Fealty to billionaires, Big Oil, GOP trump the truth for Jerry Moran

Jerry Moran seems like a decent guy and always says he is “honored to represent Kansans in the U.S. Senate.”

It’s impossible to imagine him mocking a disabled person or making fun of how someone talks. He did his constitutional duty to certify Joe Biden’s election as president. He promotes and celebrates Kansas businesses and advocates for veterans, medical research and the University of Kansas Health System.

All of that makes it hard to grasp just how dishonest and disastrous the rest of Moran’s record is. When he isn’t outright lying, Moran does his best to hide the truth about such vital issues as protecting the environment and our national security, bolstering the working class, and safeguarding our elections and our freedom to make our own health care decisions. He is no leader, and the Republican colleagues he follows and refuses to criticize or counteract are taking a wrecking ball to the truth and to our republic.

Moran is up for re-election but won’t debate his opponents, and he stonewalls constituents when they ask for explanation or justification of his policy stands. He does not tell the truth when the truth is uncomfortable for supporters of Donald Trump (whose votes he wants) or for the richest Kansan, Charles Koch, and other multi-billionaires whose dark money perverts our politics.

These are strong words, but they are the truth Moran will not touch. Consider:

― Moran touts himself as someone concerned about our nation’s defense, but he speaks with disdain for “the environment/climate agenda,” as if trying to mitigate global warming’s increasingly devastating storms, floods, wildfires and droughts is some political ploy. The U.S. Department of Defense has disagreed with the senator at least since 2004, when it warned the George W. Bush administration that global warming was a greater threat to national security than terrorism. The Pentagon has renewed its warnings across two decades, but Moran refuses to listen. Moran’s dismissal of this grave national security concern, of course, is in line with his fealty to Big Oil and with the Koch family’s well-financed climate change denial efforts, which drew $25 million in Koch money in just three years.

Moran also has been silent, or worse, on the damage to our national security wrought by Trump, who openly sought Russia’s help in his 2016 campaign, greatly weakened our NATO alliance, trashed the treaty checking Iran’s nuclear program, negotiated Afghanistan’s fate with the Taliban, and tried to extort Ukraine’s leader to dishonestly help his 2020 campaign. For all of this damage, along with Trump’s obstruction of congressional investigations, Moran rewarded Trump with a not-guilty verdict in Trump’s first impeachment trial. In doing so, Moran disregarded the testimony of long-serving patriots in our military and foreign services, and he gave Trump the green light to continue the unchecked abuse of power that led to the insurrection of Jan. 6.

― As for protecting the environment, Moran did nothing to push back when Trump dismantled key regulations, but that was no surprise. The senator typically characterizes efforts to safeguard health and save lives by reducing pollution as “burdensome regulations.” His language echoes that of Charles Koch and his late brother, David, whose Koch Industries and related businesses have faced many lawsuits and some high-dollar settlements. The allegations against Koch interests over the years have included fouling the environment, poisoning a town and even abandoning one dying employee who served the company loyally for years while being exposed to a cancer-causing chemical. When the Kochs came under attack in 2014 from then-Sen. Harry Reid, Moran leapt to their defense and asserted that they were well regarded in the business community, as if that’s a defense against reprehensible acts. Moran also neglected to mention that some businesses didn’t hold the Kochs in such high regard, including the companies that helped the government catch Koch Industries stealing oil from federal and Native American lands.

― When it comes to helping working people, Moran also is frequently missing in action. Most Kansans did get some modest relief from the Trump tax cuts, which Moran supported. But that was dwarfed by the legislation’s estimated $1 billion-plus break for the Koch brothers and their interests. The tax cuts also did not provide the jobs that were promised, but they did allow the rich and powerful to become richer and more powerful through massive stock buybacks. Moran further enables and even accelerates the hollowing out of Kansas’ middle class, opposing a higher minimum wage, student debt relief, expanded child tax credits and virtually any other federal measure that would be good for Kansas families.

