Saturday, October 20, 2018

Benster Picks Your Games--------No D This Week Edition

Hi everyone. D is on assignment this weekend, so I am going to have to do this one solo. This will be fun and something different. Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat (+5) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Gophers normally would be expected to lose in Lincoln, but this year is a little different. Scott Frost, the link to the last golden period of Husker dominance under Osborne, has not produced the magic that Husker fans were expecting. To be fair, Frost has a bare cupboard to work with and some of the underclassmen he has look pretty good. This is a big chance for the Gophers to get a win in a tough venue before the Huskers start to get closer to the glory days. Row Row Row Your Boat Elitely 45, Huskers 10.

Illinois Fighting Illini (+24) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. The performance that Wisconsin pulled off on national television last weekend was highly disappointed. I don't know if the Badgers are that terrible or if Michigan was that good. Thankfully, the Badgers still control the Big Ten West right now if they win out, and it does not matter what Iowa does in conference play the rest of the year. Illinois is a horrible football team and it is clear that Lovie Smith is not a good college coach after all the interest when he was hired a couple years ago. Badgers 60, Illinois 24.

Michigan Hail to the Victors (-7.5) vs. Michigan State Sparty the Spartans. The announcers in Ann Arbor talked about Jim Harbaugh finally getting his signature ranked win during the Badger massacre last week. I disagree and think the biggest problem that the Khaki Man has is beating his rivals. Since coming to Michigan with a lot of hype and fanfare about bringing back the glory days, Harbaugh has only beaten Michigan State or a school in Columbus once. If we hold Harbaugh to the John Cooper standard where you have to beat your rivals, he fails the test and it is not even close to passing. In addition, Sparty is a very tough out in Spartan Stadium for a big game. Sparty 17, Michigan 0.

Minnesota Norsemen (-3.5) vs. New York J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS. At this time, I can't confirm if Kirk Cousins convinced Mike Zimmer to have Olive Garden provide the team meal tonight at the team hotel. We can't have Cousins eating there, because some insecure New Yorker thinks going to Olive Garden should be beneath all of us. The Vikings look to have passed the crisis stage of the season, and I think they should comfortably do that. The Jets look like they will struggle this year, and there will be plenty of purple in the stadium. Vikings 31, Jets 17.

New England Patriots (-2.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck. This game looks a lot better than when the schedule came out. The Bears are leading the NFC North, but this is a prove it game because when you want to be elite, you have to beat the good teams. The Patriots had an emotional come from behind win against the Chiefs last week, and they should be able to comfortably beat the Bears in Chicago. Patriots 35, Da Bearz Still Suck 10.

Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Open thread

Suddenly it's busy again. Ran out of time. Fill the space as you deem appropriate.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Apropos of nothing

Lolita Lebron, who shot up the U.S. Capitol in 1954:

Image result for lolita lebron
She looks familiar
Someone who will be most likely working in the Capitol in 2019:

Image result for alexandria ocasio-cortez
So it goes

In re Taylor Swift

We'll leave it to Bob Newhart:
I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down'.
And yes, I know Swift hasn't been a country music performer for some time. If you watch even five minutes of the CMA, you realize no one has been a country music performer for a long time now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

il miglior fabbro

A lot of skulduggery afoot in Minnesota. Our friend Brad Carlson is on the case:
 At the end of the day, the lust for power is turning people into subhumans. Some of you may believe that my description of these events as political "terrorism" is a bit heavy handed given that people normally reserve such a word for radical Islamists who are willing to die for a cause while taking scores of "infidels" with them. But given these awful activities likely dissuade many from seeking elected office, it's safe to say that it is due in large part to people feeling overcome with terror (i.e. terrorized).
Yep. Brad shares a shocking tale at the link. You should read it all.

Phony Betomania Has Bitten the Dust

Mine, all mine!
On Monday, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke announced that despite the alleged pleas from other Democratic senatorial candidates for him to share some of the funds he has accrued for his campaign, he has no intention to do so, even though their races may be closer than his race against Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

According to The New York Times, Democrats feel that they would have a better chance in winning close Senate races in Missouri, Florida, and Indiana if O’Rourke would share the wealth.

