Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Covering the statehouse

It's no big secret that the vast majority of mainstream media journalists are liberal. And those that cover the Kansas Capital are no different.

Things have only deteriorated since Jim Sullinger, who covered the Statehouse for the Star, retired. He was and remains a Republican, though he's not as conservative as I'd like.

John Hanna, who covers the Kansas government for the Associated Press, is one of the few who doesn't make me want to pull my teeth out. He's fair.

Tim Carpenter, who does the occasional piece for the Topeka daily, is a raging liberal. Ditto Brad Cooper and Steve Kraske, both of the Kansas City Star. They aren't constantly beating the left-wing drum. Sometimes, they take a break between sets. And then there's Martin Hawver, who runs his own weekly report. He, at least, understands the topics he's covering -- even if he runs everything through the liberal spin cycle before sending it out.

None of this can be said for Andy Marso, a vile reporter from the Topeka Capital Journal. He abusively covers Kansas Republicans and the Brownback Administration. Of course, the guy has never met a liberal that he didn't define as "moderate" or "reasonable."

His latest story is another fine example of liberal bias.

In it, Marso laments that long-time laid-off, state employees are having a tough time finding work. (Get in line, Andy. Anyone who's lost a job in this economy has had a difficult time finding another job.)

He suggests that the state (Read: Brownback Administration) is possibly intentionally laying off older workers. (Again, this is fairly common when the private sector lays off as well. Mid-managers, likely to be middle-aged are expensive and often less necessary than the people at the very bottom, who work for cheap, and the people at the very top. It's called business).

Of course, a basic understanding of, well, reality, would help, but for reasons no one will ever understand, when the Cap-J had an opening for a statehouse reporter, they opted to hire a sports reporter.

That's right. Somehow to the editors of the Capital Journal, writing about high school football has a lot of correlations to covering the state government. I mean, they both require the ability to read and write in English. So there's that.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Brownback closes Main Street forever (not)

In what should be the least controversial story in oh, months, the state announced this week that it is closing the Kansas Main Street Program.

Counterwauling on Twitter would leave the average news reader to assume that with the shuttering of the program, which provides zero-interest matching loans to small businesses, many Kansas cities will roll up the sidewalks and announced the death of Main Street altogether.

Commerce Department Secretary Pat George announced that the restructuring in his department, which oversaw the Kansas Main Street programs, also will result in 18 layoffs.

Losing a job is traumatic, but this program should've been given the heave-ho years ago. Government shouldn't be in the business of business. Period.

As this never-ending recession drags on, (Yeah, I don't care that Obama declared "Mission Accomplished" on the recession a few years ago. It's not true.) government officials at all levels must find ways to slash spending. They must prioritize.

No kids or old people will go hungry in the killing of this program. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

O'Neal joins Chamber

This creeps me out.

Former Speaker of the House Mike O'Neal will be the new President and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. I don't like it.

O'Neal, a Hutchinson attorney, announced his resignation from the House of Representatives last year, and now he'll serve in a cushy role at the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

It's really, really tough to put my finger on exactly what bothers me about this hire. I'm going to make an attempt, but it's probably going to sound like a bunch of rambling, but stick with me.

First, O'Neal himself is a little bit of a creepster. He's got a few ex-wives that he seems to replace regularly with younger models. If you look at his former office staff, he also has a real gift for hiring young, attractive women who sport short skirts and thigh-high boots around the Capitol. Again, it's just a little skeezy.

Second, O'Neal's resignation came at a really, really odd time. Just when he was riding high on the political wave, he jumps off his surf board. Was he stepping aside for Ray Merrick? And if so, what favors are in the offing for the future for moving on?

Third, I've heard that O'Neal's goal is to eventually serve on the Kansas Supreme Court. If that's his goal, shouldn't he, I don't know, work in the legal profession?

Finally, a word or two about the Kansas Chamber:

I have a real disdain for Chambers of Commerce in general. At the local level, they run around asking for handouts. To its credit, the state Chamber appears to be more interested in economic liberty as opposed to handouts. But the O'Neal hire makes me question that assumption.

And then there's the re-shuffling of existing Chamber employees. Kent Beisner, who has been the CEO, will now be the Chief Operating Officer. This all sounds like make-work for lobbyists. It's not cool.

Also, the Chamber is well-known as a misogynistic lot. I mean the horror stories from the way women are treated in that particular organization is legendary, at least if the rumor mill can be believed. And that brings me back to O'Neal and what I perceive to be his pension for surrounding himself with sweet, young things and replacing his wives with younger models. Adding him to the Chamber mix creates a dish sure to leave a bad aftertaste.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Greensburg... changed

I know we're supposed to rah-rah the changing face of Greensburg.

After an F-5 tornado decimated the tiny community in western Kansas five years ago, the greenies moved in with a plan to rebuild the community into an environmental mecca of sustainability.

Cue the applause.

But I remember Greensburg as it formerly was. Its people were friendly and its face, though worn, had a sincere warmth that only experience brings. The physical changes to the community can't be helped.

