Damn the Negatives, Full Speed Ahead on Newspapers

So, the daily newspaper is dead. So say so many.

Young people just don’t read, the naysayers claim with strong feelings. Young people are too busy texting on cell phones or surfing the internet, the anecdotes maintain.

Well, I have lived through the death of newspapers for lo these many years — by radio, movies, television and computers. I still read a daily newspaper. I like my glass of juice, my relaxed morning with the newspaper in my hands. Even when I went to work early, I wanted my morning journalistic fix.

I concede that my morning paper isn’t what it used to be. I’ve been all over the country, some were good and some were bad. I’m now back on my first daily, the Kansas City Star. It has careened downhill like Frank Bullitt driving that green Mustang on the streets of San Francisco. Recklessly, the Star management has squeezed the newspaper that can’t print box scores and can’t wrap the catch from the fish monger.

But I read it. Addicted, of course. Frustrated, definitely. Wanting more, assuredly.

Critics contend that people simply aren’t reading all that much. Of course, that means newspapers are under duress. But is it true? A friend noted that the New Orleans Times-Picayune was publishing just three days a week. But I found out on a recent trip to New Orleans that another paper has taken up the slack. The Advocate, in October 2012, began printing and distributing a daily New Orleans edition for both newsstand and home delivery. The Advocate is a seven-day-a-week newspaper in south Louisiana serving Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette.

But the negative stories persist. Jim Fitzpatrick, a former KC Star reporter, writes a blog JimmyCsays and he recently wrote about the Star’s corporate owner, McClatchy, and how it made a spectacular overpayment of $4.5 billion for 32 Knight Ridder newspapers, including the Star, in 2006.

“At the time, that purchase looked like a big gamble,” he said. “Today it looks like the worst newspaper purchase of all time. McClatchy assumed $2 billion in debt and has lurched around with a debt of at least $1 billion ever since.”

At the time of the purchase, McClatchy stock was selling for more than $50 a share. Very soon the value of McClatchy shares began plummeting, and they fell to less than a dollar each.

So, is the demise of the newspaper attributed to dumb moves equating to bad investment or the evolution of a person’s reading habits? McClatchy was making money until it became too big for its britches. Sacramento, Modesto and other “Bee” newspapers were viable, fat and sassy. The chain simply became too aggressive.

Warren Buffet, the multi-faceted entrepreneur, believes newspapers have a future. Why would he think this? Well, he considers newspapers as reigning supreme in the delivery of local news: “If you want to know what’s going on in your town — whether the news is about the mayor or taxes or high school football — there is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job. A reader’s eyes may glaze over after they take in a couple of paragraphs about Canadian tariffs or political developments in Pakistan; a story about the reader himself or his neighbors will be read to the end. Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.”

Alas, I have tried to enlighten the editors of the Star but I have failed miserably. So, I have another idea. Of course, I don’t have the business acumen needed or the money to get this done, but I sure know what would make a good newspaper. And I have the place to do just that: Johnson County, Kansas.

My colleagues call this folly. Bah, humbug. Please send money and I will get things rolling.

First, I would hire a company that deals in company organization. Good ones are out there. I would negotiate for an offset press, maybe the old used by the Olathe News.

Then I would search for an editor, advertising manager, business manager and circulation manager. The Star has laid off people with those kinds of backgrounds, plus there are plenty of them available with the newspaper market very, very tight.

Which brings up the point right now. Again, you say no one reads so why would you venture into the moribund enterprise that is a daily newspaper? Well, I disagree with the premise. As the adage goes, build it and they will come. Yeah, yeah, smart phones and computers dominate time for young people. However, I still believe everyone likes to put their hands on what they’re reading. Newspapers forgot what they are best at doing — providing news.

When a wreck ties up a highway with thousands late getting to work or home, that’s news. When a school district alters curriculum, that’s news. A newspaper can manufacture news, like delving into a government entity that may be dealing in fraud, but what’s-happening-now news should be the focus.

A newspaper can deal with many areas that would draw readers to the news columns. Give the people what they want to read, what they need to read.

Okay, you get the idea. Let me continue with the newspaper’s organization.

After putting top management in place, I would have a sit-down to go over what is needed in each area. My background is in the news part but I have knowledge about other departments.

Let’s look at the newsroom.

The editor must be the up-front person, ready to get into the community and sell the newspaper as a place for residents to get their information about neighbors, politicians and businesses. He must oversee the editorial and business departments, letting all know that a newspaper needs to be viable but not a cash cow for the owners. A profitable newspaper dispenses news for all levels.

He would hire department heads, from news to circulation to advertising.

The managing editor would be in charge of all news gathering, from features to sports to business news. He/she or an assistant would meet each day to go over assignments and breaking news.

The assistant managing editor would work with the city editor to make sure assignments would be carried out. A premium would be placed on copy editors.

At first blush, beats would include education, county government, law enforcement and health. These would be monitored early on to see how they are fitting in — emphasizing one or more of them. Each would monitor all phases of their beats. For example, the county government beat writer would check in on what is going on at various city levels; the law enforcement beat writer would check out county and city police. A study would have to be made of what to do on court cases and their adjudication. Does it make sense to be a paper of record. Marriages, divorces and births should be considered.

High school sports would be a priority. The sports editor would also write a column. All staff members would do desk work, including copy editing and lay-out. All would cover prep games, doing desk work before heading out. The Royals and Chiefs would be handled by wire services. The sports editor could pick certain pro games to cover for a column. KU and Kansas State would have wire service coverage but big games could be staffed. A small college roundup would be run each week. High school roundups would run each week, including features, schedules, results and standings. Only varsity level sports would be covered.

The features desk would be fully staffed. They would write about trends in fashion, cooking and home decor. Dinner reviews would be held to a minimum. However, features like best tenderloin or best nightlife could be run on occasion.

Sure, a lot more. But it could be done. The point of all this is that a viable newspaper could be published in Johnson County.

Infrastructure Funding Seems Like the Right Thing But Congress Balks

The solution seems so simple. Congress approves funds to improve the country’s infrastructure; companies hire workers to good paying jobs; the economy elevates, roads and bridges receive repairs, school buildings become modernized and more efficient and everyone wins.

But no. Republicans, those in the U.S. House mainly, continue to stall any movement to appropriate money for this seemingly great proposal.

Missouri and Kansas certainly need to do something about the roads and bridges.

