Snyder Knows the Importance of Beating KU

When Bill Snyder came to Kansas State, he knew one thing would please the fans: Beat Kansas. And he has kept them happy 19 of the 23 times he has taken the Cats against the Jayhawks.

KU fans talk mostly about basketball when bringing up the K-State rivalry — a sport that KU has dominated. For this Saturday’s football  meeting in Lawrence, they have more interest in the eligibility of basketball player Cheick Diallo than the football team’s chances against the Wildcats.

The football players, however, want to salvage an iota of pride for the season and a victory over K-State certainly would help. Heading into the final game of the season, the Jayhawks are winless and for the most part, they have looked hapless. Can they do something about it against K-State? Probably not.

They may draw hope knowing that the Cats have just one victory in the Big 12 Conference and had lost six in a row until the miraculous 38-35 win last Saturday over Iowa State in Manhattan. The Cats lack consistency on both sides of the ball and overall team speed. But they have the ability to dominate a team like KU.

Snyder has enjoyed supremacy over the Jayhawks. He lost the first two games 21-16 in 1989 at home and 27-24 in 1990 in Lawrence. The next loss came in 1992, also away, 31-7. But KU didn’t win again until a 31-28 victory in 2004 at home.

But the last five years have belonged to Snyder — 51-13 last season and then, going back, 31-10, 56-16, 59-21 and 59-7.

K-State needs to beat KU and West Virginia to become bowl eligible. Is that incentive enough to win and cover? It should be. Plus, stir in the rivalry and Snyder’s penchant for hammering the Jayhawks, and you have a recipe for the Cats to cover the 20 points.

In looking over the stats, it appears the Cats can put points on the board. They have allowed lots of points, too. They are scoring 29.7 points a game and giving up 32.7; KU is 15.4 and 46.2. Neither has covered all that well — K-State is 4-6 against the spread while KU is 3-8.

So, does Snyder maintain his dominance? Will K-State cover the spread? I think so. Lay the points and bet $22.

Two big games loom in the Big 12 — Oklahoma at Oklahoma State and TCU at Baylor.

Did the OU-TCU game cost you last week? As news swelled that quarterback Trevone Boykin and wide receiver Josh Doctson wouldn’t play because of injuries, the point spread widened. After being off the board for most of the week, the odds finally appeared, opening OU minus-11. By kickoff, it had grown to 19. The 11 points looked pretty good Saturday until OU went into the usual Bob Stoops second-half dive mode. OU led 30-13 in the fourth quarter but had to hold to win 30-29.

Oklahoma State had a big chance to impress the college football world last Saturday at home but Baylor’s punishing offense helped dump the Cowboys 45-35. Saturday, of course, is a big rivalry game and the Cowboys should be ready to play at home.

Oklahoma owns the football rivalry, leading the all-time series 84-18, but the Cowboys have won two of the last four meetings outright, going 3-1 against the spread.

The  Cowboys were proud of their defense until they ran into Baylor. So this may turn out to be a real shoot-out. OU is giving 6½ points. Hmm, quarterback Baker Mayfield is questionable for the Sooners and the Cowboys like the offense of their quarterback, Mason Rudolph. Too, there’s talk of Cowboy Mike Gundy a possible replacement at LSU if boosters buy out Les Miles’ big contract. Still, I like the home team getting the points and will go with $11.

Boykin is expected to play for TCU but the Horned Frogs won’t be able to stop gun-slinging Baylor. Yes, the game is in Fort Worth. But Baylor has to give only a point and a half. I’m going with the Bears for $22.

Demoralized Iowa State is on the road at West Virginia and getting 14 points. That’s not enough. I’ll go with the Mountaineers for $11. Texas Coach Charlie Strong has had to stamp out numerous rumors since going to Austin and the latest one is that he’s being considered for the vacant Miami job. He has enough to worry about in stopping Texas Tech’s vaunted offense. But, at home, the Longhorns will do just that and cover the 1½. Go with another $22.

While the colleges are closing out the regular season with bowls and playoffs on their minds, the NFL has six more weeks of regular action.

Three games are on tap for Thanksgiving — Philadelphia at Detroit, Carolina at Dallas and Chicago at Green Bay. Lots of talk that Chip Kelly is in trouble as coach with the Eagles. That probably won’t affect the outcome, but I think the Lions will uphold the Thanksgiving tradition and cover the minus-1. I’ll go with $11. Dallas has Tony Romo back at quarterback after recovering from injury. Couple that with the solid Cowboy defense, you probably are going to lay the point. I think I’ll pass. But I think Carolina will cover. Chicago was a major disappointment last week in losing to Denver. You would have thought the Bears would have put up a better fight with Coach John Fox facing his former team. The bad taste will linger and Green Bay will shoot down the Bears in a big way. Lay the nine points for $22.

No, I haven’t forgotten about the Chiefs. Heavens no. They’re back home after what seems like weeks and weeks of being away from Arrowhead.

The Chiefs are playing well now, winning four in a row and will take on Buffalo Sunday.

The Bills, 5-5 this season, are coming off a deflating 20-13 loss at New England on Monday Night. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has completed 67.9 percent of his passes 11 touchdowns and four interceptions and he has rushed for two touchdowns. LeSean McCoy is the Bills leading rusher with 610 yards and three touchdowns and Charles Clay is the top pass catcher with 41. The Buffalo defense is allowing 22.7 points and 350.2 yards per game with 11 interceptions, 15 sacks, and eight fumble recoveries.

Kansas City is 4-0 against the spread in their last four games, 4-1 against the spread following a win, and 5-2 against the spread against the AFC. Buffalo is 7-1 against the spread following a loss, 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six road games, and 9-4-1 against the spread against the AFC. The road team has covered the point spread in six of the last seven meetings of these two.

So, do you lay the five? I’m tentative but will go with $11 in the hopes that the streak stays alive.

One more intriguing game — New England at Denver. Petyon Manning won’t play but a 6-8 quarterback will loads of potential will — Brock Osweiler. Can he match the master, Tom Brady? Don’t think so. The Pats will go against a good Denver defense but they have to give only three points. Do so. For $11.

NFL $22 bets: Minnesota +2 at Atlanta.

NFL $11 bets: New Orleans +3 at Houston, St. Louis +9 at Cincy, NY Giants -2½ at Washington, NY Jets -3½ vs. Miami, San Diego +4 at Jacksonville, Baltimore +2½ at Cleveland.

NFL picks: Indy -3 vs. Tampa, Tennessee +2 vs. Oakland, Arizona -10½ at San Francisco, Pittsburgh +4 at Seattle.

College $33 bet: Iowa -1½ at Nebraska.

College $22 bet: Ohio State +1 at Michigan, Alabama -14 at Auburn, Clemson -17 at South Carolina.

