Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hittin' the panic button

If one was to ever create a caricature of leftists, one needs to look no further than Alliance for a Bitter Better Minnesota. Sure, they label themselves as an "independent" organization which looks to educate Minnesotans on the issues facing our state. But it's no secret that they're a well-funded PAC, courtesy of a member of the Rockefeller family (Alida Messinger), who also happens to be Governor Mark Dayton's ex wife. As such, come campaign season they're quite ubiquitous when it comes to hit pieces on Republican political candidates.

For 2014 though, ABM has quite an uphill battle. Governor Dayton, who is up for reelection, has proven to be in over his head as the state's chief executive. And House DFLers, who also have to face voters next year, have blatantly slammed through overreaching pieces of legislation (e.g. Daycare unionization, a bloated budget, higher taxes, a disastrous healthcare exchange, etc.). Since ABM has the unenviable task of trying to defend the indefensible, they've apparently chosen to double down on the personal attacks.

Jeff Johnson, one of the handful of GOP candidates vying for the nomination to oppose Dayton next year, was ABM's target this week. That shouldn't come as any surprise since he won the non-binding straw poll among Republican State Central delegates last weekend. What scares ABM most about Johnson is his apparent ability to bridge the divide among MN GOP activists. That certainly is no small feat given the disruption caused over the past few election cycles by certain factions of the Republican party. Yes, there have been some who seem intent on tearing the party down instead of unifying to build it up. If Johnson can successfully create unity, all of a sudden some focus can shift to persuading independent voters against a vulnerable incumbent like Dayton. I say all that to give you some background as to what might have ABM so panicked. They couldn't find anything disparaging about Johnson, so they enact the ol' "guilt by association" mantra. Hence they unearthed some controversial tweets in the Twitter feed of Johnson campaign aide Craig Westover. Tweets which took place last year. Before Westover was an aide. Before Johnson even announced a run for governor.

Westover did not apologize. “There’s no expectation of privacy on the Internet, there’s also no expectation of not being offended,” he said. “What I put there is what people volunteer to follow. If they don’t like it, they can un-follow me.”

Opposition research, like searching social media, is usually aimed at candidates, not staff members. Johnson might find some comfort that research so far has turned up little from his past. Furthermore, that Westover is a target suggests Johnson has become enough of a threat in the contest to unseat Mark Dayton that ABM decided to dig for a speck of dirt.

On it's face, ABM looked pretty pathetic with this stunt. But, again, with no substantive debate on policy, ABM decided on Halloween to double down on the personal attacks.

Courtesy of John Rouleau

In case you're unaware, Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) is the lead character in the 2000 movie American Psycho

I know ABM has a tendency to be bottom feeders but even this seems to be beneath their usual vapidity. That's something that must have occurred to them later in the day.


Courtesy of John Rouleau

At what point did the powers that be with ABM realize equating a GOP gubernatorial candidate with a serial killer (albeit a fictional one, but still...) was an "inappropriate reference?" Was it only after ABM received its just criticism or does someone there actually have a moral conscience and thus shut down the post immediately? Regardless, said post seemed to be put together out of panic. I have a hard time believing otherwise since anyone giving careful thought on how to zing a political opponent certainly wouldn't have arrived at a serial killer analogy. However, if indeed the slam on Johnson was carefully crafted, what does that say about the utter depravity that exists at Alliance For a Better Minnesota?


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dayton's war on women costs MN taxpayers

The far left agenda of Governor Mark Dayton and his DFL cohorts will be a financial burden to Minnesotans for some time to come. But with an election year coming up in 2014, there is still an opportunity to limit the damage if Dayton can be dismissed after one term and the GOP regains a majority in the MN House. But that's another topic for another day.

After Little Lord Fauntleroy Dayton got his finger slapped by a Ramsey County District Court judge 18 months ago after trying to enact daycare unionization via executive fiat, there was still a matter of legal fees to be paid. Since the daycare providers were being forced to unionize brought the lawsuit, some suggested that they collectively should foot the bill. Some of the estimates of the legal expenses approached $200,000. That is quite an exorbitant expense to a group of daycare providers, most of whom are working moms (or "right wing extremists" as Dayton once called them). But since the Governor overstepped his authority in the first place, thus precipitating the lawsuit, he was the reason such expenses were incurred. In a just world, Dayton himself would half to pony up the $60,000 (the amount ultimately settled upon). But he was overstepping his authority while in a position as a government official, which means the burden is ultimately shifted to, you guessed it, the taxpayers.

I realize that $60,000 is a proverbial drop in the bucket when one considers the number of taxpayers in the state of Minnesota. In essence, it equates to pennies per citizen. But the more salient issue is the mindset of a governing body. Here Dayton was attempting to provide payback to generous DFL donors (i.e. AFSCME and SEIU) by forcing unionization which in turn would result in more dues to the unions' coffers. And if it doesn't work, the Gov thinks "no biggie." After all, Dayton himself suffers no personal loss. It's the same result when he and his DFL colleagues hammer on this "tax the rich" mantra. Once again, Dayton can be free of such burdens since his lifestyle is rooted in his wealth (not income), much of which he keeps sheltered in South Dakota.

