Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): November 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Follow the yellow brick road map

I'm trying super hard to care about the recent outrage of Andy Marso

The Topeka Capital-Journal reporter recently penned a tome about the evil Brownback administration shifting $9 million in temporary family assistance reserve funds to a literacy initiative.

"Prominent" children's advocates are concerned that the plan will take food out of the mouths of needy children. 

I don't want to sound like a mean girl, but whatever. 

Why does the state have $48 million sitting around in reserves? That's the real question, which of course, hatchetman Marso either didn't ask or didn't seek to include.

$48 million seems like an awful lot of extra cash for temporary family assistance. To me, temporary assistance means they need food, shelter, etc. immediately until a better plan of survival can be worked out. 

Maybe I'm just not understanding the intricacies of the program. Prior to Brownback's raiding of needy children, the reserve fund held enough money to provide every man, woman and child in Kansas with $17. But, not everyone in Kansas is poor.

Statistics that I don't completely buy suggest that approximately 20 percent of Kansans live in poverty, or about 560,000 people. 

And I think it's safe to assume that of those 560,000, most have the most basic of needs met. (They probably also have televisions-- plural -- in their homes; cell phones, food and clothing.) What they may not be receiving is the gift of literacy. (Thanks, Kansas public schools!)

I've already wasted too many words on a topic I consider, meh. I'm pretty disturbed that there's a program in Kansas with millions of dollars laying around in reserve.

I'm not certain the state government should be doing half of the things it does. I would prefer that government butt out of "helping" people in general.

Remember the good old days when people looked to churches and their neighbors for assistance rather than the cold and impersonal hand of money-grubbing bureaucrats? Yeah, me neither, but still. Sounds like a nicer, less complicated time.

Finally, Brownback made his literacy funding announcement flanked by people from the Boys and Girls Club and others. I note that Joyce Glasscock was quoted in Brownback's announcement

There are two Glasscocks who were at one time active in Kansas politics. The former Speaker of the Kansas House, Kent; and the former Deputy Secretary of Aging, Terry. Which one belongs to Joyce? (They are of the moderate wing of the Republican Party, and if I remember correctly, there was some sort of scandal involving the Department of Aging at the time. I do not remember the details and am too lazy to look them up.)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Olathe, dumber than I thought

Welp. It appears the citizens of Olathe are dumber than I thought. 

According to unofficial results, Olathe voters opted to support a sales tax increase to fund road improvements. How vapid and uninspiring.

Here's the deal, local governments should fund road improvements and maintenance through it's general fund and existing budget. Road maintenance should already be built into the tax equation, and new growth and development should fund new roads. If Olathe isn't funding road maintenance with its existing property taxes, sales taxes, share of gasoline taxes, what are they doing at city hall? Olathe property values increased last year -- meaning more tax revenue without having to increase rates. Meanwhile, sales taxes were also up. Not to mention, Olathe is a growing community, which means crazy collection of development fees. Again, where are they wasting money at Olathe City Hall? Because it's obvious they're doing something wrong if they have all of those revenue "enhancements" and still need more.

Maintaining roads is a very basic responsibility of city government. Almost everything else is an extra.

I also balk at the suggestion that "outsiders" pay sales taxes, which is why the sudden push for sales taxes in general. 

One blogger, JoCo SOB, continually makes fun of the Olathe ghetto. And I used to wonder why the blogger thought Olatheans were so, so daft. Apparently, the citizens are dumber than the citizens of KCMO. 

Olathe's willingness to increase taxes FOR NO MEANINGFUL REASON leads me to believe the city is in a downward spiral. It's only a matter of time before they hit rock bottom. With voters that dumb, residents should prepare for worsening schools, dramatically increased crime, corrupt politicians. 

A truce?

Missouri's Gov. Jay Nixon wants to call a truce in the border war. (Or the war to spend your tax dollars to entice businesses to move across the street from one state to the other.)

I'm all for an end to the Border War, but Gov. Nixon's plan is d-u-m dumb. Nixon's cease fire is four parts.

One, Kansas and Missouri would agree to an immediate moratorium on the use of discretionary incentives to lure businesses from one state to the other. 

Two, Govs. Brownback and Nixon would work with legislatures to make laws to make the moratorium permanent.

