Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scott snubbed

When George W. Bush was President, he had no shortage of scathing critics. Unfortunately, many critics chose to attack the man personally as opposed to offering up dignified dissent. Admittedly, my admiration for President Bush grew immensely when he didn't personally respond to the utter lunacy that was thrown his way on a daily basis. He kept focused on his Presidency, all the while exercising the courage of his convictions (some of which I personally opposed ----- in a dignified manner of course).

While Mr. Bush is now free to settle some scores, he seems to rise above it all. But in an excerpt of a C-Span interview, he addresses a "sin of omission" from his new book Decision Points.

Scores of people have written entire books taking their own potshots at some aspect of the Bush administration. That's why it's entertaining to hear Bush himself slap down an agenda-driven former employee with the same energy as swatting an annoying mosquito.


Friday, January 28, 2011

It happened 25 years ago today

I was in my junior year of high school at Harding High in St Paul, MN. I happened to be in the midst of another exam in my American History class when Mr. Keenan, the purveyor of our school announcements, came on the loud speaker with a very succinct message:

“The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off this morning.”

That particular message resonated with the majority of students and teachers due to the fact there was a teacher on board the Challenger. Sharon “Christa” McAuliffe was an American teacher from New Hampshire who was selected from among more than 11,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space. Because of the extra notoriety surrounding this mission, students all over the world were viewing the launch on TV in anticipation of receiving a science lesson from outer space. Instead, those same young people had to endure the pictures of such a tragic event.

Then President Ronald Reagan, who postponed his State of the Union address that evening, summed up the tragedy in his usual graceful manner:

"We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"25 years later we offer many continued prayers on the behalf of the families of crew members McAuliffe, Francis “Dick” Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair and Gregory Jarvis.

We truly will never forget.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Prayers for a prayer warrior

When I was 16-years old, I didn't have a lot of cares in the world. Thankfully I had the intuition to make what would be the most important decision of my life: accepting Jesus Christ as my personal savior. But my spiritual mentor Steve, who was a 24-year old bible school student at the time, saw to it that I continued my growth as a young Christian. Certainly going to church regularly was a vital part of it. But Steve also encouraged association with men of God who had their own testimonies of faith.

It was November 16, 1985 when I met Frank Sanders for the first time. I had no idea who he was but Steve was adamant that I attend a breakfast banquet at the Holiday Inn just to hear Frank speak. Because I was a young man with some barriers built up around my heart, I was hesitant to attend. Ah, but Steve knew that I had a passion for sports. So when I was told that Frank was part of the 1972 US Olympic hockey team that won a Silver Medal, and later a professional with the Minnesota Fighting Saints, I had to hear the man speak!

After taking full advantage of the all-you-can-eat aspect of the breakfast cuisine, I settled in to listen to the musings a real life professional athlete. Frank talked about how hockey was a passion of his, recalling his days as a star player at North St Paul High School and then the University of Minnesota. Upon graduating from the U of M, Frank turned down an opportunity to join the likes of Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr as a member of the Boston Bruins, instead opting to play for Team USA at the '72 Winter Olympics in Japan.

But Frank's life took a dramatic turn after completing his first (and as it turns out, only) season as a member of the WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints in 1972-73. He felt a yearning in his heart to leave what seemed like a dream life as a professional athlete and focus his attention on God's kingdom. Given his passionate testimony on that November morning back in 1985, Frank's calling was no accident. And even though Frank decided to fully devote his life to Christ, he conceded that life wasn't without its hardships. I'll fully admit that some of the proverbial stone around my heart began to crack as Frank spoke of how he and his wife Kathy endured the ultimate nightmare of burying a child. And while such a devastation may have served to derail the faith of some, Frank surged ahead in his ministry, continually preaching some of the more fiery and inspirational sermons I've heard still to this day.

Standing 6'3", weighing nearly 300 lbs. and possessing a booming voice, Frank is one of the more imposing figures you'll ever see, especially when he preaches. Whenever I shake his hand, my whole hand, wrist and part of my forearm disappear. But in spite of his seemingly intimidating stature, I personally came to know Frank as a "gentle giant." While in the throes of a broken engagement in 1992, I sought out Frank as someone who would provide me with a little guidance for what seemed like incurable anguish. The mere fact he was willing to listen meant more to me than he'll ever know.

About ten years ago, Frank was tabbed to be Pastor of Spirit of Life Bible Church, then a fledgling congregation in Woodbury. Even though he was working a full time job as well as staying active in coaching hockey, Frank took on this role with the same passionate intensity he displayed in all other aspects of his life.

I recall my wife and I visiting Spirit of Life about a year after the church got started. At one point during his sermon, Frank, whom I had not seen in a couple of years at the time, literally stopped in the middle of his message when he saw I was in the crowd. It was just a quick acknowledgment of how he was glad to see me. About four years later, my wife and I were leaving the Woodbury Chili's after having lunch with some friends. As it so happened, Frank and his family were dining there as well. As Jen and I were chatting with our friends in the parking lot, I heard this booming voice call out to me. Yes it was Frank, who took a couple of minutes away from his family to say hello and find out what was going on in our lives. All that may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but it meant a lot to me.

I share all that to give just a small insight into the man who is Frank Sanders: A kind, compassionate and faithful person who does so much without thinking (nor caring) about what's in it for him.

