Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lies, Misinformation, Mischaracterization and Just Plain Rudeness

I hesitate to send web traffic to the Pitch, as it's officially sunk into the depths of the media septic tank. Unfortunately, when media is a bad pollutant, it seeps into the groundwater, causing widespread damage.

That said, I bring you the Pitch's screed against decent humans. To say I'm disappointed in this pile of garbage entitled, "The Dump List: The 2016 Players We'd Set Out by the Curb If We Could," is an understatement. It hits so far below the belt, it's undeserving of newsprint. It's undeserving of the landfill where it will eventually reside.

Ironically, the only part worthy of spilling ink, is the part which puts Shawnee's landfill on the list. This segment of the list uses actual facts and truth to make the point that Waste Management, the company that runs the local landfill, belongs on the trash heap. This segment is how editorials should be done. The rest of the rant? Not so much.

"...Some of our area trash was distractingly, upsettingly, stupidly trashy..." it reads. 

Only second to Waste Management on the list is Kansas City Star publisher Tony Berg. It seems like a conflict of interest that two of the people credited discredited with writing the list are former Star employees. One, Karen Dillon, was let go in 2013. I have no insider reasons as to why she was let go in kind of gross circumstance. According to one writer, she and another staff member were told that they had to choose between the two of them who would go and who would stay. My guess is that both journalists were expensive, and the Star back in 2013--and probably still today--is broke. Dillon, an award-winning investigative reporter, was expensive. If the Star hired someone to replace her, they paid that person half of what Dillon was probably earning to cover twice as many stories per week. That's a guess. Dillon didn't deserve that treatment, but then, neither did Tony Berg, who the Pitch took to task yesterday. (I have great respect for Dillon's work, and I sincerely hope her only hand in that dumpster fire of a dump list was the part about Waste Management.)

The second former Star employee credited with the dump list is Barb Shelly. An editorial writer, Shelly has never met a conservative she likes. I'd be surprised if she has any Republican friends in real life, and that's just sad. The Pitch story says she didn't write any of the rant related to Tony Berg. OK. Fine. Still, she wasn't summarily relieved of her responsibilities because the Star was making a rightward shift; she retired. She left of her own accord, probably because she got tired of watching the continual bloodletting and was at a point in her career where she could walk away. The only leftist let go from the paper's editorial team--to my limited knowledge--was Yael Aboulhalkah. Lewis Diguid resigned. Yes, a questionable column suggesting that women can prevent rapes slipped onto the Star's pages. However, the Pitch used that column to bash Midwest Voices contributors as having questionable IQs. So, the Pitch resorted to name calling as there's no evidence to suggest that is the case. The Pitch's reasoning for suggesting that the Star publisher belongs on its dump list? Berg ran syndicated columnists Jonah Goldberg and Charles Krauthammer columns, and they are conservatives. I would argue that the Pitch seems perfectly willing to pick up the mantle as the socialist paper of record in the area; Pitch staff should be happy that the competition may be bowing out of that race. (The jury is still out. There's a new editorial page editor, so who knows?). 

The Pitch also detests Shawnee Mission School District superintendent Jim Hinson. Hinson wouldn't let people wear safety pins as a political statement in schools, and he got a raise. I'm not a fan of Hinson getting a meaty raise when teachers won't, but that's not his fault: board of education members deserve the blame there. I suspect the Pitch's real ire at Hinson has a whole lot more to do with the fact that he subtly stepped off the liberal reservation for about 5 minutes back in May and June. Hinson told people that Shawnee Mission schools would open no matter what the Supreme Court and Kansas Legislature did. I would think that a superintendent who removes students from political pawn status in favor of educating them would be revered. This was the Pitch's attempt to let all education bureaucrats know they need to stay in lockstep. For the children's sake, I hope the veiled attempt fails.

The fact that the Pitch couldn't let a private citizen who didn't have that great of a television appearance rest is evidence of just how much its staff hates conservatives. Vicki Sciolaro, former chair of Kansas' Third District Republican Party, didn't deserve inclusion on this list of rage. It's not like she's out seeking additional television appearances. She no longer holds the position as district chair, so there's no need to wish her upon a pile of garbage. It's also telling that the Pitch brought up a 2014 misstep of the former vice chair of the Third Congressional District. What does 2014 have to do with 2016? Very little, unless your goal is to simply trash Republicans in general.

If anyone ever needed proof that Republicans will never be given a pass for out-liberaling the liberals, it's the inclusion of former Sen. Bob Dole on the Pitch's list. The Pitch suggests Dole has no dignity or honor because he lobbies and supported Trump in order to curry favors. Um. That's how lobbying works, though it's a little unfair to suggest that was Dole's only reason for supporting Trump. Dole has always been a Republican, though a somewhat questionable one in the last few years. So his loyalty to the party isn't earth shattering. So, dear Pitch writers, I'm still waiting for your indignation at the KNEA, the Kansas Contractor's Association, or any other lobbying arm with a cozy relationship to anyone in power. 

You'll note there are no Democrats or liberals on the list. Despite epic losses in Missouri, the Missouri paper couldn't find a single Democrat politician to blast. However, their work with Kansas wasn't finished. In addition to Dole, Pitch writers also sucker punched Mary Pilcher-Cook, Melika Willoughby, and Kris Kobach.

