He’s The Heavy, He’s My Brother

Of all the problems of his own making that plague Kansas GOP Gov. Sam Brownback (like a state economy disintegrating under tax cuts for the rich, vice tax for the poor, and basic government services like public school districts that can’t pay their bills to keep the lights on and can’t pay teachers enough to keep them working) the most interesting problem may be his asshole brother Jim.

Undulating fields of crops and livestock-dotted pastures are the domain of a trigger-happy bully who brags about a political cloak of invincibility keeping him beyond reach of the law in faithfully conservative Linn County.

Adversaries say he has woven a liquor-infused tapestry of fear colored by intimidation, abuse and lies. The saga features stalking, death threats, trespassing, drive-by gunfire, massive explosions, cattle theft, loan defaults, hit-and-run driving and marital strife. Linn County Sheriff’s Department files bulge with complaints about him.

There is trepidation among acquaintances to speak freely, a point accentuated by the number expressing nervousness about reprisal if they were candid. There is genuine fear.

Descriptions of events offered by those willing to speak out converge to reveal a potentially lethal menace. Neighbors allege some in law enforcement responded to cries for help with degrees of indifference or favoritism.

Locals aware of the dynamics shake their head in dismay. In a place where people honor the Second Amendment and revere the self-defense castle doctrine, there is astonishment no one has been gunned down.

Folks in direct path of this prairie hellion pray for an end to what some coined “neighborhood terrorism.”

So far, their nemesis has found no reason to relent.

Not when your name is Jim Brownback and you are a brother to Sam, the most powerful politician in Kansas.

I swear, this story reads like a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child or an episode of Longmire.  Farm pigs mauled by dogs, a keg of nails scattered on the driveway, drunken shotgun drive-bys,  blowing up stuff in the middle of the night to wake the neighbors, cattle unleashed to devour crop fields, frightened insurance adjusters, and good ol’ boy shitkicker cops that won’t touch the governor’s brother.

Jim Brownback is possibly the second biggest asshole in the entire state, next to his brother.  It’s terrorism by a cartoon bully and nobody can put a leash on this guy.

Least of all the governor of the great state of Kansas.  What Jim is doing to his neighbors on the Kansas plains, Sam is doing to the entire state.

Bullies all around, doing what they do best, has always been the way.






92 replies
  1. 1
    JPL says:

    When I emailed the article to a friend, I mentioned that you could add a few more paragraphs and turn it into a Stephen King novel.

  2. 2
    Mike E says:

    @JPL: The Brownback Redemption.

  3. 3
    Dr. Squid says:

    Shades of Ken McElroy, except no one has gunned Jim Brownback down while seeing absolutely nothing.

    Yet.

  4. 4
    Botsplainer says:

    @JPL:

    When I emailed the article to a friend, I mentioned that you could add a few more paragraphs and turn it into a Stephen King novel.

    “Untouchable” would be a great title.

  5. 5
    NorthLeft12 says:

    Just another example of how the justice system treats everyone the same [excuse my snark].

    Maybe I am a lousy brother, but I would turn in either of my brothers in a heartbeat if they had pulled shite like this, being eternally grateful that the brother had not [apparently] killed anyone yet.

    This guy is the definition of a thug and bully, and IMO this will not end well for either Brownback brother.

  6. 6
    TriassicSands says:

    Governor Brownback’s tax plan is working. In 2015, Kansas moved up to ninth on the list of most regressive state tax structures. If and when he finally realizes his dream of completely eliminating the personal income tax in Kansas, his beloved state may have a real shot at moving into the top five most regressive tax states. Does he have a shot at #1? That’s a tough one, as Washington State seems to have a reasonably firm hold on the top spot and no political will to change. Right now Republicans control the state senate, which is enough to prevent Democrats from raising revenue to pay for necessary services. Under Democratic governors, Washington has spent the last decade cutting social services, and despite being under a state supreme court order to “fully fund” K-12 education, the state doesn’t seem to have a plan to do that anytime soon.

    Years ago, in running for governor against Christine Gregoire, the King County executive, Ron Sims, bravely proposed a state personal income tax. Gregoire, never one to lead, ran away from that proposal like Usain Bolt, and she easily defeated Sims for the Democratic nomination. A commission led by Bill Gates’ father, William Gates, had recommended the state move from dependence on highly regressive taxes (chiefly the sales tax) to a personal income tax, but Washington’s voters, while electing mostly Democrats statewide, have made it crystal clear that they want nothing to do with an income tax. A relatively recent attempt to raise taxes on personal incomes over $500,000/year lost 2 to 1 with the voters once again demonstrating that no amount of common sense was going to penetrate their armor of ignorance.

