Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kansans' Human and Civil Rights not for consideration by Sam "Right to [Destroy] Life" Brownback

Sam Brownback by DonkeyHotey

In the spirit of full disclosure, Kansas was my "home" for the first 18 years of life. I left, returned and left again (1984) - I was done with Kansas.

The Kansas of my youth (as a post-war Baby Boomer growing up in a northeastern Kansas wealthy suburb of upwardly mobile Middle Class, very white Americans always fearful of the ever pervasive "threat" of a mushroom cloud), was Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Anderson, Jr,  strong education and progressive teachers; neighborhoods of like kind families of single incomes; Mental Health facilities, hospitals, PTAs and concern for children, but there was that ever pervasive "Red Scare" and imagined mushroom cloud (one of my first memories beyond climbing trees, my imaginary friend named Johnny P, and running, feral, with my brother, Jonnie, was a National Geographic insert about a place called Vietnam - a place the US sent more "advisers" to assist after the French withdrew from the fight against "Communism"...I think I was about 6).

As I grew in my political awareness (for me, I was still in the single digit age bracket), I developed major issues with the political bend of a state hell bent on Republicanism. I watched the Jekyll and Hyde mentality of Eastern Republicans (more liberal, bigger cities, more money, more highly educated) vs Western Republicans (small farming communities isolated by wheat fields and clinging strongly to fundamentalist religion) and a state growing more and more rigid under the insanity of it's "elected" officials - abortion was legalized while juvenile judges declared women and children property (and upon reaching the age of 18, men became emancipated, women were still considered "owned by the state" until "wed" - or so I was told repeatedly, as an adult, as I attempted to advocate for adolescents in front of the courts); Kansas supported the ERA but still prosecuted women who defended themselves against rape by their husbands.

Historically, Kansas came by its Republicanism before and during the Civil War - back when Republicans were abolitionists, educated and actually somewhat liberal - but Kansas was known to embrace their religious zealots even then.

Carrie Nation

****Note: Kansas was used as the example for Prohibition. Prohibition of alcohol (well, except communion wine) went in to effect in 1917 and wasn't changed until 1948.  Kansas continued to have strict laws banning saloons as well as liquor sales - no "liquor by the drink" was allowed until 1986.

40 years after Carrie Nation, Fred Phelps incorporated his Westboro Baptist Church, Incorporated - a  Kansas "not-for-profit" entity (1967).

In 1971,  Vern Miller, Attorney General (1971-1975) initiated his terrorist campaign busting up church cakewalks (against the law to gamble), prosecuting farmers for allowing ditch weed/hemp to grow in their fields and in creeks - Kansas is covered in that ubiquitous plant and it is nearly impossible to eradicate; and raiding Amtrak trains for serving alcohol...The horror!

And in 2010, Kansas elected another zealot to governor, Sam Brownback (bad enough Kansas "elected" him to the US House, then the Senate under the Bush administration. Brownback was a resident at the C Street House in DC).

Courtesy of "The Kansas City Star"

Mr. Brownback has always been on the far side of Right-wingery.  His stance on issues (From Ballotpedia):

...But this is only a snapshot of  views and views are not necessarily indicative of actions.  It is his actions that I deal with here.

Since Brownback became governor, he has declared war on human and civil rights of nearly everyone except like-minded, irrational, non-reality based people and corporations.  Like all ideologues, his actions aren't based on facts, they are based on a personal set of rigid and dogmatic "beliefs" that have little to do with fact.

The following is a review of just some of the laws and executive orders supported and signed by Sam Brownback:
Gov. Sam Brownback abided by a pledge to sign Tuesday a controversial income tax reduction bill after hope dissolved a less-risky version would be adopted by the Legislature.

Brownback, who urged the House and Senate to pass a more modest blueprint for slicing taxes, said the commitment to lowering the state's tax burden would result in renewed business investment and job growth.