Their beef with Kobach appears to be that he's handsome and telegenic. I mean, I'm a little jealous, too, but I contain my rage at life's little indignities. Oh, and they're stompy, stompy furious that Kobach has the gall to have attended Harvard and Yale and not come out the other side as a raging liberal. 

Pitch writers disparaged Mary Pilcher-Cook for comments she made early this year about the link between birth control and eugenics. I'll simply say this, her comments were mischaracterized in the Pitch editorial. Go ahead and read this story about California's forced sterilization, err its eugenics program. Pilcher-Cook simply suggested that government treads on dangerous ground when it promotes contraceptives. To hear the Pitch and other media outlets tell it, that's not what she said. This is unsurprising. Shelly has had a hate on for Pilcher-Cook for quite some time.

The most disgusting part of the Pitch piece, however, were the unkind, unmerited words directed at Melika Willoughby, Gov. Sam Brownback's Director of Communications. I have been critical of Willoughby in the past, mostly because I want conservatives to excel at carrying our message, and well, the Governor's Office isn't exactly known as a hot bed of good public relations. That said, Pitch writers didn't include her on the list because they think she hasn't done her job well. It appears they included her because she's a Christian. The article's main beef is her person Twitter profile where she describes herself as "Redeemed sinner. Pursuing Jesus. Loving the orphan. American." I do not know why a personal Twitter profile is worthy of public ridicule, unless you're opposed to Christianity in general. Oh wait. I'm pretty sure that's the complaint. If that's the case, Pitch writers should at least be honest about it. They hold discriminatory, exclusionary, anti-Christian views. Noted. 

In the past, the Pitch has done some great investigative and noteworthy work. They've done themselves a disservice by sinking to such name calling, abusive depths, and that's a real shame.

Teachers So Poor They Need Second Jobs

There's an entire website devoted to teachers and how they're the poorest of the poor. The Teacher Salary Project is "a nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness around the impact of our national policy of underpaying and under-valuing educators."

This important effort was brought to my attention via a recent blog post on the site, Why So Many Teachers Need a Second Job to Make Ends Meet. This harrowing tale starts with a public teacher of high school English. She works a full day at school and then hops into her car to shuttle strangers around driving for Lyft and Uber. 

The blog's author is disgusted that many of her passengers tell her that "Driving Uber is a great job for a teacher!" The author is incensed that no one would ever say "Driving for Uber is a great job for a doctor."

Guys, I'm trying to work up some great big crocodile tears, and it is not going well. It's Christmas break. While all of the teachers I know are at home enjoying family and friends and recovering from the first half of the school year, I've been back at work since December 26. My Christmas break consisted of one whole weekend. I'm not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me or the myriad of other professional cube warriors. We chose this, just like teachers chose their profession. 

Perhaps some teachers choose to take on a second job because they have the time. If I had extra time, I may choose to use some of it making more money, but most professionals don't have three months off in the summer and a month off at Christmas. (This is the part where someone explains to me that the summer break isn't a full three months and Christmas break is really only three weeks, and here's the part where I explain the rest of the world doesn't get that time either.)

The teacher at question in the blog post lives in San Francisco. You know who else has a second job in San Francisco? Basically all the humans. Either that, or they live in the adult equivalent of youth hostels, renting out their basements, their sheds, and their wombs just to make ends meet. Living in San Francisco is expensive. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,460 a month. The total cost of living is about 60 percent more in San Francisco than in the rest of the U.S. If you live in San Francisco and you have anything resembling a middle class, professional career, you live like a pauper. San Francisco is unaffordable for high school teachers, who make an average of $70,000 per year in SFO, but no one else can afford to live there either.

I guess the good news for the San Francisco community is that it's now so expensive that very few families live there. That should eliminate the need for any teachers at all in another generation. San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children in any major city in the country. That percentage has been in free fall since the 1960s. It's so expensive that even popular former Mayors flee the city once their terms end. See Gavin Newsom. 

In a truly competitive schooling system, San Francisco's old, wealthy, white residents would demand the best schools and the very best teachers, and San Francisco teachers would be rewarded. But alas, that's not the system we have. In California, in Kansas, and throughout the country, the teachers work in a system that rewards mediocrity at every level. 

The blog suggests that teachers have as much training and education as doctors and lawyers and should therefore be paid accordingly. It's difficult to compare teachers to doctors and to lawyers, but I'll give it a go.

Doctors spend far, far more time getting educated than teachers do. Doctors complete an undergraduate degree, then spend another four years in medical school, before completing three to seven years in residency so they can be licensed. In the best case scenario, it takes 11 years to become a practicing doctor. Most people who become doctors end up majoring in sciences, where they boast SAT scores of more than 1600-1700. Teachers, on the other hand, can be licensed after completing a bachelor's degree, and their average SAT scores? 1438. It takes more time,  more money, more effort, and more smarts to become a doctor. That's not being mean. That's not being rude, and that's not belittling teacher's efforts. It's simply the truth. 

