Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): August 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Does the Cap-J Wish To Be Taken Seriously?

I literally laughed out loud reading this story, and trust me, there's almost NEVER anything funny in the newspaper.

Yesterday, the Topeka Capital Journal covered a riveting protest outside the Kansas Chamber of Commerce office. This group of college freshmen took to the streets after everyone who works inside the Kansas Chamber office had gone home -- not that anyone inside the office would've noticed their "protest."

Um. There were 8 people in attendance. 

Also, of note, I don't believe the Kansas Chamber has published a list of endorsements for the general election to date, so it's pretty curious how the brilliant mind-reading 8 were able to discern the positions of unnamed candidates on things like abortion.

The organizer of the "protest" said he wanted to "get people to think."

I don't know about you, but 8 people standing on a street corner rambling about things of which they know nothing about doesn't get me to think. But it does get me to laugh.

The Great Divide: Principles vs. Power

The primary election is about to separate the principled from those who love power. Conservatives will be shipped to the legislative wilderness come January. My hope is that their stay will be short. However short or long the tenure of this new Democrat-led legislature, it will reveal the true character of the so-called conservatives who remain.

Conservatives are going to have a choice: Do they compromise their integrity for better office space or cherry committee assignments or do they continue to hold the line on conservative principles?

This should be very, very easy for people whose principles were set a long time ago. That doesn't necessarily mean a refusal to compromise. In the short term, it means crafting compromises that hold the line on spending increases and the growth of government.

The first test will likely be the LLC tax exemption. People of good faith can and do disagree on this issue. Still, it's troubling that we're about to have a war in the Kansas GOP over $160 million in tax relief in the state budget. (There's a disagreement about how much closing the LLC relief would generate. The Department of Revenue says $160 million. Others say $400 million.) Neither paltry sum gets us anywhere remotely close to delivering on the promises made during the primary campaign season. At last count, the schools alone were seeking almost a billion in additional funding. I don't want to upset anyone's apple cart, but $160 million is waaaaaaay less than a $1 billion. You can check my math, but I'm pretty sure it's accurate. Surely there's a compromise on this issue that puts all Republicans on the same page.

Maybe a savvy conservative should propose $160 million in cuts somewhere as a method of keeping the peace in the Kansas GOP.  And if the argument about ending the LLC tax relief is that it gives relief to some and not others, maybe the wiser solution is to figure out how to give all workers the same tax relief.

Conservatives are going to have to be exceptionally smart to navigate these new waters. Hopefully, they're prepared to be smarter than they have been. This will mean looking for the unexpected solution instead of the knee jerk reaction. It means being kind, but firm and principled.

How conservatives react in this hostile environment will be quite telling. Here's one to watch: Traditionally, our Congressional delegates have assisted in the efforts to get Republicans elected up and down the ballot. It will be extremely telling to watch how much support is given to which candidates. (I wouldn't want to be Rep. Kevin Yoder in this environment. He should support Republicans, but he should be careful to support Republicans who actually support the party platform.)

Actually, that's a question I hope party officials like Kelly Arnold, KS GOP Chair,  and Clay Barker, KS GOP executive director, are asking as Republican candidates seek assistance in difficult races: With which parts of the platform do you agree? 

That's not a purity test. The Republican Party has a platform. You can read it for yourself. That national party has one and so does the state. I don't expect anyone to be "pure." But I don't think it's too much to ask that a candidate seeking financial support from the party agrees with at least 50 percent of the state party platform. That's not a very high bar, but I suspect there are so-called Republican candidates this election who don't reach it.

I hope the few remaining conservatives are prepared to fight for conservative principles. That's what this voter expects.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Stop Discouraging Your Conservative Friends

For about the 10th time last week, a political insider type told me the effort to oust Not-So Supreme members of the Kansas Supreme Court was a dead issue. 

"Not gonna happen," the guy told me as he checked out his hair in a reflection in the window. Conservatives (or quasi-conservatives), this effort is so worth the fight for oh, so many reasons.

This argument that it's over; we shouldn't bother, has to go. I realize Kansas voters have never voted not to retain any justices, but that doesn't mean we never will or that we can't toss them out. That is the WORST argument in human history. If humans throughout history fell for that line of thinking, I would still be whispering in my husband's ear who I thought he should vote for on Nov. 8. I would be dragging a bag across a cotton field somewhere. I'm pretty sure people said for decades that no one would ever run a mile in less than 4 minutes. Someone forgot to tell Jim Ryun that. (And in Rio this year, some of the marathon runners ran a few sub-four-minute miles!! Everyone's doing it now!)

