Thursday, February 27, 2014

1062 is 86'd

I can't say I'm shocked by this given the enormous pressure, scrutiny and flat out misrepresentation of Arizona Senate Bill 1062.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Wednesday that she has vetoed SB 1062, the controversial bill that has been criticized as discriminatory towards gays and lesbians, saying the measure, “has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.”

“Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” Brewer told reporters during a press conference Wednesday evening. “The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”

After the press conference, Brewer tweeted a photo of herself vetoing the bill.

The Republican governor has faced intense scrutiny since the controversial measure that would allow business owners to deny services for religious reasons to gay and lesbian customers landed on her desk Monday.

Brewer said that both religious liberty and nondiscrimination are core values of her state and warned the bill “could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.”

I understood the spirit behind this legislation, which was to prevent individuals from being in a position to have to violate their consciences or possibly face litigation. The example often cited is a baker in Colorado who refused his services to a gay couple due to the fact his religion (Christianity) does not sanction same-sex weddings. The baker in question, Jack Phillips, was indeed sued by the homosexual couple whose request for a wedding cake was denied. A judge ruled against Phillips, citing his refusal of services based on religious grounds to be discriminatory.

The fact SB 1062 was being touted as "anti-gay" or a "sending us back to the days of Jim Crow" is at best ignorant and at worst utterly deceitful. Let's suppose that 1062 was signed into law. Could you imagine what would happen if a certain private business began refusing services to gays outside the framework of that law? At best, their business reputation would be dragged through the mud, resulting in throngs of people no longer patronizing said business. In essence, the business owner's livelihood would be in jeopardy if they attempted to push the boundaries of that law, and rightly so. But that is the key distinction between Jim Crow laws and SB 1062. In the 1950s and '60s, while Jim Crow was still in effect, people started to become outraged over the fact that a segment of the population (i.e blacks) were refused service in certain establishments or were banished to a separate section altogether. But even if a restaurant owner or motel proprietor wanted to allow black people to utilize their services, Jim Crow laws were enforced by government, thus precluding business owners from serving whomever they chose. Ben Howe of Red State summed it up brilliantly when he said people "need to learn the difference between govt mandated segregation and freedom to self-segregate. One should be illegal, the other disliked." Spot on!

In the end, I agreed with Gov. Brewer's decision to veto the legislation. Again, while I thought the substance of the bill was being largely misrepresented by certain people, there didn't seem to be an urgent need to enact such a "religious freedom" law. Brewer herself stated she had “not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.” Let's hope that remains the case and that the incident with the Colorado bakery was indeed isolated. But given the lack of tolerance over moral objections to homosexuality, I have a feeling this issue will be revisited.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume LXXXVIII

- We've heard the phrase "Polar vortex" in reference to the much colder than usual weather we've experienced throughout North America in 2014. With the Minnesota Legislature back in session Tuesday, Polar vortex could also be a euphemism for what happens to Minnesotans' hard earned money when the DFL controls state government.

Ah, but fear not my fellow Minnesotans. The DFL's top priority is to provide middle-class tax relief by repealing certain taxes.....which they voted to increase last session....but now they expect a heroes welcome for returning those dollars to its rightful owners (i.e. the taxpayers).

The most galling aspect of this will be Gov. Mark Dayton on the campaign trail claiming he had the best interest of small businesses in mind upon signing a repeal of new sales taxes on business equipment repairs, telecommunications equipment purchases and warehousing services. However, it was Dayton himself who admitted he didn't realize what was contained in the final tax bill until after it was "already buttoned up" (translation: I had no idea what I signed). You gotta admit it's an intriguing strategy. Sign a tax bill increasing taxes, deny you knew of certain increases and then declare victory by giving back the money.

- About six months ago, Fox News personality Megyn Kelly was given the coveted 9:00 ET/8:00 CT slot on that network. Upon news of the lineup shift, Kelly's CNN counterpart in that time slot, Piers Morgan, tweeted the following:

I guess Mr. Morgan can consider it "brought on."

Gun-control opponents, take heart: "Piers Morgan Live" is about to get its barrel cleaned by CNN.

The 9 p.m. interview show hosted by the British-born Morgan — an outspoken and controversial champion of gun control — will be canceled as soon as next month, the host told the New York Times in an interview published Sunday.

"Piers Morgan Live" has sunk to some of its lowest-ever ratings recently, just as CNN boss Jeff Zucker is under relentless pressure to turn around the struggling cable news network. CNN is often a distant No. 3 behind Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

"CNN confirms that 'Piers Morgan Live' is ending," the network said in a statement. "The date of the final program is still to be determined."

Morgan did not respond to a request for comment, nor did his manager. He took over the 9 p.m. weeknight period for CNN in 2011, succeeding Larry King.