― Moran also hurts average Kansans by demonizing and sabotaging efforts to catch wealthy tax cheaters, who cost us hundreds of millions of dollar every year. For example, a proposal last year would have given the Internal Revenue Service annual data on the total amounts flowing into and out of checking accounts with more than $600 of activity or assets. Unbiased financial experts noted that this would allow the IRS to do fewer audits but recover more unpaid taxes by focusing on likely cheaters underreporting large incomes. But Moran joined in the right-wing twisting of the proposal, claiming the banks would have to report all checking account transactions of $600 or more, a flagrant lie. “Now the IRS wants to know how you spend that income,” Moran lied on the floor of the U.S. Senate. A 30-second Internet search turns up multiple sites debunking this lie. Moran had zero excuse for propagating that lie, but he did, and the proposal eventually died.

― Moran also has failed to do anything to help working people cope with inflation. The Inflation Reduction Act included provisions to lower prescription drug costs and help millions pay for their health coverage, but Moran voted against it. Similarly, the House has passed a bill to stop gasoline price-gouging, but it has no chance to get through the Senate because Moran and others like him will not go up against the oil companies. Moran is quick to baselessly blame Joe Biden for higher gas prices, never mind the real culprits: U.S. oil companies’ soaring profits and fat-cat stock buybacks, the increased demand that comes with a recovering economy, and Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In fact, to cover for his Big Oil patrons, Moran’s baldest lie of late involves U.S. oil production. The Oct. 10 issue of the senator’s “Kansas Common Sense” newsletter led with this statement: “President Biden’s Energy Agenda Crushed American Energy Production.” I called the senator’s office and pointed out that this is incorrect, as U.S. energy production has been rising during Biden’s term after taking a dive late in the Trump administration. U.S. natural gas production will set a record this year, and rising oil production is expected to set a record next year. How did the senator square those facts with his assertion that American energy production was “crushed” by Biden’s policies? The unlucky staff member who answered my call promised to pass my “opinion” on to the senator. She even called me back a couple of weeks later and we had a long talk about what she had found in her efforts to answer my question. But did she find any evidence that American energy production had been “crushed” by the Biden administration? Of course not, because there is none. Our “nice guy” senator left a beleaguered staff member to try to defend the indefensible, instead of just ’fessing up that his newsletter writer had made a flagrantly false claim.

― As for the integrity of our elections, Moran can’t be bothered to correct the majority of voters in his party, who still think Joe Biden’s clear victory in 2020 was somehow stolen from Donald Trump. At a public forum I attended in July 2021, Moran was asked point-blank to say that Biden had won fair and square, and to deny Trump’s Big Lie that the election somehow was stolen. With Trump supporters in the audience, Moran would not plainly affirm that truth and said only that he had no choice but to do his constitutional duty to certify the electors. He is similarly silent on the scores of Republican candidates in this year’s elections who parrot Trump’s Big Lie, further endangering our republic.

In addition, whenever federal legislation comes up to protect voter rights and our elections, Moran cries “Democrat [sic] power grab,” though the protections his opponents seek routinely are favored by most Americans. Moran also cites the first part of the sentence in the Constitution that says state legislatures get to set election rules, implying that federal protections somehow are unconstitutional. Moran never reads the second half of that sentence: “but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations.” Federal election laws are rooted in crystal clear constitutional language, a fact Moran works hard to conceal.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise because Moran showed his utter and ultimate lack of concern for election integrity and our democratic republic when he voted to acquit Trump at his second impeachment trial. Moran refused to hold Trump accountable for fomenting an insurrection aimed at violently overturning an election and preventing the peaceful transfer of power. Moran’s incredibly lame excuse? “Establishing the precedent that the Senate has jurisdiction to convict a former president would cause extreme damage to our country and the future of the presidency.” What that “extreme damage” might be remains a mystery, especially given that Trump was impeached while still in office. Is Moran terrified that we’re going to go back and impeach Jimmy Carter? What in heaven’s name is he talking about? Instead, the senator most recklessly helped create a January exception for every future lame duck. As I said, Moran’s excuse was incredibly lame, except that about two weeks after that vote, Trump endorsed Moran’s re-election bid.