College $11 bets: Mizzou +14 at Arkansas, Tulsa -6½ at Tulane, Michigan State -11 at Penn State, Temple -12 vs. UConn, Indiana -6½ at Purdue, Tennessee -17½ vs. Vandy, North Carolina -6 at North Carolina State, Florida State -2 at Florida, Texas A&M +5½ at LSU,  Stanford -3½ vs. Notre Dame, UCLA +3½ at USC.

I’m minus-$25 in the NFL and minus-$74 in the colleges.


Power of Conservatives Reflected in Journalistic Endeavors

My sardonic grin spreads wider when I read about a charge from a right-winger that a particular problem stems from the liberal media.

First of all, surveys show that 90 percent of daily newspapers are headed by Republicans — and we all know there isn’t a liberal Republican anywhere. What is everywhere is conservative talk radio. On TV? We all know that Fox News is way ahead of any other cable TV news show.

Liberals moderating TV news-type shows? They just don’t have the standing, the status, the footing of conservatives. Jon Stewart probably drew the most liberal attention until he retired from the Daily Show. Bill Moyers, Oprah Winfrey, Ariana Huffington and Chris Matthews will put forth progressive agendas, but they either don’t have presence or the constant audience to mold movements. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC probably has most media power of the liberal set.

So, name me a liberal columnist. A couple of progressive economists are steady with essays — Robert Reich and Paul Krugman. Some consider Maureen Dowd a true liberal but her columns seem to aim left and right. Ezra Klein, Nicholas Kristof and James Fallows influence insiders but they lack name recognition. Thomas Friedman is more known for his Mideast acumen but he’s considered a strong progressive columnist.

Many of the conservative newspaper columnists double as pundits on TV and radio. Frankly, they are everywhere. In great numbers. If you can’t come across a conservative columnist, you are living in Karl Marx’s old house.

I won’t even count the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. Or even the old racist purveyor, Pat Buchanan. Bill Kristol is leader of the neo-con pack, but his credentials continually take a beating because of his many errors of fact. Vituperative Laura Ingraham does most of her conservative salvos on either radio or TV, but she has earned sharp-shooter ratings.

The A-team of right-wing prattle, propaganda and pillory includes: Ann Coulter, Charles Krauthammer, Michelle Malkin, Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry,  Emmett Tyrell and Matt Drudge. They are the true attack dogs of the conservative front.

George Will, Kathleen Parker and David Brooks are tolerable conservatives. They may use blowguns but their darts are without curare.

Coulter, yeah, you be dah man. Her books become conservative manifestos and affluent right-wingers buy cases of her writings so she can tell the world she’s a best-selling author.

She can be mean, really mean. Read these quotes:

  • “I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester. … I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don’t want to impose my moral values on others.” This was on the murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller.
  • “Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots.”
  • “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”
  • “Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil. What do Hollywood celebrities imagine fuels their private jets? How do they think their cocaine is delivered to them?”

Krauthammer comes off as more cynical than mean. But he’s oh so brilliant. During his first year of medical school, he was paralyzed in a diving board accident and and was hospitalized for 14 months. He has been a wheelchair user since the accident. He continued his medical studies at Harvard, however, and he graduated with his class, earning his M.D. in 1975. From 1975 to 1978, Krauthammer was a resident and then a chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

On the eve of the U.S. second invasion of Iraq, Krauthammer wrote, “Reformation and reconstruction of an alien culture are a daunting task. Risky and, yes, arrogant.” In 2003, he cautioned that “it may yet fail. But we cannot afford not to try. There is not a single, remotely plausible, alternative strategy for attacking the monster behind 9/11. It’s not Osama bin Laden; it is the cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance, and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world—oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism.”

In the same year, he wrote that the reconstruction of Iraq would provide many benefits for the Iraqi people, once the political and economic infrastructure destroyed by Saddam was restored.

Intelligent, but wrong.

Malkin writes a weekly syndicated column and founded the conservative websites Twitchy and Hot Air.

As one internet pundit put it: “It would be easy to make cruel jokes about a Filipino American immigrants’ daughter who authors a book arguing that the internment of Japanese Americans was justified by national security. And countless weekly columns sniping at affirmative action, environmentalists, sexy pop stars, scandalous journalists, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Gary Locke, John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and just about anything and anyone that offends radical right wing sensibilities.

It’s easy for me to dislike Goldberg essays. He’s the senior editor for National Review and author of Liberal Fascism and the Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.

Goldberg’s career was launched after his mother, Lucianne Goldberg, played a role in the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. When the affair broke, Goldberg defended his mother and Linda Tripp during the ensuing media firestorm.

Lowry, editor of the National Review, has that little boy look but he’s warrior for conservative causes. He has advocated for mass incarceration and “disproportionate police attention” toward “dangerous, overwhelmingly black neighborhoods” in response to a spike in murders in Baltimore.

He contends MSNBC runs sermonettes from its anchors during commercial breaks. He proclaimed in a column that liberals were less patriotic than the average American.

Tyrell, an old guard conservative, never lets a few facts stand in the way of his liberal bashing. In his book, the Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President’s Life After the White House, he claims Clinton has had more affairs. It’s simply another book in which the conservatives are doing what they do best: smear. The book contains a series of unverified and poorly sourced claims about the Clintons.

Then there’s Drudge. So many right-wingers wake up to his internet report.

One of his recent scintillating exposés: Hilllary wears wigs. In a series of five tweets, he posted photos of Clinton with messages insinuating that her hair is fake. People magazine checked — which Drudge doesn’t do with his sources — and quoted Clinton’s hair-dresser: “She has the most amazing hair in the world.” And, no, she doesn’t wear a wig.

Drudge throws out numerous statements, hoping that some will stick. Some of them that proved wrong:

  • Obama proposed to “repeat” auto bailout for every industry in America. Obama didn’t say that. He said he wanted to bring back manufacturing jobs to every industry.
  • New evidence that Obama was “born in Kenya.” Apparently, Drudge claimed, it was just an error in a pamphlet produced by his literary agent’s assistant. Yeah, right.
  • Sherriff Joe Arpaio has uncovered evidence that Obama’s birth certificate is fake. The new evidence was just a collection of warmed-over theories from internet conspiaracy websites.

Right-wing columnists are part of the overall conservative operation, like gnats at a picnic, bibs at a lobster fest, freckles on a redhead.

For awhile, a progressive could tolerate Kristol. But his factual errors kept piling up. The New York Times dropped him. I had been reading his op ed in the Kansas City Star and wondered about where he was coming up with such observations. The Star dropped him, too, for his lack of attention to detail and facts.

But he lives to fight another day. I was watching ABC’s This Week and he steadfastly predicted that he knew for a fact that Joe Biden was going to run for President. Sorry, Billy. You need to get back to your duties as editor of the American Spectator.

However wrong-headed these conservatives are, they are vital to the movement. Unfortunately, the country bears the consequences of their reckless dissertations.

