Sunday, August 31, 2014

An August summer night, soldiers passing by.....

It's the next to last day of the Minnesota State Fair, which means it will be my final time broadcasting The Closer on location at this year's great MN get-together. I will be on in the usual 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time slot.

It'll be a guest intensive show, as it normally is for Fair broadcasts.

Guests include:

1:00 - Mike McFadden, Republican U.S. Senate candidate who is opposing incumbent senator Al Franken.

2:00 - Tom Emmer, the next U.S. House member in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District.

2:30 - MN State Senator Carla Nelson (R-Olmsted County).

In the non-guest segments, I'll likely discuss some newsworthy items from this past week. I may even share my experience in attending the Defending the American Dream summit in Dallas over the weekend.

If you happen to be out at the fair this morning, feel free to stop by and say hello. We're located on Machinery Hill, which is at the north end of the fairgrounds, specifically near the corner of Underwood Street & Murphy Avenue (next door to the Home Depot building; see map here). 

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

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

Until then.....


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Priorities or something

With President Barack Obama choosing to act unilaterally in such matters as immigration, climate change, etc., House Republicans chose legal recourse to hold the Chief Executive to that whole "Separation of Powers" thingy.

Lead Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, responded via Twitter.

A total of $350,000 (the total amount the Republicans have authorized for the lawsuit) to ensure the leader of the free world isn't usurping his authority? Personally, I have no issue with my tax dollars being spent to hold a rogue government official to the U.S. Constitution, a document which the President has vowed to uphold.

What's most hilarious about Pelosi's tweet is she has never said boo about the excessive costs of the government takeover of our health insurance, the countless millions sunk into failed green energy initiatives or the hundreds of millions spent on "economic stimulus" that has done little to revive the economy. Yet we're supposed to be outraged (OUTRAGED) that our tax dollars are being spent to uphold the Constitution while nary a word is to be uttered when nearly the same amount of money is spent over a two year period on oil paintings of obscure government officials.

Nice to know where Pelosi's priorities lie.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume CI

- It happened 20 years ago today.

It was Aug. 26, 1994, when St. Paul police officers Ron Ryan Jr. and Tim Jones, along with his K-9 dog Laser, were fatally shot.

Ryan, 26, was checking on a man -- Guy Harvey Baker -- who was sleeping in a car in a parking lot at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood about 7 a.m. Baker, also 26, feared Ryan would discover he was wanted in Iowa for violating probation on an illegal gun possession conviction.

He picked up a .38-caliber revolver from his lap and shot Ryan.

Scores of officers joined the search for Ryan's killer. Jones had the day off, but he came in to help.

Laser picked up Baker's trail about 10 a.m. on Conway Street, not far from Johnson Parkway. Baker heard the dog whining outside a fish house where he was hiding, saw Jones through the window and, through the side of the shack, shot the 36-year-old officer with the gun had stolen from Ryan. When Laser bit his leg, he shot the dog, too.

Both officers had grown up on St. Paul's East Side.

I grew up a mere three miles from where this incident took place, and it shook we residents to our respective cores since the East Side was a very tight knit community. As such, both the Jones and Ryan families were overwhelmed with support from the community, whether it was financial or otherwise.

My mother still lives in the same house we bought in 1986. Whenever I visit mom these days, I unfortunately don't feel that same sense of unification in that area a mere two decades later. If, God forbid, a similar incident occurs, I hope I'm proven wrong on that front.

As I read the Pioneer Press story commemorating the loss of the two officers, I was uplifted by the the fact that the families left behind have effectively rebuilt their lives. It appears they continue to serve as an inspiration to many even 20 years later after their horrible loss.

-  The head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, is set to have his contract expire next year. As such, former NFL player Sean Gilbert is looking to step in as NFLPA chief in 2015. In lobbying for the position, one of Gilbert's proposals include shortening the preseason to a mere two games while expanding the regular season to an 18-game schedule. Since he feels the owners have disproportionately benefited from the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, Gilbert said the appeal of 2 extra games worth of revenue would entice owners to acquiesce to certain other proposals which would benefit the players.

In my mind, the 18-game regular season should be a non-starter. Given the player safety issues which have cropped up during previous 16-games seasons, how are two additional games going to alleviate those concerns? In the end, great players are going to become a lot less elite due to the additional wear and tear on their physical beings. If the game is watered down to such a degree where fans begin to notice, is that where the proverbial 800-pound gorilla that is the NFL finally becomes somewhat vulnerable? I'd rather it not get to that point.

