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Steve McIntosh Report Blog

Posts from September 2013


City says "no" to oil drilling
It sounded like an idea with real possibilities. Somebody believes there may be a pool of oil in the earth under Century II in downtown Wichita. The City sought a permit so it could lease the drilling rights to Trek A-E-C, a Texas company. The idea was to drill from the west bank of the Arkansas to the east … under the river and under Century II.
If they struck oil, the City of Wichita would share in the revenue. Mouths began to water over the prospect of millions of dollars flowing into the city’s bank account, easing the strain on the budget without raising taxes. Almost as good as having a casino in town!
However, some of the folks who live and do business in the Delano District west of the river thought the crude-drilling idea was … well … crude. The City decided to withdraw its application for a conditional drilling permit.
I think the city is missing wind power opportunities. But if folks don’t like the idea of oil derricks in the city, I’m sure wind turbines would be a non-starter.
 
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Our thought for today is from Samuel Goldwyn:
 
“I had a monumental idea this morning, but I didn’t like it.” 
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Topics: Business_Finance
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Locations: ArkansasDelano DistrictTexasWichita
People: Samuel Goldwyn




 
Is Old Town safe?
Just about any popular gathering place will eventually attract the wrong kind of people. The trick is to control the criminal element so that the general public feels safe to use that venue.
Wichita’s Old Town is a case in point. We love the area, but who wants to be down there when the bars close on the weekend? Wichita police have a permanent substation in Old Town, but that didn’t slow down some fool with a gun last Sunday morning. He fired into a crowd … killing one man and wounding six more. Several cops were a block away at the time of the shooting. Why weren’t they at the club that was closing? W-P-D will have to answer that.
The police released statistics that show two homicides in the Old Town area this year, compared to one last year. The figures also show a 32% reduction in crime in the area.
Is Old Town developing an image problem? Is it safe?
I still believe it is … but not at closing time on the weekends. That’s when I will be somewhere else.
 
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Our thought for today is from Ramsey Clark:
 
“There is no conflict between liberty and safety. We will have both or neither.”
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Locations: Old Town




 
Careful what you tweet
University of Kansas journalism professor David Guth stepped in it big-time recently.
Responding to the mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, Guth posted on Twitter: “blood is on the hands of the N-R-A. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters”. That landed Guth on administrative leave at K-U. He later said he tweeted to begin a dialogue.
It seems to have worked. At least one Kansas lawmaker who receives campaign money from the National Rifle Association has demanded Guth’s firing.
Some will argue that free speech extends to social media and includes public educators. A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union says he didn’t like Guth’s comment, but he believes it’s protected speech.
The national debate over gun violence and mental illness was revived once again by what happened at the Navy Yard the other day. It is an emotional dialogue.
Of course, everyone has a right to his opinion … but I’d like to think a college professor is a bit more sophisticated in understanding that social media is a slippery slope. Once you post, you’ve lost all control.
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Our thought for today is from Mark Twain:
 
“The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.”
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Topics: Entertainment_Culture
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Locations: KansasWashington
People: David Guth




 
Taking a news quiz
I was checking out the Pew Research Center’s web page recently, looking for public surveys I sometimes use in this space. I stumbled onto a news quiz and decided to try my luck.
It’s 13 multiple choice questions. I found some of them pretty easy, but I was less confident about others. I was not at all confident of my identification of two photographs. A geography question was easy, and I had no trouble with a graph of stock market movement.
The survey asked my gender, age, and education level … and showed how these demographic categories performed in successfully answering the questions.
I realize that being a news person could make it easier for me than for others. But I was genuinely surprised when I scored perfect … 13 out of 13 … better than 99% of the public.
Again, I was unsure of my responses to at least three questions … so I’m not doing some perverted victory dance.
Take the quiz; it’s fun! Go to the Pew Research Center web page.
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Our thought for today is from Bertrand Russell:
 
“There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.” 
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People: Bertrand Russell




 
IRS collections down
A Treasury Department investigator says collections from delinquent taxpayers dropped for the second straight year in 2012, due in part to budget cuts at the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2011, enforcement revenue dropped by more than $2 billion. Last year. It dropped by $5 billion more … to a little more than $50 billion. At the same time, a new Treasury report says the I-R-S is opening more delinquent taxpayer accounts than it is closing.
The I-R-S has shed about 8,000 jobs since 2010, even as the agency takes on a big role in implementing the new health care law.
I don’t mind paying my share of taxes. Government waste of that money is another matter.
I also want to see my fellow Americans taking care of their tax responsibilities. When they don’t, I see nothing wrong with the I-R-S stepping in.
I’m a bit old-fashioned. I believe in personal responsibility … which includes civic responsibility.
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Our thought for today is from George Bernard Shaw:
 
