Thursday, May 28, 2009

Four Stories That Should Worry You

Over the last few days, there have been a number of stories that have caught our attention that signify exactly the kind of country we risk living in when we put people in charge who don't share a basic understanding of the Constitution, of free markets, and of freedom. This, folks, is what happens when we put unchecked liberal elites into power who want to control every aspect of our lives.

1. The biggest story is the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to be the next Justice on the Supreme Court. Obama could not have reached further left than he did to pick this reverse racist , La Raza member who believes, much like Obama, that the courts should be a place to make policy. Here is a snippet from the ABC article referencing Newt Gingrich discussing how reverse racism, like any racism, shouldn't be tolerated in a Supreme Court nominee:

The conservatives are decrying a comment made by Judge Sotomayor in 2001, addressing former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's famous quote that "a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases."

"I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement," Sotomayor said. "First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

"Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society,” she said.

Yes, keep in mind, this is a statement in disagreement with the moderates' hero, Sandra Day O'Connor.

And here is the famous quote regarding her view on the role of the courts:

This month, for example, a video surfaced of Judge Sotomayor asserting in 2005 that a “court of appeals is where policy is made.” She then immediately adds: “And I know — I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. O.K. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I’m — you know.”

It isn't just her quotes either, it's her judicial performance. The fact she's been reversed 60% of the time by the Supreme Court in cases it took. There is the fact she ruled in favor of reverse discrimination. A thoughtful piece against Sotomayor was laid out in the New Republic here.

Of course, we only have our own party's president -- George Bush 41 -- for putting this woman on the courts. The only saving grace is the fact she's replacing another Bush 41 mistake -- David Souter, and so the court's balance will stay where it is.

The fact that should worry us all is that liberals want to pack the courts full of Sonia Sotomayors.

2. San Diego County Stopping Home Bible Studies.
This is perhaps the scariest of the four stories. A county government, using its power to limit the number of people who can come into one's home, is forbidding private religious assembly. Here is the meaningful excerpt:

The county employee notified the couple that the small bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of county regulations, according to Broyles.

Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed "unlawful use of land" and told them to "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit" -- a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.


Obviously, the folks in charge of San Diego County haven't read the Constitution which protects freedom of religion as well as freedom of assembly. A whole separate issue is the wisdom of draconian laws in our cities and counties which seek to control aspects of our daily lives. This is one reason this blog has talked about the importance of increased participation in local elections, to prevent these types of laws from happening.

As the linked article discusses -- what is next, if the County decision is allowed to stand -- prohibitions on back yard barbeques, poker nights, book clubs, etc? Is everyone who wants to get together with a few friends going to have to meet at a church? Is this really the nation we want to live in?

3. Pelosi: 'EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIVES MUST BE SUBJECTED TO INVENTORY'
This story shined in bright green on Drudge today. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, our nation's leading advocate for a drift towards extreme left policies, made the above comment while, appropriately, on a 5 day trip to Communist China.

While in Beijing, she said that the U.S. would cooperate on "climate change" and that a clean environment was a "basic human right". The first troubling part isn't anything new -- she perpetuates the liberal myth about climate change:

In a meeting Wednesday, the head of China's national legislature, Wu Bangguo, told Pelosi that climate change was a common challenge and that Beijing stood ready to work with Washington.

Turning around her usual criticisms about human rights, Pelosi linked global warming to environmental justice, saying the right to a clean environment is also a human right.

"I do see this opportunity for climate change to be ... a game-changer," she said at Tsinghua. "It's a place where human rights — looking out for the needs of the poor in terms of climate change and healthy environment — are a human right."

That liberal mumbo jumbo isn't the real kicker. That comes when she answered a question about how the U.S. Government would get Americans to cut back on "carbon emissions":

In answering a question from a student about how Pelosi was going to get Americans to cut back on their carbon emissions, the leading Democratic lawmaker said it was important to educate children on how to conserve energy and for citizens to build more environmentally friendly homes.

"We have so much room for improvement," she said. "Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory ... of how we are taking responsibility."

One need not be an alarmist to read between the lines of Pelosi's quote. She, based on the "human right of a clean environment", is justifying the use of the long arm of government to inventory how we are living our lives so they -- liberals -- can judge how "we" are taking responsibility.

Of course, in Pelosi's world, in your "environmentally friendly home", you won't be able to do much more than eat or sleep, because having a bunch of cars parked on your street for a Bible Study would negatively impact the environment, right?

This is scary stuff, folks.

4. Paint your roof white to save global warming!
This story isn't necessiarly as frightening as the above three stories but is nonetheless troubling -- if it wasn't so amusing. Yes, a liberal nutcase has declared that all the world's roofs should be painted white to slow global warming. Okay, so just an other liberal environmental wacko piping off, right?

Um, well, yes and no. The problem is that the man who made this statement is Barack Obama's Energy Secretary! Yes, Professor Steven Chu said the following:

"If you look at all the buildings and if you make the roofs white and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of colour rather than a black type of colour and if you do that uniformally, that would be the equivalent of... reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years – just taking them off the road for 11 years," he said.

Yes, soon, in the Chu-Pelosi-Obama world of hope and change, your business may be forced to paint your roof white or some kind of other "light color".

Word is Home Depot and Sherwin Williams are on board with this plan. And word is that White Castle has already issued a statement saying "and you thought our buildings were ugly -- we were just ahead of our time!"

In all seriousness, does it get more ridiculous? Again, the real liberal agenda is not improving the environment, it is about using the myth of environmental destruction to control our lives so we can live in their Utopian world of small "carbon footprints" and where we are all in harmony with nature.

What's even more amazing is that liberals are so arrogant to believe humans, through changing rooftops, can impact the environment in any kind of major way.

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Whether one is talking about activist racist court nominees, religious persecution of in-home Bible studies, government taking an inventory of our lives and telling you what to do with your private property, a theme emerges that is unmistakable:

These people need to be stopped.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

They fought the law -- and the law won. But that won't stop them...

Today, liberals everywhere are upset because the California Supreme Court upheld the voters' approval of a ban on gay marriage that passed 52-48 in November. In doing so, they allowed the 18,000 marriages established before the ban passed to stand -- a bit of an odd ruling due to the fact it creates a small class of 36,000 people -- but probably necessary in the fact that it would have created an ex-post facto type of situation and opened up a challenge to the United States Constitution.

Immediately after the ruling, thousands of protestors erupted in a "Shame on you!" chant. While this emotional reaction by the left is expected, it is truly sad that so many seem so ignorant of the importance of the rule of law. Any ruling contrary to the one made today would have been truly absurd and set California on a dangerous path where laws, even ones established in the Constitution, didn't matter as long as a court said otherwise.

So, although the 4-3 decision calling the statute banning gay marrige is still a bad decision, at least 6 of the 7 California Supreme Court justices had the sense to realize the pandora's box that would have been created had they ruled that a constitutional amendment was unconstitutional.

Indeed, no matter where one stands on the issue of gay marraige, what happened today was a victory for the rule of law. To put it bluntly, opponents of Prop 8 fought the law -- and the law won.

Afterwards, opponents said they would go back to the ballot box with an initiative of their own to repeal the voters' decision in 2008. Of course, this is what should have happened from day one! Rather than trying to overturn the will of the people via the courts, they should spent less time protesting and more time trying to convince some of those who voted yes to vote the other way next time around.

