Monday, November 16, 2015

Attack of the so-called mods

The good news is most of the so-called mods are running as Democrats, appropriately.

The bad news is all for them: They're going to lose and lose in ways that make even the staunchest of conservatives uncomfortable.

The KC Star reported this week that several political newcomers will be challenging conservatives in Johnson County for seats in the Kansas Legislature. Let the clown show commence.

  • Leesa Gabel, so called mod Republican, will attempt to oust Rep. Keith Esau.

  • Vicki Hiatte, accurately campaigning as a Dem,  will vie for Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook's seat.

  • Dinah Sykes, so called mod, will attempt to unseat Sen. Greg Smith.
  • Cindy Holscher, Dem, will take on Rep. Amanda Grosserode.
I know of a few other so-called moderates and Johnson County Dems also planning to take a stab at defeating conservative office holders. 

What do all of these candidates have in common -- other than a stunning lack of political experience? They plan to campaign on the fact that Johnson County schools are destitute. 

Yeah. That's the ticket.

It's almost like a bunch of candidates tried that just last election cycle. I won't bore you with how it turned out, but, um... you should note the very limited number of moderates and Democrats who hold office in Kansas. 

As one very wise Democratic operative put it in a post, "How the Kansas Democratic Party Drove Itself to Near Extinction" on the DailyKos: Johnson County parents weren't going to believe the argument that education was suffering when their kids "were coming home with free technology."

The Kansas liberals just can't get it through their thick skulls: Kansas is a conservative state. The sad part is their ineptitude is not creating a big enough challenge for conservatives. Competition is good, but Kansas conservatives don't really have any.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It wasn't your ovaries, Nancy. It was your last name

I’ll just say it: I am NOT a fan of Nancy Kassebaum.

Kassebaum, mainstream media gushes, was the second woman elected to the U.S. Senate by her own right, “not preceded by a husband or appointed to fulfill an unexpired term.”

She was elected to the Senate largely on name recognition. She wasn’t preceded by her husband, but her father, Alf Landon, was a wealthy oilman and former Kansas Governor AND a Republican presidential candidate in 1936.  She didn’t run for the Senate as “Nancy Kassebaum.” She ran as “Nancy Landon Kassebaum.” Her campaign slogan was “A Fresh Face: A Trusted Kansas Name.” So, yeah, she totally ran and found success on her own merit. (And if you buy that story, let me tell you about this ocean front property in Johnson County, available for a song.)

Can we please stop pretending she was elected to the Senate by plucky hard work and a winning attitude? Seriously, just stop it, Wichita Eagle. Yes, the Eagle has an exclusive story about Kansas’ Political Female Has Been of Record. (The male version is Bob Dole.)

She says, correctly, that if she were to run today she wouldn’t make it past a Kansas primary. Of course, she blames social media. Newsflash, Nance: You’re out of touch – not just in Kansas, but out of touch overall. And it ISN’T because of the Facebook and the Internets. It’s because the people of Kansas gave you 18 years in the U.S. Senate – 18 years to improve, to lead, to meet meaningful challenges – and you used that time to explode the debt, creating a federal culture rich in regulation and overspending. Gross.

She supports gun control measures, Medicaid expansion and criticizes Brownback initiatives to lower taxes. And then there’s her monstrous belief that babies don’t have an intrinsic right to life. Of course she wouldn’t make it out of a Kansas primary, and that loss would actually be based on her merit.

We should absolutely seek the counsel and advice of our elders. We should value their experience, but we don’t have to kiss a ring or pretend Nancy Kassebaum has some sort of magical legacy. She’s free to regale us with tales of her wisdom, but we should take much of her tale with a grain of salt. She’s no saint. (Actually, I’d call her a bit of a back stabber.) And for the love of all that is holy, let’s stop pretending she broke some mythical glass ceiling for women. Her daddy broke the ceiling just enough for her to work her way through. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

How to get appointed to Brownback's cabinet

A good resume helps, but most importantly, one must have ties to a certain Topeka church or Benedictine College or be a personal friend of Kim Borchers -- or live in her basement.

Brownback has found a new Commerce Secretary.  After a careful search(ish), Brownback will nominate Antonio J. Soave to replace former Commerce Secretary Pat George. The Kansas Senate must confirm Soave. Assuming he doesn't withdraw like the last guy, he should take over at Commerce in December.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Yowsers! Borchers, Basement dwellers, Budget Directors and Loyalty

So, there's a showdown about to go down in T-town. The Topeka Capitol Journal has finally pulled its head out of its collective behind long enough to inquire exactly why Gov. Sam Brownback has SUCH trouble keeping cabinet members. Actually, it's a series of stories in which a reporter attempts to play psychologist. Shorman probably shouldn't quit his day job.