The fact of the matter is it didn't matter who was opposite of Morgan in the coveted 9:00 ET slot. His condescending (and sometimes downright hostile) attitude towards those who made coherent arguments refuting his vapid gun control screeds wore thin with Americans. To me, he reached the pinnacle of absurdity when he suggested to Pastor Rick Warren that the Holy Bible be amended.

From here I don't know where Morgan goes. Truth be told, I don't really care.

- I ride the Northstar commuter rail to my workplace in downtown Minneapolis. Over the past month there's been an inordinate amount of delays resulting in my not arriving in my office until past my normal 8:00 a.m. start time. The catalyst for said delays has been heavier freight traffic.

So when commerce interferes with a pet government project like the Northstar rail, I think you know what happens next.

The Minnesota Legislature is about to climb aboard the dilemma of passenger train delays in the state. Monday morning, the Northstar Commuter line was more than two hours late from Big Lake to Minneapolis.

House Transportation Finance Committee Chair Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis) intended to hold hearings on Wednesday on the impact and safety of increased freight rail traffic across the state. The dramatic increase in freight traffic is a product of the North Dakota oil boom. Almost all of that oil is transported by rail.

"The freight traffic has precedence over the passenger traffic and these rail companies need to communicate more effectively and schedule better so that they do not interfere with our commuter traffic," said Hornstein.
These proposed hearings are merely a symbolic gesture since, as Rep. Hornstein correctly pointed out, BNSF has priority on the tracks. As such, it appears state government has little recourse (not that they won't try to impose their will anyways).

Being at the mercy of BNSF was something which legislators were fully aware when they chose to fund a commuter train serving only the North-Northwest suburbs. Even without the significant delays (delays which may result in commuters no longer desiring to use Northstar), this rail line has been a boondoggle. As it stands now, taxpayers are subsidizing the Northstar to the tune of about $20 per rider each way. So this seemingly faux outrage put forth by Rep. Hornstein seems to be little more than a face-saving exercise.

While the money pit that is public transportation is an issue that will always linger, there may be a way to alleviate the delays caused by increased freighter traffic hauling oil out of North Dakota. Perhaps that issue can be broached with President Barack Obama when he visits the Twin Cities today.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Sticky wickets

Phil Krinkie, current board member of The Taxpayers League of Minnesota and U.S. House candidate in the Sixth Congressional District, has some splainin' to do.

I'll come back to that.

But first, a recap of a high profile endorsement battle in one of the Minnesota state House Districts.

State Rep. David FitzSimmons, one of four Republicans to vote in favor of gay marriage last session, has decided not run for re-election, making the announcement over the weekend at his party’s endorsing convention.

Of his situation, FitzSimmons said in an interview: “It was very evident that the forces that wanted to force me out had solidified people in their opposition to me.”

Instead, House District 30A
(actually it was HD 30B - ed.) endorsed Dayton City Council Member Eric Lucero, who made FitzSimmons’ gay marriage vote the linchpin of his campaign.

FitzSimmons had been expected to lose the GOP endorsement, despite being considered a party leader in Wright County and having the support of such stalwart conservatives as Tom Emmer, a congressional candidate in the 6th District.

In my opinion, the delegates in 30B chose not to look at the bigger picture. FitzSimmons only voted "yes" due to the fact he wanted to be part of the conference committee reconciling the House and Senate versions of the gay marriage bill. This was to ensure that an amendment FitzSimmons authored, one that would essentially protect churches from lawsuits for refusal to perform same-sex weddings, would not be stripped from the final version. One could make a strong argument that FitzSimmons made the same-sex marriage law (which was going to pass anyways given complete Democrat control of state government) more palatable for social conservatives. Nevertheless, the delegates in 30B were well within their rights to do what they did, regardless of how shortsighted they appear.

But perhaps the most egregious actions were displayed by Krinkie. He penned the following letter (photo courtesy of Walter Hudson), which was distributed to the delegates at Saturday's convention:

For those not familiar with the Taxpayers League, they're an organization who rate legislators based on their voting record on fiscal issues. One of the methods they use in an attempt to hold state candidates accountable is to request that they sign the "Taxpayers Protection Pledge." This pledge is a commitment to always vote "no" on any legislation that would result in increasing taxes. Krinkie writes in this letter that Lucero signed the pledge whereas the incumbent FitzSimmons did not. What was conveniently left out of this letter is that of 201 state legislators, FitzSimmons was one of only thirteen who last legislative session received a 100% score in terms of voting against what the TPL deemed "wasteful spending."

That begs the question of why would Krinkie pen such an outright misleading letter? Is this personal? Well, FitzSimmons is an unabashed supporter of Tom Emmer who, like Krinkie, is vying to be the GOP nominee in MN CD6. Since Emmer is pretty much a lock to get the nod, perhaps Krinkie allowed vindictiveness to overtake him. If that's the case, Krinkie comes off as incredibly petty.

