Monday, October 24, 2016

Events remain in the saddle

Blogging will continue to be catch as catch can for the next day or two. All is well, but other responsibilities take precedence.

From what I can tell, nothing has changed anyway... every day we learn of a new, jaw - dropping scandal involving the Clintons, which we then ignore because her opponent is a boor. The historians will have a field day with this race, assuming we have historians in the future.

Meanwhile, I stick with my knitting.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games----Back from the Brink Edition

Well, I think the pressure is off the Packers for now, and Packers fans can watch football without having to worry about things.

Well, it's something. The NFL is like that. Every game seems to be either a tremendous success or an existential crisis. The season lends itself to those sorts of interpretations.

I don't disagree. I think the Packers might have snapped their way out of the funk, but Atlanta is going to be a very difficult opponent to play next weekend.

Yes. But we are still in this week. Lotsa other action.

True, Geritol Fan! It is time to pick some games. Watch me work, and get ready to feel the HYYYYYYYYYYYPPPEEE!

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+18) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. Simply put, Rutgers is not any good, and the only reason they are even in the conference is to get more cable subscriptions paying for the conference network. The Gophers are going to be a factor, though they still have to play Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin down the stretch. The Gophers should have no issues winning against a terrible opponent at home. Gophers 49, Scarlet Knights 7.

I agree with this. Rutgers was not horrible last season, but this year they haven't been competitive at all. Gophers should have little trouble in this one. Gophers 35, Rutgers 0.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-4) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes. The Badgers have lost two tough games in a row, but the hard part is almost done. Iowa is always going to be a tough team, and you know that Iowa and Wisconsin always play each other very close. Having the Badgers get their leader and best player, Vince Biegel, back is really a boost. Wisconsin has won the last three games played in Kinnick, and I expect the Badgers to win again this weekend, but not without having to earn it. Wisconsin 27, Iowa 19.

The Badgers will have a fight on their hands, but the available evidence suggests a win for the Badgers. It will be low scoring. Wisconsin 17, Iowa 9.

Knox Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Lake Forest Foresters. This is another game where I think Knox has a chance. They looked pretty good last week before not finishing the job in the final few minutes. Sadly I will not be going up to Lake Forest to attend, but I expect the Fire to maybe sneak another win and build momentum to the most intense trophy game you never heard of, the Bronze Turkey Game against evil Monmouth. Knox 17, Lake Forest 13.

Lake Forest is actually pretty strong this season. Won't happen. Lake Forest 34, Knox 14.

Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings got a huge boost by gaining a half game on the Packers during the bye week, and whomever has the Vikings as a fantasy defense, you made a smart pick. However, I think the Vikings are going to play their first tough game on the road, and Sam Bradford is looking to get one up on his former team. I think the Vikings are still the team to beat in the NFC North, but this game looks like a game that is going to be a tough one. Eagles 42, Vikings 21.

If the Vikings can block, they win. If not, this could be trouble. The Eagles have a lot of pass-rushers and that's going to be a challenge. I expect the Viking defense to show up as usual (and yes, I have the Vikings defense for my fantasy league team), but I expect this to be a challenging game for the Vikings offense. Philadelphia 17, Vikings 10.

Not a lot of games to pick, but the NFL forced our hand by having us pick a game due to them wanting you to upgrade a tier. Kids, don't let an overpaid man named Roger make your programming choices for you. Ben out!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- NFL Mandated Early Edition

Since the league office continues to want to have us and the readers upgrade a tier, and spend Thursday night watching football instead of other things, we have to get an early pick up.

Yeah, and I'm not so sure I want the NFL Network, to say nothing of trying to watch the game on Twitter, for goodness sakes.

I know it is kinda lame, but the NFL has to make money I guess, right?

That's what they are all about, Seabiscuit. Nothing else.

