Brownback Zinger Emphasizes Republican Attack on Poverty

The War on Poverty is the unofficial name for legislation first introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address in 1964. His proposal led  Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty.

As a part of the Great Society, Johnson believed in expanding the federal government’s roles in education and health care as poverty reduction strategies. Some saw these policies as a continuation of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal,  which ran from 1933 to 1935, and the Four Freedoms of 1941.

The legacy of the War on Poverty policy initiative remains in the continued existence of such federal programs as Head Start, VISTA and the Job Corps.

The Great Society movement waned after the 1960s with deregulation, growing criticism of the supposed welfare state and an ideological shift to reducing federal aid to the impoverished.

The war on poverty (lower case) has flip-flopped with the poor taking a beating from many fronts. The ideological about-face on helping the impoverished has turned into a rout. President Ronald Reagan sounded the battle cry with his Welfare Queen onslaught. His strategy has evolved into an outright war on poverty with the result a rich/poor separation wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s policies reflect the war’s national undertaking. He makes Scrooge look like a Red Cross worker.

Columnist Dave Helling put Brownback in his place as Anti-Welfare King in the April 21 issue of the KC Star.

Two paragraphs set up a zinger of a paragraph.

“Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill that further limits lifetime welfare benefits in Kansas and redefines what recipients can buy. Welfare programs, he said, perpetuate ‘cycles of dependency.’

“Wait. You could make the case that if anyone in Kansas is caught in a cycle of dependency, it’s Sam Brownback. He’s earned his living from taxpayers almost all his life. He’s worked in state government, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and now as governor, where he earns around $100,000 a year.”

And zing: “That’s quite a résumé for someone who thinks government is the enemy.”

Government has done well by Brownback and, as Helling noted, he can spend his money any way he wants.

Oh, this scary thought. Helling says he heard that Brownback may run for the U.S. Senate when Pat Roberts’ term expires in 2020.

You want war, then why not attack corporate welfare? The government spends 50 percent more on corporate welfare than it does on food stamps and housing assistance.

Long-time activist Ralph Nader said that in many states it was a literal race to the bottom for elected officials to offer corporations sweeter tax deals to keep jobs in their locality. Some of these Fortune 500 companies even get a rebate check.

According to Citizens for Tax Justice, American Fortune 500 corporations are avoiding up to $600 billion in U.S. federal income taxes by holding more than $2.1 trillion of retained profits offshore, which they designate as “permanently reinvested” to avoid a tax liability, Nader pointed out.

“And of course, millionaires and billionaires often pay less in taxes than middle-class Americans do, taking full advantage of tax loopholes, deductions, deferrals and other forms of creative accounting,” Nader wrote in a Huffington Post story.

Congress can cut funds to the impoverished but they can fill the kitty when it comes to the rich.

The Republican controlled House has passed a bill to repeal the estate tax, giving a massive tax cut to the wealthiest 0.15 percent of Americans. In other words, 99.85 percent of Americans would see absolutely no benefit from this legislation — only the huge spike in federal debt that would come along with it.

Combined with other tax bills approved by House Republicans so far this year, the U.S. debt would grow by $584 billion to finance tax cuts for the wealthy.

Look at the needs of the country, from improving early childhood education to fixing crumbling roads and bridges. No, a priority is to eliminate what Republicans call the “death tax.”

The legislation approved recently goes even further than previous efforts to repeal the estate tax, by allowing estates to avoid taxes on capital gains and other growth in assets entirely. It is estimated that, under this legislation, more than half of the assets passed down would have never been taxed.

This bill is even more egregious when considered against a backdrop of the dramatic rise in wealth and income inequality in the United States. In 2013, the median wealth of upper-income families ($639,400) was nearly seven times the median wealth of middle-income families ($96,500) — the widest wealth gap since the Federal Reserve began collecting data 30 years ago.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the estate tax unfair and anti-family, adding, “It is the federal government’s final insult to tax your family when you have already paid taxes on your property throughout your life. The thought of having to visit the IRS and the undertaker on the same day is an absolute outrage.”

While the vote wasn’t binding, it did get senators on the record.

Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent VT, said repealing the estate tax “is not about family farms or small business. This amendment benefits exclusively the wealthiest 0.3 percent of the families in this country.”

Brownback and his ilk have maneuvered well through the political labyrinths. Their conservative navigation doesn’t include the axiom that a rising tide raises all boats. They’re not interested in dories; they’re concerned about yachts.

Their strategy has worked. Their neo-welfare queen propaganda sends many to the polls to vote against their own best interests. They have turned the tables with their war on poverty.

How can the battle turn to favor those less fortunate. Well, the less fortunate need to become educated on what will happen if they don’t overcome apathy and get to the ballot box. There is one true and effective way to beat back the rebirth of the John Birch Society extremism on smaller government and socio-economic strangulation and that is to vote the rascals out.

For Now, Players Simply Too Physical for Refs and Rules to Control

I sat in the Salina Bicentennial Center and winced as the referees blew whistle after whistle. McPherson went to the free-throw line so many times they wore out a path — the Bullpups shot 45 free throws in beating Bishop Miege in the Class 4-A semifinals.

The next day, they shot 41 free throws in beating Basehor-Linwood for the title. Basehor-Linwood Coach Mike McBride told the Kansas City Star that he wondered how the officials could call the fouls at one end of the court and not at the other. He wasn’t buying the home cookin’.

Not one of the officials in the tournament was from the Kansas City area.

Officiating is under the lens enough without providing a ready-made case for dispute by stacking the crews that favor a particular area of the state.

The problems certainly are not contained in just the high school ranks. No sir. All the way through the various levels, referees are taking a lot of heat. They’re not totally to blame, of course, but basketball order is out of control.

Yes, it’s difficult to officiate a game. Players are stronger, bigger and faster than the officials. Keeping up with the action is darn difficult. The game has evolved into a rough-house sport. I came across an old NBA film and watched how the players used finesse and dexterity to score. Now, they bang and slam and bully their way to the goal. I enjoyed basketball as a finesse game. I still love it, mind you, but they sure need to do something about cutting back on the physical play.

And follow the rules. Hand-checking is supposed to be outlawed. Watch a defender use his hands. Oh, and the charge/block interpretation. Forget it.

The college rules committee continues to focus on the problem. For last season, the defender did not have to be established until the offensive player left the floor to pass or shoot. Once set, the defender would not be able to move in any direction, other than into the air to challenge the shot.

Adding the language regarding the defender’s inability to move could improve the official’s ability to make the charge/block call correctly but is not likely to keep the number of such collisions low.

The rules committee previously had expressed a concern about reducing the number of collisions under the basket with regard to abating potential injury. Many coaches were displeased, however, to see drawing a charge diminished as a defensive tactic.

The coaches coach to gain advantage. I remember watching a Hank Iba Oklahoma State practice and he would boom, holler and scream for his defensive players to fight through screens and not switch. And he pushed for physical play in doing so.

Physical play in college evolved with the success of Cincinnati’s rise to the NCAA top in the 1960s. Coach Ed Jucker had two strong inside players, Paul Hogue and George Wilson, and he developed an offense that called for bumping, screening, blocking and budging.

