Tag Archives: Tea Party

Kansas newspapers against the children

apple-wormA Kansas newspaper editorial illustrates that for the establishment, schools — the institution of public schools, that is — are more important than students.

An unsigned editorial in the Garden City Telegram proclaimed “Another attempt to undermine public schools materialized last week in the Kansas Statehouse.” (Legislators turn to ALEC for poor plan on schools, March 25, 2014.)

What was in a bill that so worried the Telegram editorial writers? According to the op-ed, the dangerous provisions are “expansion of charter schools, overhaul of teacher licensing and tax breaks for private school scholarships.”

To the Telegram, these ideas are “radical” and would “undermine” public schools. These ideas are from American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), purportedly funded by Charles and David Koch. To low-information newspaper editorialists, the source of an idea alone is sufficient evidence to condemn it. To buttress its argument, the Telegram mentions the Koch Brothers several times along with Americans for Prosperity, the tea party, and other “special interests.”

What’s curious is that the op-ed says “ALEC promotes concepts of free-market enterprise and limited government, which are worthy of discussion in legislative pursuits.” It’s good that the op-ed writers realize this. Very good.

But the next sentence criticizes ALEC’s “one-size-fits-all approach.” That’s a strange claim to make. The education reforms that ALEC supports — and the public school establishment hates — are centered around providing more choices for students and parents. The public schools that the Telegram defends are the “one-size-fits-all approach.” School choice programs foster diversity, creativity, and entrepreneurship in education. Government schools are the opposite.

Further, these school choice programs do not “target” public schools, as claimed in this op-ed. It is true that school choice programs provide competition for public schools. But to say that giving choices to parents and students is targeting public schools assumes a few things: First, it assumes that the institution of public schools is more important than Kansas schoolchildren.

Second, it assumes that public schools are somehow more worthy of taxpayer funds than are charter schools and private schools. But should taxpayer funds be spent where government school bureaucrats want, or where parents believe their children will get the best education?

Third, allowing and encouraging competition is not “targeting.” Proclaiming this reveals lack of understanding of economic competition in markets. In the jungle, the winners kill and eat the losers. But in markets, competition is a discovery process. Competition spurs people to innovate with new products, or become more efficient. As new products and services are discovered and refined through competition, the old products and services must adapt or fall by the wayside. But the old stuff doesn’t die, as do animals in the jungles. People and capital assets from failing enterprises are recycled into the new successful enterprises, and life goes on — except everything is better.

That’s the real problem. Kansas schools are not getting better. Editorials like this are part of the problem. It doesn’t help that the Wichita Eagle excerpted this editorial.

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran wants to pick losers in the market: His choice is big wind

In Kansas, we have a lot of wind — no doubt about that. But the economics of wind as a source of electricity generation is another matter. There’s a split in Kansas over this. On one side are Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who has been vocal in his support of wind power, along with Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who has been busy promoting Wichita as a site for wind energy-related industry. Now we see Kansas’ newest U.S. Senator Jerry Moran jumping in to promote the wind power subsidy program. Contrast this with U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita, who has introduced legislation to end all tax credits related to energy production. It’s important to remember that the government subsidy program for wind power is in the form of tax credits, which are equivalent to grants by the government. The term “tax expenditures” is starting to see widespread usage to accurately describe the economic effect of tax credits.

Senator Jerry Moran wants to pick losers in the market: His choice is big wind

By Daniel Horowitz

If I were pressed to offer one anecdote exemplifying our failure to elect consistent conservatives to Congress last November, the story of Senator Jerry Moran and Big Wind would be at the top of the list.

In 2010, then-Congressman Jerry Moran beat former Congressman Todd Tiahrt for the Republican nomination for Senate in Kansas running as a red meat conservative. He easily won the seat in this solid Republican state and summarily joined the ‘Tea Party Caucus’ in the Senate. Nothing emblematizes the convictions of the Tea Party more than its fervent opposition to special interest handouts and government interventions in the private sector as a way of picking winners and losers. Yet, Senator Moran let the cat out of the bag last week that he has absolutely no compunction about picking winners and losers, or in the case of Big Wind, big losers.

Last week, Senator Moran announced that he is submitting an amendment to the terrible Senate highway bill (S.1813) that would extend the 2.2 cent/ per kilowatt-hour Production Tax Credit (PTC) for another 4 years. This special interest handout to Solar and Wind is slated to expire at the end of the year. What happened to Moran’s Tea Party views? Well, he unabashedly threw them under the solar-powered bus:

Asked about opposition to extending the credit expressed by Rep. Mike Pompeo of Wichita, Moran said: “There are members of Congress who feel we ought not to pick winners and losers, to let the markets decided. I believe it’s better to get this industry up and running, then let the country decide … rather than pull the rug out overnight.”

Wow! At least he’s honest. I wish we had known that before the election.

The PTC is the corporate version of the Earned Income Credit for green energy. It is among 51 ‘tax extenders’ that have either expired last December or are slated to expire this December. The PTC offers a 2.2 cent/per kilowatt-hour refundable credit for wind, solar, or geothermal. According to the Heritage Foundation, if the oil industry received a commensurate subsidy, they would get a $30 check for every barrel produced.

Headed into the November elections, one of our most potent and popular arguments we have is to paint the Democrats with the Solyndra economy — an economy where the government intervenes to pick winners and losers, at the detriment of consumers and taxpayers. How can we effectively articulate an alternative free-market vision when we have a member of “the Tea Party Caucus” supporting Obama’s policy of picking losers in the energy sector? Talk about pale pastels!

Folks, this is not how we win elections. Moreover, this type of special interest peddling — from energy subsidies to farm welfare — creates dependency in some of the reddest states. This is not a winning message for the future of conservatism, especially when it emanates from such a Republican state.

There is a better way. Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced legislation (HR 3308) to sunset all targeted energy tax credits and grants, including those for fossil fuels and nuclear power. The bill would use the savings from the repeal of these credits (roughly $90 billion over ten years) to lower the corporate tax rate on everyone. Senator DeMint has introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S.2064).

Every member of Congress who seeks a clean break from a centrally-planned Solyndra economy must cosponsor this bill. Additionally, as we look for more congressional candidates to endorse, it is these issues — energy and farm subsidies — that will separate the men from the boys. We must fight this election by offering voters a choice, not an echo.

Cross-posted from The Madison Project

The creeping expansion of government power

Trackside is a column written occasionally by John D’Aloia Jr. He lives in St. Marys, Kansas.

TRACKSIDE © by John D’Aloia Jr.
12 December 2011

A belief I encounter increasingly often is that, with few exceptions, the Guardians ensconced in Washington, and their minions in the bureaucracy, The Clerks, are driven by greed, corruption, fraud, power, and immorality, not by the Essential Liberty principles of our Founding Documents. The electorate is angry and frustrated. They see their resources and their freedom being whittled away for the benefit of the Guardians and their cronies. They see the basic morality of the country being banned from the public square and perversion jammed down their throats. They see the very gas they exhale being cited, in spite of the evidence, as a reason to deny the use of energy resources. They see the Guardians trash the Constitution and their oath of office. They see themselves being made slaves of the state. Daily headlines reinforce these beliefs.

Much internet traffic has circulated about the words in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (H.R.1540) that gives the federal government the ability to detain U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism, at home or abroad, in military custody, outside of the court system, and hold them indefinitely. Bye, bye Fourth Amendment. This reading of the law was confirmed by Senator Graham, who said in the Senate on November 17th that Section “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens, and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

The Guardians manipulate words to mean whatever they want them to mean and they have the force to impose their meanings — this makes the power of warrant-less arrest of citizens highly dangerous. A pesky Tea Party activist is shining a spotlight on your misdeeds and machinations? Designate him a terrorist and haul him off to a military gulag where he will have no rights, no recourse to the courts. It gives me no comfort knowing that the Guardian-in-Chief’s rule book, written by Saul Alinsky, holds that lying is a tool of the trade, that ends justify means, and that there is no moral code.

A provision of H.R.-1540 that has not gotten the same notoriety is the one that repeals Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the article that makes sodomy a court-martial offense. (I refrain from quoting Article 125. Google can assist if you must know.) Why repeal it? The repeal fits right in the with the Guardian-in-Chief’s efforts to promote the homosexual agenda as part of his effort to dissolve society’s moral glue, its standards, making it easier for him to impose his vision of a state in which his whims are the law.

The 9 December issue of the economic newsletter “Casey Daily Dispatch” contains an article titled “Man vs. Morlock” in which the writer reached back and pulled up a book by Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, University of Chicago Press, 1955. The excerpt in the Dispatch included this paragraph, one you may well have read elsewhere, but was not aware from whence it came — I wasn’t:

“Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the … and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something — but then it was too late.”

And further on in the excerpt was this “boiling the frog” analogy of how the Nazis gained complete domination:

“In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.”

We must make a stand in November 2012. Absent a massive “Road-to-Damascus” constitutional epiphany by the Guardians, and by their Clerks, the only recourse citizens have to regain our country’s future as a free people is to turn them out, election after election, until we again have a Constitutional Republic governed by the virtues established by The Founders. The eviction of the Guardian-in-Chief and voter-imposed term limits on all those who believe they are our Guardians are actions that I encourage all to undertake.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, Pray for Us, Pray For Our Country.

See you Trackside.

Lies of liberal progressives, Sunday edition

On the C-SPAN television program Washington Journal (Sunday August 14, 2011) Democratic strategist Mark Mellman appeared and gave viewers a lesson on how the political left lies and distorts in order to score political points against what it sees as easy targets.

Mellman said: “The tea party comes out, and has really done real damage to this country. Most people in this country think it’s okay to to stop giving subsidies to oil companies. The tea party says no. Most people say it’s okay in the country to make corporate jet owners pay taxes, or hedge fund managers pay taxes. The tea party says no, you can’t do that, you only have to cut spending. And what spending do they end up cutting? They want to cut Medicare, they want to cut Social Security. Those are the plans that have been put forth by the Republican Party.”

Mellman is not alone in his use of these lies and distortions. They are stock talking points of the Democratic Party and liberals or progressives. It’s a low form of demagoguery that picks a few targets that are easy to stir up hatred for, and then distorts facts without any regard for the truth.

On the oil industry, for example: The magnitude of the subsidies and tax breaks to the oil industry is about $4 billion per year. Eliminating this is not going to come anywhere close to balancing the budget. As a matter of fact, this annual amount that President Obama complains about is just about what the U.S. borrows each day to cover its spending in excess of its revenues.

But being a relatively small amount is not a reason for ridding the tax code of these measures, even though some of the tax measures appear to be similar to treatment that all industries receive, such as the ability to intangible costs associated with drilling a well. To the extent that conservatives and tea party groups oppose eliminating special tax treatment of the oil industry or any other industry, they become just another special interest group. It is essential for our country to eliminate preferential tax treatment and the spending of money through the tax system.

Regarding Mellman’s assertion that we need to “make corporate jet owners pay taxes” — with the implication that presently they pay no taxes: This is a lie. The measure Mellman refers to is an economic incentive implemented in the form of accelerated depreciation for purchasers of corporate jets. This provision allows companies to deduct depreciation costs from their income sooner, so they save on taxes now rather than later.

(This incentive, by the way, was part of President Obama’s stimulus bill passed in February 2009.)