But the biggest problem Krinkie faces is his unauthorized use of Taxpayers League stationary to enact what looks to be a personal vendetta. It's been verified that neither Krinkie's fellow board members nor TPL President Ted Lillie authorized this letter. With that in mind, the Taxpayers League needs to publicly admonish Krinkie and/or remove him from the board. Anything short of that likely results in their brand being irreparably damaged.

So is it safe to say that Krinkie is no longer a viable candidate in CD6? Yes. Then again, his viability has pretty much been non-existent since the day he announced his candidacy.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's happened

When an NBA team with a losing record announces they're signing a 12-year veteran (who has averaged 3.6 points per game over his career) to a ten day contract just prior to playing a Sunday evening game against a team with a worse record, such a transaction is hardly noteworthy.

However, there is one notable exception.

Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete in North America's four major professional sports Sunday, signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

Collins checked in with 10:28 to go in the second quarter and received a round of applause from the Staples Center crowd.

"Sometimes in life something happens and there's an opportunity," he said shortly before taking on the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night. "I'm very thankful for this opportunity. That's why I work so hard, why I train the way I do so that when I do have an opportunity physically I'm not worried about my conditioning or cardio or anything along those lines."

We all knew an announcement of this kind was going to happen sooner than later, given the environment is so ripe. One big reason is that any moral objections to homosexuality in this day and age are often met with swift repudiation and condemnation. On the other hand, if an individual involved in a high profile profession (e.g. sports, entertainment, etc.) professes his/her homosexuality, they're sometimes given the type of adulation that may likely be reserved for someone finding a cure for cancer (if nothing else, they could be a guest of the First Lady to a State of the Union Address).

All that said, I'm not denying this is an historic event. No question it is. But now that it's happened, I'm hoping we no longer have to endure press conferences to announce how a professional athlete lives his private life.


Every time I leave, you say you won't be there.....

I survived yet another snowmageddon, so The Closer will roll on. I'll be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 pm Central Time.

At 1:30, the NARN Babe Julia Schliesing will be making her weekly appearance. We'll recap her fundraiser from this past Wednesday where she hung at the U of M Buffalo Wild Wings for fourteen hours in an attempt to raise money for suicide prevention. We'll also discuss whatever else she darn well pleases.

Then at 2:15, political wonk Matt Mackowiak will check in. We'll get an update on the high profile gubernatorial race in Matt's home state of Texas as well as the latest polls on the Republicans' prospects for seizing control of the U.S. Senate this year.

In the non-guest segments, I'll opine on some of the goings on in the local political scene, specifically some high profile GOP state legislators receiving endorsement challenges. We may or may not have a guest or two to also weigh in.

So please give me 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.....


Friday, February 21, 2014


The commuter rail I take to and from my office in downtown Minneapolis was especially full at 4:00 pm, which is the earliest train to depart downtown. Obviously everyone was anticipating the chaos that came with Thursday's major winter storm, so the train was SRO (I got on early enough to get a seat however).

As a result of the train being over capacity, I was hemmed in by two women. Not a big deal, except for the fact I had to listen to these gals convey how they weren't big fans of their respective mates (to be fair, they may have just had one of those days). It was also obvious that one of the gals wasn't embarrassed if multiple people heard her trash her husband. One lament that really stood out to me was how she lectured him for only kissing her "once a day." And when he did kiss her it was never on the lips, merely on the cheek (Again, passengers are packed in this train like sardines and she was not talking with a whisper). 

I am never one to hand out unasked for advice (and I did not do so on the train) but from what I could ascertain, this woman was wrong on so many levels. Her biggest mistake, quite obviously, was airing the proverbial dirty laundry with not only her friend but essentially a nearby crowd. Can you imagine how mortified her husband would be had he known how he was being portrayed in a public place? Another error in judgement appeared to be this woman not telling her husband of her feelings almost immediately. Instead she allowed these daily affronts to build up to the point where she had an emotional outburst. However, she claimed that he had been "getting better" in the affection department after said outburst. The end justifies the means, I guess. 

This whole incident reminds me of a biblical passage that is the focal point of a marriage seminar entitled Love & Respect. Ephesians 5:33 says However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, the founder of this ministry, believes failure to adhere to that philosophy can lead the the "crazy cycle." This occurs when a husband's need for respect goes unmet, thus he will then react by not showing his wife love. And since the wife's need for love goes unfulfilled, she in turn does not give her husband respect. And so on, and so on. 

Dr. Eggerichs:

"You may remember how the Beatles sang, 'All you need is love.' I absolutely disagree with that conclusion. Five out of ten marriages today are ending in divorce because love alone is not enough. Yes, love is vital, especially for the wife, but what we have missed is the husband's need for respect. This Love and Respect message is about how the wife can fulfill her need to be loved by giving her husband what he needs - respect. And the husband can fulfill his need to be respected by giving his wife what she needs - love. Does this always work? No. But if one is married to a person of good will, I would bet the farm that it would work!"