That kind of play led to coaches lobbying for more physical action, including the defensive ploy of taking a charge.

Generally, the player with the ball commits a charge if all of the following are true:

  • The defender was still, or moving sideways or backward but not forward, when contact occurred.
  • The defender took a legal guarding position before the contact, that is, one with both feet on the floor.
  • The defender was hit on the torso (as opposed to the arm or leg).

Ah, but individual interpretation.

Wisconsin lost to Duke in the national championship game and Badgers coach Bo Ryan was certainly sore at the officials. The Badgers were called for 13 second-half fouls after getting whistled for just two in the first half.

In a post-game interview with CBS, when asked what he thought of the game’s officiating in the second half, Ryan said, “It’s just a shame that it had to be played that way. I just feel sorry for my guys that all of a sudden it was like that.”

Here’s a report after the game from ASAP Sports:

Q: You have gone all year without fouling. Were you surprised or particularly upset with the officiating that you got called so much? Did you take issue with the officiating?

Ryan: Have you ever watched me during a game? I don’t think this was any different. No, we have these things that we practice, okay? We practice in our practices where if an offensive player jumps into you, we always call it on the offensive player. It’s just what we do. So there were some situations where obviously our guys felt they were in position. I’m sure they felt they were in the rights. Both teams are always going to feel that there’s a question or two. So it’s just the way the game’s played. But I’ve been with these guys a long time, and I’ve watched a lot of basketball. Sometimes games are played differently, and you have to go with the flow.

Q: Were you surprised or particularly upset with the officiating that you got called so much?

Ryan: You can’t say anything about the officiating. C’mon. Are you trying to set me up? So you want to reword that or… What are you saying?

More needs to be said. Referees are inaccessible after games. Somehow, some way, they need to be available to answer questions. Maybe through a spokesman with a pool reporter. Maybe that would at least provide the other side of the story on key plays. No, fans would still be upset but at least there would be an explanation.

The dynamics of the game make officiating difficult. The proximity of fans and coaches, the fast pace, the incredible athleticism.

Everyone is sitting so close in basketball games it’s easy to debate the merits of each and every call. And why fans yell “homer” more and more.

The pace of the game leads to officiating having an impact on every possession. And don’t forget the split-second nature of the calls due to the height and athleticism of players..

Now, as for the NBA — oh, forget it.

Sports — From Royals to Golf

So, after 1,993 plate appearances in the previous four seasons, Mike Moustakas has wised up. The left-handed batter is going to the opposite field. And he and his KC Royals teammates are prospering from the change.

Moustakas went 3 for 5, including a two-run homer, Tuesday night as the Royals beat Minnesota 6-5 at the K to run their record to 11-3.

Manager Ned Yost placed Moustakas second in the batting order as this season began. The unlikely spot, for him, has paid off big — he’s hitting .327.

All the success can be traced to his switching from being a strict pull-hitter to going to all fields. The greatest Royal, George Brett, mused one day: “I’m sitting in the dugout, and I see a guy try to pull an outside pitch, he hits a slow ground ball to second base, and it drives me crazy. I’m thinking, ‘Why does he do that? Why is this guy so stupid?’

“Of course, I must have done the exact same thing 5,000 times when I was a player Hitting is a strange thing. You’re so smart talking about hitting, and then you step into the batter’s box, and something happens to you. You get stupid. It’s like everything goes out the window.”

“To me, I can’t recall another guy, in my managing career, in my coaching career, that has made that big of an adjustment in a winter’s time,” Yost said of the change in Moustakas’ batting style.

First baseman Eric Hosmer, Moustakas’ teammate and buddy, said he had never seen Moustakas hit to the opposite field like he’s doing.


Sam, Sam, Sam. You were doing just fine until you wrote: “…and Mizzou walked away from college sports’ most recent conference realignment crisis as clear winners.”

That’s what Mellinger said in his April 15column in the Kansas City Star. He focused on the tenure of retiring Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden. He also had this arguable, in my opinion, comment on Alden: “…and now leaves it knowing it’s a better place.”

Mellinger touched on many of the trouble spots incurred under the Alden regime but he didn’t talk to any Kansas City people who said that Mizzou’s move to the SEC was the worst in the school’s athletic history.

The athletic department is taking in less revenue than it would have by staying in the Big 12 Conference. We’ll see if down the road, the SEC pot grows. But as the seasons continue, fans must also take a look at how high the costs rise, including the travel of the teams to far-off venues. Plus, there is no rivalry with the schools in the Southeast.

We’ll see how history treats Alden and the move to the SEC. We’ll see if Mizzou is a clear winner.


The NBA action will continue on for another month. You tickled pink about that?

Oh, but there’s draft talk and Kansas fans no doubt are interested. Sports Illustrated Online says Kelly Oubre will go in the 16th round to Boston and Cliff Alexander No. 26 to San Antonio.

SI’s reports said, “Celtics GM Danny Ainge’s recent history suggests he is not afraid to take a flyer on a project. That’s Oubre, who was billed as Andrew Wiggins’ heir at Kansas but struggled to put a complete season together. Oubre has a good looking jump shot and the physical tools to slide between either swing spot. He’s a D-Leaguer next season, but a Marcus Smart-James Young-Oubre core is a nice one for Brad Stevens to develop.”

On Alexander, SI said, “Alexander’s college career ended prematurely because of eligibility issues and he never lived up to his potential. Still, he’s a potent rebounder and shot blocker who could be a high value pick this late in the draft.”

A product of Kansas high schools, Willie Cauley-Stein, a 7-footer who played at Olathe Northwest before going to Kentucky, is expected to be drafted 12th by Utah. SI said, “Dealing Enes Kanter left the Jazz a little thin up front. Cauley-Stein is limited offensively but he is a versatile defender who can slide between both frontcourt spots. He may never be more than a good role player, but he’s a low risk choice in this spot.”


Who will be No. 1 taken in the NBA draft? SI Online says Karl Towns, out of Kentucky, is the man for Minnesota. Jahlil Okafor, from Duke, is expected to go second to New York.

“Think about this: Towns will likely get at least a year of Power Forward 101 from Kevin Garnett,” SI said. “The Knicks solidify the pivot with Okafor, the best center prospect in years. At 19, Okafor already has a diverse low post game and has shown flashes of a consistent face-up game, too. He needs work defensively but he will step into the middle of the triangle next season and contribute immediately.”


Sports Illustrated listed the top 300 players ready for the NFL draft. Kansas State placed two of them — receiver Tyler Lockett No. 55 and center B.J. Finney No. 106. KU also had two — linebacker Ben Heeney No. 138 and cornerback JaCorey Shepherd No. 156.

SI said Lockett possessed outstanding route skills, knowing how to stick his foot in the ground to make a decisive cut. Plus, he’s a dynamite return man. The con, SI noted, is that he will be limited to the slot due to his size.

On Finney: Pros, Mean and smart — coveted traits for a center. Experience playing multiple positions. Cons, Short arms (32 inches); won’t make many plays in space.”

Heeney, SI said, is relentless with good lateral quickness and the athleticism to cover running backs in the passing game. He’s 6-foot tall and weighs 231 — not the ideal size, according to SI.

On Shepherd: Pros, Outstanding ball skills. Anticipates routes, breaks toward the ball quickly. Cons, footwork needs honing.


