It’s my contention that if the economy shows signs of life in the next few months, it won’t matter who Republicans may pick for their presidential candidate, President Obama will get a second term.
An Associated Press-GfK survey finds both Republicans and Democrats are increasingly saying the country is heading in the right direction. Most independents now approve the way Obama’s addressing the post-recession period.
30% in the poll describe the economy as “good” … a 15-point increase since December … and the highest level since the A-P/GfK poll first asked the question in 2009. Roughly the same share say the economy got better in the last month, while 18% said it got worse. That’s the most positive result in over a year.
Rising gasoline prices could present a problem for the President. The survey finds growing concern over pump prices, and most are unhappy with the way Obama has dealt with the issue.
Our thought for today is from Eugene McCarthy:
“It is dangerous for a national candidate to say things that people might remember.”
“Americans believe history will judge Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton as the best among recent U.S. presidents, with at least 6 in 10 saying each will go down in history as an above-average or outstanding president. Only about 1 in 10 says each will be remembered as below average or poor.”
So says a release from Gallup, summing up a recent public opinion poll.
Three years into Barack Obama’s presidency, Americans are divided in their views of how he will be regarded, with 38% guessing he will be remembered as above average or outstanding, and 35% as below average or poor.
Based on positive ratings, the list reads Reagan, Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Obama, Ford, Carter, George W. Bush, and Nixon.
Gallup last took this survey in 2009, and all the ratings have changed a bit. I’m sure they will change before Gallup next takes the poll.
Our thought for today is from Lyndon B. Johnson:
“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read “President Can’t Swim”.”
A bill in the Kansas Legislature would require a third of the state’s welfare recipients to undergo drug testing at their own cost. If the results are negative, the money would be refunded. A couple of positive results and the person is no longer a welfare recipient.
Sounds like a good idea, right?
They tried it in Florida until a federal judge issued a temporary injunction to stop it. 32 of 7,000 screened applicants tested positive. The state had to reimburse the $25 to $45 cost for all who tested negative. It was a pretty expensive witch hunt that produced relatively few druggies on the public dole.
In fact, it’s a smaller percentage than the estimates of illegal drug users in the general population … at about 9%.
That means if we drug tested public employees and corporate big shots on the same basis, we would probably see a lot of decent, hard-working people losing their jobs.
Our thought for today is from Ken Olsen:
“The nicest thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.”
This coming Tuesday Wichita voters will decide whether to give developers of the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Wichita 75% of the bed tax it collects for the next 15 years. That’s about 2.25 million dollars.
My wife’s first question: do we really need a 117-room boutique hotel in downtown Wichita? Supporters of the idea say “yes” … that it will help attract more visitors to events at the Intrust Bank Arena and Century Two. Opponents say the hotel will take business away from existing downtown hotels.
It’s a 29 million-dollar project and it already has a lot of support from the City of Wichita. Opponents say the project contains 15.4 million dollars in public subsidies.
Does that mean taxpayers are footing the bill for more than half the project, even without the sales tax blowback?
It seems to me, the question is how much incentive do we offer venture capitalists who want to make a buck in Wichita?
Our thought for today is from Joaquin Setanti:
“Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk.”
I think it’s great that General Motors is still making cars and now making record profits … after being close to closing until a taxpayer bailout in 2009. I’m sure G-M’s managers and the folks in the factories had a lot to do with that recovery. They made tough decisions and worked hard to bring the company back to life.
But as a G-M stockholder, I must protest the company’s generosity to its employees, in handing out millions of dollars in bonuses. After all, we taxpayers own 500 million shares of G-M stock, and the company still owes us 25.5 billion dollars.
Personally, it’s been a long time since I received any kind of bonus. During that time I have worked hard for a company that has been profitable … a company that never receives any money from the government.
And now I am asked to subsidize bonuses for workers who probably wouldn’t have a job without government help … my help … and yours.
Where is our “bonus”?
Our thought for today is from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, from South Park:
“Sometimes what’s right isn’t as important as what’s profitable.”
General Motors reported record profits last week, and all three major U.S. automakers are profitable at the same time for the first time since 2004. That’s very good news. An estimated one-and-a-half million jobs were protected, and that’s good news.
