Friday, April 17, 2009

Sebelius to speak at Harvard...with energy or as usual?

I guess even Harvard sometimes can't find a decent speaker.

Harvard University's School of Government announced today that Gov. Sebelius will speak at their commencement this May. I couldn't help but laugh a little bit. If you've ever seen her speech at the DNC or her response to the State of the Union, or really anytime she gets in front of the camera, you'll laugh a little too. She's about as dry as a western Kansas county after a coal plant's been built. (That's so my liberal readers can understand just how boring she is.)

As future leaders, I certainly hope this year's graduating class doesn't take her speaking style to heart. I can't handle anymore monotone liberals.

Motive behind Barker loan will dictate its importance

I've finally gotten to take a few minutes to look at Tim Barker's campaign finance reports and there's a few things that I think can be deduced.

First, the timing of the loan seems somewhat important to me. The loan itself is interesting, but the motive behind it I think is more important. Did he loan himself $100,000 because he plans on self-financing his campaign or did he do it to inflate his numbers so that he can continue trying to raise money?

I personally think it's the latter. If he planned to self finance he would have made a large donation to himself in the last reporting period and made a splash. And I'd think it would have been larger than $100K. Also, as I alluded above, the loan is dated 3/31/09, the last day of reporting. That seems to indicate to me that he needed to shore up his numbers for this period.

However, if I'm wrong and he plans to just pay for everything himself, then yea, $100K is a big deal. But it's not enough by itself, it'll take at least nine more of those, if not more. The question then becomes, how much does the guy have? I don't think he has that much. Which brings me back to the motivation behind the loan.

I've only checked a few of Barker's donors, and only the ones without a Pratt address, as I'm going to assume a lot of those are personal contacts not based on political views. However, those I did check either have no prior information or are tied to moderate Republicans or Democrats in some way. A few have given to Kansas Traditional Republican Majority, so somewhere along the line Barker knows a few people. Either that or he's getting his money's worth out of his consulting firm, Dublin Group. Will he be able to convince donors he has a chance now that both Tracey Mann and Sue Boldra are in the race?

Only time and several more finance reports will tell.

Tax increase looming

Now the real work begins.

While legislators should be commended for not raising taxes so far to fix the budget problems they created, the session isn't over yet and the real fight lies straight ahead. New budget numbers are due out today and let's just say it doesn't look pretty.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis has already called for a tax increase and you know Sebelius is just foaming at the mouth to get more money out of Kansan's pockets. No word yet if she plans on paying her share or not.

Tax increases virtually never happen during the regular session. No one wants that kind of scrutiny over a long period of time. No, tax increases come quickly in an attempt to push them through before constituents get word of it. Plus, a few days of bad coverage is nothing like going through House and Senate Committee hearings with day after day of coverage of a tax increase.

The focus on this issue I think will be in the Senate. So far some key moderate Republican's seem to be holding fast, including Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt. The question is whether or not that's just talk or if they will actually stand for something. Sen. President Morris and Vice President Vratil certainly aren't shy about raising taxes. Vratil basically blamed the budget problems on too few taxes a while back, rather than on the out of control spending legislators have authorized. I won't place a bet on which side will win out.

So while I appreciate all of the work that's been done so far to keep taxes from rising, it's time to tighten the belt and let the real work begin.

MSM: a pair of papers, but different style

Continuing to take a look at mainstream media in the state, I'll start with the Manhattan Mercury.

First, I'm not a regular reader of the Mercury. I've been unable to find RSS feeds on their website, and that's how I prefer to get most of my news anymore. So, this assessment is with some reservations as I don't read as much of their paper as I do others.

First off, the Mercury seems to do local news well. But they also seem to be unable to do much original reporting when it comes to political news, so that's a strike against them. While the AP is useful, I find the most interesting news comes from original reporting from the various papers across the state, not from the AP.

Their limited coverage combined with limited ways to access what they do have mean the Mercury gets a yellow light. Not great, but not ugly either.

The Hutch News is a part of the Harris News Service network. Any paper that is a part of this news service is quite good. They have stories that you just won't find anywhere else. They also seem to be equal opportunity hitters, Democrat or Republican.

