Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sad Story

Welp, it's official.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach will seek a second term in his current office.

This depresses me. Rumor had it that Kobach may challenge Sen. Pat Roberts in the primary.

Guess that's out, because Kobach told the Star on Kansas Day that he intends to stay put.

There are two intense and opposite reactions to this news.

First, Establishment-types are rejoicing. They don't like Kris Kobach anyway. Add to that fatigue from the last bloody primary over a U.S. Senate seat -- that of  Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt fame. Three years after the fact, tiny pissing wars over that race continue to reverberate.

The grassroots people should be devastated. There is no institution (outside of Chicago and Detroit) that needs a more thorough house cleaning than the U.S. Senate. Any Senator that has been there longer than I've been alive should probably be returned to sender as soon as possible.

Maybe Kobach's announcement will clear the way for another viable Republican candidate to step up to the plate. Rumor has it that at least one of Kansas' existing Congressman is considering a run at Roberts' seat. I know I've got my fingers crossed. (An aside: Obviously a candidate from the Big First has an advantage in a state-wide race for the U.S. Senate. Hint. Hint.)

Meanwhile, has anyone talked to Todd Tiahrt? A Senate seat could still be his. Although he wouldn't be my first choice for the job, he maintains a vast network of fans across the state. He also won Johnson County the last time he ran. Maybe it's time for a second attempt.

Count me on Team Anybody But Roberts.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yep. We're conservative

I'm just happy the liberals are finally admitting what I've known for awhile now: Residents of the Golden Ghetto are conservative.

We like our guns and religion, despite the best efforts of the Kansas City Star. And now, even they're admitting it. Feels good.

From Yael Alboulhalkah's Jan. 23 column:

"In the last four years conservative Republicans have taken near-total control of state and federal positions in Johnson County.

How did they do it?

As U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder said in a recent two-hour conversation at a downtown Overland Park coffee shop, the conservatives now truly represent the views of the majority of Johnson County’s residents and business leaders."

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/01/23/4027806/how-the-right-wing-gop-took-control.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



These people want to use incentives and your tax money to allow government to pick the winners and losers. Make no mistake, this organization, Kansans for Wind Energy is not interested in saving the environment from dirty coal (or insert other form of energy here.) They're looking to suck on the ample bosom of Mommy Government.

I keep thinking we're moving closer and closer to some sort of economic liberty -- and then I'm reminded, if Gov. Brownback and the Kansas City Star are on the same side, there's little hope that common sense will prevail.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I don't even....

Pat Roberts will seek a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. He formally announced his intent at the Kansas GOP Convention on Saturday.

Of course, there was plenty of applause, but deep down I felt like booing. I pretty much hate everything about this.

Roberts has been in Washington since 1980 -- nearly as long as I've been alive. If you include the time Roberts worked as an administrative assistant to then-Rep. Keith Sebelius, Roberts has been actively engaged in Washington since the late 1960s.

A lot has changed since the 1960s, but one thing has remained infuriatingly the same -- the U.S. Senate.

I'll be honest -- I detest the U.S. Senate. For the most part, I believe the individuals who "serve" there do little in the best interests of the country and much in the best interests of themselves. The job of a U.S. Senator is to get re-elected. The end.

How else to explain the current Senate which hasn't passed a budget in hundreds of days?

And ever there is Sen. Pat Roberts, considered a statesman by virtue of getting elected.

Look, I like Sen. Roberts. He's a nice enough guy, but he will not make any waves.  He will not rock any boats. I do not understand it. Most 76-year-olds are willing to wear purple suits and red hats in public as some sort of matter of pride. It's their way of saying, I've lived long enough I'll do as I damn well please.

But not Sen. Roberts.

Where every member of the Kansas delegation in the House voted against the plan to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff -- there was Roberts being a 'statesman' by raising your taxes without the agreement of any cuts.

This is a regularly repeated occurrence for those in the U.S. Senate. They are absolutely willing to sell the people down the river in return for being called 'statesman' and getting re-elected.

The truly disgusting part is that we're all going to vote for Sen. Roberts again.

If he draws a primary opponent, it will be a miracle. And even if he does draw a primary opponent, everyone will tip-toe around for fear of upsetting Roberts and the many people who owe him their careers.

So, we get Roberts for six more years. Six.More.Years. And he's 76 now. (Bob Dole left the Senate when he was 76 to run for president.) By the time he finishes the next term, he'll be 82 or 83. I'm betting he runs again then, too. My only hope is that sometime between now and then Kansans will say, we've had enough.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Let's talk about Bob

Apparently, Rep. Bob Montgomery has decided to continue his "work" in Topeka. I use the term "work" loosely, because he only recently started showing up at the Capitol. When the session first started, Montgomery was absent.