But taxpayers are still on the hook for the 2009 federal bailout. Chrysler and G-M received 60 billion dollars between them. Taxpayers are 1.3 billion dollars short on the Chrysler bailout and 25.5 billion in the hole for G-M. The U.S. Treasury holds 500 million shares of G-M stock, which would have to double in price for Uncle Sam to break even.
Mitt Romney says the private sector could have financed the bailout, but the Obama administration says the private sector refused or could not help, and closing both companies would have been the only alternative to a bailout.
Meanwhile, G-M management and workers will receive hefty profit-sharing bonuses.
Really? I don’t think so!
Those people are lucky to have jobs. Those bonuses are simply wrong!
This week we honor our United States presidents with a holiday, which always causes me to reflect on these men who have held the highest government office in the land.
I think it’s true that the office can make the man. Witness Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman. The office can also unmake the man. Witness Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.
I think our finest president was Lincoln, for many reasons. Eisenhower also registers near the top with me, along with both Roosevelts. Kennedy’s charisma greatly impressed me as a young teen. Reagan charmed me as an adult.
I have my own list of the worst presidents, which I will not share with you today. These men often get unfair credit and unfair blame for their years in the White House.
We’ve seen our first black president, and it’s a good possibility we’ll see our first female president in my life time.
By the way, I began doing The McIntosh Report a year before I voted for the first time.
Our thought for today is from Clarence Darrow:
“When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I’m beginning to believe it.”
Remember that ‘no call’ list of several years ago? If you put your name on the list, telemarketers were prevented by law from calling you to make their sales pitches. It worked well, but it did not cover charities, politicians, or advocacy groups.
I wish it would.
A woman called me with a message from the people advocating for a “yes” vote on the downtown hotel/sales tax rebate. Before I could object she was rapidly reading her paragraph and asking me if they could “count on my vote”.
I asked her how she got my phone number and she responded, “Are you a registered voter?” I answered “yes”, but told her I would appreciate it if she would take my number off her list because I don’t like to be called at home. She huffed that “it don’t make no difference to me” … said “have a nice evening” and hung up.
Makes me want to vote for the other side just to register my annoyance.
Our thought for today is from George Bernard Shaw:
“An American has no sense of privacy. He does not know what it means. There is no such thing in the country.”
It’s pretty much a done deal. The Wichita Board of Education will take a final vote March 5th on new school boundaries that will close four elementary schools to accommodate five new schools in the district. Those schools are closing because the Kansas Legislature cut revenue to U-S-D 259 after citizens approved a 370 million-dollar bond issue in 2008.
Some parents are upset because their kids’ schools are closing. Some have called Superintendent John Allison a liar and have threatened lawsuits. Allison came to the district after the bond issue passed.
I know it can be an emotional experience when students change schools. My dad’s job took our family to several cities. I attended five elementary schools, three of them in Wichita. I commuted between nine and 15 miles every day in junior high and high school. My family never thought it was that big a deal.
Change can be tough on children … and parents. Sometimes you just have to deal with it and go on.
Our thought for today is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“All things must change to something new, to something strange.”
A woman left me a voice phone message regarding a news sound bite we used, in which former Wichita Eagle editor Davis “Buzz” Merritt said he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for one party to dominate state government. The woman accused K-N-S-S and “the media” of being the spokespeople for the Democrat Party, and said she would not listen to my entire interview with Mr. Merritt on the Sunday morning “Issues 2012” program. She said she lives in Winfield and only moved into the area five years ago, and she “bet” Merritt didn’t say anything about Governor Sebelius and the Democrats “dominating” Kansas government.
Probably he did not. That’s because I don’t remember Democrats dominating Kansas government during my lifetime. The current mix is eight Democrats out of 40 in the Kansas House, and 35 out of 125 Senators.
The listener proves that some folks just don’t want to hear opposing views, even based on solid facts. Too bad. I think she would have enjoyed hearing the entire interview.
Our thought for today is from Aldous Huxley:
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
The Kansas House Education Committee decided to trim web site teacher evaluations from an education bill. I think it was a wise decision.
Governor Sam Brownback had proposed the idea of putting the evaluations on school district web sites, allowing input from supervisors, peers, parents, and students. In other words, turn the evaluation into a public flogging … or perhaps a love fest.
Two years of “ineffective” web site evaluations could get a teacher fired. The proposal also would have offered $5,000 bonuses for some highly-rated teachers.