As such, I was saddened to learn from Frank's daughter Jennifer that this latest fight he's engaging in will be more formidable than any of the opposing hockey players he took out back in the day.

I first heard the sobering news last Sunday.

Last evening Dad and Mom told our church family the devastating news about Dad's cancer. We are so thankful for the support we have received from our church family, friends, and relatives - both local and across the nation - we sincerely appreciate your words of encouragement and supportive prayers.

Dad looks a little better today - he gets easily tired, but remains as stubborn as always. He insists we will fight this disease with all that we have in us. And he is adamant that he will continue to preach as long as he possibly can. We are believing for a miracle and remain optimistic - Dad keeps repeating the scripture in Philippians - 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me'.

At this point we don't have any updates as far as what route we are taking with his treatment. We will contact Mayo tomorrow and will most likely bring him in early this week for the game plan.

The church is starting 24 hour prayer and fasting so each hour there will be someone praying and fasting for Dad's healing.

Dad feels that we can use this health challenge as a catalyst to bring our family and the many, many friends we have from all walks of life and different backgrounds together in united prayer - the way the church body should be. And while I agree it is a definite catalyst to promote prayer, I just wish God had chosen something and someone else to be that catalyst.

So... here we go...

Our family has set up this site to allow updates to get to as many people as possible. We will do our best to keep you informed of Dad's progress.

Again, thank you for your prayers

I don't think it's a stretch to say that there are prayers for Frank Sanders going on worldwide. And if he takes on pancreatic cancer like he did opposing hockey players, I'm liking Frank's odds --- especially with our Heavenly Father by his side.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Connect the dots

I just heard about this incident last night. A lot of unanswered questions to be sure.

A shootout in front of a Walmart in Washington state left two people dead and two sheriff's deputies wounded Sunday afternoon, a sheriff's spokesman said.

One of the dead was a man who shot at deputies, said Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office. The other victim was a young woman who died after she was taken to a Tacoma hospital, he said.

Tacoma police said the deputies were both shot in the torso and were in satisfactory condition. They were being kept overnight at Tacoma General Hospital.

Details were still sketchy Sunday night, but the sheriff's office received a call about a suspicious person at the store in Port Orchard, Wilson said. The man ran and started shooting when three deputies tried to talk to him, he said.

Sure, details are sketchy, but connecting the dots and outlandish assertions are all the rage these days.

Nearly two years ago, The United Food and Commercial Workers made attempts to strong arm Walmart employees into joining their union. The insinuation being that the dastardly Walmart Corporation was not treating its employees fairly. Nothing like "union protection" to rectify that.

A few years before that, Breck Girl former Democrat VP candidate John Edwards began the drumbeat of how Walmart woefully underpays its workers. He made further attempts to increase peoples' ire by saying their "tax dollars are going to provide housing and food stamps for Wal-Mart employees,"

So if we were to use the logic applied to the Tucson, AZ shootings, the angry verbiage used by labor unions and John Edwards regarding Walmart's method of running their business stirred up angry emotions. No doubt the shooter in this case was a product of the hateful climate conjured up by Edwards and his ilk.

Therefore he's not accountable for his actions.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Olbermann ousted

Keith Olbermann getting the gas pipe from MSNBC should come as no surprise. While Olbermann should have been fired long ago on merit, I suspect this is a business decision. In the seven-plus years Olby hosted his prime time news show Countdown, he made only a minuscule dent in the ratings of his chief competition (Bill O'Reilly of Fox News Channel) for the 7:00 Central time slot.

As such, O'Reilly, was often the target of Olbermann's invective. In fact, the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck were also caught in his veritable cross-hairs (Yeah, you know what you can do with that "new tone"). Imagine how much more pathetic Olby's ratings would have been had he not been such a grubby little parasite by constantly invoking the names which made liberals froth.

Alas, I am not here to whiz on Olbermann's grave. After all, his departure means it will be conservative bloggers who will feel the biggest loss (myself included). Olby's unhinged and incoherent leftist screeds served as a valuable reminder that liberalism is indeed a mental disorder.

One of the finest moments of Olby's career was not even delivered by Keith himself. Ben Affleck's portrayal of Olbermann on Saturday Night Live a couple of years ago was utterly hilarious and I daresay not too far fetched.

Perhaps Keith could go back to sports broadcasting. Not to say he was great there, either. But he sucked less.


Rhetoric redux

Look, we all know that the political liberals' call for civil discourse in light of the Tucson, AZ shootings is little more than...well....empty rhetoric.

But since the Obama administration set the standard of never wasting a good crisis, why not use the assassination attempt on a Democrat politician as a cudgel to silence your political opposition? Never mind there is ZERO evidence that anything Tea Party politicians and their supporters said actually incited the gunman. As long as the left has willing accomplices in the mainstream media, the Goebbels-esque method of telling a lie enough times to where others actually believe it may indeed serve the purpose of invalidating a political philosophy they hate.

Yes, I'm well aware that the reference to Nazi Joseph Goebbels is probably over the top, especially when we're supposed to embrace this new era of civility.

But as Charles Krauthammer notes, this supposed plea for a new tone is an argument littered with double standards.

It's a continuation, what we heard from Cohen and Jackson Lee is a continuation of the liberal hypocrisy on this.

