Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Discouraging Word, like every single day

Yesterday, I asked, why even bother electing Republicans?

Today, I'd like to double down on that sentiment. Why bother electing ANYONE to the Kansas Legislature when we've got a state Supreme Court bursting at the seams to do the legislating?

I would like to reiterate, once more, for the permanent record, that I think these activist Justices are horrible, power hungry, awful people.

The Court's billionth foray into politics decision isn't out in the Gannon case yet, but I don't need it to know how they'll rule. It's so interesting political that the Court waited until budget time to release its decision. 


Whatever.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Legalize Gidget Slapping People Today!

Republicans in the Kansas Legislature are obviously not serious at all about conservative principles and ideals. I am so incredibly frustrated by what’s been transpiring in Topeka. I have half a mind to drive up there and start slapping people. (But like an actual good conservative, I value the rule of law and freedom, meaning I don’t want to go to jail for violating some outdated law that makes it illegal to slap people with whom Gidget disagrees –I think there’s a strong case for legalizing Gidget slaps, but I digress.)

Legalize Gidget Slapping People Today!


Sigh.

In theory, Republicans support eliminating unnecessary spending and cutting the budget. The key words in that sentence are “in theory.” In reality, Kansas has a lot of sacred cows, and perhaps none is more sacred than propping up bloated public school administrations.  

Supposedly conservative legislators, specifically in the supposedly more conservative Kansas Senate, helped stick a fork in a bill that would have consolidated Kansas schools. I get it. Truly, I do that consolidating schools is gut-wrenching, unpopular work. But it is sooo necessary, and I am not just saying that because I hail from the populated Johnson County. I am saying that because math. Even public school students should be able to do the math required to draw the conclusion that taxpayers are spending buckets and buckets of hard-to-come-by cash on school administrators. It’s ridiculous. It’s out of control. Kansas spends more than 50 percent of its budget on schools, the feds kick in additional money, and it’s not improving our schools. Most of the money isn’t going to classrooms. Instead, it’s lining the pockets of administrators.

There are 286 school districts in Kansas—each with its own set of expensive superintendents and administrative staff. John Bradford’s completely reasonable bill would have created countywide school districts in several of Kansas’ less populous counties. For example, Harvey County’s four small districts would likely merge with Newton schools for a district of about 6,000 students. This bill did not suggest closing any school buildings. Merging districts may also provide the students of smaller districts access to things they currently do not have. For example, a larger district comprised of smaller ones IN THE SAME COUNTY could hire one Spanish teacher who travels between the schools to teach Spanish (or insert other specialized training). The teacher travels, not the students.

The last time the Kansas Legislature imposed school consolidation, 1965, they created the Olathe School District from five school districts. That year, the newly-minted Olathe School District No. 233 had an enrollment of 3,687 students. Today, there are 29,567 students. What I’m saying is, everyone continued to receive an education. Smaller schools continued to exist within the behemoth Olathe School District.  Savings were realized then and would be again.

But rural Kansans sobbed big, fat baby tears and supposedly conservative legislators surrendered like the French army in the face of mild German aggression. It’s embarrassing. Before the bill even had a hearing, Sen. Jake LaTurner, Pittsburg, and Sen. Garrett Love, Montezuma, took to their Facebook pages lamenting the bill. These are Republicans who both say their key concerns in Kansas are out-of-control spending and a high tax burden. That’s what’s passing for conservative in the Statehouse this session – saying you support less spending and lower taxes—while going out of your way to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Republicans surrendering like the French Army in the face of mild German aggression.

Supposed conservatives also threw tiny temper tantrums at the mere suggestion that quite possibly, just maybe, we should quit incentivizing additional funding for the gifted program. I have a lot of problems with the way children are labeled repeatedly in public schools, especially when there is financial incentive to label children. Newsflash: There’s a YUUUGE financial incentive to label kids “special.”



I don’t like a one-size-fits-all approach to education, but I think I like even less bureaucrats labeling children. I have a real, real moral problem with it. Expectations matter, and if one kid gets a better education because he or she is “gifted,” if I am paying for all of it whether I want to or not, my unlabeled kid should have access to it too. This isn’t purely a fiscal issue, although the incentive for labeling school children rankles. It’s a moral issue, too. If we’re going to have one-size-fits-all education, count me among the all or nothing crowd.

Education is always a giant fly in the political Kansas ointment. So I generally anticipate conservative legislators going off the rails a bit where education is concerned. As a general rule, they have the backbones of jellyfish. Unfortunately, in matters outside of education, this year legislators are going full-on Bernie. (OK. That’s not exactly fair, but they’re making large strides in Bernie’s direction in a lot of areas.