Hopefully in the process liberals will gain a lesson in basic civics and law -- which is the first step in the 12 Step Program towards recovery from liberalism.

Of course, this is separate from the entire debate over the issue at hand -- gay marriage. After all, it isn't just civil law secularists and liberals want to overturn. They want to change moral and natural law -- but what is lost in the frenzy and coverage over attempts to redefine marriage is something that secularists and liberals will never understand:

Marriage can't be redefined. It is what it is. It is and always will be between a man and a woman, and that will never be altered because it can't be. Just because a state legislature or supreme court in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts or Iowa says otherwise doesn't mean anything as far as the real definition goes. It's no different than 2+2 equalling four or the fact the sun comes up in the morning and goes down at night. A governmental body of any kind saying otherwise won't alter that reality.

What denying reality can do, however, is turn a civilization upside down and put a culture on the way to collapse because people won't know right from wrong, fact from fiction, or reality from fantasy. When we set the precedent that it is government, not God or even the people, that defines what is moral and what isn't, we set ourselves on a course where there are no definitions at all and there are no absolutes -- not marriage, not family, not relationships, not anything.

In such a world where government is our moral, political, and cultural Webster's Dictionary, we put ourselves on the path towards total government control because government defines everything. After all, if government can redefine something as basic as marriage, what else can it redefine? Government can literally change the meaning of something from one year to the next, and there will be no overriding principle -- moral, religious, cultural, or otherwise -- to say differently.

Furthermore, when there is no basic moral compass to govern our decisions and our laws, and things like marriage, life, and family mean only what government says they mean, we put our nation and therefore our lives totally at the whim of what governmental leaders say -- and not just elected government leaders, but appointed ones as well. This isn't a path towards freedom -- it is one towards fascism.

Liberals like to talk about how conservatives exist in a world of blacks and whites where there are no gray areas, that conservatives don't understand the nuances of life and that we are devoid of reality of everyday life. If one even assumes this criticism has some foundation, what liberals won't tell you is that they live in a much more dangerous world of colors -- one where there is no black and white whatsoever, where the world is only gray in a brave new world of perpetual cultural cloudiness.

Liberals attempts to redefine reality aren't just limited to marriage, either. They have already attempted to redefine life -- for nearly 40 years we've had laws which basically deny biology and say an unborn child isn't human because of the mere fact it hasn't been born yet. As a result, we've had an inconsistency in laws where if one kills a pregnant mother in some states, it's two murders, but in another state, it's one murder and if the mother kills her own child, it's a medical procedure.

Of course, some differences in laws between governments -- in this country, states -- is fine. That's federalism. Kansas may opt for a higher sales tax while Missouri may opt for a higher property tax. The same goes for speed limits, driving regulations, business licensing, and other similar laws.

But when governments start treating unchangeable moral absolutes such as marriage and life like speed limits and tax policy -- they put us on a path completely different than the one our founders intended.

Rather than being One Nation Under God, where our rights are endowed by our Creator, we become a nation under nothing, where our rights become the mere whims of cultural fads and government power.

SOS 2010: Critical Yet Underrated Race in Kansas

Today, in a series of stops in Kansas, Kris Kobach announced he is running for Secretary of State, setting off a critical yet underrated battle for the state's top elections officer. Current Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh has held the position since 1994.

Kobach's entry, who previously was the Republican State Chairman and a candidate for Congress in 2004, is yet another example of why 2010 presents a huge opportunity for conservatives in Kansas. With Obama continuing to establish the fact he is a liberal and his popularity sinking according to a new Rasmussen poll, and with the Democrats having no heavy hitters on the ballot in Kansas, conservatives have an opportunity to claim Kansas back as a deep red state for the first time ever.

First of all, with Sam Brownback running for Governor, barring a collapse, Kansas will have its first conservative Republican Governor. With no Democrat yet emerged and with Brownback holding a 50 point lead over Ron Thornburgh, even liberals like Steve Rose, as we covered last month, appear ready to hand the governorship to Sam.

Second of all, whether Jerry Moran or Todd Tiahrt wins the primary for the U.S. Senate, both have conservative voting records. Tiahrt probably has the more established pedigree as a conservative, but in either case, we'd have a conservative U.S. Senator as the Democrats have yet to find a credible challenger who would have statewide appeal.

Both of these races will help out races "down the ballot". While no conservative has yet to emerge in the race for Attorney General, Kris Kobach's entry means that conservatives will have an experienced campaigner and household name who can likely bring in enough money to win the seat.

It's important too -- becuase liberals have made it their goal to capture as many Secretary of State positions as possible. Why? So they can control elections and stop any effort by those who want to stop voter fraud and ensure a fair election.

To these liberals, Kobach is everything they hate. He actually wants to prevent voter fraud, clean up the voter rolls, prevent illegal aliens from registering to vote, and actually have some degree of civics education in Kansas. With Brownback and Kobach, we would actually see a Voter ID Bill not only pass in Kansas, but be signed. With Kobach, we would actually see a real effort at making sure our election process is honest and fair.

So who else is running?

Political no-name J.R. Claeys is running as a Republican. His website is here: http://www.jrclaeys.com/. On this site, he seems to be campaigning as a conservative, attending Tea Parties in both Johnson County and Salina. Basically, if one browses his website, his Twitter page, and other resources, Mr. Claeys is ringing the Republican bell.

Problem is, J.R. Claeys has a history of working in the Democratic party, something he doesn't tell you on his website. However, a little archive search on the web reveals that here, where he had posted his resume. Here is the excerpt:

April 1998 to November 1998 -- Kansas Democratic Party -- Topeka, Kansas
Field Coordinator
Developed and implemented plan to increase voter turnout
Coordinated Riley and Geary County Democratic campaigns
Participated in National DNC training seminars


Interesting, huh? Now, perhaps Mr. Claeys has had a conversion. 11 years is certainly a long time, but going from National DNC training seminars (!!!) to Tax Day Tea Parties is about as big of a bridge one can cross politically. As such, it would be nice if somewhere on his website, which is packed to the hilt with other information about Mr. Claeys, this apparent conversion was mentioned.

Further research is hard to come by, as almost all of his $212,000 at the end of 2008 had come from himself. We won't know who else is supporting him through the pocketbook til the end of 2009 and perhaps not until deep into 2010.

As such, it will be interesting to see if the moderate Republican wing comes out in support of him through endorsements or the support of KTRM, as these people are not and never will be fans of Kobach (which in our eyes is a very good thing). One would think that if Claeys was indeed a conservative, he'd steer clear of these endorsements. The only thing we have to go on now is that he won a blog straw poll of a bunch of Republican insiders, which means nothing as the type of Republican insiders who participate in blog polls tend to be dominated by those not of the conservative wing of the party.

Mr. Claeys is a mystery and will remain so. As of right now, his website, while nicely designed, seems to scream "political animal" with all it's social networking links and professional imaging. This may not be completely fair, but "political consultant's creation" is the impression that is left with us.

The other potential candidate is Ron Thornburgh, who is trailing by 50 points in polling in the Governor's primary, and according to the Star's Prime Buzz this morning, has apparently decided to keep his options open for a fourth term as Secretary of State. Steve Rose in his column last month suggested that Thornburgh do exactly that. While in many ways this would be hilarious -- that a statewide official has so little name ID and record to run on that he doesn't run for anything else -- it would certainly make things interesting.