These naysayers are discouraging. We can argue for days about how to best run the campaign to oust the justices. (I'll argue all day that instead of running a campaign through a conservative organization, we should be directing resources to Kansans for Justice, a nonpartisan group formed by victims of the Carr Brothers.) But we shouldn't be having an argument about whether to mount a campaign against the highly partisan Justices who are running our state. 

I am practical, and I am a realist, but this campaign over the justices is a fight worth having. It's also a fight we can win. There are a few ways to read the tea leaves of the Aug. 2 bloodletting. One school of thought says people were angry with conservatives, therefore, any conservative issue will lose. Another school of thought says people were voting out incumbents. I personally think there's probably a lot of truth to both schools of thought, and I believe the electorate looked a LOT different in August than it has in previous primary elections. Part of that was because conservative voters didn't go to the polls. THEY WERE DISCOURAGED! Even if you can't bring yourself to join the anti-retention fight, you shouldn't be discouraging the people in the ring. That will have a devastating effect on the turnout in November. 

There are a million reasons we can win this battle. Johnson County voters saved the justices last time, but that doesn't mean we'll do the same this time. (Clearly, Johnson County voters are some of the most schizo in the state. We don't know what we want; we're such a bunch of squishes, but if anti-incumbency is part of the voter mindset this election, that bodes well for the campaign to get rid of these partisan judges.)

Even if we lose, and I personally don't believe we will, it's a fight worth having and having right now. It's not about "balance" or "fairness" or whatever nonsense the liberals are spinning. It's not somehow against our state constitution. Tossing out the Justices IS the legal remedy to what ails us, and we should use it.

Three Million Dollars

A Kansas political type traveled to St. Louis last week where he picked up a check for $3 million.

Word on the street is that this money will be used to bolster conservative candidates and issues in Kansas. Your guess is as good as mine as to how exactly it will be used, but if I were a betting woman, this money will be used only for races that feature the most conservative of the conservatives. 

I hear some conservatives won't be getting a cut of the cash. Those truly conservative candidates are being written off. The Dems believe they've captured those seats, and the conservatives don't want to throw good money after bad. I am not going to mention specific races, because I don't want to discourage good candidates from working hard.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sorry. I'm Not Buying It, Morning Consult

Am I living in some sort of weird alternate reality? 

Tell me Gov. Sam Brownback is unpopular, and I'll believe you. I think some of the ire against the Governor is misplaced, and I'm simply not buying that he's less popular than the Governor of Michigan or that he's less popular than the Governor of Illinois. I mean, every Illinois Governor eventually ends up in prison, but OK. Brownback isn't the most popular Governor of all time.

And I'll buy that Sen. Pat Roberts isn't the most popular Senator of all time. He's just off a pretty difficult campaign in 2014, and let's be honest: He's been in Washington FOREVER. He only remains because his wife doesn't want to leave. So, it's understandably that a lot of people when polled are a little lukewarm on Kansas' senior Senator.

That said, somehow Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran's approval ratings are lower than Roberts'. Seriously, pollsters? Morning Consult must be solely surveying the people who respond to posts on a certain Wichita State University professor's Facebook page. (Wichita State University political science professor. Liberal who attempts to spark debate and ends up being the ring leader of an echo chamber. Sorry, sir. It's true, and bless his heart.) Or maybe Morning Consult has a list of all 10 Kansas Democrats and that's who they ring to "survey" Kansas.

I have had my beefs with Moran--serious, beefs. Moran said publicly he wanted to have a hearing for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee just a few months before the election. (This still takes my breath away, because his support of that scheme offered cover to others. I don't even...) And then, he teamed up with Sen. Cory Booker to hold people's money just a little bit longer, because apparently, he thinks Americans are just too stupid to save money. Obviously, the solution was to keep the tax returns of the stupids longer so they could earn "interest." (Baffling policy suggestion.) And then, Moran's leadership during the primary campaign was a little lax. (Note to future candidates: If Moran won't take your phone calls, you should worry. He may recognize changing winds sooner than anyone else.)

I don't know anyone--other than the absolute most conservative grassroots people (like me!!) who would have anything unfavorable to say about Jerry Moran. He's highly accessible to his constituents, and I think that's a huge point in his favor.

Once again, pollsters are selling a pretty ridiculous story--that somehow Kansas' Jerry Moran has some of the lowest approval ratings of almost anyone in the U.S. Senate.

