With the election only nine weeks away, the polls indicate a close race for president, with Barack Obama holding a slight edge over Mitt Romney … and not many saying they are still undecided.
We also hear a lot about the likable factor. It appears that many voters don’t know enough about Mr. Romney to say they like him as a person. That’s not a big factor in my personal voting decision. But I do share many voters’ concerns that Mr. Romney’s policies will lean more toward the wealthy than middle- or lower-income Americans. He’s led a life that is simply outside America’s mainstream.
My concerns about Obama include his grasp of the economic situation, clumsiness in promoting health care reforms, and an inability to convince Americans that he is a dynamic, take-charge leader. The struggling recovery from a murderous recession is taking its toll.
Whether they like Romney or not, will independents decide the economy … and the nation … need the kind of boost a change might bring?
Our thought for today is from Nancy Astor:
“The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything … or nothing.”
I’ll bet most people don’t even know what NetApp does. The company has 170 offices worldwide and they are “a leading provider of innovative storage and data management solutions”. Obviously, it’s high-tech computer stuff and they help businesses with their high-tech computer stuff.
NetApp’s announcement that it will double its Wichita workforce is great news. Over the next five years NetApp plans to create more than 400 jobs in Wichita … at an average wage of $73,000. The economic impact of that many well-paid jobs on a community should be significant. The company also plans to spend $85 million on new machinery, equipment, and renovations.
Wichita needed a boost like that. The aircraft industry has been struggling to regain its footing after the recession. There are signs of life, as local aircraft companies restructure and try to innovate with new products … to get folks to buy those airplanes around the world.
At the same time, well-paying non-aircraft jobs like those at NetApp are precious to the local economy.
Our thought for today is from Calvin Coolidge:
“More people out of work leads to higher unemployment.”
Is it a question of the separation of church and state? Or is it just “patently political”, as Wichita City Council member and Republican Kansas Senate candidate Michael O’Donnell claims?
The Freedom From Religion Foundation … a Wisconsin-based group that promotes the separation of church and state … wants Sedgwick County to investigate the tax-exempt status of the house where O’Donnell lives. O’Donnell says he rents the house, which is a former parsonage for Grace Baptist Church, where his father is pastor.
Like any good father, I’m sure the minister wants to help his son. The question is, should the church be paying taxes on property that is not used as a parsonage? The Wichita Eagle reports the group claims the house has been tax-exempt since 1996.
Property taxes are always an important issue in local government, and I expect they will become even more important in state government in the near future.
It’s always nice if those making decisions for the rest of us know something about what it means to pay such taxes.
Our thought for today is from Bernard Berenson:
“Governments last as long as the under-taxed can defend themselves against the over-taxed.”
Not that most people care about such things, but Governor Brownback’s dinner meetings at the governor’s mansion earlier this year skirted the Kansas Open Meetings Act. At the governor’s get-togethers the majorities of legislative committees discussed specific legislation.
Somehow, the Democrat Shawnee County District Attorney ruled the dinners did not strictly violate the law that says it is “the policy of this state that meetings for the conduct of governmental affairs and the transaction of governmental business be open to the public”. The D-A said our state lawmakers were probably ignorant of the law and should educate themselves.
So, I think it’s fair to say the D-A’s conclusion is that the governor and the lawmakers didn’t actually violate the law … but they came pretty doggone close.
Sedgwick County does a good job of informing the media whenever two or more county commissioners gather anywhere. But truth is, many people in government don’t put a premium on so-called “transparency”, unless it serves their purposes.
I base this conclusion on more than 40 years of professional observation.
Our thought for today is from Daniel C. Gelman:
“Where secrecy reigns, carelessness and ignorance delight to hide – skill loves the light.”
People in other cities that buy water from Wichita have asked for fluoride in the water they’re buying. Wichita is one of just a few large American cities without fluoridated water. That could change in November. The City Council has decided to let the voters decide the issue … which has been considered twice before since the 1960s.