In the almost 14 years I have been married to the fetching Mrs. Carlson, I would be willing to bet she has never aired frustrations about me with anyone outside of her and I (yes, believe it or not, I have caused her rare moments of angst). The reason I feel so confident in that is the reaction I get from her acquaintances (e.g. her co-workers, her political peers, etc.) when I'm meeting them for the first time. It rarely is the obligatory "nice to meet you" as much as it is they actually allude to the positive traits they've heard about me. Knowing how much my wife lifts me up (i.e. shows respect) without a doubt enhances my already deep love for her. Am I saying that makes us superior to struggling couples? Absolutely not. But what I am saying is for all the complications we bring into relationships, some basic principles on how husbands and wives interact could go a long way in strengthening such a union.

I can honestly say I hope that woman on the train genuinely feels the love she so covets. And I hope she in turn showers her guy with the utmost respect.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume LXXXVII

-With the calendar flipping to March soon in this an election year, local level political conventions are about to begin. One of the main orders of business is to endorse candidates for state level office. Since the MN House is the only chamber of the legislature up for election, the goal for Republicans quite obviously is wrest control of said chamber back from the Democrats.

Unfortunately some very solid incumbent Republicans are having to deal with the distraction of having to fend off endorsement (and possibly primary) challenges. That's not a bad thing per se. However, when well-respected, hard-working idealistic reps like Kurt Daudt (who is also the House Minority Leader) and David FitzSimmons are being targeted for reasons that seemingly defy the bigger picture, it puts the goal of regaining a majority in the House somewhat in peril. Not only were these two gentlemen invaluable in fending off a complete Democrat onslaught last session, they also take significant time away from their personal campaigns (as well as diverting financial resources) in an effort to flip the seven House seats. That is the number needed to regain a majority in that chamber.

Once again, this smacks of an attitude that it's more desirable to lose on "principle" than to win with someone with whom you "only" agree 95-98% percent of the time. I fail to see how the DFL possibly maintaining complete control of state government will teach any Republican  a so-called valuable lesson.

-Over the past week, I finally relented and started to indulge in the Netflix political drama House of Cards. Thus far I've gotten through nine of the thirteen episodes in the first season with the second season having just been released this past weekend. As such, I am desperately trying to avoid "spoilers", which is no small task given today's information age.

My impressions thus far is it's a riveting show worth one's time even if one is not politically astute. However, I'm doing all I can to suspend my disbelief that such a high profile TV series would actually portray a Democrat politician (played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey) as the underhanded, sleazy character.

-Say, are you planning on eating lunch or dinner today? Yeah, that's a silly question. But if you happen to be free to indulge in a meal at the Buffalo Wild Wings on the U of M campus, you would be supporting a great cause just for purchasing said meal (10% of the cost goes to S.A.V.E.). As an added bonus, you can meet the latest addition to the Northern Alliance Radio Network. That's right. None other than our own NARN Babe Julia Schliesing (who also happens to be the reigning Miss Minneapolis) is hosting the event.

For more information, please check out the event's Facebook page by clicking here.


Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 1984: "Kick off your Sunday shoes....."

This classic 80s flick was released in theaters 30 years ago today:

The storyline, per IMDb:

Classic tale of teenage rebellion and repression features a delightful combination of dance choreography and realistic and touching performances. When teenager Ren McCormack and his family move from big-city Chicago to a small Midwestern town, he's in for a real case of culture shock. Though he tries hard to fit in, the streetwise Ren can't quite believe he's living in a place where rock music and dancing are illegal. However, there is one small pleasure: Ariel Moore, a troubled but lovely blonde with a jealous boyfriend. And a Bible-thumping minister, who is responsible for keeping the town dance-free. Ren and his classmates want to do away with this ordinance, especially since the senior prom is around the corner, but only Ren has the courage to initiate a battle to abolish the outmoded ban and revitalize the spirit of the repressed townspeople.

And it was because of Ren's indomitable, never-say-die spirit that Rev. Moore and the town council relented, thus allowing the kids the lifelong dream of having a dance.

Speaking of which, do you recall the final scene of that movie when the students had their big soiree? Despite such activities having been illegal in that town for years, the teens seemed to be plenty proficient on the dance floor.

I have a feeling there were plenty of underground dance parties in the dead of night in that small town. But once that proverbial wall of oppression was torn down, these kids were liberated. The dance moves were already ingrained in them..... and they were finally able show it!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Night fall covers me, but you know the plans I'm making.....

Regardless if you've sufficiently recovered from the chocolate binge that takes place on a Valentine's weekend, you'll not want to miss this afternoon's edition of The Closer. We'll be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00. 

