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Seriously, What's The Matter With Kansas?
June 12, 2013 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Rogue State: How Far-Right Fanatics Hijacked Kansas
posted by reenum (40 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have to say its become a depressing place to live over the past few years. I feel like we are all being hurtled over a cliff and it's hard to know what to do to stop it. The article doesn't mention the latest: a $49 million dollar cut to the huger education funds from the state, which will result in huge tuition increases and should go a long way towards keeping people uneducated and complacent. (And don't get me started on the fact that students will also soon be able to bring their guns to class; it's bad enough facing down disgruntled students now!)
posted by girl scientist at 6:56 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Poor Kansas. Such a rich history, which those in charge seem determined to spit on.
posted by rtha at 7:09 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surely the pendulum will have to start swinging back the other way soon?
posted by Leezie at 7:20 PM on June 12, 2013


Not if it breaks off...
posted by Riki tiki at 7:24 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I fear it may be more like looking at a ball that has rolled down a hill and saying "surely it's time for it to start rolling back uphill again?"
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:27 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Brownback is just a huge Mad Max fan and wants to turn the whole state into one big wasteland full of vehicular carnage.
posted by hellojed at 7:32 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, look, Indiana was once ruled by the KKK and now ...

Ok, bad example.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:45 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, one of the interesting things about America is that different states can experiment with different approaches to governing. These experiments can let other states if they should try similar approaches (or the if the federal government should try such approaches).

The far-right has been clamoring for measures similar to the ones Kansas is enacting (particularly the Koch brothers).

Now we get to see how these experiment will work out.

(spoiler alert: Brownback will not be our next president).
posted by el io at 7:49 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


el io: "These experiments can let other states if they should try similar approaches (or the if the federal government should try such approaches)."

The problem is, we've been trying the Republicans' "the answer to everything is "cut taxes'" for thirty years and it hasn't worked, but that hasn't stopped them. Just like the theory that there's no bad publicity, there's no such thing as a bad example to some people. If I stop beating my head with a hammer, and my headache goes away, that's just proof that hitting myself in the hammer worked!
posted by notsnot at 7:58 PM on June 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's really sad to see this happen to great State with wonderful people in it.

I spent 6 years in Kansas (granted in Lawrence, an island of blue in a sea of red) and I met very few people I'd consider completely nuts.

They were middle-American, socially conservative, vaguely anti-government stand-up people for the most part.

Yet, here they are, electing people who, even if you agree with their social views, apparently don't have an actual clue on how to run a State.

(Wow, that reporter comes off as a real dick though. "the approximate shape and shade of a Red Bartlett Pear". Really?)
posted by madajb at 8:04 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The problem is, we've been trying the Republicans' "the answer to everything is "cut taxes'" for thirty years and it hasn't worked

Well, you obviously haven't cut taxes enough.
posted by pompomtom at 8:15 PM on June 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


... different states can experiment with different approaches to governing.

To bad Kansas is filled with actual people, not just lab rats.

Well, you obviously haven't cut taxes enough.

"I know you didn't fly the last time you jumped off a building and flapped your arms. I think you just need to jump off a taller building."
posted by benito.strauss at 8:25 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


madajb: "Yet, here they are, electing people who, even if you agree with their social views, apparently don't have an actual clue on how to run a State."

My take on this is that on social issues, it's a construct of voter turnout in primaries. When neglected, it swings people with more concerned about associating their name with "sending a message" via policy than governing. The next election will (hopefully) swing moderate as the public reads the policies being passed.

On the economic front, it's basically a combination of farmer / rancher / oiler counties pushing for lower taxes while the affluent suburban population that favors things like higher education and public schools elect to fund their school system through local sales taxes, property taxes, etc. For the affluent suburbanites, it's also a lot less redistributive than any state wide policy would have to be, but I don't think that's a deliberate thing. The main loser here is the urban working class, which is why Wyandotte County typically instigates court claims about state funding. And court is their only reliable means: most of KC's working class actually lives in Missouri.
posted by pwnguin at 8:34 PM on June 12, 2013


Many states have no income tax and never had one. Property taxes provide a revenue base at once more stable and more amenable to local priorities, and sales taxes assure that everyone who receives government services helps pay for them.
posted by MattD at 8:39 PM on June 12, 2013


pompomtom: "Well, you obviously haven't cut taxes enough."

