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11/3/2015

THE GOP AND THE RISE OF ANTI-KNOWLEDGE BY MIKE LOFGREN

Filed under: political musings, religion — Peg Britton @ 1:14 pm

The GOP and the Rise of Anti-Knowledge
October 29, 2015
by Mike Lofgren

This post was first published at Consortium News.

In the realm of physics, the opposite of matter is not nothingness, but antimatter. In the realm of practical epistemology, the opposite of knowledge is not ignorance but anti-knowledge. This seldom recognized fact is one of the prime forces behind the decay of political and civic culture in America.

Some common-sense philosophers have observed this point over the years. “Genuine ignorance is . . . profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish waterproof to new ideas,” observed psychologist John Dewey.

Or, as humorist Josh Billings put it, “The trouble with people is not that they don’t know, but that they know so much that ain’t so.”

Ben Carson, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who opposed a Muslim being elected president.

[Ben Carson] is anti-knowledge incarnated, a walking compendium of every imbecility ever uttered during the last three decades.

Ben Carson, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who doesn’t believe in evolution and says it is “scientifically politically correct” and a theory “encouraged by the adversary [Satan].”

[Ben Carson] is anti-knowledge incarnated, a walking compendium of every imbecility ever uttered during the last three decades.Fifty years ago, if a person did not know who the prime minister of Great Britain was, what the conflict in Vietnam was about, or the barest rudiments of how a nuclear reaction worked, he would shrug his shoulders and move on. And if he didn’t bother to know those things, he was in all likelihood politically apathetic and confined his passionate arguing to topics like sports or the attributes of the opposite sex.

There were exceptions, like the Birchers’ theory that fluoridation was a monstrous communist conspiracy, but they were mostly confined to the fringes. Certainly, political candidates with national aspirations steered clear of such balderdash.

At present, however, a person can be blissfully ignorant of how to locate Kenya on a map, but know to a metaphysical certitude that Barack Obama was born there, because he learned it from Fox News. Likewise, he can be unable to differentiate a species from a phylum but be confident from viewing the 700 Club that evolution is “politically correct” hooey and that the earth is 6,000 years old.

And he may never have read the Constitution and have no clue about the Commerce Clause, but believe with an angry righteousness that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

This brings us inevitably to celebrity presidential candidate Ben Carson. The man is anti-knowledge incarnated, a walking compendium of every imbecility ever uttered during the last three decades. Obamacare is worse than chattel slavery. Women who have abortions are like slave owners. If Jews had firearms they could have stopped the Holocaust (author’s note: they obtained at least some weapons during the Warsaw Ghetto rising, and no, it didn’t). Victims of a mass shooting in Oregon enabled their own deaths by their behavior. And so on, ad nauseam.

It is highly revealing that, according to a Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of likely Republican caucus attendees, the stolid Iowa burghers liked Carson all the more for such moronic utterances. And sure enough, the New York Times tells us that Carson has pulled ahead of Donald Trump in a national poll of Republican voters. Apparently, Trump was just not crazy enough for their tastes.

Why the Ignorance?

Anti-knowledge is a subset of anti-intellectualism, and as Richard Hofstadter has pointed out, anti-intellectualism has been a recurrent feature in American life, generally rising and receding in synchronism with fundamentalist revivalism.

Journalist Michael Tomasky has attempted to answer the question as to what Ben Carson’s popularity tells us about the American people after making a detour into asking a question about the man himself: why is an accomplished neurosurgeon such a nincompoop in another field? “Because usually, if a man (or woman) is a good and knowledgeable and sure-footed doctor, or lawyer or department chair or any other position that could have been attained only through repeated displays of excellence and probity, then that person will also be a pretty solid human being across the board.”

Well, not necessarily. English unfortunately doesn’t have a precise word for the German “Fachidiot,” a narrowly specialized person accomplished in his own field but a blithering idiot outside it. In any case, a surgeon is basically a skilled auto mechanic who is not bothered by the sight of blood and palpitating organs (and an owner of a high-dollar ride like a Porsche knows that a specialized mechanic commands labor rates roughly comparable to a doctor).

We need the surgeon’s skills on pain of agonizing death, and reward him commensurately, but that does not make him a Voltaire. Still, it makes one wonder: if Carson the surgeon believes evolution is a hoax, where does he think the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that plague hospitals come from?

Tomasky expresses astonishment that Carson’s jaw-dropping comments make him more popular among Republican voters, but he concludes without fully answering the question he posed. It is an important question: what has happened to the American people, or at least a significant portion of them?

Anti-knowledge is a subset of anti-intellectualism, and as Richard Hofstadter has pointed out, anti-intellectualism has been a recurrent feature in American life, generally rising and receding in synchronism with fundamentalist revivalism.

The current wave, which now threatens to swamp our political culture, began in a similar fashion with the rise to prominence in the 1970s of fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. But to a far greater degree than previous outbreaks, fundamentalism has merged its personnel, its policies, its tactics and its fate with a major American political party, the Republicans.

Thanks to these overlapping and mutually reinforcing segments of the right-wing media-entertainment-“educational” complex, it is now possible for the true believer to sail on an ocean of political, historical, and scientific disinformation without ever sighting the dry land of empirical fact.Buttressing this merger is a vast support structure of media, foundations, pressure groups and even a thriving cottage industry of fake historians and phony scientists. From Fox News to the Discovery Institute (which exists solely to “disprove” evolution), and from the Heritage Foundation (which propagandizes that tax cuts increase revenue despite massive empirical evidence to the contrary) to bogus “historians” like David Barton (who confected a fraudulent biography of a piously devout Thomas Jefferson that had to be withdrawn by the publisher), the anti-knowledge crowd has created an immense ecosystem of political disinformation.

Thanks to publishing houses like Regnery and the conservative boutique imprints of more respectable houses like Simon & Schuster (a division of CBS), America has been flooded with cut-and-paste rants by Michelle Malkin and Mark Levin, Parson Weems-style ghosted biographies allegedly by Bill O’Reilly, and the inimitable stream of consciousness hallucinating of Glenn Beck.

Whether retail customers actually buy all these screeds, or whether foundations and rich conservative donors buy them in bulk and give them out as door prizes at right-wing clambakes, anti-knowledge infects the political bloodstream in the United States.

Thanks to these overlapping and mutually reinforcing segments of the right-wing media-entertainment-“educational” complex, it is now possible for the true believer to sail on an ocean of political, historical, and scientific disinformation without ever sighting the dry land of empirical fact. This effect is fortified by the substantial overlap between conservative Republicans and fundamentalist Christians.

The latter group begins with the core belief that truth is revealed in a subjective process involving the will to believe (“faith”) rather than discovered by objectively corroberable means. Likewise, there is a baseline opposition to the prevailing secular culture, and adherents are frequently warned by church authority figures against succumbing to the snares and temptations of “the world.” Consequently, they retreat into the echo chamber of their own counterculture: if they didn’t hear it on Fox News or from a televangelist, it never happened.

For these culture warriors, belief in demonstrably false propositions is no longer a stigma of ignorance, but a defiantly worn badge of political resistance.

We saw this mindset on display during the Republican debate in Boulder, Colorado, on Wednesday night. Even though it was moderated by Wall Street-friendly CNBC, which exists solely to talk up the stock market, the candidates were uniformly upset that the moderators would presume to ask difficult questions of people aspiring to be president. They were clearly outside their comfort zone of the Fox News studio.

The candidates drew cheers from the hard-core believers in the audience, however, by attacking the media, as if moderators Lawrence Kudlow and Rick Santelli, both notorious shills for Wall Street, were I.F. Stone and Noam Chomsky. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus nearly had an aneurism over the candidates’ alleged harsh treatment.

It is when these forces of anti-knowledge seize the power of government that the real damage gets done.It is when these forces of anti-knowledge seize the power of government that the real damage gets done. Under Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia government harassed with subpoenas a University of Virginia professor whose academic views contradicted Cuccinelli’s political agenda.

Numerous states like Louisiana now mandate that public schools teach the wholly imaginary “controversy” about evolution. A school textbook in Texas, whose state school board has long been infested with reactionary kooks, referred to chattel slaves as “workers” (the implication was obvious: neo-Confederate elements in the South have been trying to minimize slavery for a century and a half, to the point of insinuating it had nothing to do with the Civil War).

This brings us back to Ben Carson. He now suggests that, rather than abolishing the Department of Education, a perennial Republican goal, the department should be used to investigate professors who say something he doesn’t agree with. The mechanism to bring these heretics to the government’s attention should be denunciations from students, a technique once in vogue in the old Soviet Union.

It is not surprising that Carson, himself a Seventh Day Adventist, should receive his core support from Republicans who identify as fundamentalists. Among the rest of the GOP pack, it is noteworthy that it is precisely those seeking the fundamentalist vote, like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, who are also notorious for making inflammatory and unhinged comments that sound like little more than deliberate trolling to those who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid (Donald Trump is sui generis).