Opponents argue that fluoridation will not really do much to solve the problem of children with bad teeth. They also see the issue as a matter of personal freedom.
On the other side are many health professionals who say fluoridation will help prevent kids’ cavities. My dentist is the chief advocate of fluoridation.
At the suggestion of our pediatrician, my wife and I supplemented our children’s diets with fluoride in the 70s … and I can’t remember either one having any problem with a cavity. In order to strengthen my own teeth, my dentist recommended a mouthwash … that is just about 100% fluoride.
A good 40% of my fellow citizens and I will decide the issue in November.
There are, of course, legitimate arguments and differing views on the issue of abortion. But this week’s news brings questions about those empowered to deal with the issue, and their knowledge about the basics of biology.
Missouri Congressman Todd Akin got one thing right; conception is rare in rape cases. I understand it happens in about 5% of sexual attacks. From there on, Akin was apparently in way over his head.
He talked about preventing pregnancies in a “legitimate rape” situation. Is he talking about a pregnant woman or girl falsely reporting that she had been raped? I’m sure that happens, but Akin’s language was terribly clumsy … if that’s what he meant.
He also said that women’s bodies are able to prevent pregnancies in those “legitimate rape” situations. Really? Is there some female physiology of which I … and the rest of the world … are completely unaware? Can a female simply “will” her body to avoid becoming pregnant?
Maybe Akin took political science instead of basic biology in the eighth grade.
Our thought for today is from Leo Rosten:
“I never cease being dumbfounded by the unbelievable things people believe.”
Congratulations to Kansas freshman Congressman Kevin Yoder, whose naked dip in the Sea of Galilee earns him a spot in the Inappropriate Behavior Hall of Fame.
He’s apologized to just about everybody … a year after the incident. I have no doubt he is sorry … that he got caught.
Did a little research on young Mr. Yoder. Found out he was a big man on campus at the University of Kansas. Beyond his current position and a stint in the Kansas Legislature, his campaign web site really doesn’t mention any other paid, private industry work.
Nor does it mention any church affiliation or political positions on religion.
Perhaps this young fellow simply didn’t realize that Christians believe one of Christ’s more important miracles was calming the storm and walking on the water … of the Sea of Galilee.
Kevin Yoder will probably be re-elected a few times. We hope he learns something about appropriate behavior.
Last week I was betting the Judge Riddell Boys Ranch was toast. The program serves 140 juvenile male offenders at a time, and it costs a million-and-a-half dollars a year to operate. As Sedgwick County looked for ways to fill a budget gap, annual spending on the Ranch became unnecessary, in some people’s minds.
County Commissioner Dave Unruh told me those 140 kids a year might be just as well served by other programs currently dealing with several thousand juvenile offenders in the local system.
But in public budget hearings, the commissioners got more than an earful from the Ranch’s many supporters. And the commission decided to give the Ranch one more year.
But there’s a hook. It’s a state program that has never been funded by the state. If the Kansas Legislature doesn’t come up with the cash next year, the fate of the Judge Riddell Boys Ranch will quite probably be up for debate again.
Think the folks in Topeka will cough up the dough? I have serious doubts.
Our thought for today is from Samuel Butler:
“Man is the only animal that laughs and has a state legislature.”
I’ve never believed I should vote for any presidential candidate because he is “like me”, or I would like to drink beer with him. I’m looking for someone brighter than me, someone who believes in the dignity of the office.
Consider the contrast in backgrounds of the candidates. Barack Obama is the son of an African goat herder and a woman from Wichita, Kansas … who worked as a civil rights lawyer before getting into politics.
Mitt Romney … born into wealth, he created a nice personal fortune of his own.
Paul Ryan … began working in government as soon as he left school.
I don’t have much in common with any of these guys. I will say Vice President Biden and I both have sons who served in the military … in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Oh, I do work for a corporation, so I have that in common with Mr. Romney’s experience. Of course, my rung on the ladder is quite a bit below where his was.
