This week the United States Supreme Court heard arguments about same-sex marriage laws. This brings the issue to the front burner on the American controversy “stove”.
A recent Washington Post/A-B-C News poll found 58% of the respondents favoring the legalization of same-sex marriage, with 36% saying it should be illegal. In 2004, the same question brought the opposite conclusion: 41% for legalization and 52% opposed.
40 states do not allow same-sex marriage.
Public opinion surely differs from one state to the next, and some say the issue is best handled at the state level. Let the voters decide. Others will say individual rights are being violated and gay people are experiencing discrimination.
Some will argue that public opinions polls are “skewed”, or in some way inaccurate.
But the Supreme Court is not charged to follow the whims of the citizens. The Court must decide if the laws are constitutional.
The Justices will not rule for several months.
Our thought for today is from Terry Pratchett:
“A marriage is always made up of two people who are prepared to swear that only the other one snores.”
Our federal government is a big part of commerce. Each year the Fed spends billions of dollars with private contractors on everything from national defense to building highways and bridges. Those who seek to increase government spending may label it “investment”, but when does that “investment” reach the point of diminishing returns to the taxpayer?
Intelligent, reasonable Americans have been telling us for years that the U.S. cannot sustain ever-increasing budget deficits and mounting debt. But because there has been no major economic meltdown related to the deficits and debt, our politicians have not responded in a meaningful way.
Our elected officials of all political stripes must come to the realization that a “melt down” is not in our national interest and could be extremely harmful to many Americans. They need to take action sooner, not later.
First step, serious treatment of entitlements and slow the rate of spending increase.
After that, let’s tackle the tax code again, with an eye toward fairness and shared burden.
Our thought for today is from William H. Borah:
“That marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.”
It’s been a heck of a drought. If it continues -- were told -- Cheney Reservoir could be bone dry by 2015. The lake provides 60% of Wichita’s water, some of which we sell to smaller communities in the area.
The Wichita City Council is taking public input in their efforts to deal with the problem. Is voluntary rationing the answer? Should city customers who use more water face higher rates on their monthly bills?
My “extra” water use goes for washing my cars in the driveway and some gardening. I never water my lawn unless we’re trying to get some new grass started. My lawn greens up nicely in the spring and turns brown in the late summer. I keep it well cut and trimmed.
We don’t have a sprinkling system or a pool.
Two of my brothers lived in the west for years, and they were always conserving water.
Of course, a few nice Kansas rains could ease our concerns considerably.
Our thought for today is from Henry David Thoreau:
Last week marked ten years since President Bush started the second war with Iraq.
I opposed the war for several reasons. First, I did not see the need … since Saddam Hussein hated al-Qaeda, and could have been useful in our war on terror. Hussein had been to war with his neighbor Iran, and had balanced the power in that region. The current governments of Iran and Iraq have now become quite cozy.
I saw Iraq as no immediate threat to the United States, and stopped believing they had any weapons of mass destruction early in the game. I don’t like our nation going to war on suspicions, suppositions, and unsubstantiated fear.
I didn’t like the fact that no one in the White House had any close relative in harm’s way … no “skin in the game”.
My son served in Iraq, 45-hundred Americans died there, 32-thousand were wounded, and two trillion dollars was put on Uncle Sam’s credit card.
And by the way, we’re still there.
Was it worth it?
Our thought for today is from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.:
Today I send out a Happy Birthday wish to someone very special to me, my wife.
I don’t know that I have ever said “Happy Birthday, Shelley” during this daily commentary. But her support and encouragement have meant a great deal to me in producing the McIntosh Report since 1971.
Shelley has shared the praise and recognition I’ve received during my long career, along with the criticism and nasty comments that sometimes come with the territory. I’ve been certain since we met in 1969 that every day I have a powerful ally in my corner, supporting everything I do … successes and failures.
In 42 years of marriage Shelley has become an excellent cook … her pot roast and chocolate chip cookies are outstanding … and she’s been employed outside the home. She’s been a professional as well as a terrific mother and grandmother.
I couldn’t ask for anyone finer to travel with me through life.
Last week the Conservative Political Action Conference featured a number of political speakers, talking about the issues conservatives supposedly care most about, along with a good deal of criticism of President Obama.
My question is this: Is the conservative future simply an on-going statement of what they oppose and whom they dislike, or are conservatives ready to do what it takes to re-define their product to meet the political realities of today and tomorrow?
