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While the truth puts on its shoes

BOGUE, Kan. -- In his autobiography, Mark Twain lampooned Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881), Scottish historian and popular essayist: "Carlyle said 'a lie cannot live.' It shows that he did not know how to tell them."

Twain is credited with a similar quip: "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes." Likelier that is from steam engine inventor James Watt, who died 16 years before Twain's birth. However, in this case, who said what when is not critical. The larger point, however, is.

Lies often survive in spite of determined facts available to kill them. It's not that people are stupid. Some are, most aren't. But after 74 years, it seems to me that humans more often accept as true not what they can factually verify, but what appeals to their existing biases. And those biases are often sown and cultivated by very smart propagandists.

Tuesday is election day. More money has gone into political campaigns than ever before in our history. The turnout is expected to be big. All patriotic Americans should vote, shouldn't they? I confess I'm not absolutely sure.

Political disinformation, half-truths, and calculated lies are nothing new. But today the viral persistence of such stuff has never been better funded nor more successfully spread. It is a deluge. Were it rain instead of BS, Noah's ark would be our only hope.

Here are just two stinky examples ...

Tip O'Neill: 'All politics is local'

BOGUE, Kan. - Tip O'Neill's slogan may not apply to the extent it once did, given the deliberate infusion of national wedge issues into local politics, but it still applies.

One of the few races in western Kansas pits Allen Schmidt against Ralph Ostmeyer, both incumbents. Schmidt, redistricted into Ostmeyer's territory, will have to compete for votes. Ostmeyer is my good friend of many years, dating back to coaching days. He is a man of integrity. Schmidt I barely know, but he seems intelligent and principled.

On hot-button social issues, they are peas in the pod. Difference: Ralph, a little too accepting of Governor Brownback's fruitcake fiscal proposals which, if implemented, will result in elevated property and sales taxes. Schmidt, likelier to provide healthy resistance to that part of Brownback agenda. That's a big plus.

I wish we had learned more about John Miller of Norton. No, Miller isn't on the ballot but could be a write in. He lost big time in the partisan primary for Senate District 40 That's likely because he was scared to challenge the noisy radical right, who masquerade under the once-respectable label "conservative." Hence, Miller was vilified as a dratted moderate ... like Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Dole and Arlen Specter.

Wow! You didn't know that?

kris-kobach.jpgBOGUE, Kan. - Normally, next month is October. Go to your calendar. Lift the September sheet so's you can see October clearly.

Now carefully count the number of Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you've done it right, there should be five each. So what, you ask? Come back to the present. Kiddo, next month is a rarity.

For the coming 823 years, only this year will October have five Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A good Christian lady in Dodge City assured me she got that from a reliable friend. Pass it along at the coffee shop, but make sure you tell where you learned it. Right here. With luck, all good Americans will know before election day.

Think I'm joking? Yeah, well, our Secretary of State Kris Kobach checked it out.

Rev. Brownback's Pious Ogallala Rhetoric

sam-brownback.jpgBOGUE, Kan. - For three plus decades I've been following the mining of the historically, sadly over-appropriated Ogallala. For 18 years I wasted time serving conscientiously on the Solomon Basin Advisory Committee, one of few such BAC's in western Kansas not dominated by irrigation interests. Our recommendations went exactly nowhere. I heard enough pious rhetoric even then. Governor Brownback is offering more now.

I clipped for my pious rhetoric file an Aug. 24 front page story by Hays Daily News' Mike Corn, "Gov. pleads to conserve Ogallala." Soooo sweet of him to plead.

Brownback drools right-wingy political ambition. He thinks he deserves to be President. His preachery concern about the Ogallala is a self-serving part of that. Sounds heavenly, but ain't worth a poop, practically speaking. The mining continues and will until somebody grows some 'nads. Don't count on Sam.

Pull Your Bottom Lip Over Your Head

BOGUE, Kan. - Full disclosure. It's been a long time since I was pregnant. In fact, I can't remember when. But I was bedside at my oldest daughter's arrival at Doc Limes' home-town maternity clinic.

I claim only to have been an amazed (and nervous) spectator, but I think I began to appreciate more the courage, strength, and miracle of women. Whatever men say, the best of us haven't a clue beyond that. Bill Cosby once asked Carol Burnett what birth pains were like.

"'Grab your lower lip," she said. "Now pull it over your head." Men know little about pregnancy or childbirth beyond the mechanics instigating the fact (and I've heard they're often klutzes there, too.).

Despite that, a gritty bunch of self-assured males in priestly vestment are confident artificial birth control is a sin. Whether they think it's a mortal or a venial sin is hard to pin down. However, their missionary position is this: sex for fun is agin' God's rules. It grates on God's nerves. Good women should wrestle in the hay strictly to procreate and bear children to fill pews today, coffers tomorrow. Otherwise, as Hamlet would advise, "Get thee to a nunnery."

