Hey, Kansas, You Still Likin’ Those Votes?

Voters in Kansas decided to place the right wing-nuts in office and now they must face the negative results. They had ample warning what would take place, yet they voted against their own best interests.

Sam Brownback is the governor. Kevin Yoder is a congressman. You, Mr. Jayhawk, you, Ms. Wildcat, voted for them.

A little more than a month has passed since the mid-term elections and the pangs of and pains of what the wing-nuts have and will wrought stand harshly before the populace, a populace nearing a middle class calamity. The poor and disenfranchised already face ordeals in supporting their families.

All this reminds me of an old saw: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. Kansans, you knew what you were doing at the polls.

A statement by Brownback after the election shows just how callous and disingenuous the man can be. He didn’t think there was a massive budget deficit projected for the state. The man said that. His Democrat opponent, Paul Davis, repeated the concern throughout the campaign. Too many Kansans didn’t listen. Newspapers spoke of it, economists spoke of it, even the state’s own numbers crunchers spoke of it.

Well, as they said down on the farm near Abilene, the chickens have come home to roost.

Then there’s Yoder, the Overland Park representative who likes skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee. Yeah, that Yoder, the one with the squeeze-the-government-and-help-the-rich gang. They are repaying their benefactors. The people of Kansas and beyond will feel the dire consequences.

Jennifer Bendery, a political writer for the Huffington Post, penned recently: “For all the anger among progressives about a Wall Street bailout provision that made its way into the just-passed $1.1 trillion government spending bill, there’s been little attention on the person who put it in there.”

Enter Yoder, a second-term congressman whose main contributors are in the finance industry. He introduced the provision last summer. It was literally written by Citigroup executives, but Yoder took their language and rolled it into an amendment to a spending bill in a House subcommittee meeting. It got swept into the year-end spending package because it “was within the scope of negotiations” on it, according to an Appropriations Committee aide, Bendery wrote.

Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren railed against the provision on the Senate floor. The speech, so say some pols, will push her into a presidential run. For now, she’s upset about a banking rule that no longer will be in force. That regulation prevents big banks from relying on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to bail them out if things go sour when they trade risky assets. The rule was put into place as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which overhauled the financial regulatory system after the 2007-2008 financial crisis stemming from banks making extremely risky bets and losing.

Yoder’s provision paves the way for another possible bailout.

He had been mum about the spending package since it passed the House. Bendery said his office hadn’t responded to multiple requests for comment on why he slipped the Citigroup language into it. For awhile, the press statements on his website said nothing about the provision or the spending bill. There were no posts about it on his Facebook page. He had said nothing in his Twitter feed.

However, Bendery noted that his Facebook page showed numerous comments from those catching on that he was the one behind the Wall Street provision. And they’re not happy, Bendery said.

Three with Kansas ties who wrote:

“I have always voted for you, Congressman Yoder, but I am disappointed with your yes vote on the Omnibus bill and we, your constituents, deserve an explanation as to why,” wrote Dianne Lavenburg, who lives in DeSoto. “[P]lease clarify your involvement regarding the taxpayer bailouts for risky bank investments also included in the Omnibus bill.”

Kevin West, a student at Kansas State, said, “How much did Citi donate in exchange for you inserting their requested verbiage?”

Scott Gregory of Roeland Park said, “I’m sure the good folks of the 3rd District were just beating down the door to get CITI favored treatment. You are a sell-out to Wall Street lobbyists.”

The flood of negatives apparently woke Yoder from his hibernation because Tuesday he answered the criticism: “Without this fix, smaller regional banks would be in danger of not being able to meet the lending needs of their customers. Ultimately, farmers, manufacturers and other Main Street businesses would be harmed the most.”

Those statements, too, are disputed. Warren blasted the provision as a loophole that would allow Wall Street to gamble with taxpayer money.

The Kansas City Star editorial page continues to do a good job of pointing out Brownback’s inept leadership. Other media are joining in.

Luke Brinker, Salon’s deputy politics editor, wrote recently that Brownback was calling all hands on deck to fix the state’s huge self-imposed budget crisis. And that includes an assist from an unlikely source, Obamacare.

“The state’s well-documented budget troubles came after Brownback’s dramatic reductions in taxes since taking office in 2011,” Brinker wrote. “With its revenue drying up and cash reserves depleted, Kansas is staring at a $280 million hole in its $6.4 billion FY 2015 budget, which ends in June.”

Brownback offered his proposal for closing that hole last week: a mixture of spending cuts and transferring funds from other parts of the budget to fill it. And second biggest of those transfers is $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program that was bolstered under the Affordable Care Act.

Brinker said, “The short version then is this: Obamacare is helping Kansas address its fiscal crisis — even if Brownback’s administration seems loath to admit it.”

Will Brownback’s war on government leave the state in shambles? Grover Norquist, the ultra conservative with only tax cuts on his mind, once said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

Brownback wants to do the same thing. But he must stare down that $280 million budget shortfall — one that is growing by the day. Could he rescind his much ballyhooed tax cut plan? Should he renege on his signature tax cuts, which have wreaked fiscal havoc on the state, or follow the Norquist playbook? Just how would the budget remain viable?

The conservative response was predictable. Just as they had during the campaign, the Kansas army of Koch-funded soldiers blamed liberals as the real culprits. Why? Because they wouldn’t swallow the massive spending cuts that would have been required to pay for Brownback’s tax cuts.

You may recall that Roy Merrick, Republican state House speaker, said, “The new revenue estimates only highlight the continuing need to protect core services while streamlining state government. We do not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem.”

The state has already implemented huge cuts in education funding, mental health services and aid to more than 1,400 disabled. Where can the budget slasher go next?

Brownback has said he will cut highway funding and reduce contributions to the state’s pension fund, which is already one of the worst funded in the country.

Wonder how Kansans will thank Brownback and Yoder?

Two Dynamic Ways to Become More Viable in Society: Learn English and Vote

Oftentimes conflict can lead to positive results if properly channeled.

Two contentious ideological topics usually get me in trouble with progressives but I believe that my hypotheses would lead to more understanding, more growth, more symbiosis.

Here we go. Immigrants must fast-track to speaking English and minorities must jam the polling sites.

Those efforts don’t seem to be too difficult, do they. They’re not monumental. They’re not like discovering the cure for  cancer. They’re simply paths for making progress in society, helping people perform certain civic and educational duties.

I’ve used this anecdote before in discussing how learning the English language allows for upward mobility in society. As a youngster, I was a friend of many Italians and on visits to some of their family homes, I heard the incessant chatter of a foreign language. I didn’t understand what they were saying and they didn’t understand me. That created an impersonal aura. The reasons for not participating in English, I learned later, was simply cultural — an inner need to keep their ties to the old country. Little Italy was no melting pot.

However, as the years passed, the young people went to school and learned English. Now Italians disseminate throughout the city, doing well in business, doing well in education, simply doing well. English allowed them to communicate to become viable members of society.

Oh my yes, pride of being Italian remains. Yes indeed.

Hispanics are now the Italians of the past. Many have difficulty making headway in the complex world of United States culture. They fight for dual-language courses. Instead, they should be pushing for extra class work to learn English. It’s the only way to go.

