Author Archives: Rhonda Holman

Democratic complaints about Kochs ‘dumb and delusionary’

kochsSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., clearly considers Charles and David Koch (in photos) to be the Democrats’ main opponents this election year, and has been pushing back on the Senate floor at misleading ads sponsored by Koch-funded groups in some races. “But the notion that Democrats can gin up their voters by marketing fear of the Kochs is dumb and delusionary,” wrote Dick Polman, a blogger and former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist. “Why do I say this? Because the anti-Koch strategy is classic ‘inside baseball’ – of great interest only to those voters who obsess about the political process…. It’s also a sign of weakness when a party or a candidate whines that the campaign process is unfair.”

Open thread (March 24)

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Did Roberts show GOP’s problem with Asian-Americans?

gopvoteAn article in Politico magazine headlined “Why Are Asian-Americans Democrats?” pointed to recent “clueless” remarks by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., during the confirmation hearing of U.S. surgeon general-nominee Vivek Murthy, a British-born Indian-American. Roberts’ small talk inviting Murthy to Dodge City to meet a “lovely doctor from India” and saying he would “be right at home” were of “the ‘I have plenty of friends who are Indian’ variety…. It likely reminded Murthy that he is different than the white ethnic majority – some other kind of American. However harmless it might seem, this is exactly the sort of exchange that makes Asian-Americans – the fastest growing ethnic group in the country – more likely to identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans, and by stunning margins,” wrote authors Alexander Kuo, Neil Malhotra and Cecilia Hyunjung Mo. Their conclusion: “As long as Republicans appear scornful of minorities, our findings suggest, they will not get Asian-Americans’ electoral support. This applies not only to rhetoric, but also to policy issues such as immigration reform.” Columnist David Harsanyi, while calling Roberts’ statement “clumsy,” responded that it could “be argued that the GOP is also a party that is far more likely to celebrate and foster the merit-based success on which the Asian community thrives.”

Open thread (March 23)

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So they said

kobach“Beating the #Obama administration one lawsuit at a time.” – Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (in photo), tweeting about his win in federal court in Wichita defending the Kansas and Arizona proof-of-citizenship voter laws

“#ObamaScare is just like a screaming four-year-old no one wants to #play with.” – U.S. Rep Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, on Twitter

“If you don’t pay taxes, don’t expect stuff. And by the way, if you don’t pay taxes and don’t vote, don’t expect anybody to pay any attention to your complaining.” – Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, talking about the state’s coming budget problems at a Garden City legislative forum

“For those children that do slide by and do not get the benefit of financial literacy training, we set them up on a glide path straight to jail, prison and possibly worse.” – Rep. John Bradford, R-Lansing, before the House passed a bill encouraging such training

“I think I’ve just heard it all now: If you don’t have financial literacy, you’re going to jail.” – Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, in response

“If we’re going to make kids do something, let’s make kids do something that really is good.” – Rep. Ward Cassidy, R-St. Francis, on his amendment adding handshake training to the financial literacy bill

Open thread (March 22)

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Pro-con on Kansas-Arizona voter-registration ruling

votingaug12In a big victory for election integrity, Arizona and Kansas – led by their secretaries of state, Ken Bennett and Kris Kobach – have obtained an order from a federal judge allowing them to enforce their proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration. In a decision issued on March 19, Judge Eric Melgren of the federal district court of Kansas found that the refusal of federal election authorities to add state-specific instructions to the federal voter-registration form notifying residents of Arizona and Kansas that they have to provide proof that they are U.S. citizens to complete their registration is “unlawful and in excess of its statutory authority.” This is a huge loss for the Obama administration, as well as liberal advocacy groups that apparently want to make it easy for noncitizens to illegally register and vote in our elections. There is no question that is happening – there have been numerous cases all over the country. This decision should provide momentum to other states seeking to pass a similar requirement. For anyone interested in ensuring the integrity of our election process, this was a commonsense decision. – Hans A. von Spakovsky, National Review