"My faith is in the people of Kansas, not the government's ability to tax and redistribute," Brownback said. "Today's legislation will create tens of thousands of new jobs and help make Kansas the best place in America to start and grow a small business."

On Sunday, the 2012 Legislature adjourned the regular session without passing an alternative bill slowing the pace of tax reductions, holding longer to budget surpluses and moderating the threat of deficits.

From the "Lawrence Journal-World," June, 2012:
Brownback, a conservative Republican, made tax cuts the centerpiece of the 2012 legislative session.

The bill he signed will cut the individual income tax rates of 6.45 percent, 6.25 percent and 3.5 percent to just two rates at 4.9 percent and 3 percent.

It will also eliminate state income taxes for the owners of partnerships, S corporations and limited liability companies. In addition, it exempts from taxes income from farms, royalties on minerals, oil, gas copyrights and patent, and real estate rental income.

“The ramifications of this are really something,” Dickinson said about the business tax changes.

For example, he said, in a partnership of physicians, the physicians won’t pay state income taxes under the new law, but the nurses, lab techs and clerical workers will continue to pay income taxes.

Brownback has said the changes will stimulate the economy like an adrenaline shot to the heart. He said that the tax cuts will create 22,900 new jobs, give $2 billion more in disposable income to Kansans and increase population by 35,740, in addition to normal population growth.

The tax cuts, Brownback said, will “help make Kansas the best place in America to start and grow a small business.” The Brownback administration has said the new law will leave $1.1 billion in the pockets of Kansans during a two-year stretch.

What could possibly go wrong? Besides the failed Reaganomics policy of "trickle down"  - proven to be nothing more than creating a fully protected and pampered class of the "Landed Gentry" and corporations now feeding everything into their personal piggy banks (Real gluttonous, arrogant, hybridized and teflon coated pig banks....OINK). Sounds all great for everyone except the working stiffs who will now have to foot the bill for their corporate overlords.

It's not like the Governor wasn't warned of problems ...

From House Minority Leader Paul Davis, June 2012:
"Governor Brownback completely choreographed this fiscally irresponsible plan from start to finish," Davis said. "There is no feasible way that private-sector growth can accommodate the price tag of this tax cut, which means our $600 million surplus will become a $2.5 billion deficit within just five years."

The Tax Foundation, May 29, 2012:
“First, the exemption creates an incentive for businesses to structure as pass-throughs for tax reasons, even if it might be unwise to do so for non-tax reasons. Instead of the Kansas tax system treating similar activity similarly, the system will encourage economically inefficient, though tax-reducing activities.
“While this can be difficult and complicated, especially in business taxation, Kansas’s decision to exempt one type of business structure completely from taxation (pass-throughs) while continuing to tax others (C corporations) is problematic. It rewards certain business structures while punishing others. There is no sound economic justification for treating these two types of business activity so dramatically differently.”
“Further, while tax reductions can have positive economic benefits, they will cost revenue and will ultimately have to be paid for either by cutting spending or increasing taxes elsewhere.”
"Forbes," June, 2012:
“Kansas slashed the tax rate for the better off and exempted huge chunks of business, farm and self employment income from its individual income tax, while increasing the burden on some of the state’s poorest residents by eliminating a rebate they now get to offset the state’s sales tax on food.”
“When the food sales tax rebate disappears next year, Kansas will join Alabama and Mississippi as the only states that levy a tax on food and don’t in some way compensate lower income residents for the strain on their budgets.”

Kansas Economic Progress Council released their report in October, 2012:

Their conclusion:

Here we are in 2015, so how did that all work out for Kansas?

From "The Atlantic," April 9, 2015:
Surviving a tough reelection race, as Sam Brownback did in Kansas last year, can often be a cleansing experience for a governor. It should certainly bring relief. After all, Brownback managed to earn a fresh nod of support from voters despite a messy first term marked by a fiscal embarrassment of his own making.

