Kansas, Politics

Schmidt said in a statement that the decision “could effectively and immediately shut off all funding for the judicial branch.” [emphasis mine] Kansas attorney general says judge’s ruling may jeopardize funding for courts, The Wichita Eagle

Please tell me there comes a point where we as citizens recognize how incredibly corrupt and undemocratic this posturing by Brownback’s administration is and demand better. I would genuinely like to see someone defend the principle they’ve decided to deploy to coerce the judiciary into compliance with their plans.

Hat tip to:

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Division of Democrat and Republican Party members over time.

Division of Democrat and Republican Party members over time.

This plot data comes from the study The Rise of Partisanship and Super-Cooperators in the U.S. House of Representatives by Clio Andris, David Lee, Marcus J. Hamilton, Mauro Martino, Christian E. Gunning, and John Armistead Selden. It’s easy to look at a plot like this and see just how little “working together” our Congress does now, compared to the past. It’s also easy to see that, and realize why we’ve become so dysfunctional. When leadership can’t work together, it’s like divorced parents who hate each other fighting over who gets primary custody of their kid, and their kid just wants to go live with grandma now.

In yesterday’s post, I shared a video of Jimmy Carter talking about the oligarchy in America. He made one extremely poignant comment which applies directly here. Because this model is not sustainable, and it will be part of what breaks the back of stable American democracy. While he was referring to stopping the corrupting influence of money in Congress, this same sentiment applies to the problems caused by extreme partisanship. He said:

“It’s going to take either a horrible, disgraceful series of acts in our country that will turn the public against it and maybe even the Congress and the Supreme Court.” Former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with Thom Hartmann on July 28, 2015

National, Politics

Congressional Partisanship Over Time, Visualized

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Kansas, Politics

We’ve written many times before on the strange and damaging policy decisions being made regarding education in the state. So, it was no surprise when the following two articles passed by in the course of a day. I’m trying to decide if we just feign surprise over this or prepare yet one more “I told you” rant. First, from KSHB:

According to data released by Kansas State Department of Education, at least 3,720 Kansas teachers have left the state, retired or taken jobs outside of education after this past school year, a huge jump from the 2,150 who did so just a couple of years ago. Over 3,700 teachers in Kansas have retired or left the state during the summer, KSHB

That was yesterday. Then first thing this morning we get this next piece from The Joplin Globe. It has some more viewpoints on the damage to teaching and education that Kansas is seeing. Again, none of this is surprising to anyone with common sense. And the worst part is it’s much easier to damage than it is to repair. It’s not just students today that will suffer, but the ones that enter school a decade from now. Even if we fix issues and correct policy, we now have a stigma that will take much longer to shake thanks to Brownback.

Pittsburg State University College of Education Dean Howard Smith said enrollment in teacher education, which has trended downward in the past few years, supports that.

“Based on informal data, it’s true. I talk to students when they’re coming in and when they’re graduating,” Smith said. “It appears to be due to a lot of variables: shrinking budgets, additional requirements, and they’re reading that stuff. The posts on Facebook — they see that.” Kansas sees shrinking pool of teachers; Missouri shows gains in out-of-state hires, The Joplin Globe

I think one of the most telling things is that at this time of the year, schools still have around 500 open teaching jobs at a time when there’d only be about 100. In an era where we talk so much about how hard it is to find jobs, especially ones in more specialized areas, it’s a scary bellwether when you see a trend like that where we can’t hardly beg teachers to fill the openings.

Here are plenty more articles:

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Current Events, Kansas, Politics

In an act of defiance of the recent same-sex marriage ruling, many Kansas counties are refusing to (or at least haven’t) issue marriage certificates still. This isn’t at all surprising, actually. It is, however, very sad. First, agree or disagree, the courts are beholden to the SCOTUS decision. There is a process in place if they disagree, but actively defying supremacy in the matter isn’t one of them (this absent a discussion of state nullification or if SCOTUS is guilty of overreach, which is something we could talk about, but doesn’t change what should happen short-term). While the argument over the matter continues, the courts are obligated to operate as instructed in the matter unless further change is made.

But the second issue is the most important: How exactly are we supposed to afford the cost of the lawsuits that will inevitably be filed that the state will absolutely lose? To prove… what? Exactly?

Marriage-Licenses-by-County-6-26-2015b

*NOTE: Chautauqua and Montgomery counties are now issuing marriage certificates as well.

http://eqks.org/meanwhile-in-kansas-the-struggle-continues/

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Politics

You know, it’s simultaneously humorous and very scary to me how people view me in discussions. When engaging conservatives, I’m apparently anti-religion (I’m not), or communist (I’m definitely not), or just extreme-liberal (I’m most definitely not). Yet when I hold my liberal friends to the same standard of discussion, I’m “hurting the cause” or “not a real Democrat” (okay, this one might be true) or a conservative in disguise. I work really hard to always hear both sides of discussions, and make sure people consider contrary viewpoints, because contrary doesn’t mean the same thing as “wrong.” Understanding where people are coming from when they disagree with us is a core building block of communication and problem solving. And while we may FEEL strongly about our opinions, it’s important to remember that they aren’t rendered into facts through that process.

People, I’m in the middle. I’m more middle of the road than about anyone I’ve ever met. Sorta like an Independent Libertarian, maybe. And I hold everyone to the same standard. When I see folks using hyperbole or false equivalencies to try and make points (badly), I point it out. When I see people being uncivil to each other, I try to be their conscience. And yet, from the middle of the road, you can see just how badly polluted the gutters are. You can’t disagree with someone without being “the enemy,” and you can’t be “the enemy” without being labeled the polar opposite, regardless of the accuracy of that label.

It’s very sad, in the end, because it’s a bad commentary on how polarized we’ve become, and how unable we are to just sit down and fucking talk to each other like human beings. And it’s a god damned shame. The problem is heavily connected to social media, where Facebook, Twitter, and company allow us to enter echo-chambers – isolating us from dissent, and reassuring us of our “rightness” on issues. The reality is, we’re just blocking out the challenges of critical thinking and problem solving by ignoring opposing viewpoints because we’ve grown lazy. We’ve gone so far backwards.

Lost in the Gray

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Brownback, Then and Now

Current Events, Kansas, Politics

Brownback, Then and Now

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Kansas, Politics

You know how everyone’s talking about this law Brownback signed that puts judiciary funding in jeopardy based on how they decide to rule? You know how pretty much everyone talking about it says it’s a bad idea (since, obviously, it is)?

Imagine for one second the name “Brownback” was replaced with “Obama” in that discussion. Could you imagine the pitchforks and torches conservatives would be marching into DC with? The ink wouldn’t even be dry on the paper.

So why is it okay for Brownback to do it here?

A Matter of Perspective

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