In all probability, Carson will flame out like Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and all the other former panjandrums of a theological movement conservatism that revels in anti-knowledge. But he will have left his mark, as they did, on a Republican Party that inexorably moves further to the right, and the eventual nominee will have to tailor his campaign to a base that gets ever more intransigent as each new messiah of the month promises to lead them into a New Jerusalem unmoored to a stubborn and profane thing called facts.

6/13/2015

BURDETT LOOMIS: LEGISLATURE, BROWNBACK HAVE FAILED THE STATE OF KANSAS

Filed under: political musings, print news, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 1:53 pm

Burdett Loomis: Legislature, Brownback have failed the state

BY BURDETT LOOMIS

The Kansas House of Representatives, and by extension the Legislature, and by further extension the GOP-controlled government of Kansas, imploded Wednesday.

After the Kansas Senate cobbled together (and I mean no disrespect to shoemakers) a mean-spirited tax bill to (barely) fill the state’s coffers, the House initially voted down that bill, 44-73, before heading into a death spiral in which support eroded as House leaders kept the vote open – first for two hours, then until Thursday morning, when it finally perished by a 20-95 vote.

In other words, the GOP leadership somehow thought it could arm-twist 20 votes or so to eke out a win on a speculative, regressive tax bill.

In a career as a legislative scholar, I’ve seen a host of tricks, but this may take the cake – all in a useless, losing cause. Seriously, what is the matter with these folks?

The Kansas GOP controls the House 97-28. Yet its leadership could not muster one-half of its overwhelming majority to support a bill that might have balanced the budget for the coming year. The best metaphor that the speaker of the House could come up with was: “This is the last train out of here.” Please. It was both hackneyed and untrue.

After 111 days in session, the House could only manage about half an hour of semi-serious debate. To put it as kindly as possible (as the metaphors keep popping up), the Republican leadership, along with Gov. Sam Brownback, went down in flames. Who, exactly, brings up a bill when it’s going to get a maximum of 44 votes, 19 shy of passage?

The Senate, to its relative credit, at least had 21 votes to pass a patched-together tax bill that its leaders knew would probably not win approval in the House. But, hey, they got to 21.

For much of this session, Topeka lawmakers – and I use that term loosely – have been in some state of altered reality when it’s come to the budget and taxes. On Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, they descended into “Lord of the Flies” territory.

No matter what happens in the remaining days of this session (I can’t believe I just wrote that), we need to be clear: This is what it looks like when a political institution fails.

Make that two institutions, given that the governor bears his full share of the responsibility, as he has backed unrealistic tax policies way past the point of seeing them flounder. Then, remarkably, he drew a line in the sand, saying he would veto any bill that reimposed any taxes on 338,000 Kansas pass-through entities.

Well, the Legislature and the governor will pull themselves together, so to speak. They’ll build some kind of budget, probably doing further harm to the citizens of the state. But make no mistake, on Wednesday evening the Kansas state government failed, big time.

More than 40 years ago, the Legislature won an award as the “most improved” body in the nation. My late friend and academic colleague Alan Rosenthal worked with the Legislature then, as it moved into the late-20th century. From Bob Bennett and Pete McGill and Pete Loux to hundreds of other serious-minded, responsible lawmakers, the Legislature continued to function in the messy but effective way that characterizes such bodies.

No more. On Wednesday night, the Legislature jumped the shark. One more metaphor for failure, and they just keep coming.

Burdett Loomis is a professor of political science at the University of Kansas.

5/16/2015

LETTER TO THE EDITOR…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, print news, Barack Obama — Peg Britton @ 3:38 pm

You Americans Have No Idea Just How Good You Have It With Obama
Many of us Canadians are confused by the U.S. midterm elections. Consider, right now in America, corporate profits are at record highs, the country’s adding 200,000 jobs per month, unemployment is below 6%, U.S. gross national product growth is the best of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The dollar is at its strongest levels in years, the stock market is near record highs, gasoline prices are falling, there’s no inflation, interest rates are the lowest in 30 years, U.S. oil imports are declining, U.S. oil production is rapidly increasing, the deficit is rapidly declining, and the wealthy are still making astonishing amounts of money.

America is leading the world once again and respected internationally — in sharp contrast to the Bush years. Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden.

So, Americans vote for the party that got you into the mess that Obama just dug you out of? This defies reason.

When you are done with Obama, could you send him our way?

Richard Brunt

Victoria, British Columbia

5/4/2015

40 THOUSAND PATHWAYS TO THE AMERICAN DREAM: (KANSAS SCHOOL FUNDING) BY AARON ESTABROOK

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 9:34 am

40 Thousand Pathways to the American Dream: (Kansas School Funding)

When it was ratified, the Kansas Constitution acknowledged the responsibility of the state to provide a uniform system of common schools and schools of higher grades for its people. Even before Kansas was officially a state, pioneers settling in harsh conditions pooled their limited resources to build our iconic one-room schoolhouses and hired a teacher. They knew then what we know now. Public Education is the foundation of civilization. As the needs of America expanded so too did the requirements and expectations of our public schools.

Earlier this year, I joined Kansans from across the state and marched more than 60 miles to our state capitol to raise awareness of the political assault on our public schools.  Upon arriving, I sat in the statehouse and said to those gathered that we are fighting a war that we did not start, but it is a fundamental right that we aim to protect for generations to come.

In 2012, Kansas lawmakers at the behest of Gov. Brownback set the stage for the assault on public education by implementing a tax structure that is unsustainable. He called it an experiment. The structure made it possible for the top earners to pay no income tax while middle and low income Kansans pay into the pool while receiving less services. State revenues have steeply declined and public education has been on the chopping block like never before.  Much of this economic mismanagement is defended by thick ideological rhetoric, while facts and reality are dismissed. Real leadership would require introspection and figurative heads to roll for the self-inflicted crisis we now find ourselves in.

Over 40,000 Kansas children will enter kindergarten in August. My daughter is one of them. On a recent trip to a local hardware store she joined me with a few dollars she had earned doing chores around our home. To my amazement, she wanted to buy a small ladder. Her rationale was that she could do more chores and earn more if she could reach higher. Today, in Kansas our state government has created a system of taxation that allows for those who have climbed the economic ladder to pull it up from behind and relish in their treasure.

Each rung on the ladder to the American Dream is laden in education and knowledge. Every dollar we invest now in early education gives children a better chance and saves taxpayers eight dollars later on. It simultaneously opens the door to more employment and higher incomes for working parents today.  The evidence is undeniable that investment in education and expansion of early education is key to fulfilling the tacit goal of America, to ensure that our children can have a better life than we did.

A year ago, Gov. Brownback toured the state and repeatedly said he would fully fund all-day kindergarten. Ever since the “K” was placed in K-12 Public Schools, it has been funded at a half time rate. Nearly all Kansas schools teach kindergarten all day, requiring local school districts to pick up the tab on the other half. Gov. Brownback reneged on his promise.

Last summer, school districts across the state put together an application to apply for “Pre-School Development” grants from the U.S. Dept. of Education. America was about to invest hundreds of millions in pre-school or pre-K programs, and Kansas educators wanted to be ready. Then last fall, Gov. Brownback refused to sign the application, the final step in the process. $226 million was awarded to other states in December and Kansas would have been poised to receive between $15-20 million for pre-school development, but one man stood in the way of more than 40,000 four year olds receiving that opportunity.  Pre K-12 should be the standard for Kansas, for the last 16 years every child in Oklahoma has been guaranteed a pre-school education.

To this day we have no clear answer why Gov. Brownback refused to sign the application to compete for those funds with the rest of America. No economic logic makes sense, so we must conclude that it was an ideological decision. Soon our Supreme Court will rule on the adequacy and equity of our public schools. Evidence points to underfunding, complicated by the extreme ideological decisions by lawmakers who want to pull that economic ladder up from behind them.  I personally have witnessed the impact of extreme ideology as a soldier in Afghanistan. My generation has fought two wars and toppled two governments that were built on extreme ideology. Coming back to Kansas from those wars I never expected to be in the midst of another battle being instigated by extreme ideologues in Topeka. One thing is certain; this generation will not tolerate it. We have sacrificed too much and those extremists in Topeka need to understand that what they have done is simply wake a sleeping giant in form of parents, educators, and moderates all across our state.

Aaron Estabrook
Board of Education
USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden

4/7/2015

SALINA JOURNAL MUST READ…THANK YOU, GOVERNOR, FOR YOUR CONCERN FOR THE CITIZENS OF KANSAS. NOT.

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings — Peg Britton @ 5:04 pm

It’s baffling why Kansans continue to vote against their own self-interest.

Case in point: We keep electing politicians who promise to stand up to President Barack Obama and Obamacare. Sticking it to the man, death panels and all of  that, right? Actually, we’re sticking it to ourselves.