― Finally, Moran talks about freedom and small government, but his “pro life” stance means he believes the government should be able to dictate whether women can have an abortion. He applauded the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, made possible by unfit radical judges whose confirmations Moran approved when they came before the Senate.

Moran also was a big supporter of the proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas constitution that voters roundly rejected at the polls in August. The amendment would have cleared the way for the Kansas Legislature to enact a complete abortion ban, bringing such horrors as forced birth for rape victims to our state. Moran contributed $50,000 to the campaign and made a misleading commercial for the ballot issue. After the election, despite his constituents’ clear support for abortion access and medical care for problem pregnancies, Moran added his name to a bill for federal abortion restrictions.

So much for democracy, liberty or the states’ rights Moran often invokes.

Needless to say, I am not honored to be misrepresented in Washington by Jerry Moran.

“Last of the True Believers” haiku

Nanci Caroline Griffith, July 6, 1953, Seguin, Texas
Updated 2020

Cracked my heart open
The first time I heard her sing
Still does, every time

You see, we all have
This problem, and it’s called love
Nanci Griffith knows

And for some of us,
Heart on sleeve fools, no one else
Sings it quite like her

From Kerrville campfires
To the London Symphony
Nanci’s played ’em all

And tracing romance
Or tugging hatred’s hood, she
Sings about what’s real

Nanci pays tribute
To her strong-women heroes
Love isn’t weakness

Has her causes, too
From the death penalty to
Equal marriage rights

Been through life’s wringer
Death of young sweetheart, divorce,
Cancer twice, friends lost

Years of writer’s block
Came too, till two-thousand-nine
Saw her muse return

“The Loving Kind” said
Nanci’s back, but next CD
Proved to be her last

Once in a lifetime
Or at least in a blue moon
One so touching shines

Happy birthday, girl
You take the cake, and our hearts
It’s all frosting now

March 2019


Library concert
Notes on the margin and you
Don’t have to erase


Library concert
Volume among the volumes
Chapter and verses


So many mistakes
I must be on the verge of
A great leap forward


Linear comic
Lots of simple jokes — for him
Life is a straight line


Hiding places fill
Hilly neighborhood — just right
For a knoll coward


Loo-zee-ana muck
On Italian running shoes
It’s Fila gumbo!


Hasn’t done the nosy dog
Any good either


Medical research
Hopes to cure everything but


My cranky old back
Bravely puts up a good front
For only so long


Her sepia songs
Golden hearts preserved, relived
In wash of tintype


Songbird and sparrow
Timeless and timely — true art
And peeps for her peeps


Gone 20 years yet
He echoes in each footstep,
Cools each long shadow


Sprightly clack of keys
Belies undertow of words
Pouring from his heart


February wind
Lingers, bites like puppy teeth
But without the fun

February 2019


Sprouting like wild weeds
Daffodils and daffy dill
Spring greens and yellow


Lead and serve? No, he
Just rules — robs “nobility”
Of class and meaning


Careless words strewn like
Stogies, figuratively
And litter-al-ly


A bag of cough drops,
A jar of Vicks — cold comfort
In these viral days


Amazing what one
Can get done while avoiding
More odious tasks


Always more to find
We search again, discover
Why it’s called research


Lost inside myself
Introspection’s lone journey
Knows no GPS


The day’s colors fade
Then concentrate, reignite
For their parting blaze


Gray drizzle at dawn
The shrouded Earth awakens
So begrudgingly


Can a Tex-Mex joint
Offer hard-shell tacos at
Its soft opening?


Blueberry lingers
In its breakfast bowl milk bath
Till the spoon’s last scoop


Can an open heart
Share enough love, light and hope
To change a closed mind?


