The Great Kansas Tea Party Debacle


The Republican party headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, shares space in a strip mall with Best Friends Pet Clinic, a cowboy-boot repair shop and a Chinese restaurant called the Magic Wok. Inside, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, a modest gathering of party faithful mill about, I’M A BROWNBACKER stickers affixed to their blouses and lapels.

It’s a terrible slogan. Four years ago, when Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback first took office, you might’ve wondered if these people, on some subliminal level, actually wanted to be humiliated by a filthy-minded liberal activist looking to add a new “santorum” to Urban Dictionary. As a senator and a failed presidential candidate, Brownback was already one of the nation’s most prominent social conservatives, “God’s Senator,” in the words of a 2006 Rolling Stone profile. But Brownback turned out to be even more radical when it came to economic policy. In 2012, he enacted the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history, essentially transforming his state into a lab experiment for extreme free-market ideology. The results (disastrous) have reduced the governor to making appearances at grim strip malls like this one in a desperate attempt to salvage his re-election bid.

The last time I came to Kansas, in March 2013, Brownback could often be found wandering the halls of the state Capitol, sporting one of his signature sweater vests, smiling and nodding at passing strangers or offering impromptu lectures to schoolchildren paused in front of the oil painting of John Brown, the fearsome Kansas abolitionist, that hangs outside his office. Here in Wichita, though, he looks exhausted. When he takes the stage, he squints out at the audience through puffy eyes. His Texas counterpart, Gov. Rick Perry, stands behind him, having been summoned north to help bail out Brownback’s flailing campaign…

Then the Texan steps to the podium and delivers a version of a speech I saw him give earlier this year in Kentucky, where he had been mobilized on a similar mission for Mitch McConnell. After boasting about all the jobs his policies have drawn to his state, Perry praises Brownback for placing Kansas on a similar “upward trajectory,”…

There are a couple of problems with Perry’s speech. First of all, he happens to be delivering it in Wichita, where, this summer, Boeing, for decades the largest private employer in the state of Kansas, shuttered its entire operation, shifting those jobs to cities like Seattle, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Texas (oops).

The larger problem, of course, is that Perry wouldn’t even have to be here in Kansas if Brownback’s economic plan had not already proved catastrophic…not only cutting taxes but also slashing spending on education, social services and the arts, and, later, privatizing the entire state Medicaid system. Brownback himself went around the country telling anyone who’d listen that Kansas could be seen as a sort of test case, in which unfettered libertarian economic policy could be held up and compared right alongside the socialistic overreach of the Obama administration, and may the best theory of government win…

That word, “experiment,” has come to haunt Brownback as the data rolls in. The governor promised his “pro-growth tax policy” would act “like a shot of adrenaline in the heart of the Kansas economy,” but, instead, state revenues plummeted by nearly $700 million in a single fiscal year, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the state’s credit rating, and job growth sagged behind all four of Kansas’ neighbors. Brownback wound up nixing a planned sales-tax cut to make up for some of the shortfall, but not before he’d enacted what his opponents call the largest cuts in education spending in the history of Kansas.

Read ’em and weep, folks – except the good folks don’t deserve the tears. They knew what this idiot was going to do. Even though every previous attempt by a supply-side economics reactionary had failed – all the way up to and including Reagan’s guru, David Stockman. Read Mark Binelli’s whole article.

They voted Brownback into office. He did what he promised to do. The state now waits for bankruptcy, fully prepared to deal with nothing but more disaster, education system crushed, employers ready to flee.

Any history-literate cynic knows American aren’t well enough-educated to vote in their own economic interest. Our nation’s history of bigotry and racism aid the whole process. Reactionary demagogues who would only be considered fringe candidates in other Western nations regularly take their seats in Congress. But, still – Kansas voters outdid themselves with God’s favorite candidate.

Thanks, Mike

John Boehner got 98% of what he wanted – here’s a little more

Last week this is what a gleeful John Boehner had to say about the GOP having their ransom demands met on the debt deal:

When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.

And tonight, for the first time in this country’s history, “S&P cut the long-term U.S. credit rating by one notch to AA-plus,” because:

The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy … It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options.

Congratulations, Mr. Speaker.

We know the quote from Boehner is an accurate representation of his ideology and analysis. Do you think Standard and Poor’s got their analysis right?

Reversing Windows 7 to XP gets yet another reprieve – again

In a reversal of its earlier stance, Microsoft officials confirmed that customers will be able to downgrade from Windows 7 to Windows XP for a year and a half after the new system ships, or until the first Service Pack drops — whichever comes first.

While some industry observers the modified downgrade policy is a change for the better, at least one analyst says Microsoft still hasn’t enough to provide options for enterprises.

