Are Cowboys Still America’s Team or Has Jones’ Actions Smeared the Title?

The NFL regular season starts this week and if the action is any wilder on the field as it is off it fans will have much to discuss and cuss.

Jerry Jones usually manages to find his way into numerous news columns, from trades to coaching changes to party animal natter and blather. The stories pop up anytime and from everywhere. The Dallas Cowboys owner has an ego as big as his mega AT&T Stadium so the limelight becomes him.

He makes on-field decisions. He makes off-field decisions. And the media grub on them like diners at the Amarillo Big Texan Steakhouse.
With his money, he can mold the propaganda to mitigate damaging stories. As a CEO, entrepreneur and the Cowboys owner he has built a net worth of $3.1 billion. His first fortune came as an executive vice president of Modern Security Life of Springfield, in Missouri. The insurance company was owned by his father. He was also the founder and owner of Jones Oil and Land Lease, which searched for natural resources of oil and gas, in Arkansas. Jones purchased the Cowboys in 1989.

Whatever your thoughts are of him, he’s Big in Big D.

Earlier this month a couple of incidents made their way into media cycles. Now, all is quiet on the Jones front. Media attention on the Joneses is a family affair.

Doug Farrar wrote on Sports Illustrated’s web site: The NFL has always gone to great lengths to make sure that the public perception of its officials is above reproach. NFL brass are very cognizant of public perception.

“And in that regard, the league now has a major, major problem on its hands,” Farrar wrote. “In a video posted on, NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino — or someone that looks a lot like him — is seen departing a party bus which seems to have been commandeered by Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones (son of team owner Jerry Jones). The bus was on the Sunset Strip, with Fox analyst Jay Glazer as a tour guide. One might wonder why Glazer is engaging in close proximity with a team executive, but that’s part of Glazer’s deal — he breaks news based on those connections — but the specter of the guy in charge of the NFL’s officials this close to a key team executive does not look good at all.

“And according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, other execs around the league believe that this is Blandino … are understandably furious.”

A more, shall we say, revealing story surfaced on the Internet a little later. Jones was pictured at a Dallas restaurant with two females in suggestive positions. He acknowledged to reporters that he had known about the photos, which were posted by the sports blog He said the photos were taken five years ago, adding that they were a misrepresentation, but he wouldn’t elaborate on what was misrepresented or whether authorities were involved.

Two women and Jones were fully clothed in the photos.

Jones told reporters that he was at a restaurant when the photos were taken, adding that someone posted them on the internet for their own purposes. reported that Dallas resident Frank Hoover claimed he received the photos from people who wanted to blackmail Jones. Hoover also released emails to Jones’ attorney, Levi McCathern, asking to meet with Jones.

Since the photos were publicized, Jones had made limited comments and appearances with the team. He was not on the field during pregame of the Cowboys’ preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers and did not make himself available to the media after the game. Jones rarely skips speaking to reporters after games.

At a practice later, Jones went to great lengths to avoid the media, arriving on the field for practice from a back gate closer to where the fans park. After practice, he walked off the field with coach Jason Garrett and signed a few autographs before departing through the training room to an awaiting SUV that took him back to his hotel room.

Jones coughed several times as he spoke, adding that the reason he avoided the media was because he was not feeling well, which drew laughs and a sly smile.

While Jones would not discuss the photos, he did address the TMZ video that showed Blandino getting off the Cowboys’ luxury bus outside a Hollywood nightclub.

An internet report said, according to sources, Blandino was on the bus for only a matter of blocks after he was picked up following dinner and left shortly after entering the club to take a cab back to his hotel.

Jones said he had not heard from the NFL or another team expressing any displeasure or concern about the video.

“I just don’t have a problem with it at all,” he said, “and I don’t deem it inappropriate at all. Part of Blandino’s job during the offseason is to network with the clubs; that’s a good thing. Officiating is doing a good job, and I just don’t have a problem with that. As you know, our bus is an area that we entertain, and that’s what we do. So I just don’t have a problem with that.”
To him, the case is closed.

So, how do you feel about America’s team? What do you think of the team’s owner?

Jones is often vilified by fans who remain bitter at Jones’ unceremonious firing of fan-favorite coach Tom Landry. Some of the fan criticism is due to Jones’ high visibility and involvement as the “face of the team” which is in stark contrast to original owner Clint Murchison Jr.

Some Cowboy fans have expressed their displeasure with Jones and the lack of success in the franchise. This had led to formation of grassroots organizations aimed at displacing Jones. Good luck with that, huh.

As for his praise of officials in the Blandino siutation, well, Jones was fined $25,000 by the NFL for publicly criticizing referee Ed Hochuli after a controversial call in a game between the Chargers and the Denver Broncos in 2008. His comments were made on his radio show, saying Hochuli was one of the most criticized officials in the NFL.

Jones also had had public outcry about his perceived excessive drinking. Oh hell, he’s in the public eye and everything he does becomes newsy. It doesn’t seem to matter because the attention swiftly switches to something else. The press has an attention deficit syndrome when sticking with a certain story about Jones.

Tinny Music, Foreign Tongue and Outage Equal Frustration to the Max

It was another one of those nights when I couldn’t sleep. I wrestled the pillow, kicked off the light cover, cussed everyone I just knew screwed me over and cleared my throat of phlegm. No use. I had to get up. Yeah, and cussed again because I stubbed my toe.

Gawd, what time was it anyway? Geez, 2:45. Nice. Oh well, I headed to the computer. Checked the email. Why? I had done that just before going to bed. Nothing, of course.

So I called up ESPN to run down the KC Royals box score. Yeah, I know, Alex Gordon’s two-run homer had given them a 2-1 victory over Minnesota in the bottom of the ninth. But I was keeping tabs on Mike Moustakas’ batting average and Jarrod Dyson’s RBI total. The Moose was at .207 and Dyson had just 23 RBI. Not nice.

I had finished my blog Tuesday evening for Wednesday’s posting. What the hell, I might as well edit it again and then get it on the internet. Just after hitting “publish” I couldn’t get anything to work. What’s wrong now, I groused. Each time I tried to get back into the internet, the “can’t connect” info popped up on the screen.

Look, the computer has become all things important. Your very life depends on it. Hey, no hyperbole intended. I wanted, I needed access.

With dread, I called the Time Warner customer service number a little after 3:30. I just knew I was going to get another foreign voice, one that I would have trouble understanding. Every communications entity I deal with, it seems, has the same contracted-out customer service. When I had trouble with my KC Star delivery, I went bonkers in trying to understand that person. I checked with an old Star friend and she said the newspaper’s management had opted for a Philippines firm to handle the customer service. Right, a newspaper with supposed communications skills goes outside the company to get someone to communicate with customers. Makes sense, huh.