  7. 7
    MattF says:

    @TriassicSands: FYI, Kansas politics was the featured story in yesterday’s NYT Magazine.

  8. 8
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Oddly enough, given what a complete rat bastard Sam Brownback is, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s got a drunken brother who terrorizes and rules the county he lives in with an iron fist.

    Someone in the original linked article says “it’s a miracle nobody’s been shot yet”. Not a miracle, just mere accident of time and statistics. Somebody will end up shot. I doubt it will be the one guy who probably needs to be, because that’s how these things tend to work out.

  9. 9
    Emma says:

    So all those brave men who stock up on guns and ammo and swear to defend themselves against the federal government don’t have the cojones to defend themselves against a bully because they’re afraid of consequences?

    Wonderful. My sympathy, quick, someone find it.

  10. 10
    Fred says:

    Remember Elvira Gulch from the “Wizard of Oz” ? She owned half the county and thought she could run the rest. Maybe what’s wrong with Kansas goes back a ways.
    As to this Jim Brownback character, he’s not just a bully, he’s a bloody psychopath. I’m sure he’s a loyal Republican.

  11. 11
    Botsplainer says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    Shades of Ken McElroy, except no one has gunned Jim Brownback down while seeing absolutely nothing.

    Yet.

    Yup, that’s where I see this ending.

    The article, rather than calming him down, will embolden him. I’ve dealt with his kind before – a sociopath who understands how much the contemporary legal system relies on voluntary compliance, and disregards it because of that.

  12. 12
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    That’s a tough one, as Washington State seems to have a reasonably firm hold on the top spot and no political will to change.

    @TriassicSands: Been there recently. The infrastructure there is awful. Seriously. I drove into Seattle and took one look at the freeway I was on and said, holy shit, these people are short an easy half a trillion in roadwork alone.

    When (not if) Seattle gets a big quake, you’re going to have tens of thousands of casualties from collapsing antiquated buildings and freeway system.

  13. 13
    xinark says:

    Is there anything that the Feds could do about the whole mess? Or is it one of those “who’s going to be brave / stupid enough to try and stand up to these guys” sort of things?

    @TriassicSands: Has this always been the case with Washington? Given how lefty the Olympia-Tacoma-Seattle trifecta seem to be, it’s always struck me as odd that they’re #1 with regards to regressive taxation.

  14. 14
    Oatler. says:

    @Fred: May a house fall on this Elvira with extreme prejudice.

  15. 15
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Emma: they did vote for Sam. Twice. They’re going to get exactly what they asked for, good and hard.

  16. 16
    Jerry says:

    A villain, straight out of Road House.

  17. 17
    Joel says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: But, they’ve got a big fucking drill stuck in the earth, so that’s something.

    [/former Seattle resident]

  18. 18
    bemused says:

    Lovely family, the Brownback mafia.

  19. 19
    Mike says:

    Hey Folks, Topeka resident here. The thing that strikes me the most about this article, is that it appears in the Topeka Capitol Journal. This is not a publication known for either controversy, or a particularly liberal slant. I’d be less surprised to have seen it in a Lawrence, or Kansas City paper.

    It’s a fantastic read.

  20. 20
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    He’d better be careful. His neighbors might just decide to do a Skidmore on his ass.

  21. 21
    SFAW says:

    @Botsplainer:

    “Untouchable” would be a great title.

    The Kansas way:

    “They bring a knife, you bring your brother.
    They bring a gun, you bring your brother.
    They bring the police, you bring your brother – with the Kansas National Guard.”

  22. 22
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dr. Squid: Beat me to it.

  23. 23
    Botsplainer says:

    @SFAW:

    They bring the police, you bring your brother – with the Kansas National Guard.”

    Its a bad combination – sociopathy with a powerful sibling running the government, and authoritarians running about trying to please the leader. Sam may not be pulling strings on Jim’s behalf, but there are plenty of underlings who will do it in a misguided bid to curry favor.

  24. 24
    bystander says:

    Great state of Kansas? Lived there from 80 to 83. Made Missouri look like an idyllic paradise. Now they both look like hell on earth.

  25. 25
    SFAW says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Sam may not be pulling strings on Jim’s behalf

    I realize you/we have to say that, because it would be “uncivil” to suggest that Sam is doing it directly, but his personality and performance has/have been such that I have no trouble believing that he’s actively involved.