Depreciation is an accepted concept that allows companies to recognize the costs of their capital investments over time, which is appropriate for purchases of long-lived assets like airplanes. Accelerated depreciation doesn’t increase the total amount of depreciation that can be deducted from income, and therefore doesn’t decrease the tax that must eventually be paid. While not as blatant as other forms of preferential treatment found in the tax code, this provision should be eliminated with all others.

Of course, taking a deduction this year rather than in a later year is valuable. But receiving this deduction a few years sooner is nowhere near the same as paying no tax at all, which is what Mellman asserted.

At the same time Mellman and liberals attack industries they sense they can stir up hatred towards, they pick programs they believe are unassailable to accuse conservatives of attacking.

For example, Mellman mentioned Medicare. He didn’t tell viewers that President Obama has proposed cutting Medicare spending, too. It’s rare that any Democratic source mentions this.

And according to the Washington Post at one time this summer Obama proposed Social Security cuts as part of the debt ceiling negotiations.

In either case, the changes that are usually proposed to these programs by conservatives are quite gentle, and recognize that reforms must be made or these programs will sap the country of its vitality.

Democratic political operatives, on the other hand, ignore these problems and attack those who recognize them. They must do this. The entire system of modern American liberalism is based on the lie that human freedom and liberty is enhanced by expanding government beyond what is minimally necessary to secure our true rights and freedoms.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday March 2, 2011

Duplication in federal programs found. Washington Examiner Editorial: “Nobody with even minimal knowledge of how public bureaucracies work should be surprised by the Government Accountability Office’s conclusion that there is a ‘staggering level of duplication’ in the federal government. Duplication is inevitable when professional politicians in both major parties go for decades using tax dollars to buy votes among favored constituencies, and reward friends, former staffers, family members and campaign contributors with heaping helpings from the pork barrel. With the inevitable program duplication also comes an endless supply of official duplicity as presidents, senators and representatives rationalize spending billions of tax dollars on programs they know either don’t work as promised, or that perform the same or similar functions as existing efforts and are therefore redundant.” … And they say it’s tough to cut spending.

Public school town hall meetings. Walt Chappell, Kansas State Board of Education member, is holding two public meetings in Wichita this week. Chappell writes: “You are cordially invited to share your top 4 priorities for what Kansas K-12 students should learn at a Town Hall meeting this week. Your Kansas State Board of Education is deciding how to improve our schools at a Board retreat on March 7th. As your elected representative on the KSBOE, I look forward to hearing your suggestions before we vote.” The first meeting is Thursday March 3rd from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian (just north of I-235). A second meeting will be on Saturday March 5th from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm at Westlink Public Library, 8515 W. Bekemeyer, just North of Central and Tyler.

Wichita school board candidates. This Friday (March 4th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features candidates for the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district. For the at-large seat, the candidates are Sheril Logan, Carly Miller, and Phil Neff. For district 4, the candidates are Michael Ackerman, Jr., Jeff Davis, and Clayton Houston. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Bureaucrats can’t change the way we drive … but they keep trying. More from the Washington Examiner, this time by Fred Barnes. “For most Americans — make that most of mankind — the car is an instrument of mobility, flexibility and speed. Yet officials in Washington, transportation experts, state and local functionaries, planners and transit officials are puzzled why their efforts to lure people from their cars continue to fail.” While Barnes writes mostly about automobiles vs. transit from a nationwide perspective, the issue is important here in Wichita. The revitalization of downtown Wichita contains a large dose of public transit as a way for people to get around downtown. It’s also likely that various streets will be restructured to make them less friendly to automobiles. .. More broadly, a major reason for some to support public funding of downtown is their hatred of “sprawl” and its reliance on the automobile, despite that being the lifestyle that large numbers of Wichitans prefer. They see this as something that government needs to correct.

Wednesdays in Wiedemann tonight. Today (March 2) Wichita State University’s Lynne Davis presents an organ recital as part of the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series. These recitals, which have no admission charge, start at 5:30 pm and last about 30 minutes. … Today is an all-Bach program, and Davis writes: “This is music for the soul, music for when the weather isn’t quite what it needs to be, music to heal our coughs and colds, music to meditate by — however this grand yet simple composer speaks to you.” … The location is Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University. For more about Davis and WSU’s Great Marcussen Organ, see my story from earlier this year.

Americans for Prosperity website attacked. The website of Americans for Prosperity has been attacked by a group that disagrees with AFP’s position on issues. AFP President Tim Phillips issued a statement: “Americans for Prosperity has established itself as a leading voice in one of the great political debates underway in this country over government spending and how best to restore the fiscal solvency of governments at both the state and federal level. Yesterday, a group claimed credit for an attempt to silence our voice and to stifle that debate through an illegal attack on our website. While the political debate over government spending can be heated, we hope that even our opponents will join us in condemning this illegal attack on our free speech rights as unacceptable and irredeemable. Our country cannot meet the great challenges before us if we cannot have a free and open discussion about the threats that we face. Americans for Prosperity will not be intimidated and will not be deterred from our effort to support responsible economic policies, including the efforts of Governor Walker and other democratically elected leaders in that state to balance the budget through common-sense reforms.” … While I agree with Phillips that free and open discussion is necessary to resolve the issues we face, the disruption of AFP’s website is really more a property rights issue than a speech issue.

Kansas presidential primary pitched as economic development. Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty: “Why the dash by states to be early on the [presidential primary] calendar? The first is political power and ego. Early primary and caucus states merit attention from the presidential candidates to party big-wigs and power brokers within these early states. But a second reason has rapidly risen in prominence: The economic impact that candidate visits and media coverage of same brings a state. One economist has argued that the economic impact of the Iowa caucuses on the Iowa economy in 2004 was in the neighborhood of $50-$60 million. Other states want a piece of that action.” The complete editorial is Insight Kansas Editorial: Creative Thinking About 2012 GOP Presidential Caucus Can Benefit State.

Huelskamp joins Tea Party Caucus. Tim Huelskamp, a new member of the United States Congress from the Kansas first district, has joined the Congressional Tea Party Caucus headed by Michele Bachmann. The two other new members of the House of Representatives from Kansas have not joined.

How government works. The myth of George W. Bush as a small-government conservative, hiding information from the press and public, and the revolving door between government and lobbying. From Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. “Of the $96.5 trillion in unfunded Medicare liabilities, $19.4 trillion was added by the ‘small government’ George W. Bush administration’s prescription drug benefit, known as Medicare Part D. The story of that bill’s passage is the story of America in the twenty-first century. The White House did not want to risk the bill’s passage by letting accurate estimates of its cost leak out. Richard Foster, Medicare’s chief actuary, reported that its administrator, Bush appointee Thomas Scully, threatened him with his job if he revealed cost estimates to Congress — a claim that email correspondence from a Scully subordinate appeared to corroborate. The pharmaceutical industry was thrilled with the bill, which would yield perhaps an additional $100 billion in industry profits over the next eight years. Ten days after the bill’s passage, Scully left to join a lobbying firm and represented several large pharmaceutical companies. The bill’s principal author, Billy Tauzin, went on to head the drug companies’ main lobbying organization, a position that paid $2.5 million per year.”

Tea party has nothing on Wisconsin union supporters

While the political left likes to portray tea party protesters as racist neanderthals hell-bent on violent overthrow of the U.S. government, the tea party has nothing on government union members when it comes to protesting. Union leadership can’t bring itself to condemn even the worst excesses of the union protests.

On Sunday’s episode of the NBC public affairs television program Meet the Press host David Gregory gave AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka a chance to condemn the very nasty tone of the pro-union demonstrators in Madison:

MR. GREGORY: Richard Trumka, I want to ask you one thing, again, about the tone of the debate. You’re one of the leading labor voices in the country. Do you condemn the hyperbole, the overstatements, comparisons to Hitler and dictators? Do you think that’s wrong on the part of pro-union supporters?

MR. TRUMKA: We want to–I–look, we ought to–pro, anti-union, it doesn’t matter.

Trumka could have simply answered “yes.” But he didn’t. This is the same Richard Trumka that has said: “I’m at the White House a couple times a week. Two, three times a week. I have conversations everyday with someone in the White House or in the administration. Everyday.” It’s a mystery as to why President Obama would want to be associated with someone like this.

Just after Trumka’s refusal to criticize vulgar behavior, Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC likened it to democracy, saying “And I don’t know why you fear democracy so much.”

It’s quite a contrast between the union demonstrators in Wisconsin — and the gallery of the Kansas House of Representatives — and tea party protestors. After tea party events in Kansas, participants pick up their trash — or never throw it down in the first place. Tea party people are courteous to the news media, and even to counter-protesters who heckle them.

Not so with the Wisconsin union protesters. Remember: some of these protesters are teachers, who demand to be treated as professionals.

The behavior of union protesters in Wisconsin is so bad that even some Democrats are concerned about its effect on public opinion. As CBS News reported: “Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate is condemning signs carried by pro-labor protesters that compare Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hosni Mubarak and showed the governor with a cross-hairs rifle sight over his face. In an interview with CNSNews.com, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Press Secretary Graeme Zielinski said that Tate and the party ‘absolutely’ condemn the inflammatory signs but says that they are not representative of the majority of the protesters who have taken to the streets in opposition to the Governor’s plan.”

But it’s hard for the average person to make this comparison. The mainstream media’s least-underhanded criticism of tea party participants is to cast them as hapless pawns of some right-wing conspiracy. More radical leftists paint tea party attendees as ignorant racists, and their cameras look long and hard for the one protest sign out of many that provides the evidence they need to “prove” their preconceived ideas.

Wichita’s vision, by the urbanist elites

Why are some in Wichita so insistent on pushing their vision of what our city should look like, and why are they willing and eager to use the coercive force of government to achieve their vision? In the article below, Randal O’Toole, using a work by Thomas Sowell, provides much insight into understanding why.

Reading this post, I couldn’t help think of Wichita: the “manufactured crisis” of too much driving and too little walking; the desire by many, including several Wichita City Council members — even self-styled conservative members — to expand the power and reach of government; and the denial of responsibility for obvious failures like Waterwalk.

We should remember that the plan for downtown Wichita developed by Boston planning firm Goody Clancy is a plan developed by and for self-styled elites. We only need to remember when David Dixon, Goody Clancy’s principal, told Wichitans that in the future, Wichitans will be able to “enjoy the kind of social and cultural richness” that is only found at the core. That’s an insult to the vast majority of Wichitans, but the elites in Wichita evidently believe it, or are willing to tolerate this insult in order to achieve their vision.

O’Toole visited Wichita last year and presented a fascinating lecture.

The Vision of the Urbanites

By Randal O’Toole

As the Antiplanner has traveled and visited people all over the country, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. Though I’ve met thousands of suburban and rural residents who are very happy with their homes and lifestyles, I’ve never met one who thinks the power of government should be used to force others to live in the same lifestyle. Yet I’ve met lots of urban residents who openly admit that they believe their lifestyle is so perfect that government should force more if not most people to live in dense, “walkable” cities.

Do cities turn people into liberal fascists? Or do liberal fascists naturally congregate into cities, and if so, why?