Anyway, I went through the automatic system at Time Warner. The voice said there were no reports of internet outages. I had an outage and I wanted someone to take care of it. I stayed on the line for almost a half hour, listening to that tinny music you receive when waiting. Is “frustrating” a strong enough word for me at that point? No, I say to myself sardonically. Aw, I knew it. The voice. I couldn’t understand every third word. We tried and tried to find a level of understanding. Then, suddenly, she said she lost her tools and put me back to Tinny and the Five-Demerit Band.

Another 15 minutes went by. the language increased intensity with each minute. They say that using cuss words is a sign of a weak vocabulary. Parse this, ace.

Oh blessed be the deities of communication, I heard a man’s voice on the cell phone. I could understand him. He went on a tale of technological verbiage that was just as difficult to comprehend as the foreign customer rep — I could pick up the words but not the meaning. The bottom line? The company was working on the problem. Good, I said. I told him that the first explanation from the robot was that there was no internet outage. He apologized. I told him I had eaten up a bunch of cell phone minutes. He apologized. I asked how long I could expect to be off the internet. He apologized.

I worried about whether my blog actually made it to the website. I worried that my teeth would withstand the grinding and gnashing. I worried that I would never get the blue off the walls from my foul-mouthed screed.

I read the paper, fixed breakfast, performed the “triple S” and got ready for the big golf game. I checked the computer before leaving and, Eureka!, access to the internet.

The news emerged much later that a massive Time Warner Cable outage reportedly brought down internet and television services in cities from coast to coast in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

One story said customers began to grasp the scope of the outage on Twitter, as users from multiple cities reported service blackouts spanning several hours and customer service hotlines returning busy signals.

The website, which tracks reports of outages in real time, posted a map of affected areas, showing a large number of affected areas, ranging from New York to Texas to California. At the peak of the outage, the site reported almost 10,000 complaints.

Time Warner Cable released a statement on the outage: At 4:30 a.m. EDT during a routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services. As of 6:00 a.m. EDT, services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online.

We are awash in technology. What happens if the electricity went out and we would lose access to computers and television? What if the satellites failed and we couldn’t bounce a cell phone signal to and back? A mess, that’s what.

More than 90 percent of Americans now use cell phones. Can you imagine the text messages — would you believe more than 2 trillion a year.

Maybe I shouldn’t concentrate on just the customer service reps. We’re becoming poor communicators because we talk into machines all the time. Where are the inter-personal exchanges?

Of course, I’ve known some guys who didn’t cotton to computers and cell phones and they had communication skills of a hermit. But it does seem to make sense for people to take a respite from all the technology and use some old-fashioned ways to converse.

An internet responder to a posting noted that children today had no idea of how to interact and actually read someone’s face.

At least texting and talking on the cell phone is communication — when you actually understand the words. That’s something.

But, please, someone with clout must impress companies that folks with hearing problems — and there are many — don’t understand someone with good diction and it’s darn near impossible to grasp what a rep with a foreign accent is saying.

I get so concerned anymore trying to find answers to simple questions involving daily routines. When the lights go out, well, what do I do then?

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Okay, on cue: Sis-Boom-Bah! You did good. It’s the opening week of a full slate of college football.

Here’s the line-up for Saturday in the Big 12:
• Stephen F. Austin at Kansas State
• North Dakota State at Iowa State
• West Virginia vs. Alabama at Atlanta
• Samford at TCU
• Central Arkansas at Texas Tech
• Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma
• North Texas at Texas
• Florida State vs. Oklahoma State at Dallas
• SMU at Baylor

Kansas will open its season September 6 at home vs. Southeast Missouri. Jayhawk Coach Charlie Weis is one of the 12 coaches singled out by Patrick Schmidt of Sports Illustrated to be on the hot seat. Another Big 12 coach in trouble, according to Schmidt, is Dana Holgerson of West Virginia.

Schmidt wrote, “How Weis keeps finding work is beyond me. All he has proven on the college level is that he can win with Tyrone Willingham’s players his first two years at Notre Dame when he went 19-6 and lost two BCS bowls.”

Weis went 3-9 in 2007 at Notre Dame before posting a 13-12 mark in his last two seasons there. At KU for two years, he’s 4-20 — one less victory than what fired coach Turner Gill posted in his two years.

Other coaches feeling the pressure, according to Schmidt:
• Brady Hoke, Michigan
• Tim Beckman, Illinois
• Mike London, Virginia
• Kyle Flood, Rutgers
• Sonny Dykes, California
• Al Golden, Miami (Fla.)
• Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
• Bo Pelini, Nebraska
• Bret Bielema, Arkansas
• Will Muschamp, Florida

There’s no Vegas line on Kansas State this weekend but you can be sure the fans will be wondering just how the Cats will play. They no doubt can recall what happened in the opener last season when they lost to North Dakota State 24-21 in Manhattan. They went on to post an 8-5 record and beat Michigan 31-14 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

If you’re a K-State fan, you no doubt have read all the pre-season pub. I have. But I have to rethink what I read. On Tuesday, the coaches provided a depth chart and I quite frankly was taken aback. I had said all along that K-State’s fortunes would rest with how well defensive lineman Terrell Clinkscales and linebacker D’Vonta Derricott fit in as junior college transfers. All those other things, like quarterback Jake Waters’ production, receiver Tyler Lockett’s success, the offensive line’s adjustments and the secondary’s cohesion, of course, mean a lot. But the new guys would fill tremendous needs, thought.

Well, the two players were nowhere on the depth chart. What’s going on? Snyder told reporters he was pleased with the strides taken by the transfers. “How it impacts in the opening ballgame remains to be seen,” Snyder said. “I think every day it gets better and better for each of them.”

Maybe it’s just about the Snyder mystique, how he goes about his administrative chores. I guess we will see the new players in the lineup as soon as he thinks they have paid their dues.

Then there was this revelation: Snyder said freshman Dalvin Warmack, the terrific Blue Springs product, probably would red-shirt. Don’t worry about the running back situation. The Cats are deep and there’s talent. Snyder tabbed running back Darren Sproles as a redshirt early on but the Olathe North star moved into the starting lineup in a hurry — and the rest we all know.

Kansas City area players are playing a key role for the Cats. Of course, you already are aware of defensive end Ryan Mueuller from St. Thomas Aquinas. Jordan Willis, from Rockhurst, will start at the other defensive end. Two other Blue Springs freshmen, safety Kaleb Prewett and linebacker Elijah Lee, are running second string.

While you don’t have a Vegas line on the Cats, you can find one on Oklahoma. The Sooners are a gamble. Football observers are divided on just how strong the Sooners will be this season. Some put them in the Final Four. Others aren’t so optimistic.