At 1:30 will be the debut of the weekly appearance by The NARN babe, Julia Schliesing

For one segment each Sunday, Julia will be checking in with her insights on some of the latest political happenings. We may also get some updates on her preparations for the Miss Minnesota pageant slated to take place in four months (click here if you'd like to help Julia financially in her quest). 

Then at 2:00 Angie Hasek, currently the Executive Director of the Minnesota College Republicans, will call in to the program. Just this past Thursday, Angie announced here candidacy to replace her brother Andrew as Chair of the MN CRs. 

Angie will discuss her candidacy as well as the future of the Republican party now that her generation is poised to move into the work force. 

Finally at 2:15, MN House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt will check in. We'll discuss the issues likely to be addressed in the upcoming Minnesota legislative session which begins in less than two weeks. In addition, Rep. Daudt recently received a challenger for the GOP endorsement, so we'll get his thoughts on that as well. 

So please give me 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.....


Friday, February 14, 2014

Hanging curveball

Senator Al Franken hasn't spoken up on....well....much of anything in his tenure as the junior senator from my state. But on Thursday, Sen. Fart Joke Franken emerged from the bunker to express his dismay with the possibility of cable giant Comcast acquiring Time Warner Cable for $45 billion.

"There's not enough competition, we need more competition, not less. This is going exactly in the wrong direction," Franken said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"Consumers are – I am very concerned – are going to pay higher bills, they are going to get even worse service and less choice," said Franken.

Emphasis mine.

Do those drawbacks remind you of any other product being jammed down the proverbial throats offered to consumers?

The biggest difference being that consumers won't be levied with a fine if they decline to purchase certain features offered by a corporate body.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Warming up

If you're a sports fan, you perhaps echo the sentiment of many that the time between the Super Bowl and Opening Day of baseball season (two months) is pretty much a dead time sports wise.

For me, I'm totally getting into men's college basketball, even ahead of March Madness.

And with a game like Wednesday's Syracuse-Pittsburgh matchup....

......I'm biding my time in this "dead spot" just fine, thanks.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume LXXXVI

-The NFL draft is three months away, yet anticipation is already building among football fans. While said fans are eager to see how their respective team fares in the early rounds, there is likely going to be some extra focus from non-football fans on, say, the middle rounds. Why?

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri and the Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year, said that he is gay in an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Sunday.

Sam stated publicly what his teammates and coaches at Mizzou have known since August: "I am an openly, proud gay man."

Sam is eligible for the NFL draft in May. Assuming that he is drafted, Sam could become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL.

"I understand how big this is," he said. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."

From the projections I have seen, Sam is considered the 14th best defensive end of those entering the NFL draft. That places him at about a fourth or fifth round draft choice. I don't know the success rate, but I have to believe that the number of fifth round selections who have actually had any semblance of an NFL career is less than half.

Despite the odds, I know a lot of people are rooting for Sam to make it, myself included. However, my motives are likely different from most. Admittedly I'm hoping for Sam to have at least a modest NFL career so that we can finally cease with all of the overwhelming fanfare of an openly gay man potentially playing in one of the four major sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL). If Sam's NFL career comes to fruition, then gay athletes don't feel as though they need to hold a press conference to announce how they're living their private lives. I'd rather not know, regardless of sexual orientation.

- Say, you remember this from the White House's Twitter feed when there were rumblings that House Republicans were going to craft a measure to repeal Obamacare?

That's right: It's the law.....until it isn't.

Most employers won't face a fine next year if they fail to offer workers health insurance, the Obama administration said Monday, in the latest big delay of the health-law rollout.

The Treasury Department, in regulations outlining the Affordable Care Act, said employers with 50 to 99 full-time workers won't have to comply with the law's requirement to provide insurance or pay a fee until 2016. Companies with more workers could avoid some penalties in 2015 if they showed they were offering coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers.

The move came after employers pressured the Obama administration to peel back the law's insurance requirements. Some firms had trimmed workers' hours to below 30 hours a week to avoid paying a penalty if they didn't offer insurance.

A senior administration official said the shift was a response to businesses' concerns, though the official said no one reason was behind the change.

Under the original 2010 health law, employers with the equivalent of at least 50 full-time workers had to offer coverage or pay a penalty starting at $2,000 a worker beginning in 2014. Last year, the administration delayed the requirement for the first time by moving it to 2015.

Say, I thought only rulers and kings could unilaterally change laws to satisfy their sense of whimsy. Oh, and did you notice the latest delays were conveniently put off past the November midterm elections? Hardly an accident when you consider most polling data indicated the ACA would be a major campaign issue.

Nevertheless, the ACA has already had a detrimental affect on families, whether it's rising costs in their current health plan or elimination of coverage altogether. Multiple delays aren't going to change those dilemmas, meaning health coverage will remain a salient issue this campaign season.