Three, the governing duo would encourage the use of local Kansas City-area entities from using tax incentives.

And four, both states would work together to leverage their resources in the area as a whole.

My problem with Nixon's solution also has four parts.

One, imposing an immediate moratorium on offering incentives to companies that are moving existing jobs across the state line doesn't limit incentives for companies who promise to add jobs. And here's the thing: In all of these great government tax incentive giveaways, the businesses always make promises they don't wind up keeping. So if AMC Theatre Group, who recently moved from Missouri to Kansas, wants incentives to move back to Missouri, all they have to do is claim they'll be adding NEW jobs in addition to bringing their existing employees across the state line. "New jobs" might mean 200 new employees, or one employee, just the promise will probably be enough to get the old tax-incentive ball rolling.

Two, I don't care how hard the Govs. Nixon and Brownback work with their legislatures to draft permanent laws to stop the Border War. Neither Governor has the power to demand it of their legislatures. And even if they both were able to draft a law, there's no guarantee that law will stand through the next five legislatures who come through town. There are tremendous financial pressures at work when it comes to incentives. Limit businesses' access to tax dollars and campaign funds dry up. Good luck getting a majority of legislatures in two states to go for that one.

Three, the state legislatures should stay out of local government. Unless the state legislature is going to somehow ban the use of local tax incentives, I don't see how in the world they plan to get all of the Kansas City area businesses not to compete using incentives. 

And finally, I wish they'd both just make the rules the same for everyone. That means whether you are starting a business with five employees or 400, you have the same tax policies and obligations. Government shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers.

End the Border War by simply refusing to give "tax incentives" (GIVEAWAYS) to anyone. Everyone should be equal under the law, and in my mind, everyone should be equal under the tax code as well. 

Nixon wouldn't feel so obligated to make a big push for an end to the Border War had he not vetoed legislation that would've made Missouri more attractive in the first place.

End rant.

Friday, November 8, 2013

An adulterer comes to town

Don't shoot the messenger. I bit my tongue as long as I could about the big visitor in town today.

Former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was in town this afternoon holding court at the Johnson County Republican Party headquarters. Gingrich is in town offering his support and fundraising efforts to Sen. Pat Roberts. Everything I'm about to say isn't a reflection on Roberts. 

But I'm a little disappointed at the outright fawning over Gingrich. I can't look at Gingrich without feeling sick to my stomach. It is a visceral reaction. 

A lot of people that I really like and respect are avid Gingrich supporters. They adored him when he was U.S. Speaker of the House. They supported his presidential campaign. And I'll say this: Gingrich is a great ideas man. The guy can speak eloquently about a number of issues. He's got ideas -- good ideas -- about how to fix some of what ails this country. He has a lot to offer.

And if he had one ounce of honor in his body, he wouldn't have run for president in the last cycle. He would've offered his ideas and expertise to another candidate. 

I'm probably alone in my visceral reaction to Gingrich, but I doubt it. I don't know how any self-respecting woman could ever truly trust or support him. If he can't keep his promises to his spouse, a person he's made a pledge before God to honor, I don't know how the public at-large can trust him.

If his philandering ways were simply a one-time youthful indiscretion, I may be able to overlook it. Everyone makes mistakes. 

But in Gingrich's case, it's a disturbing, life-long pattern. The first time, he married very young. He was 19-years-old when he married his former high school geometry teacher. She was seven years his senior. He managed to stick-it-out with her for 18 years, sometime after beginning an affair with a woman who would become his second wife shortly after his divorce was final. (In a sad footnote, his first wife died in August of this year.)

He managed to stay married the second time for 19 years, though his affair with his third wife began 12 years into his marriage. Though the woman he brought with him to Kansas City has been his wife for 13 years now, I can't look at her without thinking of her as his mistress. (As an aside, Callista should probably start looking over her shoulder. Gingrich's marriages appear to have a shelf-life of less than  20 years, with the philandering starting several years in advance.)

Honestly, I've left out the most tawdry accusations of Gingrich's past. The ones that are confirmed -- his complete disregard for the sanctity of marriage, his inability to keep it in his pants, the fact that he keeps getting older but his mistresses/wives stay the same age -- are bad enough. 

