Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Threescore and ten

I remember turning thirty years old. That particular milestone birthday didn't bother me in the least. In fact, when I hit the big 4-0 ten years later, I felt the best I ever had both physically and mentally.

But for some reason, my own mother turning 70 years old today really messes with my head. I guess it's because I remember vividly when she was my age, so it hardly seems possible that such a milestone b-day is here.

Anyhow, Happy Birthday Ma! Your eldest son loves you very much.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Out along the edges, always where I burn to be....

From 1:00 pm until 3:00 today, I'll be on the Northern Alliance Radio Network with another installment of The Closer.

Beginning at 1:15, I will welcome to the studio Dan "Doc" Severson, who is vying for the GOP endorsement to oppose Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Doc has a very intriguing background, having served 22 years in the Navy as a Top Gun fighter pilot in addition to four terms in the MN House of Representatives.

In the second hour, I'll discuss Michele Bachmann's announcement to seek a fourth term in Congress, the latest on the recall effort of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the President Obama-Governor Jan Brewer kerfuffle.

So please give us a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to weigh in on any of the topics I plan on addressing.

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.

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bachmann is back

I admit I was mildly surprised by this bit of news.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who dropped a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in January, will run for re-election to Congress in 2012, her campaign said Wednesday.

Bachmann's political future had been in question ever since she announced she was suspending her presidential campaign on January 4, the day after finishing sixth in the Iowa caucuses. Bachmann has represented Minnesota's sixth district since 2007, but gained an outsized profile in the last three years for her vocal support of the tea party movement and her presidential bid.

Bachmann's campaign spokesman, Guy Short, confirmed Wednesday she would seek reelection for her seat, noting there were "more details to come" on her official announcement.

As a resident Congressional District Six, I am thrilled that Bachmann is jumping into the race. She has been a strong and consistent voice for fiscal sanity, something that is sorely needed these days.

I said at the outset that I was mildly surprised by this, and there are a couple of reasons for that reaction. First, Bachmann gained significant national chops by being the GOP Presidential frontrunner during the Summer. As such, I wasn't certain she could humble herself and come back to CD6 after gaining such prominence on the national political stage only to fade after winning the Ames, IA straw poll. And since redistricting has yet to be finalized, there is some question as to whether her residence in Stillwater will even remain in the sixth.

The other aspect had to do with the 2010 election cycle, when Bachmann's detractors beat her over the head with the charge that she was frequently absent from her district, a criticism that was largely unfounded. However, there's no denying such a charge this time around as she spent ample time in 2011 on the Presidential campaign trail. Not to mention the fact she continually pointed out how proud she was to be an Iowan, having lived in the Waterloo area until she was thirteen. That's probably not the best method to galvanize support from your constituents in Minnesota.

Having said all that, Bachmann will have a significant advantage in fundraising over any Democrat opponent given that she did attain a national following while running for President. Combine that with the fact the she was one of the few GOP bright spots in the 2006 & 2008 elections (and won by her widest margin in 2010), it's pretty much a certainty that leftist PACs are not even going to bother targeting this district. My guess is the political demographics haven't changed that dramatically over the past couple of years in CD6, making it even more of a daunting task for a DFLer to knock off such a strong incumbent as Bachmann.

Now if Michele can just steer clear of the verbal missteps......


Monday, January 23, 2012

A phoenix rises in Arizona

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was seriously wounded in Tucson, AZ a little more than a year ago by crazed gunman Jared Loughner, is resigning her seat in Congress.

Citing the need to focus more on her recovery, Giffords will step down this week.

But before she walked away, Giffords took care of one more order of business on Monday morning. In a final act of service on behalf of her constituents, Rep. Giffords finished her "Congress On Your Corner" meeting which she was in the midst of fulfilling on that fateful Saturday morning a little more than twelve months ago.

Photo courtesy of Rep. Gabby Giffords' Twitter feed

Dignified, courageous and heroic to the end.

Godspeed, Rep. Giffords.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Although you're superior over me, we talk to each other in a friendship way....