If Claeys is the conservative he is campaigning as, it would open things up for Thornburgh again with two conservatives in the race. Of course, perhaps Claeys gets out if Thornburgh gets back in -- though that doesn't seem to be the case based on Claeys recent tour of the state and web activity.

Our take is this:

While there are certainly some interesting political calculations to take note of, the only clear conservative choice is Kris Kobach. He has a track record of activity and credibility on the issues he's campaigning on, as well as within conservative circles.

Most importantly, voters know that with Kris Kobach, they will get someone committed to the very critical issues of stopping voter fraud, preventing illegal alients from registering, cleaning up the voter rolls, and actually doing something with the office, rather than sitting on his hands for 12 years like the current guy. We know he'll work on problems related to advance voting, and we know he has the legal experience to stand up to court challenges from the election-stealing left.

If you want real elections reform and not mere political imagery, vote Kris Kobach.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mark Parkinson Leaves No Doubt -- He's a Liberal

A couple weeks ago, Governor Mark Parkinson surprised many when he agreed to a compromise on the coal plants. Many, including this blog, speculated that perhaps this was a sign that the new Governor might be easier to work with on a number of issues where Kathleen Sebelius offered no hope.

While the decision on the coal plants was a step forward, the new governor took two huge steps back late this week when he line-item veteoed a provision in the state budget which would have removed funding for Planned Parenthood and vetoed a bill which would have limited the ability of cities to annex private land. He also vetoed a bill which would have tightened up regulations regarding advance ballots, which would have limited the potential for fraud in elections.

By taking these three actions, Governor Parkinson confirmed what most everyone knew but was hoping was not the case -- he's a liberal and will govern that way. In each of these cases, he had the opportunity to stake a moderate position to match the moderate image he likes to present to the electorate.

Thankfully, Kansans will only have to deal with a liberal governor for one more legislative session.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Soon We'll All be Driving Obamobiles

On Tuesday there were two big stories in the auto industry -- neither of which was good for America nor those who believe in capitalism and a free market economy.

First of all, GM officially changed its name from General Motors to Government Motors.

Second, President Obama announced his administration is setting extremely tough new "fuel efficiency standards" that will increase cost for consumers, hurt safety, transform America's car and truck fleet, and will represent an unprecedented governmental tinkering with capitalism -- all for the benefit of a liberal agenda that aims to tell people how to live and how to drive.

Here is a telling quote from this Reuters story:

"The government is now designing our cars. It's out of the hands of vehicle manufacturers," said auto industry consultant Larry Rinek.

We've reached a brave new world. Congress doesn't even have to approve the standards, either, as these will be implented through the EPA and DOT rules. All because do-gooders think your car doesn't get enough miles-per-gallon and because a bunch of environmental-wacko liberals continue to fantasize that one nation's government regulations on tailpipes and the size of cars will actually impact the climate.

We could go into all the reasons why global warming is a joke -- including evidence that shows that the earth has actually been cooling the past few years -- but it doesn't matter now. Gone will be any semblance of consumer choice or a free market. Check out this excerpt from the AP article:

Eric Fedewa, vice president of global powertrain forecasting for the auto consulting firm CSM Worldwide in Northville, Mich., said the changes will make pickup trucks so much more expensive that they will be used almost exclusively for work.

As we've warned here in the past, government is using the dangerous strings of bailout funds and economic rescue to one, essentially purchase an auto company, and now, through that same mindset of power for the goal of "improving gas mileage and reducing emissions", actually control what you drive.

Yet, amazingly, auto industry executives, all inspired by pride and greed rather than principle and free market economics, stood by Obama's side.

What they don't get is that there is little to no point now in actually having separate auto companies, with the government dictating what kinds of cars will be made and driven. We'll all be driving around in Obamobiles. Maybe GM will name its first car under these rules the "Chevrolet Barack". It would be appropriate.

Of course, this is just the beginning. Not too far down this liberal road of 1984-like government power will not only be the EPA and DOT telling you what to drive -- but when to drive it. National speed limits won't be far behind. Forced car pooling. Bans on even owning an SUV, even if you can afford to buy one.

All to satisfy liberal fantasies of an environmental, government-controlled Utopia.

Will some Republican please stand up and oppose this communism?

A fun spinoff blog...

Being huge Royals fans here at Kaw & Border, we had thought about commenting on some recent developments with the franchise, but held off, not wanting to take away from the overall mission of this blog.

However, with so many other Royals blogs already out there and other political sites such as RedState.com and RealClearPolitics.com also having sports sites, we thought it was time to at least give it a shot.

As such, we decided to create a new spinoff blog called Kaw & Border: Royal Intent. Of course, the title is in keeping with our site's namesake, the famous TV drama, which also had several spinoffs.

So, from time to time, Royal Intent will be posting news, information regarding the Kansas City Royals franchise, both on and off the field. We can't promise as frequent as updates as here, and but we'll try to include relevant information while having fun as well.

You can find the new blog at: http://www.royalintent.blogspot.com/

We hope you enjoy.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Victory for the First Amendment: Ethics rule deemed unconstitutional

The First Amendment got a boost this week when the office of Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, in an opinion sought by the Governmental Ethics Commission, said that it was their opinion that statutes demanding confidentiality by those filing complaints before the commission were unconstitutional. You can get all the details by clicking here.

The case stems from a complaint filed by Kris Van Meteren against Senator Dwayne Umbarger. After speaking to the press, Van Meteren was fined $7500 by the Ethics Commission for literally speaking to the media about his own case. Apparently, in the eyes of the Commission, once you file a complaint, you can't talk about it. So, if you want your complaint aired in public, it would be better never to actually file a complaint but instead just talk to the media about it. In fact, here is a classic quote from Carol Williams, Executive Director:

"The moment you walk in this door and file a complaint, you are prohibited by law, a class A misdemeanor, of discussing the fact that you walked in here and gave us that complaint.”
-- Carol Williams
Executive Director, Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission
Oct. 19, 2008

Well, today, such shenanigans came to an end when the Ethics Commission, in a secret meeting, dropped the complaint against Van Meteren, as a result of the opinion by the Attorney General.

Halleljuah.

First of all, we have to give a hat tip to the Kansas Meadowlark, which has been on top of the story since day one. Not only has the Meadowlark done a great job in sharing this story, by doing so they have also shed quite a deal of light on the problems with the Ethics Commission, its structure, and the wisdom various rules it is called on to enforce.

Second of all, regarding those rules, today's developments truly represent the first brush back against what has been an all too powerful entity in the Ethics Commission. Hats off to Kris Van Meteren ans his lawyers for fighting this fight to begin with. A lot of the problems with the Ethics Commission were highlighted in this opinion piece by James Meier in the Kansas Liberty.

The commission has a history of draconian fines. In 2006, it fined Kay O'Connor twice -- for a total of $8,000, for two mistakes that resulted in solicitation letters being sent to lobbyists. No warning, no advice, just a fine.

And who can forget the gigantic fines against former State Rep. Patricia Kilpatrick?

