Friday, May 30, 2008
In a poll released yesterday, SurveyUSA indicates McCain holds a 49-39 lead in the state with 12% of the electorate undecided.
In a state where Republican Presidential candidates routinely put up numbers north of 60%, it's significant that McCain cannot break 50.
It should be noted that Huckabee handily won the Kansas Caucus after McCain had already effectively won the nomination and, much like the Democrats who claim they won't vote for Obama or Clinton, many of these jilted Republicans will come back into the fold before it's all said and done.
Additionally, respondents were 42% Republicans, 40% Democrat and 18% Unaffiliated. Democratic registration in the state is on the rise, but this is probably a more Democratic sample than the population as a whole.
These quirks aside, SurveyUSA has been quite successful this cycle in predicting notoriously difficult to predict primaries, so it provides at the very least for some interesting discussion.
The second thing this poll provides is a counterpoint to the recent Rasmussen poll that shows more Kansans would be less likely to vote for Obama with Kathleen Sebelius on the ticket.
The poll showed, not surprisingly, that Huckabee would be McCain's strongest running mate. Among the Democratic pairs matched with Huckabee, Obama/Sebelius does the best by far at a mere +4 for McCain.
Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is the only McCain running mate who causes Obama to lose ground (a whole point) with Sebelius on his ticket and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards is the only Obama running mate that does better than Sebelius.
As they say, the only poll that matters is in November, but this poll lends credence to the argument that Obama makes Kansas competitive. If McCain pulls in 55% instead of 60%, that spells bad news for Republicans and could mean Obama brings Nancy Boyda, Jim Slattery and Donald Betts along for the ride.
Having already checked racism off his list, is Barnes moving on to homophobia?
In his most recent ad, Graves attacks Barnes for having a fundraiser in California while the state Supreme Court was handing down the gay marriage decision. Obviously, this scheduling coincidence means Kay Barnes is a foot soldier in the Gay Army.
But what is truly reprehensible, if true, is a strange pronunciation of Barnes' name. Pay special attention to the part of the video where the narrator talks about the Kansas City gay pride
Um, did the narrator just call her "Gay Barnes?" You be the judge.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
According to Hawver, Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka, proposed the adoption of a conference committee report that would have sent the issue to the Governor to be signed into law. However, Republican leadership voted against the procedural maneuver.
According to the Capital-Journal, Speaker Melvin Neufeld voted against the bill because he felt it was inappropriate to bring up new business during the ceremonial Sine Die session.
Uh, Mel, it's not as if Rep. Kuether proposed a brand new bill. All you were doing is approving a conference committee report. By it's very nature, if something is in a conference committee. both the House and the Senate passed variations of it.
We'll leave it up to you to decide if Speaker Neufeld is deliberately misleading us or is just completely oblivious to the process of lawmaking.
Those same busy schedules appear to be keeping Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback and Reps. Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran away from today's fundraiser with President George W. Bush.
Some of you might be saying, "See, this was a bad idea to bring the President and his record-low approval ratings."
Not so says Christian Morgan.
So, the fact that only 39% of voters in our Republican state support the President is of no concern to Christian. We're standing by his side because...well...why the Hell are we standing by his side?
Kansas Republican Party executive director Christian Morgan said he doesn't believe the president's poll numbers are an issue.
"If the president's popularity really had something to do with it, then they would have stayed away from even putting their names on something with the president," Morgan said. "I don't think its a case of them skipping this event, it's a case of them having scheduling difficulties, especially when this thing was thrown together pretty quickly."
In reality, this is just further proof that Christian Morgan, Nick Jordan and the Kansas Republican Party are so radically out of touch with everyday Kansans that they still think that George W. Bush has appeal to the average voter.
Speaking of out of touch, Pat Roberts had a perfectly legitimate reason to miss the event. He's going to be in California raising money.
Sen. Pat Roberts will be in California on a longstanding trip to raise money for his own re-election bid, campaign spokeswoman Ashley McManus said. She said Roberts was proud to be named an honorary chairman of the fundraiser and "he was proud to be with the president three weeks ago in Greensburg."The part about Roberts supporting Bush despite the miserable failure that has been his Presidency and his awful approval ratings in Kansas should come as no surprise to anyone. Roberts has been George W. Bush's lapdog for nearly seven years. What shocked me is the cavalier manner in which his spokesmodel admitted to raising money in California.
I suppose this shouldn't surprise me either, since Roberts hasn't lived in Kansas since 1962, but I guess I always just thought since they've been trying to start a pissing match with Jim Slattery over who's more of a Kansan that they might try to downplay it just a little.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
For those of you who recognize that name, he's the one that said the tens of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide emitted from coal plants was good for corn crops.
For those of you who didn't finish the 4th grade, that statement is what we call "stupid."
“One of the really good things about CO2 is that plants perform better under stress (drought, etc.) with increased levels of CO2,” Rep. Larry Powell, R-Garden City, said in a letter disseminated to the media.
Powell said a recent study shows that over the next 50 years, “atmospheric CO2 enrichment will boost world agricultural output by about 50 percent.”
Well, Rep. Powell has apparently decided he'd like to take his stupidity to the next level. In a recent story published by the Hutchinson News, Powell describes why he decided to change his occupation listed in the official state director from "rancher" to "environmentalist."
"I think I'm a true environmentalist, not someone who thinks everything is going to destroy the environment," he said.If that makes your mind hurt, you just wait, Powell is just getting warmed up.
Powell also said his work has brought him much closer to nature than many urbanites who've embraced the environmentalist label.For the love of all things holy, Rep. Powell, what the hell are you talking about!?
"I've seen rattlesnakes make love, which probably isn't a pretty sight," Powell said.
(Wait. If you've seen it, wouldn't you know whether it was a pretty sight or not? Is snake porn illegal?)
If this is the kind of venom (no pun intended) we can expect from Republicans as they attempt to use the Holcomb plant to their political advantage come November, I don't think there are many Democrats waking up in cold sweats.