I don't expect perfection from politicians, although I tend to hold them to a slightly higher standard than say my mailman. But Gingrich almost seems to rub the public's face in his sin and demand that we accept it. And I can't. That's probably a great short-coming on my part. But there it is.

Many great people have battled with infidelity, but they at least act like they know they've done something wrong or inappropriate. Sin all you want, but please don't ask me to be a willing and accepting party to it. Gingrich acts outraged when anyone asks about his proclivity for infidelity and trading his wife in for a younger model. But I don't know how he can expect the rest of the country to trust him when his own family can't.  

I wish Gingrich and his mistress would stay out of my neighborhood.  I wish he'd stay someplace far, far away writing white papers on the political topics of the day.

He's an embarrassment to me as a Republican. And it is damaging to see people I like and respect fawning all over him.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Cautionary Tale: Crony Republicanism vs Liberterian-leaning Conservatives

 "...There's a cautionary tale here for all those conservatives -- libertarian, reformist, anti-cronyist -- who like to argue that a more principled and politically-successful Republican Party would necessarily have a less cozy relationship with big business and the rich," Ross Douthat wrote in his New York Times autopsy of the Cuccineli/McAuliffe Virginia gubernatorial race.

Douthat accurately nails the challenge of anti-crony conservatives (or as I like to call them, Tea Party members). The Republican primary in Virginia pitted Cuccinelli, a more anti-crony conservative, against Establishment Republican Bill Bolling. Douthat calls Bolling more "business-friendly," but I'm pretty sure that means Bolling was willing to offer subsidies and deals to special interests. Bolling's willingness to pay-for-play would likely have garnered more campaign donations and a win for the Republicans in Virginia as McAuliffe outspent Cuccinelli by boat loads.

This is a real mess, and one we libertarian-minded (or anti-cronyism, I'm going to adopt that term) conservatives need to figure out, and we'd better do it soon. Those in the political class theorizing that the divide in the Republican Party is all about social issues are dead wrong. The current fight for the soul of the GOP is about cronyism, pure and simple.

Until recently, it's been a fairly quiet "family conversation," to borrow a term from Johnson County Republican Chair Ronnie Metsker. The gloves are about to come off. 

Consider for example, a giant empty field with a few construction trailers on it in Manhattan, Kan. It's supposed to be the site of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) at Kansas State University. In the old days, we'd all just sit back and expect our Congressional delegation to bring home the bacon. The feds promised $404 million in matching funds to build the defense facility, but now the project sits on hold as Congress fights over the budget. 

The weird thing is that Sen. Pat Roberts, a K-State alumnus, and Sen. Jerry Moran, WHO LIVES IN MANHATTAN, are completely mum on the topic. They're in a tight spot, expected to bring home pork chops while cutting the budget. What better way to get the Kansas delegation on board with a spend-y budget than to use the NBAF as a bargaining chip? There's a lesson here about federal money not being free, but that's not the point.

So Moran and Roberts are already elected and in Washington feeling the heat. Neither offered comment to the Kansas City Star about the NBAF project-delay. There are lots of contractors and hopeful Manhattanites looking to score jobs and cash from the NBAF and their support for Roberts and Moran will dry up if this project is moth-balled. 

But what about political candidates who promise to keep the federal budget in check? What about those anti-crony candidates who promise NOT to make special deals and government giveaways? Where do they find the cash to run a campaign for office?

That's really the question. You'll note that some traditional Republican constituencies are pulling away from the party's base. The best example would be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other Chambers offering blanket support to "immigration reform." They want cheap labor, and consequences to the country and her citizenry be damned. This break may be the split that kills the GOP.  

Their support for immigration reform is short-sighted. While a wealth of cheap labor may temporarily provide economic benefits, over time, those immigrants will change the face of our economy in ways that I don't believe Chamber members have carefully considered. It means lower wages for everyone, including business owners, over time. 

It pains me to say it, but even the Kansas Chamber should be questioned. They are on board with the push to open our borders.

Any candidate that receives the support of the Chambers of Commerce should be carefully considered. If there's another conservative option, that candidate should get your vote and a whatever cash you can spare. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Douglas County Republicans rejected the addition of a loyalty clause to its bylaws.