And then there's this: Would anyone in their right mind choose a doctor that was given the job and then given tenure based based simply on a union pay scale? I want the guy cutting on me to be the best--or as close to the best as I can afford. Doctors face natural marketplace competition and marketplace risks, and therefore, receive some of the rewards. The average general physician's salary is $136,000. Specialists and surgeons earn more. Radiologists, for example, earn an average of $287,000. Teachers may have better rewards if they faced any risks. As it stands today, very few people have any choice at all about which teachers will educate their children.

This is an easier comparison, because the legal field is also a bit of a racket. (Sorry, lawyer friends. It's true.) Lawyers must be licensed, though in certain circumstances, people can defend themselves. (Some day, I will write a lengthy rant about that time I needed a lawyer to fight a subpoena. The irritation. The racket. The rage, but anyway...)Becoming a lawyer, requires an undergraduate and a graduate degree--generally a J.D.--and passing an exam. It takes about seven years to become a lawyer versus the four years required to become a teacher. Lawyers are also subject to the conditions of the marketplace. They face competition. Like future doctors, future lawyers score higher on college readiness tests than future teachers. On the SAT, students planning to become lawyers score an average of 1533, compared to future teacher scores of 1438. The median salary for an attorney is $80,035. The average is $133,470, which goes to show that attorney earnings vary widely thanks to marketplace forces. Good lawyers earn more. Bad lawyers probably drive for Lyft in their spare time.

The average high school teacher salary in 2015 was $47,575. When all teachers are considered, the average teacher earned $48,911 last year. Hourly, the average teacher earns $27.28 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.The average American earns $23.23 per hour. The average American with a bachelor's degree earned $48,500 in 2013. Most were not guaranteed weekends off. A lot of doctors work weekends and holidays. Most Americans have 2-3 weeks of vacation time. Teachers have a whole lot more. The vast majority of professional jobs are subject to the whims of the marketplace. Teacher jobs are not. Almost guaranteed job security is worth something. 

And I haven't even mentioned retirement! The average retirement age for a teacher is 59, while the average American doesn't retire until age 62. And then there's this: In California, the Uber-driving teacher can expect to earn 105 percent of her pay when she retires. 

In a competitive education system, good teachers would make a ton of money. They'd be highly sought-after professionals enjoying lucrative contracts, but that's not the world we live in. Instead, every teacher makes virtually the same amount of money whether they're the best teacher or the worst. Mediocrity is rewarded at every level. One natural result of that? Teachers salaries are average.

The pay teachers more blog closes with this:
"Finally, now more than ever, if we want to fight global warming..."

If the blog hadn't lost me already... 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Favorite Posts of 2016

It's been a wild trip around the sun. For your consideration, here are a few of my favorite posts from the trip. 

Senate President Susan Wagle, Republican,  told a Wichita gathering that she supported the merging of the two groups, but said transfers from KDOT to the general fund need to stop.

“I think all that extra money – I’m glad we merged the two facilities. It has brought economy to the system, but we can’t keep, in the future, robbing from KDOT, because we will deplete those funds,” she said... 
Watch your words, GOP legislators. This KDOT “robbing” is a political wedge issue that the Democrats are going to try beat you with using the all-too-willing crayons of reporters.

It’s fine for Wagle or any other Republican to say the budget needs to be balanced, and we need a budget that works – i.e., money goes where it’s needed in the first place, rather than making a pit stop in the KDOT fund. It’s not acceptable to use words like “robbing.”
2. Kris Kobach Kills Political Future (Perhaps the dumbest thing I wrote all year.)

I cannot vote for Trump. In fact, I will not vote for Trump...

That said, I'm stunned that Kris Kobach is publicly endorsing Trump. Politically, I believe Kobach's Trump endorsement may have been suicide. There's no way on earth Trump wins Kansas, and it's equally unlikely a Trump administration would have room for someone with the conservative street cred of Kris Kobach.
3.  Now Seeking Sam Brownback's Marbles (We're getting a horse arena. I am not impressed.)

Gov. Brownback has got to be leaving a trail in his wake, because clearly he’s losing his marbles. Brownback told reporters he will consider vetoing a provision in the budget that disallows the use of STAR bonds for Wyandotte County projects until the STAR bond program is reformed.

4. Congressman Pompeo Dips Toe in Senate Waters

5. Et tu, Moran?  And the Reason Pompeo Dipped a Toe (Maybe?)

In a truly mind boggling display, Sen. Jerry Moran has made a public request for Republicans to hold hearings for a President Obama nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Et tu, Sen. Moran?

As an aside, is that photo the best picture on the interwebs? I think yes. 

6. Rubio Supporting Friends (He should've gotten out sooner. Still not sure it would have made a difference, and now I question whether any Republican other than Trump could have won the White House.)