Yet three months later, the humbling in the heartland goes on, much to the frustration of a Republican governor and one-time presidential contender who hoped to make Kansas the national emblem of conservative governance. Brownback's hard-fought victory on election day won him another four years, but it did nothing to fix the problem that nearly cost him his job: the state's finances. Kansas's budget has for months resembled a wallet with a hole in it—every time the state's bookkeepers peek inside, they find less money than the government thought would be there. Just a few days after the November election, the Kansas budget office revealed that revenue projections were off by more than $200 million, bringing the budget gap facing Brownback to $600 million in all.

The yawning deficit is widely blamed on the deep income tax cuts that Brownback, along with a Republican legislature, enacted during his first two years in office. They not only slashed rates, but more importantly, they created a huge exemption for business owners who file their taxes as individuals. By Brownback's own description, the tax plan was a "real live experiment" in supply-side economics, with the idea being that lower taxes would spur investment, create jobs, and refill Kansas's coffers through faster growth. Yet even under the most charitable analysis, revenue has plummeted much faster than the economy has expanded.
Brownback, refusing to admit to the failure, has gone on to cut everything  until it bleeds out - an all out destruction of the social safety net (what little there is in Kansas)   while proposing more taxes - not on the wealthy but on the people (remember that promise of $1.1 Billion in the pockets of Kansans?) in the way of  "Sin" taxes and begging to slow the flood of red ink:

More from "The Atlantic":
Now, Kansas's red ink has left the governor red- faced. Brownback is asking Republican state lawmakers to slow the income tax cuts over the next few years, raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, overhaul school funding, and divert money from the state's highway fund in order to balance the budget. It's not as if he's abandoning his conservative economic philosophy—he still wants to replace the state's income tax entirely with consumption taxes over time. And like any politician on the ropes, he is preaching patience. "These things take time," he said last month. He also acknowledged the toll his stumbles have taken on his image. "We're in Lent season, so I'm giving up worldly things, like popularity," he joked to a small crowd. Brownback has blamed the budget shortfall in part on automatic increases in education spending (a subject of a long-running court dispute), and he's cited a recent uptick in job growth as evidence that the tax cuts, on the whole, are working. "Kansas is on the rise, and the state of our state is strong," the governor proclaimed in an annual budget address in January.

Guess who takes the heat?  The elderly, the poor, the working class and kids.

February, 2015, Brownback executes an executive order to rescind former Governor Sebilius' orders - to include LGBT protections.  From the "Kansas Office of the Governor"  Press Release:
Governor Sam Brownback issues Executive Orders

TOPEKA – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback today released two executive orders, one rescinding certain Executive Orders and another encouraging employment practices for veterans and disabled individuals.

Executive Order 15-01 rescinds nine previous executive orders and abolishes specific inactive councils, task forces, committees, boards, advisory councils and commissions created through the following Executive Orders:

07-21 rescinds an order signed by Governor Sebelius making the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees/Child Care Providers Together the exclusive majority representative of all registered and licensed family child care providers.

07-24 is replaced by Executive Order 15-02 and rescinds an order signed by Governor Sebelius that unilaterally established additional “protected class rights” for state employees, specifically for sexual orientation and gender identity. 

08-01 rescinds the order signed by Governor Sebelius establishing the Governor’s Wind Working Group.

08-05 abolishes the the Governor’s P20 Education Council, established by Governor Sebelius.

09-02 abolishes the Kansas Coalition for Children in Nature established by Governor Seblius. The functions of this coalition duplicate efforts of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

10-04 abolishes the Commission on Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery established by Governor Mark Parkinson. Current programs including Jobs for America’s Graduates and Career and Technical Education address these issues more efficiently.

10-08 abolishes the Kansas Broadband Advisory Task Force established by Governor Mark Parkinson.

10-11 abolishes the Kansas Food Security Task Force established by Governor Mark Parkinson.

10-13 abolishes the Interagency Working Group for Wind Energy established by Governor Mark Parkinson.