Our thought for today is from William Shakespeare:
“Be not afraid of greatness: some men are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
I’ve never been comfortable with the interpretation of the Second Amendment that every citizen should be allowed to own and carry any kind of firearm he or she wishes. I know too much about guns … and human nature.
Concealed-carry and open-carry are Kansas laws, designed to allow citizens to protect themselves from the bad guys. The danger is that some people simply should not be allowed anywhere near a firearm.
Take the guy who fired a round at the security guard last week at a store in east Wichita … than struggled with police who had tazed him. Court records revealed that he had a concealed-carry permit for that gun. Witnesses say he was possibly drunk or high on drugs. Lucky for the security guard he wasn’t a very good shot.
A man in a movie theater in Sparks, Nevada shifted in his seat and his gun fell to floor … shooting him in the butt. He had a concealed-carry permit.
Isolated incidents? Of course. But they give us all something to think about.
Our thought for today is from George Bernard Shaw:
“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
Maybe Wichita Festivals C-E-O Janet Wright is on the mark when she blames a bad economy and poor button sales for four years of deficits for the River Festival.
And maybe there are other factors to consider.
Before the annual spring-time party became a non-profit corporate venture, the events were planned, promoted, and staged by local businesses and media. The raft races, bed races, tugs-of-war, ice cream socials, and all the rest gave the River Festival a truly local flavor. Of course, those of us who donated our time grew weary of doing it year after year. I can’t verify that my stations ever gained a listener because of involvement with the Riverfest.
Most of my friends say they haven’t been to a River Festival event in years.
So, who’s going? The Festival still claims around 300,000 visitors a year … give or take. Many of them are coming in from out of town, and they may not be inclined to support the party by purchasing a button.
What is the Wichita River Festival’s future? Are there big changes on the way after Janet Wright retires?
Our thought for today is from Professor Irwin Corey:
“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.”
As I said yesterday in this time space, recent polls indicate President Obama is leading Mitt Romney in the race for the oval office. What impact might the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as a running mate have on those public opinion surveys?
Ryan brings youth to the Republican ticket and a willingness to tackle the tough economic choices that must be made. I like that. But Ryan brings no ethnic, gender, or geographic advantage.
I say independents are the key this election. They want a good reason if they are going to turn out a sitting president. Does Paul Ryan have the time to convince independent voters that his budget, economic, and other ideas are good for the country?
Ryan sews up the G-O-P conservatives, but they were already aboard, in my opinion.
Ryan brings a certain likability, but polls indicate President Obama is “liked” by most of those questioned.
Our thought for today is from Will Rogers:
“The man with the best job in the country is the Vice President. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, “How’s the President?””
A recent C-N-N poll put President Obama ahead of challenger Mitt Romney, 52% to 45%. C-N-N says Mitt Romney’s unfavorable rating is up, most Americans think he favors the rich, and the public no longer believes the economy will get better if Romney is elected. Among independent voters in the C-N-N survey the president holds a 53% to 42% lead … eleven percentage points. Obama holds a nine-point advantage among women.
A Fox News poll gives the president a 49%-to-40% lead.
Call it class warfare if you like, but I believe there is huge gap between America’s wealthy and the rest of us … and it’s growing.
Personally, I don’t resent Romney’s wealth. We’ve had many rich presidents, beginning with the first one. But in a bad economy with such high unemployment, many Americans seem more inclined to begrudge those born to privilege than the policies of the incumbent.
And there is Mitt Romney’s challenge.
Our thought for today is from Dwight D. Eisenhower:
“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
In last week’s primary, Republicans tossed out eight Kansas senators considered moderate, though I’m hard-pressed to label Dick Kelsey of Goddard “moderate”. Kelsey’s problem is that he spoke out against Governor Sam Brownback’s tax plan, favoring his own plan.
The governor and his supporting political action committees targeted these senators … and nailed them good. Apparently, the new G-O-P litmus test in Kansas is Brownback’s approval. If Sam likes you, you’ve got a political future. But he’d better not hear any opposing views. Our governor doesn’t like back-talk. Don’t sass the boss.