Well, it's fine. Let them scrap over a few nickels. My picks are always money and it's Bears Week, so there's opportunities galore for HYYYYYYYYYPPPPPPPPE! It is time to watch me work.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+7.5) vs Glorious Green Bay Packers. Sunday was a terrible day for the Packers, as they played one of the worst games I have seen in a while. Thankfully, they are playing right away again, and this time will face the Bears. The Packers are banged up, and will have very little depth in the defensive backfield and in the running game. This game reminds me of how many times in the past the haters will have said that the Packers are done. Well, this should be different. The Bears still have Brian Hoyer, who is a decent starter. I really figure that things are going to change, because after all the Bears have not won the close games, and this game is going to be a typical close Packers-Bears game. Packers 21, da Bearz Still Suck 17.

What worries me about this game is not the running attack, which is now in the hands of Ty Montgomery and Knile Davis, who is apparently the 2016 version of Samkon Gado. What worries me is that the Packers are essentially out of cornerbacks. They will be trotting out Ladarius Gunter yet again, who was clueless against the Cowboy receivers. I don't think that will work well. So, this one could be an aerial circus, if Aaron Rodgers can get it back together. He has to eventually, so it starts tonight. Packers 33, Bears 27.

D and the rest of the family are on the way to Galesburg tomorrow, so we'll really be able unleash the HYYYYYPPPE! then. But for now, Ben out!

The final debate

I watched it. Probably should have watched the Cubs instead. My two cents:

  • Nothing happened that really moved the needle. All the social media howling today is about Trump's refusal to answer whether he'd accept the results of the election, but it's beside the point. Whether he concedes or not, if Hillary Clinton gets the majority of the votes in the electoral college, she will be the next president. If he gets the majority, which I doubt he will, he will be president. The rest is just theatrics.
  • For someone whose slogan is "Stronger Together," Hillary sure has a lot of people she'd like to punish. Perhaps you are one of them.
  • Moderator Chris Wallace is getting a lot of praise for his performance, but I don't see why. He was so wedded to his set of questions that he didn't ask some followups that need to be asked. When Clinton went off on a rant about Russian involvement in the WikiLeaks documents, the obvious followup wasn't where the docs came from, but whether they were real. It would have been useful to get that answer on the record. Wallace never came to the aid of Clinton, which puts him well above the Raddatz/Crowley line, but that's an awfully low bar.
  • Trump had his moments, but he is a disastrous debater. He's a guy who likes to riff on a subject and he's not disciplined in his presentation style. And he's incapable of avoiding the asides that sink him. He didn't need to say Clinton is a nasty woman -- the evidence speaks for itself. The Clinton campaign will have t-shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers with that comment for sale this morning. If Trump had any wit, he'd ask for royalties.
  • I've never backed away from my #NeverTrump stance, because he's simply not a good choice to be president. Clinton is worse. If we didn't have a completely compromised FBI and Justice Department, she would be facing prison for destroying thousands of emails. Her record in office is abysmal and her conduct is worse. She's surrounded by charlatans. She will be president and the only question on the table is whether her presidency will be more like that of James Buchanan or that of Herbert Hoover. Assuming, of course, that her presidency isn't most like William Henry Harrison. She's going to be horrible. Somehow, I suspect most of my readers already know that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Meanwhile, back in New Brighton

The New Brighton City Council has, against all odds, decided to appeal the slam dunk judgment against it, which I wrote about at length. You can expect an expedited ruling any day now, which will almost certainly swat away the appeal with great dispatch. I'll have more about the ruling when it comes down -- I am having difficulty accessing the relevant documents at the moment, but they are public record and you can access them here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Swirling, swirling

We actually are learning a few things about the corruption going on at State:
A top State Department official tried to pressure the FBI to change its determination that at least one of the e-mails on Hillary Clinton’s private server contained classified content, prompting discussion of a possible trade to resolve the issue, two FBI employees told colleagues investigating her use of a private server last year.

