NSA data concerns
My concern is over the surveillance state we have become. My worst fears could be realized.
What can be digitally stored can be digitally altered. Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover as head of the FBI had all that illegally obtained data on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a digital format. He could have used said data in the court of public opinion to ruin the entire civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Who would have stood up in Dr. King’s place had Hoover done just that? This should be a very frightening question.
Lawmakers should be fighting to curb the National Security Agency spy programs. What if the case against Aaron Swartz is not what it appears to be because the NSA had the opportunity to edit the pertinent data?
What if the NSA decides it can no longer trust legislators? The agency has access to lawmakers’ campaign data. What if the NSA decides a lawmaker should not be re-elected? Could anyone stop the NSA?
Teens on the Plaza
Last weekend, the Country Club Plaza was filled with people of all ages at the Plaza Art Fair. After hours of viewing art, I headed to Barnes & Noble.
Outside the bookstore, a man was sitting on a plastic bucket asking for change. I stood near him reading my paper and talking with him.
Three male teens approached us, joined by a young man. The kids were white and black and dressed in T-shirts and shorts.
There was nothing particularly unusual about the teens other than their fast pace in approaching us. After weeks of reports of unruly teens on the Plaza, I was rattled and uneasy (9-16, A4, “Police use pepper spray on crowd near Plaza”).
Suddenly, the boys handed the man a bag. Inside were bottles of water and packages of food. The boys explained it would be hot, and they wanted to make sure the man was OK.
I asked them what was going on. They said they were preparing for a mission trip.
The man then asked the boys, “What is the one thing God does not do?”
The boys were intently listening, but nobody answered. The man answered: “Fail. God does not fail.”
One young man answered, “That is the truest thing I have heard today.”
Last week, I was driving to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for Friday’s Food Pantry. I listened to the radio and heard about Rep. Kevin Yoder’s vote on the farm bill. It was disheartening.
I wonder whether any congressional representative has gone to a food kitchen or pantry for low-income people other than for a photo opportunity.
Now, I realize this is 40th and Main, and not in your district. But I do know that more than 250 Shawnee Mission schoolchildren are classified as homeless. I know that our demographics are changing. It’s only going to get worse.
Yoder seems reasonable on KCUR-FM, but that’s really the only time I find him reasonable. If the president thinks something is a good idea, Yoder will take the opposite stance.
When Yoder was elected, I kept hearing, “Well, he used to work for Dennis Moore. He’s probably a moderate.”
How wrong those people were.
The middle class is shrinking, and taking away basic necessities like SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, exacerbates the problem. There is a great need in the community, perhaps not Leawood, but the surrounding areas for sure.
Gail Collins column
Gail Collins, in her Sept. 22 column, “GOP’s ridiculous attempts to repeal Obamacare,” writes, “Why do they behave as if, once the health care law begins to roll out, it will be cemented in place like an amendment to the Constitution?”
I would ask Ms. Collins to cite examples where a bad law has been repealed, replaced or modified to improve over the past 20 years. More often the outcome is that a bad law has regulations added that do not improve the situation — but add costs — funded by the U.S. taxpayers.
Ms. Collins’ commentary leaves one with the impression that she knows and understands all features/requirements of the law, which would be a remarkable accomplishment because the authors and staunch supporters of the legislation have publicly communicated that they don’t.
This legislation should be repealed in total, and Congress should start over, taking whatever time is required to craft legislation that meets the objectives in an efficient, cost-effective manner.
Cecil E. Knight
Nudity, public art
After Phillip Cosby finishes his campaign against statue nudity at the Overland Park Arboretum, I hope he addresses an even worse problem in northern Johnson County (9-17, A4, “New law brings new push for grand jury inquiry”).
On my daily walks I pass two statues of half-naked women. These are of the classical genre, much like those found in such dens of iniquity as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. They are on busy streets, in full view of passing children. I shudder to think of how many young minds have been irreparably warped over the years.
Yet these statues continue to stand brazenly on public land in those hotbeds of moral depravity, Johnson County’s own version of Sodom and Gomorrah — Fairway and Mission Hills.
Handgun at Capitol
A loaded handgun belonging to a legislative staff member was found inside a bathroom in the Missouri Capitol’s basement, a Capitol police report said (9-25, A4, “Loaded gun found in state Capitol”).
A Missouri law passed in 2011 allows elected officials and their employees to carry concealed firearms inside the Capitol if they have permits. The weapon was returned to legislative aide David Evans.
Tom Smith is the chief of staff for the legislative aide’s employer, Speaker Tim Jones, a Eureka Republican. Smith said the legislative aide was remorseful and “a responsible, law-abiding gun owner.” There apparently was no intentional irony in Smith’s statement.
If a person who leaves a loaded handgun in a public bathroom can be called “responsible,” then God save us from the rest.
As soon as the Washington Navy Yard shooting occurred, I knew letters would appear demanding more gun control and spewing hatred toward the National Rifle Association. To those letter writers, just a couple of reminders:
First, the shooter violated the law. Those who intend to violate the law aren’t going to suddenly become law-abiding because more laws are put in place.
Second, the NRA has never encouraged the illegal use of guns, nor does it encourage the offensive use of weapons.
If you must hate, hate the one who didn’t follow the policies and safety practices encouraged by the NRA.
Thanks to Royals
Thank you, Kansas City Royals, for the blast you provided our city and surrounding cities. Thank you for your effort and enthusiasm and camaraderie.
Thank you for your talent and your involvement in the city. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for showing each other and your coaches so much respect.
I don’t believe athletes and celebrities have to be role models. But, guess what? You have modeled superior behavior and characteristics.
You deserved to play on past this regular season and well into the playoffs. You are winners and fine young men.
I’m so proud of you. I’m so proud of the many KC fans who have stuck with this team through so many lean years. Fight on.
Green eggs, ham
It seems ironic for Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to include Dr. Seuss’ book, “Green Eggs and Ham,” in his filibuster (9-25, A2, “Cruz launches talk marathon”). Substitute the words “health-care reform” for “green eggs and ham,” and you define the Republicans’ position.
They oppose something they have not even tried. In the Dr. Seuss children’s book, it turns out that green eggs and ham are good.