Our Common Good

Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to the list of Republican governors who are continuing to protest Obamacare by refusing to establish health insurance exchanges, in the process forcing the federal government to step in and create the exchanges itself. Starting in Oct. 2013, the exchanges will be the marketplace for individuals to obtain insurance if they do not have coverage through their employer, Medicare, or Medicaid. Beginning Jan. 2014, the new insurance plans will take effect, giving nearly every American citizen health care coverage.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that these Governors are essentially helping create the “public option” the Republicans in Congress fought so hard against.

As Politico points out, whether or not the health reform law is able to operate as it was intended — and expand coverage to about 30 million previously uninsured Americans — largely depends on the extent that governors agree to cooperate in their states. But some Republican governors have already made it clear that they don’t plan on playing nice during Obama’s second term

A Kansas man who filed an objection with the state to President Barack Obama appearing on the state’s ballot, is withdrawing his objection.

Joe Montgomery’s decision, which he communicated in an email to the secretary of state’s office Friday afternoon, ends a process that caused the all-Republican Kansas Objections Board to vote unanimously Thursday to seek further information before making a decision on whether Obama could be on the ballot.

Montgomery told The Huffington Post Friday afternoon that public reaction to the complaint led him to decide against continuing. He declined to say exactly what was said in the calls and emails he received, but indicated that people who knew him both personally and professionally were also contacted about the complaint.


The Kansas secretary of state’s office sent out a statement Friday saying that the state Objections Board will meet as scheduled Monday morning. The statement said the meeting, which starts at 10 a.m. CT, will consider Montgomery’s complaint and his decision to withdraw the objection. Kobach’s spokeswoman, Kay Curtis, told the Topeka Capitol-Journal that the withdrawal is "unprecedented" and the meeting would be held to accept it.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an informal advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said on Thursday he and his fellow members of a state board were considering removing President Barack Obama from the Kansas ballot this November.

Kobach is part of the State Objections Board along with Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, all Republicans. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that on Thursday the board agreed consider whether to take Obama off the ballot because they said they lacked sufficient evidence about his birth certificate.

“I don’t think it’s a frivolous objection,” Kobach said, according to the Capital-Journal. “I do think the factual record could be supplemented.”

The board is looking at a complaint filed by Joe Montgomery, of Manhattan, Kan., who claimed the Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen and so is ineligible to be president. The man appears to be part of a group of conspiracy theorists known as “birthers,” who deny Obama’s birth certificate is real.

“My family has been Republican since Lincoln – since the party started,” said Schodorf, who was defeated last month by Wichita City Council member Michael O’Donnell. “My parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents were all Republicans. But it’s changed. There’s no room for people who actually think in moderation.”

Schodorf has held the seat since 2001 and served 12 years on the Wichita school board. But O’Donnell had the backing of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and benefited from independent advertising by the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity.


Schodorf ran for Congress last year but was defeated by now-Rep. Mike Pompeo — who has been labeled as the congressman from Koch Industries due to all the support the billionaire industrialists provided him —  in the Republican primary.

Representative Pauls resides in Hutchinson, Kansas. Pauls’ stance on these “religious freedom” initiatives may garner her usual votes and favor from many of her constituents at large in this conservative Kansas community, but in this election cycle there is a question as to whether or not Pauls will earn a place on the general election ballot. This time around, Jan Pauls and her “religious freedom” have earned her a Democratic primary opponent, and that primary opponent is gay

Erich Bishop is a member of the Kansas Equality Coalition, a gay rights organization that has waged a full on political war against Pauls for her public statements, votes and actions against the gay community… .


Progressive Kansas Democrats have long been frustrated by conservative representation, but the general attitude from within the State Democratic Party has been quiet tolerance for those with conservative ideologies within their midst.  But, Jan Pauls’ public comments in the name of “religious freedom” finally pushed State Party Chair Joan Wagnon to speak out against this elected member of her own party at a State Party Democratic Convention in February of this year. 

 “In the last couple of weeks HB 2260 has gotten a lot of press attention and has caught people up in a controversial discussion about what it means.  It is about civil rights and it is targeted at members of the gay community.  It just seems to me to be wrong, in fact, it is repugnant and hateful.  We don’t support the passage of legislation that takes away human rights.  One of our legislators, Jan Pauls, has been outspoken on this issue and she has supported these issues.  Legislators are elected officials and we don’t all think the same.  Legislators are entitled to their particular opinion and their vote as they see fit from their values and their constituents, but I need to make it clear that what the KDP (Kansas Democratic Party) believes.  We believe in our platform and we do not support HB 2260.”  

