Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quick Hits: Volume LXXXIII

- Mitt Romney was defeated in the presidential race more than a year ago. Other than a rare "I told you so" regarding the quagmire that is the Obama administration, Romney has mostly kept to himself and his tight knit family.

But to leftists, the failure of the Romney candidacy is still useful to them. That is, they can use it as a narrative for the Republican party being nothing but a bunch of rich white guys. And hey, more power to 'em. We on the right side of the political aisle know full well that GOP policies do more good for all Americans than do Democrat plans. But we also know full well we have to convey that much more effectively.

With all that said, the left can't rely solely upon policy to show the stark differences between the parties. They lose that fight. So it's back to the ol' playbook of ad hominen attacks, which is bad enough. But it doesn't get any lower than using opponents' family members as props to make their point.

On MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Sunday, the panel was discussing several topics of the “of the year” variety. In the below clip, panelists are shown photos ‘of the year” and asked to offer humorous captions. Host Harris-Perry shows a Romney family photo that includes his adopted grandchild, who happens to be black, and this is the reaction:

The panelists start laughing the moment the photo is on the screen, because obviously. Then the first response is Pia Glenn off-camera sing-songing “one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same” and the rest of the panel chuckles along. It’s funny because Romney is white and his grandson isn’t, which is obviously hilarious. Because as everyone knows, the races should not mix.

But it’s even better than just hilarious, it also makes you think! Because, as the final comment from the panel tells us, this pic is a microcosm of the GOP. “It sums up the diversity of the Republican party and the RNC, where they have the whole convention and they find the one black person.” Ah the never tired accusation, borrowed from every single left wing blog and talking head during every gathering of two or more (or fewer) Republicans: He’s not a child adopted by loving parents prepared to provide him with a better life in keeping with the family’s values. Nope. He’s just a token. A punchline, not a person. But it’s funny, because Republicans are racist, see? So it’s all fine!
Rather ironic that these folks on MSNBC would imply tokenism while appearing on the show of the only black host on that network's lineup. Alas, it's difficult to take seriously a talk show hosted by someone who would substitute tampons for earrings or possess the belief that other people's children "belong to whole communities."

But I digress.

To Ms. Harris-Perry's credit, she went well beyond the obligatory "I'm sorry you were offended" non-apology apology.

She may now return to her regularly scheduled irrelevance.

- This past Friday was the final day I would work in 2013. By my calculations, Friday evening at about 10:00 PM through Monday evening/Tuesday morning at 2:15 AM covers about 76 hours. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I spent nearly a third of that time in front of the TV indulging in the Breaking Bad marathon on AMC.

For the first couple of days it seemed the commercial breaks consisted of those sad, heart-wrenching spots for the ASPCA or UNICEF.

But on Monday afternoon/evening, there were airings for HDIS.com, a website advertising home delivery of products geared towards assisting those with bladder control problems. Seems to me those ads were perfectly placed (and more relevant) given the millions of adults not wanting to move from their respective chairs during a weekend-long TV marathon.

- The Minnesota Vikings fired head coach Leslie Frazier on Monday. No real surprise, though I would have been OK keeping Frazier if it meant scrapping that antiquated Tampa 2 defense, thus saying goodbye to Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams.

The prevailing sentiment on Frazier was that he was "loyal to a fault" which meant his judgement may have been clouded regarding personnel. This Vikings team clearly improved the second half of the season once QB Christian Ponder, middle linebacker Erin Henderson and CB Josh Robinson were no longer regulars. That's not to say the club would have made the postseason had Matt Cassel, Audie Cole and rookie Xavier Rhodes been starters from day one. But one of the main objectives of a head coach is to put in place the personnel that gives you the best chance to win. Though I believe general manager Rick Spielman was behind Ponder receiving more chances than he deserved, the fact of the matter is the Vikings had a league wide reputation of woefully under utilizing the talent on their roster. That's on the coaching staff. The fact the Vikings traded back into the first round of the draft last April (giving them three first round selections in 2013) to select WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson and yet rarely used his dynamic talent the first half the season is alone a borderline fire-able offense.

I honestly have no prediction who will end up as Vikings coach starting in 2014. Reports surfaced a couple of weeks ago that the organization inquired about Penn St. head coach (and former New England Patriots offensive coordinator) Bill O'Brien. However, O'Brien has a $4-$5 million buyout which would need to be picked up by the team which hires him. Since the Wilf family already has to pay Frazier approximately $2 million not to coach next season, it's unlikely they'd want to invest all that money outside of what they actually have to pay someone to coach the team. Another name considered is Denver Broncos O-coordinator Adam Gase. That one seems obvious given he coaches the offense which featured a QB (Peyton Manning) who set the all-time single season record for touchdown passes and yardage. We'll see.

One thing is certain: the next coach will have to be willing to cede much of the personnel decisions to GM Spielman. That would pretty much eliminate some of the bigger names (i.e. Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden) who may consider coaching next year. And now that Frazier is gone, the organization's hot seat is now occupied by Spielman. If he once again whiffs on the selection of a franchise QB (a la Ponder in the 2011 draft), he likely won't be around when the Taj MaZygi opens in 2016.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

When the music plays, I hear the sound I had to follow....