O’Rourke has accumulated a $38.1 million war chest, the largest in Senate history; he informed reporters he will spend it all before Election Day. He sniffed that if his donors want to offer additional support to other candidates, they can fork over more cash, according to The Washington Examiner. O’Rourke said, "I've got to honor the commitment that those who've contributed to this campaign have made to me, and their desire that we use this to win this election. If they want to contribute to someone else, they should do so. If they want to contribute to a campaign that's going to win this historic victory for Texas and the country, then I'm grateful for the contribution and I'm going to make the most of it, so that's what we're focused on."
All that money and he's still gonna lose. I'm amused.

Meanwhile, back in Trumpland

Another shot across the bow at Jeff Sessions:

Maybe Waldo knows
It is quite possible that Ohr is still working at the Justice Department. It's been very quiet on this front lately, especially since Trump said he would declassify all the relevant documentation. I suspect we're going to see some action soon. Getcha popcorn.

You can run, but you can't Heidi

What a maroon:
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election this year, apologized Tuesday for a newspaper ad run by her campaign which, without permission, named some women who had experienced sexual assault and some who were not victims of abuse.

The ad was structured as an open letter to Kevin Cramer, Heitkamp's Republican opponent, chastising him for comments he made during the Supreme Court confirmation process of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In September, Cramer questioned whether the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh disqualified him from serving on the court, even if they were true. Heitkamp voted against Kavanaugh's confirmation.

However, many of the 127 women named in the open letter had not given their permission for their stories to be told.
So, let's help victims, even if they aren't victims, by identifying them. Heitkamp's statement is beyond stupid:
"In an attempt to bring awareness to this issue and push back against dismissive comments toward sexual assault survivors by Kevin Cramer, our campaign worked with victim advocates to identify women who would be willing to sign the letter or share their story. We recently discovered that several of the women's names who were provided to us did not authorize their names to be shared or were not survivors of abuse," Heitkamp said in a statement from her campaign on Tuesday. "I deeply regret this mistake and we are in the process of issuing a retraction, personally apologizing to each of the people impacted by this and taking the necessary steps to ensure this never happens again."
How do you retract something like this? Once the information is out there, it's out there forever. And since some of the women weren't victims, how do you suss out what's true and what's not true?

There's some good news -- I'm reasonably certain this will never happen again, because Heitkamp will be leaving the Senate soon enough.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Channel flipping

It's rarely been an issue most years, because most years the Milwaukee Brewers typically aren't playing meaningful baseball in the middle of October. Yet here they are, leading the National League Championship Series 2-1 following a 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers last night. Meanwhile, at Lambeau Field, the Packers rallied to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 33-30.

If you're a Wisconsin sports fan, what do you watch? I had a previously scheduled event at our parish last night, so I didn't really watch anything until 9 p.m. We were flipping back and forth between the Brewers and the Packers -- while the Benster likes the Brewers, he's more of a Twins fan, so he was more concerned about events at Lambeau. I have my doubts that the Packers are going anywhere this season, so I was more interested in what was happening at Dodger Stadium.

Post-season baseball is a lot more interesting than most regular season games, because the chess match aspect of the game comes to the fore. Brewers manager Craig Counsell is a Milwaukee kid and he's been wheeling and dealing all season, leveraging an outstanding bullpen to great success. It's an odd way to approach the game and traditionalists who value starting pitching are a big aghast, but so far it's worked well. The Brewers essentially have three starting pitchers right now, all journeymen. But they might have the most effective relief pitcher on the planet in Josh Hader. And they have a versatile lineup with good balance and a genuine star in Christian Yelich.

I grew up with the Bambi's Bombers/Harvey's Wallbangers Brewers, who would bludgeon their opponents with one power hitter after another. They never really had enough pitching, though, and in their only visit to the World Series, they fell short as their ace Pete Vuckovich, who was pitching with a torn rotator cuff, ran out of pitches in the end. Since then, the Brewers have only been close one other time, back in 2011, but this team is better than that 2011 group.