Tune in to the Northern Alliance Radio Network this afternoon from 1:00 pm until 3:00 Central time as I will be on the air with this week's installment of The Closer. It's getting serious in the GOP Presidential primary, so we'll take a look back at the past week's events in South Carolina. We'll discuss Rick Perry dropping out and Newt Gingrich performing yet another flawless imitation of that beast in the Eagles song "Hotel California."

At 1:15, I will be joined via telephone by Hastings, MN native Ben Utecht. After a nice career as a Tight End for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team (2000-03), Ben went on to the NFL to play for the Indianapolis Colts (including the '06 season when they won the Super Bowl) and the Cincinnati Bengals. However, a severe concussion at Bengals training camp in 2009 effectively ended Utecht's NFL career, so he transitioned to another passion of his --- music.

We'll discuss his fledgling music career as well as his current musical tour with renown pianist Jim Brickman.

Then in the 2:00 hour I will welcome to the studio Joe Arwood, who is one of a handful of GOP candidates looking to oppose Sen. Amy Klobuchar to represent Minnesota in the US Senate.

We'll discuss Joe's personal background and get his insights on Klobuchar's stupefying support of SOPA and PIPA.

So please give us a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to weigh in on any of the topics I plan on addressing.

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.

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Saturday, January 21, 2012

2011 NFL Playoffs: Championship weekend

Baltimore Ravens (+7) at New England Patriots: I have thought about this matchup since the minute the Ravens closed out the Houston Texans on Sunday. To he honest, I've waffled back and forth about which team I feel will win. So instead of throwing around a bevy of stats (as is my wont), I'm just going with a gut instinct here.

I bet Pats coach Bill Belichick is still seething over the first round blowout he suffered at the hands of the Ravens two years ago. The resounding 33-14 win for Baltimore was the first home playoff loss suffered by Belichick as Patriots coach. If you know anything about coach hoodie, you know he has a tendency to internalize his bitterness and then regurgitate it vicariously through his team.

So with all that twisted logic, I say the Pats reach their fifth Super Bowl in eleven seasons.

New England 28 Baltimore 24

New York Giants (+2-1/2) at San Francisco 49ers: Once again, I will eschew any relevant stats pertaining to this matchup. The Giants calmly, collectively and methodically went into Lambeau Field Sunday and dismantled the 15-1 Green Bay Packers 37-20. The day before, in one of the more frantic and electrifying finishes in NFL playoff history, the 49ers scored a last second touchdown (culminating four TDs score by both teams in the final 4:02 of the game) to defeat the red hot New Orleans Saints 36-32.

The way I see it, the Giants have been in playoff mode each of the past three weeks and have that same vibe going as in 2007 when they won three road playoff games en route to defeating the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the 49ers may still be coming off that high that resulted from an exhilarating win over the Saints, so I wouldn't be shocked to see them come out a little flat.

The Giants, in my opinion, are the most balanced team in the playoffs right now and have that aura about them that they know it's their time. You know what? I believe it is, too.

New York 21 San Francisco 17

Postseason record
Straight up: 4-4-0
Against the Spread: 1-7-0


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quick Hits: Volume XLIX (Vapid Celebs edition)

-Actress Sophia Bush (no relation to you-know-who) is disaffected by the job performance of President Obama. But worse than that, she vows to join the ranks of Alec Baldwin, Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon by exiting the U.S. if a scurrilous Republican is elected President.

Said the actress, “I'm afraid for our country that people like this [current Republican candidates] could even be thought of as the president. I live in a country where I believe all men are created equal, not just wealthy white guys. I believe all men, all women, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic background, you deserve the same rights. If that's not where our country is going, then I'll leave. I don't need to live here. I'm out! I'll go to Canada, peace! See you later."

It's never a wise thing for a celebrity to make political statements because it's likely in many cases that fans of their movies/TV shows/music are of diverse political affiliations. Thus there's a risk of alienating a significant number of said devotees.

