“The difference between a Republican and a Democrat is the Democrat is a cannibal they have to live off each other, while the Republicans, why, they live off the Democrats. “
- Will Rogers, Nov. 4, 1879 – Aug. 15, 1935
This quote was sent to me by long-time Flyer correspondent and friend, Mary Pitt from Anderson county, Kansas. It was in the back of my mind while hitching a ride down to Wichita, Ks. to witness a couple weeks ago, the Kansas Democratic Party at a semi-annual gathering called “Demofest.”
She picked up from email traffic that I was going, but more importantly, detected from my scattered utterances on Radio Free Kansas my horror related to Sen. Sam Brownback returning for a campaign to be governor. We pretty much agree Brownback and many of the Republican federal-level congressional candidates are a pack of liars, war mongers and neo-con demagogues who carry the biggest personal responsibility for destroying America.
“Personal responsibility” is a big thing with these neo-cons, who pose as libertarians one minute, then Christian Nationalists another and ultimately as bloodthirsty red, white and blue warriors for the bloated and festering Pentagon. In deep and earnest discussions with them everything boils down to personal responsibility; endemic poverty, sexually transmitted diseases, infant mortality rates, epidemic obesity and even five years ago, being trapped, starving in flooded New Orleans it all comes from the lack of “personal responsibility.”
Max Blumenthal recently wrote a book called “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the movement that shattered the Party” which pretty carefully dissected the psychological origins of this fixation with “personal responsibility” that so many Kansans share and quite a few manipulate to obtain power over others. He and the people he cites in the book study the use of corporal punishment in teaching children and traces it into the backgrounds of powerful people, usually conservative and yes, Sam Brownback and other powerful Republicans are mentioned.
And then there is the white Christian religious thing, that’s a big one among Kansans too.
The white Christian religious thing was also big on my mind while riding down to Wichita to watch the Kansas Democrats mass to stop the deeply entrenched and powerful Republicans across the state. I was fitfully reading my wife’s Kindle where Blumenthal’s book is stored, since Blumenthal and I once agreed to talk on Radio Free Kansas, for others to hear. The book with descriptions of secret meetings among wealthy German neo-Nazis at a lake island castle disturbed me too much.
I pushed the close button, moved on to another book where powerful Kansans are described.
The timeless classic from Jeff Sharlet “The Family: The secret fundamentalism at the heart of American power” describing his extended stay as part servant, part acolyte at one of the tax-exempt mansions of “the Family” called Ivanwald. The book, now infamous among slumming conservative powerful congressmen, describes what he learned praying with them and later digging through their papers and even once getting smashed in a punitive dog-pile of Christian brotherly “love.”
I remember hearing the concern in Sharlet’s voice over the phone when he shocked me that Kansas Democrat Jim Slattery had once stayed at the “C-street” network of mansions too. Slattery was the first powerful Democrat I featured on Radio Free Kansas and he later distanced his stay there as merely a place with cheap rooms for rent. He didn’t seem to be big on the white Christian religious thing when he graced me with recorded conversations while he was campaigning against Sen. Pat Roberts in 2008.
Those big-time Kansas politicians like Sen. Sam Brownback, Rep. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt who lived at the “C street” network of mansions at one time or another; they do use the white Christian religious thing, regularly to get votes out here. And they really do believe in a worldwide American empire, and like Sen. Roberts are willing to tell us, convincing many that endless war is necessary to preserve “our American way of life.”
The Kindle closed permanently for the rest of the Kansas Democratic Party meeting at the Hyatt Hotel in Wichita, Ks. I couldn’t handle thinking about the massive betrayal over the last nine years those Washington people had brought down upon the nation and how many of them were Kansans who were directly and personally responsible.
I dread Wichita, Ks. while I have many old cherished friendships there the city brings back painful memories of the years and years of carrying guns into it, the armed clandestine maneuvers to bring doctors and nurses there, while they were being stalked by those devout in “pro-life” clinic harassment.