“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
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People: George Bernard Shaw




 
Does Paul Davis have a chance?
Paul Davis is a 41-year-old lawyer from Lawrence. He has served in the Kansas House of Representatives since 2003 and is the current House minority leader. He’s running for governor.
Davis wants to focus on education, protecting the middle class, and rewarding hard work in Kansas. He says “It’s time to get things right” in Topeka.
All good and well, but Davis is a Democrat … and an obscure one at that. He has virtually no name recognition … even among the state’s news people.
Of course, Democrats have been elected governor in Kansas; think of Sebelius, Finney, the Dockings. But that was all before the state’s politics took an abrupt turn to the right and the Sunflower State became the most conservative territory in the Union.
Any Democrat seeking the governorship or any of the federal offices representing Kansas faces a nearly-insurmountable challenge. An unknown Democrat carries one more great big stone on his back.
 
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Our thought for today is from Jonathan Winters:
 
“Nothing is impossible. Some things are just less likely than others.”
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Topics: PoliticsSocial Issues
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Locations: Kansas
People: Jonathan WintersPaul Davis




 
Frustration again
In the past in this space, I have expressed the absolute frustration so many of us feel when we hear still another report of a man with a gun slaughtering people in public.
I tread lightly when discussing gun violence, but it often seems deadly weapons too often wind up in the wrong hands … the hands of the mentally unstable.
Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis had been hearing voices and believed people were following him. He had had several run-ins with the law over firing guns. And yet he was able to buy a shotgun two days before the shooting at the Navy Yard. In addition, he still had sufficient security clearance to enter that facility.
As we’ve seen in past mass shootings, the warning signs were there. But hindsight is 20/20, we are told. How do we connect the dots? How do we know when someone is about reach the breaking point?
It’s all incredibly frustrating.
 
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Our thought for today is from Monica Fairview:
 
“If you ask too many questions, you will find no answers, only more questions.”
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People: Aaron AlexisMonica Fairview




 
Miss Kansas and her tats
A few weeks ago, Miss Kansas paid us a visit on the Steve & Ted Show. As you would expect, Theresa Vail is a beautiful young woman with an out-going personality. Those qualities are essential if one is to compete for the Miss America crown. Vail is also the daughter of an Army man and a sergeant in the National Guard.
When she got to Atlantic City to compete in the pageant the media found out about her tattoos. From that time on, Miss Kansas was the focus of a media firestorm.
It appears people have strong feelings about tattoos. The younger generation seems to embrace permanent body art, which may someday need the skills of a dermatologist to make a change.
Some Americans see tats as strictly for military veterans, bikers, and prison inmates; but definitely not for a Miss Kansas … or any other respectable young person.
For me, the idea of intentionally putting some permanent sentiment or symbol on my body is ridiculous. The sun has already blessed me with some interesting marks, which haven’t been much fun.      
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Our thought for today is from Oscar Wilde:
 
“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”
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Locations: Atlantic CityKansas
People: Ted ShowTheresa Vail




 
US economy becoming more competitive
In spite of all the bad talk you may hear, the United States economy is very competitive. After sliding in the rankings for four consecutive years … U-S-A Today reports … the United States moved up two places in the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness ranking … from seventh last year to fifth in 2013.
A combination of factors, including improving financial markets and a strong university system, helped the U-S improve, despite its weak macroeconomic environment … says U-S-A Today.
Seven of the ten most competitive nations had at least 50% of G-D-P in gross general government debt as of 2012. Three of them … Japan, Singapore, and the United States … had more than 100% of their G-D-P in debt.
The top-rated economies were U-S fifth, Germany fourth, Finland third, Singapore second, and Switzerland number one.
The World Economic Forum ranked more than a hundred economic indicators that it grouped into 12 broad categories … to come up with the Global Competitiveness Index (G-C-I) score for each country.
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Our thought for today is from Jerry Flint:
 
“Competition is a painful thing, but it produces great results.” 
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People: Jerry Flint




 
Does your work require a degree?
Fewer than half of adults employed full or part time in the United States – 43% -- say the type of work they do generally requires a bachelor’s or more advanced degree. 57% say it does not … unchanged from 2005 … but down slightly from 61% in 2002. This comes from a Gallup Poll.
Two-thirds of workers with professional, executive, or managerial jobs say a college degree is needed in their line of work. Among those in all other white-collar jobs, the rate drops to 50%, with an equal number saying a college degree is not necessary. The great majority of those in blue-collar jobs say their work does not require a bachelor’s degree or greater.
The plurality of Americans – 42%  -- holds a professional job, 38% some other white-collar position, and 18% are in blue-collar jobs.
So, a good portion of Americans say their work does not require a degree. But just try to get your foot in the white-collar employment door without a degree!
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Our thought for today is from L. L. Henderson:
 