This isn't to say that there shouldn't be ethics rules. Of course there should. But when those Ethics rules violate basic Constitutional principles such as the right to speak -- then the commission itself needs to be "checked and balanced" as well as the statutes that it enforces.

So here are some questions to ponder:

In light of today's decision which basically admits that the confidentality rules are unconstitutional, are there other ethics statutes also unconstitutional?

For example, does the state law which bans anyone campaigning for office, including those not even elected yet, from soliciting donations from lobbyists during the legislative session, violate the first amendment?

Do those same rules violate the lobbyists right to free speech as well, by restriciting their ability to contribute?

While the rules are intended to prevent quid-pro-quo types of deals, couldn't a law be passed to prevent dollars-for-votes while still allowing donations and thus protecting the first amendment?

Similarly, does the state law which bars PAC's and businesses from donating to campaigns during the legislative session also violate the first amendment? Aren't PACs and businesses, by definition, collections of individuals?

Not only that, does not the law favor incumbents? Incumbents, for months proceeding the legislative session can seek out donations from lobbyists, while challengers, particularly those in primaries, who are likely to decide to run during the legislative session of a particular election year, are not be able to seek those donations until Sine Die, which is just 2 months prior to the primary. This seems to be more about incumbent protection than anything.

Finally, on that note, even though donations (and soliciation thereof) are allowed by individuals who are not lobbyists during the legislative session, could the fear of a $5,000 fine make a campaign so fearful of accidentally sending a letter to a lobbyist, that they don't send one at all , even to individuals-- and therefore have the effect stifling of free speech as well?

There are other issues as well, beyond first amendment considerations. Some of them are just practical:

1. Regarding the ban on solicitation of lobbysts, should not the burden of the law be on the lobbyist who receives the letter, not the candidate, who with either a small or non existent staff, may accidentally send one to the lobbyist? What's the harm in the lobbyist receiving the letter, unless the lobbyist actually then donates? It seems completely silly to penalize accidental mistakes.

2. Furthermore,wouldn't it make sense to revise the law and simply make campaigns put a disclaimer in any solicitation regarding the prohibition of lobbyists to donate? That way, even if a letter were to end up in the hands of a lobbyists, there would be no question that the letter was not intended to get there? We already require the "Paid for by" disclaimer -- why not this one instead, rather than draconian fines on mistakes?

3. There is also the issue of the size of the fines in some cases. It seems that the $7500 (though rescinded, if Van Meteren hadn't protested it would have stood) and the $8000 for O'Connor were excessive given the crime. It seems that heavier fines should be reserved for those who are breaking the spirit of the law -- i.e., soliciting donations for votes on legislation; misuse of campaign funds for personal purposes; and the like. Perhaps a cap on fines for various violations should be explored.

4. It seems to us that simple full disclosure of contributions and expenditures should be enough to discourage most campaign expenditure abuse. If Candidate X wants to spend $200K on something, his own contributors should be the police force for that, shouldn't they? And not 9 appointed bureaucrats?

5. Finally, there is the issue of the structure of the commission itself. Who checks the commission, other than the courts? Is the current system of appointments by certain elected officials wise anyway, particularly if most of those are occupied by one wing of one party? The party-breakdown rule seems silly too -- all a Democrat would have to do is appoint a liberal Republican and get the same result, or vice versa. There should be some check not only against first amendment violations, but regarding penalties that don't fit the crime as well as politically-motivated penalties as well.

Here is what we would propose:

1. Scrap the commission as is, at least as far as the 9 member board goes. Explore a new commission that would allow greater input from a larger body of elected officials and more checks.

2. Do a complete review of all "ethics" laws as far as campaign donations go. Use common sense in making changes. Ensure the laws do not stifle political activity and speech thus the first amendment.

3. Seek out legal opinion as to the ban on soliciting lobbyists donations during the legislative session, but most particularly, as to the constitutionality of the bans on businesses and PAC's donating during the session.

4. Overturn the ban on businesses and PACs donating during the legislative session, but increase the penalty on proof of "dollars for votes" trading.

5. If the ban is kept, simply require a disclaimer for candidates sending out letters, in case it lands in the wrong hands. Steer the law towards actual solicitation, such as in person meetings or vote trading.

The good news is that the decision this week will likely serve as a boost for legislation in this regard. It's time to reform the Ethics Comission to ensure the statutes themselves, as well as the decisions coming out of those statutes, are ethical themselves.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slippery Slope Alert: Nationalizing the Internet?

This morning our friends at Kansas Progress had a post entitled "Will Obama nationalize the Internet?" The post, which referenced this article by Pejman Yousefzadeh from another great site, RedState.com, discussing the increasing rhetoric from the Obama administration which seems to indicate a desire to nationalize the internet.

For any blog or website dedicated to free speech and free discussion, this kind of talk is downright scary and should put us on all alert.

The RedState.com article focuses on quotes from Susan Crawford, co-chair of Obama's FCC transition team and a special assistant to the president. She's actually got a blog, too. They discussed an article in the Wall Street Journal in which she was interviewed as well as her own blog post here.

The quote in the Wall Street Journal article that raised the attention of RedState and Kansas Progress, and ours as well, was this:

Crawford stressed that the stimulus money is a down payment on future government investments in the Internet. “We should do a better job as a nation of making sure fast, affordable broadband is as ubiquitous as electricity, water, snail mail or any other public utility,” she said.

To put it simply, she wants to make the internet like any other public utility. While this sounds warm and fuzzy and probably sounds reasonable to a lot of Americans, it is the type of reasoning that could set off a slippery slope of dangerous government intervention in a medium where it should have very little.

This isn't about access, though. The argument for access might be a gateway to get the general public to listen, but the agenda is deeper than that...it's an agenda of control and nationalization. Check out this part of her post:

That’s the thing we have to change — the idea that it’s unthinkable (amusing, even) that we could take this increasingly singular but private relationship of people to broadband internet access and make it a public relationship.

No, this is NOT something we "have to change", Ms. Crawford, unless you want control over a private industry and -- we'll touch on this later -- through strings, what people are saying too. She essentially admits this desire for control here:

But end-users really don’t care whether their provider is a cable company or a telephone company — they think they’re getting the internet. They’re probably not even aware that a private company is providing internet access to them. And there are even a few people out there in the U.S., despite our best efforts, who don’t understand that these private companies have every incentive to prioritize and manipulate their way into showing us “channels” instead of the internet.

God forbid a private internet access company have the incentive to motivate our actions in some way. That is the defintion of the free market. People are free to read this blog or not read it. To subscribe to Yahoo or Google or Facebook or simply use their computer for e-mail.

She then drops this line, which should send us all on a "writing to our Congressman" binge:

This re-framing isn't easy. We haven't nationalized an industry in a while. It's not clear that our government would even be particularly good at making fast internet access into a true public priority and resource.

If there is any doubt about the agenda of Obama and the people he's surrounded himself with, this should leave no doubt.

Make no mistake -- the desire to get as many people access to fast Internet is a noble one. But that alone should not be reason for us to cede to the government such a critical aspect of modern day first amendment expression and free economic enterprise as the Internet is.

First of all, philosophical and role-of-government considerations aside, there is the very real question about whether the government could even provide this "public utility" efficiently. Crawford even admits this when she talks about a true government "priority".

Any nationalization effort, despite Crawford's Utopian belief that this is necessary, would likely be a colossal failure in terms of truly providing people access in any kind of efficient way.

