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Published 02/04/2010 - 11:01 p.m. CDT

Opinion by Daniel Starling

“Inconsistencies of opinion arising from changes of circumstances are often justifiable. But there is one sort of inconsistency that is culpable: it is the inconsistency between a man’s conviction and a man’s vote, between his conscience and his conduct. No man shall ever charge me with an inconsistency of that kind.”

--United States Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts during debate on the 1850 Clay Compromise as quoted in “Profiles in Courage” by Sen. from Mass., John F. Kennedy.

As I sat and watched President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union speech, it struck me again how ironic America can be. Just days after the election of a Republican to complete the term of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, the last liberal lion of the Senate, and defenders of our broken American health care system jumped for joy.

Published 01/15/2010 - 7:29 a.m. CDT

Opinion by Daniel Starling

Having once been a reporter covering the machinations of City Hall in Kansas City, Mo., I know it can be pretty exciting. Back then it was a corrupt City Council, with a new councilmember being hauled off to jail every week. We used to joke in the newsroom that they should construct a tunnel underneath the park between City Hall and the Federal Courthouse to make it easier on everyone.

It seems that Mayor Mark Funkhouser is intent on writing his own history as one of the most controversial least liked and least effective mayors ever to hold office.

But as much as writers like myself love to watch a train wreck or a pile up at the Kansas Speedway—the Ballad of Mark “Funky” Funkhouser and his entourage of one—must have an end; resignation.

Published 12/31/2009 - 9:35 p.m. CDT

American Flag in Candles days after 9/11/01, Union Square, New York City. (Photo: Daniel Starling)

Opinion by Daniel Starling

I’ve read quite a few descriptions of the last decade being passed around the media. Paul Krugman from the New York Times’ called it the “Big Zero”. In the United Kingdom they are calling it the “naughties” and some are simply calling it the “zeroes”. After a little thought, I decided to label the last ten years as the “Aught to Have” decade.

It seems to this writer that there were many things we “aught to have done”. Our leaders and their allies have spent most of the last decade explaining away and correcting missteps made out of ineptitude, hubris, miscalculations, lies, malfeasance, incompetence, greed, ignorance and corruption.

I too, feel guilty of not having participated in this sort of mass delusion. I “aught to have” listened to those who spoke so eloquently of hope, positive energy and the influence it has on us. That universal belief that someday, someway, I will wake up from the drudgery and banality of my day to day, to find my problems having magically disappeared. If I’d only had “faith” and “believed” in the essential goodness of humanity, i.e. God, everything would be provided for me.

Call me a cynic. But that sounds like the same load of crap teenage suicide bombers are sold before they slaughter innocent people for whatever insane religious/political cause they barely understand.

I will take blame for my part in this mess we have created. There are some many “aught to haves” from the last decade that I believe there is plenty enough blame to go around. As they say, it’s hard to shovel crap without getting it all over yourself!

Published 06/12/2009 - 8:40 a.m. CDT

By Daniel Starling

Well, last week I wrote that I was ashamed to be from Kansas because of what happened to Dr. Tiller, only to become red-faced again at what appears to have been brewing for some time in Downtown Kansas City Missouri around the Power and Light District. DJ Jazzy Jeff walks off stage and uses the news media to trash Kansas City and the flashy new entertainment district for being racist.

Now the Border Wars might have been 150 years or so ago but they haven’t been forgotten and I would be remiss if I didn’t admonish my fellow Missourians for their apparent reluctance to move into the 20th Century and to abandon arcane segregationist policies—policies that a country with a Half White Kansan/Half Black African President in the 21st Century could be proud of.

Published 05/14/2009 - 11:02 p.m. CDT

Opinion by Daniel Starling

The recent developments regarding images of torture of detainees from our eight-year-old war on terror exposes an essential flaw in our approach to fighting Islamic fundamentalism.

By allowing our soldiers and intelligence agencies to use extraordinary techniques to coerce information from prisoners of war, we have tarnished America’s legacy of fairness and justice around the world.

President Obama’s reversal on plans to release thousands of images of detainees being tortured—described in the New York Times as “being worse than Abu Gharib”, is a signal that the brutality reported not only happened but was a pattern of torture, directed from the highest levels of the Bush Administration.

Published 04/09/2009 - 11:00 p.m. CDT

Former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez

Opinion by Daniel Starling

New York--Early in 2002, I would often walk down Broadway in New York City, late on warm nights, when I began noticing a strange sight in front of the Federal Building in Lower Manhattan. Lines of people lined up down the block at 4 a.m. Thousands of immigrants from every corner of the world stood in silence with worried looks on their faces. This public shaming was repeated around the country for months as the fear of the “other” consumed the Bush administration after 9/11.

President Bush and Congress would force all non-citizens—mostly immigrants from Islamic countries--to reregister their legal status with the government or face deportation. I would later hear tales of persons who went to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to go through this process of registration and never be heard of again. Lost in the American prison system, many stripped of their rights guaranteed by numerous international treaties, some never came out alive.

Published 03/20/2009 - 12:00 a.m. CDT

Opinion by Daniel Starling

A few years back, around the time of the so called “new economy,” when people made I.P.O.’s out of thin air and made millions, I often thought back to my economics 101 class at the University of Kansas. Then I considered myself a youthful and idealistic socialist, when I asked my ECON professor about the hot war between Soviet Communism and American Capitalism and why he preached tolerance for supply-side economics.

One day after class he explained to me that neither extreme—total Free Markets or total state control would work very well. Only a balanced economy that included “elements of both systems” could succeed, he said to my disappointment. I also recall in my gut thinking he was probably right, since he lived through a central state economy in the eastern bloc, and was now an economics teacher in the West.

