This week on WichitaLiberty.TV: Danedri Herbert, also known as Gidget Southway, visits Wichita and WichitaLiberty.TV. Her blog is Kansas GOP Insider. This interview was recorded on July 27, 2016. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 126, broadcast August 7, 2016.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: A former Wichita mayor wonders what happened to Wichita’s water supply. Then, I’ll introduce you to Gidget, a Kansas blogger I think you will enjoy. Then, how can you use your smartphone to help candidates and causes? View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 56, broadcast August 24, 2014.
In debates over public policy, words matter. But readers recognize that words represent the opinion of the writer, and as such can be incorrect, misinformed, or simply stating a preference that the reader may disagree with.
But photographs are different. When presented with a photograph purporting to convey a message, readers (viewers) don’t know if it is real or has been altered.
So when the Community Bridge Blog, a Manhattan-based project, uses a doctored photograph of Republican Kansas Secretary of State Candidate Kris Kobach, readers might be justifiably confused. Is the pasted-in message behind Kobach real, or false?
In this case the photograph is false. It’s a fake. These types of photographic alterations — thought to be funny or amusing by some, especially liberals — have no place in serious public discussion. Even if they’re a staple of MSNBC television commentators.
And when we wonder why good people are reluctant to run for public office, here’s a reason why: they’re likely to be subject to malicious and false attacks such as this.
The author of the post, Christopher E. Renner — at one time a “Linguistically/Culturally Diverse Populations’ Consultant and Teacher Trainer at the Midwest Equity Assistance Center, College of Education, Kansas State University” — ought to apologize to Kobach and the readers of the blog. That’s if he wants to be taken seriously.
Here’s the text of Renner’s post, contained in What Every Kansan Needs to Know about Kris Kobach. While I believe Renner is largely incorrect in his opinion — and his writing could use some proofreading — his written opinions are just that. Readers can choose to agree or not.
The Republican’s nominee for the job of Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, is a well know nativist extremist who makes a living by drafting anti-immigrant laws and, after they are adopted, trains officers to enforce them. If the laws are challenged, he goes to court to defend them. Quite the racket since the laws are always rule unconstitutional and in the mean time he lines his pockets with tax-payer dollars from the legal fees he racks up.
But altered photographs are different from words.
If online political activity has any value, Kansas Republicans aren’t providing much. Many Kansas Republican websites and online outreach efforts are stale and lagging behind in providing timely and quality information.
As of today, the most recent post on The Kansas Trunkline (promoted as “The Official Blog of the Kansas Republican Party”) is dated November 30, 2009. That’s coming up on three months old. If blogs have any defining characteristics, one is frequent updates with timely material. That’s not happening here.
This blog is promoted on the front page of the Kansas Republican Party website. That site doesn’t fare much better with regard to timely updates. The most recent news item is from January 25. The Twitter feed displayed there has four posts for all of 2010. The site doesn’t have accurate information about who is — and how to contact — the executive director of the party.
On the Kansas Republican Party’s Facebook page, the most recent post is from December 1, 2009. The Kansas Young Republicans Facebook page, however, does better.
Even efforts using cutting-edge technology from campaigns aren’t doing better. SamForGov — that’s Sam Brownback’s campaign application for the iPhone — has an event from November 2, 2009 as the latest campaign event. Under “Campaign Updates,” the only item is a news release from September 3, 2009. The front page of the app still displays an invitation to Kansas Days. That event took place nearly four weeks ago.
Some local Kansas Republican Party organizations do better. The Johnson County Republican Party seems to be up-to-date with useful information. The Sedgwick County counterpoint doesn’t fare as well.
The Kansas Democratic Party has a revamped blog that allows for “community bloggers,” although so far only one has signed up. The blog has 10 posts so far for February. Not exactly a fount of information, but better than the stale Republican blog and websites.
