Saturday Morning: What’s The Matter With Kansas?Posted: April 6, 2013
I spent my early childhood in Lawrence, Kansas while my dad was working on his Ph.D. at KU. We lived in the married student housing, which consisted of a group of wood frame former army barraks painted yellow. They called it “Sunnyside.” As a child I just loved the place. My mom remembers how the dust would blow up through the floorboards and the clothes would be dry before she even finished hanging them on the clothesline. I remember it as a kind of paradise where there were plenty of other kids around and vast fields nearby where we could run and play to our heart’s content. In those carefree days of the 1950s, parents didn’t feel they had to watch their children every minute. We didn’t need play dates, we just ran outdoors and joined the fun. We had a lot of freedom then.
I can still recall the simmering summer afternoons when all the adults were sheltering indoors and we wore ourselves out climbing the jungle gym and hanging upside down or wandering through the fields looking for arrowheads or relaxing in the shade of a giant oak tree where someone had nailed boards together to make a tree house. We’d climb up there and enjoy the view from on high.
One of my clearest memories is the joy I’d feel when, after driving up to North Dakota with my family to visit my grandparents we’d cross the Kansas border and the “Welcome to Kansas, the Sunflower State” sign, and I’d know I was back home at last. I’d survey the wheat fields waving in the breeze, the distant horizon, the endless highway, straight and flat, where if there was a speed limit sign all it was 100 mph.
Yes, I loved Kansas, as only a child can love a place. When we moved away to Ohio, I was broken-hearted and homesick and for a long time I begged my parents to take us back there.
I guess these memories are the reason it hurts my heart to hear about what is going on in Kansas today. I suppose it was always a conservative place, but today it has become cruel and mean-spirited. Look at the news from my old home state this morning.
Kansas passes anti-abortion bill declaring life begins ‘at fertilization.’ The Christian Science Monitor reports:
Kansas legislators gave final passage to a sweeping anti-abortion measure Friday night, sending Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that declares life begins “at fertilization” while blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and banning abortions performed solely because of the baby’s sex.
The House voted 90-30 for a compromise version of the bill reconciling differences between the two chambers, only hours after the Senate approved it, 28-10. The Republican governor is a strong abortion opponent, and supporters of the measure expect him to sign it into law so that the new restrictions take effect July 1.
In addition to the bans on tax breaks and sex-selection abortions, the bill prohibits abortion providers from being involved in public school sex education classes and spells out in more detail what information doctors must provide to patients seeking abortions.
Yes, the War on Women continues, and the Kansas legislature is apparently determined to beat out North Dakota as the most dangerous place for women to get pregnant.
The measure’s language that life begins “at fertilization” had some abortion-rights supporters worrying that it could be used to legally harass providers. Abortion opponents call it a statement of principle and not an outright ban on terminating pregnancies.
“The human is a magnificent piece of work at all stages of development, wondrous in every regard, from the microscopic until full development,” said Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican who supported the bill.
Except if you’re a female human, and then you’re just a baby-making machine. Or perhaps Sen. Fitzgerald doesn’t even think females are human beings at all.
Here’s another report on the bill from Kansas.com: Senate passes anti-abortion bill after bitter debate touching on Taliban and slavery
During Friday’s debate, Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, R-Leavenworth, said any abortion at any stage of pregnancy “results in a dead human child.”
He also characterized the Roe vs. Wade decision that protects a woman’s right to an abortion as “probably the worst decision ever to come out of this Supreme Court or any Supreme Court, including the Dred Scott decision.”
The Scott decision in 1857 ruled that African-Americans were not citizens, could not become citizens and could be bought and sold as merchandise. The ruling hardened positions on both sides of the slavery issue and helped lead the country into Civil War.
Fitzgerald also objected to a statement in Monday’s debate by Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, who accused anti-abortion Republicans of pushing “narrow Taliban-like philosophies on our state’s persons.”
“I particularly would like to point out the backhanded disrespect that is being paid to the pro-life people with the assertion the other day of being Taliban-like, which I think is unconscionable and intolerable, and with the assertion that the pro-life groups have no regard for the children already born,” Fitzgerald said.
Hayley said he was sorry to offend anyone on the “pro-life” side, but
“That’s a glaring example and maybe I’ll recede because it’s so harsh, but it does bring into crystal clear focus how many people feel repressed, especially women, by some of the views that emanate from this chamber … that are telling women that they cannot do with their own bodies.”
