Sunday, December 21, 2014

Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more.......

Since I am out on assignment next Sunday the 28th, today edition's of The Closer will be my final broadcast of 2014. As usual, I will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

There has been a ton of newsworthy items over the past week, including the Sony hacking scandal, President Obama seeking normalization with Cuba, Jeb Bush announcing a run for President and two Brooklyn cops being assassinated. Given that it's a guest intensive show today, I will get to as many of those items as I can.

At 1:15, Major Jeff Strickler of the Salvation Army Northern Division will check in via phone. Maj. Strickler will discuss the fine work done by the S.A. this Christmas season, including some of their lofty financial goals to help the needy.

Then at 1:30, Paul Ridgeway, who hosts a daily talk show on AM 1280's sister station AM 980 KKMS, will call in to the program. Paul himself has a wonderful story of how the Salvation Army positively impacted his life, so he'll be on to share that with us.

Finally at 2:00, author/blogger/Townhall columist/friend of the NARN Katie Kieffer will stop by the Patriot bunker.


Katie will update us on how her first book, Let Me Be Clear....., is faring. She also be on to promote some upcoming book signings she'll have over the next couple of days. So if you have yet to purchase a Christmas gift for your favorite millennial, Katie's book is an ideal present.


So please give me call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss 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

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.....

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Football Trivia: The Season Finale

In the 14 weeks 1500 ESPN has hosted Thursday Night Football Trivia this year, I've attended 12 contests, including this week's endeavor at Floyd's Bar in Victoria. Hard to believe the season is over. But, win or lose, it was an absolute blast to participate week in and week out. Trivia MCs Judd and Phil we're top notch.



Anyhow, on to this week's details. I opened the season with a win, so I thought it might be kinda cool if I could bookend the year with a victory.

In the opening round written quiz I got one answer wrong, so it was only good for a #3 seed in the bracketed tournament.

In the quarterfinals, I took on a duo called The Sponge Bobs. I was sitting near them during the written quiz and one of the guys started trash talking me a little bit. I'm normally not hyper-competitive against those I don't know well but I wanted to crush these guys after that lame smack talk.

As usual, this is a "Family Feud" style round where one has to buzz in for an opportunity to answer first. This was a best 2 of 3.

Question one: What candy bar does rookie QB Johnny Manziel currently endorse?

Brad (buzzing in first): Snickers. Correct. 

1-0, Brad. 

Questions two: Who was quarterback of the U of M Golden Gophers the last time......

SBs (quick with the trigger finger): Sandy Stephens. 

........they won a bowl game. Sandy Stephens is incorrect. 

Brad (I know they beat Alabama in the Music City Bowl in 2004; so that predates Adam Weber): Asad Abdul-Khaliq? Incorrect.
SBs: {no guess}
Brad: Bryan Cupito. Correct.

Brad moves on to the semis with a 2-0 win. 

In the semifinal round, I took on a quartet of guys who went by the moniker Band of Idiots. 

The final four is a best 2 of 3, but some of the questions are in category format, meaning there are multiple answers. This year has an interesting twist. The rule now is if each player gets one correct answer, it moves to sudden death. That means the first person to give a wrong answer loses the point. 

Question one: Seven QBs in NFL history have thrown for at least 40 touchdowns in one season. Name them. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Peyton Manning. Correct. 
BOIs: Drew Brees. Correct.
Brad: Tom Brady. Correct, 
BOIs: Brett Favre. Incorrect. 

1-0, Brad. 

Question two: We're going to name a corporate sponsor and you tell us if they currently sponsor a major college football bowl game. 

GoDaddy. 

Brad (buzzing in first): True. Correct.


Jack Link's Beef Jerky. 

BOIs: True. Incorrect. 

Brad wins, 2-0!

So it's on to the championship round where I took on a trio called Get Dressed Stay Dressed (Yeah, I so don't wanna know). GDSD swept out Brendan Byrne in the semis. This is the same Brendan who won six titles this season and a whopping 22 over three years. With that in mind, I knew I was in for a battle to claim my third title this season. 

