Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Voice of reason

About a month ago, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ended an Obama era ruling which essentially lowered the burden of proof for sexual assaults on campus. And if state universities were non-compliant with the Obama administration ruling and thus had the nerve to be guided by that Constitution thingy, said universities lived with the threat of having Federal funds cut off.

Because DeVos is part of the Donald Trump administration, her common sense directive was met with the obligatory lunacy and hyperbole.

Recently there was a state legislature looking to codify the old Obama directive, essentially looking to have its state's campuses resume "kangaroo courts" as opposed to letting the legal system adjudicate allegations of a crime.

Thankfully this particular state's governor was the voice of reason in vetoing such legislation.

..(T)houghtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault—well-intentioned as they are—have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students."

Kudos to Gov. Scott Walker. Then again, ensuring laws don't infringe upon the Due Process clause in both the 5th and 14th amendments would seemingly be the proverbial layup for a conservative governor. After all, expelling a student for a crime which wasn't adequately adjudicated could unnecessarily and unjustly jeopardize the accused's future.

Wait, WHAT?!?!? You mean the governor in question is not Gov. Walker of Wisconsin???

“Depriving any student of higher education opportunities should not be done lightly, or out of fear of losing state or federal funding,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) said.

Huh. Whatta ya know.

Props to Gov. Moonbeam.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Box Score of the Week (Postseason edition)

Game 7 of the 1957 World Series - Milwaukee Braves at New York Yankees.


In the 2015 AL Wildcard game, Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings against the New York Yankees. The next time Keuchel faced the Yanks in the postseason was last week in ALCS Game 1 when he blanked them over seven innings. Keuchel is the first starting pitcher to have consecutive scoreless outings against the Yankees in the postseason since Lew Burdette of the Milwaukee Braves turned that trick in the 1957 World Series. The game featured this week was the second time in three days that Burdette tossed a complete game shutout against the Yanks.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Grasping at straws

I believe this is an exercise in futility, but what else does he have going on in life?

Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance under the latest collective bargaining agreement against NFL owners for collusion, according to his attorney, Mark Geragos.

Kaepernick is not going through the NFL Players Association but has instead hired Geragos, who has represented several high-profile clients, including Michael Jackson, former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield and musician Chris
(the dude who beat his girlfriend - ed.Brown.

The filing, which demands an arbitration hearing on the matter, says the NFL and its owners "have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick's leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States."

Nice spin. Another way of saying it is "Mr. Kaepernick's services are unwanted due to his skill set not being a match for any team's vacancies at this particular time." Besides, it seems pretty obvious that providing concrete evidence of collusion (assuming such activities exist or ever existed) is a mighty tall order.

Naturally there will be the perpetual arguments from Kaepernick apologists which say that Kap's ability is superior to more than half the QBs on an NFL roster today. But such a claim is totally subjective. About a month ago I went on record as saying that Kaepernick would be a better option at backup QB for my Vikings than Case Keenum. However, now that Keenum has been pressed into service over the past several weeks due to starter Sam Bradford being out with an injury, circumstances have changed. Keenum now has had valuable experience within the Vikings' current offensive system, so he is now better suited than Kap to be on the Vikings' roster. But, again, I would be perfectly fine if Kaepernick were brought in for a workout. I have a hard time imagining he's not a better option to be the Vikes' backup than current #2 Kyle Sloter.

All that being said, teams can actually refuse Kaepernick's services due to potential negative public relations that may occur upon his signing. So even if Kap is more talented than a number of active quarterbacks, NFL teams are well within their rights to gauge how much of a distraction they want to take on when signing a controversial figure.

In the end, I can't really blame Kaepernick for this proverbial "Hail Mary" given that he'll be 30 years old in a couple of weeks. In football terms, that means a QB is typically in the back end of his career. I'm guessing even a third stringer in the NFL makes more than, say, his next potential vocation of being an adjunct professor teaching Social Welfare at Cal-Berkeley.


There's no more little secrets we haven't yet disclosed.....

Yes, I admit it'll be tough to compete with today's Packers-Vikings tilt. Nevertheless, I encourage y'all to take a break from 2:00 until 3 PM Central Time to tune in to this week's edition of The Closer. 