A little golf minutiae:

  • Players hit 125,000 golf balls a year into the water at the famous 17th hole of the Stadium Course at Sawgrass.
  • Phil Mickelson, who plays left-handed, is actually right handed. He learned to play golf by mirroring his father’s golf swing, and he has used left handed golf clubs ever since.
  • The driver swing speed of an average lady golfer is 62 mph; 96 mph for an average LPGA professional; 84 mph for an average male golfer; 108 mph for an average PGA Tour player; 130 mph for Tiger Woods; 148-152 mph for a national long drive champion.
  • There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball. The first golf balls were made of thin leather stuffed with feathers. Tightly-packed feathers made balls that flew the farthest. Feather balls were used until 1848.
  • Don’t feel bad about your high handicap — 80 percent of all golfers will never achieve a handicap of less than 18.

Wry and Sly, KC Mayor Skewers Legislators, Supports Education, Snookers American Royal

In a wide-ranging speech Monday before the 40 Years Ago Column Club at the Brio, Mayor Sly James said Legislators in Jefferson City had no clue what’s going in Kansas City, took issue with those cutting back on educational needs and charged American Royal supporters with self-serving negotiations in attempts to develop the West Bottoms.

Wearing a multi-colored pastel bow tie, striped dress shirt and a dark suit, the Mayor smoothly, adroitly and straight-forwardly addressed numerous topics facing the city. However, he did not touch on his late payment of personal property taxes. A Kansas City Star editorial chastised him for his oversight, noting he provided a lame excuse in saying everybody does it. The Star said paying taxes was a basic expectation for someone who received a salary courtesy of tax dollars while also deciding how to spend $1.4 billion of them a year.

Monday, James especially focused on education.

He noted 30 percent of the city didn’t have internet access and those without it were missing out on a large slice of what was going on in many phases of daily life. City officials are trying to utilize more technology to help them in many areas, including traffic grids and elimination of redundant inspections by various agencies.

“We need to keep people in Kansas City,” he said. “We need a first-class school to locate in the East Side. We’re trying to get children to read. We all know that education is so vital in serving our city. There are so many areas, of course, affected by education. Plus, we have a moral obligation to educate our citizens. We know that with a high drop-out rate those who do will get in trouble with the law. We need education. Look, we can’t even fill the needs of data jobs in the city because of the lack of those who are trained in that area.”

He provided a situational where young people come to Kansas City, meet and marry and have children. They want a good school and frankly the core of the city lacks the first-class school that would fill the needs of a young family.

With poverty, James explained, children don’t have the vocabulary needed to succeed. There is something to be kindergarten ready, he said, adding that young children need to be able to recognize colors and numbers and speak a complete sentence. That just isn’t case in many areas.

Responding to a question from the audience, the Mayor said, “Jefferson City is out to make poor people pay for everything.”

He stood quiet for a moment, then shook his head. “They seem to be interested only in gun rights. I picture this scene in a bar where a person can be illegally drunk but legally gun strapped.” He was beside himself in wondering how the focus could be so skewed on matters associated with the NRA while overlooking such important items that affect so many of the state’s residents.

He was particularly upset that the Legislature had opted out of Medicaid coverage, noting that the state needed help for the impoverished and support for hospitals, many of them in the rural areas. “It’s stupid not to utilize and support Medicaid,” he said.

He emphasized the rural part because, as he sees it, the Legislature is skewed so favorably to the rural areas. “They don’t even know what’s going on in our city. They spend a lot of their time saying those in Kansas City and St. Louis get way too much from the budget. In fact, they don’t care about the cities. But they out-vote us.”

Anecdotally, he told about how 37 legislators went to the Supreme Court carrying concealed weapons. Why! Why do you need guns at the Supreme Court, he mused.

The Legislature is just flat wrong in everything that they do, he said. “Most of them spend two years there and leave, not seeing a budget over 50 pages long.”

James is taking a wait-and-see position on the development of the West Bottoms. At first, he seemed reluctant to discuss the American Royal/Kemper Arena involvement, saying he didn’t want to damage where the negotiations were. He did say consultants had been emphatic in proposing that the area needed more foot traffic. How to get people there is the problem.

All the American Royal Association wants, James implied, was to tear down Kemper. Others in the negotiation have proposed that Kemper become a multi-faceted facility, perhaps with a track on one level and soccer fields on another.

James sees a three-part West Bottoms development with Kemper in the South, a green area in the middle and multi-purpose buildings in the warehouse district on the north. Right now, he said, the city has put Kemper on surplus and will wait on further development plans. Something can be done, but not with just one building as the make-or-break core, he said.

Those in the East Side provided considerable push-back against the plan to give the American Royal supporters $30 million to tear down Kemper and build another facility. The association has raised a reported $15 million for the proposed $50 million project. You can imagine, James said, how someone on the East Side with boarded up houses and empty buildings would react to the city’s giving a project clear on the West Side $30 million.

James also discussed revenue needs, pointing out that public safety took 74 percent of the budget and that rate wasn’t sustainable. Costs are going up everywhere, he said, and with the city responsible for 319 square miles of assets, more money must be collected. “The city can’t go out and get a second job,” he said. “This is just the nature of the beast.”

Public safety costs could be lowered with the help of education, he said. The most dangerous and vicious group in the city is the one made up of those ages 13 through 18. Many are drop-outs, uneducated, uncommunicative and uncooperative.

He’s concerned about the relatively low $77 million budgeted for infrastructure.

But how can the city continue to fund each of these issues? Well, he’s worried that voters will reject the earnings tax. Approval is needed every five years and he believes that puts an undue burden on promoting its meaningful place in financing the city’s numerous endeavors. He pointed out that the earnings tax provided 40 percent of the revenue for the city budget.

During the speech, James often interjected the East Side. Besides the need to attack poverty, he’s trying to find ways to place businesses in the area. But he says the city very much needs to eliminate the blight there and that takes money. He would like to see $50 million granted to the city to help get the job done. He called it patient money because it would sit there awhile without earning interest so the city could take increment amounts for development.

He managed to touch on another controversial political procedure: term limits. He said with conviction that term limits already exist: elections. He knows how strong a role PAC money plays but he emphasized that the people needed to get out and vote, no matter the problems of getting to the ballot box.


Two guards accompanied the Mayor at the luncheon. Police are providing around the clock security for James after he received a death threat. Police have called this a credible death threat. James confirmed that over the weekend, Police Chief Darryl Forte contacted him and told him police were investigating an emailed death threat and were taking precautions to bolster the mayor’s security.


Royals Rule in Tense Victory Over A’s

If you’re a baseball fan and you missed Sunday’s game between the Royals and Oakland A’s, you gotta be just plain sorry. The Royals won 4-2 at the K in an exciting, tense, vengeful, gutty, electrifying game. You could feel the emotion, even if you watched it on TV.

The Oakland Tribune was full of A’s venom directed at the Royals like a nasty cobra in a spitting mood. The A’s players overlooked what started all this and sloughed off the fact that left-hander Scott Kazmir hit Lorenzo Cain with a pitch in the very first inning.

