Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): February 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fitzgerald out

Steve Fitzgerald is NOT running for Congress. 

You'll recall he announced his campaign to replace Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins at the Kansas GOP Convention in Wichita last month.

The collective response was largely outrage, because how dare he run against a Republican incumbent, blah, blah, blah.

My response was largely, meh. Who cares? I always thought Jenkins' penchant for repeatedly standing next to the orangest man in Congress wasn't going to win her any favors, and Fitzgerald's short candidacy made my point.

I was kind of looking forward to the massive meltdowns from political insiders, but I'll still have plenty to chuckle about from the Roberts vs. Wolf campaign. (Today's latest meltdown involves comments Wolf made on Facebook in regards to pictures of x-rays of gunshot victims. The timing of the stories, on the heels of the New York Times' story about Roberts not living in Kansas, and not-so-great poll results, was questionable, but whatevs.)

Fitzgerald gives his reasons for not running in an email. Mostly, he says he is dropping out of the race because Congress restored cuts to veterans pensions. In his own words:

Things change:

     Large majorities of both parties in both houses voted to reverse the pension cuts and the President signed the bill last week. Frankly, this issue was a centerpiece of my campaign and it had been my intention to use it to support fund-raising from veterans nationwide. This unexpected reversal not only removed an important plank from my platform, it has severely reduced my ability to raise campaign funds.
     Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins has also issued a statement, which is SHOWN BELOW and is on her website:
     In this, she states she does not support amnesty or a pathway to citizenship that will benefit those who came here illegally at the expense of those who followed the law. This is in clear opposition to the Speaker of the House. As the fifth ranking member of Republican Leadership in the House this is significant - even though the Congresswoman has a good voting record on illegal immigration - such public opposition (widely shared by other members of the caucus) makes unlikely any deal prior to the elections in November. This removes the other plank from my platform.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Brownback less popular than Obama?

In Kansas? I haven't conducted any polls, but if you believe PPP's latest poll results, you should pass around whatever you're smoking.

The PPP poll, released today, suggests that Gov. Sam Brownback trails Democratic challenger Paul Davis; That Brownback's approval ratings are 33 percent (compared to Obama's 34 percent and to Sebelius' 38 percent!!!! Say, what?) and that Davis would capture 23 percent of the Kansas GOP vote.

I'm simply not buying it. There are definite signs that the poll is dramatically skewed. For starters, the poll takers were 53 percent women and 47 percent men. Highly, highly unlikely.

And then there are just insane findings. See the Sebelius finding above. According to the PPP poll, her approval ratings are higher than the President's and the Governor's, yet she would lose dramatically if she were to run for U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, a highly conservative electorate thinks the Kansas Supreme Court should determine how Kansas schools are funded.

It's pretty obvious that the vast majority of this poll is so much wishful thinking on the part of Democrats. That said, the pollsters note a marked decline in Brownback's approval ratings since their last poll, back in October. 

It's pretty obvious that Brownback needs to step up his game, lest he win in an embarrassingly close race in very red Kansas.

Results of the poll are here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Inciting rage in...


Milton Wolf has a new ad out. The ad attacks Sen. Pat Roberts for not living in Kansas. YouTube won't allow me to embed, so you'll have to go to Breitbart to view it.

Dear World, Grow a pair

Apparently, Kansas state workers need legislation passed to address workplace bullying.

I guess I expect too much of adults. Do you know how difficult it would be for someone to bully me? 

Here's the 4-1-1 on one of the more ridiculous pieces of legislation to come out of this session. (And that's saying a lot considering, well, this session so far.) What a joke.

Kansas State Workers: We Need Workplace Bullying Protections In New Bill

"The Kansas Organization of State of Employees (KOSE) and American Federation of Teachers-Kansas (AFT - Kansas) today are pleased to see the anti-workplace-bullying bill, HB 2720, introduced in the Kansas legislature.  HB 2720 is sponsored by Rep. Jerry Henry (D-Atchison) at the request of KOSE and AFT-Kansas and extends to state workers  the same legal protections against workplace bullying the legislature afforded to students, teachers, and school workers just last year.  

Around our country, from school lunchrooms to professional football locker rooms, the problem of bullying has increasingly come to light.  Kansas is no different, and state workers are asking their legislators to require all state agencies acknowledge and address this important issue. 

What is workplace bullying? It includes:

·         Verbal abuse and humiliation, including shouting, name calling, insults, and sarcasm.
·         Threats and intimidation, physical or verbal.
·         Gossiping and teasing about a target.
·         Overwork — including impossible, unmanageable workloads and deadlines.
·         Isolating, ignoring, or excluding certain workers.
·         Setting a worker up to fail, allocating  meaningless tasks, or repeated reminders
of past mistakes.
·         Cyberbullying, through e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, blogs, mobile phones, pagers, online games and websites.

