Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Race to the bottom

It's been apparent for some time that political discourse in America has become less about persuasion and more about who can scream their point of view loudest. Even when people are persuaded and thus evolve in their worldview, they're chided as "flip floppers" or constantly reminded of their previous stances in an attempt to marginalize subsequent good works.

With this past Monday being the observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, people with their own political agendas (particularly within the context of race relations) look to shame their political opponents. 

Perhaps the most disgusting display was some deranged loser sending a tweet to Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). 




Ms. McCain, with far more class and dignity than most could muster after having a loved one smeared, didn't shy away from the criticism despite it being borderline cruel.








I can't imagine going through life where you feel your purpose is to impugn others' character and/or verbally throw in their face a past they regret. I'm certain someone like a Dr. King applied forgiveness in his life. Those who proclaim to admire the man ought to follow his example more diligently.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Stunned

Yeah, so this happened.





That was the final play of an inexplicable 29-24 Vikings win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday. Just as I was ready to once again lament how we Vikings fans can't have nice things, this 61-yard bomb from QB Case Keenum to WR Stefon Diggs seemed to assuage the feelings of ever present misery over the Vikings' past playoff failures.

All that said, while this game was great theater, I feel it will end up meaning little if the Vikes don't even make the Super Bowl. That may sound harsh, but opportunities like this are so rare outside of New England. Nevertheless, we as fans can re-live this at least until the Vikings' NFC title game matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday evening.

Some may surmise that I am probably engaging in schadenfreude given what the Saints did to my favorite squad back in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. And while I was disgusted to learn later on that some Saints players deliberately injured the ankle of Vikes QB Brett Favre, I honestly didn't even consider taking pleasure in the emotional pain likely felt by New Orleans players and their fans today. However, when Saints head coach Sean Payton (whose been in the position since 2006) said post game that a loss such as this will take a while to get over, all I could say is "Trust us, coach. We know."

In the end, my favorite tweet of the evening came from Steve Gleason, the former Saints special teams player who has been living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's Disease) since about 2011.





I guess when one has endured all that Gleason has, one's favorite NFL team losing a game in heartbreaking fashion can easily be met with a little levity.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Words we spoke, forgotten at the time, now replay in my mind....

A power-packed Sunday with The Northern Alliance Radio Network 2-3 PM and then kickoff for the Vikings' playoff game at 3:40! Definitely a lot to get to in the one-hour edition of The Closer this afternoon.

We'll get started by talking about the smugness on display this past weekend at the Golden Globe Awards and how it was possibly a kickoff for.....Oprah for President?!?!

I will also discuss the attempts in Washington to overhaul immigration as well as President Trump's alleged comments denigrating certain other countries.


So please call (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to weigh in on any of the topics we 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.....

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

2017 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles: Of the past 23 Super Bowl runners-up, only 13 even made the playoffs the following season. And of those 13 clubs, 11 were gone after the divisional round, so history is not on the side of the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons this week. Nevertheless, the Falcons showed some strong play on the defensive side of the ball in last week's wildcard win over the L.A. Rams, who featured the top scoring offense in the NFL.

Despite being the top seed in the NFC, the Eagles are hardly prohibitive favorites to win it all due to starting QB Carson Wentz, who was in the midst of an MVP caliber season before his Week 14 knee injury, being lost for the season. While backup Nick Foles made some plays in the remainder of that week 14 contest vs. the Rams as well as had a solid start the following week against the NY Giants, he was (to be charitable) very underwhelming the final two games of the regular season. As such, expect heavy doses of running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi against an Atlanta defense which is vulnerable against the run (4.1 Yards Per Carry allowed).

In the end, the Falcons will likely key on the Eagles' running attack, thus forcing Foles to beat them. Hard to see Foles being capable of such a thing.
Atlanta 20 Philadelphia 14


Tennessee Titans (+13-1/2) at New England Patriots: An average Titans squad rallied from down 18 points at halftime on the road last week to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21. Their reward? The defending Super Bowl champions.