Also, Haley, an African-American whose family was profiled in the historical book and television mini-series “Roots,” said Fitzgerald’s comparison of Roe v. Wade to the Dred Scott decision was misplaced.
The article also lists a number of components of the bill. For example, it requires doctors to falsely tell women there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, makes it illegal to deduct abortion costs from state income taxes, and removes “mental health” as a reason for getting “a mid-to-late term abortion.
As an antidote to all this madness, I found a couple of editorials in Kansas papers that show that not every Kansan has been possessed by demons–or whatever has made these right-wingers so hateful.
Perhaps as a reward for the state’s ongoing leadership in the War on Women, Republicans chose Kansas governor Sam Brownback to give the Republican response to President Obama’s weekly address today. There’s an editorial in the Kansas City Star that completely shreds Brownback’s speech.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been tapped to deliver the weekly Republican address today. Expanding on a popular theme, he will talk about how, while Washington remains a mess, GOP governors are straightening things out.
Unfortunately, some of what Brownback says in his address (which was pre-recorded and embargoed until 5 a.m. Saturday) is exaggerated or misleading.
Like this: “The year I became governor, the state began the fiscal year with just $876.05 in the bank — less than $1,000 and it projected a $500 million deficit. Two years later we had a $500 million ending balance — and did it without tax increases.”
Read the details at the link.
And from the Lawrence Journal Tribune, Opinion: Economic schemes likely to hurt Kansas.
Kansas has no mountains, great lakes, forests, deserts, sea coast, tropical climate or large cities to attract people. Kansas agriculture and energy sectors are far too efficient to support a large workforce. Manufacturing continues to decline in the U.S. and Kansas. We get some synergistic growth from Kansas City, Mo., but it is limited by fragmentation of the metro area. Consequently, for over a century, Kansas population has grown slower than the rest of nation.
Despite those disadvantages, our real standard of living has been well above average. How did we do it?
We did it with stable, effective, traditional, conservative economic development programs — we invested in people and infrastructure. We delivered those investments through a reasonably honest, efficient and frugal government. And we had a balanced tax structure to pay for it.
But now Brownback is following in the footsteps of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
First, they’re abolishing the income tax. Then to pay for it they’re making massive cuts in education, highways, health care and any other pot of money they can grab on to. According to their “Laffer curve” ideology, sooner or later, a spurt of growth is supposed to follow.
Next, adding direct injury to reckless experiment, Brownback keeps turning away federal dollars and jobs. He abolished the Arts Commission — goodbye $1.3 million a year in grants and perhaps 50 jobs. He rejected a $35 million health grant — goodbye 200 to 300 job-years.
Movement conservatives are also opposing federally funded Medicaid expansion, which would mean goodbye to an estimated $500 million a year and 4,000 jobs. That would be the biggest single Kansas economic development program — ever. Let’s pray Brownback doesn’t kill Medicaid expansion.
Not satisfied with defunding education, movement conservatives want to punish teachers by silencing their representatives, removing negotiation rights, politicizing curriculum, replacing public schools with private schools and imposing yet more outside testing
As to poor people, Brownback proposed abolishing the earned income tax credit and the food tax credit. He is also dismantling government service agencies by renting their functions out to profit-making companies — companies that, perhaps coincidentally, make large campaign contributions. Early reports speak of heavily degraded service delivery.
Leaving no economic niche undisturbed, movement conservatives want to abolish regulations that support family farms and ensure phone service in rural areas.
These radical and destructive plans are contrary to common sense. And they’re contrary to experience: Every high-income state makes large public investments in education and other services. And they’re dead opposite to mainstream economic theory.
Also they’re contrary to Kansas public opinion. For example, polls have consistently shown that Kansans oppose cuts in education and will even support tax increases if necessary to maintain education.
Sorry to quote so much, but I thought it was powerful and important enough to reproduce in full.
OK, I’ll end there and turn the floor over to you and any topics you have on your mind. Please post your links in the comments–I promise to click on every one!
Just for the hell of it, here are a couple of photos from our time in Lawrence. On the left is my mom with my little sisters and our “barracks” in the background. Below on the right a picture of all three of us girls reading. I’m the one in the middle.