Another blustery day in the Twin Cities, which means another ideal day to be indoors listening to The Closer. I'll be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

For the entire two hours, my good friend Nancy LaRoche will assume co-hosting duties.

Since this is the last NARN broadcast of 2013, Nancy and I will look back at the major news items of the past year at both the local and national levels. We'll also discuss A&E relenting on their suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson as well as reminisce about our favorite Metrodome memories.

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

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

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, December 27, 2013

One can't spell "CAVE" without A & E

In the little more than a week since A&E announced it was suspending Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, there was much backlash from the pro-DD crowd. It seemed rather silly that A&E would suspend Robertson for being exactly who they knew him to be -- a Bible believing Christian. Besides, Robertson never conveyed any hate or wished ill will on people who engage in willful sin (regardless of the sin). Nevertheless, A&E caved to what is seemingly becoming an all-powerful, unchecked and above reproach entity -- the LGBT community.

The fact of the matter is had A&E chosen to keep Duck Dynasty on the air, what recourse did the LGBT community and its allies possess? Their fit throwing only would have resulted in more people tuning in to the wildly popular show, resulting in even higher ratings and more lucrative opportunities for show sponsors. The bottom line is the vast majority of the people watching the show hold many of the same values (i.e. unified family, Bible believing, etc.) as the Robertson family. And if show sponsors were scared off upon being threatened with a boycott, you better believe there would be scores of others ready to step up.

Even though the show itself was not going to be put on hiatus, the Robertson family stated they would unlikely be willing to move forward without their family's patriarch (they already had a standing offer from Blaze TV founder Glenn Beck to move to his network).

In light of all that, I can't imagine an entire week went by before A&E realized how much they overreacted. As such, they waved the proverbial white flag on Friday.

As a global media content company, A+E Networks' core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people's homes, and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principles.

That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the "coarse language" he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would "never incite or encourage hate." We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold.

But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.

So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.

We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.

A&E was so quick to react to the backlash over Phil's GQ interview that they failed to mention the fact he said regardless of who indulges in whatever sin that "we just love 'em..." Seems to me that sufficiently covered the area of never inciting or encouraging hate.

I guess that what makes GLAAD's response to the lifted suspension so absurd.

“Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists. If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A+E has chosen profits over African American and gay people – especially its employees and viewers.”

If GLAAD is not careful, they're soon going to be a detriment to the gay community in the motif of Revs. Jackson and Sharpton to the black community.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

North follies

Forgive me for tooting my own horn a little bit, but I did tweet this out 2 weeks ago:

While the Lions franchise has been one of the more inept outfits for the past half century (exactly one playoff win since 1957), this most recent version may be the most dysfunctional. With all things being equal, the Lions had perhaps the most talented roster in the NFC North division. But since the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have each been beset by critical injuries (including both being without their respective franchise quarterbacks for extended periods), this was the Lions' division to lose. And lose it they did.

My friend Mark Heuring summed it up best.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Lions are a punk, gutless team. After demolishing the Packers on Thanksgiving, they've been coughing up hairballs ever since and are now out of it. The Giants came into Detroit with nothing to gain and playing a lot of subs, but still beat the Lions, who couldn't get out of their own way. Jim Schwartz is going to be fired, too, and on merit. The Lions were the only team in the division that didn't get destroyed with injuries and they still couldn't win. It's worth remembering that the last time the Lions won anything they were featuring the quarterback duo of Bobby Layne and Tobin Rote. We're approaching 60 years of futility with this crew.
So this Sunday, the NFC North will feature a winner-take-all matchup between one of the NFL's most storied rivalries: Packers-Bears.

For the visiting Pack, there is still question whether QB Aaron Rodgers will be able to return after nearly a two month absence with a broken collarbone. But even if Rodgers is able to play, RB Eddie Lacy is questionable with a bum ankle. On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers' biggest play maker, LB Clay Matthews, is likely out with a bad thumb. That's a huge blow to an already porous defense.

On the Bears side of the ledger, their offensive line has reverted to "swinging gate" status, which doesn't bode well for QB Jay Cutler in only his third game back from injury. Regarding the defense, this is perhaps the worst Bears unit I have seen since Jim Dooley was head coach. They are ranked 29th overall, including dead last against the run where they've allowed a whopping 5.4 yards per carry. So desperate were the Bears to inject life into their defense that last Sunday vs. the Philadelphia Eagles they brought in a one-armed Lance Briggs to try and help (hint: he didn't).

In the nearly 200 games (including playoffs) the Packers and Bears have faced each other, the highest scoring contest in the history of this rivalry took place November 6, 1955 (coincidentally, that was merely one day after Dr. Emmett Brown invented time travel). The Bears won that game 52-31. If my math is correct, that is 83 total points. Given the state of both teams' defenses, there's a fighting chance that record is threatened Sunday.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Watching shadows move across the wall, I feel so frightened.....

A lot to cover in the final Northern Alliance Radio Network broadcast before Christmas. As usual, The Closer will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

With so much news taking place this past week, I've decided to bring in a co-host to join the festivities. Local conservative activist (and regular NARN fill-in host) Erin Haust will be in studio the entire two hours.

We'll cover some this past week's more high profiles news stories at both the local (MNSure follies, DFL being levied a $100K fine) and national (A&E-Duck Dynasty flap) levels.