Look at Missouri:

  • 3,528 of the 24,334 bridges in Missouri (14.5 percent) are considered structurally deficient.
  • Driving on roads in need of repair costs state motorists $1.6 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs — $380 per motorist.
  • Missouri has 130,360 public road miles, with 31 percent in poor or mediocre condition.
  • The state has reported $7.1 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs and $5.8 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.

Civil engineers in Kansas gave the state grades for infrastructure:

  • Aviation earned a C with 25 percent of the airports with paved runways needing improvement.
  • Bridges drew a D-plus, in part due to nearly 3,000 structurally deficient bridges. Only five states have more structurally deficient bridges than Kansas.
  • Dams earned the lowest grade, D-minus. Of the state’s 6,087 dams, 230 are classified as high hazard, meaning failure would likely lead to loss of life and significant property damage.
  • There are no dedicated revenue streams to support the necessary funding to support the Kansas’ Water Plan initiatives so drinking water had a C grade.
  • Levees had a C-minus, in part due to the lack of standards or regulations governing the maintenance and ongoing inspections.
  • Roads drew a C-plus. A decrease in federal and state funding levels has a direct impact on the quality of roads in the state, from safety to pavement condition.
  • Schools also had a C-plus. There was a huge expansion in the 1950s where the amount of schools in the state more than doubled. These building are now 60 years old and many are in need of major repair or replacement.

So little is getting done. Washington is a place of political theater where so many have lost the ability to spot real chances to do the right thing.

Lots of statistics point to the economy improving. But good paying jobs are still lacking. There’s recovery but congressional deadlock over highway, bridge and infrastructure funding legislation could dampen the upturn.

The importance of infrastructure spending to the economy is well-documented. Some economists say that every $1 billion of new highway spending can directly and indirectly create up to 13,000 jobs a year. That means good paying jobs with civil engineers, construction laborers, electricians, truck and tractor drivers, concrete mixers and plumbers.

An estimated 14.5 million workers — 11 percent of the workforce — were employed in infrastructure-related jobs in 2013, according to government data.

Yet federal spending on highway and bridge projects has remained static in recent years at roughly $50 billion annually. Congress is nowhere near a deal. Why?

The most accepted explanation is that today’s Republican party is dominated by Southern states while the center of heavy infrastructure (and costs) is located in the Northeast, and Republicans refuse to spend on states that don’t vote Republican.

Starve the Beast is a topic I’ve harped on for some time and that philosophy holds true in the infrastructure stagnation.

For Republicans, the hundreds of billions to trillions of unmet infrastructure spending represents a golden opportunity to extort draconian cuts to social, regulatory and non-defense spending.  That is why Republicans also reject deficit-financing for infrastructure spending or alternative proposals like a private-public infrastructure bank.  The goal here is not to invest in the country, but to seize upon any vulnerability to “drown the government in a bathtub,” according to the Daily Kos.

This debate also offers a chance for Republicans to support their omnipresent privatization mantra.

Then they want to repeal labor and environmental laws. For example, while commuter bridges may be structurally unsound, Republicans prefer to first repeal laws like the Davis-Bacon Act, a 1931 New Deal law which requires payment of the local prevailing wages on all public works projects for laborers and mechanics. Repealing this employment protection law is a much larger Republican priority than repairing any specific bridge or tunnel.

Why? Well, even taking into account the Republican rationale, negating common-sense infrastructure spending is truly mystifying.

Michael DeBacker, director of transportation practice at Burns & McDonnell, wrote in a blog:

“For many years, significant responsibility for funding transportation infrastructure rested with the federal government. But those days seem numbered as partisan politics has hampered the passing of a comprehensive highway bill (the last major bill expired in 2009) and public investment in infrastructure is at its lowest level since the end of World War II. To fill the void, state and regional authorities have worked to find other solutions.”

Lack of legislative progress is just one part of the problem, DeBacker said. Since the 1950s, much of the funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund has come from gas tax revenues. Many people point to the most recent recession—where people conserved gas usage, leading to less tax revenue—as the onset of funding challenges.

“The Kansas City metro is poised to capture an even larger share of the transportation market but it will require state and local investment,” DeBacker wrote. “Located in the geographic center of the country at the crossroads of a major interstate, the region is already the second largest rail hub and the third largest trucking center in the United States. Unlike more congested regions like Chicago, land for infrastructure expansion is plentiful and capital costs to build new infrastructure are reasonable.”

BNSF recently opened the Logistics Park Kansas City Intermodal Facility, featuring an initial annual lift capacity of 500,000 containers with room for expansion. Through creative reuse, the Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base has become the 370-acre CenterPoint Intermodal Center. Kansas City is building a strong foundation.

The Kansas Department of Transportation relies on T-WORKS, a 10-year, $8 billion transportation program passed in 2010 and funded primarily through a  four-tenths cent sales tax.

Due to a lack of funding, the Missouri Department of Transportation is spending about half of what it should on road projects, DeBacker said.

Funding infrastructure simply makes sense. Voters need to realize Republicans are standing in the way of progress.

 

History Shows Why GOP Devises Methods for Voter Intimidation

History will tell you why the Republicans push to suppress voting rights.

In the late 19th Century, a poll tax emerged as a prerequisite to the registration for voting in a number of states as part of the Jim Crow laws. After the right to vote was extended to all races by the enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a number of states enacted poll tax laws as a device for restricting voting rights. The laws often included a grandfather clause, which allowed any adult male whose father or grandfather had voted in a specific year prior to the abolition of slavery to vote without paying the tax. These laws, along with unfairly implemented literacy tests and extra-legal intimidation, achieved the desired effect of disenfranchising African-American and Native -American voters, as well as poor whites.

Republicans now search for other ways to suppress the votes by those perceived to lean toward Democrats. Blacks and the poor are once again the targets with Hispanics now joining the hit list.

Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state, exhorts his colleagues to pass laws to stifle the desire to vote; his procedure of choice is to yell fraud and institute ID regulations that hinder those with less money and less communication skills. Now that his fraud laws have bite, we will see if he finds enough cases for him to chew on.

Throughout the country, Republicans search for more ways to keep the Democrat vote low, including fewer polling places, shorter times to vote and eradicating early ballots.

But all this can’t explain such low turnout at the polls, as happened recently in the mayoral race in Kansas City. Was that total right — just a little more than 23,000 people voted in the election. Geez.

Maybe, we have too many dates for voting. Maybe consolidation is in order. Critics of that, however, say that would extend the time needed to cast votes for too many offices and too many issues.

A big concern is that the populace is so ill-informed that they vote against their own best interests.

However, people need to vote and they need to vote with knowledge.

Why don’t they?