Boundaries, barriers
A fine line between those lines
Of health and hindrance


Seems the only thing
I can never put off is


Brokenhearted know
The real price of love, know they
Will pay it again


Break down or break through
Something has to change when you
Reach a breaking point


Problems of my own
The last thing I need is a
Psycho therapist


Need to talk things out,
Decompress — thank God for my


Brown Latina limbs
White legs of a Northern Girl
Walk new paths as one


Reason all you wish
No argument or logic
Persuades pain to stop


Land of the free, home
Of the brave? Sorry, it’s closed
Show your papers, please


Things get better; things get worse
With luck, things get weird


“Bargain in good faith”
“Compromise with us” — liars
Sing their siren song


Trauma in boxes
Pack it, move it, but that stuff
Follows you around


Stoic grandfather
Six-day weeks, packing house floor
And never a beef


Soft sweater’s caress
Warm, gentle — almost as good
As a human touch


Greg’s law of motion:
When feet with joy are dancing
The heart must follow


When there is no love
Hope dies; faith dies; it all dies
There is only death

January 2019


Hangs by a Facebook thread when
Hate gets the most “likes”


Zero degrees out
Hey, fitness tough guys! What gives?
The bike lane’s empty


The CV’s longer
Than a CVS receipt
Impressive research


Pitcher by pitcher
His blender set to “bender”
Wastrel wastes away


In chaotic times
Binge-watching reality
Takes too much bandwidth


Some music hooks you,
Some worms its way in, to catch
A piece of your heart


Microsoft spending
Half-billion on cheap housing;
Will it have windows?


Rulers remind us
It isn’t just painters who
Can lay it on thick


Air as dry as dust
Winter’s trick when all moisture
Has been set adrift


Walls inside ourselves
Hardest ones to breach because
We hide them so well


Fears that divide us
From each other and ourselves
Scariest of all


A nature lesson:
Fat, fur hold heat, explaining
My hot-headed ways


Soul, definition:
Unique, sacred part of you
No one else can own


Freezing fog and mist
Bracing and mysterious
Perfect life weather


“Fasting” and “cleansing”
Such fraudulent expressions
Slow, dirty business


How to waste a life:
Spend time mocking instead of
Making a difference


Decoding the clues
Found only in dreams means we
Must twice awaken


Reflecting the light
Or generating your own
Beaming is beaming


Layers question not,
Hold many answers, but you
Have to keep digging


Footprints in fresh snow
Find joy in being the first
Care not who follows


Panic empties shelves
Time to restock with kindness,
Calm, truth and caring


Vending machine sage
Dispenses its crackerjack
2 cents: “Be the change”


Our stable genius
Seems fit for only one job:
Mucking his own dung


Dodge, duck, then no luck
We have to take the bullet
In this life someday


Respite all too brief
Dangers all too plentiful
The year’s work awaits


Blood and DNA
Or simply the air we breathe
We’re all connected


Those who see others
Only as winners, losers
Have lost their own way


Chinese land spaceship
Dark side of the moon — who knew
They were Pink Floyd fans?


Gotta love a twist
Lemon, plot, doughnut, dance floor
But ankle, knife? No


First step, then the next
Sometimes so easy, sometimes
Seems impossible


One ends; one begins
Seconds, minutes, hours, days, years
In and out of time




The Ballad of Bob

June 1 is the birthday of Bob Walkenhorst, singer, songwriter, painter, friend, husband, dad and granddad. His work with the Rainmakers has meant — and still means — so much to so many people, and his 15-plus years of Wednesday night gigs with Jeff Porter and Norm Dahlor, which ended about a year ago, helped create a musical community. Now he and his daughter, Una, have made an album that will be out later this year. Happy birthday, Bob, and many more! This was written five years ago, for his 60th, and tweaked for his 65th today.