- For some time now, we at the Northern Alliance Radio Network have been in search of a "NARN babe." Oh sure, we've had many attractive, conservative ladies appear as guests on the show. However, because many of these ladies are so passionate about politics, there's no way they would ever acquiesce to being exclusive to weekend programming on AM 1280 The Patriot. As such, these same ladies often make guest appearances on a certain Clear Channel station to our left (physically, not politically), which broadcasts local political talk on a daily basis.

Fast forward to this past Sunday when I welcomed as a guest Miss Minneapolis 2014 Julia Schliesing. Now I knew coming in that she was gorgeous and politically conservative. However, I know many women who are very proficient in those two areas but I wouldn't let them within a mile of a radio mic. But the minute Julia began conveying her insights, I had a feeling she was the one, especially since she has aspirations for a career in media.

As her guest appearance was ending, I pitched her the idea of being the NARN babe and she seemed very open to it. I even told her about Miss Minnesota 2012 Siri Freeh, who sharpened her radio chops on a certain morning show on the aforementioned Clear Channel station. But what clinched it for me is when I asked Julia if she had ever heard of said morning show. When she replied "no", I immediately proclaimed "YOU'RE HIRED!!!"

I think she's all in.

With that, ladies & gentleman, I'd like to officially welcome the first ever NARN babe -- Julia Schliesing:

If nothing else, attendance at remote broadcasts will skyrocket!


Sunday, February 09, 2014

I know the sun's still shinin' when I close my eyes.....

After a rare and well-deserved break last Sunday, The Closer is back from 1:00 until 3:00 PM today, LIVE on AM 1280 The Patriot.

For the entire 1:00 hour, I am honored to welcome to the Patriot studio Miss Minneapolis 2014 Julia Schliesing.

Julia was crowned Miss Minneapolis about a month ago, so the excitement of her winning the title will still be fresh.

In addition to talking about her pageantry experience (click the link here to help her as she moves on), Julia will also discuss her platform, which is suicide prevention.We'll also promote a fundraiser she has coming up which will benefit the organization Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE). And given that Julia is politically right-of-center, I have a sneaking suspicion she'll opine on some of the latest political news.

Then for the entire 2:00 hour, it'll be the debut of the Jeff George sports/political extravaganza! No, I'm not talking about the highly talented yet malcontent NFL quarterback. Rather it'll be personal friends Jeff Kolb and George Damian, who are both sports fanatics* and politically active. These guys are so prolific in both areas that I'm half tempted to ceding the hour to them. I'll bring some popcorn just in case.

So please give me us 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.....

*OK, using the phrase "sports fanatic" to describe Jeff is a bit of a stretch. In fact, he is to sports what radio guy Bob Davis was to.....uhh...sports. 


Friday, February 07, 2014

Separated at Birth: Hannah Nicollet and Zooey Deschanel

Gotta give full accreditation to my friend Mark "Mr. Dilettante" Heuring for spotting this one.

Hannah Nicollet recently threw her hat into the ring as the Independence Party candidate for U.S. Senate out of the state of Minnesota.

Zooey Deschanel is a singer/actress.


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the Olympic village....

The 2014 Winter Olympics officially kicked off this week in Sochi,  Krasnodar Krai, Russia. Unfortunately, much of the focus has not been on the athletes who are there proudly representing their respective countries.

One significant story line is the threat of terrorist activity coming from nearby Chechnya. Despite that, Russian President Vladimir Putin has given assurances that there is "ring of steel" formed to protect the athletes.

Another explosive issue is Russia's stance against homosexual rights. In July, Putin signed legislation outlawing pro-gay "propaganda" that can be accessible to minors. But if you believe the mayor of Sochi would, such a law is not necessary.

Amid swirling anti-gay sentiment in Russia, Sochi’s mayor claims there are no gay people in his city.

“It’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city,” Anatoly Pakhomov told BBC Panorama in an interview.

Pakhomov said gays were welcome to visit Sochi, which will host the Winter Olympics in just under two weeks, as long as they “respect Russian law” and “don’t impose their habits on others.”

Keep that in  mind as you hear of the squalid conditions that exist in Sochi hotel rooms (e.g. a bug being found in honey, water not being safe to use on one's face, etc.).

Yeah, I know it's a cheap joke. But given some of the tensions surrounding the Olympic games, perhaps it's best to add a little levity.


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

MN Caucus night: my two cents

As is custom the first February Tuesday in an even numbered year, some Minnesota political activists gathered for caucus night. This is a biannual opportunity to speak up on behalf of political candidates running in local and statewide races, as well as propose resolution to the state party platform (those are usually…..interesting).

Perhaps one of the more overhyped aspects of this event is the non-binding straw polling conducted. With both MN governor Mark Dayton and Senator Al Franken up for reelection, GOP activists across the state had an opportunity to reveal their initial preference for which candidates should represent the party in November’s election.

I have to admit I was mildly surprised that Marty Seifert won the gubernatorial straw poll, finishing two percentage points (28-26) ahead of Dave Thompson. Meanwhile in the Senate straw poll, Julianne Ortman emerged victorious, outdistancing runner up Mike McFadden 31-23.