Further proof that Morning Consult is smoking something legal in Colorado? Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders--the guy who has never had a real job, the guy who couldn't beat Hillary Clinton, the so-called socialist who just bought a fancy vacation home? That guy? According to Morning Consult, he has the highest approval rating in the Senate. I'm sorry, but yeah right.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Poll Finds Tight Race for Mary Pilcher-Cook Seat

Public Policy Polling did some polling for Democratic candidate Vicki Hiatt and determined that Hiatt has a 3 point lead against Kansas State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook. Many people are calling the Senate District 10 race a "battleground."

Hiatt and the Twitter trolls are touting the poll as some sort of bright light. The poll revealed that 43 percent of respondents said they plan to vote for Hiatt to Pilcher-Cook's 40 percent. Seventeen percent of the respondents were undecided --17--with less than three months to election day. The margin of error was 4.4 percent.

I may be weird, but this poll doesn't trouble me and here's why:

Public Policy Polling's Record

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight actually reports that PPP has been accurate in 82 percent of the 383 races its predicted in 2016.  Good enough for a B-plus in Silver's gradebook.

That said, since 2008, the polling outfit's numbers have missed the voting margin of error 5.2 percent. This means while its prediction may have been accurate 82 percent of the time, the prediction was wrong by about 5 points. 

Public Policy Polling's Bias

This polling outfit's most egregious example is a 2015 poll in which the pollsters asked both Democrat and Republican voters if they supported bombing Agrabah. Of course, the left-leaning pollsters tweeted out later that "30 percent of Republican primary voters nationally say they support bombing Agrabah. Agrabah is the country from Aladdin. #NottheOnion." 

What they didn't tell people is the 20 percent of Democrats polled said the EXACT same thing--they supported bombing Agrabah. It should be noted that Republicans were asked this question after hearing eight questions about terrorism, while Dems were asked this question without those terrorism-related questions preceding it. 

PPP later admitted that it decided to use the "gotcha" question after getting the idea from Twitter trolls. The question is an example of confirmation bias. PPP believes Republicans are dumb and viscous and went out of its way to attempt to craft data to support the assumption. Despite Democrats answering the same question in similar fashion--even without being led to make the connection between terrorism and Agrabah--PPP made tweets and headlines about Republicans' response, virtually ignoring the Dems' similar answers.

It's difficult to take PPP seriously. The polling outfit may not be the Onion, but the fact that they admit getting questions from Twitter trolls suggests otherwise.

The Undecideds

Mary Pilcher-Cook won her last election in 2012 by 58 percent. That's a pretty big margin of victory. She admittedly had some tail winds, but those tail winds give her a bit of a cushion. Those 17 percent may need a little encouragement, and I think Pilcher-Cook will work hard to get those folks to break in her direction. Many likely will anyway. A whole lot of voters are going to look at the ballot and realize their choice is between a Democrat and a Republican. My money is on a whole lot of those Kansans choosing the Republican.

The Margin of Error

The point spread is within the margin of error. The only reason to release this polling information is to attempt to create a narrative that your candidate is winning to depress turnout on the other side and to rally your own voters to get in there because it's close. I realize those two things seem at odds. They're not. This is psychological warfare, and politicians use polls for more than just gauging public support. In this instance, I think Hiatt is hoping to capitalize on the perceived lead in order to raise money. 

The Trump Numbers

Somehow a greater percentage of respondents voiced their support for Donald Trump than for Pilcher-Cook. That extra 2 percent of voters is highly unlikely to cast a ballot for Hiatt. According to the poll, 45 percent of respondents said they'll vote for Trump, compared to 39 percent of respondents who said they'll vote for Hillary Clinton. 

Hiatt's Favorables

Hiatt is an unknown. In this cycle, that may work to her advantage in some ways. According to the survey, 12 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Hiatt, and 79 percent were undecided. Human nature says when people are undecided they are far more likely to dance with the devil they know than with the one they don't. 


This isn't included in the poll, but it's fairly important to note. Hiatt's favorables show she has a high mountain to climb. That requires cash, and Hiatt simply didn't have enough of it at the filing deadline. At the end of July, Hiatt had a little less than $11,000 on hand. Pilcher-Cook, on the other hand, had a little less than $56,000.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ethics Complaint Filed against Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has filed a complaint against Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier with the Kansas Commission of Judicial Qualifications. 