But that's not our main concern here. Our concern is the entire notion of making the Internet a "public utility" a priority for the government in the first place!

This is just another attempt by Obama and liberals to nationalize everything possible either through direct government consolidation, regulations, financial support, or taxes -- or some combination thereof.

It is impossible to know the exact motivation of every liberal politician, activist, or bureaucrat.
They will use fuzzy buzzwords to justify their government takeovers. For the banking industry, it was "stability of our economy". For credit cards, it's about the "consumer". For the auto industry, it's about "workers". For the bailouts and high deficits, it's about "preventing a depression". Now for the Internet, it's about "access".

In all cases, but most particularly this one regarding the Internet, this is the classic slippery slope. We've gone from a noble goal of promoting access to broadband to an open advocacy for nationalizing an industry. What worries us is what that slope will then lead to.

The Internet as a "public utility" means that theoretically, there are strings of control there as well -- including but not limited to content, speech, and even privacy. The fact is, many of us participate on the net -- through forums, blogs, and the like -- because of it's anonymity. This can both be good and bad, but it's generally a good -- as it promotes the free exchange of ideas with eventually cream rising to the top.

However, here is the catch. If forced to, Internet companies can eventually find out who we are. That's no secret. Though you are anonymous at first, if someone knows the right information, you really aren't.

Now imagine government in control of access and thus everything related to access. It's one thing to provide government temporary information to root out illegality and crime, but to nationalize access is to open the door to control and regulation far beyond anything even remotely related to the original goal, which was allowing people on the net.

And it's not as if it's hard to imagine either. People who want to regulate what we all say are a dime a dozen. No, they won't come out and say directly they want to limit first amendment rights, but they will try to achieve the same goal through the dangerous tentacles of government involvement and control.

The consequences are great and this should be resisted. People like Susan Crawford need to be stopped. If they aren't, in the not-too-distant future, we will see our Internet access controlled, privacy violated, and speech regulated -- all for the sake of access.

In our eyes, access controlled by government will eventually lead to only one thing: access denied.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Elections have Consequences Update: Mods, Dems Still Control Kansas

This post is third in a series entitled "Elections have Consequences".

Last week, in two separate pieces, we touched on the issue of Democrats and "moderate" Republicans controlling Kansas government.

To recap:

In the post "Steve Rose's Straw Man Sam", we rebuffed Steve Rose's column "Time for the right wing to rule", in which he claimed that if Sam Brownback were elected Governor, "goodbye moderate voices at the top. Gone will be the agendas of the moderate Republicans and Democrats who have ruled Kansas. Gone are the checks and balances. The time will soon come for the far right to rule, whether you like it or not."

Our claim was that this was ridiculous, that currently, and for most times in recent Kansas history, the mods and Dems have essentially controlled every part of Kansas government -- the Governorship, every other statewide office, the court system, the Kansas Senate, and arguably the Kansas House -- and that it was Sam Brownback who would be the check.

In an earlier posted entitled Elections Have Consequences: JoCo Dems, RINOs Stop Balanced Budget, we touched on the point about the supposedly right-wing Kansas House, where liberal Republicans and Democrats banded together to defeat a balanced budget.

Our points in both posts were proven late last week, as both the Kansas House and Senate passed an unbalanced budget that will require "revenue enhancements" (a.k.a. tax increases) to balance the budget. Kansas Liberty has the story here, discussing how Democrats and moderates drove over Speaker O'Neal and approved the budget on a 65-56 vote. There was a similar narrow vote in the Senate.

As the article discussed, this band of RINO's and Democrats has been in control now for several years in Kansas. Conservatives may be able to get a majority for some bills, but the fact remains that on issues such as the budget, the liberals still have control, no matter what the party makeup tells you.

To the Republican Party image, this is embarassing. In a state where Republicans have over 75% of the seats in the Kansas Senate, and nearly 2/3 in the House, we get stats like these (from the same Kansas Liberty article):

Kansas Chamber of Commerce figures, reported in the Linn County News, show state spending increased 48 percent between fiscal years 2004 and 2008, while inflation increased only 13 percent over the same period. The paper reported that "had the state only spent what it took in FY2007 and FY2008, there would be over $900 million in the state coffers today."

This in a red state. This in a state where Steve Rose claims that we need a check on conservatives!

Yet, despite the current economic climate and budget constraints, the left was able to still force its agenda through.

There are a couple of key points to be made here:

1. The Republican Party must mean something besides a mere political label.
Right now, in Kansas, the word "Republican" means little to a significant portion of the party -- only a means of getting elected. While a strong majority of Republicans voted in opposition to the poor budget passed Friday, a sizeable chunk went to vote for a liberal budget. This isn't a case of moderation on social issues, either -- "moderate" would imply conservative on some issues and not as conservative on other issues. Being liberal on everything doesn't make one a moderate -- it makes one a liberal. In this case, a sizeable group of elected Republicans, particularly in Johnson County, voted for a liberal FISCAL policy.

2. Republicans must field Republicans in elections!
This is where "Point #1" is meaningless unless action is taken. In 2008, none of the six moderates (Spalding, Worley, Wolf, Huntington, Colloton, and Quigley) faced opposition from a conservative. It's like the lottery -- you can't win if you don't play. When you add in the 6 Democrats (Talia, Rardin, Neighbor, Slattery, Furtado, Benlon), only half of them faced a reliable conservative -- unfortunately, none were successful.

This is where the Tea Parties come in and where the grassroots matters. A few political activists and the best campaign managers can't turn water into wine all by themselves. Every entity from grassroots organizations to churches to neighborhood groups need to be aware of what's going on and then turn it around by getting involved, donating, and telling their neighbors and friends. The left is on the march and if conservatives simply remain in their pews and homes, nothing will happen and our nation will be further driven into moral and financial bankrputcy..

The good news is that those who believe in fiscal responsiblity are not far away. In the Kansas Senate, conservatives got within 2 or 3 votes of stopping the budget. One only need to point to the close races against Kelly Kultala and Pete Brungardt for two shining examples of where seats could be flipped -- as both candidates barely won their 2008 election (Kultala in the general, Brungardt in the primary). In the House, 7 more votes would have meant passage of a balanced budget -- and that's something we could take care of in Johnson County alone.

So, we're not talking about some 20 seats here. We're talking about a few on the edges, in many cases, seats at one time held by a fiscal conservative.

This is why 2010 is so critical for the conservative movement in Kansas. Kansans can elect that check and balance that would be Sam Brownback. Bad budgets like the one passed last Friday could be vetoed. A few more arms of spineless Republicans could be twisted. More so, when a fiscally conservative budget was passed, it would actually be signed.

Ladies and gentlemen, elections have consequences, and there is no more shining example of that than the FY 2010 Budget.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Brownback's Decision Already Paying Off in Substance

A week ago, this blog posted a defense of Sam Brownback's decision to vote to confirm Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary.

In comparing the two options for Sam, we laid out the following scenario if he voted yes:

Vote Yes, which ensures her confirmation. She leaves Kansas and though she is a liberal HHS Secretary and conservatives are mad, she is no longer a legislative roadblock and less of a political force than before, and the deck is largely cleared for either Tiahrt or Moran to hold the Senate seat, and Democrats have no motivational force to drive turnout in 2010.