Sadly, workplace bullying has become a serious problem in state agencies and worksites. In fact, a recent KOSE survey of hundreds of Kansas state employees reveals that 69 percent have been bullied at work in the past two years, and 78 percent have witnessed bullying in the workplace in recent months.

Many states are now beginning to realize what a problem bullying is. Twenty-six states have already introduced anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bills.[1]

“At least a third of all employees will directly experience health endangering workplace bullying, abuse, and harassment,” said Rebecca Proctor, Executive Director of KOSE, a union representing over 9000 Kansas state employees. “Last session, the legislature passed a measure requiring all school boards to adopt policies against bullying, not only bullying against students, but bullying against teachers and school staff.  All public employees deserve these same protections.”   

HB 2720 would require all state agencies to adopt a policy prohibiting workplace bullying.  Such policies would include a mechanism to allow for reporting bullying, protections for bullying whistleblowers, specified discipline for violators, and annual public reporting of the levels of reported bullying within state agencies.

It’s time to stop the bullies who make it tougher for workers to do their jobs, drive talented people away from public service, and cost our state money. That’s why KOSE and AFT-Kansas have asked for and are supporting this new bill in our state legislature."

Coming soon to Shawnee

A new tax!!

Shawnee's Mayor gave a rousing speech at Shawnee Town 1929 last week.

The State of the City address noted all of the city's accomplishments in over the last 365 days. Just kidding. The point of the speech was to advocate for two sales tax increases in Shawnee this year.

Lucky you, citizens of Shawnee. 

First, Mayor Jeff Meyers celebrated a council decision to place the renewal of an eighth of a cent sales tax on the November general ballot. The tax is to cover "parks and pipes." 

Meyers said the city's next step in moving forward is adding another tax to the ballot. This additional quarter-cent sales tax would be to cover street maintenance. 

At current levels, Meyers said each city street is only touched once every 27 years.

I seriously don't have words for this garbage. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Shawnee does collect property taxes. And if those property taxes aren't covering parks or pipes or street maintenance, what are they doing with the money?

Maybe Meyers should have used his speech to offer some apologies. This is a popular segment in many State of the..... Addresses. You'll recall Brownback used his State of the State Address to apologize for segregation and the treatment of Native Americans. So, Meyers could have borrowed a page from that book. Only rather than apologizing for things in which Meyers had no role in, Meyers could have apologized for misuse of taxpayer money. Obviously that's happened, because how on earth does a city with record-low unemployment, increasing property valuations and growth need not one, but two extra sales taxes to fund its most basic services?

Short answer: It doesn't. Shawnee's governing body obviously lacks fiscal discipline. That, or the Mayor's request for two new taxes is a money grab.

I'm not ruling the money-grab out. Johnson County citizens, you can thank morons in Olathe for the upcoming sales tax money grabs about to occur. 

The transcript of Meyers' speech can be found here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I see dumb people

Literally, everywhere.

I'm not going to advocate for the religious liberty bill that recently passed the Kansas House. But I'm also not going to call those who voted for it, bigots.

I am truly baffled at the sheer number of people commenting on the bill who obviously never bothered to read the text. That includes a boat load of fools on social media, an awful lot of political reporters and even a number of legislators that voted on it.

It's shocking that the majority of local news stories about the bill didn't bother to report why such a bill was being considered. The story linked is but one example. It glosses over the whole "why" behind the bill, which was a U.S. Bureau of Labor ruling that would force a private business in Oregon, a cake maker, to make a cake for a gay wedding.

I personally think anyone should be able to deny service to anyone for any reason -- even if it's a reason for which I don't agree. It's a little thing called freedom. It matters to Christians, but to others as well.

Freedom allows my pro-choice friend who owns a sign and publication business, the right to not make signs and post cards for say, Operation Rescue, a pro-life organization who regularly shows very graphic pictures of aborted babies. 

It should allow a barber to only serve male clients. (What female wants her hair cut by a dude with a hacksaw and a razor? No thanks.) It should allow a strip club (whatever you think of such places) to only hire female dancers. (Because what dude who frequents such places is interested in watching a guy in a g-string dance erotically?)

Another outspoken Christian friend is a landlord. He could say no to couples living in sin, but he doesn't. The application doesn't ask. His rule: Pay your rent on time, and don't make meth in the residence. 

This is exactly what the vast majority of businesses will do no matter what the religious beliefs of the owner. Almost everyone has a price. But those who don't, those whose religious beliefs make them fear for their mortal soul if they bake a cake for a gay wedding shouldn't be required to.

The Oregon cake maker should NEVER have been sued or challenged by the government for refusing to bake a cake. The  baker's reasoning is irrelevant. As far as I'm concerned business owners should have the right to deny anyone service. The reason doesn't really matter. Once the government starts worrying about the reason for denial of service, the government becomes the thought police. Either you can run your business how you want, or you can't. That's all, folks.