Emptied the junk drawer
Unpacked the memory banks
Bob-O turned 6-O

That called for epic
And the longer the better
Yeah, that’s what she said

Smalltown Missouri,
Norborne, a dot on the map,
Framed Bob’s early life

Mable and Ray gave
Him love, lots of work to do,
Things to write about

They flipped newspapers
And burgers, too — anything
To help earn a buck

The carpenter’s son
Took their advice and found those
Better things to come

College, the Ozarks,
A crazy electric band,
Stumpwater by name

And then the big move
To the brightest lights around
Kansas City town

Steve, Bob & Dave burst
Out of the chute, played oldies
With intensity

They burned things up fast
From priests-and-strippers parties
To Uptown and down

Some originals
Worked their way into the mix
“Kissin’ Time,” “Christine”

That first trio split
Regrouped as Steve, Bob & Rich
Roots rockers unbound

KC, Wichita,
Springfield, Fayetteville, St. Lou,
Lawrence, Manhattan

The depths of Blayney’s
To Parody’s fire-trap heights
The boys played them all

Wore their pants backwards
Played toy-raygun “synth” solos
Whatever it took

“Baba O’Riley,”
“… Coming to Take Me Away,”
They’d try anything

Too fun, too funny
Who knew what to make of them?
So we danced and danced

Then built their own sets
Of rockin’ originals,
Showed us they had “Balls”

Pat joined in on drums
Band filled out its sound, ready
To take the next step

Renamed Rainmakers
Mercury/Polygram signed
Big-time record cut

Local fans rejoiced
Newsweek, Rolling Stone took note
Robert Christgau, too

New songs and synth sounds
Roared, but “Tornado” didn’t
Take the charts by storm

Good news: next CD
Got back to band’s roots. Bad news:
No label support

Worse news: it detailed
In “Battle of the Roses”
Bob’s breakup story

Then reckoning day:
Time for band to hang it up
Fun had become grind

Bob got that itch — naturally
To write, play again

“Another Guitar,”
Others with Gary Charlson
Rang at Buzzard Beach

Orbison high notes
And Everly harmonies
Yes, remarkable

And life turned again
Bob found his Missouri Girl
Waitin’ down those stairs

Una made the scene
And Norway fans still beckoned
Steve, Rich, Pat came back

Band reminded us
Of someone, good times “Flirting
With the Universe”

Bob got serious
Rich split, not quite furious
“Skin” band found its Bliss

More videos, gigs
Though again the Rainmakers
Ran their course, it seemed

But music still played
In his head and heart, in work
At video job

Helped start a project
Wrote a song with Una’s class
Honoring hero

“Primitivo Garcia”
Still brings us to tears

More songs came, found time
To be recorded, found Jeff
To help play them live

Wednesday night gigs born
Along with “The Beginner”
Proof that Bob was here

Norm joined in on bass
The Westport love affair Buzzzed
for 15-plus years plus

Bob played on with Jeff
And “No Abandon” — they took
Duet to Norway

“Almanac” looked back
As if Rainmakers were through
But “Almanac” lied

Rainmakers re-formed
But didn’t reform — not with
Jeff replacing Steve

25 years on
Band honored its first CD
And made brand new one

Bob mined some memories,
Mature themes about aging
And getting it right

But on stage the guys
Were as crazy as ever
Band of knuckleheads

So Bob rocks, rolls on
Playing, painting, and working
To create, help, love

What is a hero?
One kind grows where he’s planted
Blesses those he knows

So take a bow, Bob
Not bad for 65 years
Here’s to decades more

“In a word” haiku

World Poetry Day
Shanti, irini, malu
Béke, fifa, peace

Of what use are words
Vrede, wolakota, fred
Sérë, amani

If not to heal hearts
Sidi, layeni, hoa binh
Kapayapaan, paz

If not to bind wounds
Heiwa, rukun, hasiti
Ukuthula, pasch

If not to spread love
Soksang, pokoj, santiphap
Peoning hwa, pax

All we are saying
Paix, taika, rongo, baris
Uxolo, paci

Is give peace a chance
Solh, mir, pau, hetep, shalom
World Poetry Day