A general description of the phenomenon I’ve observed can be found in Thomas Sowell’s 1995 book, The Vision of the Anointed. Sowell says that America’s liberal elites view themselves as smarter or more insightful than everyone else, and thus qualified to impose their ideas on everyone else. The process of doing so, says Sowell, follows four steps (p. 8):

First, the anointed identify or, more usually, manufacture a crisis. Sowell’s book reviews three such crises: poverty, crime, and teen pregnancy, all of which were declining in the 1960s when the liberals turned them into crises. The crises relevant to this blog include such things as urban sprawl (totally manufactured as in fact it is not a problem at all) and auto driving (while some of the effects of driving are negative, these are easily corrected while the overall benefits of driving are positive).

Second, the anointed propose a solution that inevitably involves government action. Sowell makes it clear that the the leadership of the elites go out of their way to define or manufacture the crises in ways that make it appear the government action are the only solutions. In other words, their real goal is to make government bigger, not to solve problems. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it doesn’t really matter; what matters is they propose the wrong solutions to problems that often don’t really exist.

Third, once the solution is implemented, the results turn out to be very different, and often far worse, than predicted by the anointed. Crime, poverty, and teen pregnancy went up, not down, when government stepped in to “fix” these problems in the 1960s. In the case of urban planning, anti-sprawl policies made housing unaffordable and led to the recent mortgage crisis. Anti-automobile policies make congestion worse and therefore waste even more energy and produce more pollution.

The final stage is one of denial, in which the elites claim that their policies had nothing to do with the worsening results. Other factors were at work, they claim; in fact, the results might have been even worse if their enlightened policies had not been put into effect.

Sowell notes that the anointed use several tactics to promote their ideas. For example, “empirical evidence itself may be viewed as suspect, insofar as it is inconsistent with that vision” (p. 2). Whenever the Antiplanner uses data to show that there is no urban sprawl crisis or rail transit doesn’t work in a debate with an urban anointed, the inevitable response is some version of “figures don’t lie but liars figure.” “Statistics can be used to show anything you want,” is another version. These comforting words leave the anointed free to dismiss any data and all that conflict with their vision.

A second fundamental tactic is to presume that they have the moral high ground. “Those who accept this vision are deemed to be not merely factually correct but morally on a higher plane,” says Sowell. “Put differently, those who disagree with the prevailing vision are seen as being not merely in error, but in sin” (pp. 2-3). The term “smart growth” is a classic example of this tactic, used solely to bludgeon any dissenters with the claim that they must favor “dumb growth.”

Relying on tactics like these, the anointed avoid confronting the fraudulent nature of their crises and the failures of their solutions. “What is remarkable is how few arguments are really engaged in, and how many substitutes for arguments there are,” says Sowell (p. 6).

While The Vision of the Anointed describes the situation, it doesn’t answer the fundamental question of why people think that way. A partial answer is provided by Sowell’s 1987 book, A Conflict of Visions, in which Sowell traces two different world views back to the late eighteenth century. One view, expressed by Adam Smith, is that humans are imperfect and so we should design institutions that work even if the face of these imperfections. The other view, proposed by William Godwin, is that humans are perfectable, which suggests that the benign hand of government authority should be used to guide people to that perfection.

Today, the Tea Party represents the descendants of Adam Smith, while urban planners are descendants of Godwin. As University of California planners Mel Webber and Fred Collignon wrote more than a decade ago, urban planners were “heir to the postulates of the Enlightenment with its faith in perfectibility.”

The question still remains: why are urbanites more susceptible to the vision of the anointed? Perhaps part of the answer is that the constant friction between strangers that cities impose on their residents leads to a desire for government authority to protect people from those frictions. But a larger part of the answer may be that the role of government is far more visible in cities than elsewhere, and far larger in cities today than in the past, so residents of those cities cannot imagine living without it — and those who want more government are attracted to those cities. In any case, everyone in general and urbanites in particular should be wary of any ideas that make government bigger, as they are probably just part of some elitist scheme to coercively impose their vision on everyone else.

The link to this article at O’Toole’s site is The Vision of the Urbanites.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday December 21, 2010

Steineger switches teams. Chris Steineger, a Kansas State Senator from Kansas City, has switched to the Republican Party. As a Democrat, Steineger had compiled a voting record more conservative than many senate Republicans. On the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year — recognizing that supporting economic freedom is not the same as conservatism or Republicanism — Steineger had a voting record more in favor of economic freedom than that of 15 of the senate’s Republicans.

Kansas school funding reform to wait. Incoming Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says that the Kansas economy comes first, and then school finance, Medicaid, and KPERS in a “year or two.” Tim Carpenter of the Topeka Capital-Journal reports in Revitalizing the Kansas economy is the governor-elect’s No. 1 priority.

Tax cuts in Kansas not likely, says new senate leader. Yesterday Kansas Senate Republicans elected Jay Emler of Lindsborg to be the majority leader, replacing Derek Schmidt, who will become Attorney General. As the Associated Press reports, Emler is not in favor of any tax cuts, including a repeal of the recent increase in the statewide sales tax.

McGinn to lead Ways and Means. Carolyn McGinn, a Kansas Senator from Sedgwick, will chair the Ways and Means Committee. This important committee handles appropriations — in other words, the actual spending of money. On the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, McGinn scored seven percent, tying her with Senate President Stephen Morris as the Republicans most opposed to economic freedom. She also scores low in the Kansas Taxpayer Network/Americans for Prosperity ratings.

Kansas holds on to House seats. At one time it was feared that the 2010 U.S. Census might find Kansas losing one of its four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But Kansas will retain them. Texas picks up four seats, Florida adds two, while Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah gain one seat each. Ohio and New York lose two each, while Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and New Jersey lose one each.

Rasmussen polls. As often, Rasmussen is the bearer of bad news. Like: What’s the deal with Obama? “For the first time since he became president, only 35% of voters say Barack Obama thinks society is fair and decent. That’s almost half as many as voters who hold that belief themselves. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 49%, on the other hand, say Obama thinks society is unfair and discriminatory.” See America’s Best Days: Fewer Voters Than Ever Say Obama Thinks Society is Fair and Decent. … Tea Party people skeptical of newly elected officeholders: “Most Tea Party members view the candidates they elected in November as agents of change from government business as usual, but non-members are a lot more skeptical. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll finds that only 34% of all Likely U.S. Voters think Tea Party candidates elected in November will remain true to their beliefs. See Most Tea Party Members Think Those They Elected Won’t Sell Out, Others Aren’t So Sure. … Others are pessimistic, too: “Just 23% of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction.” See Right Direction or Wrong Track.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday December 10, 2010

This Week in Kansas. On This Week in Kansas guests Rebecca Zepick of State of the State KS, Joe Aistrup of Kansas State University, and myself discuss Kansas House of Representatives leadership, Governor-elect Brownback’s appointments, and voter ID. Tim Brown is the host. This Week in Kansas airs on KAKE TV channel 10, Sunday morning at 9:00 am.

Cato scholar to speak on economic freedom. Today’s meeting (December 10) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features noted Cato Institute scholar, Principal Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, and author Timothy Sandefur. He will discuss his recent book The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law. A description of the book at Amazon.com reads: “America’s founders thought the right to earn a living was so basic and obvious that it didn’t need to be mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Yet today that right is burdened by a wide array of government rules and regulations that play favorites, rewrite contracts, encourage frivolous lawsuits, seize private property, and manipulate economic choices to achieve outcomes that bureaucrats favor. The Right to Earn a Living charts the history of this fundamental human right, from the constitutional system that was designed to protect it by limiting government’s powers, to the Civil War Amendments that expanded protection to all Americans, regardless of race. It then focuses on the Progressive-era judges who began to erode those protections, and concludes with today’s controversies over abusive occupational licensing laws, freedom of speech in advertising, regulatory takings, and much more.” … Of the book, Dick Armey said: “Government today puts so many burdens and restrictions on entrepreneurs and business owners that we’re squandering our most precious resource: the entrepreneurial spirit and drive of our people. Sandefur’s book explains how this problem began, and what steps we can take to ensure that we all enjoy the freedom to pursue the American Dream.” … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Tea party regional blogs compiled. Phillip Donovan has compiled a list of top tea party-related blogs by region, and Voice for Liberty in Wichita is on the list. Of my blog, Donovan wrote “Bob Weeks has been blogging the perspective of free markets, personal liberty, and limited government since 2004, long before the ‘tea party movement’ was born.”

Tax rates still a secret. Rhonda Holman’s Wichita Eagle editorial asks the central question about signage requirements warning customers of Community Improvement Districts that they will be paying higher sales tax: “But if transparency about CIDs is bad for business, how can CIDs be good for citizens and the community?”

Federal spending oversight. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the actual spending of money happens in the Appropriations Committee, and this committee is a large source of the problems we have with federal spending. The Wall Street Journal column Oversight for the Spenders explains why: “The Members who join the Appropriations subcommittee on, say, agriculture do so precisely because they are advocates of farm spending. They have no interest in subjecting their own programs to greater public scrutiny.” What is the outlook going forward for this committee? Incoming Speaker John Boehner appointed Kentucky’s Hal Rogers as chair. The Journal column says his “spending record rivals that of any free-wheeling Democrat.” A bright spot: reformer Jeff Flake of Arizona is appointed to the committee, but his request to run an investigations subcommittee was not granted. The Journal is not impressed, concluding “Mr. Boehner’s selection of Mr. Rogers is a major disappointment and makes his promises to control spending suspect. If he really wants to change the spending culture, he should unleash Mr. Flake.”

Slow death for high-speed rail. From Randal O’Toole: “New transportation technologies are successful when they are faster, more convenient, and less expensive than the technologies they replace. High-speed rail is slower than flying, less convenient than driving, and at least five times more expensive than either one. It is only feasible with heavy taxpayer subsidies and even then it will only serve a tiny portion of the nation’s population.”

Does the New York Times have a double standard? John LaPlante in LaPlante: NY Times leaky double-standard: “Many newspapers in America reprint articles from the New York Times on a regular basis. So their editorial slant is of importance beyond the (direct) readership of the Gray Lady. Compare and contrast how the Times treated two recent leaks: ‘The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here. — New York Times, on the Climategate emails, Nov. 20, 2009. … ‘The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. … The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.. — New York Times, on the WikiLeaks documents, Nov. 29, 2010.” I’ll let you make the call.

Wichita Eagle Opinion Line. “The party of the wealthy triumphs again. Congratulations, Republican voters. By extending the handout to the wealthy, you just increased the national debt.” I would say to this writer that action to prevent an increase in income tax from occurring is not a handout. The only way that extending the present tax rates qualifies as a handout is if you believe that the income people earn belongs first to government. This is entirely backwards and violates self-ownership. Further, the national debt — actually the deficit — has two moving parts: the government’s income, and its spending. We choose as a nation to spend more than the government takes in. That is the cause of the deficit.

Pompeo, back from Washington, gives update

Yesterday Congressman-elect for the fourth district of Kansas Mike Pompeo met in his campaign office with news media for a question-and-answer session. Newly-elected members of the next Congress were in Washington last week for orientation, office selection, and leadership elections.

The current Congress resumes its session on December 6th, and the plan is to be in session for two weeks — another so-called “lame duck” session. Pompeo says that a good thing Congress could do is to extend the current tax rates — the Bush tax cuts — so that the new Congress doesn’t have to deal with this issue in January. “It makes no sense to be talking about raising taxes in today’s economic environment, so I hope they’ll do that,” he said.

