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Steve McIntosh Report Blog

Posts from June 2013


What the public thinks about the NSA leaks
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press surveyed 1,500 people recently about N-S-A phone and internet surveillance. 44% of those questioned say the release of classified information about the N-S-A program harms the public … while 49% say it serves the public interest.
However, 54% … including identical majorities of Republicans and Democrats … 59% each … say the government should pursue a criminal case against the person responsible for leaking the classified information about the program.
60% of the younger people questioned say the N-S-A leak serves the public interest.
The public is divided over the N-S-A surveillance program itself. 48% approve and 47% disapprove “the government’s collection of telephone and internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts”.
Americans are obviously split over the issue of privacy versus national security. I’ll bet the same poll taken within a few days after some national terrorism attack would bring much different results.
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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.” 
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The Southeast decision
The Wichita Board of Education vote was unanimous … 6 to nothing. The district will build a new Southeast High School at 127th Street East and Pawnee, at a cost of 54 million dollars. The current building at Lincoln and Edgemoor may become a school administration building, and could also be home to at least part of the Wichita Area Technical College.
The district will also market its downtown office building at 201 North Water.
It was no surprise that the board’s decision angered some who wanted to renovate the current Southeast and keep it open as a high school. There are a lot of great memories for those who attended classes in that building.
The district just could not afford to renovate a 50-year-old school plus open a new one. The idea is to move the school and all its traditions to a new location in a growing part of town.
So, the Southeast High School Golden Buffaloes will have a new home in 2016.
 
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Our thought for today is from Agathon:
 
“Even God cannot change the past.”
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Topics: Education
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Locations: EdgemoorLincoln




 
Another dumb e-mailer
Another case of a person in a responsible position who is caught sending a stupid e-mail.
Former Miss America Erika Harold … who is black and a Harvard-trained lawyer … is challenging Representative Rodney Davis in the Republican primary in Montgomery County, Illinois. That county’s G-O-P chairman – Jim Allen – sent an email to Republican News Watch … saying “Miss Queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRATIC PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS”.
Allen also called Harold the “love child” of the Democratic National Committee and criticized her platform as Miss America, which promoted abstinence and put the spotlight on bullying in schools.
Well, the St. Louis Post Dispatch caught the email and printed it in the newspaper.
OOPS!
Allen has apologized for his “very inappropriate and wrong” comments.
Nothing partisan about this; I can imagine a Democrat doing the same thing. The point is, Jim Allen’s ignorance about the impact of social media. He’s not alone … but that’s no defense.
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Our thought for today is from Bob Edwards:
 
“A little learning is a dangerous thing but a lot of ignorance is just as bad.” 
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Topics: Politics
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Locations: IllinoisMontgomery County
People: Bob EdwardsErika HaroldJim AllenRodney Davis




 
Guns, classrooms, and insurance
I saw this one coming when I first heard about efforts to allow educators to bring licensed firearms into American classrooms. What happens if the math teacher’s .22 accidentally falls out of his pocket and discharges … wounding a student? It can happen; ask any police officer.
If it’s my kid shot, I’ll call an attorney and sue the school district for as much money as legally possible.
E-M-C Insurance Companies insures about 90% of Kansas school districts. Last week E-M-C announced it would not insure school districts that allow guns in classroom, and will not renew policies for current school customers who allow guns in classrooms.
Personally, I strongly disagree with any effort to arm teachers … especially in my grandchildren’s classrooms.
I find it curious that no Kansas lawmaker anticipated this insurance liability problem during discussion of conceal-carry in classrooms. Was there any serious discussion at all?
Maybe Kansas voters ought to consider intelligence along with ideology when deciding who gets our vote.
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Our thought for today is from Robert J. Shiller:
 
“The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence.”
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Topics: Education
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Locations: Kansas
People: Robert J. Shiller




 
Expanding state government power
Beginning next Monday, Kansas law allows people with concealed carry gun licenses to enter any city and county government buildings that do have “adequate security measures”, such as metal detectors. Local governments can file for a six-month delay and then a four-year exemption.
City and county leaders are beginning to realize the state is aggressively shoving gun laws right down their throats. The Sedgwick County Commission already allows concealed carry in 80 of the county’s more than 100 buildings. The Wichita City Council voted to allow guns in 111 of 390 city buildings. But apparently that is not enough for our elected representatives in Topeka.
Watch for legal push-back as more community leaders realize they’re being bossed around by state lawmakers.
I have a very simple question: is all this necessary?
Why does it make sense to allow legal firearms in public facilities when those facilities have had no problems with illegal firearms in those facilities?
What am I missing here? Where is the problem for this solution?
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Our thought for today is from Robert A. Humphrey:
 