Yes, I’m a little selfish because I get tired of “Punch one for English or two for Spanish.” The costs of doubling up on language runs high. I hate to sound dictatorial but English is spoken in the United States, so learn the language. All would be better off if that moved front and center.

I love the Spanish language. It was my minor in college. I studied Central and South American history and literature. Some of the strongest writings came during the Mexican Revolution. It is a beautiful language and much easier to learn than English. The idioms are as plentiful and most of them are regional in nature.

The point is that Hispanics can continue to become integral parts of daily routines simply by picking up the pace in learning English.

Now, the political problems. If minorities don’t vote, how in the world do they think they can protect their interests?

You know surely about the Ferguson, Missouri problems. You also should know that blacks far outnumber whites in the community yet whites control local government. Why? Blacks don’t vote in numbers. Only 12 percent of registered black voters went to the polls in the last election. Vote, for crying out loud. Instead of putting so much energy in protests, get out the vote.

Can you imagine how much better their lives would be if they took charge of the elected offices. It’s mind-boggling why they don’t vote.

From the South, I hear moans and groans about how voting wouldn’t do much good because the segregationists control everything. Hey, band together, get to the polls. Fight the suppression and stop whining. Yes, there’s a fear factor. Intimidation exists in the South.

However, with President Obama running, blacks came out in numbers. They must understand that white supremacy forces don’t sleep at election time. Blacks need to be ever vigilant, no matter if it’s a general election or a national one or an off-year vote. Go to the polls.

Yes, the political chicanery is frustrating. I go nuts watching television news moderators ask stupid questions on certain political situations. I yell and scream for them to ask the tough questions, follow up with more digging when they receive half-truth answers, obfuscating responses and outright lies from many of these politicians. Yes, frustrating, but you gotta vote.

Democrats need to become more progressive. When the Republicans swamp an election, too many Democrats turn right instead of understanding that many of those who lost didn’t pay attention to more progressive thought.

Much is being made of how the Republicans scored big wins in the mid-terms. One of the reasons is that minorities stayed away from the polls. Of course, minorities shouldn’t shoulder all the blame. That’s not the point. However, please provide a little more election activism instead of protests, huh.

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu is the latest Democrat to lose a seat in the mid-terms. The three-term incumbent, who chairs the influential Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, worked hard in the last days of the campaign to bring black voters to the polls.

Democrats shouldn’t wait until the late stages to push for support from certain factions. They need to learn that they must provide for the progressive base during Senate sessions all the time, not just when it becomes campaign necessary.

When confronted with Republican lock-step ideology, Democrats must stand strong and fight. Don’t fall for all that compromise bull. Before there can be concessions, there must be strength.

The Democrats certainly are losing their swagger.

Bill Cassidy’s victory enabled Louisiana to put two Republican senators into office at the same time — something not done since 1876.

Black votes were down by more than 17,000. No wonder. Landrieu stays mainly in the camp of big oil. That seldom satisfies the needs of black families.

Her loss meant that the Deep South is Deep Red in the Senate. The Southern Strategy instituted by Richard Nixon has worked wonderfully for the Republicans. Not so well for the blacks. You would think that the country is setting up another North-South war of strife. It goes beyond that. It is more rural vs. city, more big state vs. little state, more conservative vs. liberal. The dichotomy is a clear and present danger to America’s well-being.

I hear that progressives must be less partisan. My gosh, Obama has resembled a sycophant too many times in negotiations with the Republicans. You cannot be all things to all parties. State your business and let the chips fall where they may.

I stand up for my political beliefs. I get in trouble, yes. Sometimes, the discussions produce freshness and clarity. Recently, with after-dinner drinks building in number, my conversation with others grew more intense. All of a sudden, a voice blurted, “Let’s face it. So many see the problem of the country as having a black man as President.”

There you are. In a nutshell. But the voice was right on. Conservatives pooh-pooh the idea that they hate Obama because he’s black. They can deny all they want, but it’s the truth. Pure and simple. No wonder his approval ratings are so low because Fox News and other conservative media outlets pound him every day. And 98 percent of those working him over are white. It’s as if they say, no black man is going to be telling me what to do.

Obama prescribes time and vigilance to tackle problems as entrenched in American society as racism and bias. He realizes prejudices are deeply rooted in history. He believes America has made gains, and that provides hope for making more progress.

Obama advises young people to be persistent because typically progress is in steps, it’s in increments.

He may be right but the country needs action now and two ways to help progress in life is to learn English and go vote.

Whether Irony or Just Vindication, Chiefs Stay in Battle for Playoff Spot

The Chiefs needed this victory. To at least quiet the negative rumblings. To at least get a semblance of a team with talent. To at least have a shot at the playoffs. To at least mitigate the bad feeling of losing three in a row.

But, man, it took some doing. An 81-yard punt return by De’Anthony Thomas, a three-touchdown burst within five minutes during the third quarter, an offense with dotted with long plays and a run defense unmercifully criticized that fought back. All those things and more contributed to a 31-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson told reporters, “The whole second half it started falling apart and we were never able to recover and it got out of hand.” Amen.

The Chiefs led only 10-6 with a little less than 7 minutes to go in the third quarter. Then came the falling apart for the Raiders. The touchdown assault:

  • Knile Davis, 3-yard run, 9 plays, 70 yards, 6:46, 17-6.
  • Travis Kelce, 20-yard pass from Alex Smith, 2 plays, 21 yards, 5:50, 24-6.
  • Davis, 70-yard pass from Smith, 3 plays, 70 yards, 2:04, 31-6.

Nice job, huh.

There certainly was irony in the game. You may recall Kelce fumbled away a chance to get the Chiefs into the end zone last week in the 17-14 loss at Arizona. Then Sunday, with the Chiefs ahead just 10-3 just after the half started, Kelce fumbled again, leading to a Raider field goal that cut the lead to 10-6. Fortunately for the Chiefs, the defense did its job in keeping the Raiders out of the end zone.

Then came the Atonement of Travis Kelce. The 20-yard TD play. Oh but Travis, please be careful. As he crossed the goal, he held the ball with an outstretched hand — perilously. He was hit hard and if the ball had been knocked loose, who knows what would have happened. Oh the scorn that would have come his way. He’s an emotional player, but he needs to corral his showmanship, at least think about the consequences.

How about Davis! In that TD pass play, he raced out of the backfield, streaked along the hash marks and made an in-stride catch. No one was going to catch him. There’s irony here, too. KC fans have been wringing their hands wondering what would happen if Jamaal Charles were injured. Well, Charles is banged up and Davis did just fine, thank you, with 2 touchdowns. Yes. He gained only 11 yards in 9 carries. Okay, so he isn’t Jamaal Charles.

It was tough going for Charles, too. He had 52 yards in 12 carries and only 1 catch for a yard.

Speed kills and Thomas was the terminator Sunday. He has been close to breaking a return and this time he got it. He picked up a nice block from Kelcie McCray and streaked down the left sideline. At the goal line, he somersaulted into the end zone. The Chiefs were on the scoreboard, not with a circus catch but with a circus act.

Smith certainly contributed to the contrary day. He doesn’t have a strong arm, they say. He can’t stay in the pocket and locate secondary targets, they say. Well, Smith had 18 completions in 30 attempts for 297 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Take that, critics. And he threw deep, too.

What wasn’t very pretty was Arrowhead flag day. Kansas City had 11 penalties for 84 yards while Oakland had 10 for 75.