The worst in uncivil discourse that we have had in the last decade occurred in the Bush years when the President was vilified, attacked, he was demonized, compared to Nazis. He was called Hitler. There was an article in the New Republic, a leading liberal magazine, which began, it was by an editor, "I hate George Bush. There I've said it" closed quote.

Lest we forget, about four years ago there was an actual film depicting the assassination of a President. But not just any President, mind you. Rather a kook fringe liberal fantasy fictitious account of killing the sitting Commander in Chief, George W. Bush.

And shortly after the Iraq war began in early 2003, anti war protesters on a regular basis marched down streets all across this country displaying some of the most vile caricatures of those associated with the Bush administration.

Naturally one would have an inclination to write off those aforementioned examples as extremism and thus not indicative of Democrat party leadership. Except I don't recall any outrage from those who are now pleading for civility when 4-5 years ago some incendiary statements were made by a certain high profile Democrat.

Such as....

I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for...

Or how about flippantly accusing political opponents of racism? Has that ever been considered proper discourse?

"You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room? Only if they had hotel staff in here."

Yes, those statement were made by one Howard Dean, who was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Again, I don't recall any Democrats or mainstream media members distancing themselves from such talk. As such, they shouldn't be taken aback when their current cries for civility are brushed aside.


2010 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship games

Green Bay Packers (-3) at Chicago Bears: The longest standing rivalry in the NFL faces off for a berth in the Super Bowl. How storied are these franchises? The NFC champion receives the George Halas trophy (named for the legendary Bears owner) and moves on to the Super Bowl, where the winner will hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy (named for the legendary Packers coach).

In the nearly 90 years these two have been rivals, the Bears hold the edge in the series with an all-time record of 92-83-6. Yet despite the longevity of these franchises, they have only met once in the playoffs. Exactly one week after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bears defeated the Pack 33-14.

It would be easy to say that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will not replicate his incredible performance last week against the Atlanta Falcons. Of course, if Rodgers ends up being merely great against the Bears on Sunday, that's quite a step down from “masterful”, which he was against Atlanta. Some observers believe that Rodgers has overcome the specter of Brett Favre with his clutch performances over the past month. But in the cruel world of NFL lore, that is simply not the case unless Rodgers leads the Packers to a Super Bowl win.

Despite his great performance last week in a win over the Seattle Seahawks, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler still has his doubters. But his first playoff game since he was in high school showed that he was not intimidated by his circumstances. And while Culter needs to play well for the Bears to win this week, I believe he will need a lot of help from his running game to make it happen. Matt Forte had a nice game in the season finale at Green Bay (15 carries, 91 yards), but it was all for naught because of two costly Cutler interceptions deep in Bears territory.

Even though the Bears' playoff position was solidified, they were all in against the Pack in week 17, but still came up short in a hard fought 10-3 loss. Earlier in the season, the Bears were the beneficiary of 18 Green Bay penalties in a last second 20-17 win. So if the two regular season matchups are any indication, this battle for the NFC championship should be epic.
Green Bay 21 Chicago 17

New York Jets (+3) at Pittsburgh Steelers: Matt Ryan. Aaron Rodgers. Matt Cassel. Carson Palmer. Matt Schaub. Jay Cutler. Tony Romo. Josh Freeman. Alex Smith. Matthew Stafford. Sam Bradford. All fine quarterbacks, yes? Would you believe that the Jets' Mark Sanchez now has as many playoff victories as those other QBs combined? It's true! Despite not putting together the most eye-popping statistics in his two years with the Jets, Sanchez has embraced his role as a “game manager” and has taken advantage of his club's has a stellar defense. Face it. There aren't a lot quarterbacks in the modern day NFL who have led their clubs to the conference championship game in their first two seasons. One of the few exceptions would be Ben Roethlisberger, who happens to be the opposing QB in this game.

Roethlisberger is in his seventh season as the Steelers' signal caller but will be playing in his fourth AFC title game. Of the four quarterbacks remaining this postseason, Big Ben is the one guy I would want running my offense with the game hanging in the balance. He could be utterly inept for 3 ½ quarters, but everything suddenly comes together when the Steelers need that one big drive.

I don't believe either team will be able to run the ball effectively, so it comes down to the passing game. Because of Roethlisberger, the Steelers will prevail in what I anticipate will be a tight knit ball game.
Pittsburgh 17 New York 13

Postseason Record:
Straight Up: 3-5
Against the Spread: 3-5


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Unemployed, not uninspired

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
-1 Peter 5:7 (New Living Translation)

I am officially in my seventh week of unemployment. I'm not overly concerned, as I received 10 weeks worth of salary upon departure from my last company. Currently I have two different consulting firms who are willing to utilize my Accounting/Finance services for their corporate clients. Unfortunately, nothing has panned out as yet regarding assignments. I anticipate something will crop up within the next week or two, but there are certainly no guarantees.

Human nature would dictate that I should be concerned, dare I say even worried. But it's situations like this where I am really clinging to God's promises of keeping focus on Him and He'll provide our every need. Matthew 6:33 says Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

I'm to the point now where I am actually embracing the process of uncertainty. While I could still cling to the animosity I felt the final several weeks at my last job, I have chosen to focus on how faith will prevail once more.

I have yet to be disappointed whenever I've called on the assistance of my Heavenly Father.