This statement made by the Chair of the State Democratic Party, highlights the crossroads at which the party finds itself in terms of social issues and also potential for social issues to become pivotal points of decision for Democratic voters. Kansas is not known for contentious Democratic primaries. These kinds of inter-party conflicts have long been the mark of the Kansas Republican Party. While the Democratic Party is Kansas doesn’t hold enough power within the legislature for the primary of Jan Pauls to be considered pivotal in outcome, a win for Erich Bishop could hold a symbolic and emotional significance that could propel progressive Democrats to challenge conservative incumbents across the state. And word on the street is that Mr. Bishop stands a very good chance of beating Hutchinson’s standing Democratic incumbent.    

Only time will tell and in the meantime, you will find Jan Pauls living in her church and praying for a win in her August 7th Democratic primary election.

A witch hunt that began with former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is drawing closer to an eventual conclusion, as another 26 charges against a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park, Kansas have been dismissed by a district judge.

"The conservative element today is a far cry from what the conservative was when I was growing up," he says. "It’s angry. It’s hateful."  ~Republican State Senator Tim Owens

Moderate Republicans have come under attack in primaries across the country this year, but the split in the GOP is perhaps older and sharper in Kansas — and it comes to a head Tuesday.

"I think the lines have been drawn in the sand. Bridges have been burned. Everybody is all-in this election," says Jim Denning, one of the conservative candidates for the state’s senate.

The Republican statehouse primary is a savage fight fueled by money from the Koch brothers and labor unions, with big consequences for the citizens of Kansas.


(via Right Wing Revolts On GOP Moderates)


(via Right Wing Revolts On GOP Moderates)



Forcing women to get transvaginal ultrasounds: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonaldwanted to force every woman seeking an abortion to go through the extremely uncomfortable and medically unnecessary procedure of a transvaginal ultrasound — sticking a medical wand far into a woman’s vagina to get a clearer ultrasound image.

Ordering women to cremate and bury their miscarried fetus: A huge abortion omnibus bill in Michigan could force women who miscarry to cremate the miscarried fetuses. This comes at no small expense to the woman: cremation of a fetus costs hundreds of dollars, and interment can be additional thousands. The bill has been passed by the Michigan House, and is awaiting a vote by the Michigan Senate.

Requiring doctors to lie to female patients: In Kansas, Republicans tried to force doctors to tell women that they faced risk of cancer from having an abortion. That is patently untrue, and making doctors say that it was true would be, in effect, requiring them to lie to their patients.

Making a dying woman consult two doctors before she can get a life-saving abortion: The New Hampshire legislature just overrode a veto by the Governor, forcing through a law that bans “partial birth” abortions. The law only reinforces federal law, but has the additional requirement that any woman who is exempt from the abortion ban because her life is at risk must visit not one but two doctors before she can get the procedure to save her life. For many rural women, especially those facing life-threatening conditions, this is near impossible.

Mandating people pay extra to give medical device companies a tax break: Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) worked so hard to protect medical device companies from having to pay, that he has instead passed their costs onto the consumer — regular Americans — by increasing the cost of health coverage.



In a continuing effort to both curb access to abortion and reiterate their own opinion that there is never any situation where abortion could be necessary for a patient’s well-being, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts has decided in favor of revoking Dr. Ann Neuhaus’s medical license. Neuhaus, a colleague of Dr. George Tiller, assisted him by providing second opinions for mental health exceptions for late abortions.

According to the Associated Press, Neuhaus was hoping to have her full medical license restored after spending years only allowed to provide limited medical care for charity work. Instead, an ongoing investigation into 11 patient cases obtained by Operation Rescue became the center of a movement to have her license stripped all together.

The cases all involved girls who sought abortions due to mental health issues from depression to suicide, with an age range from 17 years old to as young as 10. The board alleged that Neuhaus’s exams were not thorough enough based on the available records provided, and that her follow up care was inadequate, as she did not recommend counseling or hospitalization afterwards.

Neuhaus called the accusations ridiculous. She said she refused to put too much identifying information in the records because she knew that they could eventually end up in the hands of outsiders and violate the patients’ privacy. As for abortions not being necessary, Neuhaus found that laughable as well.

“To even claim that isn’t medically necessary qualifies as gross incompetence,” said Neuhaus. “Someone’s 10 years old, and they were raped by their uncle and they understand that they’ve got a baby growing in their stomach and they don’t want that. You’re going to send this girl for a brain scan and some blood work and put her in a hospital?”

