Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Calling All Kansans!


Know why I call this site Buttered Toast? You think: hey, that girl must really love toast, and you’d be correct in that assumption. Gluten be damned, I really think toast with butter is the perfect food. But that’s not why I refer to writing as Buttering Some Toast.


Buttering Toast is what I call it when I have a cool, hard thought that I want to warm up a little bit to see where it goes. Buttering Toast is how I refer to my ability to make sense of, to make human, the tablespoons of chilled inspiration that are otherwise only thoughts in my head. Sometimes I Butter Toast and the thought won’t soften, won’t melt into the soft pores of the page, and I just shove it around a while until all I have is a torn up slice of bread with some cold butter clumped on top. Then I say to myself, well, that was shit, and I delete it all.


Kansas, today we need to Butter Some Toast. Let’s just see where it goes, shall we?


Our tablespoon of butter is House Bill 2366, which is in its formative stages, and hopefully won’t make it to the point of amendment in the house, let alone the state senate floor, but it is a pretty nice example of how politics in Kansas operate right now.  HB 2366 prohibits (outlaws!) the use of public funds to promote sustainable development. It states:

“No public funds may be used, either directly or indirectly, to promote, support, mandate, require, order, incentivize, advocate, plan for, participate in or implement sustainable development. This prohibition on the use of public funds shall apply to: (1) Any activity by any state governmental entity or municipality.”


It was introduced by this guy:

Hey Kansas, meet Dennis Hedke. He chairs your committee on Energy and Environment. He’s a geophysicist who contracts for big oil, and Koch Industries is listed as one of the top contributors to his campaign. Representative Hedke denounces global warming as a hoax perpetrated by environmental extremists. In his book, The Audacity of Freedom, Hedke asserts that we need to permit and build as many modern, coal-fired power plants and nuclear power plants as possible in the next two decades, open the oceans to offshore drilling, open the Rocky Mountains to gas and oil exploration, stop subsidizing renewable energy, and end the absurd concept of trying to manipulate greenhouse gases. He’s closely affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, you’ve probably heard it called.  ALEC is a Koch funded think tank that relies on junk science and economic studies to convince legislators behind closed doors to allow them free access to our rivers and skies as their dumping grounds. But don’t get hung up on that, he’s here to serve you, Kansas. And he doesn’t see a problem with the fact that he contracts for big gas and oil. When asked if there wasn’t a conflict of interest in his proposition to outlaw any state or municipal funds for sustainable methods of energy production, Hedke replied "I can't see why. I didn't think about that. It really never crossed my mind.” See there, Kansas? Nothing to worry about. Oh! In addition to chairing the House Energy and Environment Committee, he also sits on the Taxation and Education Committees, so I’m sure he will do a bang up job of making sure that those same big oil corporations that are being allowed unfettered access to frack up and down our state are also being properly taxed. Oh, you betcha! And that the money is then fairly allocated to the citizens of Kansas and used to fund our public schools. One little thing, though, Hedke enjoys a tea party, and not the kind with crumpets, so we won’t be seeing any textbooks on the history of the Earth or the age of the Universe or anything that might not jive with the Bible.


The thing about the language of this bill that really hit me in the gut wasn’t the part where it makes it illegal for the State of Kansas to invest in any renewable resources. They don’t do that anyway, so it might as well say that it’s illegal for the state to invest in any gumball machines. It was the municipal ban that got me. Does that include battery powered buses? How about solar panels on public schools? Want green energy at City Hall? You could go to prison for that.


Yesterday, when this Bloomberg post exposing HB 2366 began making its rounds on the social media sites, Kansans everywhere hung our heads in shame. We muttered words like: unbelievable, embarrassing, I’m so ashamed, I gotta get out of here. I didn’t read anything with even a dose of outrage. The last two years of legislative idiocracy has beaten us down to the point of not even being surprised when we read something like this.  Seriously, you guys, you gotta read this bill. It’s really short, and you will swear it’s a joke. Except then you’ll remember this is Kansas, and it’s not a joke. Even the conservatives had to be palming their faces. You people who hate big government, how do you feel about Brownback telling your town what you can and can’t do when you build municipal structures?

How are we not outraged by this blatant disregard for our state’s resources and economic well-being? Why am I not protesting topless outside this man’s office right now? They wouldn’t put up with this shit in Vermont! Welcome to Kansas. We passed outrage miles back, just before we hit incredulity and disgust. Now we have slowed down for a tour through disbelief, then on to weariness where we will finally shrug our shoulders, sit down, and wait to die. Those who have already defected to more progressive locales watch these posts fly around the web and sing to themselves, that’s why I don’t live in Kansas anymore. I heard more than one friend yesterday proclaim: that’s it, I’m leaving.

I fell for it too, at first. That familiar feeling of shame and fear of being associated with my state’s backward politics. Then a buzzer went off in my head and it said: WRONG FUCKING ANSWER.