Kansas hospitals and others have been warning us since our state first refused to join the Affordable Care Act that by not doing so and expanding Medicaid, Kansas hospitals would lose out on millions of  dollars in reimbursements. This is on top of  the millions in Medicare and other reimbursements that those hospitals lost because of  cuts under the Affordable Care Act.

According to the Kansas Hospital Association, rejecting Medicaid expansion thus far has cost Kansas an estimated $475 million. And, according to a story by the Kansas Health Institute, the state’s rejection of  Medicaid expansion is the main factor that might force some hospitals to close.

The two hospitals mentioned in a recent KHI story, Mercy Hospital, Independence and Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, are looking to stay alive, for now, by partnering with neighboring hospitals.

The Independence hospital is facing cuts of  nearly $570,000 in Medicare reimbursements and federal money designed to partially cover the costs of  treating uninsured patients. However, if  Kansas were to expand Medicaid, it would generate an estimated $1.6 million yearly for the hospital.

Hospitals, especially low-volume facilities in the 21 states that didn’t expand Medicaid, are hurting. Since 2010, 48 rural hospitals have closed and more than 280 are listed as “in trouble,” according to the National Rural Health Association.

In all but the very small towns, there are two things that are seen as essential. The first is a school, and the second is access to health care. Without those, towns go away.

The question is, how will those who pledge allegiance to conservative politicians and radio and TV talk show hosts react when it’s their hospital that closes? The attacks against Obamacare will slow when more rural Kansans have to pay more in taxes to support their local hospital, or when their town loses the good jobs and tax revenue a hospital provides.

Sticking it to the man? No, we’re sticking it to ourselves.

From The Salina Journal, April 7, 2015

LOSING MY RELIGION FOR EQUALITY….

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, print news, religion — Peg Britton @ 6:32 am

Losing my religion for equality

The Age
July 15, 2009

By Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphacize the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as preeminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

12/20/2014

PALACE HONORARY PRAIRIE GODDESS….THAT’S ME…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 8:48 pm

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Goddess activities: I was recently anointed Honorary Prairie Goddess by real Goddess Carolyn Carter who gave me the accoutrements to prove it. Note the official miter, magic wand and name tag. Carolyn and her husband Steve spent the afternoon visiting with me and I enjoyed every minute of it.  They hail from Bel Aire.

There are five real Goddesses…Carolyn, Bev, Carole, Donna and Kim… who have been Goddesses for years and years and years.  They worked together as Hospice administrators for a long time  and since I moved in the Palace, I’ve had the opportunity to know them.   They get together for mini-reunions about three times a year….and sometimes they meet in Salina.  That’s how I met all of them.

They have very finely tuned senses of humor.  They crack me up.

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Steve Carter and I…photo by Carolyn Carter.

What wonderful fun they are.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/16/2014

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU CAN BLAME ON BARACK OBAMA…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Barack Obama, GOP — Peg Britton @ 9:11 am

Job losses were cut by more than 50% within his first 4 months in office.

He saved the American auto industry.

Has cut our deficits by more than half.

Killed Osama bin Ladin.

Got Syria to give up their chemical weapons without firing a single shot.

Presided over record breaking stock levels (with the Dow closing over 17,000 for the first time in its 118-year history).

Reduced unemployment from 10% to 5.8%.

We just saw the best year of job growth in the United States since 1999.

The quickest drop in unemployment in 30 years.

57 straight months of private sector job growth.

Over 10 million private sector jobs created.

Over 8 million people signed up for health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Millions of Americans have gained, or kept, health care coverage thanks to Medicaid expansions and being able to stay on their parents’ insurance longer.

He hasn’t started a single war.

He hasn’t tried to confiscate a single gun.

10/17/2014

DAVIS DOCKING DAVIS DOCKING FOR KANSAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 12:00 pm

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9/9/2014

BROWNBACK AND THE FAMILY…

Filed under: political musings, print news, Sam Brownback — Peg Britton @ 11:23 am

Brownback and The Family

by Bob Grover

The Emporia Gazette 9-8-2014

How can someone claim to follow Jesus yet not support programs that fight poverty and benefit the needy?

This is a question directed at Sam Brownback, and a possible answer is provided in Jeff Sharlet’s book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper Perennial, 2008). Journalist Sharlet describes in detail the history, leadership and beliefs of this secret organization of which Brownback is a member.

Brownback was introduced to the Family (also called the Fellowship) while interning for Bob Dole the summer before his senior year at Kansas State University. Brownback stayed in touch with Family members and was invited to join when he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1994. Understanding the mission of the Family provides a glimpse of Brownback’s beliefs that drive his behavior as governor.

The Family includes such current government leaders as Chuck Grassley (Iowa), James Inhofe and Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Bill Nelson (Florida), and Mark Pryor (Arkansas). Other members include former senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Pete Domenici of New Mexico, along with former Kansas Representative Todd Tiahrt and Watergate participant Charles Colson.

The Family is the group behind the National Prayer Breakfast, initiated as the Presidential Prayer Breakfast during the first year of the Eisenhower administration in 1953. It has been described as “the most powerful group in Washington that nobody knows.”

Its membership roll is secret; it collects no official membership dues and issues no membership cards. Members are urged not to commit to paper any discussions or negotiations occurring in their work related to the Family.

Prayer groups, or “cells,” are the core group within the family. The cell is unknown to the public and has veto power over each member’s life. Each member promises to monitor the others for deviation from Jesus’ will. Brownback told author Sharlet “that the privacy of family cells makes them safe spaces for men of power … .” Power is a key to understanding this Family.

Within the cells men develop a covenant with each other, and therein lies the power. Their premise is that when two or three agree and act as one, they have power.

Jesus is at the center of the Family, but this is Jesus the leader, not the Savior. Jesus provides the Family a model for organization; with James, John, and Peter closest to him, he encircled himself with other disciples along with a larger contingent of followers. Jesus taught the fundamental principle of creating a social order — commitment. Jesus said that his followers had to put Him before other people, even father and mother, and put Him before oneself.

Surprisingly, the Family also claims Hitler, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden, Mao and even the Mafia as models that used covenants to gain and exercise power. The jarring contrast between Jesus and these other brutal leaders seems of little importance to the Family.

Another Family hero is King David of the Old Testament. David slept with Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and killed her husband; however, God favored David — he was chosen. The implication is that if you’re chosen, you are not to be judged.

The Family believes that God’s covenant with the Jews has been broken, and they consider their members the “new chosen” — chosen by God to be leaders.

Because they believe that they are God’s new chosen, the Family members are provided with what Sharlet calls “divine diplomatic immunity.” It’s like a blank check to do whatever they believe they are called to do.

What are they called to do? The long-term goal of the Family is a worldwide government under God. Douglas Coe, the Family’s leader since 1969, has said, “We work with power where we can, build new power where we can’t.” (p. 121)

Although members of the family may be members of a denomination (Brownback is Catholic), their belief system is different than the theology of mainstream Christians. The Family prefers to think of themselves as “followers of Jesus,” not Christians, and free of the trappings of religious denominations.

Unlike most followers of Jesus, the Family is interested almost entirely in Jesus as leader and the way he was able to generate a successful, worldwide social movement. They show little interest in following Jesus’ teachings to help the poor, feed the hungry and clothe the naked.

As a member of the Family, Brownback has adopted their values, and the Family ultimately is about power. Knowing about Brownback’s affiliation with the Family helps to explain his motives and actions as Kansas governor.

9/5/2014

LETTER TO FCC CHAIRMAN TOM WHEELER ABOUT NET NEUTRALITY…FRANK SMITH SAYS IT BEST…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 6:40 am

We live in a remote rural area, 15 miles from the nearest stores. It’s winter wheat heartland that thrived thanks to homesteading in the late 19th Century. “Quarter sections,” 160-acre parcels, typically supported multi-generational families who contributed to vibrant small towns with churches, schools and businesses. Farmers walked behind plows pulled by mules, forming co-ops in their common interest to protect themselves from rapacious railroad corporations and buyer cartels. They depended upon horses and carriages to do business and access social life. More fortunate children went to land grant colleges and returned home with new skills to be with siblings and grandparents.

As agriculture came to depend increasingly on petroleum-based production with ever larger machines and fertilizers, these towns withered. A family came to need to farm many square miles to get by.

There were advantages of course. Constant bonebreaking labor became a distant memory, crop and disaster insurance protected against the vagaries of droughts and deluges, life spans increased. Electrification and telephones arrived, thanks to the efforts of forward-looking leaders.

However this progress came with a steep price. Schools became ever more distant. In the 105 counties in Kansas, eighty or more have smaller populations than they did in 1920. Children departed rarely to return save for funerals and holidays. In the midst of prosperity, services declined.