“An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions.” 
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Locations: Kansas
People: Robert A. Humphrey




 
Milestone for Afghanistan
This week for the first time, Afghanistan’s armed forces are responsible for the entire country’s security. Foreign troops will give backup and advice.
Remember why the U-S-A and our allies went into Afghanistan nearly 12 years ago?
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack we went to Afghanistan to dismantle Al-Qaeda, which ran training camps in that country. We also wanted to remove the Taliban … a nasty group that controlled 90% of Afghanistan and hosted Al-Qaeda’s leadership.
A majority of Americans favored the mission, and on October 7th, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched.
More than 33-hundred coalition personnel have died in Afghanistan … more than 22-hundred Americans.
My son served a hitch in Afghanistan.
It appears to me that we accomplished our mission. Of course, I would like to have seen it accomplished quicker, with fewer casualties on all sides.
Now it’s up to the Afghan people to decide what kind of nation they want and who will be in charge.
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Our thought for today is from Theodore Roosevelt:
 
“It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance and that in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.”
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Stupid people with guns
Two recent Wichita police reports caught my attention and possibly yours. A four-year-old boy … sleeping with his mother … is wounded in the back by one of at least four bullets fired through a bedroom window. The child is recovering. Police believe the shooter intended to shoot someone else, and got the wrong address.
Second case … a 19-year-old man is arrested after allegedly firing several shots at a woman outside her apartment. One bullet struck a bed inside the apartment where the woman’s nine-month-old baby was sleeping.
During the on-going debate over gun violence and gun ownership we are provided with daily reminders that there are simply some people who should not be allowed anywhere near a firearm … ever. The first time I picked up a gun my father and grandfather made it perfectly clear to me that I’d better be thinking about the responsibility of handling a potentially-lethal device. I’d better be very, very careful.
There is abundant proof that guns and stupidity just don’t mix.
 
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Our thought for today is from Friedrich von Schiller:
 
“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”
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People: Friedrich von Schiller




 
A re-start for the River Festival
Maybe it just needed a new leader and some new ideas, after four years of losing money. This year’s Wichita River Festival saw a 30% increase in attendance … to about 360,000 … an 11% increase in food court sales … and a button sales jump from 12,000 last year to 30,000 this year.
Great weather helped. For the first time in several years, our Entercom radio stations were actively involved in promoting events. More media involvement probably helped generate renewed interest.
Wichita Festivals Inc. new president and C-E-O Mary Beth Jarvis led 5,000 volunteers in the operation of Riverfest.
There were some new events to go with popular, traditional events. The concerts did well.
I believe in the saying “If it works, don’t fix it”. But sometimes great ventures begin to slip, and they may benefit from new leadership and fresh ideas. I think the Wichita River Festival may be one of those ventures.
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Our thought for today is from John D. Rockefeller:
 
“Good leadership consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” 
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Married 43 years
The date is engraved on the inside of my wedding ring … June 18, 1970. My wife told me I would never have an excuse for missing our anniversary. I don’t need the reminder inside my ring, which I seldom remove from my finger. It’s easy to remember one of the most important dates in my life.
At least one friend told Shelley she was making a big mistake, and I don’t think many believed our marriage would last. We had different backgrounds, different interests, no money, no safety net. But we realized after a while that if we stuck together, depended on each other, and worked as a team, we might just make it.
We’ve been enormously blessed with wonderful children and grandchildren, good health, and we’ve found many things we like to do together. We don’t focus on negatives, setbacks, or failures. We just try to keep pulling in the same direction.
We’re friends, we’re a team. 43 years is not such a long time after all.
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Our thought for today is from Mae West:
 
“Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.”
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Topics: Human Interest
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People: Mae West




 
A privacy poll
A C-B-S News poll indicates 58% of Americans disapprove of the government collecting the phone numbers of ordinary Americans … but 75% approve the government monitoring those suspected of terrorist activity.
53% think the government’s collection of phone records is necessary to fight terrorism, 40% do not. Also, 60% do not think the public revelation of these programs has weakened the United States’ ability to prevent future terrorist attacks.
Nearly six in 10 Americans express some concern generally about their privacy being lost, but fewer are worried that their own personal communications are being tracked.
Overall, 46% think the government has struck the right balance in its efforts to fight terrorism, while 36% think the government has gone too far in infringing on people’s privacy. 13% say the government hasn’t gone far enough.
Protecting civil liberties such as the American right to privacy can be challenging when people are frightened. Law-abiding citizens resent big government’s assumption that we are all guilty until proven innocent.
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Our thought for today is from Napoleon:
 
“A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.” 
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Topics: PoliticsWar_Conflict
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People: Napoleon