Friends, what I'm about to write is going to hurt me almost as much as it hurts you. However, friends don't let friends bask in the light of grand delusions, and so, please consider this the same way you'd consider a friend who takes your car keys when you're set to get behind the wheel after four Fireball shots.
Marco Rubio needs to get out of the Presidential race. He needs to drop out today. Right now. As soon as possible. Unfortunately, he's a politician, which means he is a narcissist. That's not an insult to the Senator, for whom I have great respect. It's just a reality. All politicians are narcissists. They can't help it. It's OK. God made them that way on purpose.
Rubio has no honest path to the nomination. None.
7. Budget Shortfall: Who Gets the Blame-- Part 2 

Kansas attorneys are running a real racket. They pick their friends to sit on the bench, then sue the legislature for more funding for schools while collecting a hefty sum to “represent” the schools before the judges they picked. I don’t know how this isn’t illegal.
8. Budget Shortfall: Who Gets the Blame--Part 1 

Let's recall, shall we, how revered (absolute train wreck) leader, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius DELAYED state tax refunds and state paychecks in 2009. She was a real peach that lady. Even now, I'm still stunned at the virtual media pass she received when her plan to make ends meet involved holding onto money that the state owed to individuals. That's downright immoral...
So, libs and media, before you go on your merry way crucifying Brownback, of whom I'm not the biggest fan, please take the entire logging industry out of your eye.
9. Uh, Guys, the National Review Linked to My Blog  

10. Brownback Should Refuse to Negotiate with Terrorists (To this day, it hurts my soul that no one listened to my advice on this one. We should never have taken the Supreme Court's bait. There's no way to prove I was right, but no one will ever convince me otherwise on this one.)

Gov. Brownback should decline to call a special session of the Kansas Legislature. Hasty decisions are rarely wise, and a special session with a looming deadline during a tumultuous election season is the definition of haste. It's a virtual guarantee of a horrible solution to a problem created by people who never had the power to close schools in the first place. 

11. Rock Chalk Head Scratch
Rock Chalk U hopped on the social justice train this year, embarrassing a great state. 
The whole thing is a train wreck, rolling down the tracks to exciting destinations like Lower Enrollment, Dumber College Students, and Shame on Our State! These are places I have no interest in visiting. They’re also places I have no desire to fund at levels above existing ones.
12. Credit or Blame? (Media gives Rooker credit for school finance deal.)
As a completely misinformed Star editorial proves, conservatives will never receive credit for out-liberaling Democrats. (I am still trying to figure out why conservatives would want to, but it appears that's our plan.)
This legislation is a total loser, in my humble opinion. Rather than battling for credit, everyone involved should be attempting to place blame at the feet of others.
13. A Bad Plan (Using TANF money, which will probably come up during the 2017 session) 

First, let’s talk about that tobacco settlement fund. It’s bad public policy to use one-time money to fund ongoing operations. Once the tobacco money is gone, I’m pretty sure schools are going to continue expecting cash. Down that road leads a tax increase. (That’s the entire point of this exercise, as I told you yesterday.) There is one bright spot in using tobacco settlement money. This requires firing up the Way Back Machine, all the way back to 1999. Britney Spears was burning up the charts with “Baby One More Time,” jelly shoes and overalls were popular, and in Kansas, Bill Graves was piloting the  U.S.S. Kansas into choppy, ice filled waters. That was also the year ambulance chasers won a $1.6 billion settlement with tobacco companies, and Kansas was awarded a $131 million cut of it. Thank you, smokers! What followed was an epic display of so-called children’s advocacy organizations acting like buzzards fighting over a carcass. These are liberal-leaning groups like Kansas Action for Children, whose stated purpose is FOR THE CHILDREN, which really means, give us tax money so we can advocate for more money.

14. Don't Look Now, But Caving Is Imminent (Legislators surrender like the French in the face of mild German aggression.)

I KNEW if legislators were called back to Topeka, they'd surrender like the French in the face of mild German aggression. Actually, they're lamer than the French. At least the French passed out weapons and acted like they might use them.
The members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committee sound like they're about to pass out of committee a "recommendation" that Kansans just pony up $38 million. 
Guys, this is a loser. A major loser in every way you slice it. The liberals and moderates get to say I told you so. (Least of my worries, really.) Their campaigns can now count on a conservative backlash... If conservative legislators are looking for a way to depress conservative turnout, they may have just landed on it with this crazy plan.

15. Stop Telling Girls They Need Hillary to Win to Follow Their Dreams (Perhaps the biggest irritation from this campaign season)

Moms, if your daughter didn't think she could be President before Hillary Clinton won the Democrat nomination, you're doing it wrong. That's your fault.
16. Magic Fairy Sprinkles Hope-y Change Dust at State BOE (State board of education makes insane request for $900 million more in school spending)

Apparently, members of the board of education think there’s a magical fairy who flies around sprinkling cash on the heads of people who act self-righteous.

17. Brownback Derangement Syndrome Rears Its Head 

Some days, the liberals go off the rails for no apparent reason at all. Call it a case of Brownback Derangement Syndrome. If you suffer from BDS, please seek medical help. It's a serious illness that can affect your ability to reason and use logic. Yesterday, state officials said they are working to overhaul state employee layoff protocol. Specifically, the changes would allow layoffs to be done based on performance rather than seniority. Cue screaming of the liberals. 

Liberals are always running through the forest banging into the trees. This policy change is a good thing--one that most reasonable people can agree on. It isn't political. The liberals, however, can't separate their hate from Brownback from policy...The legislature will have a large say in the decision. It's not Brownback's alone to make. The people calling foul on this one are clearly suffering from BDS. Take a pill, folks.

18. Most Expensive Schools in History Fail Kids so Give Schools More Cash 

These demands for ever-increasing public school funding are a complete racket... It's not about the children, and it never has been. The so-called mods and their allies on the Court don't care if a thousand little Jaylens fail. They care whether they receive a cut of his educational funding. End of story. They are revolting, because they can look at that cute kid and demand their cut without any shame.