Tick Tock, It’s Time to Fire Another Coach

This Saturday, Kansas and Kansas State will meet in football, something the two schools have done every year since 1911. Oh the memories. The firing of Paul Rhoads at Iowa State over the weekend brought back a recollection of a Jayhawk-Wildcat game back in 1966. Clock management was an issue in the closing seconds then as it was with the Rhoads affair.

Yep, the infamous “The Kick That Fired Two Coaches.” Kansas and K-State tied 3-3 in that game with the improbable field goal by Thermus Butler coming in the last seconds.

KU administrators, upset that the Jayhawks would even tie K-State, fired Jack Mitchell. K-State, patient for too long with the many losses, fired Doug Weaver.

Oh what a contrast these two were. Mitchell smoked cigars, Weaver a pipe. Mitchell had long, wavy black hair, Weaver sported a burr cut. Mitchell wore cowboy boots, Weaver white bucks. Mitchell was the river boat gambler, Weaver the erudite professor.

And Mitchell so dominated Weaver, who in 1960 had come from Missouri where he was a respected assistant coach under Dan Devine. The Weaver-coached Wildcats not only didn’t beat KU but they never even scored a touchdown. Never.

Well, that game in 1966 was the closer. The Wildcats, as they were most of the time under Weaver, were losing big. They had lost all nine games, being outscored 223-63 during the season.

A friend of mine and I had attended a Wildcat function before the season and he had ordered quite a few seven-and-sevens with a water back-up. Seeing Weaver, he put his face really close and with forceful words, said, “Doug, I won’t even ask you when we’re going to beat the Jayhawks; I just want to know when we’re going to score a touchdown on them.”

Things went downhill from there, just like the Wildcat season.

But, by golly, they were leading KU 3-0 as the seconds ticked off in old Memorial Stadium in Manhattan in the last game of the season.

K-State fans actually had a feeling that K-State just might win. They watched as Wildcat quarterback Bill Nossek took the ball from under center and started right. KU’s Bill Lynch blind-sided him and the ball flew out. KU cornerback Bill Hunt recovered at the K-State 30.

On first down, quarterback Bobby Douglass lost three yards trying to run; on the next play, he tossed a 12-yard pass to tight end Sandy Buda. Then Douglass, with time running out, threw the ball out of bounds. So with four seconds showing, Butler, a reserve sophomore tailback, ran onto the field to attempt a 36-yard field goal. Uh, he never had tried one before in a real game. This was his very first effort. It was good. His one-and-only field attempt in his career was good. Tie game. The holder? Tommy Ball, a former quarterback for Manhattan High School.

K-State fans shook their heads — just another dagger in the frustration of Wildcat football.

KU finished the season 2-7-1. It was Mitchell’s ninth season and his last. His “lifetime” contract was bought out for $14,000. Weaver also was fired.

Their dismissals set up a crazy, wild, tense, emotional period of Vince Gibson of K-State vs. Pepper Rodgers of KU.

Ah, but the negative of the 1966 game. Nossek should have taken a knee and run out the clock. I checked later with a veteran football officials, Ray Wauthier, and he pointed out how K-State could have eaten up the clock simply by taking the snaps and going to a knee. After all, he said, the time between plays and the time in the huddle would have more than done the job.

A big coaching mistake.

Just as Rhoads did over the weekend. Saturday in Manhattan, Iowa State had Kansas State down two touchdowns with 1:31 left in the game. However, Mike Warren fumbled after being hit by Will Geary with Elijah Lee recovering at the 45.

With 42 seconds left, Charles Jones ran five yards for a TD and the Wildcats had tied the game 35-all with the extra point.

K-State kickoff. On the first play from scrimmage, Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning ran four yards to the Iowa State 29. The seconds ticked away. Go to the knee, the Iowa State faithful must have been saying loudly or maybe even in a whisper. Run out the clock. Nope, Lanning took off right after taking the center snap and Marquel sacked him five yards behind the line — and the ball broke loose. Charmeachealle Moore recovered for K-State.

With three seconds to go, the ball sailed through the uprights. Jack Cantele’s 42-yard field goal was good. The Cats won in a wild, miracle-like finish, 38-35.

Just think, the Cyclones led 35-14 at the half and they didn’t score a point in the last two quarters. Ouch!

You knew the axe was falling as you watched the Cats go wild and the Cylones hang their heads. Randy Peterson, writing in the Des Moines Register, sat down at his computer almost immediately and pounded out words that skewered Rhoads.

Rhoades, in mid-season, fired offensive co-coordinator Mark Mangino, a former head coach at KU. Mangino fired off a shot on Twitter after the loss: “There is no doubt at all … The Fat Lady is singing!” Mangino’s son, Tommy, is still on the Iowa State staff as receivers coach.

The defeat dropped Iowa State to 3–8 on the season and 2–6 in Big 12 play. Rhoads was 32–54 in nearly seven seasons in Ames. After a 7–6 debut campaign in 2009, capped by an Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota, Rhoads never had another winning season, losing in two other bowl appearances. The program took a downturn over the past three seasons with just eight victories.

Iowa State shut out Texas 24-0 on October 31 but squandered big leads the past two weeks in losses to Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

In Iowa State’s eight Big 12 games, its opponents have run up a 148-79 margin in second-half.

Peterson’s column in the Sunday Register had these words:

“After the Cyclones led 35-14 at the end of the first half Saturday, I was formulating thoughts about Rhoads buying himself at least another season.

“After the Wildcats scored the game’s final 24 points?

“Delete text.”

He wrote that there was the blown 24-7 second-quarter lead against No. 4 Oklahoma State, and then “when clumsy play and play-calling allowed Kansas State to win its first Big 12 game.”

That last fumble by Lanning was his fourth of the game. In all, the Cyclones lost five fumbles.

Peterson asked, “Why didn’t Rhoads have Lanning run out the clock on the previous possession? … Why not have Lanning take a knee with just 40 or so seconds  left, and then take the game into overtime?

“Because Rhoads was hoping for a miracle at the Cyclones 25-yard line.  Instead, he got a Lanning fumble, a Kansas State recovery and a victory-blowing field goal.”

What if Lanning hadn’t fumbled? Rhoads said at the post-game press conference: “We were going to take a knee and go into overtime.” One play too late.

For lo these many seasons, coaches must know the results of mismanaging the clock.

American Values Suffer in Wake of Syrian Refugee Focus

Those abominable polls are painting the wrong picture once again. They show 53 to 56 percent of Americans want to keep Syrian refugees out of the United States.

In  1938, a poll by Fortune magazine showed that fewer than 5 percent of Americans supported raising the quotas for political refugees; 67 percent said “we should try to keep them out.”

The refugees then? Jewish, the ones fleeing fascism, war and extermination. How do you describe what happened then? Was the story of how the U.S. rejected Jews fleeing Adolf Hitler a tragic episode in American history?

