Sunday, July 24, 2016

The faint of heart need not apply.....

Plenty of news from this past week to get to, so I'll have to move quickly on today's edition of The Closer. The 1-hour program begins at 2:00 PM Central Time.

I will devote much of the time to looking back at this past week's Republican National Convention, particularly presidential nominee Donald Trump's acceptance speech. I'll also discuss the polarizing reactions to Ted Cruz's speech from Wednesday evening. 

As a Vikings fan, I will look back at the legacy of former coach Dennis Green, who died this past Thursday. 

So please give me a call at (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.....


Friday, July 22, 2016

Quick Hits: Volume CXXXI

- I listened to a fair amount of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's nomination acceptance speech on Thursday evening. While I have a pretty low bar for expectations when it comes to Trump speaking, I thought he was pretty solid, even showing remarkable discipline.

Some of my main takeaways:

*Trump was solid on emphasizing the plight of minorities in Democrat controlled major cities (President Obama's adopted hometown of Chicago in particular), whether it's victims of violent crime or substandard educational opportunities.

*Trump also stressed more openness in the GOP for members of the LGBTQ community, likely a first such declaration for a Republican presidential candidate.

*Perhaps the most salient issue was his emphasis on nominating strict legal constructionists for the U.S. Supreme Court. Given that the current GOP majority in the U.S. Senate is deferring to the next President to fill the SCOTUS vacancy left by the passing of Antonin Scalia, this issue should be hit on every campaign speech from now until November 8.

I don't expect to see this kind of message discipline from Trump in every speech over the next 3-1/2 months. However, he definitely will not cower when the media's inevitable "GOP candidate shaming" takes place. This will be the most fascinating aspect of the cycle, which is how the mainstream media will react when they're unable to rhetorically shame a Republican presidential candidate.

- The NBA made a major announcement regarding it's next All-Star Game.

The NBA is moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, because of the league's objection to the state's House Bill 2, which limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the state.

In a statement, the league said it hopes to reschedule the game for Charlotte in 2019.

"Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change," the league said. "We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.

"Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community -- current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans. While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2."

Now wait a second. You mean to tell me that an enterprise like the NBA is allowed to exercise its freedom of conscience and thus decline to associate with whomever they choose not to associate? What a novel concept!

- Dennis Green, the second most successful head coach in Minnesota Vikings history, died Thursday evening at age 67.

"Dennis passed away last night from complications of cardiac arrest," Green's family said in a statement. "His family was by his side and he fought hard."

Green's Vikings made eight playoff appearances in 10 seasons from 1992 to 2001, reaching the NFC Championship Game in 1998 and 2000. He led the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season in 1998 and ranks second in franchise history in games coached, wins and winning percentage, trailing Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant in each category.

"Denny made his mark in ways far beyond being an outstanding football coach," the Vikings said in a statement. "He mentored countless players and served as a father figure for the men he coached. Denny founded the Vikings Community Tuesday Program, a critical initiative that is now implemented across the entire NFL. He took great pride in helping assistant coaches advance their careers. His tenure as one of the first African-American head coaches in both college and the NFL was also transformative."

As Vikings head coach, Green was terrific motivator, rarely going into a game where his players weren't ready to play. And he had a terrific eye for talent on the offensive side of the ball. However, his in-game coaching strategies (particularly clock management) left something to be desired, particularly in the postseason. While his regular season record was very good (a .610 career winning percentage as Vikings coach), Green was only 4-8 in the playoffs, including losses in his first four postseason contests. Many long-suffering Vikings fans (myself included) still recall his decision to "take a knee" on their own 20-yard line and opt for overtime in the 1998 NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons. This occurred despite the Vikes having two timeouts and 57 seconds remaining to get in field goal range. The Vikings lost 30-27 in OT, which is perhaps most heartbreaking loss in franchise history.

From 2004-06, Green had three losing seasons in Arizona (finishing 16-32 overall) and was fired after the '06 campaign. He never held an NFL head coaching job again.

Perhaps his most memorable moment as Cards coach was a postgame meltdown in 2006 after blowing a 20-0 lead to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

While we had a tendency to caricature Green after his coaching career was over, there was no denying that had the respect of many who played for him. He will definitely be missed by the NFL community.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Perpetual validation

My friend and Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg has compiled a set of "laws" over the years. One of "Berg's laws" which I have cited quite often in this space is "Berg's Seventh Law of Liberal Projection."

A refresher:

When a Liberal issues a group defamation or assault on conservatives’ ethics, character, humanity or respect for liberty or the truth, they are at best projecting, and at worst drawing attention away from their own misdeeds. 

Once again, said law was validated by lefty network MSNBC. On something called "The MaddowBlog," there was outrage (OUTRAGE I tell ya) over the Republican National Convention allowing Pat Smith to speak (Lefty site Crooks and Liars also flipped out over it). Ms. Smith is the mother of the late Sean Smith, who was one of the casualties in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. The claims of many leftists was that Smith was factually inaccurate in her speech. Ah, but by leftist standards, grieving mothers get cart blanche to say pretty much anything.

On a side not, here's a partial list of speakers scheduled to appear at the Democrat National Convention next week:

.....Mothers of the Movement members Gwen Carr, Mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, Mother of Trayvon Martin; Maria Hamilton, Mother of Dontré Hamilton; Lucia McBath, Mother of Jordan Davis; Lezley McSpadden, Mother of Michael Brown; Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley, Mother of Hadiya Pendleton; Geneva Reed-Veal, Mother of Sandra Bland.

So will these leftist "fact check" sites be just as vigilant in "checking facts" when gun violence statistics are inevitably skewed at next week's DNC? That's one of those rhetorical questions by the way.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Quick Hits: Volume CXXX

- I did not partake in night one of the 2016 Republican National Convention. Dunno if I'll watch either of the next two nights. However, I plan on watching nominee Donald Trump's speech on Thursday while attending a MN GOP event in St. Louis Park.