I’m making a u-turn back to outrage. I am not ready to sit down. I don’t want you to sit down, either. We can’t spare a single soul who would be a voice of opposition against corporatocracy taking control of our state legislature.

This is an open call to all Kansans, past and present, who ever loved this place for even a second, to come home. Not physically, of course, but you can help.  I’ll get to that, let me just put a little more butter on this toast.

Regardless of our positions on the reproductive rights of women, regardless of our positions on human rights and equal protection under the law for gays, we have to come together to vote these people out one at a time until we have a truthful representation in place at the state level. By truthful, I mean representatives who are running on the donations and votes of people who believe in their ability to lead and who give thoughtful consideration to the best interests of their constituents.

In the interest of self-preservation, in the interest of the preservation of our state’s beautiful natural resources, in the interest of reclaiming our economy... these single- issue-mother-fuckers the Koch boys financed have got to go. They’re not even smart enough to know that they’re being played by a corporation that doesn’t give a flying fuck what happens to a child, born or not. What’s that? My language? Why yes, it is offensive. I’ll apologize for that when you admit to selling out to corporate interests in exchange for getting your crazy abortions-give-you-cancer legislation through.

It won’t do a lot of good to make abortions illegal if there is no way to educate or feed children. Look deeper, please. Members of the house, this preoccupation with women’s bodies is really getting old. If I just come down there, get naked, and let you all poke at me with a stick for a while, would that satisfy you? Because I would do that if it meant you’d give some thought to preserving Kansas in a condition that my kids might be able to enjoy it.

I don’t expect the same level of outrageous commitment to get naked in Topeka from all of you. But how about this: Kansans everywhere, stand up. You there, in Florida, in Missouri, in California, stand up. You are in the land of milk and honey now. Hey, super for you, but you took your good sense and your moderate-mindedness away and now there’s just this hole that the crazies are filling in. I know you’re not coming back, but you can help.

These days, you can’t win any office if you ain’t got that do-re-mi. Oh-voh-di-oh-doh-doh!  We are going to have to buy back our prairie. Those of you who read this blog frequently can infer that there is no amount I won’t spend, no humiliation I wouldn’t endure, to reclaim my beautiful flint hills from the clutches of the Koch boys and their flying monkeys. Next election cycle, I will thoroughly research which candidates are being financed by big business, and send a couple of bucks to a challenging candidate. Even in other districts. Even if he or she doesn’t necessarily align perfectly with my views, at least I’ll know they’re in the race for the right reasons, and for the right people. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, there is no cap on the amount of money a candidate can receive from corporation, because corporations are people, too. I will never out-spend them, but I can try to out-maneuver them.

This is where you native sons and daughters come in. If we are going to overtake the dynasty that is systematically deconstructing civil rights, education and environment in our state, we need everyone who loves Kansas to weigh in. Remember what you love about this place: tall grasses, friendly faces, a genuine appreciation for a slow life. Don’t be ashamed. This is your place more than it is theirs.

And if you’re asking yourself Why? Why would I do that? Why should I try to save Kansas? Let me butter your toast for you: because my friend, Kansas right now is the very picture of small-minded government, bought and paid for by big business. And if we can save Kansas, we can save anything.


Just for good measure, here's a picture of me and a cute kid on the prairie.

27 comments:

  1. Oh my gawd! I love this! I love Kansas! I love you Meg! This is the best blog EVER! I did leave KS, because of love not outrage, but I'm deeply saddened by what is happening there. Your writing speaks to exactly how I feel. I can only fight from afar, but I will keep fighting. I was born and raised in Kansas, and still feel deeply protective of my home state. I can't thank you enough for your words. Mostly I find them inspiring and hopeful.

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  2. Meg - Thanks very much for posting this. I struggle too with the desire to leave or fight.

    I've written to my Senator (Jeff Melcher) and Representative (Ray Merrick) multiple times on multiple issues. Each time I get the same, canned party response back from them.

    They're not interested in representing their constituents. They don't care what people say, and as long as people in Kansas don't think beyond whether a person has an R or a D behind their name, these are just the kind of "representatives" we deserve.

    I'm tired of it, almost to the point of wanting to run, but I would be severely handicapped. You couldn't pay me to put an R behind my name.

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  3. Thanks for writing this! I, too, have been beaten down by the repeated idiocy of the Koch-suckers in power in this great state of ours, but your words have renewed my vigor to fight the $$$$ and the propaganda and do what I can to restore this place to its former glory.

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  4. What steps can we take? I do not want to sound helpless but sincerely, I read this and do more reading and want to act and urge others to take a stand but I do not know where to begin and I think this is the stance of many. Not that you are obliged, but i would appreciate the guidance.