Tempers were white-hot Sunday with the umpire crew ejecting five Royals. No one seemed to mention that the A’s, despite their involvement, never faced the umpires’ thumbs.

In the eighth inning, the benches emptied for the third straight game after Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera threw a hundred-mile-an-hour pitch shoulder-high behind Brett Lawrie. Herrera was ejected, followed by bench coach Don Wakamatsu and injured shortstop Alcides Escobar.

Oh, but this was a sweet victory for the Royals. Oh my yes. For many reasons. With all that went on and then win it — yeah, big, big win. They were proud for standing up for the team.

Cain put a positive spin on the raucous events of the day, saying, “We didn’t get into a fight, so that’s always good.” And quite the understatement.

The rising star delivered a key blow, a game-tying double during a three-run rally in the eighth inning. He stole third and scored ahead of Eric Hosmer on Kendrys Morales’ go-ahead RBI double.

Yep, Morales. What a delicious tidbit. He’s the DH for the Royals. Billy Butler is the DH for the A’s after leaving the Royals last season. Morales gets the big hit; Butler grounded into his standard 5-4-3 double play. Oh sweetness. By the way, Butler’s 12-game hitting streak ended Sunday on an 0 for 2 effort.

Escobar got into the fray — and an ejection — obviously still upset with what happened in the series opener. Lawrie put him out with what the Royals players said was a dirty slide at second base. Think about that slide. If Ty Cobb had done that, his sharp cleats would have ripped Escobar’s calf from his leg; Cobb used to spend time before the game filing his cleats to a cutting edge and then flying into the bag spikes high.

Lawrie slid that way for no good reason. Escobar was so vulnerable, stretched out to receive a throw from Mike Moustakas. He was like a wide receiver coming over the middle, defenseless to a head-hunting defensive back. Officials hand out 15-yard penalties for that. Lawrie simply had to withstand the slings and arrows from the KC quivers.

He was a hot one Sunday. He felt he had paid for his transgression after being hit on the elbow by a Yordano Ventura fast ball Saturday. And Ventura was thrown out for it — meaningless, in a way, because he was fading on the mound.

Lawrie, livid and irascible on Sunday, told the Tribune beat writer, “You can’t throw at my head and then say, ‘Next time I face you, it’s in the head.'” He was referring to Herrera’s gesture when he left the field, pointing to his head. “This is a game. This isn’t going out there trying to hurt people. That’s some bull, He needs to pay for that. He doesn’t throw 85. He throws 100.”

Herrera told reporters his head-pointing was done to say “think about it.” He added, “I don’t mean to hurt anybody. I was just trying to throw inside, but just a bad grip on that fastball. It started raining pretty good. And they just tossed me out of the game.”

Royals Manager Ned Yost was ejected in the first inning after Cain was hit. Both teams were issued a warning by the umpires. Yost came out to argue and was immediately ejected, along with pitching coach Dave Eiland. They wanted Kazmir ejected, equating what he did with the Ventura pitch that puffed up Lawrie’s left elbow.

Butler, who played eight seasons with the Royals, called his former teammates’ actions “just unprofessional.” He added, “I don’t know what their issues are over there. I’ve got friends on both sides. But why would you throw at somebody’s head? That’s not right.”

Why would Lawrie come in spikes high on a player who was stretched out and vulnerable as Escobar was Friday?

Butler said he was torn, because he knows and likes so many of the Royals. But of Herrera’s action, he told the Tribune, “You just don’t do that, not in any situation. We were all surprised.. We thought that had all been settled yesterday. Brett was hit, and he just took his base.”

The A’s believed that Ventura’s hitting Lawrie on Saturday was sufficient payback.

You know the sliding incident stuck in the Royals’ craws. Yost tried to soft-pedal the issue after Saturday’s game. But you could see the animosity on the field. There was Omar Infante standing at second base with his arms draped over his head as if to say to Lawrie, “What in the world were you doing?” You could read the lips and see the body language. That was a flagrant foul. That wasn’t one you forget soon. Escobar was that close to seeing his season end.

Yeah, hit by pitch, yeah, that can end a season, too. The Royals should know. They have been plunked 14 times already this season.

Cain was hit for the third time. Catcher Josh Phegley told reporters, “It was a cutter inside. That’s where you have to pitch him. It wasn’t a fastball, just a pitch that just got away a bit. I was surprised to see what happened. We thought everything like that was behind us.”

Kazmir’s pitch simply got away, huh. Then why not accept Herrera’s explanation?

In the eighth inning, the A’s threw a pitch away from Cain, who extended his arms to crush a game-tying double. Moments later, Morales doubled and the 2-1 lead the A’s had been nursing turned into a soulful victory.

“That is why you pitch Cain inside,” Phegley said. “We went away from him later, and he hurt us.”

With Greg Holland out with an injury, Wade Davis became the closer and he cut down the A’s 1-2-3.

The Royals are now 9-3 on the season after beating the A’s 6-4, losing 5-0 and then winning the rubber game. More than 100,000 fans attended the three-game series.

There must be something about Oakland. The Chiefs and Raiders had a long-standing rivalry. KC fans disliked the A’s for moving. Oakland, huh. Just think back to last season when the A’s were bumped from the American League wild card on September 30 in Kauffman Stadium in 12 innings.

Well, in late June the Royals will travel to Oakland for a three-game series. Zowie.


Hillary Faces Battles on Many Fronts

The Second of Two Parts

There’s concern among Democratic faithful when a liberal writer like Frank Rich takes on Hillary Clinton, who announced this week that she’s running for President. Considered one of the finest journalists in the business, he’s especially critical of Hillary on financial matters. It’s not all bad. His writings appear to support her in many other areas.

In April of last year, he wrote an essay on the possible points of order she may face in the campaign — one being her speaking fees where she received an estimated $400,000 for two talks to Goldman Sachs alone. Many liberals are concerned that she is too tied to the Wall Street crowd.

In that same story last April, he also noted how bitterly and obsessively disparaging Republicans were in pillorying Hillary.

He pointed out that Peggy Noonan, a frequent contributor to the Clinton Whitewater troubles, once described Hillary as a “squat and grasping woman” and a “highly credentialed rube.” Noonan wrote an obsessive book-length indictment, The Case Against Hillary Clinton (2000).

Rich pointed out, “Along the way, she puts several lengthy imaginary speeches in the former First Lady’s mouth (one of them 16 pages long), including a ‘free associating’ monologue with references to ‘Howard Stern’s penis’ and Joey Buttafuoco. By the 2008 campaign, Noonan was warning that Hillary ‘may be lethal’ like ‘the Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction,’ and arguing that she ‘doesn’t have to prove she’s a man. She has to prove she’s a woman.’ She rooted for her to beat Barack Obama because a Clinton candidacy ‘would be easier’ for Republicans: ‘With her cavalcade of scandals, they’d be delighted to go at her.'”

Democrats can only hope that Noonan appears on as many Washington talk shows as humanly possible in 2016, Rich said, adding, “Her scandal­mongering and attacks on Hillary’s sexuality will be the gifts that keep on giving to a Clinton campaign. The talk-show auxiliary, meanwhile, will be in the reliable hands of Rush Limbaugh, who can return to slamming Hillary in the terms he had to deploy against a lower-level target, the Georgetown University law student and women’s-health-care advocate Sandra Fluke, in 2012.”