Yes, that kind of politically charged rhetoric is almost certain to have an adverse impact on DVD sales of such juggernauts as Chalet Girl and Table for Three.

-NFL reporters such as ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter and John Clayton along with NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora and Steve Wyche are some of the best in the business when it comes to breaking the latest news in pro football.

But can we now add actor Rob Lowe to that list? Lowe tweeted the following Wednesday afternoon:

Hearing my fave, #18 Peyton Manning will not return to #NFL. Wow.

When asked by Mortensen to respond to Lowe's tweet, Manning's father Archie laughed at the report and subsequently dismissed it.

I too am very skeptical of Lowe's "report", so much so that I will sit through the entire two hours of the Lowe movie Square Dance if I'm wrong.

-On September 11, 2001, actor Mark Wahlberg was scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11. However, at the last minute, he decided to rearrange his schedule to attend a film festival in Toronto. As it turned out, Flight 11 was the first of two commercial airliners to crash into the World Trade Center in New York.

In the 10+ years since he cheated death, Wahlberg hasn't spoken much about that fateful day until recently in an interview he gave in the latest issue of Men's Journal.

“If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’”

After significant backlash over those comments, Wahlberg issued an apology.

"To speculate about such a situation is ridiculous to begin with, and to suggest I would have done anything differently than the passengers on that plane was irresponsible. I deeply apologize to the families of the victims that my answer came off as insensitive, it was certainly not my intention," Wahlberg said in a statement.

Someone made the comment that Wahlberg taking out a few terrorists wouldn't be all that implausible due to the fact he wiped out an entire movie theater that was playing his latest film Contraband.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Quick Hits: Volume XLVIII (GOP Presidential Candidates edition)

-Of the seven GOP Presidential candidates who participated in the Iowa caucuses a couple of weeks ago, nearly all have had their turn as "flavor of the week/month" with the exception of one. So it's no surprise what took place Monday morning.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman withdrew from the Republican presidential race Monday and endorsed front-runner Mitt Romney, while a supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for him to also drop out for the sake of conservative unity.

"Our campaign for the presidency ends, but our campaign for a (better) American continues," Huntsman declared. "I believe it is now time for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat Barack Obama. Despite our differences and the space between us on some of the issues, I believe that candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney."

Many have said that Huntsman's biggest downfall was he denied his conservative credentials in an effort to draw in more moderate Republicans and even some Democrats who have become disaffected by the Obama presidency. Unfortunately for Huntsman, this strategy backfired miserably, as he rarely (if ever) registered above single digits in any of the polls.

I guess it should come as no surprise that Huntsman chose to drop out right after the New Hampshire primary results had him finishing a distant third behind Romney and Ron Paul. If he truly had any appeal with the block of supporters he was targeting, it would have been apparent in New Hampshire. You see NH is an open primary state where Independents and Democrats were allowed to vote. Having finished nearly 24 points behind Romney, Huntsman either didn't sway as many non-conservatives/non-Republicans as he had hoped or they simply didn't turn out.

So long, Governor Huntsman. We hardly knew ye.

-Star Tribune political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger asked the following question via Twitter on Monday:

Pawlenty back in the "veepstakes" speculation. Do you think he belongs there?

My answer was "No", for the simple reason that (assuming Romney is the GOP nominee) there needs to be a VP candidate which energizes the conservative base. Romney himself certainly isn't that candidate, so his running mate will have to have that draw.

Personally, I believe Marco Rubio is the most viable (and obvious) option, for the reasons Mike Huckabee recently laid out in a Newsmax interview.

“I think Marco Rubio is the much stronger candidate, mainly because Mitt needs to balance himself geographically. Florida is going to be a very key swing state,” said Huckabee, who noted that Romney has not asked for his advice on a running mate.

“If he could get Rubio on the ticket, you’ve got a person with great ties to the Hispanic community, an amazing communicator, a terrific leader, a Floridian and someone who has impeccable values voter credentials with the pro-life and pro-family crowd,” Huckabee said.