  • They think their vote doesn’t matter.
  • Too busy.
  • Registration can be confusing, especially for citizens that have moved from county to county or from state to state. But registration itself is painless and takes little more than the presentation of identification.
  • Apathy
  • Difficulty in getting to the polls. This is especially true of the infirm and the elderly.

Whatever the reasons, voter turnout is way, way down.

The election last November had the lowest general election turnout since World War II. Only 36 percent of eligible voters showed up to cast their votes — giving the Republicans a “grand majority” of garnered support that adds up to a measly one-sixth of the adult population.

Looked at another way, the humongous $3.6 billion spent to buy the election has only further distanced the majority of people from participating. The amount of money gives credence to those who believe we live in a plutocracy where money buys elections and wealth rules supreme.

How do people with such diverse ideological views come together and replace the system with one that is more democratic, more pluralistic and more effective at solving the problems we all care about?

Great question. But we seem to be more divided than ever.

Heavily funded negative campaigns can sway voters. Indeed. Lies and misinformation fill the highways and byways. For example, a mailer was sent out by GOP election officials in Ohio informing voters that election day 2014 was November 8. The actual day was November 3.

A similar mailing, targeting Spanish language voters in Arizona, also said that election day was November 8.

In Cleveland, Clear Channel Communications, a media company with strong conservative political ties, had sponsored billboards threatening those convicted of voter fraud with felony arrest and significant jail time. Unsurprisingly, these billboards were placed in predominantly Hispanic and black neighborhoods. After a significant outcry, Clear Channel did agree to take down the billboards, which were paid for by an anonymous donor that refused to disclose itself.

North Carolina’s state board of elections chief, Gary Bartlett, told reporters that there was more misinformation, voter intimidation and other efforts at voter suppression in the state than he had ever seen. Though many of these efforts have been carried out by third parry groups that are hard to pin down, it is known that some of the voter intimidation and misinformation has come from an organization called Americans for Limited Government, a group with apparent ties to the Koch brothers.

In 2000, Florida improperly disenfranchised thousands of voters by wrongly identifying them as felons who’d lost their voting rights. This work was carried out by a firm hired by then Secretary of State Katherine Harris, under the direction of then Governor Jeb Bush, whose brother, of course, won the presidency on the basis of this wrongful voter purge.

Republican officials carried out an illegal phone-jamming scheme in New Hampshire in 2002, in order to tie up the phone lines of Democratic Get Out the Vote efforts there.

There is no Democratic equivalent of the repeated Republican efforts to block people they don’t like from voting. Voter ID laws, flyers with false information, threats of criminal charges, restriction of early voting, deliberately misleading and disgusting robocalls, “poll watchers” who are deliberately slowing down voting and using misinformation to challenge valid voters — all of these are vintage Republican tactics.

An election worker in Johnson County wrote a letter to the editor in the Kansas City Star, pointing out there’s an obligation to participate in the most important part of our democracy.

The writer said, “I spend six hours in training and about 14 hours at the polling site. It is demoralizing to have the polls open 12 hours and have only 74 people bother to cast a ballot. Counting advance voting, that meant barely 100 people in a precinct of more than 1,000 registered voters thought it was important enough to vote.”

The writer then quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt:  “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

Have a Great July 4th Weekend; Blog Scheduled to Return Monday

Two GOP Presidential Candidates Reflect Policies Pushed by Brownback

A couple of governors with the U.S. presidency in mind have pushed along policies that reflect and parallel what Kansas Governor Sam Brownback espouses — cut taxes and shrink government no matter the consequences.

Gambit, an alternative tabloid in New Orleans, recently ran a story that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has made a shambles of Louisiana’s fiscal structure. The New York Times magazine, in its June 14 issue, contained a story about how Governor Scott Walker hopes to ride his success against public unions in Wisconsin all the way to the White House.

Gambit called Jindal an absentee governor more concerned about running for President than putting the state’s fiscal policies in order.

The paper judged Jindal the biggest loser in the state, saying, “He pitched three priorities on Opening Day: repealing Common Core, passing a ‘religious freedom’ bill and ending ‘corporate welfare.’ He went 0 for 3, gave Louisiana its largest tax hike in memory, spent most of his time campaigning for president and managed to sink even lower in public opinion polls.”

His post-legislative session  claim of “revenue neutrality” will rank alongside George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” as one of the great Orwellian claims by an American politician, the paper said.

His budgetary machinations drew a Ponzi scheme description.

Interestingly, no-taxes guru Grover Norquist plays a role in Louisiana politics, as he does in Kansas. The paper wrote, “He doesn’t live here, doesn’t vote here, yet he has more sway in the Louisiana Legislature than the current governor. It’s not because he’s so powerful but rather because our governor and too many lawmakers are so spineless.”

The paper said Jindal’s plan to roll back state income tax brackets put the state into dire straits.

“The $300 million state revenue he tossed aside in 2008 surely is much larger now,” Gambit said. “Meanwhile, the billions that Louisiana gives in ‘incentives’ to businesses and spend on non-governmental organizations have added to a problem that this year grew to $1.6 billion.”

The next governor and the next legislature will inherit a fiscal train wreck, the paper predicted.

“Jindal, meanwhile, can take solace in the fact that he remains mired at 1 percent or less in every presidential preference poll of Republican voters — both nationally and in the early primary states,” Gambit wrote. “If he were at all relevant to the 2016 conversation, he would have to explain the mess he’s leaving behind in Louisiana.”

While Jindal stumbles, Walker seems to be moving into a strong contending position among Republican presidential hopefuls. His braggadocio took on hyperbolic tones in his prepping for the campaign when he said he could take on ISIS because he beat down the public unions in his state of Wisconsin.

The Times Magazine focused on Walker’s triumphs against the unions, quoting commentator Rush Limbaugh: “The Republican Party has a demonstrated, genuine hero and potential star in its ranks. And he is the governor of Wisconsin.” The magazine added that Limbaugh said the unions, the Democrats and other perceived enemies had “thrown everything they’ve got at Scott Walker, and he has beat them back without one syllable of complaint, without one ounce of whining. All he has done is win.”

The magazine said, “It is particularly bitter for Walker’s opponents that his rise has taken place in Wisconsin, a blue state with a long history of labor activism; it was the first state in the nation to grant collective bargaining rights to public employees, in 1959.”

Walker has won three races for governor, one a recall effort, and each time he took more than a third of the votes from union households. “He was able to do this,” the magazine story reasoned, “by making ‘labor’ seem like someone else — even to union members — and pitting one faction against another.”