As expected, since last week's vote, e-mails have been going back and forth between conservatives defending and criticizing Sam's decision. Other blogs have written pieces on it and comment sections have included quite a bit of cynical reactions. The general theme in the criticism is that Sam sold his principles down the river for a pure political calculation, implying that he only did what he did to benefit himself.

The argument we at Kaw & Border made was that Senator Brownback's decision was not exclusively a political one -- that there were solid policy/principled decisions for voting to confirm Sebelius. Sure, part of it was politics -- but not all political moves are inherently bad as some seem to imply. Principled politicians use the political system to achieve policy goals, and that's exactly what Sam did.

Essentially, by Brownback agreeing to confirm Sebelius, it removed not only her as a political force, but as a policy force as well -- by taking away her veto pen. Now she is merely just another one of Obama's many cabinet officers, while we are allowed to hit "reset" and try again on important policy goals.

And, in the first week, the move has already paid off. Yesterday, new Governor Mark Parkinson, a former Republican signed compromise legislation that allows one of the Holcomb coal plants to be built. His move finally put the issue to rest and allows the state to move forward economically as well as focusing the legislature on other issues. However, the move has already drawn the ire of liberals and even Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks in this piece.

Kathleen Sebelius would have never agreed to build any coal plants, as she is in the pocket of the left and liberal environmental groups. Mark Parkinson, while certainly no conservative, has still only been a Democrat for about three years and does not have those deep ties to liberal interest groups. Basically, one might make an argument that while Parkinson is a center-left Democrat, he's not a far left liberal in the mold of his predecessor. His interest, and this is to his credit, was to get the issue off the table and achieve compromise, and that is what he did.

Of course, Mark Parkinson is now a lonely soul. The Democratic base is fuming and the media is already on his case. The Republican Party is certainly not going to welcome him back, not that he would or could switch back anyway. Because see, unlike Sam Brownback, back in 2006 Mark Parkinson did make a move purely for personal political gain. Now, just 3 years later, he's Governor, but with no friends or base within either party in which to mount a bid for other office. Not exactly smart for him personally (though it did make him Governor for about 20 months), and now he's handed Republicans a huge legislative and policy victory. Right now, he's a man without an army, and that's something Republicans can take advantage of by working with the Governor on certain items where he is open minded.

When it comes to Mark Parkinson, the term "useful idiot" comes to mind.

When it comes to Sam Brownback, in one move, he set off a series of events that rid a red state of a left wing Governor, cleared the slate for conservative gains in 2010, created internal strife within the Democratic Party, and enacted one of the Republicans' chief policy goals in the past two years, furthering two of the key principles (economic growth and a sound energy policy) that conservatives hold dear -- all the while benefiting the state in the process.

Somewhere in Lawrence, a liberal environmentalist is fuming.

Somewhere in Topeka, Democratic leaders are fighting.

Somewhere in Johnson County, a new "Memo" is being written.

Somewhere in western Kansas, the engines of the economy are once again churning.

And somewhere, a Senator named Sam is smiling.

Steve Rose's Straw Man Sam

Steve Rose, the Publisher of Sun Publications and pontificater-in-chief for the Johnson County "moderate" oligarchy via his weekly "Memo" in the Johnson County Sun, has never been one to refrain from exaggerating a point.

For decades now, this self-appointed spokesman for the wine-and-cheese crowd has blessed us with can aptly be called whine and cheese -- continually filling his columns with relentless childish whimpers about how bad conservatives are ("a screwball like Kris Kobach") and gooey, "drunk on kool-aid" cheerleader-like praise for every gloriously-wonderful moderate "pro-education" candidate that has ever graced our presence. (just pick any edition in which he makes endorsements)

One of Mr. Rose's frequent argument styles is his perpetual use of straw man arguments, particularly when describing conservatives and conservative positions. One need only browse through the archives of Steve's "Memos" to find several examples of this writing tactic. The most shining example, however, was his most recent column from last week entitled "Time for the right wing to rule."

Like many of his columns, this one is built around a few fairly solid points-- that Sam Brownback is likely to become Governor, that Thornburgh is probably best to drop out because he'll get demolished, and that, in his words, "Kansas has never, in modern history, had a real conservative for governor." He even at one point makes a solid argument for Sam regarding local schools -- that Sam Brownback, in Rose's words, is a "champion of returning much of the funding for schools back to the communities."

What's sad is that surrounding these islands of intelligence is an ocean of typical over-the-top hooey so devoid of any factual sense that it makes one want to spit up the Starbucks they're sipping while reading his delusional drivel.

Let's start off with the cheese. Writing about Ron Thornburgh, Steve says the following:

Ron Thornburgh, who has been a terrific Secretary of State for Kansas since 1994, is also running for governor in 2010. But, Ron, this is not the time. You are a class act, a fine leader, and a good Republican. That's why we cannot sit by and watch you get slaughtered by Sam. The polls confirm what we already suspected.
If you can get past the Rose-like heaping of sugar on Thornburgh, let's start off with the last point -- that the polls confirm that Ron Thornburgh will get crushed by Sam Brownback. True -- a recent SurveyUSA Poll put Sam in the 60's while Thornburgh is in the teens at 17%. But, lost in Steve's typical "class act, fine leader, terrific Secretary of State" garbage is any analysis explaining why Thornburgh -- who has been Secretary of State as long as Sam has been in Congress (1994) -- is behind Sam by 50 points.

Now certainly, some of this is explained in the fact that Sam Brownback is in a high profile US Senatorial position and Thornburgh has been a relatively unremarkable do-nothing Secretary of State, who despite serving three terms in that position, apparently still has not yet developed enough of political strength to run for anything except, in Steve's opinion, a FOURTH term as Secretary of State. (Perhaps he can get around to cleaning up those voter rolls in a fourth term!) But 50 points?

Could it be that the public at large likes Sam Brownback? That his style of conservatism and personality is appealing to most Kansans? That perhaps the state is pro-life? That perhaps well-funded, well-known conseratives who have the ability to counter the media bias actually win in Kansas? Could it be that if someone isn't smeared constantly Phill Kline-style that he will remain popular in this red state?

Of course not. It's none of those things. That would ruin Steve Rose's ability to attack his straw man that is Sam Brownback and conservatives in general.

But that's not the best (or worst) part of Rose's article. What's particularly revealing is his arguments about why Sam would be the only real conservative our state has ever had:

Let's start with this. Kansas has never, in modern history, had a real conservative for governor.

Oh, we had Mike Hayden, who back then was considered a conservative. But he really wasn't, by today's standards. Mike is pro-choice and pushed through a large tax increase.

Bob Docking was a fiscally conservative governor, but that was long ago, long before abortion and other social issues were lightning rods, and long before the virulent anti-tax movements in Kansas.

As often with Rose, there is a decent point mixed in there -- that Sam would be the first real conservative. But what's revealing is that Steve Rose essentially admits what he and his "moderate" buddies want -- large tax increases, abortion on demand, and massive amounts of spending on education no matter the facts nor economic climate of the state.