I was there a few weeks after the tornado. Very, very little could be saved. It had to be rebuilt, and I guess if we had to give a nod to the liberal hippies, well, hopefully they learned something just by being in contact with the down-to-earth, no-nonsense folks of Greensburg.

Unfortunately, everyone also lauds the cultural change in the community as well. It's younger. Hipper. Greener.

And probably not as nice, and certainly not as wise. I know we're supposed to celebrate youth, as you can see from this article, the community planners in Greensburg now do. But darn it, I like old people and their traditions. Where would we be without them?


Haters gonna hate

Look, I'm not the world's biggest Brownback fan, but come on, Dems. Hosting a fundraiser is hardly an offense.

The Governor is drawing a little bit of ire today for hosting a fundraiser for 14 GOP Senate candidates. This is sort of par for the course. Yes, those Senators, if elected, will owe the Governor. So does darn near everyone else in elected office in the state of Kansas.

Brownback and his peeps mobilized masses of people to get Republicans elected in 2010. Why would he stop now? And if politicians helping other politicians raise money is sooo iffy, why aren't the Dems screaming about Yoder assisting all Republicans in Johnson County.

Long story short: There's no story to this story.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Invisible man -- Brownback

Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star ponders in this column why Gov. Brownback is getting passed by his protege and other young rising Republican stars.

Kraske doesn't really answer the question of why our fair Governor is being overlooked. Fortunately, Gidget is here with the answer.

Kraske writes:
At the Republican National Convention in Tampa last month, Brownback was the invisible man when it came to face time on the national stage. No speaking slot. No crowds of reporters eager to record his thoughts. No prime-time interviews with network anchors.
No one on earth would offer Brownback a speaking slot on the national stage. He's about as exciting as watching paint dry. Back when Brownback was a Senator, I used to cringe every time I saw him interviewed on national TV. He came off kind of, well, dumb.

Now, Brownback isn't a simpleton, but he always looks as if he could use a teleprompter. His reactions on television appear forced. He laughs, he smiles and it all seems a little scripted.

He's not a great speaker, either. Maybe he's trying to sound reasoned and thoughtful, but every time I hear him speak he sounds monotone and he looks bored.

Brownback isn't where he is today because of his charisma. That's for sure.

Everyone knows Brownback has presidential ambitions. Unfortunately for him, I don't think it's in the cards for a million reasons including the ones listed above.

Brownback has peaked -- not just because he lacks the charisma of a player on the national stage. But also because the face of America has changed. We seek inspirational leaders with vision. And when those pieces are missing, we're rooting for the underdog -- the beautiful, sassy woman whose political career began in the PTA; the black man with a single mother who worked himself through Harvard; the veteran who spent years in a foreign prison -- Americans want a narrative. (This is one of the myriad of problems with the Romney candidacy. Don't even get me started on that one!)

We got our fill of the white-guy-turned-lawyer-turned-politician-turned-legacy with George W. Bush. And for the record, I love GWB. I smile every time I see an old clip of the former President. He is someone I would still love to have a beer with. Sam Brownback is not. He will never call the White House home.

Read more here: http://midwestdemocracy.com/articles/kraske-brownback-getting-passed-highway-life/#storylink=cpy

This is stupid, vindictive

Last week, the Kansas Ethics Commission fined two lawmakers basically for "friending" lobbyists on Facebook.

"Friending" is allowed, but Rep. Greg Smith and House candidate Becky Nioce announced upcoming fundraisers on their Facebook pages. Kansas law prohibits legislators and candidates from soliciting campaign donations while the Legislature is in session.

The pair was fined $100 each. I don't have enough words to say how vindictive, stupid, ridiculous, wasteful, the penalty and hearing -- HEARING -- over this issue was.

I am Facebook friends with several legislators, and everyone announces fundraising events on their pages. This strikes me *almost* as a personal property issue and of course, a free speech concern. Legislators, in a sense, own their Facebook pages, the same way I own my home. As long as their posts comply with Facebook terms of service, they should be allowed to post whatever they want.

I should add, I think the prohibition against soliciting campaign contributions while the Legislature is in session is moronic anyway. As long as the donations are reported, I think people should be allowed to donate as much to whomever, whenever they want. If making donations isn't illegal, I should be able to use my money however I want.

Now I'm getting on a soap box. But before I leave it, let me add one more thing:  It's easy to see how quickly and insidiously our freedoms slip away. How you spend the money you earn, what you write on your Facebook page -- these seem like simple freedoms.

The ethics commission determined that Smith and Nioce didn't intend to violate campaign finance laws. But I can't believe they convened a panel to discuss the issue. This could've been resolved with a simple letter explaining the rules and how the Facebook posts were inappropriate.

What a waste of everyone's time and money.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guess who will be collecting unemployment

If you guessed former Kansas Secretary of Labor Karin Brownlee, grab yourself a cookie.

Oh, how I would've loved to be a fly on the wall when Gov. Sam Brownback's attorney, Caleb Stegall, sent the former senator packing.