- I thought I was going to be able to fly under the radar, but I was finally nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.

I accepted.

Before this exercise of raising awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease) became a national phenomenon, I had become even more acutely aware early in 2014 of the implications surrounding this disease.

In January, a dear friend of the fetching Mrs. Carlson and I, Anne Neu, announced her husband Jonathan had been diagnosed with ALS. Since Jonathan, Anne and their five children are a strong, faith-filled family, they were very upfront about what they faced with this physically degenerative disease impacting their husband and father.

Then this past April, our friend John "Night Writer" Stewart went public with his own ALS diagnosis. And like the Neus, the Stewarts are a family who have always been unified in their faith, so they appeared aptly equipped to endure the struggle ahead of them.

For reasons John outlined in his latest blog post, I have decided to make a financial contribution to the local MN/ND/SD chapter of the ALS Association. You can too by going here.

And by all means, follow along the journeys of these two awesome families via their respective blogs.

The Stewart family blog --->

The Neu family blog --->

Thoughts and prayers with you all.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Box Score of the Week

New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians - April 8, 1975.


Frank Robinson made his debut as player/manager of the Indians, becoming the first black manager in MLB history. 


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Leave a message with the rain, you can find me where the wind blows...

It's Day 4 of the Minnesota State Fair, where I will be broadcasting The Closer LIVE in my usual 1:00 until 3:00 PM time slot.

Right at 1:00, I will be joined by 2014 Princess Kay of the Milky Way Jeni Haler.

Then at 1:30, the Republican endorsed candidate for MN State Auditor, Randy Gilbert, will stop by.

At 2:30, the NARN's official basketball wonk Mike McCollow will join the show to discuss the Timberwolves' blockbuster trade of franchise player Kevin Love.

In the non-guest segments, we'll likely chat about the Vikings-Chris Kluwe settlement as well as possibly welcoming an impromptu guest or two.

If you happen to be out at the fair this morning, feel free to stop by and say hello. We're located on Machinery Hill, which is at the north end of the fairgrounds, specifically near the corner of Underwood Street & Murphy Avenue (next door to the Home Depot building; see map here). 

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

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

Until then.....


Friday, August 22, 2014

When I think of all those disappointments, I just laugh.....

Back at the State Fair this morning, Mitch Berg and I will be airing the Northern Alliance Radio Network LIVE from 8:00 until 10:00 Central Time. As an added bonus, Miss Minneapolis 2014 Julia Schliesing is tentatively scheduled to stop by the Patriot booth!!

With Election Day being only 74 days away, it's no accident we'll be hosting a plethora of political officeholders/candidates/activists while at the Fair.

8:30 - Bryan Strawser - MN Gun Owners PAC Executive Director & Treasurer.

9:00 - Sharna Wahlgren, Republican endorsed candidate for U.S. House in MN CD4 and my fellow Harding High School alum.

Sharna's senior class photo  :-)

9:30 - MN State Senator David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), who currently serves as the Senate Minority Leader.

In the non-guest segments, Mitch & I plan to discuss the debacle regarding the banning of GOP endorsed MN Supreme Court judge candidate Michelle MacDonald. We were present at the Republican Party of MN booth when Ms. MacDonald arrived despite being told by the state party she was not welcome.

If you happen to be out at the fair this morning, feel free to stop by and say hello. We're located on Machinery Hill, which is at the north end of the fairgrounds, specifically near the corner of Underwood Street & Murphy Avenue (next door to the Home Depot building; see map here). 

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

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

Until then.....


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shooting off one toe at a time

As the MN State Fair commenced this morning, GOP gubernatorial and US Senate candidates, Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden respectively, challenged their DFL opponents to a series of debates. The goal was to make headlines with those declarations in an effort for voters to start getting more engaged a mere 75 days before Election Day. But as is customary with the MN Republican party, we instead choose to shoot ourselves in the proverbial foot, thus drawing attention away from something positive.

As my friend and radio colleague Mitch Berg says "If it bleeds, it leads."

Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald vowed to return to the Minnesota Republican Party's State Fair booth Thursday after she was banned and ordered by security to leave.