Unfortunately, the Cap-J barely scratches the surface on the reasons, but I suspect those reasons are about to come screaming to the surface. I'll simply say this: in the article, the only person who comes close to full admission of the slow moving train wreck that is Gov. Brownback's cabinet, is a Democrat. 

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said past internal conflict among administration officials could be explained by Kim Borchers. Borchers is currently the deputy chief of staff but for much of the administration served as appointments director.
Ding! Ding! We have a winner. The article makes mention of former cabinet member Rob Siedlicki and Karin Brownlee being summarily given the boot. You can find my take here and here

My take goes something like this: When you board the Brownback train, you sit in your seat and keep your mouth shut. You do not attempt to help read the map or offer suggestions for more direct routes. This is, perhaps, a character flaw in our ambitious Governor. I suspect he likes to be surrounded by 'yes' men and women rather than trusting the judgment of those around him. 

That's what I wrote then. I think I got a small part of that wrong. Gov. Brownback absolutely, with no questions asked, trusts Borchers. If Borchers likes you, you get a seat at the table. In return, you agree to attend Borchers' church and you agree to shut your mouth when and if you disagree with her assessment of anything.

This, by the way, is how we end up with inexperienced youngsters -- one who LIVES with Borchers -- serving as the Governor's deputy communications director. 

Since the dawn of the Brownback Administration, Borchers has served as transition coordinator, appointments coordinator and now, deputy chief of staff.

Steve Anderson, a former Brownback budget director, speaking of the former chief of staff, Dennis Taylor, described it this way in a Facebook post:

"I soon learned that if you were a member of the close circle of friends and campaign volunteers incompetence was overlooked and often rewarded," Anderson wrote.  

I'll be honest: Brownback's unquestioning faith in Borchers, and apparently, Taylor, makes me question some things. Clearly, Borchers has been a major supporter and campaigner for Brownback since the beginning of his political career. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with forming loyalty and friendships in those situations. But it's weird -- really, really weird -- that Brownback seems to take her advice and counsel above and beyond almost anyone elses'. 

There, I said it. I do not mean to imply anything immoral or untoward, but his behavior where Borchers is concerned -- trusting her beyond people with absolute expertise, people he himself appointed for their specific skills -- is not normal human behavior. 

Borchers' experience, other than as a frequent Brownback campaigner, is almost a dozen years as a district manager for a pharmaceutical company. I do not know how that translates into a hiring or appointment expert. But then, this is how we do things. Campaign for the right person, find yourself the lead executive of a state department. Sigh.

It's no big surprise in T-town that Brownback is having trouble finding a Secretary of Commerce.  Anyone with a lick of sense knows it's unwise to trust your professional future to the whims of Friends of Brownback (FOBs).

So the Cap-J series sparked some Facebook tell-all. Well, almost tell-all. I am waiting with baited breath for the rest of it.

Anderson took to his Facebook page after reading one article. In one article, "The Inner Circle," former secretary of administration, Dennis Taylor (FOB), throws Anderson under the bus.

Anderson, for what it's worth, is one of the few former Brownback staffers who actually has professional experience in the area in which they "administrated." Anderson is a CPA.

Taylor says Anderson proposed a budget plan that would have required cutting 2,000 state staffers.

On his Facebook page, Anderson essentially said, um, no. That's not what happened. In his post, Anderson said the plan he presented would have sustained the tax cut without cutting state worker staff.

"I am going to release the document that was given to the Chief of Staff (then, Taylor) and Governor in 2012 after the tax cut passed," Anderson writes. "It includes all the changes needed to sustain the tax cut which did NOT include firing anyone by the way. The Governor at least did me the courtesy of reading it and returning it with a few comments where as the Chief of Staff never commented after tossing the five page document on his desk when it was handed to him."

Anderson writes that Taylor helped hang two fine public servants -- Siedlicki and Brownlee -- out to dry "while Taylor continued to make work misery for his employees while coasting to a retirement paid for by the citizens of Kansas."

That enough, Anderson wrote, would not be enough for him to break his silence on the Brownback administration mess, except "It is clear that this administration intends to raise taxes on citizens in order to cover their lack of management skills in the next session."

That "lack of management skills" is trusting your friends over experts in the field. I guess you can call it a fault of loyalty, if you're a glass half full kind of person.  