The complaint alleges that Beier breached the Code of Judicial Conduct by hosting a political fundraiser at her home for former gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis in 2014. The Judicial Code of Conduct requires that Justices "act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and avoid the impropriety and the appearance of impropriety."

Technically, the Davis fundraiser at the Beier house was hosted by Carol's husband. However, in a 1990 ethics opinion, in which the commission debated whether a meet-the-governor campaign fundraiser could be held at the jointly owned home of a judge's spouse the commission explained that even though the judge in question was to have no involvement in the event, it "may well be viewed by the general public as a political endorsement by the judge himself of a candidate for public office.... Public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary is eroded if judges or judicial candidates are perceived to be subject to political influence."

I lost confidence in the circus known as the Kansas Supreme Court about the time the justices (laughably) threatened to board up the schools unless the Kansas Legislature handed over more funding so Wichita homeowners could have a tax break.

I think Wichita citizens lost confidence in members of the Kansas Supreme Court about the time the Justices overturned the death sentences of the Carr brothers. Confidence in members of the Kansas Supreme Court was further eroded when the U.S. Supreme Court slapped the justices in a scathing 8-1 opinion ruling the state Supreme Court was way, way out-of-line in overturning the penalty. 

The good news is Kansans have a remedy to fix the clown show known as the Kansas Supreme Court. Five justices, including Beier, will be up for retention votes this fall. Voters should carefully consider whether a justice who shows such a lapse in judgement as to host a political fundraiser at her home has the judgement required to sit on Kansas' highest court.

Only one justice up for retention should be saved, Caleb Stegall. Let's keep this man of integrity and send the other four packing. 

By the way, it's interesting that media in the state is covering this potential ethics violation by Beier as a brief on the inside back page of nowhere in newspaper pages. You just KNOW that if the judge in question was Stegall, it would be plastered all over page one above the fold.

But Beier is a liberal favorite, happy to be the handmaiden to political corruption, so the story only warrants on tiny mention on the inside pages. Kansas media, for the love of all things holy, it's time to do your jobs and cover both sides equally. Every time any popsicle stand of a group files a complaint against Kris Kobach, there are front page stories, and bitter editorials, but this Justice has a very valid complaint filed and it's ho-hum. 

The journalism profession deserves better.This journalistic oversight is egregious, and Kansans deserve better. 

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. 

Officials said the effort was designed to bring the state's workforce rules into this century. Of course, the mainstream media reported that it was all an urgent attempt to prepare for restructuring in the face of budget problems, and the Kansas Organization of State Employees signed up to agree with the theory. They worry the changes will hurt employee morale.

Rep. Jim Ward, Dem, tweeted, "Brownback proposes to reverse 50 years of professionalism in state employment. Fraud and incompetence to follow."

This is insanity. This is EXACTLY how most of the private sector operates. And I note, the private sector doesn't have a monopoly. Performance is used to determine who stays and who goes. Is it perfect? Of course not. But there is recourse for those who are wrongfully terminated by those measures.

Laying people off based solely on seniority gives some employees almost absolute job security. There's no motivation to perform well. That's not saying the senior employees won't perform as well as their less experienced peers, but motivation is a tricky thing. Public policy should take human nature into consideration. 

Of course, liberals are worried that the changes will hurt employee morale. I don't know how great employee morale is when lay offs are pending--no matter how the layoffs occur. 

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.

Meanwhile, many liberals have a problem with thinning the bureaucratic herd, and so their ire is misdirected at policy. Here's the deal, though: If there isn't enough money, there isn't enough money. I don't think there's a tax increase possible that would ever make the liberals happy, and that's where we're at: Kansans must decide whether they want bureaucrats to live fat and happy, or whether taxpayers should have a few scraps left over at the end of each bill cycle to feed, clothe, and shelter their families.

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.

Monday, August 22, 2016

If National Media Covered Prez Politics Like KS Media Covers the State

If the national media covered national politics the way the Kansas media does, we'd be reading glowing stories at least once per month in the Washington Post about Vermin Supreme. (See the Topeka C-J story on Patrick Wiesner, the Democrat running against Sen. Jerry Moran.)

Vermin is the perennial candidate who wears a boot on his head and who promises, if elected, to give every American a pony. (Hard pass. Sounds like a lot of work.)

The stories would go something like this:

Looking out over the Potomac, Vermin Supreme ponders how much better America would be if every citizen could feel the wind in their hair atop a galloping pony. Supreme's eyes tear up as he recalls his own pony-riding filled days of youth. He pauses to take a sip of his sparkling water as his voice catches.