I dislike the constantly-negative nature of today’s conservative message, and would really like to see a campaign to define what conservatives stand for … and how that impacts individual Americans. I’d like to see a more positive message and yes, one that might seek common ground with other view-points.
Conservatives should re-brand themselves as problem solvers, and then do the tough work of living up to the brand. That could broaden conservative appeal.
It is a fact that politicians need votes to win, and conservatives need to promote a more positive image to attract new voters.
Our thought for today is from Robert Anton Wilson:
“It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.”
Gas prices by Steve McIntosh,posted Mar 21 2013 2:41AM
Americans have apparently adjusted their spending to accommodate gasoline prices hovering around three-and-a-half bucks for several weeks now. Most of us drive to work … most of us, one commuter per car in Wichita. My wife and I each fill our tanks about three times a month. It can be a little more often if we’re traveling across town to grandkids’ ball games and other activities.
Like most of you, Shelley and I keep a close watch on our money. In nearly 43 years of marriage, we’ve never lost track of how that income is being spent, invested, and saved. Gasoline is one more line on the family budget.
And like you, when the price at the pump goes up, we make accommodations somewhere else. We may skip a nice restaurant meal in favor of hot dogs and chips.
You know the drill.
It’s frustrating to realize that we have so little control over the gas expense. Beyond driving with better fuel economy, we have no choice at all … we just pay up, shut up, and keep driving.
Our thought for today is from Henry David Thoreau:
“That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”
In Topeka recently, Kansas Senate Republicans closed the doors to reporters for a private meeting before debating the governor’s tax proposals in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce of Hutchinson told reporters the senators intended to discuss political strategy and they didn’t want Democrats to know about those tactics. Bruce described the meeting as a “gripe session”.
Well, Mr. Bruce, it was also an obvious violation of state law … specifically, the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
Keeping secrets from Democrats when Republicans hold big majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Really?
The Associated Press lodged a protest.
It appears that not a single Republican senator stood up for transparency in government; not one realized that they were all breaking the law.
Or maybe they knowingly chose to be criminals, and they simply don’t care.
Our thought for today is from Daniel C. Gelman:
“Where secrecy reigns, carelessness and ignorance delight to hide … skill loves the light.”
Why is the Catholic Pope important? No one else leads the largest body of Christians in the world … more than a billion Catholics. His power for good or bad is enormous.
The new Pope Francis was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, so he is the first American Pope. He is reported to be a man who cooks his own meals and rides a public bus to work. He has spent a lot of time in the slums and reportedly considers social outreach to be the essential business of the church.
The Catholic Church’s recent problems are well-publicized. How will this Pope handle questions over sexual abuse, women’s roles in the church, and gay marriage?
He is said to be a soft-spoken man. Can quiet words and a gentle spirit have the impact the world demands of its leaders?
The Cardinals have chosen a man who has shown some charisma; he is already being called a “people’s pope”.
They hope the man’s character will come through and he will be a strong leader.
Our thought for today is from Abraham Lincoln:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Here’s the situation: the Wichita school district is coming up short on its construction and operation plans for projects approved in the 2008 local bond issue … a sweeping renovation of U-S-D 259’s facilities. The Kansas Legislature has cut its appropriations to schools the last couple of years, possibly in violation of the state constitution.
The district has planned to build a new high school on the southeast edge of Wichita, anticipating residential growth in that area over the next 25 years or more. But what to do with Southeast High School, built in 1957?
School board president Lynn Rogers tells me only a couple hundred students live within two miles of Southeast. He says the building might be used for purposes other than a traditional high school, as the new high school is built. Or the district could close Southeast. Or the district could halt plans for the new high school.
Public input is being sought over the next few weeks, before a final decision is made.
Our thought for today is from Mahatma Gandhi:
“Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.”
Most law enforcement agencies have written policies on pursuit of suspects. They consider the gravity of the alleged offense, the time of day, the geographic area, and the amount of traffic. Police realize the danger of the chase, to themselves and to citizens.
Recently, we’ve seen a man charged with murder when the pickup he was driving smashed into another pickup, killing its driver, shortly after a police pursuit was called off in south Wichita.
A man jumped from a car after it smashed through a fence around a lake. For days, police and firefighters watched and searched the lake for the man’s body, eventually determining he may not have jumped into the lake after all.