Corporations and their lobbyists insisted that “public services” be heavily subsidized for the benefit of affluent consumers and they targeted delivery sectors where the largest profit margins were to be found. Fifteen years ago, when I moved here, UPS serviced us only in fair weather, Fed Ex not at all, and DHL was unaware of our existence.

At the same time corporate America demanded public subsidies, it attacked core services, demanding exemptions from taxation. Networks of paved roads disappeared. Polling places were “consolidated” away to remote towns. Public schools were attacked with vouchers and “chartered” competition draining our tax revenues. Hours of postal operation diminished and proposals now stand to close every office within fourteen miles, an erosion propelled by special interests. Even cell phone services withered, thanks to industry consolidation and concern for stockholder-driven “acceptable” profit margins and “bottom lines.”

We’re dying out here. We’re being excluded from modern life.

One of the remaining bulwarks against this erosion of our quality of life is net neutrality. We can get Internet service, not on a par with South Korea or Finland of course, but at least with smaller Midwestern cities.

I lived in Barrow, Alaska, before I moved here, and was acutely aware of being a second class citizen in the information age. Though we were a town of 4,500 people, we depended upon a paleolithic 9.5 baud server. I would open the New York Times or Anchorage Daily News website, and take a shower waiting for it to come up. After clicking on a story, I’d cook breakfast and hoped by then that the article had slowly arrived.

Industry’s proposals to destroy net neutrality are a regression to that electronic caste system. I don’t want multinational corporations deciding what we can read and how long we have to wait to read it. Please don’t abandon us. We’re still part of America, even if Verizon and Comcast choose to commercially disenfranchise and exile us.
Sincerely yours,

Frank Smith

Bluff City, KS 67018-7630

8/20/2014

COURTNEY TRAIN LETTER…

Filed under: political musings, print news, GOP — Peg Britton @ 11:29 am

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From The Salina Journal
Train letter 8-11-14
Friday, August 15, 2014 2:00 AM

Train letter 8-11-14

Name changes create more voting hoops

Kris Kobach’s new voting restrictions are imposing serious obstacles and should be a cause for great concern for women across the state.

I’d like to encourage my mom to vote in this election, but she has never registered and her current legal name does not appear on her proof of citizenship. It has changed as a result of marriage. My mom is not alone. Recent figures indicate that 34 percent of voting-age women lack proof of citizenship with their current legal name.

With new voting restrictions requiring proof of citizenship to register, women who’ve changed last names as a result of marriage have to provide supplemental documents along with their proof of citizenship. My mom is not in a financial position to provide these necessary documents. For my mother and the women of Kansas who lack proof of citizenship with their current names, there is a disproportionate burden imposed on exercising their right to vote.

This law is an infringement on the rights of all Kansans, especially women and the poor. If you value the right to vote, if you value gender equality, cast a vote against Kobach for my mom on Election Day. I know I will be.

– COURTNEY TRAIN, Salina

8/10/2014

EARN $$$ IN YOUR SPARE TIME AND BECOME A PROFESSIONAL SOCIOPATH…

Filed under: political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 5:15 pm

Too good to pass by…
DAILY KOS
Fri Aug 08, 2014
Earn $$$ In Your Spare Time Become A Professional Sociopath

by LaFeminista

Do you like to spout your hatred to all and sundry?

Do you wear your bigotry as a badge of honor?

Do you feel persecuted?

Do you want to lash out for no reason at all?

Then you too can earn $$$$$$$$$

Join the Republican Party today and we will send you free of charge the following.

Rush Limbaugh’s “Hate speech for beginners”

Erick Erickson’s  “How to be a Christian Martyr”

Ted Cruz’s “How to say stupid shit without being embarrassed”

Sara Palin’s “Ignorance is bliss, a bigots guide”

Michelle Bachman’s “Woo, Woo, Woo, Tick Tock The Mouse Ran Around The Water Fountain” we haven’t worked out what it is about yet, but it’s a book.

Steve King’s “Neener Neener Mr President” a guide by one of the world’s foremost ignoramuses.

Louie Gohmert “A Guide To Nonsense As Fact” with a totally incomprehensible introduction by the author, the rest was written by mice on LSD running up and down a keyboard.

John Boehner’s “Patriotic Crying, Crocodile Tear Making In Public” Tissue Edition.

Mitch McConnell’s ” How to say one thing, then claim you said another” and any quoting from the book will be treated with denial by the author.

John McCain’s “Bombing the world, a tourist’s guide to the world’s hotspots”.

The Koch Brothers “We have lots of money, we own your ass” a guide to buying an election

Bill Kristol’s “How to get others killed for your ideas” coupled with his “How to be consistently wrong all the time” a guide for the advanced fool.

Alex Jones’ “They are coming to take me  away” advanced paranoia, not for the beginner.

Why continue to throw beer bottles at the TV when you too can become a professional screamer?

Send $100 today and we will send you copies of each of the above free of charge. If they do not arrive within two weeks please send another $100 to expedite the delivery.

KANSAS LOSING OUT BY NOT EXPANDING MEDICAID…

Filed under: political musings, print news, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 1:45 pm

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The Wichita Eagle Editorial Staff We Blog
Kansas losing out by not expanding Medicaid
July 29, 20145:59 a.m.

How much is Kansas losing out by not allowing a federal expansion of Medicaid? About $820 million over the next three years, according to a study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Kansas is also losing out on 3,800 new jobs over the three-year span. And up to 100,000 low-income Kansans are losing out on needed health insurance. Expansion also would save the state money by moving some adults the state now cares for, such as those with mental illnesses, onto Medicaid and by reducing other costs. But neither the financial nor moral arguments for expansion seem to matter to Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature.
By Phillip Brownlee

VOTER-IMPERSONATION FRAUD IS NEARLY NONEXISTENT…

Filed under: political musings, print news, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 1:36 pm

kris-kobach.png

Wichita Eagle Editorial Department Blog…
Aug. 10, 20146:02 a.m.

The purpose of voter ID requirements, such as the one in Kansas, to is prevent someone from showing up to vote and pretending to be someone else. But how often does that actually happen? Almost never. Justin Levitt of the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles documented every known allegation of voter-impersonation fraud nationwide since 2000. Out of more than 1 billion votes cast during that 14-year period, he found only 31 alleged cases of impersonation fraud. That’s less that 0.0000031 percent. What’s more, it’s unclear how many of the 31 cases were actual fraud; several may just be computer or data-entry mistakes. To stop this nonexistent problem, 34 states have passed voter ID laws, potentially disenfranchising thousands and thousands of voters.
By Phillip Brownlee

5/18/2014

ROGUE STATE: HOW FAR-RIGHT FANATICS HIJACKED KANSAS

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, religion, GOP — Peg Britton @ 1:21 pm

ROLLING STONE POLITICS

Rogue State: How Far-Right Fanatics Hijacked Kansas
Gun nuts, anti-abortion zealots and free-market cultists are leading the state to the brink of disaster

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Mark Binelli
June 12, 2013 11:50 AM ET

For the past 12 years, the Kansas State Capitol has been under constant renovation. Most recently, its grand dome, which towers majestically over sleepy downtown Topeka, sprung leaks, forcing repair crews to cage the entire building with a blocky, ramshackle grid of scaffolding. From a distance, it looks like painful orthodontia, or perhaps a bad political metaphor.

Inside, though, one can’t help but be swept up by the bustling, civics-in-action buzz of the place. Groups of children on field trips are being led past murals of hearty Kansans surviving a blizzard, grazing cattle, leading kids into a one-room schoolhouse. Politicians and their staffers sit on benches nearby, conducting hushed confabs or chatting amiably with Capitol bureau reporters and red-badged lobbyists. None of this reeks of Machiavellian House of Cards amorality, perhaps because we’re surrounded by so many paintings of pioneers doing various things with wheat. In the gift shop, you can buy snowglobes containing tornados and Wizard of Oz characters.

And look, there’s the governor, Sam Brownback! The 56-year-old, a regular sight on Capitol tours, today happens to be wandering the corridor near his second-floor office. He’s holding a coffee mug and sporting one of his signature sweater vests – such pleasingly Capra-esque touches that one wonders if a wardrobe consultant was involved – and when his eyes alight upon an unfamiliar face, he beams and gives the visitor a pleasant nod.

Just a few years ago, Brownback seemed washed up. A devout Catholic who attends mass several times a week, he’d built a following among the Christian right as one of the most socially conservative U.S. senators of the Bush era, but his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 proved an embarrassing folly. Unable to raise money or make a dent in the polls after religious conservatives flocked to Mike Huckabee, Brownback wound up limping from the race before the first votes were even cast in the Iowa caucus.

But apparently, the notion of wielding executive branch power had become appealing. Two years later, he handily won the governorship, part of the class of Republicans elected in 2010 on a Tea Party-driven wave of anti-Obama sentiment.