Now, he’s eying right-to-work laws.

Many union leaders worry that if Walker is elected president, Congress could pass a national right-to-work bill. Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa introduced just such a bill; it has not come to the House floor. In February, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky sponsored a similar bill, which has co-sponsors in Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and 15 other Republicans.

Unions now represent a little more than 10 percent of labor. Apparently, the Republicans want to quash and squash until there is no life in the push to organize workers. Again, so many vote against their own best interests and union members are no different. Wages are stagnant and a big reason is the downward push on unions. So many forget the origins of the 40-hour work week, paid vacations, health insurance, work safety and livable wages. Divided, they tumble.

The magazine pointed out that with Walker’s right-to-work push, the state has fallen to 40th in job growth and 42nd in wage growth. Wisconsin’s two-year projected budget deficit has actually increased; in May, the Legislature approved a $250 million cut to the state’s prized university system to help close the gap. Wisconsin is now among the top 10 states in population outflow.

So, stories in two states certainly reflect how Kansas is faring with its squeeze-the-life out of government and put pressure on the working man.

Will voters in 2016 pay attention to these results? Tough question. In Kansas, they certainly didn’t pay attention to what was happening. Do so many believe the way of the right wing is the way to fly? The Koch brothers doctrine of low taxes and small government favors the more affluent in society. What does that say for the average Joe? And will Joe wake up and see what the consequences are of this failed policy?

Bordman ‘Sings’ the Blues Over Snub

The local media are enamored with Buck O’Neil and the Kansas City Monarchs. That’s fine. They are a big part of baseball history in Kansas City. However, they ignore the team that provided so many thrills for so many and really opened the door for the city to obtain a major league franchise — the Kansas City Blues.

I was a big-time fan. As a scrawny, snot-nosed kid, I adored the Blues. If I didn’t have the money — which was often — I sneaked into Blues Stadium, climbing fences, squeezing through gates, running past ticket takers. I now have a picture of the 1947 Blues team hanging on my wall. The Blues were good, popular and filled a solid baseball niche in the city.

As a white kid in those days, I didn’t pay much attention, if any, to the Negro League Monarchs. It was simply the times.

Sid Bordman, my long-time colleague and friend who retired from the KC Star in 1988 after 34½ years, has a strong affinity for the Blues. He was bat boy and clubhouse boy for the Blues when the likes of Phil Rizzuto and Jerry Priddy played for them. He became a long-time friend of Rizzuto.

Sid laments the lack of attention paid to the Blues. Why all the publicity for O’Neil and the Monarchs and really nothing for the Blues!

His push for more local recognition of the Blues has been long-standing. For example, in 2006, he wrote to 810 Sports’ Soren Petro during a move to get O’Neil elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Bordman wrote that Petro shouldn’t be concerned about his flow of e-mails concerning any unfair treatment of O’Neil by the Hall of Fame committee.

“You should be praised for not jumping aboard the Buck O’Neil propaganda train, powered by the flood of columns by Joe Posnanski, Steve Penn and Jason Whitlock in the Kansas City Star,” Bordman wrote. “Perhaps Posnanski, who believed everything that Buck ever said, probably should be cited for conflict of interest because he is in the process of writing a biography of Buck.”

Bordman, who grew up in Kansas City and worked the baseball beat for the Star, said Buck was a good  player at best in the Negro American League, which scheduled 40 or 45 games a season and filled the rest of the year mainly going against town and semi-pro teams.

“There is no doubt there were some great players in the Negro leagues, but also there were some very mediocre ones,” Bordman wrote. “So the idea that all of the players in the Negro leagues could have played in the big leagues is folly.”

Bordman chided the Star for not mentioning that J.L. Wilkinson, the owner of the Monarchs, was voted into the Hall of Fame while the unfair claims against the selection committee’s snub of O’Neil swirled among the media. A blurb on the Hall of Fame website says: “A white man, Wilkinson is regarded as one of the most innovative and creative Negro leagues owners. He was the principal owner of the Kansas City Monarchs from 1920-48.”

Not only Buck, but the Star, and some of the other media outlets have managed to wipe out the memory of the Blues, Bordman said.

Before writing Petro, Bordman sent Posnanski a little history of the Blues.

He also chastised the Star columnist for his comparing the Royals to the Blues in the constant moving of players, describing it as minor-league style.

“Posnanski served up a wild pitch instead of a strike,” Bordman wrote. “For examples, Posnanski said Phil Rizzuto was with the Blues one season and Mickey Mantle one month before being called up the parent New York Yankees.”

Bordman noted that Rizzuto, who became a Hall of Famer, along with Mantle, was the shortstop on the Blues infield of Billy Hitchcock at third, Priddy at second and Johnny Sturm at first for two full seasons, 1939 and 1940, when the Blues cruised to American Association pennants with 107-47 and 95-57 records.

Mantle, who was 19 in 1951, was not optioned to Kansas City until mid-July after he began slumping in the field and at bat with the Yankees. Jumping from Class A Joplin, Mantle made the Yankees in spring training. During his two months — and 40 games — with the Blues, he hit .361 with 11 homers and 50 runs batted in. So, as Bordman said, the Yankees were bringing Mantle back, not raiding the Blues.

Hank Bauer, Bill Skowron, Andy Carey, Bob Cerv, Ernie Bonham and Vic Power were some of the other Blues standouts.

“Perhaps Posnanski has the Blues mixed up with the Athletics in their early years under the ownership of Arnold Johnson when Kansas City and the Yankees made a bevy of trades,” Bordman said. “Players did come and go with New York usually getting the advantage.”

At least Posnanski, who no longer is with the Star, acknowledged the existence of the Blues, Bordman said, adding that the Blues were in Kansas City for 53 years and were a big part of the city’s history. The Blues captured seven pennants, four of them from 1938 through 1947. They won the Little World Series over Baltimore in 1923, over Rochester in 1929 and over Newark in 1938 — Newark was also a Yankee farm club.

In 1952 and 1953 the Blues won the AA playoffs before bowing to Rochester and Montreal in the Little World Series.

Bordman simply wonders why the Blues received so little attention when they did so much for the city.

“During the city’s 150th anniversary celebrations,” he said, “the Star ignored the Blues in its special sections. The Royals have never saluted the Blues, whose solid showings at the turnstiles helped open the door for Kansas City’s entry into the big leagues.”

The Royals have a seat in Kauffman in honor of Buck O’Neil. Maybe they could at least hang a few prominent signs somewhere in recognition of the Blues.