Ted Nugent and Glenn Beck described Hillary as, respectively, a “worthless bitch” and a “stereotypical bitch” in that same election cycle, Rich wrote.

“The sex talk began after New Year’s,” Rich said. “Rand Paul, the closest the GOP has to a presidential front-runner, denounced Bill Clinton’s ‘predatory behavior’ with women on Meet the Press. Fox News played host to Kathleen Willey, whose charge of an Oval Office sexual assault by Clinton, made on 60 Minutes in 1998, remains unsubstantiated, as does her insinuation that he played a role in her husband’s suicide.”

The right-wing Washington Examiner ran a story by pundit Michael Barone, who alerted his readers in late March 2014 that “a decade ago,” Clinton traveled on “the private plane of a man later convicted of having sex with a minor.” It apparently hasn’t occurred to these outraged moral arbiters that the projection of sex scandals onto a couple campaigning as beloved national grandparents — Bill Clinton turns 70 in 2016, Hillary 69—will strike many Americans as ludicrous, Rich wrote.

Way before Clinton said she was running, Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus told media that the Republican party was focusing on her but that much more needed to be done. “I think that there’s a lot of rough stuff coming out on Hillary,” Priebus said. “But I think you’re right, I think that we have to be very aggressive on what she’s done and what she hasn’t done, and the things that she is famous for, like a botched health care roll out in the ’90s and Benghazi and the things that she is involved with that went obviously pretty badly.”

Health care was a tough sell and the Affordable Care Act was helped by what she did earlier. As for the supposed Benghazi scandal, all the money spent in the Congressional hearings have not revealed an iota of flagrant misdeeds by Hillary.

The Republicans also are attacking by association. Bill Clinton will be a focus no matter what he says he will do during the campaign. During a 2013 event in Beijing, he said he hoped to see a woman president serve the nation in his lifetime, but he couldn’t be sure whether that woman would be his wife. Well, he can be sure now. Critics jumped on Bill Clinton for his role in the 2012 Democratic primary, claiming he misread the flow of the campaign.

The Republicans believe whoever runs against Hillary will have a good read on how to attack her.

Stuart Stevens, the top strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, told an audience of reporters at a breakfast that electing Hillary would be like going back in time. “She’s been around since the ’70s,” he said.

At a conservative conference Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky ridiculed a possible 2016 Democratic field as “a rerun of ‘The Golden Girls.'”

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, seizing on the Fleetwood Mac song that became a Clinton family anthem, quipped to an audience in Washington, “If you want to keep thinking about tomorrow, maybe it’s time to put somebody new in.”

Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Clinton’s age. Despite her enduring popularity, a formidable fund-raising network and near unanimous support from her party, Clinton, Republican leaders believe, is vulnerable to appearing a has-been.

“Perhaps in the Democratic primary and certainly in the general election, there’s going to be an argument that the time for a change of leadership has come,” Rove said. “The idea that we’re at the end of her generation and that it’s time for another to step forward is certainly going to be compelling.”

A yesterday-versus-tomorrow argument against a woman who could be the last major-party presidential nominee from the onset of the baby boom generation would be a historically rich turnabout. It was her husband, then a 46-year-old Arkansas governor, who in 1992 put a fellow young Southerner on the Democratic ticket and implicitly cast the first President George Bush as a cold war relic, ill equipped to address the challenges of a new day. Clinton then did much the same to Bob Dole, a former senator and World War II veteran, in 1996.

A Republican approach that calls attention to Hillary’s age is not without peril, and Democrats predict that it could backfire.

“They would go to that place at their own risk,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic minority leader and first female speaker, noting that “Age is like art — it’s a matter of interpretation.”

Republican officials are bickering over strategy, especially on social issues like same-sex marriage. But Hillary’s age will be a target for the GOP hopefuls.

Senator Marco Rubio, a 42-year-old Florida Republican, drops the names of rappers like Pitbull and Jay-Z. Senator Rand Paul, a 50-year-old Kentucky Republican, has coined a term for millennials, “the Facebook generation,” and is courting young voters with denouncements of the surveillance state.

Besides Jeb Bush, 60, a former Florida governor who is seen in Republican circles as unlikely to run, the Republican field for 2016 largely consists of hopefuls in their 40s and early 50s. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey just turned 50.

Oh so may arrows in the quiver of criticism. Some Democrats, mainly those full of populist dogma, are angrier and more disaffected than they’ve been in years. They are more attuned to income inequality than before the Obama presidency and more supportive of Social Security and Medicare. They’ve grown fonder of regulation and more skeptical of big business. One Pew poll showed that voters under 30, who overwhelmingly favor Democratic principles, view socialism more favorably than capitalism. they listen to someone like Saunders without caring about his socialist agenda. Above all, Democrats are increasingly hostile to Wall Street and believe the government should rein it in.

Many of them identify Hillary with the Wall Street crowd. She will have to deflect their harpoons and swim a stream of preying liberals and sniping conservatives.

The Warren supporters continually point out where Hillary, in their minds, has gone wrong in the support of business and Wall Street endeavors.

Hillary must somehow bring together the other side of the see-saw. A group of Democratic elites associated with the Bill Clinton era fundamentally believe the economy functions best with a large, powerful, highly complex financial sector. Many members of this group have either made or raised enormous amounts of cash on Wall Street. They were deeply influential in limiting the reach of Dodd-Frank, the financial reform measure Obama signed in July of 2010.

But it’s the Republican machine that will continue to crank out anti-Hillary propaganda. And the machine is well oiled. For example, America Rising, the Republican opposition research super PAC, raised $450,000 in jsut the last six months of 2013. The group formed after the 2012 election to provide opposition research and tracking services for Republican campaigns and independent groups. It is modeled off of the Democratic group American Bridge 21st Century.

Leave it to the Daily Show to use one small incident to frame the assiduous attention focused on Hillary’s every move.

The Huffington Post wrote, “There was an ‘important Latino political story’ making news on Tuesday, but as Jon Stewart pointed out on ‘The Daily Show’ it wasn’t the one the media covered.”

While Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was announcing his decision to run for the GOP nomination, Hillary was eating at a Chipotle restaurant, and the media seemed to be focused on every detail of her order. It was a chicken burrito bowl.

“How could Rubio have known that on the exact same day he was launching his candidacy, Hillary Clinton would eat lunch?” Stewart said.

Obviously, she is going to face heavy attacks from the Republicans. They will be personal and they will go back as far as when she was at Yale. She doesn’t need another Democrat in the primaries — as many in the party want to help produce feisty debates — because she will have to fend off what the Republicans dig up with plenty of help from rich backers hell-bent to bring her down.

She’s tough. She can take what they hand out. But will the voters strip away all the propaganda to see that she stands for the middle class, the impoverished and the disenfranchised while the Republicans support all things for the rich? The race is on.

GOP Bile Spewing Way Before Hillary’s Official Run for President

The First of Two Parts

She’s running.

Yep, Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to be President of the United States. A woman. The wife of a former President, William Jefferson Clinton. A Democrat.

Oh the furor she brings to the Republicans. For some time now, they have been building trash bins to fill with vitriol and disgust about her possible presence in the Oval Office.