As we make time to gather around the grill with friends and family this holiday weekend, let's honor the memories of those we know and love and those unnamed soldiers we never met who gave of their lives for love of country. This is the least a grateful nation can do.
Honestly, we here at LBK couldn't agree more, Todd. We just wondered, did you write this letter before or after you voted against the GI Bill?
Hopefully, next Memorial Day, Todd Tiahrt will have more than just hollow rhetoric to give our troops.
Friday, May 23, 2008
First, there was his interview with the MTV street team that got so many views it ended up on MTV's front page.
Now, Sen. Betts has done a liveblog at the national web site New Majority and was even featured in a front page story on DailyKos.
Betts is a great candidate and Tiahrt has a record that he should be ashamed of (like voting against the expanded GI Bill), but Tiahrt has over $1 million in the bank, so Betts will need all the help he can get. The good news is, it looks like he might be on his way to becoming a darling of the netroots, which will help him financially and hopefully increase interest in his campaign locally.
The more people that get involved, whether it be making phone calls, going door-to-door or donating money, the better chance we have of retiring Todd Tiahrt in November.
To volunteer or become involved, go to his website. To donate, just use our handy ActBlue widget on the right side of the screen.
Think about it, if Jim Slattery and Donald Betts could win in November, that would mean that four of the six congressional seats in Kansas would be held by Democrats with Sam Brownback's seat coming open in 2010. We're a long ways off still, but the mere fact that its possible is a herculean accomplishment.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Washington Republicans (like Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran) really want to get away with voting against our Iraq war vets, but they can't find anything wrong with Webb's G.I. bill - so they're grasping for straws. And, of course, they aren't very clever. So they're recycling their favorite scary phrase: "small business tax."
The new half-percentage tax surcharge is being referred to as a "patriot tax" on individuals earning over $500,000 and couples earning over $1 million. But what they aren't saying is that this tax increase will also affect some 325,000 small business owners across the country.WOAH! SCARY! EXCEPT...it still only affects millionaires...not your favorite local bar.
According to the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities:
Critics of the House-passed bill maintain that their concern is its impact on “mom and pop” small business operations, which they describe as the engines of economic growth and job creation. These critics should be reassured by the fact that the overwhelming majority of such enterprises will never generate enough profits to make them subject to the surcharge. Importantly, only business profits, not gross receipts, are potentially subject to the surcharge. Some critics have misleadingly implied that the surcharge applies to gross receipts over $1 million.Ah HA! So the truth comes out...in voting against education for veterans, Moran & Tiahrt aren't just trying to protect millionaires, they're protecting George Bush and Dick Cheney! WHY ARE WE NOT SURPRISED!?!?!
Moreover, even the “about 1 percent” figure likely overstates the impact of the surcharge on small business owner-operators. The Tax Policy Center data classify as a small business owner anyone who receives any income from an S corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or various other types of businesses. Many of these individuals, however, play no role in managing the business and are simply passive investors who contribute some capital to the enterprise and, in exchange, receive a share of the profits. Their ranks include President Bush and Vice-President Cheney...
And the Kansas GOP staff...I mean..."secret bloggers" just spits it all out like it doesn't make them look REALLY REALLY incompetent. But it does. And they are.
Of course, Pat Roberts has always said he's tired of the way campaigns resort to slinging mud instead of focusing on the issues. After his first $50,000 ad-buy (in April), apparently the type of shoes Jim Slattery wears is considered an issue.
Now, in a recent story in the Washington D.C. newspaper The Hill, McManus is up to her typical underhanded, immature snarkiness.
Ashley McManus, a Roberts spokeswoman, said Slattery’s criticism of the war is “a bizarre thing for Jim Slattery to say, given that when he was in Congress he voted for us to go to war with Iraq [in Operation Desert Storm].Are you serious? Is this woman really going to have us believe that voting for Operation: Desert Storm is the same thing as voting to preemptively invade a sovereign nation based on faulty intelligence (which her candidate would help cover up later on)?
Maybe that kind of stuff goes over in Virginia, Ashley, but here in Kansas, we're not buying it.
As the story went on, McManus continued to prove that she and the Roberts campaign have permanently waved bye-bye to reality.
“We look forward to a campaign based on the issues and the differences between Pat Roberts’s tireless service to Kansas and Jim Slattery, who stopped working for Kansas so he could enrich himself working for special interests,” McManus said.Just because you heard Pat Roberts' voice at the beginning of the "gucci loafer" radio ad saying "I'm Pat Roberts, and I approved this message," that doesn't mean he...well...approved the message.
It's not just the Roberts campaign though that has separated themselves from reality. Republican consultants too seem to be basking in the false sense of security.
“I’m sure [Slattery]’ll be able to raise some money, and I’m sure that the senatorial committee will come in and spend some money too, because they’re definitely raising a lot, but I think Pat Roberts is very well-respected throughout Kansas, both in the eastern and western part of the state. And when the ads start coming up, I think that Pat Roberts will probably pull away,” [Republican consultant Aaron] Trost said.As we've covered here extensively, the public polling data doesn't back up this claim of Roberts' popularity.
Though his overall approval rating is 54% as of 4/25, it is heavily propped up by a 70% approval rating in Western Kansas. In Eastern Kansas and Wichita, where the overwhelming majority of voters in the state live, his approval ratings are 52 and 48%. Hardly a slam-dunk for a guy who has been in Congress for 20-some years and has never got less than 62% of the vote in November.
For Roberts to win this race, he must do extremely well in Eastern Kansas and Wichita and he must pull a good number of moderates and independents into his fold. His numbers among moderates and independents? 51 and 54%.
But honestly, what does the public know about who the public likes.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Most especially, a piece by Dennis Praeger.
Another reason for this decision is arrogance. First, the arrogance of four individuals to impose their understanding of what is right and wrong on the rest of society. And second is the arrogance of the four compassionate ones in assuming that all thinkers, theologians, philosophers, religions and moral systems in history were wrong, while they and their supporters have seen a moral light never seen before. Not a single religion or moral philosophical system -- East or West -- since antiquity ever defined marriage as between members of the same sex.