"People look taller on horses, and that makes people feel good," he says. 

His boot-shaped hat seems to give a jaunty wink. Vermin is a man with a daring sense of fashion and a keen wit. While giving all access to free ponies is high on his list of priorities, perhaps none of his campaign promises resonates more clearly with voters than his proposal to pass a law requiring people to brush their teeth. 

Vermin faces an uphill battle. No third party candidate has won a Presidential election since 1788. (George Washington was twice elected as an independent.) 
His opponents, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton declined to comment on Vermin's policy plans or his campaign efforts.

If he hopes to capture the White House, Vermin will need to convert large swaths of Republican and Democrat voters, which he plans to do by riding his trusty steed, Simpleton, from sea to shining sea. He'll ride to meet voters bringing an unorthodox message more commonly associated with people who have a shot at winning elected office. Vermin will tell voters he's for limited government--except for the oral health regulations-- and debt reduction, once everyone has a pony.

To pay help pay off the U.S. massive debt, Vermin plans to steal wallets when he can. He'll hand those over to the Internal Revenue Service when his pony reaches Washington. 

"That alone will probably pay down $350 billion," Vermin explains.

Vermin grew up in a Boston suburb, where he learned to talk really fast and drive really poorly. This, he says, allows Vermin to relate easily to others--especially Missourians, who are also awful drivers. 
It isn't just his common man appearance and driving that makes him so appealing to so many. He also has a charitable heart; Vermin donated one of his kidneys to his mother in 2006. 

Vermin knows he'll have to work hard to earn every votes, and he says he's prepared for the task.

"No one likes Trump or Hillary," Vermin says. "And people really identify with a guy who wears a rain boot on his head. When people know me, they'll definitely like me better than Hillary or the Donald."

Friday, August 19, 2016

PP Offers Blood-Stained Endorsements

Handily, the lovely folks at the local baby parts chop shop have created an endorsement list, so people of good conscience know EXACTLY which boxes to avoid on their ballot.

For one moment, let's be brutally honest about Planned Parenthood and that for which they unabashedly stand: They don't care about women. They don't care about children. They certainly don't care about minorities, what with their continuous tributes to genocidal founder Margaret Sanger. 

They care about two things: Profit and perhaps even more importantly, forcing others to be complicit in their evil. There is some sort of deep need for the unforgiven to demand that everyone else take part in their sin. They need societal approval via taxpayer funded cash to somehow salve their souls.

We should be praying for those misguided people, and we should refuse in every way legally possible to acquiesce to their demands. This means not voting, supporting or encouraging the candidacy of people who will not stand for life.

With that said, PP is only endorsing a few so-called Republicans:

  • Barbara Bollier
  • Melissa Rooker
  • Stephanie Clayton
  • Linda Gallagher
  • Tom Sloan
In every other race, PP has offer its blood-stained endorsement to the Democrats. This makes sense as the national Dem platform supports not only abortion up to the moment the head leaves the birth canal, but the federal funding of it.

Thankfully, the Republican platform supports life at all stages. If the Republican Party never does anything useful again--and this is a very real possibility--I will always, always take pride in the party's unwavering support for the most important civil rights issue of our time.

Most Expensive Schools in KS History Fail Kids So Give Schools More Cash

Public schools and the greediest lawyers on Earth (which is really saying something) will be back at the public trough before the Kansas Supreme Court demanding more money for public schools on Sept. 21.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat

For those keeping track, so-called Schools for Fair Funding (SFFF) has used taxpayer money to sue the state into giving more money to schools. Repeatedly. Seriously, almost every other month, there's some reason that however much money the taxpayers provide to educate their own children (or in some cases, to school other people's children) is never enough.

Most recently, SFFF demanded that Johnson County schools pony up more money so Wichita homeowners could get a small tax break. Lawyers for SFFF called it "equity."

In September, those same wealthy lawyers for SFFF--taking a day off from their typical days of fishing off of Italy's Amalfi Coast--will demand more money for themselves school administrators schools in the name of "adequacy." 

And now we have a hint at how they plan to argue the case, thanks to briefs filed with the Kansas high court last week. 

They're going to argue that public schools need half a billion more each year, because student test scores in math and reading are bad. It's a breathtaking argument.

I wish I would have thought of it when I was in college. I had a bad semester, so obviously I should have lobbied the Bank of Dan (Hi Dad!) for more funding or hired a lawyer and demanded that Kansas State University pay its professors more. 