Who knew the Laffer curve was a hysteresis?
/physics joke
posted by notsnot at 8:42 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


ales taxes assure that everyone who receives government services helps pay for them.

Cough regressive bleed the poor cough, FREE MARKUT AMERIKA!
posted by lalochezia at 8:42 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


MattD: "Many states have no income tax and never had one. "

Nine states, for what that's worth.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:47 PM on June 12, 2013


Many states have no income tax and never had one.

There are only 9 states without an income tax.
All but 5 have a sales tax.
As far as I can tell, all of them have property tax of some sort.

Most have all 3.
posted by madajb at 8:48 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Brownback's fervor reminds me of Under the Dome.
posted by wierdo at 10:06 PM on June 12, 2013


I read the article eagerly, because such a phenomenon - people seemingly voting against their own apparent interests - gets at some very deep truths about political systems. Clearly there is a mismatch of perception. The majority of the voters do not think they are voting against their own interests.

I was very disappointed in this article. It was nothing but a litany of the nasty stuff politicians legislate. That describes the symptoms, which we are all well familiar with, but nothing about the underlying condition that leads to this. It told us nothing about the much more interesting party to this: the voters who vote these politicians into power. The very title of the article, and the explicit multiple references to the famous book, promised an exploration - or at least an update on "what's in the matter with Kansas". There was none. I would give this article a failing grade of F. It has utterly failed to actually address the very premise it was based on.
posted by VikingSword at 10:28 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've lived in Kansas my whole life -- 36 years -- and that will be ending this summer.

It hasn't been so bad since most of my adult life I lived in the Lawrence area, but about two years ago I moved back to my rural hometown, and life here has been more difficult.

There are anti-abortion and anti-LGBT messages from the pulpits and anti-tax, anti-teachers, anti-everything but guns messages from the Statehouse, and most people are obliging enough to go right along with what they hear. They love babies, after all, and they like keeping their money. Their kids are grown so the schools aren't as important any more. They might know and personally like one or two non-straight folk, but ... you all know the rest of this story. It's a small and homogeneous population, and they're as scared as anyone else, and the certainty offered by the new people in the Statehouse is comforting to them.

I'll be leaving a town in which the hospital, which is the county's largest employer, has cut over 10% of its workforce since the sequester. I had been the PR person there, among other things, until May. One of the more curious challenges of the job was trying to talk to a community of people who as a whole like & respect Bob Dole about a health care plan that he supported now that it's called Obamacare and thus turned into far-left socialist nonsense.

The local economic development committee is wondering what they can do to attract younger people and families to an area that's graying rapidly, as that part seems to have been left out of the Koch playbook.

And I'll be gone soon, first to Colorado and maybe then to the East if it'll have me and things work out. I'll come back to visit family and friends, and that shall be that. No regrets.
posted by rewil at 10:36 PM on June 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


VikingSword, the primary culprit to my eye seemed to be two obscenely wealthy corporate owners injecting millions of dollars into normally sleepy primaries and local races. That financial advantage, combined with Brownback's singleminded radicalism, blew any moderate obstacles out of the water.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:43 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a Jayhawk, a Kansas native, born and raised. I grew up in Lawrence. My family still lives there. I want to go home, I do. I imagine, however, that I'm better off staying down here in this little blue corner of Texas.

I miss the state I grew up in. When our huge high school finally split in two, what did we call the second: Free State. As a Kansan and a Lawrence native, let me assure you, our history means everything to us. I don't understand what's happening now or why but it breaks my heart.
posted by blessedlyndie at 3:43 AM on June 13, 2013


sales taxes assure that everyone who receives government services helps pay for them.