Well, think about the chapter written in 1939 when the steamer ship St. Louis, with its cargo of 908 Jewish refugees, was turned away from ports in Cuba, the United States and Canada — eventually returning to Europe where more than a quarter of its passengers were killed in the Holocaust.

Or what about the time shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor? President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 ordering all Japanese-Americans to evacuate the West Coast. This resulted in the relocation of approximately 120,000 people, many of whom were American citizens, to one of 10 internment camps throughout the country. Some Japanese-American citizens were allowed to return to the West Coast beginning in 1945, and the last camp closed in March 1946. In 1988, Congress awarded restitution payments to each survivor of the camps.

How do you feel about that episode?

Paranoia and xenophobia ruled the country in those times. The “ia” is dominating now in the mind set against Syrian refugees.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Sure, you recognize those words from the Statue of Liberty.

America has grown rich in culture from its immigrant mix. But those in various  pockets of leadership take so many American citizens down a path of fear and loathing.

Yes, the threat of terrorism is real. Of course. But, please, before you immediately close the door and head to the closet, basement or survival cave, think rationally, research regulations, analyze misinformation. Lord, there is plenty of demagoguery out there.

Also check the hypocrisy of the National Rifle Association. The recent attacks in Paris were carried out primarily with AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles. As it stands, persons on the FBI’s terrorist watch list can legally purchase firearms in the United States — their status is not accounted for in the federal background check system. Over the last 11 years, according to the Government Accountability Office, more than 2,000 people on the list have procured weapons through this loophole. Since 2007, there have been periodic legislative efforts to close it, all of which have failed in the face of opposition from the NRA and gun-toting GOP lawmakers.

Ludicrous but no less so than the way the fear mongers hand ISIS a ready propaganda tool.  ISIS members want us to hate those in the Islamic religion. They’re banking on it. The abhorrence of hardliners supplies plenty of ingredients to stir the propaganda pot.

It’s not just the GOP. Progressives should roil in frustration that 47 House Democrats joined all but three Republicans to approve a bill that would halt Syrian and Iraqi refugees from resettling in the United States. The bill, which passed 289-137, was intended as a response to fears that ISIS militants could sneak into the U.S. by posing as refugees in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

Doesn’t anyone listen to experts on security? Is there no back-bone to stand up to the jingoists, the fear-mongers?

President Obama has approved a move to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country. These are people who have suffered in their country, similar to the German Jews, similar to the Japanese-Americans.

The terrorists who attacked in Paris reportedly were all from Europe.

Are those pictures of suffering children, of those forlorn faces, are they a con? Will the children carry AK-47s in their bundle of clothing? Are their parents running from evil or are they part of the dastardly plot? If you believe this is a conspiracy, are you not part of the wrong-headed paranoia permeating the bile of the fear-mongers?

Do the nay-sayers not understand how rigorous the vetting process is?

Many of the Democrats who voted for the House bill said the Obama administration didn’t explain the vetting process in a forceful manner. Huh? They must be joking. No, they’re not. They’re serious. If that’s the case, it behooves them to go over the regulations of the process. One thing they will find is that it could take possibly 18 months before any of these 10,000 refugees would be approved.

The nation’s top law enforcement official said last week she’s disturbed by the tone of the U.S. debate over refugees since the terrorist attacks in Paris. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the House bill would effectively grind the program to a halt. While calling the screening of refugees “important” and “vital,” Lynch said the process was already rigorous, and that there was already an extra screening process for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in place. It’s important to base the debate over refugees on facts, rather than on perceptions originating from a “place of fear,” she said.

“We need to say, we will not let our actions be overtaken by fear, and we will not allow merchants of violence to rob us of our most precious ideals,” Lynch said in a press conference. “Our values are not secondary considerations in the fight against terror – they are central to the work that we do, and they are essential to the nation that we protect.

“They are also the reason that we are a target, and they are what terrorists want most to see us abandon. They want us to live in fear, and we refuse. They want us to change who we are, and what makes us quintessentially American, and that we will never do.”

FBI Director James Comey expressed concern that the legislation would add serious hurdles to the visa waiver program, making it impossible for any refugees to enter the U.S. and affecting travelers from three dozen countries.

Obama remains adamant that he’ll fulfill his promise to within a year accept 10,000 of the more than 4 million Syrians who have fled years of civil war and terrorism. It’s not clear whether the legislation will reach Obama’s desk. Senate Democrats have vowed to block the bill.

“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate,” Obama has said repeatedly.

Fairness Is Not About Newspaper Column Inches

The principles of journalism are wrapped in many bundles. Who, what, when, where, why and how certainly rank up there. So does accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. And, of course, fairness.

But practitioners of neo-journalism seem to fail in providing news with a principled approach. Too often the stories lack the tenets that have made reporters reliable in presenting news. They are missing the point of fairness, for example. Fairness does not necessarily mean that one side gets five inches of a column and the opposing side five inches.

No, a hypothesis may call for much more information, many more facts, more sources, more graphics on one particular side. A reporter needs to provides answers so readers can draw the proper conclusions. A reporter should never leave the reader guessing. Get to the bottom of the story.

Long-time journalist James Fallows, writing in the Atlantic monthly, explained in a recent story the problems of differing views. He called it false equivalence, noting there was an almost irresistible instinct in mainstream journalism to present differing views as being equally valid “sides” of an argument, even if one of them was objectively true and the rest were not.

As an example:

False equivalence: “President Obama claims that he was born in the United States and thus is eligible to serve as president; his critics disagree on both counts.”

Actual truth: “Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961; a persistent ‘birther’ movement denies this fact.”

Fallows singled out the House investigations of how the Department of State handled the Benghazi matter. It took mainstream journalism a long time to feel comfortable stating an obvious fact: that the Republican party is going through a push to the extreme unlike anything that is happening to today’s Democrats.

“It feels so much more responsible, and is certainly safer, to write about ‘extremists on both sides,'” Fallows wrote.

Three years ago, Fallows continued, think-tank eminences Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann wrote an essay in the Washington Post, “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.” It took mainstream journalism a long time to be comfortable saying flat-out that today’s congressional GOP is set up to obstruct rather than govern, and that the really bitter division is between those who think the Republican majority has any responsibility to pass budgets or to oversee normal government functions, and those who think it is there to take stands against Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, etc.

Then Fallows added, “It has taken mainstream journalism too long a time to catch up with the reality of the ‘Benghazi Committee,’ run by Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. The reality is that the Republican staff and majority of the committee have made it function as an oppo-research arm of the Republican National Committee, far more interested in whatever it might dig up about or against Hillary Clinton than any remaining mysteries on the four Americans killed in Benghazi.”

Through their commitment to “neutrality,” reporters had been taking sides all along. I have pointed out often about the unraveling of the fairness doctrine in journalism.