 
It's a grand old flag
We started our day in Kansas elementary schools by standing and pledging our allegiance to the United States flag. I share most Americans’ pride in the red, white, and blue banner … the stars and bars. Our history text books always contained pictures and photos of the flag waving at some great moment in our nation’s story.
It’s curious to some that the destruction of a U-S flag actually confirms what the banner represents. It seems absurd for people who love the flag to swallow hard when some moron torches it, and recognize that he or she is exercising freedom of expression. It’s a freedom that many people in other countries don’t enjoy.
On this Flag Day it is certain someone, somewhere will burn an American flag. They may be protesting government policy, or they may just be craving attention. Their motivation may be suspect but their freedom is protected.
It is a strange contradiction.
Here is one American who respects and honors our national flag daily.
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Our thought for today is from Thomas Jefferson:
 
“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”
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Locations: Kansas
People: Thomas Jefferson




 
The fate of Southeast High
This week the Wichita Board of Education began serious consideration of high school education in the southeast quadrant of the city. The board has talked about it before, but now they’re looking at a June 24th vote. Decision time is rapidly approaching.
Over the past few months the school district has sent in the experts and talked extensively with the public. No one can say they haven’t had the opportunity to express their feelings.
Should the district keep and renovate Southeast High School? Or should it build a new facility farther east, where the city is growing? Or is there some way to do both?
Superintendent John Allison has said that … thanks to big cuts in state spending on Kansas schools … the district simply cannot to operate two schools. The construction could be done, but there wouldn’t be money for day-to-day operation.
Many Southeast students, parents, and alumnae have expressed their support for the school that’s been open since the 1950s.
The issue is emotional for some. The only thing sure is that the final decision will NOT please everyone.
 
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Our thought for today is from Carl Sagan:
 
“Where we have strong emotions, we’re liable to fool ourselves.”
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Topics: Education
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Locations: Kansas
People: Carl SaganJohn Allison




 
Privacy versus national security
President Obama and our national spies are on the hot seat over two intelligence-gathering operations that have gathered millions of Americans’ phone records. National intelligence director James Clapper calls disclosure of an internet surveillance program “reprehensible”, and a document leak about a phone records program could cause long-lasting and irreversible harm to the nation’s ability to respond to threats.
I happen to believe my personal privacy still has some value … at least to me. I resist sharing any personal information with anyone.
Obviously, we cannot live in a vacuum. People are stealing, buying, and selling our personal information constantly.
I know there are folks who are willing to trade their privacy … and mine … for national security. That is a conflict Americans have experienced time and again during our history, especially during periods of international conflict.
In order to keep people safe -- government argues -- people may have to sacrifice at least part of their civil liberties.
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Our thought for today is from Benjamin Franklin:
 
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
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People: James ClapperObama




 
Gene Stephenson's impact
Last week’s firing of Gene Stephenson was the hot topic of conversation around Wichita. Stephenson was Wichita State head baseball coach for 36 years, building the program from scratch when it was revived in the late seventies … winning many conference titles … taking his teams to post season play … and winning one national championship.
Next year he can collect a half million dollars with his contract, without leaving his sofa, if he chooses.  He’s said he might like to continue coaching.
Gene Stephenson has had a huge impact on the university and this community. He’s helped make baseball a big source of Shocker pride. His leadership has brought students to the school, filled seats at the stadium, and generated large amounts of cash for W-S-U and local merchants.
The guy’s made an economic impact on Wichita. He’s also made friends and critics.
That happens when someone tries to do something great.
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Our thought for today is from Elbert Hubbard:
 
“To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
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Topics: Sports
Social:
People: Elbert HubbardGene Stephenson




 
Longevity in the workplace
Most people don’t spend 36 years in one job, with one employer. Gene Stephenson’s tenure as baseball coach at Wichita State University is quite rare in the workplace … and even more unusual for a college coach.
For most of us, employment requires consistency, reliability, and sometimes a thick skin when management helps us with criticism and evaluation. We realize our happiness is not much of a concern, and we know there are others willing to take our place any time we become too disgruntled. There is a constant pressure to perform, as managers ask “What have you done lately?”
Stephenson built a marvelous baseball program at W-S-U. His teams won conference championships and went to post-season play many times … winning one national title.
Did his “approach” … his teaching and coaching methods … become stale? Did baseball change … did the players change … over three dozen years? Is it simply time for a change?
Obviously, Shocker “management” decided it was time for something new.
Thanks, coach Stephenson, for all you’ve done for Wichita State.
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Our thought for today is from W. Somerset Maugham:
 
“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
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Topics: LaborSports
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People: Gene Stephenson




 
Rules for storm chasers?
Three professional storm chasers were killed in Oklahoma last week, triggering a call to consider rules for storm chasers. Brian Stone is president of the Kansas Emergency Management Association. He says we may see a new study on who should be out chasing storms. Stone says if someone chooses to chase tornadoes, there should be rules to ensure they know what they’re doing.
Stone concedes he’s not sure whether law officers could enforce such rules.
I don’t think they could, given the size of the rural areas where twisters can be observed … from miles around. Those officers are busy enough when storms hit already. And what are the rules to qualify as a storm chaser? Who sets the standards and verifies the qualifications?
Our Storm Trackers at K-N-S-S are experienced and well-trained … and they’re seeing more and more amateur rubber neckers going out to watch the storms.
The three men killed in Oklahoma were about as well-trained and experienced as possible. Nature simply took an unexpected turn.
 