The Hutch News in particular is good. They have good local coverage and I'll say from first hand experience they have covered the first district race like no one else. And unlike the Mercury they offer a RSS feed, although it includes all of their news, which can be maddening sometimes because you have to look through 15 stories before you find the one you want.

Harris News service just announced yesterday that they are closing their Topeka bureau. This is a real loss for the state. The fact is a functioning society depends on a free and honest press, and the Harris News Service was one of the best. I'm very sad to see them go.

The Hutch News gets a green light as good MSM.

Regents put the squeeze on lawmakers

Since when is the Kansas Board of Regents interested in students? Apparently when it looks like their budget is going to get cut, they get interested in a hurry.

The Wichita Eagle has an article up today regarding the Regents promise to freeze tuition for a year if their budget isn't cut any further. Of course, that's a relative pipe dream because state revenue are continuing to fall beneath expectations.

Here's what I want to know... why all of the sudden is the Board of Regents interested in freezing tuition? Where were these people during the decade of eight and ten percent yearly increases? Oh, but cut my budget and all the sudden we care about tuition costs!

Here's the other side of the story: Kansas universities will be getting $50 million in "stimulus" money this year. But rather than take the one time money and use it for, oh, I don't know, one time projects, instead they want to use it to freeze tuition, and then hold that over the Legislature's head to keep the rest of their budget.

This is exactly why Democrats wanted the stimulus. Use the money for something like a tuition freeze and all of the sudden it becomes a mandate that the state will have to keep funding in the future.

I'd love for just one reporter to ask the Regents why this year, of all years, they have suddenly become interested in student's pocketbooks.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

MSM: The good, the bad and the ugly

Conservatives love to gripe about the "mainstream media." I'm one of them, I'll admit it. And yet sometimes the media gets it right. Conservatives would do themselves a huge favor if they would simply acknowledge it when it happens.

The problem is some are better than others. Which paper do you read? Which TV station do you watch? Well, all of them, of course! That is, if you're a news junkie like me!

For everybody else, who doesn't have the time or desire to watch news 24/7 but who want the unfiltered truth, I thought I'd put together my own list of MSM in Kansas: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today, let's take a look at one of the good ones. I'll call the "good ones" green light sources...

Kansas Liberty - MSM? Liberty? Yes, I know, Kansas Liberty isn't exactly the first news source that would pop into your head when the phrase "mainstream media" is brought up. In fact I think of it as the anti-MSM. But there's several reasons why I'm going to lump them in here.

Liberty is a subscription news service with nothing but original reporting, and an ever expanding readership. I've seen many Liberty articles appear in my many Google Searches. And honestly, unless we begin to view sources like Kansas Liberty as mainstream, how can we expect anyone else to view them as mainstream?

So even though they don't have a print edition, I'm going to classify them as MSM.

Why the green light? Well, if you read anything there, it becomes apparent instantly. Original reporting. Stories no one else will tell. The whole truth, not the half truth Kansans are so used to getting. The list goes on.

Next up, a pair of papers, the Hutchinson News and the Manhattan Mercury. What's your prediction? Green, yellow or red light?

Wasinger falters again, no first district money

Nothing surprising about this one folks. A state-by-state and congressional district analysis shows that fully two-thirds of Huelskamp's Kansas contributions came from the first district. That's in comparison to Wasinger who wasn't able to raise a single itemized contribution from the first district again.

Virginia continues to be the number one donor state for Wasinger, this time clocking in at 36% of itemized donations. There was a tie for number two between New York and Maryland with newcomer Washington DC coming in fourth. That's a rather impressive showing for the district based on it's small total population. And moving up from seventh to fifth is Kansas. Just over $3,500 from the home state with 86% coming from the third district. Again, still no contributions from Rob's home base, the first district.

In raw numbers it's interesting to note Huelskamp raised nearly $40,000 from the first district, an astronomical number for that part of the state. That's in comparison to $36,105 in total itemized contributions to the Wasinger campaign.

In other words, Sen. Huelskamp was able to raise $3,700 more from the first district alone than Wasinger was able to raise from the entire nation. It's beyond impressive, it's nearly unbelievable.

It's also interesting to note Huelskamp took in over $2,800 more in unitemized contributions than Wasinger as well. Either way you slice it, Wasinger got beat down this quarter.

Things must really be looking up for the Huelskamp campaign. I would say that whoever is in charge needs to continue what they are doing.