Where to begin...
First, this is how the judicial system works. It's not activist judges, its juidicial review. Since Mr. Praeger isn't railing on about the fallacy of Marbury v. Madison, I'll assume this is just sour grapes because he doesn't like the decision. If it were 4-3 the other way, would his outrage be the same?
Second, whether or not same-sex marriage has been recognized by any religion at any point in time is completely and totally irrelevant, assuming it were even true. The court is only ruling on the definition of marriage in so far as state law is concerned. Whether an individual religion wishes to recognize same-sex unions is completely and entirely up to that religion. Whether states treat couples the same in terms of taxes and property inheritance and the likes is all this ruling affects.
If this verdict stands, society as we have known it will change. The California Supreme Court and its millions of supporters are playing with fire. And it will
eventually burn future generations in ways we can only begin to imagine.
Outside of the privacy of their homes, young girls will be discouraged from
imagining one day marrying their prince charming -- to do so would be declared "heterosexist," morally equivalent to racist. Rather, they will be told to imagine a prince or a princess. Schoolbooks will not be allowed to describe marriage in male-female ways alone. Little girls will be asked by other girls and by teachers if they want one day to marry a man or a woman.
The sexual confusion that same-sex marriage will create among young people is not fully measurable. Suffice it to say that, contrary to the sexual know-nothings who believe that sexual orientation is fixed from birth and permanent, the fact is that sexual orientation is more of a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. Much of humanity -- especially females -- can enjoy homosexual sex. It is up to society to channel polymorphous human sexuality into an exclusively heterosexual direction -- until now, accomplished through marriage. But that of course is "heterosexism," a bigoted preference for man-woman erotic love, and therefore to be extirpated from society.
The above paragraphs are so ludicrous it's almost sad. The idea that by somehow saying to a same-sex couple that the law recognizes them in the same way it does a man and a woman will somehow make little girls grow up to dream of their princess in shining armor is proposterous fear-mongering. This ruling in no way makes it a social faux-paus to engage in heterosexual sex or enter into a heterosexual relationship. Something tells me that girls will still find a way to have sex with boys and somehow, someway the human race will reproduce enough to survive.
Any advocacy of man-woman marriage alone will be regarded morally as hate speech, and shortly thereafter it will be deemed so in law.This just makes my mind hurt. Is hate speech illegal now? The existance Fred Phelps, recent court rulings aside, makes me question the validity of this statement. The KKK still exist post...I don't know, the Civil War...so something tells me even if this cockamamie anaology were accurate, Mr. Praeger and those of like minds would not need lawyers.
Companies that advertise engagement rings will have to show a man putting a ring on a man's finger -- if they show only women fingers, they will be boycotted just as a company having racist ads would be now.
Films that only show man-woman married couples will be regarded as antisocial and as morally irresponsible as films that show people smoking have become.
And this is bad because.......
The mere fact that Mr. Praeger and the rest of the radical right has a social or religious objection to this lifestyle is not justification for any kind of different treatment under the law. Once again, this is not the court trying to enforce a moral standard, quite the opposite. If anyone is guilty of presumptiously claiming the moral high ground on this issue, it is the right.
Anyone who advocates marriage between a man and a woman will be morally regarded the same as racist. And soon it will be a hate crime.
Indeed -- and this is the ultimate goal of many of the same-sex marriage activists -- the terms "male" and "female," "man" and "woman" will gradually lose their significance. They already are. On the intellectual and cultural left, "male" and "female" are deemed social constructs that have little meaning. That is why same-sex marriage advocates argue that children have no need for both a mother and a father -- the sexes are interchangeable. Whatever a father can do a second mother can do. Whatever a mother can do, a second father can do. Genitalia are the only real differences between the sexes, and even they can be switched at will.
Really? And all this time I thought all those "activist" wanted was equal treatment under the law. Silly me.
Anticipating reactions to this column -- as to all defenses of man-woman marriage -- that it or its author are "homophobic," i.e., bigoted and unworthy of respectful rejoinder, it is important to reaffirm that nothing written here is implicitly, let alone explicitly, anti-gay. I take it as axiomatic that a gay man or woman is created in God's image and as precious as any other human being. And I readily acknowledge that it is unfair when an adult is not allowed to marry the love of his or her choice. But social policy cannot be made solely on the basis of eradicating all of life's unfairness. Thus, we must love the gay person -- and his and or her partner as well. But we must never change the definition of marriage. The price to society and succeeding generations will be too great.
That's comforting. You're not a homophobe, you just play one in the newspaper. But, what praytell, is the goal of the justice system if not to obtain, you know, justice? The rule of law exists to preserve order and justice, not piety. It is not a tool to protect morality, nor should it be.
That is why Californians must amend their state's Constitution.
Ya, because amending the Constitution to define what the citizens can't do worked SO well the last time.
Well, apparently wearing a flag pin on your lapel is enough for them.
Numerous Republicans, including Kansas Reps. Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran, voted nay.
Why, you ask? Well, Tiahrt and Moran haven't bothered to explain themselves as of yet, but several Republicans have said the bill would discourage soldiers from re-enlisting. Perhaps if they weren't bogged down in an unjust war with no end, they would be a little more enthusiastic about putting off their education.
The other hitching point for Republicans? The bill would increase the personal income tax on individuals making at least $500,000 per year by one half of one percent. That's less than a penny on the dollar for the richest of the rich.
Sen. John McCain and President George W. Bush have both spoken out against this bill. It heads to the Senate this week, where we can only hope a veteran like Pat Roberts will support it.
We now know that Reps. Tiahrt and Moran, as well as Bush and McCain, are on the side of the wealthiest Americans, now the question becomes who's side is Pat Roberts on?
Some videos on the subject...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
You see, TKR would have you believe that, were it not for KDHE director Rod Bremby's rejection of the plant and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' subsequent decision to thrice veto bills overturning that decision, Hyperion would be on its way to Pottawatomie County. Oh, and apparently gas prices would be like $0.30/gallon in NE Kansas. To prove this, they link to this story in the Capital-Journal written by James Carlson.
