My memories of Thanksgiving are all happy ones. I remember Thanksgiving on my uncle’s farm near Bushton in western Kansas … capturing a tiny field mouse in the snow and playing in the barn hayloft with my cousins.
It took several tables to seat my many aunts, uncles, and cousins … and I think I was married before I ate Thanksgiving dinner on anything but a card table.
Of course, there was football to watch after the feast. But more often my dad and my uncles played Bridge for several hours. We cousins hit the lawn for a game of touch football. Remember, the Kennedy family did that … and we followed their lead.
In recent years we’ve spent many Thanksgivings with my wife’s family in Texas.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It means family, food, and expressions of grateful hearts. What could be better than that?
The remainder of President Obama’s second term looks to be really tough. My concern is not for the president, but for the fractured nation he is trying to lead. I wonder if he has the leadership skills to turn the ship?
Bill Clinton succeeded … (survived?) … because he was able to move his administration toward the middle, finding at least some common ground with his most conservative opponents in Congress. Is Barack Obama capable of doing that? Will his liberal political base allow it? Does he even want to try?
The Affordable Care rollout has been a disaster, and it faces an overhaul or elimination in Congress. President Obama’s job approval ratings have been plunging.
Where does he go from here? Where does the nation go?
At a time when we need a strong hand of leadership, we have a president who is an excellent speech maker, but is short on planning and performance.
Yesterday I shared with you my completion of reading Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson’s trilogy on World War Two in Europe. His books take us into the planning, the strategy, the weaponry, the supply, and the lives of the officers and men who fought desperate battles on land and the seas.
I found the three books fascinating.
Atkinson reveals the relationships between the best-known commanders of the American, French, British, German, and Italian military forces. Their decisions … good and bad … and what went into those decisions are closely examined. Atkinson leaves no doubt that in some cases, the huge egos of the leaders cost many, many lives.
Eisenhower, Marshal, Patton, Montgomery, Clark … they all appear in these pages … along with lesser-known officers and a few correspondents. For a good understanding of World War Two in Europe, I can recommend Rick Atkinson’s “An Army at Dawn”, “The Day of Battle”, and “The Guns at Last Light”.
Our thought for today is from George S. Patton:
“Don’t be a fool and die for your country. Let the other sonofoabitch die for his.”
I can’t be considered an expert on World War Two, but having read Rick Atkinson’s trilogy about the war in Europe, I’m much better informed on the subject than I’ve ever been.
I just completed “The Day of Battle; The War in Sicily and Italy”. I began with “The Guns at Last Light”, Atkinson’s third book. Then I went back and read his first book, “An Army at Dawn”. These three books are loaded with information. Atkinson is an excellent story teller, which is essential for history writing, in my opinion.
His books reveal the complicated task of uniting an allied force to battle the Germans and Italians. We also learn about all the personal foibles, the squabbles, the mistakes, and the challenges for both the winning side and the losers.
There were many strong egos battling within the leadership, and those feuds and military incompetence cost many, many lives. The sheer size of the force and the material brought to bear is staggering!
Our thought for today is from Robert E. Lee:
“It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”
On a weekend talk show I heard the question posed … “which was worse … the Kennedy assassination or 9-11?” On this 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s murder in Dallas, only those who experienced both events are qualified to draw a conclusion.
For me, the Kennedy assassination was more traumatic. Maybe it’s because I was 12 years old at the time and still quite innocent. The shock and mourning lasted for weeks.
Of course, 9-11 was a huge tragedy on many levels … and changed the way we Americans view the threat of terrorism. The Kennedy assassination changed the way we think about government. Fifty years later, a majority of Americans don’t buy the conclusions of the Warren Commission investigation. Dozens of conspiracy theories have eroded the trust Americans once had in their government. We became a nation of doubters, cynics overnight.
Kennedy’s presidency ended too early for a conclusive assessment of what it might have become. There is no doubt in my mind that his killing changed the heart and soul of our nation.
Our thought for today is from Alfred North Whitehead:
“The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.”
As I’ve watched this health care debacle unfold, I’ve searched for deeper meaning than simply writing off President Obama as inept or dishonest or both. Somehow, the president managed to get a complicated, controversial piece of legislation through Congress. There are features of the law that protect the average citizen and the intention is to provide better health care to more citizens.