"We may as well look for justice on a stick because we can't find it here!" MacDonald told a handful of supporters as she left the booth following a 10-minute confrontation with a security guard that began as soon as she showed up.

MacDonald, a family law attorney, was endorsed at the party's state convention in May to run against Justice David Lillehaug. She drew ire from party leaders who said most delegates were not aware of a drunken driving charge at the time of endorsement. MacDonald stands trial next month in Dakota County.

This week, the party's executive committee revised its State Fair Policy to restrict access to candidates with pending criminal cases, and moved to bar MacDonald from the booth. MacDonald, who said she was notified Wednesday of the resolution, showed up anyway.

The circumstances surrounding MacDonald's endorsement have only been made worse by the MNGOP's handling of this situation. The option was available to rescind MacDonald's endorsement. However, that possibility was dismissed almost immediately because it would actually highlight the flaws in the endorsement system which party executives seem to cherish so much. 

Another potential sticky wicket is the fact that MacDonald is not allowed to have the same privileges as all other GOP endorsed candidates even though she hasn't actually been convicted of a crime (again, her legal case is merely pending). That would seem to fly in the face of that whole "innocent until proven guilty" we allegedly live by in this country.

But perhaps the most unforgivable sin is how seemingly rushed MacDonald's candidacy was cobbled together. Arrest aside, none of the delegates had an opportunity to know her, rather they took the Judicial Election Committee's recommendation at face value. Before revelations of MacDonald's arrest came to light, I happened to see an interview she gave with local politico Tony Hernandez. It lasted only about five minutes, yet it was the most awkward and unprofessional display I've seen from a political candidate in quite some time (Watch it here).

After our State Fair radio broadcast this morning, Mitch and I showed at the MNGOP booth and were immediately cornered by volunteers. Apparently word had come down that, despite being banned from milling around the booth, MacDonald had intended to show up with supporters. As such, media members from the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, MPR and Twin Cities Public Television were on site. As was detailed in the Strib story I linked to, Ms. MacDonald did indeed arrive with her entourage.....and it was tense. On one side was security personnel urging her to vacate the premises while on the other was a throng of media. MacDonald then began to spin around with her camera in hand, mumbling something incoherently.

After about 10-15 minutes of that charade, MacDonald and her entourage convened next door to the WCCO radio booth to discuss the matter on their airwaves. Upon their departure from the MNGOP booth, I turned to Mitch and said "Welp....there's our first two segments for tomorrow's show."

Sneak preview: Mitch is going to light up the Judicial Elections Committee.


But I always dreamed about living in your radio....

The Minnesota State Fair starts today!!!!! And for the 11th consecutive year, the Northern Alliance Radio Network will be broadcasting live on location, but in a different time slot. Today Mitch Berg and I will be live on the air from 8:00 until 10:00 AM Central Time.

We have no guests in the first hour, so Mitch and I will likely chat about the Hugh Hewitt/Dennis Prager event which took place last evening. It was an honor listening to two of the more insightful radio hosts that Salem Broadcasting has to offer. Of course, with this being an election year, there's always a decent chance of an impromptu guest appearance by a political candidate.

At 9:00, we'll be joined by MN State Senator Dave Osmek. The fine senator from Mound is one of the more fiscally hawkish members of the legislature, so I'm certain he'll have plenty to share about the DFL spending orgy of the past two sessions.

Then at 9:30, House member Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake), who is up for reelection this November, will also stop by the Patriot broadcast center.

If you happen to be out at the fair this morning, feel free to stop by and say hello. We're located on Machinery Hill, which is at the north end of the fairgrounds, specifically near the corner of Underwood Street & Murphy Avenue (next door to the Home Depot building; see map here). 

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

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

Until then.....


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Skol, settlement!

I had heard rumors over the weekend that this had come to fruition. On Tuesday, it was made official.

Calling his settlement with the Minnesota Vikings an opportunity "to do a lot of good for a lot of people," Chris Kluwe announced his fight with the team is over.

The Vikings and Kluwe's attorney Clayton Halunen announced Tuesday morning that they had reached a settlement to resolve the former punter's allegations of homophobic behavior by the team. It put the issue to rest 7½ months after Kluwe first published his allegations and avoids the prospect of a lengthy legal battle.

The Vikings had initially announced a $100,000 contribution to charities that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes, and they will make additional contributions to five LGBT-friendly charities over the next five years. The team will also enhance sensitivity training that is already required throughout the organization.