The finals are (mostly) the same categorical, sudden-death format for each question, though it's now a best 3 out of 5. 

Question one: Who are the Top 9 NFL quarterbacks in career passer rating?

Brad (buzzing in first): Aaron Rodgers. Correct.
GDSD: Dan Marino. Incorrect. 

Brad leads, 1-0

Question two: We have a set of five statements here and you tell us whether they're "fact or crap."

Statement#1; Former NFL RB Jim Brown won an Academy Award during his brief Hollywood career.

Brad (buzzing in first): Crap. Correct.

Statement #2: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has not thrown a regular season interception at Lambeau Field in 4 years. 

GDSD: Crap. Correct. 

Statement #3: As Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick has never had a below .500 regular season. 

Brad: Crap. Correct. 

Statement #4: Teddy Bridgewater's passer rating through 11 career games is higher than Hall of Fame QB John Elway's career rating. 

GDSD: Fact. Correct. 

Statement #5: Randall Cunningham has more career postseason passing yards than Fran Tarkenton. 

Brad: Crap. Incorrect. 

1-1 tie. 

Next was the "closest to the pin" contest, where the contestant who comes closest to the correct numerical answer gets the point. Each jots an answer down on a piece of paper. 

Question three: The goal posts in the NFL used to be right on the goal line. What year did the league move them to the back of the end zone? 

Brad: 1970
GDSD: 1975

The correct answer is 1974. 

2-1, GDSD. 

Question four: Once again, we'll name a corporate sponsor and you have to tell us if they sponsor a major college football bowl game. 

MicronPC

GDSD (buzzing in first): False. Correct. 


Google

Brad: False. Correct. 


Goodyear Tires

GDSD: True. Correct.


Boston Market

Brad: False. Correct.


Charles Schwab

GDSD: True. Incorrect. 

And we are all knotted up at 2-2. 

It's only fitting that the season finale of 1500 ESPN Football Trivia would come down to a fifth and final question. For that, the MCs decided once again to go with the "closest to the pin" contest. Each contestant has 30 seconds to jot down an answer on a piece of paper. 

Question five: How many touchdown passes did QB Teddy Bridgewater throw in his career at the University of Louisville?

Brad: 65
GDSD: 74

Like the the "closest to the pin" question asked earlier this round, we were informed the correct answer is somewhere in between each of our submissions. As MCs Judd and Phil built up the suspense, I figured it out in my head that if the correct answer is 69 or less, I win. If it's 70 or more, my opponent prevails. 

And the correct answer......

........is.........



........................72







Alas, finishing second on this night wasn't all bad. I scored a pair of sweet seats to the Minnesota Wild game on Saturday, January 17!

To summarize the year, I attended 12 trivia contests where I reached the championship round five times, emerging with two victories. I'm OK with that.

Hopefully we can do it again next season. With that, thank you for indulging me in this little weekly excursion.

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Cuba

To be perfectly honest, I'm torn over this one.

The United States and Cuba ended more than a half-century of enmity Wednesday, announcing that they would reestablish diplomatic relations and begin dismantling the last pillar of the Cold War.

The historic move, following 18 months of secret negotiations and finally made possible by Cuba’s release of detained U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, fulfilled one of President Obama’s key second-term goals.

The decision is likely to reverberate across many political frontiers where the standoff between Washington and Havana has played a role — including across much of Latin America, where U.S. policy on Cuba has long been a source of friction.

“These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Obama said in a televised, midday address. “It’s time for a new approach.”

Saying that he was “under no illusion about the continued barriers to freedom that remain for ordinary Cubans,” Obama said he was convinced that “through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values and help the Cuban people help themselves.”

Some critics of President Obama's action view this as merely another appeasement to a tyrannical nation. However, I view appeasement as kowtowing to another nation that could otherwise inflict harm upon the U.S. if tensions were not eased. But this is Cuba we're talking about, not China or North Korea. Even if "normalization" turns out to be a spectacular failure, I don't see it inflicting long term damage to America.