Once in office, Brownback surprised critics and supporters alike with the fervor of his pursuit of power, pushing what reporter John Gramlich of Stateline described as perhaps “the boldest agenda of any governor in the nation”: gutting spending on social services and education, privatizing the state’s Medicaid system, undermining the teacher’s union, becoming the only state to entirely abolish funding for the arts, boasting that he would sign any anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk, and – most significantly – pushing through the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history. His avowed goal is to eliminate the state income tax altogether, a move that many predict will torpedo the budget and engender even more draconian cuts in spending. “Other Republican-led states have experimented with many of the same changes,” Gramlich pointed out – the difference in Kansas being that Brownback “wants to make all of those changes simultaneously.”

Since Mitt Romney’s resounding defeat last November, much has been made of the supposed battle for the soul of the Republican party taking place at the national level, where pragmatic establishment types are attempting to win over minorities, women and young people by tamping down the most extreme elements of the Tea Party fringe and moderating stances on issues like gay marriage and immigration. The problem is, in places like Kansas (and Louisiana, and South Carolina, and North Dakota), that fringe has become the political mainstream. In fact, while strategists like Karl Rove urge moderation for the GOP, in Kansas, they’ve been taking the opposite tack. Last fall, Brownback and his allies – including the Koch brothers, the right-wing libertarian billionaires whose company Koch Industries is based in Wichita – staged a primary putsch, lavishing funds on hard-right candidates and effectively purging the state Senate of all but a handful of its remaining moderate Republicans. “The Senate was really the bulwark of moderation last term,” says Tom Holland, a Senate Democrat (there are only eight of them left) who ran against Brownback for governor. “With the moderate Republican leadership gone, that just got blown away.”

It’s been nearly 10 years since Thomas Frank wrote about the conservative takeover of his home state in What’s the Matter With Kansas? Back then, Kansas still had a Democratic governor in Kathleen Sebelius. But after last fall’s civil war, Kansas has emerged a more intense shade of red than even Frank imagined. The state legislature is the most conservative in the United States, and now there is absolutely nothing stopping the Brownback revolution – one which happens to be entirely at odds with any notion of the GOP adapting to the broader social and demographic changes in the country. If anything, these purists argue, Republicans lost in 2012 because the party wasn’t conservative enough.

No one can say that about Sam Brownback, who is rumored to be mulling his own presidential run in 2016 – and using Kansas as a sort of laboratory, in which ideas cooked up by Koch-funded libertarian think tanks can be released like viruses on live subjects. At a national level, the GOP remains stuck in a reactive position, pursuing executive branch “scandals” and blocking Obama’s policies with no real power to effect changes of their own, and so states like Kansas have become very important to the future of the party’s far-right wing. Consider it a test, a case study – proof, finally, that an unfettered hybrid of Randian free-market dogma and theocratic intolerance can create, in the bitter words of outgoing Senate President Steve Morris, one of the ousted moderates, an “ultraconservative utopia.” Of course, Morris ruefully added, “It depends on your definition of utopia.”

Back in April, Brownback was chosen to deliver the Republican response to the President’s weekly radio address. He invited listeners everywhere to “join us as we remake our country, not into a place that looks more and more like Europe. We don’t need to do that. We just need to become America again. And that is the rebirth we are doing.” In other words, the Koch brothers may have lost the big battle last fall, but in states like Kansas, they’re winning.

The legislative session in Kansas begins in January and typically only lasts for about 90 days, a holdover from a time when most of the citizen-legislators were farmers who could only make time for governing in the fallow winter months. Two floors up from Brownback’s office, spectators can watch the House and Senate proceedings from a gallery of stiff-backed pews. The chamber is the sort of grand, filigreed hall (fussy cornicework, pink marble columns, chandeliers fit for a castle) that makes you feel like you’re inside a giant wedding cake. The lawmakers work at curved desks that stretch back from the speaker’s platform like rows of teeth.

One afternoon in March, the Senate debated a bill that would prevent public employees from donating directly to union PACs from their paychecks. The wonkiness of the details helps disguise the fact that the bill directly targets public school teachers, part of a larger package of union-busting laws pushed by Brownback. (He’s also reclassified thousands of civil service jobs to eliminate union protection and set up public school “innovation zones” that would basically allow districts to ignore state laws surrounding curriculum, salaries and collective bargaining rights.) In order to finance his tax cuts, Brownback has cut education spending by the largest amount in state history. But in January, a state court ruled the cuts unconstitutional and ordered the government to restore $400 million of school spending. “It seems completely illogical that the state can argue that a reduction in education funding was necessitated by the downturn in the economy and the state’s diminishing resources and at the same time cut taxes further,” the court stated in its ruling. Brownback has responded on dual fronts: by appealing the ruling to the state Supreme Court and by pushing through a bill that would “reform” the way in which state judges were appointed – allowing Brownback, rather than a panel, to appoint judges directly, giving the governor direct power over the one branch of Kansas government that had been out of his control.

As viewed from the Senate balcony, the distinguished body is a sea of older, predominantly white men in navy blazers, their shiny bald spots forming an archipelago of pink desert islands. Ty Masterson, a freshman senator from the Flint Hills, presides over today’s debate. Unlike many of his colleagues, Masterson has a sharp suit and a full head of hair, and he speaks in an odd, husky purr, making even bland statements like “Senator from Wyandotte has the floor” sound more like he’s getting ready to whisper, “Turn over on your stomach now.” A realtor with six children and an A+ rating from the NRA, Masterson was made budget committee chair upon his election – despite the fact that he’d filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after his home-building business went under, ultimately only paying about $3,000 of the $887,000 owed his creditors. “Who better to lead out of the forest than somebody who has seen a lot of the pitfalls?” he told the Wichita Eagle at the time. Today, while Democrat Anthony Hensley, a public school special education teacher for over 30 years, thunders about how the union bill is an effort to silence the loyal opposition, Masterson fiddles with his iPhone. It turns out he’s checking college basketball scores, which he periodically announces to the chamber.

In the end, the bill passes, 24-16. Meanwhile, over in the House, they’re debating guns. A bill allowing public schools and universities to arm teachers, principals and other faculty members has easily passed, along with another bill, likely unconstitutional, maintaining that federal gun laws do not apply to guns manufactured and sold within Kansas’ borders (citing a tenuous argument that the federal power to regulate firearms only applies to interstate commerce.)

Freshman Republican Jim Howell, a trim 46-year-old Air Force veteran who represents suburban Wichita, has now introduced a bill that would force nearly all public buildings in the state to allow people to carry concealed weapons inside – unless those buildings hired armed security guards and install metal detectors, which, of course, would be prohibitively expensive for most cash-strapped municipalities. Gun-free “safe zones,” Howell insists, should actually be rechristened “dangerous zones.”

Howell is soon joined by an ally, freshman Republican Allan Rothlisberg of Grandview Plaza, a retired 30-year Army veteran who is the approximate shape and shade of a Red Bartlett Pear. Rothlisberg goes even further than Howell, arguing that public buildings which banned guns should be held liable for any shootings. When one incredulous Democrat asks if Rothlisberg is familiar with a recent “slaughter of 10-year-olds in Connecticut,” Rothlisberg drawls, “I’ve been familiar with slaughters of people in gun-free zones for years.” Later, he adds that the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech had been “absolutely [the school’s] fault.”

Up next: a shockingly reasonable amendment from retired judge John Barker, another freshman Republican, who stands up to argue that it might be a good idea to ban concealed weapons from court proceedings – say, emotional child custody cases, in which allowing aggrieved parties to carry weapons could be a recipe for disaster. Taking care to stress his bona fides as a “lover of the second amendment” and an 18-year hunter’s safety instructor, Barker goes on, “I’ve been a judge for 25 years and am proud to say I never carried a gun on the bench. Didn’t think I wanted to do that.”

During the voice vote on Barker’s amendment – which, of course, goes down to defeat – the no’s sound like boos at the Apollo. Finally, Lawrence Democrat John Wilson stands up to offer his own cheeky amendment. If gun-free zones are so dangerous, he argues sarcastically, why not get rid of the metal detectors and guards at the entrances to this very building, which wind up costing Kansas taxpayers upwards of $200,000 annually, and just allow everyone to carry concealed weapons in the state capitol instead?

Howell says that sounds like a great idea to him. The amendment passes overwhelmingly, as does the bill itself.

Kansas has a long tradition of producing pragmatic, centrist Republicans, from President Dwight Eisenhower to senators like Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum. In What’s the Matter With Kansas?, Thomas Frank notes that traditionally, the Kansas legislature was comprised of moderates, aside from “a small band of right-wing cranks who amused the citizenry by pulling an occasional filibuster on tax legislation.” He argues that the shift in focus came in 1991, during an “uprising that would propel those reptilian Republicans from a tiny splinter group into the state’s dominant political faction… wreck[ing] what remained of the state’s progressive legacy.”

