The Topeka Capital-Journal, Jan. 8

Remember their names.

U.S. Sen Roger Marshall. U.S. Reps. Jake LaTurner, Ron Estes and Tracey Mann.

These four men’s decision to support a challenge to the Electoral College results fueled a fire that blazed into a full-blown coup attempt in our nation’s capital on Wednesday. They knew that Joe Biden would become president anyway. Yet they put political expediency ahead of common sense. They put their own ambition ahead of their country.

Our nation has now paid the price.

We must also take a moment to mention U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids. They are from different parties, yet both recognized the importance of upholding our system of government. They stood strong, and they deserve our thanks.

The immensity of what happened Wednesday can’t be understated. The Senate and House chambers were invaded by political extremists, insurrectionists who hoped to overturn our system of government and install President Trump in a second term — and perhaps beyond.

What’s more, that same president instigated their actions. He spurred them on. In the final, desperate days of his presidency, Donald Trump tried to annihilate the government of the country that once, four years ago, elected him to its highest office. History will judge him harshly, if he isn’t impeached or charged criminally first.

And after all of that, after witnessing the provocations and coup attempt, U.S. Sen Roger Marshall and U.S. Reps. Jake LaTurner, Ron Estes and Tracey Mann still decided to undermine the election. They still decided to back baseless allegations that Trump had won.

They should be ashamed.

Kansas has its own violent election history, of course. Back before the Civil War, our state featuring dueling pro-slavery and anti-slavery legislatures. The “Bleeding Kansas” years paved the way for the full-scale outbreak of violence between the North and South.

Surely our differences today are less dramatic than those we fought over then. Surely Republicans and Democrats recognize the process we have made in the 150-plus years since.

Yet we can see from last week that far too many Americans are willing and eager to take up arms against their own country, to indeed battle the members of their own government. But in such times, it’s the responsibility of our leaders to lower the temperature and to be honest and forthright with their constituents.

The four Kansas men who voted against certifying the election didn’t do that. When the moment arrived to do what was right, they flinched. Remember their names.


The Lawrence Journal-World, Jan. 9

Insurrections — no matter their size or success — create substantial “to-do” lists for governments in their wake. Here’s a partial list that the world’s most recently damaged democracy should address.

• Recognize that impeaching Donald Trump before his term ends on Jan 20 is unlikely, and the only way it could be accomplished may create more lasting harm than good. An overriding goal of both Democrats and principled Republicans should be to convince as many of Trump’s 74 million supporters to permanently abandon him and other politicians of similar character. That is the way to turn this national disgrace into an opportunity. If impeachment must be so hurried to convict the president before Jan. 20, the chances are high that the proceeding will appear to a sizable number of people to be a court that gives its defendant inadequate opportunity to present his defense. That perception will result in fewer of those 74 million people abandoning Trump-style governance than otherwise would.

• Don’t forever rule out an impeachment of Trump, even if it can’t be completed before Jan. 20. For example, if the president pardons himself, impeach. Take the time to do the process right, as the chance of a conviction would seem to be high. Large majorities of the country would see a self-pardon as one man placing himself above the law. Much has changed in America, but disdain for that principle has not. Law and order Republicans would seemingly have a hard time ignoring that fact in impeachment. The benefit of a post-term impeachment is twofold: 1. It would bar Trump from ever holding office again. 2. It would set precedent that Congress will act in the strongest terms possible against future presidents who attempt to place themselves above the law.

• Do protect the country from an unstable president in his final days in office. The 25th Amendment — not impeachment — is the correct way to do this. Democrats and principled Republicans should have regular conversations with the vice president and Cabinet members. The vice president has a very important role to fulfill in these final days of the term. As the only other nationally elected leader in the land — despite recent rhetoric, the president is not his boss — he needs to demand to be part of certain proceedings for no other reason than to keep an eye on the president and to take actions through the 25th Amendment in the event that he determines the president truly has become mentally unstable, as some prominent Republicans and former members of Trump’s inner circle have suggested. Remember, the vice president is elected by the people. A president cannot fire a vice president. That’s significant.

• Preach that character counts, and keep our fingers crossed. It doesn’t currently appear likely the president will be removed by the 25th Amendment. That will create a tense number of days for the country to survive before his term ends. It was sobering to hear that the speaker of the House and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed Trump and how he is able to access the nuclear codes. Democrats and principled Republicans should use this moment to remind America why character should be the No. 1 consideration when selecting a president. After all, there were any number of Republicans who could have replicated the accomplishments that Trump’s supporters have praised: conservative judges, tax cuts, tougher China policy and harder stances on immigration. Four years ago, Republicans simply should have dismissed Trump and found someone with far better character to accomplish their priorities. The fact that they didn’t leaves all of us to hold our breath for these remaining days of his term.

• Do some math. It was disturbing to read that a YouGov survey after the Capitol mob found 45% of Republicans backed the attack. Hopefully that is just another example of bad polling. But even if it is not, it is a significant opportunity. In the past, almost any action in support of Trump polled closer to 80% to 90% favorable with Republicans. At 45%, it is quite possible Trump has lost about half his base. Democrats and principled Republicans should work to cement those losses. Combine those numbers with the fact there were only eight Republican senators who voted to uphold any election objections, and the arithmetic is better than it has been in some time to actually get a few things done.

That would be good because there is quite a mess to clean up.


The Wichita Eagle, Jan. 8

When Kansas was worst in the nation for its rate of coronavirus testing, state health officials cited a lack of testing supplies, laboratory delays, and confusion at the local level.

When the state struggled to respond to a massive surge of unemployment claims during COVID-19 shutdowns, the state’s labor department faulted a decades-old computer system.

Now we’re among the lowest in the country for our vaccination rate, and officials again are pointing fingers and making excuses.

Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration knew vaccines were coming and had months to prepare a comprehensive roll-out plan.

But as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 36,500 Kansans had received a shot — less than 20% of the vaccinations distributed to the state.

That puts us ahead of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, but well behind Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska and most other states in our region.

Enough with the serial excuses. People are dying, and this administration has to do better.

On Thursday, Kelly released the final version of the state’s vaccination order, moving senior citizens into an earlier phase of the plan. It was a wise move based on CDC recommendations.

Now state and local leaders must ensure that vaccinations get where they’re needed — and quickly.

On Thursday, the U.S. recorded more than 4,000 deaths from COVID-19 — the highest number of deaths reported in a single day since the pandemic began. Experts say the toll It is likely to continue, following increased travel and gatherings over the holidays.

In Kansas, positive test rates, hospitalizations and the rate of new cases per capita are improving, but local ICUs continue to operate at capacity.

Particularly unsettling is a recent report that oxygen supplies are running low in some areas, and paramedics and hospitals are being warned to conserve it.

Unfortunately — though not surprisingly — Kansas lacks an online dashboard that would tell residents where the vaccine is, how many doses have been administered, and when they might be able to get their shot.

Other states or metropolitan areas already have detailed dashboards showing which clinics have the vaccine, or interactive tools that allow users to get updates and notifications about their vaccine phase.

Here in Kansas, we’re still fighting for information about coronavirus clusters and struggling to get clear, consistent COVID-19 death counts.

Nothing about the pandemic has been easy. But during the months spent watching, waiting and hoping for a vaccine, Kansas agencies should have been better prepared to mobilize and get doses out to the public.

Kelly and her staff, along with local health agencies across the state, must make vaccines their No. 1 priority.

When it comes to defeating coronavirus and ending the pandemic, it’s our only shot.