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

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

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, December 19, 2013

Ducking the issue

It's been a steady stream of Duck Dynasty talk for the past 24+ hours after one of the reality TV series' stars was placed on hiatus.

A&E has indefinitely suspended "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson after anti-gay comments he made in the January 2014 issue of GQ magazine.

Robertson, outspoken about his Christian faith, equated homosexuality with bestiality and called the lifestyle a sin.

"We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series 'Duck Dynasty'," A&E said in a statement on Wednesday.

"His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."

 The excerpt of Robertson's interview that got some people in a twist was as follows:

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

And of course, the obligatory response from GLAAD.

“What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."

Now GLAAD's response seemed to be based solely on the excerpt of Robertson's quote I cited above. However, many progressive publications seemed to ignore what he said just after that. (emphasis mine). 

As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

It may not be the most heart-warming way of conveying the gospel, but you get the general idea.

I've never understood this simplistic mentality that being opposed to one's behavior naturally translates to hating that person. You folks with kids probably understand this better than most. You've probably had a child talk back to you or disobey you. Did you condone that behavior? Of course not. But did you hate your child for it? Obviously that's an asinine question.

As I perused social media throughout the day Thursday, one thing that caught my eye was how so many of Robertson's supporters decried the decision by A&E, citing the First Amendment. While I disagreed with A&E's decision myself, the first amendment doesn't apply here. That refers to a government entity suppressing your right to speak freely (Robertson certainly isn't being detained by any government body for his comments). A&E is a private business and made a decision based on what they felt was best for their enterprise. Because one of their "employees" acted in a manner which the TV network felt was a detriment to public relations, A&E was well within their rights as a private business to choose the course of action they did (though it may well backfire).

On Thursday evening, the Robertson family issued an official statement on this controversy.

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

In the end, the Robertson family will be fine. It's not lost on everybody that only Phil was placed on hiatus but not the entire show. My understanding is the show averages 14 million viewers per episode. To put that in context, one of the most popular TV shows in recent memory, AMC's Breaking Bad, had 10 million viewers for its much anticipated series finale. The bottom line is A&E isn't willing to completely sever ties with the series given that it is such a cash cow. But ultimately it may not be up to them, as Blaze TV founder Glenn Beck would be more than happy to make room for the Robertsons on his network if A&E gets any more skittish.

In the mean time, keep donning that breastplate of righteousness, Robertson family.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sure mucked up

April Todd-Malmlov, the Chief Executive of Minnesota's state health marketplace MNSure, resigned her position yesterday in light of the exchange's difficult rollout and questions regarding an ill-timed vacation.

A few thoughts:

- Many of Ms. Todd-Malmlov's (or perhaps more accurately MNSure's) apologists argued that her not taking the two week vacation in Costa Rica in late November wouldn't have helped subside the technical issues the exchange's web site endured. After all, she's merely an administrator and not a "techie." But I would argue that a greater sense of urgency would have been felt by all MNSure employees had Todd-Malmlov canceled her already schedule trip to stay behind until enrollment issues were sufficiently addressed. When the company's established leader shows she is "all in", there really is no need for any "rah rah" speeches at that point. The message would likely have been received loud and clear.

- Serious questions of a conflict of interest also arose when it was learned Todd-Malmlov's live-in boyfriend is Jim Golden, Minnesota's Medicaid director. While MNSure denied there was a conflict of interest because Golden was not a top decision maker, a MN Dept. of Human Services internal email sent in October indicated that Golden "will continue to lead the agency's efforts to implement MNsure, which is critical to our agency's mission," and called him "instrumental" in the MNsure launch. 

My friend and Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg also asked a key question - "Now, is there a conflict of interest, here?  Knowing that if MNSure actually does crater, its clients will likely get thrown into Medicaid?   I don’t know – yet.  But I’ll find out."

- It was about 4:30 yesterday afternoon when I learned that MNSure was calling an emergency board meeting and that the purpose of the gathering was to accept the resignation of Todd-Malmlov. Upon hearing that, I took to Twitter.

I have yet to make an attempt to verify my prediction, as that would entail perusing leftist tweets. I guess I'm just not in the mood to put on a HazMat suit.

- Where credit is due: Scott Honour, one of six declared GOP candidates for MN Governor, issued a statement on Monday calling on Todd-Malmlov to resign. Within 24 hours, that very thing happened. Now I'm not suggesting that she heeded Honour's request. But Honour was the only gubernatorial candidate with the fortitude to make such a statement, and it may yet yield him some much needed energy into an otherwise lackluster campaign (he finished last in a gubernatorial straw poll at October's GOP State Central meeting).

- And finally, I'll just leave this here:


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bizarro NFL

With last evening's stunning loss at home against the Baltimore Ravens, the Detroit Lions no longer control their own destiny in the NFC North division. Had the Lions run the table in their final three games (vs. the Ravens, Giants and at the Vikings; all very winnable), they would be division champs and thus the only North team in the postseason. Alas, the Lions are still the Lions, so now they'll need help. 

Here's scenario to ponder: 

If the Lions (now with a 7-7 record and in third place) win at home vs. the pitiful Giants on Sunday, the Chicago Bears (8-6) lose at Philadelphia and the Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) lose at home vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions are back in first place since they own the tiebreaker over the Bears. 