There are risks that the lame duck session will pass legislation like card check and other legislation favored by liberals and Democrats. But Pompeo said that voters spoke on November 2nd, that there is a set of things that voters don’t want done, and he hopes that the current Congress will honor those wishes and not pass card check or other matters that may be brought up.

Committee membership is important to incoming members of Congress. Describing the process of committee assignment, Pompeo said there is a steering committee that includes three of the incoming freshman class, and this committee decides committee assignments. It is to this body that members make their requests for committee assignments. Pompeo mentioned three committees in particular that he is interested in joining: Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Armed Services. Energy and Commerce handles issues related to the oil and gas industry, which Pompeo has experience in. Transportation and Infrastructure covers general aviation issues, another industry in which Pompeo has experience, and one very important to Wichita.

He added that no other Kansans are on any of these committees.

On the Air Force tanker procurement, Pompeo said the decision has been delayed until spring, perhaps March. He said it is time to make a decision, and that the tanker needs to be built. But the recent disclosure of proprietary bidding information being wrongly sent to each party, even though accidental, will likely mean the decision will be protested.

Asked whether he would join the Congressional Tea Party Caucus founded by Michele Bachmann, Pompeo said he “hadn’t given much consideration” to which caucuses he would join.

Between now and January 5th Pompeo said he has two offices to open and staff, one in Wichita, and his congressional office in Washington.

Asked about the one thing he’s most eager to get working on, Pompeo said that federal government spending must be brought under control. “What we know at the end of the day is that you only can take so much money out of the private sector before you begin to destroy the entrepreneurial engine that’s made America great. And today we’re there. So we have to move it back.”

It will not be easy, he said. But he believes the other freshmen Republicans that were elected along with him are serious people, with many campaigning on the same issues that he did — a “smaller, humbler federal government that was more efficient and did the right things, and didn’t do everything.”

I mentioned several polls since the election that show that Americans are skeptical about the new Congress and its ability to change things. Pompeo said that voters are right to be skeptical, based on history. But he is optimistic. Voters were boisterous, he said, adding that “Americans have found their voice.” So if the new members of Congress don’t fulfill the promises they made, or at least begin the process, Pompeo said voters will reject this group, “and properly so,” he added.

He added that voters did not elect a Republican senate, and the president still has a deep liberal agenda: “There is still a lot of resistance to smaller government, certainly in the Senate, and absolutely in the White House.” If the House of Representatives is true to what voters asked it to do, that will set up an important election in 2012 where voters can elect a senate and president. He framed the choice: “Do we want to be more statist, or do we prefer individual responsibility and free enterprise,” adding that he is confident Americans will choose free enterprise and individual responsibility.

I asked about tension between tea party activists and establishment Republicans. Pompeo said he doesn’t see the tension between the two groups. Of people who participate in tea parties, Pompeo said these are “Americans in the deepest tradition of standing up and saying ‘No, we’re not going to let our country go away. We’re going to work our tails off to reclaim it.’”

He said that many of his incoming colleagues in the new Congress are deeply committed to the ideals of the tea party, adding that he is too. There is a “new idea” now, he said, which is really the idea that the Founders had. This idea had been lost, moved away from the forefront for thirty years, even within the Republican party: “This conservative notion of states’ rights, smaller federal government, and individual responsibility is moving back to the forefront.” People who have participated in tea party events are an important part of this, he said, and he implored them to keep up their efforts.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 16, 2010

Future of California. George Gilder, writing in the Wall Street Journal, lays out a grim future for California based on voters’ refusal to overturn AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. Of the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state, Gilder writes: “That’s a 30% drop followed by a mandated 80% overall drop by 2050. Together with a $500 billion public-pension overhang, the new energy cap dooms the state to bankruptcy.” He says that AB 32 may not be necessary at all: “The irony is that a century-long trend of advance in conventional ‘non-renewable’ energy — from wood to oil to natural gas and nuclear — has already wrought a roughly 60% drop in carbon emissions per watt. Thus the long-term California targets might well be achieved globally in the normal course of technological advance. The obvious next step is aggressive exploitation of the trillions of cubic feet of low-carbon natural gas discovered over the last two years, essentially ending the U.S. energy crisis.” … Referring to green energy radicals, Gilder writes: “Their economic model sees new wealth emerge from jobs dismantling the existing energy economy and replacing it with a medieval system of windmills and solar collectors. By this logic we could all get rich by razing the existing housing plant and replacing it with new-fangled tents.” Which reminds me of when I criticized those who promote wind power for its job creation: “After all, if we view our energy policy as a jobs creation program, why not build wind turbines and haul them to western Kansas without the use of machinery? Think of the jobs that would create.” An economic boom to those along the Santa Fe Trail, no doubt.

All the billionaires. An amusing commentary — amusing until you realize what it really means — by Scott Burns in the Austin American-Statesman takes a look at how long the wealth of America’s billionaires could fund the federal government deficit. The upshot is that there are about 400 billionaires, and their combined wealth could fund the deficit for about nine months. What’s sobering about this? All this wealth would go to fund only the deficit — that portion of federal spending above revenue for the year. There’s still all the base spending to pay for. And the wealth of these people, which in many cases is in the substance of the companies they founded or own — Microsoft, Oracle, Koch Industries, Wal-Mart, Google, etc. — would be gone.

Kansas has sold assets before. In this year’s session of the Kansas Legislature, there was a proposal to sell state-owned assets in order to raise funds and reduce costs. Kansas Reporter’s Rachel Whitten reports it’s been done before, with success.

Where are the airlines? James Fallows of The Atlantic regarding the new “groping” TSA screenings at airports. Echoing Wichitan John Todd from last week, one reader writes: “And again, where are the airlines? When TSA begins to drive away customers, they’ll react, is the stock answer. I would argue that it already does drive away customers (certainly if the emails I receive are any indication), but what of those it ‘merely’ makes angry? There’s something wrong with a business model that accepts angry and harassed customers as an acceptable option to no customers at all.” Wichitan Mike Smith writes in: “Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate is having a hearing regarding the TSA’s new procedures that I hope results in the procedures being rescinded. If your readers want to make last minute contact with Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback (who is on the committee with TSA oversight), I urge them to do so.”

Next for the tea party. Patrick Ruffini in National Review looks at the future of the tea party. Ruffini notes the difficulty in maintaining the momentum of grassroots efforts. Both Bush and Obama have faced this. He cautions: “The experience should provide a cautionary tale to the Tea Partiers, with their more humble origins: Hitch yourself to established power institutions at your own peril.” But other, newer organizations have sprung up to help tea party activisits: “Ned Ryun, executive director of American Majority — one of the more promising new institutions that have risen up around the Tea Party movement — wants to ignore Washington and go local. ‘What the movement is really about, quite frankly, is the local leaders, and I’ve made a point with American Majority of going directly to them, and ignoring the so-called national leaders of the movement,’ he told me. ‘I think the national leaders are beside the point; if they go away, the movement still exists. If the local leaders go away, the movement dies.’” Kansas is one of the states that American Majority has been active in since its inception. American Majority plans to be involved at the local government level in the 2012 elections.

The new naysayers. President Obama and others have criticized Republicans for being the party of “No.” Now that some of the president’s deficit reduction commission recommendations are starting to be known, there’s a new party of “No.” Writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times: “But Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson performed a valuable public service nonetheless: the reaction to their proposals demonstrated that when it comes to addressing the long-term challenges facing this country, the Democrats, too, can play the Party of No.”

Community Improvement Districts spread to Overland Park. As reported in Kansas Reporter, Overland Park is considering whether to create its first Community Improvement District. In this case, the district — which allows merchants within to charge extra sales tax for their own benefit — would benefit a proposed residential and retail complex. More about these tax districts may be found here.

Sedgwick County Republicans elect leadership

Last night the Sedgwick County Republican Party met in an organizational meeting to elect its leadership for the next two years. The primary news made was in the contest for chairman and vice-chairman. The secretary and treasurer positions were not contested.

Some observers, including myself, saw the contest as being between “establishment” Republicans and a group associated with the tea party. Others cast the election as more between experienced and veteran party members versus relative newcomers, while still others saw the differences as based more on personalities than anything substantive. Whatever the terminology, the newcomers did not do well in the election.

The people attending the organizational meeting and voting on leadership are those elected or appointed as precinct committeemen or committeewomen. That election was held in August in conjunction with the statewide primary election.

In the past, there have been contentious election contests at the organizational meeting, with the dividing line being between conservatives and moderates, with the abortion issue prominent. The last organizational meeting in November 2008 was calm, with one slate of candidates offered for the leadership and delegate positions, with party leaders urging that no nominations be brought up from the floor.

This year’s meeting had two slates of candidates. One — clearly the establishment or veteran slate — was headed by Bob Dool, a Wichita businessman who has been serving as treasurer of the fourth congressional district party committee. Julie Sipe was the slate’s nominee for vice-chair. Dool was endorsed by Mike Pompeo, the recently-elected U.S. congressman from the Kansas fourth district, which includes all of Sedgwick County.

The other slate was headed by Jim Anderson, who recently ran for U.S. Congress, with Judy Park of Republican Women United as vice-chair.

There’s a backstory here that deserves mention. The 2008 organizational meeting, where there was one slate of candidates and any talk of offering nominations from the floor was strongly discouraged by party insiders, made a bad impression on many activists. Some were particularly disturbed that the slate of delegates to the fourth district committee — the next level up in the party hierarchy — included many people who were not elected precinct committeemen or committeewomen. To newcomers, the 2008 meeting smacked of “good ol’ boy” cronyism, with no consideration given to the newcomers who had ran for election to — and had to campaign in order to win — precinct committee positions.

Since then, the tea party movement started in the winter months of early 2009. This movement, operating largely outside the established Republican party, grew to become a significant force nationally. Locally, a tea party activist group led by Craig Gabel and Lynda Tyler played a significant role in the November elections by working for Republican candidates, although the group did support one Democrat, Gwen Welshimer. The group played a crucial role in electing Benny Boman and Les Osterman to the Kansas House of Representatives by defeating incumbent Democrats. The group helped in the reelection of Phil Hermanson to the House, and helped elect Joseph Scapa and Jim Howell to open House seats. John Stevens and James Clendenin came surprisingly close to gaining election over their Democratic Party incumbents.

At the county level, the group was active in helping Richard Ranzau in his election to the county commission. Gabel estimates his group distributed 4,000 blended packets of literature, placed 600 signs, and made 40,000 robo-calls plus several thousand live calls.

Having played a role in local politics — successful by their own account, but perhaps not appreciated by everyone — the group wanted inclusion in the local Republican Party process. Neither Gabel or Tyler sought leadership positions. (Tyler is running for Wichita city council in the spring.) Instead, both wanted an open and honest process that was inclusive and gave everyone an opportunity to seek office, either as leadership or a delegate to the higher committee.

Both leaders seem genuinely concerned that the Republican Party be open and seek to grow. I asked Gabel what he would like to see in a chairman. He said: “A chair that would reach out to all portions of the Republican Party, that would keep the momentum flowing that was started in the election — someone interested in filling the precincts, raising funds, and educating people.” Reaching out to young people and minorities is also important, Gabel said.