Lest we forget that 2008 GOP candidate John McCain received a lukewarm reception amongst the Republican base until he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Granted it wasn't enough to defeat the "Hope and Change" juggernaut, but there was no question that the conservative base of the GOP was more engaged once Palin came on board. Solidifying and energizing the base is a must in November if we hope to defeat an incumbent President.

-I like Newt Gingrich. Really, I do. And I don't believe for a second that he's "anti-capitalism" despite the digs regarding Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital.

But his latest attempt to denigrate Romney's candidacy is just plain silly.

"Why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?" Newt asked a standing-room only crowd in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Obviously Gingrich is referring to 2008 when Romney lost the GOP nomination to John McCain who in turn was defeated in the general election by Obama. That logic is flawed in a couple of different ways.

Do you recall who won the GOP nomination in 1980 to take on incumbent President Jimmy Carter? Yes, it was Ronald Reagan. Suppose if in the 1980 GOP nomination process that candidate Howard Baker tweaked Reagan by saying he was the guy (in 1976) who lost to the guy (Gerald Ford) who lost to Carter. As we see now, that clearly was not enough to consider disqualifying Reagan.

The other flaw is the GOP is now taking on a vulnerable incumbent President whose economic policy failures can be highlighted with statistical data. But four years ago they were opposing an unstoppable juggernaut who used charismatic speeches to sway an electorate which was weary (rightfully so) of eight years of a big government Republican. But people now realize one cannot alleviate issues incurred from eight years of "Compassionate Conservatism" with an even more substantial power grab.

These are different times indeed. But lately Gingrich seems to have reverted to his 1990s persona when the phrase "loose cannon" often preceded his name.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Who needs a house out in Hackensack? Is that all you get for your money?

The year 2012 has been news intensive thus far, and this past week was no exception. Today, from 1:00 until 3:00 pm Central time, I will be on the air on AM 1280 The Patriot.

In addition to recapping Tuesday's New Hampshire primary (and previewing Saturday's South Carolina primary), I'll also address the commemoration of the 1-year anniversary of the Tucson, AZ shootings.

At 1:15, I will welcome to the studio Anthony Hernandez, who is vying for the GOP nomination to oppose Senator Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota's Senate election this November.

Then in the 2:00 hour, I will be joined via telephone by comedienne/philanthropist/cover girl Danielle Teal.

Danielle is one of the more genuine, fun-loving people you'll ever meet, so we'll get some updates on her award-winning charitable endeavors (she received the 2010 United Way Presidents Award for Olmsted County in recognition of her volunteering and fundraising efforts amidst flooding that Summer) as well as her comedic career.

So please give us a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to weigh in on any of the topics I plan on addressing.

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.

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Saturday, January 14, 2012

2011 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

New Orleans Saints (-3 1/2) at San Francisco 49ers: This will be the most intriguing matchup of the weekend, as the Saints' high powered offense takes on the stingy 49ers D. Call it finesse vs. grittiness. The unstoppable force vs. the immovable object. The Socs vs. The Greasers (What, you never saw The Outsiders?).

As always, I believe Saints all-world quarterback Drew Brees will get his. But how will 49ers QB Alex Smith fare in his first opportunity on the big stage that is the NFL playoffs? It's possible that the Niners could choose to pound Frank Gore in an effort to keep Brees & Co. off the field. The Saints run defense is ranked 12th in the NFL in total yardage, but that's a little deceiving. New Orleans' 2011 regular season opponents have had little use for the run given the fact many had fallen behind early.

In the end, the Saints should have enough to squeak by.

New Orleans 27 San Francisco 21

Denver Broncos (+13 1/2) at New England Patriots: A rematch of Week 15, where the Patriots went in to Denver and crushed the Broncos 41-23. However, the Broncos had things going their way early, as they built a 16-7 lead at the beginning of the second quarter. Unfortunately for Tim Tebow & Co., they lost three fumbles in the final 8-1/2 minutes of the first half, which was the catalyst for the Patriots scoring 20 unanswered points going into halftime.