As such, here's what the North standings would look like after Week 16: 

1. Detroit (8-7)
2. Chicago (8-7)
3. Green Bay (7-7-1)

That means it would come down to the final week of the regular season to decide which North team will make the postseason. For the Packers to win the division under this hypothetical situation, they would obviously have to beat the Bears in Soldier Field and then hope the Lions lose at the Vikings. 

So in a sense, you would have a scenario in Week 17 where the Packers fans are rooting for a Vikings win and some Vikings fans rooting against their hometown team so as to improve their draft position. 

While such a situation would be several levels beyond bizarre, in this strange 2013 NFL season it seems oddly appropriate. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

Vacation, had to get away.....

Not only has Healthcare.gov faced technical snafus, the Minnesota state healthcare exchange, MNSure, is also enduring glitches. With January 1 being the date where health coverage is supposed to begin, the system is still beset by technical issues for those who look to sign up on the exchange.

With so many problems, the exchange has nearly doubled the number of people answering questions via telephone, (855) 366-7873. More than 90 people are on MNsure phone duty.

The wait time for people calling Monday afternoon was 45 minutes, down from nearly an hour at times last week.

With that critical 1/1/2014 deadline looming, it would stand to reason that it would be "all hands on deck" to ensure all issues are rectified by the time the new year rolls around. I guess the "all in" mentality doesn't necessarily apply to the organization's leader.

On Sunday, KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities reported that MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov vacationed in Costa Rica with Jim Golden, who leads the Minnesota Medical Assistance program. They work for different agencies, but policies available on MNsure cover Minnesotans receiving MA benefits.

MNsure and the Department of Human Services, where Golden works, said there was no conflict of interest in their relationship. The Star Tribune reports that they live together in St. Paul.

MNsure officials indicated that Todd-Malmlov's vacation was fine with them. A MNsure statement said: “Members of the MNsure Board were aware of her absence. She was available via phone and email and communicated with staff on a daily basis, providing leadership and direction as needed.”
Yes, I'm sure Ms. Todd-Malmlov being available via phone and email was of great comfort to those MNSure employees grinding away back here in Minnesota, to say the least of disgruntled consumers.

Look, I have no doubt that the E.D. has been under tremendous strain and scrutiny since the MN healthcare exchange became law nearly a year ago. There's no doubt that she likely needed a break. But with the utter disaster that has been the government takeover of healthcare both at the federal and state levels, as well as the aforementioned critical deadline, could this vacation have been anymore ill-timed? Could you imagine if a key figure in a CPA firm took a two week vacation around late February, early March with April 15 as a known deadline to have income taxes filed? Such a request would be laughed at, much less honored. But hey, MNSure is funded with taxpayer money. It'll still be flowing in regardless of who's running the ship there.

Oh, and did you see that blurb that Ms. Todd-Malmlov and Jim Golden (the gentleman with whom she was vacationing) of the MN Medical Assistance Program live together in St Paul? Yep. I guess this utter farce just wouldn't be complete without a tabloid feel to it.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Riot on the radio, pictures on the TV....

It'll be another blustery Sunday in Minnesota, so stay inside and tune in The Closer from the 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

At 1:15, the show's official political wonk Matt Mackowiak will check in. We'll discuss the conservative gnashing of teeth regarding Congressman Paul Ryan collaborating with Democrat Patty Murray on a new budget, which has passed in the US House. We'll also discuss the goings on in Matt's home state of Texas, with senior US Senator John Cornyn receiving a primary challenge and junior Senator Ted Cruz causing a stir by walking out on Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. 
In other segments, it'll be a mixed bag of political and sports news on both the local and national scene. 

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 via iheart 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, December 12, 2013

Quick Hits: Volume LXXXII

- Many of my conservative cohorts are shocked by these latest developments in Washington.

The budget deal hashed out by congressional negotiators will pass the House on Thursday with the majority of Republicans supporting it, according to GOP leadership aides, although House Democrats have threatened a revolt over unemployment benefits.

Despite raising the level of discretionary spending over the next two years and replacing $63 billion in scheduled automatic cuts from the so-called sequester, House Republicans are largely supportive of the agreement reached by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). It protects military spending, allows Congress to return to the regular congressional appropriations process, and reduces the deficit by roughly $85 billion over 10 years without raising taxes. There is also, of course, a political imperative.

“You can’t spend your time making perfect the enemy of the good,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the budget conference that advised Murray and Ryan during the negotiations. “We got a pretty good lesson what happens if you overplay your hand in those situations in October,” added Cole, referring to the 16-day partial government shutdown that tanked his party’s approval ratings.

When asked why Republicans would change their tactic of extracting concessions from short-term funding deadlines, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said simply, “Because people are sick of it.”

I emphasized Ryan's name because he has, for some time now, been considered a "Tea Party darling." This is mostly in light of a budget proposal he put together a few years ago which looked to trim $4 trillion off the deficit within a decade. It also addressed certain entitlements, which, at the current pace, will likely be insolvent within a generation. Of course since there was a Democrat in the White House as well as a Dem majority in the US Senate at the time, that proposal was pretty much D.O.A.