19. And This Guy Is on a List To Be Commerce Secretary 

I guess Rep. Mark Hutton believes that in order for a tax incentive to be worthwhile, it needs to save every individual an average of $20,000 to $25,000 per year. I'm fine with that target, but my math says that won't work. Most people don't pay that much in the first place.
And if a policy goal is simply to create jobs that pay the Kansas average, why don't we just take everyone's earnings over $25,000? The government could create SO many jobs that way. Oh wait. That kind of thing has been tried before about a million times throughout human history. It starts with people waiting in bread lines slowly starving, followed by riots, wars, and piles of bodies. 

20. Biggest General Election Disappointments 

November 8 was kind of a euphoric night. The could-be good guys beat the definitely bad guys on a national stage, shocking everyone. But into each life a little darkness must fall, and the darkest parts of election night 2016 were reserved for the people of Johnson County. We screwed up on a pretty epic scale. The damage to our wallets is going to be painful in ways we haven't yet considered.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Real Conservatives Should Put on Their Big Boy Pants

Warning: snowflakes, people who don't like honesty, moderates, Brownback fans, and oh, everyone. Fine. Just everyone. Head to your safe spaces, because this will probably offend you, no matter who you are.

I'll call this hard truths, and then, hopefully we can all join hands, sing Kum-Ba-Ya and welcome the new year. 

1. Browbeating Brownback Cost Many Republicans Election
It's a pretty common refrain these days that all conservatives lost while moderates won. I read the tea leaves quite differently. Not all moderates won. Some conservatives came through August and November unscathed. This election was a pendulum swing, and probably an over-correction, which means no one should get too comfortable in Topeka. (Might I suggest not even unpacking in your legislative offices?) In addition to constant bad media, budget projection shortfalls, and anti-incumbency fervor, the election also saw conservatives staying home--especially in the primary. So then the question becomes why did conservatives stay home? 

I suspect it's because they felt like Republicans in general had nothing to offer them. With the most conservative legislature in decades, conservatives mostly failed to do the three most important things necessary: Cut spending, modify Kansas' school funding scheme, and make headway in how the Kansas Supreme Court has taken over fully one-half of the legislature's responsibility. Conservatives failed on all three. If you can't cut spending when you have supposedly the most conservative legislature and a supposedly conservative Governor, why bother? Why pound pavement? Why go to the polls? Just why. What's the point?

All of these things were going to be uphill battles, but we had more weapons than we're ever likely to have. The only weapon conservatives lacked was media support, and Republicans will NEVER have that. But what made matters worse than Republicans' inability to affect meaningful change was that many Republicans, who voted for all of the things they now denounce, turned their knives on Brownback. 

I suspect more conservatives would have gone to the polls in August despite Republican's inability to move the ball were it not for one thing: Almost no one was defending conservative principles in any way, shape, or form. The constant barrage of attacks on Brownback from the center-right were the ankle-bound anvils that finally dragged Republicans underwater. Because Democrats are ALWAYS going to be able to out-liberal Republicans, those sudden naysayers created a problem for all Republicans--not just those who stayed true to their once-stated values.

I can live with loyalty. I can live with principle. Sometimes those two things are at odds. What I can't tolerate are people who have neither. These suddenly-turned preachers of the Big Government Way--when last week they were talking the Small Government Talk--aren't just damaging Brownback. They're damaging conservative principles by suggesting the only way forward, the only solution to all problems, is government intervention and specifically spending. Worse, they've served as a cautionary tale for elected officials around the country. This has damaged the entire conservative cause, not just Brownback, not just Kansas, but all small government principles for perhaps a decade or longer. Gross.

2. They Do Make 1 Point
Those naysayers who are doing, perhaps, permanent damage to the conservative cause, say the problem isn't that they changed their minds about government spending; it's that Brownback is bad at public relations. I agree 100 percent. It actually baffles me sometimes that Brownback has managed to get himself elected repeatedly. Every time I think he'll make the right move and zag right around a defender, he zags left and doesn't just take himself out of the play--he knocks over half of his own team members, too.

I am continually stunned at Brownback's refusal to play offense. He's always on defense, and unless you have the world's best scoring defense--we don't--that means you lose.
So no, I don't think Brownback carries the conservative message all that well, but he's on our team, and I'm not going to kick him when he falls over. I'm going to help him up, because we share the same objectives. Tarnishing him damages conservative principles everywhere--not just in Kansas. You don't have to look very far to recognize that. See a horrible story in today's New York Times. The headline: "In Kansas, Where Republicans and Fiscal Woes Reign, Dems Made Inroads." 

The entire article makes me completely stabby. It repeats the lie that Olathe Public Schools HAD to cut Spanish classes for elementary students--as if that decision was somehow made by evil Republicans in Topeka. That was the decision of the USD 233 Board of Education. I note USD 233 continues to field football teams as far as the eye can see. We'll know schools are truly suffering when athletic programs are cut. (I'm not an advocate for cutting athletic programs, but if I'm truly worried about educating "the children" as all of these so-called educrats suggest, I keep Spanish and cut football. Every.day.of.the.week.) 

