Sutherland: The Totalitarian Mind Mo-Kan Style

shelf-11In response to a series of postings I’ve done about various acts of ethically challenged behavior on the part of various local politicos and their backers, I’ve been hit with the familiar, “You’re just attacking them out of mean-spirited partisanship!”

However there’s never any attempt to contest my factual allegations or dispute my characterization of various actions.

I thought of this when I saw that a bio-pic is showing about the German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt at The Tivoli in Westport.  Arendt is most famous for her coverage of the 1960’s war crimes trial of Nazi Adolph Eichmann.  She coined the phrase “banality of evil,” meaning that atrocities were more often perpetrated by bureaucratic mediocrities like Eichmann than by evil, master-mind, criminal geniuses.

Arendt should also be remembered for an insight in her “Origins of Totalitarianism.”  She described how one of the greatest advantages of totalitarian regimes like Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.  That way if you’re a wrongdoer you don’t actually have to answer the specific allegations against you as long as you can ascribe some ulterior political motive to your accuser.

Thus Clay Blair, the moderate Republican chair of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, could ignore all the damning factual record on how he ran the KBA, by having his defenders say his accusers were just mean old Democrats.  Tom Thornton, the rapscallion president of the KBA (hired by Blair!), blew off the charges against him, with his champions saying it was vengeful conservative Republicans allied with Sam Brownback who were persecuting their guy.

Why even bother to offer a defense when the press and the prosecutors will not go after a Democrat or a moderate Republican? 

Clay Blair

Clay Blair

Steve Howe, the Johnson County attorney, declined to prosecute Thornton because, in large part, Thornton had destroyed his computer files intentionally and thus made it difficult to prove criminal charges against him.  (Talk about rewarding someone for their wrongdoing!)

The K.C. Star went after former Kansas Attorney General, Phill Kline, for hiring his twenty-something nephew for an $18,000 a year drivers job, even though the young man had refused a breathalyzer several years before when a student at KU.  The Star’s investigation ran to three full pages, with upwards of five thousand words coverage.  At the very same time, a member of moderate Governor Bill Graves‘ cabinet, plead guilty to entering a woman’s apartment in Topeka wearing a ski mask and then raping her at knife point, a serious enough crime that he drew a 10 year sentence.  There was one brief mention of this latter incident in the Star.

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Bob Holden

Missouri Democrat Ex-Governor Bob Holden would appear on television ads while a sitting governor, selling insurance, a new low, even for Jeff City.  He and his wife got in a domestic dispute worthy of Cage Aux Folles, with a cast of lovers, lock-outs by both spouses of the other from the governor’s mansion, and general shenanigans all round, which of course spread beyond the bounds of Cole County.  When I asked the Star’s Steve Kraske why none of this was even hinted at in the newspaper, he gave me this pious sermon about how the newspaper would never hint at anyone’s personal life, which was off-bounds.  Two days later the Star ran a story suggesting that Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt put special language in a tax bill favoring St. Louis chemical giant Montsanto because he was romantically involved with a woman lobbyist for the company.

Steve Kraske

Steve Kraske

Apparently what’s good for the Republican goose is not good for the Democratic gander!

If you combine the double standard of the press and prosecutors, with the indifference of watch-dogs like the KS Governmental Ethics Commission to moderate Republican and Democratic transgressions, you really do have a case of “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”  (Who guards the guardians?)

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13 Responses to Sutherland: The Totalitarian Mind Mo-Kan Style

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    The Republicans and Democrats are The-Beast-With-Two-Heads, trying their best to be THE party of special interest monies.

    Growing up in KC under the Democratic Machine, imagine my shock when moving to Delaware County, Pennsylvania and experiencing the War Board. They were unelected Republicans, led by Charlie Sexton, who ran the county government by edict.

    And while John Street and Franny Rafferty fought it out during a City Council meeting to the horror of the media, the Delaware County Council had over 10,000 consecutive, unanimous votes in session.