Published 02/20/2009 - 12:00 a.m. CDT

Opinion by Daniel Starling

“We're stil in trouble. And it's now in the real economy. This is what is so frustrating. This is not Katrina. This is not a natural disaster. This was a man-made one. This was avoidable. This was preventable. What began with a problem with sub prime mortgages, which could have been corrected with some pain, clearly, but could have been corrected, has now cascaded into a problem that is affecting virtually millions of people's lives, their homes, their jobs, their retirements. So that is the great sadness in all of this, despite the efforts of many, including ourselves. And we're not without culpability.”

--Sen. Christopher Dodd (from Frontline Interview on the Financial Meltdown)

Published 02/06/2009 - 12:00 a.m. CDT

Opinion by Daniel Starling

As debate in the Senate on the almost $1 trillion economic stimulus package enters its finals stages, Americans must be wondering when the “new reality” of American politics is going to take hold.

Working through the night, moderates in both parties are trimming around the edges of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” to stop a threatened Republican filibuster of the plan that passed the House of Representatives without the support of one single red state representative.

Without the necessary 60 votes in the upper chamber, the President’s first great legislative initiative could have gone down to defeat, marking a very rocky start for the Obama administration. To this humble observer, it’s will be a great tragedy if this legislation goes down to defeat because of the same old, tired and discredited Republicans.

Published 06/24/2009 - 10:59 p.m. CDT

American journalist Edward R. Murrow (1908 - 1965) lights a cigarette for American actress Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) during an interview for the TV series 'Person to Person,' April 1, 1955. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Opinion by Daniel Starling

Back in the 1970’s, my father would send me to the store with 75 cents to get cigarettes with a note, “Please sell Danny Starling a package of Winston 100’s”. I’d happily skip down to the corner store in Shawnee, Kan., hand over my handwritten pass to purchase underage smokes to the guy at the counter, who would slide a fresh pack over the counter to an eight year old. I didn’t smoke them, but I got to spend the nickel change on bubble gum or baseball cards or whatever candy I could get.

Published 06/05/2009 - 7:30 a.m. CDT

Pro Choice advocates mourn the slaying of Dr Tiller at a candle light vigil held at the JC Nichols Fountain in Mill Creek Park adjacent to the Country Club Plaza. (Photo: Michael McClure)

Opinion by Daniel Starling

It was sometime during 1991 that I, as a photojournalist, traveled from Kansas City to Dr. George Tiller’s Women's Health Care Services clinic on Kellogg Ave. in Wichita, Kan., to document the spectacle that came to be known as Operation Rescue’s “Summer of Mercy”.

When I arrived the spectacle had been playing out in front of the anonymous brick building every day for almost six weeks. Thousands of true believers from around the state and beyond were bused in under the guise of trying to persuade young women to not have an abortion. More were to be arrested in non-violent “prayer-in” protests.

Gruesome giant signs of dead human fetuses held by old ladies along the road with groups harassing every single person who attempted to enter the building screaming “Don’t Kill Your Baby” and “God is Watching”. Visibly shaken and disturbed, these women would be spirited by volunteer security through the crowds of “pro-lifers” into tDr. Tiller’s clinic.

Published 04/23/2009 - 11:00 p.m. CDT

Cindy Sheehan photographed during one of her arrests.

By Daniel Starling

"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience

We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
--From the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Julia Ward Howe.

Published 03/27/2009 - 12:00 a.m. CDT

Opinion by Daniel Starling

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course, the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other words? A word contains its opposite in itself.” Syme said to Winston Smith about their jobs translating Oldspeak into Newspeak in George Orwell’s classic “1984”.

Published 02/27/2009 - 12:00 a.m. CDT

Edward N. Jackson photographer - Great Depression: New York City, January, 1933. Unemployed workers stand in line during one of the city's worst blizzards to get a job shoveling snow for the city.

Opinion by Daniel Starling

Today was a warm and sunny, false spring day in New York City. On the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, the people were outside enjoying a pleasant break from the cold. But the mood is cautious and many seem to be buckling down for a prolonged economic downturn.

Everyone I know is hurting. Struggling with being laid-off or waiting for a response to the one-hundredth resume sent out. Everyone is tight. They are worried about paying the rent or their bills. Friends and acquaintances, colleagues, employers and employees alike are waiting for the winter of our economic discontent to thaw.

Not only are credit markets tight, but also the job market is frozen like a block of ice. Companies deep in debt are trying to find ways to cut costs, lay off workers to save their business. GM, AIG, CitiBank, Chrysler, the titans of American commerce gasping their last breaths and burning through billions in a couple of months to little or no effect.

Published 02/13/2009 - 12:00 a.m. CDT

Opinion by Daniel Starling

A few months back, an old friend and editor who graciously brings you this online journal every week, asked me to continue to write “opinion” pieces for this publication. I humbly agreed and thus have enjoyed sharing my thoughts with the readers of the Kansas City Tribune.

For several years I was reporter and photojournalist working for many different publications—from the largest to the smallest—nobody really cared about my opinion—mostly they just politely nodded their heads---reminding me about journalism tenets of presenting “just the facts” and “fair and balanced” reporting. I did my best to hold my tongue and not let my personal points of view influence my writing or photos. Thankfully for me, and my few readers, those days are gone.

Published 01/23/2009 - 12:00 a.m. CDT

New energy corporation's 102 mmgy ethanol plant in South Bend, Indiana (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Opinion by Daniel Starling

“We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories…All this we can do. All this we will do.

“Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.”

–President Barack Obama Inauguration Speech--Jan. 20, 2009.

“We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.