Too bankrupt for space program
The U.S space shuttle program is over. One small step for Obama, one giant trash heap for America. We are too bankrupt for another space race.
I have followed our progress in space since 1957, when the Soviets launched Sputnik 1. I kept a scrapbook of our early launches. I went to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson this year to view some of our crowning achievements in space since. In 1969, I watched Neil Armstrong take the first step on the moon live. If you had asked me then, I would have said the USA would land men on Mars by 2011.
Instead, we have gone in reverse, to my chagrin. President Obama has done his best to kill our space program. Now China will surpass us, and we will have to pay other countries for space transport. What a terrible shame.
A few 'what ifs'
The other day in a rare moment, I had a chance to think about "what ifs." Here are a few that came to mind during my 15-minute break:
* What if the United States was not permitted to enter into any engagement or confrontation with another country unless the American people approved?
* What if members of the House of Representatives were limited to three two-year terms, and members of the Senate to a single six-year term? If they can't get done what they intended during that period of time, then there was probably no reason for being there.
* What if we had elected state senators, representatives and a governor who spent their energies supporting our schools and our social programs, rather than micromanaging health care services for women?
* What if, when disasters occurred around the world, U.S. citizens were asked if they wanted to donate to a disaster fund?
* What if those running for political office were not permitted to receive campaign donations from special-interest groups?
* What if every military plane, ship, rocket, bomb and gun purchased by the U.S. government could only be paid for in hard cash, not on credit?
Time to unite
OK, America — have you had enough? Do you realize that your federal government is in complete paralysis and has become incapable of making the hard decisions necessary to ensure the future for you and your children? The immature game of chicken being played by your elected officials — you did vote for them, right? —can and will lead to economic calamity and suffering. They have become so caught up in their narrow-minded fear of backlash from their extremist supporters that they have resorted to angrily pointing fingers at one another while our ship slowly sinks.
The majority of Americans don't have extremist views and simply want what is best for the country. The Republican Party has been taken hostage by a mysterious force called the tea party while the Democratic Party has given us a charismatic, trendy, inexperienced leader who has no idea how to lead. Both parties are responsible for the seemingly insurmountable $14 trillion debt. Accordingly, both parties should compromise and unite in an effort to reduce it. It's time for them to stop blustering like kids fighting on a school ground and start acting like leaders.
Audit the Fed
I got an e-mail from my congressman in which he bragged about his support for H.R. 2560, the "Cut, Cap and Balance Act." This act is a joke. I don't have a Ph.D. in economics, but I don't understand how we tackle the debt by increasing it by $2.4 trillion.
We have one party that is addicted to entitlements, and we have one party that is addicted to war. Who knows — maybe it's the same party.
The root of the problem is the "Federal" Reserve and the international bankers who run it. A bill to audit the Fed, H.R. 459/S. 202, which has been stuck in committee for months, has only two sponsors from Kansas, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, and Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler. Our other two congressmen, including mine, and our senators won't touch it with a 10-foot pole, yet they constantly bleat about the "out-of-control federal government."
I know it's hot out, folks, but I smell something funky.
Add bus service
Saturday bus service is to be continued ("Council keeps Saturday bus service, raises fares," July 20 Local & State) —a wise move. An even wiser move would have been to extend service to Sundays. A leap of faith to get more passengers would have been to extend daily service to midnight. Not everyone works weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most of my work career was shift work — evenings, nights, weekends and holidays. I rode the bus to work — that is, until it got to be too much of a hassle to get a ride home on the days I had to work late. So I took my car. Some of my co-workers commented on the "type of people who ride the bus." I said, "I am the type of person who rides the bus."
One of the first questions on a job application is: "Do you have reliable transportation? Many low-income people do not have cars or cannot afford gas in this economy.
How has the inadequate bus service contributed to local unemployment?
What percentage of jobs involve the hours after 6 p.m.?
PATRICIA L. HERRON
Now is the time to stop the insanity of the past July Fourth weekend from reoccurring. The Wichita City Council must have the gumption to pass an ordinance banning all fireworks, excluding professional displays. No more fireworks stands on every corner. Good causes would have to raise money the way other good causes do. This becomes necessary because of the people who refuse to obey the law. The national anthem's description of "the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air" was not intended to be simulated into a war zone in the name of celebration.
A new city ordinance will be met with opposition from obsessed fireworks lovers. It could end up on a ballot. If so, I believe such an ordinance would be upheld. All of us can be patriotic without being idiotic.
JOE E. WALKER
A Wichita Eagle editorial cited Kansas Democrats' anger over Attorney General Derek Schmidt's decision to hire outside counsel to defend the state (July 21 Opinion).
Kansans, including Democrats, are not angered with Schmidt — just left with more questions than answers. The contract for legal services includes the highest hourly rate ever paid by the attorney general's office, awarded without competitive bidding, to a politically connected firm. Furthermore, Deputy Attorney General Jeff Chanay, who signed off on the deal, has a history dating from the 1990s of taking advantage of no-bid contracts. These facts warrant scrutiny.
Schmidt has offered various responses, from his lack of a legal obligation to competitively bid this contract to time constraints that necessitated the no-bid process. Schmidt has attracted the charge of cronyism and at the very least is guilty of poor judgment.
Did Schmidt think the facts of this matter wouldn't cause concern? By failing to be transparent about this process from the start, the attorney general has left Kansans not angry but confused, worried and disappointed.
Kansas Democratic Party
I had my last visit with an old friend Friday. This friend has seen me through good days and bad, and we have drunk a lot of coffee together. There were lots of people there that night, but somehow it still seemed like just the two of us.
My friend was the west Wichita Borders store. Over the years, I have enjoyed endless hours in the cafe, haunting the stacks, and listening to a wide range of performers on weekends. Although I don't like to brag, I was the first person to make a purchase on the first day Borders opened — yes, it was coffee.
I will miss you, my old friend, and hope that we have not seen the last of your kind in the years to come. Requiescat in pace, Borders.
CLIFF RATNER Jr.