Friday, January 14, 2011

2010 NFL Playoffs: Divisional round predictions

All four contests are a rematch of regular season matchups, including both AFC games pitting bitter division rivals. Last weekend was a blast if you're an NFL fan, as three of the four wildcard games came down to the final minute.

What we do know for sure is we will have a new Super Bowl matchup as both participants from SB XLIV (Saints and Colts) were eliminated last weekend. Personally, that seems to be par for the course for me in that I predicted New Orleans to repeat as champs. In fact I was 0 for 4 in my prognostications last weekend, causing fans of teams still alive to respectfully request I not pick their favorite squad.

So with apologies to certain NFL fans, here are this week's predictions:

Baltimore Ravens (+3 ½) at Pittsburgh Steelers: There isn't a lot of mystery amongst these division rivals, as they will face off for the eighth time in the past three years. This season, the road team won both contests, with both games being decided by three points. One caveat is that Baltimore's late 17-14 win in Week 4 was against a Steelers team without QB Ben Roethlisberger.

In my opinion, you can pretty much throw stats out the window in this game. When you have such a hard-nosed rivalry as this, it comes down to execution. I believe Roethlisberger will fare better against the Ravens defense than will Baltimore QB Joe Flacco taking on the vaunted Steelers D. I expect the Steelers will put the nail in it late with a pick six, like they did in the 2008 AFC title game versus Baltimore.
Pittsburgh 24 Baltimore 16

Green Bay Packers (+2 ½) at Atlanta Falcons: In the three seasons Matt Ryan has been the Falcons quarterback, Atlanta is 20-4 at home. One of those wins came against Green Bay in Week 12 by a score of 20-17. However, I felt the Pack clearly outplayed Atlanta on that day but could not overcome two missed opportunities to score touchdowns. A first quarter drive got them inside Atlanta's 5-yard line but only yielded a field goal. Later on, Aaron Rodgers fumbled inside the one-yard line, which cost Green Bay another TD.

The Packers defense has been outstanding in three consecutive must win games and I believe they will hold the Atlanta passing game in check. However, they cannot allow bruising RB Michael Turner to rush for more than 100 yards, like he did Week 12. I believe Rodgers will continue his stellar play. So the question remains is will unheralded Packers RB James Starks put up a similar performance to the 123 yards he gained last weekend at Philly? If so, the Pack wins handily. While the Atlanta Falcons are a nice story, their defense is pretty ordinary and that won't be good enough this game.
Green Bay 27 Atlanta 21

Seattle Seahawks (+10) at Chicago Bears: Seattle won the regular season meeting in Week six at Chicago, 23-20. In that game, Bears QB Jay Cutler was sacked six times as his offensive line was in the midst of its worst stretch of play. And while the Bears O-line still isn't a brick wall, it has steadily improved over the past month of the season.

If recent history is any indication, the Bears might be in trouble. Since 2003, first-time starting quarterbacks are 5-20 in the playoffs. This will be Cutler's first playoff game, so it will be interesting to see how he fares. I believe he'll have enough to overcome a porous Seahawks defense. Meanwhile, I don't see the Seattle offense having a lot of success against a tough Bears defense, especially in what is sure to be frigid conditions at Soldier Field.
Chicago 31 Seattle 17

New York Jets (+9) at New England Patriots: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Patriots will not win by 42, like they did vs. the Jets on a Monday night six weeks ago.

I'm still utterly amazed how the Pats won 14 regular season games without any real superstars on that team other than QB Tom Brady. And that is the issue which faces the Jets defense in that there is not one key receiver or running back they can take away and thus hamper New England's offensive production. In my mind, the only chance the Jets have is if Mark Sanchez has a career game. The Pats defense ranks near the bottom of the NFL in yards allowed, so they can be had. However, I just don't have much faith that Sanchez is the guy to make them pay.
New England 28 New York 14

Postseason record:
Straight up: 0-4
Against the Spread: 0-4


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ted's not-so-excellent adventure

Like many Americans, I love a good comeback story. As such, I enjoyed the discovery of Ted Williams, the homeless man from Columbus, OH who possesses what has been described as a "golden voice."

You've seen the video. A Columbus Dispatch writer heard of Williams' incredible vocal skill and decided to track him down for a sample of that radio voice.

In less than a week, Williams was barraged with job offers and media requests. During his appearances on each of the three major networks' early morning talk shows, Williams spoke of how his once promising radio career foundered in the early '90s due to drug and alcohol abuse. As a result, he acquired a lengthy rap sheet due to such crimes as forgery, misdemeanor theft, breaking and entering, etc.

One of the more curious parts of the story was how Williams insisted he had been clean and sober for two years despite his living on the streets. This was the aspect of the story which I was most skeptical. Such addictions are extremely difficult to overcome upon entering a rehabilitation facility, much less while one is still confined to living on the streets.

Unfortunately, within less than two weeks of Williams' meteoric rise to stardom, his road to redemption has taken a detour.

Golden-voiced Ohio homeless man-turned-celeb Ted Williams, 53, is on his way to rehab.

During a taping of the Dr. Phil Show today in Los Angeles, Ted Williams -- with his family's support -- said he has decided to enter a private rehabilitation treatment facility for his alcohol and drug dependency, a show spokeswoman says. Williams came to the conclusion following a lengthy one-on-one conversation with Dr. Phil, which will air tomorrow.

