Halloween by Steve McIntosh,posted Oct 31 2012 1:58AM
It seems to me Halloween is a bigger deal to many adults than it is to kids these days. Parents and grandparents are excited to help the youngsters with their costumes, and escorting them on their trick-or-treat rounds. Adults wear costumes to parties … private, public, and at work.
There are so many baby boomers who love this holiday!
I can’t think about Halloween without remembering those fun times when I was a boy with my brothers and my friends. My brother Mike seemed to get the biggest kick out of Halloween. He would lead our exhausting efforts to trick-or-treat every house possible. Then he would hoard his treats until Independence Day … occasionally dipping into a big bag of goodies. If my brothers and I touched Mike’s stash, there was big trouble!
My children had great fun every Halloween … and now it’s my grandchildren’s turn. Our excitement is watching their excitement.
I guess it’s harmless once a year to enjoy Halloween and its memories. That’s what holidays are for, right?
Our thought for today is from Steve Almond:
“Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.”
Many Americans were opposed to the Vietnam War. One of the strongest voices of protest was George McGovern … a South Dakota senator at the time and the Democrats’ 1972 presidential candidate. McGovern knew something about war. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross as a bomber pilot in World War Two.
McGovern died last week at the age of 90.
Conservative columnist Cal Thomas wrote last week about his appearances with the liberal McGovern on college campuses. The two men were political opposites, but became good personal friends. That friendship was something some of Thomas’s fellow conservatives couldn’t understand. Thomas didn’t care. He found McGovern to be an “honorable and principled” man.
Politics would not determine the relationship between these two thoughtful, caring men.
Thomas concluded his column: “I shall miss George McGovern as a friend, a fellow American, a patriot, and an example. May he rest in peace”.
Our thought for today is from Voltaire:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
A responder to our K-N-S-S Facebook recently wrote about “correct facts”. Of course, by definition a “fact” is “anything actually true”. And while the term “correct facts” ought to be relegated to the Department of Redundancy Department dead file, I think it’s an indication of today’s public discourse.
Part of the broadcast and print media urges Americans to disbelieve other parts of the broadcast and print media … so-called “mainstream” or “traditional” journalism. We are told the facts change, according to which media outlet we access. We are told we need only believe what we agree with.
Meanwhile, a large segment of the population busies itself with un-edited, un-verified cyber information … pumped into our laptops and i-pads. If you can click on it, you can believe it. You can also share it with thousands of cyber strangers.
Government standards of information are routinely assailed, spun, and misused for political purposes.
First I ask “What is true?” Then I ask “Does anyone care?”
I will never say all politicians are liars, because I know a few who are not … at least, I don’t think they are.
But what does it say about our society that when presidential candidates debate, the networks, newspapers, and web sites start checking the facts of the politicians’ statements … even as their lips are still moving?
And I don’t remember seeing a politician who ever disputes his opponent’s false or twisted comments quickly or effectively.
It’s not only the politicians. There are people in the mass entertainment business who make a nice living spewing half-truths and un-truths. Savvy talk show hosts specialize in broad comments, selecting only the facts that back up their arguments.
It appears that we’ve given up on a well-informed American electorate, settling for a largely misinformed and befuddled one. The question is, can we function as a civilized society without agreement on what is true? It seems we each have our own unique playbook. And we can’t find a “coach” who acknowledges that truth is not only desirable, but essential.
Our thought for today is from H. L. Mencken:
“It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.”
I got a chance to chat with Gary Bender Sunday night, after he was inducted into the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Wichita.
Gary was born in Ulysses in southwest Kansas and spent part of his youth in Dodge City, as I did. In fact, we went to the same grade school several years apart. He played football at Wichita University in the early sixties and went on to a great career in radio and television sports play-by-play, including many years at A-B-C and C-B-S.
I grabbed him after the ceremony Sunday and compared notes on radio, show preparation, and Dodge City. And he shared personal stories about Johnny Unitas, John Madden, Bill Parcells, and John Wooden … huge names in sports over the past 40 years. I’m sure we could have talked a lot longer, but he was an honored guest and others wanted to talk with him.
Gary Bender is a big name in broadcasting, and I was flattered that he took time with Shelley and me. He’s a guy who’s never forgotten imaging sports play-by-play for hours when he was a boy, on a tractor in western Kansas.
Our thought for today is from Wilfred A. Peterson:
“The secret of greatness is simple: do better work than any other man in your field … and keep on doing it.”
The candidates seem to have a vested interest in telling us the economy stinks, blaming each other for it, and offering voters non-specific promises on how everything will be much better if they are elected president.
