Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ventura wins lawsuit, loses dignity

Chris Kyle, the man whom Jesse Ventura sued for defamation over Kyle depicting in his book American Sniper that he punched out Ventura after besmirching his fellow SEALs, was tragically killed in a firing range incident last year. Despite that, Ventura chose to press forward with his lawsuit against Kyle's widow. The millisecond he decided that, Ventura had already lost regardless of what a jury would eventually decide. I mean suing a guy's widow because you're so thin-skinned and ego maniacal? Dunno how anyone can come out a winner in a situation like that.

After the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict for several days, Kyle's legal team indicated they would acquiesce to an 8-2 decision. As it turned out, the jury did indeed side with Ventura by an 8-2 margin. 

The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for “unjust enrichment” — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25.

Of the myriad reactions to the verdict, one of the more prevailing sentiments was surprise over why Kyle's legal team would agree to a less than unanimous verdict. Given the veritable hell Kyle's widow Taya has endured over the past year between her husband's death and this lawsuit, it was a real possibility Ventura would drudge up another suit if there was a "hung jury" in this one.

What I still have a hard time wrapping my head around is how Ventura felt pressing on with this suit was going to help "restore his good name." One of the contentions he made was that potential income opportunities had "dried up" due to Kyle's allegations in the book. So how is it that suing Kyle's estate (which is run by his widow) is going to replenish Ventura's reputation? And how will winning this lawsuit make Ventura any more enticing to potential employers? Sure, Ventura may have proven right by the letter of the law. But will this in any way give him back whatever dignity he felt he had lost? The better question is, now that Ventura may be nearly $2 million richer, does he even care about his reputation anymore?


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Separated at Birth: Branden Petersen and Jon Lester

Branden Petersen (top) is a MN State Senator.

Jon Lester is a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox


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Monday, July 28, 2014

Obligatory grandstanding

Shoulda seen this coming.

Seventeen state lawmakers urged Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf to release the result of a full investigation into homophobic remarks made by a coach while calling his three-game suspension too lenient.

The strongly-worded letter signed by DFL legislators in both the House and Senate say the remarks made by special teams coach Mike Priefer to "...round up all the gays, send them to an island and then nuke it until it glows" is "tantamount to calling for the genocide of all LBGT people."

That would be the conclusion one would draw if one were a complete simpleton. But the fact of the matter is coaches often say such things that they believe will get under a player's skin. Since Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was such an outspoken advocate for defeating the MN Marriage Amendment (one that would have defined marriage as strictly between one man and one woman) in 2012, Priefer used that fact to try to motivate his under-performing punter. In hindsight, it would have behooved Priefer to perhaps swap out "gays" for, say, "bass guitar players", a group which Kluwe himself is a member in the band Tripping Icarus. While I felt it was wildly inappropriate for Priefer to say what he said, it's utterly asinine to assume that he wants to completely eradicate a segment of society.

Another issue that cropped up is the cautionary tale of accepting corporate welfare. Between Hennepin County and the state of Minnesota, approximately half a billion dollars of taxpayer money has been pledged to finance the nearly $1 billion Vikings stadium, which is slated to be completed in 2016. Because of those subsidies, public officials suddenly believe they have the right to advise a business how to handle incidents with its employees.

In the letter, the legislators remind Wilf that taxpayers contributed nearly half a billion dollars to the new stadium currently under construction, as well as continuing a sales tax exemption on ticket sales to the 2018 Super Bowl.

"In light of this enormous public effort, it is imperative that your organization be held accountable," the letter reads. "This is especially true when it would seem that Vikings leadership is turning a blind eye to such egregious misconduct and seems determined to remain opaque to the very public which has invested so much in the success of your team."

I got news for these public officials: For better or worse, the vast majority of "the very public" care only about performance on the field. Period. If some fans want to act all pious and boycott the team over this incident, then that is their prerogative. But I guarantee that most of the Vikings devotees don't really care. Remember the "Love Boat" incident back in 2005? Sure, fans were initially disgusted as the details became public. But that debacle became a distant memory when the team won six consecutive games in the second half of that season, thus vaulting into playoff contention (Alas, the Vikes fell just short of the postseason that year).

In the end, this is merely about a group of DFLers (14 of 17 are senators, who are not up for reelection) with a little too much time on their hands with the Legislature being out of session. But since there's a strong possibility their House cohorts may lose their majority, why let a good crisis go to waste? I'm just waiting for the political ad proclaiming that no Republicans stood by the DFL's side on this issue. I wouldn't surprised if Carrie Lucking and her Alliance for a Bitter Better Minnesota minions are on that as we speak.


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Box Score of the Week

The Cincinnati Reds took on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 23, 1991.