OU was hoping Dorial Green-Beckham, the talented wide receiver who was forced out at Missouri after numerous bouts with the law, would be available. However, the NCAA ruled that Green-Beckham would not qualify for immediate eligibility under the run-off exception after transferring from Missouri. Stoops has said he isn’t sure Green-Beckham would be back with the Sooners in 2015.

The Sooners apparently also will be without running back Joe Mixon, linebacker Frank Shannon and quarterback Baker Mayfield, for various administrative reasons.

Quarterback Trevor Knight had a good game in the 45-31 Sugar Bowl victory last season over Alabama. His statistics show varying degrees of success throughout the regular season. He will can rely on three-year starter Sterling Shepard at wide receiver.

I think Louisiana Tech will take the 37½ points and cover. But go lightly, say $11.

Big 12 bets:
• Bama should be ready to beat up on a Big 12 team and West Virginia will feel the consequences. Lay the 27 for $22.
• I like North Texas getting 26½ from Texas. Sure, sure, Charlie Strong will want his Longhorns to make a strong showing in his debut but the Mean Green have some talent. Just a touch, say $11.
• Florida State is getting a lot of attention with quarterback Jamies Winston. But, man, giving the Cowboys 17½ in what is basically Okie State territory, hmm. Oh, oh, the Cowboys lost in Dallas last season at the Cotton Bowl, a 41-31 decision to Mizzou. Still, I’ll take the points for $11 against the hyped-up Seminoles. Oooohhhh, do I dare say this is a big one between the Cowboys and Indians!
• Baylor has that offense. A lot of folks say they’ll take the conference crown. I’m not sold yet. SMU Coach June Jones used to be the offensive guru but his Mustangs have been so up and down. There’s no reason to think otherwise this season. I think the Bears want to prove something here and will hammer SMU. But I’m not that sure so lay the 30½ for just $11.

I want to take a shot at some games on the national level, too. On Thursday, Texas A&M is at South Carolina and Mississippi heads to Boise. Of course, everyone knows the Aggies don’t have Johnny Manziel anymore and no one seems to have a good picture of their talent. South Carolina is good again so I think you need to lay the 10½ on the Gamecocks for $11. Ole Miss has defense now and will cover the 9 points. So bet a little, $11.

Friday, Colorado State and Colorado go at it. Just because the Buffalos are in the Pac-12 don’t make a knee-jerk reaction on your bet. The Mountain West is solid and the Rams figure to make a run at the title. Bet $22 on the Rams with the 13½ points.

Then on Saturday, Arkansas is at Auburn, Clemson at Georgia, Fresno State at USC and LSU at Wisconsin — all good games on paper. I like Fresno the best of that lot and will bet $33 with 23 points. For the others: Arkansas $22 plus-21, Georgia $11 minus-9 and Wisconsin $11 plus-4½.

Another good one will come Sunday when Miami of Florida goes to Louisville. Bobby Petrino is back with the Cardinals and while he may have trouble riding a motorcycle he can flat coach football. The Cardinals will cover the 2½ so wager $22.

I made the high school scene last Friday, watching Raytown South vs. Fort Osage and the Indians are as advertised — good on both sides of the ball. They whipped outmanned South 51-26. In looking over other scores, you had to be impressed with Park Hill 43-13 over Blue Springs South, Rockhurst 49-14 over Rock Bridge, Blue Springs 39-13 over Staley and Lee’s Summit West 44-14 over Liberty.

The Kansas schools will open next week.

GOP Sauce for the Goose Not Sauce for the Gander

The indictment of Governor Rick Perry of Texas and his subsequent court case could complicate John Boehner’s suit against President Obama.

The arguments made by Perry and his supporters could provide an easy equivalence in the Boehner suit.

Perry says out-of-control Democrats in Austin are behind a partisan witchhunt.

His defense: The facts of this case conclude that the governor’s veto was lawful, appropriate and well within the authority of the office of the governor. Today’s action, which violates the separation of powers outlined in the Texas Constitution, is nothing more than an effort to weaken the constitutional authority granted to the office of Texas governor, and sets a dangerous precedent by allowing a grand jury to punish the exercise of a lawful and constitutional authority afforded to the Texas governor.

The argument, of course, is that the voters entrusted Perry with executive powers.

Okay, so how will the House Republicans take to that? You see, in Texas, Perry says the executive should be allowed to execute his powers without interference from the courts. At the same time on the national level, Perry’s Republican colleagues are arguing that the courts should interfere with President Obama’s attempting to exercise his executive powers. Pretty easy to see the contradiction, right.

As is the case in most of the Republican rhetoric these days, the Boehner suit simply is about whipping up the GOP base before the midterm elections. As an internet observer noted, “They were all set to pronounce the righteousness of their position, using the justice system to rein in an otherwise-unchecked president. That’s going to be a lot tougher a sell now.”

The lead from the Dallas Morning News after Perry was indicted last week: “Rick Perry was outraged at the spectacle of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s drunken-driving arrest last year. But he didn’t feel that strongly when two other district attorneys faced the same charges under similar circumstances.”
In those cases, he said and did nothing, the story reported.
“There were differences, chiefly that Perry had leverage over Lehmberg, whose office contains the state-funded Public Integrity Unit,” the newspaper said. “As the governor builds his defense against felony coercion and abuse of power charges partly around concerns about Lehmberg’s behavior, Democrats are pointing to the two previous cases as a sign that the governor had other motives.”
Democratic strategist Jason Stanford told the newspaper: “The key difference was that one of the DAs was investigating his administration for corruption and the other two DAs weren’t.”
Law enforcement personnel took Perry’s fingerprints and mug shot. After being indicted last week on charges that he threatened Lehmberg, a Democrat, the Republican governor repeated his stance that he did nothing wrong. Perry had said he would veto $7.5 million for the anti-corruption unit in her office unless she stepped down after her DWI conviction.
At the time, her office was investigating insider dealing in Perry’s signature Texas Cancer Research and Prevention Institute. Perry would have named Lehmberg’s replacement.

As for Boehner’s suit, Obama has sarcastically said, so sue me.

Just a day before lawmakers were to begin a five-week summer recess, debate over the proposed lawsuit underscored the harshly partisan tone that has dominated the current Congress almost from its start in January 2013.

The vote to sue Obama was 225 to 201. Five Republicans voted with the Democrats in opposing the lawsuit. No Democrats voted for it.
Republicans said the legal action, focusing on Obama’s implementation of his prized health care overhaul, was designed to prevent a further presidential power grab and his deciding unilaterally how to enforce laws.

“No member needs to be reminded about the bonds of trust that have been frayed or the damage that’s already been done to our economy and to our people,” Boehner said. “Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change?”
Democrats said the lawsuit would go nowhere.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, said, “The lawsuit is a drumbeat pushing members of the Republican Party to impeachment.”