Of the 32 seats Republicans hold in the 40-seat Kansas Senate, 27 are held by conservatives. Does this mean Governor Brownback will have an easier time getting his programs passed? Well, that’s the idea.
But if the great Kansas tradition of individualism is still alive, some of these senators might rebel against being owned by the governor. Brownback may find himself herding cats.
Our thought for today is from Henry David Thoreau:
“A simple and independent mind does not toil at the bidding of any prince.”
This week the Sedgwick County Commission finalizes its 2013 budget and a five-year capital improvement plan. The Judge Riddell Boys Ranch near Lake Afton is on the budget-cutting chopping block.
The county spends about a million-and-a-half dollars a year on the ranch, which tries to rehabilitate about 140 boys at a time. Indications are the ranch has done a good job, but that may not save it.
County Commissioner Dave Unruh tells me those 140 boys could be absorbed into local juvenile programs that currently deal with about 7,000 young offenders. Unruh says Riddell is a state program, but it doesn’t receive any state funding.
This county commission is committed to a balanced budget next year with no increase in the local property tax rate. Tax collections have not been going up enough to pay for maintaining all the programs and personnel at the county.
Barring any last-minute funding developments, the Judge Riddell Boys Ranch is probably history.
Our thought for today is from Charles Caleb Colton:
“Deliberate with caution, but act with decision; and yield with graciousness, or oppose with firmness.”
Most Americans remember 9-11 … the terrorism attack on the twin towers. But do you ever think about 8-11?
Some folks who were involved with events on August 11th, 1976 will never forget that day. That was the day a young man from Oklahoma named Michael Soles went to the top floor of the Holiday Inn in downtown Wichita, locked himself in a room, and began firing a rifle from a balcony. It was three o’clock in the afternoon. Soles killed three people and wounded eight before a small group of cops shot and captured him. Soles is still in prison.
It was one of the biggest local stories I’ve covered. I was there while the sniper was still shooting. I still have the triple-spaced Associated Press bulletin that traveled around the world … slugged with my station’s call letters, K-E-Y-N.
We don’t often see news like that coming out of Wichita, thank goodness.
Some of us will never forget 8-11 … 36 years ago tomorrow.
The advertising presented by political action committees in this week’s primary election was disturbing to me. Disclaimer: this radio station aired many of those spots.
One candidate came to the station claiming his opponent’s spot contained an outright “lie”, and put more spots on the air to counter his opponent’s.
I think voters take it for granted: any campaign advertising will contain distortions, half-truths, and lies. After a candidate has endured this ugliness, how can we expect him or her to treat other politicians – especially opponents – with any respect whatever?
Human being hold grudges.
I’ll bet there many citizens who watch today’s political game and decide their civic duty cannot include such undignified, trashy behavior. There may be an intelligent, charismatic, experienced, honest, hard-working person out there with great courage and great new ideas who may never run for office because of the outlandish political process.
The sad part is, there seems to be no desire to improve that process.
Our thought for today is from Larry Hardiman:
“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’, meaning ‘many’ and the word ‘ticks’, meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.”
The Newton Area Chamber of Commerce dropped out of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce when the state organization endorsed Senator Carolyn McGinn’s opponent in this week’s primary election. Newton’s chairman said their group is a chamber of commerce, not a chamber of politics.
I think that’s an excellent call … and it points out the dangers of groups, organizations, and even newspapers in publicly favoring candidates. Not everyone within each entity will agree on the endorsee. You may be getting the result of a five-to-four vote.
Question is: does anyone really respond to endorsements … of candidates or other consumer products?
I’m not allowed to endorse anything on the radio. That’s a rule I ignore in giving my frequent seal of approval to free speech, an open mind, autumn in Kansas, regular exercise, book reading, grandchildren, and my wife’s pizza and chocolate chip cookies.
I can personally vouch for the excellence of each of these.
Our thought for today is from Norman Douglas:
“You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.”