Denver keeps this week's game close if they don't turn the ball over and runs the ball effectively. They did rack up 252 yards rushing in the regular season matchup vs. New England but, again, turnovers cost them. Meanwhile, 34-year old Pats QB Tom Brady is desperately trying to join the elite ranks of Montana and Bradshaw by acquiring his fourth Super Bowl ring. He appears focused like he's never been before, and thus I believe he wills his team to the next round.

Pats win, Broncos cover.

New England 34 Denver 24

Houston Texans (+7 1/2) at Baltimore Ravens: In the 2011 regular season, the Texans and Raves ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in total defense in terms of total yardage. Both offenses feature dynamic all-purpose running backs (Arian Foster - Texans; Ray Rice - Ravens) whom will likely be relied upon heavily. And both have big physical receivers who can cause matchup problems for opposing defenses (Andre Johnson - Texans; Anquan Boldin - Ravens).

These teams seem very evenly matched, but the Ravens have the edge in playoff experience and home field.

Baltimore 21 Houston 10

New York Giants (+7 1/2) at Green Bay Packers: The Giants lost a late regular season game at home 38-35 to the team considered the overwhelming favorite to win the Super Bowl. But when the two clubs met again in the playoffs, the Giants scored a monumental upset.

A bold prediction for Sunday? Actually, that is the scenario which played out in 2007. The New England Patriots beat the Giants 38-35 in the '07 regular season finale to finish the year 16-0. But when the teams met in Super Bowl XLII, the Giants stunned the Pats 17-14.

I bring this up only because the parallels are eerily similar. The Packers (who won on the Giants' home field 38-35 in Week 13) have been dubbed the team to beat this postseason but now have to face a Giants team that (like in 2007) no one really believes can make a serious run. So are we indeed looking at the Giants pulling off another implausible Super Bowl run for the second time in five years? Will the Packers (like the Pats in '07) fall short of the grand expectations fostered by one of the more dominant regular seasons in NFL history?


Packers 42 Giants 24

Postseason record
Straight up: 2-2-0
Against the spread: 1-3-0


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quick Hits: Volume XLVII

-I can't seem to keep up with the latest liberal chanting points. On one side, I read how the Tea Party movement has lost its influence all over the nation and that they've had little impact leading up to the 2012 campaigns.

But then Wednesday I hear the insufferable and vacuous Debbie Wasserman Schultz dredge up that despicable slander of how the Tea Party "rhetoric" resulted in the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a little more than a year ago.

"We need to make sure that we tone things down, particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy from a year ago, where my very good friend, Gabby Giffords -- who is doing really well, by the way, -- [was shot]," Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair said during a "Politics and Eggs" forum this morning. "The discourse in America, the discourse in Congress in particular . . . has really changed, I'll tell you. I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn towards edginess and lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement."

Question for ya, Ms. W-S. Which movement has been more prominent in its lack of civility, not to mention actually partaking in violence? Would that be the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street? Before you answer, here's a cheat sheet for ya.

-From the ridiculous to the sublime, I'd like to take a minute to highlight the blog of my pal Danielle Teal. It's one thing to make a New Years resolution, but it's something different to make a substantial commitment and stick to it.

Every day for each of the 366 days (remember, it's a leap year) of 2012, DT has made a vow to enact a "random act of kindness." Whether it's an act of service for someone in need or expressing appreciation of another person's work, Danielle will document her progress daily. I'm honored to call Danielle a buddy not only because she's cool but also how she unwittingly causes me to assess my own selflessness. I guess that too can be considered an act of kindness.

-University of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who also won the 2011 Heisman Trophy, has officially declared for the 2012 NFL Draft.

With the Indianapolis Colts selecting #1 overall, it's pretty much a forgone conclusion they will take Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Since the St. Louis Rams, who will pick second overall, already have their franchise QB and left tackle in Sam Bradford and Rodger Saffold, respectively, it's likely they'll draft based on a myriad of other needs.

