Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): May 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I am not disgusted by the Kansas Legislature impasse. I don't like that there is a cost involved, but as Bob Weeks wrote a few days ago, "In Kansas, it's more important to be right than quick."

Getting it right means lowering the sales tax. I don't mind compromise, but when it comes to the budget, compromises are a problem.

There are rarely any compromises on things like what gets cut. Instead, the rate of tax increases are "compromised." 

That political reality means never-ending tax increases and spending. And I for one have had enough. The state of Kansas gets enough of my money. And I am a slave in regards to what they do with it.

If I had my way, not a single dime of my money would go to my public school district. But I'm a hostage in that regard. I don't mind paying for schools, but I have a real problem paying for schools with the express intent of brainwashing children into mindless drones, who can't think for themselves and revolt at the mere mention of Christianity. 

We're hostages and slaves to our government, and it's high time our representatives stood their ground. I am exceedingly proud of the House, even if their sole purpose for refusing to raise taxes is that they have to stand for re-election soon. Their motives matter much less to me than the end result.

Do I wish every House member would refuse to accept pay for the days they work beyond 90? Yes. But that's probably not a realistic expectation unless we want a legislature full of wealthy people. (The members of the legislature, on average, are much wealthier than the people they represent already.)

To the members of the House standing strong (right now, I hear the numbers are very, very close) I say thank you.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Liberals Gone Stupid

You know things are about to get interesting when the Democrats start whining about a government entity spending too much money.  

Take for example this guy: @JasonPerkey He is desperately upset that the Legislature spent $45,000 in salaries today for 11 minutes of work. And then he tweeted a picture about how poor, poor Kansas teachers can barely survive.

I think he meant to say the Legislature hates children. Otherwise, why on earth would the members of the Kansas House and Senate stand their ground on issues of great importance like taxes and the budget?

Here's the 4-1-1: The Kansas Senate and the Kansas House are still a ways apart on a tax plan. The 90-day session has dragged on an extra week with no end in sight. The Senate is insistent on a budget that raises taxes. The House is insistent on one that won't.

They've had some squabbles about meeting somewhere in the middle, which I will note, means a tax increase albeit a smaller one.

In my not-so humble opinion, the House is negotiating from a position of strength. (And probably fear. They will face voters sooner than the Senate.) 

From my vantage point, it doesn't look like the House is any closer to budging. It might be time for the Senate to think about compromise.

Oh, and if you want a laugh, parse through the liberal tweeters losing their minds about the state spending money. What a bunch of hypocrites. (Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but Andy Marso is supposed to be an impartial observer. His tweets suggest otherwise.)

Friday, May 24, 2013


I did not expect this. I assumed many House members would go squishy.

After a special appeal from Gov. Brownback, the Kansas House just told the Senate and the Governor to bite them. 

I am pleasantly surprised they are standing strong.

A friendly reminder

To all of those House members about to cast a vote for the Senate's tax proposal:

• The secret to having a low tax burden is low spending.

Just a little something to keep in mind as you consider what burden you'll place on hard-working Kansans.

Carry on.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Someone's gotta give

The House and Senate are running out of time reach a tax package compromise.

There are varying reports on how close the two are. At issue: The sales tax rate. The Senate has "compromised" its proposal to 6.25 percent -- from an initial proposal of 6.3 percent. What a bunch of clowns they are. They came down .05 percent. 

Meanwhile, a House plan has ratcheted up its proposed sales tax rate from 5.7 percent to 6.0 percent. At least they're apparently willing to go halfway, even though the House was on the side of right in its initial refusal to budge from a 5.7 percent sales tax rate.

Other proposals have moved those rates around a bit -- exempting any sales tax rate above 5.7 on food.

The House rejected the Senate's last offer and asked to meet tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Senate says it will make a counter offer to its last offer this evening. (At least I think that's what's happening.)

Long story short: They're still negotiating. The clock is running out on the statutory 90-day session, which lawmakers expected to last only 80 days. 

Stay tuned.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Governor's right-hand man goes apocalyptic on conservative House members

A handful of Kansas Republicans are getting the riot act today from David Kensinger. 

David Kensinger, Kensinger-ing.

