The Christmas season usually includes heart-warming stories about the spirit of giving, and I'd like to share one with you today.
For the past couple years, K-N-S-S and the other Entercom/Wichita radio stations have partnered with Taco Bell to randomly hand out cash gifts to Taco Bell customers at Christmas time. Last Tuesday I was at the Taco Bell in the 58-hundred block of east Central to offer a customer $133 in cash.
I leaned out the drive-through window and told Eileen I had some money for her. She was surprised and excited … but didn't even pause before telling me that the money would make a great Christmas gift for her cousin. Eileen told me her cousin was involved in a bad traffic accident in western Kansas, and is being treated at a Wichita hospital. After a month, her cousin had been taken out of intensive care that day!
I think that's a pretty nice story about the Christmas spirit of giving.
Our thought for today is from Mother Teresa:
"It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into it."
As a consultant explained the need to bring future conventions to Wichita, Wayne Bryant grew concerned that discussions about the future of Century Two didn't seem to include much about the arts. The director of Music Theater of Wichita raised his hand and said "time out".
After a delay, the city council this week approved the start of a study of Century Two's future that now includes consideration of the arts.
Bryant told the city council the arts are the largest employer of union stage hands and summer musicians, and the largest Century Two renter. They're responsible for several hundred jobs every year. He asked that the arts be considered in the planning and the council agreed.
Wichita competes with other cities and states to attract and retain jobs, and is constantly looking for ways to make the city more attractive to business. Thanks to Wayne Bryant for pointing out that a city is not only about working, but also about culture and the overall quality of life.
Our thought for today is from L. Ron Hubbard:
"A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists."
Just a couple of years ago big oil companies rushed into southern Kansas, snapping up mineral leases from landowners for high prices and drilling horizontal wells to extract unknown riches from the Mississippi Lime formation. Now, most of the big producers have left.
Shell Oil halted Kansas exploration drilling in May and has since put up for sale 650,000 acres of leases it owns in the state. But exploration is ongoing … and growing more modestly. It's now driven by the Kansas producers who have drilled here for decades, and a few out-of-state die-hards like SandRidge Energy of Oklahoma City, which has stayed with scaled-down operations.
The process known as "fracking" has revitalized the oil industry across the U-S.
As I reported recently in this space, our country is very close to energy independence.
Wind and solar power take some of the pressure off our energy demand, but it's new oil and gas that has driven recent success in domestic energy production.
Our thought for today is from J. Paul Getty:
"The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights."
The bad news is the Wichita public school graduation rate for 2013 was 76.5 percent … below the state average of 86%. But there is good news to counter the bad.
That 76.5 percent is well above the U-S-D 259 graduation rate of 2009 … which was just 63.1 percent. Wichita teachers have been working on the grad rate and they've made progress across the board. But the largest increases were among the boys.
Over the past four years, the graduation rate for white males is up 25 percent . The graduation rate for black males increased 24 percent … and the rate for Hispanic males rose 30 percent.
The district has increased staff to concentrate on the problem, with extended school days and special programs to prepare at-risk students for college.
To see the Wichita graduation rate rise dramatically is encouraging, especially when we see those boys' figures improving.
Good job, U-S-D 259!
Our thought for today is from John Ruskin:
"Let us reform our schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons."
Will New Jersey Governor Chris Christie run for president in 2016? A recent poll indicates 59% of the people in his home state believe Christie will make a run for the White House.
Christie has shown skill with the media, which is essential for any serious candidate. He has shown that he can work with others in solving problems, even those with opposing political views. That is attractive to Independents, who vote for the candidate and not strictly on political philosophy.
And there lies the rub. The right wing of the Republican Party is rigid on standing up for ideals, even if it means running candidates who are not electable. For many, it seems they would rather be right than lead the national government.
If Chris Christie shows up for the primaries, he'll be joined by other G-O-P hopefuls who will be forceful in demanding no compromise … the right wing way or the highway. Will it again be "the highway" in 2016?
Our thought for today is from Clarence Darrow:
"When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I'm beginning to believe it."
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.”