I guess the only way Gov. Dayton can feel any substantial loss is at the ballot box in 12 months. Time to start process posthaste


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gateway to potential chaos averted

In the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the mighty Gandalf, who for over 2,000 years worked most faithfully against the rising powers of evil in Middle-earth, assessed the situation of hobbits Frodo and Sam embarking on a journey to destroy the evil ring. "The battle for Middle Earth is about to begin. All our hopes now lie with two little hobbits, somewhere in the wilderness," proclaimed Gandalf.

It's analogous to what the St. Louis Cardinals face, now that they trail the Boston Red Sox 3 games to 2 in the World Series. Needing to win two games on the road in Fenway Park, all the Cards' hopes now lie with two young pitchers (22-year old Michael Wacha and 25-year old Joe Kelly). Game 5 of the series took place in St. Louis Monday evening with the Sox prevailing 3-1, thus putting them on the brink of their third World Series title in 10 seasons.

Also taking place in the Gateway City was the NFL's Rams hosting the Seattle Seahawks. Now it was reported last week that the Rams organization reached out to 44-year old Brett Favre to gauge his interest in signing with the club upon losing starting quarterback Sam Bradford to a season ending knee injury. Favre quickly declined. However, just envision for a second that Favre had accepted the Rams' offer. Can you imagine the media throng converging upon St. Louis Monday evening with both a World Series game and a future Hall of Fame QB making a dramatic return to the NFL? That's something the late 30s Prima donna Favre would have salivated over. But now that he's been out of the league for 2+ seasons, another "un-retirement" was never a realistic possibility. 

Alas, with no Favre at the Edward Jones Dome, ESPN was forced to have most of the camera shots on the lackluster game which took place. 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Open up your engines let 'em roar, tearing up the highway like a big old dinosaur...

It's going to be one of those guest intensive shows on The Closer this afternoon. We'll also try to fit in some news of the week within our seemingly short 1:00 until 3:00 Central Time slot.

We'll have two candidates for Congress at the top of each hour. Both MN State Senator John Pederson (on at 1:00) and Tom Emmer (2:00) are vying to represent the GOP in the Sixth Congressional District race, which has been represented by Michele Bachmann (who is not seeking reelection) since 2007.

At 1:30, Christian Contemporary singer Jaci Velasquez will be on for one segment. Jaci will be in Minnesota on Friday, December 6 for a concert at Edinbrook Church in Brooklyn Park. I'll also chat with Jaci about her career, family life, overcoming life's challenges and even a blurb about her cinematic endeavors.

As far as news of the week, there's been a lot of hay made over Education MN's 2013 Teacher of the Year declaring her profession as American democracy's last line of defense against "the tyranny of the 1%." I at least want to share a thought or two on that.

So please give me a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out viaiheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

For mobile phone users, there are apps available for iphone, Blackberry and Android!

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

Until then.....


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Where some see a pebble, others see the Rock of Gilbraltar

Have you noticed since the U.S. elected its first black President that it's the political left which is most hung up on the racial aspect? What I mean is any right wing criticism of President Obama's politics or how he conducts himself is often dismissed as racist sentiments. As my friend and Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg often asks lefties "If a conservative orders a pizza in the woods and no one hears it, is he/she still spouting racist rhetoric?"

About 2-1/2 months before the 2012 Presidential election, Michelle Malkin put together a "Condensed Liberal Handbook of Racial Code Words." In essence, there were certain phrases uttered by right wingers that letfy pundits interpreted as containing racial subtext. 

Looks like Michelle may have to add "Nigerian Email Scammers" to the list. 

At a rally in Houston on Monday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was pointing out the disaster that has been the Obamacare rollout. With the website being woefully slow (if accessible at all) and Americans suffering "sticker shock" at higher than expected premiums, Cruz made the following quip:

"Have you all noticed, you know the Nigerian email scammers? They've been a lot less active lately, because they've all been hired to run the Obamacare websites."

I don't know about you, but I immediately ascertained the reference. In the past, I have received some unsolicited emails claiming to originate from Nigeria. Basically I was informed that there was unclaimed money awaiting me. All I had to do was pass along my banking information and they would wire the funds posthaste. Of course I never fell for it. However, the perpetrators of this scam only needed a few people out of the thousands they contacted in order to make this a lucrative venture. As such, the FBI issued a warning about this particular scam.

Nigerian letter frauds combine the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter mailed from Nigeria offers the recipient the “opportunity” to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author—a self-proclaimed government official—is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria. The recipient is encouraged to send information to the author, such as blank letterhead stationery, bank name and account numbers, and other identifying information using a fax number provided in the letter. Some of these letters have also been received via e-mail through the Internet. The scheme relies on convincing a willing victim, who has demonstrated a “propensity for larceny” by responding to the invitation, to send money to the author of the letter in Nigeria in several installments of increasing amounts for a variety of reasons.

Ah, but lest we forget, Cruz is a conservative Republican. Therefore, his joke has to contain some sort of racial connotation. Leave it to uber lefty editor Joan Walsh to unearth whatever "racial code words" were being conveyed by Cruz (emphasis mine).

Declaring that our first black president’s signature policy achievement is being run by “Nigerian email scammers” is GOP dog-whistle politics at its finest. Of course, Cruz wasn’t just going for cheap laughs at the expense of the Affordable Care Act. He knows it’s a short hop from Nigeria to Kenya for his Obama-hating Houston audience. Polls show up to two-thirds of self-described Republicans still harbor doubts that the president was born here, and even mainstream GOP leaders indulge rather than dispel those doubts. Cruz enjoys them. (Remember, his father told an audience that only “political correctness” keeps Republicans from telling Americans that Obama is Muslim.)