Wisconsin is a football-mad state and the Packers are almost a religion there, but this year, I'm grateful for the Brew Crew. Post-season baseball is a wonderful thing.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Eyes open, New Brighton

I'm going to write more about this in the coming days, but the local politicians are at it again. There's an important question on the November ballot and the city council and their minder, Dean Lotter, are trying to mislead the public. No surprise there.


You may have heard about Jamal Khashoggi, purported to be a Saudi journalist, who apparently met a grisly fate in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. So was he? Spengler hears otherwise:
Germany's leading right-of-center daily Die Welt this morning reveals that Jamal Khashoggi was not a journalist, but a high-level operative for the Saudi intelligence service, an intimate of Osama bin Laden, and the nephew of the shadiest of all Arab arms dealers, the infamous Adnan Khashoggi.
I had thought his surname familiar. It's been a long time since Adnan Khashoggi, who died in 2017, was in the news, but back in the 1980s he cut a wide swath. There's more:
So much for the whining in the Establishment media about freedom of the press and protection of the rights of journalists. The presumed-dead Khashoggi was a top-level spook who swore fealty to some of the Arab world's nastiest elements, and who played a high-stakes game in Saudi spookdom. We don't know why he disappeared, but we know what we don't know.

Among other things, we know that Khashoggi was bitterly opposed to the new Saudi government's rapprochement with the state of Israel. As a Muslim Brotherhood member, he backed Palestinian intransigence.
He was also a partisan, apparently. The linked article refers to a piece in Die Welt, which has more:
Die Welt: What do you suspect, what could have happened to Khashoggi?

Difraoui: If he was murdered, then I would be surprised if his journalistic activities were the only reason. The Saudis own half of the international Arab media. They have generally built up a very effective media shield. As a journalist and activist, Khashoggi may have been extremely annoying, but no real threat. But Khashoggi knew a lot. He was not just the media officer of intelligence chief Prince Turki. He was one of his main advisers and was said to have worked for the secret service for a while. Khashoggi was extremely familiar with sensitive issues of the kingdom. And he was a member of the super-elite. He might have known too much.

Die Welt: What sort of knowledge could have become dangerous for him?

Difraoui: Corruption or past knowledge about links to extremism. Above all, however, the internal conflicts or misconduct of the royal family. If the secret service protects the security of the country, it must also know what is happening in the ruling family. The current, often unpredictable crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is currently the really strong man in the country. But he has also made enemies in the family. What if his father Salman dies? Then Mohammed will probably have to fight for his position once again. Perhaps Khashoggi's knowledge was dangerous in this regard. His old patron, Prince Turki, wanted to position himself as Crown Prince. He has surprisingly not commented on the case so far. Turki knows almost all internals of the family.
There's no point pretending that the Saudis aren't nasty people, but it's not clear why we would want to intervene there. We're doing enough intervening already. Back to Spengler:
There are no good guys in Saudi Arabia, just bad guys and worse guys. This, after all, is a country ruled by a family, and its family politics often recall Game of Thrones. I condone nothing and endorse no-one, but I don't believe it's America's job to fix the problems of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I'm not interested in bad guys or good guys, just in our guys vs. their guys. So a bit of caution is warranted in drawing conclusions from the Khashoggi affair. We don't know what happened and I don't trust the intelligence Establishment to tell us.
I don't, either. Meanwhile, the usually invisible Betty McCollum turns up making the Israel is apartheid argument:
As USCPR’s Executive Director Yousef Munayyer put it last week in a fundraising email to his group’s supporters and donors:

Ten days ago, a sitting Member of Congress used the ‘a’ word: apartheid…Smack dab in the middle of our three-day conference, where more than 550 people from around the country came together for 40+ workshops, panels, and artistic performances that organized, energized, and amplified the incredible work people like you are doing, history was made. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) openly, and correctly, named Israel for what it is…This. Is. Huge.”