By instinct, reporters treat a congressional investigative committee as presumptively legitimate; when they receive leaks from informed committee sources, as obviously has happened for many months, reporters are honor-bound to protect their sources’ identities.

Fallows said, “But the good part of that old-school confidentiality commitment—making clear to our informants that we won’t ever give up their names—has shaded over into a cynically exploitable part.”

He cited a New York Times article that made clear in retrospect what he believed was evident all along: that the steady stream of leaks was coming either from Republican staffers or Republican committee members.

“But while these stories were dribbling out, most notably with the completely false report that Hillary Clinton was the object of a criminal investigation, a claim the Times trumpeted on its front page, reporters added no shading to suggest that these allegations were coming essentially from a partisan oppo-research group,” Fallows said. “To do so would have been to ‘take sides.’ Yet as Kevin McCarthy inconveniently blurted out, through their commitment to ‘neutrality,’ reporters had been taking sides all along.”

He believes readers should view upcoming reports from the Benghazi committee as they would others from partisan organizations with an unreliable track record. And for reporters, it is to recognize the way today’s GOP has played on yesterday’s reflexes within the press. “And don’t let it keep happening,” he said.

Linda Greenhouse, writing three years ago for the Nieman Reports, said, “Inside the profession of journalism, there has been a lively debate going on for years over whether the ‘he said, she said’ format, designed to avoid taking sides on contentious issues, impedes rather than enhances the goal of informing the reader.

“This debate comes up most often during political campaigns, and many press critics and commentators have pointed out how superficial and subject to manipulation that format can be in the context of a campaign. For that reason, many news organizations now publish or post ‘fact-check’ boxes that vet the accuracy of political ads or of candidates’ assertions during debates.”

A leading commentary on the modern practice of journalism, “The Elements of Journalism” by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, omits “fairness” and “objectivity” from its list of the 10 basic elements of journalism, described as “clear principles that journalists agree on—and that citizens have a right to expect.” Why the omissions? “Familiar and even useful” as the idea of fairness and balance may be, the authors say, the very concept “has been so mangled” as to have become part of journalism’s problem, rather than a solution to perceived problems of bias and partiality.

So what does a reader do? Here’s something to think about. Find a reporter. Read his work. Check his facts. Decide on his reliability and credibility. I have such a person. Frank Rich. He’s an essayist, op-ed columnist and writer who held various positions within The New York Times from 1980 to 2011.

He sets an hypothesis and goes after the story.

Chiefs Go For Four in a Row; K-State and KU Fighting to Stay Alive

How ’bout those Chiefs! And you thought they were done. After losing five in a row, they have come back to win three straight.

Kansas State is in the toilet and the flushed water is swirling. Kansas had the dreaded moral victory last Saturday against TCU and now will try for its first victory of the season against 28-point favorite West Virginia.

Can you believe it — the Chiefs actually are a favorite on the road after such woeful performances in that five-game losing streak. They are giving San Diego three points.

Phil Rivers is an always dangerous quarterback but the Chargers lost five straight games going into last week’s bye. The time off no doubt provided an opportunity for the team to regroup and prepare for the final stretch of games.

The Chiefs offense still sputters and the right side of the line remains a question mark. Tackle Jah Reid was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty, and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif surrendered four quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.

They are winning now with strong defense, particularly from outside linebacker Justin Houston and rookie cornerback Marcus Peters. In defeating Denver, 29-13, last week, the Chiefs held the Broncos to 40 yards total offense in the first half. They had to have the defense as the offense produced just 19 points in the first half, settling for four field goals.

Defense and a protecting-the-ball offense — quarterback Alex Smith hasn’t turned the ball over since Week 3 — should provide enough against the Chargers. But I’m not sold yet so I’ll pass on betting this game, but I do think KC will maintain the streak.

Kansas State fans were chirping that the Cats would fare much better down the stretch because they were facing lower echelon teams after a front-loaded powerful schedule. Excuse me. These Cats will struggle with every single game left in the season playing in a mistake-prone mode like they’ve done in the current six-game losing streak.

Being at home Saturday should help, though. With all the misery, it seems strange that they lost just 36-34 at Oklahoma State — undefeated Oklahoma State, that is — and 31-24 at home to Baylor. Lately, they allowed opponents to get off to good starts and then they have spent the rest of the game trying to catch up.

They appear to be talent poor. Injuries have played a role there. But there’s more to it than that. Overall team speed is lacking. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be leadership on either side of the ball. With all that, do you want to fool around with the Cats giving 6 points Saturday. I don’t. But I think the Cats will bounce back.

As for KU, eh. West Virginia can cover the 28 points but will the Mountaineers go through the motions. The Jayhawks have played with gutty determination but the season is dragging out and that usually means a letdown for a team without any victories. But I will give it a shot for $11 — just a lot of points at home.

The Oklahoma-TCU game would have been a headliner but the Horned Frogs have two very serious injuries — quarterback Trevone Boykin and receiver Josh Doctson. Boykin had been in the Heisman Trophy mix and Doctson is considered one of the receivers in the country. After the loss to Texas, Oklahoma has reeled off five straight victories in averaging 55.2 points a game. That’s almost basketball figures. Now, Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield is getting Heisman consideration. The point spread may change at game time because of the injuries but for now, it’s listed at OU minus-5. I like the Sooners and will go with $33.

Yes, of course, the Baylor at Oklahoma State game would have been a headliner, too. It’s still a biggie but not quite so much after the Bears dropped the 44-34 decision last week vs. Oklahoma, their first loss of the season. The Cowboys escaped with a 35-31 victory last Saturday at Iowa State. The Bears are playing with a back-up quarterback, true freshman Jarrett Stidham, after touted Seth Russell suffered a season-ending neck injury. The Cowboys are a one-point favorite and I like them, kinda. I’ll go with $11.

The NFL has four betting trends to consider: Minnesota and Carolina are 8-1 against the spread, Cincy 7-1-1 and Baltimore 1-7-1.

The marquee NFL game pits Cincy at Arizona; another one is super intriguing, Denver at Chicago.

Chicago Coach John Fox will be facing his old team and he has the Bears playing quite well, thank you. And the Broncos? Well, is 39-year-old Peyton Manning on the cusp of retiring? He’s injured and won’t play Sunday, for sure. In his place is former Arizona State quarterback 6-8 Brock Osweiler, getting his first NFL career start. Fox has Jay Cutler playing well at quarterback and you can be sure he wants to impress his former players and bosses.. Denver plays good defense so that may be the reason the Bears are favored just by one point. That’s good enough for me. Go with the Bears for $22.

Is it time for the Bengals to go into a late-season swoon? Their offense looked pitiful in the 10-6 loss last Sunday to the mediocre Texans. Okay, okay, it was just the first loss of the season. However, they must go on the road again and face the hot quarterback in Carson Palmer. I like the Cardinals for $11 laying the four points.