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Our thought for today is from Patrick Young:
 
“The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.”
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Topics: Disaster_AccidentWeather
Social:
Locations: Oklahoma
People: Brian StonePatrick Young




 
We should never forget
Every year on this date I say something about D Day. It was the beginning of the end of Nazi tyranny in Europe and the saving of Western Civilization. And the brave men and women of the United States led the way.
Of course, the English, Canadians, French, Poles, and others played a major role in the assault on Normandy, June 6th, 1944. But the U-S supplied much of the manpower and equipment, and the operation was led by an American general from Kansas.
The landing came along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast … with more than 160,000 Allied soldiers, 195,000 naval personnel, and more than 5,000 ships.
It seems the opening scenes of the film “Saving Private Ryan” got it right. When those ramps on the landing craft splashed into the water, soldiers faced a hail of Nazi fire. Many jumped into the surf loaded with equipment and quickly drowned. Those who survived had to cross a wide beach, charging into German machine guns.
The world cannot be allowed to forget this day in history … June 6th, 1944.
 
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Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
 
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
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Tags :  
Locations: Kansas




 
Would today's Republicans welcome Ronald Reagan?
Today’s Republican Party wouldn’t even welcome Ronald Reagan. That’s what former Kansas Senator Bob Dole said on “Fox News Sunday”. He also doubted that he – Dole – would be welcomed by the G-O-P.
Dole also said the Republican National Committee should put a “closed for repairs” sign on its doors while it works on ideas and positive agendas … reports the Kansas dot com blog. The former Senate majority leader said he is mystified by how little today’s lawmakers get done. Dole said he and his colleagues could get together on a budget or legislation. “We weren’t perfect by a long shot” – said Dole – “but at least we got our work done”.
Of course, the blame for that is bipartisan. But Bob Dole is a Republican and he wants to see his party do better. Other prominent Republicans have made similar criticisms, that the G-O-P needs new ideas and a new approach … to attract more voters and get more accomplished. That would require Bob Dole-like leadership … which is simply not there.
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Our thought for today is from Richard Hooker:
 
“Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.”
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Topics: Politics
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Locations: Kansas
People: Bob DoleBob Dole-likeRichard HookerRonald Reagan




 
Big Brother really is watching
Occasionally … during more than 40 years of doing this commentary … I have been critical of our national government. I’ve tried to point out the good and the bad of every president and their administrations since Richard Nixon. Have my phones ever been tapped?
I realize I am a very small media fish, compared to the Associated Press and Fox News. But every reporter and commentator in America must have cringed over recent revelations that the U-S Department of Justice has been listening to media phone calls in the interest of national security. The government’s been trying to identify employees leaking information to reporters.
I, for one, am not satisfied with President Obama’s response to all this; rather weak, in my opinion. Government should not be spying on news people … at least, not in the United States of America.
I understand the need for national security and the defense of state secrets. But I think the D-O-J crossed the line with the A-P and Fox News.
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Our thought for today is from William Proxmire:
 
“Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous.”
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Topics: Politics
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People: ObamaRichard NixonWilliam Proxmire




 
Herding cats
After last fall’s elections, it appeared that Governor Sam Brownback and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce got just about everything they wanted. Several state senators and representatives … painted as insufficiently conservative … were booted out of office by voters. I can think of two effective veteran lawmakers in the Wichita area who received their walking papers, and there were others who came mighty close.
The Kansas Legislature began work in January with some big tax-and-spending issues requiring serious attention. Past lawmakers had lowered tax rates, creating big problems in bringing the budget in balance. Many campaigned that more spending cuts were needed … but where to cut? And which taxes could be lowered or raised?
An interesting thing happened; the new, more conservative Republican majority couldn’t find agreement. Leaders handed down decisions that were simply rejected by the rank-and-file. The session stretched beyond its targeted deadline for adjournment.
Has Governor Brownback discovered that law-making is indeed like “herding cats” … regardless of those cats’ stripes?
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Our thought for today is from Otto von Bismarck:
 
“Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.” 
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Topics: Politics
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People: Otto von BismarckSam Brownback




 
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