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Poking Our Heads Above The Parapet


One of the many hard-earned lessons we’ve learned in this business is that people are perfectly happy urging someone else (us) to leave the safety of the trench and tackle a difficult subject they won’t.

This dovetails neatly into another hard-learned lesson: that the person who leaves said trench (us) is usually the first trooper to take a round right in the noggin.

And so we come to two recent invitations by a reading public interested in seeing us leave the trench for a speculative foray into No Man’s Land – having us address the latest round of indictments against a Mob Boss Politician and a police raid on a small town newspaper in Kansas.

Despite being cursed with a generally pugnacious demeanor and having made lip contact with a legendary Carboniferous limestone at Castle Blarney, we are watching those stories develop and Biden our tongue as El Naranja Grande browbeat public servants like Bogie battering the mess boys in The Caine Mutiny.

Listening to the now-infamous tape of the former Leader of the Free World berating state officials for his election defeat and threatening them with public reprisal we’re left thinking: Sheesh, what a putz.

As for the Georgia state officials on the other end of the “11,780 votes” call (we imagined them thinking: “Dayum, I’d sure like to take a poke at this city boy“) we applaud them for standing up to naked intimidation and bluster by a man unqualified to run the omelette bar at Mar a Lago much less the country.

Which brings us to another story making headlines – this time in Kansas – but also inspiring interest and entreaties for us to say something here at home – police execution of a search warrant on a small town newspaper in Marion, KS.

Police seized computers and other equipment from the Marion County Record newsroom as well as the personal homes of some of the paper’s staffers on Friday after the publication began to dig into the past record of a newly-arrived city police chief and published statements made by a local restaurateur and political supporter about her past DUI conviction and the fact that she continued to drive in spite of it.

Apparently a judge, prosecutor and the police chief agreed that an investigation of the paper was justified – naming the restauranteur as the complainant – with the town’s police force dispatched to seize the paper’s computers and other gear, alleging that reporters had illegally obtained and used personal information about the business owner.

The raids were widely condemned as a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution’s protection for a free press. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly called them “concerning.” An attorney for the newspaper deemed the searches and seizures illegal and said the police department’s action “offends the constitutional protections the founding fathers gave the free press.”

The Record experienced widespread, nationwide support and donations of equipment and money to do its work over the weekend. Some local residents, however, argued that the paper was nothing more than a local “gossip rag” adopting an aggressive stance that had pushed out business and painted a negative picture of the town of about 1,900 residents.

Co-owner/publisher Eric Meyer said he believes the newspaper’s coverage of local politics and Police Chief Gideon Cody’s past record were clearly behind the raids. The paper was apparently looking into the newly hired chief’s past as a Kansas City, Missouri, police captain when the raids were conducted.

Officials appeared unprepared for the backlash, as involved agencies either refused to comment Monday or took pains to acknowledge the constitutional right to a free press while defending the ability of police to investigate journalists.

On Monday, Cody referred questions about the raids to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, saying it was leading the investigation. That agency, in turn, refused to say it had taken over the investigation, referring instead to a statement saying it had merely “joined” the investigation.

Small town politics run amok or conscious effort to silence the local press?

We guess we’ll just have to see. One thing is certain – “perfect” little phone calls and small town news have a way of blowing up into far bigger issues with national consequences.

And that’s as far out of the trench as we’re willing to go. Today.


  1. Excellent column as always…about that “perfect phone call”, thank God Brad Raffensperger had the sense to record it, probably on the advice of his attorneys who I believe were in the room with him. The first time I heard it I thought to myself, “are you kidding me, he can’t do that, can he?”…I have a feeling that perfect phone call will have a big impact on the jury and come back to haunt the defendant…

    • Hey, thanks John… went a bit longer than we would have liked but we got gabby.

      We had precisely the same reaction to “The Call,” our little heads spinning around while we jabbered: “Didja hear that? Did anyone else hear that?”

      We shall see. Thanks for writing!


      • 24/680- aptly stated on both topics of interest.

        El Naranja Grande reminded yours truly of long time MLB player Rusty Staub, known in his Montreal Expo days as Le Grand Orange for his shock of red hair.
        The Bogie and mess boys comment resulted in an instant craving for strawberries !

        That being said, the kerfuffle in the Sunflower State gives me pause with a capital P.
        I do not have all of the facts that give rise to situation at hand, but it does not pass the initial smell test.
        Yours truly wants to know what factors gave rise to a compelling state interest, resulting in the actions cited in your article.

        • Hey, Jeff, you bet… some details still need to be harvested in Kansas, that’s for sure.

          Don’t know much baseball but liked the Staub reference as you can’t got wrong with someone named Rusty.

          Thanks for catching our Caine reference and we swear we heard the sound of steel balls rolling during that call.

          We’ll see what happens with both stories.


  2. Actually, very nice and diplomatic writing by you guys! Thank you. But I got to say that despite being abrasive and big mouth, we were better off then with him than we are now.

  3. Greg. What do you not understand? Your man is not charged with being loud and vulgar. He faces a hundred felony counts including attempting to end the peaceful transfer of power to the man, and more importantly to the voters, who soundly rejected him.

  4. “The president specifically asked me, and his gaggle of crackpot lawyers asked me, to literally reject votes, which would have resulted in the issue being turned over to the House of Representatives, and literally chaos would have ensued.” – the only meaningful words Mike Pence has ever spoken.

  5. Sounds like there’s going to be a new business in town – The Marion Record/Restaurant/and Police Department.

  6. The final chapter is still being written. It would be very nice to see it all play out in open court and in front of a television. The country obviously has no idea what these people are doing to it.

  7. Well, I may be late to the party, just don’t call me late to supper.
    “Old yellow stain” seems apropos given the gilded legacy and cowardice. “Disloyal officers” is on the mark given the Titanic leadership, the paranoia, and the raft of sycophants running from the pumps. One hears the melodious, haunting clinking of ball bearings in the hand and in the mind of the once and future king. I didn’t get it immediately, but the disquiet, the self-absorption, the fear of inadequacy, and the rage, the rage of humiliation, we are definitely entering into a Cap’n Queeg theme in the 24/680.

      • That’s an easy number to remember at least for me. In 1980 I got my first real job in the computer biz, managing a brand new VAX 11/780 computer for Sohio petroleum in SF. This was to support the company’s exploration effort in Alaska. We had a great 5 years, at the time oil in Alaska was booming and we computer geeks got whatever new toys we wanted. Just to complete the story, we drilled a well offshore from Prudhoe bay and had the champagne on ice ready for the big celebration. Whoops, dry hole. No oil there, Sohio office in SF shutdown. We were all laid off or quit. Fun ride anyway and I’ll never forget that number 11,780.

  8. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said.

    He just stated that he had 11,779 votes total, and he needs to find 11,780 more. The man is an idiot. He can’t even state the attempted theft correctly. That’s his best and only defense. Too bad (for him and the minions), it’s not a legal defense.

  9. “Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life: Get a great f’ing criminal defense lawyer. You’re gonna need it.” – Eric Herschmann, one of the few sane White House regulars who knew what was coming.

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