But Chiefs fans will overlook that, no doubt, with the victory.

The much maligned defense did a superb job, not allowing a touchdown until 34 seconds were left in the game. Teams had been running wild on the Chiefs, especially in the three-game skid. The Raiders had started it in their 24-20 victory four games ago. Sunday, however, there was redemption for the defense. The Chiefs held the Raiders to only 78 yards rushing. Many not irony but certainly deliverance.

The defense hammered, harassed and hurried Raider quarterback Derek Carr, who threw 56 times in gaining 222 yards on 27 completions. The Chiefs recorded 4 sacks and 11 hits on Carr.

Now maybe the irony of ironies. Jamell Fleming had one heckuva day at cornerback. And who is he? Yeah, he’s easy to overlook because of his background and his injuries. But Sunday, wow. He had 8 tackles to lead the Chiefs. Again, who is he? The Chiefs signed him off the Baltimore practice squad on September 12. Arizona drafted him 80th overall out of Oklahoma in 2012. He spent time with Jacksonville before being one of the last cuts.

Welcome to the Chiefs.

KC is now 8-6 and kept its faint playoff hopes alive. The Raiders, now 2-12, have lost 10 straight on the road, and still have not won back-to-back games since weeks 7 and 8 of the 2012 season. Missouri hasn’t been a fun place for the Raiders this season — they were routed 52-0 at St. Louis two weeks ago.

The Chiefs will travel to Pittsburgh next Sunday and the Steelers are flying high on offense and striving to make the playoffs, with a record of 9-5. Former Chiefs head coach, Todd Haley, is offensive coordinator for the Steelers and has them scoring at 28 points a game. Interestingly, the old Iron Curtain defense has become a little rusty as opponents are scoring 24 points a game.

The Chiefs are below .500 on the road at 3-4. They need to put it together with a whole lot more consistency to keep their playoff chances alive.

Spy Thrillers — Are They Really All That Fictional!

I keep watching all these TV shows, all these movies and I have focused on a common theme. The alphabet soup of law enforcement becomes less efficient by the case. CIA, FBI, NSA, NYPD, LAPD … they each stake out their territory like a stag in rutting.

And it all makes me wonder whether they are efficient protectors of our country. Yeah, yeah, these shows are fictional accounts but you gotta wonder where the writers continually come up with the prevalent theme of corrupt and uncooperative agencies. It just seems that the story lines are more than just products of imaginative and fertile minds.

Then I read the scathing report by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this week. The report said the CIA routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the agency acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public. The revelations are many and varied but all show a ghastly approach to extracting information. The conclusion drawn was that torture doesn’t produce the desired results.

So just how effective is the alphabet soup of law enforcement!

Even with my lack of cooperation paranoia, the spy thrillers are intriguing, mesmerizing and downright entertaining. I have seen so many repeats of Alistair MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare that I feel like I can mouth the script. The movie came out in 1968 and I began wondering just how a spy network could do good deeds when so many bad people with opportunistic goals in the mix were involved.

The Bush administration didn’t need a movie script. With pro forma persistence, Bush and company misled the country with its network of manipulative operators. The movies reflect corrupt enterprises of malfeasant administrations like Bush and President Nixon.

Yes, just movies, but I wonder. Robert Redford may be my key to developing government distrust. In Three Days of the Condor, my concern heightened. That movie premiered in 1975 and I have watched it many times since.

There’s this chilling scene at the end where Redford’s character, Joe Turner, confronts Cliff Robertson’s character, J. Higgins, the deputy director of the CIA in New York City, near the Times building. Turner is giving all his damaging information about the CIA to the newspaper and Higgins yells: Hey, Turner! How do you know they’ll print it? You can take a walk. But how far if they don’t print it?

Turner shouts back, “They’ll print it.”

Higgins: How do you know?

I keep that embedded in my mind. Newspapers must remain ever vigilant. If you don’t have newspapers with integrity, where can you go for help?

All the President’s Men was an intense, hard look at how the Washington Post kept after the Watergate story of the corruption in the Nixon Administration — including the abuse of agencies set up to protect us. Redford played Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman played Carl Bernstein.

The 1976 movie spurred many young idealists to flock to journalism schools to help the world solve so many problems. Unfortunately, newspapers began falling off the pedestal at about that same time with mergers, bean-counting and corporate mentality.

Redford also played in a couple of other movies, Sneakers and Spy Games, that make you wonder just how efficient the government can be in the espionage quagmire. Dirty little secrets seem to work both ways. Moles and double agents send the wrong messages for countries to rely on the exchange of secrets.

Another one of my very favorite movies, The Pelican Brief, increased my paranoia over what the hell the government does in the spy business. Fortunately, the movie stuck by the plot and words of author John Grisham, who remains a legalese spell-binder.

Author Tom Clancy has made Dr. Jack Ryan a name to remember with all his spy thrillers.

Not only do I become concerned about all this spying on each other but I also wonder about the lack of cooperation. In FX’s The Bridge, the CIA is dirty and the DEA and FBI lack cooperation with local law enforcement departments and none of them can work with the Mexican authorities. Oh, by the way, you want to see evil, then check this show out. Evil is dispersed like wheat on the commodities market. And dealing with Mexican authorities, as seen through the TV show, well, that’s scary.

But this show is like so many others where the good guys become entrapped, back-stabbed by real bad guys and bad guys disguised as good guys. Yes, these are fictional stories and characters. I know that. But I still wonder if there is so much out there among writers, then is there not a modicum of truth to glean from the stories?

It seems no one can get along. Madam Secretary, a really good new show on CBS, reflects this inter-agency mistrust.

The Valerie Plame story still gnaws at me. The Bush Administration outed her as a CIA agent in a snit of revenge for her husband’s testimony about weapons of mass destruction. Which, by the way, was all a lie fostered by our secretive bodies.

Is the CIA simply an arm of the presidency to skew facts for propaganda?

An agency like the FBI or the CIA can be an effective tool in a despotic manipulation. These people have the means to do great damage.

The recent Bourne series of movies dug into mind games, black ops and covert actions. Was there not a hint of reality here?

Then there’s the Manchurian Candidate, a chilling movie based on a 1959 novel by Richard Condon. The premise of the film is the brainwashing of the son of a prominent right-wing political family as an unwitting assassin in an international communist conspiracy. The first movie came out in 1962 and the remake in 2004.

Enemy of the State is a 1998 spy-thriller about a group of rogue NSA agents who kill a U.S. Congressman and try to cover up the murder. It starred Will Smith, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight. The movie showed just how easy it was for an agency like NSA to follow your every move.

That’s why we need elected officials to give us the protection from these power-grabbers. Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas failed the people as chairman of the Intelligence Committee. In 2006, he had an opportunity to reveal how the Bush Administration lied to the country about the most important intelligence issues facing Americans, from the manipulation of Iraq intelligence to warrantless domestic spying and torture.

Roberts, instead, used his chairmanship to  become an ad hoc Bush Administration Coverup Committee.

According to a Congressional Research Service report, almost all assessments of the attacks of September 11, 2001, have concluded that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies had failed to share information that might have provided advance warning of the plot.

Once again, we had a failure to communicate.

Can we trust what these secretive secret agencies are doing!

