Alan Detrich have filed. There are two GOP candidates in two other districts, so there's a good chance of evolution battles there as well. In a surprise, creationist Steve Abrams isn't running for re-election, but is running for the State Senate. Iris Van Meter, a former creationist BOE member who didn't run for re-election in 2006 in order to spend more time with her family is running for another Senate seat.

Roberts--Intelligence Failure

Jon Stewart skewers Kansas Senator Pat Roberts over his failures as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Income inequality becoming a issue around the globe

From the Financial Times

Public opinion across Europe, Asia and the US is strikingly consistent in considering that the gap between rich and poor is too wide and that the wealthy should pay more taxes.

Income inequality has emerged as a highly contentious political issue in many countries as the latest wave of globalisation has created a "superclass" of rich people.

A United National Development Programme report in 2005 estimated that the world's richest 50 people were earning more than the 416m poorest. [emphasis added]

According to the latest FT/Harris poll, strong majorities in five European countries - ranging from 76 per cent in Spain to 87 per cent in Germany - consider that income inequality is too great. But 78 per cent of respondents in the US, traditionally seen as more tolerant of income inequality, also think the gap is too wide.

A flawed history of international communism

The best book reviews are those that steer you to a book you wouldn't have discovered on your own or warn you away from a book that won't live up to expectations.

Werner Cohn reviews Robert Service's Comrades: A History of International Communism and finds it slipshod despite the author's anti-Communist stance and academic standing.

First problem emerges in Service's comments on Paul Robeson.

Speaking of the famous African-American baritone Paul Robeson, Professor Service tells us (p. 278), without benefit of footnotes of any kind: "He never joined the Communist Party of the USA. (Not that this saved him from investigation by Joe McCarthy.)"


But what about the substance of the claim that Robeson never was a Party member? How does Professor Service know that this is so? True, Robeson always claimed, throughout his life, that he was not a member. But those who know about the American CP -- this is the main point -- also know that there always were secret members in addition to the open ones. Robeson's unfailing support of every twist of the Party line, including his support of the Stalin-Hitler pact, always led to the strong suspicion, among those who understood the Party, that he most probably was under Party discipline, i.e. that he was a member. If Professor Service has no such suspicion, I would say that he knows little about American communism.

Of course, in the case of Robeson, we can go beyond suspicion. We have evidence, from the very mouth of one of the horses, that he was a Party member: "My own most precious moments with Paul were when I met with him to accept his dues and renew his yearly membership in the CPUSA. I and other Communist leaders like Henry Winston, the Party's late, beloved national chair, met with Paul to brief him on politics and Party policies and to discuss his work and struggles." (Gus Hall, "Paul Robeson: An American Communist," published by CPUSA, 1988.)

A detail, but telling. And Service misses some very big issues.

But Professor Service's complete misunderstanding of the political alignments of the 1930's is more than a detail: "But undoubtedly it was the socialists in Europe and North America who bowed lowest in their admiration of Stalin." This goes with Professor Service's ignoring of the profound anti-Stalinism of the Weimar-era SPD in Germany, of the inter-war SFIO of France (think Leon Blum!), of the anti-Bolshevism of British Labour, of the anti-Communist struggles of the CCF in Canada and the Socialist Party of the US (think Norman Thomas!).

A reader looking for further reading about, say, the French or German Communist parties will find no help at all in Professor Service's sparse footnotes. Take the rich historiography on the French CP. It seems that Professor Service is completely innocent of any knowledge here. The important "Histoire" by Courteois and Lazar is not on the bibliography. There is no title by Annie Kriegel. There is no mention of Robrieux. And, as far as Professor Service is concerned, the German scholars who spent so many years studying the KPD (Ossip Flechtheim, Hermann Weber, etc.) might as well have saved their trouble.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Another poll shows Slattery in good position

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 6/2-4. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines). * denotes incumbent.

Roberts* (R) 50
Slattery (D) 38

Roberts is right at the 50% mark, teetering on the edge of the danger zone. Slattery trails by twelve points, an almost direct confirmation of an earlier Rasmussen poll which showed Roberts leading 52% to 40%.

I thought that Rasmussen poll was almost too good to be true, despite the twelve-point gap. Roberts is a two-term incumbent from a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since the New Deal.

Slattery, meanwhile, has been out of politics since 1994, when he was thrashed in his race for Governor of Kansas. He has only just officially filed for the race, and started campaigning and raising money only in mid-March.

For him to be so competitive with Roberts, so quickly, in such a red state, is truly remarkable.

Meanwhile, McCain leads Obama 51% to 40%.

Read the entire poll here

Runners against genocide

On Monday, eight teenagers from Wichita's East High school began a 1,300 mile relay run to Washington D.C. to raise awareness about genocide. Each teen will run half a marathon (13 miles) each and everyday.

The runners hope to raise $100,000 for the Genocide Intervention Network's civilian protection program. They've already raised $16,000.

They've got a facebook page here.

Report by a local TV station here or watch a video here.

Songs of Kansas

Norm Geras of the popular normblog has started an interesting series devoted to songs that mention states in their lyrics. The list for Kansas come up yesterday. I hadn't been able to think of a single song that mentioned Kansas.--and web-searching didn't help either. The Jayhawk state fared better than I thought we might. Songs written or performed by Bob Dylan, Tammy Wynette, and Woody Guthrie.

No where as cool as the songs about Texas, but not bad.

Anybody think of a cool one Norm missed?

Songs of Kansas

[The series and its rules are explained here.]

16a. 40 Hour Week: 'Hello Kansas wheat field farmer'. (1, 2.)

16b. Have You Heard The News? - 'Well, they took him to Kansas to the home of an uncle'. (1.)

16c. We're Not The Jet Set: 'And you won't find Onasis / In Mullinville, Kansas'. (1, 2, 3.)

16d. Ballad of Donald White: 'I left my home in Kansas / When I was very young'. (1.)

16e. Do Re Mi: 'Oh, you better go back to... Kansas'. (1. 2.)

UPDATE JULY 3 Norm has added a few more Kansas songs.

6f. The Beehive State: 'Since you're the delegate from Kansas'. (1, 2.)

16g. The Nebraska Song: 'Well I came up from Goodland, Kansas'. (1, 2.)

16h. I'm A Man: 'I'm goin back down / To Kansas.' (1, 2.)

16i. Long Vermont Roads: 'In Kansas and in Missouri'. (1, 2.)

16j. Rhode Island Is Famous For You: 'And Kansas gets bonanzas from the grain'. (1, 2, 3, 4.)