As Dool made his candidacy for chair known, Gabel, Tyler, and others invited him to a meeting. Initially Dool did not want to meet and declined the invitation. A meeting with Dool took place earlier this week, said Gabel. He described the meeting as unproductive.

Back to last night’s organizational meeting: While social issues weren’t the primary issue on voters’ minds in the recent national election, abortion politics played a role last night. In his nominating speech for Dool, Mark Kahrs said that Dool “strongly supports the sanctity of life, which is the concern of this local party, and must remain the cornerstone of our party’s platform.” That drew applause from the audience.

Before that, in her speech Park, the nominee for vice-chair, said that someone in the audience was spreading rumors that she is not conservative and not pro-life. Park said these allegations were not true.

In nominating Jim Anderson, John Stevens praised Anderson for his experience in campaigning and technology. Explicitly referring to the tea party, Stevens said that we need as chair “a person who is inclusive of all Republicans, as well as tea party active people. These folks helped make it work this time. Don’t deny them.”

Speaking for himself, Dool said he wanted to increase the Republican Party base by increasing communication, hosting events for elected officials to meet with the public, increasing opportunities for all to participate in the political process, creating a business-friendly environment with lower taxes and less regulation, and raising enough money locally for a full-time employee. He said he supports the tea party movement, saying such populist movements have helped us stay true to the Founding Fathers’ principles.

In his speech, Anderson referred to his run for U.S. Congress. He also addressed an issue that many said would prevent them from voting for Anderson — his failure to endorse Mike Pompeo after Anderson lost to him and others in the Republican primary election in August. Anderson said he pledged his support to Pompeo — privately, though. Anderson said we need to grow the party by reaching out to all people, including independents.

The results of the election for vice-chair were Park 43 votes (21 percent), and Sipe 164 votes (79 percent).

For chair, the result was Anderson 59 votes (28 percent), and Dool 149 votes (72 percent).

In the selection of delegates to the fourth congressional district committee, voters had to select 98 delegates and 100 alternate delegates. A group called “Republicans for Conservative Leadership” provided a slate. The group headed by Gabel and Tyler had a slate, but the slate did not have enough names. The RCL slates won. (Disclaimer: my mother was on the RCL slate as an alternate delegate.)

Analysis

After the meeting, reaction was mixed as to whether the group of tea party or new activists felt welcomed into the process. Some felt the process was improved over 2008, as there were two candidates for each of the top leadership positions. Others felt that the outcome was nonetheless predetermined. But like in most elections, the winning candidates had the message most voters agreed with, and simply did a better job of campaigning for their positions.

Going forward, the local party has the same challenge as does the national party: how to integrate or channel the energy of the tea party. If the vote for the challengers — about one-fourth of the party members present — is a measure of the numbers in the tea party, it’s a significant force that Republicans should welcome. But an initial challenge for Dool and party leaders is that many tea party activists will resent anything they perceive as channeling of their energy or integration of their politics.

Also, some had asked that the slates of delegates should have been made available before the meeting. Voters had to vote for 98 delegates and 100 alternates. But party officials refused to release the names before the meeting, which seems to be the type of needless secret-keeping that breeds distrust and conspiracy theories.

Political attacks not all bad

Dr. Mel Kahn, a political science professor at Wichita State University, gave a lecture Friday on why he believes negative campaigning is essential to democracy. Kahn said that a recent study shows that there are sometimes more lies in positive ads than in negative commercials, and as long as ads are based on evidence, they help people know what’s going on in a world full of political spin.” The lecture was at the Wichita Pachyderm Club as covered by State of the State KS.

Kahn also said that since accountability is important to democracy, he was pleased to see the activation of those who disagreed with the policies of the current administration, saying this is the essence of democracy. He quoted John Stuart Mill: “Attacks and criticism make a real contribution. In other words, if the attack has validity to it, and it brings about a feeling on the part of the populace that things could be much better than what turns out to be a flawed policy, then we benefit. Because what we’ve really done is we’ve exchanged something closer to the truth for the error that we held sacrosanct before. … Any kind of policy ought to be able to withstand the nature of sharp criticism.” Also, if policies withstand attacks, we can have more confidence in them.

Kahn also took news media to task for not really doing its job, saying media mostly covers the “horse race” aspects of campaigns — who leads in polls, etc. — rather than covering “the substance of the real policies. I think a net loss,” he said. I would add that it’s not only news media, it’s the candidates themselves that don’t want to talk about substantive issues. In the campaign for the Kansas fourth Congressional district, the two major candidates — Democrat Raj Goyle and Republican Mike Pompeo — didn’t really have a lot of substantive discussion of issues. Goyle, in particular, made charges about Pompeo outsourcing work to China. But we never had a discussion about the merits of outsourcing, except for here: Outsourcing Kansas jobs. Other issues I covered in the campaign included social security in Goyle on Social Security protection, business incentives in Business can oppose incentives and use them, and Goyle’s purported tax-cutting votes in Raj Goyle tax cut votes not exactly as advertised. My articles were mostly critical of Goyle — as an advocate of limited government and economic freedom, it just works out that way — but I believe the articles examined the issues in way that other media did not.

In responding to a question, Kahn said that those who make criticisms may do so even though they may not have a better plan that would be better. Criticism of the critic for that reason, therefore, is not valid.

On local politics, Kahn said that Sedgwick County Commissioner Gwen Welshimer told him before the election that she had tea party support, but she didn’t want her liberal friends to know about it. Kahn said that was a mistake, that many people — Democrats and Republicans both — appreciate officeholders who will object to big-spending projects. Welshimer had earned tea party support because of her positions on taxation and spending, particularly her opposition to subsidy for developers. Kahn noted that the Wichita Eagle had been unfavorable to Welshimer.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday November 4, 2010

The future of politics is here, now. After noting how California reached way back to the past to elect a governor, Denis Boyles writes in National Review Online about the future, and how it’s being made right here: “If you want to see the bright and shining politics of the future, you have to go to the country’s heartland, and specifically to Kansas, a place most Democrats only know from Thomas Frank’s liberal folklore. There, the election has yielded two new congressmen — Mike Pompeo and the remarkable Tim Huelskamp — who were not created by the Tea Party movement because their politics were already ahead of that helpful wave. Here‘s a local paper’s coverage. Pompeo is a natural leader, while Huelskamp is something even more — an inspiration, maybe. (He’s briefly sketched in Superior, Nebraska). Mark these guys. Politically, they’re how it’s going to be.”

Schools hope we won’t notice. Kansas Reporter tells of the new Kansas school funding lawsuit, filed on Election Day. Schools must have hoped that news of the filing would get swamped by election day news, which is what happened. The remedy asked for is more money, which has been shown not to work very well in terms of improving student performance … but it makes the education bureaucracy happy. I would suggest that students sue the Kansas State Department of Education for the inadequate education many have received. For a remedy, ask for things that have been shown to work: charter schools and widespread school choice.

Kansas House Republicans. Yesterday I reported that Republicans gained 15 seats in the Kansas House of Representatives. Double-checking revealed that I had made a data entry error. The actual number of Republican gains is 16, for a composition of 92 Republicans and 33 Democrats.

Kansas House Conservatives. In the same article it was noted that since some Kansas House Republicans — the so-called moderates or left-wing Republicans — vote with Democrats more often than not, there was a working caucus of about 55 conservatives. It is thought that conservatives picked up four seats in the August primary, bringing the number to 59. With most of the Republicans who defeated Democrats expected to join the conservative cause, it appears that conservatives now fill over 70 seats, constituting a working majority in the 125-member Kansas House of Representatives. Conservatives do not enjoy a majority of votes in the Kansas Senate, however.

Local smoking bans still wrong. As noted in today’s Wichita Eagle, there might be a revisiting of the relatively new Kansas statewide smoking ban. Incoming Governor Sam Brownback believes that such decisions should be left to local governments, presumably counties or cities in this case. For those who believe that the proper foundation for making such decisions is unfoundering respect for property rights — plus the belief that free people can make their own decisions — it doesn’t matter much who violates these property rights.

GOP: Unlock the American Economy Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal on spending and what Congress really needs to do: “It is conventional wisdom that what voters, tea partiers and talkers want the Republican Party to do is cut the spending. … Getting the spending under control matters a lot.” But Henninger says controlling spending is not enough: “The new GOP has to find an identity beyond the Beltway power game, a way to make the nation’s most important activity not what is going on in Washington, as now, but what is done out in the country, among the nation’s daily producers and workers. The simplest way for the Republican Party to free itself and the economy from this unending Beltway hell is by reviving a core belief of one of the country’s most successful presidents: If the government will get out of the way, Ronald Reagan argued, there’s no limit to what the American people can achieve.” Government getting out of the way was one of freshly-minted Congressman Mike Pompeo’s campaign themes. National figures are warning Republicans that they have one chance to get things right in Washington or risk losing the support they won in this election. And Pompeo urged his supporters, more than once, to hold him accountable in Washington. Maybe Raj Goyle might want to linger in Wichita for a few years to see how things work out.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday November 3, 2010

Republican Party on probation. Noted conservative figure Richard A. Viguerie of ConservativeHQ.com expressed a common idea: “Voters have given Republicans one more chance to get it right. They are on probation, and if they mess up again, they won’t get another chance. The last time the Republicans were in charge, they became the party of big spending, Big Government, and Big Business. They abandoned the philosophy of Ronald Reagan and cozied up to lobbyists and special interests. And they paid a price at the polls.”

Limited government and economic freedom not desired. In today’s Wichita Eagle editorial assessing the election results, Rhonda Holman just can’t grasp the importance of limited government and economic freedom to prosperity. Instead, she prefers what some call “nuanced” politicians, who can be pressured by newspapers to vote for big-government boondoggles: “Incumbent Commissioner Dave Unruh and Wichita City Council member Jim Skelton already have proved to be thoughtful leaders; the same cannot be said of Richard Ranzau, whose tea party tendencies could put important county priorities at risk.” The victories of Ranzau — there were two, one in the primary over an Establishment Republican and again in the general election over a Democrat in a Democratic district — were gained the old-fashioned way: by meeting voters and letting them know what he stands for. And he was not bashful in his message of limited government. Both times, voters responded. The Wichita Eagle ought to take notice.

Future of Sedgwick County Commission. Yesterday’s defeat of incumbent Gwen Welshimer by Jim Skelton replaces a commissioner committed to low taxes and spending with someone with a less convincing record. While Skelton has sometimes voted against TIF districts — he and Paul Gray voted against the $10.3 million Exchange Place TIF district, although they were okay with it at $9.3 million — he firmly believes it is his duty — as city council member and as future county commissioner — to direct the economic development of the region.

Future of Wichita City Council. Skelton’s move to the county commission means there will be another new face on the council be fore long. Already the spring elections will bring two new faces, as members Sue Schlapp and Paul Gray will be leaving the council due to term limits. Now Skelton will be replaced, either by city council appointment or election next spring, depending on the timing of Skelton’s resignation. That’s a total of three new members. Mayor Carl Brewer and Vice Mayor Jeff Longwell must run for relection in the spring if they want to stay on the council. Brewer has already announced his intent to run.