For Chiefs, It Is a Culture of Losing

Culture of losing. That’s harsh. You don’t want to run around and put that tag on many people or things.

But the Kansas City Chiefs deserve such a description. There’s just something about them that reeks of losing. They get good coaches and they lose. They get good general managers and they lose. The one consistent is that they still have the same family as owners, the Hunts. Yes, of course, they won the Super Bowl. Yes, they did. But that was 1969. Five decades. In school, students would no longer consider that as contemporary history.

Since 1969, the Chiefs have posted 21 winning seasons, 20 losing ones and three .500 ones. They haven’t won a playoff game since 1993. You can describe that record anyway you want but I’ll take the low road — that’s losing.

Last season, well, it looked as if they had made all the right moves. They ballyhooed a new coach, Andy Reid, and a new general manager, John Dorsey. They started off winning everything but wound up with an 11-5 regular season record and lost in the playoffs 45-44 to Indianapolis.

They have lost three in a row and are now 7-6 on the season. And they’re looking bad doing it, really awful.

Take the 17-14 loss Sunday at Arizona, please, as Henny Youngman would say. Mistakes killed them. But the last drive, well, it just said a whole lot about the way they play. The Chiefs got the ball at their 24 with 1:09 left in the game, trailing 17-14. Just get it into field-goal range, for crying out loud. Here’s how the play-by-chart read — all passes: short right, short left, short middle, short right, short left, short right, short middle, end of drive.

There was no sense of urgency. No go routes. No victory.

So, all those short passes. Is it true that Alex Smith doesn’t have the arm to throw deep? Or is that the Chiefs have no receiver who can gain separation from defensive backs? A little Smith and a whole bunch receivers.

Reid’s play-calling received high marks coming into this season. Does he deserve them with the 7-6 record? No. Each post-game is laced with excuses about not getting the ball downfield, not utilizing Jamaal Charles’ skills, not being aggressive. If the offensive line is so bad, then why not use quicker routes? Why not use quick-pop running plays?

The receivers? The Chiefs knew they had a lack of talent at the wide-outs. They really didn’t assertively seek remedies, either through free agency or the draft.

Dorsey must shoulder a lot of the blame. I recall a debate I had with him on why he didn’t take linebacker Arthur Brown out of Kansas State, instead of taking Nico Johnson out of Alabama. Johnson is already gone. While Brown is playing very little at Baltimore, teams like Atlanta are taking a long look at him. Brown is quick off the ball and looked like someone who was going to be the next Luke Kuechly at Carolina or Patrick Willis at San Francisco when he was at K-State. Dorsey wasn’t high on him.

He has mixed and matched players all over the place and only a few seem settled.

Can they shake this losing, this image of just going through the motions? Well, the record through the years says no.

They have a chance to dissipate a little negative out of the air with a game Sunday at Arrowhead against Oakland. You may recall how everyone was sitting on a high horse after the Chiefs beat Seattle at home 24-20 for their fifth straight victory and they were heading west to take on the hapless Raiders. Yeah, right. The Raiders won 24-20. And here they are again.

Hapless? How about at least inconsistent. After beating the Chiefs, the Raiders went to St. Louis and lost 52-0. They came home and beat San Francisco 24-13.

So what happens Sunday? Odds Shark computer prediction goes with the Chiefs, 27-9.

KC’s offense ranks 16th, averaging 22 points a game. The Raiders defense ranks No. 28, allowing 27 points a game. They are giving up 223 yards a game through the air and the Chiefs are averaging 191 yards passing. The Raiders are really bad on run defense, allowing 128 yards a game on the road. Does this mean Reid may call Charles’ number more? Probably.

But he’s going to need better blocking and a complementing passing attack.

If you like the Chiefs, you gotta lay 10 points. Obviously, that seems a lot when you consider how they have been playing. However, I think the Chiefs will demand more energy and will cover this one big. I’ll bet $33.

Three potentially pretty good games are slated: Denver at San Diego, San Francisco at Seattle and Dallas at Philadelphia.

The Chargers went into the toilet late against New England and lost at home 23-14. Now they must face a New England type team, Denver, again at home. They’re getting 4 points and the Broncos are just 3-3 in covers on the road. Tread lightly. Bet $11 on the dog.

What in the world is the matter with the 49ers? They’re averaging just 19 points on offense. A 49er blogger wrote, “Everyone wants a villain for the 49ers’ offensive downfall. Whether in print or on talk radio, most want to stable the villain label on quarterback Colin Kaepernick over head coach Jim Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the offensive line, or even a dearth of talent left because of poor drafting by the scouting department.” Seattle has come on strong after losing to KC, winning three straight and the defense has been superb. But 10 points! Whew. I just don’t think the 49ers are that bad. I’ll take them and the points for $11.

It would seem that the Cowboys would like a bunch of revenge against the Eagles after taking a 33-10 beating at home two weeks ago. Odds Shark has the Eagles winning 31-29. I think the Cowboys will win out-right and I like the hook. Bet $22 on the Cowboys with the 3½ points.

Besides home dog San Diego, I’m going to take four others: Atlanta +2½ vs. Pittsburgh, Buffalo +5 vs. Green Bay, Tennessee +2 vs. New York Jets and Chicago +3 vs. New Orleans. All for $11. We’ll just see how that goes, considering how many touts talk up the value of home dog betting.

Here’s one that’s a toughie for me — St. Louis -4½ at home vs. Arizona. Frankly, the Cardinals didn’t look all that good vs. the Chiefs. I’m going to take the home favorites for $22. Keep in mind that the Rams have covered four in a row.

$22 Bets. Baltimore -13½ vs. Jacksonville, Indy -6½ vs. Jacksonville, New York Giants -6½ vs. Washington.

$11 Bets. Cincinnati +1 at Cleveland, New England -7½ vs. Miami, Tampa +3 at Carolina, Detroit -8 vs. Minnesota.

The Stats

Big 12. Last week, -$33. To date, +$28.

National College. Last week, -$50. To date, -$187.

All Colleges. Last week, -$83. To date, -$159.

NFL. Last week, -$143. To date $-406.

NFL Picks. Last week, 4-11-1. To date, 97-107-2.

Grand Total Bets. Last week, -$226. To date, -$565.

Ward Parkway, a Drive Worthwhile

Ward Parkway, with all its glorious homes and landscape, has impressed me for lo these many years.

As a youngster, I had a few car rides that took me along the towering trees, beautiful fountains, magnificent sculptures, plus the houses that appeared like fairy tale mansions.

I caddied in the 1951 Kansas City Open at Milburn Country Club and I had to take a route that I just knew Marco Polo couldn’t have made. For a sojourn from the Northeast part of town to Milburn, you needed a visa in those days. Well, at least several public transit transfers. And from Ward Parkway, I had to walk and hitch-hike across the state line among all those gorgeous homes. I had left my area before dark and the early morning air provided a majestic backdrop for my trip.

For each sojourn along Ward Parkway, my mind raced with all sorts of questions. Who lived in these gosh-awful big houses? How much did they cost? Which always brought up the point, who were these people who could afford such luxurious living?

I drive in the area quite a bit now — still in awe, still in wonderment. Along with the Country Club Plaza and Brookside districts, I marvel at the architecture — the many different styles and structures.