The parties did not announce the financial terms of the settlement, but Kluwe said he will not receive any money.

Indeed, Kluwe did confirm in a tweet that very thing.

I never believed that Kluwe was in this for the money. In fact, I believe he sought (and thus received) something way more valuable to him than money: that is, people incessantly fawning over him and doing the rhetorical kneeling to touch the hem of his proverbial garment. Now that judges across the country are pretty much striking down every state law defining marriage as between one woman and one man combined with Kluwe being persona non grata on an NFL field, the former Vikes punter is largely irrelevant. But this high profile haggling with the Vikings organization at least buys him another few years in the spotlight as these LGBT charities receive money due to Kluwe's efforts.

There was one aspect of this saga though which had me thinking. Why did Kluwe dig in his heels last month as if he were getting ready for a nasty lawsuit but then relent shortly thereafter?

One of the allegations Kluwe made when ripping the Vikings in his Deadspin piece earlier this year was that he was released due to his advocacy for same-sex marriage. Then last month, when he and his attorney felt the Vikings weren't acting in good faith when releasing merely a summary of their internal investigation of said allegations, Kluwe threatened to expose additional scandals, including the organization allegedly covering up incidents where players were engaged in illegal conduct. It seems to me Kluwe really could have made some hay had he gone forth with a full blown lawsuit. Again, what stopped him? My theory is Kluwe was exposed to be just as insensitive as special teams coach Mike Priefer when it was revealed he mocked the victims of pedophile Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn St. assistant coach. Once Kluwe was knocked off his proverbial high horse (not to mention being perceived as a bitter hypocrite), he decided to once again continue negotiating an out-of-court settlement instead of having his own skeletons be revealed. It could also mean that not going with a wrongful termination suit is Kluwe's way of acknowledging that he sucked as a punter in 2012.

Whatever the case, I'm just glad this is over. I'm even more ecstatic that I may never have to mention Kluwe's name on this blog or on my radio show ever again.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Box Score of the Week

The Milwaukee Brewers took on the Minnesota Twins in a 22-inning marathon back on May 12, 1972.


In a 19-inning affair just over a week ago, Toronto's Melky Cabrera reached base safely eight times (3 hits, 5 walks) in his team's win over the Detroit Tigers. That is the most a player had reached base in one game since the Twins' Rod Carew reached safely eight times (5 hits, 3 walks) in the game I referenced above. 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

The road is callin', today is the day.....

This will be my final broadcast in the Patriot bunker until after Labor Day, but it's sure to be a memorable one. I will be on the air with today's edition on The Closer from 1:00 until 3:00 pm Central Time.

In a bittersweet development, Miss Minneapolis 2014 Julia Schliesing will be making her final appearance as a regular contributor to the show.

Me and Julia at the Miss Minnesota 2014 pageant

As she calls in for her 1:30 segment, Julia will fill us in on the next great adventure in her life. Of course with her platform Out of the darkness and into the light: stopping suicide with prevention, Julia will likely weigh in on the death of entertainer Robin Williams.

For the 2:00 hour, in what has become an annual tradition, my friend, fellow blogger and NFL rube Mark Heuring will join the show as we conduct our prognostication of the NFC North division. Since I am a Vikings fan and Mark is a Packer backer, it's the only division that really matters to us.

In the non-guest segments, I will likely give one final recap of the MN primary election results from this past Tuesday as well as share my own thoughts on Williams' passing.

So please give 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.  

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

Until then.....


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Separated at Birth: George Romero and Phyllis Kahn

George Romero (left), a filmmaker who has produced and directed some of the more gruesome horror films since the 1970s.

Phyllis Kahn is a MN House member who has produced some of the more gruesome "progressive" legislation since the 1970s.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Looking back; Moving forward

As my Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg and myself were about 5-10 minutes away from signing off on our primary election night broadcast, Jeff Johnson was declared the winner of the MN Republican gubernatorial primary. If you’re a believer in the state party endorsement, you’re likely feeling a sense of vindication today as each of the MNGOP endorsed statewide candidates emerged victorious Tuesday evening.

But as I plod through this day on about 3-1/2 hours of sleep, I realize that the real work is just beginning.