Democrats are using that argument to mine campaign contributions. House Democrats emailed a fundraising solicitation, saying, “Republicans have said this lawsuit has ‘opened the door’ to impeachment.”

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Impeachment is off the table. Why hasn’t the speaker said that.”

Republicans won’t be able to back away so easily from Boehner’s case. The speaker of the House will be suing the president of the country, which can’t be written off as some sort of parochial affair.

The argument for suing Obama is going to get more complicated.

Right now it will provide Democrats with an easy response: “How is this case any different than Perry’s?” Republicans are going to be arguing one thing for Perry, and the exact opposite for Obama.

Democrats no doubt will maintain the drumbeat of what is happening in Texas, pointing out the Republicans’ double standard.

The do-nothing Republican House has spent its time in session with this kind of go-nowhere rhetoric. From what must be a thousand speeches trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act to this political gamesmanship of a suit, the Republicans are not doing the people’s business. And it is costing everyone time, energy and money.

The House Republicans are throwing money — millions and millions of dollars — at investigations of faux scandals and the insistence of a senseless lawsuit, which for now has a cost cap of $350,000 and could go much higher. Instead of providing funds for needed infrastructure, for example, they toss money down the drain.

Surely, people will see the fallacious legal argument of backing Perry on the one hand and going against Obama on the other. Then again, maybe not.

Democrats Need to Go on the Offensive

The Democrats better get off their butts and go on the offensive or the country is going to head right back into recession and war just as the laissez-faire Republicans and the jingoistic neo-conservatives triggered in the Bush administration.

Cable news continues to allow the bellicose politicians to set the agenda. Let’s do war again. Put boots on the ground in the Mideast. They’re selling fear like it was lemonade on the Fourth of July. Each time I hear these neo-cons preach the gospel according to Ares I think of what Franklin D. Roosevelt said: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Show was throwing out loose talk about ISIS’s destructive powers being only a plane ticket away. The metaphor is evident. However, the argument holds no logic. The Mideast, with its fanatic religious members, is an area of turmoil, hate and disgust. Any one of these terrorists can get on a plane now with mayhem in mind. Even if we riddle their forces, they rise up to kill and devastate once more like rejuvenate rogue bio-mass creatures do in sci-fi flicks.

Okay, okay, fan the flames of war, neo-cons. Sell that fear. But you better be ready to pay for this one, jingo mongers. The country can’t afford another war with the current federal revenue set-up. No way. More important than money, yes, is the danger of losing our young people in battle. The Bush administration fought two wars and never raised taxes to fight them. It should be no surprise that the country dove into a deep recession and 4,500 Americans soldiers died. That’s what the lies then cost us.

Also on the Scarborough show, panelists focused on Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor’s strategy to retain his Senate seat: tying his opponent to the Koch Brothers. The Democrats lack positive issues to push in a campaign, especially with such an unpopular president, so they revert to personal attacks, the show’s guests contended.

Yeah, the poll numbers are poor for President Obama.

So, Democrats, what do you do? Well, too many run away from Obama. Are you nuts? Look what the guy has done. Really look. He’s fighting racial hatred, right wing-nut propaganda, congressional obfuscation and internal bickering. Yet he has brought us back from that terrible recession and mitigated the perilous fighting for American soldiers.

The neo-cons keep sniping, however. War, war, war. They are bowing to the affluent military industrial complex insurgents who want war to provide more weapons. Think about billion dollar stealth planes. Think about smart bombs. Think about bullets and small arms. Think about tanks. Money, baby. Lots of money.

Besides, all the yakking about war detracts from other very important issues, like poverty, like immigration, like voter suppression, like rich man/poor man earnings gaps, like so many domestic problems.

Instead, go to war.

Look, Democrats, you need to face up to this problem. You just can’t run away from Obama. Sell the Affordable Care Act. Sell the plans to keep the economy moving. Sell the strategy to keep combat troops at a minimum.

This is not the time to show the conservative side of the party. Be progressive. Go after these wing-nuts so we can flourish as a country, as a whole, as a group. We’re divided. Okay, I get it. But you can’t give in to these wing-nuts or the country is going to not only divide but also crumble.

Vote. Make your voices heard.

Check what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. All you hear is how the police mistreat the blacks. Doh.

I got an email denigrating the blacks in their fight against the Ferguson police. The picture showed their pillaging of a shoe store and the caption read: Not one pair of work boots were stolen.

Right-wing gallows humor, huh? The folks in Ferguson should be mighty upset about that kind of answer to the constant protests.

Hey, do something about it besides rioting, protesting and pillaging. The avenue to success is there, ready for the taking. The 2010 census showed Ferguson had 14,000 African Americans, 6,000 whites and 300 “other.” If they want to stop the white political domination, then they should go to the polls. The numbers are there. Do a good job of finding qualified people at all levels of public service, including police officers. And vote.

I have said the same thing over and over again about the South. So many whine about suppression at the polls, the domination of the white politicians and the abundance of poverty. Organize, do something. Apathy certainly won’t change anything. Vote.

Instead of moaning and groaning about how gerrymandering and suppression are producing Republican supremacy, do something about it. Vote. Work. Organize.

Here’s an idea: Instead of a few ads on TV, use the money to rent vans and busses to pick up voters to take to the polls. Force the elected officials to do something about making sure the polls stay open. The media would love to show long lines and protests about not being able to vote in a certain precinct. Keep after the power pols to push your agenda, not theirs.

Democrats must be proactive not reactive.

I haven’t heard one Democrat take a shot at what the folks on Scarborough’s show were saying about Obama and how the campaigns are issue-less efforts.

Again, there’s so much that Democrats could stand up for in the coming elections. They have allowed the Republicans to set the agenda. The war drums drown out the many needs that the country must address. Please do something or we will be right back where we were with the Bush administration.

I know, I know, show those terrorist bastards that dare step on our rights. But neo-con breast-beating isn’t the answer. Yet they persist. All through the Sunday shows the common theme was that the United States was quite vulnerable to an attack from the Islamic State, the militant group also called ISIS. In terms graver than any point since the Sunni extremist organization began taking over large swaths of western Iraq, TV guests outlined the perils of inaction. Visions of another 9/11 were laid out on several occasions, as was the case that the United States needed to act aggressively abroad — perhaps even within Syria.

They packaged fear and sold it on TV.

Look, the neo-con induced war with Iraq certainly didn’t help. All it did was remove a country that kept the balance of power with Syria and Iran. Don’t let the neo-con bluster create more problems.

Dan Rather, interviewed on CNN’s Reliable Sources, said, “My first question to anyone who is on television saying, ‘We have to get tough, we need to put boots on the ground and we need to go to war in one of these places’ is, I will hear you out if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war of which you are beating the drums. If you aren’t, I have no patience with you, and don’t even talk to me.”