That leaves my Minnesota Vikings at #3. While the jury is still out on whether or not Christian Ponder is the long-term answer at QB, there's no way the Vikings pull the plug after he's had only ten starts. So could it be that the Vikings will draft Griffin with the third choice and then trade him to a QB-starved team who picks in the top 10? That way the Vikes could accumulate additional draft choices, including a top 10 selection. I feel it's a very plausible scenario since the Vikings themselves have many holes to fill, so it would behoove them to rebuild through the draft. The likely trade partners could be the Washington Redskins, who pick sixth, or the Miami Dolphins, who will have their fate determined by a coin flip on whether they'll go 8th or 9th.

Yes, this is the magic of the NFL. Even though your favorite team may have been out of playoff contention before Columbus Day, there's always something going on to pique your interest.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Common ground now shaky

As a supporter of most Republican candidates running for some political office, I take heart in the fact that the GOP is becoming more of a "big tent." In fact, at my local BPOU alone you'll find a mix of pro lifers, social libertarians, the "religious right", etc. But the one common denominator usually is (and always should be) fiscal conservatism and a belief in free markets.

Unfortunately, the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination is beginning to have the makings of a quasi-Occupy Wall Street meeting.

The Democrats started it, and now Republican rivals are piling on. Mitt Romney is suddenly playing defense about his career as a venture capitalist--and in a Republican primary campaign, of all things.

The attacks on Romney’s Bain Capital career from fellow Republicans may be coming too late in the game to knock him off his path toward the nomination. They may also be ineffective in a party that lionizes capitalism and the business sector that propels it. Raising hackles about Romney's flip-flops on abortion and other key issues and comparing his Massachusetts health law to "Obamacare'' seems like safer ground.

But at the very least, the GOP field is providing a cache of video that Democrats are no doubt already hoarding for use in the likely event that Romney is President Obama’s opponent.

On Monday, a super PAC bankrolled by allies of Newt Gingrich said it is planning a $3.4 million media blitz in South Carolina that attacks Romney as a ruthless corporate titan who profited on the backs of hundreds of laid-off workers.

In Concord, meanwhile, Jon Huntsman turned a Romney remark about liking to be able to fire service providers who fall short into a Bain reference. "What's clear is, he likes firing people; I like creating jobs," Huntsman said.

Rick Perry also took up the anti-Bain attack at a campaign event in Anderson, S.C. "I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips - whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out,'' he quipped, poking at Romney’s attempt at a feel-your-pain moment on Sunday.

Why do I feel like I'm suddenly in an alternate universe?

Now, am I denying there are risks in a capitalist system? Of course not. After all, there are no guarantees to succeed but the rather the assurance of the opportunity to have as much success as one desires. And I think it's been proven for many, many decades that one's ability to perform is hampered with too much government intervention. Thus, government programs are impediments to long-term success.

The thing that is most perplexing is there is a buffet of issues on which to attack Romney (i.e. health care, his flip flop on abortion, etc.), yet the one thing that conservatives can appreciate about him is what he's being forced to defend: his success in business.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could surmise that the rest of the GOP field knows Romney is the inevitable nominee and thus are assisting him in honing his debate skills against President Barack Obama. I shudder to think the likes of Gingrich and Perry actually subscribe to talking points which sound as though they're emanating from Zuccotti Park.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Hang around 'til quarter after twelve, that's when they fall in line...

After two weeks away, I make my return to the bunker that is the AM 1280 The Patriot studio! From 1:00 pm until 3:00 Central, there will be a lot to catch up on now that Presidential primary and caucus season is in full swing.

At 1:15 I'll be joined by Sheila Kihne, who is a conservative activist here in the Twin Cities. We will dissect all that has taken place the past week surrounding the GOP candidates, including a review of the Iowa Caucuses and a preview of this Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. I'll also look to get Sheila's input on the state of the Minnesota GOP now that we have a new state chair in place as well as newly elected leadership in the Senate.