What should be noted about this story is that no one from the KDHE or from Hyperion is ever quoted as saying the Holcomb decision caused the plant to go to South Dakota. All the evidence that is given is from a low-level county board member and some vague references to the regulation in emails to government officials.
Obviously, Hyperion was concerned, but according to the story, Bremby did everything he could to land this refinery.
Doesn't sound very uncertain to me. Obviously, Secretary Bremby is not going to give them carte blanche by promising to approve a permit he hasn't even seen yet, but it appears to me that he is making it very clear that their chances are good.
Phillips wrote to Kansas commerce secretary David Kerr on Jan. 22 asking for a commitment to approve the air-quality permit if Hyperion applied in Kansas. Bremby replied Feb. 11, "Kansas remains open for business."
Bremby wrote he couldn't commit to issuing the permit but said if Hyperion submitted the same application as they did in South Dakota, there "should not be a problem with issuance."
This issue, however, is moot. The story confirms once again that, Holcomb decision or not, Kansas had next to no chance at getting the facility anyway. Before any of this happened, Hyperion had already purchased land in South Dakota and was in the process of getting it zoned.
Next time boys and girls, read the article (the ENTIRE article) before you link to it and make sure it doesn't disprove your entire position.
In June 2007, after media speculation about a mystery company buying up land around Elk Point, S.D., Hyperion announced it was considering the South Dakota city as a location.
Soon after, RTP Environmental Associates Inc., a consultant for Hyperion, began work on the permitting process with South Dakota officials.
In September, Colin Campbell, the RTP employee in charge of the Hyperion project, e-mailed the Environmental Protection Agency, saying he would be submitting an air-quality permit application for the South Dakota location soon.
"A different site could ultimately be selected, but we can deal with that circumstance if and when it arises," Campbell wrote.
Carlson acknowledges South Dakota was moving ahead. "We were probably a little behind," he said. "(Hyperion was) renewing land options up there."
The Kansas Department of Commerce points to the South Dakota site announcement and the subsequent months of dialogue between that state and Hyperion as a clue that Kansas was a backup.
"All indications in the summer and fall were that the gears were turning in South Dakota and that South Dakota had emerged as the top candidate," said Joe Monaco, spokesman for the commerce department.
This concludes today's session of Blogging 101.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
That's right, Roberts, who didn't even have an opponent in 2002 (not had a weak opponent, had NO opponent) can only muster 52% before Jim Slattery has spent one red penny on advertising.
Moreover, the poll also indicated that 17% of respondents were undecided on Jim Slattery, if those votes break 50/50, that makes it a 48-44 race before a single Slattery TV commercial hits the airwaves.
Obviously Roberts has ample campaign funds, so this will still not be an easy race, but we're here to tell you that, come September, October and November, this will be one of the races the whole nation is watching.
Inspired by our friends at Kos and some of the other major liberal blogs, we'd like to take this opportunity to put forth a challenge to our readers. We're still a very young blog, so let's start off with a modest goal, say, $100 by the Sunday at 8 p.m. Use our ActBlue widget at right or head to our ActBlue page so that we can track donations.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
(NOTE: If the embedded video isn't working, you can also view the video here.
These days, they're misinforming the public about Barack Obama's stance on gas prices -- specifically the gas tax holiday which economists EVERYWHERE argue is a horrible idea. Apparently the KS GOP isn't casting their lot with economists either.
Think about it, if the supply of oil remains constant, and the price rapidly decreases (nearly 19 cents a gallon if the federal gas tax is temporarily repealed) what do you think will happen?
Naturally, demand for gas, which has been going down lately, will increase. For those of you who haven't taken any economics courses, when supply remains constant and demand increases, price increases as well.
Economists believe that this spike in demand would at the very least negate the 19 cents per gallon saved by the repeal of the tax and maybe even surpass it. Meaning that instead of the 19 cents per gallon (approxmately $8 billion per year) going to build roads and bridges and highways, it would go to the pockets of big oil, who don't need it.
If you don't believe me, check out what Dartmouth and Oxford educated economist Robert Reich has to say in his May 4 blog. Reich served in the Clinton administration and is a personal friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton (who is also advoating for a gas tax holiday), so it's not as if he has an axe to grind.
If the KS GOP truly believed that Obama didn't have a chance to win Kansas, do you think they would waste their time spreading misinformation about him in mid-May? Me neither.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The GOP has been almost comically unable to wrestle this seat away from Moore in a solidly Republican district. Either they run a right-wing hack (Kris Kobach) or they have a bloody primary that leaves a hapless and broke candidate (Adam Taff and Chuck "Don't call me Maynard" Ahner).
This year, some thought it might be different. Some thought that Nick Jordan, who is still pretty conservative but not perceived to be amongst the likes of Phill Kline and Kris Kobach, might be the one to start pulling those moderate Republican Johnson County voters away from Dennis Moore.
However, the KS GOP has shown a penchant for losing lately, and it looks like they're in no hurry to reverse that trend.
The GOP already brought in Dick Cheney to raise money for Jordan, who faces a 3:1 fundraising disadvantage on top of relatively low name recognition. Now, they're bringing in Bush as well.
Which begs the question; Do they really think the moderate Republican and unaffiliated voters in Johnson County that swing that election time and time again to Dennis Moore are going to be swayed by the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? If they do, they should pass whatever they're smoking.
Bush carried Johnson County with 62% of the vote in 2004, but that was four long years ago. A recent Survey USA poll shows that Bush's approval rating in Eastern Kansas (the 3rd District probably makes up over 50% of the population of "Eastern Kansas," depending on how they define the region) was a meager 34%. Moreover, 64% say they disapprove of the job he is doing, leaving only 1% of voters who aren't sure how they feel about the President.