NFL $22 bet: Minnesota -1 vs. Green Bay.

NFL $11 bets: Detroit +2 vs. Oakland, Dallas +1 at Miami, Baltimore -2 vs. St. Louis, Philadelphia -5½ vs. Tampa, New England -7 vs. Buffalo.

NFL picks: Jacksonville -3 vs. Tennessee, Carolina -7 vs. Washington, Indy +6 at Atlanta, Houston +2½ vs. NY Jets, Seattle -12½ vs. San Fran.

College $11 bets: Louisville +2 at Pittsburgh, Indiana +3 at Maryland, Ole Miss -4 vs. LSU, Minnesota -4½ vs. Illinois, North Carolina -6½ at Virginia Tech, Arkansas -3½ vs. Mississippi State, Michigan State +13½ at Ohio State, Michigan -4 at Penn State.

I’m plus $11 in the NFL and minus $36 in colleges.



Paranoia, Jingoism, Xenophobia — Big Words Focus on Big GOP Misinformation

The Republicans are spreading Syrian refugee misinformation like a sleazy tout at the race track. If they aren’t busy doing that, they’re hyping the need to put boots on the ground in the Mideast like a gun dealer supplying arms to mercenaries.

I don’t have access to all the documents, files and military intelligence about what is going on in the Mideast but I can flat out tell you the Republican jingoists have no business stoking the fires of war. Oh, but the neo-cons want war. They spread fear like a battalion of Freddy Kruegers. Unfortunately, too many people buy into these base instincts of bellicose thought.

Take Bill Kristol, the Prince of the Neo-cons. He pushed and shoved to get the country into the Iraq wars, chiding and chastising the Bush Men that they must push democracy in the land of theocracy. The neo-con cabinet got its war and the world in general is suffering with the results. Now Billy Boy wants to put 50,000 men into the Mideast to fight ISIS. And Billy Boy has never been in the military — call him Chicken Hawk.

Terrorism, indeed, is a real threat. These fanatics are like ants; you spray them with Raid and they keep coming back for more. The more you bomb these terrorists, these extremists, the more they come out of the woodwork. The crazies rule the asylum in an area disorganized by the strife of war.

The U.S. no longer needs the oil of the Mideast. It is time to back off and let diplomacy find a way through the labyrinth of distrust, poverty, greed, charlatans and religious fanaticism.

So what should be done?

President Obama has this issue pegged right.

Since August 2014, Obama has built a coalition of more than 60 European and Arab allies to combat ISIS,  authorized near-daily air strikes on its positions in Iraq and Syria, approved the deployment of U.S. advisers to Iraq and special forces to Syria, and sent aid to locals willing to tackle the extremists on the ground — Kurdish peshmerga fighters and the Iraqi military in Iraq and nationalist Sunni Arab groups and the Syrian Kurds in Syria. He has dismissed calls for a full-scale ground invasion in Iraq and Syria and promised instead an intensification of the current strategy.

With Americans reeling from the news that the Islamic State group killed 129 people and wounded 352 last Friday in Paris, Republican presidential candidates are scurrying to show they can manage the U.S. fight against the terrorist group better than Obama. That’s difficult, though, because almost none of them has elucidated a path forward that is notably different from the policies already in place.

Jeb Bush, who tweeted Monday that “President Obama doesn’t understand we are at war,” has expressed a desire to do more but has said little beyond mentioning the deployment of more special operators — which would be building on an Obama move — and making clear that like Obama, he does not see a need for a major American combat presence.

He claims Obama has no strategy. Well, Jeb doesn’t know if he’s on foot or horseback. After what his family has done in the Mideast, you should be careful in listening to anything he says. Obama, for sure, has laid out a strategy.

The whole terrorist crisis is above my pay scale. But as I listen to what the Republicans say — and especially what Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio offers — my knowledge is just as keen as his.

Rubio has reversed his support for resettling Syrian refugees in the United States. In an appearance on Sunday’s This Week, Rubio explained: “The problem is we can’t background check them. You can’t pick up the phone and call Syria. And that’s one of the reasons why I said we won’t be able to take more refugees. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that we can’t. Because there’s no way to background check someone that’s coming from Syria. Who do you call and do a background check on them?”

So misinformed. Syrian refugees are vetted more than any other ethnic group, according to Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer.

“This country has a long history of being a nation of immigrants and a nation founded by people who are fleeing persecution, she said. “That’s sort of who we are as a country and each wave of immigrants and refugees enriches our communities and helps this country become stronger.”

Potential refugees first apply for asylum through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the international body in charge of protecting and assisting refugees.

The UNHCR essentially decides who merits refugee status based on the parameters laid out in the 1951 Refugee Convention, which states that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

The average processing time for refugee applications is 12 to 18 months, but Syrian applications can take significantly longer because of security concerns and difficulties in verifying their information. Several federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are involved in the process, which Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner recently called, “the most stringent security process for anyone entering the United States.”

These agencies use biographical and biometric information about applicants to conduct a background check and make sure applicants really are who they say they are.

U.S. government data shows that just under 2,200 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the United States since the civil war broke out in March of 2011, and the vast majority of those were in the last year.

And this point, the terrorists that struck Paris? All were from Europe.

Obama has committed the U.S. to Syrian 10,000 refugees. That, according to administration officials, is small when compared to 10 times and more who are headed to Europe. Donald Trump said Obama was opening the way for hundreds of thousands to enter the U.S. Hey, Donald has a way of words, no matter that they are full of hyperbolic crap.

Essayist Robert Creamer wrote on Huffington Post that most Americans look back on the refusal to admit the Jewish refugees during Hitler’s time as a shameful blot on American history. Today the flow of refugees are Muslim, Christian and Yazidi. They are fleeing ISIS and the horrific civil war in Syria. But the GOP continues to slam the refugee process and Creamer said, “The sole purpose of their declarations was political demagoguery — to play on the fears that erupted in the wake of the Paris attacks — to whip up fear of ‘the other’ for their own political gain.”

Oh, but this fear. The definition of xenophobia: an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.

Obama says the political posturing needs to stop. The Associated Press quoted Obama: “At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three year old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.” He was referring to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s assertion that not even refugee children should be allowed into the United States.

Ol’ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback didn’t waste any time joining his cadre of right wing-nut leaders in shifting into the fear mode. He issued an executive order mandating that no state agencies help relocate refugees in Kansas. He directed state agencies, departments and boards or commissions not to participate or assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees to Kansas.

He obviously doesn’t know about the stringent vetting. He should know that states do not have the legal authority to block their borders; however, states can tie up the process by freezing funds.

It’s time to take a break to contemplate the upheaval of this terrorism. War will not settle the Mideast issue. Diplomacy can. We should all let the process work.