I had an inkling something was amiss between the Governor and Sec. Brownlee in June when a fly on the wall -- read staffer -- who attends the Governor's cabinet meetings told me that Brownlee was the least popular member of the cabinet.

(As an aside, I do not understand the continual weight given to "popularity" within the inner circle. I mean, these are all grown-ups. Who cares who wears the best shoes or dates the cutest boys or whatever passes for popular these days? Am I right? That's rhetorical. Of course, I am.)

I was a little surprised shortly after Brownback's election when I heard Karin was going to get a cozy cabinet role. She's not exactly warm. She's never struck me as tight in the inner circle, and she kind of broke with the conservatives, of which Brownback pretends to be one, when she publicly endorsed and campaigned with Jerry Moran over Todd Tiahrt.

Whatever political capital she once had, she absolutely wasted it. She couldn't even get her precinct people to appoint her chosen replacement. She endorsed Ron Ryckman, a then-city councilor from Olathe. The precinct folks of the former 23rd District, which included part of Olathe, went with Rob Olsen. (Don't get me started on that guy. OK. I'll give you one word on that guy: "literacy." Do with it what you will.)

For me, Karin's ouster raises her in my estimation. This means she broke with the Governor on some policy and stood her ground.

However, there's a warning here: Not going along to get along with the Governor is dangerous ground -- especially if you're a woman.

There is more to this story than we're getting. According to media reports, Brownlee and Brownback "disagreed" with how well her department was operating. I smell a lie or at least an untruth. If Brownback was cleaning house based on how well state departments were operating, Nick Jordan would've been fired months ago. His department oversees the DMV, and well, the changes he's made have been epic failures.

To my knowledge, this is the second cabinet fallout of the Brownback administration. The first, of course, was the displacement of Rob Siedlecki, former Secretary of SRS. (I liked him, but I heard he was incompetent.)

Hours before Brownlee's departure was announced, the Govenor's Office announced the appointment of Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland as Deputy Secretary of Labor. (Was there such an appointment before the announcement? I'm not sure.)

Stay tuned. Things just got interesting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

One bites the dust: Her name is Schodorf

Sen. Jean Schodorf is leaving the GOP. I doubt anyone will miss her. The end.

Here's the story.

Apologies, but not from Tampa

I apologize for the anemic posting here of late. The Republican National Convention, well, was information overload, and I needed a few days to digest.

Between the events in Tampa and the holiday, I feel like I've been run over by a triptophan truck. I fully intended to post a series of the best RNC speeches courtesy of YouTube. But I'm assuming by this point, almost everyone who has any interest at all has seen them.

I'll briefly say this: Probably my least favorite speakers at the event were the Romneys themselves. Ann and Mitt's turns at the podium were the Lifetime Movie Network equivalent of political speeches. They were too soft and squishy. They were all potatoes and no meat.

I know the goal of both speeches was to introduce the pair to America. That's why we had to hear the heartwarming stories about Mom Romney's daily roses from Dad Romney. That's why I was forced to hold back my gag reflex when Ann said, "Tonight I want to talk to you about love.I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago."

That's not what I needed or wanted to hear. I wanted hell-fire and brimstone speeches with specific details about how to turn this ship we call America around. I wanted to hear how Mitt plans to take control of this ship's rudders and pulls her from the brink of an iceberg. Their speeches weren't re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. They were discussing the china patterns of the dinnerware.

Unfortunately, I think that's the kind of garbage America wants to hear -- some lovely music by which to drown. And before the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies, maybe it's what I needed to hear as well.

But not anymore. I fully recognize what Obama has done and continues to do to our country. While we're debating whether Robert Pattinson should get back together with KStew, Obama is issuing executive orders. With a swipe of his pen, he's giving himself control over all private communications in the country. He's requiring vehicle emissions standards that will essentially put us all on bicycles.

And when his pen isn't busy, quietly robbing Americans of any semblance of freedom, he's elevating our national debt to unsustainable levels while promising the world to everyone.

So, I don't really care about Mitt's childhood. I don't want to hear it from the media: I don't care that he bullied a kid once a million years ago. Or from him. I want to hear that he recognizes this country's problems and that he has a plan to address them. And then, I want SPECIFICS. Don't tell me you're going to lower the national debt -- tell me what you're going to cut and give yourself a deadline.

That said, because Obama is such a disaster, I don't need to be sold on Mitt at all. The Republicans could've put forward a monkey for the nomination, and he'd get my vote. If Bonzo was good enough for Reagan back in the day, he's certainly better than Obama now.

Paul Ryan's speech was much more to my liking, because it came a tiny bit closer to being about issues instead of personalities.

A word or two about the Kansas delegation:

Every night after the convention closed down, the Kansas delegation would have a reception at the hotel complete with speakers and mingling. These kept the delegates up all hours of the night. Many of the after-hours events lasted well into the next morning. The get-up-and-go-go of some of the delegates was truly inspirational. Apparently to be a mover and shaker in the Kansas GOP, one must be able to go long hours with very little sleep!