Make Sure You Know What You’re Talking When Panning Obamacare

The Supreme Court has upheld a key part of the Affordable Care Act that provides health insurance subsidies to all qualifying Americans. Now it’s time to attack the anecdotal myths about ACA and find ways to make it more efficient and force the health care business to cut costs.

Conservatives continue to fire away on horror stories about ACA and most of them are bunk. Instead of promoting the repeal of ACA, Congress should begin to find ways to help more people have insurance and provide more reasonable rates.

I’ve told several people who have said they can’t afford health insurance to check on-line or call 1-800-318-2596. Those who claim the rates are too high oftentimes don’t make an effort to find out how they can be helped.

ACA horror stories aren’t always as horrible as they may appear. But in the rush to condemn the law, the public has been confronted repeatedly with anecdotal evidence that’s completely fallen apart. Worse, consumers invariably hear more about the horror stories than the follow-up reports proving the horror stories wrong.

Go to Daily Kos and other fact-checking sites or take in the ACA website directly and read about the debunking of the anecdotal stories. Empirical evidence shows that ACA is working. Now, Congress needs to go to work and find ways to make it better.

The John Roberts Court ruling on ACA keeps the law intact and it would appear that no matter how many times the U.S. House of Representatives tries to repeal it — they’ve tried more than 50 times already — the law is still solid.

The Roberts Court has recently made several rulings that please liberal minds. Many consider a majority of the justices as strongly conservative. These recent rulings belie the description. Could it be that this court will turn out similar to the Earl Warren Court, 1953 to 1968. You may recall that after President Dwight Eisenhower named him as Chief Justice, liberals wailed that conservative rulings would crush the nation. However, history shows that many of the rulings came down on the side of the liberals.

Whatever, the ACA is helping many families, from those who have members with pre-existing conditions to those who simply can’t afford policy payments.

The ACA helps families pay their health insurance premiums and by giving them new, affordable health coverage options. According to ACA reports, on average, each family will be $1,571 better off in 2019. Low- and middle-income families will benefit the most. The ACA also is helping slow the growth of health care costs by promoting higher-quality, more efficient, patient-centered care, including preventive care.

Yes, costs continue to go up but they are going up at a decreasing rate. For many ACA advocates, they hate to think what the costs would be if private companies were in total control as they were before the ACA passed.

President Obama has been fighting Congress over ACA but after the Supreme Court decision, he said: “Today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law in front of the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

Many of those in Congress represent rural America — the most conservative political area. These people will find out that their health care will suffer if they continue to fight ACA and disallow the institution of Medicaid. Kansas and Missouri, for example, are missing out on millions of health care dollars because they have denied full federal Medicaid assistance. Rural hospitals are hurting for funds because they must continue to serve those without insurance and they do so with more expensive emergency room care.

Litigating the ACA has become a favorite pastime for conservatives, and there’s no reason to believe that will end soon, despite numerous defeats, both high- and low-profile.

Before the Supreme Court decision came down on ACA, Paul Krugman, a progressive economist, said he was pacing the room, too nervous to sit, worried that the court would use one sloppily worded sentence to deprive millions of health insurance, condemn tens of thousands to financial ruin and send thousands to premature death.

It didn’t, he said, adding, “And that means that the big distractions — the teething problems of the website, the objectively ludicrous but nonetheless menacing attempts at legal sabotage — are behind us, and we can focus on the reality of health reform. The Affordable Care Act is now in its second year of full operation; how’s it doing? The answer is, better than even many supporters realize. Start with the act’s most basic purpose, to cover the previously uninsured. Opponents of the law insisted that it would actually reduce coverage; in reality, around 15 million Americans have gained insurance.”

He noted that the law was never intended or expected to cover everyone. Undocumented immigrants aren’t eligible, and any system that doesn’t enroll people automatically will see some of the population fall through the cracks.

“Cheaper plans under the law do have relatively large deductibles and impose significant out-of-pocket costs,” Krugman said. “Still, the plans are vastly better than no coverage at all, or the bare-bones plans that the act made illegal. The newly insured have seen a sharp drop in health-related financial distress, and report a high degree of satisfaction with their coverage.”

He addressed the much-discussed matter of costs. He said premiums came in well below expectations. The actual rise in 2015 from 2014 was just 2 percent. He believes rates will continue to be modest by historical standards — in other words, lower than expected.

What about economic side effects? Krugman said, “One of the many, many Republican votes against Obamacare involved passing something called the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, and opponents have consistently warned that helping Americans afford health care would lead to economic doom. But there’s no job-killing in the data: The U.S. economy has added more than 240,000 a month on average since Obamacare went into effect, its biggest gains since the 1990s.”

Why all the venom from the right? Conservatives have always feared that health reform might succeed, and in so doing remind voters that sometimes government action can improve ordinary Americans’ lives.

But the ACA has survived, it’s here, and it’s working.

“The great conservative nightmare has come true,” Krugman said. “And it’s a beautiful thing.”

Let’s Close the Week With Some Sports Items

True, (royal) blue Royals fans snap, snarl and sneer when criticism arises about their team. After all, they point out, the Royals are in first place in the American League Central Division.

Does that mean criticism is empty? Of course not. It just means that you won’t convince any die-hard KC fan there may be something wrong.

Manager Ned Yost makes Ronnie Reagan Teflon look like sandpaper. Yost is the most, a man who can do no wrong. Yeah, right. His battling line-up curtails hit-and-run options. And he has no idea how to handle pitchers. He must think it’s a sin to remove a pitcher in the middle of the inning. He doesn’t seem to know when to pull a pitcher who is losing it.

Yes, finally, he did so Wednesday night by pulling lefty Danny Duffy in the fifth inning, thus depriving him a chance to pick up a victory with a 7-2 lead — he didn’t go the required full five innings. The Royals won 8-2 over Seattle to take the series, 2-1.

But look at the June 21 game against Boston when the Red Sox scored five runs off Chris Young in the fifth inning to take a 7-2 lead on the way to 13-2 victory. Young obviously was flagging but Yost left him in after  Mookie Betts’ two-run homer made it 4-0. After a double and two walks, Young remained on the mound. Xander Bogaerts’ double cleared the bases and the Red Sox had the game.

Okay, what about Omar Infante? Yost stuck by him, even heaping praise on his defense, while he was mired in a batting slump. So Infante went 3 for 4 Wednesday night as he continued to break loose at the plate and raise his average to .236.

You don’t have to look at the statistics, though, to see how the Royals squander so many opportunities, in my opinion. So many times they need too many hits to score just 3 and 4 runs.