Path to Oligarchy Widens

You should be concerned about what is going on in politics. It’s just not the conservatives; it’s the right wing-nuts. It’s not just about the money thrown into the political pot; it’s the arrogance of those who are ruling our country. They don’t care about cutting the budget; they want to diminish public education, entitlements and regulations. They want government out of their lives.

The effects show up in sundry and various ways. The Koch Brothers are multi-billionaires and donate lots of money to politicians who speak the language of the John Birch Society. They find numerous ways to make their money work.

The electorate is allowing candidates with no idea of leadership to find ways into politics. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson lies about his background and simply sloughs it off. And his followers slough it off, sometimes simply be saying the charges are falsely put forth by the liberal media.

The money is flowing behind these candidates with oligarchy on their minds. Former President Jimmy Carter recently said he never would have been elected in the money-dominated campaigns of today.

The Koch Brothers are infiltrating not only the election process but also the university systems.

Documents were released recently in the settlement of a lawsuit at the University of Kansas and they offer a revealing window into an underreported Koch brothers’ strategy of targeting college campuses.

These facts about KU and the Kochs come from published reports, including wire service and internet reports. In March 2014, economist Art Hall testified before the Kansas state senate, urging repeal of the state’s renewable energy standard. He identified himself as the executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at the University of Kansas School of Business.

The documents show Hall left out pertinent information. The funding for the research came from a foundation controlled by Charles and David Koch; his academic center was founded and endowed by the Kochs; the foundation paid a portion of his salary, and Hall took the position as the Center’s first executive director directly after having spent seven years working for a Koch subsidiary as an economist and lobbyist.

Koch Industries, the second largest privately-held company in the United States, has significant holdings in oil refining, pipelines, gas production and coal. Hall’s testimony disparaged renewable energy standards; his remarks most likely would have been perceived differently had he disclosed his close ties to the Kochs rather than portraying himself as an independent, unaffiliated researcher at a state university.

You can readily see how the money plays a pernicious role in a politics/education hook-up. The secret funding of Hall’s academic work must raise questions about the political strings attached to the many millions of dollars the Koch brothers are known to have spent in the past decade at colleges and universities throughout the country.

This conflict of interest points to the urgent need for greater transparency about academic funding to ensure that independent scientific and economic analysis is actually independent.

But with so much money involved, so many are ready to stick their hands out for more, more, more.

The process simply spells out in bold letters just how corrupt the political system is.

Donald Trump is making a mockery of the election process with all his sarcasm, shtick and crassness but Carson is No. 1 when it comes to a candidate of the bizarre.

What’s the difference between the United States and Cuba? According to Carson, it’s Fox News. There you have it. Fox faux news. The pride of wing-nuts.

Last year, according to published reports, Carson said, “Even if all the media tries to shut you down — which they have tried very much to do with me, but they can’t because the good Lord has provided me with mechanisms like my syndicated column and like Fox News. We’d be Cuba if there were no Fox News, I ought to tell you.”

At the time, Carson was a paid contributor to the network.

Those remarks were posted on-line by Mother Jones and Media Matters.

In 1998, he said that the pyramids in Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain and not by the ancient Egyptian as tombs for the pharaohs. He doubled down later on CBS: “It’s still my belief, yes.”

Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist and evangelicals have flocked to him in support.

There’s a report out there now that Carson fabricated the story about a scholarship offer to West Point. Here’s an excerpt from Politico:

“Politico stands by its reporting on this story, which has been updated to reflect Ben Carson’s on the record response. The original story and headline said that Carson’s campaign had admitted he ‘fabricated’ a ‘full scholarship’ from West Point, but now Carson denies that his campaign’s statement constituted such an admission, and the story and headline were changed to reflect that. Politico’s reporting established that Carson said he received a ‘full scholarship’ from West Point, in writing and in public appearances over the years — but in fact he did not and there is actually no such thing as a ‘full scholarship’ to the taxpayer-funded academy. And today in response to Politico he acknowledged for the first time that was not the case. Carson never explicitly wrote that he had applied for admission to West Point, although that was the clear implication of his claim to have received an offer of a ‘full scholarship,’ a point that Politico’s initial report should have made clear.”

With the likes of Trump and Carson making statements on the campaign trail, these types of stories are more prevalent when the people should be digesting more important issues, like education, infrastructure and health.

Carter certainly understands the problems. When Oprah Winfrey and Carter sat down for a recent interview before he announced he had melanoma, he said, “There’s no way now for you to get a Democratic or Republican nomination without being able to raise $200 or $300 million, or more. I would not be inclined to do that, and I would not be capable of doing it.”

He believes the political system has warped into something completely unrecognizable, adding, “We’ve become, now, an oligarchy instead of a democracy. I think that’s been the worst damage to the basic moral and ethical standards to the American political system that I’ve ever seen in my life.”

That’s why you should be scared, or at least very concerned, about the political system today. And you should get out there and vote to make the proper changes.

Kreisler a Star in the Journalism Field

I don’t recall specifics of my first day at the Kansas City Star. Fresh out of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, however, I know I felt confident I could do my job in the sports department. I had a rush, like facing the top pitcher in the KC 3&2 League for the first time, like the date at the junior-senior prom, like picking up my diploma at Memorial Stadium.

I had worked at the Star as a kid, stuffing early sections into the Sunday issue newspapers. It would take me a couple of days to get the ink mist from the presses out of my nose. But, hey, I was making a buck an hour. But the first time with work in the news room … now that was something else.

I gladly accepted the $98 a week salary. After all, I was going to be with sports guys I had read since my high school days at Northeast. Ernie Mehl, Joe McGuff, Bob Busby and Sid Bordman — they were bylines I knew. Busby was my hero. I read him and watched him on Jay Barrington’s Pigskin Picks and dearly loved it when Busby offered up his Blue Plate Specials. I soon learned what a character and a great newspaper man he was.

I was going to learn a lot about others on the staff, too. One of them was Fritz Kreisler.

I said good-bye to Fritz last Friday at his funeral. He died at age 84 and what great years they were for him. He was the consummate ink-stained wretch. He did it all at the newspaper and he was damn good at everything he did.

He taught me so much. All I had to do is just listen and watch what he did. He was affable, yet intense. an very talented.

In my early days at the Star, you needed to multi-task, from copy editing to understanding the hot-type process. When I was there, Fritz “made up” a lot on Saturday nights, always a busy time for sports and usually with a newspaper that had considerable space to fill. Fritz’s planning had the foresight of a man who knew what he was doing.

However, I recall a few nights when he stomped down the stairs from the composing room, uttered strong words and threw pencils at the wall. Making four deadlines with a big paper can create stress. In no time, however, he was back to his usual get-the-job-done persona.