No, it means that the poor pay a vastly higher percentage of taxes than the rich for exactly the same government services.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:38 AM on June 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've had it with America.
posted by Legomancer at 5:45 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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."

What fucking journalism school teaches you to write like this?
posted by Ghost Mode at 6:06 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


working my way though still, this jumped out at me, in an article full of horrible things:
After the primary, Brownback told reporters that voters made a "clear statement . . . I think what you had is, the market functioned on Tuesday."
posted by vibratory manner of working at 6:12 AM on June 13, 2013


Seriously, What's The Matter With Kansas?

State legislatures come cheap. See also: North Carolina.

Based in Wichita, Kan., Koch Industries, Inc. is one of the largest private companies in America.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:24 AM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm seeing a lot of negativity about Kansas here. I can't say I disagree, but I encourage anyone who's leaving or passing through to visit the Kansas Underground Salt Museum before they depart the state, because it is awesome. That is all.
posted by asperity at 7:42 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


After the primary, Brownback told reporters that voters made a "clear statement . . . I think what you had is, the market functioned on Tuesday."

This is completely indistinguishable from "God's will was done".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:55 AM on June 13, 2013


Asperity is right, the salt museum is worth a visit.
posted by rewil at 9:02 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Experiments are only valuable when you're willing to acknowledge that a given experiment isn't working.
posted by emjaybee at 9:04 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, in my grandfather's corner of western Missouri, the word on the street there is that Kansas is"full of nothing but sunflowers and sonsabitches." Maybe that's what's the matter.

Note: I do not agree with that sentiment, and think that part of western Missouri sucks pretty hard itself
posted by COBRA! at 9:18 AM on June 13, 2013


On Anniversary Of Dr. Tiller’s Murder, Anti-Abortion Harassment Is Still Hurting Women And Doctors
posted by homunculus at 3:27 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surely we can raise some money to beat these Koch puppets? Hell, fund moderate republicans.
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:14 PM on June 13, 2013


The local economic development committee is wondering what they can do to attract younger people and families to an area that's graying rapidly, as that part seems to have been left out of the Koch playbook.

That may be a feature not a bug as far as the Kochs are concerned. Even if the state turns into a depopulated wasteland, the Koch Brothers can still use it as a "rotten borough" with two Senators and at least three electoral votes.
posted by jonp72 at 9:08 PM on June 13, 2013


Oh, look, Texas wants to join in the fun (now with bonus violations of the Constitution for political gains!):

Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Americans have no right to freedom from religion
During an announcement of the signing of the so-called “Merry Christmas Bill,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) said Thursday that freedom from religion was not included in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“I’m proud we are standing up for religious freedom in our state,” Perry said. “Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion.”

The new law states that students and school officials have the right to use religious greetings like “Merry Christmas” and display various religious holiday symbols on school grounds.

“I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” Nichols remarked. “One of those freedoms is the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and as the governor was saying the Constitution refers to the freedom of religion, not the freedom from religion.”
If only we had a document written in part by Thomas Jefferson that stated that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Of course, they're just following in the footsteps of Tennessee, who loves religion and school vouchers unless dirty Mooslems want to get in on it, think that mop sinks are SHARIA ATTACKS ON OUR FREEDOMS, and bring out these cheerful people (emphasis mine):
Tennessee’s Muslim community was deeply concerned when a local county commissioner posted an anti-Muslim picture on his Facebook page, which had the viewer looking down the barrel of a shotgun and a caption reading “HOW TO WINK AT A MUSLIM.” Commissioner Barry West later apologized for sharing the picture, but by then his post had gone viral. In response, the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) organized an outreach forum to educate the community about how to conduct “Public Discourse in a Diverse Society.”

Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Kenneth Moore, FBI special agent in charge of the Eastern Tennessee District, were two government officials on hand to present on the ways in which freedom of speech can be exercised without spreading fear or stereotypes. Unfortunately, not everyone was prepared to listen, especially protesters organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) — a group founded by leading Islamophobe Pamela Geller — and other right-wing groups. In what they called “rallying for free speech,” a crowd of hecklers inside the event attempted to drown out the numerous speakers.

“That’s not even a crime,” one woman could be heard shouting as Killian walked the crowd through a PowerPoint slide describing what constitutes a hate crime. Another woman called him a “traitor” for his comments.

Arguably the worst moment in the proceedings was when Sabina Mohyuddin mentioned a mosque in Murfreesboro, TN, that was burned to the ground in 2007. The hecklers’ response? To break out into cheers.

“Shame on you,” Mohyuddin can be heard scolding the hecklers over their applause. It wasn’t the first outburst against her during the forum. Earlier in her presentation, when she mentioned the high rate of citizenship among American Muslims, one of the hecklers shouted “Infiltration!”

Outside, Geller and and AFDI co-founder Robert Spencer led hundreds more protesters in rallying against the idea of civilized discourse, claiming to be protecting their right to free speech. “This is the line in the sand,” Geller told the crowd, which included former Saturday Night Live star and fellow Islamphobe Victoria Jackson. “The Constitution and Sharia cannot coexist,” Jackson said, adding, “Islam is evil.”

Spencer defended his group’s harassment of the speakers at the event, calling “the claim that someone in the crowd was ‘afraid’ of the other audience members, as if these patriots who came out to defend the freedom of speech were some gang of menacing thugs, bent on silencing their foes by force, was utterly preposterous.”
Bonus quote from one of these charmers:
Tim Cummings of Nashville, which is 70 miles away, said that he respected Muslim beliefs until they begin infringing on his own First Amendment rights.

"When I'm being told that if I post something which they might interpret as being inflammatory or I will be subject to criminal or civil penalties, yeah, that's being infringed upon," he said.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:43 AM on June 14, 2013


Kansas: There's no place like home. We make Wisconsin look good.

Ruckus in Wisconsin Senate: Republicans push through ultrasound bill after silencing Democrats
posted by Room 641-A at 9:27 AM on June 14, 2013


I mentioned North Carolina earlier.
This Is What a Multimillionaire Calling In His Chits Looks Like
Art Pope is the conservative mega-donor in North Carolina whose millions helped usher in Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature in 2010, and who dropped millions more in 2012 to elect Republican Gov. Pat McGrory. Perhaps to say thanks, McGrory promptly named Pope, a former board member of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity group, the state's new budget director.

One of Pope's pet causes has been killing North Carolina's public funding program for judicial elections, an aim of his when he served in the state legislature.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:23 AM on June 14, 2013


Coming late to this thread, but there's effectively zero chance that Texas will go this route. It's more likely that Texas will turn, if not completely blue, then at least a much more attractive shade of purple in the next few cycles for demographic reasons. This isn't only because of latino/hispanic immigration, though that does help. Texas is increasingly dominated by very large, fast-growing urban areas that tilt blue. Urban Houston, for example, is fairly purple, but it's blue enough that we made news a few years ago by electing a lesbian mayor -- I think we're still the largest city in the US with a gay chief exec.

Kansas, though, has none of this going for it. It's more like my birth state, Mississippi; not much there, not much reason to go there, and nowhere to go but down.

It's a shame. I've done a bunch of business in Kansas -- but mostly in the moneyed southern suburbs of KC. KC is a special case, being on the border and all. The rest of my Kansan trips have been to Wichita, which is a tiny little city that still brags about being the biggest city in Kansas.

This is true, but only in a lawyerly, nitpicky sense that relies on civic boundaries and ignores metro areas. Wichita proper is less than 400K people, but more than half a million Kansas residents live on the Kansas side of the border in the KC metro area.
posted by uberchet at 2:11 PM on June 21, 2013


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