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A letter to Governor Sam Brownback…

Sam Brownback joins the Ranks of the Inverted

Along with Conservative governors in Missouri, Ohio and other places, who have defied the

wishes of their communities in order to sack unions, fire teachers with experience, and make their medical needs a new and risky problem, Sam Brownback (R – Kansas), who was elected in the last eruption of tea-party complaints (which many voters now regret), has signed a bill eliminating the Kansas Arts Commission. The KAC was one of the leading State arts groups in the country, providing production grants and education projects throughout the state.

Brownback was sent this letter from Laura Zabel shortly after eliminating this program (on the grounds, of course, that the budget had to be cut back… but not the tax advantages of corporations):

Open letter to Kansas governor Sam Brownback

by Laura Zabel • Jun. 1

Dear Governor Brownback:

I lived in Kansas for 20 years. From ages 2 to 22. I was educated in Kansas – both in the public schools and at the University of Kansas. I love the Midwest – its seasons, its open space, its practicality. I’m the kind of person it should be easy to get to stay there. So, why don’t I live in Kansas anymore?

I packed my truck to move to Minnesota the night I finished my last commitment at the University. In the last 13 years I can safely tell you that no one–not one single person–has ever asked why I left Kansas. Because my career is in the arts. The assumption is that, because I wanted to make a career and a living in the arts, I had to leave Kansas.

It’s not impossible to make a living in the arts in Kansas – I have many friends who are making a go of it—but the opportunities are scarce. And you’ve just made those opportunities even scarcer by eliminating support for the Kansas Arts Commission. The short-sightedness and recklessness of this decision have been well documented. A loss of over a million dollars in national and regional matching funds, loss of opportunities for children to participate in creative expression, loss of jobs – none of those things have swayed you. So I’m not optimistic that this story will either, but maybe it will make the reality of your action a little more tangible.

What is the consequence when one 22 year old with a theater degree from one of the best programs in the region decides they can’t stay in Kansas to make their life and their career? Who cares? Does that really have any impact on the state’s health or economy?

There’s a financial consequence: In the last 13 years, I’ve paid approximately $22,000 in state income taxes and $15,000 in state sales tax. I bought a car, a house, had a wedding – all in Minnesota. That money could have gone to the Sunflower State instead of the Gopher State.

Beyond that, since I moved to Minnesota, my entire family has moved here, too. They moved here, in part, because they also care about the arts. None of them work directly in the arts, but they see cultural opportunity as a necessary part of a community they want to live in. So, three adult children who grew up in Kansas, took advantage of its public education and other services and then chose to pay their taxes, make their livelihood, volunteer, vote and serve in another state. Plus, two retired parents who made their whole careers in Kansas, who then chose to spend their retirement years and income in another state.

Just for the 5 members of my immediate family who have relocated to Minnesota, I estimate that Kansas has given up about $100,000 in state and sales tax income so far (not to mention the numerous other ways that we contribute to the local economy.) By that calculation, your veto of the Arts Commission budget only has to convince a handful of young, energetic college graduates that they’d be better off somewhere else for Kansas to be worse off financially because of this decision.

And those are just the direct actions that I feel confident tying to the lack of opportunity and support for the arts in Kansas. But there are also ripple effects: my siblings and I have six young children who will grow up expecting and understanding the value of vibrant support for culture and who will have little incentive to locate their lives in Kansas. In short, Governor Brownback, I think you’ve lost this family for good.

And that makes me sad. Kansas is a wonderful place-a great place to raise children, with a beautiful landscape and a surprisingly diverse population. There are also really excellent cultural opportunities in Kansas. Just not enough of them to keep me there.

Your actions have taken away opportunities for young people to find their voice, for citizens to make their communities better, and for the cultural traditions of Kansas to be preserved. Your actions have taken away very real income opportunities and jobs for the state of Kansas. And you’ve made sure that no one ever will ask me why I left Kansas.

Laura Zabel

People in the Arts, especially in states not considered major arts states (like New York or California), do not become millionaires as a rule. They do, however, create an economic advantage that is far superior to the costs of the state.

Sam Brownback is a dick.

What makes Sam Brownback the Stupidest Governor in America…

Why, eliminating its State Arts Commission in his proposed budget… and, at the same time, eliminating countless jobs and over a million dollars in matching grants from outside of his state.

This article on “Artless Sam” from HuffPo:

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"Artless Sam" Brownback

Kansans suffered a painful embarrassment several years ago when a ruthlessly conservative school board rewrote its definition of science, paving the way for “intelligent design” to be taught alongside evolution in public schools. The decision since has been reversed, and sensible Kansans’ facial muscles only recently recovered from their collective cringe.

Now, though, they wince at a different sort of political horror: Newly elected governor Sam Brownback plans to issue executive orders eliminating the Kansas Arts Commission. (Brownback’s budget report for Fiscal Year 2012 is sub-titled, “Happy New Year, Art Fags.”)

The move, the commission states, would result in a monetary loss of nearly three-fold for the state: $778,300 in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, plus $437,767 in partnership money from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Not to mention countless jobs in the public and private sectors. Ripple effect, indeed.But maybe it’s not the state budget that drives the new governor. Perhaps Brownback, who threw his hat into the 2008 presidential election and likely has designs on the next one, views this move as draconian means of pleasing deep-pocketed fans among his fellow ideologues. “Want to keep government out of, well, everything?” he seems to be saying. “Then I’m your man.”

Meanwhile, it’s the people of Kansas — most pointedly, its children — who will suffer, as myriad organizations and programs fostering creativity and artistic expression go the way of the dinosaur (and other now-fossilized life forms that vex folks like Brownback, who raise their hands against the idea of evolution).

If Brownback is successful in abolishing this state agency, Kansas would be the only state in the nation — including the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — without a state-funded arts commission.
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In my opinion, a state that can produce…and elect… a Sam Brownback desperately needs the intelligence and educational merits of more arts funding. What a terrible thing to bequeath to Kansas’ children. And this from a state that gave America Frederick Remington, Gordon Parks and Bruce Connor among many other well-known artists, photographers, writers and musicians.

The Koch Brothers are at it again…

…this time they want to heat up California by spending a big million to break the state’s global warming initiative:
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Through one of their many subsidiaries, Flint Hills Resources, a Kansas petrochemical company, the Kochs just donated $1 million to Proposition 23, the California ballot initiative designed to sabotage the state’s global warming law, AB 32.
The Koch donation came a day after Tesoro, a Texas oil company that has been bankrolling the pro-Prop 23 campaign, put $1 million into the campaign coffers.

According to the [No on 23] campaign, 97 percent of the $8.2 million raised by the Yes forces has been given by oil-related interests and 89 percent of that money has come from out of state. Three companies, Koch Industries, Tesoro, and Valero — another Texas-based oil company — have provided 80 percent of those funds.

It’s hard to be any clearer than those numbers suggest. If you think out-of-state oil companies have California’s best interests at heart, go ahead, vote for Proposition 23. Because it is their baby, all the way.
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…and if you didn’t read the New Yorker article on the Kochs, go HERE and see what we are really dealing with.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – The Questionable Issues of Republican Politics

Jeff Stahler in the Columbus Dispatch:

How do you make a scared American?

– and –

Lee Judge in the Kansas City Star:

How do you create a phony issue?

-and –

Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

How do you build on the public’s knowledge of American History?

– and –

Milt Priggee at

If you can’t do all these things to avoid REAL Issues, how can you be a Republican?