Just when you thought the "NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem" saga was dying down, it was resurrected this past week. We'll discuss the latest.

Also, is President Trump really declaring war on the First Amendment?

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.....


Thursday, October 12, 2017

News you don't wanna use

When Barack Obama was President of the United States, he, on more than one occasion, lamented the unfavorable media coverage he received from Fox News. Many right-of-center folks (myself included) found it a tad chilling that the country's leader would call out a free press. Someone with a rather high profile Twitter account even tweeted about it 4+ years ago.

While Obama's behavior was out of bounds, he never went so far as to say a media outlet should have its credentials revoked.

This was apparently in response to an NBC report that Trump had asked for an outlandish ten-fold increase in America's nuclear weapons arsenal. Given that some of the prior media coverage of Trump was poorly sourced, it behooves outlets to now have multiple sources & reporters on a given story (as was the case here).

However, all that is beside the point. The fact a sitting U.S. President even suggests that a TV network have its license pulled due to what he perceives as unfavorable coverage smacks of authoritarian tactics. There's no other way to see it. Yes I know Trump hasn't actually taken substantive action on this and I know he has the reputation for bluster, thus should be "taken seriously but not literally." But if we're going to be intellectually consistent, Trump's words about NBC were far more concerning than Obama's whining over Fox News.

NBC had been having a rough week given revelations that they blew off breaking the story of Harvey Weinstein's sleazy behavior. Leave it to Trump to temporarily generate sympathy for such an operation.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

National Anthem backlash bringing NFL to its knees

In no small part to President Trump expressing his displeasure, there has been significant backlash from NFL fans over some players not standing during the pregame signing of the National Anthem.

As such, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could no longer bury his head in the proverbial sand, so he issued a written statement on Tuesday.

"Like many of our fans," Goodell wrote, "we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.

"We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players."

The NFL's current anthem policy states that players "should" stand for the anthem, but it stops short of requiring it.

The proposed new policy is the result of "many of discussions with clubs and players," Goodell added.

If a policy is drafted mandating that players stand during the Anthem, I don't believe such a directive is too outlandish. It's not like an individual player would be required to place his hand over his heart or sing along with the Anthem performer. But the idea is that the pregame ceremony is an infinitesimal percentage of time during the week where politics can (and should) be put aside. Since most NFL players have a substantial social media following, there's still a significantly large platform (as well as ample time) to convey advocacy and/or protest.

Commissioner Goodell's statement also comes on the heels of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones revealing his intentions to take disciplinary action against any member of his team who refuses to stand during the Anthem. Jones's own sentiments have created quite the firestorm of reaction, including one which led to the suspension of ESPN personality Jemele Hill. Not to be outdone, fellow ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon took his objections steps further.

“And the word that comes to my mind―and I don’t care who doesn’t like me using it―is plantation,” Mr. Wilbon said on Monday’s show. “The players are here to serve me, and they will do what I want. No matter how much I pay them, they are not equal to me. That’s what this says to me and mine.”

Leave out the fact that millionaire football players being equated with individuals who didn't possess a scintilla of freedom is at best asinine and at worst trivializes an otherwise ugly time in American history. This idea that bosses don't consider employees "equal to them" is hardly a revolutionary concept. Whether we like it or not, employees at most companies are there for little more than to make their bosses look good. Don't believe me? Make your employer look bad about twice and see what happens.

I digress.

Say what ya want about Trump, but his rhetoric surrounding this issue seems to have given him an upper hand in this latest battle in the culture war.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The obligatory ESPN suspension post

Refer to a sitting President of the United States as a "white supremacist?" That'll get ya a stern "talking to" at ESPN. But implying that disgruntled football fans should boycott advertisers of a certain NFL team? A bridge too far for the self anointed "sports leader."

The network sidelined “SportsCenter” anchor Jemele Hill “for a second violation of our social-media guidelines” after she promoted NFL-advertiser boycotts on Twitter, an ESPN spokesman confirmed Monday.

Hill got into hot water for wading into the debate over whether NFL players should protest racism in the nation’s police force by kneeling during pre-game renditions of the national anthem.