No doubt the Pats have received endless questions this week regarding the story of cracks developing in their dynasty wall. Whether Seth Wickersham's piece is true or not is irrelevant. There aren't many pro sports teams I know of who can completely eradicate distractions and laser focus on the next game.
New England 31 Tennessee 14


Jacksonville Jaguars (+7) at Pittsburgh Steelers: This is a rematch of a Week 5 contest where the Jags went into Pittsburgh and crushed the Steelers 30-9. Jacksonville intercepted Ben Roethlisberger five times (two went for touchdowns) while their offense generated 231 yards rushing. With Jaguars QB Blake Bortles still struggling, Jacksonville will need a similar effort running the ball to have a chance this game.

It appears Steelers All Pro WR Antonio Brown will return this week after suffering a torn calf muscle last month. Brown had 10 receptions for 157 yards against Jacksonville in their October matchup. If the Steelers don't turn the ball over and feature stud RB Le'Veon Bell against a defense in the bottom five of the NFL in terms of yards per rush allowed, they should roll.
Pittsburgh 30 Jacksonville 20



New Orleans Saints (+5) at Minnesota Vikings: These two teams faced off on the opening Monday night of the 2017 season, a game which the Vikings won handily. However, the Saints are markedly better since that game as is the Vikes' top ranked defense.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Vikings have lost their starting quarterback (Sam Bradford), tailback (Dalvin Cook) and left guard (Nick Easton) since week one. Nevertheless, backup QB Case Keenum has put up very good numbers in 14 starts with over 3,500 yards passing, 22 TDs, only 7 INTs and a career high 98.3 QB rating. And the Vikes have found a nice balance in the backfield with RBs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.

Speaking of running backs, the Saints feature the first RB duo in NFL history to rack up 1,500 yards total offense each in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. That said, the two had only 68 yards of offense combined in last week's victory over the Carolina Panthers. For most teams that would be a problem, but then most teams don't have a Hall of Fame quarterback who is still playing at a high level. In his 11th season with New Orleans, QB Drew Brees, who turns 39 on Monday, threw for at least 4,000 yards for the eleventh consecutive year. He also sliced up Carolina's defense last week with 376 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns.

As a Vikings fan, I felt that the Saints would be the toughest draw for my favorite club among the NFC field. Now the Vikes get a crack at 'em. The difference in this game will be the Vikings' defense. They're healthy, well rested and ready to prove that their #1 ranking is not a fluke.
Minnesota 24 New Orleans 21




Postseason Record:
Against the Spread: 3-1
Straight Up: 3-1

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Friday, January 12, 2018

S**tholes happen

While the President denies saying it, does anyone doubt that this sounds like something he would convey?

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.

First, let's tune out all the noise. Trump apologists dismiss this as his just being "himself" and thus he has no stomach for political correctness. Meanwhile, leftists who likely said much worse about rural counties in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as the southern United States are engaging in the obligatory pearl clutching because RESIST!!

Now that we set that aside, let's address Trump's alleged comment. It's true there are countries whose conditions can be aptly characterized as a proverbial s**thole. But why are they in that condition? Myriad reasons really. Crooked governments who put funding of their corruption above the needs of the citizens. Islands which possess neither the infrastructure nor adequate resources to recover from natural disasters. War torn countries where evil elements (i.e. terrorists) take advantage of a power vacuum. And of course, good ol' fashioned tyrannical leaders who tamp down their citizens' desire for liberty.

So with all that said, why are we holding that against the citizens of those countries? Many of the factors contributing to a country's third world status are beyond the control of the people. So if we're ever going to have a fair and sensible immigration system, shouldn't it be based on an individual's merit as opposed to the sole criteria being country of origin? I have the utmost faith that there are plenty of quality people in most countries which some people consider undesirable.

This latest incident is yet another example where it feels as though we're coming ever closer to the notion of "Trump being Trump" no longer being sustainable. As such, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air broached other issues which cropped up in light of Trump's alleged denigration of certain countries.