A Sedgwick County Sheriff deputy and a suspect shot after a chase into Butler County.
Police chases were rare until recent years. Now they’re common in this area.
These pursuits are obviously quite dangerous. I confess that I don’t know why people are running from the law in greater numbers.
Our thought for today is from Heinrich Heine:
“There are more fools in the world than there are people.”
It was a two billion-dollar mistake in presentation of state government spending, and Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback used it to portray his administration as cutting spending compared to his Democrat predecessor.
That mistake came out of the office of state budget director Steve Anderson. He has now explained that he actually inherited that budget report from his predecessor, but he has taken full responsibility for the confusion. He says he offered Brownback his resignation, but the governor turned him down. Anderson will stay on the job.
I appreciate the way Mr. Anderson has taken responsibility for an error which he says was made by someone else. That is really tough to do.
I also appreciate his offer to resign, rather than cause any further embarrassment to Governor Brownback.
It’s not often that we see public officials doing what Steve Anderson has done. He is apparently an honest man, with personal integrity.
I’ll bet he is extra careful with those budget numbers in the future.
Our thought for today is from Bourke Cockran:
“Underlying the whole scheme of civilization is the confidence men have in each other, confidence in their integrity, confidence in their honesty, confidence in their future.”
Guess who’s coming to dinner. Republicans.
President Obama broke bread with several Republican senators the other night. And he’s had lunches scheduled with Republican and Democrat members of Congress.
It’s an effort by the president to get some kind of bi-partisan deficit reduction plan.
I don’t know what polls may have said about Obama’s past efforts to make campaign-type speeches against the opposition, but here’s one American who believes the president looked petty and displayed poor leadership skills.
I think Americans want to see a more mature approach to our nation’s problems from all our politicians. If lunches and dinners help break the logjam, I say keep it going.
Solving big problems requires the kind of courage that champions solutions for all Americans, sometimes at a political cost for the individual lawmaker. The good of the party cannot be the only litmus test for negotiation and agreement.
Our thought for today is from Charles De Gaulle:
“I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”
CPR refusal by Steve McIntosh,posted Mar 12 2013 2:50AM
A police investigation concludes the Glenwood Gardens independent living facility and its employees did not violate any laws when they refused to administer C-P-R to 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless. She died before paramedics arrived.
The 9-1-1 call has been heard millions of times. The employee who refused to do C-P-R is not really a nurse, it turns out. And Bayless’s family is not displeased with her treatment.
Still, there is tremendous public outrage. Many believe someone should have done something to revive that woman.
But what were Lorraine Bayless’s wishes? Had she already agreed that no “heroic effort” be made to resuscitate her?
In such a circumstance, some of us would jump right in without question, employer’s rules and legal questions be damned. Others might be petrified by fear and doubt.
I cannot say what I would do in similar circumstances.
The Glenwood Gardens employee made a decision that she will have to live with. I’m thankful I am not in her position.
Our thought for today is from Dandemis:
“Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.”
A C-B-S News Poll finds 53% of respondents say they personally will be affected by the cuts in the sequester. The poll says a majority of Americans prefers to reduce the deficit by both raising taxes and cutting federal spending.
As for missing the March 1st sequester deadline … 38% place more blame on the Republicans in Congress for the failure … 33% blame President Obama and Democrats in Congress … and 19% blame both sides.
Recently Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and her fellow Republicans pointed out that most Americans saw a two percent reduction in their take-home pay the first of the year, when temporary federal withholding cuts expired. Jenkins also quoted the Congressional Budget Office as projecting federal tax revenue will double in the next ten years.
So the question, it seems to me: is it just spending cuts or slowing the rate of increases … or spending cuts with some higher taxes to solve our deficit woes?
Our thought for today is from Philip Crosby:
“If anything is certain, it is that change is certain. The world we are planning for today will not exist in this form tomorrow.”
Recently the Wichita Police Department released its crime report for 2012. It showed an overall increase of two percent in reported crimes in the city.
Chief Norman Williams says there were 14 gang-related drive-by shootings last year … down 55% from four years ago. Last year police arrested nearly a thousand gang members. W-P-D says there are 3,000 documented gang members in Wichita.
Chief Williams says about 86% of burglaries go unsolved, and many burglars receive lenient treatment by the courts because of jail and prison crowding. The burglars go back on the street and continue their repulsive vocation.