But I’m beginning to see indications that gloom and doom about our economy’s future may not present an accurate picture. Recently I shared a U-S-A Today story quoting analysts who predict our economy will grow 12 million jobs over the next four years … no matter who wins November 6th.
The unemployment rate is edging downward. Here in Kansas the jobless rate hit 5.9% in September, the first time it’s been below 6% in nearly four years.
We all know good things happen when American companies begin hiring. Families do better … they spend and save more … and pay more taxes.
Apparently, an optimistic tone will not sway voters as much as the blame game and promoting fear and anxiety about the future.
I believe America’s on the rebound.
High gasoline prices don’t have much impact on President Obama or Mitt Romney. But every time you and I hit the gas pump, we’re reminded that we’re creating a big hole the family budget … which has to balance every month. We don’t have any choice; we can pay it or walk. The only control we have is the fuel efficiency of our vehicle and how much we drive each day.
Truth is, presidents can’t do much about gasoline prices beyond trying to lower federal taxes on gas. In the last debate, Romney and Obama talked about boosting domestic oil and gas production, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
But U-S gas prices are largely determined by global crude oil prices, which are determined by a number of factors … including increasing demand around the world, especially in China.
Short of nationalizing the oil companies and setting artificial prices, what can a president do?
In reality, not much.
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’.”
U-S-A Today did some fact-checking on last week’s presidential debate … and I found their story interesting.
Regarding Mitt Romney’s claim that he will create 12 million jobs during his first term: economic forecasters … including Moody’s Analytics … predict roughly 12 million jobs will be created over the next four years, no matter who is elected president.
U-S-A Today reports: “Romney’s pledge means 250,000 jobs will have to be added every month for four years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth has averaged 139,000 a month in 2012, and 153,000 a month in 2011”.
This seems to reinforce my belief that presidents don’t create jobs, the market creates jobs. Smart presidents figure out a way to take credit for job growth and avoid blame for job losses.
I think it’s great news that economists are predicting robust job growth over the next four years.
For what it’s worth … I thought Romney did better than President Obama in the last debate.
Our thought for today is from Niels Bohr:
“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said recently he had not ruled out extending the 6.3% state-wide sales tax rate, which is supposed to drop back to 5.7% in July.
Here’s the math. The 2010 Kansas Legislature passed Brownback’s huge income tax reduction which … according to legislative researchers … will result in budget shortfalls of $2.5 billion over the next six years, starting with a $242 million deficit for fiscal 2014. Retaining the sales tax rate would bring in a projected $250 million a year.
Brownback was highly critical of the sales tax increase as a candidate, but now he may realize that it’s the only thing that may save his budget bacon.
While the income tax cuts help many Kansans and especially business owners, sales taxes fall disproportionately on the poor … who have now lost a food sales tax rebate and the child and dependent care credit.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for all those new jobs and business opportunities that are supposed to come flooding into Kansas.
Our thought for today is from Theodore Parker:
“Magnificent promises are always to be suspected.”
For the fourth year in a row the United States government has spent more than a trillion dollars more than it’s taken in. The Treasury Department confirms the gap in 2012 is $1.1 trillion. The good news is revenue rose 6.4% from 2011 and spending fell 1.7% … to $3.5 trillion. The deficit shrank 16%, or $207 billion.
Savings came from less spending on the military and Medicaid.
A stronger economy meant more people working and more tax revenue.
I’m not excusing President Obama’s budget shortfalls, but the budget he inherited when he entered office carried a $1.2 trillion deficit. The past three years our nation has continued to fight two un-funded wars and the Great Recession … which has meant fewer people working and paying taxes.
I’ve been a budget hawk for the past 40 years … commenting consistently on deficits, debt, and the fiscal cowardice of American politicians.
I’m afraid government fiscal responsibility will only happen after a huge crisis.
God help us.
Our thought for today is from George Jackson:
“Patience has its limits. Taken too far, and it’s cowardice.”
Last week more than 600 people showed up for the Wichita State University Area Economic Outlook Conference … releasing projections for 2013. W-S-U’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research expects Wichita area businesses to add just under 5,000 new jobs next year … a 1.7% increase over this year.
The biggest bump in hiring is projected for business services, a broad category that includes everything from janitors to research scientists.
The Kansas unemployment rate in August was 6.2% … trending downward over the past year. The Wichita area jobless rate was 7.3% … below the national figure … and down from 8.3% a year ago August. At last report, there were about 282,000 people working in the Wichita area.
Political campaigns over the past couple of years have focused on jobs and how we can create more of them. The figures I’ve shared with you seem to indicate that the state and local employment pictures are getting better … but it’s been a really slow improvement.