For the Wasinger campaign, I'd say they really need to take a good look at their strategy and seek outside help. (And when I say outside I mean someone from Kansas.) I expected contributions to dry up as the Brownback money ran out, but I didn't expect them to fall by 50%! Money is quickly drying up for Wasinger and he's clearly not able to tap into any significant Kansas money.

It's become clear now that Rob is having a very difficult time connecting with the voters in the first district. I doubt Rob's strategy will change, which makes me happy. I won't say this is a knock out blow to the Wasinger campaign because a lot can happen between now and August 2010, but it has sure got to be a huge blow to their moral. Unlike what I've heard, I don't agree that this is the end of the road, but it has sure pushed the Wasinger campaign to the edge of the cliff.

More on the other anomalies I outlined before later.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BREAKING: Wasinger contributions fall by nearly half, still no contributions from the first district

I've been nearly shocked to my core. FEC reports are slowly trickling in and Rob Wasinger's has finally been posted. It shows only $55,000 in contributions this quarter, which is only about half of what he reported to have raised last quarter.

More shocking, still no contributions from the first district. That makes two reports in a row that Rob has been unable to find a single person in the district he wants to represent to contribute to his campaign.

I've only given his report a cursory glance as well as Barker and Boldra, but here's what I've noted so far that I'll expand on over the next few days:

  • The word Virginia appears way too many times in Wasinger's itemized contributions. I'll have a geographical breakdown later.
  • Barker only brought in around $23,000 but loaned his campaign $100,000. I guess it pays to be CEO of a bankrupt ethanol plant.
  • Boldra reported only $9000, but all but two contributions were from the first district. Somebody send Wasinger a memo that fundraising in western Kansas is possible.
  • Wasinger reported spending just over $3,000 for fund raising letters. HSP Direct isn't the name on the expenditure but the address is the exact same. Hmmm...
  • Three expenditures from Wasinger's campaign were spent in the first district for a grand total of $1033.64 out of over $25,000 spent. So much for first district "economic development."
  • A Google Alert turned up a letter to the editor from Tim Huelskamp to the Hutchinson News clarifying a contribution from "AIG." Turns out it was from an agent who used to sell insurance for AIG, who also happens to live in the first district. I wonder if KSNBC-01 will be printing a retraction to their previous post? I won't hold my breath.
As of right now, Huelskamp's report isn't up. Tracey Mann won't have a report as he didn't file until after April 1.

I'll have more over the next few days.

Huelskamp makes the TEA Party rounds

According to the tweets Sen. Tim Huelskamp is putting up, he'll be attending four TEA Party rallies across the first district today.
Joined an enthusiastic crowd at the Dodge City TEA Party. Real citizens ready for real change in DC. 3 TEA Parties to go! #tcot #teaparty

Turnout in Salina, KS was over 500 people. Great crowd, very receptive. #tcot #teaparty
I know from the Hutch News that he'll also be at the rally in Hutchinson. I'm not sure which other rally he plans to attend. Rob Wasinger and the other first district candidates were not seen at the Salina rally.

If you haven't found a TEA Party to attend yet, go to AFP-Kansas. They have a list of all the parties across the state.

It also looks like the Kansas Meadowlark, Wichita Liberty and KRA are going to be doing some coverage of all the TEA Parties across the state. You may want to check those sites out later tonight and tomorrow.

Did Sebelius benefit from $200,000 worth of Tiller money?

More questions are being raised today about just how cozy Sebelius and Tiller have been over the past few election cycles. KTKA 49 in Topeka has another story up about a fund raising letter sent out for George Tiller's ProKanDo PAC signed by him.

In the letter, Tiller states that he donated $200,000 to ProKanDo will the aim of electing pro-abortion Sebelius.

Of course, no one will make any kind of comment. The question becomes, is this kind of spending something that should have been reported by Sebelius to the Senate for her confirmation hearings? It's hard to believe that she doesn't have an fundamental understanding of who was instrumental in getting her elected governor.

KC Star targets TEA parties

The Kansas City Star's editorial page and blog take aim at TEA Party protesters today. In a completely expected move, the Star attempts to propagate the myth that the TEA Party rallies have been organized by right wing radicals, the Republican Party, and even Republican elected officials.