The Democrats should start the battle at home, not in the Mideast — at the ballot box.

Notre Dame Football Not About Utopia and Never Has Been

As the college football season prepares to open in full this week, keep in mind that there will be surprises galore — on and off the field.

There’s a story line now that borders on the surprise and it shouldn’t be. Why do so many football folks continue to put Notre Dame on a pedestal and then express surprise and even shock that the football program faces charges of wrong-doing.

Four Notre Dame players, including two starters, won’t be allowed to participate in football activities as the university continues an internal investigation into academic misconduct. Notre Dame officials said in a statement that evidence existed that students had submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others.

Sports Illustrated spent considerable space on covering the story, headlined by Where Did the Shine Go? — Notre dame’s latest academic scandal makes clear that it is no longer the gold standard in college football.

Notre Dame supporters often say how the university is the bastion of integrity when dealing with athletics. They will euphemistically say the school may have gotten an edge or a leg up but the school was clean. Is cheating getting a leg up? They often answer the charges with everyone cheats. Everyone does not.

Notre Dame does? Yeah, I know so.

Notre Dame has been painted as the Utopia of college football. It isn’t. In reality, it never has been. And those who react to the charges with surprise and shock should know better.

The Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, who presided over the high-profile Notre Dame athletic program for more than three decades as a senior official, died in 2004. Accolades filled news columns, describing him as the epitome of integrity.

He was quoted, “We do the right things here. There’s no place for a student to hide here.”

Father Joyce was the chief financial officer at Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987, serving as executive vice president. During the 1950′s, he was an early advocate of college football’s seeking maximum opportunities for television coverage. Notre Dame football was ranked No. 1 three times during his tenure. The overall Notre Dame budget went from $9 million during his first year as executive vice president to more than $400 million in 1987, when he retired.

Purity? Well, Father Joyce pushed it and maybe during his time, the program did the right things. But the very foundation of Notre Dame football was built on shady deals.

All American sports fans are aware of the legend of George Gipp. He was a tremendous football player well-known because of the phrase: win one for the Gipper. A movie about the life of Coach Knute Rockne popularized the inspirational line; Ronald Reagan played the Gipper and Pat O’Brian played Rockne.

Gipp wasn’t the standup guy that the legend made him out to be. He was a gambler and a pool hustler who liked to drink. He was expelled from Notre Dame in 1920 for missing too many classes, only to be reinstated because of pressure from the school’s donors.

Gipp died shortly after playing his final football game and seven years later Rockne used his death to motivate his team before a game.
With the speech and all the attention, Gipp became a legend. But so little is really known of him — he died so long ago and he led a secretive life.

He originally attended Notre Dame to play baseball, but Rockne convinced him to join the school’s football team. Gipp went on to lead the Fighting Irish in rushing and passing in 1918, 1919 and 1920, earning All-American honors in the process.

In November 1920, Gipp developed a throat infection that eventually turned into pneumonia. He died on December 14 at age 25. The exact manner in which Gipp became sick remains in question. The cause is blamed, for the most part, on his lifestyle, keeping late hours and making it difficult for him to recover once he got sick.

The “win one for the Gipper” is simply a ruse used by Rockne. News stories say that Rockne probably wasn’t even present when Gipp died — death came in the middle of the night. And this: Gipper wasn’t even Gipp’s nickname as that was invented by Rockne.

That was then. This is now. Modern times haven’t been kind to the Notre Dame image as stories persist that the school indulged in illegal activities.

“Under the Tarnished Dome” was published in 1994 and became a bestselling book that rocked the Notre Dame football program. Don Yaeger and Douglas S. Looney investigated the contrast between the Notre Dame image — that of a place where wins on the field were no more important than the integrity off it — and the Notre Dame football program’s reality, with trash talking, rampant steroid use, pregame fights and academic misconduct. According to the book’s marketing package, the authors interviewed 150 people, including nearly 100 former Notre Dame football players. According to the promotion, the authors uncovered what amounted to a stunning indictment of the school’s administration and especially of then Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz.

Yes siree, Lou Holtz. Lou Holtz now with ESPN. That Lou Holtz. That Lou Holtz, the Houdini of misconduct escapes. I covered Holtz and followed his career as a journalist from his days at Arkansas to those at Minnesota and Notre Dame. I had dinner several years back with Looney in Boulder, Colorado, and we agreed that Holtz never saw a rule he couldn’t break — one of the worst cheaters in the game.

During his tenure at Notre Dame, he admitted to two unintentional NCAA violations but said he would receive a favorable verdict from the NCAA infractions committee. The Notre Dame administration also backed Holtz even though the coach was named in major allegations stemming from the NCAA’s 2½-year probe of the University of Minnesota athletic program.

In 1999, the NCAA placed Notre Dame on two years’ probation for extra benefits provided to football players between 1993 and 1999 — Holtz was at Notre Dame from 1986 to 1996.

After three years of retirement, Holtz took the head coaching job at South Carolina, retiring in 2004. Just in time again. In 2005, the NCAA imposed three years’ probation and reductions in two scholarships on the program for ten admitted violations under Holtz, five of which were found to be major. The violations involved improper tutoring and off-season workouts, as well as a lack of institutional control.

But there he is on TV, explaining football for everyone. Look, he’s in demand at many corporate outings because he’s a terrific motivational speaker with a fast wit. When Arkansas fans pelted the field with oranges to celebrate the 1977 Orange Bowl berth, Holtz observed, “Thank God we didn’t get invited to the Gator Bowl.”

Notre Dame no doubt knew of his problems but hired him anyway.

The four players involved in the latest trouble are junior KeiVarae Russell, the team’s best cornerback, junior DaVaris Daniels, the leading returning receiver, senior Ishaq Williams defensive end, and senior Kendall Moore, backup linebacker.

The Rev. John Jenkins, president at Notre Dame, said, “Integrity is at the heart of our mission, and academic misconduct will not be tolerated at Notre Dame. If the suspected improprieties are proven, we will use the experience to reinforce among our students the importance of honesty in all that they do.”

Maybe a remedial class is in order. Surprise!

Screed, Vitriol, Detesting … They Do It All

A look at right wing-nut comments on immigration and guns should fill you in on just how stringent and harsh these people can be.

An editorial written in May 2009 is getting considerable attention on the internet. Former Republican State Rep. Nita Jane Ayres wrote it for the Ozarks Sentinel. Ayres served in 2010-11 in the legislature and is now a realtor in the Branson area.