That uprising centered around abortion. Operation Rescue, the fanatical anti-abortion group founded in 1986 by former used car salesman Randall Terry, first decided to target Wichita during its so-called “Summer of Mercy” in 1991 – focusing in particular on Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who provided late-term abortions. In 2002, Operation Rescue moved its national headquarters to Wichita in order to stalk Tiller even more closely; the doctor was eventually murdered by an anti-abortion zealot in 2009, gunned down while working as an usher at his church.

Back in the summer of ‘91, thousands of anti-abortion activists descended upon the city, committing acts of civil disobedience, harassing women attempting to enter clinics and picketing residences of doctors. Protestors outside of Tiller’s clinic waved signs that read “Babies Killed Here” and “Tiller’s Slaughter House.” Operation Rescue’s tactical director bragged to The New York Times that “We know when Tiller’s using the bathroom.” Nearly 3,000 people were arrested; at one point, a quarter of the city’s police force was dedicated to handling the protests, and all of the city’s abortion clinics were closed for a week, until a federal court ordered them reopened.

The protest culminated with a massive rally at Wichita State University’s football stadium headlined by Pat Robertson and drawing a spillover crowd of 25,000. “This was where the Kansas conservative movement got an idea of its own strength . . . ” Frank wrote, “where it achieved critical mass.”

Thus mobilized, conservative Republicans swept into the state legislature in 1992 and never looked back. Four years later, moderate Republican governor Bill Graves appointed his own lieutenant governor, Sheila Frahm, to fill Bob Dole’s vacant Senate seat – but she was trounced in the primaries by the far more conservative Brownback, with the help of an eleventh-hour infusion of $400,000 from the Koch brothers.

When Brownback was elected governor in 2010, there was only one group of politicians standing in his way. Surprisingly, they were not Democrats – whose numbers in the Kansas legislature had dwindled so precipitously as to render them effectively impotent – but a small band of moderate Republicans, who balked at the most extreme elements of Brownback’s agenda and still had enough power in the Kansas Senate to gum up the works. And so when the 2012 Republican primary rolled around, Brownback and his supporters recruited an army of right-wing challengers and targeted the moderates with unprecedented alacrity. Not to mention cash: During the primary, outside spending from groups like Americans for Prosperity (a lobbying group founded by the Koch brothers), the Kansas Chamber of Commerce (run by former Koch employees), the Club for Growth and Kansans for Life totalled, according to varying estimates, somewhere between $3 million and $8 million.

One of the targeted moderates, Jean Schodorf, had served three terms as a state Senator. Her grandmother came to Kansas in a covered wagon as a homesteader in 1883; Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up on the land that would become the Schodorf family farm, and Schodorf and her brother still run a Little House On the Prairie museum. Her family has been Republican “since Lincoln created the party,” she says. But she wound up clashing with Brownback over abortion rights and his education policy; though she opposed a number of elements of Obamacare, she also voted against the notion of holding a statewide ballot referendum to repeal the law, considering the move a waste of taxpayer money since the health care law had already been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A 62-year-old Ph.D. who works as a speech pathologist, Schodorf had never before faced a primary challenge – but in 2012, in the second most expensive state Senate race in Kansas history, she was defeated by 27-year-old Michael O’Donnell, who had served for a single year on the Wichita City Council, and who still lived with his parents. O’Donnell’s father, a Wichita pastor, was an anti-abortion protestor who was arrested during the Summer of Mercy while protesting outside of George Tiller’s abortion clinic.  “Senator Schodorf’s a great lady,” O’Donnell told me. “She’s just in the wrong party.”

Dick Kelsey, another of the senators on Brownback’s enemies list, could not be questioned for his ideological purity. An evangelical preacher and a stalwart member of the conservative wing of the GOP, Kelsey had first entered politics in Indiana, where he helped recruit socially conservative candidates for Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the 1980s. He eventually moved to Kansas to open a Christian treatment camp for drug- and alcohol-addicted youth. When local politicos urged him to run for a newly open state legislative seat, he initially demurred. “But God was good,” he says, “and I ran and won.”

Kelsey served two terms in the House before shifting to the Senate, and in both chambers, he maintained a reliably conservative voting record on both fiscal and social issues. Then Brownback came into office. Kelsey figures he probably voted with Brownback 98 percent of the time, but he publicly opposed the governor’s budget after he realized it would lower his own tax burden to zero. “The bill was designed, frankly, to take care of Koch Industries,” Kelsey says. “I could see that it took money from very poor people and benefitted me, personally, too significantly. And I’m not poor.”

Groups like Americans for Prosperity outspent Kelsey by $200,000, a huge number in Kansas state politics. (Kelsey spent about $35,000 on his entire campaign.) Thirteen days before the primary, one poll showed Kelsey with a 20-point lead. “But 17 negative mailers later . . .” he says, chuckling ruefully.

Kelsey was also defeated. Of the 22 moderate Senators targeted, only five survived. It was a wholesale rout, a bloodbath. After the primary, Brownback told reporters that voters made a “clear statement . . . I think what you had is, the market functioned on Tuesday.”

“I think Brownback is fascinated by how easy it is to change things as governor, as opposed to being one of 100 U.S. senators,” a Topeka insider with ties to both parties tells me. “The current Republican legislature watched the moderates get executed by the Brownback machine. They know, and are no doubt regularly reminded of, how Brownback destroyed the career of a solid conservative like Dick Kelsey. And they know he’s capable of killing any one of them.”

The anonymous, single-story building that once housed George Tiller’s abortion clinic sits on an undistinguished stretch of highway service drive in Wichita, just down the block from a used car lot. To get inside, patients entered a gated driveway covered with signs reading “Premises Monitored Electronic Surveillance” and “No Trespassing.” The clinic has been closed since Tiller’s murder in 2009. On the lobby door, a sticker of a gun with a slash through it remains, once posted to let visitors know they weren’t allowed to carry concealed weapons inside.

This spring, Julie Burkhart, a native Kansan who worked alongside Tiller as a spokesperson and legislative activist, decided to reopen his clinic. Since the murder, there have been no abortion providers in Wichita, which has a metropolitan area with a population of 650,000; in fact, the only three abortion providers left in the entire state of Kansas were in Kansas City, 200 miles away.

One afternoon, I met Burkhart at the clinic, still several weeks from opening. An extension cord ran out of the SIGN IN window into a cluttered lobby, where a pile of forceps and a vacuum suction machine sat out from an earlier training. Burkhart is 46, with flowing, abundant red hair and the sort of taste in rings and beaded necklaces that makes her look like a bit of a hippie, which belies a steely tough-mindedness. Tiller’s harassment, she tells me, had been steady since the Summer of Mercy. There had been an assassination attempt in 1993, and she recalls sitting in his office and noticing a bulletproof vest.

“We really didn’t talk about the personal danger a lot, because I felt like it was maybe challenging for him to dwell on it,” she says. “You know, he didn’t set out to do this work. But I think the more he was involved in caring for women, the more he became wedded to the idea, and the fact, that women need safe, legal health care. And then it became a matter of principle.”

Burkhart introduces me to one of the doctors she has hired, a woman who wishes to remain anonymous. She’s been working as an OB/GYN in a small town for the past 10 years, delivering an average of 20 babies a month, and had never performed an elective abortion before. But the rhetoric coming from the right during the last election – “the War on Women, those nasty comments people were making about rape,” she says – made her think more seriously about ways in which she could contribute to progressive causes, beyond simply knocking on doors and asking for money. When I ask if any of her friends and family tried to talk her out of taking the new job, she says, “All of them. Most of whom have had abortions. They all want to see this clinic reopen. They just want someone else to do it. My mother had an illegal abortion before Roe v. Wade. Kitchen-table thing. Both of my sisters, too. All were married at the time, practicing contraception. People take precautions, but sometimes precautions fail. The pill is 98 percent effective when used perfectly – if you’re a robot. But not everyone is perfect.”

The “antis,” as Burkhart calls the local anti-abortion crusaders have already begun casing the building, typically in pairs. They’ve also shown up at Burkhart’s home twice, forcing her to take out a restraining order on one local preacher. She shows me a flyer that’s been circulating with her photograph on it. ADOPT AN ABORTION-HOMICIDE PROMOTER, it reads, continuing:

As an employee of the late abortionist Tiller, Julie Burkhart is responsible for the mass murder of thousands of innocent children. Now she wants to do it again! Adoption is the loving option, not only for babies, but also for adults who have lost their way. Join us in adopting abortion promoter Julie Burkhart who is conspiring to take the lives of precious children in Wichita again.

Chillingly, the flyer goes on to exhort readers to “do a public outreach” at Burkhart’s home – listing her street address – and notes that, “Lastly, please remind her that, ‘God hates the hands that shed innocent blood.’”