However, he stopped in this week to tell Kansas City Star reporter, Brad Cooper, that he no longer plans to resign.

Cooper posted on Twitter on Jan. 24: "As it turns out, Rep. Bob Montgomery of Olathe says he's not resigning from #ksleg. Says he will work through personal matters."

Um. OK.

Someone should probably tell the Olathe Republican Party that, then. According to their website, scheduled speakers at their next meeting, set for Jan. 31, include Erin Davis and Mike Kiegerl, "candidates for the 15th District."

I've speculated in the past about the Bob Montgomery situation, so I'll spare you the recap. The people of Olathe should be very angry about Montgomery's actions over the course of the past month.

And someone should probably ask Sen. Julia Lynn about it. I'm sure she has an opinion as the race is in her district.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

GOP Convention

This weekend, a group of Republicans will gather in Hutchinson for the annual Kansas GOP Convention.

I have not yet decided whether I will go. If it were closer, I'd be more likely to attend, but given the distance and that there are so many things about it that drive me absolutely bonkers, I don't know that I will.

I'm assuming nearly everyone that reads this blog has attended the KS GOP Convention in the past. If not, here's a brief primer: Absolutely no business will actually occur. Well, that's not exactly true. A new chair will be elected, but don't kid yourself if you think that choice wasn't scripted years ago.

That's not a dig on Kelly Arnold. He seems like a nice guy and he has great hair. It's just the nature of the political beast.

And I guess that's why I'm not a big fan of the Republican convention. It's awfully scripted and Establishment-y.

At face value, here's what will occur during the convention: Several politicos will host hospitality rooms. For example, Sen. Jerry Moran will host a room in which he will provide, I don't know, sodas and cookies. He and his staff will be in the room chatting and networking. Down the hall, other politicians and political groups will be doing the same.

If I attend, I can promise my favorite rooms will be the room hosted by the motorcycle guys and the black Republicans. Sadly, I have no idea what the motorcycle lobbying group is called, but they always have beer and unlike the rest of the rooms, it will not be a stuffy affair. My second favorite room will belong to the black Republicans. This group, of which there are a handful, will offer excellent soul food and live music.

I'm going to sound like a bad person, but the rest of the rooms will be filled with the types of people the media always uses to portray Republicans. Think Michael Alex P. Keaton.

I am 100 percent positive the Democrat convention, known as Washington Days, is way more fun. (That may be because in Kansas they're perpetual losers with nothing to lose by having a little fun, but still... I've seen the photos. They have a party.) The Republicans have Buffy, Mitzy and their husbands crowded around a punch bowl talking about investment portfolios. (That is a complete exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

If I could truly change one thing about the Republican Party, it would be the organization's outreach to regular, everyday people, most of whom in Kansas at least, share its values. However, the conventions are used for the Establishment folks to shore up their bases. When Tea Party groups and grass roots people crash the party, there's a lot of eye rolling and sighs from (most) of the politicians themselves and their staffers. I challenge you to watch the micro-expressions when someone in jeans walks up to them at the convention.

So, I haven't decided whether I will attend this weekend's non-festivities. It's good for gossip, but not particularly good for my soul!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bob Montgomery -- please call your office

So Bob Montgomery said he was going to resign.  Stick with me here, because this episode has more twists than General Hospital.

The story really begins last June. You'll recall there was a giant rush to find candidates to fill out all of the Republican tickets after judges, instead of the legislature, redistricted. Montgomery, at the time, was living in a different district. He promptly moved into one of his other properties in order to appear on the ballot as a candidate in the 15th District.

Montgomery had a primary opponent, but no general election opponent in that race. Sometime after the August primary, Montgomery quietly told people he would be resigning from his post. I've heard two reasons for this: 1. financial concerns -- he's in real estate and well, real estate. Right now. It's not that good, especially when  you spend all of your time in Topeka drinking cocktails with lobbyists and campaigning instead of working. 2. I heard marital issues. I can confirm marital issues were indeed an issue, because his divorce became final in August.

Montgomery formally and publicly announced his intention to resign as he was making a speech to nominate Arlen Siegfried for Speaker of the Kansas House. The plan, I understood, was to be sworn in on Jan. 14 and then to go immediately to the Secretary of State's office and tender his resignation, at which point, approximately 17 precinct people would elect his replacement shortly thereafter.

Fast forward to last week:

As far as I know, Montgomery has not yet resigned from office, though he was sworn in.

