Ridiculous week on birthing in Kansas, birth control in Missouri
The Kansas City Star
We hereby object to the Kansas Board of Objections.
This three-member panel of statewide officials invited ridicule by entertaining a question of whether President Barack Obama’s name can appear on the November ballot because — here we go again — maybe he isn’t really an American citizen.
Never mind that Obama has produced his original birth certificate on television, and officials in Hawaii, his birthplace, have confirmed its authenticity.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer seemed keen to pursue an objection brought by Joe Montgomery of Manhattan, who claimed to be privy to “substantial evidence” that parts of Obama’s birth certificate have been forged or doctored.
Members seemed to feel slighted that Obama’s campaign didn’t dignify their dog-and-pony show by providing them with extensive documentation. Kobach told reporters he thought the “factual record” could be “supplemented.”
Montgomery backed off on Friday, saying he faced harassment and animosity.
That is unfortunate. The problem isn’t that a citizen brought forth a ridiculous objection, but that elected officials pursued it so strenuously.
Without an objection, the Board of Objections’ work is finished. Obama’s name will appear on the Kansas ballot. But Kobach, Schmidt and Colyer dragged the state back into laughingstock territory with their venture into birther territory.
Ridiculing birth control
Missouri lawmakers said they were standing up for religious freedom this week when they overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would allow employers and insurers to refuse to include birth control in women’s health insurance policies.
Actually, they were exercising their freedom to pass insulting, repetitive legislation that conflicts with federal policy, is certain to be challenged in court and raises the question of why, in 2012, the Missouri legislature is worrying about birth control.
The House passed the override without a single vote to spare, 109-45, after Republican leaders leaned heavily on GOP Rep. Chris Molendorp of Belton, who didn’t support the bill during the session. Molendorp caved and voted for the override, thereby engendering the wrath of women’s groups which opposed the legislation.
But there is plenty of blame to spread around. Seven Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the override and five didn’t vote. Among the absentees were two lawmakers from Kansas City, Michael Brown and Leonard Hughes IV.
Another week, another outrageous pronouncement by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin.
The GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate seat from Missouri said during a TV interview that Obama “apologized” to U.S. foreign enemies because “he didn’t like America.”
In a subsequent interview with St. Louis radio host Charlie Brennan, Akin gave a convoluted explanation for his allegation, saying that Obama had declared he wanted to change America, and why would you want to change something unless you didn’t like it. “He wants to fundamentally change who we are,” Akin told Brennan, who did a good job of challenging the congressman’s logic and intent.
Listening to the interview with Brennan, it becomes clear that Akin dwells in a universe where every move the president makes is taken as more proof of some sinister agenda Obama has set out to impose on America.
That a congressman actually subscribes to such nonsense is sinister in itself.
An artful bust
So much for philanthropy moving in to fill the vacuum left by government.
The Kansas Arts Foundation, an entity created after Gov. Sam Brownback shut down a commission that used state and federal funding to support the arts, has raised only $105,000. And $30,000 of that was a gift from the governor’s inaugural account.
In his first year in office, Brownback vetoed $700,000 for the Kansas Arts Commission, which went defunct. In the process the governor forfeited $1.2 million in federal matching funds.
From nearly $2 million to $105,000 is quite a letdown. And it raises a question: Where is the Koch family? Besides bankrolling think tanks and supporting conservative and libertarian causes, the billionaire brothers who run Wichita-based Koch Industries are well known arts patrons.
The Koch family does support Kansas arts through the Koch Cultural Trust, which draws money from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation to award grants to promising artists and programs. But surely they could lend a little help to the new foundation and to Brownback, whose dismantling of the state arts commission is increasingly looking like a bad idea.