On the flip side, it isn't all that outrageous what Ryan has proposed this week, given his voting record. He voted yes on Medicare Part D, voted yes on TARP and voted yes in 2011 to increase the debt ceiling. If you think about, the only real strong conservative stance he took was voting no on Obamacare......something every single solitary Republican took the liberty of doing.

The fact is Republicans have to start winning elections posthaste if they have any delusions of pushing through a budget similar to what Ryan concocted 2-1/2 years ago.

- Gov. Mark Dayton is petulant and also claims to have not realized what's in the bills he signs.

In other news, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Oh, and it's cold here in Minnesota.

- Like many, I am terribly saddened by what happened to a college student in Duluth over the weekend.

A 19-year-old college student is facing the terrifying prospect of possibly losing her hands and feet after being found unconscious and suffering from extreme hypothermia on the porch of a Duluth, Minnesota, home.

Alyssa Jo Lommel was found by passersby Saturday morning after spending the night outside in subzero temperatures.

Duluth police say Lommel was at Regions Hospital in St. Paul Monday. Her condition was described as ’stable critical.’

Police say Lommel, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota Duluth, was found unconscious on the porch of her neighbor's house just after 9.30am Saturday.

She had been dropped off at her home in Duluth at about midnight after reportedly spending a night with friends doing tequila shots.

Some additional information became available this week when police interviewed several witnesses, including roommates, others drinking with Lommel that evening and those who drove her home. One of the first questions I asked when hearing about this incident was who in the world would just leave her outside without ensuring she had adequate shelter?

..(T)he men who dropped her off at her home said they didn’t wait to see if she entered or not.

“He hit the locks and she got out and they drove away,” the police report states.
I have a couple of theories here. First, one or more of the guys in the vehicle made an advance at Lommel, which she rebuffed. As such, she was dropped off in haste.

Another possibility is the driver himself was drunk. As a result, common sense eluded him when chose to merely drive off instead of ensuring Ms. Lommel arrived safely indoors on what was a bitterly cold evening. However, there's no way the driver would share such a scenario with police as that would be an admittance of driving under the influence.

The bigger picture here is the state of Ms. Lommel's health. She is critical but stable, though it is still unclear if she will lose any limbs. It does seem quite likely, however, that she will have to endure skin grafts. She is still breathing with the help of a ventilator and has had to receive blood transfusions.

Continued prayers for Alyssa and her entire family.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stirring it up in South Africa

Senator Ted Cruz was among a handful of members of Congress (and the only Senator) to attend the memorial service of Nelson Mandela. However, Cruz caused quite a stir when he walked out of the services once Cuban president Raul Castro began speaking.

“Senator Cruz very much hopes that Castro learns the lessons of Nelson Mandela,” said Sean Rushton, Cruz’s communications director. “For decades, Castro has wrongly imprisoned and tortured countless innocents. Just as Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, Castro should finally release his political prisoners; he should hold free elections, and once and for all set the Cuban people free.”

Cruz's father, who was born in Cuba, fled the country just before Fidel Castro's long dictatorial reign began in 1959.

Since the conservative Cruz is the favorite lightning rod these days, there have been more than a few leftists who described Cruz's actions as "tacky" or "self aggrandizing." Nah. I think those adjectives are more apropos for, say, a sitting US President taking "selfies" while attending the aforementioned memorial service.

Or how about the White House's official Twitter feed taking the focus off the man who is being mourned and once placing it upon its current occupant?

Nope. No aggrandisement there.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Primary declarations heating up

As we're less than a year away from the 2014 midterm elections, more candidates are stepping forward to enter Congressional races.

In one of Minnesota's more polarizing Congressional Districts, the incumbent House member has himself a challenger from within his own party.

A fellow Republican launching an endorsement challenge to U.S. Rep. John Kline said Monday that the six-term incumbent congressman is not conservative enough.

David Gerson of South St. Paul kicked off his campaign at a state Capitol news conference. Gerson lost to Kline in the 2012 GOP primary in the 2nd Congressional District, getting just 15 percent of votes to 85 percent for Kline.

But Gerson said he entered the race late last time and would pursue a more organized and professional campaign this time. This time, he intends to pursue the endorsement of GOP activists in the largely suburban district south of St. Paul and said he would not run in the primary if he fails to get it.

Gerson affiliated himself with the tea party movement, saying the GOP needs to do a better job of supporting the principles of limited government, free markets and individual rights. He said conservatives "are tired of voting for Republicans who are the lesser of two evils. They are tired of voting for Republicans who mouth conservative principles but don't back them with action."

Gerson also went on to say that his campaign is about defining Republicanism "consistent with the conservative principles of the people of the Second Congressional District." One slight problem with that characterization. The latest Cook Partisan Voting Index (which is a measurement of how strongly a United States congressional district leans toward the Democratic or Republican Party) shows CD2 at an R+2. Not exactly a conservative bastion. Furthermore, in the 2012 presidential election, the voters in that district voted to reelect Barack Obama by 0.06% (whereas Kline won his reelection bid by 8 points). While the GOP will likely have an advantage in 2014 with no Obama up the ticket, CD2 is still not an overwhelmingly Republican district. So while it's admirable for Gerson to tout his staunch conservatism, it may not play as well in MN CD2 as opposed to, say, my home district of CD6, which is the most right leaning district in the state with an R+12 PVI.