“Many of these commissions, working groups and task forces have not met for several years or duplicate other ongoing efforts,” Governor Brownback said. “These changes streamline operations and reduce operational costs of maintaining these various committees.”

Executive Order 15-02 reaffirms the commitment of the State of Kansas to employment practices which do not discriminate based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age. It further establishes that state entities will implement employment management practices for veterans and disabled individuals that include outreach, hiring, support, mentoring, development, rewards and recognition for achievement.

“This Executive Order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did,” Governor Brownback said. “Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action. The order also reaffirms our commitment to hiring, mentoring and recognizing veterans and individuals with disabilities.”
***Note - 07-24 made bold by this author

In Kansas, state employees can now be fired from their jobs for being gay.

Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order on Tuesday reversing a 2007 measure that barred employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender state workers.

“This Executive Order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did,” the governor said in a statement. “Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action.”

Doug Bonney, the legal director of ACLU’s Kansas chapter, called the ruling “shocking” and “unprecedented.” “I read this as a signal ‘go ahead’ you can discriminate against people on their sexual orientation,” he said. “It sends absolutely the wrong message … it says, frankly, ‘please leave.’”

Under Brownback’s new order, Kansas workers can still be protected against “race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age” discrimination, however.

State employees now join the rest of Kansas’ workforce — none of whom have no workplace protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

While the state workers lose the discrimination protections they’ve had for more than seven years, they are returning to a situation all too familiar to many American employees: 29 states, including Kansas, have no protections in place to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

But he wasn't done there....

TOPEKA - Kansas became the first state Tuesday to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, signed a bill imposing the ban. The new law takes effect July 1.

Two abortion rights groups that operate clinics with abortion services, Trust Women and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said they’re considering challenging the new law in court.

The law bans the dilation and evacuation procedure and redefines it as “dismemberment abortion.” Drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, the measure also has been introduced in Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina, though only Kansas lawmakers have passed it.

“This is a horrific procedure,” Brownback spokesman Eileen Hawley said. “He hopes the nation follows suit.”

The procedure is banned except when necessary to save a woman’s life or prevent irreversible damage to her physical health. Doctors cannot use forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a fetus to remove it from the womb in pieces.

Abortion rights supporters said the procedure is often the safest for women seeking to terminate pregnancies during the second trimester. The procedure accounted for about 9 percent of abortions last year in Kansas, where most pregnancies are terminated in the first trimester and the state already bans most abortions at or after the 22nd week.

“This dangerous law dictates to qualified physicians how they can practice medicine and treat their patients,” Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women, said in a statement.

Brownback continues his 5 year war against a woman's right to choose in Kansas, practicing his own dismemberment abortion of Kansas women's right to self determination (back to that state ownership thing again).

From WIBW:
An abortion provider and an attorney spoke out in a news conference Tuesday against Governor Brownback's bill banning a certain abortion procedure.

Dr. Kris Neuhaus and her attorney, Bob Eye say Brownback's decision to make Kansas the first state to ban a second trimester abortion procedure is "anti-scientific and anti-woman."
***Note - Physician who's license was revoked by the state of Kansas Board of Healing Arts for her referrals and 2nd opinions in late term abortion cases, specifically for her work with Dr. George Tiller, murdered by Scott Roeder in 2009.  The state claimed it was for "sloppy" records.  The coincidental prosecution following the acquittal of Dr. George Tiller and the continued harassment of same by Kansas indicates otherwise.

Laura McQuade, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said, “Kansas is now not only the sole state with this atrocious law; it also now has more restrictions on abortion than any state in the U.S.”

Nationally, nearly nine in 10 abortions are performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, commonly using a vacuum method that would not be affected by the Kansas law. By some accounts, about 9 percent of abortions in Kansas could be affected.