Nowadays, throughout the Kansas City area, garage doors are the dominant feature of new homes. What in the dickens is so great about three garage doors sticking out grotesquely. I sneer. You pay a million bucks to show off your three-car garage! Give me a break.

I admire the English Tudor homes in Brookside. Real estate ads show they can run from $250,000 to $1 million and more. Want to buy one? Well, as a cynic I wonder how much the plumbing repair and the rewiring would cost. After all, many of these homes were built in the 1920s. Those thoughts, of course, foul my dreams.

The Country Club District was created to attract wealthy residents from Quality Hill, who were moving due to the growth of the downtown area.  Developer J.C. Nichols wanted to attract these people to the Brookside area to keep property values stable.  He wanted the families who moved there to stay there — so he designed the winding boulevards, tree lined streets, large and smaller homes with easy access to shops and other amenities. This was his “plan for permanence.”

The Brookside Shops were born in 1919, when Nichols first broke ground at the northeast corner of 63rd and Brookside Boulevard. The area, over the next 10 years, blossomed with more shops.

The Brookside area now is basically from 62nd Terrace to Meyer Boulevard on the north/south and Wornall Road to Main Street on the west/east.

The more expensive homes run along Ward Parkway.

Researching the costs of the homes along Ward Parkway can be brain-numbing. I’m referring to what they might have run in the 1950s when I was struck by their grandness. In the early 1950s, middle class homes in Kansas City were running under $10,000, but the market was undergoing inflation at an escalating rate. With the various sizes of homes along Ward Parkway, the price ranges were wide and varied. As an arbitrary figure, I picked $50,000.

Oh, certainly not for the mansions like the one built by Seth E. Ward, whose home at 1032 W. 55th is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Nowadays, those $50,000 places are in the millions.

The pleasure of driving along Ward Parkway, however, shouldn’t be measured in dollars and cents but should be looked upon for its aesthetics.

Nichols desired a boulevard that would exceed the visual value of all other streets in Kansas City He hired landscape architect George Kessler, who had designed several other luxurious boulevards in Kansas City.

Accordingly, as Nichols platted the district, beginning in 1906, he reserved space for Ward Parkway. The largest lots in the district were reserved for homes to be located along the boulevard. The Kansas City Parks Department added Ward Parkway into its formal boulevard system. Nichols traveled to Italy and England to buy statues and monuments to place at periodic points on the boulevard’s wide median. He also placed ponds and decorative urns throughout the parkway’s length.

The beautiful homes soon followed.

What an interesting list of people who resided there. For example, Tom Pendergast, connected often to corruptness in city government, had a residence at 5650 Ward Parkway. The house, completed in 1927, was designed in a French Provincial architectural style. Members of the Pendergast family lived in the home from the time of completion until Tom Pendergast’s death in 1945.

Then there’s the Mack Barnabas Nelson home. Nelson came from Arkansas in 1894 when he worked for the Long-Bell Lumber Company. Built in 1914, the house, at 5500 Ward Parkway, is a 14,661-square-foot rectangle built around an interior atrium, which is lit by movable skylight. It houses 16 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, a swimming pool with pool house and a basketball court.

Controversy arose in 2009 when a home once belonging to H&R co-founder Richard Bloch was razed for what the owners of the house said was to improve the property. SolutionsBank President Mark Parman, whose company owned the Ward Parkway property at 6315 Ward Parkway, said the real estate was more valuable without the home. Richard and Annette Bloch purchased the home in 1957, but Annette Bloch put the home up for sale after her husband’s death in 2004. Some residents protested, fearing that a new house would be some sort of monstrosity. All is quiet on the Ward Parkway front now.

I was always inquisitive about the building along Ward Parkway just as you climb the hill from near Pembroke Hill school. All those cars parked there. And people playing tennis. What was going on? What was it? Well, I found out. It’s the Carriage Club.

You know that with this much affluence, social clubs and golf courses would spring up nearby. And they have — Mission Hills Country Club, Indian Hills Country Club and Kansas City Country Club.

I grinned when I heard the story about the Carriage Club. It used to be the clubhouse for Mission Hills — the clubhouse in Missouri and the golf course in Kansas.

Mission Hills was founded in 1914, mainly through the efforts of Nichols, who was also developing the upscale planned community of Mission Hills — obviously, he didn’t constrain himself to just one particular area. At the time, research shows, Nichols found that upscale houses were harder to sell in Kansas than on the Missouri side so he built the club to attract buyers.

The original club consisted of 121 acres in Kansas and 7 acres in Missouri, with the clubhouse on the Missouri side because of more lax liquor laws there.

Adjoining the club on the Kansas side, Nichols established the Community Golf Club. In 1922 that club moved to what is now the Kansas City Country Club; the Community Golf Club became Indian Hills.

And the Carriage House emerged in the 1950s after Mission Hills built its own clubhouse.

Ward Parkway, what sites. What a pleasurable drive. What wonderful scenery.

The saga of Ward Parkway. Lots of memories.

Snub Is Downright Demeaning

Vertigo, a Hitchcock classic released in 1958, was poised to take Oscars for Best Director, Picture, Actor, and Actress. It received none; instead, it lost to the Vincente Minnelli film, Gigi. A dizzying snub

In 1962, Willie Mays hit .304 with 49 home runs and stole 18 bases. He appeared to be a lock for the National League MVP. Nope. Maury Wills won it with a .299 average, 6 home runs and 104 stolen bases. Mays’ San Francisco team beat out Wills’ LA Dodgers for the NL pennant. A stolen snub.

Physicist Lise Meitner, hardly a household name, nonetheless, loomed large for the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of nuclear fission. An Austrian Jew, she was forced to leave Nazi Germany and moved to Sweden, where she continued to collaborate with a German chemist, Otto Hahn. He published the results of their work and left off her name as co-author. He received the Nobel Prize. She continued to work in the lab. A combustible snub.

Last weekend, the College Football Playoff committee chose Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State for the championship pairings, leaving TCU and Baylor of the Big 12 to fend for themselves in lesser bowl games. A demeaning snub.

This debasing preference may not go down as a weekend that will live in sports infamy, but it sure as hell poked the Big 12 in the gut.

I can’t get away from the fact that TCU just last Tuesday was the No. 3 seed, but during the weekend the Horned Frogs dropped out of the mix altogether. Think about it. Five days before the committee made its final decision, the members felt TCU was the No. 3 team in the country. Better than the undefeated defending national champion, Florida State. Better than the team, Ohio State, that lost to a 6-6 team, Virginia Tech, at home. And better than the team TCU lost to earlier this season, Baylor. But after all the games were played, including a 55-3 win at home by TCU over Iowa State, the Horned Frogs were left out in the desert. Despite an 11-1 record and Big 12 co-championship, TCU was passed over, dropping three spots. When angered, the horned frog can squirt a fine four-foot stream of blood from its eyes. For TCU fans, where’s a horned frog when they need it.

The displeasure abounds. And it shouldn’t be this way. The committee knew all the ramifications before what happened last weekend. So what if the Big 12 didn’t declare an outright champion. The committee members knew the scenario, yet they had TCU No. 3 just five days before the ultimate choices. Don’t forget that.

“I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t surprised we dropped from 3 to 6,” TCU Coach Gary Patterson said.

TCU running back Trevorris Johnson tweeted: “How we drop 3 spots?”