Right now, the MNGOP has to overcome the fact that enthusiasm for Republican candidates has been quite low in 2014. Attendance at the February caucuses was down, we never had full voting strength at the state convention and, despite not having any significant primary challengers to its endorsed candidates Tuesday, the DFL had a larger voter turnout than the GOP. Based on all that, Minnesota Republicans have significant obstacles to overcome in a mere 83 days. But if social media is any indication, many supporters of the three major gubernatorial candidates who lost called for the party to unify behind Johnson. Let’s hope that the significant dollars raised by those three candidates can start coming Johnson’s way as well.

A few other takeaways from last evening:

-I was ridiculed by some folks via Twitter when I declared the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement of Rhonda Sivarajah over Tom Emmer for the CD6 GOP nomination would carry little weight. Sure enough, Emmer won in a rout 73% to 27% (He was endorsed with approximately 78% at the CD6 convention last March). Sivarajah, who is chair of the Anoka County board, did not even win her home county, garnering only 43% of the vote there.

-While it’s true that Federal and State officeholders receive the sexy headlines, the most egregious offenses of waste and corruption take place at the county and municipal levels.

The folks in the city of Crystal know this all too well and have been diligently working to turn that perpetually blue suburb into a conspicuous blob of red among its fellow CD5 cities.

With a right-of-center mayor (Jim Adams), Crystal could really implement meaningful reforms if indeed the city council can be dominated by an ideology similar to that of the mayor (right now the “nonpartisan” council is comprised of 3 righties, 3 lefties and 1 Green Party member). My friends and fellow righties Jeff Kolb and Elizabeth Dahl each finished with more than 57% of the vote in two different Crystal City Council wards, both besting incumbent lefties. Add to that another right-of-center candidate, Olga Parsons, earning the majority of votes in Section 2 against another incumbent lefty, you have November shaping up to be quite the donnybrook in that little ‘burb just northwest of Minneapolis. Keep a close eye on Crystal, folks.

-In two high profile MN House races where same-sex marriage was at the crux of the primary challenge, the results went as expected.

Jenifer Loon, incumbent in HD 48B who voted “yes” to legalizing same-sex marriage last year, defeated challenger Sheila Kihne 61%-39%. That district had voted 60-40 “no” on the MN Marriage Amendment in November 2012.

In HD30B, the GOP endorsed candidate Eric Lucero (who rode a wave of socially conservative delegates at their endorsing convention in February) defeated primary challenger Kevin Kasel 64%-36%. The incumbent rep in that HD, David FitzSimmons (1 of 4 GOP reps to vote “yes” to legalizing gay marriage), declined to seek reelection after it appeared he would not be endorsed (not to mention having his character impugned). The 30B voters were in favor of the 2012 MN Marriage Amendment by a 53-47 margin.

While last night felt pretty satisfying overall, there’s little time to enjoy the moment. These next 83 days are going to pass by awfully fast. Time to get after it.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Well, now you step inside but you don't see too many faces....

It's primary election day in Minnesota, so tune in to AM 1280 The Patriot this evening as we cover the returns. Mitch Berg and I will be on the air from 8:00 until 10:00 Central Time.

As we await the results of the various statewide and MN House primary races, we'll likely discuss some of the more high profile contests (i.e. the GOP gubernatorial battle, Loon-Kihne in HD 48B, Lucero-Kasel in 30B, etc.). 

So please give us call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to be a part of the festivities. 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.

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

Until then.....


Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams: 1951-2014

I first learned of actor/comedian Robin Williams in the late 1970s, when he made a guest appearance on the TV show Happy Days. In said appearance, Williams played a zany space alien by the name of Mork who, for some odd reason, chose to leave his home planet of Ork to visit Milwaukee. Williams made such an impression with that crazy, off-the-wall character that it spun off into the sitcom Mork & Mindy. The series was quite popular in its 4-year run, resulting in popular merchandising such as lunch boxes, action figures, t-shirts, etc. In fact, as a fourth grader, I owned a t-shirt with this particular graphic affixed.

From there, Williams would go on to super stardom, being best known for his wacky, bat-on-a-sugar-diet improvisational comedy. Yet despite that being his signature, Williams showed DeNiro-esque versatility in his film roles. Whether it was playing an outrageously funny character (Mrs Doubtfire, Aladdin), a deeply intellectual mentor (Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting) or someone downright dark and creepy (One Hour Photo, and a guest appearance on Law & Order:Special Victims Unit), Williams was one of the more deeply respected entertainers in Hollywood.