On the flip side, it seemed that the release of Mr. Gross (a wonderful thing, of course) came at a steep price. And even if the embargo is lifted (can't happen without Congressional approval), how do the Cuban people benefit? It's likely that as long as the Castro brothers are in power, the citizens of that country will continue to be deprived of a better way of life regardless of what goods flow to their nation. A Washington Post editorial analogized this situation to that of what happened in another communist ruled country.

Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give (Cuba's leading dissident blogger Yoani) Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.


The one ray of hope I have is that if travel restrictions are loosened, it may allow Cubans to have an opportunity to experience life outside their oppressed existence. And if enough Cubans get even a small taste of liberty by visiting America and then being free to return to their homeland, it could possibly embolden them to install a similar way of life. Is that to say an uprising may be overly optimistic? Most definitely. But as long as the status quo remained in place, it was an iron clad guarantee that Cubans would never be free to realize that the world has indeed change in 50 years, though you wouldn't know it by their antiquated way of life.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bush 45?

Let's face it: The 2016 campaign cycle essentially began the day after the 2014 midterms. As such, this announcement from John Ellis "Jeb" Bush was not at all unexpected.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Like many of you, our family was blessed with the opportunity to gather together over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.

Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren.

We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football.

We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.

In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.

In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.

Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season. I’ll be in touch soon.

Onward,
Jeb Bush


Given the reaction on social media, it seems pretty obvious that many have grown weary of the names Bush and Clinton (yes, it also seems to be a forgone conclusion that Hillary Clinton will run once again). Personally I think that's unfair to Jeb, as he is nothing like his father or his brother. Actually he's worse, something which David Limbaugh beautifully summed up via Twitter.




Alas, there really isn't any reason for conservative and libertarian Republicans to have the vapors over this. I'm pretty sure that Bush will not be the only GOP candidate to declare for the 2016 race. So yes, as a matter of fact, I am keeping my options wide open.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Laughing at the decline

So this finally came in the mail the other day:




This is a photo of myself and the indomitable Mark Steyn. This took place about two months ago at the Center of the American Experiment's fall briefing. It was an honor listening to Steyn, as he is perhaps one of the more prolific right-of-center commentators and authors going today (He's become a regular fill-in host on Rush Limbaugh's radio show). Steyn is one of those rare personalities that can paint a clear portrait of how American is headed towards a Greece-like decline yet has us laughing uproariously about it the whole way down.

The CAE is an terrific organization committed to espousing the virtues of free market principles. In fact, the Center is celebrating it's 25th birthday next year with an epic event in early June 2015. The keynote speaker that evening? None other than the preeminent political satirist (and whom my friend and NARN colleague Mitch Berg cites as a big reason he turned to conservatism) P.J. O'Rourke!

I ain't missing this one!!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

I'm just a normal boy that sank when I fell overboard....

Given the Twin Cities weather of late, I can't tell whether it's mid December or mid March. Regardless, it's a Sunday so that means another edition of my radio program The Closer. I will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 pm Central Time. 

In the first hour, I will look back at some of the top news stories from this past week, both locally and nationally, whether it's sports, politics or legal stuff (How's that for narrowing it down?). 

Then for the entire 2:00 hour, I welcome back to the program Miss Minneapolis 2014 Julia Schliesing


For those who have been regular listeners of my program for at least the past year, you know that Julia was a regular contributor for a few months earlier in 2014. Anyhow, she has about three weeks remaining in her reign as Miss Minneapolis, so she'll stop by the Patriot bunker as part of her farewell tour. We'll get her perspective on what the past 11 months has been like as a title holder as well as have her share a very special announcement about her future!


So please give me call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss 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

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.....

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sacked again

Perhaps the best running back in the NFL over the past several seasons has been thrown for a loss again.

All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson's appeal of a league suspension for a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy has been denied, the league announced Friday.

Peterson's appeal was heard by former NFL executive Harold Henderson last week in Washington, D.C. Henderson was appointed by commissioner Roger Goodell as arbitrator to hear the sides' cases and issue a ruling.


An aside here. Upon hearing the name "Harold Henderson," does anyone else think of this?




Anyhow, back to the business at hand.

In upholding the NFL's initial ruling, Henderson concluded that Peterson "has not demonstrated that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent."

