Wednesday, March 29, 2017

O.J: Made in America

So I finally indulged in the award-winning documentary O.J.: Made in America. It's a five part series, totaling nearly eight hours.

It chronicles the life of O.J. Simpson, beginning in the late 1960s when he became an All-American football player at the University of Southern California right through his 2008 conviction (ironically on the 13th anniversary of his acquittal of double murder) of kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas.

Certainly a good portion of the documentary focuses on the "Trial of the Century" where Simpson was found not guilty of the June 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. But what was most riveting was the perspective of those who had a key role in the trial, particularly some of the attorneys, law enforcement officials and jurors.

Another fascinating perspective was how Simpson was mostly above the fray when it came to race relations in a decade (the 1960s) where white-black tensions were at its zenith. Many black activists were dismayed that someone as high profile as Simpson would not be a voice for justice within the black community. Around that same time frame, many white folks embraced Simpson given his prowess on the football field and his charisma off of it.

Despite the black community being mostly shunned by Simpson his entire adult life, they rallied around him when he went on trial for murder in 1995. Some even suggested that they didn't even consider whether Simpson was guilty of double homicide. After four white Los Angeles police officers were not convicted in the savage beating of black motorist Rodney King a few years earlier, some black citizens (and even Simpson trial jurors) felt satisfied that this was a quid pro quo for the King verdict. Another memorable moment conjured up was the infamous live TV shots of when the verdict was announced. While most black people rejoiced, the expression on the faces of white folks was that of incredulity. It was further emphasis that even in 1995 there was still a significant racial divide.

Anyhow, if you enjoy documentaries about sports, culture and social issues, this production intertwines all aspects. I highly recommend it.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Quick Hits: Volume CXLVII

- Now we're up to four candidates who are vying to be the Democrat nominee in the 2018 Minnesota gubernatorial race.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democratic survivor in Trump territory, dove Monday into a race for governor that will also put a Minnesota seat in Congress up for grabs.

Walz, who lives in Mankato and has represented southern Minnesota for the past decade, is the first Democratic entrant from beyond the Twin Cities metropolitan area and the fourth from his party overall to announce a run. Two-term DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will not seek re-election next year.

Walz launched his campaign with a "One Minnesota" theme, pledging to bridge geographical splits on issues facing the state, from transportation to guns.

"I think I'm the one who can unify folks to see a bigger picture, to make sure it isn't this divide we've had and to bring a little different perspective to this race," he said.

Walz is definitely a more ideologically diverse candidate than the other DFLers in the race thus far. You don't often find a political candidate today who is supported by both Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association. Walz is also the highest ranking military official in Congress, having reached the level of Sergeant Major during his 24-year stint in the Army.

After unseating Congressional District One incumbent Gil Gutknecht in 2006, Walz never had less than a 5-point margin of victory the following four re-election bids. However, his fifth re-election victory this past November was a scant 0.76% win over Republican challenger Jim Hagedorn.

With MN CD1 an R+1 district and now an open seat, the GOP naturally smells the proverbial blood in the water.

National Republicans have already indicated they would invest in flipping a seat the party once held. Hagedorn has already announced his intention to run again and other Republicans could get in, too.

"Running in an open seat only increases my will to work exceptionally hard and personally engage southern Minnesotans in one-to-one conversations to earn their trust and votes," Hagedorn said in a statement.

This will be Hagedorn's third attempt at this seat. In addition to his razor thin loss last November, he was defeated by 8.5% in 2014.

- Ummmm......I'll just leave this here.

- Today marks the 25th anniversary of "the shot." For those of you who are fans of the Men's NCAA basketball tournament (aka "March Madness"), you pretty much know which "shot" I'm referencing.

That win put Duke into the Final Four where they would go on to win their second consecutive national title.

If Kentucky fans still aren't over the heartache from that one, they sure as heck are still smarting over this past weekend's regional final loss to North Carolina.

Leave it to Christian Laettner, the central figure in UK's 1992 anguish, to meld these devastating moments together.

How bad do you wanna troll a fan base that you're willing to use a great moment by your alma mater's most bitter rival? I'm no Laettner fan, but even I have to rate his trolling skills at the "Master" level.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Where credit is due

Most Hollywood types and other cultural elites are some of the more scathing critics of the Christian religion, specifically its "fundamentalist groups." A lot of this bluster, however, seems pretty shallow given that calling out extreme sects of a certain other religion (i.e. Islam) is rarely heard.

I guess that's why I find Bill Maher a refreshing exception. Despite Maher being left-of-center politically and one who's not shy in spewing inflammatory rhetoric about people of faith and political conservatives, he seems to have the ability other elites either don't possess or are too gutless to convey. That is, radical Islam is a persistent threat to the West's way of life. 