According to the show, the decision was made due in part to Williams' strange behavior over the past several days, which culminated in a physical altercation with one of his daughters at a Hollywood hotel. He was briefly detained by police and later released.

Williams' ex-wife Patricia and five family members also appear on Thursday's episode to share their version of the incident and why they feel Williams is ill-equipped to handle his sudden fame. Although Williams had claimed that he was sober for more than two years, he admitted to Dr. Phil that was not the case. He has been drinking daily.

When Williams was hired on last week to fulfill several voice-over jobs, he was immediately taken off the streets and given a mortgage for a home. While that had to be a welcome change, his chemical dependency problems weren't going to go away. If anything, having a stable (and quite possibly substantial) income would seem to only exacerbate said problems.

The good news is now that Williams has employment and a home, he is able to give undivided attention to overcoming his addictions. While Williams was homeless (and therefore penniless), his top priority on a daily basis was obtaining food to eat and a warm place to sleep. Overcoming potentially crippling addictions was, in all likelihood, not met with the same sense of urgency.

This doesn't have to be the end of Williams' comeback story. But there's no question he's got a long road ahead, like any recovering alcoholic. The difference here is Williams may be doing so under an intensely hot public spotlight.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Leftist exploitation on the local level

As I mentioned in my post Sunday, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty once found himself a victim of overzealous lefties exploiting a tragedy for political gain.

Appearing Monday on a radio talk show called The Grandy Group, Pawlenty recalled what he dealt with in the aftermath of the I-35W bridge collapse, which occurred in August 2007.


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Myriad Emotions

Not since the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil 9/11/2001 have I been more glued to the television in the aftermath of a tragic event than I was yesterday.

Granted, the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and approximately 17 others in Tucson, AZ yesterday was on a much smaller scale than 9/11 in terms of fatalities (as I write this, six have died). Nevertheless, the senselessness of this horrific act is what had many Americans shaken to their core.

Within an hour after a lone gunman (later identified as 22-year old Jared Loughner) was apprehended, talking heads on the various TV news outlets began to speculate as to the shooter's motive. Since it was an elected official who was amongst those critically wounded, the media's inclination was to pore over Rep. Giffords' voting record in an effort to surmise an answer. Some folks on Twitter strenuously objected to such reporting, preferring that law enforcement be left to perform their due diligence and thus ascertain Loughner's motive. I recall making the remark that at least some in the mainstream media were actually going so far as to examine Rep. Giffords' voting record as opposed to their usual knee-jerk reaction in blaming the Tea Party movement.

Ah, but I wasn't on Twitter for more than an hour when I saw posts from political leftists indicating that they had become even more unhinged than usual. We'll get back to that.

My initial reaction was utter shock upon hearing an elected official had been shot at a Tucson grocery store. I wondered if it was simply a case of Rep. Giffords running some personal weekend errands and thus was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Turns out, she regularly made herself available to constituents in venues she liked to call "Congress on Your Corner." In fact, just moments prior to her being shot, Rep. Giffords sent out a "tweet" promoting the event.

As reports surfaced that some of the shooting victims had suffered fatal wounds, my emotions turned to sorrow. I began to grieve (then subsequently pray) for the six families who lost a loved one so suddenly and unexpectedly. Not the least of which was the family of 9-year old Christina-Taylor Green, who was actually born on 9/11/2001. Somehow, Christina-Taylor's mother Roxanna was able to compose herself long enough to graciously conduct an interview on Fox News less than 24 hours after her little girl's shocking death.

By the time late afternoon/early evening rolled around, I found myself quite angry at how soulless some people appear to be during such a tragic event. While I'm not suggesting that a gag order be placed on those who choose to assign blame for this horrific act then ask questions later (if at all), I was hoping for a little dignity and decorum while answers were sought by the appropriate authorities. Alas, when one is dealing with a fair amount (not ALL, but A FAIR AMOUNT) of those who align themselves with the political left, one's expectation of the left having the ability to show restraint is far too optimistic.

As is standard fare with many leftists, the likes of Sarah Palin and those associated with the Tea Party become the favorite target to be scapegoated when a violent incident occurs (see: Times Square Bomber and Bill Sparkman). It's almost as if Jared Loughner bares no responsibility in his firing several rounds of ammunition into a crowd, resulting in the deaths of six people and wounding 12 others. No, it's the ever available "climate of hate" created by the likes of Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. That triumvirate are the true culprits.

I could literally (and I do mean literally) post hundred of "tweets" from leftists showing the utter sick and twisted rationale for Loughner doing what he did as well as who should be held most accountable.

To wit, someone named Scott Weinberg insinuated that the shooting of Rep. Giffords isn't totally without a serendipity.

This murder will probably destroy Palin's insipid political career, thereby saving thousands of lives. Which makes Ms. Giffords a martyr.

Yes, I'm sure that would be modicum of solace to Ms. Giffords' family, if she indeed passes on. I wonder if Mr. Weinberg works for Hallmark greeting cards. He's a natural at providing sympathy.

How about a blast from the past with perhaps America's favorite 1960's high profile activist. Yes, Jane Fonda (aka "Hanoi Jane") came out of hiding to join the slander festivities. How about this little gem:

(Sarah Palin) holds responsibility. As does the violence-provoking rhetoric of the Tea Party

Say, didn't Jane convert to Christianity about 10 years ago? Seems to me that if a conservative Christian made such a slanderous remark towards a liberal, Bill Maher and his anti-Christian ilk would be vehemently finger-wagging at this point, joined by outcries of "HYPOCRISY." I guess Jane gets a pass as long as she walks the leftist demagoguery line.