One FBI official conceded that he told the State Department employee he would “look into” changing the classification of a Clinton e-mail if the official would lend his authority to an FBI request to increase its personnel in Iraq, according to documents released by the bureau Monday.
And we're also learning about the level of fealty that at least one of our media watchdogs gives to a key Clinton figure, John Podesta:
In an astonishing email, Politico chief White House political correspondent and senior staff writer Glenn Thrush ran his latest article by Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta to make sure nothing offended the Clinton henchman.

"Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u [sic]," Thrush wrote to Podesta. "Please don't share or tell anyone I did this … tell me if I f***ed up anything," he continued.

"OTR: No problems here," Podesta responded.
I do appreciate the admission that Glenn Thrush is a hack. At least he's honest enough to admit as much.

At this point, it's becoming clear that Hillary Clinton is going to be president. It's also becoming clear that her organization is corrupt as hell. This election could turn out to be a lot like 1972 -- a landslide followed by scandals galore. I suspect we'll learn a lot more in the coming days.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Back from Oklahoma

After being away from the blog (and the news) for three days, it does not appear much has changed in the political season. From what I can tell, Trump gets trashed every day, the WikiLeaks stories are pretty much confined to the right wing press, and yet the polls show Hillary Clinton cannot get to 50%.

If ever there was an election in which None of the Above should be on the ballot, it's this one. Even the third-party candidates stink. But you know what? I got to watch some tremendous high school marching bands in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma this week. If you want to know what's going well in our country, go see one of these shows. You will see coordination, spectacle, discipline, beauty, dedication, and spirited yet friendly competition. And our Irondale Marching Knights were there:

Standing at attention, ready to entertain

You don't see anger and contempt at a marching band show. You see mutual respect. You see what's still right with America, and what it can be.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games-----Don't Break My Arrow Edition

Old dude, I understand that you are going down to check out scenic Oklahoma vistas and HYYYYYPPPPE! Tulsa this weekend?

That's it, Seabiscuit. We are in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma for the marching band festival here, featuring the mighty Irondale Marching Knights!

Maybe you can find out exactly where Tulsa is and maybe try and get a hat or something.

We were in Tulsa with my cousin Mary Lou last night, so I can report it's there. A hat would be a good thing, though. On my list of acquisitions. Meanwhile, you are busy working away at school and at predictions, correct?

If you want to be the best, and I am the best, you have to put in the work. So it is time to pick some games, so watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+7) vs. Maryland Terps. I'm sorry, but this line makes no sense at all. I understand that Minnesota is probably not going to win the Big Ten West, and they are on the road in College Park, but this line is just too big. The Gophers are not a bad football team at all, and certainly are better than a Maryland team who is still finding the groove in the Big Ten in football. At the very least, show the Gophers a bit of respect for how solid they have looked this year against pretty decent opponents. Gophers 28, Terps 13.

Vegas may be trying to get some wagering on this game with this line. It does seem excessive. These schools really don't have much of a history. Mitch Leidner is not going to play today, which complicates matters for the Gophers. But if they bring their defense, they should be able to handle the Terps. Gophers 17, Terps 14.

A School in Columbus (-10.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. Okay, time for a bit of a rant. The Badgers clearly have gotten no respect from Las Vegas on this one. I know the Buckeyes are a very loaded and talented team, and even I can admit it. They deserve to be ranked highly and are going to be a tough out. However, the Badgers are certainly no slouches either. They beat LSU on a neutral field, and beat Michigan State on the road, and played a very tight game against Michigan. So why are the Badgers getting disrespected when they clearly deserve equal billing? I have given Urban Meyer a lot of criticism in this space, but he said that the job Wisconsin has done is a very good body of work, and I promise you that even the smug Buckeye fans who I think are the worst should be worried. Wisconsin is a very good football team, and their ranking and body of work in a very difficult schedule shows that. Camp Randall is going to be loud, and the Buckeyes claim they want to be champions. We will see if they can win, or if once again Urban Meyer wastes a golden chance at a title. Wisconsin 31, A School in Columbus 24.