When Fritz began at the Star, staff stories were transmitted from off-site venues by Western Union. Manual typewriters filled the newsroom. Sheets of stories were pasted together with that god-awful flour and water goo and sent to the composing room by pneumatic tubes. You really could hear a desk man yell, “copy,” with a young guy or girl picking up the stack of stories from the spike. There really was a re-write man taking dictation from a reporter at the scene. The city editor picked up tips off the police radio. Photographers used unwieldy cameras with flash bulbs. The composing room had two proof readers per galley of type, one reading out loud and one correcting.

They all meshed to produce a really good newspaper. Oh those were the days when so many things made newspapering gratifying and fun.

In whatever task, Fritz gave it his all. For example, he wrote the best area high school roundup ever. He had contacts from Butler to Brookfield, from Cole Camp to Cameron. Facts and more facts. The stories made for terrific reading, even if you weren’t a high school buff.

Fritz wasn’t a character, as such. He simply was a superb newspaperman working in a profession that has undergone a change for the worse, from not taking advantage of technology to not understanding the benefits of solid journalism.

There’s no longer a linotype operator who impishly would drop the “l” in “public” and no longer city editors who would file a bottle of booze under “b” in the library morgue. Instead, newspapers have evolved into money-scratching corporate entities, more interested in paying shareholders than providing good reading for subscribers.

Let me tell you something: Those old days of characters and all-around newspapermen knew journalism and the country was better off for them.

You won’t find many with Fritz’s attributes still around and you sure as heck won’t come across many Jimmy Breslins.

Yeah, that Jimmy Breslin. I use him only as a microcosm of past newspaper characters.

Here are three of his quotes:

  1. Football is a game designed to keep coal miners off the streets.
  2. When you stop drinking, you have to deal with this marvelous personality that started you drinking in the first place.
  3. Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.

Breslin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who still writes a column for the New York Daily News’ Sunday edition.

One of his best known columns was published the day after John F. Kennedy’s funeral and focused on the man who had dug the president’s grave. The column is indicative of Breslin’s style, which often highlights how major events or the actions of those considered “newsworthy” affect the “common man”.

In 1970, he was attacked and beaten at The Suite, a restaurant then owned by the Lucchese crime family associate Henry Hill. The assault was carried out by mobster Jim Burke, who objected to an article Breslin had written involving another member of the Lucchese family, Paul Vario. Breslin suffered a concussion.

Breslin wrote “The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” based upon Joey Gallo and his attempt to carve a niche from the Lucchesse Family.

Not limiting his problems to the outside world, Breslin found trouble within the profession. In 1990, fellow Newsday columnist Ji-Yeon Mary Yuh described one of his articles as sexist. Breslin heatedly retorted with racial and sexual invective. Asian American and anti-hate groups forcefully decried Breslin’s outburst. Breslin appeared on the Howard Stern Show to banter about his outburst and Koreans in general. After this controversial radio broadcast, Newsday suspended Breslin, who then apologized. Hey, he’s a character, not necessarily a prim and proper person.

The politically correct hygienic corporate world of newspapers today don’t have knock-down, drag-out fights of past news rooms. Now the only wrong-headed things you hear about are bits of plagiarism, continual stories of personnel down-sizing and a little hanky-panky. Back in the old says there was big hanky-panky.

Hell, many of the reporters today don’t even come into the office to exchange banter and good jokes. Instead of salient pieces of journalism, too often they write vapid too long stories.

Kreisler, whose career at the Star spanned seven decades, always worked hard to develop factual stories, leaving the opinion pieces for the columnists.

“He loved journalism,” said Emily Kreisler, Fritz’s wife. “And he did it all.”

Equality and Knowledge at Odds — So You Face Adversity and Move On

Two of the biggest myths in life are “all men are created equal” and “it’s what you know and not who you know.”

Every time I walked into a locker room shower after gym class, I knew all men weren’t created equal.

I’ve looked around and the various venues have produced people that are more than my equal. Every time I watched the Topeka city champion hit his huge drive with a high draw, I knew all men weren’t created equal. Every time I checked out the New York Times crossword puzzle and read where Rex Parker solved it in less than 10 minutes, I knew all men weren’t created equal. Every time I looked at the features section showing artful faces sculpted on pumpkins, I knew all men weren’t created equal.

And we’re not even talking about the gold standards of greatness, like Nicklaus, like Einstein, like Michelangelo.

Simply look at various cultures and you can see how all men are not created equal — from impoverished areas of Bangladesh to the truck farms of California, from those born blind and deaf in the slums to those with genetic disease along the border. No, we are not created equal.

And ask yourself if you have seen those with limited abilities climb the ladder of success because daddy knew the general manager at the store. Or ask yourself if you got a fair shake on the basketball team because the other kid was close to the coach. Or ask yourself if you didn’t get a raise but the other guy with a different color of skin got one.

Sometimes the two myths combine for double whammies. Fair? No way.

The key to it all is how you face that adversity. You can rise out of poverty if you can find the will to do so. You can find a niche in life where you can be successful. Sometimes, you must play the cards that are dealt you. But to say you had equal footing with certain others just can’t be true. Earth is an orb of unequal highs and lows. How you transcend the path determines how you will fare.

Read the Declaration of Independence again. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In the eyes of the law, some will say you are equal. But that isn’t true either.

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was quoted: “We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe — some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others — some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of men. But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal — there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.”

That, too, is foolish in theory. Some get better lawyers because they can afford to do so. Some justice doesn’t fit the crime. The court system is so unequal that the mere thought is ludicrous.

Thomas Jefferson’s famous words are beautiful; they simply don’t stand up to even momentary analysis. Sure, it really is better to be smart than ignorant. It really is better to be fast than slow. It really is better to be sane than crazy. To the degree of difference certainly is something we can debate.

It is not true that it is self-evident that all men are created equal because it is not self-evident. Things can only be self-evidently true if they are analytically true, or if the truth is part of a definition of the thing. But what of the idea that all individual men are created equal? Certainly the circumstances of their birth have not been equal.

But you can’t whine about it. So what do you do? Good question.

Some can’t handle seeing another step over him in a job move. All the rage, however, lends to more turmoil within. You can order another gin and tonic but that soon creates even more problems.

Raw deals lead to a crutch or another theory to explain how someone moved up the work ladder and you didn’t. You spout off about the Peter Principle. That is a concept in management theory formulated by Laurence J. Peter, Canadian educator and hierarchiologist, in which the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”

Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.

Rosa Parks said, “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”

Aristotle wrote, Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Steve Jobs said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

William Shakespeare wrote, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

Still, I can hear the words of one of my high school teachers, exhorting me to do well in life, making sure that I understood that what I knew was so much more important than who I knew. I had just lost out to the big stud athlete to become sports editor on the school newspaper. The teacher knew him to be the big popular guy in sports. Not how he could write a story.

A who-you-know world does exist. However, you don’t give up. You face the adversity and move on.