So, a reference to Africans? Check. A stereotype about people who either work for or use government services, like “scammer”? A reference to “email” that’s a stand-in for “something about the Internet these people probably don’t understand anyway”? Check. It took Newt Gingrich several tries to communicate to his audience that Obama suffers from “a Kenyan anti-colonial mind-set” and is “the food stamp president.” Cruz did it with one dumb joke.

It appears Ms. Walsh fancies herself as clairvoyant, since she claims to know without a shadow of a doubt Cruz's true feelings. I also surmise that she has incredibly strong legs due to all the giant leaps of logic she makes in her post (BTW, is my reference to Walsh's legs some sort of misogynistic dog whistle?).

The fact of the matter is the Obamacare rollout has been a quagmire, something that has even been pointed out by such conservative stooges as Jon Stewart and the folks at Think Progress. But even when the web site glitches get fixed, premiums will still be high and healthcare will not be as readily available. To combat that, people like Walsh take that proverbial dog whistle and hold it near a lamp and attempt to create a shiny distraction. It won't work, as the American people will be too preoccupied with trying to alleviate financial hardships while still having no guarantee of adequate healthcare.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The sky is no longer the limit (UPDATE: Education MN President touts 1% quote)

This past May, St Paul public school teacher Megan Hall was named the 2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

Upon being bestowed with such a prestigious award, Hall shared a couple of thoughts for a Star Tribune story.

“We believe in liberty and justice for all in this country, but we don’t have it yet,” she said.

“Teaching is one of the best ways to achieve that dream by opening the doors to higher education that ends poverty.”

Fast forward to last week. Hall gave a speech at the 2013 Education Minnesota conference. As such, the official EM Twitter account highlighted a few bullet points of her speech.

Keep in mind that Education Minnesota is the official labor union of Minnesota public schools. Look, I'm fully aware there was never any pretense of political objectivity coming out of EM. Back in 2008, my wife (who is an educator in the MN public school system and thus is forced to pay union dues) was given placards which touted the candidacies of Barack Obama for President and Al Franken for U.S. Senate. But what is really appalling is the fact EM chose to accentuate a part of the speech which suggested that the state's wealthiest citizens are "tyrannical."

To be certain I wasn't taking anything out of context, I decided to indulge in audio/video footage of Hall's speech. The money line is about 4:42 into the clip.

"Teachers are American democracy's last line of defense against the tyranny of the 1%"

You'll recall that Hall said upon accepting her MN Teacher of the Year award that her profession opens the door to higher education which in turn "ends poverty." So when her students grow up, go to college and enter the workforce, is there a limit to the amount of money they should make? How about lifestyle potential? Does Hall tell her students not to aspire to create a successful business nor strive to be a high level executive of a major corporation? While those would certainly be admirable achievements, that would result in those people being in the {gasp!} 1%! Oh, and you know what else the 1% does? They buy palatial estates. Estates which are subject to property taxes. Property taxes which funds public schools. Is Hall insinuating that money her school receives from the tyrannical 1% is essentially "blood money?"

When I was in elementary school, there was absolutely zero limits placed upon aspirations of students. How is it we've come to the point where tremendous financial success is subject to disdain from a person who is supposedly the standard bearer in her profession? A profession which has a profound influence on children, mind you.

As is stands now, today's kids will practically need to be in the 1% just to offset their share of the national debt.

UPDATE: A friend of mine contacted EM the other day. He was told that the quote is "on the teacher" and that they had no further comment.

Then the President of Education Minnesota tweeted out this:


Monday, October 21, 2013

Box Score of the Week (World Series edition)

In my final BOTW until next spring, it's only apropos that I feature a World Series game.

With that in mind, let's look at Game 3 of the 1989 Fall Classic pitting the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


The 1989 Giants-A's World Series will forever be known as the "Earthquake series." Game Three was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, October 17 in San Francisco's Candlestick Park. However, a major earthquake struck the Bay Area, causing significant damage around the city of San Francisco, including to the ballpark itself. After a delay of ten days, the series resumed with Game Three. Oakland taking a commanding 3 games to 0 lead with the win in that contest and would go on to sweep the series. 


Sunday, October 20, 2013

You never take advice. Someday you'll pay the price, I know......

The government is open again, which means so too is your wallet. We'll address a lot of those issues on today's edition of The Closer, which will air in its normal 1:00 until 3:00 PM time slot.

At 1:15, GOP political strategist Matt Mackowiak will check in to the program. I'll get his insights on the agreement to end the shutdown and how the proverbial long knives have come out against Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner, et al.

Then in the 2:00 hour, there will be a heavy sports emphasis. I've come across a few stories this past week where the culture has intersected with news about the lives of professional athletes. Do you care if your favorite pro athlete leads an immoral life off the field/court as long as it doesn't take away from his stellar performance on the field/court?

So please give me a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out viaiheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

For mobile phone users, there are apps available for iphone, Blackberry and Android!

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

Until then.....


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is image still everything?

In light of the tragic news that the 2-year old son of Vikings RB Adrian Peterson died last week, it has since been learned that AP has lived a rather seedy lifestyle.