So let me get this straight: We're now spending more money on schools than we ever have before, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores of Kansas minority students and lower-income students are worse than those of students in higher-income homes. So obviously, the solution is giving more money to schools that are failing these students in the first place. Head desk. If our goal is sincerely to improve the educational outcomes of students, there's absolutely NO excuse for throwing good money after bad.

I give you this kid, Jaylen Cruz. Jaylen is a minority kid who was failing in Wichita public schools. Thanks to a teeny, tiny program in Kansas--one the so-called mods are just DYING to eliminate--Jaylen is now excelling. His behavior problems are a thing of the past. Where he tested very low in reading in a public school setting, his reading scores are now in the 78th percentile,after being able to transfer to a private school. 

But so-called moderates, their Kansas National Education Association allies, and liberals everywhere don't want Jaylen's parents to have the ability to send their child to a school that works. Under the liberal, dictatorial, socialist system, kids of low-income parents and especially minorities, have no choice but to attend the school in a district crafted by some arbitrary geographical lines.

I am incensed on this kid's behalf. He deserves a decent education. Here's the real kicker: The school Jaylen attends? Tuition is about $4,500 per year. Guess how much the Wichita public school system spent per student last year? More than $12,000.

At some point in the very near future, the highly partisan bank of the Kansas Supreme Court is going to rule on whether school funding in Kansas is "adequate," and I'm pretty sure I know how it's going to go. As long as there is a conservative Governor in office and the risk of a conservative legislature, there is no dollar amount that will ever satiate this Court. 

These demands for ever-increasing public school funding are a complete racket. Schools fail children and then say it's because they don't have the funding to educate them. The Court--in questionable fashion--sets the funding, the Legislature complies and ponies up more cash. In turn, the schools continue to turn out record numbers of kids who can barely read at fourth grade level and hire a lawyer to demand that they just need more money to fix it. 

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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

State Senators Race for Leadership Roles

The race for Kansas Senate President is a bit of a slow-moving train wreck. 

Cars started publicly jumping the track back in February of this year. About that time, Susan Wagle, Senate President, removed Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook from the chairmanship of the Senate Health and Wellness Committee. Wagle says Pilcher-Cook violated Senate rules by adding an anti-Obamacare amendment to an unrelated bill. Pilcher-Cook says she was removed, because she refused to agree to a list of ultimatums like agreeing to support Wagle for Senate President this year.

Wagle and Sen. Terry Bruce were in a death match vying for future control of the Senate, and it spilled over into the primary elections. Wagle supported some so-called Republican moderate candidates, hoping to retain her spot in leadership. Bruce supported more conservative candidates in a quest for the top Senate job, perhaps to his detriment. He won't be returning to the Senate next year after losing his primary election in baffling fashion. (Stay tuned, however. Word on the street is Bruce may be back in some other role.)

This undertone of outright irritation at Wagle has been around for awhile. I have yet to fully understand why. Her detractors say she quietly supports Obamacare, (this appears to be true, though I can't find anywhere in which she's said that out loud) and that she actively recruited and supported so-called moderates in a quest for power over principle. 

In the not-so-distant past absolute fawning over Wagle from the very top and on down. Wagle is the first woman to hold the job as Senate president, and so everyone slobbered all over that. (Seriously, Kansas has elected women to Governor and to the U.S. Senate. When can we stop with the "firsts" celebrations?)  

With Bruce out of the way, Wagle may have thought she had a straight shot to the top job, but not so fast, my friend. There are now three people (that I know of) challenging for the Senate Presidency. The so-called moderate candidate, Sen. Jeff Longbine of Emporia, Sen. Ty Masterson of Andover, and Wagle of Wichita.

From where I'm standing, it doesn't appear any of the candidates have a clear path to the top job. Masterson is the most conservative of the three, and typically, that would be my personal preference, but I think that's a long shot. AND I wouldn't want my name on much of anything that's likely to come from this next Senate. It's going to be ugly and whoever gets the top spot is going to have to make some truly awful compromises. Compromise isn't ALWAYS a bad word, but we're not talking Chess. These compromises will likely require huge affronts to principle. No thanks!

That said, Wagle and Longbine are angling for the same constituency-- mostly, so-called mods. (I think Wagle will have the votes of some conservatives.) And Wagle and Masterson are from the same geographic area, which may prove further problematic for Wagle. I wish there was a Johnson County alternative, preferably a conservative one. I have some thoughts, but I'll spare them. Word on the street is that Sen. Jim Denning will run for Senate Majority Leader, so Johnson County will have someone in Senate leadership. I don't know that he has a challenger. 