I salute any attempt to encourage excellent teaching in Kansas schools. But given the nature of social media, I knew the governor’s idea was fraught with potential for ugliness … to say nothing of violating the rights and privacy of educators.
I give the governor an “A” for intention, but an “F” for his effort. However, he can always try again before “finals”.
Valentine’s Day should not be celebrated on a week day. Couples should be able to go out for a night on the town and not have to worry about working tomorrow.
Those of us who have been married for a while realize that it’s not the actual day that counts, it’s what you do and how you express your love that really matters.
Are you bashful or verbally challenged? Consider a card. My wife can look at every card in the rack, trying to find one with just the right message. I’m less picky, and usually scribble something more personal in my own words at the bottom of the card.
Dinner is always nice. I still believe the man should always pick up the tab. But complaining about the cost is not terribly romantic.
I learned early in my relationship with my wife that flowers count … a lot! My wife taught me that flowers can say a great deal by just being pretty and a thoughtful expression.
Oh … she likes diamonds, too.
We’ve been married almost 42 years.
Our thought for today is from Rita Rudner:
“I love being married. It’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”
Is it Rick? by Steve McIntosh,posted Feb 13 2012 1:23AM
Rick Santorum’s caucus and primary victories last week in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado surprised me. Is he consolidating conservative support in the Republican presidential race? He’s still got a long way to go to catch Romney in the delegate count.
Meanwhile, a recent Washington Post/A-B-C News poll of registered voters indicates … in a hypothetical general election matchup … President Obama would beat Romney, 51% to 45%. How would Obama match up against Santorum? Standby … more polls are undoubtedly on the way.
The cold truth is that the candidate who can score big with Independents will win in November. Is Santorum too conservative to win those Indies?
I believe if the unemployment numbers continue to drop … if dealers continue to sell more cars … if the housing market shows any signs of life … President Obama will win a second term. Everything else is window dressing. Americans vote their pocket books.
And consider this: Obama has not been campaigning against a specific candidate … and he still leads Romney in that poll.
Our thought for today is a Niels Bohr:
“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
Mitt Romney’s recent comments about the poor provide a chance to talk about those with the least in American society. Liberals view the poor generally as people who are not as lucky as others, or who have made bad choices, but still deserve a little help just to get by. Conservatives view poverty as a situation that should be temporary. And while the poor may need a ‘hand up” now and then, many conservatives see spending on the poor as taking money from some Americans and handing it over to others.
Mitt Romney has no first-hand knowledge of poverty or what it’s like to be poor in America. But how many Americans share that kind of experience? The great thing is that most of us have avoided poverty.
The system works for those who get their education, gain experience, and make the effort.
Our economic system is not perfect, and will never guarantee permanent wealth … while it should not promote permanent poverty.
Will that be discussed in the coming presidential election? Should the candidates talk about it?
Our thought for today is from J. K. Rowling:
“It is an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships.”
During a campaign, presidential candidates do a lot of interviews. Each one increases the chance that the candidate will be misquoted or will say something awkwardly.
Republican front-runner Mitt Romney freely admitted that he “misspoke” when he said in an interview with C-N-N that he “was not concerned about the very poor” because they have a government-backed safety net in place. He added “if there are holes in it, I will work to repair that”.
I don’t believe Romney is completely unconcerned about poor people, but I seriously doubt that they are a top priority for his candidacy. Does he actually know anyone who is poor? Has he ever known a poor person? Has he ever been poor himself?
Probably “no”, “no”, and “no”.
Personal poverty is nothing to be proud of, and most folks don’t like to admit it … unless they somehow overcome the tough times and find a better life.
Romney is like most national politicians, for which poverty is strictly an abstract concept.
Our thought for today is from Arnold Bennett:
“If you’ve ever really been poor, you remain poor at heart all your life.”
Recently I shared the ideas by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum in their new book “That Used to be Us”, concerning the possibility of a third party candidate influencing the politics of whoever would win the presidency. They see it as a way to move the national agenda from the deadlock we have with the far right and far left controlling government. It’s happened before … with Teddy Roosevelt, George Wallace, and Ross Perot.
Someone left an anonymous voice mail saying I don’t have the (expletive) to call myself a liberal. Is that because I shared these respected journalists’ suggestions to solve our nation’s crushing problems? Hmmmm….
The caller also used the words “idiocy” and “foolishness”. He brilliantly illustrates what our nation faces in trying to solve our problems: mindless polarization.