There’s a saying: “You are who Google says you are.” Google, of course, finds relevant websites based on what people say they’re looking for. But when Google (and other search engines) returns these websites with their stale news and out-of-date events, people lose confidence in the organizations that created the sites. Having visited once and finding little of value, people are not likely to return again.
This is the case if Google even returns these sites in response to searches, as freshness and frequency of updates is thought to be a major factor Google uses in deciding which sites to display to users.
As a Republican activist, I urge those in charge of these sites to make a commitment to providing fresh, timely, and relevant content. Part of how to accomplish this is to avoid delegating responsibility for the websites and blogs to “tech guys.” That’s because when it takes communication with technical support — and the possibility of receiving an invoice — to update a website or blog, the hassle factor means it doesn’t get done.
Instead, party leaders, staff, volunteers, and activists need to know themselves how to update websites and blogs. This requires that these sites be built upon technology platforms — like WordPress blogs, for example — that allow for and encourage end-user updates and maintenance. It also takes a commitment by leadership and staff to be trained, and then ongoing disciplined effort to keep the sites updated.
Kansas Watchdog reporting at Kansas Senate decides who is press and who is not may have caught the eye of Topeka radio talk show hosts Raubin Pierce and Megan Mosack, as they invited me to appear on their show today to talk about my inability to obtain press credentials at the Kansas Senate.
(By the way, isn’t it great that people in Topeka and northeast Kansas have a radio talk show that covers politics and public policy? We definitely could use something like this in Wichita.)
My appearance is available for listening at the show’s archive page under the heading “Thursday’s Show 2nd Hour”, although I think the easiest way to listen will be to click on this direct link. If all goes well, an audio file will download and start playing in your computer’s media player. After a little banter by hosts Raubin and Megan — they’re on location at a pizzeria in Overbrook, and the pizza sounds delicious — I appear a little more than two minutes into the recording.
The application form for Kansas Senate press credentials for 2010 is available at 2010 Kansas Senate Press Credentialing Application.
Previous reporting by me on this issue is at Kansas alternative media shut out of legislative access and Kansas alternative media discussed on Kansas Week. The latter story contains video of my appearance on the KPTS television public affairs program Kansas Week.
In Kansas, alternative media outlets like this blog can’t get the same level of access that traditional media has in the Kansas statehouse. My post Kansas alternative media shut out of legislative access gives details.
This week I in was in Anaheim, California on a fact-finding trip. As part of this, I asked to meet with a planner for the City of Anaheim. Shortly after we started our meeting, he asked to leave the room for a moment. When he came back, a media relations person for the city was with him, and stayed with us during our meeting.
This is not unusual, as many companies and governmental bodies have policies about their employees talking to the media.
But that’s it … in California — Anaheim, anyway — bloggers are treated as press. Not so in Kansas, though.
Bob Weeks discusses the difficulty of alternative media obtaining press credentials at the Kansas Legislature. From the KPTS public affairs television program Kansas Week on June 26, 2009. Tim Brown is the host. Randy Brown, Senior Fellow in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University also appears.
Read the story behind this by clicking on Kansas alternative media shut out of legislative access.
Jason Croucher, writing in the Kansas Jackass blog, says that we’re spending trillions on the Iraq war and little domestically. Is this really the case?
A running tally of the cost of the war from CostOfWar.com is at about $605 billion. That’s in line with other estimates. It’s true the war is going to continue to cost a lot for some time, and the cost may well exceed $1 trillion at some time in the future, but that’s a lot different from saying “all those trillions spent in Iraq.”
Then there’s this from Croucher: “Ah, but then, suddenly, the federal government did something they haven’t done in years — they actually spend [sic] some money domestically!”
I realize that Croucher is exaggerating a bit — okay, a lot — in order to be sensational and amuse his readers. But to say that federal domestic spending hasn’t been increasing is far from factual.