A noble mission.
Trouble is, the president leaned on half-truths and inaccurate statements to try to “sell” the public. As the rollout tanked, and folks began to lose health care coverage, Americans finally woke up to what the Affordable Health Care Act is really all about.
Just telling people Obamacare is “bad” was not enough; people had to know why.
This complicated attempt to improve health care for all Americans is based on a noble concept. Trouble is, the President has not shown the leadership skills needed to achieve such a dramatic change in our nation’s health care.
President Obama’s support has been eroding rapidly … and it’s understandable.
Our thought for today is from Eric Hoffer:
“The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.”
Last month … for the first time in nearly two decades … the United States produced more oil than it imported. U-S-A Today reports: “Domestic oil production is at a 24-year high while foreign oil imports are at a 17-year low”. The result: production exceeded net imports for the first time since February 1995, although the nation still imports 35% of the petroleum it uses.
What’s behind this? Hydraulic fracturing … or fracking … is bringing up new oil. At the same time, consumption has been falling as high gasoline prices have reduced driving, and more efficient cars and buildings have also lowered energy use.
Of course, gasoline prices have been dropping the past few weeks, and that will have an impact on demand for oil. That’s one of several factors that could have an impact on domestic energy production. Demand for natural gas and heating oil will have an impact during the colder months ahead.
It may not last long, so let’s enjoy this oil trade imbalance in Uncle Sam’s favor while we can.
Our thought for today is from Charles Dickens:
“Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
For centuries we human beings have communicated on socially-accepted levels. To get along in private discourse, we understand the importance of self-restraint and simple tact in expressing our thoughts. Social media seems to be changing all that.
I look at offerings on our radio station’s Facebook page and marvel at the insulting content. When people start typing they seem to lose any grace or civility they may possess. It seems that some of us are intent on trying to shock others with our blatant rudeness.
We respect no one, we judge everyone.
Is it really so important to feel smarter, better than others? Do we realize the way we share our opinions can offend others, even those we’ve known for years? Or is this social media simply an outlet for the outrageous, and not to be taken seriously?
If so, many do not understand. People are being humiliated and punished for their cyber behavior. I guess they don’t get it.
Our thought for today is from Eric Hoffer:
“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”
The recent three-day suspension of Albuquerque school superintendent Winston Brooks disturbed me. I got to know Brooks pretty well when he was Wichita school superintendent. I consider him an intelligent, well-spoken person. That’s why it surprised me that he had tweeted inappropriately.
I have been sharing my opinions with radio listeners for more than 40 years. My private opinions are the same as my public ones, only tempered by my surroundings. In private conversation I hold my tongue when I am confronted by someone spouting tripe. I seldom discuss politics or religion, and only approach sports guardedly.
The point is, so many are new at this sharing-opinions game and they haven’t experienced my four decades of being criticized by those who disagree with my opinions. Most often they try to hang a label on me, as they tell me they are smarter and better informed than I can ever be … and of course, they’re right and I’m wrong!
Welcome to the dangers of opinion-sharing, folks.
Our thought for today is from Ambrose Bierce:
“Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.” Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
The argument against same-sex marriage or civil unions lost a great deal of political punch with the revelation that the offspring of some prominent conservatives are gay.
Still, many Americans remain opposed to same-sex marriage, believing that God ordained marriage for male/female couples only. They are offended by same-sex civil unions, and believe it is just plain wrong.
But with the approval of Hawaii this week, same-sex unions are now legal in 15 states, the District of Columbia, eight counties in New Mexico, and seven Native American tribal jurisdictions. That covers about a third of the U-S population.
Six states prohibit same-sex civil marriage by statute and 29 prohibit it in their constitutions.
So, where are we on this issue? The individual states are the battleground, and while many have swung toward approval, other states remain opposed.
My sense is that same-sex marriage will have to wait for Kansas, if it ever arrives at all.
Our thought for today is from Hannah Arendt:
“Equality … is the result of human organization. We are not born equal.”
