Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kansas Dems on life support


 The Pitch Weekly attempted to diagnose the Dem problems in its Washington Days coverage. I don't think the Washington Days Dem party was much fun this year. (Losing usually isn't.)

Dennis McKinney, Greensburg, turned down a nomination for party chair alluding to former party communications director Dakota Loomis calling rural Kansas towns, "crapholes." McKinney said the comments showed that the Democrats aren't connecting with the people of Kansas.

Understatement of the year. I read through the Pitch article, here, wondering if half of those Democrats had ever met anyone (outside of the Washington Days attendees) who actually lives in Kansas.

The article subtly theorizes that Kansas donkeys didn't "take firm stances that would resonate with constituencies." Like gay rights and what the people of Istanbul think of Kansas.

To be sure, those are issues, I guess, but those aren't issues that are going to draw masses of Kansans to the polls. Those just aren't things that keep most people -- and especially most Kansans -- awake at night.

I can't imagine how Dennis McKinney identifies with any Democrats these days. By all accounts, he is a Christian -- a real one -- not one of those guys toting a giant Bible who has never actually read a word of it. 



I suspect Dennis' brother, Don McKinney, is (gasp! if you're a Dem) pro-life, like majority of Americans and the vast majority of Kansans. 

Dennis McKinney admitted that his own daughter suggested they start praying during the Greensburg tornado. Your teenage children don't typically admonish their parents to pray, unless they were raised in a home or community where such things are the norm. He spoke of prayers and his pastor -- a real pastor, not a Jeremiah Wright type preaching of America's damnation -- in several interviews following the tornado.

And I wondered then, as I do now, how McKinney could possibly be a Democrat. My guess these days is that he's exceptionally loyal. That's a good thing, but today's Democratic Party can't resemble in any way the party Dennis originally signed up for. 

Remember when JFK said ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country? And he didn't mean -- what you can do for your country by paying more for those who will not work? This was a president who proposed slicing income tax rates and cutting the corporate tax rate. 

I imagine that's the party people like Dennis McKinney, and the few remaining Dems in western Kansas, signed up for. As opposed to this:


Or this:


But I am A-OK with Kansas Democrats thinking they're going to inspire generations of voters to the polls with a leftward push. The Republicans aren't doing the best job ever now that they are in control, but I know what a community dominated by years of liberal leadership looks like:


 



Dumb-Dumbs Run Amuck

False outrage is the name of the game when you're a Kansas teacher. 

At one point, I was keeping a list of all their grievances, and then I decided I should spend at least a tiny percent of my spare time doing something useful.

They're all angered up today because a Senate committee approved a bill that would disallow the practice of payroll deduction for union dues. Cue the flying monkeys.

The Kansas Legislature must be stopped, because they're trying to make it so union members have to WRITE THEIR OWN CHECKS TO PAY MEMBERSHIP DUES.

As a matter of principal, I pretty much hate all payroll deductions. It makes us all a little lazy about how our money is spent, who spends it, what it does for us. 

If the federal government goofed and went one full month without taking Social Security, Medicare, Income taxes etc., from everyone's paychecks, I am convinced the screaming to eliminate or reduce those programs would be intense. People don't realize how much money is absconded from their paychecks, and because they never miss what they're paying into the programs, they pay little attention how the money is used. 

Let's just call disallowing a payroll deduction a TEACHING MOMENT. 

I thought teachers loved teachable moments. Well, now you may get one. How awesome. 

The way the squawkers are billing the change is so laughable. The naysayers argue that the legislation is stripping "Kansas public employees of the right to control their own paychecks..." Um no. You can still send a check to the union. The legislation won't stop you. Send double if you want.

These dumb-dumbs screaming their bloody heads off are TEACHING your children. The message they're sending: We can't handle our own finances. We can't handle the responsibility of joining an organization and paying our dues without our employer (the state/slave master) doing it for us. 

Healthy message, teachers unions. Super reasonable.

A personal note

My largest fan called the other night and insisted I get back to this blog thing.

I'm am going to take the advice of my fan, because I started this thing and now I need to finish it.

But I warn you: I have been quiet lately, because sometimes the sucking noises from Topeka and Washington get to me. I mean, really, really get to me.

Mostly, I think the liberal vision for the future results in pure evil -- a dictatorship, gas chambers for political dissidents, motherless and fatherless children, and piles of the unwanted (aborted children, the disabled, the elderly) tossed in dumpsters. 

And I think most politicians of all stripes don't really give a damn as long as they get to be at the top of the pecking order. 

I'm jaded. Most people are too stupid to vote. (Yeah. I said that out loud. If you can't name at least one Supreme Court Justice, the Vice President, your Senators, your Congressman, your Mayor, a few members of your city council/commission, you don't need to rock the vote. You need to rock a newspaper.)