Wrote Henderson: "He was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline."


This should come as no surprise, given that the Commissioner's office had been given tremendous power to mete out discipline upon players violating the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy. Again, the players can in part thank their own union for not putting enough emphasis on that issue during the most recent collective bargaining session a few years ago.

One issue that the Peterson camp continued to broach was their claim that NFL executive VP for football operations Troy Vincent allegedly told AP that once his case is adjudicated in court, his time on the Commissioner Exempt list would count as "time served." Vincent had denied making that promise. However, even if he had said such a thing, it would have likely been decided that he lacked the authority to make such a decision. Besides, missing several games with pay can hardly constitute "discipline." Peterson even gets to keep the money that accumulated while he was on the exempt list.

As a Vikings fan, I'm just glad this is over. While I thoroughly enjoyed watching Peterson play for my favorite NFL team for seven seasons, I have to admit that I find it difficult to enjoy watching a pro athlete who I know has engaged in heinous off-field activities. As such, I'm not all that broken up over the fact that Peterson has likely played his final game in a Vikings uniform.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Football Trivia: Poor Poor Pitiful Me

This week marked the next to last football trivia contest hosted by 1500 ESPN. The venue this time around was Poor Richard's Common House in Bloomington.

It was a packed house when I arrived, given that Happy Hour went until 6:00 pm. As such, a number of folks stayed around for trivia, making it the largest pool of players/teams this season.

After once again excelling in the written quiz, I earned a #3 seed and a first round bye for the bracketed tournament.

In the quarterfinal round, I took on a trio who called themselves "The Dennis System."

As usual, this is a "Family Feud" style round where one has to buzz in for an opportunity to answer first. This was a best 2 of 3.

Question one: Dennis Green became the Vikings head coach in 1992 and led the team to the playoffs his first season. Who did the Vikings play in their only postseason game that year?

Brad (buzzing in first): Washington Redskins. Correct. 

1-0, Brad. 

Question two: Prior to the 1999 season, the Vikings traded to the Washington Redskins QB Brad Johnson in exchange for a first round draft pick. Whom did the Vikings select.....

Brad (quick with the trigger finger): Daunte Culpepper. 

.......with that pick? Daunte Culpepper is correct. Brad moves on to the semis with a 2-0 win. 

In the semifinal round, I took on a familiar foe in Brendan Byrne. In the almost three complete seasons of football trivia, Brendan has amassed a whopping 21 championships. I have faced him on several occasions and I finally beat him the opening week of this season to win my first title. 

I always know I'm in for a battle when facing Brendan, but it was even more apparent this week. Last week Brendan had one of his worst ever performances having been dispatched quickly in the opening round. As such, he responded with a dominating performance in this week's quarterfinals. not even allowing the MCs to finish their questions before buzzing in. 

Anyhow, on to the semifinals. 

The final four is a best 2 of 3, but some of the questions are in category format, meaning there are multiple answers. This year has an interesting twist. The rule now is if each player gets one correct answer, it moves to sudden death. That means the first person to give a wrong answer loses the point. 

Question one: Six NFL teams have at appeared in at least 45 postseason games. Name them. 

Brad (buzzing in first): New England Patriots. Incorrect (they've been in 43). 
Brendan (for the win): Pittsburgh Steelers. Correct. 

1-0, Brendan. 

For the second question, MCs Phil and Judd break out the "closest to the pin" contest. The answer is a number, so the contestant who gives a numerical answer closest to the correct number wins the point. Each player has 30 seconds to jot down their answer on a piece of paper. 

Question two: What is Brett Favre's career quarterback rating?

Brad: 95.8
Brendan: 86.4

The correct answer is.......


......................86.0. 

Brendan gets the point and moves on to the championship round. 

And in a compelling, hard fought contest against another trivia stalwart in The Jermichael$, Brendan rallied from down 2-1 to earn his 22nd career championship with a 3-2 win. 

The 2014 football trivia finale will take place at Floyd's Bar in Victoria next week. In looking at a map, it appears I just take Highway 5 westbound until I run into it. If I hit South Dakota, I've gone too far....but not by much. 

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