Unfortunately for Williams, he had his demons. With a meteoric rise to fame in the late '70s/early 80s, he turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the immense pressure he felt. He was once quoted as saying that cocaine is "...God's way of telling you you are making too much money." While it was reported he had been clean and sober throughout the '90s, Williams eventually relapsed, thus going through another stint in rehab in the mid-2000s.

Just a mere six weeks ago, a gaunt looking Williams made a surprise visit to a Dairy Queen in Lindstrom, MN, which is about a 40 minute drive from Minneapolis. Because Lindstrom is a mere three miles from Hazelden, a world renown addiction treatment facility, there was much speculation that Williams was in town to seek treatment for his addictions. Soon after Williams' impromptu DQ appearance, it was indeed confirmed he had checked in to Hazelden for a few weeks.

Unfortunately the downward spiral continued and culminated with the stunning news of Williams' passing.

On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m, Marin County Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams, a 63-year-old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.

The story also quoted Williams' publicist, who revealed that he had been battling severe depression recently. He was only 63 years old.

I briefly flipped on some entertainment news channel to gauge the reaction of those who had interacted with Williams. One prevailing sentiment was how generous Williams appeared to be, whether it was giving of his time for a charitable cause or dispensing a kind word to someone trying to make it in the entertainment industry. I myself recall anecdotes from people I know personally who experienced Williams' generosity. A gentleman with whom my mother-in law attended church a decade ago was a cousin of Williams. The story he conveyed was that every Thanksgiving Williams would spring for airfare for scores of relatives to come enjoy the holiday at his California estate.

Williams also was known to have a deep, abiding respect for the U.S. military. In fact, the USO put out a statement upon Williams' death.

My friend Don, whom I have known for nearly forty years and had served nearly a decade in Afghanistan, had this to say on his Facebook page:

Robin Williams, a classic comedian who visited thousands of troops overseas. In 2002, he was at Bagram Air Base and created his entire show from stupid Army rules. He made everyone in attendance briefly forget how much they missed their loved ones. Troops were rolling with laughter. God bless Robin Williams, a true supporter of the military.

While it is heartening to hear of all the people who felt blessed to know Williams, it is equally heart-wrenching that Williams himself couldn't experience that same joy he imparted on others. He will definitely be missed.


Box Score of the Week

Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox - September 19, 2002


In one of the more bizarre incidents in MLB history, two fans (a father and son of all things) stormed on to the field and ambushed Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa, kicking and punching him after knocking him to the ground. As the first base umpire and White Sox first baseman froze in disbelief, the visiting Royals came rushing out of the first base dugout and subdued these two thugs until security arrived. 

In retrospect, perhaps the most just punishment for those two morons would have been to allow the Royals players to keep pummeling them.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Let's cure it 'cause we're running out of time.....

It's a mere two days before primary elections in Minnesota, so a lot to get to on The Closer. As usual, I will take to the airwaves from 1:00 until 3:00 pm Central Time.

Right at 1:00, I'll be joined by Kevin Kasel, who is one of the GOP candidates for State House in HD 30B (Wright County). This is the district currently represented by David FitzSimmons, who chose not to seek reelection after it was apparent he would not be the Republican endorsed candidate earlier this year. Eric Lucero, who ended up being endorsed by the 30B Republican delegates, was also invited to appear today but he declined.

Then at 2:00 pm, I will be joined by Scott Honour, one of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates appearing on the primary ballot.

In the non-guest segments, I'll likely discuss the Star Tribune endorsement of GOP candidates and how much they matter (if at all). I will also likely weigh in on the scathing criticism heaped upon the owners of Stillwater's Oasis Cafe in light of choosing to assess a 35 cent "minimum wage fee" on each customer check.

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.  

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

Until then.....


Friday, August 08, 2014

What real transparency looks like

Apparently when da gubmint passes an intrusive law, we peasants are merely supposed to bend over and exclaim "THANK YOU, SIR! MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?" That would be my interpretation of the mindset of those outraged (OUTRAGED, I TELL YA) over a private business attempting to alleviate rising costs of their venture.

A small cafe in Stillwater has thrown itself into the big battle over Minnesota’s minimum wage increases, inundating the cafe with dozens of phone calls and online comments this week after it tacked on a 35-cent fee to meal tabs.