No comment.

Now what?

The news media will have you believe that voters sent "a message" in yesterday's election, but I have no idea what it was. Neither do the political pundits.

• Chris Christie won in a landslide. The New Jersey Republican coasted into another term in the Governor's office. And now, Christie thinks he has a shot at the White House in 2016. Seconds after winning, Christie announced he's not a "moderate." He's a "conservative." The announcement was laying groundwork for the 2016 campaign. I'm not buying it.

Let me make this clear, GOP. If Chris Christie is our nominee in 2016, I walk, no run, to a third party. I will not vote for that narcissist. We've got one in the Oval Office right now, and the last thing we need is another one. Anyone who puts himself above principle, above party, above everything and anything, will NOT get my vote.

I'm done. I held my nose and voted for McCain. I bit my lip and voted for Romney. And I'm not doing it again. If the GOP can't see fit to run a conservative in 2016, I'm out. Permanently. And I don't think I'm alone in that. Chris Christie cost Romney votes in 2012. He did everything but offer Obama an endorsement. Christie said the Obama photo op was to help New Jersey post Hurricane Sandy. That worked out well.More than a year later, parts of New Jersey remain in shambles. I do not, I will not, forgive him for giving Obama an edge in 2012. There was too much at stake in the last election to leave anything to chance.

• In a squeaker, Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli. This stings. Cuccinelli lost by only 2. 5 percent, despite being dramatically outspent and abandoned by establishment Republicans.

The establishment-set is itching to place the blame for this loss at the feet of the Tea Party. They are wrong. Cuccinelli WON independents by 9 percent. Voters were divided in who to blame for the government shutdown. Ignore the Establishment-types who want to pin the Cuccinelli loss on Tea Partiers shutting down the government. It simply isn't true. Approximately half of Virginia voters -- 47 percent -- blamed Republicans for the shut down. Guess what percentage blamed Democrats for the shutdown? 47 percent. And there is probably not a better place to poll who gets the blame for the government shutdown. Virginians may have actually felt the effects of the shutdown, whereas in most of the country, the shutdown meant business as usual, only with more complaining and whining on the nightly newscast.

• A communist is New York City's next mayor. Visit now, because a few years from now, that place will return to the pit of despair it was before Rudy Guiliani took the helm. It's a shame. New York City is wonderful now. Four years from now, it will be Detroit-light.

• Voters in Jackson County, Mo., aren't nearly as stupid as I thought they were. They overwhelmingly rejected a sales tax that would've funded an enormous slush funds that politicians would use to reward their friends and punish their detractors. The $800 million tax proceeds were to go to private hospitals. (I like hospitals, and I like medical research, but it's not government's role.) 

The shocking tax defeat may signal brighter days in Kansas City's future. If KCMO voters continue this streak of reasonableness, the city may one day offer competitive advantages that outpace Johnson County. If they get rid of that stupid income tax and fix their schools, watch out, world.

• Colorado voters defeated a nutso measure that would pour more money into public schools. By some miracle, Colorado voters did not fall for the line, "It's for the children." Color me shocked.

The failure of Amendment 66 may serve as a warning to liberals in Kansas who think the only thing lacking in Kansas is more money for public schools. I'm pretty sure that's the sole platform item for Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for Kansas Governor. If Colorado isn't buying it, Kansans won't either.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Get off my lawn!

These kids are trying to start a blog about Kansas politics.  (I'm kidding about the get off my lawn stuff.) 

The Sunflower Scoop, so far, has too few scoops, but I'm hopeful they'll dig up some real stuff eventually. 


Monday, November 4, 2013


Some guy you've never heard of is running to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate.

His name is Chad Taylor, and he is apparently the District
Attorney of Shawnee County. He's a Democrat. Today is his 40th birthday, and his campaign exploratory committee announcement in press release form is one of the most ridiculous things you'll read today.

Here's the announcement in its entirety:

DA Chad Taylor has announced that his exploratory campaign for United States Senate has officially begun.