Sadly, the findings of the board were nearly inevitable. One of anti-choice Governor Sam Brownback’s most recent appointments to the board was Richard Macias, a former Operation Rescue attorney, showing the Governor’s obsession with getting anti-abortion activists key administrative spots for regulating the procedure. “I’m more concerned about the standard of care, particularly the aftercare,” Macias told the AP. “That’s the issue that bothers me the most.”

Standard of care is a pretty loose term for a group that believes that later abortions were being used as “birth control.” Offering their own expert witness during the board hearing, the witness claimed repeatedly that there is never any case in which providing an abortion could be seen as beneficial to a patient’s mental health.

On cross-examination by Neuhaus’ attorney, Robert Eye, questioned Dr. Gold about standard of care for mental health evaluations for late-term abortions. Gold replied that there is no such thing. She explained, “Late term abortion is not a treatment or intervention for any psychiatric condition.” That statement was initially stricken from the record at Mr. Eye’s request, but Dr. Gold continued to repeat her opinion on the record when asked.

When questioned about whether she had ever admitted a patient to the hospital for a late-term abortion Dr. Gold responded, “It would be inappropriate for a psychiatrist to admit a patient to a hospital for abortion services.” That comment was also stricken from the record.

When asked if an unwanted pregnancy put a teen at risk for developing psychiatric disorders, Gold was emphatic.

“Teen pregnancy is not a risk factor for psychiatric disorders,” she said.

Neuhaus will appeal the ruling. If she loses, she will not only have her license permanently revoked, but also nearly $100,000 in court costs.

Can you believe this?

Unfortunately I can believe it. Pro-lifers are fucking disgusting. 

Seriously, Kansas, if this guy wins, you will have to hang your head in shame for generations.

The local Tar Creek is the color of orange juice, and it smells like vinegar. This is because when the mining companies left, they shut off the pumps that kept abandoned shafts from filling with groundwater. Once water flooded the tunnels, it picked up all the trace minerals underground — iron, lead and zinc — and flushed them into rivers and streams. Fish and fowl fled or went belly-up. “The only thing polluted in Treece,” says Rex Buchanan, interim director at the Kansas Geological Survey, “is the earth, air and water.”

A local couple, Dennis and Ella Johnston, agreed to give me the pollution tour. In Dennis’s blue Chevy truck, we drove through downtown — a church, trailers, a one-room City Hall with a pair of its windows boarded up — and then went down a dirt road to a pool formed by a caved-in mine. “Local kids used to skinny-dip here all the time,” Dennis said, grinning and pointing at the glassy water. “We’d see kids with sunburns all over their bodies.” But it turns out the kids hadn’t been burned by the sun, he said; they had been chemically burned by all the acids in the water.

There are 112 sites like Treece on the E.P.A.’s National Priorities List, an inventory of the most environmentally devastated places in the country. They’re in varying states of restoration, but all of them were ruined by mining or extracting operations. 

And we are supposed to trust that without regulation, companies will still do the right thing.  Eventually.  After how many are ruined financially or get sick or die?

In Kansas, your local neighborhood drug store pharmacist can now refuse to fill your doctor-issued contraception prescription, or any drug he or she thinks might be used to terminate a pregnancy, or be used in conjunction with pregnancy termination, all on the grounds of “religious liberty” and “conscience protection.” Not only that, but anyone who ”reasonably believes” a drug prescription they are filling or “reasonably believes” an action they are taking — say, administering a drug — might result in the termination of a pregnancy is allowed to refuse under Republican Governor Sam Brownback‘s new law.

The so-called “Health Care Rights of Conscience Act,” which curiously exists in several states under the same name (perhaps an ALEC creation?), applies to pharmacists and even nurses and doctors — anyone who is related to the process of pregnancy termination. The drugs could include both abortion-inducing medications, and even emergency contraception like the so-called “morning-after pill,” but also could include drugs used for life-saving reasons — the pharmacist would only have to trust their gut, not the doctor’s orders.

The bill contains provisions to prohibit tax deductions for abortion insurance coverage and abortion services; to provide for a sales tax on abortion; to establish a personhood stance for when life begins; to limit late-term abortions; to prohibit state employees from performing abortions during the workday; and to mandate that doctors tell women that abortion cause breast cancer along with other state-approved health issues.

The bill also allows doctors to withhold medical information from a woman if it might lead her to have an abortion. It prevents medical professionals from facing a medical malpractice suit in the event that withholding the information adversely affects the health of the mother or child. A wrongful death suit could be filed in the event of the mother’s death.

They really do hate women.