The editorial:
Missouri’s approach to the problem of illegal immigration appears to be more advanced, sophisticated, strict and effective than anything to date in Arizona.
So, why doesn’t Missouri receive attention?
Answer: There are no Mexican illegals in Missouri to demonstrate.
The “Show Me” state has once again shown us how it should be done. There needs to be more publicity and exposure regarding what Missouri has done. So, let’s pass this around.
In 2007, Missouri placed on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment designating English as the official language of Missouri.
In November, 2008, nearly 90% voted in favor!
Thus, English became the official language for ALL governmental activity in Missouri. No individual has the right to demand government services in a language OTHER than English.
In 2008, a measure was passed that required the Missouri Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of any person arrested, and inform federal authorities if the person is found to be in Missouri illegally.
Missouri law enforcement officers receive specific training with respect to enforcement of federal immigration laws.
In Missouri, illegal immigrants do NOT have access to taxpayers benefits such as food stamps and health care through Missouri Health NET.
In 2009, a measure was passed that ensures Missouris public institutions of higher education do NOT award financial aid to individuals who are illegally in the United States.
In Missouri, all post-secondary institutions of higher education are required to annually certify to the Missouri Dept. of Higher Education that they have NOT knowingly awarded financial aid to students who are unlawfully present in the United States.
So, while Arizona has made national news for its new law, it is important to remember, Missouri has been far more proactive in addressing this horrific problem — but on a gradual basis.
Missouri has made it clear that illegal immigrants are NOT welcome in the state and they will certainly NOT receive public benefits (that’s social benefits) at the expense of Missouri taxpayers.

Of course, the allegation that Missouri has no undocumented workers is fiction. However, the state does have one of the lowest populations of illegal immigrants in the country — the 2010 census reports there were about 55,000.

Now take a look at this screed written by Dean James of the Americas Freedom Fighters, an ultra conservative group — this isn’t edited so you can get the full force of the vitriol:
Well, Congress is about to take some time to relax after working so diligently on our country’s issues from unemployment to gun control to the up and coming WWIII and of course Obama’s UNAUTHORIZED AND ILLEGAL AMNESTY which will devastate our beautiful country! Now is NOT the time to go relax and let Hussein sign executive orders. Now is not the time to go vacation at your beach homes or travel to Tahiti and drink mai-tai’s guys! COME ON! You work for US! America is depending on you to uphold the laws of the land and at this point we have a rogue president hellbent on letting the whole fricking world into our country! You are all derelict in duty if you do not do everything you can possibly do 24/7 to stop this insane MADMAN! Personally I don’t know how any of you sleep at night knowing that you have all let this LUNATIC do whatever the hell he wants! WE AMERICANS WILL NOT FORGET YOUR INABILITY TO STAND UP TO THIS LEFTIST RADICAL INCOMPETENT WORTHLESS POS!

Madman, lunatic and leftist radical incompetent worthless POS! How’s that for patriotic discourse!

Here are a few headlines on the group’s website:
• Obama regime releases 7,173 more illegals in three weeks!
• Political payback: Rick Perry indicted by Democrat-controlled DA office!
• Congress pressured from the left and right to ‘demilitarize’ police.
• CIA operative: Obama fulfilling Bin Laden’s goals, intends Iran ‘to become the nuclear power’ of the gulf!

Oh and this skewed logic, whew! Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, believes the hardline stance Republicans have taken on immigration will have no bearing on how Hispanics vote. Instead, he thinks Democrats are hurting their prospects with white voters.

In an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, he said, “This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party.”

That’s what he said — a war on whites. Uncanny. Unreal. Unbelievable.

“And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else,” he continued. “It’s part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well that’s not true.”

His response was to what National Journal’s Ron Fournier told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday. The fastest growing voting bloc in this country thinks the Republican Party hates them, Fournier said, adding that the Republican party can’t be the party of the future beyond November if they’re seen as the party of white people.

Then this about guns. Open carry activists seek to force broader social acceptance of guns in public so disciples of the movement wear guns while shopping or dining out. Tension over this practice has flared up in several states.

The fight over whether shoppers should be allowed to tote guns openly in American businesses is about to spill into the aisles of Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a national gun control organization backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, seeks to pressure the grocery giant to ban the open carry of firearms in all of its nearly 2,500 stores. The moms’ group decided to take action in response to recent demonstrations by open carry activists in Kroger stores in Ohio and Texas, and after conducting research that identified more than a dozen shootings on Kroger property since 2012, said Erika Soto Lamb, a spokeswoman.

“Kroger employees shouldn’t have to determine whether the person holding a gun in the frozen aisle is someone dangerous or someone making a political statement,” Lamb said.

Moms Demand Action, which was formed in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre, has seized on open carry as an effective issue to rally support for one of its ambitions: to limit the prevalence of guns in public places. The group has leveraged the power of social media, distributing photos of people armed with assault rifles in popular dining chains, and betting that the sometimes jarring images will prompt companies to react.

Maybe that’s the way to combat these conservative rascals — where’s there action there needs to be a reaction.

Fat Wallet Needed for Food and Drink Costs

At a couple of recent baseball games, I found myself staring at the vendors and what they were hawking. I had a beer in my hand and I had just paid $7.75 for it. Hot dogs were $5. Coming into the game, I had bought a Corona and a brat and I had laid out $17.

Is this nuts or what. Yeah, yeah, I know. for the most part, I’m sitting in a seat out in the open and they’re bringing the stuff to me. But come on, $7.75 for a beer. I can go inside the cooler at Price Chopper or Hy-Vees and buy an 18-pack of 12-ounce bottles of MGD for $12.

Oh, there’s more. Martinis at a restaurant are running me $8 and $9 a pop. I’ve never counted how many drinks I can pour out of my Beefeater bottle but I can bet you that my per unit cost is considerably lower than that restaurant purchase.

I think I have all that figured out. You gotta be rich to be a drunk anymore.

And how do young people go out on dates anymore? A couple of drinks, a steak dinner and a movie and you’ve blown a hundred bucks — even if you pick a relatively inexpensive restaurant.

Damn, I used to slosh down dime draws over at Pat Collins’ in Kansas City, Kansas, as a high school miscreant. Kite’s in Manhattan, Kansas, used to have dollar pitchers of beer. Bob, Bob, that was a long time ago.

Yeah, you’re right.

But I still think the prices are out of kilter.

Grocery stores brag — I mean in ad headlines this big — about $3 a pound hamburger. I saw a beef brisket in the display case for $3.99 a pound. Geez, not that long ago, I recall how nutritionists were saying that brisket was a cheap cut of meat that would serve a family well if it were cooked slowly. Hell, chuck roasts were 49 cents pound and now look.

Thank goodness for beer coolers.

I went back and checked the grocery prices in 1960. You wanted a simple salad — iceberg lettuce, 25 cents a head; tomatoes, 10 cents a pound; carrots, 9 cents a bunch.

We all need fruit for our health, right. The ads blare out the prices, $2 and $3 a pound. In 1960, 3 pounds of apples were 49 cents, 2 pounds of bananas 19 cents, a pound of grapes 14 cents, 2 dozen oranges 89 cents and a dozen tangerines 29 cents.