Of course, Steve's overall point is that there will be no "check and balance" on Brownback and the "conservative legislature". He cites these examples:

  • The coal-fired plants will be approved, not vetoed, under Sam Brownback.
  • Late-term abortions will be abolished in Kansas.
  • Every conceivable anti-abortion piece of legislation that is constitutional will be approved by Sam Brownback.
  • And all the right-wing anti-tax organizations, basically ruled by the powerful Koch Industries family in Wichita, which would eliminate all taxes and take us back to the Stone Age, would have an ally in the governor's office.

First of all, it's absolutely hilarious that one of Steve Rose's moderate heroes, Governor Mark Parkinson, agreed to build one of those evil coal plants just yesterday. Guess that one's off the list, huh Steve?

Second of all, well over 60% of Americans and likely 70+% of Kansans are opposed to late-term abortions. That's hardly puts Sam outside of the mainstream.

Third of all, given that the public supports most abortion restrictions that have been deemed constitutional (thinks like parental notification, waiting periods, ultrasound bills, etc), that seems perfectly reasonable too and hardly the markings of some right-wing coup (Unless of course, you're replacing a rabidly liberal Kathleen Sebelius administration).

If this is "right wing rule", it's easy to see why Sam is over 60% in the polls.

Finally in his fourth point, in typical Rose fashion, he couldn't resist creating a straw man by implying that Sam and groups like the Kansas Chamber and AFP want to "eliminate all taxes" and "take us back to the Stone Age".

Holy Hyperbole, Mr. Rose. If you can point to one item in AFP's literature calling for the repeal of ALL taxes, Kaw & Border will issue a retraction. E-mail us. We know you adore high taxes on everything from your income to property so your precious public schools can be made of gold, but seriously.

Rose then closes with the ultimate straw man:

So, goodbye moderate voices at the top. Gone will be the agendas of the moderate Republicans and Democrats who have ruled Kansas. Gone are the checks and balances. The time will soon come for the far right to rule, whether you like it or not.

This is Exhibit Z in the "Steve Rose Whining Museum" and is the mother (or father?) of all straw men. Steve Rose, you have been observing and commenting on Kansas politics for decades, but perhaps the time is now for you and your columns to receive some "checks and balances" of your own:

One - as you said in this very quote -- moderates and Democrats have been "ruling Kansas" for decades with their "agendas" -- as you readily admit.

Two -- as you said in this very column, Sam Brownback would be the first real conservative in the state's history.

Three -- the Kansas State Senate is NOT conservative. The people who run it are your buddies, Steve -- people like Steve Morris, John Vratil, and Derek Schmidt. Conservatives lost in the most recent leadership vote 18-13. Add in the 9 Democrats and that's 27-13 liberals/mods vs. conservatives.

Fourth -- Moderates or Democrats are currently in the positions of Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer. While Kobach is running for an open SOS race, it is at least somewhat likely that the other statewide officials will retain their positions.

Fifth -- the Kansas Supreme Court is packed full of seven liberals, liberals appointed through a fixed judicial "nominating commission" full of people who have donated thousands to Democrats and liberal Republicans. Though a Governor Brownback may be able to "moderate" the court towards the right a bit, it's very unlikely a major shift will take place unless the judicial selection system is fundamentally changed -- which takes a Constitutional Amendment.

Sixth -- even the Kansas House, the most conservative government body in Kansas -- just last week rejected a budget due to a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats".

"Memo" to Steve Rose:

The story here is not that there is no check and balance to Sam Brownback and conservatives.

Mr. Rose, Sam Brownback IS the check and balance.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Elections Have Consequences: Obama Will Get Three SCOTUS Picks

This post is the second in a series entitled "Elections Have Consequences".

Kaw & Border is usually focused on state and local politics but from time to time we will also focus on national politics as well. This seems appropriate this week given the news that Supreme Court Justice David Souter is retiring.

At first glance, this doesn't appear to be that earth shattering, given the fact Souter (though appointed by Bush 41 and opposed by liberals at the time) is one of the court's liberal justices and will likely be replaced by a liberal, thus not altering the court's makeup. Plus, with 60 seats in the Senate, it is likely Obama will have little to no resistance in appointing a left-wing liberal.

Basically, for those who believe in originalism, there is not too much to hope for in regards to the replacement, other than perhaps that Souter's replacement might do the reverse of what Souter did himself -- rather than being appointed by a Republican and ending up a liberal, perhaps Obama will pick someone who ends up being conservative. For those who hold a rather dim view of Souter's tenure on the court, this would be poetic justice indeed.

However, that is not likely to occur. The fact is elections have consequences and the most profound impact a President can have domestically is on judicial appointments, particularly the Supreme Court. This is the one area where a President can leave his or her mark for literally decades -- in a positive or negative away.

For 12 years -- from 1980 to 1992 -- Republicans held the presidency -- and we got two solid conservatives (Thomas and Scalia), two moderates (O'Connor and Kennedy) and one liberal (Souter) out of the five appointments. For those who prefer sonstitutionalists to be writing for the majority and not the minority, two for five is not a good record when dealing with the Supreme Court. The good news is that one of the two moderates was replaced by a conservative -- Samuel Alito. The other moderate (Kennedy) remains.

The startling stat here though is that it has been 17 years since the Reagan-Bush 41 period and now, just the second justice from that period is leaving. The other justices are John Roberts (Bush 43), John Paul Stevens (appointed by Nixon), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Clinton).

In addition to Souter, it is highly likely that Obama will get to appoint at least two more people, quite likely in his first term, to replace Stevens and Ginsburg. Due to age (for both) and health (for Ginsburg), it is more likely than not that both will recognize the huge opportunity before them (with Dems holding 60 seats) for their successor to be as liberal as they are.

So, while replacing three liberals with three liberals won't alter the balance of the court, what it will due is effectively re-set the clock ideologically in terms of any hope of a more conservative cour, because Obama will likely appoint much younger justices who have the potential of being on the court for 20-30 years, cementing the court in terms of any hope for a drift towards Constitutionalism and away from the "living document" and "invented rights" we've seen from the liberal bloc. Even if Obama were to get no more appointments and were defeated in 2012, only the Kennedy and Breyer seats would be potential seats for a shift to the right.

What's even more scary is that should Kennedy or say, one of the conservative appointments (like Thomas and Scalia) leave before Obama leaves, the court will move dramatically to the left and in a permanent way. One can only hope, at least in the case of Thomas and Scalia, that they will take a page out of the Stevens/Ginsburg/Souter playbook and wait out the Obama clock like the liberal trio did with 8 years of Bush -- and that Kennedy will want to avoid giving Obama the ability to essentially pick his own court majority. Nothing would be more dangerous for those who believe the nation should have a bedrock of consitutional principles.

The message here for those in politics is very real -- elections matter. If a Republican who believed in the nation's first principles had been elected, we would be talking about judges like Diane Sykes, Edith Jones or Janice Rogers Brown for the court. Instead, we are talking about ACLU-like liberals who will follow in the mold of Ginsburg -- and potentially giving Obama complete reign to do as he pleases -- and preventing any subsequent Republican administration from reversing some of the damage the president is doing.

For the sake of the nation, here is hoping Obama gets his own version of Souter and that whoever he picks is a closest Constitutionalist. Right.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Elections Have Consequences: JoCo Dems, RINOs Stop Balanced Budget

This post is a first in a series called "Elections Have Consequences".