Millions of people use social media every day without any problem. They share personal information, photos, interesting stuff they’ve found on the Internet. Some of them go further, sharing opinions about anything that pops into their heads.
Some folks can write skillfully, sharing their thoughts civilly, without angering and annoying tons of friends and acquaintances. Most, frankly, cannot.
The daily news carries the latest public person who’s in trouble over something they’ve done or said involving cyber space. Latest case in point, former Wichita school superintendent Winston Brooks. He’s been Albuquerque superintendent since he left Wichita in 2008.
Brooks is serving a three-day suspension without pay over comments he posted online. In two tweets, Brooks compared New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera to livestock. Brooks apologized for his tweets, saying he “meant no offense”.
I interviewed Winston Brooks many times during his ten years as head of U-S-D 259. I always found him to be intelligent and tactful in his public comments.
This twitter trouble surprises me. This guy really should have known better.
Our thought for today is from Oscar Wilde:
“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”
I like Ike by Steve McIntosh,posted Nov 13 2013 1:19AM
The slogan when he ran for president was “I like Ike”. I’m picking up the phrase regarding the effort to rename Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport after Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Our state’s best-known man was actually born in Texas, but always considered Abilene, Kansas his hometown. He served as our nation’s military commander in Africa, Italy, and Europe during World War II. His political skills in running a multi-national effort were phenomenal. He returned to the U-S and served as president for two terms. He kept us out of shooting wars and led us through prosperous times that included the building of his pet project, the interstate highway system.
He loved to play golf and bridge, he smoked too much, and he was known for his volcanic temper. Many thought of him as our nation’s “grandfather”, but he was a smart, tough man.
In my opinion, Eisenhower was one of our best presidents, a war hero, and a terrific representative of what is best about Kansas.
Yes … Eisenhower Airport is fine with me. I like Ike!
Our thought for today is from Calvin Coolidge:
“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”
We’ve all heard the stories of two and three-hour waits to renew a driver’s license in Sedgwick County. The state recently opened a second Department of Motor Vehicles office in the county, in Derby. They beefed up the staff at the D-M-V in Andover.
I took a day off work Friday, November 1st. Around 10 a-m I dropped into the D-M-V in Twin Lakes. It was packed. D-M-V employee Christopher told me it would be a two-hour wait. I said I would come back another time, and asked which day might be best. Christopher said Monday … any Monday … they’re “always dead” on Mondays.
So I went in at 11:40 Monday, the 4th. I walked out the door at 11:50.
Those who know me well are aware that I am not a patient person. Waiting in line drives me crazy. I was resigned to some kind of wait at the D-M-V.
What a pleasant surprise to get in and out in 10 minutes!
Our thought for today is from Franz Kafka:
“There are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.”
Today is a national holiday … Veterans Day in the United States, Remembrance Day in Canada. Veterans Day is to celebrate the service of all U-S military veterans. Memorial Day is for remembering the men and women who died while serving.
In 1954, U-S Representative Ed Rees of Emporia, Kansas presented a bill to establish the national holiday, to replace Armistice Day. Another Kansan – President Dwight Eisenhower – signed the bill into law.
It’s a day to remember my father, who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, spending most of his time in Alaska. My late father-in-law served in the Navy in the South Pacific. My late brother Don was awarded a Bronze Star for his service with the Air Force in Southeast Asia. My son Scott is just a few years from retirement from the Air Force.
Most American families include veterans. This is a good day to think about their service and what it means to each of us.
Our thought for today is from George C. Marshall:
“Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars.”
Three members of the Hutchinson High School football team found themselves in serious trouble this week, after allegedly branding other players’ abdomens with heated coat hangers. It’s been called a “hazing” incident.
I cannot comment on the merits of the case, but I must ask if this “hazing” is a common practice in Kansas high school athletics? I grew up on Kansas baseball diamonds, football fields, and basketball courts … playing on more than a dozen teams over the years of my youth. I never encountered anything that could be called “hazing”.
Teammates were teammates, and that meant working together on developing the skills that would allow us to win. We all got along just fine.
In high school, the seniors treated us sophomores like dirt, but never physically abused us … except during competition … when they would pound us without mercy.