    Not that I would EVER suggest that holy roller Governors, past and present (*cough* Huckabee *cough*) would EVER be major-league dickheads, ignoring Jeebus’s teachings and all that, of course.

  26. 26
    Oatler. says:

    @bystander: “Dazed And Confused” was about 1976 Texas and apparently pretty accurate. Now with armed police in schools you could say it’s changed. Voting Rights Act? Never heard of it pardner.

  27. 27
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Botsplainer: Yeah, and Chris Christie has nothing to do with traffic congestion in Jersey. ;-)

  28. 28
    phoebes-in-santa fe says:

    @Emma: Excellent. You summed up the “Ammosexuals” just right.

  29. 29
    rikyrah says:

    go look at his picture…creepy

  30. 30
    rikyrah says:

    A Children’s Illustrator Is Losing Fans Because Of Her Anti-Racist Art

    “There are no words to express how little I care if I lose every bigoted, racist, homophobic and/or sexist follower I have.”
    Aug. 8, 2015, at 3:17 p.m.

    Illustrator Mary Engelbreit has made many fans for her work in stationery, home goods, and children’s books for over 30 years.

    But today, some of those fans are not so happy with anti-racist artwork she’s posted on her Facebook as a tribute to Michael Brown, who was killed nearly a year ago.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariann......awkrDd2rB

    https://www.facebook.com/maryengelbreit/photos/a.283968321636466.87914.138832742816692/993420804024544/?type=1

  31. 31
    ShadeTail says:

    @Emma: Ain’t that the fucking truth? They pretend that life and society is like one of those post-apocalyptic shooter video games, and then they’re surprised when they get shit like this.

    Seriously, this asshole is lucky my mom doesn’t live in his neighborhood, because she never stood for this kind of shit. She’s as liberal as they come, but she’s also the type who would round up a few people she trusted and have his ass gunned down, after first making sure everyone involved had some plausible deniability. Mom is *hard*, let me tell you. I can only hope I’m half as hard as she is, because I’ve never been tested to find out.

  32. 32
    TriassicSands says:

    @MattF:

    Thanks, I read the article.

  33. 33
    Jeffro says:

    This whole thing has shades of “Winter Light”, a short story in James Lee Burke’s “Jesus Out To Sea” collection. It’s fantastic.

    http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Ou.....1416548564

  34. 34
    phoebes-in-santa fe says:

    @rikyrah: Thanks for posting that info about Mary Engelbreit, who I had always considered a WASPY, conventional artist. I think I’ll go order some of her books for my grandchild!

  35. 35
    PurpleGirl says:

    @rikyrah: I know her work and have usually found it cloyingly sweet. But I liked what she drew and posted in honor of Michael Brown. Thank you for the link Rikyrah.

    “When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn…”

  36. 36
    JPL says:

    @phoebes-in-santa fe: That is exactly what I thought. I have never purchased anything with her name on it. I might have to reconsider.

  37. 37
    TriassicSands says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    The really big financial troubles began in 1999 when a cretin named Tim Eyman surfaced with a ballot initiative to limit one of Washington’s main sources of revenue — car tabs. Since there was no revenue from an income tax, the state looked for other ways to raise money. Instead of having a flat fee for car registrations, the state charge 2.2% of the “blue book” value of the vehicle. I put the words blue book in quotes because by all accounts the figure the state used was an inflated value aimed at maximizing revenue. In a sense, this was a progressive tax — if you drove a $100,000 car you paid $2200; if you drove a wreck, your tabs cost very little. Seeing a chance to pay lower taxes, the voters went for Eyman’s scheme and things started to fall apart. Among other effects, ferry tickets increased significantly, but one of the ironies was that people with really old cars actually got a tax increase.

    Seeing a cash cow, Eyman turned the ballot initiative into a full-time business. He goes for sucker initiatives — things he thinks will easily attract people wanting to save money (or are anti-government), and his initiatives rarely, if ever, have anything to do with improving things in the state.

    Today, no matter what safeguards are written into legislation, the voters of Washington seem convinced that even a tax on wealthy people is just a first step toward taxing everyone. The Gates commission’s idea was to move from the regressive sales tax to a progressive income tax, but the voters remain convinced that what is intended is to ADD income taxes to existing taxes. They seem immune to rational argument.

  38. 38
    Ramalama says:

    I wonder if the elite Kansans who play golf at exclusive clubs dress like pimps out on the green.