I don't know what to think about this one. I'd love to see the Badgers will it, but I'm skeptical. They have a lot, and I mean a lot, of injuries on defense. It's going to come down to discipline against superior athleticism. On offense, can young Alex Hornibrook get it going against a talented defense. I say he can, but it's going to be tough. Badgers 24, Buckeyes 21.

Illinois College Blueboys (NL, but someone might want to bet on it) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. This weekend is homecoming weekend at Knox, and I have already seen a lot of alums walking around the place. Knox has only won the one game, which happened to be last week against Grinnell, who are a god awful team. Illinois College is a solid Midwest Conference team, but the Fire should feed off a very large crowd to help the alums write more checks to the financial office. Knox 78, IC 0.

We write checks to Knox, so why shouldn't they? IC is better than solid. Knox will play well, but they will come up short. IC 31, Knox 21.

Dallas How 'Bout Them Cowboys (+4.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. Dallas is back again in Lambeau, where they have found it to be very tough in the past two years. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot have been able to help Dallas withstand losing Tony Romo. The Packers did not play a complete game again last week, but made enough plays to get the win. The Packers do tend to have trouble with the read option, which I would expect the Cowboys to use a bit of. The Packers still have a number of injuries that are nagging, but I would expect the Packers to win another tough game and keep pace with the Vikings. Packers 27, Cowgirls 24.

The Packers are the best defense Prescott has faced. They will make it very difficult on the Cowboys. Aaron Rodgers needs to play better, but I think he will this week. Surprisingly easy one. Packers 31, Cowboys 20.

Jacksonville Jaguars (Pick) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. The Bears have been looking better in recent weeks, though John Fox has to continue showing that improvement if he wants to keep his job. Granted, the Bears have had some injuries, but Cameron Meredith in particular has looked like a good option and someone that Brian Hoyer trusted last week. Jacksonville is a tough opponent who should give all NFC North teams fits. Bears 34, Jaguars 20.

The Jags have been a disappointment so far, but they seemed to get better as the season went on last year. This is a game the Bears can win. Will they? Bears 21, Jags 20.

That is all for this week, and we will have to do something about the NFL Network requiring the Bears and the Packers to play on Thursday. Again, I swear they want our readers to upgrade a tier or something. Ben out!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lightning Round - 101316

I can't keep up with it all, really. But I can make note of it:

  • As far as I know, Donald Trump hasn't touched me inappropriately. I may be the only person in America who can safely make that claim.
  • Anyone calling for a "Catholic Spring" hasn't heard about Lord Mountbatten.
  • Ol' Drudge has a crapload of links you may or may not find probative. Easiest way to explain it all is to screen shot it:
I'll give you such a pinch!
  • Walter Russell Mead is still on the Calpers beat, in which he relays how Royalton, California is getting royally screwed. If you only have time to click one link today, this link would be a good choice.
  • Mark Dayton notices what we all have known for years -- the Affordable Care Act isn't. Naturally, it's the fault of the Republicans, who had nothing to do with any of it. Go back to sleep, Governor.
  • The owner of the Smitten Kitten thinks $15/hour should be everyone's minimum wage. I'm guessing the markup on her, ahem, merchandise is a little higher than what they sell at the ol' Dollar General.
  • And if the glitter cuffs at the Smitten Kitten aren't your speed, maybe you'd enjoy a stock market crash instead.
  • Blogging may be lighter over the next few days; we're going to be busy. It's good to be busy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The W

I've followed baseball for a long time, nearly all of my life. My father was a Cubs fan. When I was very young, probably 6 or maybe 7, he took the family to Chicago for a weekend. One of the events he had planned for us was to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The day of the game, a tremendous line of thunderstorms swept through Chicago and the game was rained out, so instead of going to Wrigley, we ended up sitting in our hotel room. This would have been around 1970 or thereabouts; the Cubs of that era were a good team, with Hall of Famers like Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams, and Ron Santo on the roster. I remember Dan being very disappointed about the rainout, especially as the storms broke later that afternoon.

