Gov. Sam Brownback pledged to improve fourth-grade reading scores when he ran for office in 2010. He also pledged to reduce child poverty.
Now, he is aiming to do one at the expense of the other. Kansas officials are planning to use federal dollars intended for the cash assistance and employment program for the state’s poorest families to fund the reading program.
The reading program will cost $12 million — twice the amount the state spends on helping parents who are earning less than $5,000 a year find work.
These federal dollars should be used as intended, to help families meet their basic needs and find employment. That way, children would not be homeless, hungry or sick when they go to school.
Shifting dollars away from meeting basic needs is not the right policy choice for Kansas.
According to some of The Star’s opinion-page letter writers, it took President George W. Bush four days to get the Louisiana National Guard to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Never mind that the National Guard was controlled by the governor. The same governor, along with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, delayed making an evacuation decision, and hundreds of people died.
Bush is still ridiculed for telling Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown that he was doing a “heck” of a job. Bush said that because the governors of Mississippi and Alabama had just told Bush that Brown was doing a great job.
And, according to a letter, Bush came to work one day and said, “What the heck, let’s attack Iraq and use nonexistent weapons of mass destruction as justification.”
Never mind that in December 1998, President Bill Clinton attacked Iraq with cruise missiles in order to degrade Iraq’s WMD capability and because Iraq was ignoring U.N. resolutions.
Also, virtually every intelligence agency on the planet thought Iraq had WMDs and Saddam Hussein had twice used WMDs. The WMDs went somewhere. Syria perhaps.
Bush never said, “If you like your WMD, you can keep your WMD.”
Living like Mandela
I join others in mourning Nelson Mandela as well as the celebration of a life committed to the long walk to freedom and devoid of bitterness after 27 years as a political prisoner.
It is important to remember that the U.S. was the last country to take Mandela off its terrorist list, doing so in 2008, 18 years after his release from prison.
In my opinion, this country has no idea how racist we are and how “white privilege” along with white money still rule in the U.S. just as in apartheid South Africa. We are all masters of denial and self-deceit.
No wonder we support the Israeli government’s racism and continued violations of international law. No wonder we continue to practice targeted assassination so often, inflicting tragedy upon innocent civilians with our increasing use of drone attacks.
We praise Mandela with words, but our actions speak a louder and clearer story of violence and racism.
I pray that our country will make decisions based on our hopes for justice rather than upon our fears of terrorism and the loss of white power and white money.
Rev. Michael Poage
United Church of Christ
Military cuts ahead
As the next phase of the sequester cuts occur and the military is scheduled to lose billions of dollars, the military contractors’ lobbyists are beginning to cry foul.
As they see it, monies for other government programs — especially Social Security, Medicare and social services — are the reasons that they stand to be thwarted in their continued access to the congressional cash cow.
They make no mention of the fact that a sizable amount of the military budget goes to health care of soldiers and veterans. Do they propose that these services be cut?
They claim that they cannot compete with grassroots campaigns by the elderly seeking to maintain what is rightfully theirs. And it is only they who stand between the American people and the troubles throughout world.
And who are the “they” I speak of?
Corporations and companies that now can claim to be individuals demanding the same rights as you or I.
President Barack Obama’s half-uncle has been in our country illegally for more than two decades (12-4, A2, “Obama uncle can remain in U.S.”). He was ordered to leave but ignored it.
He said he had been a hard worker, paid income tax and had been arrested only once, so a federal judge granted him permission to stay even though the law says he should go back to wherever he came from.
Who would have thunk that? Had that been me, I would have been on a slow boat out of this country so fast it would have made my head swim.
It depends on who you know, apparently.
Richard W. Dahms
Country Club, Mo.
I look the other way when I see newspaper columnists and government officials tell corporate leaders to raise the salaries of their employees. It’s nice that people who have never held a real job or managed a successful business know how corporations should be run.
What we really need is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring all candidates for the presidency, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to have held a real job — or managed a successful business — in the private sector.
The time also may be right to extend the two-term limit from the presidency to the Congress.
Insulting jury pay
I recently served on a jury for Jackson County. The reimbursement and mileage received ($6 a day and 7 cents per mile) are an embarrassment and insult to those who serve in this capacity.
The court staff realizes this and encouraged us to contact our county legislators. I did this but received only one reply.
He said it was not under his control. I requested again the name(s) of those to contact to plead with them to increase these paltry amounts and have yet to receive any guidance as to whom to contact.
Anybody out there know whom to contact?
David J. Draper
GOP swan song
That rattling sound that you hear coming from the halls of the U.S. House of Representatives is the last gasp of the GOP-led tea party, which is now convulsing in the throes of historical insignificance.
Financed by the wealthiest 1 percent in this country and spouting all sorts of patriotic rhetoric, these jokers are nothing more than marionettes, dancing to the tune of birthers, bigots, racists, Fox News and, of course, the 1 percenters.
Pouting over the passage of the Affordable Care Act, this rabble keeps attempting to defund it. It will be their swan song.
Robert Stuber, M.D.
Dislike for Obama
It is apparent the presidency has been occupied over the past few decades by individuals who operated from the same script. They include presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton and Harry Truman.
Each one advocated a universal health-care plan in some form or shape. In the 21st century, President Barack Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress took a plan hatched by the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank and implemented by a Republican governor in Massachusetts and made it a national program.
The hysterical opposition from Republicans and the tea party can mean only one thing. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was acceptable when it was a Republican and conservative idea, but when a black Democratic president got the idea and implemented it, the law became the work of the devil.
So the problem for the Republicans and tea party is that the president is black.
Who would have thought that was still a problem in the 21st century?