Croucher may have been relying on material such as that presented by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (This might be the case if he’s doing any actual research when forming his opinions instead of parroting leftist talking points.) Their analysis shows that federal domestic spending is growing less rapidly than defense and security spending for the period 2001 through 2008. Relative to this spending, domestic spending is shrinking, they say.
This analysis, however, ignores the fact that spending has been increasing, and rapidly, too. Numbers will illustrate this.
The Heritage Foundation has a series of charts prepared from the historical tables of the U.S. budget. One chart, titled Since 9/11, Federal Spending Has Increased Much Faster Than Inflation, contains this analysis: “Total nominal spending has increased 97.6 percent since 1992, while the Consumer Price Index has increased a relatively modest 47 percent, which means that government spending is growing much faster than inflation. Less than half of the increase in federal spending came from defense and homeland security spending.”
So federal spending is growing, and it’s not all on the war and homeland security.
While the Iraq was is expensive, it’s nowhere near the budget-buster that Croucher might have you believe. The chart titled Despite War Costs, Defense Spending Falls Below Historical Average tells the story that even though defense spending is rising, it is still below — way below — spending in recent periods (as a percent of GDP) .
The spending whose absence Croucher laments has, in fact, been increasing rapidly — even during the recent Bush presidency. The chart Mandatory Spending Has Increased Almost Five Times Faster Than Discretionary Spending illustrates. The mandatory spending shown in this charts is mostly social security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending. That’s all domestic.
Remember too that it was George W. Bush who started the prescription drug benefit program for seniors. That’s an expensive program.
That’s not quite accurate, as Croucher himself says he doesn’t like paying taxes. Instead, the post seems to argue that we have to pay taxes because they’re there, and we don’t know whether they’re too high, and anyway, we can’t identify and agree on what is waste, so let’s just pay. Something like this, anyway. But there are a few problems with this post that deserve discussion.
He likens paying his cable television bill to paying taxes. This analogy is false on several levels.
First, subscribing to cable television is a voluntary act. A company offers a service, a person decides to buy, and therefore becomes a customer. The customer — and the company, too — can decide to sever the relationship whenever and for whatever reason the parties have agreed to.
That’s not the way taxes work. There’s nothing voluntary about the relationship between state and taxpayer.
Then he says that he doesn’t know whether his cable bill and taxes are too high — his emotions make him feel like they are — and how there’s no rational reason for thinking they should or could cost less.
As it turns out, there is a rational reason why a cable bill is what it is: competition provided through markets. It hasn’t been this way until recently, but now you can get television service in several ways besides free over-the-air broadcasts: cable TV, satellite TV, and in many areas, TV provided by the telephone company. These three service providers compete with each other on the basis of price and service. (This doesn’t include services like hulu that show television programs over the Internet.)
For most of the things that government does and taxes us to pay for, government is the sole source. Even for areas where there are alternatives, such as private schools, many people can’t afford to pay their taxes and private school tuition at the same time, so government is almost like the sole source. And even if a family decides not to use the government schools, they still have to pay the same taxes just as through they used them. Companies operating in markets can’t compel their customers to do that.
Furthermore, competition provides a built-in incentive to control waste, something that Croucher seems to think is desirable to control in government, if we could come to agreement as to the definition of waste.
In private industry, the profit and loss system provides a powerful incentive to control waste. At the minimum, being efficient while satisfying customer needs leads to greater profits. Its strongest incentive, however, is survival: those firms that are wasteful die.
What happens to wasteful government programs? President Obama campaigned on ending wasteful earmarks, but signed a bill containing 8,500 such earmarks. He did say this is the “end to the old way of doing business,” but I don’t think anyone believes him. Or ask George Will about the mohair subsidy.
The automatic pruning of inefficient or wasteful companies through markets and the profit and loss system saves consumers from having to do with a grocery store what Croucher wants us to do with Kansas government: come up with a list of “waste.”
So government, as we see, is largely immune from the pressures of a marketplace. So Croucher is correct on one respect: we don’t know what our taxes should be.