So please give us a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to weigh in on any of the topics I plan on addressing.

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.

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Saturday, January 07, 2012

2011 NFL Playoffs: Wildcard

Cincinnati Bengals (+4) at Houston Texans: The last time there was a playoff game in the city of Houston, veterans (and future Hall of Famers) Joe Montana and Warren Moon were the starting quarterbacks. Today's game will feature rookies Andy Dalton and T.J. Yates as the starting QBs for their respective clubs.

The last time the Bengals won a playoff game was 1990, which was the week before they effectively ended the NFL career of Bo Jackson. But Cincy was one of the bigger surprises this season after going 4-12 last year. Rookie QB Dalton and WR A.J. Green became a formidable hookup during the year with Green logging over 1,000 yards receiving, and RB Cedric Benson also having a solid 2011 campaign by racking up 1,067 yards rushing. But in finishing the season 9-7, Cincinnati did not have a signature win. In fact, they went 0-7 vs. teams in this year's playoffs.

While the Texans have had a high octane offense over the past few seasons, this year they've done it with defense. The hiring of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has been the catalyst for the now top tier defensive unit, which ranks second in fewest yards allowed. In fact, from last season to this, the Texans D has allowed an average of 91 fewer yards and nearly 10 point less per game. And since Houston is down to their third string QB, running back Arian Foster (7th in the NFL in All-Purpose yards) will be relied upon heavily to grind out yardage and keep the Houston defense fresh.
Houston 17 Cincinnati 10

Detroit Lions (+10 1/2) at New Orleans Saints: Despite losing to the Saints in a Week 13 matchup in New Orleans 31-17, the Lions actually were in the game in the fourth quarter. It's even more remarkable that Detroit wasn't getting blown out when you consider they were hampered by the limitations of defensive lineman Nick Fairley (injury - foot) and the absence of DT Ndamukong Suh (suspension - stupidity).

It's expected there won't be a lot of defense played in this game when you consider this is the first matchup in NFL history where both QBs have thrown for 5,000+ yards in the regular season. In fact, both clubs combined for nearly 900 yards of offense in their head-to-head regular season battle.

I say the Lions will hang tough but fall just short because their inevitable buffoonery will cause them to commit a 15-yard penalty at the most inopportune time. Even without Suh playing in the Week 13 game, the Lions racked up 11 penalties for 107 yards, including multiple unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
New Orleans 38 Detroit 31

Atlanta Falcons (+3) at New York Giants: The Giants have to be one of the more maddeningly inconsistent team in the NFL this season. They can boast of tough, hard fought wins in New England and Dallas while at the same time being saddled with bad home defeats to Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington. But their playoffs essentially started last week when they absolutely had to beat the Cowboys at home just to get in. And QB Eli Manning was right there statistically with the likes of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford as he threw for 4,933 yards and 29 TDs in 2011. However, he still has a penchant for throwing costly interceptions, as he threw 16 picks.

Meanwhile, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan put together another solid season by utilizing receivers Roddy White (1,296 yards) and rookie Julio Jones (959 yards) to supplant another solid year by RB Michael Turner (1,340 yards and 11 TDs). But because they're in the same division as New Orleans, the Falcons don't seem to get a lot of national respect. But with a very good offense and average defense, Atlanta's 10-6 record suits them perfectly as the team that is solid but not spectacular.

Call it a gut feeling.
Atlanta 28 New York 24

Pittsburgh Steelers (-8) at Denver Broncos: There was a survey on espn.com yesterday asking which quarterback QB you'd rather have start for you this weekend. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger with the bad ankle or the Broncos' Tim Tebow at 100%? I believe it came out about 60-40 in favor of Roethlisberger.

Yes, it appears Tebow-mania has subsided quite a bit with his having two awful games to end the regular season. In fact, Denver was fortunate just to get in to the playoffs, needing division rival Oakland to lose at home to a San Diego team which had nothing to play for. But the Chargers did indeed prevail, allowing the Broncos to limp in to postseason with a 8-8 record.

