Kansas City Star. March 3, 2022.
Editorial: Under pressure from crazies, Kansas Governor Kelly’s administration pulls vaccine public service announcements
It’s a sad day in Kansas when Governor Laura Kelly’s administration doesn’t even dare to advocate for life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.
And as we now know, that day arrived last month.
That’s when, under pressure from the crazies in the Legislature, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment stopped airing most of its public service announcements encouraging vaccination.
We only know this because during a confirmation hearing Wednesday for Acting KDHE Secretary Janet Stanek, Republican Senator Mark Steffen asked Stanek how the department responded to his concerns that the department was promoting messages that – oh no! – described COVID vaccines as safe and effective.
“What have we done since we last saw you to correct this lack of a balanced approach to real and informed consent? he wanted to know.
Stanek replied, “One thing we’ve done is review the ads that have been shown by many of you and we’ve removed the TV ads.”
A spokesperson later said the pressure from those who would vote to confirm Stanek or not had nothing to do with the decision, but as one Democratic lawmaker put it: “Seriously, are we giving in to this? But I wondered how to get someone on this committee otherwise? »
It turns out that even caving won’t necessarily confirm it.
And even if it wasn’t, Kelly still would have been wrong to give in and give up. If even public service announcements are now “tyranny”, where does it stop?
And how can the Republicans continue to let the most extreme of them have their way again and again?
State Sen. Mike Thompson, who sits on the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, suggested during the previous hearing in January that any message about vaccines should include a disclaimer, just like cigarette packets, warning of all vaccine-related deaths. . “What I mean here is that the perception is that vaccines are safe and effective,” he said then. “Most people think these things are safe and in fact we know people get COVID. We know that people are actually dying from those shots.
Only they are not. The state was promoting COVID vaccines as safe and effective because they are safe and effective.
Of more than 553 million doses administered in the United States, the CDC had, as of February 22, confirmed a causal link between nine deaths and any COVID-19 vaccine. All of these were related to the J&J vaccine, and all resulted from serious blood clots known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS. Nearly one million people in the United States – 953,000 – have died from COVID-19. And just under 2,000 people still die from it every day in our country – 1,933 on March 1, with a seven-day average of 1,915.
But there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation and, unfortunately, outright misinformation about the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which compiles unconfirmed reports of any bad reactions after any vaccination. It does not distinguish between reactions that were and were not caused by vaccination.
An example that VAERS itself gives is that if an elderly nursing home patient died of an unrelated illness months after receiving a COVID vaccine, this would still be reported as a post-vaccination death.
The tally of COVID deaths, on the other hand, only counts those for whom COVID was the cause of death.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Stanek was asked how she felt about the COVID-related mandates and church closures, and what she would have done had she led the department earlier in the pandemic.
It is not clear that a majority of members of the public health committee believe in public health measures, or even in the concept of public health.
On Thursday, Thompson argued the committee should kill Stanek’s chances outright. “I just feel very uncomfortable and very unwilling to accept someone who blindly accepts CDC guidelines,” he said. Thompson again repeated a bunch of misinformation, including that vaccines were rushed and people are dying from them.
He said he had just received an email from someone whose 23-year-old son had died from the vaccine and that he knew someone who suffered a heart attack who died while waiting to be admitted to the hospital because she demanded that he be tested first. for COVID. (Note: Of course, Senator, give us the details, as we’d love to report international news.)
Oh, and the former meteorologist said the person Kansas really needs to hire instead of Stanek is someone like Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who claims it’s a “lie” that masks have saved lives, and any doctor who says otherwise is a “zombie.”
Ultimately, the committee decided to let the Senate as a whole vote on Stanek’s nomination, without making a recommendation one way or the other. It’s still unclear whether she’ll survive the upvote or downvote.
But it was always guaranteed that giving in to madness would only lead to more madness.
If Kelly really wants to lead Kansas for the next four years, maybe she should start now.
Topeka Capital-Journal. March 3, 2022.
Editorial: Randy Watson’s suspension for Native American comments was appropriate. The conversation needs to start now.
In February, the Kansas State Board of Education unanimously rejected the resignation of Commissioner Randy Watson, Kansas’ top education official.
Andrew Bahl and Rafael Garcia of the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that the board instead opted to suspend Watson for 30 days without pay as punishment for offensive remarks he made at a conference the previous week. on Native Americans.
“This particular incident was serious and needed to be addressed, but we didn’t feel it was career-ending,” said board chairman Jim Porter. “We believe in restorative justice. We think it is absolutely essential that we use this as a learning and teaching opportunity. And we are confident that we are better able to do so under his leadership. »
With that in mind, we think it was the right choice to make. We will hold board members to their word, however.
Native American residents are right to be irritated by the comments. Their history is too often ignored, distorted or undermined.
Watson has apologized and we believe Watson is sincere in his apology. We think the punishment is appropriate.
This story shouldn’t end with a 30-day suspension without pay. This conversation must continue.
We can start by listening to Native Americans. Many have already expressed their views.
The Capital-Journal reports that Rep. Stephanie Byers, D-Wichita and one of three Native American lawmakers, called on the state board to back up her statement. A good first step would be to have the Board of Education meet with the presidents of the four federally recognized Kansas tribes, she said.
“But if you substitute another racial group or ethnicity for Indians, should we still forget that?” she asked. “Because that’s how it is for Native Americans, when you fade away again and again.”
In a statement, Joseph “Zeke” Rupnick, president of the Prairie Band Pottawatomi Nation, said the council’s decision “sends a clear message to Indigenous peoples that comments like this are completely acceptable.”
Byers and Rupnick made many positive points about how not firing Watson could send a message that his comments were okay. This should be the start of a conversation, not the end.
It will be up to everyone, not just the board, Watson or elected officials, to ensure that growth comes from this difficult time. As Kansans, we must hold each other accountable and learn from Watson’s mistake.
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