  39. 39

    @rikyrah:

    That’s kind of like seeing the Ruby Bridges painting by Norman Rockwell — a completely unexpected source and really powerful because of that.

  40. 40
    Elizabelle says:

    I think local law enforcement is going to do something about Jim Brownback, sooner rather than later.

    He’s made them look like piss-ants; Kansans are probably laughing behind their backs. And who can’t imagine being in the Peine family’s position? It would be terrifying.

    From the article:

    “I’ve talked to Jim,” said Sheriff Filla, a Republican and U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “I’ve had other friends talk to Jim that’s closer with him than I am. He just doesn’t get along with them. You know some people, if you talk to them, the hair on your neck goes up right away? I think that’s what’s happening between them. The Peines don’t like Jim and Jim don’t like the Peines. It’s a shared problem, I guess.”

    Actually, Sheriff, it’s YOUR problem, and you can’t punt any longer, governor on the periphery or not.

    Having a heavily armed family with alcohol and anger management issues getting away with this behavior is not going to work out well. (Brownback’s stepkids are out of control too. His stepdaughter Kara is a piece of work.)

  41. 41
    Gimlet says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Actually, Sheriff, it’s YOUR problem, and you can’t punt any longer, governor on the periphery or not.

    Right.

    It’s time to arrest the Peines.

  42. 42
    Gimlet says:

    @TriassicSands:

    The Gates commission’s idea was to move from the regressive sales tax to a progressive income tax, but the voters remain convinced that what is intended is to ADD income taxes to existing taxes. They seem immune to rational argument.

    Couldn’t they couple the one with the lowering of the sales tax on the same ballot initiative?

  43. 43
    Brachiator says:

    Locals aware of the dynamics shake their head in dismay. In a place where people honor the Second Amendment and revere the self-defense castle doctrine, there is astonishment no one has been gunned down.

    What a bunch of whining losers. They claim to love the Second Amendment, and get delirious when an unarmed kid somewhere is gunned down, but these clowns can’t take care of business?

    And in Kansas?

    Wyatt Earp wept.

  44. 44
    Gimlet says:

    With all the momentum Bernie seems to be building, I wonder if it’s a tactical error for Clinton not to be setting up big rallies around the countryside as well.

  45. 45
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    @TriassicSands: I got a pretty heavy anti-tax vibe from the folks there. It’s an odd state.

    At any rate, it’s falling apart and they really need to fix their shit.

  46. 46
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Problem now that this has gone public is that if anything happens to “Big Jim The Psychopath” the neighbors are going to instantly find themselves in jail with a murder one charge and no bail, courtesy of Brownback’s Brownshirts.

    I understand their urge to get everything out in the open and work through the system, but with a guy like this that just isn’t going to work. A lot of the law’s power depends on voluntary compliance, and Big Jim figured out a long time ago he no longer has to comply with anything.

  47. 47
    RSA says:

    @JPL:

    I mentioned that you could add a few more paragraphs and turn it into a Stephen King novel.

    Or a second-rate political thriller. Jim would be a secondary character who would come to a violent but satisfying end, with someone telling him, “You’re not in Kansas any more.”

    And speaking of novels with a political angle, our local independent has this:

    Last Tuesday, N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata—the shit-canned former superintendent of Wake County Public Schools who, after joining the McCrory administration in 2013, became a prominent backer of the governor’s going-nowhere-fast infrastructure bond proposal—abruptly stepped down. This was … strange. And unexpected. He said the thing that politicos always say, that he was quitting to spend more time with his wife and kids, and to evaluate “what opportunities might be out there,” which probably means a run for Congress. But Tata, retired Army brigadier general, also cited his apparently burgeoning career as a military suspense novelist, five books in all, on Amazon.

    Capsule reviews are followed by 33 of the best lines from the novels, e.g.,

    10. Sure he loved Asian women but there was no replacement for a girl-next-door American knockout such as the one standing in front of him right now.

  48. 48
    Mike in NC says:

    Disappointed not to read where Jim Brownback is a state employee pulling down six figures a year to not do much. The best corrupt governors look after their own. Nikki Haley’s husband, for example, is both a civilian state employee and an officer in the SC National Guard.

  49. 49
    PurpleGirl says:

    People, or rather most people, don’t think about how infrastructure is/was built. It’s there, it’s been there. No thoughts about when or how it was built. No consideration that metal grows old and ages and needs repair or work to maintain it. It’s just there.

