On health care, divining the truth as we want it

This is how it goes with health care reform. Researchers lay out the data, and everybody retreats to their respective corners to repackage it. We could solve a good many problems if, instead of seeing data as a weapon, we used it as a tool.

Another infuriating for-profit college story

For-profit colleges get their federally backed tuition payments regardless of a students’ prospects. They seem oblivious to the misery they leave in their wake. Why Congress and state attorneys general don’t crack down further on these schools is a mystery to me.

A stunning rebuke to Missouri’s top prosecutors

Attorney General Chris Koster should have spoken out about a faulty process that put Mark Woodworth in prison for 18 years and shook public confidence in Missouri’s criminal justice system. Instead, he perpetuated the injustice. Now a judge has ordered Koster’s office off the case.

Kit Bond sees the light on Medicaid expansion

Former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond has evidently figured out that a lobbying contract on Medicaid expansion makes financial sense for him. Now he just has to sell GOP lawmakers on the reality that it makes good financial sense for Missouri.

‘Tis the season for pomp, politics and preaching

State of the State addresses don’t command the same interest as a KU basketball game or Justin Bieber’s perp walk. So for all of you who missed the big moments for Gov. Sam Brownback in Kansas and Gov. Jay Nixon in Missouri over the last two weeks, here are some comparisons.

A man of contradictions who touched many lives

Doug McNally could both quote Scripture and cuss up a storm. He was suspicious of institutions, like governments and religions, but he loved people. He had multiple degrees but he chose to spend his days with the downtrodden. His death Dec. 16 at age 67 shocked the people who knew and loved him.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s ‘American renaissance’ has a nice ring, but …

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State speech, leading into an election year, was long on rhetoric and short on news. Except for repeating his wish to finally get full-day kindergarten into all public schools, the governor announced no new initiatives. He basically summed up all the things he’s been saying the last three years.

Three cheers for the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.

Is anybody going to come out of this Chris Christie bridge closing scandal looking halfway good? I nominate Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. This man has been a profile of decency throughout the saga, quietly trying to get big problems solved.

Six takeaways from the CEE-Trust report on Kansas City Public Schools

The CEE-Trust proposal will prove intriguing for folks who believe in entrepreneurialism and experimenting in public education. It will generate a substantial backlash from people invested in the current system. To gain traction, the consultants will have to persuade a skeptical public that yet another radical experiment will finally give Kansas City a first-rate educational system.

Replacing a crisis with chaos won’t help Missouri children learn

The Missouri legislature is beset with agendas when it comes to educating children and doling out the money for that task. Many of those agendas involve damaging local school districts. The school transfer law will accelerate the destruction of the Kansas City Public Schools and create turmoil for other districts.

Troubleshooter to represent KC on state Board of Education

It took awhile, but Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has finally filled the crucial Kansas City seat on the state Board of Education. He made a good pick, too. John A. Martin earned a great deal of respect in his nine years as superintendent of the Grandview School District and as the interim superintendent of the Kansas City district in 2008.

Boeing always wins

As Boeing gets ready to ramp up production of its new airliner in Washington state, the message to other states can only be read one way. They were played. It has happened before, and it will happen again. But states will always dance to the puppet master’s tune.

Life seems much richer when ‘later’ becomes now

Last year around this time I wrote a column about resuming piano lessons after a layoff of, oh, about 40 years, during which time I repeatedly assured myself that I’d resume my interrupted youthful passion “later.” That seemed to, well, strike a chord. I started hearing from readers far and wide who had taken up old and new pursuits.

Missouri Republicans don’t appear enthusiastic as Gov. Jay Nixon champions health care for the poor

Such is Missouri’s political climate that a Republican legislator who chooses to be sensible and compassionate about health care for poor people must fear a challenge from the right. Still, if Gov. Jay Nixon has political aspirations beyond finishing his second term as governor, his credibility in Democratic circles can only be enhanced by continuing as a vocal champion of Medicaid expansion.

Quit tinkering with the Obamacare rollout

What’s not a good idea is announcing an exception or exemption to the health care law every time a senator or some such person complains. There are going to be unhappy constituents, winners and losers with a change this big.

No holiday cheer when payday loans comes due

The payday loan industry’s business plan is about grooming a clientele, whether folks need the service or not. That’s the true aim of the holiday solicitations. Want to give yourself a gift that will keep on giving? Just say no.

Lawsuit rattles the cages of online payday lenders

A consumer watchdog lawsuit filed this week against a California-based online loan collector should be causing some consternation in the Kansas City area, which has rapidly become a cradle for noxious businesses that make quick money by lending money over the Internet at exorbitant rates.

Missouri gets the job done, but is Boeing serious?

Well, that was efficient. In just one week, the Missouri General Assembly managed to pass an economic development bill — a feat that often eludes the legislature during its regular sessions. Does this herald a new era of cooperation in Jefferson City? Not a chance.

Would you like to share your DNA code today?

The notion of a genetic testing company selling one’s DNA code the way an online retailer sells email addresses feels decidedly creepy. But what if your doctor asks you to share your genetic information to advance the cause of treatments and cures?

Black Friday is a cringe-worthy spectacle

I have seen and heard a lot of excuses for the behavior of over-the-top Black Friday shoppers. Right. Got it. But I still say Black Friday (or Gray Friday, as some people are calling it, since some of the stores are opening on Thursday now) is an embarrassing spectacle.