Later on the 1970s, one of the local television stations in Green Bay would broadcast Cubs games on Sunday afternoons during the summer. It was appointment television for my Dad, who would faithfully watch the Bill Madlock-era Cubs get their butts handed to them. Sometimes I would watch the game with him, but most of the time I'd find other things to do. Dad would still watch the games.

In the late 1970s, we got cable television. The games weren't ubiquitous on television then; even when you had ESPN, it was more likely to have Australian Rules football on. But we did have WGN and so we watched the Cubs. You'd get occasional excitement, especially on a day when Dave Kingman was playing and the wind was out of the southwest, but for the most part those Cubs teams weren't very good, either.

By the late 1980s, I had moved to Chicago and the Cubs were up and down, but mostly down. Getting a ticket to Wrigley was now fairly difficult, but I did go maybe a dozen times over the course of the five years I lived there. My dad passed away in 1990, a year that the Cubs were 77-85, a quintessential Cubs season. As it happened, that team had three Hall of Famers on the roster as well -- Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, and Greg Maddux. But they also had Marvell Wynne and Doug Dascenzo. It wasn't enough. It never was.

Cubs Win! A sight seldom seen in many seasons
My dad, like a lot of Cubs fans, was loyal but fatalistic about his allegiance. The Cubs always seemed to be at least a player or two short of really getting there. There were magical seasons along the way, but they never could get it done. Now, in 2016, we see a fully operational juggernaut dressed in bright blue caps with the simple red C. The uniforms say Chicago across the front, but the men wearing them don't look like Larry Biittner or Mike Bielecki. I don't know if the Cubs are going to finally break through, after over 100 years, but I do wish my dad could have seen this team. The Cubs attract a lot of bandwagon fans, but the one Cubs fan I loved wasn't one of them. And as this season progresses, I'm thinking about him.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A ridiculous editorial, from longtime experts in the genre

Everyone who reads this feature knows that I have remained #NeverTrump throughout this election cycle, even though I have reserved most of my criticism for his opponent, who richly deserves it. In a season of lies, the Star Tribune editorial board uncorked a beaut this morning:
Anyone who saw Donald Trump’s boast of his celebrity-bestowed ability to indiscriminately grab women by the genitals as a new political low was proved wrong by Sunday’s debate.

That’s when the Republican nominee hit a frightening nadir in American politics by saying on live television that if he became president, his opponent, Hillary Clinton “would be in jail.” There is, and can be, no normalizing of such statements. This country doesn’t make political prisoners of rivals. Part of democracy’s hope and promise, and what has always set the U.S. apart from so many other countries, is the peaceful transition of power every four years. Opponents here are defeated, not imprisoned.
Okay, then. Explain this picture:

The master of the felonious veto
That's the mug shot of Rick Perry, former governor of Texas. He was charged with abuse of office because he vetoed funding for a state "public integrity unit" that was protecting another public official, the district attorney of Travis County, Rosemary Lehmberg, who also has a mug shot:

Drink for me, drink for my health, you know I can't drink any more
Lehmberg was driving drunk. Her arrest video remains an eternal classic of the genre:

By the way, Lehmberg is still in office.

Perry is hardly the only public official who has been through the wringer. I've written more than once about the abuse heaped upon Scott Walker and his colleagues in Wisconsin. Writing for the Federalist, Bre Payton provides a handy compilation of selective outrage. A particular favorite:
‘I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day,’ Pelosi said to laughter, during a sit-down with reporters. ‘I’m not kidding. There’s a prison here in the Capitol … If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him.’ …

Asked on what grounds she could have arrested Rove, Pelosi replied, ‘Oh, any number. But there were some specific ones for his being in contempt of Congress. But we didn’t.’
All sixteen of the examples in Payton's excellent piece share one thing in common -- all of the purported perpretrators are people who were somehow hostile to the Left. It's possible that the Star Tribune has editorialized against the the outrages against Perry and Walker, but I don't recall seeing it.

Hillary Clinton has done some awful things in her life. She may not get called to account for them. But to pretend that Trump's musing is something new and awful? Give me a break.