And if you’re reading this outside Kansas, you must know that Dr. George Tiller was “murdered” here, but I must gently correct you, and while “assassinated” might seem a more proper term in respectable circles, I must use the best word for that true horror that is preferable to the people.
Unlike Sam Brownback, Pat Roberts, Jerry Moran, Mary Kay Culp, Troy Newman, Phill Kline, Stephan Maxwell, Eric Rucker, Tim Huelskamp, Todd Tiahrt or the countless members of the “pro-life” communities, in all the political parties of Kansas, I take personal responsibility for using the correct term.
Dr. Tiller was “lynched” in a Wichita, Ks. Christian church on a Sunday morning.
Lynched after decades of partisan Christian political propaganda, by a distant mob of “pro-life” leaders and legislators, lynched by Christian Nationalists, lynched after multiple courts of law and juries found him “not guilty” and fundamentally lynched as some once called a strange fruit hanging from a magnolia tree, by a religiously fascinated crowd as gory spectacle.
He was without sanctuary, and he was once, like so many of my relatives and neighbors, a proud Kansas Republican.
Let me finish, and I must be quick because all too many cannot, or will not, read further.
I met many good hearted and well-intentioned people at the Hyatt over that short weekend, but what struck me like a lightning bolt happened on the last meeting Saturday afternoon during the business meeting of the full delegations of the Kansas Democratic Party.
I sat in what Kansas Progressive Caucus co-chair Jim Herrmann described as “the peanut gallery” on the floor in the back of the seated crowd taking notes, honored with the privilege of entry, keeping my tape recorder and camera in the bag. I thought it was a closed meeting.
Delegate Herrmann issued a humorous challenge to all to take the demand of state Sen. Tom Holland for ten debates to the media and the grassroots against Brownback’s stubbornly single offer for debate at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson Sept. 11th. Do Kansans really want to be kept in the dark and not know where these candidates stand?
State Senator Anthony Hensley got up to give his closing speech to the assembly and while I was tired, sweat soaked (being too poor to afford a room at the Hyatt, let alone the banquet) scribbling his words seemed natural at the time.
He began slowly, his voice almost throttled as he thanked those attending, complimenting Lisa Johnston for her educated and determined speech in the coming campaign against Rep. Jerry Moran (R) and for hopefully bringing some female intelligence to the U. S. Senate, at last.
He talked about the extreme danger Kris Kobach posed to the Kansas Secretary of State office and how it was just another platform for Kobach (like some have hinted about Brownback) to run for future offices in Washington DC.
I noted on my own, “Imagine Kobach legislating micro-chipped voters into the U. S. Senate.” Those are not Sen. Hensley’s words, but he sparked that note of mine at just how far these crazy conservatives might go in voter crowd control.
Then Hensley came out with one of the strangest quotes from of all people, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the man from Abilene, Ks.
He quoted this passage from a letter the famous “moderate” and “intelligent” Republican President “Ike” wrote to his brother, Edgar Newton Eisenhower, Nov. 8, 1954:
Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this--in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
Hensley proceeded in full voice describing exactly what cut backs and mass misery the Kansas Republicans have in store, detailing the exact number of jobs threatened to be cut by them, and the dollars missed from the wrecked economy.
The list of cutbacks above is quite clear in Eisenhower’s letter to his brother, and are quite familiar to those watching the news, but instead of just a few Texas millionaires, I must add a Wichita family of billionaires who have been quietly and successfully funding the final destruction of America and Kansas as we know it.
And with neo-conservative leaders from Kansas coming home from Washington D.C. to roost in royal fashion atop us, I must remind the readers, like their roles in the ruinous wars abroad, they are not taking “personal responsibility.”
I suggest we take seriously Tom Holland’s demand for ten debates, not as a joke among the defeated, but as the single issue that can expose Brownback and the bloody policies he and his party plans for Kansans to the light of day.