A strong possibility is that the committee members choked in the conference room. If the Big 12 didn’t pick an outright champion, they sure weren’t going to do so. They wanted to prepare themselves against verbal slings and arrows. Well, how’s that working out for them now!

Was it the process? Well, the voices already are building to crescendo. The Big 12 blew it by not having a championship playoff, the evaluators contend, blaming process instead of picking the best four teams. And the committee didn’t pick the four best. Both TCU and Baylor are better than either Florida State or Ohio State and stack up well against Alabama and Oregon. Book it.

The committee’s snub soiled the Big 12 like low-flying geese dumping on freshly-washed cars.

The bitching, something the new system was supposed to mitigate, exists as vociferously as before. Whatever system is put in place, human beings are making choices and that means fallible results occur.

So, you think the Big 12 should expand and set up a championship game. Really. Where do you go? The conference already missed out on what would have been two good additions, Louisville and Cincinnati. Those two would have provided good competition and excellent added media coverage. Cincinnati still may be available. Then you could head west and add Colorado State. Or maybe tap into the rich Florida turf by inviting the University of Central Florida. Just a thought.

You can also choose to love the status quo. Winning a conference title should be a terrific honor without throwing in a one-game showcase. The conference could set up criteria to decide on one conference champion. It’s not that difficult.

A conference playoff, of course, would add another game, meaning more revenue. That would please the bean counters. No matter the players, already extended by long hours on the playing and practice fields.

Throughout college athletics you can hear the cries for a totally open playoff system — throw everyone in the mix. What a mess that would be. Yes, 64 teams work in basketball. But putting 64 teams — the total big school number now — into a single elimination tournament would be chaotic and time-consuming. Of course, you could eliminate conference alignments altogether.

Back in high school, teachers told me that it was what I knew and not who I knew. I’ve learned just how wrong that is. Yes, you need to have education. But who you know gets you on the fast track and good things more readily come your way. The selection committee had only one member with Big 12 association: West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck. The Big 10 had three: Tom Osborne, a long-time relationship with Nebraska, Barry Alvarez, former Nebraska player and assistant coach and now Wisconsin athletic director after serving as the school’s football coach, and Tyrone Willingham, former Michigan State quarterback.

Baylor Coach Art Briles hinted at the favored status but it’s difficult developing a full-blown conspiracy. His point is that people have a tendency to favor those they know — they attend the games, read about the players and coaches and discuss results.

“We feel like we just lost a game; that’s the travesty,” Briles said.

Possibly, what Briles and Patterson should understand is that what happened during the weekend on the field and earlier in the Big 12 offices didn’t matter. The moment the members could justify a bigger, power school over TCU or Baylor they were going to do it. Put Oklahoma or Texas in their position and, well, perhaps a different matter.

As Patterson noted, it is time to move on. However, Briles will move on with considerable bile stored in his craw.

Big 12 teams will participate in seven bowls with some good matchups:

  • Cotton, January 1, Baylor (11-1) vs. Michigan State (10-2)
  • Peach, December 31, TCU (11-1) vs. Ole Miss (9-3)
  • Alamo, January 2, Kansas State (9-3) vs. UCLA (9-3)
  • Russell Athletic, December 29, Oklahoma (8-4) vs. Clemson (9-3)
  • Liberty, December 29, West Virginia (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
  • Texas, December 29, Texas (6-6) vs. Arkansas (6-6)
  • Cactus, January 3, Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. Washington (8-5)

If Big 12 teams want to mute the critics, they need to win on the field.

The championship pairings:

  • Rose, January 1, No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State
  • Sugar, January 1, No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State
  • Championship, Arlington, Texas, January 12. Semifinal winners.

Football Weekend Wacky, Worthy, Wonderful

It was just another crazy, wacky, wonderful weekend of sports. Chiefs fans are wondering what the heck is going on. Kansas Staters are down but not out with the football team and mighty perplexed with what is going on with basketball — both lost on a gloomy Saturday. The heralded College Football Playoffs really didn’t solve a darn thing because folks left out are angrier than right-wingers having to deal with President Obama. And, oh yes, Kansas has another football coach, one the Jayhawks say will recruit Texas and bring glory to Mount Oread.

The four teams in the battle for the college football title are, in order of seeding, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State.

How in the world TCU dropped from third in the poll last Tuesday to sixth on Sunday is beyond me. The committee knew all the caveats and scenarios of what could happen on the weekend. What Ohio State did to Wisconsin should not be the criterion for moving the Buckeyes past the two Big 12 teams, Baylor and TCU. The choice makes it appear that the final game of the regular season is the most important. Look, TCU hammered Iowa State so what did the Horned Frogs do to deserve the drop. Oh no, don’t give me the argument that is was what Ohio State did more than anything negative TCU might have displayed. Bad, bad, really bad move.

One thing for sure: The Big 12 certainly took a humongous hit in this snub. You can just hear the Mizzou fans hootin’ and hollerin’ with bravado: SEC, SEC, SEC. Yeah, we get it. You’re happy to dig at the Big 12.

Oh the darts thrown by the fans of the two schools left out. Right after the victory over K-State Saturday, Baylor Coach Art Briles yelled, “There’s one true champion, and it’s the Baylor Bears.” TCU begged to differ on the Big 12 Conference title confrontation. And no one on the committee must have listened. Privately, the Baptists may even be cussin’ a little.

What a weekend!

Here we were in college championship action and the routs came as soundly as if Gatling guns were going up against bows and arrows. Look at these scores:

Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0

TCU 55, Iowa State 3

Oregon 51, Arizona 13

Alabama 42, Missouri 13

Kansas State managed to keep the score reasonable, losing to Baylor 38-27. Of course, Florida State had a close game, as the Seminoles have done for most of the season. They held off Georgia Tech 37-35. Boise State ran up a 21-0 half-time lead and coasted to a 28-14 victory.

Oh, this one other game, the rivalry in Oklahoma. Geez, the Cowboys rallied to beat the Sooners 38-35 to become bowl eligible. With less than a minute remaining, Tyreek Hill returned a punt for a touchdown. OU Coach Bob Stoopes became eligible, too — to feel the wrath of the unhappy fans.

Okay, okay, the Chiefs at Arizona. Well, the funk continues. They led 14-6 at the half but couldn’t put a point on the board after intermission and lost 17-14.

Some good offensive numbers. They outgained the Cardinals 390 yards to 366. Alex Smith hit 26 of 39 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown. Jamaal Charles flashed brilliance early with a 63-yard TD run and another score off an 18-yard pass play. Travis Kelce caught 7 passes for 110 yards.

Nice, huh. Well, Smith and Kelce also committed turnovers in the second half that cut the heart out of what looked like scoring drives. Smith, facing third and 20 at the Cardinals 29, felt pressure and threw meekly toward the line of scrimmage. Alex Okafor reached up, grabbed the ball and took off the other way, Smith finally corralling him at the KC 42. End of that threat.

Kelce grabbed a Smith pass and rambled 19 yards to the Arizona 19, but the ball came loose. Arizona challenged the down-by-contact call and won. Reversal. Cardinal ball. End of that threat.

The Chiefs got another chance with 1:09 left but the offense couldn’t get past the KC 36.