Kensinger is the former chief of staff of Gov. Sam Brownback. He now serves as the chair of Brownback's PAC -- Roadmap Solutions. When he left the Governor's office, Kensinger told journalists that he would be free, in his new role, to advocate in the public square

Apparently, he's also actively advocating in private as well. Last night, Kensinger abrasively called and texted members of the Kansas House who are (currently) standing firm against the Governor's proposal to increase the sales tax from 5.7 percent to 6.3 percent. (This sales tax stuff is complicated. Legislators are debating whether a sales tax, adopted in 2010, will sunset as planned or be extended.)

The Governor and the Senate want to extend the sales tax in exchange for lowering the income tax rate for the highest earners. The plan calls for lowering the income tax for all Kansans to zero in the future. (And if you believe that, I've got a sales tax increase to sell you that will sunset in a few years (wink, wink).

In the spirit of negotiations, there is a "compromise" on the table that would put the sales tax at an even 6 percent. It is Hurricane Disaster for middle class Kansans. Under the "compromise," Kansans would get two (TWO) tax increases: First, the sales tax bumps up another three-tenths of a percent. Meanwhile, the standard income tax deduction of $9,000 would be gutted. (I don't know by how much. I'm hearing different numbers -- $4,500? $6,500? Somewhere in between?)

But there is a contingent of freshmen House members rejecting the compromise.  They includeRep. J.R. Claeys of Salina; Travis Couture-Lovelady of Palco; Rep. Willie Dove of Bonner Springs; Rep. Ron Highland of Wamego; Rep. Mark Kahrs of Wichita; Rep. Jerry Lunn of Overland Park; Rep. Charles Macheers of Shawnee; and Rep. Josh Powell of Topeka.  (If you're able, please thank them! It's gut-check time, and they're going to need to hear positive encouragement. ) 

The sixsome met with Gov. Brownback last week to attempt to reach some sort of compromise. I don't think it went how the Governor planned, because the six came out of the meeting even more resolved not to vote for any budget plan that includes a sales tax of more than 5.7 percent.

They can probably count on the Charlotte O'Hara treatment. This means a vicious primary with thousands of dollars thrown into the coffers of their primary opposition. (Although, I'm quietly told that some of the groups that assisted in the Charlotte O'Hara political knifing, like the Kansas Chamber, support the freshman House members' stance on the budget. Rumor has it that Americans for Prosperity-Kansas is also team Freshman House Six.)

So fast-forward to today. David Kensinger is not impressed. 

Last night, pit-bull Kensinger blew up the phones of some select House members. Their crime? In addition to not supporting the Governor's plan, they spoke with a reporter at the Huffington Post about it.

I suspect one particular quote, from Claeys, absolutely sent the Governor into a rage, or as much of a rage as Gov. Brownback is capable of having. It probably angered a whole lot of members of the Senate, too.

Claeys said:

We on the House side did not receive the same support in our races from the governor's side. We won election by going door to door and telling the voters our positions. We owe it to the people we serve to protect them from outrageous tax hikes. Some senators feel they owe their elections to the governor.   

Yep. He said that out loud. To a reporter. D'oh!
The big fly in the budget soup is higher education funding. Gov. Brownback recently toured the state touting the need for increased spending on higher education. That he took this whirlwind statewide tour with the University of Kansas' Bernadette Gray-Little, a liberal if ever there was one, ought to tell my conservative friends a little something about what exactly the Governor's budget is protecting.

With a proposed 4 percent budget cut, KU is threatening to shutter a $700,000 medical school in Salina; gut half of a medical school in Wichita and fire 38 teachers in Kansas City.

The bottom line is, it's gut check time for members of the Kansas Legislature. Brownback is threatening to line item veto any cuts to higher education. Meanwhile, there are 72 members of the Kansas House, who at last count, refuse to vote for a sales tax increase.

So now legislators must decide: Are they sticking with the Governor? Or are they sticking with their constituents? Either way, they should expect to have a primary opponent come 2014. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

(Gasp!) John Brown's Ghost is a Democrat staffer

In other news, water is wet. Grass is green and Kathleen Sebelius is evil.

I have a LOT of questions about a Topeka Capital-Journal story that outs a (formerly) anonymous Twitter user, @JohnBrownsGhost as Tyler Longpine, a staff member of House Minority Leader Paul Davis.

I can't figure out why this is a news story. There are thousands, maybe even millions of fake and/or anonymous Twitter accounts. And John Brown's Ghost had few followers and a net impact of zero on policy. 

I have an anonymous Twitter account, along with this anonymous blog.