“Fathers send their sons to college either because they went to college or because they didn’t.”
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When it's personal
Amazing how people’s opinions can change when an issue becomes personal.
Kansas Health Institute president Dr. Robert St. Peter tells me the Affordable Healthcare Act … Obamacare … takes a beating in public opinion polls. But when questioned further, many people find specific parts of the law they like.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul defines his position on possible U-S military action in Syria in personal terms. He is cautious on any military action that puts Americans at risk … such as involvement in Syria’s civil war.
My problem with our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq has always been the lack of “skin in the game” for Washington politicians making deadly, expensive decisions. In fact, only a small percentage of Americans actually served or were closely related to someone who served. My son’s involvement in both military missions explains a lot about my public and private opinions about Iraq and Afghanistan.
Not that I’m anti-military, I just resent the politicians who make decisions about others while claiming “it’s nothing personal”. Maybe it should be.
 
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Our thought for today is from Abraham Lincoln:
 
“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” 
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Immediate citizen feedback
After the use of chemical weapons in Syria, President Obama quickly determined that the Syrian dictator was responsible and that some sort of U-S military action to punish Assad would be appropriate.
The response was immediate and powerful. Americans got on their email and Facebook and began howling. Not everyone opposes some kind of strike, but polls indicate majorities against … and the nation obviously divided.
The people’s elected representatives found themselves in the middle of a strong debate … unable to run for the cover of party politics or the distance and deliberate consideration that time provides.
Technology has sped up democracy to a dizzying pace! As we’ve seen in other parts of the world and now in the United States, social media allows people to make their feelings known … immediately and by the millions. Citizens don’t have to wait for the next congressional session or election to vent their wrath. They don’t even have to wait for the next news cycle!
We’re seeing a basic change in the pace of public expression. What does that mean for our republic and how it functions?
 
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Our thought for today is from R. D. Laing:
 
“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.”
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Topics: PoliticsWar_Conflict
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People: AssadObama




 
The aftermath of 9/11
When those mass murderers flew those planes into American targets on September 11th, 2001, they changed the United States … and the world … and not for the good. Theirs is a legacy of ugliness, sorrow, pain, and fear. Difficult to believe that these fools imagined themselves to be on some sort of religious mission for Allah, or God.
It’s my belief that they were tools of Satan, bent on doing as much harm as possible.
I believe Americans are mostly optimistic, hopeful people. Grief and fear seemed to replace our most positive impulses for many months after the attack.
Dealing with the damage of 9/11 has cost the U-S and the world hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, mostly debt. There doesn’t seem to be any end to the battle against terrorism … even as we transition from military answers to intelligence and law enforcement solutions.
I believe as a nation we are more alert, more careful than we were before 9/11. We’re still working on getting back our wonderful American optimism.
                     
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Our thought for today is from F. Scott Fitzgerald:
 
“America is a willingness of the heart.”
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Remembering 9/11
Has it really been 12 years since the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history?
My memories of that day are fading, but I remember that it was a gorgeous morning when we began to get word in the newsroom that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York. We began updating on-air as the story unfolded and it became obvious that the U-S-A was under attack.
During the afternoon we went into continuous coverage on K-N-S-S.
It was a long, ugly day on the job for my colleagues and me.
The aftermath of 9/11 included huge changes in air travel for Americans, and two un-financed military missions to Afghanistan and Iraq that have lasted more than a decade. Our Wichita aircraft-based economy took a nose dive. Emergency preparedness was examined, redefined, and reworked at the national, state, and local government levels … as well as in private business.
9/11 was a huge day in our history.
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Our thought for today is from Oscar Wilde:
 
“One should absorb the color of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar.” 
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Locations: New York




 
Americans worried about jobs
Nearly five years after the global financial crisis that spurred up to 10% unemployment in 2009, Americans are still worried about job security. A Gallup Poll puts 43% of respondents worried that their benefits will be reduced, compared with 31% in 2003 and a spike of 46% in 2009.
31% and 29% worry that their wages will be reduced or they’ll be laid off … about double what it was in the 2003 survey. 25% worry that their hours will be cut back.
Job security is not something Americans take for granted. We realize that market forces or a change in management or ownership can signal big changes in workers’ livelihoods. Obviously, some Americans are immune from such concerns; doctors, lawyers, accountants, congressmen come to mind. But for many Americans, lack of job security is something we’ve learned to live with.
It’s not a very positive motivation, but many of us realize we’re lucky to be working … and really lucky to have benefits.
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Our thought for today is from Robert Frost:
 
“The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.”
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People: Robert Frost




 
Why do we fight?
The United States has gone to war five times in my lifetime … I’m not counting Grenada … each time without a congressional declaration of war, as defined by our constitution. We fought in Korea and Vietnam to contain communism. We fought in Afghanistan to eliminate the terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11. We fought in Iraq because they attacked Kuwait, and later because we suspected they had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against us.
I’m unclear on exactly what the criteria is for U-S military involvement around the world. We retaliated against Japan after Pearl Harbor, and that was a reasonable response. Under that standard, Afghanistan is understandable. But other times we have not responded to direct attacks on our nation.
Certainly, our military has been used to battle enemies … perceived and actual … and simply to do the “right” thing.
Punishing the Syrian dictator for inhuman behavior … and to show our strength to other bad guys in the Middle East; are those sufficient reasons to fire the missiles?
 