I give you the soon-to-be law sun tanning bill. Tanning beds, you see, are BAD FOR YOU. So we desperately need big, bad government to step in and save people from themselves through regulation of private business. I know, you thought Republicans were opposed to over regulation, but nope. You’re wrong in that assumption. They’re opposed to it right up until someone cries in a committee hearing.



Skin cancer survivors, and former teen sun bed users, gave emotional testimony. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used a tanning bed so the big tanning controversy means absolutely nothing to me personally. That said, we should either make tanning in a sunbed illegal OR require parental consent for minors to tan. The current bill, which is likely to pass, would make it illegal for people under the age of 18 to use tanning beds. If tanning is legal, parents should make the decision – not 165 people in Topeka. That’s the conservative position, which, it appears almost no one save for Brett Hildebrand is taking.

Finally and most disturbingly and importantly, a bunch of supposed Republicans jumped ship to oppose a change to the way Kansas Supreme Court justices are appointed. The proposed constitutional amendment needed a two-thirds majority. It failed in the House, 69 people voted appropriately. I take serious umbrage with the idea that the current “merit selection” committee is nonpartisan. That sentiment deserves its own laugh track. The legislation, which would have gone before voters, would have given Kansas a federal model appointment system in which the Governor offered a nomination to the Senate for approval. Apparently the way the U.S. has been appointing federal judges is backwards and ridiculous and stupid. Kansas allows a batch of attorneys to make appointments to the bench. I don’t even… Please people, there’s a reason there’s an entire genre of jokes dedicated to ways to drown, maim and otherwise injure attorneys. Shockingly, a bunch of lawyers who get the high privilege of nominating people to the bench think it’s a great idea for them to retain all of the power. What I don’t understand is why so many Republicans went along.

Why do we bother?
At this point, I can’t figure out why we even bother electing Republicans or conservatives at any level of government. Someone please explain the point, because I am losing it.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Captain Obvious

I think this pathetic excuse for a news story is supposed to be some sort of "gotcha." It's ridiculous.

The Capital-Journal asked Gov. Brownback if he wanted to walk back some statements about Planned Parenthood and its disturbing propensity to laugh about baby body parts over salads and wine on hidden video.

To the absolute shock of surely no one, Gov. Brownback basically said yeah, I stand by what I said, despite the fact that in a political move the filmmakers were indicted for using fake drivers licenses. 

To hear the pro choice people talk, you'd think the filmmakers were absolutely discredited. Um. No. I think everyone who saw the videos understood that the filmmakers weren't using their real names.

What slays me, however, is that a reporter had the audacity to ask basically ask Brownback if he stood by being pro-life. I don't even. 

So ridiculous. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ronnie Metsker appointed JoCo Election Commissioner

Ronnie Metsker, chair of the Johnson County Republican Party, will now serve as the Johnson County Election Commissioner.

The role of election commissioner is appointed by the Secretary of State. I am not sure about this choice, but I was a pretty big Brian Newby fan, and I have trouble imaging Metsker coming anywhere close to filling Newby's shoes. (Newby is now the director of an election commissioner association -- too lazy to look up detaild -- in Washington, D.C.) 

The press release about Metsker's appointment doesn't make mention of his role in the Johnson County Republican Party. I think that's kind of weird, since the release does make mention of other civic and leadership positions. 

I am not sure what this means for the JoCo Republican Party. Can he remain chair and work as election commissioner? Probably not, but I don't know, and still, too lazy to work the Google machine to find out.

I have to assume it means -- either for legal reasons or appearances -- that this means Metsker will not be JCRP chair much longer. It will be interesting to see who replaces him. (I have some thoughts on who I'd like to see in the role. Will share at some point soon.)

Retreat to your safe spaces, KFL fans

I don't like doing what I'm about to do. (I'm probably not going to lose any sleep over it, but it's not my preference.)

Once again, Kansas for Life, a once great organization dedicated to saving babies has revealed its true face. (It's a face that looks an awful lot like a charlatan.) I've written about KFL before. You can find it here. Essentially, this is a very powerful organization that has put gaining and retaining power over principle. It's a shame.