After practice we never had enough energy left to mistreat anyone. Maybe that was the idea!
Our thought for today is from Yogi Berra:
“When you’re part of a team, you stand up for your teammates. Your loyalty is to them. You protect them through good and bad, because they’d do the same for you.”
Kansans are paying less in state taxes. Collections in October were 18 million dollars less than expected. Since the current fiscal year began in July, taxes have fallen 27 million dollars short of expectations. Tax collections are 19% less than during the same period in 2012.
Why the revenue shortfall? Governor Brownback and the state legislature have cut income taxes for businesses and individuals. Of course, that means less money for state programs. The governor promises the income tax cuts will generate jobs in Kansas … lots of jobs … and a booming economy in a pro-business environment.
But so far, the jobs have not appeared. And local governments are looking at raising sales and property taxes to maintain services to their citizens.
Come January, Kansas lawmakers will be dealing with a lot less revenue. Where will they cut spending? How will cuts impact Kansans?
The biggest question of all: where are all the jobs and the booming economy?
Yesterday I told you about a consultant’s report that Wichita needs to double its exhibit space and add at least 100 hotel rooms within walking distance of a downtown convention center. Improvements must be made … says consultant Bill Krueger … if Wichita will remain competitive for national conventions.
Where does that leave Century II?
The consultant says we could do nothing, and watch the convention dollars dwindle over the years.
We could build a new convention center, remodel Century II for the arts, and add a new hotel.
We could redevelop the entire site, with a projected annual economic output of nearly 50 million dollars.
Now it’s up to city officials to come up with some kind of plan, if the convention business is important to our local economy and we want it to remain viable in the future.
Time to dream.
Let’s not even consider the price tag or how we’re going to pay for it; not yet.
Our thought for today is from Anatole France:
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
City officials are considering Wichita’s future as a convention center. Currently, conventions are generating about 20 million dollars a year for the local economy, but that could drop pretty seriously in the future … especially when it comes to national conventions.
That’s the word from Bill Krueger … a consultant with Conventions, Sports, and Leisure International … in a recent pitch to city officials and Go Wichita.
Krueger says in order to stay competitive, Wichita needs to double its exhibit space and add at least 100 hotel rooms within walking distance of a downtown convention facility. Krueger says if improvements are made, they could generate more than 49 million dollars a year in economic output.
Where does that leave the big, blue dome that is Century Two … our center for conventions and trade shows for more than 40 years? Do we keep it, tear it down and build something new, or renovate it for other purposes and add something new?
More on that tomorrow.
Our thought for today is from Lester R. Bittel:
“Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.”
The Kingman County law enforcement center was built when my family lived in Kingman, in 1959. I was nine years old. From photos I’ve seen, the center is in pretty sad shape. Most public buildings outlive their usefulness after 40 or 50 years.
Kingman County voters had a chance to approve a new sales tax and the extension of an existing sales tax to pay for a new $11.8 million law enforcement center and jail. But the voters said “no” last week to a new quarter-cent sales tax that would last for 20 years. They also rejected an existing three-quarter-cent tax extension for 20 years.
Public employees and new jail proponents would argue that such aging facilities are inefficient, often overcrowded, possibly unsafe, and just a depressing place to go to work every day.
Those who oppose new facilities usually argue that their taxes are already too high, and no tax is a good tax.
It’s their town and their county, and they have spoken.
Our thought for today is from George Bernard Shaw:
“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
City officials are looking at an Aquatics Master Plan for Wichita. The city has eleven municipal swimming pools and could reduce that number to five or six in a nine-year plan that could cost 20 million dollars. Those eleven pools have an average age of 44 years. The average lifespan for any pool is 25 years.
Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner tells me he doubts the need for so many city pools. Every new housing development has its own neighborhood pool. And Meitzner says today’s kids just don’t go swimming as much as kids in the past.
Many of us spent hours at city pools in Wichita … on sunny summer afternoons that stretched into the evening. I remember pools closing at 9 p-m.
But today’s young people have so many other forms of entertainment; they apparently just don’t have time to go swimming. After all, there are video games to be played.
Looks like one more change to deal with.
Our thought for today is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“All things must change to something new, to something strange.”