    (Until something falls down or is about to… then they just bitch about it. Just look at NYS’s Tappan Zee bridge. When it was built (1955), they used cheaper steel and some not-great construction methods. It’s lifetime was estimated to be 50 years. I was dating a man who lived in Peekskill in the 1980s and they were talking about how the bridge needed to be replaced or have major reconstruction. The bridge carried many more cars than it was designed to carry. They are finally replacing the bridge with a new span. Now. So this is a major problem all over the country. In NYC, they didn’t repaint bridges for many years, until bridges became so rusty they were dangerous. People are dumb, just dumb.

  50. 50
    Gladgrace says:

    As I read the article yesterday, I was thinking of “Worth Dying For” (by Lee Child!) with the Deliverance soundtrack. The novel is set in Nebraska, and while Child didn’t get the geography right, he did nail the culture. As a lifelong Nebraskan, I probably live 2-3 hours from the Brownback mother ship. Small town pseudo-aristocrats throwing their weight around because they’ve been in the county forever. It doesn’t help that the primary targets are democrats. Sheriffs get elected, after all, and the family being abused are democrats. They might as well be Muslim commies, for all the attention their complaints would have gotten. There are lots of people like the Brownbacks. It’s all about their “ground,” and who has the right to be using it. I expect things will change pretty quickly now, because no one like to be embarrassed. Law & order states in the Texas – North Dakota belt really don’t like it when it becomes known that bullies are allowed to be unchecked. That’s “Shane” country. You can treat the minorities as badly as you like, but you don’t get away with making little white kids cry.

  51. 51
    ShadeTail says:

    @Elizabelle: You’re a lot more optimistic than I am. Saying the Sheriff can’t punt on this any longer? Why not? I don’t see why he can’t just keep ignoring it for as long as he damn well pleases. He’s probably a lot more afraid of the Brownback family than he is the people he allegedly protects and serves. And there are plenty of examples of politically powerful people doing all kinds of nasty things, up to and including outright murder, and never getting in trouble for it.

    Hell, even if the US Attorney starts taking an interest and opens an investigation, there would be little chance of the Sheriff getting anything more than a disapproving frown for his utter incompetence in dealing with the thug named Brownback.

  52. 52
    rikyrah says:

    Tyrant fans…if there are any on the board

    ……………..

    Does ‘Tyrant’s’ Bassam have a messiah complex?
    by Monique Jones, Community Contributor @moniqueblognet
    Aug 6, 2015 | 6:30PM

    If you’re no stranger to my Tyrant recaps, then you’re probably aware that I have some issues with Bassam. Bassam is an interesting character, in that he’s as much a villain as he is a hero. I suppose most heroes, like Batman and Superman, can be viewed like this, because like Bassam, many comic-book heroes have messiah complexes. Bassam exhibits his on a routine basis, and it’s his messiah complex that will be examined in this post.

    The show’s original setup is that Bassam, like The Godfather‘s Michael Corleone, wanted out of “the family business,” but when faced with his father’s death, fell back into the family business in an attempt to make it honest. However, once you enter the business, you quickly learn that staying aboveboard doesn’t cut it, and you shift back into a life of crime.

    This presents the audience with the question of whether a person’s life is affected by free will or by their ties to their family. Does what runs in your blood determine your fate, or do your actions? I’m on board with the premise. As a character, Bassam is following the Michael Corleone path: He wants to turn his family to the straight and narrow (or so he says).

    But there is a place where the two characters diverge. Both characters want to reclaim honor and power, but while Michael is still working from the perspective of keeping the Corleone family the most powerful crime family in America, Bassam wants to completely annihilate his family (proverbially speaking) and put himself in place as the most powerful person in the Middle East, if not the world.

    http://community.ew.com/2015/0.....h-complex/

  53. 53

    @TriassicSands:

    Interesting “coincidence” that our California governor was recalled in 2000 over our car license tax. I think I smell some rat droppings ….

  54. 54
    GregB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Exactly what I was thinking.

  55. 55
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Oatler.: described 70s Kansas pretty well, too.

  56. 56
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Gimlet: ask President Dean.

  57. 57
    Loviatar says:

    a sociopath who understands how much the contemporary legal system relies on voluntary compliance, and disregards it because of that.

    —–

    In reference to the above quote, I’ve been wondering this for awhile. Civilization says in lieu of vengeance we will give you justice. If a man steals from you, don’t cut off his hand, instead society will provide justice. If a man harms you or takes the life of your loved one, don’t harm him or take his life, instead society will provide justice.

    What do you do when civilization no linger works and society’s norms are no longer applied to the rich and well connected?