While we're on the topic, I'll just mention that I think we've moved beyond needing special classes of citizens. There are codes that disallow discrimination of certain protected classes, and to be honest, I don't get it. So, I can be the world's biggest jerk to a white male, maybe just because I don't like white males, and that's OK. But woe to the person who discriminates against a minority? That makes no sense at all. 

It may have at one time, but it certainly doesn't today. Even in Kansas, where I note a bazillion people are deadset on calling this place the bastion of discrimination and hate, if a minority women went to a barber shop and was refused service because she was a minority woman, the barber would likely lose his business -- even without the law. There's this thing called Facebook and Twitter and other social media, and also a news media that is the equivalent of discrimination ambulance chasers. If that woman was denied service for being a minority woman and put the information on her Facebook page, the story would probably go viral in a millisecond. That barber would look like the world's biggest hater, and no one would use his business.  

The problem with the proposed Kansas law as currently written is that it manages to make the state or courts "thought police." It allows a business or individual to deny service, but the state or a court or someone must determine that the reason behind the service-denial was a "sincerely held religious belief."

That said, I absolutely believe that we are at a point where Christian beliefs (and all others) should be protected. We can't sit on our hands and wait for the feds to show up and demand that a private business, like someone who owns a rental hall, absolutely must rent it out for pagan rituals, gay weddings or Christian weddings for that matter. (Again, I note that the vast majority of rental halls would rent to anyone who will pay the asking price.)

If a court can tell a private individual or business, that they MUST use their talents to do something they believe imperils their mortal soul, that's a problem in the land of the free.

Unfortunately, the Kansas bill didn't do a very good job of fixing the problem. It's far too vague. And this is where I wanted to slap one legislator who explained to me like I was a five-year-old, that the legislation was very narrowly written. This legislator obviously didn't actually read it, because "narrow" is the last word I would use to describe it.

There are many who argue Kansas already offers those protections, and that's true, but I have no qualms about further codifying it. The feds can't be trusted at this point, and I'm not a fan of waiting until the U.S. Department of Thought Police shows up with an edict. By then it's too late.

So, yes, the legislation was bad. The idea behind it was not. 

That said, everyone needs to cool their freaking jets. You would not believe, (OK, you probably will) the number of complete numbnuts saying things about how much they hate Gov. Brownback because of this legislation.

I'm not Browback's biggest fan, but to those of you hating the governor for this piece of legislation, take a lap. The Governor didn't write it. And for those who missed fifth grade, the governor doesn't draft legislation. He proposes it. Sometimes, a friendly legislator takes it up. All signs suggest that's not what happened here. It appears Brownback had nothing to do with it.

The bill was proposed by a legislator, and in all likelihood, that legislator didn't propose the language itself. He told someone what he wanted to fix, i.e, the Oregon cake maker scenario, and someone (with a questionable ability to put words into the correct order) wrote a very bad piece of legislation.

And then this happened: Everyone lost their damn minds. If it's unjust to call pro-choice people baby killers (and I believe it is), then it's also unjust to call people who don't support gay marriage, bigots. 

There is absolutely no room for discussion or debate once people start calling names. All name-calling manages to do is cause the other side to dig in its heels. Legislators were too busy defending themselves from slander to discuss how the legislation may have been improved in a way that solved the problem it sought to fix.

I don't blame the legislators for attempting to defend themselves, because as I said before, the intent behind the bill was truly religious liberty. Of course, you wouldn't know that from half the stories out there about the bill. 

And while we're on the topic, legislators, you need to learn to talk through the name-calling. That means being able to firmly and clearly state exactly what it is you believe the legislation accomplishes. In this instance, it meant specifically mentioning to, oh, a reporter and constiuents, the Oregon cake maker case. And sincerely asking those on the other side how they would go about ensuring that sort of thing -- i.e., forcing a private business to provide a service they don't want to provide --  doesn't happen in Kansas.

Reasonable people can agree: No one should be forced by the government to do something that they think violates their conscience. Right? 

Finally, a note for my so-called moderate friends: You were in a unique position to assist. That means waiting before piling on and actually reading the legislation. Or attempting to find out what problem the bill was trying to solve and assisting in the debate of how best to do it. 

You aren't helping your state, your own political career, or your cause by calling names. How about acting as mediators? (This is why no one likes moderates. They pretend to be reasonable and thoughtful, but when push comes to shove, their main political function involves picking a side a slinging mud. Nice.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Article that hopped up Establishment Kansas

It's not going away, and every Kansan I talk to on a regular basis saw it. (And just so we're clear, the vast majority of my friends, relatives and acquaintances are normal, middle class Kansans -- not the political ruling class, their donors or volunteers.)