It always appeared as though former Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Rob Dibble had a proverbial screw loose. His behavior in this July 1991 game at Wrigley Field did nothing to dispel that belief.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

And when my mind is free, you know a melody can move me.....

With my friend and Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg out on assignment today, I will assume the reins of The Headliner edition of the NARN. I will be on the air from 1:00 pm until 3:00 Central Time.

With this being an election year and campaign season is currently in full swing, I am privileged to be hosting three different MN GOP state House candidates on today's program.

1:00 until 1:30 - Barb Sutter, Republican endorsed candidate in HD 49B (West Bloomington, Southern Edina, and small portions of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka).

1:30 until 2:00 - Abigail Whelan, Republican endorsed candidate in HD 35A (Anoka and most of Ramsey).

2:00 until 2:30 - Jen Wilson, Republican endorsed candidate in HD51B (Eastern portion of Eagan, including where the Patriot bunker is located).

In the brief non-guest segments, I will assuredly weigh in on the Tony Dungy/Michael Sam flap and perhaps the latest on the Vikings/Chris Kluwe kerfuffle.

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.....



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume C

-It was another wild legal ride for the Affordable Care Act this week in the case Halbig v Burwell. On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ACA (aka Obamacare) does not allow for the federal government to provide subsidies for health insurance. But then later in the day, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the opposite, mostly because of the law's ambiguity. 

With that in mind, it appears there's a strong possibility that the Supreme Court may take this up. So what may happen if indeed the nation's highest court hears this case? Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog speculates. 

(I)f the Supreme Court does step in, I think that the administration will win. But it will be close. There is a good chance that the case will be decided by the same thin five-to-four majority that upheld the constitutionality of the ACA two years ago.

The key point is that the challengers can win only if the ACA is clear; if not, then the administration gets to interpret it. Personally, I think that the better reading of the literal text of the law is probably that Congress limited the tax subsidies to purchases on state exchanges. But I don’t think you can fairly say that the statute’s meaning is obvious. Instead, like a lot of massive laws that include lots of compromises, it is a bit of a mess. And its context suggests the administration is actually right.

The challengers’ main argument is that the formula for tax credits applies only when someone buys insurance on an exchange “established by the State.” But it is unlikely that Congress made the critical decision about who would receive the subsidy in the middle of a formula, rather than in a section of the law dealing with eligibility.

Say, do you recall former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declaring we have to pass this law to "find out what's in it?" Well it appears that was as big a fabrication as the President telling us all Americans can keep their health insurance plan if they like it.

Anyhow, read Mr. Goldstein's entire post.

-With about a week until Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline, my Minnesota Twins should commence with the fire sale, provided if any veterans (e.g. Josh Willingham or Kurt Suzuki) draw even mild interest.

On Thursday, one piece already dropped.

Kendrys Morales is on his way back to Seattle to try and give the Mariners' struggling offense a boost as they chase a playoff spot.

The Minnesota Twins traded Morales to the Mariners on Thursday for minor-league pitcher Stephen Pryor. Morales hit 23 home runs and drove in 80 runs for the Mariners last season, but turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from Seattle to become a free agent.

Morales sat out the first two months of the season while searching for a new deal, signing a pro-rated $12 million contract with the Twins on June 8. But he hit .234 with 11 doubles, one homer and 18 RBIs in 39 games with the Twins, who have faded from contention in the AL Central.

From what I understand, Pryor has a pretty live arm, but still has control issues. But if the Twins organization has been consistently reliable in just one area, it's the bullpen. Some of the more solid relief pitchers the Twins have employed over the past few years were either castoffs from other organizations (Caleb Thielbar, Jared Burton, Casey Fien) or guys they've developed (Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins).

Heck, even if Pryor is a dud, the Twins did manage to finagle the Mariners into absorbing the entire $4.33 million Morales was owed the remainder of this season. Given Morales's lackluster production, that's no small feat.

-So Larry J. Sabato recently changed his rating in Minnesota's 2014 US Senate race (pitting Democrat incumbent Al Franken against Mike McFadden) from "Likely Democratic" to "Leans Democratic." Why?

(T)his race hasn’t hit its stride yet. Franken and his likely opponent, businessman Mike McFadden (R), are really just getting started, given Franken’s deliberately low profile and the fact that McFadden hasn’t even officially sewn up his party’s nomination. It’s true that the contestants in Michigan and New Hampshire haven’t received official party blessings either, but Peters versus Land and Shaheen versus Brown have been de facto head-to-head races for months. One thing that’s clear: Franken won’t be surprised, given that he’s already spent $10 million on his race so far this cycle.