    —-

    Also, in reference to yesterday’s multiple posts on why Bernie Sanders is seen with such hostility by some within the minority community.

    Black

    Lives

    Matter

    Income Inequality matters, but not dying matters more.

  58. 58
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Interesting “coincidence” that our California governor was recalled in 2000 over our car license tax. I think I smell some rat droppings ….

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): I don’t. Car registration and gas taxes are always one of those thing that instantly piss pretty much everybody off. Back when Davis pulled that stunt, I was still dirt-poor, and getting a registration bill that was three times the amount of the previous one was not helpful.

    In CA, if you fuck with car fees you’re fucking with the fundamental ability of people, poor and rich alike, to get to work. That anger crosses party lines.

    BTW, as you know, the ratfucking that cost Davis his job was with the power companies and their rolling outages. Still nobody in jail for that, but there should be.

  59. 59
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    Interesting “coincidence” that our California governor was recalled in 2000 over our car license tax. I think I smell some rat droppings ….

    But it was also Davis’ abyssal handling of the California energy crisis.

    And the car tax was a regressive tax that hit poorer taxpayers hardest. The state Dems didn’t seem to care and acted as though they were doing people a favor by not sticking it to them harder.

  60. 60
    JPL says:

    @RSA: How do we know that this didn’t happen to the author…

    The alcohol had flipped a switch in his brain, sending an electrical current to his penis, thereby relinquishing all control to the lower appendage for the time being.

  61. 61
    Brachiator says:

    @Mike:

    Hey Folks, Topeka resident here.

    Here’s a question. I read that Brownback won re-election by a slim percentage, and that even some Republicans have criticized him. But I also read that he was rated 100 percent by the US Chamber of Commerce, indicating a pro-business voting record, and was rated 100 percent by the Cato Institute, indicating a pro-free trade voting record. This would seem to suggest that Kansas has almost achieved conservative paradise.

    Are the citizens of Kansas happy with what they are getting and do they want more? Low taxes are supposed to set the table for job creation prosperity, and smaller government is supposed to be more efficient. Kansans are supposed to be, and descended from, hard headed, practical farmers, so I find it hard to credit the notion that these are just a bunch of dopes voting against their self interest.

    I’m in California, where we are “plagued” with a progressive income tax and a well-functioning state health insurance exchange. I think the only thing I know about Kansas personally was driving through the state years ago with college buddies and stopping to eat at a place called the Hereford House. So I would appreciate the perspective of someone who actually lives in the state.

    ETA: Odd. This post didn’t show up, but others have. I apologize if this is a duplicate.

  62. 62
    RSA says:

    @JPL: OMG, I’d forgotten that one, on my earlier read-through. It’s Bulwer-Lyttonesque.

  63. 63

    @PurpleGirl:

    People are dumb, just dumb.

    It’s not so much that people are generically dumb as it is that we’re terrible at thinking about the long term. We’re pretty good at thinking about what will happen in a few weeks, most of us can manage a few months to a year, and a fair number of people can even plan for a few years. But few people can really think clearly about things that take a substantial fraction of a human lifetime, and when we do, it requires conscious thinking and planning of a kind we don’t have to do when worrying about shorter time scales.

  64. 64
    John says:

    Does two make a trend?
    Mark Sanford seems to have a winner of a brother, too. Why do sociopaths seem to gravitate to Republican politics?

  65. 65

    Might be repeating what others have said here, but I suspect this is the beginning of the end of Jim Brownback’s reign of terror. Now that it’s received national attention, Sam and his people will either privately come down like a ton of bricks on Jim, or they’ll publicly throw him under the bus (“I’ll always love my brother, but I can’t help him with his problems” etc).

    Meantime, popcorn for everyone.

  66. 66
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Emma: State gummint. Not the same as Big Gummint. Because Reasons.

    I think your sympathy ran away with mine…

    Anyone who thinks that Trump playing the Teahadi bully-boy is somehow unkind or unfair to the Grand Auld Pahtee needs to meet the Brownbacks. Trump is increasingly looking like the norm rather than the exception.

  67. 67
    Botsplainer says:

    @John:

    Don’t know if that’s fair. The prevalence of shitty siblings probably is not a respecter of party labels.

  68. 68

    @Brachiator:

    Actually, it was Davis’s attempt to sue Enron and the power companies that got him recalled, lawsuits that were magically dropped as soon as Schwarzenegger was elected thanks to power company money.