I'm not sure why anyone would want the job of Senate President this year--other than a so-called moderate bent on ripping hundreds more dollars per year out of the wallets of Kansans like me. I think Wagle wants the gig, because she hopes to use it as a spring board to bigger things. Word on the street is that she wants Congressman Mike Pompeo's job. I have no idea what motivated Masterson to seek the Senate Presidency. 

If we can't have a conservative in that job, I'd prefer someone who doesn't have higher political aspirations in that gig. But I don't have a vote, and neither do most of you, readers. The Senate selects its own leadership in secret ballot. Gross.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Will Mods Formally Caucus with Dems?

There's a tiny squabble on Twitter between the so-called Moderate trolls and the Democrat trolls, who at least have the integrity to call themselves what they are: Democrats.

Dems--all 5 or so of them--are attempting to paint the so-called moderates as Brownback allies. In Troll land, the Dems are saying things like this:

This raises an interesting squestion: Should Brownback reach out to the so-called mods? Should he show up at their events and allow himself to be photographed with them--as MUCH as possible?

There's a reasonable side of me says this should happen anyway. Brownback should be building bridges and making friends. I mean, it's the right thing to do, especially since he's going to have to work with them.

And the diabolical side says showing up and assisting is a GREAT way to help them off the bridge. Allow staffers in Brownbacker t-shirts to campaign for so-called mods at unaffiliated doors, get lots of photographs of Brownback with the so-called mods. And in the meantime, it looks as if the Governor is just doing his best to get along.

I'm kidding. Kind of. There are two schools of thought on this upcoming election:

1. Help elect the so-called moderates and attempt to work with them. The idea is not sending all conservatives into the political wilderness by reaching compromises and by finding common ground.

I have trouble taking this tact. I'm all for working with people who take a few steps in my direction, and I'll even make the first move. However, I need the other side to take one towards me in return. The so-called mods don't seem interested at all in finding common ground. Collectively, they were vile and vicious on election night, and I don't think it's too much to ask anyone to act with humility, grace, and manners.

On a personal level, it really feels like these efforts to work together are how conservatives continually give up ground. We take those first hesitant steps, and the favor is never returned. We just move ourselves one step closer to the steam roller. 

2. Allow the so-called moderates to get run over by the Democrats. 

I haven't seen the numbers yet, but I firmly believe this Republican primary electorate was far different than the electorate that turned up to vote in 2012 and 2014. I suspect a lot of those new primary voters were Democrats who switched parties just so they could vote in the Republican primary. I suspect they'll vote for the Democrat in the general. There were enough of those voters to swing a primary, but it will be interesting if they have the numbers to swing a general. (They just might, because our top of ticket. Ugh. I guess the good news is their top of ticket is also pretty atrocious.)

So, the question is: Which is more desirable? Being in the wilderness for a few years or helping the Democrats achieve their agenda by playing nice? 

Here's the really tragic thing: For the so-called mods to keep their promises they campaigned on this summer, they'll need to raise billions in taxes. That's with a 'B.' These are plans that will ultimately fail. You can't tax and spend your way to prosperity. If you want to see what that attempt looks like, let me offer you a lovely trip to Venezuela. 

If conservatives assist in those plans through compromise or if the Governor doesn't veto those plans, when they fail --and they will eventually-- conservatives will be tagged with the blame. 

So choose carefully between assisting the so-called mods. There's more at stake than the next few years.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Star's Wishful Thinking

Could Super-Red Kansas Elect a Democrat to Congress? The Star asks in a headline last week. 

The answer is no. 

A tighter race makes for more interesting political coverage, but the race between Congressman Kevin Yoder and some Democrat the Teamsters found collecting union money in Mission Hills isn't close. It's a Katie Ledecky 11 seconds swimming way out front heading to a world record race. Yoder is swimming alone way ahead of the pack.

The Star trots out a political scientist from the University of Virginia Center of Politics, Larry Sabato, who says that the Kansas 3rd District has moved from "safe Republican" to "likely Republican." Sabato moved Yoder's race due to the unpopularity of Donald Trump and Sam Brownback. Clearly the Democrat strategy in all Kansas races is "At Least Our Guy Isn't Sam Brownback." No policy debates. 