There are two reasons I choose to remain anonymous. If I ever change jobs, I do not want future employers to know my politics. Some of it will be obvious, but I don't want them to know everything I think. Not because I'm wrong, but because they might be, and make no mistake, there is an anti-conservative prejudice in many, many industries. I am not saying anything here that I haven't said in person to anyone who asks. In short, I'd rather people know me, before they know my politics.

Second, I can't adequately gather information if people are worried anything they tell me might end up online on a blog. I am very careful to have all of the information I publish here verified by at least three people. (This makes it easier to remain anonymous, and I don't want to peddle cheap gossip. Gossip, yes. But cheap gossip, no!)

There's just no there in the John Brown's Ghost story. The Twitter account is now protected, but Earl Glynn, of Franklin Center's Watchdog, started saving John Brown's Ghost tweets a year ago. (I think it's safe to call Earl Glynn an information hoarder, at this point. I envision his house is stuffed to the gills with paper and hard drives, and if anyone lit a match it would go up in flames from all the information kindling.) 

The saved tweets are available here. I can't find anything too out-of-bounds or unreasonable in them. Sure, they're snarky, but this is how political movements gain traction. And it's one area the Republicans kind of suck at. (I guess that's to our credit. Maybe.) 

Go to the ksleg hashtag, #ksleg, on Twitter. There you'll find a lot of liberal activists excoriating Republicans for just about everything. You'll find a few conservative politicians, like Rep. J.R. Claeys and Rep. Brett Hildabrand; and you'll find several reporters tweeting links to their stories about the Kansas Legislature. Missing from the mix are conservative activists and opinion makers.

It is absolutely no surprise that a Kansas Democratic staffer was the person behind a liberal, snarky, anonymous Twitter account. There are approximately three Democrats in all of Kansas and four liberal activists. It stands to reason that at least 75 percent of them are getting paychecks from Democratic pols, think tanks and the like. Of course, the Twitter account belongs to one of them -- law of averages and all that. 

For some reason, Tyler Longpine apologized for the Twitter account. In the article, he said, "My apologies to anyone my actions may have offended. I am solely responsible for the content, and I should not have posted this content online."

This apology would have more meaning had he apologized for specific tweets. Some of them are rude and mean-spirited.

Also, Paul Davis is taking "administrative action." Whatever that means. I don't actually buy his story that he didn't know or suspect, but I don't really care either. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fast moving

Budget negotiations between six Republican legislators and the Governor have broken down.

I suspect there's about to be a brawl. 

Things are starting to get interesting.

Finish strong, Kansas House Republicans.

Judicial power struggle

Surprisingly, Kansas lawyers really don't like the idea of not having most of the power in Kansas. 

It's strange, I know. And now a plan that would change the way justices are appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court has hit a massive speed bump.

I almost can't stand to read about this topic, because the liberals' take on the issue is so breathtakingly unenlightened. They think allowing the Governor to appoint and Senate to approve "politicizes" the process.

Oh puh-lease. Currently, a bunch of lawyers sit around in a room and use "merit" to determine a list of attorneys from which the Governor must select a judicial appointment.

It's absolutely maddening that they toss around the word, "merit." As if by virtue of being attorneys and members of the Kansas Bar Association, they are better judges of merit than anyone else in the state. 

Long story, short: Our current system is really stupid and gives a disturbing amount of power to a bunch of ambulance chasers. The roomful of attorneys are not representative of the people, they aren't elected by the people, and Kansans have no ability to hold this roomful of lawyers accountable for their crappy nomination list.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Legislature and the Governor have wisely decided to look into the issue of Kansas' judicial selection process. They dropped the ball when they asked for the Kansas Bar Association's opinion.

Of course its members think the current system is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Of course they don't support changes to a system that handily gives them tons of power.

Negotiations between the KBA and legislators has stalled. Members of the Court are blaming Sen. Jeff King. Sen. King is demanding an apology.

I contend that this was always the KBA's endgame. The legislature does not need their permission to make changes, and they shouldn't have asked.        

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Do members of the Senate/Gov have integrity? Stay tuned

I don't even know where to start with this story, because I really hate it so much.

As you all know, the Republican elected officials are having a disagreement about the 2014 Kansas budget.

The (smart) members of the Republican caucus, primarily those in the Kansas House, have drafted a budget that keeps a promise to allow part of a 1-cent sales tax to expire.

Enter the (als*#kdfjjio*#$) Senate and the Governor: Those boneheads want to extend the sales tax and reduce the income tax rate. I'm all for that, however, a promise was made. PERIOD. End of discussion.