Another loss, putting their record at 7-6. They will meet Oakland at home next Sunday — the same Oakland that beat San Francisco 24-13 on Sunday and the Chiefs 24-20 just three games ago.

Kansas State is headed for the Alamo Bowl January 2 in San Antonio to face UCLA, which posted the same 9-3 record as the Wildcats. Two of the best quarterbacks in the country will be squaring off as Jake Waters will try to out-duel Brett Hundley.

In the final regular season game against Baylor, K-State was trying for its second Big 12 title in three years. Waters passed for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 of 27 attempts. But an errant pass cost the Cats any chance of coming back. Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard intercepted Waters deep in Baylor territory to snuff out the fourth-quarter drive. There appeared to be a miscommunication between Waters and wide receiver Deante Burton, who lined up on the right side in a one-on-one coverage situation. He went left and the ball went right.

Tyler Lockett caught 14 of Waters’ passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, the 27th one that allowed him to surpass his father, Kevin, as the all-time Cat receiver in TD receptions.

Curry Sexton had only two receptions for 15 yards. Lockett said, “Baylor did a great job with their game plan. They took away one of us. They decided that they’d rather get beat by one person than have the other beat us. We took what they gave us. A lot of the plays might have gone to me because of the way they were playing. I had a better chance of getting open. There were times when we tried to get Curry the ball and they might have brought a rush. They did a great job with that.”

Although the Cats managed 403 yards of offense, the play-calling seemed kinda out of sync on too many occasions. The wildcat formation and Waters’ hesitation ploys at the line were mixed bags of success. The run fake allowed a couple of neat completions to tight end Rich Trujillo but the slow-developing attempts also bogged down drives. The Cats became too obvious and the delayed hand-offs were just too easy to read.

Also, instead of gambling on fourth down inside Baylor territory in the third quarter, the Cat coaches decided on field goals — both of them good. However, in a shoot-out, trading 3 for 6 is bad business. Coach Bill Snyder said there were a monumental number of events that took place in the course of the ballgame, adding, “You better be able to have some bullets in your gun, too. We didn’t have as many as we needed.”

Bryce Petty, cleared to play only on Friday after suffering a concussion the Saturday before, threw for 412 yards and Johnny Jefferson run for 2 touchdowns.

The Cats chose to give Baylor receivers considerable cushion and that allowed the Bears to convert 8 of 10 third-down situations.

Another tough loss in Texas, but the Cats are still in way better shape than KU in football. Can David Beaty be the catalyst to produce winning football there? It will be difficult.

Beaty is the new KU coach and having worked there before he knows the difficulty that lies ahead. He not only needs players but he also needs better facilities. Those people he left behind at Texas A&M, where he was wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, believe the Jayhawks got a good one.

By the way, Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin has developed quite a coaching tree in his relatively short seven-year coaching tenure. Beaty is the fifth former Sumlin assistant to become a head coach, joining West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, Houston’s Tony Levine, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury and Nevada’s Brian Polian. Sumlin could lose another assistant as offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has interviewed at Tulsa, according to the Tulsa World.

Senate Set-up, House Gerrymandering Create Progressive Problems

Progressives must overcome built-in constitutional impediments and conservative inspired legal manipulations to offset the shenanigans of the right-wingers.

The Constitution demands that each state has two senators and that means the least populated state is entitled to the same law-making clout as the most populated. Legally, state legislatures can gerrymander districts to favor a particular party and set up voting regulations that suppress voters. The legislative chicanery, of course, affects the U.S. House make-up.

Check out the senatorial makeup. California, New York and Illinois are generally considered progressive states. They are three of the largest in population: California 37 million, New York 19 million and Illinois 13 million, for a total of 69 million. Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are consistently strong conservative-voting states. They are three of the smallest in population: Wyoming half a million, Montana 1 million and Idaho 1½ million for a total of 3 million.

Each of those states has two senators, no matter the population. You can say unequivocally that conservative ideology is in play here.

Review those numbers. Quite a contrast. No question about the uneven weight in representation. Those three ultra conservative states can offset what the three progressive states support. Yes, of course, those large states also have conservatives and they should be represented. Conversely, what few progressives may be in those three small states should be represented, too.

Well, you say the U.S. House is set up by population. You’re right. But when a legislature is controlled by right wing-nuts, as is the case in many red states now, it can set up voting districts to favor those of their ilk. They make up districts resembling jigsaw puzzles, cutting through areas to divide opposition strongholds.

Progressives certainly are in this mess right now.

Take a look at the layout of  states. New England liberals still exist in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. But Maine and New Hampshire are generally voting with conservatives.

Delaware joins New York as a blue state but New Jersey and Pennsylvania have turned purple. Chris Christie is governor of New Jersey and he seems to have taken away the Democratic swagger in that state. Pennsylvania metro areas don’t seem to be able to maintain control over the rural areas where religious sects dominate

The Mid-Atlantic states provide a two-color montage with Maryland blue and North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia purple. South Virginia is ultra conservative and those progressives and moderates who work in Washington, D.C., and live in northern Virginia must offset the right-wing thought. Because of coal miners and gun toters, West Virginia is moving toward more red than purple.

Of course the Deep South is Deep Red. South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia may sneak in a Democrat or two but Alabama and Mississippi remain uber conservative. Florida, Louisiana and Arkansas have a red tint and would need a lot more blue to become purple.

In the Midwest, Indiana sneaks in a Democrat every now and then but even one of them is to the right of center. Nebraska is the Big Red for more reasons than football and Kansas is no longer the moderate Republican state — it has gone full-blown red. Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa should be considered purple. As for Missouri, get out of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Jefferson City and you’re seeing a lot of red. Minnesota and Illinois stand blue for the most part.

When you think Southwest, you usually picture the hard-nosed independent. And that surely fits Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas. I thought I was a moderate until I moved to Oklahoma for a couple of newspaper stints. No, there I certainly was not a moderate. Oklahomans believe Genghis Khan was a bleeding-heart liberal. The machinations of the Sooner Republicans certainly shoved me to the left. Texas and Arizona may one day become more moderate with the influx of Hispanics but for now the conservatives are in firm control of the ballot box. New Mexico has become a blue state.

It’s difficult to think of either North or South Dakota being purple but history shows the two states have sent Democrats to Congress. The political leanings of North Dakota since its creation have been mainly conservative. However, the liberal Non-Partisan League was a strong political force during the first half of the 1900s with the election of many NPL candidates and the enactment of the party’s largely socialistic programs. Today, Republicans are in control with 11 of the 12 partisan statewide offices. Still, color the High Plains states purple.

Do the same in the Mountains for Colorado and Nevada. Get out lots of red for Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Utah. To gain a real picture of the Mountains, all you gotta do is watch Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson. Yeah, that’s rugged conservative stuff.

West Coast Blue. Yep, that would be California, Oregon and Washington. However, go to Southern California, like in Anaheim and San Diego, and you are in ultra conservative territory. But that is more than offset when you travel north, especially in the San Francisco and Santa Rosa areas. Seattle is a big union town. The eastern parts of Washington and Oregon will produce more conservative thought.

Then you have Pacific Blue with Hawaii and Frigid Purple with Alaska. Of course, unless you’re a birther, you know President Obama was born in Hawaii and the state has gone mainly Democratic since its first U.S. elections in 1960. Alaska, rugged since the gold rush days, is rough and tumble politically. Democrats have made moves in recent elections but the state remains more conservative.