The rumor now is Peterson has fathered five children with four different women. As this detail was learned, many Twin Cities media folks asked if this has changed how you view AP. My answer? My opinion on Peterson has not changed one iota. For the past several years I have believed he is one of the best running backs to put on an NFL uniform in the past couple of decades. So why should that opinion change despite how he has lived off the field?

What Peterson has (or hasn't) done off the field has never been a big concern for me when I watch him (or any professional athlete) perform his craft. Does that mean I approve of how AP has lived his personal life? No. It's quite obvious that I have a whole different value system. But the questions is how will this impact AP's standing in the rest of the community? He has committed a lot of time to various charitable endeavors, many of which benefit children. Many athletes carefully craft their image to appear one way in the public eye despite their personal lives being less than exemplary. That's not to say that athletes don't genuinely care for the people who benefit from the giving of their time and resources. But it does bring up the issue of the athlete's purity of purpose and whether or not that should matter.

The cautionary tale of revering professional athletes as "great people" is a lesson I learned with Kirby Puckett. In the 53-year history of the Minnesota Twins franchise, I submit there was a nary a more popular player than Puck. And it was hard not to like him personally since he appeared to be this fun-loving character who immersed himself in the Twin Cities community with many worthwhile charitable ventures. But just a couple of years after his 2001 induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it was revealed Puck had lived a secret double life. He carried on an extra-marital affair for years, often resulting in his wife Tonya covering for him. We also learned that Tonya was the mastermind behind Puck's annual billiards tournament, which raised money for children with heart disease. All Puck would have to do is show up as the face of the cause. Again, there was likely some positive advances made in research of children's heart disease thanks to the Pucketts' work. But is that now somehow tainted because of the life Puckett led?

I realize that human failings aren't exclusive to pro athletes. Yes, they can do things within their sport that seemingly defy the laws of human physicality. But at the end of the day they are mere human beings who are susceptible to the temptations available in this flawed world. As such, they're not people I typically look to on how to live life as a productive member of a society.

This is something I plan to get into in more depth on tomorrow's radio show.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

To sum it all up....

.....I give you a video clip from the movie Caddyshack. This was essentially the negotiations between House Speaker John Boehner (played by Spaulding) and Democrat Leadership (played by Judge Smails) to end the government shutdown.

Just swap out "a hamburger, a cheeseburger, a hot dog, a milk shake and potato chips" for "to defund Obamacare, to delay Obamacare, to repeal the medical device tax, to pass the Vitter amendment, to *not* raise the debt ceiling."


Buffoonery in the bubble

It was pretty well a forgone conclusion that Congressional Republicans were going to take it in the proverbial shorts when an agreement is reached in this government shutdown saga. That's the way the cookie crumbles in divided government, especially when your party has a majority in only one legislative body. But this time the GOP has seemingly outdone themselves when it comes to self inflicted wounds. What minor concessions they might have received (i.e. delay of the medical device tax) or political leverage they could have conjured up (the Vitter amendment, which would end government subsidies for congressional health coverage) seems to have crumbled within the GOP House caucus. Why? Apparently a delay of (with the ultimate goal of repealing) the medical device tax, a tax that could severely hamper job growth in such a dynamic industry, is seen by some Republicans as, of all things, crony capitalism. Stupefying.

As I was listening to The Hugh Hewitt show yesterday evening, he was discussing with Robert C. O'Brien and Richard Grenell on how Congressional Republicans seemingly squander every opportunity at delivering a winning message. After all, the GOP could hit back on this demagoguery of how default will take place if the debt ceiling is not raised (a flat out misstatement). There was also a golden opportunity to hit hard with the Vitter amendment, which is a winning issue among the majority of voters.

So why the failure to capitalize on some potential winners? Quite simply, the GOP is all too wary of the Beltway media as well as the Manhattan elitist scribes hitting them with scathing reviews on their handling of the shutdown. It's all too common a dilemma when supposedly principled conservatives are elected and thus vow to change the culture in Washington, DC. Sadly, many politicians often become too entrenched in the bubble. To them, there's almost a heightened unawareness that there is indeed life outside said bubble. With this latest performance, many House Republicans may find themselves on the outside permanently in a little over a year.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It happened 25 years ago today.....

The story behind the unbelievable finish to Game One of the 1988 World Series, which took place 25 years ago today.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Box Score of the Week (postseason edition)

Here's a gimme. It was ten years ago today when the Florida Marlins took on the Chicago Cubs in game six of the NLCS.


Two words: Steve Bartman.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Don't wanna wait 'til tomorrow; Why put it off another day?

The government shutdown continues but the Northern Alliance Radio Network (definitely an essential service) rolls on. Today I will be in my usual 1:00 PM until 3:00 Central Time slot for The Closer. 

At 1:30, it will be truly an honor to welcome to the broadcast Alice Widstrand and her older brother Ray. In case you're unfamiliar with Ray's story, he was brutally beaten by gang members while he walked to his East St Paul home on the evening of Sunday, August 4. Ray's story has become an inspiring tale of optimism, determination and forgiveness, as he slowly recovers from serious brain trauma. Please "like" Ray's Facebook page or subscribe to his Caring Bridge site for updates on his recovery.