The increase in crime last year was driven primarily by nearly 2,000 additional larcenies … people stealing other people’s property.
A veteran Wichita cop once told me the toughest thing for him about police work is, you never reach the bottom of the pile. No matter how many crooks you bust, there are always more to take their place.
Most business economists opposed the automatic spending cuts that took effect last week amid gridlock between President Obama and Congress. But they overwhelmingly support efforts to reduce the deficit over the next ten years.
The survey questioned 196 members of the National Association for Business Economics.
About 56% of those surveyed said deficit reduction should be achieved “only” or “mostly” with spending cuts. More than half said those cuts should focus on entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare.
But 95% said Congress should reform the individual tax codes, with nearly three quarters believing the reforms should “slightly” or “significantly” increase revenue.
It would be well – I think – for all politicians to pay more than lip service to our best business minds, and to the conclusions of Simpson/Bowles.
A new, practical approach to our economy, our taxes, and our fiscal stability would certainly be a helpful start. That would take more maturity and political courage than we’ve seen in Washington lately.
Our thought for today is from Fritz Kunkel:
“To be mature means to face, and not evade, every fresh crisis that comes.”
The Kansas Senate has been discussing expanding the definition of election fraud and the possibility of giving the secretary of state authority to prosecute the crime. At the same time, the Senate rejected an effort by Democrats to bar Secretary of State Kris Kobach from forming a political action committee that contributes to legislative candidates, as he did in 2012.
Kobach has championed voter I-D laws in Kansas and other states, to correct a problem that many believe does not exist.
Kobach is a partisan politician in a job that should be strictly non-partisan. He is a former chairman of the state’s Republican Party and his political action committee supports candidates in elections he is over-seeing.
That is a blatant conflict of interest.
I don’t hear any G-O-P voices expressing concern about this. I guess party politics takes priority over ethics and simple fairness.
Our thought for today is from George Bernard Shaw:
“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.”
It’s perfectly understandable that most Americans don’t bother to vote unless there’s an issue that concerns them deeply … or for president … or even governor and state offices. Those races usually draw decent voter turnout.
Last week’s local primary was an example of an election doomed to low voter turnout.
Three Wichita City Council seats are up for election, and this vote was simply to narrow the field to two candidates each, for the general election April second … which probably won’t attract many voters either.
About 4,200 citizens made it the polls in the Wichita primary last Tuesday.
The weather undoubtedly kept a few people away from the polls.
I don’t see a lot of interest in the city council right now. They’ve been holding the line on property taxes, and avoiding any goofiness over the United Nations and creeping socialism.
The natives are simply not restless.
Our thought for today is from George Bernard Shaw:
“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
He is a former two-term Republican Senator from Nebraska with a record of consistently-conservative voting. He’s one of the few people in Washington who have a clue about real war and combat … having served and been wounded in Vietnam.
Sounds like pretty good qualifications to me. Chuck Hagel has been confirmed as Secretary of Defense on a 58 to 41 vote in the Senate.
The qualifications I mentioned are not guarantees that Hagel will do a great job at the Pentagon. But I think Republican senators ought to remember that many Americans disagreed with going to war with Iraq over the possibility of weapons of mass destruction that could possibly be used against Americans.
Many Americans may feel talking with Iran is probably a good idea, as long as we carry Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick” in our back pocket. And sometimes a few Americans may wonder if considerations for Israel should determine everything we do in the Middle East.
Good luck, Mr. Hagel.
Our thought for today is from Richard Cecil:
“We ought not to judge of men’s merits by their qualifications, but by the use they make of them.”
Sequester by Steve McIntosh,posted Mar 1 2013 2:54AM
In 2011, Congress passed … and President Obama signed into law … the Budget Control Act, which required across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion as a way to motivate lawmakers to find some other way of reducing the nation’s budget deficit. They did not … and the deadline is today.
The president wants to cut spending and raise some taxes, while Republicans oppose any tax increases at all.
Interestingly, as the government prepares for furloughs and layoffs, members of Congress are immune. The 27th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits Congress from taking a pay cut until the next election. They will not feel the pain personally.
In fact, I wonder how many Americans will actually feel any “pain” with these spending cuts? And if they do, who will they blame?
There is the real question; who gets the blame? I would include “who gets the credit?” … but I don’t believe these cuts alone will solve the problem of mounting deficits and debt.
Our thought for today is from Laurence J. Peter:
“Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.”