The Steelers, however, continue to battle injuries as they'll be without RB Rashard Mendenhall (ACL tear) and All Pro Center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) in addition to Roethlisberger playing with still a very sore ankle. The Broncos have a solid defense as it is, so this game was going to be tough sledding for the Steelers even if they were 100% on the offensive side of the ball.

Ah, but the Steelers still have a pretty good defense, too. And that will be the difference.
Pittsburgh 20 Denver 10


Friday, January 06, 2012

Number one with a bullet, I'm a power pack....

Well I figure it's high time I end my partially self-imposed hiatus from the blogosphere. The fact I haven't done my radio show the past two Sundays combined with the busyness of Christmas/New Years has sapped my motivation. Yet here I am late on a Friday evening just to prove I'm still alive.

A few quick updates.

Had a great New Years weekend last week as my wife and I traveled to Rockford, IL to see Jim Brickman and friends in concert. One of the featured artists on tour with Brickman included Minnesota native Ben Utecht. You may recognize the name from his having played Tight End for the U of M in the early 2000s as well as a modest stint in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts (with whom he won a Super Bowl five years ago) and Cincinnati Bengals. After suffering a serious concussion at 2009 training camp with the Bengals, Utecht decided to retire at age 28 and pursue his other passion --- music. I have to say that I was impressed with his singing and certainly wish him the best in his musical career. And given he has such a fascinating story, I approached him in the lobby after the show and invited him to be a guest on my radio program sometime (yeah, I know. I'm such a shill). My wife and I then proceeded to ring in the New Year with Jen's good friend from high school and her husband. I'll just say that it's still difficult to accept that I'm barely able to last much past Midnight at this point in my life.

Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to recover from the fun weekend, as I had to be back at work Monday. As such, I was a little more frazzled than normal on Sunday evening when trying to wind down the weekend. To make matters worse, we noticed our beloved cat Macbeth was struggling to breathe and was making some rather guttural noises. As I got ready for work Monday morning, I noticed Mac wasn't engaging in his normal routines. Typically he would sit on the blue chair just outside our bedroom as he waited for me to head downstairs to feed him and our other cat Cleo. He would then take a couple of quick bites of his food before he would come over by me to beg for the milk I poured on my cereal. Once all that was done, he would follow me to the master bathroom and lounge in one of our closets until Jen & I finished getting ready. He would often openly complain about the high pitched noise of my wife's hair dryer. Sadly, all he did Monday morning was lay at the top of the stairs in obvious discomfort. Since Jen had the day off, she decided to take him to the vet. I felt the urge to crouch down and spend a few extra minutes with Mac in an effort to try and comfort him (Can you tell we don't have any kids?). Sadly, it would be the last time I would see him alive. By the time he arrived at the vet, Mac was making the most awful noises as if he were struggling for every single breath. Sure enough, it was ascertained that he was suffering from fluid around his heart. Essentially he had the feeling as if he were drowning. With Jen beside him, Mac laid there calmly as he was given oxygen and then a shot to allow him to pass peacefully and mercifully. Five days later, I still miss him terribly.

On Tuesday evening, I was invited to be third wheel on The Late Debate with Jack and Ben. With the Iowa Caucuses taking place that night, we planned on reviewing the night's events. Instead, because it was such a hotly contested race between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, a winner was not even declared at Midnight, the normal ending time of LD ----- so we went to a THIRD hour. Finally at 1:30, Romney was declared the winner of the Iowa Caucus by eight votes. Eight. But the highlight of the evening was the three of us with our "peanut gallery" commentary as we played speeches of the various candidates as well as CNN's live coverage. Considering I had that much fun pontificating on a rather meaningless event (Iowa's 25 delegates are non-binding), I can only imagine how much of a blast I'll have co-hosting AM 1280 The Patriot's coverage of November's general election!

So there you have it. Between holidays, road trips, dying pets, radio moonlighting and 60-hour work weeks, the blogging had fallen by the wayside. But I'm glad to be back!!