Governor Sam Brownback admits we could see a dip in revenue to Kansas government because of massive income tax cuts enacted earlier this year. I’m sure the governor was aware of that possibility when he and the state legislature passed their optimistic tax cut plan, predicting that lower income and business taxes will make Kansas a mecca for jobs and economic growth.
The governor now says he has not ruled out asking that the current sales tax remain in place longer than planned, to make up for budget shortfalls that may occur. The 6.3% sales tax is scheduled to drop to 5.7% in July of next year. Governor Brownback says he’ll wait and see what happens in the next few months before deciding about the sales tax.
I’m one of the skeptics. I don’t believe massive tax cuts will do much for economic growth. I fear they will demolish the state budget … and cutting spending won’t remedy the shortage. It will be necessary to raise revenue … taxes, that is.
Our thought for today is from Philip Crosby:
“If anything is certain, it is that change is certain. The world we are planning today will not exist in this form tomorrow.”
We sent our military into Afghanistan to find and eliminate as many al Qaeda as possible … and remove the backward, brutal Taliban from power. But the Taliban has proven to be like rats … difficult to eradicate.
Here’s one more reason to detest the Taliban. 14-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousufzai has been blogging about extremist militants in her area who use fear and intimidation to force girls to stay home from school. The Taliban claims responsibility for trying to silence this young woman by shooting up her school van, seriously wounding Malala and two classmates.
The attack has reportedly sparked outrage in Pakistan … as well as among the rest of the civilized world.
Shooting children for talking about wanting to go to school? Come on! Really?
My question to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the rest of that region: Why do you put up with this Taliban baloney? Time to get tough!
Our thought for today is from Thomas Jefferson:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Governor Sam Brownback’s Kansas School Efficiency Task Force is looking for ways to get more bang for the education buck. They want to see how to get 65% of every state dollar spent into the classroom.
The task force began with the criticism that it’s made up of accountants, and there are no teachers or other professional educators in the group. Wichita school superintendent John Allison is concerned that the Task Force will miss the outside-the-classroom expenses of education … such counselors, social workers, and transportation.
I can understand resentment on the part of educators at allowing accountants to give them advice on educating children. But believe me, the business world is run by accountants … looking for extra dollars and efficiencies and higher profits … with little concern about the professionals they scrutinize and advise.
The Task Force is looking for monetary efficiency. The best education for Kansas kids may not be part of their mission.
Our thought for today is from Erica Jong:
“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”
According to Gallup’s polling after the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney did a far better job than President Obama in their first face-off. Among all debate watchers questioned, 72% of the respondents favored Romney, while only 20% said Obama did better.
Among Republicans questioned, Romney 97%, Obama 2%. Independents gave Romney the edge by 70% to 19%. Even Democrats favored Romney, 49% to 39%.
There was also an uptick for the former Massachusetts governor among registered voters who were asked who they plan to vote for. Before the debate it was Obama 50%, Romney 45%. After the debate: even at 47% each.
Obviously the first debate energized Romney’s campaign and may have swayed voters to his side. But there are two more presidential debates and the odds are Barack Obama will be ready for them.
How many voters will tune in for those debates? How much impact will they have on the actual voting?
At this point all we can say is Romney won the first debate and the polls have the candidates virtually tied.
Our thought for today is from Ernest Benn:
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”
I’ve been watching these polls that give President Obama a slight edge over Republican challenger Mitt Romney … in this state or that state … this demographic or that. But the margins have not really been overwhelming anywhere, so I haven’t been ready to declare a winner. I’m still not ready, that’s why we have elections.
The experts tell us Romney was the ‘victor’ in the first debate, which ought to re-energize his campaign. With a month to Election Day, I think it’s a toss-up.
When they’ve finished sharing their political philosophies, criticisms, and hugely non-specific ideas, I wonder which candidate will convince Americans that the future will be better if he is elected?
I believe Americans vote their pocketbooks but also their hearts. They vote against people they can’t trust with their tomorrows. They want to hear again why this country is great and why there is hope for their future.
No … I don’t think this thing is over at all.
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.”
The government reports the annual birth rate in the United States fell for the fourth year in a row in 2011 … by one percent. That compares to falling rates of 2 to 3 percent in recent years. Birth rates had been on the rise between the late 1990s and the all-time high of 4.3 million in 2007.
Most striking in the new report were steep declines in Hispanic birth rates and a new low in teen births. Experts say Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the flagging economy, and teen birth rates have been falling for 20 years.
Experts say the weak economy has a lot to do the latest drop in the annual U.S. birth rate. But at least one demographer in Washington – quoted by the Associated Press – says smaller reduction in birth rates in 2011 could suggest that “the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end”.
So, reproduction trends are seen as a measure of economic stability.
I suppose it makes sense.