Oasis Cafe owner Craig Beemer said the fee is needed to offset the 75-cent wage hike that took effect Aug. 1, the first time Minnesota’s minimum wage has increased in a decade. Even with only half a dozen servers, Beemer says it will cost him $10,000 more a year to pay servers $8 an hour instead of the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. Instead of adding it on to food prices, he added the “minimum wage fee” — the only restaurant known to do so in Minnesota so far.

It’s set off a firestorm of debate on Facebook and in the east metro community, with one customer calling the cafe Wednesday to demand a refund and others taking to Facebook to encourage people to boycott the roadside cafe.

I thought Minnesota State Senator Dave Thompson summed it up best via Twitter.

Making his first public statement on the proverbial firestorm this afternoon, Beemer responded via the restaurant's Facebook page. 

Our decision to offset the recent increase in minimum wage was what we believed to be the most honest and transparent way to communicate a significant increase in our operating cost. Rather than raise menu prices, we decided to charge a flat fee per guest check.

While our family is conservative in our views, it was never our intent to make some grand political statement about the minimum wage debate. My comment about thumbing my nose at the law is being quoted out of context.

With regards to how much we pay our employees, our servers average more than $20 per hour when you consider the tips they receive. Our dishwashers make $10 to $11 and our cooks make $12 to $16 per hour. Anyone familiar with restaurant wages in our market knows we’re paying our staff a more than competitive wage.

To those who have supported our restaurant with your business and positive comments...thank you...your support is appreciated more than you’ll ever know.

To those customers who we’ve offended with our minimum wage fee, please know it was not our intent to be offensive and that we hope you’ll find a way to forgive us.

To those of you who are describing me and my wife as a corporate monster and his trophy’re only half right... yes, my wife is amazing.

To those of you who are causing my phone to beep every couple seconds...Really? How is our country ever going to solve the problems for which we are so divided with responses that can only be described as hateful?

To our team of employees...thank you for your continued hard work and unwavering support. You’re truly an amazing group of people!

To Governor Dayton, rather than continue with your negative comments about our business, we’d like to invite you for lunch to meet our amazing staff and discuss this polarizing issue in person. I suspect you’ll find we have much more in common than you might think.

Mr. Beemer, unless there's limousine parking and your waiters are donning tuxedos, I highly doubt Little Lord Fauntleroy Gov. Dayton could acclimate to your quaint cafe. Besides, the only way you're getting a sympathetic ear as a business owner adversely affected by the DFL's policies is if you're directly related to Dayton

But I digress.

Look, now that this practice of adding a "minimum wage fee" is public knowledge, the general public can decide for themselves whether or not to patronize Oasis in the future. Mr. Beemer likely prepared himself for the fact that his business may suffer because of this supplemental fee. Again, as a business owner, that's his prerogative. But given the irrational response by some people (many of whom don't even live in Minnesota and thus have never visited Oasis Cafe), the pro-freedom, pro-capitalist crowd is stepping up big time. Since this story received nationwide attention, Oasis Cafe's business has been up significantly this past week.

God Bless free enterprise!


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Faint praise

Given it's primary season, the Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial Board has recently been doling out its endorsements of political candidates. Since there are very few high profile DFL primary contests (State Auditor notwithstanding), much of the focus has been shifted to the Minnesota Republican primaries for governor, U.S. Senate and various U.S. House races. In my home district of the Sixth Congressional District, Tom Emmer, who won the CD6 GOP endorsement with 78% of the nod from delegates and has held a huge advantage in fundraising, is the heavy favorite to win in next Tuesday's primary. Despite that, the Strib E.B. chose to endorse his opponent Rhonda Sivarajah, who is currently chair of the Anoka County board.

Upon reading the Strib’s endorsement of Sivarajah, I posted the article to Twitter and made the comment that their typically leftist voice carries little weight in solid red CD6. Naturally I received quite a bit of push-back from Sivarajah supporters. The most popular chanting point was how, if the proverbial shoe were on the other foot, I would be touting a Star Tribune endorsement of Emmer. I am here to tell you that said chanting point is unequivocally false. The reason being, quite simply, is this is merely a GOP primary race. The Strib has to endorse a Republican obviously.