Munayyer is absolutely right that what McCollum said is a big deal. But best I can tell, the mainstream media has completely ignored this story.

Basically, it’s important because it marks the first time that a U.S. lawmaker has publicly equated the only Jewish state on the planet, and the only country in the Middle East that provides its citizens with rights and liberties that other people in the region can only dream of, with the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa.
This apparently happened at an event in St. Paul last month. Didn't hear a word about it in the local press. McCollum doesn't really need any help to win an election, because this congressional district is about as blue as it gets. It's highly unlikely any Republican will defeat her, but she's an interesting case. It will be interesting to watch what happens in the next cycle. I'm guessing another DFLer may challenge her now. More, much more, at the link.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Urban Liar Edition

Old dude, I have been waiting a long time to make a Very Special Comment on the Urban Meyer situation.

I thought I heard sawing going on out back. Figured you were building a scaffold of some sort.

It's going to be epic, and I am not afraid to drop the hot takes like they are going out of style. We also will discuss the Khaki Man and if he can finally break through and win a big game to justify the insane contract he is getting paid by Michigan.

I sense controversy.

I feel the HYYYYYYYYYYYYYPPPPPEEE!, and it is time to watch me work.

Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat (+30.5) vs. A School in Columbus. Time for a Very Special Comment concerning Urban Liar. There is no doubt that Urban can win games, and he has a long track record of giving teams a huge amount of success, and that is tough to do. What really annoys me is that this success has given him an excuse to let him be pretende to be above reproach, as long as he keeps bringing money and wins to his employers. That's not how it is supposed to work, kids. In the era of #MeToo, and especially after recent political events have shown, Ohio State continues to double down on him and keep pushing him as a face of the university, who relies on the state of Ohio and donors to keep their doors open. All of this trouble started when Meyer did not do enough to handle the matter about Zach Smith, who was abusing his former wife. Zach Smith has a grandfather any Big Ten or national college football fan knows. That would be Buckeye coaching legend Earle Bruce, the man who gave young Urban Meyer his first job in football. I'm one voice among many, and I certainly have been a harsh Buckeye football critic. That being said, if Ohio State and the Big Ten office had any sense of doing what is right, they should have punished Urban a lot more, or even canned him right away. That sounds harsh, but Meyer made respecting women one of his core rules for his football team. Apparently it isn't. Ohio State as a Big Ten school has made a horrible mistake by suspending him for cupcake games. The message here is not #MeToo, but rather #It'sGoodToBeKing. What we've learned is that if Urban is a good coach, he can get away with just about anything in his work hours. I'm frustrated because I have enjoyed watching Dwayne Haskins and the Ohio State offense, and these players have done nothing wrong and should not have to see their coach embarrassingly break his rules and taint a beautiful team. It makes me sick how Ohio State makes a team that should be celebrated and a national title contender tainted with the grime of a scandal that should have been corrected and ended with a termination.

Now, we can talk about the actual game. Ohio State has one of the best Big Ten offenses I have ever seen, and they should be 12-0 heading into Indy for the league title game. That being said, the Gophers are the team playing with house money. If Fleck loses this game, nobody is going to hold that against him. I think the Gophers have to go for broke here, and try to never punt here and go for touchdowns every single time. In addition, every single time they kickoff, go onside and make Urban Liar have to respond to that. I would love to give the Ohio State players the win, but in light of their horrible head coach and his double standards about his rules, I would never allow myself to do that. Row Row Row Your Boat Elitely 24, Fire Urban Liar During the Game On Live Television 11.