I digress.

And if that's not enough lunacy for you, merely check out the Twitter feed of conservative talking head Andrew Breitbart over the past 30+ hours. He attracts leftist nutbags by the cargo load.

Not be outdone (and never one to waste a good crisis), the perpetually deranged Keith Olbermann decided to air a special episode of his program Countdown on Saturday evening. He merely continued with the leftist drumbeat of blaming Palin et al, declaring they're "Slightly less madmen" than Loughner himself.

As the day wore on, we began to learn more about Jared Loughner the individual. While a former college classmate of his described Loughner as "left wing, quite liberal", his own You Tube page indicated a strange obsession with grammar and the currency system. It appeared to be ramblings of someone who is mentally ill more than anything. Not to mention his preference for such light reading as The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf.

Once again, it would be wayyyy too optimistic of me to have expected any retractions from the political lefties who were so quick to assign blame with little to no facts about the incident. For those who live in Minnesota, this would be eerily reminiscent of the commentary given shortly after the I-35W bridge collapse in August 2007. Local lefty media hacks like WCCO-TV's Don Shelby and Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman were quick to point out that Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto of a gasoline tax left little funding for infrastructure repair. As a result, the bridge collapsed due to lack of repair and maintenance. Lest we forget, these observations were made literally within hours after the incident. Within the week, leftist talking heads and politicians blamed President Bush and his war in Iraq for sucking up all our money, once again leaving nothing for highway repairs. So when Federal bridge inspectors later determined a "design flaw" was the main reason for the bridge collapse, I heard nary a retraction from the likes of Shelby, Coleman and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

I'd like to think I'm not naive in believing that our citizenry can be unified as a compassionate group when some of our fellow Americans are senselessly harmed. I saw firsthand how that was the case within hours of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Sadly, as I witnessed yesterday, the separation of the "wheat and the chaff" has become that much more apparent in recent years.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

AZ Congresswoman shot (UPDATE: Five have now died; UPDATE II: Gunman indentified.)

Since about 1:00 today, I have been glued to the television after reports of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) being shot during a meeting with constituents in Tucson.

As of this moment, Arizona news station KOLD-TV is reporting that Giffords remains in surgery but HAS NOT been declared dead. At least eleven others were shot as well, with four fatalities. The gunman, apparently in his late teens/early 20s, is in custody.

I'm to the point now where I am choosing not to read any blogs or watch TV coverage of this horrific tragedy. The reason being is the rampant speculation as to the gunman's motive. One particular news outlet even pored over Rep. Giffords' voting record in an effort to surmise motive. I think it's best to leave determination of motive to law enforcement, doncha think? There was also some demagoguery in the comment section of my favorite center-right blogs referring to an incident where Rep. Giffords' office was vandalized due to her support for health care reform. I think you can guess what this person was insinuating.

My wife and I at this moment choose to offer prayers to the families of the shooting victims.

UPDATE: KOLD-TV in Arizona now reporting five people have now died as a result of shooting.

UPDATE II: Gunman identified as 22-year old Jared Loughner. Little else is known about his background, motive, etc.

Some insight might be ascertained via his You Tube page.


Friday, January 07, 2011

2010 NFL Playoffs: Wildcard predictions

New Orleans Saints (-10 ½) at Seattle Seahawks: I'm sure the Saints players and coaches will stick with the politically correct jargon of how “Seattle is tough at home” and “any given Sunday” blah, blah. But let's face it: Drew Brees leading the high powered Saints offense against the 27th ranked defense in the NFL is a matchup which certainly has New Orleans licking their proverbial chops.

This game will feature the first team in NFL history to fashion a losing record in the regular season (Seattle finished 7-9). However, the Seahawks will not attain another first, which is a losing team winning a playoff game.
New Orleans 34 Seattle 17

New York Jets (+3) at Indianapolis Colts: This intriguing matchup is a rematch of last season's AFC title game, a 30-17 win for Indy. Last season the Jets (9-7 in 2009) were a surprise entrant in the playoffs while the Colts were pretty much dubbed the best team in the NFL with their gaudy 14-2 record. This season, both teams endured hiccups which called in to question their viability as Super Bowl contenders.

After a 9-2 start, the Jets lost 3 of their next 4 with their vaunted defense looking very vulnerable. And the Colts were a mere 6-6 after 12 games, including a three-game losing streak. In said losing streak, QB Peyton Manning showed unprecedented futility by throwing 11 interceptions, including four returned for touchdowns. But Manning proved he is still clutch with 9 TD passes and only two picks as the Colts won four in a row to end the season. It's still very clear that as Peyton goes, so go the Colts. That is why the Jets must pound LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene down the collective throat of the Indianapolis defense in an effort to keep Manning off the field. It wouldn't hurt either if the Jets could rely a little more on their second year QB Mark Sanchez. Alas......
Indianapolis 24 New York 17

Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Kansas City Chiefs: For the first time since 2006, the Chiefs are in the postseason. Meanwhile, it's been an embarrassment of riches for third year Ravens QB Joe Flacco, who has made the playoffs each season of his career, including the AFC title game as a rookie in 2008.