    And if you can look at ALEC’s canned legislation and still think that conservatives aren’t using the same tactics nationwide, I can’t help you.

  69. 69
    boatboy_srq says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    The bridge carried many more cars than it was designed to carry.

    So not just built with lower-grade materials and to lowest-bidder standard, but insufficient to the eventual need (though probably adequate to the need when it was designed). Wear and tear on infrastructure is accelerated not only by build quality but by the load: roads are carrying multiples of what they were originally designed for, built to standards that were adequate at the time but proven inadequate since, so it’s no wonder that decay is happening faster than expected.

  70. 70
    Ruckus says:

    @xinark:
    When people find out the their taxes are less than somewhere else they tend to think that’s a good thing. They see the roads, the buildings, everything but they think this is normal everywhere. So their infrastructure sucks but their paycheck is better, they win!
    I was, 12 yrs ago, looking to start a retail business, it came down to somewhere on the west coast to locate it. As soon as I found out that WA had a high sales tax and people would travel to OR to purchase any medium or large purchase, WA was completely ruled out. Regressive taxes can easily kill small businesses.

  71. 71
    Ruckus says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Hard to find a witness when everyone is guilty and knows how to keep their mouth shut.

  72. 72
    James E Powell says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    I get the impression that they’d vote for Brownback again. Like Walker in Wisconsin, they didn’t for for the RWer because they like his policies; they voted for him because they hate the same people he hates.

  73. 73
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    @Ruckus:

    Agatha Christie went there 80+ years ago in Murder on the Orient Express.

    ETA: Sorry about the plot spoiler!

  74. 74
    realbtl says:

    @boatboy_srq: Don’t you know? It’s the infrastructure fairy doing her magic. Everything that now exists- roads, bridges, National Parks, you name it- was created magically w/o the need to pay for it.

  75. 75
    Steeplejack says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Damn it, next you’ll be telling us who killed Roger Ackroyd!

  76. 76
    sukabi says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: come spring, if we have a cold wet, winter, I-5 between Renton and Tacoma will be a total wreck. Drove it yesterday and about shook the car apart…lots of heat damage, cracking on top of the years of wear, neglect.

  77. 77
    kc says:

    Maybe the story will have a happy ending, like in “Road House.”

  78. 78
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    @sukabi: My wife and I are lifelong California residents and really did not expect that we’d ever run into a situation where we’d remark “hey, our roads are actually pretty good” but then we drove in WA and were saying it most of the time we were in the car.

    And on average I’d say our roads handle at least 10 times more traffic.

  79. 79
    Elizabelle says:

    Website of author/attorney Harry Maclean, who wrote the “In Broad Daylight” nonfiction book about the town of Skidmore, MO’s murder of Ken Rex McElroy. Sounds like a neat guy, and he’s got a new novel out.

    “Daylight” not in print now; it’s on Kindle. Wonder if the Jim Brownback antics will remind publishers it could come out again in paper.

  80. 80
    Elizabelle says:

    I meant to type “public service murder”, because not shedding any tears.

    Here’s a NYTimes anniversary story on the McElroy case. Town Mute for 30 Years About a Bully’s Killing

    SKIDMORE, Mo. — The murder of Ken Rex McElroy took place in plain view of dozens of residents of this small farm town, under the glare of the morning sun. But in a dramatic act of solidarity with the gunman, every witness, save the dead man’s wife, denied seeing who had pulled the trigger.

    The killing was a shocking end for a notoriously brutal man who had terrorized the area for years with seeming impunity from the law until he was struck down in a moment of vigilante justice.

    And McClatchy DC too. 3 decades on, who killed Skidmore town bully still secret

  81. 81
    RWForce says:

    @Gimlet: The Washington constitution allows only one question per initiative.

  82. 82
    TriassicSands says:

    @Gimlet:

    Couldn’t they couple the one with the lowering of the sales tax on the same ballot initiative?

    You would think that would work. However, when they tried to levy a small income tax on people who made more than $500,000, the ballot initiative included guarantees that the tax could not be levied on people with lower incomes without a direct vote of the people — in other words, to apply the tax to those with less that $500,000 annual income, the voters would have to vote “Yes.” That still wasn’t enough of a guarantee and the tax was defeated overwhelmingly. (I’m thinking the plan may have been on individual incomes of $250,000 and couples with $500,000.)

    Despite the Gates commission’s recommendations, no politician today is willing to utter the word income tax.