It's Not Your Water, Mr. Irrigator

BOGUE, Kan. - Fellow Kansas Free Press contributor and an Ogallala irrigator and I have had an interesting exchange over whether reducing appropriated water "rights" would constitute a "taking" as per the U.S. Constitution 4th Amendment.

As I believe I have reported, then KS Attorney General Carla Stovall was asked about that as one part of a question carried on my behalf by then KS Sen. Stan Clark. In essence, Stovall declined to answer plainly, but said it would depend on the circumstances. In the Cheyenne Bottoms case, both junior and senior water rights were reduced by the DWR without awarding a taking to senior right holders. To summarize, it was a voluntary settlement that avoided the courts. That could--but almost assuredly won't--happen on the scale necessary to end the mining of the Ogallala. What then, can be done?

In March of 2003, John C. Peck, highly respected law professor at KU School of Law, presented a paper in Kyoto, Japan, to the 3rd World Water Forum entitled: Property Rights in Groundwater--Some Lessons from the Kansas Experience.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am enclosing a statement I made nearly 12 years ago to the assembled Kansas Water Authority and Kansas Water Office as chairperson of the Solomon River Basin Advisory Committee. I believe it was enough of an embarrassment at the time to cause then Governor Bill Graves to assemble a task force to try to deal with the issue. That, of course, failed -- as have other efforts. Governor Brownback's approach is standard fare, and will amount to the same "pious rhetoric," as I have learned to call it, with meager results. The current approach is more "local" control, which I have perhaps impolitely termed "the drunks running the liquor store." In effect, a tiny minority has been in control, even though they do live "locally." It is past time for a more honest effort. That will amount to establishing IGUCAs, reducing water appropriation rights over a realistic time frame without compensation for a "taking" since (1) nothing in a water appropriation right guarantees the initial amount of water permitted forever, (2) the statutes clearly say an appropriation right does not constitute ownership of water, and (3) the broad philosophy of Kansas water law is one of a public trust. It is long past time the "takings" argument has been challenged, even if that requires going to the courts.

If you agree, I encourage you to send the link to this article to your state senators and representatives -- and to any others you think would be interested. (The original full statement follows as presented in the year 2000)

BOGUE, Kan. - A Jan.11 writer to Reader Forum [Hays Daily News] blustered about "non-factual distortion" by the Obama administration and supporters, then made his own claims.

[CLAIM: "All the money from the richest 400 Americans wouldn't pay our bills for a week."] In 2011 the richest 400 were together worth $1.5 trillion. (Forbes Magazine) Current annual federal spending is estimated at $3.6 trillion; state at $1.43; local, $1.63 trillion. So, the 400's wealth would fund all federal spending for 5 months, state for one year, local for 11 months. All federal, state, and local spending for about 3 months.

Incidentally, the richest 400 gained 12 percent. from 2010 to 2011. Since 2006, their net worth increased by $250 billion, about 17 percent. On the other hand, "Over the past five years Americans, on average, have seen no disposable income growth if you adjust for population and inflation. This also explains why they're spending like it's 2006 -- because they don't have more money to spend. No wonder the recovery continues to feel like a recession: that's an awfully long time to go without a raise."

Relearning from Teddy Roosevelt

BOGUE, Kan. - In his speech last December at Osawatomie KS High School, President Obama cited Theodore Roosevelt's remarks there a century earlier.

Republican President Theodore Roosevelt served from 1901 to 1909. In 1912, representing the Bull Moose Party, he lost to Woodrow Wilson--the only time a 3rd Party candidate has finished as high as second. Every place I looked, Theodore Roosevelt ranks in the top 10 US Presidents, and in none lower than 6th.

In 2010, 238 participating presidential scholars at Siena College Research Institute concluded: "Teddy Roosevelt had, more than any other president, the 'right stuff,' and tops the collective ranking of a cluster of personal qualities including imagination, integrity, intelligence, luck, background and being willing to take risks." He is one of the four U.S. Presidents honored on Mt. Rushmore.

Roosevelt was an environmentalist. He led in establishing 5 national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 National Forests. I have little doubt as President today he would work with climate scientists to deal with the reality of global warming. As governor of Kansas, he would demand something beyond pious rhetoric to end mining of the Ogallala. But...

So, what'd you get for Christmas?

BOGUE, Kan. - Here's a three-part essay about gifts: wildly exaggerated, sadly expensive, and stupid.

Part Ikeystone-pipeline-map.jpg

You probably won't remember, but a couple of columns back I wrote that estimates of new jobs promised by the Keystone XL pipeline carrying tar sands oil varied wildly. Last week, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) claimed 20,000. So where'd he get that?
CNNMoney took a closer look. The 20,000 estimate comes from TransCanada, the corporation who would build the pipeline. They figured 13,000 construction jobs plus 7,000 manufacturing jobs making pipe, etc. But, whoa.

In 'TransCanada-speak' 20,000 means 10,000 jobs lasting for the two years of construction. Using the same formula, one job lasting 5 years would be 5 jobs.

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