Another myth that Gerson seems to perpetuate is Kline's lack of conservatism. While it's true that certain votes Kline has taken have rankled those right of center (myself included), his lifetime rating with the American Conservative Union (the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation) is a 94 out of 100.

Kline's camp has not confirmed whether or not they will abide by the Republican party endorsement should Gerson receive it (apparently Gerson has called on Kline to abide by it, which means he's confident he'll get it). But given that Kline has close to $1.5 million cash on hand, he would have no trouble funding a primary campaign and, since he would likely prevail in a primary, a general election bid. Gerson's only hope of getting the GOP nomination is if Kline were to agree to bow out if he didn't receive the endorsement. That's been the strategy of the "liberty" faction of the MN GOP for the past few election cycles. That is, get the most viable candidates in a race to acquiesce to stepping aside if they don't receive the endorsement, and then mobilize to seize the majority of "liberty" delegate spots to the respective convention. Boom! Liberty candidate endorsed, and they move on to the general election......where they usually get trounced.

The overall point is to adhere to the William F. Buckley philosophy, which is to put forth the most viable conservative (i.e. a Republican who can actually win an election. Shouldn't that be a priority?). In this particular race, it is pretty obvious that would be Kline.


Sunday, December 08, 2013

I’ve got my label, so I won't crumble at your feet....

One benefit of being in the Patriot bunker on a bitterly cold day like today is the perception that I'm closer to the inner core of the earth. Regardless, today's edition of The Closer will be on in the usual 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time slot. 

At 2:00, I will be joined via phone by Chris Dahlberg, who is one of the handful of US Senate candidates vying for the GOP nomination in an effort to unseat incumbent Al Franken. 

In the other segments, I'll likely opine on the MMB projecting a $1 Billion surplus this biennium, the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new Vikings stadium and perhaps a national news story or two.

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 via iheart 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, December 07, 2013

Quick Hits: Volume LXXXI (President Obama follies)

- I've never questioned the citizenship of President Barack Obama, so therefore I never was part of the "birther" crowd. Yet despite his insistence that he was born Hawaii, Obama's claims were still doubted by "birthers" until he publicly released his birth certificate. Unfortunately, that wasn't even enough to assuage the doubts conveyed by some.

Like no other president, the White House's current occupant has a lot of mystery surrounding him. While it's not a requirement, many presidents and presidential candidates publicly release their college transcripts. Obama has not. Why? Was he lackluster student at Harvard Law and thus embarrassed by that fact perhaps?

Another point of contention regarding the President is the relationship with his Kenyan uncle Onyango ("Omar") Obama. Given that the President has written books and has given myriad speeches over the past decade, there was nary a mention of his uncle Omar. Again, why? It would seem Omar played a somewhat pivotal role during his nephew's college years.

The White House acknowledged Thursday that President Obama briefly lived with his Kenyan uncle as he prepared to attend Harvard Law School, despite insisting in 2011 that there was no record of the two ever meeting.

The scrutiny of the relationship between Mr. Obama and his paternal uncle Onyango Obama was renewed this week in the wake of the elder Obama’s deportation hearing on Tuesday, during which he revealed that his nephew lived at his apartment in Cambridge, Mass. for three weeks during the 1980s.

In 2011, the White House explained, the press office did not ask the president directly whether he had ever met his uncle. This time, when he was asked, the president confirmed his relationship with his uncle, whom he calls “Omar.”

Because he never acknowledged his uncle Omar, the President could avoid being accused of having a personal stake in the push for amnesty (or quasi amnesty) for illegal aliens. But since it's now been revealed that Obama lived with his uncle Omar for a time, there's a natural curiosity as to why that was omitted from his story. I don't look at this as so much a lie as I do a "sin of omission."

- There's no question that of all the issues Barack Obama campaigned on leading up to the 2008 election, healthcare reform was the top priority. Upon being inaugurated in January 2009, Obama took advantage of the fact his party controlled all of Congress by signing into law one of the more radical transformations of a significant sector of the economy (dubbed.the "Affordable Care Act"). And he was well aware of what he was sacrificing politically, knowing that 7-1/2 months after signing the ACA into law his party would take significant hits in the midterm elections (it cost them a majority in the US House).

So with such a monumental piece of legislation, one which will likely define Obama's presidential legacy, it would stand to reason that he would be in constant communication with those primarily responsible for implementing the law. One person in particular that would seem most  vital to the process is the Health and Human Services Secretary who, by the job's very definition, has the goal of protecting the health of all Americans. In essence, that seemed to be how they were touting the ACA. Since Kathleen Sebelius has been the HHS secretary from day one, chances are she's been meeting with the President on a regular basis, right?

That did not happen, at least not according to Obama’s own official White House calendar.

A new Government Accountability Institute (GAI) analysis finds that from July 12, 2010, to Nov. 30, 2013, the president’s public schedule records zero one-on-one meetings between Obama and Sebelius. Equally shocking, over the same period, the president's calendar lists 277 private meetings with his other Cabinet secretaries (excluding full Cabinet meetings).