Then at 2:00 PM, Phil Krinkie will join me is studio. Krinkie is vying for the GOP nomination in Congressional District Six to replace Michele Bachmann in the US House. Krinkie served 16 years in the MN State Legislature and earned the nickname "Dr. No" for his steadfast refusal to increase taxes or the size and scope of government.

So please give me a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out viaiheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

For mobile phone users, there are apps available for iphone, Blackberry and Android!

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

Until then.....


Friday, October 11, 2013

Appropriate course

There has been much debate/speculation over the immediate future of University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill. Upon suffering his second game day seizure this season (and fifth such occurrence since the beginning of 2011), Kill knew he had a difficult decision in front of him. After all, his sentiments conveyed in an August interview, where he stated he would walk away if he continued to miss games due to seizures, became increasingly prescient.

Thankfully, the coach has taken some initiative find an amenable arrangement.

Kill and the university announced Thursday that the coach is taking an open-ended leave of absence from the team to focus on treatment and management of his epilepsy, and it is uncertain when he will be able to return to the Golden Gophers.

"This was a difficult decision to make, but the right decision," Kill said in a statement distributed by the university. "Our staff has been together a long time and I have full confidence in coach Claeys and them during my time away. Every decision that will be made will be in the best interest of the players and the program. I look forward to returning to the Minnesota sideline on a full-time basis soon."

As he has each time Kill has been absent from the sideline, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will fill in as acting head coach. Kill and the bulk of his assistants have been together longer than any other staff in the country, and the Golden Gophers will lean on that continuity and familiarity now more than ever.

Let's face it. If the Gophers football program is to take a significant step forward over the next 2-3 seasons, coach Kill needs to prove to prospective recruits that his seizures are dramatically curtailed. As of this past weekend, Kill has missed time in, on average, one out of every six games he has been coach. And given the high profile coverage these episodes have received, there's no way a high school football player or his parents would not broach the subject on a recruiting visit.

It is my sincere hope that coach Kill can find a workable solution once and for all. If somehow this can't be worked out, I regret to say that we likely won't see Kill on the Gophers sidelines starting in 2014. That would be a darn shame.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rod Grams: 1948-2013

I heard the news Wednesday morning that former U.S. Senator Rod Grams passed away after a year of battling colon cancer. He was 65.

I met Grams once about 4-5 years ago at some sort of rally at the MN State Capitol. He was a very recognizable figure in these parts, having been the co-anchor of the Channel 9 evening news for most of the 1980s and early 1990s. After being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, Grams was part of the Republican tidal wave in 1994, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. That puts Grams in some rare air, as he and Kansas politician Sam Brownback are the only two Congressional members in the past forty years to be elected to the Senate immediately after serving only one House term.

With Grams' platform of lower taxes and reigning in out-of-control federal spending, one could fairly surmise that he was "Tea Party" more than a decade before it become a label in the political lexicon. Grams' senatorial election also gave Minnesota perhaps the most polarizing U.S. Senate delegation with he and the ultra progressive Paul Wellstone.

After losing reelection in 2000 to, of all people, Mark Dayton, Grams would never hold elected office again. He did challenge longtime U.S. House member Jim Oberstar in MN Congressional District 8 back in 2006, but was soundly defeated.

I felt my friend and Twin Cities News Talk radio guy Jack Tomczak put forth the finest and most touching eulogy of Grams.

I met my wife when she and I interned for Rod in DC in 1999 and he gave me my first shot at radio when he let Benjamin Kruse and me fill in for him on his show in Little Falls. He was the first politician I worked for and in many ways ruined me as a staffer for other politicians. Nobody else I have worked for has been able to match him. Rod ALWAYS knew what was right and he ALWAYS had the answer. I was and still am angry at the voters of Minnesota who picked Mark Dayton over him in 2000. Rod wasn't. He was a solid person who was very comfortable in his own skin. He never had anything to prove. With the focus of the modern politician always on the next election or the next fundraising quarter I think we may not see many true statesmen who will take on an important issue head on regardless of consequences. Rod did that with Social Security reform. The problem still isn't fixed as it would require too much courage to tackle. He was never too big or too important to answer a question from a nobody like me. I saw him a few weeks ago and got to tell him how much he has meant to my life and my career. He said he was proud of me for the morning show. I'm proud that I could make a man of that caliber proud of something I had done. His wife, Chris, is pretty great too.

Grams is survived by his wife, Christine, four children and several grandchildren.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Consider the source

With this being the second week of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) being...ahem...."operational", there continues to be endless stories of the utter futility of the online registration process.

Not surprisingly, the President's staunchest apologists (specifically the mainstream media) continue to beat the bushes for any success story they can find in an effort to stem the tide of negativity. At this point, "success" is a pretty low bar. It seems many media outlets are merely attempting to find someone who registered successfully, whether it be via federal or state exchanges. Heck, affordability may not even be a significant criteria at this stage of the game.

Last week, you could almost feel Sarah Kliff (she of The Washington Post's Wonkblog) wet herself when sharing the story of 21-year old Chad Henderson. Mr. Henderson declared that he was able to obtain affordable healthcare despite his being a college student and a part-time employee. Ah, but I guess Ms. Kliff felt the fact that Henderson being a volunteer for Organizing For Action, a grassroots movement committed to passing President Obama's agenda, wasn't relevant to the story. But the sin of omission regarding Henderson's involvement with OFA seemed rather insignificant when it was later revealed that his testimony was a complete fabrication. Whoopsie!  