I have been intentionally burying my head in the media sand to retain my sanity, but I've decided to pull my head out and pay attention again. I am risking my own sanity, just so you all know, and there's already so little sanity floating around that I worry it may become extinct.

But my biggest fan asked for it, and so I am going to deliver.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Brownback's Harriet Myers

I really don't mean to pile on the Governor and the Republicans. That's one reason I've been strangely quiet on this blog lately. 

There's just so, so little coming out of Topeka (and even less from Washington) lately deserving of praise, or even commentary. The stuff with which I agree devolves into a public relations nightmare.

Someone PLEASE PLEASE let's have a talk about how the Governor's Office is handling communications with supporters. I give you this graphic:

Why yes, it appears to have been drawn on a napkin and then sent to the four corners of Kansas through a spam email.  It does show that the Kansas school finance formula is a disaster, but approximately seven people who open spam emails read it. (A few posted it on Facebook, where it was universally ignored. Good job, PR geniuses.)

Sorry, I know I've been hard on the Guv's recent public relations efforts. Brownback team, this is coming from a friendly place. I want you to suck less. 

But I digress: What I really wanted to talk about here is Brownback's nomination of Kathryn Gardner for Kansas State Court of Appeals. Long before the Wichita Eagle started writing hit pieces about whom the Governor overlooked in his nomination (here), I heard rumblings about how disappointed some Republicans were with the nomination.

Mostly, the concern, and I consider it very, very valid -- is that the bulk of Gardner's legal career has involved being a law clerk. (Which is better than my legal career, but still. The Governor isn't nominating me for a seat on a high court. So...) She has very few legal writings to give the general public any ideas of how she will adjudicate.

Now, I'd like to trust that Brownback knows this woman and nominated her because she's a brilliant legal mind. But I don't know that, and because of her lack of legal opinions, I can't make that leap.

Now, if I could be assured that the legislature and the executive branches are always going to be controlled by reasonable conservatives, I might be quasi-OK with nominees cloaked in darkness.

But we all know that at some point in the future, a slimy liberal will be elected as Governor and liberals may stake a claim to a few more seats in the legislature. And when they do, I don't want them to be able to nominate and seat some sketchy character without a paper trail just because, well, BROWNBACK DID IT TOO.

I am not saying Gardner is sketchy. She's probably super nice and likes puppies and babies and attends the Topeka Catholic Church. Oh wait, even Brownback, a Catholic, doesn't attend the Catholic Services -- not that it matters. She probably attends Topeka Bible Church as most Brownback appointments these days do. (I actually don't know whether Gardner does, but if I were a betting man, I'd put a few bucks on her being a regular guest at TBC.)

Seeking a Gubernatorial Appointment? I know a church you MAY be interested in attending. (And if you don't attend church, that's something you should be doing whether you're seeking a job or not.)








Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Who the Governor actually hates...

Cue unending news cycle about how Gov. Sam Brownback hates the LGBTQTOOMANYLETTERS community. 

The editorials (and the whining. Good heaven, please make the social media whining stop.) are going to suggest Brownback hates gays. They're wrong.

The story clearly illustrates for whom the Governor has obvious disdain: Conservative legislators.

Brownback said he rescinded an order banning state discrimination against the Letter People, because former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius instituted the directive "unilaterally." As he inserted a rusty knife into the backs of conservative legislators, Brownback said such changes should be made by the state legislature.

It's hard to find the right words. I want to be respectful, but I also want to launch spitballs at the Governor. And I want to put bags of poo on the porches of whoever is advising him.

I don't actually disagree with the Governor's logic. Brownback said the Sebelius directive created a special class of people. True.

Brownback, in signing his order, said this "ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional 'protected classes' as the previous order did." 

On that, we can agree. But the timing. Oh, the timing. Brownback has been Governor for 4-plus years at this point. The fact that he waited a few weeks into his second term reeks of strange political

maneuvering. Clearly, Brownback was worried the change might affect his chances at re-election. So he waited.

If policy changes are necessary, if they're right, then a principled leader makes the changes, no matter the political consequences.

But since Brownback is obviously concerned with political consequences -- he should have taken a second to consider what his policy change will do to conservative legislators who are up for re-election in two years. They will be asked to defend Brownback's decision. And they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Brownback further twisted the knife by telling news organizations that this sort of policy change belongs to the legislature. This is true, but now there's proposed legislation to make the change through statute. So now legislators aren't only going to be asked to defend the Governor, they're going to be asked to vote on emotionally-charged, ill-timed legislation. 