Alternatives in the second trimester, like medically induced, nonsurgical abortions, are more dangerous for some women, can involve days of uncertain waiting and may require access to hospital facilities, said Dr. Kathleen Morrell, a gynecologist and obstetrician in New York and a fellow of Physicians for Reproductive Health, which defends abortion rights.

“When it is safe to offer a choice of induction or D and E,” she said, referring to dilation and evacuation, “my patients overwhelmingly choose D and E. They are able to be asleep and comfortable for the procedure and then can go home to their own beds at night.”

It might also be possible, some experts said, for doctors to comply with the law by killing the fetus with an injection of the heart drug digoxin before starting a dilation and evacuation procedure. This is commonly done in very late abortions, after perhaps 18 weeks, but not earlier because, experts say, it seems unnecessary and adds uncertainties to the procedure.

Earlier in pregnancy, the fetus’s neurological system is just developing and by all accounts cannot feel pain, medical experts say. But in addition, the safety and efficacy of using digoxin earlier than 18 weeks into pregnancy have not been studied, and there are some indications that it could increase the chance of complications, said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who spoke on behalf of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The Kansas law includes no exemptions for rape or incest, only to preserve a woman’s life or prevent irreversible impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors who violate the law could be charged with a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony for successive violations.

“The law raises very grave constitutional concerns,” said Janet Crepps, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York.

Brownback is unfazed. In fact, he merges the latest atrocity with his destruction of the state's coffers in a beautifully created psychotic package and touts it as being good for the Kansas economy. From "Salon":

It takes a special kind of delusion to believe — despite decades of empirical evidence — that massive income tax cuts for the wealthy will unleash economic prosperity, thereby boosting job creation and increasing government revenues. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, however, clung to that delusion. Advised by the charlatan Art Laffer — originator of the curve — Brownback slashed income taxes for individuals and businesses, promising that his supply-side “experiment” would jump-start the Sunflower State’s economy. Instead, Kansas’ rendezvous with voodoo has created a $344 million revenue shortfall that legislators must fill by June, while the tax cuts haven’t delivered the promised economic benefits: Kansas’ rate of job growth has lagged behind that of the nation, per-capita income has remained stagnant, and the state’s GDP growth has fallen behind that of its neighbors in the Midwest and Great Plains.

How, then, does the delusional emperor of Brownbackistan respond? By insisting that all is going swimmingly, of course.

In an interview with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins over the weekend, Brownback hailed his state’s phantom progress, asserting that Kansas’ economic engines were roaring and arguing that the good times will become even better provided that the state — wait for it — continues to make it harder for women to have abortions.

“You have advanced pro-life policies, pro-family policies, and now you are building a strong economic base that is showing the federal government a thing or two when it comes to job creation,” a fawning Perkins said, displaying either embarrassing obsequiousness or an utter ignorance of recent news — or some combination thereof.

“Well, it’s working,” Brownback replied. “And we’re pretty straightforward here. What we want Kansas to be is the best place in America to do two things: Raise a family, grow a small business.”....

....“I’ve signed 10 pro-life bills. There’s another one moving through the legislature on ending dismemberment abortions, where you actually dismember the child to abort it,” he said, vowing to sign the latest bill.

Reflecting on the connection between socially conservative policies and economic growth, Brownback said, “They really support each other. Frankly, one of the problems we have in the country is we’re not forming enough families. And that is hurting our economic work, and it’s hurting our economic projections, because the best place for a child is within a strong family unit. And if you’re not forming the family unit you’re also slowing your economic performance, so these things really tie closely together. And I think we do a disservice politically when we separate them.”

From Right Wing Watch - Brownback and Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council:

As Sam Brownback and his right wing charlatan Republican sycophants in Topeka continue their attacks on both civil and human rights, they prove to have little concern for the progress of Kansas. Instead, he is continuing the state's retrograde, at full speed, as if on a mission to be the first state to return to the days when the Ozarks were beachfront property - next to the Late Cretaceous Niobrara Seaway.....

Science, welfare and humanity be damned in Brownback's Kansas..