Locally, the St. Paul Pioneer Press decided to keep "pumping the pump" in an effort to find a positive testimonial regarding Minnesota's state exchange MNsure. They think they may be on to something

With health insurance policies she's purchased in the past, Robyn Skrebes has been frustrated with flimsy coverage that left her with unexpected out-of-pocket costs.

So she felt confident Monday buying a policy for next year through the website of MNsure, the state's new health insurance exchange.

"You know these things have been vetted," said Skrebes, 32, of Minneapolis. "You're buying a legitimate plan that's actually going to do what it says it's going to do."

To be fair, this PiPress story also features an anecdote of someone who had a significantly less pleasurable experience with the MNsure site. Read the whole article for that particular perspective.

Anyhow, what stood out most about this story was the final couple of paragraphs (emphasis mine).

From her work in the past with a consumer group called TakeAction Minnesota and SEIU Healthcare -- two groups that have been supportive of the Affordable Care Act -- Skrebes said she knew that standardizing benefit options was one goal of the federal health care law.

"The options are laid out in plain English, and in ways that are a lot easier to understand than in the past," Skrebes said. "It worked really well."

Like the WaPo did with the story of an OFA volunteer, the St Paul Pioneer Press located a positive testimonial from someone who could potentially overstate Obamacare's effectiveness (to the credit of the PiPress, however, they at least acknowledged Skrebes's affiliations). I'm not suggesting that Ms. Skrebes is lying about her story. However, she's hardly a neutral party. Given Skrebes' link to progressive groups like SEIU and TakeAction Minnesota, relying on her testimonial could well be the equivalent of relying upon pulltab companies to be impartial about revenue projections from e-pulltab machines. Sheesh, how ridiculous a scenario is that?


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A challenger for Scott Walker

The first Wisconsin Democrat has entered the fray in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Democrat Mary Burke announced her campaign for Wisconsin governor Monday, emphasizing job creation and her roots in the state as she aims at GOP incumbent Scott Walker.

"We've got to make some real changes in Madison," Burke says in her campaign video. "Just like Washington, our state capital has become so focused on politics and winning the next political fight, it's pulling our state apart and our economy down."

That's an indirect jab on Gov. Walker, who fought off a Democratic recall attempt last year and is a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

Burke, a former Wisconsin Commerce secretary, was an executive at Trek, the bicycle company founded by her father that employs nearly 1,000 workers in the state. She's the first Democrat to announce a campaign to take on Walker, whose push to end collective-bargaining rights for most state workers drew national attention on him and Wisconsin politics.

The Journal-Sentinel says Burke "becomes the instant Democratic favorite" in the 2014 governor's race.

It'll be interesting to hear Burke, who is said to be worth millions as a result of being in business with her father, parrot the standard leftist chanting points about Dems being for the "little guy" (I wonder what is the Wisconsin equivalent to Alliance for a Better Minnesota). The labor and public employee unions spent an obscene amount of money on legal challenges to Walker's legislation, as well as recall campaigns/elections aimed at GOP senators and a failed gubernatorial recall in June 2012. How much will they be a factor this time around, especially since the Labor Union law that passed in Walker's first year as governor has thus far withstood every legal challenge?

I have no idea how long Burke has considered making a run for Governor or if there had even been rumors about her intentions. But given we live in such a hyper technological society, it's probably a good idea to make a somewhat modest investment in securing web site domain names for whatever endeavor one is considering. Because if one isn't at least cognizant of such things, something like this -----> ( will be snapped up by one's detractors.

Early indications are it's pretty much amateur hour within the Burke campaign.


Monday, October 07, 2013

Josh Freeman has Vikings pondering future (or will Christian soon be a Free Man?)

Heh. See what I did there? The blog post title? I slay me.

Ahem. Anyhow, about that new Vikings quarterback.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is signing with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings gave Freeman a one-year deal worth about $3 million, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

All totaled, Freeman will make more than $11.4 million until he becomes a free agent this winter, factoring in the $2.479 million the Bucs paid him at the start of the season, the $5.9 million in termination pay from the team, and his new deal with Minnesota.

Freeman also had been linked to the Bills and Raiders since being released by the Bucs on Thursday after a tumultuous season for the quarterback and the team that made him the 17th overall pick in the 2009 draft.

The Vikings add Freeman to a quarterback depth chart that already includes Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel -- who started in place of an injured Ponder in Minnesota's only win of the season.

As a Vikings fan, I like the signing. Not that I'm 100% sold on Freeman being the face of the franchise over the next decade. But why I'm most pleased is the fact the Vikings organization has acknowledged that Ponder (who was considered a reach as the 12th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft) has been given ample opportunity to step and be the QB of the future, yet hasn't put it together. At times this season it appeared he had regressed. I appreciate the fact that GM Rick Spielman (the man who drafted Ponder and has been his biggest apologist) was willing to swallow his pride and explore other options. That said, this is a relatively low risk move. The Vikings only have Freeman signed to this season, and they didn't have to surrender any draft choices to to acquire him. Freeman will likely be the starter not this week but the following week when the Vikes take on the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.