The matchup I'm most intrigued by is the NFL's second leading rusher (KC's Jamaal Charles) versus the Ravens stingy run defense, which allowed less than four yards per carry. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel has quietly put together an excellent season, as he was the eighth leading passer in the NFL. His favorite target is WR Dwayne Bowe, who led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 15. This potent combo will have their opportunities against the Ravens' 21st ranked pass defense. The Ravens will counter with Ray Rice, their Marshall Faulk-esque running back who compiled nearly 1,800 all-purpose yards. Hard to believe that a game featuring the Baltimore Ravens could possibly turn into a shootout.
Kansas City 28 Baltimore 27

Green Bay Packers (+2 ½) at Philadelphia Eagles: This is a rematch of Week 1, a 27-20 win for the Pack in Philly. In that contest, Kevin Kolb started at QB for the Eagles but left at halftime with a concussion. Enter Michael Vick, who torched the Pack with 103 yards rushing, 175 yards passing and one TD toss. But that seems like a lifetime ago, as the Green Bay defense has stiffened in two must win games in Weeks 16 & 17.

Two weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings unveiled a game plan to slow down Vick by successfully barraging him with blitzes. This plays right into the Packers' hands, as their defense ranks second in the NFL with 47 sacks. However, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (1,080 yards rushing in the regular season) will be a key factor in an effort to keep the Green Bay defense off balance. This could prove to be an effective game plan since the Packers ranked near the bottom in run defense, allowing 4.7 yards per carry. Aaron Rodgers is making only his second career playoff start but essentially played in two “one and done” games to end the regular season. Unfortunately for Rodgers & Co., they have little running game to balance their offense. To me, that will be the difference.
Philadelphia 27 Green Bay 24


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Blyleven is in By '11 !!!!

Congratulations to Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven!

In his 14th year of eligibility, Blyleven was officially inducted into the Hall!


Blyleven in '11

Today is the day where the Baseball Writers' Association of America cast their annual ballots for players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The official announcement naming the new inductees will be take place today at 1:00 CT.

In his 14th year of eligibility, former Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven looks to finally break through and take his well deserved place in Cooperstown. And while it's a travesty that it's taken this long for Blyleven to inducted into the Hall of Fame, I'm quite certain he'll have forgotten all of the previous snubs upon receiving the phone call that he has made it.

From a sheer numbers standpoint, it's hard to argue that Bert definitely belongs.

-Has 287 career wins, which is 27th all time. Bobby Matthews (297 wins) and Tommy John (288) are the only Hall of Fame eligible players ahead of Blyleven who have not been enshrined. In fact, the players ranked 28th (Robin Roberts) and 29th (Ferguson Jenkins) in all-time victories are also in the Hall.

-Is fifth all time in career strikeouts with 3,701. Ahead of him are Nolan Ryan (Hall of Famer), Randy Johnson (not yet Hall eligible but shoe-in for the HOF with 303 wins as well), Roger Clemens (sure Hall of Famer until the steroids allegations) and Steve Carlton (Hall of Famer). Six of the seven players following Blyleven on the all-time strikeouts list are also in. The only one who isn't is Greg Maddux, who will certainly be a first ballot selection upon eligibility in 2014.

-Is ninth all time in career shutouts with 60. The eight players ahead of him are all Hall of Famers. In fact, thirteen players immediately behind Blyleven on the career shutouts list are also in the Hall.

-Is fourteenth all time in innings pitched with 4,970. Twelve of the thirteen players ahead of him are in the Hall. The only one who isn’t? Maddux, who, again, is not eligible until 2014.

-Was a key member of two World Series winning teams (1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1987 Minnesota Twins). In those two series (covering four appearances) he was 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA.

Now if the BBWAA would just vote in Jack Morris..........


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Quick Hits: Volume XXI

-On Monday, Mark Dayton was officially sworn in as Minnesota's 40th Governor. As expected, his ensuing inaugural speech was little more than platitudes and vapid talking points. My pal Mark Heuring gave his two cents on a couple aspects of the speech.

Personally, the following text stood out (emphasis mine).

My top priority is to get Minnesotans working again. The 208,000 who are unemployed. The thousands more who are underemployed, stuck in low-paying dead-end jobs. Whose economic security is shattered. Whose hope for a better future is threatened.

Their futures are also our futures. As our great United States Senator Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better, when we all do better.”

Translation: Take from the producers and give to the non-producers. Make the "rich" pay their fair share.

By the way, don't ya love how every Minnesota liberal politician invokes the name of the late Paul Wellstone, as if he's some sort of gold standard? Current Senator Al Franken, another electoral embarrassment, pulled that same stunt upon his assuming office.

-One of the first things I do in the morning is go on the internet to check the local temperature. As I logged into the Strib online, the temp read Zero degrees. So when my wife came downstairs and asked me for the temperature, I merely told her "there isn't one."

-While browsing the Strib this morning, I also came across a story where a Christian organization is convinced very soon it will be (with apologies to R.E.M.) the end of the world as we know it.

If there had been time, Marie Exley would have liked to start a family. Instead, the 32-year-old Army veteran has less than six months left, which she'll spend spreading a stark warning: Judgment Day is almost here.

Exley is part of a movement of Christians loosely organized by radio broadcasts and websites, independent of churches and convinced by their reading of the Bible that the end of the world will begin May 21, 2011.