But what happens when said Republican (regardless if it’s Sivarajah or Emmer) takes on a Democrat in the general election? Do you honestly believe the Star Tribune wouldn’t prefer a DFLer over a Republican in that instance? It all comes down to what my friend and Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg so eloquently stated in Berg’s 11th Law of Inverse Viability (as well as The McCain Corollary To Berg’s Eleventh Law):

The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected.

If that respected conservative ever develops a chance of getting elected, that “respect” will turn to blind unreasoning hatred overnight.

Of course, to be fair, Berg’s 11th (as well as subsequent corollaries) may not be as relevant in CD6, given that even the Star Tribune likely would concede that the district is too overwhelmingly red.

But what about a state-wide race?

Earlier this week, the Strib endorsed Jeff Johnson to be the Republican to oppose incumbent governor Mark Dayton this November. Now as a Johnson supporter, do you think for one millisecond I’m touting this endorsement? Not a chance. Why? Suppose Johnson wins next Tuesday. Again, whom do you think the Strib will endorse in a Dayton-Johnson contest?

Yes, for all the fine qualities the Star Tribune Editorial Board feels Johnson possesses this week will magically become glaring weaknesses come late October.


Monday, August 04, 2014

The way it should be

You knew one day that, despite a bitter breakup, the Green Bay Packers and their former quarterback Brett Favre would reconcile.

On Monday it was made official exactly when that will take place.

Monday's announcement was three-fold:

• Favre will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18, 2015. He will be the lone inductee in next year's class.

• At the same time, his number will be retired.

• Then at some point during the 2015 season, Favre's name and number will be unveiled on the north facade inside Lambeau Field.

Neither coach Mike McCarthy nor Ted Thompson -- the two men in charge of the team's football operations and the major decision-makers when Favre was traded to the Jets after he came out of retirement in 2008 -- spoke during Monday's announcement. But current team president Mark Murphy said "everyone in the organization is looking forward to this special night."

After their second Super Bowl victory in January 1968, the Packers made the postseason exactly twice over the next 24 years. This once proud franchise had become downright moribund until Favre arrived in 1992. Although the Pack just missed the postseason that year, they would make the playoff each of the next six seasons, including winning their first Super Bowl title in nearly three decades. While Favre (who personally won three MVP awards in that six year span) had a lot to do with that success, it can also be argued that Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White deserves a lion's share of the credit. His free agent signing with the Pack prior to the '93 season all of a sudden made it vogue to play on the frozen tundra once again, thus allowing the team to build around their two cornerstones. But there's little dispute that just one of those players could not have won a Super Bowl ring without the other.

That is shaping up to be quite an eventful time frame for Favre. In the summer of 2015, he enters the Packers Hall of Fame. Then a mere 12 months later, he'll assume his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. All in all, not bad for country bumpkin from Mississippi.


Box Score of the Week

My beloved Minnesota Twins hosted the California Angels at Metropolitan Stadium 35 years ago today.


As a 10-year old, this was the first Twins game I ever attended in person. 

Another factoid about this game is the Twins used a relief pitcher by the name of Mike Bacsik. Almost exactly 28 years later, Bacsik's son Mike, Jr., while pitching for the Washington Nationals, allowed Barry Bonds 756th* home run, which broke the all time mark held by Hank Aaron since 1974.


Sunday, August 03, 2014

If you believe in the power of magic, I can change your mind.....

I've often said that I have received far more out of my humble little radio show than I have ever put in. Today is another reminder of that as I will be broadcasting live from Park High School in Cottage Grove this afternoon from 1:00 until 3:00 Central Time.

As I hit the airwaves at 1:00, a group of young men will have been playing a baseball game for approximately 53-1/2 hours. An organization called PHD Baseball Club is looking to break the previous record for the longest baseball game, which currently stands at 62 hours 32 minutes 59 seconds. All proceeds raised at this event will go to benefit the ALS Association, an organization providing funds to treat (and hopefully one day cure) Lou Gehrig's disease. 

Within the past year, I have known of two different acquaintances of mine be diagnosed with ALS. As such, I consider it an absolute honor to be able to highlight this awesome charitable endeavor. By the way, please follow the respective blogs of my friends John Stewart and Jon Neu, as they chronicle their lives while enduring ALS. 

John Stewart's blog -

As today's show rolls on, I hope to chat with some officials from this great event. In the non-guest segments, crack promotions guy Ross Brendel will be my co-host, where we'll chat about (what else?) baseball as well as some news items from this past week. 

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

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

Until then.....