The hope here is Freeman can indeed step up and be the franchise quarterback. At age 25, the opportunity is still there for him to recapture the prowess he showed in 2012 when he threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdown passes.

Ideally teams like to draft their potential franchise QB, develop him and have him lead the squad to Super Bowl glory. In the 53-year history of the Vikings, they have had arguably two franchise QBs (Fran Tarkenton and Daunte Culpepper, both of whom were drafted) who came even close to fulfilling that promise. But sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery. Many identify Drew Brees as the all-world quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. But the first five years of his career were spent in San Diego, where he put up pretty good (but far from great) stats. In fact, you look at Brees's numbers with the Chargers and compare them to Freeman's stats with the Bucs, they're eerily similar.

Games started: Brees - 58; Freeman - 59
Pass yards: Brees - 12,348; Freeman - 13,534
TD passes: Brees - 80; Freeman - 80
Completion percentage: Brees - 62.2%; Freeman - 58.2%
Yards per pass attempt: Brees - 6.8; Freeman - 6.9
QB rating: Brees - 84.9; Freeman - 78.8

Now am I suggesting that Freeman will become this high-octane passing machine and lead the Vikings to their first Super Bowl championship like Brees has done with the Saints? No (But a guy can dream, can't he?). All I'm saying is that the ol' "change of scenery" talking point tends to become too cliche. But's it not unprecedented that a professional athlete can flourish when given the proverbial clean slate with a different franchise.


Box Score of the Week (postseason edition)

Since we're in the midst of the League Division Series, let's check out Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS featuring the New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics.


The Yankees were down 2 games to none in this series after having dropped the first two games at home. So game three was "do or die." The Yanks squeaked out a 1-0 win and eventually won the series. Many would surmise that the series turned on one pivotal play in game three.


Sunday, October 06, 2013

Trapped in a prism, in a prism of light.....

No Vikings game to potentially distract me from today's edition of The Closer. That said, I'll have to conjure up a different excuse as to why I fall well short of a flawless show today. Either way, I will be occupying the airwaves from 1:00 until 3:00 pm Central Time.

Obviously the talk of the federal government shutdown will be a source of conversation, specifically looking at the utterly asinine measures taken to inconvenience the American people. 

Then at 2:15, Rhonda Sivarajah will join me in studio. Rhonda is one of a handful of GOP candidates looking to replace retiring Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional district. 

So please give me a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out viaiheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

For mobile phone users, there are apps available for iphone, Blackberry and Android!

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

Until then.....


Friday, October 04, 2013

Napalm narratives

As an astute observer of politics and the culture, I often find myself rolling my eyes at the seemingly endless stream of vapid chanting points. And certain vacuous narratives just make me angry, since they appear to be a cynical attempt to deceive consumers of social, print and electronic media.

With that, here are a few I feel need to die in a fire.

"If we don't increase the debt ceiling, America will be in default." There is no more egregious offender of this chanting point than President Barack Obama himself. At best, this is utterly misleading. As long as the United States continues to make its debt payments, the country will not be in default. As it stands right now, there is more than enough tax revenue to meet our debt obligations. Do you think for one second that the Treasury Dept. wouldn't prioritize revenue accordingly? Now where the problem lies is certain US agencies would fall short of funding. And I believe that's what has the President and his leftist cohorts most fearful. That is people might realize some of these agencies serve no useful purpose, thus support would amp up for permanent de-funding such entities. 

"Republicans and their supporters want to overturn Obamacare, which would deny people their inalienable right to quality healthcare." Well first of all, Obamacare has nothing to do with healthcare. The law itself is (allegedly) to ensure adults have access to purchase affordable health insurance. But just having insurance (specifically government run coverage) doesn't mean all treatments/procedures are covered, especially since un-elected bureaucrats get to determine the course of one's care. Secondly, something can not be a "right" if it infringes upon rights of others. That is why the Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate as a "tax". A law compelling commerce violates one's Constitutional rights.

Another angle is that those adults who choose to waive coverage are assessed a fine. That money in turn is used to subsidize coverage for those that would otherwise have higher rates due to lingering illnesses or preexisting conditions. Seems like a covert way to redistribute wealth, eh?

"Jesus Christ was a socialist/liberal. He healed the sick and prospered the poor. Therefore, He believes in free healthcare and wealth redistribution."

Now it's true that Jesus told a rich man (see Matthew chapter 19) to sell his possessions and give to the poor. But Jesus told the man this after said man was instructed to "obey the commandments" as the secret to having an eternal life. "But if you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me, " He said. But unlike socialism, the giving to the poor was not mandated. It was given as an instruction only after the rich man sought out Jesus and asked for guidance.

Jesus later shared the parable of the talents (aka bags of gold), which can be found in Matthew 25. A master left five talents with one servant, two with another and one talent with the third servant. The servants with the five and two talents, respectively, put their shares to work and thus their master doubled their shares. But the servant with the one talent hid his share and was subsequently accosted by the master. That one talent was then given to the servant with ten talents. Jesus went on to say "For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them." Again, if Jesus was truly a socialist, he would have commanded that those who showed faithfulness (and thus had the abundance) give their increase to the poor. Unlike socialism, Jesus's "ideology" is not anti-rich. Actually, it's more like pro-faithfulness.