But we can be positive that they’re too high.
Kansas news reports and blogs are still trying to decide who won last week’s showdown between Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Republican legislative leaders. GOP message lost in drama provides an example.
But as reported on this blog (Sebelius’ Proposed Cuts Not Likely Enough, Kansas Governor Not Facing Reality of Budget Crisis) and in other places, this crisis was solely of the Governor’s own making.
Her budget proposal for fiscal year 2009 from January met the legal requirement she faced, but came nowhere near facing the economic reality. Had she proposed a reasonable budget in January, this crisis — such as it was — could have been avoided.
Instead, Governor Sebelius left it to the legislature to come up with a bill that met economic reality. Is that leadership? Can we be proud of this?
At the Kansas Meadowlark, Earl Glynn has an article that illustrates some of the difficulties that researches face when working with voter data. I haven’t done nearly as much of this as Earl has, but I can tell you there have been times when I’ve been quite frustrated with voter data that I’ve received. I’ve had to spend time manipulating data in order to get it into useful formats.
The Meadowlark story is Comparing Voter Registration to Nov. ‘08 Ballots in Allen County. Too Difficult?
Through several methods, including excessive tweeting and plain old gumshoe work, the identity of the anonymous blogger Kansas Jackass was deduced. One tweet by the Jackass told me that the blogger would be entering the event hall at Kansas Days in a few minutes. I waited by the door and had a conversation with the Jackass.
The Kansas Meadowlark is covering a case before the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission that has free speech implications. The Meadowlark’s report is First Amendment Defense Thorny Issue for Ethics Commission.
Recently a Kansas blog covered a political event and wrote this in a post titled Defending America Summit Brought out the Wingnuts:
Stephen Ware, Professor at the University of Kansas Law School:
“What’s unusual about Kansas is about how little the people’s wishes matter. There are no checks and balances in the judicial selection process.”
********. It’s called a retention voted [sic]. Don’t like Justice Dan Biles? Vote him out in a year. And, hey, aren’t all professors supposed to be crazy liberals?
I asked Mr. Ware about the value of retention votes in giving a voice to the people. As it turns out, he said, no Kansas Supreme Court justice has ever lost a retention vote, and only one lower court judge has. “This is consistent with the pattern around the country, in which judges hardly ever lose retention votes. That’s mostly because there’s no rival candidate to spark a real debate.”
So it appears that in Kansas, retention votes have not been a meaningful way for voters to engage in the process of choosing their judges. However, I will trust this blogger to educate us about crazy liberals.
A blogger in Kansas has an issue with a talk given by Jonah Goldberg at Americans For Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit in Wichita.
As it turns out, the basis for the criticism is …, well, let the speaker himself explain. See the post titled Well-Named.
This list is divided into categories, which should make it easier to find just the right blog for your interests.
Thank you to Sarah Scrafford and Kelly Sonora for this useful service.
I think I say this almost every week, but I’m amazed at some of the blogs that people create just to showcase and report on their own personal interests. This week it’s Dave Knadler, who is a professional writer. His blog Dave’s Fiction Warehouse deals with books and writing and movies, and also his assorted adventures, which sound like fun.
And while I’m repeating myself, Douglas and Main by Bobby Rozzell remains a great spot to catch up on the good posts in Wichita-area blogs, and to learn of new blogs, too.
At Americans For Prosperity, Kansas chapter head Alan Cobb asks “What if Kansas threw a billion dollar party and nobody showed?” Yes, but it’s only $1.3 billion.
The Flint Hills Center for Public Policy announces a showing in Wichita of Flunked, the movie–A story of failure. A formula for hope. Make your reservation at their site for the free showing. I’ve seen this movie, and it’s very good.
Kansas Liberty has these posts of note: Problems with gangs are explained in Across Kansas, in communities large and small, youth gangs a fact of life. Robert Redford weighs in on Kansas energy policy in The Sunflower Kid versus the coal plant.