I give, I give; they’re in first place.

The Royals are in Oakland with a weekend series. Those A’s. Yeah, you remember — Brett Lawrie, et al. Will this be “No Más” or “Give ’em the old one-two”?

——

ESPN Magazine took on a heady assignment when it analyzed this fall’s college football teams — and it’s not even July.

How did Kansas State and Kansas State fare? Not well. K-State is tabbed to finish sixth and Kansas tenth — TCU drew the top spot. For pre-season honors, K-State had three conference first-teamers: Glenn Gronkowski picked fullback/tight end, Boston Stiverson offensive guard and Dante Barnett safety. Kansas had a blank.

The magazine wrote: With Jake Waters gone, defenses will be wise to find ways to keep K-State’s QB from moving — and force the Wildcats to find another scheme to pick up those yards. On defense, the Wildcats need to find ways to stop mobile quarterbacks.

Kansas will live precariously with an up-tempo offense, the magazine said, adding that on defense, with four new starters in the secondary, even the Jayhawks’ limited success against the pass last season will be vulnerable this year.

ESPN loves the SEC. The entire West Division ranks in the magazine’s Top 25. Missouri is tabbed for third in the East Division and ranks 24th.

——

Did you watch the U.S. Open last weekend? What did you think of the Chambers Bay course? How about the Fox coverage? Failing grades for both. Fox commentators were dull and uninformative and the technical crew couldn’t get a color contrast to help viewers keep track of the ball.

Oh, but the course. Hey, you no doubt have heard all the negatives.

But think about this. How would you like to play this public layout? Huh, well, be ready to dish out $299 just for the round. No motor carts allowed. So, if you carry, try traversing that brutal landscape as you wave at the trains going by. You don’t want to carry? Then you can lug a pull cart around for the 18 holes. Oh, neither one of those. Then a caddy will cost you at least another $100. Have a nice day.

——

Did you watch the NBA draft on TV? What! You didn’t! Darn.

Well, Willie Cauley-Stein, the former Olathe Northwest High School basketball and football star who spent three seasons playing basketball at Kentucky, went to Sacramento in the sixth round while Kansas wing Kelly Oubre was selected by Atlanta with the No. 15 overall pick, but will be sent to the Washington Wizards, who acquired the pick from the Hawks in a trade.

Last season, Cauley-Stein was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also selected to the All-SEC First Team, the All-SEC Defensive Team and the USA Today first team All-American Team.

Analysts say the Kings need defense and they certainly will get that in Cauley-Stein. According to NBA scouts, he has an improved mid-range jumper, but other than that he’s very limited offensively. However, he’s a force at the defensive end of the floor with his excellent rebounding and shot blocking ability. He can run the floor, too — plenty of athleticism. Past injuries — and the sickle-cell trait — concern some scouts but it comes down to a high-risk, high-reward for the Kings.

He should pair well in the frontcourt with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins — if he stays. Coach George Karl wants to trade Cousins but the brass says no. In Cauley-Stein, the Kings might have finally gotten the rim-protecting defensive anchor they’ve been searching for.

NBA scouts believe the 6-7 Oubre uses great athleticism and length to defend very well on the perimeter and on the low block. He also has an improved outside shot with range that should extend to the 3-point line in the NBA.

He entered Kansas as a five-star recruit and one of the top players in his class, but struggled to find a consistent spot in Bill Self’s rotation throughout his freshman season. He played more than 10 minutes just twice in his first seven games with the Jayhawks and didn’t reach double-digits in scoring until a breakout 25-point effort against Lafayette in late December.

The remainder of the season included some impressive outings, however, and there’s little doubt about his upside. Jake Whitacre of Bullets Forever, SB Nation’s Wizards blog, likes Oubre’s talent but is skeptical Washington will be the team to unleash it. The story went on, “In short this is an exciting, but scary move. The Wizards’ track record with projects like Oubre isn’t great and this probably isn’t the most encouraging sign if you want Paul Pierce to stick around.” Pierce, a former KU player, may join the free agent market.

Oubre could be an excellent wing for Washington.

Guns, Guns, Guns — They Love Them So

I still shudder at the way gun toters lean on the Second Amendment to support their endearing love for a firearm. The Second Amendment does not mention guns; it says the country has the right to bear arms. By a militia, I might add. Hey, if they have the right to bear arms, then why don’t they buy howitzers, bazookas, Claymore mines, nuclear missiles — and use the Second Amendment to support their rights!

They don’t. Instead they wrongly pass along worn-out phrases like guns don’t kill people, people kill people. When highly publicized gun deaths occur, they blame something else, somebody else, but not the guns.

The country is crazed by gun ownership. No matter the words, the shoot-em-ups have a rebuttal. They don’t see that they create an atmosphere where guns are a way of life and, unfortunately, death.

President Barack Obama spoke about the need for more gun control during remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors last week.

“I refuse to act as if this is the new normal, or to pretend that it’s simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention about us doing something to stop it is somehow politicizing the problem,” Obama said while speaking about the Wednesday shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine people dead.

Obama said Congress should have passed “some common-sense gun safety reforms” after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. A gun-buyer background check bill that was supported by nearly 90 percent of Americans failed to pass in April 2013, just months after the Newtown shooting left 20 elementary school children and seven adults, including shooter Adam Lanza, dead.

In 2013, the Senate’s bipartisan attempt to require background checks of all firearms purchasers at gun shows and on the Internet failed by a 54-46 vote. That was six short of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster against the bill.

A similar measure never reached the floor of the GOP-controlled House.

Obama said, “We wouldn’t have prevented every act of violence, or even most. We don’t know it would have prevented what happened in Charleston. No reform can guarantee the elimination of violence. But we might still have some Americans with us.”

Ultimately, Congress will follow the people, he said, adding, “and we have to stop being confused by this. At some point as a country, we have to reckon with what happens. It is not good enough simply to show sympathy. You don’t see murder on this kind of scale with this kind of frequency in any other advanced nation on Earth.”

At an earlier press conference, Obama said, “Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

Conceding that congressional action was unlikely soon, Obama said lawmakers would tighten federal firearms restrictions when they believed the public was demanding it.

Others said there was little evidence that shootings by the white alleged gunman, Dylann Storm Roof, would make congressional action more likely, considering recent history.

If anything, the odds of congressional action seem slimmer with both the House and Senate dominated by Republicans, who traditionally have been less sympathetic to curb gun ownership. When the Senate rejected firearms constraints in 2013 prompted by Newtown, the chamber was led by Democrats.