About 23 years ago, I read a book entitled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. Ms. Exley is welcome to borrow it if she is so inclined.

"A lot of people might think, 'The end's coming, let's go party,'" said Exley, a veteran of two deployments in Iraq. "But we're commanded by God to warn people. I wish I could just be like everybody else, but it's so much better to know that when the end comes, you'll be safe."

Speaking of party, May 21, 2011 happens to be the date when the fetching Mrs. Carlson celebrates a certain milestone birthday. As such, we have already scheduled a party for her on that very day. So if indeed Ms. Exley and her colleagues are correct, it goes without saying that there will be a change in venue for our planned soiree.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Quick thought on the NFL postseason

Yes, I am still fully engaged in the happenings of the NFL despite my Vikings having been eliminated from playoff contention around Columbus Day.

The Chicago Bears have had a great 2010 regular season by winning their division and attaining a first round bye in the playoffs. This was the exact same scenario which greeted the Bears in both 2001 and 2005. However, in both those seasons, Chicago was unceremoniously dumped in their first playoff game.

And I believe that same fate will greet the Bears again this season.

Gino? Mitch? Sorry.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

Quick Hits: Volume XX

Indeed I do, Sir.

My gal & I with Gov. Pawlenty at the 2004 MN State Fair

-Today is the last full day of the MN Gubernatorial reign of Tim Pawlenty. While Governor Pawlenty was not necessarily a conservative in the mold of Reagan, I admired his leadership and pragmatism as his administration spanned years which were both favorable and unfavorable to Republicans. And the fact he had to endure Democrat control in both the House and Senate since 2006 really brought out his exemplary leadership, as he held true to his mantra of not raising taxes, despite Democrats' reflexive desires to do so.

When Mark Dayton is sworn in as our next Governor, this is where the stark differences will come to light. I find it very difficult to fathom that a Governor Dayton will be able to withstand the onslaught of fiscally responsible budget proposals brought forth by the GOP majority in the House and Senate. But it'll be an interesting spectacle nonetheless!

-The NFL's investigation into the Brett Favre-Jenn Sterger saga from 2008 has come to a welcome conclusion. After an exhaustive probe into Favre, while a member of the New York Jets, allegedly sending inappropriate text messages to Sterger, the NFL found no forensic evidence of wrongdoing. However, Favre was still fined $50,000 for his "failure to cooperate" in the investigation.

Meanwhile, the New York Jets organization was fined $100,000 for the tripping incident involving Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi. In a game against the Miami Dolphins a few weeks ago, Alosi tripped Dolphins special teams player Nolan Carroll as he ran down the Jets sidelines during punt coverage.

So if we are to learn anything, if Favre had tripped Sterger rather than send her....uh..."junk mail", it would have cost him twice as much money.

-The New Orleans Saints will repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Yep, I said it!!


Saturday, January 01, 2011

End of an era

For the past 5-6 years, the Northern Alliance Radio Network has been a weekly staple in my life. Every Saturday, beginning in March 2004, a conglomerate of Twin Cities bloggers gathered together in a minuscule Eagan studio. Mitch Berg, a long-time radio vet who sort of quarterbacked the show in its early days, once told me they had about five guys in the studio at once with 2-3 others waiting outside.

Eventually, the NARN guys were given three two-hour segments from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm every Saturday, which meant all these great political minds were given ample opportunity to be on the air. As time went on, the 3-5 slot gave way to Sons of Liberty, leaving NARN with John Hinderaker and Brian Ward on the 11-1 time slot and Ed Morrissey and Mitch from 1-3.

But as I learned today, via Hinderaker himself, The First Team of the Northern Alliance Radio Network is now defunct.

We learned last week that the radio show Brian Ward and I host on AM 1280 the Patriot is coming to an end. The station has sold our 12-1 hour on Saturdays to someone who is willing to pay for the privilege of broadcasting. They are working on selling the 11-12 hour and expect to do so within the next few weeks. Apparently the amount the station can command by filling the time slot with infomercials exceeds the advertising revenue for our show, even though our ratings have been good. Very good, if you take into account our zero budget and the station's erratic signal, and add those who listen on the internet.

But that's how it goes. Our relationship with WWTC has always been a marriage of convenience; no money ever changed hands. Because they didn't pay us, the station never told us what to do. It's been a remarkable thing, over the last five or six years, to be able to commandeer a radio station for two hours a week to do whatever we wanted. I've often said that everyone should have a radio show.

I will definitely miss John and Brian, especially their weekly bits of "Loon of the Week" and "This Week in Gatekeeping." Both were very astute in the current events on the political scene while at the same time possessing the inherent ability to discuss lighter topics, including sports and pop culture. As such, it was one of my favorite two hours of radio on a weekly basis. Naturally I'm a bit biased since Brian turned to me on four occasions last year to fill in on their NARN broadcast. Sure, I had opportunities elsewhere to do talk radio prior to my stints on the NARN. But since I had gotten to know Mitch, Ed, King, Brian and Chad, and consider them all friends, it was extra special to be able to share the same airwaves with them. After all, I often relied on these guys for insights into some of the most vital political news, local and national.

But thanks to the power of the internet, I will still have that connection to John and Brian through their respective blogs. And it is my sincere hope I will continue to see them out and about at the various blogger gatherings.

Godspeed, guys!