Perhaps more importantly than Bush's general numbers are his numbers among unaffiliated voters -- you know, the ones that Nick Jordan absolutely has to woo in large numbers to have even the slightest of prayers. Among unaffiliated voters in Kansas (Survey USA does not have a subsection for party affiliating within the regions) Bush's approval rating dips to 27%. It is only 30% among self-identified moderates.
While there is no polling available for Dick Cheney's job approval rating in our fair state, it's safe to say it's probably not much better than President Bush's.
As Democrats and proud Dennis Moore supporters, we'd just like to say thank you to the Nick Jordan campaign and the KS GOP for being so out of touch with Kansans that they still actually think it's a good idea to bring Bush and Cheney to town. (Ask Jim Ryun how it worked for him in 2006!)
Head over to our new ActBlue widget on the right side of our page and help Dennis Moore fight the Bush/Cheney machine that has decided they want him out of Congress.
Monday, May 12, 2008
No word on if Sen. Jordan realizes that George W. Bush has a 34% approval rating in Eastern Kansas and only a 40% approval rating overall in the state.
We'll give you more deets as they become available.
First, the Hutchinson News.
Normally, leadership would be the pre-eminent quality of someone who ascends to the position of Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives.That's just the first two paragraphs. The piece touches on more than just the Speakers general unlikability.
"Leader," however, does not describe Rep. Melvin Neufeld. Instead, the words that come to mind are irrational, bully and even hypocrite.
The western Kansas Republican obviously will do just about anything to get his way in the Legislature, which this session is all about overturning the decision of the state's top environmental regulator who would not rubber-stamp Sunflower Electric's massive coal-fired power plant proposal for western Kansas.
That includes swapping votes and obstructing other - more important - legislation. It includes misinformation and expression of some downright bizarre viewpoints, such as saying he thinks carbon emissions are good for the crops.
Surely they're done, right? Wrong. On Neufeld's accusation that the Governor bought votes on the coal plant issue by permitting empty seats to be filled on the state plane (by Legisators who purchased their own tickets with their own money) ...
This bizarre behavior probably shouldn't be dignified with a response except that its nonstop outrageousness begs for expression of some relevant observations.
The free rides to the Final Four were easily explained. Some coal plant supporters as well as opponents went on the plane, and legislators paid for their own tickets. Sebelius probably figured it made sense to fill the seats. Now, taxpayers could quibble over the fiscal responsibility of flying a delegation of politicians to the Final Four, but it probably is an event the governor ought to attend.
And, besides, that debate is not about vote-buying.And Neufeld exposed himself as a hypocrite, because he has been accused of vote bribery himself, though of a more serious nature. Neufeld called the wife of a legislator in 1994 to say her husband had been found in a "compromising position" with two female lobbyists in a Statehouse lounge. That reportedly was the follow-through of earlier threats he made to the legislator in an attempt to convince him to vote Neufeld's way on a particular bill.
Maybe the Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske will have a more cheerful view on the Legislature's accomplishments this year.
You’ve probably never heard of Melvin Neufeld, but there’s one thing you might want to know about the Kansas House speaker: He goes well with jam.
Yep, he’s toast. Or, at a minimum, he’s so charred around the edges that hardly anybody will go near him.
Get this: A Republican speaker in a chamber dominated by Republicans couldn’t cough up the single vote he lacked at one point on a test vote to see whether the House could override a Sebelius veto of the plants.
Talk about a canary in the mine. Good speakers keep five votes in their hip pockets just for sport.
Hell, even Nefueld's fellow Republicans blame him for the utter lack of any substantive accomplishments from this legislative session.
Disappointment typically soars at the end of any session. Lawmakers almost never get everything they want. But I was over there last week and I’m here to tell you: This session set a record for utter exasperation.
“Veterans are saying this is the worst legislative year they’ve ever seen,” said Rep. Pat Colloton, a Leawood Republican.
Lawmakers complain about Neufeld’s closed-door style, his lack of people skills, his unwillingness to accept ideas contrary to his own. His relations with Sebelius are described as uneven. He’s feuding with his second-in-command, House Majority Leader Ray Merrick of Stilwell, who agrees the speaker is in deep doo-doo.
Try as they might, the KS GOP can't even convince their own caucus that Gov. Sebelius and Democrats are to blame. How do they expect to convince the people of Kansas?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Republicans decided to rush a resolution honoring America's mothers. Obviously, this resolution passed unanimously. Who votes against mothers? The problem was, it didn't waste enough time, which was the point to begin with. Enter Obstructionist Todd.
After Tiahrt's temper tantrum, an open vote was cast (lasting 28 more precious minutes) and 178 Republicans (0 Democrats) voted no. Were they voting against mothers? Probably not, as Tiahrt's staff explained afterwards. It was a vote on whether to table the resolution.
Now, we don't hear such a motion in the above video, but we also don't care. Obviously, no one thinks Todd Tiahrt or any other member of Congress is anti-mother. The problem is the games they're playing.
Instead of getting meaningful work done, Todd Tiahrt and his pals are more concerned petty maneuvers to block Democratic bills out of spite rather than a legitimate policy dispute.
Todd sure was a bulldog in his fight to get that open vote. Too bad he couldn't have fought that hard to keep the tanker contract in the US. Guess you have to have priorities.
Email Congressman Tiahrt and ask him why he fought harder to obstruct debate on the housing crisis than he did for Kansas jobs. When you're done, donate to Sen. Donald Betts so we don't have to deal with Obstructionist Todd any longer.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Thanks to Gov. Sebelius, Rep. Svaty and the other legislators who were able to withstand the bullying tactics of Speaker Neufeld and do what is right for Kansas.
I am not opposed to coal. I want to see baseload generation built in Southwest Kansas. I do not take my orders from the Governor.
I have tried to avoid the discussion of coal, but this is truly what this session has become, and it deserves a great deal of attention. I want to start by saying this: I have never been more proud of the area I represent than at times like this. These past few weeks have been very difficult – I have been called names, my wife has been drug in to my issues, and we have received many very forceful comments from individuals. I am proud to say that none of those comments have come from this district. I know from your comments that many of you agree with me, and some of you do not. However, those of you that do not have been very respectful in your approach, and I cannot extend to you enough gratitude. Thank you.