Everyone should start the day with a good breakfast. In 1960, sliced bacon went for 29 cents a pound while a dozen large eggs cost 45 cents. Oh, you are a cereal person. Cheerios were 25 cents a box.

Maybe you’re a meat and potatoes type of person, huh. How about a big porterhouse steak back in the 1960s? Yep, $1.19 a pound. Potatoes were 39 cents for 10 pounds.

Sure, all this is fruitless. You can’t compare apples and oranges. This is now; that was then. Generational comparisons have many faults.

For example, the average annual income in the 1960s was $6,691. A starting policeman made $4,400 and now it’s more than $35,000.

Back in 1960, almost 40 percent of heads of household worked as a craftsman or machine operator. Now, only 10 percent of the population have manufacturing jobs.

Of course, when doing all this comparison, you should figure in the inflation rate. But the point is, you better make the big bucks — or budget well — to enjoy a good meal and a splendid Beefeater martini.

I gotta blame somebody for this. It couldn’t be anything I’ve done. Well, maybe. I could stop drinking. I could stop eating. That would show ‘em, right.

Well, let’s take a shot at the grocery chain from farm to market.

For the last couple of years, groceries have gone up in price at a brisk pace. Why? Inflation is low, the economy is improving.

But when you see grocery ads proud to feature $3-a-pound hamburger and $2 eight-ounce packages of shredded cheese, well, it seems very, very high. Have you priced beef tenderloin? Yeah, $18, $19 and higher a pound. This is crazy.

Yeah, doc told you to eat more fruit, right. Apples at $2.69 a pound — that makes me sick.

Sometime back I read about coffee going up 40 percent, celery 28 percent, bacon 24 percent and cabbage 23 percent. Meat? It had gone up 138 percent. Just over a short period of time.

So what is keeping overall inflation down? COLA is based on the inflation rate and in recent years, the increase is about 2 percent annually. Where are those figures coming from and how do they not figure in food to figure inflation? We need to buy groceries, we need to buy gas — and they’re going up, up, away.

Can we blame the farmers? Last year, stories filled the media about how corn and wheat growers in western Kansas were basking with the return they were getting on their crops. They were becoming instant millionaires. The commodities market showed corn futures going up 77 percent. And corn farmers were bringing in $8 a bushel. I heard a farmer the other day chortling about a $2,400 clear profit on a head of beef cattle. Just one head.

Reasons for higher food costs range from the weather damaging crops to monetary policies — just printing money means the buck doesn’t go quite as far for families. I pick greed for one of the reasons. Oil and agri-business entities are wallowing in profits.

Will the high prices create masses of starvation. That isn’t a joke, it’s not jest. It’s darn serious. What are the figures now — something like more than 37 million Americans being served by food pantries and soup kitchens — an increase of 46 percent since 2006. Surveys show poverty continues to grow.

Yes, yes, food prices have been rising for decades, but they are increasing at an increasing rate. That is a big concern.

So why am I griping about food prices when I will spend $8 or $9 for a martini? Good question. That is my entertainment. Home-cooked meals are my preservation.

The middle class squeeze is upon us. With food and gas prices on a fast pace up, only the rich can survive. Is that an overstatement, is that hyperbole? Why would you think that? Of course, the middle class can die if this trend continues.

The high cost of goodies at a baseball game or the martini at a nice restaurant won’t be the focus. Providing food for a family of four will be the worry.

Cutback In KC Star Issues Forecast, But …

One of my old newspaper buddies clings to the notion that the Kansas City Star will follow the New Orleans Times-Picayune and publish just three days a week.

I’ve asked and Star management have denied that prediction.

However, in looking at the Monday and Tuesday newspapers, well, they made Twiggy look fat. The opinion pages became an opinion page. Letters to the editor became one highlighted effort.

How can the Star maintain subscribers with such a tight news hole when they couple that negative with all the rest, including poor customer relations, inconsistent circulation procedures, dwindling experienced staff and questionable pursuit of stories?

Maybe management is saving newsprint so they can increase space for the Monday stories of the Chiefs and the NFL. Well, you got another idea?

Here’s the saga of the Times-Picayune. In May 2012, the paper bosses announced they would cut back its publishing schedule to three days a week and lay off staff. The paper reported that a new company would be formed, the NOLA Media Group, which would include the paper and the web site. The newspaper would be home delivered and available in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only. The web site, meanwhile, would increase its online news-gathering efforts.

Newhouse Newspapers, part of Advance Publications, operates the Times-Picayune. Three Newhouse papers in Alabama — Birmingham News, Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register — similarly restructured. They would become part of the newly formed Alabama Media Group and would print only three days a week.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Newark Star-Ledger and Portland Oregonian are among other newspapers owned by Newhouse.

The moves announced for the New Orleans and Alabama newspapers were pitched as needed adjustments to the way news is delivered and consumed by the public. ran an article that quoted Ricky Mathews, the president of NOLA Media group: “Our best path to success lies in a digitally focused organization that combines the award-winning journalism of The Times-Picayune and the strength of”

When the decision to stop daily circulation at the Times-Picayune, 50 local businesses wrote an open to the Newhouse family to sell the paper instead of cutting it back. The businesses noted that the newspaper was profitable in its 7-day format. Obviously, not profitable enough, huh.

The limited publication of the paper made New Orleans the largest American city not to have a daily newspaper. However, the Baton Rouge Advocate began publishing a New Orleans edition each day to fill the perceived gap.

Half of the Times-Picayune newsroom staff were notified they would lose their jobs. In September 2012, the paper began publishing its broadsheet paper on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Along with the change, the paper began publishing a special tabloid-sized edition following Sunday and Monday New Orleans Saints football games.

Aha, Chiefs fans.

All that changed again in April of last year when the paper’s publisher announced plans to print a tabloid version, Times-Picayune Street, on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays. The first edition came in June.

The Advocate continues to publish its New Orleans edition.

I continue to stand by my sense, my opinion, my belief, my impression that a newspaper can thrive in these days of electronic suffocation. During numerous conversations, I hear someone mention a particular incident and the only place the story originated was the newspaper. It happens over and over again.

Of course, newspaper publishers must continue to produce a readable edition. Cutting staff, cutting news hole and cutting credibility won’t get the job done.

While focusing on the plight of gathering news, Steve Paul, the Star’s editorial page editor, touched on the nay-saying against newspapers. He wrote, “It’s fashionable to declare the death of ‘newspapers.’ And, by ‘newspapers’ I mean those media operations that bring news of the world and your community to your doorstep and/or to the device screen of your choosing.”

I disagree, in part. I’m pleased he put the “newspapers” in quotes because reading an internet story simply isn’t the same. Sorry.