News reports after the mid-term elections blared that the Republicans won the Senate in a landslide and that the victories were a complete repudiation of President Obama.

Going into the election, the Democrats held a 53 to 45 seat majority in the Senate, with the two Independents generally caucusing with the Democrats. In the election, 36 Senate seats were up for grabs. The Senate now has 53 Republicans. The Republicans won 64 percent of the Senate seats up for election in 2014.

A landslide? Well, it may not be that simple. Although the Republicans won 64 percent of the challenged Senate seats, they received only 52 percent of the votes.

The Republicans tend to live in more sparsely populated states whereas Democrats tend to live in more heavily populated states. And you can see how the Senate makeup affects the outcomes. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, for example, took time out to thank the farmers for their votes. Rural areas remain steadfastly Republican.

Geoffrey R. Stone, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, wrote in the Huffington Post: “It turns out that only 117,000 additional Democratic voters in Alaska, North Carolina and South Dakota combined would have tilted the outcomes in those states and left the Democrats in control of the Senate. That’s not very many.”

The mid-term Senate election was a Republican landslide only if you count states rather than Americans, Stone said, adding, “To make the point even more clearly, although Republicans will now control 53 percent of the seats in the Senate, these Republican senators actually represent only 46 percent of the American people. It’s a strange kind of landslide, indeed.”

Football Season Winding Down But Still Plenty of Chances to Bet

Didn’t the football season start just last week. The regular season is disappearing like my NFL betting money.

Lots of chances, lots of goodies are left, however.

The Chiefs and Kansas State are battling for post-season positions, although the Chiefs are playing like a team still looking for combinations.

After beating Seattle 24-20, the Chiefs stunk it up like a septic tank under duress with losses at Oakland 24-20 and at home to Denver 29-16. You pick a segment of football and the Chiefs botched it. They’re at Arizona Sunday, a banged-up Cardinal team that could be good for what ails ya. The Cards are just a one-point favorite but let it be known they are 5-1 in covering at home. Chiefs Coach Andy Reid said earlier this week he had to get things straightened out. A classic understatement. Will he? Maybe. I’ll take the point for $11.

Kansas State’s last trip this season to Texas was a disaster. TCU whupped them 41-20. The last trip to Waco wasn’t too terrific either. The brutal 52-24 defeat that Kansas State endured two years ago damaged a season that looked like a big winner. They were barreling toward an undefeated regular season with only the Bears and struggling Texas standing in the way of the BCS title game. Didn’t happen.

So what about this season? The Bears got by Texas Tech 48-46 last week, surviving an injury to quarterback Bryce Petty. With a win Saturday, combined with its amazing, come-from-behind victory over TCU back in October, Baylor would claim the Big 12 title — and a chance to overtake the Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Since losing at West Virginia, the Bears are 4-0, averaging 51 points a game. And if Petty can’t go — he’s expected to play after suffering what was described as a slight concussion —  at least backup quarterback Seth Russell has taken a few snaps this season, compiling an 8 touchdown to 1 interception ratio.

How to bet the game? While the Bears are not as strong as last season, they are potent running and throwing the ball. And for K-State, there’s always the memory of that TCU game. Oh what the heck. Take the 9 points with the Cats for $11.

Two other games in the Big 12 will match the long-time rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and TCU hosting Iowa State, 0-8 in the conference. The Sooner faithful are unhappy in the sacred land of the red clay but the team has a chance for a big bowl game and a regular season record of 9-3. The Cowboys need a victory to become bowl eligible and escape a losing season. Won’t happen. The Sooners are in a running mode and will plow over the Cowboys. But giving 20 points in a rival game. Yikes! I still will take the favorites for $11.

TCU no doubt would like to pour it on to enhance its playoff chances. The Horned Frogs can do this. Can the Cyclones build up enough energy to stay close? I’ll take that chance with 34 points for $11.

A lot of big college games. I’m interested in Mizzou vs. Alabama at Atlanta, Arizona vs. Oregon at Santa Clara and Wisconsin vs. Ohio State at Indianapolis.

The Tigers have been playing super on defense. On offense, they have overcome slow starts to win big games down the stretch. They haven’t fared well in conference championships and winning the SEC title game against the Tide is going to be rough sailing. However, I think Bama’s giving 14½ points is too much and the Tigers will cover. Bet $22.

On Friday, not only will the Ducks and Arizona be meeting for the third time in the last 13 months, they’ll be playing in a third state. The Ducks are hoping that California brings them a little bit of luck. Bleacher Reports says there are a multitude of reasons why Oregon has been unable to overcome Arizona over the past two seasons. Injuries to quarterback Marcus Mariota in 2013 and to left tackle Jake Fisher in 2014 played a part in each loss. “However,” Bleacher Report said, “Rich Rodriguez and his coaching staff deserve a ton of credit for out-coaching Mark Helfrich and company. Helfrich’s overall 22-3 record at Oregon of 22-3 is spectacular, but he’s 0-2 against Rodriguez, the former Michigan and West Virginia head coach.”

But I like revenge and what the Ducks have done since the 31-24 loss to Arizona earlier in the season. In the last seven games — all victories — they have outscored opponents 44.4 to 23.3. And don’t forget, the championship playoffs are at stake. Lay the 14½ for $22.

Quarterback J.T. Barrett is out with an injury for Ohio State. Wisconsin has running back Melvin Gordon and I think the Badgers will come snarling in this one. Cardale Jones will start in place of Barrett. He has size, running ability and arm strength — and sassy mouth. He’s the one known for this tweet: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.” Will he be smart enough to handle the Badgers? Nope. Give the 4 points for $33.

College $22 Bet. Florida State -4 vs. Georgia Tech.

College $11 Bets. Central Florida +7 at East Carolina, Northern Illinois -6½ vs. Bowling Green, UConn -11½ vs. SMU, Temple -3½ at Tulane, Cincy -6½ vs. Houston, Marshall -12½ vs. Louisiana Tech, Boise -21 vs. Fresno.

NFL matchups should provide plenty of fireworks. Two of them appear to be goodies — Philadelphia home to Seattle and New England on the road to San Diego. The Eagles can take advantage of Seattle’s poor play on the road. So much so that I will lay the point for $33. Philip Rivers no doubt would like to prove his quarterback talents against the best, Tom Brady. He will have a good day and the Chargers, getting 3½, will cover. Bet $22.

NFL $22 Bets. Cincy -3 vs. Pittsburgh, Baltimore +3 at Miami.

NFL $11 Bets. Indy -4 at Cleveland, Tennessee -1 vs. New York Giants, Detroit -9½ vs. Tampa, Minnesota -6 vs. New York Jets, Denver -10 vs. Buffalo.

NFL Picks. Houston -5 at Jacksonville, Carolina +9½ at New Orleans, Washington +2½ vs. St. Louis, San Francisco -8 at Oakland, Green Bay -12 vs. Atlanta.

The Stats

Big 12. Last week, -$33. To date, +$61.

National College. Last week, -$107. To date, -$137.

All Colleges. Last week, -$140. To date, -$76.

NFL. Last week, -$82. To date $-263.

NFL Picks. Last week, 5-11-0. To date, 93-96-1.

Grand Total Bets. Last week, -$222. To date, -$339.