He's also been missing from the House without permission.

What does all this mean?

The 15th District in Olathe has a representative, but not a very effective or responsible one.

What is the hold-up on Montgomery's resignation?

That, I honestly don't know. I can only speculate -- and my speculation goes something like this: Montgomery had hand-selected his replacement in the position and his replacement does not have the votes from the precinct people to win the seat.

There are open precinct committee positions in the 15th District. Maybe Montgomery is waiting for Johnson County Republican Party Chair Ronnie Metsker to place those people so Montgomery's choice replacement has a chance, but I don't see that happening.

Maybe Montgomery is having second thoughts about giving up his seat.

The people in his district should be outraged, but to date, I don't think anyone has reported on the topic. That's unfortunate.

Welp, it's Gordon

This just in -- a few days ago:

Lana Gordon will receive the nod to be the Kansas Secretary of Labor.

With Senate confirmation, she will permanently replace former Sec. Karin Brownlee, who was fired last September.

There is still no word on why Brownlee was shown the door, but there's plenty of speculation floating around to make a really boring novel.

Here's what I've heard:

Brownlee wanted to help out a friend, Assistant Secretary of Labor Michael Copeland. Copeland is the mayor of Olathe, where Karin resides. Rumor has it, Copeland had hit a patch of difficult economic times. I can't remember the specific details, but I think he was in banking...

Anyway, Brownlee created the assistant job for Copeland at the Labor Department without getting the approval of the Governor. And as a reward, she was canned and Copeland maintained the make-work job.

Apparently, this is exactly the sort of thing that gets one fired. I don't fully buy this story, but it's what I've been told. (And let me tell you, in some ways, the Governor's Office is run a lot like the mafia. Under no circumstances is anyone in that administration to  make decisions without Brownback's implicit approval lest they want to wind up in concrete booties. This is one of many reasons it's impossible to get any 4-1-1 from the folks who work there. They like their jobs!)

I've also heard that Brownlee wasn't very well-liked to begin with, and that the Governor was looking for reasons to show her the door. The Copeland thing was just the final straw in a big pile of back-breaking hay.

(Also, I think it's particularly egregious when you don't toe the Govenor's line when you are a woman, so Lana Gordon, beware.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Places to cut...

The Kansas Legislature will have two choices in this legislative session -- cut spending or raise more revenue. Legislators are facing a budget shortfall as they return to Topeka this year, and by statute, they are not allowed to operate at a deficit. (They'll probably do a combination of both.)

Brownback has already suggested -- and I HOPE he's joking -- extending a 1 cent sales tax, part of which is set to expire this year.

I have a better idea: Get out your scissors, your scalpels and hatchets, and make some cuts.

I will offer suggestions as I think of them just to help out. (No need to send me a thank you note.)

May I humbly suggest cuts to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, fondly known as the KDWPT? Specifically, I'm thinking cuts to the division of tourism, although I'm sure there are other cuts to be made in this department.

Although the KDWPT touts an 80-to-1 return on investment on its advertising campaign last year, I have a brain and therefore I am not buying it.

I do not even know how you conduct the research that tells you that for every dollar spent on marketing Kansas as a tourist destination, $80 are added to the economy.

The KDWPT hired a study to determine how much money their marketing efforts add to Kansas' bottom line. Shockingly, the study results PROVE that spending taxpayer money to market the largest ball of twine and the deepest hand dug well is bringing in loads of tourist money from out-of-state.

Last yer, KDWPT spent nearly $1 million dollars marketing Kansas to people in seven states -- Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Iowa -- through television, print, online and digital advertisements.

The department reports that through efforts like this, thousands of people flocked to Kansas and spent $73 million.

I don't doubt that some people came to Kansas and toured stuff. What I doubt is that Kansas' advertising campaign was what made the difference. (I've drawn this conclusion based on my ability to use common sense and reasoning.)

KDWPT also suggests that the Kansas tourism industry employs one in nine Kansans. I am offended that they expect me to buy that story. It's an absolute stretch. Of all the people I know across the state, the only tourism-type employed Kansans I know are the few people I know that work for the KDWPT. I guess I know a flight attendant, but technically her base of employment is not Kansas. She just happens to live here, so I'm not sure that counts.

To their credit, KDWPT did not exactly use general fund money to "market" Kansas tourism and I hope they didn't use it to conduct their make-our-jobs-appear-meaninful-and-well-worth-it study. Instead, money generated through Economic Development Initiative Funds (think lottery, hotel taxes, etc.) were used.