But it appears Brownback's loyalty may cost small businesses and Kansans. I've long been upset about how the Kansas Legislature and the Brownback Administraion handled Brownback's plan to eliminate Kansas income taxes. (Remember that slide down the income tax scale to zero? We're still waiting, and it looks like we're going to just have to keep waiting.)

I long said spending cuts should have been made BEFORE lowering income taxes. Of course, that would have required the possibility of upsetting someone. So budget cuts never happened. In fact, many departments got to spend even more. (This is rarely if ever reported. We're just supposed to go on believing FOREVER that the sky is falling. Children are suffering. Old people are being tossed off cliffs, etc., etc.)

Anderson writes that he had a plan to make the tax cut work for the long term. The former budget director says he intends to release a document that he gave to Chief of Staff Taylor and the Governor in 2012 -- the year the tax passed.

"It includes all the changes needed to sustain the tax cut which did NOT include firing anyone by the way," Anderson wrote" The Governor at least did me the courtesy of reading it and returning it with a few comments whereas the Chief of Staff never commented after tossing the five page document on his desk when it was handed to him."

Wise, educated readers of this blog, you're going to have to choose which side of the story you believe. I, for one, am inclined to buy what Anderson is selling. I would be remiss, though, if I didn't mention that Siedlicki commented on Anderson's post: "I spoke highly of my time in the administration. Shame not everyone did..."

So Siedlicki, who also made kind remarks in the Cap J story isn't saying that Anderson is wrong, just that he isn't loyal to his friends, I suppose.

Here's the thing about loyalty: If your friends require absolute fealty to their opinions with no room for disagreement, they aren't really your friends. This is a lesson our Governor should heed. You should be able to count on your friends to tell you the truth, even when it hurts. And if you find yourself firing people because Taylor and Borchers don't have thick enough skin to handle a debate, maybe Taylor and Borchers aren't actually your friends.

This story has legs friends. Stay tuned. Anderson has yet to release his documents verifying his statements, however I suspect those are forthcoming. Meanwhile, Taylor is sitting pretty at the Kansas Lottery, prepared to eventually collect a full pension from the state of Kansas. And members of the Kansas Legislature are quaking in fear about how they're going to fill anticipated budget shortfalls.

One hot mess coming right up.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Uh. Wut, Johnson County?

Johnson County is doing something really weird.

The county is hosting a free Cyber Security Conference and Expo on Oct. 6, because it's Cyber Safety Month or something.

According to a press release, this is an "annual" event. I'm kind of confused. I'm fairly tuned in to these sorts of things, and I've never heard of the annual Cyber Security Conference and Expo, and I'm baffled at how teaching "the public about staying safe in Cyberspace," as the press release suggests, is the government's job or interest. 

The expo will feature Steve Seigler, the deputy chief information officer for operations for Missouri and Gene Turner. Turner is a certified identity theft risk management specialist who "mixes in some sleight of hand tricks and comedy with his expertise." I'm tempted to go see Turner's presentation, because that sounds hilarious, in a ridiculous way.

Usually, when a government does something like this -- hosts some weird group for some strange purpose -- there's a point. Usually the point is a quiet initiative to spend more taxpayer money on something in the future. For example, a sudden health expo that focuses on exercise will morph into a "need" for more county funded trails or parks. But this cyberspace thing? I am completely lost.

What am I missing? 

Anyway, if you're so inclined the big event is 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the county administration building in Olathe. Free registration includes breakfast and lunch, so it may be worth a day just for the free food.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Backbones vs jelly spines

Good news. John Boehner is leaving Congress. 

This is kind of epic for Kansas' Congressional delegation. Shortly after Boehner announced that he will be stepping down and out, Rep. Tim Huelskamp tweeted that the establishment lost. There's no love lost between Kansas' plucky Huelskamp and the Orange One. Huelskamp was removed from committee assignments for not kissing Boehner's ring. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Lynn Jenkins is a member of House leadership. For reasons I'll never understand, she repeatedly allows herself to be photographed next to Boehner. She gave a very warm statement about how Boehner's meteoric rise from son of a bar owner to Congress is apple pie -- or some similar nonsense. (I think it unwise to even hint about booze and Boehner in the same sentence, but that's how Jenkins wished him farewell.) 

In typical Kevin Yoder fashion, he crafted a statement that said less than nothing. Yoder: Boehner is leaving. Congress still exists. Thank you for your time.

Rep. Mike Pompeo's statement was wiser, I think. He at least attempted to put a tiny bit of distance between himself the BIGGEST CRYBABY IN WASHINGTON. 