He went on to say: “Sure, it is difficult to be an optimist in this atmosphere of technological upheaval and consumer fragmentation. When we can find large amounts of micro-sliced, unfiltered information on the Internet, what really does journalism offer? And what does it mean to be a journalist anyway?

“‘Newspapers’ don’t often tell their own stories of how and why we do what we do. We just assume that those who read our pages or our online postings value the institution and what it offers — or at least put up with it enough to take away something of interest, even if it’s just something to complain to us about.”

He’s right. Newspaper folks do a horrible job of communicating in their roles as communicators. You ask about a certain business decision made by newspaper management and you may get a no comment. Stuff like that happens all the time with newspapers. You ask who was laid off and you get a no comment. You try to pin them down and they say what all businesses say: “We’re a private concern and we reserve the right to keep it that way.”

Oh so many problems with the newspaper.

But do you really think the Star will reduce its daily output? Geez, I hope not.

Awhile back, I was in Boston for a week and religiously read the Globe. I recall I used to think of it as a newspaper with lots of space and huge photos. Now the space is less and the photos smaller but the product is solid. The paper has numerous good features, like a full roundup of national news on page 2 and a full roundup of world news on page 3. They cover news. They cover it in a timely fashion. And they certainly didn’t squeeze the news hole all that much on the bad advertising days, like Monday and Tuesday.
Readers still read on those days, huh.

The Globe’s circulation is 215,700 daily and 363,000 on Sundays. The Star is 200,000 and 310,500. The Star has enough circulation to keep the news hole higher than what it has shone on Mondays and Tuesdays. After all, its editors say the paper is profitable. Probably in a big way.

Three times a week publishing, huh. Nope, not for the near future, anyway.

Football Coming On Strong

Four questions you might ask while ordering your second gin and tonic: Will the Royals keep the Chiefs second in the media pecking order; will the Chiefs offense score a touchdown in the pre-season; will Kansas State knock off Auburn; and can Kansas fans wait until basketball to find something to cheer?

Another round, please.

If the Chiefs continue to play like they did Sunday night at Carolina, the diminishing news hole in the Monday issues of the Kansas City Star may not find mega-coverage space to describe their inadequacies. If the Royals continue to find clutch hitting, solid defense and remarkable pitching, they will dominate September and October.

So what is it with the Chiefs? Yeah, yeah, it’s early. We get it. We already know they don’t have receivers who can get separation on defenders. We already know they have a slow and weak secondary. We are beginning to find out the offensive line needs resuscitation.

The preseason is for observing things that can transfer into the regular season. And if the early play of left tackle Eric Fisher is any indication, the regular season is in for a lot of trouble. In the 28-16 loss to Carolina, Fisher had, well, a miserable time, a wretched time, a dismal time. In the 41-39 victory over Cincy in the opening game, Fisher allowed a sack and generally was ineffective. Against the Panthers, well, he was simply outclassed and manhandled.

If he had been a lion tamer against the Panthers, he would have been mauled. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had little time to throw as the Panthers ran by, slammed by, pushed by Fisher.

Chiefs observers say he does a good job in run-blocking — he’s more assertive and when he gets his hands on a defender he has more success. Maybe he’s struggling after undergoing off-season shoulder injury. Then put him to bed, not in the line.

A lot needs to heal for the Chiefs to live a healthy life in the NFL.

The offense didn’t have running back Jamaal Charles against the Panthers. He had a foot injury. Sounds reasonable for a running back who puts a lot of effort into his daily workouts. What? It isn’t a football injury? Nope, he rolled his foot on a curb carrying a box from the dorms in St. Joseph. The injury apparently is minor but Coach Andy Reid wasn’t sure of Charles’ practice status.

Kansas City will play Minnesota Saturday at Arrowhead and former Chief Matt Cassel will start for the Vikings. This will be his third straight pre-season start and apparently has an edge in his battle with rookie Teddy Bridgewater. However, media covering Minnesota say the fight is too close to call.

Smith hasn’t led the Chiefs to a TD in the two pre-season games. Reid said after the Panther game that Smith and Terry Bray would see more playing time against Minnesota while Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray might not see as much. Reid said it was part of his plan in alternating quarterbacks.

Pre-season is about to wrap up in the Big 12 with openers scheduled for a week from Saturday.

Sports Illustrated forecasts that Oklahoma will be in the football Final Four, along with Florida State, Alabama and Ohio State. The magazine ranked Kansas State No. 21.

If the Wildcats can beat Auburn September 18 in Manhattan, that could set up a lot of options, including a big matchup with OU a month later in Norman. Yes, of course, the Cats must get by Stephen F. Austin August 30 in Manhattan and Iowa State September 6 at Ames.

Brian Hamilton wrote in SI on an opposing coach’s take of K-State:

“They’ll be formidable because they’re well-coached. The line tightens or widens splits based on how they run or where they run. Our defense tried to study film and figure it out, and we still couldn’t stop them. (Quarterback) Jake Waters has to prove that he can stand in the pocket and covert a third-down pass when everyone in the ballpark knows he’s going to throw it. You have to decide whether to let (receiver Tyler Lockett) get the ball or if you’re going to find a way to bracket him.

“Their defense was very sound. You look at them on film and say, ‘They don’t do a lot.’ But, boy, they tackle, and they blitz at the right time. Ryan Mueller, the end, is the hardest-playing guy I’ve seen on film in a long time. His motor is on Red Bull. In the secondary they’re a big zone team, so they need to be formidable up front but they only have four of their front seven coming back.”

SI also has a power rating on offense, defense and special teams. I don’t know how they figure it the percentages but the Cats rate 86 percent on offense, 85 percent on defense and 88 percent on special teams.

OU, on the other hand, goes 87 percent, 88 percent and 85 percent. The other Big 12 team ranked by SI is Baylor, at No. 10. The Bears power rankings run 93 percent, 82 percent and 81 percent.

SI writer Ben Glickman used OU’s 45-31 victory last season over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl as a launch as to why the Sooners will be in the Final Four. He likened quarterback Trevor Knight’s knack to improvisation as Johnny Manziel-ish. Glickman pointed to wide receiver Sterling Shepard as the top playmaker.

The writer did pick on OU’s rushing defense, noting that Baylor and Texas each ran for 255 yards in routs of the Sooners last season. So is it good news that they have nine starters returning? However, they have four really good ones in junior end Charles Tapper and linebackers Dominique Alexander, Geneo Grissom and Eric Striker.

Don’t worry KU fans. You will have plenty of pub when basketball rolls around. KU is a basketball school, right? Yes sir.

If football Coach Charlie Weis remains after this season, well, that means one of two things — he has blackmail material on the athletic director and the school president or the team will win 7 games. You think?