I guess I'm still both disgusted and incredulous how my preferred political party could nominate as presidential candidate someone who appears to be in this only to stroke his own ego. Call it sour grapes, call it bitterness, call it whatever you prefer, but it'll be difficult for me to indulge in a convention that will do nothing more than remind me of the talented GOP candidates we left behind on what was a very deep bench nationally.

Speaking of "up and comers," I understand first term Arkansas senator Tom Cotton was terrific last evening. It sounds as though he's someone who'll be considered for president come 2020. But hey, let's get 2016 over with first.

-  Given my wife and I are political junkies, we recently indulged in the documentary Weiner, which focused on the behind-the-scenes happenings of Anthony Weiner's 2013 candidacy for mayor of New York City.

Weiner gained national notoriety in 2011 when, as a Congressman out of New York's Ninth Congressional District, it was revealed he had a habit of sending explicit photos of himself (aka "sexting") to women not his wife. He resigned from Congress shortly thereafter, only to emerge a couple of years later when announcing his run for NYC mayor. While actually leading in the polls early on, there were more allegations of online dalliances which appeared to take place after his resigning from Congress. This flew in the face of his declaration that he had put those "activities" behind him after his resignation.

The film focused much on Weiner attempting to do damage control both on the campaign trail and on the home front, particularly dealing with the humiliation of his wife Huma Abedin (Hillary Clinton's top aide). Whether you're into politics or not, it's always fascinating to see real life footage of how an individual attempts to overcome adversity, albeit the proverbial self-inflicted gunshot wound. I highly recommend checking out the film.

- With my favorite MLB club, the Minnesota Twins, enduring one of the worst seasons in franchise history, this had to happen.

Terry Ryan, who retook the reins as general manager while the team floundered nearly five years ago, was fired Monday, the most visible victim of the franchise’s historically bad start.

“He gets it,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said of Ryan, a two-time MLB Executive of the Year. “We just didn’t win enough games.”

Ryan, 62, will be replaced by assistant GM Rob Antony on an interim basis. The Twins will undertake a search for a permanent replacement in the near future, owner Jim Pohlad said, a process they hope results in a hiring before the season ends in October. Antony will be considered for the job, but the team intends to solicit outside candidates as well.

“The challenge to make the organization better is exciting,” Pohlad said. “We do believe, and I know [manager] Paul Molitor believes, we can win in 2017.”

That remains to be seen, but Molitor definitely will be a part of it. Pohlad wants the Hall of Famer to remain in the dugout next year, saying he will make that clear to the team’s next GM.

While I will always have a special place in my heart for Ryan for and his role in bringing the Twins back to respectability in the 21st century (via savvy trades and solid drafts), the game seemed to have passed him by. Ryan often bristled at the new way of scouting players, particularly via stringent statistical analysis (aka sabermetrics). While that methodology resulted in recent success in smaller markets like Oakland, Cleveland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, the Twins refused to utilize a similar approach even on a limited basis. As such, the farm system as a whole is not as loaded as once hoped, thus leaving a significant rebuilding project to the new GM.

For far too long, the Twins have been hesitant to go outside the organization for any role. Heck, even when guys are fired (e.g. former GM Bill Smith, former manager Ron Gardenhire), they're always brought back in some other capacity. It's high time this franchise get a fresh perspective by bringing in someone from the outside.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Box Score of the Week

Going real old school as the St. Louis Browns (who eventually became the Baltimore Orioles) took on the Detroit Tigers at the end of the 1934 season.


The Browns' Charley O'Leary was two weeks shy of his 59th birthday when he collected a hit and scored a run in this game. At age 58 years, 50 weeks, he became the oldest player to accomplish such feats in the same game. That record obviously still stands today.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Raymond's in his Sunday best......

A lot of political news to get to on this week's edition of The Closer. The 1-hour extravaganza gets kicked off at 2:00 PM Central Time.

Obviously I'll weigh in on another horrific terrorist attack, this time in Nice, France. I'll also discuss GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's selection of a running mate.

Then at 2:30 I'll be joined by Brad Sanford, who is the Republican candidate in MN Senate District 37, which covers most of Blaine and Spring Lake Park as well as northeastern Coon Rapids.

So please give me a call at (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, July 16, 2016

Trumps plays it safe, hence Pence

It had been leaked earlier this week that Indiana governor Mike Pence would be chosen as Donald Trump's running mate on the GOP presidential ticket. On Saturday, it was made official.

But as with anything involving Trump and his "winging it" style of campaigning, even the VP choice had some side drama.

There was also a rumor circulating that Newt Gingrich, who was also on Trump's shortlist of VP choices, did not even learn he wasn't getting the running mate nod until he heard a news report announcing the selection of Pence.

My radio show's political wonk, Matt Mackowiak, felt Pence was the "safest" choice.

As governor, Pence cut taxes, balanced the budget and his state has seen record employment.

Pence is fond of saying: “I’m a Christian, an American, a conservative and a Republican — in that order.”

He is a known commodity and trusted friend to conservative leaders in Washington and around the country.

Pence was up for reelection as Indiana governor this year. However, the state's law does not allow someone to run in both a state and federal election simultaneously, so Pence will now have to abandon his gubernatorial bid. Some may view that as a risky move for Pence, tying himself to a presidential campaign that, as of today, looks to get soundly defeated this November. However, there seemed to be a strong indication that Pence would not be reelected as governor anyway. With that in mind, perhaps Pence is just cutting his losses and thus looking to inject life into Trump's lackluster general election campaign.

And now.......on to the Republican National Convention, beginning Monday.