Pockets of progressive resistance remain in Kansas, in bigger cities like Wichita and college towns like Lawrence. But despite the inspiring bravery of women like Burkhart, opposing forces back in Topeka seem to have insurmountably marshalled against them. Brownback already signed a bill in 2011 that banned abortions after 21 weeks (claiming fetuses could feel pain at that point). New bills required abortion providers to show patients detailed images of fetal development and explain the supposed “link” (deemed bogus by the National Cancer Institute) between abortion and breast cancer; got rid of an exemption allowing late-term abortions if the woman’s mental health was at risk; and even officially declared that life began at conception. The latter bill was supported by freshman Republican Shanti Gandhi, a retired Topeka physician – and yes, he’s the great-grandson of that Gandhi – who called the point “indisputable.”

The Brownback revolution has not proceeded without hitches. Maintaining control of an insurrectionary movement is notoriously tricky, as is separating out the true-believing foot soldiers from the cranks and nutjobs. The antics of improperly vetted Tea Party candidates have redounded negatively on the GOP on a national level – creating an awkward tension, since the establishment also very much needs, and fears, the useful idiots making the loudest noises from the most unsavory fringes – and the same dynamic is at play in Kansas, where the Brownbackers might be wishing they’d been more careful with their previous wishes.

In the current legislative session, the House and Senate voted to rescind a 25-year-old ban on quarantining people with AIDS, and Rep. Steve Brunk of Wichita introduced a bill that would require cities that put fluoride in their water to inform customers that fluoridation lowers the I.Q. of children. The latter claim, of course, is patently false, but somehow fluoride has become a source of paranoia out in the chemtrail/Alex Jones corner of the wackosphere. A group with anti-abortion ties called Wichitans Opposed to Fluoridation actually managed to pass a ballot initiative last fall that would remove fluoride from Wichita’s drinking water. (”I don’t trust the water, period,” one voter told the Wichita Eagle. Said another, “People should be more responsible and brush their teeth.”) Last year, the state legislature passed a bill preventing United Nations’ Agenda 21 from being implemented in the state. Agenda 21 is a benign, two-decades-old UN resolution that called for worldwide cooperation in fighting economic disparity and protecting the environment, but has since become a black helicopter/One World Government bugaboo for Republicans like Rep. Bill Otto of LeRoy, who argued during the floor debate that since JFK’s assassination had clearly been committed by more than one shooter, well then, why couldn’t the Agenda 21 conspiracies also be true?

Brownback has found it difficult to keep hardcore Republicans in line on issues like wind energy, which has become a $7 billion industry in Kansas – a flat and blustery state well-suited to wind farms – and which Brownback supports. Rep. Dennis Hedke of Wichita, a geophysicist who works for the oil and gas industry (and a climate change denier), pushed a bill that would roll back a law requiring the state to meet certain renewable energy standards. Hedke also wants to ban any public money from being spent on sustainable development.

Last year, Brownback was forced to personally dress down Rep. Virgil Peck, an insurance salesman from southeast Kansas who publicly “joked” about how sharpshooters in helicopters had been so effective in killing feral swine, they should be used to hunt illegal immigrants. A Kansas political insider who wishes to remain anonymous was telling me this story when I interrupted and said, “I can’t believe he’d say that within earshot of a reporter.” My source went silent, then continued, “He said it in a House appropriations committee meeting.”

After the story made national headlines, Peck grudgingly apologized under pressure from Brownback. Still, it hasn’t exactly quelled his willingness to embrace controversial positions. Earlier this session, Peck was the only House member to oppose an anti-bullying bill, which passed 119-1. He later told a reporter from the Topeka Capital-Journal that “bullying legislation has always been a top priority of the homosexual group. I’ve never been a fan.”

When I visited Peck in his office, he greeted me effusively, with an accent that sounds less Midwestern than Deep South. He represents the rural Ozarks region in the far southeastern corner of the state, where he grew up. Around the capitol, he’s known for his loud sartorial choices. Today, he’s sporting a pretty amazing looking shirt-jacket combination, the former electric blue, the latter sherbert green, along with a red, white and blue lapel pin shaped like a cross. Peck tells me he was just writing an email, though there’s no computer on his desk, only a legal pad on which he’s been writing longhand. Sunlight pours through the big window behind him. For some reason, there’s also an overhead light on, so he almost disappears in the hazy brightness as I face him, his thick brown beard floating like the grin of a Cheshire Cat.

“The legislature has certainly moved right,” Peck says. “I’ve always believed Kansas voters were right of center – basically where I am – but in the past, a lot of conservative voters didn’t get out to vote, I think partly because of the choice of candidates.” Nationally, he thinks the problem in 2012 was simple: “We weren’t conservative enough. The establishment is what cost us that election, and Karl Rove needs to go away. As far as the soul searching, it’s like, good grief, guys, let someone else take over. We’ll find our way.”

Of course, for strategists like Rove, loose-talking Republicans like Peck – who casually refers to the president as “Barack Hussein Obama” during our conversation – are precisely the reason swing voters are being spooked by the GOP. Peck remains unmoved. “What bothers me is there are places in America that have gone so far to the left that they’d look at us as nutcases,” he says pleasantly. “I consider us in Kansas mainstream America – normal, red-blooded Americans who believe in the Constitution of the United States. Yes, we’re conservative, but we’re not a bunch of gun-toting cowboys.” A few moments later, he slides his chair back, and the wheel makes a loud cracking sound when it hits the plastic floor coaster. “That wasn’t gunshots, by the way!” he cackles.

Brownback himself made his name as “God’s Senator,” to quote the headline of a 2006 Rolling Stone profile – becoming infamous for doing things like holding up a drawing of an embryo during a Senate debate on stem-cell research and asking, “Are you going to kill me?” Last December, he made an official proclamation declaring a “Day of Restoration” on which Kansans should “collectively repent of distancing ourselves from God,” and staged a massive prayer rally in a public park near the governor’s mansion, telling the crowd, “I stand before you today, a leader of Kansas, and a sinful man, remorseful . . . Forgive me God, and forgive us.”

This can obfuscate the fact that Brownback has been equally zealous when it comes to the sort of free-market extremism pushed by monied and business interests – Brownback grew up on a farm, but married into one of the wealthiest families in Kansas – and represented most baldly by his radical, deeply regressive tax scheme. In many ways, the dust-ups over abortion and AIDS are distracting sideshows; though Brownback is certainly a true believer, a certain amount of distraction might even be the intent. What’s really important to the people running the show in Kansas – wealthy patrons like the Koch brothers – is the tax bill. Last year, Brownback hired widely discredited economist Arthur Laffer, who has been peddling supply-side theories since his work in the Reagan Administration, as a consultant on tax policy and drew up a budget that Republicans and Democrats alike considered precipitously austere. When it came to the size and swiftness of the tax cuts, the budget was also clearly financially unsustainable, a near-instantaneous deficit-bomb. The moderate Republicans who still controlled the Senate balked – until Brownback promised that if they just passed the bill, its problems would be fixed in the House. The Senators believed him, and allowed the bill to move to the House. Paul Davis, the leader of the House Democrats, remembers assuming there was no way his House Republican colleagues wouldn’t fix the bill, “Just because the fiscal note was so massive, and it was so irresponsible.”

Recalls Virgil Peck gleefully, “They passed something they didn’t think we’d pass. Basically, it was, ‘You won’t shoot the hostage.’ ‘Oh? Watch.’ And we did.”

Now that the bill is law, though, experts are predicting a $267 million deficit by the end of 2013 – down from a $500 million surplus. To mitigate the damage, Brownback was forced to ask conservatives to vote for a tax hike, making a temporary sales tax increase permanent. On the eve of the Senate vote, it was unclear if the governor had a full-scale revolt on his hands. Republicans were summoned to a secret, off-site strategy session held in a conference room in an office building in downtown Topeka. Brownback, looking peevish, showed up to rally the troops, despite the fact that it was his daughter’s birthday. “I know there’s a lot of history here,” he pleaded awkwardly, as the Senators feasted on barbecue from a buffet. “The sales tax, and the tax package last year, all have histories and legacies, and a lot of emotion goes into that. I’m asking you to look at the situation now, and what’s in the best interest for us, as a state, on a go-forward basis.”

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal had floated a similar “glide to zero” tax plan, but he recently threw in the towel after his approval rating began gliding in a similar direction, with voters reacting angrily to the deep cuts in services required to make the tax breaks feasible. Brownback might face similar problems – at the state level, Republicans have to balance their budgets, so they can’t just offer massive tax breaks and allow the deficit to balloon like their hero, Ronald Reagan. But for the moment, he’s hanging firm. Many, in fact, remain convinced that all of these experiments are being conducted with an eye toward 2016. “I very much believe that he wants to run for president,” posits Davis, the House Democratic leader, who is said to be mulling his own run for governor. “I think he is attempting to build a resume that will give him the ability to compete in a Republican primary.  And I look at a lot of these initiatives and I think they’re more targeted towards appealing to Republican voters in Iowa and South Carolina than they are to the betterment of this state.”