"While the Speaker and I sometimes disagreed on tactics, no one can question his commitment to making America a better place. I thank him for his service to our country, and I wish him all the best in the future.”

Honestly, the best response to the news that Boehner is leaving was probably not saying anything at all. So, way to go Yoder. Your statement was pretty close to that. Nice work.

The race for a new speaker begins now, just as Congress is AIR QUOTE "working" to avoid a government shutdown. (wink.) I can't even fathom what kind of wrench this throws into that mess, but I have a feeling Boehner's sudden move at this intense time was a little back stabby. 

I have no kind words for alcoholics, men (or women, really) who cry constantly, or people who "grow" in office. Boehner is the trifecta.

The people who will vote on Boehner's replacement are Republican members of the House. I do not think much of their collective integrity, wits, thoughtfulness, logic, loyalty, patriotism, sanity, logic, etc. I don't trust any solution that group of half wits comes up with.

They say the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. And yet, I am going to celebrate Boehner's departure, anyway. I will be watching our Kansas delegations' tea leaves. I sincerely hope our fearsome foursome votes for the most conservative, principled replacement. Jury is still out who that may be.

P.S. Sens. Moran and Roberts, please work on ridding us of that other pox on our nation, Mitch McConnell. 

P.P.S. Former Sen. Bob Dole said some stuff about it, too. My head is exploding. 

It's like Dole has something against grace and maturity. Also, he apparently thinks we, the little people, want or need his input. The hubris. Stuff a sock in it, already. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Democrat Playbook. Sigh.

Democrats have a playbook with two cards in it -- the race card and the War on Women card. Why aren't they sick of those cards? And why can't they ever, ever give others the benefit of the doubt? Seriously, who has the time to go around offended at EVERYTHING anyone says and to assume the absolute worst in every perceived look or comment?

So, the Kansas Democrat Executive Director, Kerry Gooch, took the opportunity to tweet things that offended him at the Kansas State Fair. Because you know who hangs out at the Kansas State Fair -- hillbillies! Racists! Dehumanizing cow pluggers!

One person said to him: "You speak well for a colored person." 

Tacky and tasteless, but I am almost certain the (probably ancient) person who said it was attempting to compliment Gooch. Was it politically correct? Of course not, but the other party of the conversation was making an attempt. Dear Kerry, if you want to make a difference, you sometimes have to take steps toward the other person. 

I'm not blaming you, Kerry. It took me years, YEARS, to learn this lesson, and I regularly fail at it by assuming the worst when I should give the other person the chance to do better. Educate. Don't belittle. Kerry had that opportunity and he failed at the state fair.

That poor, likely just misunderstood, fairgoer now has every excuse in the world to avoid speaking to another black person. What's the point if anything he(she?) says can be misconstrued as evil and racist. I recognize the embarrassingly wrong thing that person said, but this sounds like a person making an effort. Not someone trying to belittle or demean. Gooch's response was to belittle and embarrass and bemoan on Twitter. He said it was to educate the masses that we still have work to do. Well, Gooch was presented with an opportunity to educate one person. Instead, he chose to make that one person look bad publicly and in the process somehow cast that one person's questionable mindset on the whole of Kansas.

And then someone asked Gooch, why does Obama hate white people so much? Stupid question, of course, but not necessarily racist, anymore than someone asking why does Ben Carson hate Muslims so much. Whether it was racist depends completely on whether the statement was based on the color of Obama's skin or his policies. 

In my mind, a better question would be: Why does Obama hate blacks so much? That's not based on racism. That's based on statistics from the Census Bureau. Like this:

• The poverty rate among American blacks has increased sharply during Obama's time in office, from 12 percent in 2008 to 16.1 percent in 2014.

• Median income for American blacks dropped 10.9 percent in black households. (It only dropped 3.6 percent in white households).

• In education, blacks are falling further behind their white counterparts under Obama's leadership. The average gap in fourth-grade math scores increased by 40 points!! since Obama took office.

Kerry had the opportunity to touch individual hearts and minds at the Kansas State Fair. Instead, he opted to rub peoples' noses in it. 

It's a disappointing choice -- not just because that seems to be ALL the Democrats do -- but also, because I want Kansas and Kansans to be the best they can be. Some of those people may have benefited from a heart-to-heart with Gooch. But he chose to flash it all over Twitter and therefore Kansas newspapers, painting my beloved Live and Let Live State as a racist corner of the world. Some of Gooch's reaction was likely based on youth as much as his political affiliation. Here's hoping he's wiser next time.