People want to dismiss this with the idea that Trump’s just talking like regular Americans, but a president in our system is not just one politician among many. He’s also the head of state, and when a head of state starts calling other countries “shitholes,” including some friendly to us, it has international consequences that go beyond our own internal debates over immigration policy. It’s foolish, and it’s needlessly provocative. A responsible president has to govern his tongue much more closely than the rest of us do, a lesson Trump still has not learned.

Trump and his apologists need to learn one valuable lesson posthaste. Speaking with dignity and decorum does not mean that one is compromising one's basic principles. I sure wish more Trump-kins would hold him to his campaign promise of acting more presidential.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Resistance" in the courts

In June 2012, President Barack Obama implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) via executive fiat, a program designed to protect from deportation children born in the United States to non-citizens. Two years later, he expanded the program to include adult illegal immigrants who hadn't violated any laws (other than being in the U.S. illegally of course). As was his wont, Obama often asserted his perceived executive authority to create/revise laws when Congress didn't bend to his will.

In September 2017, President Donald Trump allowed DACA to expire. Leave aside for the moment that Obama likely abused his power by usurping the U.S. Congress (Y'know....the folks who actually make laws). Executive orders implemented by a President of the United States are not required to be upheld by the next administration. Whatever one thinks of the merits of the DACA law, any legislation relating to immigration should be devised by Congress (aka lawmakers).

All that said, it makes the latest court ruling on the issue all the more stupefying.

A federal judge in San Francisco (natch - ed.) on Tuesday barred the Trump administration from turning back the Obama-era DACA program, which shielded more than 700,000 people from deportation, Reuters reported.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, ruled that the program must stay intact while litigation is played out.

Alsup ordered that until a final judgment is reached, the program must continue and those already approved for DACA protections and work permits must be allowed to renew them before they expire.

So lemme get this straight: A judge rules that a questionable executive order handed down by one President is required to stand during the administration of the following POTUS?

Sadly, as Jonah Goldberg writes at National Review, this is a symptom of a greater problem that has been brewing in America for some time.

The system the Founders set up depends to a huge degree on the assumption that our branches of government will be jealous guardians of their institutional prerogatives and powers. Indeed, the Founders expected that each branch of government would, from time to time, try to steal more power than afforded them by the Constitution. They assumed that the greatest bulwark against such encroachments would be the refusal of the other branches to relinquish their rights and power. It never occurred to them that the branches would willingly relinquish their responsibilities to the other branches.

Lord knows I had my problems with Steve Bannon – but, as I wrote at the time, he was absolutely right about the administrative state. Congress, the courts, and the executive branch have each in their own way acquiesced to a separate, parallel government walled off from democratic accountability. Congress has bequeathed the power to make laws and even, in some cases, to raise taxes to independent agencies. The courts, meanwhile, have been happy to let the bureaucracy combine what should be separated powers in the hands of bureaucrats. As Clarence Thomas put it, the courts have “overseen and sanctioned the growth of an administrative system that concentrates the power to make laws and the power to enforce them in the hands of a vast and unaccountable administrative apparatus that finds no comfortable home in our constitutional structure.”

But it’s not just the administrative state. No one wants to take political responsibility for policies they want. Just last week, Senator Cory Gardner was livid with Jeff Sessions for not maintaining the Obama policy of stealing power and authority from Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts upheld Obamacare because he didn’t want the Supreme Court to take the heat that would come with doing its job. When George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold, he said he thought parts of it were unconstitutional but he was happy to pass the buck to the Supreme Court anyway. I could go on.

While many conservatives laud Trump's overhauling the federal judiciary with legal constructionists, this should not preclude the other two branches of  government from recognizing (and being bullish over) what's its purpose is in a representative republic.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Do the math

I'm a trivia buff. I have been for as long as I can remember. I can't explain it, I just love fascinating facts.

Here's one I learned of a couple of years ago, yet it still astounds me.




Being a numbers guy, I did the math. So if Tyler were 228 years old today and his grandchildren are, say, 100, that means he would have had kids in at least his 60s as would his own kids.

Sure enough:




Utterly fascinating.



Ha! Love it.

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