Here's what I'm saying, instead of raising taxes, or extending the one-cent sales tax (I can't even type those words without rage bubbling up. KEEP YOUR PROMISES LEGISLATORS), why not spend that $1 million on infrastructure or schools instead of spending it on "marketing" the Garden of Eden or whatever. I do not believe that is a good use of state funds when we have shortfalls elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I hope I'm wrong about this...

Gov. Brownback's State of the State Address really rubbed me the wrong way.

He said most of the right things, but something about it was uncomfortable, like sand in my socks after a walk on the beach. I needed a few hours to get to the bottom of what stinks in Brownback's plans.

I shouldn't have to repeat this, but for first-time listeners/first-time callers, I am a conservative. I supported Brownback and I have the Brownbacker t-shirt to prove it. Please take what I'm about to write with a grain of kosher sea salt, and know that these criticisms are coming from the far right.

There were four major segments of his speech -- preparing children for the future; jobs and economic growth; two-year budget proposal; and government reform. I'm fully onboard with one of the four, of course, it's the one he mentioned last. Were these ideas in order of priority? I guess time will tell.

My biggest frustration was that the Governor proposed more spending than cuts in his speech. And so my primary argument, one the liberals will argue, is math. Come on, man -- Brownback just lobbed it up to them like a floater in the ninth inning with bases loaded and the game on the line. I do not know how one can propose things like $12 million for a Kansas Reads to Success Initiative, new funding for KU Med, a new crime lab for Washburn University, fully-funded T-Works AND promise no cuts to education or services while stepping down a ladder to no income taxes.

These things are impossible without raising additional revenues. ("Revenue" by the way, is just a code word for taxes. Every time it comes out of a politician's mouth, you should reflexively hold onto your wallets.) I recognize the answer to spending more money is "growth." But let's actually SEE the growth before we promise money for new initiatives. How 'bout that for an idea?

Part of Brownback's plan to make the math work includes extending a 1 cent sales tax that was set to expire this year. My answer to that isn't just no, it's hell no. When that tax was passed two years ago, members of the legislature, specifically Republicans, promised, I mean PROMISED, that most of the tax would sunset. Mark this down: Any Republican legislator who votes to extend that tax needs to be removed from office at the next possible opportunity. This is simply a matter of character for individuals who made that promise and a matter of principle to conservatives. If they can't keep that promise, we can't trust them to keep other promises.

Which brings me to my next concern: Brownback's other plan to "make up the revenue" for an anticipated shortfall and for his new spending initiatives involves getting rid of the mortgage deduction in exchange for lower income tax rates. I don't like it.

While I am an adamant fan of a fair or flat tax, my crystal ball is pretty clear on how this particular plan will go down. We'll end up scrapping the mortgage deduction, which make no mistake, will result in a tax increase for the majority of Kansans, and getting blamed for it. Meanwhile, those proposed steps down the ladder to an income tax rate of zero will never materialize. (Write that one down, too, because a few years from now, I want to be able to say I told you so.)

In his speech, Brownback mentioned exactly one cut or spending reduction -- streamlining the Kansas Department of Transportation and Kansas Turnpike Authority. It's a start, but in my mind, I would prefer a speech that incorporated two cuts to one new initiative. That's not what we got.

Instead, we were fed a series of initiatives, one potential cut and the promise of no cuts to education (54 percent of the budget) or essential services. I can do math and I don't buy it.

I am Sam. Sam I am.

Gov. Sam Brownback gave the State of the State Address last night. I didn't like it very much. (Full disclosure: I almost never like such speeches, because there's never any "meat" in them. Last night's was no different.) You can read the full text here.

I'll have more to say about it later when I have a few minutes. In the meantime, I leave you with this:

I am Sam

I am Sam
Sam I am

That Sam-I-am
That Sam-I-am!
I do not mind
that Sam-I-am

Do you like
sales taxes and spending, ma'am?

I do not like them,
I do not like
that taxing and spending, ma'am.

Would you like them
here or there?

I would not like them
here or there.
I would not like them
I do not like
taxing and spending, ma'am.
I do not like them,

Would you like taxes
on your house?
Would you like them
when you buy a blouse?

I do not like them
on my house.
I do not like them
when I buy a blouse.
I do not like them
here or there.
I do not like them
I do not like taxing and spending, ma'am.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Would you pay taxes on a box?
Would you pay them
on a fox?

Would you? Could you?
On a car?
Pay them! Pay them!
Here they are.

You may like taxes.
You will see.
You may like them,
pay the fee.