Commission criticized as “gutless.” Because Wichita real estate developer Rob Snyder wasn’t granted some $400,000 in taxpayer subsidy because of the action of the Sedgwick County Commission, he criticized the commission as “gutless,” according to Wichita Eagle reporting. When testifying before the Wichita City Council as to the need for his developer welfare, Snyder whined about how that earmarks are now unpopular with the American public and not available to finance his proposed Save-A-Lot grocery store. An earmark — that is to say, a grant of money paid for by U.S. taxpayers — was used as a large part of the financing for the other Save-A-Lot in Wichita at 13th and Grove.

Kahn to substitute at Pachyderm. A scheduling change means Wichita State University political science professor Mel Kahn will be the presenter at this Friday’s (November 4) meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. The always-interesting and entertaining Kahn will speak on the topic “Do Political Attacks Help or Harm our Republic?” This seems like a timely topic given the recent general and primary elections. The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 2, 2010

Only conservative and Tea Party candidates cast as extreme. “Congressional Democrats and President Obama are facing voters’ wrath because of their extreme agenda over the past two years: government-run health care; massive unsupportable spending; a proposed ‘cap-and-trade’ tax on energy, higher income taxes, etc. But MRC analysts found 35 evening news stories which conveyed the Democratic spin point that conservative and Tea Party candidates are ‘extreme,’ ‘fringe,’ or ‘out of the mainstream,’ vs. ZERO stories conveying the charge that left-wing Democrats are ‘out of the mainstream.’” Also, the label “liberal” is not used as often as is “conservative,” and “ultra-liberal” was not used at all during the study period. More from the Media Research Center findings at MRC Study: “News” Media Aid Democrats’ Tea Party Trashing.

Divisive Obama undercuts the presidency. This is the view of two Democrats, Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen, writing in the Washington Post: “Instead, since taking office, he has pitted group against group for short-term political gain that is exacerbating the divisions in our country and weakening our national identity. The culture of attack politics and demonization risks compromising our ability to address our most important issues — and the stature of our nation’s highest office. Indeed, Obama is conducting himself in a way alarmingly reminiscent of Nixon’s role in the disastrous 1970 midterm campaign. No president has been so persistently personal in his attacks as Obama throughout the fall.” On campaign finance, the authors say they favor complete disclosure and a reversal of Citizens United, but note that there is little evidence that there have been “improper or even unusual” activities. The authors also say that Obama’s attacks on individuals such as David H. Koch for his role in founding Americans for Prosperity are harmful and reminiscent of Richard M. Nixon’s enemies list, on which author Caddell was listed.

Why Obama is no Roosevelt. “Whatever the outcome of today’s election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience — with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of ‘present,’ and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence. A platform vowing, unforgettably, to restore us — a country lost to arrogance and crimes against humanity — to a place of respect in the world.” Continuing, the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz describes FDR’s famous “map speech” — in which he asked Americans to have a map ready while he explained developments in the world war. “No radio address then or since has ever imparted a presidential message so remarkable in its detail, complexity and faith in its audience.” write Rabinowitz. What if Obama had done the same with the health care bill?

Left-wing echo chamber at work. A billboard message displayed by a Mike Pompeo supporter generated an instant flurry of echo messages in the left-wing blogosphere. Posts appeared on Democratic Underground, Huffington Post, Think Progress, Newsvine, Pitch Weekly, 1whp.com, and Ski Dawg’s Pound. Locally the left-wing Forward Kansas and Kansas Free Press chipped in, and the Wichita Eagle Editorial Blog threw some red meat to its band of regulars. This issue made it onto left-wing television, where MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow commented on it using her thick-as-pine sap snarkiness — not that many people take Maddow seriously. Even the Goyle campaign, in its fundraising email based on Maddow’s show, used scare quotes when describing her program as “analysis.” (Scare quotes, according to Wikipedia, “are quotation marks placed around a single word or phrase to indicate that the word or phrase does not signify its literal or conventional meaning.” When used as Goyle’s email used them — to indicate scorn, sarcasm, irony, disagreement, or disdain — they might be called “sneer quotes.”)

Kansas advance ballots analyzed. Earl Glynn of Kansas Watchdog contributes analysis of advance ballots cast in Kansas. The table breaks down the numbers by county and party. Voters registered as Republican returned about twice as many ballots as Democratic voters. Getting Republicans to vote early was a major initiative of the Brownback Clean Sweep program.

Criminal Justice Coordinating Council a Pachyderm topic. This Friday (November 5) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Bob Lamkey, who is director of the Sedgwick County Division of Public Safety. His topic will be “An Overview of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Topeka TIF district behind on taxes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports in College Hill taxes go unpaid: But developer says project is gaining new momentum. Locally, Wichita has a TIF district in our own College Hill neighborhood which is also behind on paying its property taxes.

Wednesdays in Wiedemann. Tomorrow Wichita State University’s Lynne Davis presents an organ recital as part of the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series. These recitals, which have no admission charge, start at 5:30 pm and last about 30 minutes. The location is Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University. For more about Davis and WSU’s Great Marcussen Organ, see my story from earlier this year.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday October 31, 2010

Wichita city council this week. The agenda for November 2 includes two instances of corporate welfare in the name of economic development (Approval of Forgivable Loan Agreement, Nex-Tech Processing and Approval of Economic Development Incentives, TECT Power, Inc.), an ordinance that cancels the Save-A-Lot TIF district, and revisions to Wichita’s Community Improvement District policy. I’m told that the last item may be deferred at the request of some developers, which — if I were a cynic — might cause me to wonder who is really running things at city hall. When the city had a meeting to discuss the CID policy, the meeting was stacked almost exclusively with those who have an interest in extracting as much economic subsidy as possible from the city.

Mayor Brewer speaking on Save-A-Lot. On the October 24 edition of the KNSS Radio program Issues 2010, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer spoke about the Save-A-Lot TIF district and what happened at the Sedgwick County Commission. Brewer said “The city said, okay, you can charge an additional two cents, if that’s what you want to do … But what ended up happening is the county voted against it and said no, we don’t want to let them charge themselves another two cents, and so it was voted down.” The “two cents” the mayor is referring to comes from the Community Improvement District that the city passed to benefit the Save-A-Lot store’s developers. Where the mayor is mistaken is in the role of the Sedgwick County Commission and the action that body took. The Kansas law regarding CIDs — the mayor’s “two cents” — gives no role to counties. Instead, the county commission voted to cancel the TIF district that the city created at the same time it created the CID. Now I can understand how people make misstatements when speaking on live television or radio. But the mayor seemed quite sure of himself. Host Steve McIntosh didn’t pick up on this error. KNSS shows have had other quality control problems recently, as when a host and guest discussed Wichita city council member Paul Gray and his prospects for reelection. Gray can’t run again due to term limits.

Shop this way. Before addressing the proposed Planeview Save-A-Lot store, the mayor said that regarding the existing Save-A-Lot store at 13th and Grove, the city had to educate people in the surrounding area that they couldn’t buy just a loaf of bread or one item at at time, they had to buy an entire week’s groceries.

Rasmussen tells us. “With less than a week to go before midterm elections, 32% of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction.” See Right Direction or Wrong Track. “Just 12% of Likely U.S. Voters now think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Sixty-one percent (61%) rate their performance as poor. More at Congressional Performance. “With midterm congressional elections just a week away, the number of voters who view Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Very Unfavorably have reached their highest levels yet.” See Congressional Favorability Ratings.

Kansas high schools turn out graduates, but many are unprepared. At the end of a Lawrence Journal-World article on Kansas community colleges, “Responding to a question Thursday, [Jacqueline Vietti, president of Butler County Community College in El Dorado] noted that K-12 schools perhaps needed to place less emphasis on tests and more on the learning process and pointed to what she saw as ‘a disconnect between ACT scores and the preparedness of students’ coming to Butler County…. In a later interview, she acknowledged that 65 percent of recent high school graduates coming to her school require developmental work in math, English or reading.” This tracks with my reporting from earlier this year, which found that “only 26 percent of Kansas students that take the ACT test are ready for college-level coursework in all four areas that ACT considers.”

Government or private sector. In today’s Wichita Eagle opinion line: “Why would anyone want to take the power away from the government, which is an elected body, elected by the people, and turn the power over to the private sector, which is elected by no one and in which very few have a say?” I might point out to this person that private sector firms must meet the test and demands of consumer preferences each and every day. Politicians, on the other hand, face the voters only every few years when their terms are up. Furthermore, in the private sector, I can choose to buy my produce at Dillons, canned goods at Wal-Mart, snacks at Target, meats at the carneceria, etc. In government, we usually have to choose between Candidate A and B, each in their entirety. We can’t select the things we like about each candidate as we can in the private sector and free markets.

MSNBC’s Olbermann unhinged. “On Wednesday’s Countdown show, during a 21-minute ‘Special Comment,’ MSNBC host Keith Olbermann warned American voters against electing Tea Party Republicans to power, whom he suggested are ‘unqualified, unstable individuals’ who will take America ‘backward to Jim Crow, or backward to the breadlines of the ‘30s, or backward to hanging union organizers.’ He then made a play off MSNBC’s ‘Lean Forward’ slogan to disparage the Tea Party movement as he declared: ‘Vote backward, vote Tea Party.’” More, including video, at Newsbusters.

Wichita Eagle to be protested. A little birdie told me: “I have heard that a group calling themselves Women Against Violence plans to picket the Wichita Eagle building on Monday from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm and again at 4:30 pm until 6:30 pm showing their opposition to the Eagle’s endorsement of a political candidate who allegedly assaulted his wife.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday October 29, 2010

This Week in Kansas. Rebecca Zepick of State of the State KS, Malcolm Harris of Mammon Among Friends and Friends University, and myself join host Tim Brown to discuss politics, elections, shale gas, and Wichita’s aircraft industry. “This Week in Kansas” airs in Topeka on WIBW TV channel 13 Saturdays at 11:30 am, and in Wichita on KAKE TV channel 10 Sundays at 9:00 am.

Business jets and elections. Speaking of Malcolm Harris, his recent blog post Business jets and elections provides an accurate look at the past two years, with Harris noting that our economic problems are long-term in nature, but President Obama provided short-term solutions, and then lost his focus. As for the future, Harris writes: “Moreover, without significant policy changes there is a very real threat in the medium term. The perceived erosion of the rule of law (think of the treatment of GM’s bondholders), the costs of the healthcare system reengineering, and the prospect of tax hikes if the Bush tax cuts expire have eerily recreated the conditions of 1936. These set the stage for the Roosevelt recession of 1937. We avoided the financial collapse that trasformed the recession of 1929 into the Great Depression. Now we have recreated the conditions for the 1937 recession, a recession whose severity was exceeded only by the contractions of 1929-33 and 1920.”

Long-Shots in Kansas. Joseph A. Aistrup, professor of political science at Kansas State University, writing in an Insight Kansas editorial at State of the State KS, looks at some of the Kansas candidates this year who, facing only small probabilities of victory, still pound the campaign trail. He concludes: “Long-shots of every ilk and political party are the unsung heroes of our democracy. They spend countless hours campaigning in an effort to make sure that voters have the opportunity to choose. All of us owe them a debt of gratitude for making our democracy a more meaningful affair.”

