Sunday, September 21, 2014

Is the Tea Party Turning Kansas Blue!

Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback - leading Kansas to disaster
I've noted before the disaster Kansas has become for the GOP following the implementing of a Christofascist/Tea Party dream agenda.  The larger lesson to the rest of the nation, of course, is that what was done in Kansas is what today's GOP wants to impose nationwide - a reverse Robin Hood plan combined with huge tax cuts for the wealthy.  America already has less upward social mobility than "Old Europe" and the GOP would make the situation far worse.  The Christofascists seem fine with this approach of turning the Gospel message on its head and, all too typically, blame the disadvantaged for their own plight.  A piece in Salon, which calls Kansas "Brownbackistan," looks at the continued melt down in Kansas.  Here are excerpts:

If you visit the campaign web site of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who is fighting a difficult battle for re-election, you will see a series of large-type boasts about his nonexistent economic achievements, and then you will read this:
“Our administration has accomplished this and so much more in my first term as Governor. . . . Help me stand up for Kansas against an over-reaching federal government. Join Lt Governor Colyer and I today.”
Yes: Join I today. The governor of Kansas wrote this—or signed it, anyway—and just above a list item declaring “Investing in Education.”

It is a small matter, and yet it is typical in its own careless way of the man’s calamitous administration of my home state since he ascended to the governorship in 2010. Everything was supposed to be so awesome in Kansas, so godly and upright, and everything has gone so very wrong. The little things, the big things, and everything in between.

You might recall that Sam Brownback was, in his days in Congress and the Senate, one of the most prominent national leaders of the Republican Party’s moral-purity wing; he even briefly ran for president in 2007. Matters of the spirit were quite the thing in conservative rhetoric in those days, and Brownback was always in that movement’s fore, crusading against offensive entertainment, stem cell research, and other abominations.

He wanted to build a “red-state model” in Kansas, he used to say, a community of righteousness that could “show the way back to being America again.” What he has constructed instead is a microcosm of everything that is wrong and disastrous with conservative governance.

It is as though Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay had been transplanted to Topeka and given a free hand to sculpt the state however they chose. You’ve got runaway incompetence in the state administration; heavy-handed partisanship, with conservative Republicans crushing moderate Republicans after the familiar pattern; corporate money—Koch Industries is based in Wichita—sloshing around like a vast underground aquifer. 

Once the hero of the state’s sin-hating millions, Sam Brownback is unpopular today. Indeed, his situation is so bad that the only sure way he can be rescued is by a mass disregard for economic reality—by cognitive blinders strapped on simultaneously by millions of individuals.  Either that, or by the culture wars.  Very soon, I expect, the time will come for Brownback to rally Kansans around the fetus. 

Local governments, meanwhile have tried to make up the shortfall by raising property taxes (which are paid by a big part of the population in rural states), with the ironic result that while the hated moderate yuppies in the posh Kansas City suburbs get to enjoy Brownback’s tax cuts, the hardworking conservatives of the poorer counties have to pay much more. Other institutions have felt the pain as well: There was a risk, at one point, that the state’s courts would run out of money, and now Kansas prisons, that favorite conservative institution, are reportedly being forced to operate with insufficient guards. But what’s the big deal?

Think back over all those years of prayer and organizing and going door to door and yelling about the liberal elite with their lattes and their fancy Volvos—what has it fetched the rebellious right-wingers of my home state? Yes, one of their leaders got a cash-out job in leafy Leawood. Hopefully a McMansion, too. But for most of the rest of them it’s crumbling schools and dwindling services and the huge expressionless face of the local ag monopoly, remorselessly bidding down the labor of their neighbors.

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