Yesterday, KFL sent some blast emails asking advocates to contact a targeted list of legislators and urge them to support legislation that will change the way Kansas appoints State Supreme Court Judges. There's good reason to change -- Kansas is the only state in which a majority of the judicial nominating commission is composed of members of the bar. This process basically gives "the people" little to no say in who sits on Kansas' highest bench. 
And the bench does make a lot of decisions -- it's almost like they're making laws -- that stick forks in the backs of babies' heads. So, it makes sense for KFL to be involved and concerned about this issue.

However, KFL managed to target at least one lawmaker with a 100 percent rating from KFL itself, Rep. Erin Davis. The email asked people to contact Davis and urge her to support House Concurrent Resolution 5005, changing the judicial nomination process to the federal model. (Governor nominates. Senate confirms or rejects.) Asking legislators to support the issue is A-OK. However, KFL went too far. The email ends with this nugget:

"Your Representative has been unreliable in defending life and is not trustworthy."

Yep. KFL sent that email about a legislator that they give a 100 percent pro-life rating. I don't have words for the depth of my disgust. 

I take specific issue with the use of the word "untrustworthy." Those are strong words, especially for someone who as far as I know has never stabbed KFL in the back.

KFL did eventually send its followers an apology about targeting Davis. 

"The first email alert with respect to Rep. Erin Davis was in error. We apologize to you and to Rep. Davis. She is a strong pro-life Representative and has a perfect pro-life voting record."

I'll be honest. I'm a cynic, and I don't trust KFL or its leaders. This isn't a small thing. It could damage a pro-life legislator in irrevocable ways, because unfortunately, KFL remains a powerful force in Kansas politics. KFL's poorly timed email campaign could damage the reelection efforts of one of its advocates.

Meanwhile, I imagine Rep. Davis had to spend a healthy portion of her day responding to irate constituents and trying to unscrew KFL's mess rather than advocating for life, reading legislation, etc.

Please, if you are one who takes KFL's word for it, if you are a voter who takes KFL's endorsements at face value, stop it. Do your own research on life issues and candidates. KFL can't be trusted.



Thursday, January 28, 2016

Watch Your Words, KS GOP -- looking at you, Wagle.

The dumb is so strong it hurts.

Somehow, in this universe – not a universe far, far away – Kansas Republicans are saying that we must stop “robbing” the Kansas Department of Transportation to balance the budget.

As it stands, KDOT has transferred about $1.39 billion from its ample coffers to the state general fund. Cue the obligatory screaming and gnashing of liberal teeth.
In an effort to save money, the state also merged KDOT with the Kansas Turnpike Authority. (Saving money! What a novel idea!)

In December, Senate President Susan Wagle, Republican,  told a Wichita gathering that she supported the merging of the two groups, but said transfers from KDOT to the general fund need to stop.

“I think all that extra money – I’m glad we merged the two facilities. It has brought economy to the system, but we can’t keep, in the future, robbing from KDOT, because we will deplete those funds,” she said.

Explaining the simplest concepts is exhausting, but apparently, someone must. So here goes:

First, it’s not “robbing” KDOT. I realize this is a really confusing and difficult thing for lawmakers, pundits, and Kansas City Star reporters to understand, but the money KDOT has in its fund – it doesn’t belong to KDOT. KDOT didn’t earn that giant pot of money through its sweat and tears and ingenuity. Every cent KDOT has was absconded from Kansas citizens via taxation and fees.  

Rightfully, that money belongs to the people of Kansas, who elect members of the legislature, who get to determine how the citizens’ money is spent.

Moving from KDOT to the general fund is essentially taking money out of the left pocket and moving it to the right.

Watch your words, GOP legislators. This KDOT “robbing” is a political wedge issue that the Democrats are going to try beat you with using the all-too-willing crayons of reporters.

It’s fine for Wagle or any other Republican to say the budget needs to be balanced, and we need a budget that works – i.e., money goes where it’s needed in the first place, rather than making a pit stop in the KDOT fund. It’s not acceptable to use words like “robbing.”


This helpful tip brought to you by Gidget. You’re welcome.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Seriously, bow out Bob.

I'm just going to leave this here:

Bob Dole thinks Ted Cruz is "too fringe," he tells the New York Times (of all places). I swear the NYT must have a reporter stationed outside his bedroom door to give Dole every possible opportunity to stick a rusty knife in the back of the grassroots.

What teeny, tiny ounce of respect I once had for Dole has vaporized. It's dust in the wind, baby. You can do a Google search and see why. I am not a fan of the tax collector for the welfare state.

Dole is 92 and constantly making desperate attempts to remain relevant. Dear Kansans, stop allowing it. (If I thought the NYT would hear my request, I'd ask the same of it.)