The reason election results came out several hours late last fall is simple: the Sedgwick County Election office was overwhelmed. The vote counters had neither the personnel nor the expertise to make it happen.
The Kansas Secretary of State’s office investigated after many complaints. They found the Sedgwick County office is grossly under-staffed with three full-time and six part-time workers. Johnson County has 15 full-time and four part-time workers.
The investigation also found workers didn’t know how to use the computer software.
Sedgwick County’s Election office has been downsized in recent years to save money.
It seems obvious to me it was downsized to the point of incompetence. This is unacceptable.
If Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman is retained in that position, she needs help … more people and intensive computer training.
Going cheap has its drawbacks. And when political stinginess impacts the media’s ability to inform the public in a timely manner, the media and the public will object … loudly and passionately.
Our thought for today is from Thomas Paine:
“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”
Many believed a Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world last week. Folks were buying candles and food and other supplies in anticipation during the days leading up to December 21st.
Didn’t we go through this back in 2,000?
Many people seem to be fascinated with the end of the world. Some Christians have spent enormous time and energy studying the Bible, trying to make accurate predictions of the day and time of the end. Preachers warn their flocks that the end is near … and you’d better be right with your maker!
What exactly will the end of the world be like? I’m a bit fuzzy on that. The Bible says Christ will come to earth in the clouds.
Of course, the end of my world could come at any moment. I’m not so much interested in the specific time, as I am in being prepared.
The government of Guatemala … home to the Mayan city of Tikal … was predicting record numbers of tourists in December.
Our thought for today is from Niels Bohr:
“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
I’ve shared a few personal Christmas stories with you the past few days, and I couldn’t let the holiday go without sharing just one more.
My family lived in Kingman, Kansas during the late fifties … when I was 7 to 10 years old. The town holds special memories of little league baseball, men’s softball in the park, hunting, fishing, and learning to swim. It was a Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn time in my life.
When I was nine, my teacher called upon me to sing a solo during the school Christmas program. It was a something about watching with the shepherds. I was flattered and excited to perform on stage for the first time. Then it hit me: the high school gym would be packed, and all eyes would be on me, and I’d better not mess it up.
It seemed like the whole town was there! I was terrified … but made it through the song without a hitch.
I have never sung a solo on stage since.
Our thought for today is from Elbert Hubbard:
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
For many, Christmas can become a blur of shopping, parties, pageants, sad memories, stress, and general personal mayhem. I suggest we all try to find the “eye” of the Christmas “hurricane” and take some time for quiet, personal reflection.
We ought to focus our thoughts on the good we humans can do in this world as the best … maybe the only … answer we have to the evil that confuses, angers, and saddens us all.
For Christians, the meaning of Christmas is giving. We look at Christ as God’s gift of salvation to the world … the ultimate gift. This concept is confusing to some, disturbing to others, and perhaps even nonsense. But it is the solid bedrock of Christmas for the Christian.
I believe people who give without thought of receiving find true happiness. They are blessed. They are part of a force in this world that operates not only at Christmas time, but every day of the year.
Our thought for today is from my family and me to you and yours:
Listen to all the media talkers and the politicians and the lobbyists and it soon becomes clear that the insanity of the Sandy Hook shootings and others have different meanings for everyone.
Obviously, we are not protecting our children sufficiently, as the president said. But is the answer more control of guns and ammunition? I’ve seen that response a dozen times over the years, and it never amounts to much more than increased gun sales.
Can we more effectively identify and treat potentially-violent people? Apparently people spot these human time bombs, but don’t seem to be able to do much about their behavior before it’s too late.
The meaning of Sandy Hook for me is tragic loss of life in a society that permits … and often encourages … violent behavior at many levels. Occasionally, that violence reaches the obscene conclusion of mass murder.
In our individual lives we can do something about it. As a nation, we seem depressingly powerless.
For me, that’s the meaning of Sandy Hook.
Our thought for today is from Margaret Mead:
“No society that feeds it children on tales of successful violence can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded.”
For my family it’s turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas.
I once saw a man … a few days before Christmas … run past me and out the door of a Wichita supermarket, with a store employee hot on his tail. The man dropped a couple of items as he jumped into a car and sped off. The employee told me he had caught the man stealing meat.
I think about that incident every time I buy a big ham for our holiday table. We are blessed.
My wife Shelley is an excellent cook and usually adds her outstanding potato casserole to the menu. She is also good at baking cookies, and her chocolate chip cookies have gained quite a following here at the radio station.
So much of our holiday celebrations are about food, and the gathering of friends and family to enjoy a feast.
I never take good food for granted. From the farm to the table, there are really loving hands and hearts involved.
Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
My earliest Christmas memory is an attempt to stay awake long enough to see Santa Claus. I usually slept in my own little bed in our small house on South Spruce in Wichita. But this special night I was bunking with my brothers, Mike and Jerry.
I don’t recall discussing any specific toys we hoped for, but we questioned whether Santa would be able to slide down our small chimney. And of course, we wondered when the jolly old elf might arrive. We vowed to stay awake all night if necessary … and when we heard something we would creep downstairs and get a glimpse.
I recall intense anticipation.
Our older brother Don … sleeping in the next room … told us to shut up and go to sleep … several times.
Of course, we fell asleep … and were up about five a-m and running downstairs to see what was under the tree.
Never did see Santa.
Our thought for today is from Victor Borges:
“Santa Claus had the right idea. Visit everyone once a year.”