Reacting to Dallas Cowboys coach Jerry Jones — who told his players he would bench them if they did not stand for the anthem — she tweeted: “This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.”

Again, a good number of observers will look at this as ESPN misplacing its priorities. That is, a left winger ripping a GOP President is on the up and up but messing with the bottom line results in the proverbial firing squad. However, in their official statement, ESPN emphasized that Hill's suspension was due to multiple violations of its company policy as opposed to the level of controversy generated by each incident.

This certainly isn't the first time ESPN has had to suspend or fire an employee for controversial commentary (on or off the air). The network brass has long been hypersensitive to criticism, especially when viewer complaints center around its personalities opining on politically/socially charged issues. However, ESPN has mostly itself to blame for these controversies. Long ago they realized that politics and the culture bled into the sports scene, so ESPN looked to capitalize on this phenomena by adding to its programming round table discussions which occasionally broach these issues. As such, it's inevitable that one of their commentators will occasionally have a rhetorical misstep which will give the sports giant unwanted attention.

At the end of the day, ESPN is in survival mode. Unwanted political commentary is only one of multiple reasons why the network is becoming obsolete. I mean, other than Rev. Al Sharpton and his obligatory "racist" charge, is anybody all that passionate about this decision on either side of the coin? If I had to guess, I believe Hill's suspension was met with mostly ambivalence.


Monday, October 09, 2017

Quick Hits: Volume CLVI

- I can't lie. I'm not really thrilled with the Veep's actions yesterday.

Vice President Mike Pence walked out on his home-state Indianapolis Colts Sunday when members of the opposing team kneeled for the national anthem, but a report that Colin Kaepernick, the player who started it all, will stand if given another shot in the NFL was quickly dialed back.

"I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence tweeted.

I won't go so far as to say that this was an orchestrated "publicity stunt" as some are suggesting. VP Pence has a son in the Marine Corps, so the anthem issue is no doubt a sensitive one to him. But given the San Francisco 49ers (the Colts' opponent on Sunday) are perhaps the NFL's most high-profile "kneelers" (even with Kaepernick no longer on their roster), what did Pence expect would happen? Plus, you had the Secret Service going through all their detail in securing Lucas Oil Stadium in advance of Pence's visit so he could stay for, what, an hour or two? Add to that the fact Pence had just flown in from Las Vegas and then left immediately to attend a different function on the west coast, it seems the nearly $250,000 cost of that trip was a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

Let's be honest, fellow fiscal conservatives. We would have absolutely nuked President Obama (and rightly so) had he pulled a similar stunt.

- My favorite NFL squad takes on the Chicago Bears tonight on Monday Night Football. With the Bears seemingly in the midst of another lost season, they have decided to expedite the debut of rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who was drafted #2 overall in the 2017 NFL draft.

For those Vikings fans who may view this game as easy pickings, I offer you some recent history. The Vikings are 2-14 in their past 16 road games against the Bears with both victories (in 2007 & 2015) coming on field goals as time expired. And it ain't like the Vikes were going up against an Aaron Rodgers caliber QB in those 16 games. They succumbed to stiffs like Jim Miller, Rex Grossman, Chad Hutchinson and Kyle Orton.

If this game turns out to be anything similar to last year's Monday Night October tilt in Chicago, I worry for coach Mike Zimmer's left eye.

- It was great to hear from Peter Johnson, founder of Archway Defense, on my radio program yesterday. Archway, which was founded by Peter, is a "covert network of professionals serving around the world in law enforcement, military, customs, border protection, counter-terrorism, emergency preparedness, emergency medical and intelligence communities. This private support network provides Archway Defense the ability to create and offer unparalleled training."

With those credentials, I couldn't think of a better guest to have on the broadcast to discuss the issues surrounding last Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas as well as addressing the inevitable spread of misinformation about firearms.

Definitely check out the broadcast for yourself.


Box Score of the Week (Postseason edition)

Game 2 of the 2015 American League Division Series - Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays.


At age 42 years & 292 days, Blue Jays pitcher LaTroy Hawkins became the oldest pitcher in MLB history to be charged with a postseason loss.