Given these startling findings, and the fact that the White House calendar did not reflect meetings prior to July 12, 2010, GAI researchers then performed a second analysis using another respected recorder of presidential activity, the POLITICO presidential calendar. The results: Just one April 21, 2010 entry was found listing a White House meeting between Obama and Sebelius—and even that was a joint meeting with then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
One of the consistent criticisms of the President is his lack of leadership, whether it's unwillingness to take the hits when things go awry or his lack of initiative in negotiating budget deals with Congress. To basically kiss off meetings with Sebelius, arguably the go to person to effectively move the law from passage to implementation, is an utter embarrassment.

- Make no mistake: Whenever there's a big time news event or story, Obama can't help but insert himself in it somehow. The passing of crusader, freedom fighter and former South African President Nelson Mandela this past week was just such an opportunity.

When the White House's official Twitter feed posted a statement from Obama regarding Mandela's passing, they accompanied the quote with a picture of the Obama family in the jail cell where Mandela spent 27 years.

It would seem to me that a picture of Mandela himself upon his release from jail might have been more relevant. Maybe his inauguration as South African President with his jailers seated on the front row of the inauguration ceremony? Certainly a powerful snapshot given where Mandela was just a few years earlier.

Am I nitpicking here? Perhaps. But it wouldn't be as salient an issue had the White House's current occupant ever showed so much as an ounce of humility throughout his time as president.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Happy MN Forecast Day!

Thursday was the day the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget released its forecast for the upcoming biennium. It turns out, there is a projected surplus of $1.086 Billion for the current biennium.

Naturally, the Democrats and their supporters jumped around like poo flinging monkeys did a proverbial victory lap, feeling vindicated that the state having been under complete DFL control for the past 11 months was just the antidote the ailing Minnesota economy needed.

On the flip side, many Republicans and their supporters dug deeper into the numbers, much to the chagrin of Dayton's Deputy Chief of Staff Bob Hume.

Of course, Bob. But since your boss is so hellbent on doing an end zone happy dance, we thought we'd provide a little context. That's only fair, especially since y'all are chortling about a surplus after a legislative session that saw more than $2 Billion in tax increases.

When the Dayton administration released its statement lauding the results, they highlighted the fact that $246 million of the surplus will be used to pay the balance of the school shift (the amount of money borrowed from funds designated for public schools). Naturally, there were key facts omitted from that proverbial pat on the back. In 2010, when Dems held both chambers of the legislature, $1.9 Billion was shifted from schools. In the infamous budget battle of 2011, when the GOP controlled both chambers, $900 million was shifted. So of the $2.8 Billion borrowed, about $880 million ($636M in 2013, $246M next year) was repaid with the DFL in control, or only about 32%. So if Dayton et al want to refer to "irresponsible borrowing from Minnesota students" then it should be noted the DFL OK'd the vast majority of the total shift while the Republicans took the initiative to pay back more than two-thirds of the total.

Another result accentuated was how Minnesota has "added 13,400 jobs since August and over 122,000 jobs since January 2011 –  regaining all of the jobs that were lost in the Great Recession."

Again, the devil is in the details.

While it may be true that the quantity of jobs lost has been regained, can we honestly say they're of the same caliber in terms of salary, benefits, etc.?

Rep. Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove), who is also one of the GOP candidates for MN governor, summed up the overall results brilliantly.

“After raising more than $2 billion in taxes on Minnesotans -- including new taxes on online purchases, warehousing, broadband, farm equipment repair and rental cars -- Governor Dayton and DFL legislators are now celebrating a $1 billion surplus. Their inability to understand basic math is topped only by their desire to spend taxpayer money on wasteful and unnecessary projects like a new $90 million office building for elected officials with a fitness center and reflecting pool.

“Recently we also learned that the property tax decreases promised by Dayton is a fallacy. The fact is, along with the more than $2 billion in tax increases imposed by Dayton and the Democrats in the legislature, hardworking Minnesotans will be facing property tax increases in 2014 and beyond.

"While some politicians are busy patting themselves on the back for a surplus, let's remember government's goal should not be to take in the most money possible, but to spend the money they have more efficiently and effectively. It's time to return accountability and common sense to state government.”

Spot on. Minnesotans don't exactly feel the benefits of a budget surplus, especially in light of such substantial tax increases to make it happen. Contrast that with the budget for FY 2012-13, passed by the GOP legislative majority. That yielded a $3.4 Billion surplus without having raised taxes one dime.

So in the end, can we be pleased we have a surplus? I can honestly say it's a heckuva lot better than a shortfall, especially since the DFL reaction then would've been to propose more tax increases.

But since there is a surplus, will Gov. Dayton now honor his vow of repealing certain taxes (e.g. taxes on farm equipment repair and warehouse tax) next legislative session? After all, the forecast results say we'll still net $840 million after the school shift is repaid in 2014. It's an intriguing strategy to say the least. Dayton signs a repeal of tax increases which he approved in the final budget in May but later claimed he wasn't aware they were in said budget. In the end, Dayton can claim to be a hero......and in an election year no less. Brilliant.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Thousands of words

Tuesday was the day when Vikings officials and some local politicians gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Vikes' new stadium, which is slated to be ready for the 2016 season. The gathering took place just outside the Metrodome, which will be torn down in a matter of weeks and replaced with the aforementioned Taj MaZygi.