If you are a Republican and you spend your days berating Brownback in the media, you are damaging Republicans and conservatism nationwide. Disagree with policies, respectfully debate, but be cautious and smart so as not to stick a permanent fork in the ideal of small government.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Once Again, All Your Money Belongs to Bollier--or so she thinks

Sen. Anthony Hensley is right, and a Republican Rep. Barbara Bollier is wrong. 

Rep. Bollier thinks your money is hers. And not just in a taxation and governmental fees way. Now she is advocating to take money that rightfully belongs to individual Kansans and just shoveling it into the bottomless pit that is the bloated Kansas governmental spending machine. 

Bollier told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the unclaimed property fund could be used, because you, dear servant, err taxpayer, haven't given enough to the state. 

"If people haven't claimed it after two years or five years, then yes--it's kind of like finder's keepers," Bollier said. 

No, Bollier. It isn't. Typically, if I find cash on the street and take it to the police department, the police department holds it for a number of days, weeks, or months searching for the rightful owner. Then it is returned to the person who found it; They don't keep it and buy the department a pizza party.

Bollier was speaking of a fund where unclaimed assets are held as the state treasurer seeks the rightful owner. These can be bank deposit boxes that go unpaid, paychecks that for some reason never find their owner, and utility deposits. 

First, a personal story:

Back in the mid-1960s, my dad--who has a very common name--lived in Lyons, Kansas. At that time, people bought insurance policies from traveling salesmen who would return month after month to collect fees. Back then, a young Dan and his four sisters received insurance policies from an unscrupulous salesman who was pocketing the money instead of paying the monthly installments on the insurance policies. At some point, the sales man was arrested and charged, and Dan's sister's were awarded some of the money they lost in the fraud. 

For some reason, Dan never received his, and I know this, because I've been hearing about it regularly for my entire life. He continued wondering what happened to his portion of the money. For more than 50 years, he wondered why his sisters received a check when he didn't. Seriously, every time he talked to his sister Leona he would bring up the age old wound--half jokingly--of her receiving that check a million years ago.

Fast forward to a month ago: Dan never searched the Kansas State Treasurer's website for his birth name "Daniel," but for some reason on that day, he did. And there it was! A claim for a Daniel who lived at his address from 50 years ago in Lyons! 

It was such a joyous event, I didn't think he'd cash the check when it arrived about a week ago. (BTW, Thank you, Tom, in the Kansas Treasurer's Office! You made his Christmas, and not because of the cash: He had to take photos and send them to Leona.)

During the wait for Dad's check, my mom kept signing into the treasurer's website to track the progress of the case. (You can search for your own name here.) There she found a check that belonged to me. My first name was spelled wrong; it was made out in my maiden name; but the address was my old address. I had overpaid insurance back in 2010.

Bollier's suggestion that after 5 years, the state should just get to keep the money is an abomination. I would much rather the insurance company in my case be allowed to keep the cash. And in my father's case, I have a feeling he would rather that check--which he hadn't forgotten about--go just about anywhere other than the state of Kansas.

Oddly, Anthony Hensley's sentiments on Bollier's disgusting plan of theft mirror my own. He told the Cap-J that plugging a budget hole using unclaimed property would be a betrayal of Kansans. 

"That's the people's money," he said.

I would only add that ALL taxpayer money rightfully belongs to the people, and legislators should remember that as they grapple with next year's budget. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Kansas Electors to Vote Trump Today--Watch It Live!

Any Kansans paying attention this year can probably name at least half of Kansas members of the electoral college. Kansas Democrats may even be able to tell you their home and email addresses, work phone numbers and favorite colors. Kansas electoral college members are: Kelly Arnold, Clay Barker, Ron Estes, Mark Kahrs, Ashley McMillan, and Helen Van Etten. These Republican rock stars have been getting a lot of press of late, as they have been receiving avalanches full of demands from people imploring them to vote for someone other than Trump.

The requests are laughable. Anyone who has even a passing knowledge of that group of Kansas six knows that the people sending these requests are barking up the wrong tree. That won't stop people from protesting when the group meets in Topeka at noon today to cast their votes. 

McMillian, the vice chair of the Kansas Republican Party, wrote about the mail she's been receiving for the Wall Street Journal. It also appears that Martin Sheen--a guy who played a President once on a television show--created a video asking "Mr. McMillan" not to vote for Trump. Ze said ze's faithful to Trump in the WSJ opinion piece. We'll see what ze does today. 

Arnold serves as the chair of the Kansas Republican Party. He says Perez Hilton, the fashion and Hollywood style blogger, sent him a request. You almost can't throw an elbow without hitting a television station or news outlet that's interviewed Arnold.

You can watch the Kansas electoral voting live, courtesy of a Facebook page crafted by state treasurer Ron Estes. Estes has also done several interviews. Clay Barker, the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, and national committee man and committee woman Mark Kahrs and Helen Van Etten haven't been interviewed quite as often as the Arnold,  McMillan, and Estes, though they're repeatedly mentioned. 

Members of the electoral college will cast votes today in state capitals around the country, but their votes will not be formally counted until January 6. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

The New Scarlet Letter Caucus

Senate President Susan Wagle announced her leadership picks on Wednesday, and as radio host Joseph Ashby wrote on his Facebook page: Susan Wagle of 2006 would not recognize Susan Wagle of 2016.