But nope. The conversation continues, and this is the part where I feel particularly enraged -- the ongoing debate is happening behind closed doors between a select few.

I'm sorry, but when it comes to discussions about budget, about final legislation and compromises, the public and other members of the Republican caucus -- also known as representatives of the VOTERS -- deserve to be a part of the conversation.

For the better part of this week, legislators are in the Capitol. Most of them are standing around eating cookies for a few hours before heading home. Meanwhile, six legislators -- three from the House and three from the Senate -- are negotiating the future of your wallet. I don't know about you, but I don't like it.

It physically makes me ill to agree with the Democrats on, well, just about everything. They are the dumbest, most-ill-informed humans on the face of the Earth, but even a broken clock is right twice a day, and the Dems manage to get something right once or twice a decade.

Now is their time, apparently. Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, told the Associated Press that private proposals prevent the public from weighing in on proposals.

The meetings, he said, "completely betray the democratic process."

He's right.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Wagle, one of the privileged-few budget negotiators was unwilling to talk numbers with the AP reporter. She simply said that the House and Senate had "narrowed the gap" in budget negotiations.

Um. OK. She also suggested that the budget the group is wrangling will most closely resemble the Senate's. 

I think you all know how I personally feel about that. This budget issue is very, very black and white to me: Legislators made a promise when they passed that 1-cent sales tax a few years ago.

People of integrity keep their promises.  

(In my best Mark Levin voice: Hear that, Republicans! I'm talking to you!)   

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Republican racist in western Kansas (insert joke here)

This is post is long, long overdue, but I was having a minor crisis of conscience about posting about Jim Giles, the now-disgraced Saline County Commissioner.

During a sparsely-attended commission meeting in April, Giles suggested that when hiring an architect for a project, they should find a candidate who wouldn't "nigger rig" it.

I get it. Truly, I do. Language changes, and sometimes a vernacular is behind the curve in the change. (A recent example: It used to be very commonplace to refer to someone doing something silly or stupid as "retarded." And I used the word all of the time until I was in college. There, a dear friend, told me about his developmentally-disabled sister, who had died when he was in middle school. He told me the word hurt his feelings. I no longer use the word, but it took me awhile to fully expunge it from my everyday.)

So, maybe Giles used that term frequently in his youth and hasn't been able to fully kick the (bad) habit. But, what happens next shows that clearly, clearly, Giles believes that black people are synonymous with poor construction, because when someone in the room asked Giles what he'd just said, he explained: "Afro-Americanized." So, it wasn't just the use of a badly-timed phrase. Giles still uses the n-word to mean "black person."

Biles (Freudian slip, excuse me) Giles is an embarrassment to his community. I can't help but think if there are black architects or construction workers or government contractors that they don't stand a chance of being hired to perform county services by Commissioner Giles. 

So Giles is a bad, racist person. Obviously. But the story gets worse. Much worse. 

Also seated in the room at that fateful April commission meeting was none other than Randy Duncan --  the Chair of the GOP First District Republican Party. Duncan, also a Saline County Commissioner, said nothing.

As faithful readers know, I am a big advocate of the Republican Party policing itself. And here was a very public instance in which it needed to happen.

Instead, Duncan did the Democrat dance and decided to put his friendship above principle. 

Giles eventually apologized, explaining so eloquently that he has a black friend and that he's built houses for "colored people" through Habitat for Humanity.

Duncan accepted his apology and stood behind Giles. It kind of reminded me of the time that former President Clinton got all of his friends to lie for him about Monica Lewinsky. 

Duncan didn't lie, but he also didn't stand on principle. He stood on, I don't know, something tacky and gross.

Very, very few Republican voices said anything untoward about Giles' wording from straight out of the 1940s. Seriously, I can't even think about the guy without envisioning lynchings and white sheets. That's how awful and disgusting and tragic I think his comments were.

Rep. JR Claeys, R-Salina, was fairly vocal in his belief that Giles should resign. But as far as I know, he was standing alone while the Salina and First District Republicans circled the wagons for Giles.

Every single person who publicly or privately encouraged Giles to continue in office needs to do some soul-searching right about now.

I have no doubt that there are conservatives in Salina who could have stepped into Giles' role. No single person is bigger than their office. 

Giles should've done the right thing and resigned and Duncan and the others circling the wagons, should've been helping to show him the door.