What really stood out to me Tuesday was the fact caucus attendance was down approximately 27% from the last midterm election cycle in 2010. I really don’t know what to read into that, though initially I was concerned with the drop off. After all, one would think there would be a sense of urgency to oust both Dayton and Franken from their respective political offices, thus people would be motivated to get to work. But as I thought more about it, there are several GOP candidates among both the gubernatorial and senate contests who have pretty well stated they will not honor the Republican party endorsement if they don’t receive it, thus forcing a primary election in August. In 2010 however, the two main gubernatorial candidates, Tom Emmer and Seifert, were committed to abide by said endorsement. So part of the reason for the slide in caucus attendance could be that many activists feel that even if elected as delegates to the state convention their endorsement vote will be marginalized. As such, perhaps they’re choosing to save their energy for the summer when primary campaigns ramp up.

Despite GOP caucus attendance being down across the state, I got a sense that in my state senate district (SD35, comprised of Ramsey, Anoka, Andover and a sliver of Coon Rapids) there was a fair showing relative to 2010. Because the large majority of our SD is in Congressional District Six, many activists had an added incentive to show up because our incumbent U.S. House member, Michele Bachmann, will not seek reelection this year. Of the three candidates seeking the GOP nomination for that seat, Tom Emmer won the CD6 straw poll handily with 67.7% of the vote, followed by Rhonda Sivarajah with 17.7% and Phil Krinkie with 10.3 (4.3% were undecided).

Our SD diverted from the statewide results as Thompson was the preferred gubernatorial candidate and Jim Abeler (who currently represents the “A” side of our senate district in the MN House) got the nod for U.S. Senate (statewide, he finished fourth overall behind Ortman, McFadden and “Undecided.”)

With Abeler abandoning his MN House seat (for now) to run for U.S. Senate, the residents in House District 35A (myself included) will have a choice to make regarding who will receive the GOP nod for that seat. Right now, Abigail Whelan and Don Huizenga have stepped forward to make their case to delegates (of which I am one) at the SD35 convention on March 1.

It’s on now!


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Tis the season for political announcements

- Given that caucus night is upon us, public declarations of running (or not running) for political office are sure to be plentiful.

MN State Senator (and friend of the Northern Alliance Radio Network) Karin Housley has been mulling running for governor of Minnesota for 2-3 months now. Because I do consider her a friend, I have been waiting with bated breath as to her intentions.

Housley made it official on Tuesday.

There has been a number of people encouraging me to run for Governor and I want to thank them for all they have said and done, and frankly I was a bit overwhelmed by the people who called, wrote and encouraged me. But after thinking about it, talking to my family and the constituents of the 39th Senate District, I felt that this is not the right time for me.

I was elected in 2012 to the State Senate and have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the people, getting a better feel for the challenges they face and working to provide solutions to those challenges.

I want to stay in the senate, continue to work for the people who elected me and work to make this state a better place and for that reason I will not seek office in 2014.

In talking to Housley last month on my radio program, I got a sense that the timing was not great from a family standpoint. Her husband Phil is currently an assistant coach with the NHL's Nashville Predators, so he has been on the road since late last fall and will be through April. In addition to that, Housley's eldest daughter is getting married this summer. Knowing the tremendous energy she possesses (she is also very active in her real estate business), I believe Housley still could have run a solid statewide campaign despite all that is taking place in her life currently. However, I know for a fact she loves serving the constituents in SD 39, so her focus can now shift to the legislative session beginning in a few weeks.

- Mark Korin, a local businessman and mayor of rural Oak Grove, MN, recently declared he would challenge MN House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt in HD 31A. I've met Mr. Korin once and found him to be an affable gent, but I don't see him being a formidable challenger to a well liked and much respected political leader like Daudt.

If Korin is willing to abide by the BPOU's endorsement even if he does not receive it, no harm done. However, if he chooses to go to a primary if not endorsed, this could loom troublesome for a Minority Leader who is attempting to assist his caucus back to a majority. Daudt could hardly go out and work on behalf of GOP challengers in swing districts if he is bogged down in a primary campaign, with the primary election scheduled for August.

I guess I have some calls to make.

- My friend Jeff Kolb said it best:

Since the current crop of gubernatorial candidates are pretty well aligned ideologically, GOP activists/delegates are looking to who can not only carry an effective message statewide but also have the means to deliver it. I was impressed with the message of U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills in 2012. Unfortunately, he had so little money that not nearly enough of the citizenry was able to be reached by his campaign. Even though there are a few GOP gov candidates in decent financial shape, the above graphic is a stark reminder of the challenging (though far from impossible) task ahead of us.

And guess what, fellow Minnesota Republicans? It all starts tonight at your precinct caucus. Click here to find the location of your gathering.