Sens. Carolyn McGinn and Vicki Schmidt have been restored to powerful chairmanships in the Kansas Senate. The pair apparently referred to themselves as the "Scarlet Letter Caucus," after they were replaced as committee chairs following the Republican wave election of 2012. There's a new Scarlet Letter Caucus in town.

Wagle sent a very clear message with her choices on Wednesday. The most outspoken conservatives were left in the cold. Returning Senators denied chairmanships were Sens. Steve Fitzgerald, Ty Masterson, Mary Pilcher-Cook, and Dennis Pyle.

McGinn will lead the budget committee, a committee she chaired under former Senate President Steve Morris' leadership. The irony is she was instrumental in negotiating the tax and budget plan now caught in the crossfire. The problem with that tax plan--now unfairly deemed the Brownback tax plan--is that legislators managed to negotiate out most of the pay-fors. 

It's crazy to me how many of the people who voted for that 2012 tax plan get a complete pass from media and the general public while others get the leper treatment. I have no problem with someone saying yeah, I voted for this, and it was wrong--though I disagree with that assessment. But it's another thing completely to vote for it, negotiate the terms, and then blame everyone else for the plan. But that's where it appears we're at.

The folks in the Capitol building should start a discussion about consolidating school services. It would save money. Taxing our way to prosperity simply isn't going to work. I'm not going to kid myself that taxes aren't about to increase. However, if they increase without even a nod to spending efficiency, legislators are doing it wrong. They should consolidate districts, too, but that's about as likely as me winning the lottery while delivering septuplets. I am not going to hold my breath that school consolidation will happen (or even get a hearing), but hope springs eternal.

This entire session is going to be devoted to the budget, tax and school finance issues, but I am troubled as much or more by the appointment of Sen. Schmidt to the public health committee. Schmidt supports abortion in all forms, including dismemberment abortion. I worry that her appointment signals a willingness to return to Sebelius era policies on legalized infanticide. I hope I'm wrong. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Social Justice Warriors--Peace Out

A column I wrote appeared in the Johnson County section of the Kansas City Star yesterday. Regular readers of this blog have heard it all before, but if you'd like to hear it all one more time, here's a love letter to social justice warriors: It begins:

Dear Social Justice Warriors,
You can’t go around calling half of America racist and misogynist and expect them to be on your side — especially when the only thing many Trump supporters have done to earn the title is being born white and/or male. And when you do run around denouncing every human as a racist — before demanding a safe space —you make it impossible for good people to actually call racism when we see it, lest we be lumped in with you, safe spacers.

I was fairly content to let the social justice warriors run amuck without comment, as they were mostly only hurting themselves, but when Rep. Stephanie Clayton made a thinly veiled attempted to lump the Kansas Policy Institute in with a white nationalist group via Twitter, I felt like someone should say something. I left the stuff about the offensive stuff on the cutting room floor, because Clayton issued a Twitter apology. Crying racism when there really isn't any to be found is damaging to people like me. When racism rears its ugly head, and it does sometimes, it's devastating to not be able to call it what it is. People who yell it at every turn have caused that problem, and they deserve to be called out. 

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/joco-913/joco-opinion/article120813028.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Replacing Kleeb--A Meeting and the Voters

This just in: Congressman Tim Huelskamp will not vie for the seat soon to be vacated by state Rep. Marvin Kleeb. Kleeb announced his intention to resign from the Kansas Legislature, and the Republican men and women of the 48th district will choose his replacement. 

Unconfirmed, there are 26 precinct positions in 13 precincts, but only 18 of those slots are filled. The meeting to replace Kleeb is tentatively scheduled for December 22. Say what you want about Republicans--but they work fast! Official notice has not yet been sent.

I do not know who will vie to replace Kleeb, but I can say that the following precinct people will have a vote should they choose to attend the meeting. They are:

  1. Steve Klika (county commissioner)
  2. Christopher Waldschmidt (once a candidate against Emily Perry)
  3. Laura Waldschmidt
  4. John Nelson (former vice chair of Kansas GOP Third District)
  5. Noelle Hodge (wife of Benjamin Hodge, former state representative and recent candidate for county commission)
  6. Steve Salter
  7. Carol Pettus
  8. Abraham Rafie (grassroots activist)
  9. Greg Cromer (grassroots activist)
  10. Loretta Miller
  11. Marvin Kleeb
  12. Patricia Kearny-Elder
  13. Jill Hartman
  14. John Hartman
  15. Karen Frederick
  16. Terrence Frederick
  17. Jay Reinhardt
  18. Kathleen Reinhardt
If all precinct roles were filled, there would be 26 voters. The county chair--Mike Jones--can appoint people into vacant precinct positions, but not after a vacancy has been announced.  

Kleeb Will Resign

Rep. Marvin Kleeb, Overland Park, has announced he will resign from the Kansas Legislature. He was re-elected fairly handily last November and didn't have a primary opponent. 

It was rumored prior to the election filing deadline that he was looking for a candidate to run in his stead. That never panned out. Republican precinct men and women of the 48th district will meet at some point in the near future to name his replacement. 