This isn't the first time Brownback has stuck his foot in it at legislators' expense. His school allotment cut announcement came straight out of left field, with the vast majority of legislators learning of the Governor's proposal at the same moment the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle learned of it. Hence, some of the absolute disaster I wrote about yesterday.

Meanwhile, had Brownback had legislators in mind at all, he would have announced broad sweeping cuts to all department allotments -- not just education. That would have allowed legislators to say they preferred to use a scalpel rather than an axe on the budget. They could have "negotiated" the exact same thing the Governor wanted. Yes, Brownback would have taken political heat, which he is already -- but conservative legislators, who, once again have to stand for re-election in a very short time, would have some cover. 

The media is going to weave a compelling tale about how Brownback hates LBGTQ people, and like always, they're going to miss the point. No gay state employee is going to lose a job over this change. But you know who just might? Conservative legislators. 

Brownback doesn't hate gays. He hates the Kansas Legislature.


 

Monday, February 9, 2015

WHY ARE WE ALWAYS BEHIND THE 8 BALL?? Why? Why?

 Unless you've been living off-the-grid in a shack on the side of a mountain, you've recently been bombarded by public school shills threatening to recall Gov. Sam Brownback over cuts to school funding.

Their response to the $45 million in cuts is laughable. They're using a Moveon.org petition to recall the recently re-elected Governor. Their odds of success are slightly lower than my chances of winning Wednesday's $450 million Powerball lottery.

But the silly petition is getting some traction. Recently, I have seen perfectly sane people bemoaning the "cut." 

And now I'll explain why normal people have been drawn in to this irritating circus of misinformation. It is the fault of conservatives and the Governor. I'm sorry, but it is. 

That's right, you dear conservative, need to take a small sliver of the blame for this.

Anyone with two functioning brain cells and the tiniest bit of information could see this news story coming. Kansas revenue was short of projections and public education receives more than 50 percent of the revenue pie. Of course, education funding was going to take a hit. And as surely as night follows day, the liberal media and KNEA shills were going to use that fact to bludgeon the Governor. This should not have come as a surprise. 

Media loves bad Brownback photos
What I find continually shocking is conservatives are always two or three days behind the running media narrative. I don't get it.

First, Kansas GOP leaders should long have been saying one likely reason for the revenue drop is a change in federal capital gains rates, caused by the President's forced expiration of some Bush tax cuts.

(I realize they tried, but not hard enough. One must search hard to find that explanation, and one must be wiser than a turnip to understand it.)

Try harder, GOP and Governor. Mentions of the forced expiration of Bush tax cuts and its effect on Kansas' budget should have been dropped into every single press release on the budget -- FROM DAY ONE. 

For the general populace a truth must be repeated several times before it sinks in. Liberals have to hear a truth about 60,000 times before they even consider it or attempt to refute it.

More importantly, the fact that this is a cut to an anticipated increase can not be repeated enough. Despite the perceived cut, Kansas schools will still receive more in state funding than they did last year.

Why, oh why, did the Governor's Office wait what seemed like three days before mentioning the fact? 

And let's talk about that mention: It was mentioned in the weirdest, strangest, most awkward way. I received a personal email from the Governor's Office. It appeared in my email as from "Melika Willoughby (GO)." The "(GO)" stands for Governor's Office and the email address attests as  much.

But from there, I can't figure out exactly to whom to attribute the email.

It reads:

"My fellow Kansan,

"As you may have heard, Governor Brownback announced additional budget reductions yesterday.  Here is what the Kansas mainstream media won't be reporting.  The Legislature significantly increased spending on schools in the budget bill last year.  Six months later, the Governor and Legislature were given a $63.6 million dollar bill above the budgeted increase as the Kansas Department of Education underestimated the fiscal note for the school finance bill passed last year. This is one example of why the school finance formula needs to be replaced. 



Yesterday, a reduction of $28 million to school districts was announced.  Even after the reduction (to the increase), school districts are still getting $177 million more this school year from state funds than last school year.  What about the concern of reductions during the school year?  The reserves of school districts have grown significantly over the last few years.  At the following link, there is a listing of each school district's reduction (of the increase) under the heading 1.5% General State Aid Reduction.  In the column to the right of the reduction is each district's cash reserves that are in accounts they are statutorily allowed to move over to cover classroom operating costs."

And then there are some links -- one to each school district's reduction in increase and another to a Wichita podcast.

The email is unsigned.

This public relations response is baffling to me. If you're going to be a full-day behind, why bother responding? Seriously. Responding when you're this far behind the narrative only serves to keep a damaging narrative front and center.

Conservatives (and the vast majority of Kansans -- who not only voted for Brownback, but did so overwhelmingly) know that our public schools are bottomless pits of spending. No amount of money yanked from our pockets and diverted to indoctrination camps will ever be enough to keep the KNEA happy.