I reiterate the points I made earlier – I am not opposed to coal and I recognize the role it will have to play as we transition to the future. However, as this session opened it became apparent that there was to be no compromising in terms of what the final legislation would look like. Hearings were rushed, amendments were pre-drafted and approved by a committee to which no one was publicly appointed. I made my stand; I tried to have them slow down and be more deliberate; but the groups interested in this bill were not listening to a broad swath of Kansans.
We now find ourselves with two basically identical bills. They have been vetoed by the Governor; one has already been overriden by the Senate and both await action by the House. Some of you have wanted me to support Sunflower and Holcomb, but we can never lose sight of an elected official’s job: as a legislator, I don’t vote for issues, I vote for bills. The two bills before me contain public policy so loosely formed and so dangerous in their effect that I can hardly call them “public policy.”
Some would say that there are very good “green” things in these bills – a renewable portfolio standard, net metering only for solar, etc. Those elements are both small and hardly compare to the underlying bill. Besides, they will always be nothing more than window dressing when they are used to bring votes rather than being a genuine policy shift. You could describe these bills this way – a smoker that smokes two packs of cigarettes a day has decided to quit, for the sake of his health. He therefore decides to start wearing a nicotene patch, and limits himself to only smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. He also makes no effort to exercise and be more active (which in the case of our little metaphor would be energy efficiency and conservation, two elements all-but nonexistent in these bills.) Now, he is not only paying for the cigarettes, but he is also paying for the patch, which does nothing for him.
Some would say that Secretary Bremby’s authority needs to be curtailed. That is for the courts to decide. When a cabinet-level Secretary makes a determination that someone does not agree with, they can go to court and seek an interpretation of that Secretary’s statutory authority. Sunflower has done this, and that case is pending before the Kansas Supreme Court. However, Sunflower also decided to preempt that decision and have the legislature change the law (and make it retroactive.) If there is ambiguity in the Clean Air Act’s language – if the Secretary did in fact overstep his bounds - by all means we should fix it. However, on an issue this big we should wait for an interpretation from the court.
Some would say that we need the access to cheap power. This is where I will have to stop for the week, because I do not have the space to devote to this issue. However, it is my humble opinion, after years of energy briefings, that cheap power will be hard to come by in the near term, and it will not likely be coming from coal. Cost of coal plants are skyrocketing, and that is without any monetization of carbon dioxide from the Federal level, which is likely. Every other utility in the state has shelved or postponed its plans for a coal plant until they find out what is going on federally. Kansas City Power and Light is halfway through construction of their new plant in Missouri, and they are already 700 million dollars over budget on a 1 billion dollar plant. To charge in now with the biggest coal plant this state has seen in decades would be foolish, and that foolishness would expose the ratepayers to all of that
risk. In the past that risk was tempered by the fact that the Kansas Corporation
Commission would oversee and approve all of the rate increases by Sunflower to
make sure they were “prudent.”
Oh yeah, one other thing these bills do: they remove the KCC oversight from Sunflower’s rates – that protection would now be gone.
BoydaBloc yesterday had a humorous bit about Ned lamenting people who just can't keep themselves out of the limelight (like his dad), and now we have this.
Why don’t you (GOP members of Congress) police yourself better so that the Foleys and Cunninghams don’t get hung around every members neck?A fair sentiment, but perhaps this "policing" should include keeping ideologues like Jim Ryun out of Congress. After all, Foley was legitimately hung around Jim's neck in 2006 after it came out that the two were neighbors on D Street (remember, the sweetheart townhouse that Jim still calls home) and even held a joint fund raiser in May 2006.
You'd think Ned would remember this event, since he played such a prominent role in it.
Rep. Jim Ryun (R-Kan.) was a late addition to the block party, dishing out coffee and black-and-white mousse cake to complete the guests’ culinary journey. Ryun’s wife, Anne, and son Ned stayed away from pricey planners to give the night a touch of the congressman’s folksy charm, including red- and blue-frosted elephant cookies handmade by a constituent.Though Ryun's campaign first attempted to distance themselves from the pedophile Foley, they would later change their tune.
“It’s very warm and inviting to have people into your home rather than in a public meeting place,” Anne Ryun said. “Among the congressional families, we do a lot of getting together among ourselves.”
You know what though, crazy as he is, we can't help but agree with Ned on this one. We also wish the GOP leadership in Washington would keep better watch of the flock. But re-electing Jim Ryun would be putting fox in charge of the hen house.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
This time the boys on the right decided to bundle the coal bill with some totally unrelated projects to stimulate economic development in Johnson County. In addition to needlessly putting these important projects at risk, but Senators on both sides of the aisle view it as an unconstitutional grouping of non-germane bills.
Nevertheless, the bill passed the Senate and was sent on to the house. Now, after getting 83 votes on the last bill, and then only 80 votes on the attempt to override the Governor's veto, Mel and his buddies managed only 76 votes today. A full eight votes short of the necessary 2/3 majority needed to override the Governor's likely veto.
Another failure in Melvin Neufeld's seemingly endless attempt to win this petty battle and another example that he will do anything and put any project at risk just to get another (or a first?) notch in his belt.
If you play with fire Melvin, you're gonna get burned.
We're writing you this letter today not as supporters of you or Sen. Obama, but as Democrats. We have made it a priority to endorse neither you nor Sen. Obama on this blog because we feel that lots of good Democrats wholeheartedly support both of you and in the end, we'd be giddy with an Obama Administration or a Clinton Administration.
With that in mind, we write you this letter today asking you to withdraw your name from conention for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
We have known for quite some time, as I'm sure you have as well, that your road to the nomination was going to depend on seating Florida and Michigan's delegates and convincing a significant majority of the unpledged superdelegates to support you. However, after Sen. Obama won convincingly in North Carolina and took you down to the wire in Indiana, it's just impossible for you to secure the nomination without some sort of last second deal-making that in our estimation would be detrimental to the party.