As such I point you to a discussion Maher had with guest panelist Louise Mensch, a former member of the British Parliament, on his program Real Time.

MENSCH: And when this awful terrorist attack happened and people lost their lives, including an American and a British policeman, partisans rushed out in the streets and said it was an illegal immigrant that did it. Trying to turn people against our Muslim friend and neighbors. Well, you are not going to do that. You are not going to do that!


MAHER: Well let's not pretend that it has nothing to do with Islam the religion.

MENSCH: It doesn't.

MAHER: It has nothing to do with Islam?

MENSCH: It has nothing to do--

MAHER: That's very interesting.

MENSCH: It has nothing to do with Islam the same way Timothy McVeigh had nothing to do with Roman Catholicism

MAHER: Because every time some bomb goes off, before it goes off, somebody yells, 'Allahu Akbar.' I never heard anybody go, 'Merry Christmas!'


MAHER: This one's for the Flying Nun! [Bullet sounds]

Mensch's chanting points have become all too common among her ilk, which is why Trump's tough talk on ISIS resonated with the electorate. Let's hope this issue isn't bungled in the motif of the health care debate.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Now I know how Jimmy Buffett feels......

My first broadcast in the spring of 2017! After an unplanned absence last week, I will be returning today for the latest edition of The Closer. The one-hour extravaganza gets started at 2:00 PM Central Time.

About 10 years ago, author Bernard Goldberg wrote a book entitled "Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right." I honestly can't think of a better encapsulation of this past week in Washington, D.C. I'll discuss the crazy behavior displayed by Dems in the Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court confirmation hearings as well as the GOP's spineless approach to their 7-year pledge to rid America of the monstrosity that is Obamacare.

So please call (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to weigh in on any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio. If you're unable to tune in live, please check out my podcast page for the latest show post.

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast if you so desire. Check it out here.

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Scott Adams: Trump's image improved in Obamacare repeal negotiations

I really don't have anything insightful to add over Republicans in the U.S. House failing to agree on an acceptable Obamacare repeal. Truth be told, it's hard to be outraged when I never had an ounce of confidence that a true O-care repeal would come to pass. GOP fecklessness has been standard fare in Washington in the 21st century, particularly on the rare occasions where they control both the executive and legislative branches of government (Gang of 14 anyone?).

This time around though I was particularly interested in the role of President Donald Trump, specifically how his renown negotiation skills would factor in. What we eventually learned was that Trump's presence, if anything, seemed to have been a deterrent to persuading some House Republicans, though we'll never really know for sure since an official vote was never taken on the final legislation.

If you were at all paying attention to the 2016 election cycle, there was only one public figure who not only consistently stated Trump would win the presidency but also showed his work in how that would occur. That would be Scott Adams, he the author of the Dilbert comic strip. So how is this relevant to the current healthcare debate? Well, as Adams points out, Trump's inability to whip enough GOP votes for an Obamacare repeal basically seems to have silenced a certain asinine, hyperbolic talking point.

With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme. Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to “Competent, but we don’t like it.”

I have been predicting this story arc for some time now. So far, we’re ahead of schedule.

In the 2D world, where everything is just the way it looks, and people are rational, Trump and Ryan failed to improve healthcare. But in the 3D world of persuasion, Trump just had one of the best days any president ever had: He got promoted from Hitler to incompetent. And that promotion effectively defused the Hitler-hallucination bomb that was engineered by the Clinton campaign.

In all seriousness, the Trump-is-Hitler illusion was the biggest problem in the country, and maybe the world. It was scaring people to the point of bad health. It made any kind of political conversation impossible. It turned neighbors and friends against each other in a way we have never before seen. It was inviting violence, political instability, and worse.

In my opinion, the Trump-is-Hitler hallucination was the biggest short-term problem facing the country. Congress just solved for it, albeit unintentionally. Watch the opposition news abandon the Trump-is-scary concept to get all over the “incompetent” theme.
As always, Adams' piece is worthy of reading the entire thing.

In the end, this doesn't have to be a death knell for the GOP healthcare debate. I leave you with this quote from Trump's book The Art of the Deal: "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war."


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Strange hill to die on

Neil Gorsuch will be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. It's just a question of when at this point, something which Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated will not be ASAP.

Schumer announced Thursday that Democrats will filibuster Gorsuch and force Republicans to muster 60 votes to advance him to a final up-or-down vote.

“He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same,” he said on the Senate floor.