Brownback at Wichita Pachyderm. Today’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature United States Senator and candidate for Kansas governor Sam Brownback. The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Rally in Wichita today. At 2:00 pm, Republicans hold a rally and news conference at the Sedgwick County GOP headquarters, 555 North Woodlawn. At 5:30 pm, Raj Goyle and other candidates appear at a “Made in America” tour stop at Old Town Plaza, 353 N. Meade Street.

Kansas minor parties might break through. A lack of competitive races statewide, coupled with some impressive showings in forums by minor party candidates, might foreshadow a big year for them at the polls. The Kansas City Star has more at In a year of voter discontent, minor parties might move up in Kansas.

History of the tea party movement. The Wall Street Journal reports on the rise of the tea party movement. See Birth of a Movement: Tea Party Arose From Conservatives Steeped in Crisis. Coverage of the tea party events in Wichita may be found at Wichita Tea Party.

Get your developer welfare here. The Wichita Eagle reports today: “Downtown officials will roll out a 10-page guide to available development incentives next week, the first step in their one-stop information shop for retail and residential prospects.”

Clinton to Meek: Quit. Former president Bill Clinton asked Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race, Politico reports. This would have helped Charlie Crist, who is losing to rising star national Marco Rubio, a tea party favorite. It’s thought that 1.7 million people have already voted in Florida, so those who had voted for Meek would have voted in vain had Meek agreed to drop out of the race.

Wichita Eagle opinion line. “I hear we may soon have a fish for our state fossil to celebrate 150 years of statehood. May I suggest Bob Dole as a replacement nominee?” Ouch.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday October 26, 2010

Karl Rove. “Former George W. Bush aide Matt Latimer was there to observe the dealings of Karl Rove during the previous administration, and he writes that there’s no secret why most conservatives have now come to view Rove as a fraud. Latimer says that Rove has become symbolic of a GOP establishment that’s known for its utter betrayal and ruin of the Party that Reagan had left so strong. Now that his secret is out, Rove’s influence will only continue to diminish as time goes on and the Tea Parties take over.” A fascinating look at the legacy of Rove, and illustrates the tension between the tea party and the Republican establishment. From Karl Rove’s Flameout.

Waiting for Superman. The Kansas Policy Institute will host a free screening of Waiting for Superman on Thursday November 4th. Of the film, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The new film ‘Waiting for ‘Superman’” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact. Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools.” In Kansas, the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed penned by the education bureaucracy status quoSharon Hartin Iorio, dean of the Wichita State University College of Education in this case — to inoculate Wichitans against the effects of what I am told is a powerful film. Let’s hope this film gets Kansans to thinking about public schools in our state, as Kansas is way behind the curve on innovation, compared to other states. The film will be shown at 7:00pm at the Warren Theatre East (11611 E. 13th St.). KPI asks that you RSVP by Tuesday, November 2 to James Franko at james.franko@kansaspolicy.org. Space is limited.

Brownback at Wichita Pachyderm. Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature United States Senator and candidate for Kansas governor Sam Brownback. The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Right to work = economic growth. In The Daily Caller, Emporia State University’s Greg Schneider looks at the history of unions in America and right-to-work laws. The number of union jobs has declined as unionized companies became less competitive, not because of right-to-work laws.

Kansas private sector loses jobs, government grows. “Roughly 7,600 private sector jobs in Kansas disappeared from August to September, while government jobs grew by 21,000 over the same time period.” Most of the government jobs were in schools, writes Rachel Whitten in the Kansas Reporter.

Tea Party plans to exert influence. As newly-elected members of Congress arrive in Washington to assume their seats, a tea party group plans to lay down expectations. “The meeting of newly elected officials, the date of which hasn’t been set, is designed to keep new representatives connected to ‘what we expect from them,’ according to the memo. Incumbent Republican members of Congress and the party’s national leadership won’t be invited, said Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, in an interview. ‘The incumbents have allowed us to get into the problems we are in now,’ he said. ‘We hope to get to the freshmen before the incumbents get to them, and start twisting their arms.”” The full story in the Wall Street Journal is Group Plans to Keep Pressure on Newly Elected Conservatives. There is definitely conflict between the Tea Party and the Republican Establishment.

Goyle numbers explained by rats and cats. Candidate for U.S. Congress from the Kansas fourth district Raj Goyle says he has voted with Republicans in the Kansas House of Representatives 80 percent of the time. While a detailed analysis of the votes would be difficult and time-consuming, the majority of measures voted on by legislatures pass nearly unanimously — the so-called “rats and cats” bills. The important cases this year where Goyle voted against his party — the big-spending budget and the statewide sales tax increase — represent either a genuine change in Goyle’s political philosophy, or election-year window dressing. Voters have to make the call.

Holland claim doubted. In an interview with the Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas governor hopeful Democrat Tom Holland said “Now I have a proven track record in the Kansas Legislature of reaching across the aisle and working with Republicans.” Evidence, however, points the other way. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Holland is the only Kansas Senator that earned a score of 0 percent. KEFI is not designed to group legislators into Republican or Democratic camps, but Holland ranks alone at the extreme end of the spectrum — voting against economic freedom in all cases.

Arts in Wichita promoted. Today John D’Angelo, manager of Wichita’s Division of Arts and Cultural Services, contributes a piece to the Wichita Eagle titled How can Wichita sustain, grow arts sector? The answer to this question is: reduce government involvement in the arts, first by abolishing Mr. D’Angelo’s department and city taxation for spending on the arts. This will force arts organizations to meet the demands of consumers as expressed in free markets. Currently, a board of cronies dishes out tax money to arts organizations using political rather than market criteria. This process lets these organizations exists by appealing to Wichita’s cultural elites, rather than the broad market. See Government Art in Wichita. Economic fallacy supports arts in Wichita provides background to D’Angelo’s claim of the economic benefit of the arts, at least government spending on arts.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday October 20, 2010

Poll: Republicans to win big. Wall Street Journal: “A vigorous post-Labor Day Democratic offensive has failed to diminish the resurgent Republicans’ lead among likely voters, leaving the GOP poised for major gains in congressional elections two weeks away, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Among likely voters, Republicans hold a 50% to 43% edge, up from a three-percentage-point lead a month ago. … ‘It’s hard to say Democrats are facing anything less than a category four hurricane,’ said Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster who conducts the Journal poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. ‘And it’s unlikely the Democratic House will be left standing.’”

Faust-Goudeau, Ranzau featured. The two major party candidates for Sedgwick County Commission District 4 — Democrat Oletha Faust-Goudeau and Republican Richard Ranzau — are featured in today’s Wichita Eagle. This is an important election, as the balance of power on the commission is at stake.

Rasmussen: Health care, bailouts, stimulus not popular with voters. “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that most Likely Voters think their representative in Congress does not deserve reelection if he or she voted for the national health care law, the auto bailouts or the $787-billion economic stimulus plan.” The complete story is here.

Downtown Wichita planning. The people of Wichita need to be wary about the planning for the revitalization of downtown Wichita developed by planning firm Goody Clancy. As Randal O’Toole explains in a passage from his book The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future, planning provides an opportunity for special interests to run over the will of the people: “When confronted with criticism about their plans, planners often point to their public involvement processes. ‘Hundreds of people came to our meetings and commented on our plans,’ they say. ‘So we must be doing something right.’ Wrong. Planning is inherently undemocratic. Efforts to involve the public mainly attract people who have a special interest in the outcome of the plans. … Planning processes are even less likely to attract the public than elections. Getting involved in planning requires a much greater commitment of time than simply voting, and the process is so nebulous that there is no assurance that planners will even listen to the public. … At the same time, some groups have a strong interest in getting involved in planning either for ideological reasons or because planning can enrich their businesses. The usual result when a few special interest get involved in a process ignored by everyone else is to develop a plan that accommodates the special interests at everyone else’s expense.” When we look at who is involved in the Wichita planning, we see these special interests hard at work.

More corporate welfare in Sedgwick County. Today, without meaningful discussion, the Sedgwick County Commission committed to a $25,000 forgivable loan to TECT Power. The loan agreement specifies targets of employment and wages that TECT must meet. This is not the only corporate welfare the company is seeking. The Wichita Business Journal reports: “The Wichita City Council will be asked to match the Sedgwick County loan, and the company is seeking incentives from the Kansas Department of Commerce.” Does this approach to economic development work? See Kansas spending should be cut, not frozen and In Wichita and Kansas, economic development is not working.

Heartland policy blog launched. The Heartland Institute has launched Somewhat Reasonable, described as an “in-house” policy blog. In an announcement, HI says: “It is the place friends and fans of The Heartland Institute can keep up with the conversation about free markets, public policy and current events that takes place every day among our fellows and scholars. Heartland staffers don’t always agree, which is part of the fun of working at a libertarian think tank.” Heartland is continually at the forefront of research and advocacy for free markets and economic freedom.

Tea Parties and the Political Establishment. The Sam Adams Alliance has released a new report that examines the relationship between tea party activists and the political establishment. Its research shows “shows the two entities are united on issue priorities, but differ when it comes to their level of enthusiasm and the Tea Party movement’s ability to accomplish its political goals.” One finding is that the political establishment doesn’t have much confidence in tea party activists’ ability to achieve their goals: “… only about 7 percent of Establishment respondents said the Tea Party knows how to accomplish its goals, while about 41 percent of Tea Party activists surveyed say this is true.” But the establishment needs tea party activists: “42 percent of Establishment respondents said it was ‘very important’ that Tea Partiers work with them.” In conclusion, the study states: “The Tea Parties have knowingly or unknowingly begun to promote a distinctly separate understanding of the political landscape compared to the Establishment’s. The tensions between them illustrate the underlying differences in their conception of the current political environment, their willingness to embrace populist elements, selection of means and tactics, and their acceptance of new entrants into the political world. However they share many of the same issue priorities, indicating that there is opportunity for a closer and more amicable relationship between the two factions.” The full document is at Surface Tension: Tea Parties and the Political Establishment.

Chevrolet Volt. The Chevrolet Volt plug-in car is suffering a bit of dings in its green-glamour now that GM has revealed that it will use its gasoline motor more often than previously thought. But there are substantive reasons why this car should be scrutinized. Writes Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.: “Cars account for 9% of America’s CO2 output, making power plants a much more sensible target if your worry is global warming. Ironically, the Volt rolls out amid news that an investor is abandoning a big U.S. nuclear project, leaving America more dependent than ever on ‘dirty’ coal for its electricity. Storing electricity — which is what the Volt’s batteries do — is probably the least efficient thing you can do with the output of such plants. Then again, perhaps this explains the rapturous greeting the Volt is receiving from the utility industry. … The Volt’s defenders will shout that the Volt is a blow against terrorism and in favor of energy independence. Two answers: The Volt doesn’t need defenders if it’s a car that consumers want, and that GM can make and sell at a profit. But GM can’t. … The second answer is that even if every American drove a Volt, and every car in America was a Volt, it would not appreciably change the global challenges we face.” More at Volte-Face: GM’s new electric car depends on coal-belching power plants to charge its batteries. What’s the point?

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday October 17, 2010

Roots of tea party. Richard A. Vigeurie writing in Politico: “Asked about what stirred the tea party movement, [Former VU.S. Senator from Virginia George] Allen blamed President Barack Obama and the Democrats. ‘It’s what has happened in the last year,’ he said. Allen is flat-out wrong. Americans didn’t elect Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as much as they threw out Republicans in 2006 and 2008. Americans were angry about the GOP officials’ lack of discipline and courage, and their profligate spending and abandonment of small-government, Republican principles.” Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott reacts: “Viguerie is right, of course, and his oped ought to be a reminder to all professional politicians in both major political parties that the Tea Party movement is at its most fundamental a reaction to the horrendous mess they have made of things in the nation’s capital.”