There's barely a blip in the pupil-teacher ratio. In 2009, there were 14.4 students per teacher in Kansas schools. Now there are 15 students per teacher. That's according to the Kansas Department of Education. (More information is here at Wichita Liberty.) I'm just spit-balling here, but maybe that fact should get a mention from the administration up front -- as in the day the cuts are announced, rather than a day or two later. Despite the wailing of teachers and their sycophants, the sky isn't falling.

A savvy administration could harness some of the power of the press, but for reasons I will never understand, this administration chooses not to. 

(Dear administration friends, the next time you're about to do something that you know is going to be controversial, please, please phone a friend. Or email one.)

It may be time for Brownback to keep a public relations firm on retainer. (Or if he is, maybe it's time to find another one??? I mean no disrespect to Brownback's myriad of public information officers, but come on!!! We all knew what the response to the "cut" announcement was going to be.)

And here's where conservatives get a healthy dose of the blame for this unflattering narrative: Where on earth are you, conservatives? Social media is flooded with stupid links to that Moveon.org petition. There is very little opposing information in the comments sections or in status updates to these stupid posts.

I first started seeing links to the petition of ignorance from my KNEA-active friends. They have a very selfish reason for posting such nonsense, but their incessant teeth-gnashing is now gaining some traction. I am noting apolitical, but quietly right-leaning friends now posting and signing this ridiculous petition.

Why? Because when the petition first began circulating, no one was soundly and loudly posting facts to dispute it.

This should serve as a lesson to legislators. While I agreed whole-heartedly with recent tax cuts, thinking people understood that spending cuts had to happen (at first) in order to stabilize the budget. (Over time, tax cuts generate additional income as businesses add people and increase their own spending. Key words: Over time.) 

Legislators should have cut spending BEFORE they cut taxes. And it should be noted, I believe there's still room for additional cuts. Kansas doesn't have a money tree. I can speak from personal experience, working people and the middle class are hurting right now and have been for some time. State and federal spending MUST be cut to preserve our way of life, and tax cuts should follow -- eventually leading to increased revenues.

I have to believe the vast majority of Kansans, who recently re-elected Brownback, understand what's going on here. And I'm not sure what those (paltry few) who voted for Paul Davis expected to happen if Davis received the nod. Budget revenues were trending low before anyone cast a ballot in 2014. Voters understood that budgetary concerns were likely to mean cuts somewhere or tax increases. Davis would likely have added tax increases, if he could find enough legislators to support them. (Unlikely). Brownback was likely to pursue cuts. Voters had a clear choice and they made it -- two months ago.

Still, I wonder: When will conservatives learn? 

The silent majority isn't the majority for long if it remains silent.








Friday, February 6, 2015

Brownback advocates for tax increase

 I hate to pile on Gov. Sam Brownback today as the mob is restless about the tiniest of cuts to schools. (To listen to the mindless rally of the libs -- and their uninformed friends -- you'd think the $44.5 million in cuts was going to close schools. A closer look at the numbers shows that for the vast majority of schools the cuts will be less than 2 percent of their budgets. How about buying fewer pencils?  Or foregoing new football uniforms? That ought to cover it.)
But I digress. 
One proposed solution to raise some cash: Brownback has suggested adding taxes to cigarette and liquor sales. 
I mean this as nice as possible: That is the silliest solution in the history of well, history. Conservatives -- heck, even liberals -- recognize that an increase in cigarette and liquor taxes in Kansas will likely mean less revenue for the state. A very large percentage of Kansans live within a few miles of neighboring states. (Hi, Missouri!)
The biggest proponents of the Brownback tax hike are Missouri convenience store owners. (Note to Gov: They aren't your constituents.)
And don't even get me started on the sheer stupidity of using the tax code to induce certain behaviors. I hate.hate.hate that. I don't like it when liberals do it, and I expect better of conservatives. If we don't like cigarettes and/or liquor, let's ban them outright rather than taking a bigger slice off the top. That only puts government in the awkward position of having to encourage behaviors in order to pad their bottom lines. It's D-U-M dumb.
Fortunately, Brownback's proposed tax hike appears to be dead on arrival. (No word yet on how many angry phone calls David Kensinger will dish out before the Legislature's budget battle is complete.)
Though it appears to be going nowhere, someone in the Brownback administration (and perhaps the Governor himself) should be taken to task for reneging on a foundational promise to the electorate -- fewer taxes, not more.
As one astute emailer who shall remain nameless said, "Not only is (Brownback's) proposal incredibly stupid policy for a supposedly staunch economic conservative, but it also demonstrates an alarming degree of political cowardice that might entail further problems down the road."