Saturday, February 01, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: The Q&A

OK, so this has become more banter back and forth than a standard Q&A. Nevertheless, the Super Bowl Inquisitor makes his annual visit to this blog. If there was ever a place where you absolutely needed clarification or perspective on any issues surrounding the most celebrated professional sporting event in the likely won't get it here. Ah, but we have fun anyways.

Commence inquisition.

Super Bowl Inquisitor: I’ll start this off with the musical acts, though I assume you’ll likely ridicule anything that’s not of the ‘80s genre.
Brad Carlson: I gotta be me.

SBI: Uh Huh. The national anthem will be sung by opera singer Renee Fleming. What say you? 
BC: Who else but a soprano in New Jersey?

SBI: Halftime entertainment will feature Bruno Mars and….
BC: (interrupting) The movie character played by the same guy who invented “Borat?”

SBI: No, no. That’s Bruno Gehard. I’m talking about Mars. The singer?
BC: Oh, I gotcha. I guess “Pump Up The Volume” is an OK song.

SBI: For the love of…..never mind. 

Now I know you’ve heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They will also be part of the halftime extravaganza. That must do something for ya.
BC: Rather appropriate that a band with a hit song titled “Under the Bridge” would be playing in a state governed by Chris Christie.

SBI: This is the first Super Bowl where the venue is an outdoor stadium (New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium) in a cold weather climate. How will that impact the game?
BC: Shouldn’t be a huge factor. For crying out loud, it’s not like they’re embarking on some sort of mission in the Antarctic Peninsula. Though I will enjoy seeing the hoity toity attendees seated in the stadium’s lower bowl hit the exits long before the game ends.

SBI: The Denver Broncos have the NFL’s most explosive offense whereas the Seattle Seahawks possess the league’s stingiest defense. Are you going with the old “Unstoppable Force vs. Immovable Object” analogy here? 
BC: Way too predictable. I prefer to use a baseball analogy, like the 1927 New York Yankees lineup (Ruth, Gehrig, et al) facing the late ‘90s Atlanta Braves starting pitching (Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz).

SBI: Does Broncos QB Peyton Manning need this second Super Bowl win to solidify his legacy as one of the all-time greats?
BC: In the same way Laurance Olivier “needed” a second Academy Award for Best Actor to solidify his status as all-time great thespian.

SBI: Are you bothered by the incessant trash talking of Seahawks CB Richard Sherman?
BC: I’m more amused by it than anything else. Given he has a Communications degree from Stanford, I’m quite certain he could work in a word like “verisimilitude” into the verbal harassing of opponents.

SBI: Are you shocked that it costs $4 million to run a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl?
BC: Only in the fact that something actually usurps the Federal government’s spending pace (approximately $3.3 million per 30 seconds).

SBI: Super Bowl Sunday parties often feature a veritable buffet. What’s on the menu at your gathering?
BC: My tradition is to partake in foods which are common in the region of the cities and/or states representing the Super Bowl participants.

SBI: Hmm. So what type of cuisine would best represent Washington state and Colorado?
BC: Since both states have legalized marijuana, pretty much all foods are edible after a toke or two. That said, I will be in solidarity with the stoners by pretty much gorging on whatever’s available-----sans actually smoking a joint, of course.

SBI: You’re just trying to bait me into taking a shot at Percy Harvin, aren’t you?
BC: Not at all. Besides, my personal invective is saved for the sleazy Pete Carroll, who bailed on USC’s football program before the sanctions hit. You know it’s bad when one makes Bobby Petrino look virtuous.

SBI: Well as Carol Burnett once crooned“I’m so glad we had this time together.” Before I move on to another year of...uhh...not contributing to this blog, what is your prediction for the game? 
BC: The Broncos are a 2-point favorite. However, Manning will not have the luxury of imitating a cigar store Indian like he did against the pathetic pass rush of the New England Patriots. With that, I say the Seahawks not only cover but win outright 24-23, which means Sherman will have an opportunity to trash talk Mickey Mouse.

With that, thanks for indulging me in another fun NFL postseason!

2013 Postseason record: 
Straight up: 5-5
Against the spread: 5-5


The memories are gray but, man, they're really coming back......

Shuffling the lineup this weekend for the Northern Alliance Radio Network as I will be on the air today but taking a rare and well deserved break tomorrow.

Today, my NARN colleague Mitch Berg and I will broadcast live from Medicine Lake in Plymouth from 1:00 until 3:00 PM. It is the annual Holes for Heroes ice fishing tournament put on the by the organization Fishing For Life


Mitch and I will chat with organizers of the event as well as some military families and veterans who are invited to participate for free.

Then at 2:00, MN GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson will appear on the program. We'll chat with Jeff about his campaign thus far, including a news bit about his campaign leading the other GOP contenders in "Cash on Hand."

So please give us 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

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.....