For some people it’s the best thing about Christmas … for others, the worst.
Some see Christmas shopping as a delightful experience, an opportunity to search for just the right gift for everyone on their list. It’s a time when the stores are dressed up in their colorful best to encourage good cheer among their customers. And then, some people just really enjoy buying stuff.
My wife and I have always found Christmas shopping to be a challenge. We don’t like crowds and we’re not crazy about spending money. When our kids were still at home we would pick out one week night to do the bulk of our shopping. We tried to leave work early, grab a bite, and then head to the stores. We picked up various other items and shopped for each other as we had time.
The strategy worked pretty well. It helped us retain our Christmas spirit … and our sanity.
Our thought for today is from Tammy Faye Baker:
“I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.”
Our family tradition is that the Christmas tree is put up and decorated within a few days after Thanksgiving. When my children were young, we bought a natural tree from one of several non-profit tree lots in the Riverside area. But several years ago we switched to artificial … with the lights permanently affixed to the branches.
Decorating the tree this year brought back memories. Some of the ornaments have true sentimental value … some of them were hand-painted by our children when they were young. We remember how exciting it was for them to hang the ornaments and string the lights.
Now they’re gone, with families of their own. They’ve started their own traditions at Christmas time.
This can be a tough time of the year because it brings up memories of Christmases past. For some folks, those memories can be sad and depressing. But for Shelley and me, the memories are all good. And our tree symbolizes the joy our family has always found during the holidays.
Our thought for today is from James M. Barrie:
“God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December.”
December 7th, 1941 is a huge date in American history. The nation reacted with shock at the Japanese surprise attack on our naval facilities at Pearl Harbor.
353 Japanese fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U-S Navy battleships were damaged … four of them sunk. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U-S aircraft were destroyed … 2,402 Americans were killed … and 1,282 wounded.
Japanese losses: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines … 65 servicemen killed or injured.
From that moment forward “sneaky” would be an adjective used to describe our enemy in the Pacific.
We went to war with a common goal and set free the American industrial machine. For once, Americans were all on the same page. Within a few months, our military was striking back ferociously. Our people ultimately demonstrated to the world what our nation is capable of doing when we are united in a cause.
Strong political rhetoric in the public discussion of the so-called “fiscal cliff” and possible ideas to avoid taking the plunge in January. Rhetoric is defined as “the art of persuasive or effective speech or writing; declamation; artificial eloquence or sophistry; exaggerated oratory”.
In other words, much of what we’ve been hearing is bluff and bluster, designed to keep the other side off balance … and possibly pandering to the political base. Are we to take this rough language seriously?
And is this ‘brinksmanship’ a good idea … given the none-too-impressive election victory for the president, and a Congressional approval rating near the single digits?
Frankly, a plunge over the fiscal cliff probably will NOT be devastating to me. My wife and I will return to paying the taxes we did before the Bush tax cut … and do as we always have done … adjust. But the idea of yet another recession is still frightening!
Our thought for today is from Aristotle:
“It is simplicity that makes the uneducated more effective than the educated when addressing popular audiences.”
How can we explain what happened in Kansas City last Saturday?
Jovan Belcher was a Chiefs linebacker … a young man with an apparently-bright future in pro football. His 22-year-old girlfriend – Kasandra Perkins – reportedly came home late after a concert. That apparently triggered what followed. Belcher killed Perkins, then drove to the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot where he spoke briefly with his coach and the general manager, and shot himself to death.
By the popular measures of society Jovan Belcher was a success. Thousands of kids dream of playing pro football … dream of making millions … dream of the attention and adulation we accord our sports stars. Belcher seemed to have it all.
But who knows what demons he battled; jealousy, anger, depression? They would seem to be prime suspects.
We find it difficult to deal with suicide I guess because we can’t explain it.
Our thought for today is from Albert Camus:
“There is but one truly philosophical problem, and that is suicide.”
Today is my birthday. I confess that I enjoy the attention I always receive on this day. I’ve only had a couple birthday parties. My wife surprised me completely with a party on my 60th. I never saw it coming. Several relatives and friends told stories about me in a sort of mini roast. It was a great evening.
So, why do we celebrate birthdays? Aren’t they just a reminder that we’re one year closer to meeting the Grim Reaper? Is our mere survival something to be marked with greetings, parties, and cake? What an achievement: I lived another year!
I think it’s just a nice way to tell a person he or she is appreciated … that folks are happy to be sharing their lives with us. It’s a day to feel special … to feel loved.
My wife got me a bottle of my favorite cologne, and we’ll be dining out tonight.
Today I’m basking in the glow of attention … and hope to celebrate 30 or 40 more of these!
Our thought for today is from Sam Levenson:
“It was on my fifth birthday that papa put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Remember, my son, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm’.”
Several prominent Republicans now say they may violate the so-called “tax pledge” if it means avoiding a plunge over the “fiscal cliff”. National economic disaster may trump the Norquist pledge that says the politician will “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income rates for individuals and/or business” … and “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates”.
The pledge says nothing about controlling or reducing federal spending, which to me is the key to all of this. Without seriously addressing entitlements … including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid … consensus, compromise, agreement doesn’t seem possible.
I understand that candidates signed the pledge to gain political support. And I understand anyone’s belief that raising taxes is generally a non-productive thing to do. But we’ve fought two wars without a tax increase and without controlling spending one bit.
Something’s got to give.
Our thought for today is from Solon:
“Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.”