    Washington State is divided up into the Puget Sound corridor, where Democrats have some say, and Eastern Washington. which is loaded with conservatives. As is the case elsewhere, Seattle/King County pays a greater share of the taxes than they get back in benefits and programs, while the conservative east is characterized by the stingy takers — who pay less than they get, but want to cut taxes even more. They’re satisfied to have the Puget Sound area fund the rural roads they depend on in the east, but want to make the ferry system, which is logically a part of the state’s highway system, completely fee based. It’s not a new story, but it sure is tiresome.

    In 1999, when the car tabs initiative originally passed, I went to a couple of meetings about what the initiative’s passage meant for the ferry system. The meetings were filled with people who voted for the initiative, but objected to any cuts in ferry service or increases in ticket prices. When the person running the meetings told them that cuts in service and/or fare increases were going to happen, a lot of people complained loudly that if there were going to be changes, they should be on someone else’s ferry route — not theirs. (A variation on NIMBY.)

  83. 83
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    @Elizabelle: The Wiki article is all I needed to read. These folks didn’t have any other choice. None.

    Like how the county sheriff told the gathering mob not to do anything stupid and then drove away from town as fast as he could go. He was just as terrified of this guy as everyone else, and knew the only solution was an act he could not witness or be a part of.

    I hate vigilante justice with a passion but there are rare times when there are simply no alternatives. This McElroy guy was one. I am afraid Jim Brownback may be one as well. Hopefully his brother can either have a come-to-Jesus talk with the guy (that never works) or throw him under the bus and drop the hammer of the law on the guy. However, Sam Brownback’s record of judgment-making shouldn’t leave anyone hopeful that this could end in any other way save for bloodshed.

  84. 84
    apocalipstick says:

    @Brachiator: There was no California energy crisis. There was Enron bending the state over the desk before the bankruptcy blow-out, but no real crisis.

    The Davis/Schwarzenegger debacle was a great example of how right-wingers get to have it all.

  85. 85
    Brachiator says:

    @apocalipstick:

    There was no California energy crisis. There was Enron bending the state over the desk before the bankruptcy blow-out, but no real crisis.

    You mean there were no blackouts and brownouts and crazy fluctuations in power rates?

    Yeah, there were market manipulations, but Davis acted as though he could do something about it, but then fumbled the ball and looked like an incompetent fool.

    The Davis/Schwarzenegger debacle was a great example of how right-wingers get to have it all.

    A lot of Republicans who got their butts spanked in elections, including Meg Whitman, would disagree with you.

  86. 86
    Death Panel Truck says:

    @TriassicSands:

    while the conservative east is characterized by the stingy takers — who pay less than they get, but want to cut taxes even more.

    Tell me about it. I live in Pasco. Liberals like my wife and me are endangered species here.

  87. 87

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: And Davis did crap about it. Made him look weak. Stupid Democratic politicians.

  88. 88

    @apocalipstick: No real crisis? GTFOH!!! I was on vacation in California then. I remember the rolling blackouts. It was nuts and bizarre.

  89. 89
    Elizabelle says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: Yeah, the law beating feet out of town was most interesting.

    I guess most small towns with resident psychopath may not have such a talented criminal lawyer as the gent who kept wresting Mr. McElroy on his hapless neighbors. Attorney was still sharp at age 87, when stories were written in 2010.

    From author website: [at least] four of McElroy’s ten children were adopted out. Better lives for them.

  90. 90
    TriassicSands says:

    @Death Panel Truck:

    My condolences.

    At least you get to have Democratic senators and a Democratic governor. Imagine if you lived in Austin, TX, where Democrats outnumber Republicans, but the GOP has gerrymandered districts so that the majority of Austin area representatives are Republicans.

  91. 91
    A in Ca says:

    @Brachiator:” But it was also Davis’ abyssal handling of the California energy crisis.”
    Yes, so we Californians voted in Schwarzenegger, whose real unheralded achievement is not to have complained to the Federal Energy Commission and was sure NOT to sue any of the energy companies (Enron) for anything ever. That’s why Schwarzenegger was so popular with the Enrons of the world.
    The ‘car tax’ thing was that the California legislature, at a time of surplus, decided to temporarily reduce the car licensing/registration fees – as long as the state budget is in surplus -, with a provision that previous rates will be automatically reinstated when the state budget has a deficit. That occurred under Gov. Davis (no action required by him). This ‘car tax’ was also progressive, depending on the blue-book price of the car, so for my old clunker even the old rates were low. When I bought a new(er) car, I found that I could deduct the increased fee as an itemized deduction from my federal income.

  92. 92

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