Brownback’s ideas aren’t the only ones being studied carefully by national audiences. His Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, garnered national attention last year as the creator of “self-deportation,” the immigration policy adopted by Mitt Romney, in which laws impacting undocumented workers would be enforced so punishingly that the workers would choose to return to their home countries. “Self-deportation” wound up on a long list of punchlines generated by the Republican primary circus – Kobach says he now prefers “attrition through enforcement” – but the Secretary of State remains a potent figure, handsome, articulate and very smart: Harvard undergrad, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, Yale Law School, a stint in the Bush Justice Department under John Ashcroft.

In other words, the guy doesn’t seem crazy. He’s actually quite charismatic, even likable if you ignore some of his policy arguments. And yet when we met, he scoffed at the way the Republican establishment has been looking to soften the party stance on immigration, calling that approach “simplistic and ahistorical.” Part of this has to do with his own bottom line, of course: He’s been drumming up a healthy side business hiring himself out to states like Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Missouri as a consultant and helping them to craft their own self-deportation laws.

But like many Republicans on the far right, Kobach also sincerely believes the GOP’s problems have more to do with image than substance. “You know,” he says, “the instinct of the talking head culture in media, the TV people who are pontificating about what the Republicans should or should not do, is always to say, ‘Well, it was an issues-driven thing.’ Because they live in the world of issues! To them, the whole world is framed that way. But in fact, every four years, the size of the American electorate almost doubles. Think about that. And the people who vote only once every four years, they’re likely to be much more driven by personalities, and by community efforts to mobilize them and say, ‘Hey, we really need you to get out and vote.’ Voters probably just saw Barack Obama as a more likable character than Mitt Romney.”

Jean Schodorf feels differently. After leaving office, in fact, she did something she’d never thought she’d do: She left the Republican party. “It was a very hard decision, harder than I ever thought it would be,” she says. “But I thought it was hypocritical, when they no longer stood for any of the issues I believed in.” Schodorf is fairly certain she’ll return to politics at some point, though she’s not sure in what capacity. “We’ve got to get through these next two legislative sessions,” she says drily, “and hope there’s still something intact.”

As for Brownback, well, his State of the State address in January seemed pitched not only to voters at home, but to a potentially broader audience. “When our country seems adrift, Kansas leads,” he said. “In an era when many believe that America has lost its way, Kansas knows its way.”

4/14/2014

AYN RAND AND JESUS

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, religion — Peg Britton @ 6:34 pm

Republicans are Trying to Mix the Ideologies of Jesus Christ with an Atheist and That Doesn’t Make Any Sense
April 14, 2014 By Allen Clifton

Ayn-rand-jesus-christ.  It’s amazing to me how few conservatives know who Ayn Rand is.  Especially considering that she’s quite possibly the most influential person behind most of the Republican party’s economic ideologies.

She was a person who spoke out against social programs, believed that people should only worry about themselves, opposed big government and worshiped at the “glory” that is unregulated capitalism.  In other words, she’s the epitome of what most Republicans support economically.

Hell, Ron Paul named his son Rand Paul after the woman, and Paul Ryan has cited her as one of his key influences in his life.

There’s just one problem – Ayn Rand was an atheist.  Not that there’s any problem at all with being an atheist (more power to you) but there is a big problem with a political party that builds its social platform on “Christian” values while basing its economic ideology on that of someone who didn’t believe in God.

You can’t logically say that you want to be the party of “Christian values” while basing a large part of your platform on the beliefs of a woman who thought people who believed in religion were ignorant and foolish.

It doesn’t make any sense.

Think of it like a vegetarian opening a steak house.  You cannot base one entity on two conflicting ideologies.  But that’s exactly what the Republican party is trying to do.

They want to call themselves the party of “Christian values,” while supporting economic policies based on the beliefs of a woman who lived her life in direct contrast to Christianity.

(Oh, on a side note, Ayn Rand died poor living off Social Security.  So much for opposing big government programs and rallying for “personal responsibility.”)

Jesus Christ believed in helping the poor; feeding the hungry; opposing greed; believed in acceptance; taught to provide for the needy, all while preaching love and generosity.  Ayn Rand believed that we should only worry about ourselves, that the “self” is the only thing that matters and essentially charity was stupid.

You know, the exact opposite of the values for which Jesus Christ stood.

So when Republicans try to morph these two conflicting ideologies together, all I can do is shake my head.  I guess it’s a good thing their voters are often extremely ignorant to reality, history and facts – because trying to mix the philosophies of Ayn Rand with the beliefs of Jesus Christ doesn’t make any damn sense.

But that’s exactly what the Republican party is trying to do.

11/24/2013

10 QUESTIONS EVERY LIBERAL SHOULD ASK EVERY REPUBLICAN…

Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 9:04 pm

November 24, 2013 By Allen Clifton

1) If Republicans are so fiscally responsible, why was President Eisenhower (in the 1950′s) the last Republican president to balance the budget?

2) If President Reagan was such a fiscally conservative hero, why did he quadruple our national debt during his eight years in the White House?

3) If tax breaks are the main driving force behind job creation, how would we create jobs once tax rates were reduced to practically zero?

4) If socialized health care is so awful, why does every country that leads the world in life expectancy have socialized health care?

5) If you support the freedom of religion (as per our Constitution), and my church recognizes gay marriage, isn’t your support for the banning of same-sex marriage an attack on my religion’s First Amendment rights?

6) What’s more realistic?  1) That an entire region of the United States that supported slavery in the late-1800′s and support segregation in the 1950′s and 60′s suddenly stopped being racist, or 2) The racist southern Democrats in the south became Republicans during the 50′s and 60′s when the Republican party shifted toward an idea called the “Southern Strategy,” where the GOP appealed to the racism in southern whites who didn’t like African Americans voting for Democrats.

7) If taxes are at some of their lowest levels in history, and the wealthiest in this country are richer than ever, why hasn’t the growth in the wealth of the middle class matched that of the top 2%?

8) If our Founding Fathers wanted this nation to be based on Christianity, why don’t the words “Christian” or “Christianity” appear even once in our Constitution?

9) If a Republican president reduced massive job losses in the midst of the worst recession in nearly a century by more than 50% in his first 4 months in office; presided over 44 consecutive months of private-sector job growth creating nearly 8 million jobs; killed Osama bin Ladin; saw stock markets reach all-time highs; saved the American auto industry; increased domestic oil production to highs not seen since the late-90′s and championed the largest year-to-year deficit reductions since World War II, would your party not be calling him a hero and a legend?

10)  If Jesus spent his life helping the poor and the needy, how does it make sense that a party which claims to be for “Christian values” continues to cut funding for programs that help the poor and the needy?

8/12/2013

KANSANS SUFFER TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, print news, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 6:50 am

Letter: Kansans suffer taxation without representation
Posted: August 11, 2013 - 5:45pm

Topeka Capitol Journal
What really riled up the American colonials and convinced them to split from Britain was being taxed by a government that didn’t represent them.

Now, legislators who are supposed to represent Kansas taxpayers are misappropriating state taxes to support the ALEC agenda, which is not in the best interests of most Kansans.

Conservative legislators have already pushed through ALEC-authored legislation hostile to Kansas’ poor and the middle class — disenfranchising voters using the fraudulent excuse of voter fraud, attacking public and private unions, shrinking state financial support for education and the safety net, cutting taxes for the well-to-do and shifting the burden to the middle class. Now they are raiding the state treasury to pay their way to the ALEC convention, where they get their marching orders from their corporate masters.

Our legislators have the right to attend the ALEC clambake, but not on the taxpayers’ dime. ALEC-bound legislators with a sense of honor will reject state money to subsidize their Chicago excursion. It will be interesting and revealing to see which of them do the honorable thing. Kansas voters should find out who among their legislators are taking state money to pay for participation in the ALEC get-together and split with them at the polls.

DON BURT, Topeka

7/28/2013

TIM HUELSKAMP…OUR FAVORITE BATSH*T CRAZY REPUBLICAN REP….

Filed under: political musings, Pro-life/Pro-choice, religion, GOP — Peg Britton @ 8:27 pm

Tim Huelskamp, our favorite batsh*t crazy Republican Representative from Kansas, is sponsoring an amendment (the Federal Marriage Amendment) to the Constitution that would define marriage as one man and one woman. The American Family Association, home to such crazies as Bryan Fischer, is all for it.

Undeterred by studies showing millennials leaving organized religion, that “young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Huelskamp had promised such an amendment and he delivered on June 30 of this year. The last such attempt to force a religion down Americans’ throats failed in July 2006.

Just as a refresher, this is the wording of the proposed amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

by Mike Muller

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