Chances are, you’re not voting in this local primary election. Maybe you don’t have time. Maybe you don’t know enough about the candidates and issues to vote with confidence. Maybe you’re a communist. Maybe you just don’t care.
And some of you would be happy to vote a dozen times for your favorite candidates.
I suppose part of the charm of American democracy is that it is just so doggone sloppy.
Voters want to know something about who they’re voting for, but there is not enough time to read everything, attend forums, maybe even quiz the candidates. We vote based on what we know and our impressions of the candidates. Undoubtedly, some of you vote based on the campaign ads you’ve seen or heard.
In a primary like today’s, if one in five registered voters actually vote, it’ll be considered good turnout.
I found this primary one of the most interesting and possibly meaningful in years. I’m glad I voted.
Our thought for today is from Sir Winston Churchill:
“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
Today’s politicians love to claim they can “create jobs”. Can they? How many of them have ever “created” a job?
Certainly some of our Kansas lawmakers have operated businesses and expanded their work force. But I would guess they are a small minority in the Senate and House, judging from the biographies I’ve seen.
Governor Sam Brownback claims his huge tax cut will create tens of thousands of jobs and make Kansas some kind of employment Mecca. Has the governor ever created a non-government job?
He worked as an attorney for a few years before becoming the state agriculture secretary in 1986. He has been a government employee at the state and federal levels for the past 26 years.
Job creator? It’s not evident in his resume.
In Brownback’s defense, he has said this whole tax cut/job creation plan is actually an “experiment”. If it fails in a few years, Sam Brownback will probably be drawing a nice government pension check … or two!
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 just finished reading a terrific book: ‘The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity’ by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, two TIME magazine editors.
The book looks at the special relationships between sitting and ex presidents of the United States. Since Truman developed a relationship with Herbert Hoover, our chief executives have kept their predecessors busy … sending them on missions to help starving nations, broker peace deals, and monitor foreign elections.
I confess my ignorance about President Hoover. This book has sparked my interest to learn more about the man widely blamed for the Great Depression. He was much more than that.
Interesting that Jimmy Carter seems to have annoyed every president he worked with, after he left office. Carter had a way of doing things his way … angering the sitting presidents he was helping.
Most interesting to me is the relationship Bill Clinton has developed with both George H. W. and George W. Bush. Clinton is treated as part of the Bush family.
Clinton also developed a very close relationship with Richard Nixon.
Our thought for today is from Adlai Stevenson Jr.:
“In America any boy may become president and I suppose it’s just one of the risks he takes.”
I confess my negative feelings about all political action committees, even while this radio station and others … along with our friends in T-V … sell those PACs a lot of advertising.
I’ve been concerned about the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee’s endorsement of challengers to incumbents who have been strong business and Chamber supporters in the past. Why is the Chamber PAC targeting these people? And what are Chamber members saying about this? Some of them may not care for the PAC’s open embrace of an extremely conservative philosophy and candidates. Some Chamber members might be moderates or independents … or evenDemocrats!
Last week it was reported that the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce is appointing a ‘task force’ to review its relationship with its own PAC.
Sounds like the summer sun is not the only source of heat at Douglas and Waco these days.
Our thought for today is from Will Rogers:
“Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with.”
Voter turnout in primary elections is traditionally pretty weak, so who knows what to expect after the votes are counted next Tuesday night?
I’ve been keenly interested in this primary because I know many of the candidates personally, and because the Republican primary will have a lot to do with the political complexion of that party for the next couple of years. Will the Kansas G-O-P move further to the Right?
Casting my ballot was an easy process. I went to the Election Office in the Old County Courthouse, told the clerk my name and address, and she scanned the back of my driver’s license. The touch-screen voting machine gave me a couple of problems, which were easily solved with the assistance of a helpful public servant.
The whole thing was accomplished in ten minutes. I was the only voter there, at 4:30 on a Thursday afternoon.
I’m thinking about a mail-in ballot next time, to make voting even more convenient.
Our thought for today is from E. P. White:
“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half the people are right more than half the time.”