Franken is still the favorite, given his gigantic war chest and the power of incumbency, but McFadden appears to be positioned to run a moderate-conservative campaign that could allow him to compete with Franken while not alienating his base.

Personally, I'd be lying if I said I'm confident McFadden can pull this off. Even though McFadden has shown he has legitimate fundraising ability, I felt one of his challengers for the GOP endorsement (Julianne Ortman) would have fared better against Franken in a discussion of the issues. However, while Ortman would have been a quality candidate, her fundraising would have been downright paltry, which is a non-starter against a prolific fundraiser like Franken.

I just hope McFadden can substantively address issues as his campaign progresses. All I've seen up to this point is TV ads with sports analogies. With that said, let me offer one of my one: Time to step up your game, Mr. McFadden.


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

No benefit of the doubt

I'd be hard pressed to think of a classier, more humble human being than former NFL coach Tony Dungy. If you go back and find what others had to say about him during his 13-year head coaching tenure (six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, seven with the Indianapolis Colts) and immediately upon his retirement after the 2008 season, the voluminous praise was often effusive. Whether it was his unabashed faith in Jesus Christ, his indomitable strength upon the suicide of his 19-year old son or his being able to walk away from a lucrative coaching career six years ago and not look back, Dungy has as few detractors as one can have while functioning in the public eye.

With all that said, not even Dungy himself can be given the benefit of the doubt when speaking of someone in the new "protected class."

Esteemed NFL coach turned NBC analyst Tony Dungy is taking fire for saying he would not have drafted Michael Sam, the league’s first openly gay player.

In an interview with the Tampa Tribune published Sunday, the former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts said he would have passed on Sam. "Not because I don't believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of it,” Dungy said.

Dungy went on to say, “It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’

Naturally there were those who immediately cited Dungy as being a "coward" or for being in favor of "Jim Crow-type" laws. Still others are quick to point out Dungy's Christian faith, which means he must be an intolerant bigot.

In a separate interview, Dungy attempted to clarify his comments.

"What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.

"I do not believe Michael's sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization. I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.

"I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field. My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation."

I'm certain Sam himself would prefer to focus solely on making the Rams' roster as opposed to answering questions about his lifestyle. After all, how many seventh round picks are even approached by media members in an NFL training camp? Unless such players vastly outperform their draft status, it's likely their names are hardly known. I know I sure don't recall a time where such a late round draft pick was approached with an opportunity to star in a reality TV show.

Another issue that cropped up was the fact Dungy advocated for Michael Vick's return to the NFL after he served jail time for organizing illegal dog fighting. Obviously Vick being signed by by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 caused a significant distraction, not only due to throngs of media but also with the vast presence of animal rights protesters. The difference being that Vick had already proved himself as an all-pro caliber player prior to his 2007 conviction. The Eagles' philosophy was they were willing to endure distractions if Vick could show just a semblance of what he had the first six seasons of his career (he made the Pro Bowl three times). With Sam being rated as only the 14th best defensive end leading up to this past May's NFL draft, I wouldn't be surprised if many other NFL organizations echoed Dungy's sentiments. Above all else, team executives and coaches are focused solely on the business at hand: winning.

In the end, this whole flap further emphasizes what I've been saying for months now. That is, even the perception of a moral objection to homosexuality results in knee jerk hysteria.


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Monday, July 21, 2014

Box Score of the Week

Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers - September 2, 2006.


Only once in MLB history has a player hit a grand slam home run on the first pitch he ever saw as a big leaguer. That player would be Kevin Kouzmanoff, who was making his major league debut this game. 



Sunday, July 20, 2014

In my eyes, indisposed, in disguise.....

Another Sunday, which means yet another edition of The Closer on the Northern Alliance Radio Network. I'll be on the air in the Patriot bunker from 1:00 pm until 3:00 Central Time.

Right at 1:00, I'll be joined by MN GOP endorsed candidate Heidi Gunderson, who is running in House District 42B (Little Canada, Vadnais Heights area). This is one of those House seats currently occupied by the Democrats, so it would go a long way to putting Republicans back in the majority of the House should this seat be flipped.

At 1:30, Miss Minneapolis 2014 Julia Schliesing is tentatively scheduled to return from a two-week hiatus. If so, she'll of course talk about whatever she darn well pleases.

Finally at 2:00 pm, Jim Nash, one the MN GOP candidates running in HD 47A (Carver County), will be in studio to tout his candidacy as he looks to replace retiring Rep. Ernie Leidiger.

In one or two of the non-guest segments, I will definitely opine on the Chris Kluwe lawsuit against the Minnesota Vikings, one that has become especially newsy over the past few days.

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.....