There’s a memorable Halloween night scene in the book To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The story’s protagonist, 6-year old Scout is walking home after dark from a Halloween school program. Scout is still wearing her clumsy chicken wire and paper costume from the program in which children represent different agricultural products: she’s dressed as a cured ham.
Whenever I get commentator’s block and have difficulty coming up with a topic for these little radio moments of mine, I consult with my think tank. I have a pretty small think tank. It consists of just Hank and Lucy. And, to tell the truth, there are occasional communication difficulties due to the fact that Hank and Lucy are dogs, Airedales to be exact, and I am not.
Stuck as we currently are, in the white-hot heat of another political campaign season, it seems a good time to think for a moment about this climate of ours. Not our global climate but our political climate. It’s out of whack.
Maybe you’re one of the many Kansans who don’t pay an awful lot of attention to the Legislature. We have busy lives, and the idea of wading through news stories about political intrigue in Topeka can make the eyes glaze over and the prospect of rearranging one’s sock drawer sound suddenly appealing.
But while many of us were preoccupied with the necessary duties of running our households, driving the kids around, and gulping down coffee on the way to work each morning, a tireless effort to upend your life has been winning the day in our state’s capitol.
Of all the many lines in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” that are regularly quoted by us cartoonist and commentary types, the one that is probably most often used is spoken by Dorothy. Looking around in amazement at Munchkinland, she says, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!”
Driving down Douglas this past Tuesday I couldn’t help noticing a forelorn figure, shaggy head down, slumped despondently on a street-side bench. His large, bare feet instantly identified him to me and I swung over, pulled to a stop in the parking lot beside him, rolled down my window, and said, “Hey Bigfoot, why so sad?”
Surely no one is surprised that parents are very concerned about the proposed boundary changes in Wichita’s school district. Schools are about our children and our children are an emotional subject for all of us. So if you’re going to start messing around with my kid’s school, maybe even closing that school and making my child go elsewhere, then you’ve got some serious explaining to do.
There’s a bill before our Kansas legislature to make the Cain Terrier the official State Dog of the State of Kansas. I applaud our esteemed deliberative governing body for its willingness to take up this issue. But I have this advice: Go slowly, dear legislators. Weigh the pros and cons. Consult with recognized experts in this field. Public hearings would be advisable as well. Have your staffs arm you with reams of research. Take the time required to get this issue right. Many wonderful dog breeds may have Kansas connections that you should consider. There may be field trips necessary.
It’s just a week and a half from February, Black History Month. But the way things have been going lately, January should be called the “talk-in-code-to-racists” month. You know what I’m talking about, wink, wink. I’m talking about the “Food stamp president” and his wife, “Mrs. Yo-mama.” Wink, wink.
When disgraced former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, railed against the President in a South Carolina speech recently, calling him “the food-stamp president,” everybody knew what he meant.
Christmas seems like a good time to reflect on all things warm and wonderful. In other words, on dogs. Proudly open about their feelings, dogs seem to have the sort of values and traits that sometimes put us unpredictable, ungrateful, back-stabbing human beings to shame. Dogs can be fiercely loyal, protective and attentive to our needs. And furthermore, they treat us as if we really do deserve this sort of behavior.