There is, of course, one big problem in that logic. If Republican's had been able to organize such a nationwide response, would Obama have ever been elected in the first place? Would we have further lost House and Senate seats? To believe the massive rallies being held are organized by "right wing radicals" is to believe those radicals have the organization skills of, well, a barracuda.

Quite honestly, the Star has checked out of reality if they think the hated Republicans could pull off this kind of response.

It's Tax Day! How much does Sebelius owe Kansas?

Gov. Sebelius has already admitted to both lying on three years worth of tax returns and to how much campaign cash she received from abortionist George Tiller. But because Kansas income taxes are based on how much a person pays in Federal taxes, the question du jour has now become how much did she cheat the state of Kansas out of the past three years?

Fact is, no one knows. According to Channel 49 in Topeka, neither the Governor's office or the White House is saying if she had to pay additional state taxes.

But according to the Kansas Department of Revenue, any changes in a previously filed federal return must be reported to KDOR within 180 days and any back taxes must be paid in full with interest to avoid penalties.

Don't the people of Kansas have a right to know how much their governor cheated her own state out of properly due taxes? She's been so eager before to raise taxes (property, sales and anything else she can think of), why not admit whether or not she's paid her fair share?

If three years worth of tax returns can cause this much trouble, imagine what a ten year review would reveal.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Will Sebelius meet with woman forced to abort her child by Tiller?

Kansas Liberty is raising questions tonight about whether Gov. Sebelius will meet with a woman who was forced to abort her 25 week old unborn child in George Tiller's abortion clinic.

Michelle Armesto-Berge has previously testified before House and Senate committees about her forced abortion at the hands of her parents and Tiller's staff. She's now asking to meet with Gov. Sebelius to ask her to sign Senate Bill 218 which would tighten abortion laws in Kansas to ensure such an incident doesn't happen again.

I would say chances of a meeting are nil. Sebelius has signed her token pro-life piece of legislation to strengthen her chances at being confirmed HHS Secretary. She has no political reason to sign the bill, and let's be honest, politics is the only reason she's ever done anything. So, no political reason to sign the bill equals one dead bill. And zero chance of a meeting.

The only hope is further damage to her nomination process due to lying about Tiller's campaign donations. If she feels there's been sufficient damage, she very well may sign the bill hoping, like so many times before, that prosecution will simply never happen against her old pal. Regardless of her decision, I'm sorry to say she'll never meet with

Pro-lifers would be smart to focus on further damage to her nomination process to better the chances of SB 218 here in Kansas. It's a win-win strategy.

Friendship or principles?

The Hutchinson News has a feature article regarding Tracey Mann's friendship with State Rep. Mike Slattery.

Mary Clarkin wrote a fairly evenhanded story, with the exception of the first paragraph. Clarkin states:
If Salina Republican Tracey Mann wins the GOP primary next year in the 1st Congressional District, he very well could capture the vote of at least one Kansas Democratic politician in the general election.
Of course, this isn't possible even in the general election because Slattery lives in the third congressional district, not the first. However, if Slattery would like to resign his seat in the Legislature in order to vote for Mann, I'd be okay with that!

The article notes various political contributions Mann has made, supporting both Slattery's in the past election cycle but also making donations to Nick Jordan in the third and Jerry Moran in the first districts.

A couple of things I noted...

First, Mann continues to label himself "conservative" yet I don't know a thing about his stance on any issues. Perhaps he is...perhaps he isn't. Who knows?

Second, his treatment of Pat Roberts in the past election concerns me.
Mann did not say who he supported in the Roberts-Slattery contest, but noted the contribution was public record.
If he won't say who he supported but notes who he gave money to even after the election is over, that's very concerning. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with him supporting Slattery or really any other Democrat he wants. Any voter has that right. My concern is electing another Republican official who won't support other Republicans once in office. It's that kind of public perception that hurts the party. Roberts has the highest approval rating of any statewide elected official and is well liked by both moderates and conservatives. He's a model of Republican leadership.

In essence, the article suggests that friendship trumped principles in his choice of who to support. I don't know what I'd do in the same situation. I think everyone will rest easier once they actually find out what Mann thinks rather than who his friends are.

Sebelius, Tiller donation flap hits three MSM outlets so far

Just a quick update to my previous post regarding Sebelius lying about her total donations from abortionist George Tiller.