    The two parties have successfully gerrymandered congressional districts into safe havens. No need to vote because “your guy” is guaranteed a win.

    It makes the days of political deals in smokey back rooms appear virgin by comparison.

    You and I don’t agree on many things. But if we are all saying the same thing we aren’t having a discussion. We are merely yaking.

  2. John Altevogt says:

    You forgot Howe’s handling of The Great Tattoo, Paul Morrison. After Morrison resigned in disgrace from the AG’s office amid allegations that he had tampered with an investigation Howe’s office launched an independent investigation. If memory serves, the result was yes, he had been a naughty boy, but for the sake of his family he should be left alone.

    Really? Kline enforces the law and gets lynched by a corrupt Supreme Court and its lackey Stan Hazelet and no one ever worried about an impact statement on his family, but Morrison the sleaze makes a mockery of the law and all is forgiven by Howe the Whore. Talk about anticipating the offer.

    • Dwight Sutherland says:

      The double standard between the respective treatments of Morrison and Kline deserves not just it’s own post but possibly even a book. (I wonder if local author Jack Cashill would be interested!) What’s even more amazing about this whole thing is the absolute lack of embarrassment when one of these clowns get caught. Not only that, but they each have a host of defenders! (In Thornton’s case, State Senator John Vratil and Steve Morris did everything they could to derail the hearings and audit looking into these questions. And they wonder why the electorate tossed them out last year! )

  3. Dwight Sutherland says:

    Orphan,you are absolutely right as to the bi-partisan nature of the corruption. I ran for the Kansas State Senate in 2000 as a protest candidate in the “belly of the beast”,the 7th District,where a serial killer could get elected if he ran as “a pro choice moderate”. My opponent in the Republican primary had split a huge state grant with the ranking Democrat on a state commission they headed between two non-profits run by their wives. This was too much even for the Star,which declined to endorse him. In a classic example of KC Star logic,the Star editorial board said I was also NOT qualified to hold elective office because I had not held elective office.(Try that for circular reasoning!) I remember reading about the War Board outside Philly almost forty years ago. One of the longest lived political machines,like the War Board suburban and Republican,was on Long Island and was run by a man named Joe Margiotta. The only reason that more conservative Republicans haven’t been mentioned is that they didn’t control either the governor’s office or the state senate in Kansas and didn’t have the opportunities their moderate brethren did(though there is the little matter of Bio-Core,a bio-tech start up that received state funds and put office holders on its pay roll!) In Missouri,the GOP only got control of the legislature 10 years ago but they are making up for lost time! (The Star was so enraged that the bad guys had prevailed at the time that they made no mention of it for weeks afterwards,even though it was clearly an historic power shift.The New Yorker did the same thing on the national level that year,if you’re personally disgusted with the outcome of an election as a newspaper or magazine editor, just don’t mention it in your publication! )

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      Arlen Specter, one of the truly evil men in politics, won the Senate seat because Lynn Yeakel ran a campaign which was based on, I-kid-you-not, vote for me I have tits.

      Sometime around the turn of the century, Time or Newsweek had an edition devoted to how the political parties advance bills which favor one business over all the others. Wish I had it now as it had some examples of how Fruit of the Loom got legislation passed which gave them a BIG advantage over their competition with the act.

      Where are Ambrose Bierce and HL Mencken when we really need them?

    • Stomper says:

      Dwight; What fun is it for me to read your postings when I can’t disagree with you?

      Just kidding. Great stuff here. Refreshing to read rational opinions from the other side of the aisle. Keep it up !!

  4. the dude says:

    AH!!! Politics!!!!

  5. paulwilsonkc says:

    I bow in respect to another great article and your overall skills!
    If I could write like you I’d never leave my desk!

  6. chuck says:

    Really great story and comments!

  7. Goose13 says:

    Kraske is a douche. Some his articles were so distorted, it was a joke.

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