Republican lawmakers who work to impose higher bars to voting – either through proof-of-citizenship or voter ID laws – are well aware that many of those otherwise-eligible voters who struggle to come up with the required documents, which include a birth certificate, passport or driver’s license, are more likely to vote Democratic. In recent months, it seemed that judges were beginning to see through the pretense of such laws, whose proponents insist they are necessary to protect “election integrity” despite the lack of any significant evidence that voter fraud of any kind exists. Nevertheless, Judge Melgren accepted at face value the claim by Kansas and Arizona that only “concrete proof of citizenship” can allow them to determine whether a voter is eligible. Republican-controlled state legislatures could respond to their aging, shrinking voter base by appealing to a wider range of voters. Instead, they write off entire segments of the public and then try to keep them from the polls, under the guise of battling fraud and illegal immigration. The courts have more than enough evidence by now, and they should see this ruse for what it is. – New York Times

Was court’s school ruling good news for other states?

schoolhaAn Investor’s Business Daily editorial greeted the Kansas Supreme Court’s recent ruling on school finance with a “Hallelujah!” because it said the touchstone for determining adequacy of funding wasn’t total spending but when students “meet or exceed the standards set out” under state law. “What a concept: School performance shouldn’t be based on the inputs – i.e., money – but the actual academic results,” the editorial argued. “This is, of course, how most every other industry measures progress. In private industry the goal is to do more with less. But in education we have been operating under the opposite mind-set: Do less with more money. Maybe that’s why schools are failing. They’re looking at the wrong metrics. Hopefully the courts in other states will take the logic of this latest Kansas decision to heart.”

Open thread (March 21)

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Phelps’ survivors are due respect he denied others

phelpssignThrough the anti-gay picketing that he and his followers did across the country, including at military funerals, Fred Phelps caused untold amounts of heartache for individuals and brought shame on his state. He also inspired many new laws, as the federal government and states sought, with limited success, to curb the Westboro Baptist Church’s First Amendment right to spew its hate for homosexuals. But as the group Equality Kansas suggested this week, the best way to respond to Phelps’ death at age 84 is with respect for his survivors and their privacy – the opposite of what he showed gays and lesbians and grieving military families for so many years.

Open thread (March 20)

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Fallon’s Wichita joke exemplified image problem

arkriverNot all the attention generated by the Shockers’ 34-0 run has been flattering, regrettably. For example, Jimmy Fallon’s monologue on “The Tonight Show” Monday included this: “This is cool. Wichita State will become the first undefeated team in 23 years to enter the NCAA Tournament. When asked how they remained so focused on winning, they said, ‘We play in Wichita. Not many distractions here.’” Though the joke wasn’t cited as the City Council voted the next morning to set up a tourism business improvement district, it certainly exemplified why Wichita needs to improve its image with more and better marketing. The TBID is expected to generate $3 million a year for that purpose.

Lawmaker Huelskamp snarky about lawbreaking

huelskamp,timUPDATED: U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, shouldn’t have decided to raffle off NCAA tickets to campaign donors without understanding that state law, according to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson, considers that an illegal lottery. And Huelskamp should have done better than this snarky response to Branson’s rebuke: “As a lifelong Kansas State fan, I refuse to be intimidated by a Lawrence attorney likely still reeling from the 31-10 football blowout this fall and the 85-82 overtime victory by the Wildcats just last month.” Huelskamp, who dropped the donation requirement Tuesday, later accused Branson of “prosecutorial misconduct”; the campaign said Branson told the media of his investigation before telling the campaign.

Open thread (March 19)

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Kassebaum Baker offered support for same-sex marriage

kassebaumThe 20 Republicans who signed a friend of the court brief in support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah and Oklahoma included former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker (in photo). “It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that (we) do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples,” argued the group, led by Kassebaum Baker and former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson. The group referred to President Reagan’s belief that the Republican Party must be a “big tent” and quoted Barry Goldwater’s statement that “we don’t seek to lead anyone’s life for him. We only seek to secure his rights.” The federal appeals court in Denver plans hearings in Utah’s case on April 10 and Oklahoma’s on April 17.