I don't disagree with your assessment of Meyer, but because I'm old and cynical I'm not surprised it went down that way. Unfortunately, the Gophers are going to get their butts kicked today. Buckeyes 49, Gophers 14.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (+9.5) vs. Michigan Wolverines. Meanwhile, the Wolverines are facing their most difficult test at home this year. Wisconsin has recovered nicely from their disaster of an afternoon against BYU. The Wolverines are looking to feast on the thin Badger defense, but the problem is that Jim From State Farm builds his teams to run the ball, and not to go Air Raid. I think this game is going to be a lot closer than the experts think. If you remember, in 2016 the Badgers played a better Wolverine team very close in Ann Arbor. Badgers 24, Michigan 10.

Tough game. Can the Badgers defend the pass? A pass rush would help. Not sure they can get one going. I think it's close, but. . . Wolverines 27, Badgers 24.

Raising Arizona Cardinals (+10.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are one of the teams in the NFL that honestly makes me question who the real team is. The Purple looked good in Philly, but their last home game was one of the worst efforts I have ever seen a Mike Zimmer team deliver. One wildcard is that Sam Bradford has good reason to want to give Zimmer a little bit of revenge. Bradford is the former Viking quarterback who was cast aside in order for Zimmer to get media darling Kirk Cousins. I'm going to be honest with you guys, I still question the move. Cousins has done well, but Bradford is the one that had success with the Vikings and was a good quarterback here. I think the Vikings are too strong, but this will be our first look at how well Cousins does against someone who he took a job away from. Vikings 35, Cardinals 10.

I'm not sure Bradford will even see the field. The Cardinals are a hot mess right now. Vikings should handle this one easily. Vikings 38, Cardinals 17.

San Francisco 49ers (+9.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. The Packers have been deemed a team in crisis, which is quite frankly an absurd notion. Yes, the Packers lost to the Lions because they couldn't make a field goal to save their lives. However, the Packers offense looked good and moved the ball. The Niners are without Jimmy G and have struggled on offense. I like to see the Packers get a good win and coast into the bye week with an eye to improve themselves and get their wounded a chance to heal. Packers 30, Niners 9.

You've identified the formula, Seabiscuit. Can the Packers get it done? I think they will. Packers 31, 49ers 21.

Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck (-3) vs. Miami Tuna Net Victims. The Bears are the surprise leaders of the NFC North and only had one bad quarter of play that will haunt them forever. They should easily win on Sunday, since the Dolphins are no great shakes this year and seem to offer very little value to their ticketholders. I think the heat might be a concern, but nothing that can't be dealt with in practice. Bears 50, Dolphins 0.

On the ol' bandwagon, eh? This one is going to be a problem. The Dolphins are at home and better than you think. The Bears do look formidable, but the heat and the layoff may actually hurt them. Dolphins 24, Bears 21.

Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out!

Friday, October 12, 2018

It's not an angry mob, they shrieked

Oh, don't call it a mob:

Just don't.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

This will go down on your permanent record

A third-grade teacher dishes on a White House official:
I can still picture him sitting in my classroom.

Do you remember that character in Peanuts, the one called Pig Pen, with the dust cloud and crumbs flying all around him? That was Stephen Miller at 8. I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk — he always had stuff mashed up in there. He was a strange dude. I remember he would take a bottle of glue — we didn't have glue sticks in those days — and he would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.
You should hear what Julie Swetnick says about him. But speaking truth to power is a tough gig:
At the end of the year, I wrote all my concerns — and I had a lot of them — in his school record. When the school principal had a conference with Stephen's parents, the parents were horrified. So the principal took some white-out and blanked out all my comments. I wish I could remember what I wrote, but this was 25 years ago. I've taught a lot of third-graders since then. Of course, Stephen wasn't political then — it wasn't until later that he started to make waves. 
Seriously, what kind of third-grade teacher would tell such a tale? Not to put too fine a point on it, but these people really suck.

Lessons learned, yet again

Another former #NeverTrumper sees the dawn:
Kavanaugh was a normal establishment Republican pick. Destroying him had nothing to do with opposing Trump’s particular flaws. This was about annihilating anyone who gets in the Democrats’ way, especially anyone who threatens their illegitimate Supreme Court policy wins. It was a declaration of war on every conservative, no matter how respected, reasonable, and mainstream.