The Kansas Trunkline reports on some earmark requests Governor Sebelius has made through second district congressperson Nancy Boyda. See Kathleen Sebelius Spinning on Earmark Requests. The governor’s campaign schedule is an issue in Apparently we are still on a weekend. Also of note: Dennis Moore and Nancy Boyda: Betraying Their Constituents on Energy Reform.
The Kansas Republican has concerns about her too, as expressed in the question Obama, Do You REALLY Want Sebelius Attacking Palin?
The Kansas Meadowlark is a little light this week but contributes Flying into a double rainbow. I had the pleasure of hanging out with the Meadowlark last week in Scottsdale, Arizona, catching up on news and learning more about blogging.
On Wichitopekington , Brent Wistrom reports on a new budget simulation game in Can you improve the federal budget? Here’s a game to test you.
What is the “triangle tax?” Find out in Questions about the Forever Triangle Tax.
No recent posts from The Joyful Cynic. Too bad, as I enjoy them.
There’s nothing new since August 25th at Boyda Bloc. What could be wrong? This was one of Kansas’ most active blogs with multiple authors and a lot of comments. I sent an email inquiring why.
Kansas Watch recalls some Kansas political history in When Debates Go Very, Very Bad: The 1984 KTWU-TV Kassebaum v. Maher (and Davey Crockett) Debate. There’s video coverage of contemporary news, too: Video: And Now for Something Completely Different–Good Evening from Kansas Watch for 9/17/08. I think I knew this, and this confirms: Amway Study Says Kansans a Little Less Stressed Than Average.
At Voice For Liberty in Wichita, the (sometimes) home of the Kansas Blog Roundup, there was no Roundup last week as I was attending the conference of the State Policy Network.
Wichita school issues are again a topic. The post Wichita School District: TIF Action Tests Accountability and Ethics sets the stage, and the result is that the district failed in a big way. (Reporting to come later.)
Wichita School Safe Rooms: At No Cost? The school district’s architect seems to think so.
The Wichita Eagle is pushing hard for the bond issue to pass. Mark McCormick’s Wichita School Bond Bias explains how the columnist won’t even consider any alternatives. Then, Is Richard Crowson Cartooning For or Against the Wichita School Bond Issue? This post might give you a hint as to how to answer that question: Wichita Eagle’s Richard Crowson: Cartoonist for the Teachers Union.
My friend Helen Cochran of Citizens for Better Education is doing a great job educating Wichita on the merits of opposing the Wichita school bond issue. The post Wichita School Bond Presentation by Helen Cochran comments on a speech she gave to a civic group. And, now that I have video production capability, you can see her speech here: Helen Cochran Speech on Wichita School Bond Issue. Helen used a little visual joke at the start, which I thought was hilarious, but wasn’t received all that well by the stodgy group she spoke to.
Also, Helen has commissioned some political cartoons. View them here: Wichita School Bond Issue Cartoons are Funny
Finally, fundamental reform seems beyond the grasp of Wichita schools: Will Wichita Schools Consider Merit Pay?
Last night I bought a new desktop computer. I’d been needing to for a while, as my current computer was about five years old. Everything was becoming slower. I run a lot of software, such as Google desktop indexing (and even another desktop indexing program, if you can figure that out), and my old computer was just overwhelmed.
Plus, last week at the State Policy Network conference I became convinced of the power of video to report and tell a story. So I bought a video camera. My old computer was way underpowered for video, so that’s part of the reason for the new PC.
So last night I started the process. You know — transferring several hundred gigabytes of data, installing programs, setting up things just the way you want. It seems like every little task I perform for the first time requires a download or some sort of configuration. Also, a few programs I rely on, like Ditto clipboard extender and PDFCreator are apparently not working with the Microsoft Vista operating system.
Plus, I just can’t get used to the new keyboard.
So blogging and other activity might be a little light today as I get things going again.