Republicans have threatened to change the Senate’s filibuster rule to exempt Supreme Court nominees from procedural gridlock — a controversial tactic often referred to as the "nuclear option" that Democrats deployed in 2013 to protect Cabinet and lower-court judges from filibusters.

Schumer, however, argued the problem is not with the chamber’s rules, but with a nominee who has regularly sided with powerful interests over average Americans in high-profile cases.

And there is the leftist mentality in a nutshell regarding the judicial branch of government. Forget the old legal tenets of impartiality, justice being blind, etc. Leftists prefer that the court system merely be an extension of their left-wing legislative philosophy.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), when stating he too would vote "no" on Gorsuch, also conveyed this mindset.

"I don't believe his judicial approach would ensure fairness for workers and families in Pennsylvania and across the country," Casey said.

If Gorsuch issues his legal rulings on the basis of what is the law and thus the law is what is unfair towards "average Americans," then guess what? It's under the purview of the legislative branch to address that accordingly. Looking at you, Sens. Schumer and Casey.

In the end, the Dems still aren't over the fact that Merrick Garland wasn't given a hearing last year when President Barack Obama named him as the nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Allowing Gorsuch to sail through confirmation would only serve to give Democrats a brutal reminder that they failed to paint the GOP Senate majority as "obstructionist and unreasonable" to the point where they'd lose power in the last election cycle.

In 2018, there are ten Democrat-held Senate seats which will be up for election in states where President Donald Trump won in November. One of those ten, one (Casey of Pennsylvania) has already gone on record as a "no." It'll be interesting to see how many of the other nine look to not only delay the inevitable but also risk their seat flipping GOP.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In over her head

I first became familiar with "conservative" commentator Tomi Lahren about 20 months ago when she received nationwide attention for her sharp criticism of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the Chattanooga shootings of four U.S. Marines. At the time, she was a 22-year old host of a program with something called One America News Network.

With the video of this monologue having gone viral, Lahren parlayed that newfound popularity into signing on with Glenn Beck's online conservative network BlazeTV in the fall of 2015. As such, I would occasionally watch clips of her show On Point. To be honest, I was often left woefully unimpressed. While Lahren is a beautiful, impassioned young lady, her commentary was a classic example of symbolism over substance. My concern was that if she were dubbed the millennial voice of conservatism, her presence would do little (if anything) to advance the movement among that demographic.

Her appearance on the leftist women's show The View last week was the proverbial train wreck we pretty much saw coming.

Appearing on “The View” on Friday, Lahren admitted that she supports abortion rights, saying it would be hypocritical of her to believe the government should decide what women should do with their bodies.

“You know what? I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well,” Lahren said.

Even the show’s hosts appeared shocked to hear her. Across social media, antiabortion advocates said it was impossible for Lahren to be both conservative and in favor of abortion rights. They criticized her interpretation of the Constitution and called her out for seemingly contradicting previous remarks about abortion. Some claimed, as they have before, that by rising to prominence so young she lacked an understanding of political philosophy and ideology.

But the provocative commentator defended herself, tweeting Saturday, “Listen, I am not glorifying abortion. I don’t personally advocate for it. I just don’t think it’s the government’s place to dictate.”

This is an utterly incoherent rationale, especially saying conservatives are "hypocritical" for defending life.

Part of me believes that Lahren was pandering to the mostly left wing audience which indulges in those female vipers on The View on a daily basis. Despite all the success she's obtained in a short period of time, Lahren's clearly not equipped to engage in nuanced arguments (Labeling herself a "constitutional" emphasizes that point).

The following Monday, Lahren was suspended from her show.

Lahren’s show is suspended for at least one week starting Monday, according to TheDC’s sources. A source with direct knowledge of the situation previously told TheDC that Lahren’s contract with the company goes until September, but that she may leave the company before then.

Lahren’s inflammatory style placed her at odds with other employees at The Blaze, as previously reported by TheDC. Tensions were high between Lahren and her coworkers at The Blaze even before she called pro-life conservatives hypocrites in an appearance on ABC’s “The View” on Friday.

It would be far too simplistic to say this is The Blaze showing intolerance for those who dare have differing views from Beck et al. Why Beck himself has said when his network first got started, there was an unabashed pro choice woman hosting one of their more popular programs. It's one thing to have a respectful disagreement with one of your bosses. But to imply they're "hypocritical" to believe what they believe does not make for a harmonious working place, especially since Lahren's declared pro-choice stance seems to be an about-face from what she's said previously.

In the end, this appears to be your standard employer reprimand of an employee who was insubordinate. To attempt to paint this as "sexism" or "intolerance of differing viewpoints" is to ignore the history of BlazeTV itself.