Yoder's opponent, Jay Sidie, was literally plucked out of a cocktail party by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Sidie has raised virtually no money -- only $113,000 at last report, in contrast to Yoder's large war chest. The Star calls Yoder's $2 million in funds an advantage of incumbency. It's true, but... really? If Sidie was at all serious about his race, wouldn't he be out fundraising? Some primary challengers in much smaller Statehouse races came close to raising what Sidie has raised so far.

Here's what's really going on: The Dems are attempting to make it appear to its donor class as if there's a chance they may pick up enough seats, 30, to take back control of the House, and  hand the House Speaker keys back to Nancy Pelosi.

No matter how much Kansans may dislike Trump or the Governor, the vast majority of Kansans would probably prefer losing a limb to allowing Pelosi to drive the USS House into an iceberg.

Meanwhile, the Star's quest for an interesting race completely ignores the fact that the 3rd District, though blue for many years, is a different district than it was when Congressman Dennis Moore overstayed his Washington welcome. The lines have been redrawn, and the people of Kansas have moved considerably further right. 

Sidie's hopes rest on the DCCC pouring money into the 3rd District. Anyone with fiscal sense should recognize throwing money into this district in support of a candidate who has almost no qualifications for the Congressional job he seeks is about as reasonable as tossing money into the toilet. (Although this seems to be a common theme with Democrats: Just spend more of other people's money!)

Yoder is way ahead in this race, but don't just take my word for it. The headline is even more laughable considering a Public Opinion Strategies Poll from last week showing Yoder ahead by 17 points. Yoder is above 50 percent in the poll, 53 percent to 36 percent. 

The Star and Larry Sabato are selling a fallacy, but no one with any smarts is buying.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Poll of Judges, Lawyers Shows Deep, Disgusting Bias

It takes an awful lot to surprise me, but I'm genuinely surprised at the depravity exercised by Kansas judges and lawyers in a recent poll. It's simply revolting.

A poll of 11,000 judges and lawyers revealed massive support for four Kansas Supreme Court Justices and limited support for Supreme Court Justice. Now, I'm not all that surprised that a bunch of lawyers and judges think that Supreme Court Justices Lawton Nuss, Marla Luckert, carol Beier, and Dan Biles should be retained. I disagree. They should be fired by the people as our system, so carefully rigged, allows. However, my desire to can these justices is based on some of their baffling and unconstitutional opinions. The Kansas Supreme Court has been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court more than any other state Supreme Court. And it's typically not in partisan fashion. Even the liberals beloved RBG--Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg-- joins many an opinion slapping down the crazy Kansas Supreme Court. 

Still, I'm not surprised that 74 percent of the judges and lawyers polled are in favor of their retention. I'm stunned, however, that only 39 percent of those polled think Caleb Stegall should be retained.

Let's talk about Caleb Stegall, shall we? Stegall was appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback less than two years ago. In that time, he's recused himself from the most contentious case--the school funding cases--because he's an honorable man. Stegall once served as legal counsel to the Governor, and so he recused himself. Meanwhile, Dan Biles, who was once legal counsel for the Kansas Association of School Boards, has never--not even once-- in years on the bench (and school funding cases have been before the board constantly for the last 40 years) ever recused himself from a school funding case.

Judges and lawyers are supposedly above reproach, we're told. And Supreme Court Justices are legal scholars--uninterested in playing politics.

I call B.S. There is simply no other way to parse the results of the poll of supposedly nonpartisan judges and lawyers. Stegall has barely had a chance to hear any cases as a Kansas Supreme Court judge. He's done nothing partisan in his role as a judge, and in fact, in the times when he could have behaved as a partisan hack (see Dan Biles) Stegall stepped aside. 

This is one of the many reasons it's so infuriating that our Supreme Court judicial selection committee allows a group of lawyers selected by secret committee to essentially choose a list of potential candidates for the Governor to appoint. According to liberals and their media handmaidens, this is to keep politics out of judicial selection. Gosh, that sounds nice, doesn't it? The problem is that's not how it works. That's not how any of this works!

We're supposed to just pretend that these super secret backroom dealers--all lawyers--are somehow choosing candidates based solely on merit. It's such a joke. If liberals are so bent on keeping this baffling system of selection, they should own it and be honest about their motivations.

But integrity is a quality that appears to be reserved solely for conservatives. (See Caleb Stegall). #KeepCaleb While blatant partisanship wrapped in self-righteousness appears to be a quality reserved for the left. (See Dan Biles.)