Our thought for today is from George Santayana:
“There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.”
I’m not a big supporter of laws that allow people to walk around with guns. I fear the occasional knucklehead who will misuse the gun and the law, and District Attorney Nola Foulston tells me there have been a few in Sedgwick County.
But I can’t deny the beauty of what happened when a would-be bandit confronted Steve Yager outside Yager’s business, Club Billiards on west Douglas. I spent many hours in that pool hall back in the day when it was known as Scotty’s … even wrote a poem about it for my high school chums. It can be a rough neighborhood.
When the man told Yager he had a gun and he wanted Yager’s wallet, the business owner responded that he had a gun, too … and pointed it at the man’s face. The would-be robber hit the bricks.
Chalk up one for the good guys. And at least on this occasion, I’ll chalk up one for concealed-carry.
Our thought for today is from Solomon Short:
“I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.”
This week during a Landon Lecture at Kansas State University, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said he wants to increase the national conversation about war veterans and how they’re treated and regarded in society. He said he believes the nation has a positive image of its military men and women. But after many years of war, it’s important for veterans and the nation to talk about the role of those who have served, where they fit in society, and whether they’re regarded as heroes, victims, or average citizens.
As the father of a military man who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Republic of Georgia, I say to General Dempsey, “Amen”.
Unlike politicians and entertainers, military people find it revolting to whine in public. They are easily forgotten because so few Americans have any kind of personal stake in two on-going wars. Americans haven’t been asked to make any kind of personal sacrifice … including paying for the missions.
Our thought for today is from Thomas Jefferson:
“Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.”
Last weekend my wife and I watched “The Hunger Games” with our 12-year-old grandson Nolan. He had already seen the movie and read the three books the film is based on. Nolan’s critique: “the movie’s good but the books are better”.
It is a well-written, well-acted, well-produced movie … quite entertaining. But I was struck by the darkness of this story about starving children of the future chosen to compete in televised death matches … complete with silly commentators and blood-thirsty audiences.
Is there a message here about “reality” media … about government power taken to the point of mandating violence against children? Should our kids be watching this depressing, negative, cynical stuff? Or is it merely a reflection of the world our grandchildren have inherited: dark, gloomy, hopeless?
But you know, I wasn’t much older than Nolan when I read “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Nolan will probably read it, too. Then he’ll realize the real world can be even more ugly and terrifying than fiction.
Last week the Pew Research Center released results of a new study that said college loan debt has reached a record number of American households … 22.4 million … 19% … one in five households. That’s double the share in 1989, and up from 15% in 2007.
Pew says the increase is driven by higher tuition costs as well as rising college enrollment during the economic downturn of the Great Recession.
I have a mixed reaction. At a time when our nation needs to be more competitive in world markets, the cost of a college education is hammering students and their parents. That can’t help us compete.
But I also know many colleges are doing what they can to hold down costs, and there is educational variety available to students.
Still … I worry about young people beginning their working lives saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. It’s especially troubling during such a weak labor market.
Our thought for today is from Noela Evans:
“Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.”
It was obviously a huge event in the life of Wichita State University. Was it some kind of omen … that the future would not be bright for Shocker football? The program was junked 17 years after the plane crash in Colorado that killed 31 W-S-U football players, administrators, and supporters.
It happened October 2nd, 1970. There is a formal ceremony on the campus every year on this date. Shockers won’t forget.
For me, it was the first really big local story of my broadcasting career, which had begun just a few months before the crash. Every year on this date I remember the interview I did with a player’s wife at the Roundhouse, as she awaited word of her husband’s fate. We later learned he had died.
It was an awful day for the university. It’s brought us no lessons learned or profound conclusions. Even though I did not attend W-S-U, I was a part of that day. And I won’t forget.
Our thought for today is from Rosa Parks:
“Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.”
She is a life-long Republican and the decision was “difficult”. Wichita school board member Connie Dietz last week told K-N-S-S News she has left the Republican Party and registered as an independent.
Dietz says she disagrees with the G-O-P on issues that include women’s health, and treatment of immigrants, senior citizens, and the disabled. She sees the party as “divided” and says “I hope they implode”.
Another life-long Republican … state senator Jean Schodorf of Wichita … also switched to independent after losing a nasty primary in August to Wichita City Council member Michael O’Donnell.
My opinion of Dietz and Schodorf: two smart, capable, hard-working, dedicated public servants. They are somehow not a good fit for today’s G-O-P?
I’ve been hearing critical rumblings from prominent Republicans for several years now. They’re concerned about the direction of the party. Has the party of Eisenhower and Dole and Reagan become intolerant of any but the most conservative? Could that be a formula for disaster?
Our thought for today is from Voltaire:
“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.”