Sen. Obama leads you by 155 delegates with only 217 delegates left to be awarded, and the demographics of the remaining states make anything but a split of those last delegates highly unlikely.
The scorched earth mentality that this primary has taken on makes continuing forward a suicide mission. As we continue to gash at each other's throats, John McCain is out on the campaign trail in the battleground states framing himself. He's telling voters that he's a maverick, when we know that the Straight Talk Express has had four flat tires for a few years now. Sen. McCain is telling voters in Ohio and Florida and Missouri and Colorado that he's a new voice, but we all know that he represents four more years of the same failed Bush policies.
It's time to put aside our own personal ambitions and do what's best for the party and for the country. While you would have been a great candidate, the voters have spoken and Sen. Obama came out on top. It's time to admit defeat.
Moreover, when giving your concession speech, please plead with your supporters to put aside all the animosity of the primary and unite behind one candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, so that we can send Sen. McCain out to pasture where he belongs. This is not about Hillary Clinton. This is not about Barack Obama. This is about the Democratic Party and the people of the United States. We are not endorsing Sen. Obama or unendorsing you, we are just pleading that you let the curtain come down on a valiant effort made by a great candidate and let this party and this country move on.
The Left Brain team
Monday, May 5, 2008
Much has been written about Ben Hodge…most of it true. We all know Ben isn’t running for re-election; We all know he doesn’t care about beating Democrats; We all know that he really doesn’t care about anyone but Ben Hodge; We all know he doesn’t have a permanent address. We know all that.
But what we have finally determined is that Ben Hodge is possibly the worst State Representative in the state of Kansas. And that is not hyperbole. His behavior as a legislator has been embarrassing not only to himself, but to his District and to a large extent, the Kansas Republican Party.
Luckily Ben Hodge is not running for re-election. But us here at The Kansas Republican believe we have not seen the end of Ben Hodge. Rumor has it he may run for the House in a different district or run against an incumbent Senator like Barbara Allen or David Wysong. He has exhibited in the past an ability to pop up in any district to run for office, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up in the wealthy areas of Johnson County to run for office.
It’s too bad when elected officials push their own agendas at the expense of the people of Kansas. There appears to be a lot of that going around in Topeka these days.
Hear, hear, TKR. We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Bravo.
"[Lt. Governor Mark Parkinson] came out and said regardless of what we do we don't have any grounds to doUh, we're no political science majors or anything (oh wait, yes we are!), but this seems more to us like a case where the separation of powers has been markedly successful.
what we're going to do," Merrick said. "It's us saying there is a separation of
power issue, and we're going to take care of our interest and protect our
members because we are an equal body."
Merrick and Neufeld had a chance to override the Governor's veto (her check on the powers of the legislative branch) and failed. The fact that Neufeld and Merrick couldn't muster the votes to override the veto just means they were on the wrong side of the issue. The mere opportunity to do so is the separation of powers in action.
Nowhere in the Constitution, state or federal, does it say that the outcome of such maneuvering has to be to the liking of the majority.
The Wichita Eagle's Phillip Brownlee hit the nail on the head in his blog today.
What are they suing her for again? My head hurts.
The Kansas Supreme Court will decide whether Bremby followed the rule of law. It would be a waste of taxpayer money for the Legislature to go to court over the same issues.
Friday, May 2, 2008
First, Roberts' camp launched a radio ad attacking Jim Slattery for living in Washington, D.C. since 1994. The ad claims that Slattery was a lobbyist "Gucci loafers and all." No word on whether Slattery actually wears Gucci loafers.
Then, the pimple-faced operatives over at the KS GOP found the YouTube.
These two ads show us two things. One, the Kansas Republican Party and the Pat Roberts' campaign have no intentions of talking about issues. Two, they're scared.
Thankfully, the Kansas Democratic Party has shown they're not going to let Pat Roberts voting record and dedication to the failed policies of the Bush Administration be swept under the rug.
Nothing like the smell of political mud in the springtime. At least one party and one campaign is more interested in issues than childish, personal attacks.
Melvin Neufeld waited until exactly the right time.
He had threatened to keep the legislature in session indefinitely until the Governor's veto of two coal-powered, carbon-belching power plants in Western Kansas could be safely overridden.
So yesterday, ol' Mel finally unleashed the fury, holding a vote to override the veto, confident he had his 84 votes.
That confidence was misplaced. After holding legislators hostage for hours trying to find the votes, the override attempt failed, 80-45. Not only did he not get an extra vote -- the bill passed the house originally with 83 votes -- he actually had a net LOSS of three votes. All the arm-twisting, threatening and game-playing just turned people away.
Of course, it's only because Kathleen Sebelius bought people tickets to the final four.
Neufeld said after the vote that Sebelius allowed legislators to fly on state aircraft to The University of Kansas games in the NCAA Tournament to leverage her position on the coal fight.What soon-to-be-former-Speaker Neufeld fails to mention is that the individuals in question paid their own way. He also forgot that many of them were and still are in favor of the coal plants and that it's commonplace for a governor to bring legislators along on when traveling in their official capacity.
"What else did the state pay for?" the speaker said. "I have no idea."
But I'm sure none of the special projects that he was promising to give people if they voted his way would have cost the state any money.
On a troubling note, Rep. Tom Hawk (D-Manhattan) voted with Neufeld and the rest of the Sunflower cronies. Rep. Hawk has been on the right side of this issue from day one, but yesterday there were some rumblings around the capitol that he had been seduced by Neufeld. We don't know the reason yet and we may never, but this blogger is shocked and saddened that a man who has been a very good legislator could flip-flop on such an important issue. We'll bring you more details as we get them.