I have been saving numerous postings on the internet over the last six months or so. I thought my computer would become toxic with all the bile spewed in her expected campaign for the presidency. She announced her candidacy this week in a low-key manner. That, of course, drew criticism with dissenters wondering why she didn’t give a speech. If she had put on a big display with a rousing speech, they would have panned that, too. The bitter and conniving Republicans are in a get-Hillary mode.

But even her fellow Democrats have offered criticism, although more muted, about her running. Liberals took shots at her then posted favorable reaction to the possibility of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren entering the race.

But the fear and loathing scripture is mostly owned by the Republicans.

Back on February 2, an internet story said she was assembling a massive campaign team-in-waiting that would outstrip anything on a Republican side that remained factionalized and focused on knocking off one another.

Without so much as an announcement, she settled on — at the least — a campaign chairman, a campaign manager, a chief strategist and lead pollster, another pollster, a lead media adviser, a communication director, a deputy communications director, a focus group director and a communications strategist, the story reported.

Jim Messina, who helped engineer Clinton’s downfall in 2008 as a senior aide to President Obama’s campaign, now runs a super PAC devoted to supporting her in 2016. “It’s her turn and her time,” he said on MSNBC. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure she’s the President of the United States.”

She was locking in wealthy donors and had a head start on other ground organizing and fundraising because of the efforts of outside groups supporting her.

But the luxury of front-runner status could easily become a liability as Clinton attempts the historically difficult feat of leading her party to a third consecutive term in the White House.

So her advisers were working hard to fashion ways to make her seem hungrier, scrappier and less like the inheritor of Obama’s mantle. Strategies to distance herself from Obama included a focus on more populist and base-friendly economic issues, as well as suggestions that — despite her tenure as his Secretary of State — her foreign policy would be more self-assured than his.

No one knows better than Clinton that the landscape roughly a year before the first presidential primary contests can be deceiving. She thought she had a lock on the 2008 nomination, only to lose to Obama.

Des Moines lawyer and Clinton supporter Jerry Crawford was fretting back when that there were Iowa campaign regulars hand-wringing over her lack of action in the state. He may be happier now because she started her campaign in Iowa.

The polls have created problems already. At one point, the ABC/Washington Post poll showed 61 percent of likely Democratic voters backed Clinton. That was down from the previous month’s lead of 63 percent, and January’s 73 percent. A few percentage points create political indigestion.

Liberals? Well, one story noted that Hillary was facing a backlash from rich liberals unhappy with her positions on litmus test issues and her team’s efforts to lock up the Democratic presidential nomination before the contest started. Even though Warren said she wasn’t running, donors pledged big money to get her to reconsider. Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb have found polite and occasionally receptive audiences among potential sugar daddies. Even socialist Bernie Sanders has support from some wealthy Democratic donors.

According to the report, Clinton was seen by some liberals as too hawkish, too close to Wall Street and insufficiently aggressive on fighting climate change, income inequality and the role of money in politics. Those are animating causes for many rich Democrats, and some are eager for a candidate or candidates to challenge Clinton on those issues, if only to force her to the left.

Conservative critics were gearing up last July to instill a fear factor in the race. An Arkansas GOP official, Johnny Rhoda, was forced to resign his position when he claimed Clinton would “probably get shot at the state line” if she ran for president.

Last spring, David Gregory, then host of Meet the Press, didn’t correct Republican National Chairman  Reince Priebus when he took former Secretary of State Hillary’s congressional testimony out of context. Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill did, blasting Priebus and GOP activist Karl Rove on their trying to find fault with Hillary in Benghazi congressional hearings.

After Gregory asked her a question, she responded, “You know, I think Karl Rove is struggling to be relevant. I mean this is a guy who took hundreds of millions of other people’s money in the last cycle and had abject failure. So I think he’s trying to be part of the conversation. I think we all know what this is. It’s a cheap political shot. It’s the kind of politics that kind of make people not want to participate.”

Then Gregory asked: “As you look at Secretary of State Clinton, how she handled some of the questions that have emerged about Benghazi, or even about her health that, as you know, are a question for any candidate, do you think she could have done better? Should she do more to be completely transparent?”

McCaskill answered, “Listen, this is a strong, smart leader who is going to be a terrific President. And I don’t care what Reince Priebus says. They do not want Hillary Clinton, because they know she is going to ignite a spark of enthusiasm across this country, and she has got the strongest résumé for president of anyone who’s run in a very long time. So I really think she’s answered all of the questions about Benghazi. She’s the one who called for an independent investigation. And of course her frustration, when she said it doesn’t matter, was because she wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And it was the Republicans that were blocking funding for embassy security. That’s why she was frustrated.”

Clinton’s presidential campaign war room no doubt knows most if not all the skullduggery the Republicans plan for the campaign run. She is primed to fire back.

Last June, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that Republicans could win the White House in 2016 by focusing on Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. Add that to the constant Congressional hearings on Benghazi with millions of tax dollars used in the procedure and nothing — right , nothing — was ever found.

Oh, the e-mails. She wiped her server clean; she didn’t answer a question directly about them. Will this be a matter of substance? It shouldn’t be. Instead, it will be more of the same claptrap, the same wild accusations without proof similar to the Whitewater fiasco perpetrated by the Republicans. Even conservative Whitewater special investigator Ken Starr said there was nothing illegal produced during the investigation. But the Republican fervor for scandal hovers like turkey buzzards over carrion.

The Republican intensity is already high in the party’s intent of attacking Hillary. It will get worse.

Cuts in Kansas Reflect Slash-and-Burn Republican Ideology

Two school districts in Kansas have announced that the academic year would end early because they lack sufficient funding to keep the schools open.

This is what happens when slash and burn conservatives take over the governing process.

Concordia Unified School District will finish up six days early, on May 15, and Twin Valley Unified School District will let students out 12 days early, on May 8, the Associated Press reported.

In March, Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed a school funding overhaul, which resulted in the state’s schools losing a combined $51 million meant to help them finish out the current academic year. Members of the Twin Valley school board cited the cuts for the early shutdown.

The school closures are just the latest in a series of drastic measures that Kansas public services have been forced to take in recent years, as Brownback’s radical tax cuts have drained state coffers of much needed revenue. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Kansas cut per-pupil spending by $950 from 2008 to 2014, more than all but two other states. In May 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that school funding levels were unconstitutionally inequitable and ordered the immediate reversal of certain spending cuts.

The state’s Draconian slashes don’t go unnoticed by national media. Kansas has passed two controversial new laws, one that gives more freedom to gun owners while another that puts restrictions on how people who receive government benefits can spend their money.

That prompted Jon Stewart of the Daily Show to point that Kansas receives $1.29 from the federal government for every dollar residents pay in federal taxes, yet it’s still closing schools, cutting funding to museums and canceling much-needed highway repairs due to lack of funding. So, on his show, he offered a solution: Put restrictions on how Kansas can spend its federal money — the same kinds of “petty, unnecessary and insulting” restrictions Kansas places on its residents who receive government benefits.

He said, “Maybe they’ll motivate you to escape your culture of federal dependency. But until then, let’s see how you like being treated like the welfare queens you are.”