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    1. Anonymous, first, I really think it's important that this bill not see any more floor time, so you can try writing to the reps who sit on the Energy and Environment Committee. http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/committees/ctte_h_engy_utls_1/

      If 2366 (or another bill with similar content) slips into the senate for approval, be ready to meet me in Topeka. I'll be the one yelling real loud. Secondly, and pertaining to the next election cycle, research where the campaign money trails lead, then cross check those big donors with environmental watch-dog groups like polluterwatch.com. We get so distracted by national campaigns that we don't pay attention to what's happening in our back yard until it is on fire. Go get 'em!

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  5. We have got to find a way to get voters in Kansas to stop putting their faith in Fox News. They watch that BS 24/7 and that is the main reason they vote the way they do. It's all about marketing and the big corporations are doing all the selling thanks to Citizens United. And you are so right! Time to start screaming.

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  6. Get an online petition going and post that. That would be a start. Use one of the free sites. The numbers would start to talk. You'd reach Kansans still in KS, as well as the far-flung ones, by virtue of the internet. Post to your FB feeds, too. I've already done so.

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  7. This is really well-said and angry in all the right ways. But, we should also breathe a small sigh of relief that HB2366 did not actually get a hearing before the legislature ended its 90-day session last week. That Bloomsburg article was very strangely timed, since the bill has been dead for several weeks now. I was sad to see it stir up more national scorn for KS - as though we needed that.

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    1. Agreed, we got lucky this session, but 2366 puts a nice spotlight on just how nasty this could get if we don't unify ourselves against big business in Kansas. The vultures are circling!

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    2. I hate to sound hysterical, but I think at this point, no one should rest until Hedke and the rest of the Koch proxy are voted out and replaced by fairly elected candidates.

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  8. I wrote to my state representative, but who knows exactly what response I may get, if any. If it comes to it, I will meet you in Topeka, Meg. Sans clothes.

    Thank you for writing this.

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  9. I just recently left Kansas, and it pains me to see what seems to be a downward spiral for the state that I was born in and was raised in. I absolutely love the people and land that both nurtured me and instigated me to become more. I pray that legislators in every state realize the threat our current energy practices have on the only planet that supports our life. Things have to change quickly and drastically. We cannot afford to tarry or god-forbid go in reverse like this bill will do for Kansas.

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  10. Super Blog. We hear ya. I gave the text of the bill to my college class. They hung their heads in shame. Don't give up, I'm not.

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  11. The rebuilding of Greensburg Kansas, to be LEED certified following near total tornado destruction, would have been illegal under this bill.

    Millions of research dollars to state Universities would also be threatened, as would be the ability to legally teach sustainability

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  12. I am wondering when the hacker group Anonymous will lend their ever-so-diligent hands in this affair. They are champions of righteous causes....where are they?

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  13. First time I've read this blog. Right on! We used to say that in the 60s and 70s. Thank you, Nan Bergen for posting this. In Virginia the governor is putting a fee ( it was going to be $100 but was lowered to $64 ) for motorists who buy hybrid cars. Seems to me this is backwards! The fee should be on non-renewable fuel cars! What a lot of money could be made on people who use gas! The government is backward!

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  14. The conflict of interest probably *didn't* cross his mind, because "ethics" falls somewhere beneath "migratory patterns of extinct animals" on the list of things our politicians know anything about.

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  15. As soon as I saw KOCH BROTHERS, I knew it was no good for most. The K Brothers( KOCH OR KRAZY ) have done noithing but harm to Kansas.

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  16. Go get 'em, Girl. We're with you! Let's get ready for the next election and throw the bums out.

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  17. I left Kansas in 1997 when things were still okay there. It sickens me to see what has happened.

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  19. As a native of Brownbackistan, this administration (Our Glorious Leader) and current legislature has had me hanging my head in shame and disgust since Day 1. I keep hoping people in this state will wake up and realize what they've done, which is to allow the extreme far right take over complete control and force their narrow-minded world view on the rest of us.

    There are far more moderates in this state than voting records would have you believe. It's time my fellow citizens got off their damn couches and voted to make an actual difference for the better of *everyone*. It's time for a Moderate Spring in this state. Throw the tea-bagging bastards out and let them shove their privately funded money right up their asses where it belongs. On their own time, not on mine.

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  20. Glorious. Plus, hey, Gina Vader!

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  21. MEG This is one of the best bloggs and you nailed the monster by starting the conversation and urging US to pass the petition around.

    We cannot afford to hang our heads in shame, but challenge these powerfully corrupt so called leaders. Our children for generations will pay for the misguided lies that have been promoted as so called "Protecting OUR values".

    Mr. Brownback and Company...YOU ARE the spirit of the devil and only shame and destruction of our country.

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  22. Great work here. I appreciate this.

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  23. Meg,

    I suspect that our two state legislatures (Kansas and North Carolina) made a secret bet on who could propose the most mean-spirited and hurtful legislation. Jury is still out on the winner, but citizens in both states are losing.

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