I've written enough in this space regarding my disdain over the hundreds of millions of dollars which will be extracted from Minnesota taxpayers. And since the top GOP candidates for Minnesota governor (Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson) were adamantly opposed to the stadium from day one, it's an issue they can hang around the neck of incumbent governor Mark Dayton. 

Speaking of Dayton, did you happen to see the brilliant photo of he and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf at the ceremony?

Photo courtesy of Star Tribune photographer Glen Stubbe

That would be Wilf on the left. Check out that grin on his face. That appears to be an expression that screams "Thanks, suckas!!!!" And then you have our beloved governor on the right. Call me crazy, but the way he's slinging that shovel gives an appearance that he not only has never utilized such an instrument but also that he hasn't the first clue what it is. Regardless, the fact the governor is slinging dirt is symbolic in a) the way he and his surrogates campaign and b) the financial health of the state of Minnesota being buried.

Another "picture is worth a thousand words" moment occurred when authors of the stadium bill (Rep. Morrie Lanning and Sen. Julie Rosen) were pictured with Gov. Dayton.

Photo courtesy of Star Tribune photographer Glen Stubbe

It has been rumored for some time that Rosen may jump into the race for the Republican nomination for MN governor. Despite there being no official word from her camp expressing "yea" or "nay", there was a report within the past few weeks indicating that Rosen will not enter the race. But if indeed Sen. Rosen still intends on going through the charade of officially announcing her intention not to run, I suggest just releasing this photo to the public. It will serve as a reminder of Rosen's unabashed support for dinging MN taxpayers in order to finance a football stadium, thus effectively blunting much of the support she'd receive from the GOP base.

And now the Dayton camp can proceed with "the GOP is waging a war on women" chanting point.


Monday, December 02, 2013

Character matters.....until it doesn't

With a victory over the Chicago Bears this past Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings now have as many wins this season as they do player arrests - three.

Within the month of November, WR Jerome Simpson (DWI), CB A.J. Jefferson (domestic assault) and LB Erin Henderson (drunk driving; possession of a controlled substance) have all endured off-field legal troubles.

When Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier had the "interim" label removed from his title prior to the 2011 season, he was perceived as a no-nonsense guy who could create a culture where such incidents weren't as common. Of course, many Vikings fans recall Brad Childress demanding a "culture of accountability" when he was hired as head coach prior to the 2006 season. At that point, the franchise was less than one year removed from the "love boat" debacle, an incident which involved lewd and crude behavior by at least 10-15 players (four were eventually charged with misdemeanors). As such, Childress came in with the aura of a there being a "new sheriff in town", similar to the pledge made in 1992 by Dennis Green. Alas, off-field incidents were not completely curbed during Childress's 4-1/2 year tenure.

In addition to assessing a player based on his football acuity, NFL franchises will also perform thorough background checks prior to drafting players. Such a vetting process would most certainly reveal any brushes with the law. Not so coincidentally, the level of indiscretions tolerated would seem to be in direct proportion to how much an organization values a player's on-field potential (see: Moss, Randy).

When defensive back Chris Cook was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft, the Vikings believed they got a steal. He was a unique combination of height (6'2"), strength and quickness. Unfortunately, much of his rookie season was lost to injury. Then during his second season, Cook was charged with domestic violence and was suspended by the team (without pay) for the remainder of the year. The sentiment that came from the Vikings front office was they were willing to let the legal process play out before making a final decision on Cook's status beyond 2011. Once Cook was found not guilty, he was welcomed back for the 2012 season. Now, compare that to the plight of Jefferson. He was released by the Vikings literally hours after being charged with domestic assault.

Why was it that Jefferson didn't receive the same courtesy as Cook, in that he would be allowed to remain a member of the Vikings while going through the legal process? Well.....one could say that Jefferson was not a productive player and that this was a convenient excuse to let him go, whereas the Vikings still had high hopes two years ago that Cook would eventually fulfill the his potential as a top flight DB. You'll also notice that there hasn't been any substantial discipline levied against Simpson, who is in the midst of one of his most productive seasons of his career.

I understand that franchises strive to bring in players who will not only perform well on the field but also be pillars of the community. But in the end the NFL is a lucrative business, and the only way revenue is maximized is through a team being successful between the lines. As much as organizations like to set an expectation of players being good ambassadors for the team and its city, the fact is they're willing to overlook (or even tolerate) certain behaviors if a player adds tremendous value to on-field success.


Sunday, December 01, 2013

What do you mean I can't get to work on time? Got nothing better to do.....

Technically it's still Thanksgiving weekend but the Northern Alliance Radio Network presses on. I'll be in my normal 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time slot for today's edition of The Closer. 

At 1:30, AM 1280 The Patriot promotions guy (and fellow Minnesota Twins rube) Ross Brendel will check in to discuss a sudden flurry of offseason activity by our favorite baseball club.

Then at 2:00, friend of the show/conservative blogger/all-around cool chick Katie Kieffer will call in.

Katie will be checking in to update us on the status of the book she is writing. As we chatted back and forth via email this past week, Katie did share with me the title of said book. However, I refuse to steal her thunder by revealing it. I guess you'll have to tune in to find out.

I will also share my own personal Thanksgiving message as well as take a look back at the big news stories from this past week. 

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 via iheart 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.....