Some elected officials blame the potency of the National Rifle Association for Congress’ unwillingness to restrict firearms. Too many in public office are lap dogs to the NRA.

According to news reports, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam would not address whether the Charleston shootings would change lawmakers’ attitudes, saying, “As the NRA has done for decades, we will not comment until all the facts are known.”

Many right-wingers said the shooting was a hate crime against Christianity and not against blakcs. The facts fall  in favor of it being racially motivated.

A check of the Congressional Record shows that while several legislators took to the House and Senate floors Thursday to express their sadness over the nine deaths in South Carolina and offer condolences, none called for federal legislation curbing firearms. The word “gun” was spoken seven times while “background checks,” ”gun control” and “firearms” were not uttered at all.

Then there were the antics of Texas Republican Senator Cruz. He chose to drop a few gun control jokes during his latest swing through Iowa, days after the shooting deaths.

The Associated Press reported: “You know the great thing about the state of Iowa is, I’m pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas — hitting what you aim at,” Cruz said at a town hall meeting Friday in Red Oak, Iowa.

Before a crowd of nearly 70 people, Cruz recalled a recent excursion to a gun range in New Hampshire that had fully automatic machine guns. According to the AP, he said: “My wife, Heidi, who is a petite, 5-2 California blonde, she was standing at the tripod unloading the full machine gun with a pink baseball cap that said ‘armed and fabulous.'”

Cruz is the one who made a joke about Joe Biden just days after the vice president’s son died from brain cancer.

After the town hall meeting in Iowa, he told reporters that Democrats were using the event as an excuse to take away Second Amendment rights. “It’s sad to see the Democrats take a horrific crime and try to use it as an excuse, not to go after people with serious mental illness or people who are repeat felons or criminals, but instead try to use it as an excuse to take away Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.”

Asked why it had been difficult for some Republicans to acknowledge the racial aspect of the incident, Cruz said he didn’t accept the premise of the question.

“It appears to be racially driven from what it was reported this strange man said, and a racial hate crime is horrific, any hate crime is horrific,” he said in the AP story. “I don’t think we should be using this tragedy to try and divide people and to try and seek partisan advantage. I think we should be praying for those who lost loved ones in this horrific murder.”

At an event Saturday at an indoor shooting range in Johnston, Cruz again called for defending the Second Amendment: “There’s a famous saying, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. There is a reason why the Second Amendment is right after the First.”

Following his remarks, the AP said, Cruz headed to the shooting range, where he fired off rounds on a semiautomatic .223-caliber Smith and Wesson M&P15.

Unless a big contingent of progressive reformers extraordinarily become elected — and soon — the gun toters will rule.

Increased Sales Tax May Drive Kansans to Missouri

There was a time law enforcement lined up along the border between Kansas and Missouri and stopped Kansans coming back home with a bountiful supply of booze — shopping in Missouri to avoid the higher taxes.

Well, you can expect more border crossings when the new Kansas law that raised sales taxes .35 percent goes into effect July 1.

It won’t be just about booze either. For example, Overland Park residents will pay a half of a percent more in sales taxes than in Kansas City, Missouri. Not much, you say. Well, it isn’t, but it could be enough to sway someone to drive over to Missouri, especially when you consider the prices on booze there are lower already.

Here is what those in Overland Park will pay beginning July 1:

  • 6.5 percent.
  • Johnson County. 1.225
  • Overland Park. 1.125.
  • 8.85 percent.

In Kansas City, Kansas:

  • 6.5 percent.
  • Wyandotte County. 1.0.
  • Kansas City. 1.625.
  • 9.125 percent.

This is what it is in Kansas City, Missouri:

  • 4.225 percent.
  • Jackson County. 1.250.
  • Kansas City. 2.875.
  • 8.350 percent.

Those from Wyandotte County, obviously, would save even more by coming over to Missouri.

Of course, bargain shoppers might pick out another area close to the border, say Parkville, where the sales tax is 7.1 percent. That could mean a $500 savings on a car costing around $30,000 — that is, for those going from Kansas City, Kansas, to Parkville, Missouri.

Over a period of a year, these sales tax hikes can put a severe crimp into a family budget. Take groceries, for example; Missouri has lower food sales taxes. In a year’s time, a Kansas shopper could come to Missouri and save almost $600 a year.

The whole sales tax issue is bad for those in middle and lower income brackets. Numerous studies show that the sales tax is the most regressive of all and now Kansans will be paying almost 10 cents on the dollar in taxes for everything that they buy.

Yes, of course, every Kansan will feel the sting of the budget passed at the end of the Legislature’s marathon 2015 session. Those in the $30,000 to $50,000 earnings brackets face higher taxes on essential purchases. Those making less may have to go without the subsidies.

For someone earning $600 a week, those savings are probably critical.

And the new tax bill contains other hikes, unrelated to purchases, that will pinch the state’s residents. The package reduces the state deductibility of local property taxes and mortgage interest, driving up most Kansans’ income tax payments. The 2012 income tax rate cuts — which studies have shown actually increased tax liabilities for poor and low-income residents — have been locked in place, at least for the time being.

At the same time, tax advantages for higher-income earners in Kansas are substantial. The top earners will pay higher sales taxes. But the 2012 income tax cuts saved the top 1 percent of earners an average of $19,786 a year, studies show.

Governor Sam Brownback, who instigated this mess with his push to cut income taxes, has said his policy is designed to produce more jobs for Kansans by providing relief to small business owners. Those taxpayers were largely untouched in the 2015 budget deal, although the promised jobs have largely failed to materialize.

Kansas, in essence, will be $400 million in the hole this time next year, absent an acceleration of tax collections between now and then. A court decision ordering more spending on schools could make the budget more difficult. That may increase the pressure for even higher taxes — or spending cuts.

There are other hurts placed on many Kansans. For example, lawmakers have also refused to expand Medicaid to the working poor while privatizing the current Medicaid program.

Brownback’s policies are fraught with danger. He’s putting the executive branch in a position for wielding super power.

Last Thursday, he signed a bill that threatens the entire state’s judiciary with destruction if it rules against a law he favors. His signing suggests he has no compunction about obliterating separation of powers when another branch of government gets in his way.

The trouble started in 2014, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the disparity between school funding in rich and poor districts violated the state constitution. The justices ordered the legislature to fix the problem. Soon after, the legislature passed an administrative law that stripped the Supreme Court of its authority to appoint local chief judges and set district court budgets.