Today, on his fortieth birthday, Taylor said "I am proud to be a Kansan.We have the people, talent, tenacity and character that are truly the core of this country. The people of Kansas aren't the problem - the career politicians that represent us in Washington are the problem. If we continue to elect the same people repeatedly to represent us, why would we expect Washington to change? It's time for Kansas to have an advocate, rather than an opponent, as our voice in the U.S. Senate."

Taylor currently serves as the District Attorney for the Third Judicial District of Kansas (Shawnee County), where he was first elected in 2008 by almost sixty percent of the vote, and re-elected without opposition in 2012.

D.A. Taylor's campaign plans include a series of listening tours across the state and a focus on feedback from all Kansans. When asked about his motivation to run for Senate, Taylor replied, "As an elected District Attorney, I am appalled by the behavior in Washington. A vote in the ballot box is essentially a vote of confidence that the person elected will do what is in our best interest.  It causes me tremendous concern to see long time Beltway insiders putting their own political agenda ahead of doing what is right for the people of our state.

As a Democrat D.A., I work closely with Republican Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, state legislators and community leaders. Not once have we ever filibustered about doing the right thing.

I've been asked repeatedly to consider running for statewide office; given the recent reprehensible behavior of Congress, the public support for this Senate campaign has become insistent.

I look forward to advocating for all Kansans as a United States Senator, but in order to do that, I want to hear directly from you - what are your priorities for our State? What needs to change first? Please join our
conversation on Facebook at facebook.com/Taylor4Kansas or @TaylorForKansas on Twitter.

This is our opportunity to ensure that the rights and interests of Kansans are actually protected in DC. Let's show Washington that this is our Kansas."

He has a website. Kind of. And a dream, I guess, but he doesn't stand a chance.

Nit-picking Kelly Arnold and the KSGOP

Bear with me. This rant is going to be a teensy bit nit-picky, but I think it's important. If the state Republican Party is to remain the bastion of integrity I know it is, its leaders must choose their words carefully.

Kelly Arnold did it wrong in the most recent "KSGOP: Seen & Heard." If you're not receiving a weekly memo from the state republican party chair, you can send an email to gavin@ksgop.com and request to be added. The weekly email is a catch-all of much of the Republican happenings around the state. There are updates from elected officials, a little bit about what the Democrats are doing in Kansas, and links to some other party sites, etc.

If you're tuned in fairly well, you've seen and heard it all long before the email arrives, but every once in awhile the newsletter has something you may have missed. 

So here's my beef: We're gaining speed in campaign season, and now, the state party needs to exercise caution to not intentionally or unintentionally endorse in the primaries. 

I don't think there's much question where Kelly Arnold and the state party stands in the U.S. Senate race. They're Team Pat Roberts.

And that's OK. As an individual, Kelly Arnold and whoever puts together the weekly newsletter, has every right to support whichever candidate he chooses. BUT as the party chair, he should be so very, very careful not to put it out there in the public as the official endorsement of the state party. There shouldn't even be a hint.

But there is a hint in the most recent newsletter. It's subtle, but it leaped off the page as I read it. The newsletter reads: "Sen. Roberts was on fire this week:" It then goes on to quote Roberts on a several current topics -- Obamacare, the EPA, a U.N. treaty. 

Every other elected official has a blurb or two with links to their press releases of the week. But no other candidate is introduced with seven glowing words as Roberts was.

And yes, I realize I'm being very, very nit-picky. I'm not campaigning for either Milton Wolf or Pat Roberts, though I have frequently admitted I'm likely to vote for Wolf based on my firm belief that Roberts (and anyone else who has been in Congress longer than I've been alive) needs to go. 

If I, very casual Wolf "supporter" (and I use the term loosely, but I'm having trouble finding the right one), feels that tiny gut-punch of that the Kansas GOP is offering its considerable power and influence to the Roberts campaign -- think how angry the fervent Wolf supporters probably are right now. 

Here's the deal: That primary is going to be really ugly, internally. It's baffling to me, but there you have it. I've seen the subtle, yet edgy debates about the race already. Those on Facebook and Twitter have quickly devolved into name calling. This is where we're headed. 

Agreeing-to-Disagree left the building the moment Wolf announced his candidacy. Please don't shoot the messenger: The leaders of the Kansas GOP should work diligently to ensure the integrity of the state party. That is going to mean an extra dash of caution, including careful word choice in party literature.