The Lawrence Journal-World has now picked up the story from the AP and has it on its website, as well as it's sister station KTKA 49 in Topeka. A quick google news search doesn't show any other coverage either nationally or locally on MSM outlets. Many pro-life websites are covering the story.

We'll see what happens as the day progresses. It never fails to amaze me how some stories I can find in every newspaper in Kansas while other statewide stories seem to only be relevant to certain geographical areas of the state.

Capitalism vs Socialism or Capitalism vs Free Markets?

I try to make it a point to not live by the almighty poll. When it comes to some political topics, I just really don't care what other people think. (It's called principles!)

However, sometimes it's necessary to look deeper into a poll to prevent perceptions or generalizations materializing out of evidence that simply isn't there, or that is perhaps taken out of context.

I've seen a couple posts (here and here) about the new Rasmussen Survey where only 53% of Americans polled said they prefer capitalism versus socialism, which is exactly the kind of poll I think can be misleading unless all the evidence is examined.

As it turns out, Americans aren't so much in favor of socialism over capitalism as they are in calling capitalism "free markets."
It is interesting to compare the new results to an earlier survey in which 70% of Americans prefer a free-market economy. The fact that a “free-market economy” attracts substantially more support than “capitalism” may suggest some skepticism about whether capitalism in the United States today relies on free markets.
This is further supported by comparing the most recent poll with the December 29 poll about "free markets." Only 15% in the December poll supported a government run economy and that number remains unchanged in the most recent poll. Have fundamental attitudes toward government changed or has the poll verbiage changed?

It's also interesting to note that more people (27%) are unsure of which they prefer than those who know in their heart socialism is better (20%.) Is it because they really don't like capitalism or because they prefer to think of America as a free market society versus capitalistic?

Here's what I took from this survey: conservatives, and Republicans in particular, have been slow to define the other side as "socialists" versus the all encompassing "liberal" label. This poll should be a wake up call to our side to think about how we define issues and to not repeat the mistakes of the past. McCain in particular was slow to clearly define the ideological differences between a free market society and Obama's vision of a socialist America.

It's no longer conservatives versus liberals, it's conservatives versus socialists, and we'd be smart to define the debate in such terms.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Huelskamp leads in the endorsement race

Kansas Liberty notes tonight that Sen. Huelskamp leads in the endorsement race. Even though opponent Rob Wasinger started off the firestorm of early endorsements with anonymous comments regarding some national pro-life leaders, it seems Huelskamp has more than shored up his national support and continues to surge in local first district support.

It's interesting to note that the article only mentions two of Wasinger's endorsements, Barton and Thompson. I can only assume that's because those are the only two he's mentioned publicly and officially on his website. This makes it even more curious why his supporters have insisted on anonymously creating endorsements through Facebook groups and in comments here and elsewhere.

Endorsements are nice, but in reality they usually don't translate into votes, no matter who they come from. People make their own decisions, and especially in the independent First District, I think folks will come to the decision to vote Huelskamp on their own without any help from outside influences.

Sebelius shows once again she can't count

Gov. Sebelius has been caught once again lying about her finances. This time it involved campaign finances rather than personal income taxes.

The first person to break this story was the Kansas Meadowlark. In his post, he outlines the evidence behind her $26,000 mistake. You need to go give it a read if you haven't already. It provides much more detail and explanation than you'll find in today's AP story.

Also, you'll note there is an important aspect to the story that the AP story leaves out; the donations Tiller gave to Sebelius that were earmarked for her Insurance Commissioner race but had to be re-appropriated to her Governor's account because they were given after she filed for the Governor's race. So on top of the PAC contributions that she ignored which is discussed quite nicely in the Topeka Capital-Journal story, there's more to it than just that.

What is Sebelius trying to hide? If Tiller is just someone who "provides a necessary health service", why be so secretive about how much campaign cash you got from him?

This again raises questions about the silence from Republicans on her nomination. How many "oversights" does she get? How many times does she get to lie before someone says something? Doesn't the public deserve a public discussion about her campaign ties to the most notorious abortionist in the world?

The next few hours and days will be interesting. So far the only MSM coverage I've seen is the Cap-Journal. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it's the only MSM source that carries the story.