In effect shortly after the school funding ruling, this law was widely seen as a retaliation against the court—and a warning. In their first ruling, the justices stopped short of declaring that the school system as a whole was constitutionally underfunded. But the court acknowledged that it would one day answer that question. If the justices mandate more school funding, the legislature will have to raise taxes or cut spending somewhere else.

Just in case the court didn’t get the message, Brownback and the legislature also threatened the justices with blatantly political reforms, like subjecting them to recall elections, splitting the court in two, lowering the retirement age and introducing partisan elections.

Now the court has an opportunity to strike down the administrative law, which probably violates the state constitution. However, the new law declares that if the Supreme Court strikes down the administrative law, the entire state judiciary will lose its funding. Uphold our law or cease to exist.

All this is simply a part of the plan promoted and nurtured by the Koch brothers. They are so powerful in Kansas that the Republicans continue to follow the Draconian policies without assessing the damages.

But make no mistake about it, from sales taxes to health care to court bullying, Brownback and his cronies are squeezing the life out of Kansans.

Where Were the Weather Forecasts When We Needed Them?

The crawl across the TV screen told of dire situations with storms. Were the Royals going to be able to play? What kind of storms were just north of Kansas City? My gosh, softball-sized hail reported. Tennis ball size. Quarter-sized. High winds were accompanying the storms.

Serious stuff.  Where were the intrepid TV weathermen and reporters? Where were the helicopters hovering near cumulonimbus clouds?

Heck, just a few days ago, the local TV stations cut into programming to relay information about a quick-striking storm just north of the city. The full newsroom army had mikes and would travel. Many viewers believed they overdid the coverage and said so with numerous letters to the editor at the KC Star.

But all afternoon Sunday, crawl words and more crawl words ran across the screen. No on-site reporting. No program cut-ins. What was going on?

Oh, it was Sunday. Oh, it was Father’s Day. We cover the news that fits our schedule. Yeah, that seems about it.

I appreciated just the crawl. I wanted to watch the game and not a weatherman simply repeating and repeating the same hackneyed descriptions. As it turned out, a weatherman would have been better than watching the Royals get clobbered.

But did you not think it was interesting — and a pocket of hypocrisy — that the TV stations couldn’t cover the weather on a Sunday.

And the Weather Channel’s Local on the Eights — what about that? The station was too busy running old shows instead of providing Local on the Eights, with a look at the radar.

The crawl words made it sound as if these were major storms.

Well, later the stations put on their news shows and they had reporters standing knee deep in floods, picking up saved hail stones and telling all of us the danger of more winds and hard rains had passed.

You know, I would like to have had a job where I could be wrong 50 percent of the time and keep on working. Seriously.

The weather forecast has evolved into percentages. Look, 50 percent to me sounds like a good chance it’s going to rain. But so many times it doesn’t. Right, there’s a 50 percent chance it won’t rain. Got it. I can recall the old days when the forecaster said it was or wasn’t going to rain, no contingencies, no caveats, no percentages. In those days, they didn’t have all these technological aids and they hit the forecast as accurately then, it seems to me, as they do now.

I looked up on the internet some of the background of weather forecasting now and how it has evolved.

A chance of rain is a term used to describe the likelihood of a precipitation event. Technically, the percentages refer to the likelihood of an area receiving a measurable amount of precipitation over a particular time period. A measurable amount of rain usually refers to 0.01 inches. If an area has a 60 percent chance of rain, that means that in 6 out of 10 cases where the weather is similar, there will be a measurable amount of precipitation somewhere in the area.

The statements issued by the National Weather Service are known as Probability of Precipitation reports.

The percentages equate to:

  • Slight chance – 20 percent.
  • Chance – 30 to 50 percent.
  • Likely – 60 to 70 percent.

Like many weather forecasts, the explanations can be convoluted. For example: The history of numerical weather prediction considers how current weather conditions as input into mathematical models of the atmosphere and oceans to predict the weather and future sea state (the process of numerical weather prediction) has changed over the years.

Indeed.

Another explanation: Though first attempted in the 1920s, it was not until the advent of the computer and computer simulation that that computation time was reduced to less than the forecast period itself. ENIAC was used to create the first forecasts via computer in 1950, and through the years more powerful computers have been used to increase the size of initial datasets as well as include more complicated versions of the equations of motion. The development of global forecasting models led to the first climate models. The development of limited area (regional) models facilitated advances in forecasting the tracks of tropical cyclones as well as air quality in the 1970s and 1980s.

There’s more: Because the output of forecast models based on atmospheric dynamics requires corrections near ground level, model output statistics were developed in the 1970s and 1980s for individual forecast points. The MOS apply statistical techniques to post-process the output of dynamical models with the most recent surface observations and the forecast point’s climatology. This technique can correct for model resolution as well as model biases. Even with the increasing power of supercomputers, the forecast skill of numerical weather models only extends to about two weeks into the future, since the density and quality of observations—together with the chaotic nature of the partial differential equations used to calculate the forecast — introduce errors which double every five days. The use of model ensemble forecasts since the 1990s helps to define the forecast uncertainty and extend weather forecasting farther into the future than otherwise possible.

Did you get all that. Sounds like some of the forecasts I hear on TV. Snow jobs.

The ability to view weather systems and clouds from outer space was a momentous occasion in the world of meteorology.  In 1960, TIROS-1 took the first satellite image of the clouds and sent it down to earth.  These early satellites were what was called “polar orbiters” and they would provide a photo once or twice a day.  Satellite continued to advance over the late 20th and 21st centuries to not only provide cloud images, but other atmospheric conditions, similar to that provided by weather balloons.  This data is available through satellite observations at a wider range of locations and more often as well.

Through all of this development, the way forecasts are delivered to the public also changed dramatically.  The first weathercasts were broadcast on radio during the 1920s.  Television developed in the 1940s and 50s giving birth to a new way of “showing” the weather.  These TV weathercasts allowed forecast information to be delivered to an even wider audience.  Television weathercasts started out with a few rudimentary graphics such as a paper weather map and a wipe-board with some current temperatures.  The TV talent seldom had weather backgrounds; they were just re-constituted reporters. Many became quite popular. Then bona fide meteorologists began moving into the market. Forecasts were drawn by hand onto weather maps using markers and magnets.  By the 1980s meteorologists began using computer displays for weather information.

The weather to is important to TV, unless it’s Sunday. Advertisers flock to weather forecasts, ones that get more time on local news reports than sports segments.

And the forecasters can keep their jobs with a 50 percent success rating. Hmmm.