A rumor about Kleeb resigning began circulating a few weeks ago, but apparently the decision wasn't set in stone until House leadership requested a final word. Kleeb would likely have served as chair of an important committee. Now House Speaker Ron Ryckman will be hard pressed to find another experienced Representative to head either the Tax Committee, of which Kleeb was chair last session, or Appropriations.

In my opinion, the music hasn't yet stopped on the game of musical chairs in the Kansas Legislature. Many seasoned Republicans are likely dreading the challenges that await them come January. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration may still have some Kansans under consideration for roles in Washington. And it isn't just appointments by the President-elect that could pull people to D.C. 

There are still rumors that Sen. Susan Wagle will vie for the seat that Congressman Mike Pompeo will vacate once the Senate confirms his move to intelligence director. If Secretary of State Kris Kobach or Gov. Sam Brownback are receive appointments in the new administration, members of the Kansas Legislature are likely to backfill the Kansas openings.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sparing the Curse Words

I made the papers. This doesn't make me happy at all, though I'm told all press is good press. 

Regular readers of this blog know that they don't always get the full story from the people covering Topeka. Honestly, this is probably true of anything that's covered by the media. It's especially true today as I read about myself in the Lawrence Journal World, where a reporter and a journalism professor have come together to denounce The Sentinel, an endeavor that will attempt to hold the media and government accountable. (Full disclosure: I've signed on to work there, though the kick-off is still several weeks away.) 

The LJW story basically denouncing the Sentinel is another effort at delusion and misinformation. Normally, I'd let it slide, but since they barely brushed the surface and since my name is uncommon and that garbage now gets to be a permanent part of my Google background, I'll fill you in on the rest here:

A KU journalism professor quoted in the article says, "The great thing about America is that anybody can claim to be a journalist or try to do journalism."

The LJW says my journalism experience is limited to being an occasional opinion writer for the Star and running a blog. Had the reporter bothered to even check my LinkedIn profile, he would know that I was a newspaper editor of the Gardner News for more than 8 years. I guess according to the LJW, "real" journalists only work at dailies. Someone should tell the staff at the Shawnee Dispatch, a community newspaper owned by the LJW. Ironically, I was once recruited to work at one of the LJW's papers. I wouldn't have even bothered returning the recruiter's phone call had I known they don't believe community journalists are "real" journalists.

My notes, emails, and phone records have been subpoenaed and I plead journalistic privilege--with the help of a media lawyer--to avoid being deposed and turning over documents in a recent lawsuit. Most "real" journalists probably can't say that. 

It's also ironic that a journalism professor is making digs at people with journalism degrees, since I have one. 

And by the way, someone please explain how a former journalist working at the Sentinel is any different than any other reporter who moves on to work for say, the Kansas Association of School Boards, a left organization that works overtime to demand policy move left and money rains on school administrators. Ahem, former Lawrence Journal-World reporter, Scott Rothschild. Or Andy Marso, the fomer "real" Topeka Capitol Journal journalist who now shills for the Kansas Health Institute. Apparently, reporters can only be called "real" journalists if they advocate for leftist organizations.

"My concern is that the more people rely on sites that only represent their viewpoint, the more limited set of perspectives they're going to get," the professor says in the LJW story.

I agree. People shouldn't rely on sites that only represent their own viewpoint. The challenge is that when individuals rely solely on the traditional media for news, they miss half of the story. I don't actually blame reporters for that, but most newsrooms are filled to overflowing with leftists. Ask me about that time I judged a journalism competition for the Kansas Press Association. Every "journalist" at the table went on and on about their liberal leanings just assuming everyone else at the table shared the same view. It was so discouraging and inappropriate in my opinion. 

Even if every leftist in the newsroom is the fairest, most open-minded human on the planet, you still end up with a final news product that is decidedly left. I'll give you an example: Give a liberal reporter a story about the homeless and a conservative reporter the same story and I guarantee you, the story will have a decidedly different angle. The liberal reporter might interview a bunch of bureaucrats about how they need more funding to "fix" the problem, while the conservative reporter is much more likely to talk to churches, the Salvation Army, City Union Mission and other non-government sources about the solution. Good reporters will talk to both of those types--the bureaucrats and the private entities--but the final story will vary greatly, based an awful lot on the perspective of the reporter. When newsrooms are clogged with only one perspective, you end up with a biased end product. That's the reality.

My blog is opinion. I make no effort to pretend that it's anything but. My goal with this blog, which is different than the goal when I started it a few years ago, is to move public opinion and policy to the right. (I regularly get asked why I started this blog. The truth is this: 1. I had information that I couldn't put in a newspaper, but that I wanted to write about. 2. I wanted to practice writing opinion on a regular basis. I'd long written columns and opinion pieces but only on a weekly or monthly basis, and I wondered if I could do it more often. 3. I sometimes do things without thinking all that hard about it. I didn't sit around for days deliberating whether to start an anonymous blog. Blogger is free. I wanted to learn the platform and a little about website building, so I created one.)

There's a difference between news coverage and opinion, but a reporter's point of view will seep through any news coverage. I'm just honest about my own perspective. Even when I write news, I have no problem telling sources my own perspective up front. That way, they know where I'm coming from, and then I do my best to be fair to that side in news writing. I'm not perfect at it, but I don't lie and pretend I don't have an opinion.