Open thread (March 18)

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Open thread (March 17)

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Knox’s do-it-yourself deterrence of metal theft

mcginncarolyn2Before the Senate Judiciary Committee decided Friday to ask the Kansas Judicial Council to study how to fight metal thefts, Sen. Carolyn McGinn (in photo), R-Sedgwick, noted that she and her husband had been the victim of thieves who did $5,000 of damage to their center pivot irrigation system while stealing $500 worth of copper. Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, questioned whether more government was needed to counter metal thefts. “Mr. McGinn with a shotgun may be the way to go,” Knox said. McGinn’s response: “It’s usually Mrs. McGinn with her daddy’s shotgun in her hand.” Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett and the city of Wichita had supported Senate Bill 418, which would create a centralized reporting system of metal sales to include photos of the seller and product.

Open thread (March 16)

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So they said

bbackmug“I’m hoping the championship game is between two Kansas teams, and then I’m debating on what I’ll bet myself at that time.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), after explaining his WuShock pin to FoxNews.com

“They’re grinders. They’re hard workers. They’re scrappy and they’re fighters with big hearts. They reflect our town and the best of America and we love them. Godspeed to them. Go, Shox.” – Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, in a speech praising the WSU men’s basketball team on the House floor

“They’re American…. I wish Harry Reid would do his job of running the Senate.” – Brownback again, when asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s criticism of the Koch brothers as un-American

Open thread (March 15)

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Pro-con: Was Reid justified in attacking the Kochs?

kochsBy far the largest voice in many of this year’s political races has been that of the Koch brothers (in photos), who have spent tens of millions of dollars peddling phony stories about the impact of health care reform, all in order to put Republicans in control of the Senate after the November elections. Now Democrats are starting to fight back, deciding they should at least try to counter the tycoons with some low-cost speech of their own. Democrats may never have the same resources at their disposal – no party should – but they can use their political pulpits to stand up for a few basic principles, including the importance of widespread health-insurance coverage, environmental protection and safety-net programs. The leader of this effort has been Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, who has delivered a series of blistering attacks against the Kochs and their ads on the Senate floor over the last few weeks. Mr. Reid’s comments have gone to the heart of the matter. A recent speech pointed out that the fundamental purpose of the Kochs’ spending is to rig the economic system for their benefit and for that of other oligarchs. – New York Times

An abhorrent floor speech by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., revealed such a twisted conception of both the First Amendment and the facts that all Americans, whatever their political persuasion, should be repulsed. Mr. Reid singled out billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who express their libertarian conservatism through political donations. He called the Koch brothers’ political involvement “un-American,” accused them of trying to undermine “democracy” and even claimed that Koch Industries subsidiaries do business with Iran, which their company quickly denied. Reid apparently thinks the First Amendment, which protects free political expression for all Americans, shouldn’t apply to the Kochs. Yet he said nothing about leftist unions that spend more on politics than they do. A Center for Public Integrity study found unions and other Democrat-friendly groups outspent the Kochs on 2012’s state-level elections. Such political expression is quintessentially American. What Reid wants – free speech only for him, his liberal colleagues and the unions and other leftist groups that pull their political strings – would be truly un-American. And if money’s the issue, the left has far more to answer for. – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Open thread (March 14)

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Constituents aren’t supposed to be on Senate floor

arnold,kellySenate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, questioned why Kansas Republican Party chairman Kelly Arnold (in photo) was present for the Senate’s debate on a bill to prevent pre-primary party switching. Arnold, who is also Sedgwick County clerk, told The Eagle: “I think it’s appropriate for any constituent that wants to see the legislative process to be on the Senate floor.” Actually, Senate rules dictate that someone like Arnold (who isn’t a legislator or legislative employee, elective state officer, former senator or card-carrying media member) should only be on the floor by signed invitation of a senator and the Senate president. It also says anyone violating the rule shall be ejected from the chamber and “thereafter be denied admission.” Visitors are supposed to stay in the galleries.

Open thread (March 13)

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