I write, or course, about the New York Times story about Sen. Pat Roberts. The Times reported that Roberts, a nine-hundred-billion-term U.S. Senator and/or Congressman, doesn't live in Kansas. He owns a home in Dodge City, but rents it out. He lists the home of donors as his voting address. The Times found at least one guy, a 77-year-old retiree from Roberts' "hometown," who said he's seen Roberts exactly twice in town.

The Roberts campaign was quick to dismiss the story, but I don't believe it's going away that easily. I don't care how many establishment-type-y activists and 30-somethings who owe their careers to Roberts suggest otherwise: Roberts may have a home in Kansas. He may visit every so often, but he doesn't live here, and he hasn't since before I was in elementary school.

It's a problem. 

I felt uneasy about Roberts' candidacy when he announced it last year at the Kansas GOP Convention. This country now has a permanent ruling class. We send people of (halfway) integrity to Washington, D.C., and they never leave.

In church, I've heard pastors speak about how Christians should be in the world but not of it. It is a delicate and difficult balance that requires Jesus' assistance. Christians literally cannot walk through this world without becoming of it without Jesus' help. 

Yet, somehow we're all supposed to believe that Congressmen can go to Washington, and stay for four decades without becoming of it. Consider all of the evil and temptations we mere normal folk suffer in our daily, middle class, regular lives. Now take that temptation and that evil times a bazillion. That's how much evil and sin and awful is in Washington, D.C. 

Pardon me for delving into theology, but I don't think Pat Roberts or anyone else is morally strong enough to weather Washington, D.C. for that many decades without having a whole lot of the filth and scum all over them. 

Now I'm not calling Sen. Roberts a bad person. I'm not saying he can't do the job. But am I questioning whether he should do the job? In the words of Sarah Palin, you betcha.

I'm not particularly crazy about my choices in this race. Milton Wolf obviously has an ego the size of Texas. He rarely bothered to vote in elections prior to 1996, according to some of Roberts' campaign literature. But he's had a real career for the last 40 years -- and by real career, I mean a job in which his pay wasn't taken from the pockets of Americans everywhere at virtually gunpoint. 

At this point, that's worth a whole, whole lot to me.  Washington, D.C. politician isn't a job. It's a cess pool of ego. 

For what it's worth, I don't doubt the Dodge City retiree quoted in the NYT. I am a political activist and regular campaign volunteer, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen Roberts. 

From where I stand, it appears that Roberts comes to Kansas when it's absolutely necessary and to raise campaign funds. 

A Roberts spokesperson said he's visited 72 of 105 Kansas counties in 2013, but refused to say how many he'd visited in years when, as the Washington Examiner put it, "he was less concerned about his immediate re-election prospects?"

For reference, the Examiner article was written by a fairly conservative writer, Bryon York. (The Times article was written by a liberal hack. Sorry for the redundant description.)

For contrast, Sen. Jerry Moran says he visited every single Kansas county in 2013. So Moran visited 100 percent of Kansas counties compared to Roberts' 68 percent. 

I know that every Republican of any title is going bat crazy over this primary. Wolf has virtually no money, limited name recognition and no voting record. Roberts is going to win, but I can't help wishing he would never have run again in the first place.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Should Brownback be afraid?

Probably not.

But Brownback probably shouldn't be complacent either. That's the takeaway from news that Rothernberg Political Report/Roll Call is moving the Kansas Governor's race from 'Safe Republican' to 'Republican Favored.' On a political map, it's the difference between dark red and pink. 

The report bases the move on an automated poll, Democrat candidate Paul Davis raising $1 million and on a group of moderate Republicans (ahem. We call them RINOs) threatening to oppose the incumbent governor.

The automated poll, conducted in last October, showed Brownback losing to Davis -- 39 percent to 43 percent. A January Republican poll revealed Brownback leading the race 42 percent to 31 percent.

Brownback is very likely to win, but there's room for doubt. And probably, hope, on the part of Democrats. Hope means more money, and more money means a tightening race.

Add to that the absolute disdain many grassroots conservatives feel toward Gov. Sam Brownback, and well, the Brownback campaign should be alarmed. (I'd like it personally, if Brownback truly felt threatened. Maybe then he'd drop some of the liberal-lite agenda he's been pushing. I mean, state funded all-day kindergarten? Why stop there when a case can be made for government-funded potty training?)

If the Democrats were able to field a decent candidate, they might have a real chance. Paul Davis isn't that candidate. He's a Democrat from the most liberal corner of Kansas, Lawrence. 

He's Nancy Pelosi without the Botox. That might sell in Lawrence, but I have trouble imagining the people in western Kansas buying. 

Still, Brownback shouldn't be laying around eating grapes fed to him by David Kensinger. There's work to do.