The restrictions will put many Kansas welfare recipients in a bind. They will be unable to get more than $25 per day in benefits. The bill also prohibits welfare recipients from spending their benefits at certain types of businesses, including liquor stores, fortune tellers, swimming pools and cruise ships.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, often known as “welfare,” is one of several federal programs administered by states at the ground level. The Kansas TANF program, known locally as the Successful Families Program, offers a family of three as much as $429 per month in cash benefits. Kansas is one of at least 37 states that distributes benefits on government-issued debit cards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Under the new rule, such a family receiving the maximum benefit would have to go to the ATM more than a dozen times to get the full benefit, which would be whittled away by an 85 cent fee for each withdrawal after the first one.

The federal welfare reform law of 1996 gave states significant leeway to design their own programs, and for the last five years, state Republicans have been busy pursuing changes to TANF, food stamps and unemployment insurance, with varying degrees of success. Missouri Republicans, for instance, are considering a bill to forbid food stamps from being spent on steak or seafood — which could be interpreted as hamburger steak and fish sticks.

But national welfare advocates were taken aback by the $25 daily limit in Kansas, something that has not been implemented in any other state.

“This provision makes it nearly impossible for a recipient who does not have a checking account to pay rent,” Liz Schott of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in an email to media outlets.

The provision originally would have limited daily benefits to $60, but Republican State Senator Caryn Tyson of Parker reduced the amount through an amendment.

Shannon Cotsoradis, director of Kansas Action for Children, told Huffington Post that changes by the Brownback administration, such as shorter time limits, had significantly reduced TANF enrollment. The number of Kansans receiving benefits has declined from 38,000 in 2011 to 15,000 last year, according to state data.

An editorial in the Hutchinson News began: Kansas again became a national joke for finding solutions to problems that don’t exist.

The editorial called the bills passed to restrict those on welfare as mean-spirited, noting: “It might sound plausible on its face. Who wants people feasting on luxury while taxpayers pick up the bill?

“The real problem is no one really can point to instances of people using TANF to go on cruises.”

The editorial pointed out, “The law also prevents people from using their accounts to pay for psychics, theme parks or swimming pools. Has this really been a problem?

“The law’s only practical purpose is to further humiliate fellow Kansans who, many through no fault of their own, are struggling just to survive. It’s meant to codify the stereotype of poor people as shiftless, lazy cheaters. What we need is compassion for people who have suffered through the greatest economic disaster in generations.”

Studies show people receiving public aid spend this money on food, housing and transportation, the editorial pointed out, adding, “Most poor people don’t have bank accounts and now must make multiple trips to ATMs, with fees, to pay for these essentials. These days, $25 won’t buy a tank of gas. At these limits, you’d have to withdraw the maximum 24 days out of the month to pay the rent on a two-bedroom apartment in Hutchinson. All this to protect about $400 a month in the support and $124 in average food stamp assistance that families get to feed their children.”

If this was really about protecting public funds, the editorial said,  lawmakers would look to control tax breaks for the rich, folks who can write off steak and lobster dinners to business expenses and get relief on yachts and vacation homes. These self-employed “job creators” no longer pay state income tax.

“But is anyone actually watching to make sure they create the jobs to help people get off public assistance?” the editorial asked. “No one is even suggesting it. Instead, legislators go after the poor.

It’s a law passed by the same, self-righteous politicians who like to emphasize their Christian faith. Maybe they should read their Bibles – the part that says, What you did to the least of these, you did to me.’

“That’s no joke.”

You Really Don’t Have to Read Between the Lines to Witness Fall of the Star

The Kansas City Star continues to raise rates and yet cuts back on producing a superior product. The Star keeps laying off reporters and yet expects subscribers to respect the product. It is a cycle of diminishing returns.

The Star’s management recently offered every employee in the newsroom a severance package. That’s not a good sign, huh.

Reports persist that management is cutting personnel so they can establish a contract work force, thus limiting benefits and laying off without cause. With fewer reporters, they want to utilize a website.

My old journalism buddy is looking better and better on his forecast that the Star will go to a three-times-a-week publication. The Monday edition weighs less than a roll of toilet paper. Pretty soon there won’t be enough there to wrap around your fish.

With a customer service unfit for good business principles, the Star is telling subscribers too bad, so sad. Complaints over delivery problems and news content are piling up and management’s answer is to shrug and cut back all the more. When subscribers try to voice complaints, they are greeted by an automated device. If they stay on the line for a real voice, they are transferred to someone in the Philippines — and communication suffers.

The Star is in turmoil right now. Staffers are frustrated with the numerous layoffs; the deadline is 10:15 p.m. and that means late-breaking news and sports don’t make home editions; corporate is pushing for internet readership; the print shop business is lagging; reports exist that big advertisers are going to bail out.

Just look at the paper. How can the editorial department put out a quality product with fewer and fewer staff? Well, it can’t, obviously.

The deadline is unreal. Why? The paper has modern production methods and that should speed up the process. So why the earlier deadlines? Is it an attempt to force readers to go to the internet site to get the late stories? If that is the rationale, the leaders are sadly mistaken. You can lead the subscriber to news but you can’t make him read.

The company prints the Topeka Capital-Journal, other dailies and targeted tabloids. Is the business falling off because all other print media are cutting back?

Advertisers? Well, a loss should be no surprise. If the Star can’t put out a quality product, then readers will stop subscribing and when they stop, circulation, of course, tumbles. Ergo: Advertisers look for other ways to sell their products. Reports continue that the Star is worried about losing a really big advertiser, maybe Nebraska Furniture.

Newspapers have always sought the news of private concerns but they shy away from revealing what is happening in their environs. A full and honest story about what is going on there would do much to inform the public. Maybe management could explain why the Star is making money but that corporate is peeling off revenue to offset losses in other areas. Maybe they could explain the financial framework of how a publicly traded journalism entity has a difficult time pleasing share-holders who look only at profits.

The Star used to be employee owned but leaders at the top lost fire in their bellies and allowed a corporate concern to take over. You’re talking about a good newspaper back when. Now, it is going down faster than a plate of pasta at an Italian wedding dinner.

Take a look at one phase of the Star’s editorial department, sports. There’s too much emphasis on long stories and columns. In exchange, the Star no longer runs NBA and major league baseball box scores. The area probably has fewer NBA fans but you can’t say that about baseball. Geez, the Royals are turning people on, game after game. How does that make the city look? A city with a major league team without a newspaper running major league box scores.

You hear management say they are trying to offer more local news. Baloney. You can’t drop the box scores without becoming second-rate.

The life of The Sporting News provides anecdotal insight to the Star’s plight.

TSN was the Bible of Baseball. After dropping baseball box scores, it became nothing more than a yuppie mag, slick and ineffectual.

After 122 years as a weekly publication, the magazine switched to a biweekly publishing schedule in 2008, and to a monthly schedule in 2011. In December 2012, the magazine announced it would go digital-only starting in 2013

TSN was founded in 1886 by Alred H. Spink, a director of the St. Louis Browns and former writer for the Missouri Republican daily newspaper. By World War I, TSN  was the only national baseball newspaper. Al Spink had long turned it over to his brother, first hiring Charles as business manager, then selling his stock, and finally departing from writing and editorial work in 1899. His son, J.G. Taylor Spink, took over in 1914 and gradually added coverage of other sports as well.