This industry observer says Microsoft simply hasn’t a clue!

The downgrade option is also not available to all Windows 7 users: Downgrade rights apply to purchasers of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate, so the option isn’t available to customers who buy Windows 7 Home Premium.

Additionally, customers who have either Software Assurance subscriptions or Enterprise Agreements with Microsoft can continue to get the downgrade as long as they want.

Confused, yet?

“Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate customers will have the option to downgrade to Windows XP Professional from PCs that ship within 18 months following the general availability of Windows 7 or until the release of a Windows 7 service pack (SP), whichever is sooner and if an SP is developed,” a Microsoft spokesperson told in an e-mail.

Understand that, OK?

Microsoft to allow Windows 7, erm, downgrades to XP

Microsoft officials have confirmed that it, along with PC partners will allow users of its upcoming Windows 7 the option to downgrade to both Windows Vista as well as Windows XP.

The last few days have been fraught with rumors that Microsoft will be offering users the opportunity to downgrade to Windows XP. Those who don’t like the look of Windows 7 and are afraid it’s their only alternative can rest easy; ZDNet asked Microsoft for a little clarification and the a spokesperson revealed that XP would also be on offer when it came to downgrades.

When asked if Microsoft had downgrade rights for Windows XP planned as part of Windows 7, the Redmond company responded with a resounding yes. The spokesperson went on to detail that this would not the first time that Microsoft has offered downgrade rights to a version other than its immediate predecessor and the company’s volume-license customers can always downgrade to any previous version of Windows.


Microsoft being sued for charging downgrade fees


Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, has been sued over claims it relies on predatory and anti-competitive behavior to charge consumers to downgrade operating systems on their personal computers.

Emma Alvarado of Los Angeles County, California sued in Seattle federal court asking for class-action status on behalf of consumers who want to buy computers with pre-installed Microsoft Windows XP instead of the company’s newer operating system, Vista.

“Microsoft has used its market power to take advantage of consumer demand for the Windows XP operating system by requiring consumers to purchase computers pre-installed with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to ‘downgrade’ to the Windows XP operating system,” according to the complaint.

Microsoft is trying to salvage Vista, which businesses and consumers panned after it went on sale in 2007. With the economy shrinking, companies are putting off new projects and technology purchases. Windows sales declined 8 percent last quarter, compared with Microsoft’s forecast for growth of as much as 10 percent.

Microsoft charged consumers $104 for the downgrade, and extended the offer to July, “likely due to the tremendous profits that Microsoft has reaped from its downgrade option,” according to the complaint.

How to run a business and retain customers, guys. How much are you charging your corporate customers to do the same?

Microsoft extends the life of XP – again

In April, Microsoft extended the life of Windows XP Home by two years for budget laptops. In June, the software giant did the same for ULCPCs as its partners continued to report strong demand. Now Microsoft is making another extension, this one affecting a much less specific market; the software giant has decided to halt XP Professional media shipments to major computer makers (system builders are not included) not on January 31, 2009, but instead on July 31. An e-mail from a Microsoft spokesperson explains the reasoning for the change:

As more customers make the move to Windows Vista, we want to make sure that they are making that transition with confidence and that it is as smooth as possible. Providing downgrade media for a few more months is part of that commitment.

Ever since the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft has offered customers “downgrade rights.”

Essentially this means that those who purchase Vista Business or Vista Ultimate have the option to use to Windows XP Professional on their PC and then move to Vista when they are ready, without having to pay for an upgrade. OEMs have supported this option forcefully ever since Windows XP expired on June 30, 2008 (XP was no longer licensed to OEMs and retail sales were terminated). Downgrade rights never expire, however, so those who insist on using XP will be able to as long as they can get their hands on Vista.

Tee hee. Leaves lots of room for blather about hardware this and that and – Microsoft hopes – little notice that XP is still more portable, system to system, than Vista.

A third of Vista PCs downgraded to XP?

Vista’s death march picked up some pace after a metrics researcher revealed that nearly 35 per cent of PCs built to run the Windows operating system have been downgraded to XP.

In a survey of more than 3,000 computers, performance testing software developer Devil Mountain Software estimated that more than one in three new machines had either been downgraded by vendors such as Dell, or by customers once they bought the PC…

That’s a damning verdict on an OS that Microsoft still wants frustrated customers to love.

The software beast has already admitted it made some pretty big mistakes with Vista. Now, after trying some heavy duty marketing, Microsoft has finally conceded it’s high time to move on by explaining how MS will engineer Windows 7.

I left the wonderful world of Microsoft OS’ three years ago. Never looked back.