I do not like taxes on a box.
I do not like them when I buy a fox
I do not like them on my house
I do mot like them when I buy a blouse
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like taxing and spending, man.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

You do not like
green taxing and spending, ma'am?

I do not
like them,

Monday, January 14, 2013

On a lighter note... Schodorf

Former Sen. Jean Schodorf has left the Republican Party. (I mean, my crystal ball didn't see that one coming. Just kidding. It totally did.)

She's mad because she lost her Republican primary to a more conservative challenger. But she said: The Democrat party is "creating jobs and solving the problems of the debt and keeping our nation solvent."

Hold on. My sides are absolutely aching from laughing so hard. She's, she's, she's, ... one more minute. Let me catch my breath.

OK. Whew! That's a good one.

Her new plan is to influence public policy with a blog. I'm sorry. Give me a minute again. (Wipes away a tear.)

From a quick read-through of "Our Kansas Voice" it looks like her writing partner, former Sen. Dick Kelsey, is going to be writing about his grandchildren, so this should be really entertaining. (Up next week: Junior tries solid food!)

Not really. They're going to "provide an independent forum to talk about issues in the legislature and opposing solutions from the greased agenda we will soon see." (I'm curious how they really know what's going to be on the upcoming agenda. I certainly don't. I've heard a lot of whispers, but nothing I'd call "greased.")

They also hope "to encourage and challenge citizens to get involved in the process."

I probably won't use that site to get involved or stay informed. But I'll definitely check it out when I need a good laugh.

The Legislature returns... Disappointment probably awaits

Annnnnd, they’re back. Judging from all the feel-good-y status updates in my Facebook feed, conservatives are expecting good things during this session of the Kansas Legislature.


“Very exciting day tomorrow for my friends in the Kansas Senate and House. God bless you all with a landmark Session!”

“Today Kansas pushes further toward prosperity with an overwhelmingly conservative House and Senate. Kansas will be a model for the rest of the nation. Congratulations to all Kansas Representatives and Senators, today is a proud and great day in Kansas.”

“Congrats to all those being sworn in today at the state capital! Wish I could be there to see all these hardworking people preparing to make Kansas a better place!”

“Best of luck to all the new legislators who will be sworn in today for their first official day of the new session in Topeka. May you have a productive legislative session as you tackle our state's challenges and steer us in the right direction.”

I wish I shared their optimism.

The sentiment is that we have a more conservative legislature than we’ve ever had.

I think it’s still far too early to tell. Saying you’re conservative and voting like one are two different things.

I have been exceedingly disappointed in the early ideas and topics I’m hearing discussed. I’m hopeful that things like a second round of re-districting (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?) and the Governor’s new mental health initiative take a back seat to other, more important issues.

I never underestimate the ability of Republicans to mess things up. (Sadly, I’ve become a horrible cynic in my (ahem) years on earth).

Here are my top priorities –

  1. Conservatives should work immediately and decisively to change the way Kansas judges are appointed. This would move the needle in ways our conservative legislature never can. Right now, whenever liberals have an issue of concern, they run to the nearest liberal district court and simply work around the legislative process. It is unacceptable, and if conservatives are ever to make meaningful in roads, this must be addressed. We may never have a better opportunity, and it needs to happen in 2013. The following year, 2014, will be an election year, which means most legislators will have their girdles strapped on too tightly worrying about getting re-elected.
  2. Speaking of activist judges – kind of – no change would be as meaningful or long-lasting as breaking the public school system monopoly in Kansas. Our public schools are little indoctrination camps in which teachers mold students into little, group think robots. Yes, that’s strongly worded, because it’s true. In my opinion, this, in public school classrooms, is where conservatives lost the battle – maybe even the war – for the heart and soul of this nation. Kansas legislators have a rare opportunity to do something about it. It will take great courage. Teachers aren’t going to like it. School PR people aren’t going to send happy notes about it home in backpacks. I hope and pray this crop of legislators (and the governor) has the backbone to address this issue. I have my doubts. As a by-product, I would be less irritated by the court dictating $4,492 per weight-student, if I got to choose which school got my money.
  3. Finally, the budget issues must be addressed. I hope we’re on the right track here, headed to a future with a flatter, fairer tax code. But we’ll see.

Sorry for the dark, and delayed nature of this post. I truly intend for this blog to be mostly a happy place, but I’m not feeling it right now. Maybe I need to get more Vitamin D. :Dunno:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Coming soon...

More posts, I promise.

I got swept up in the Christmas and New Year's rush and am way behind, but I'll be here all year sharing what I've learned. Give me a few days and I'll be caught up!

Thanks for reading.