Throughout much of the 20th century, TSN was decidedly non-glamorous, consisting of black-and-white newsprint with staid graphics. However, for most of its first century it was the only vehicle for serious sports fans to follow teams from around the nation. For example, each week it printed a box score and blurb for every baseball game played in the major leagues and and numerous minor leagues. Similarly, every issue had a report on each MLB team, usually written by a local newspaper’s beat writer for that team.

Readers throughout the country were able to take in such journalistic sports luminaries as Furman Bisher out of Atlanta. Numerous others wrote for the paper, providing insight to various parts of the country. Stringers provided on-site coverage. All were paid flat rates, providing extra income for them and allowing TSN to lower its overhead of full-time employees.

J.G. Taylor Spink died in 1962. The Spink family continued to ownTSNuntil selling it to Times Mirror in the mid-1980s. Also around this time, the company began publishing annual previews for professional and college football, professional and college basketball, baseball and hockey.

With the advent of more national sports media in the 1980s, TSN evolved into more of a conventional, glossy sports magazine.

In 1990, Times Mirror brought in Tom Osenton as publisher and John Rawlings as the new editor. The yuppie format ensued. Box scores disappeared from its pages and the Bible of Baseball struck out.

Change sometimes is needed but those advocating Draconian cuts must realize the consequences. Are they saving the patient or are they fast-tracking a moribund process. The Star must realize what they are doing. Can death be far away?

All-Star Basketball Provides Game and Much More

Going to an all-star basketball game offers more than just a score. There’s kibitzing, judging, scouting, second-guessing, gossiping, enjoying.

Friday night at Shawnee Mission High School, the Missouri All-Stars downed the Kansans 112-99 in a game that showcased offense, obviously, and physicality, for sure. The Missouri group simply had too much talent.

Man, a lot of ability on the court everywhere. Kevin Puryear, the 6-7 DiRenna Award winner this season, was there. He led Blue Springs South to the state title and is headed to Missouri. Questions! He looked more mobile than when he posted up during the regular season. But can he adjust to just as quick, just as tall players diving at him, jumping with him? Tiger Coach Kim Anderson will provide guidance in the nuances of the game and he could be a big contributor as a freshman.

Landry Shamet, the 6-4 guard with quickness and alertness, was the main man on this night of stars. While playing at Park Hill, he grew as an upperclassman and caught the recruiting eye of Wichita State. His athleticism will help the Shockers, who are well-stocked with guards. He may have to alter his shot some — it comes rapid-fire but he starts it from his chest without height.

He’s quick with enterprise, too. During a timeout, he lifted his jersey to reveal a t-shirt with “PROM?” written on it and pointed to a girl in the stands. Surely, she accepted.

Oh, about the Shockers. Starters Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker are expected to return. Then there’s Conner Frankamp, who transferred from Kansas. Tyrone Taylor also will join the Shockers. He played at Grandview before attending Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.

Jared Dixon displayed flashes of brilliance at Lee’s Summit West and Friday night he showed why Missouri State took him. He’s the younger brother of Michael Dixon, who played at MU before trouble pushed him to Memphis State his final year. When asked about an alleged rape, Michael bypassed the issue by telling a reporter, “Just say I transferred.” He’s been playing basketball in Europe.

MU certainly is going to get a gifted athlete when Lee’s Summit’s Drew Lock gets there. He’s 6-4, can jump, is quick and has a strong arm. What? A strong arm? In basketball? Ah, he’s going to the Tigers to play quarterback.

The Missouri stars were loaded. Tyrone Gibbs, who once scored 47 for Raytown South this season, apparently is headed for Florida SouthWestern State College. He sure looked good Friday. Then there was Jailen Gill of Raytown. He hustled and jumped and wound up with 12 points. Pierce Moling? Yeah, from Kearney. You had to like this guard. He’s sneaky fast. He directs traffic. He can drive and shoot the three. And as one observer said, he’s the type of player you want on your team.

Kansas had good players, lots of them. It’s just that the Missouri side had exquisite performers. Cooper Cook, at 6-7, can go outside. He hits the boards just fine and you must consider his good shooting touch.

Alston Jones, from Bishop Miege, provided a good look for any scouts in the stands. A DiRenna finalist, he must shake off the poor shooter tag. But he’s quick and gets to the basket. Watch him play defense and you also get a feel for his game.

Anthony Bonner of Lawrence is headed to Colorado State but he’s going to have to get bigger and stronger. His shot was off Friday.

The teams played at South because the Independence Center rental rates cut deeply into the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association’s budget. The gym wasn’t packed; maybe the area’s media outlets need to provide more publicity.

More kibitzing and yakking. There was Marcus Walker with a full beard greeting, hugging and chatting with almost everyone. The two-time DiRenna winner — 2004 and 2005 at Bishop O’Hara High School —  is now counseling, imparting his basketball experience on potential stars. Walker started his college career at Nebraska, then transferred to Indian Hill Community College in Iowa before catching on with Colorado State where he was the leading scorer in the Mountain West. He went on to play in Europe.

Hey, this is fun.

Talking about the coaching jobs at Kansas State and Rockhurst universities wasn’t about fun.

Coach Bruce Weber is making K-State fans nervous. Players are defecting like soldiers in a losing war. Athletic Director John Currie hired Weber so the leash may be a little longer because no boss wants to admit a mistake in judgment. However, a disastrous season could put Weber is a very hot seat. He has brought in new recruits but they seem more like mid-major types. He has two more scholarships to give so maybe he can procure a couple of stalwarts.

If the season does explode — and the Cats are already drawing bottom-feeder ballots in Big 12 polling — what will happen? Well, he could be fired. So a new coach. Who? Maybe Brad Undewood. He has taken Stephen F. Austin to the NCAAs in his first two seasons. He played high school ball at McPherson, played under Jack Hartman at K-State, was an assistant for Frank Martin at K-State and later at South Carolina. He wanted the Alabama job but didn’t get it; Avery Johnson did.

The Rockhurst situation is sad. The Hawks talk is all about the past. They did this when. They did this then. Oh, it isn’t all about the era of Buddy Brehmer and Ralph Telken. The Hawks had success  after that but of late it has been a downer.

They play in a far-and-wide conference, the Great Lakes, and that doesn’t bode well for developing rivalries. Probably most important is that the president of the school, the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, is considered to be ambivalent, at best, about athletics. The program needs backing, money and fans.

Mason-Halpin Fieldhouse used to be considered a pit — raucous, rambunctious and supportive. Bill O’Connor, after 21 years as the head coach, retired. He coached on the high school, junior college and college level for 41 years. He’s the winningest coach in Rockhurst history with 265 victories.

The lack of pay for a head coach and the adamant refusal to provide funds to hire a couple of assistants put the basketball program in a bind. This is the recruiting season. Prospects want to know who the new coach will be.

Jim Wooldridge, now athletic director at California-Riverside and former coach there, is supposedly interested in the job. His résumé includes: assistant for the Chicago Bulls, head coach at Kansas State and Central Missouri State. Show him the money!

Yep. lots of stuff going on at an all-star basketball game.