Following are a few observations on current topics in the news.

The Op-Ed.

The New York Times published an opinion piece last week that was highly critical of President Donald Trump.

That, certainly, is nothing new. The NYT has published dozens of those.

The difference this time was that it was anonymous.

The NYT told its readers;

The Times is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. ...

We don’t do that here at the Times-Union. Period. If you want to voice your opinion, we publish your name. I could go on and on about the reasons why, but that’s really not what this is about.

I found the op-ed interesting because of the jarring ironies it contained. Ironies that apparently were lost on the NYT.

Before I get to the ironies, let’s look at that admonition to readers that the anonymous op-ed was “the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”

What, precisely, was that perspective? Were there any shocking revelations? Any explosive proclamations? Any atrocious epiphanies?

Nah. Just a lot of the same types of things opinion writers at the NYT have been saying all along.

We all know that Trump is petulant, impulsive, ill-informed, narcissistic, egomaniacal, lacking in leadership skills, etc. Anybody who has ever read his tweets – or any of several NYT columnists – knows that.

The only thing in the op-ed that could be construed as “new” – which is the root of “news,” by the way – is what is so ironic.

The writer says about Trump that “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

The irony is that this seems to confirm Trump’s own rantings about a “Deep State.”

Trump and his most ardent supporters claim people inside the government are conspiring with the media to undermine his administration.

The media dismiss that narrative as a whacky conspiracy theory.

So the NYT – working with someone from inside the adminstration –  publishes an op-ed that confirms a cadre of officials are trying to undermine the administration.

Another irony relates to this part of the op-ed:

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

OK, so let me get this straight. The writer, an unelected government official, is going to preserve our democracy by subverting the will of  62.98 million voters? That’s just a bizarre notion, isn’t it?

Gun Survey

I respect National Public Radio.

I think they do a good job of covering the news. To be sure, they carry a bit of a liberal slant, but overall, I enjoy hearing their take on the day’s news.

NPR gets in the range of $440 million in federal funds and has come under fire and scrutiny with some members of Congress calling for that to be cut. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

Last month the NPR did some solid reporting that found the majority of school shootings listed in a federal report never occurred.

The report from the Department of Education stated that schools reported an alarming 235 school shootings in one year.

NPR actually contacted every one of the schools included in the DOE report.

After their investigation, according to NPR, “We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.

“In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.”

The DOE has no plans to correct the error and basically blamed the schools, saying it relies on schools to provide accurate information.

Police Shootings

Incidents where an unarmed person is shot and killed by police are awful.

Recently, a cop in Texas was sentenced to prison after being convicted of murder in such an incident.

Nobody wins in a case like that.

But, thankfully, those incidents are extremely rare.

In 2015, police shot and killed 94 unarmed individuals, a number that fell to 51 in 2016 before rising to 68 in 2017.

So far this year, as of last month, police have shot and killed 18 unarmed people,  which is eight fewer than at the same time last year.

There is racial disparity in the shootings. Blacks comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, yet account for 39 percent of those killed this year.

Of the 18 people killed this year, 10 were white and seven were black.

Of course, the death of one unarmed person at the hands of a law enforcement officer is one too many.

But I’m heartened by the fact that those numbers are falling. Perhaps it’s partially  because of all the publicity police shootings have had in recent years.

But let’s put this in perspective. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 850,000 law enforcement officers serving us nationwide.

Sure, police officers can make mistakes. And maybe a few of them might just be bad cops.

But undeniably, those cops are a tiny, tiny minority among the ranks of dedicated sworn officers.

Nike

Nike makes nice products. I like their stuff. I have a pair of their shoes.

This is America.

If they want to use Colin Kaepernick for their spokesperson, good for them. They’ll continue making billions.

If football players want to kneel during the national anthem, they can. It won’t make me keep me from watching the Green Bay Packers. (Especially when the beat the Bears.) As long as their team and the NFL allow it, they’ll continue making millions.

But the Nike/Kaepernick ad slogan, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” rubs me wrong.

What “everything” precisely has Kaepernick given up? A middling NFL career? Pretty sure if Kaepernick played football like Aaron Rodgers, he’d still be playing in the NFL.

He’s had a Nike contract this whole time and I’m pretty sure he’s getting paid quite handsomely for this latest ad campaign.

Kaepernick didn’t come close to giving up “everything.”

But you know who did? Pat Tillman. He was a starter in NFL. He quit to join the Army and sacrificed his life in Afghanistan.

Know who else? Warsaw’s own David Fribley, the first Hoosier to die in the post-911 war.

These guys – and thousands of others – gave up everything defending our country.

Colin Kaepernick? Not so much.