When I share ideas aimed at solving our nation’s problems, you may call me anything you want. I like to think of myself as an American.
Our thought for today is from Louise Erdrich:
“They were so strong in their beliefs that there came a time when it hardly mattered what exactly those beliefs were; they all fused into a single stubbornness.”
I believe the key to great education is great teachers. I am also realistic. Our high school athletic director Sumner Roberts used to say “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, you can send a boy to school but you can’t make him think”.
United Teachers of Wichita President Larry Landwehr tells me during the first three years of employment there is no due process for Kansas teachers and those who are ineffective are at the mercy of their administrators. Beyond that, Landwehr says teachers with problems are identified and offered a chance to improve. There is a process, and teachers can be dismissed.
It sounds much like the process that is common in many private employer human resources. Careful steps are taken to protect the rights and interests of the employee who is perceived as ineffective.
Web site evaluation of teachers is an idea fraught with possibilities for nastiness. We need a more positive approach to encouraging teacher excellence.
Our thought for today is from Jacques Barzun:
“Teaching is not a lost art, but regard for teaching is a lost tradition.”
I think Governor Brownback’s proposal to put Kansas teacher evaluations on a web site and let parents and students offer comments on-line is good for one thing: talking about retaining the best teachers we can. Beyond that, I think the idea stinks. It’s terribly negative.
Don’t get me wrong … I want all Kansas teachers to be outstanding, effective professionals. But opening them up to on-line gossip and possible trashing is simply wrong.
Larry Landwehr … President of United Teachers of Wichita … tells me teacher evaluation web sites would deny teachers due process if they are allegedly ineffective. Landwehr says teacher performance is already evaluated, and he thinks input from those who are not in the classroom and those who just don’t like a teacher would create “more problems”. He thinks the proposed web sites “would be a mess”.
I agree. This is not the way to improve Kansas education.
So how do we ‘weed out’ bad teachers? More on that tomorrow.
He’s getting plenty of push-back from Kansas lawmakers. Governor Sam Brownback wants to put teacher evaluations on public web sites … as a reward for good teachers and motivation for bad teachers to improve.
The evaluations would include student performance on state assessments, with input from supervisors, peers, parents, and students. They would also consider teachers’ contributions to the profession. Any teacher rated as ineffective for more than two years would be fired.
I wonder if this kind of public humiliation might motivate people to simply avoid becoming a teacher … or prompt them to leave the profession.
I consider myself a professional person, who endures periodic evaluations that usually grade my performance as outstanding. They require my own input on my performance, plus my supervisor’s. I would not care to have them made public.
I see the on-line teacher evaluation as a means to allow any pinhead to take a verbal shot at a teacher.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled five-to-four that political spending is free speech, it opened the flood gates. Political action committees can advertise anything they want about any candidate or issue. And they can buy a lot of ads … a lot of ads!
Presidential candidates and PACs have already spent tens of millions in primary states. We have a primary coming up in Kansas, and we will soon enter the campaign season for local and state offices.
Prepare yourself. I have a feeling you’re going to get real tired of hearing those spots on the radio and seeing them on T-V. The Supreme Court says you have a right to hear them … or change channels if you find them too annoying.
We live in a mass media world. Each of us can access enormous amounts of information all day and night … choosing which topics interest us … and possibly missing public discussions of important issues. Each of us is now a news editor.
The flood gates are open. Good luck!
Our thought for today is from George Bernard Shaw:
“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
If our national political polarization is driven by those of the radical left and the radical right, is the answer a “radical center”? Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum make such an argument in their book, “That Used to be Us”. They write that a radical centrist candidate would pull the next president toward the middle, even if no viable third party survived.
Witness history. In 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt ran for president under the Progressive Party banner. Though he lost, he pulled Woodrow Wilson toward Roosevelt’s suggested reforms. In 1968, George Wallace lost … but influenced Richard Nixon’s so-called “Southern Strategy”. In 1992, Ross Perot lost … but Bill Clinton ended up balancing the budget.
In each case, the third party candidate won a substantial portion of the popular vote.
A “radical centrist” candidate might favor reduced federal spending, including entitlements … appropriate tax increases … and investment in infrastructure, education, and research … say Friedman and Mandelbaum.
Our thought for today is from Franklin D. Roosevelt:
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”