There is no refuge from this sort of totalizing, destructive politics. The Republican rejection of Merrick Garland was political hardball; the sliming of Kavanaugh was categorically different and much worse. The Democrats crossed the line from policy disagreement to personal destruction, and in doing so they nuked any middle ground between themselves and conservative Trump skeptics. And they put every conservative on notice: You could be next.
And the home truth:
Capitulation to the outrage mob is contemptible, but it has become the norm, with lives ruined professionally and personally. The worst aspects of the online mob, the campus tribunal, and the gutter press have been embraced by the leaders of the Democratic Party, and they think any and everyone on the right is fair game. Those determined to believe the worst about the accused also believe the worst about those standing up for the rights of the accused, and want to destroy them as well. Dissent will not be tolerated—those who dare speak out against the witch-hunt will be burned as witches themselves.

I wish this was not so. I would rather be arguing about the Enlightenment than jumping on the Trump train. As a writer and scholar I want to persuade, not to destroy. I do not want American politics to be like this.

But as a voter who recognizes the unfortunate realities of our politics, I believe supporting Trump has become the responsible choice. Things may change, but right now Trump’s policies are better than I expected, he is not the authoritarian some feared, and he does not want to destroy me and mine. It isn’t much, but since Trump stands between me and those who would ruin me, he will have to do.
You have to deal with the world as it is, not as you would wish it to be. You may not want to fight, but there's a war on.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lessons learned

In a lengthy (but deeply useful) summation of the Kavanaugh aftermath, Victor Davis Hanson deftly explains what I got wrong in 2016:
The preppy Kavanaugh — by class, education, comportment, and prior employment — was about as pure a Bushite as one could imagine. His opinions were doctrinaire conservative and traditionalist, in the sense of interpreting rather than making laws.

To destroy a judge like Kavanaugh reflected that the New Left’s hatred of Trump had always been incidental to its essential loathing of conservatives in general. For a remnant group of Never Trumpers to oppose Kavanaugh, then, reflected the elevation of their own personal hatred for Trump over the critical elevation of a principled jurist to the Supreme Court. Supposedly, Kavanaugh was soiled by a Trump handprint, and therefore it was better to have a more liberal court than see Trump get any credit for taking the court in a direction only previously dreamed of by conservatives.

Never Trumpers had always assured their former conservative colleagues that Trump would either fail or prove liberal. But he has done neither. And as far as his demonstrable crudity and uncouthness, the hearings showed that the Democrats were far crueler and crass in deed than Trump was in word. So perhaps half of the small minority of Republican Never Trumpers, in horror at the Antifa tactics of the Democrats, retreated to the old adage of “hang together or hang separately.” Those who doubled down by joining leftists in opposing the Kavanaugh nomination revealed that they have crossed their Rubicon and now are either orphaned or unabashedly part of the new progressive Democratic party — at least until their useful obsequiousness no longer serves current progressive agendas.
Emphasis mine. The lie I told myself back in 2016, when this feature had a NeverTrump badge, was that Trump was simply pulling a scam and that his lack of scruples would lead to ruin. But nearly two years on, it's become clear that Trump, for all his crudity and uncouthness, has been the man for the moment. He's always going to say things that will make me cringe, but despite it all his heart is in the right place and his instincts are a lot more sound than those of his starboard side critics, myself included.

And right on cue, Hillary Clinton reemerged yesterday and drove the point home:

Civility can only return if Hillary and her cabal gets power back. People are always docile if there's a boot on their throat. And let's not pretend civility, in the Left's construct, is anything other than a boot on the throat.

Can you think of anyone on the Left who has behaved honorably in recent weeks? Is there anyone on that side of the aisle who wouldn't crush people who get in their way, if only afforded the opportunity?

My great concern is that conservatives of all stripes will enjoy the Kavanaugh victory and then stop fighting the Left. It's the default position of many conservatives, who are involved in politics only because they are required to be. The Left never sleeps and never relents. There is an election in less than a month. The Left must be defeated again.