"The Republican party is being taken over by the white, gun-toting, bible-thumping rednecks. There's no room for moderates anymore. Ronald Reagan wouldn't be able to make hay among today's GOP." If that were true, then how is it John McCain won the GOP nomination for President in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012? In '08, Mike Huckabee was the favorite among evangelicals, Fred Thompson more ideologically conservative and Ron Paul was far more constitutionally pure than McCain.

Then in 2012, you had Rick Santorum as the evangelicals' preferred candidate. And you can't get much more "gun-toting redneck" than Texas governor Rick Perry, yet his candidacy foundered in late January that year. Yet somehow, someway a guy who won a statewide election in Massachusetts (and passed a bill socializing medicine while governor) was the GOP nominee for President.

I'll certainly add more as I think of them. In the interim, please feel free to leave submissions in the comment section.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Quick Hits: Volume LXXVII

- It appears we're on the verge of a Federal government shutdown....just like in 1976, '77, '78, '79, '81, '82, '83, '86, '87, '90, '95, and '96. Yet somehow so many are having the vapors over this particular shutdown.

By far the biggest issue is the fight over the funding of Obamacare. Whether it's the GOP attempts at a total de-fund or repealing the individual mandate or delaying implementation for the year, it's been made pretty clear by President Obama and Congressional Democrats that it is the law of the land and it will stay in its entirety.

I'm almost to the point where I feel House Republicans should vote to pass a Continuing Resolution with Obamacare fully funded. Why? When I think of the people who so enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama twice, I can't help but think of a quote from former NYC mayor Ed Koch. Upon losing re-election in 1989, Koch was implored by his supporters to again someday run for elected office. Koch refused, simply saying "The people have spoken.....and they must be punished."

There were tens of millions of American citizens who did not heed the warnings of what an abomination the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will become. As such, said citizens made their voices loud and clear by re-electing Obama.....and they must be punished by actually being made to utilize government run healthcare.

- Despite averaging 97 losses per year over the past three seasons, the Minnesota Twins re-signed manager Ron Gardenhire to a 2-year contract extension Monday.

I know this move outraged a lot of Twins fans, many of whom feel Gardy is no longer connecting with the players. Personally, I'm ambivalent about this transaction. If you look at the Twins roster over the past three seasons, it's really difficult to lay responsibility at the feet of the field manager. Someone equated Gardy to a chef who had his budget cut. That is, you can't blame him for not presenting filet mignon when he has Salisbury Steak type ingredients. Short of exhuming Connie Mack, there is no manager alive that could have even sniffed .500 with the current Twins roster.

So what exactly can be done to turn this thing around? I thought 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey laid it out best.

 The problem with the Twins is that there is no singular problem.

The problem is they're all looking around the room at the Target Field offices saying, "OK, we know we've got to fix this." But that room is filled mostly with the same group of people who oversaw the infiltration of those problems in the first place.

The Twins were once one of the premiere organizations in baseball -- elite when it came to drafting, developing and building a core from within, and not all that long ago.

But now they lack innovation. They lack an outside perspective.

The Twins either need to add more innovative people to the room, or change the people who are in the room.

Mackey went to emphasize how the lower payroll teams such as Tampa Bay (28th out of 30 teams in terms of payroll), Oakland (27th), Cleveland (21st) and Pittsburgh (20th) are successfully using that innovation as well as utilizing outside ideas. What else do those four teams have in common? They're all in the 2013 postseason.

Definitely read the whole article.

- On Monday morning I received a fundraising email from Ray Ortman, husband of MN Senate candidate Julianne Ortman.

It was the second sentence in the email which really grabbed my attention (emphasis mine). 

Did you know that when my wife Julianne secures the nomination to run against Al Franken, she will be the first woman Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Minnesota history?

Maybe that’s why Republicans keep losing -- they’re putting up the wrong candidates.  

I may be reading it wrong, but I took that to mean that the GOP keeps losing elections due to the fact more women aren't being nominated to run in general elections. I sent a tweet to the Ortman campaign asking for clarification. I then went on to say that I'm willing to be set straight if I misconstrued anything. I did not receive a response as of late Monday evening.

I would daresay that Mrs. Ortman would prefer that she receive on merit the opportunity to challenge Senator Al Franken next year. At this point I am firmly in the camp of the candidate who has the best chance to oust Franken. However, I'm still in the process of vetting all three candidates vying for the GOP nomination (Ortman, Jim Abeler and Mike McFadden). And I can guarantee that my process has absolutely nothing to do with gender. But once again this seems to be another situation where we in the Republican party are handing proverbial ammo to the Democrats. If Ortman is indeed denied the nomination, the Dems will jump around like poo flinging monkeys by reiterating Ray Ortman's chanting point.

I can see a potentially problematic scenario for the GOP playing out in the Minnesota gubernatorial race. There's a persistent rumor that state senator Julie Rosen will jump into the race for the Republican nomination for governor. If that happens, all four of the other candidates (all male, all white) will hammer home Rosen's outspoken advocacy for a Vikings stadium last year. That issue alone, in my opinion, will make her candidacy DOA. However, instead of focusing on a legitimate policy issue as the reason for her ouster, leftists will use it as a cudgel in declaring the MN GOP a "white, misogynistic party."

Let's hope all our political candidates (male and female) sufficiently smack down those asinine chanting points. It really shouldn't be that difficult.