Last week we discussed the importance of turning the tea parties into a real political movement. To follow up on this point, Kaw & Border is starting a new post series entitled "Elections Have Consequences". This was quite apparent in legislative action Friday during the wrap-up session in the Kansas House of Representatives.

On Friday, the Kansas House, by a vote of 62-53, rejected a compromise budget proposal by Kevin Yoder and Mike O'Neal. Kansas Liberty has the story here. It's important to note that four reps who would have likely voted yes - Bethell, Landwehr, Neufeld, and George - -were not present, but that would not have made the difference.

What's most disturbing about this vote is that the measure, which would have balanced budget without either a tax increase or state-employee tax hike, failed because of a coalition of Democrats and "Republicans In Name Only" voted no. This despite the fact that Kevin Yoder, Chairman of Appropriations and widely considred as a more moderate Republican, was one of the main proponents of the bill.

One would think in a legislature with nearly 80 Republicans, that a budget such as this could be passed relatively easily. However, as anyone who follows politics knows, a lot of the Republicans are only that by label only, and often side with Democrats on big issues both economically and socially. There is no bigger issue than the budget this year, and when enough so-called moderates and liberals get together, it's enough to get to that magical number of 63, though barely.

This is Exhibit A of "Why Elections Have Consequences".

What's even more dissapointing is that it is actually Johnson County's own delegation that caused the defeat of this bill. If one assumes that at least Bethell, Landwehr, Neufeld, and George would have voted yes, that would have brought the yes vote to 57, 6 short of a majority.

There are 22 State Representatives in Johnson County, roughly divided into the following camps:

Republicans (10): Kinzer, Siegfreid, Brown, Kiegerl, Schwab, Donohoe, Merrick, Olson, Yoder, Kleeb
RINO's: (6): Quigley, Worley, Spalding, Huntington, Wolf, Colloton
Democrats (6): Neighbor, Benlon, Slattery, Furtado, Talia, Rardin

Now, one could further subdivide the 10 "Republicans" into groups, but most of these people are reliable votes on most big. Republican legislation. In this case, all 10 voted Yes. Hats off to them.

Of the second group, the RINO's, these are all Republicans who are rarely reliable Republican votes, taking liberal stances on both economic and social issues. Of this group, only 1 (Colloton), voted yes on the final bill.

Of the third group, the Democrats, all six voted no.

So, it is fair to say that it is Johnson County's RINO's and Democrats caused the defeat of a balanced budget. Their reasons?

First of all, they objected to one approved amendment by Lance Kinzer of Olathe R which said that Kansas' four Planned Parenthood clinics would not recieve federal funding through Title X. According to Kansas Liberty, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment currently distributes about $2.4 million in federal funds through the grant program to state health offices and clinics for family planning. Planned Parenthood also receives the funding which, Kinzer said, amounted to more than $260,000 last year.

In the wake of Friday's explosive revelation by Senator Tim Huelskamp and Rep. Lance Kinzer that Planned Parenthood is covering up sexual abuse, one would think that this would be reasonable. Not to Democrats and RINO's apparently, as all of the above representatives who voted no on the budget, plus Colloton, all also voted no on Kinzer's amendment. If that doesn't show you where their priorities are, nothing will. Interesting how they often say it is conservatives who are attempting to shove their values down the throats of the public -- in this case, by wanting funding to continue to a group which hides sexual abuse of under age girls -- it seems that it is the other way around.

Second of all, it was opposition from the teachers' unions. According to Kansas Liberty, the state's teachers' union was delighted with the vote, however. In an email statement sent to members, the union called on its members to contact those who voted against the budget bill and tell them, "thank you for standing up for schools, for social services, for public safety, for universities, and for state employees."

So, apparently, RINO's and Democrats want to continue to side with liberal teachers' unions and ignore the budget situation -- and apparently all support the further growth of and reliance on government. Apparently they don't have a problem with continuing the reality of Kansas losing private sector jobs while growing government-sector jobs.

Another interesting vote on the budget was the rejection of an amendment by Rep. Forrest Knox to remove in-state tuition breaks for children of illegal immigrants. This amendment, which was defeated with 67 votes against it, also included all twelve Johnson County RINO's and Democrats, again making the difference when taking into account the absent legislators who would have voted yes/

Moral of this story? Elections have consequences. Let's do a little history lesson.

In the last 15 years, the following RINO/Dem-held seats were once held by a Republican who likely would have voted the other way on the three above votes:

District 16 - held by Dem. Gene Rardin, previously held by Tim Carmody and Karen DiVita until 2002. Gene Rardin defeated conservative Dennis Kriegshauser in 2006 by 2 votes.

District 18 -- held by Dem. Cindy Neighbor, previously held by conservatives Phill Kline (8 years) and Mary Pilcher Cook (4 years). Cindy Neighbor defeated conservative John Rubin in 2008 by a narrow 52-48 margin.

District 21 -- held by RINO Kay Wolf, previously held by Dean Newton, who was much like Kevin Yoder and Marvin Kleeb in his legislative approach. Conservatives have not fielded a candidate since Wolf won in a special election by precinct committemen several years ago.

District 23 -- held by Dem. Milack Talia, previously held by conservatives Cliff Franklin and Judy Morrison, all the way up until 2008. Talia defeated August Bogina in 2008 by a 57-43 margin.

District 28 -- held by RINO Pat Colloton, previously held by Doug Patterson.

District 29 -- held by RINO Sheryl Spalding, previously held by Dennis Wilson, Patricia Lightner and Patricia Kilpatrick, until Kilpatrick opted not to run just before the filing deadline in 2006. This seat was a reliable conservative seat until this point.

In addition to these six seat flips, the other seats are:

District 17 -- held by RINO Jill Quigley. Conservatives have tried here before, but didn't put up a candidate to the unknown Quigley in 2008.
District 19 -- held by Dem Delores Furtado -- conservatives James Walker was narrowly defeated in a primary against moderate John Skubal, who then was defeated by Furtado.
District 22 -- held by Dem/former RINO Lisa Benlon. Actually this seat was held briefly by conservatives from 1994-1996, but hasn't since. Joy Bourdess put up a heroic effort here.
District 24 -- held by Dem. Jim Slattery. Ronnie Metsker held this seat for 2 years, but was not a reliable vote, but certainly would have been better than Slattery.
District 25 -- held by Terrie Huntington. Conservatives have never put up an effort here.
District 30 -- held by RINO Ron Worley. Conservatives have tried in this "borderline" seat before but with only limited effort.

Now, is it reasonable to say that all 12 of these seats could be flipped? Perhaps not. But certainly some of them are within reach. Point is here that those 10,000 people who attended the tea party at JCCC and the many other folks, both Republicans and independents, who are fed up with the misplaced priorities and lack of leadership in state government need to look no farther than their own back yard.

If the voters were to restore a Republican dedicated to the rule of law and sound economic principles the six previously-held seats plus two of the other seats, we would have had a vastly different outcome on the budget and immigration votes, and a much wider margin on the Plannted Parenthood vote.

The good news is that this problem is not permanent. What must happen is a conservative resurgence -- good candidates must be recruited and supported with both time and treasure. We've seen in very localized cases in both the De Soto School Board and several northeast JoCo Mayor races that the public is willing to turn out elected officials who are not standing up for the taxpayer nor the rule of law.

Tea party goers everywhere, are you paying attention?