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Our thought for today is from John F. Kennedy:
 
“I would rather be accused of breaking precedents than breaking promises.” 
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Locations: Middle East
People: John F. Kennedy




 
The Kansas State Fair
The 100th Kansas State Fair kicks off today in Hutchinson. The Fair holds many memories for me. As a youngster at the fair, I met local television personality Ollie Henry, who displayed many of my childish drawings on his noon-time show. That was a thrill.
I also remember seeing a campaign button for a Kansas politician named Bob Dole, who was running for congress.
As a broadcaster I spent many hours in radio station booths at the Fair, greeting the public.
A visit to the Fair was the topic of the first McIntosh Report, aired on September 2nd, 1971 … 42 years ago this week. K-E-Y-N program director Dave Biondi had been after me for weeks … urging me to use by wit and writing skills to do commentary. Finally, Dave reserved the air time and ordered me to fill it.
It evolved into a daily, 200-word commentary that has certainly gained the attention of listeners over the years.
 
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Our thought for today is from H. Jackson Brown Jr.:
 
“Strive for excellence, not perfection.”
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Locations: Kansas
People: Bob DoleDave BiondiOllie Henry




 
A Kansas gun law apparently unconstitutional
This year the Kansas Legislature passed a “Made in Kansas” gun law. The law … similar to one passed in Montana … says firearms or ammunition that are manufactured in the state and remain within its borders are not subject to federal law or federal regulations.
Governor Brownback said “the people of Kansas have clearly expressed their sovereign will”. Well, here’s one Kansan who thinks the law is completely unnecessary … and little more than ultra-right-wing chest thumping.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote Governor Brownback, saying the law is unconstitutional. Now, the Ninth Circuit Court has ruled that the Montana law is preempted by federal law requiring gun sellers to record transactions, pay license fees, and open their business to government inspectors.
The Kansas Attorney General’s Office warned state lawmakers that the Kansas law is unenforceable. They passed it any way.
I suppose they proved a point; that Kansas lawmakers can pass unneeded, unenforceable laws.
                     
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Our thought for today is from Robert Louis Stevenson:
 
“Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.”
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Topics: Law_Crime
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Locations: KansasMontana
People: BrownbackEric HolderRobert Louis Stevenson




 
The new guy at WSU
I met Wichita State University president John Bardo for the first time last week, as we sat down for an interview on the “Issues 2013” program. Bardo has been the head man at W-S-U for just over a year, having taught there earlier in his career.
Some state lawmakers have criticized university administration and faculty pay at Kansas schools, but Bardo doesn’t apologize. He tells me it takes good pay to hire and retain good educators, and he won’t settle for less at Wichita State.
Bardo says W-S-U is in competition with all the universities in the state to attract students. He promises to be aggressive in going after the best and the brightest, reaching to the high school sophomore level to begin touting the Shocker story.
Bardo shared some exciting news about research at the university and plans for the future. The interview is available as a podcast on our web page.
I found John Bardo to be articulate and passionate about Wichita State University.
I think he’ll be good for the school.
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Our thought for today is from Pearl Buck:
 
“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”
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Topics: Education
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Locations: Kansas
People: John BardoPearl Buck




 
Thoughts on working
It seems to me Labor Day is an appropriate time to talk about working. My wife and I have been part of the great American work force since we were 16 … with some time off for school, babies, and unemployment.
What have we learned from more than 40 years on the job? Plenty! Let me share a couple.
We don’t spend much time loafing and/or socializing while on the clock. Somehow, we always find that our duties fill our time … and then some. We go to work to work.
We’ve learned that there is no job too big, too difficult for people who don’t actually do the work.
We’ve learned that there are vicious, ugly people in the workplace … and they often thrive somehow.
We’ve learned that – for us – the 40-hour work week is a myth. Long ago we stopped expecting rewards and recognition to accurately reflect the excellence of our efforts.
For us, a job well done is often the best … and only … real payoff.
 
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Our thought for today is from Garson Kanin:
 
“In a professional once engaged, the performance of the job comes first.” 
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Topics: Human InterestLabor
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