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer announces run for reelection. Here’s a list of Brewer’s prominent supporters, as reported by the Wichita Eagle’s Brent Wistrom: “Jack DeBoer, chairman of Consolidated Holdings and owner of WaterWalk; downtown developer David Burk; theater mogul Bill Warren; council member Sue Schlapp; Dave Wells, president of Key Construction; and Jeff Turner, CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, where Brewer worked before being elected in 2007.” As noted in comments to the article, the business people listed have benefited mightily from the city’s corporate welfare programs, which Brewer wholeheartedly supports as he readily accepts campaign contributions from those who benefit. Curious is the inclusion of city council member Sue Schlapp, who is quick to remind us of her conservative credentials, but nearly always votes for developer giveaways that end up costing city taxpayers. One name that is surprising to see on this list is Dave Burk. Earlier this year the Wichita Eagle reported this: “Downtown Wichita’s leading developer, David Burk, represented himself as an agent of the city — without the city’s knowledge or consent — to cut his taxes on publicly owned property he leases in the Old Town Cinema Plaza.” It’s telling that Brewer would have him stand nearby as he announces his reelection plans.

Overheard on This Week in Kansas. Referring to Louisiana possibly using federal relief funds to pay for incentives to entice Wichita’s Hawker Beechcraft to relocate near the Baton Rouge airport, I said: “If we’re talking about Hurricane Katrina money being used to get these jobs, to my knowledge Baton Rouge wasn’t destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It’s not like these jobs are going to the ninth ward in New Orleans, which was hurt.”

Many Americans see government as a threat. Gallup Poll via ARRA News Service: “The percentage of Americans who think the federal government poses ‘an immediate threat’ to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens has increased significantly over the last seven years, rising from 30 percent to 46 percent, according to a Gallup poll. Only 51 percent of Americans now say they do not think the federal government poses ‘an immediate threat’ to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Similarly, the percentage of Americans who think the federal government has too much power has also significantly increased, from 39 percent in 2002 to 59 percent today.” I would be interested in seeing similar polls for state, county, and city government, as well as school districts.

Markets tell us the worth of things. William Anderson writing in the Freeman: “A public-works project such as the proposed tunnel makes sense if over time the marginal benefits outweigh the marginal costs. If they do not, then it provides a benefit to some at the expense of others, something the ancients might have called ‘unjust.’ Since the output of public works is not priced in the market, how would we know if costs exceed benefits? … Today, we see economic analysis turned on its head. Projected cost overruns suddenly are justified because ‘they provide jobs,’ as though higher costs mean more wealth created.” As Wichita begins to plan for spending on downtown Wichita revitalization, we need to rely on market signals for the relative worth of things. Despite the claims of planning firm Goody Clancy that downtown Wichita will be market-driven, it is in fact driven by politics, which is the opposite of markets. Nonetheless, the Wichita Eagle covers downtown revitalization as a business story, when it is really a political story.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday October 15, 2010

Moran at Wichita Pachyderm today. Today’s speaker at the Wichita Pachyderm Club is current United States Representative and Republican Party Senate nominee Jerry Moran. As a large audience is expected, please arrive by 11:45 to get your buffet lunch in time for the noon start (the larger meeting room will be used). Cost is $10, which includes lunch.

Rasmussen: Voters don’t trust politicians’ promises. “Half (50%) now believe that when politicians break campaign promises, it’s because they deliberately made a false promise to get elected. Thirty-nine percent (39%) disagree and say unforeseen events after they took office forced them to break their promises.” In keeping with my belief in limited government, I might suggest that candidates promise to do less. But then liberal candidates say that conservative candidates don’t have a plan. More at Voters Believe Overwhelmingly That Politicians Don’t Keep Their Promises, and Most Say It’s Deliberate.

No developer welfare; no apartments. The Wichita Business Journal reports that since developer Jason Van Sickle isn’t able to obtain federal historic preservation tax credits on a property, he’s abandoning plans to develop the project. Tax credits are, in effect, grants of money paid to — in this case — real estate developers through the tax system. But not to worry for the developer: he’s planning to hit up the state of Kansas and its taxpayers for historic preservation tax credits.

Capitalism saved the miners. Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal: “It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism. … The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop: ‘The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper.’ Uh, yeah. That’s a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that’s right.” Henninger lists all the innovative technology used in the rescue, that innovation driven by capitalism in the countries where it is not snuffed out. A lesson: “In an open economy, you will never know what is out there on the leading developmental edge of this or that industry.” Innovation is driven by private companies with profit as their motive.

Holland demands debates, then skips out. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, “[Kansas Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Tom] Holland was invited to the hour-long debate broadcast on WIBW radio and TV, but he declined because he said WIBW had already sponsored an earlier gubernatorial debate at the Kansas State Fair, and because the debate moderators were conservative radio talk show hosts Raubin Pierce and Megan Mosack.” Yes, Pierce and Mosack are conservatives. But Holland, who at one time demanded a series of 10 debates with Brownback, should have appeared. Conservative candidates and officeholders are summoned before liberal newspaper editorial boards all the time. They go and suffer the inevitable criticism. Holland should have done the same — and by all accounts, the questions were fair. And if the questions weren’t fair, Holland could have done what many candidates do in forums: they say whatever they want without regard to answering the question that was asked.

This Week in Kansas. KAKE’s Chris Frank appears to talk about Hawker Beechcraft and Louisiana. Then Kansas Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Stephen Koranda and myself discuss Kansas politics and poll results. Tim Brown is the host. “This Week in Kansas” airs in Topeka on WIBW TV channel 13 Saturdays at 11:30 am, and in Wichita on KAKE TV channel 10 Sundays at 9:00 am.

Jim Anderson Program features candidate debate. Kansas fourth Congressional district hopefuls Democrat Raj Goyle and Republican Mike Pompeo will appear on Anderson’s radio show. Evidently, minor party candidates Susan Ducey (Reform Party) and Libertarian Shawn Smith will not appear, despite having made credible appearances on a recent KWCH televised forum. After this, Attorney Genreal candidate Derek Schmidt will appear. The Jim Anderson Program airs from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Saturdays on KNSS Radio 1330 on your old-school AM radio, live on the station’s website, or on your iPhone through the station’s free app.

Kansas statewide races polled. KWCH and SurveyUSA report poll results under the headline GOP poised to win statewide races. The closet contest is for Attorney General, where challenger Derek Schmidt leads incumbent Stephen Six 48 percent to 40 percent. For the race the pollster notes: “Compared to other, stable Kansas statewide contests, there is notable volatility in the Attorney General race, uniquely; any outcome is possible.”

Stossel on the future, tonight. “This Friday at 10pm [9:00 pm Central time], Fox News will broadcast my heated argument with NYC Transit Worker’s Union President John Samuelsen. It’s part of my special, ‘The Battle for the Future.’ More at Stossel’s blog.

Tea party rules? The New York Times reports: “Enough Tea Party-supported candidates are running strongly in competitive and Republican-leaning Congressional races that the movement stands a good chance of establishing a sizeable caucus to push its agenda in the House and the Senate, according to a New York Times analysis. … While the numbers are relatively small, they could exert outsize influence, putting pressure on Republican leaders to carry out promises to significantly cut spending and taxes, to repeal health care legislation and financial regulations passed this year, and to phase out Social Security and Medicare in favor of personal savings accounts.” Related: FiveThirtyEight estimates Congressional Tea Party Caucus founder Michele Bachmann has 98.9 percent probability of winning her reelection contest.

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Liberal politics: The paranoid style

This month Andrew Ferguson, media critic for Commentary, provides a critical look at the left-wing hysteria over the New Yorker “exposé” of Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries.

Ferguson is quite critical — justifiably — of the New Yorker article: “The only support in Mayer’s article for this extravagant charge comes from second-hand assertions, usually in quotes from the brothers’ critics. Many are anonymous. Others are incompletely identified. Conservative think tanks and activists are carefully pinned with the ideological tag; liberal think tanks and left-wing activists are, well, just think tanks and activists.”

Other targets of Ferguson’s include MSNBC talk-show host Rachel Maddow: “When Maddow speaks, the White House listens, and by August, the president himself was at a Texas fundraiser warning an audience that had paid at least $5,000 a person about the dangers that rich people posed to politics.”

PRESS MAN: The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics

By Andrew Ferguson

Over the past 30 years, Charles and David Koch, owners of a Kansas-based family business called Koch Industries, have given hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations that advance their political views. Those views can be described as unevenly conservative and generally libertarian (pro-gay marriage, anti-ObamaCare). The donations are readily observable in foundation tax records posted on the Internet, as all such transactions are, and the brothers themselves have made many public appearances on behalf of the think tanks and magazines they fund, given speeches and media interviews, issued statements of support, sat on boards—even, in David’s case, made a hopeless and expensive run for the vice presidency on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.

Oddly, it took a while for the Inspector Clouseaus of the American left to smell a rat. And in fairness, it should be said that hiding in plain sight can often be the most sinister form of disguise for billionaires like the Kochs, the tricky bastards. About a year ago, the alarming rise of the Tea Parties inspired researchers at a website called ThinkProgress to start Googling. Among their discoveries, breathlessly reported, was the news that one of the Kochs’ foundations had funded Americans for Prosperity, a group instrumental in the Tea Party movement.

Continue reading at Commentary Magazine

Rasmussen: Tea party is grassroots, not Astroturf

A new book by national pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen explains that the Tea Party movement is a genuine grassroots movement, not a corporate-led Astroturf falsehood as critics allege.

The book, released just two weeks ago, is titled Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System. It’s based on research and polling conducted by Rasmussen and Schoen. The authors tackle head-on the nature and origins of the Tea Party movement. As to the authenticity of the movement, they write:

The question has been asked of whether the Tea Party is an authentic national movement with broad-based support, or a more limited narrow movement that has only been able to produce real crowds and real enthusiasm because of so-called Astroturf.

Fortunately a large amount of research has been done by a wide variety of organizations that answer the question definitively.

First, the Tea Party movement is broad based with wide support.

A theme in the book is that the elite class in America simply does not understand the depth and breath of the Tea Party movement. And according to Rasmussen and Schoen, the Tea Party represents a real and powerful uprising or groundswell of right-wing populism. Not understanding the depth and breadth of the Tea Party — or if they do understand it, then fearing it — elites criticize it. They denigrate tea party supporters by labeling them as Astroturf — fake grassroots.

That is an insult. It illustrates that the political elite in this country do not believe that ordinary citizens are capable of forming their own opinions. Casting the tea party as Astroturf is an easy way for elites to criticize the party without dealing with the realities of the issues that Tea Party supporters are confronting.

In a similar fashion, by concentrating on the fringe elements of tea party supporters — racists, “truthers,” and “birthers” — critics are able to deflect attention from the very real and important issues that tea party supporters are working on.

This book contains many important observations about American politics and society. I’ll be looking at more over the next weeks.

The Washington Examiner has a series of excerpts of the book at Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen: One nation under revolt