Republicans voting yes: Aurand, Beamer, Bethell, Bowers, Brown, Brunk, Burgess, Carlson, Colyer, Craft, Crum, Dahl, Donohoe, Faber, Fund, George, Goico, Gordon, Grange, Hayzlett, Hill, Carl Holmes, Mitch Holmes, Horst, Huebert, Humerickhouse, Johnson, Kelley, Kelsey, Kiegerl, King, Kinzer, Knox, Landwehr, Light, Mast, Masterson, McLeland, Merrick, Jim Morrison, Moxley, Myers, Neufeld, Olson, O'Neal, Otto, Owens, Patton, Peck, Powell, Powers, Proehl, Rhoades, Roth, Schroeder, Schwartz, Shultz, Siegfreid, Sloan, Swanson, Tafanelli, Vickrey, Watkins, Whitham, Wilk, William Wolf and Yoder.
Republicans voting no: Colloton, Hodge, Huntington, Metsker, Judy Morrison, Pottorff, Quigley, Spalding, Swenson, Kay Wolf and Worley.
Democrats voting yes: Feuerborn, Gatewood, Grant, Hawk, Lukert, McKinney, Palmer, Pauls, Peterson, Phelps, Ruff, Wetta and Williams.
Democrats voting no: Ballard, Burroughs, Carlin, Crow, Davis, Dillmore, Faust-Goudeau, Flaharty, Flora, Frownfelter, Garcia, Goyle, Henderson, Henry, Holland, Kuether, Lane, Loganbill, Long, Mah, McCray-Miller, McLachlan, Menghini, Neighbor, Rardin, Ruiz, Sawyer, Storm, Svaty, Tietze, Treaster, Trimmer, Ward and
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Big Oil has been announcing staggering first-quarter oil profits this week:
- Exxon Mobil: $10.9 billion
- Shell: $9.1 billion
- BP: $7.62 billion
- ConocoPhillips: $4.12 billion
- Chevron: announces tomorrow
And what are our pockets lined with? Well, mine feel about $50.00 lighter every time I fill up my gas tank. How about yours?
Wait...wait...what's this? I just found some complete bullshit in my pocket. I wonder who put that there?
“Any tax increase that Congress imposes on the oil companies would only be paid for by consumers through boosted prices at the gas pump.”Thanks, Tiahrt. But a study by the Consumer Federation of America begs to differ:
The oil industry’s response to increased demand and higher prices suggests market manipulation. Rather than investing in additional refining and storage capacity to avoid shortfalls, the industry has systematically underinvested and there is thus a shortfall of over 3 million barrels per day in refining capacity. This is not the behavior of ordinary market participants in absence of collusion.Thanks to Pat Roberts and Todd Tiahrt - who have been taking money from Big Oil for years and repaying them by voting for billions in tax breaks and incentives - we are stuck with empty pockets and no plans for a summer vacation.
First, the Senate overturned the Governor's veto as expected yesterday by a vote of 32-7. Mark Gilstrap, David Haley, Greta Goodwin, Janis Lee and Jim Barone have some explaining to do as far as I'm concerned.
Here at LBK, we are not such partisan hacks that we insist on a 100% Democratic voting record. The Senators mentioned above represent a broad spectrum of Kansans and in the process of representing their constituents, they're going to vote differently from time to time. No one agrees on everything. But sometimes, there a fundamental values of right and wrong that cannot be compromised. A few years ago it was gay marriage. Last year it was school funding. This year it is Holcomb. This is an issue around which Democrats (and Jim Barone) can rally.
The fact of the matter is, outside of Finney County, people are either against the coal plants or they don't care one way or the other. Janis Lee at least has the excuse of being from Western Kansas, where polling shows support for the plants is higher, but the rest of you have no excuse.
Props to Jean Schodorf and David Wysong for standing up to their leadership and voting for what is right.
On the House side, Speaker Mel didn't have the votes last night and as such no vote was held. Word is it will be first thing this morning. (Apparently StayRedKansas has somehow deduced this means the veto will be overridden...ya, it doesn't make any sense to us either) We again urge you to contact your legislators and give them some words of encouragement. Neufeld has promised not to close the legislature until the veto has been overridden, so there might be some "nay" votes out there that get a little uneasy as the days go by. Keep prodding them. We waited out Doug Mays (who, despite being a jerk, was twice the Speaker that Neufeld is) on school funding because it was the right thing to do and we can do it again with Melvin Neufeld.
Here are legislators that we feel need encouragement.
Democrats who voted against coal bill and need to stay strong:
Barbara Ballard (Lawrence)
Tom Burroughs (Kansas City)
Sydney Carlin (Manhattan)
Marti Crow (Leavenworth)
Paul Davis (Lawrence)
Nile Dillmore (Wichita)
Oletha Faust-Goudeau (Wichita)
Geraldine Flaharty (Wichita)
Vaughn Flora (Topeka)
Stan Frownfelter (Kansas City)
Delia Garcia (Wichita)
Raj Goyle (Wichita)
Tom Hawk (Manhattan)
Broderick Henderson (Kansas City)
Jerry Henry (Cummings)
Tom Holland (Baldwin City)
Annie Kuether (Topeka)
Harold Lane (Topeka)
Judith Loganbill (Wichita)
Margaret Long (Kansas City)
Steve Lukert (Sabetha)
Ann Mah (Topeka)
Melody McCray-Miller (Wichita)
Terry McLachlan (Wichita)
Julie Menghini (Pittsburg)
Cindy Neighbor (Shawnee)
Gene Rardin (Overland Park)
Luis Ruiz (Kansas City)
Sue Storm (Overland Park)
Joshua Svaty (Ellsworth)
Annie Tietze (Topeka)
Mark Treaster (Pretty Prairie)
Ed Trimmer (Winfield)
Jim Ward (Wichita)
Valdenia Winn (Kansas City)
Democrats who voted for the coal bill and need a change of heart:
Bill Feuerborn (Garnett)
Doug Gatewood (Columbus)
Bob Grant (Cherokee)
Dennis McKinney (Greensburg)
Shirley Palmer (Fort Scott)
Jan Pauls (Hutchinson)
Mike Peterson (Kansas City)
Eber Phelps (Hays)
L. Candy Ruff (Leavenworth)
Jerry Williams (Chanute)
Democrats who missed the last coal vote:
Vince Wetta (Wellington)
Tom Sawyer (Wichita)