Saturday, November 17, 2018

Separated at Birth/Putz Deluxe Edition

Separated at birth. First, smug fascist character from Animal House, Greg Marmalard:

Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft?
And Congressman Eric "We have nukes" Swalwell:

Legit
The Honorable Mr. Swalwell wants your guns and well, he's prepared to do whatever is necessary to get 'er done:

It's the only way to be sure
So talk to Swalwell. Or get nuked. Your choice, really. It is a dialogue, after all, although you may have trouble enunciating with his shoe on your throat.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games-----Cupcake Saturday Edition

Old dude, it's time to watch the SEC play cupcake teams this weekend, because they need to load up on the strength of schedule.

Hey, the SEC is doing obscure southern schools a big favor. Why else would anyone talk about Wofford or the Citadel?

Maybe the SEC could help out obscure northern schools, too!

Yep. I hear Arkansas is going to schedule Monmouth next year.

What a clash of academic titans! That would be good, old dude!

I can hear the cheers now. . . zero, one, two, three -- we cracked double digits on the ACT!

No, Geritol Fan. They cracked single digits, because they signed their names on the test form.

Well, that's something. Should we put your prediction skills to the test?

Yes. Although with the crappy slate of games available, HYYYYYYYPPPPE! will be in short supply. But I soldier on. Watch me work!

Northwestern Wildcats (+2.5) vs. Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat. Last week I said the Gophers would be blown out at home. Well, that didn't happen. Now, they face a Northwestern team that somehow has won the Big 10 West, despite losing all their nonconference games and losing to Michigan. If you predicted that would happen at the start of the year, I'll take what you're smoking. Gophers 42, Wildcats 7.

I think that's what's called an overcorrection.

That's regression to the mean!

Well, it's definitely regression of some sort. In any event, the game. Do you trust anyone in the Big 10 West these days? It's psychotic. Purdue looked like world beaters one week, then come to Minneapolis and look like a footwipe. The Gophers are destroyed in Champaign, then destroy Purdue. The only thing we can safely assume about the Gophers is that the score will be lopsided. Just to be a contrarian. . . Northwestern 35, Minnesota 10.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (+4) vs. Purdue Boilermakers. As someone who likes both the Badgers and the Packers, this has been a difficult year to feel positive. The Badgers are, well, bad. They have not been able to stay healthy and are now learning why Alex Hornibrook has been the starting quarterback, despite his obvious limitations. Purdue is a very dangerous football team, coming off a humiliation in Minneapolis. Quite frankly, I'm not certain the Badgers will retain the Ax, but that's a matter for next week. Badgers 24, Purdue 16.

I have no idea what to think about the Badgers, either. The recipe for success is simple -- Jonathan Taylor all day long. Can they make that work? Why not! Wisconsin 31, Purdue 27.

Carolina Panthers (-4.5) vs. Detroit LOLions. So, we're talking about the LOLions. Detroit looks like they're trying, but they aren't succeeding. I have no idea how this team beat the Patriots. Carolina got smoked in Pittsburgh last week, and have had the mini-bye to get healthy. I don't gamble on sporting events, but I'd say bet the over. Panthers 42, LOLions 39.

I got rid of all my Lions on my fantasy league team, so I'm hoping you're wrong. I think Cam Newton knows that a loss here would be devastating to any playoff chances, so. . . Carolina 31, Detroit 23.

Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz Still Suck. Gino would like to remind you that da Bearz are in first place in the NFC North. I would like to remind you da Bearz blew a 20-point lead to the Packers in Week One and that da Bearz have not defeated a team with a winning record this year. Are da Bearz a mirage? It's a fair question. The Vikings are a team that has yet to beat a team with a winning record this year. So, something's gotta give. I like da Bearz in this one. Chicago seems to have found a formula to win and Mitchell Trubisky looks very confident running the offense. Da Bearz 27, Vikings 20.

Mitchell Trubisky hasn't had Danielle Hunter up in his grill yet. That's going to be a problem for him. I've seen the Bears play a few times this year. Trubisky has made progress, but once he starts running he doesn't do a good job of keeping his eyes downfield. I remember a quarterback from Chicago who wore number 10 and liked to run:

Image result for bobby douglass football card
Looks like he's holding a pot roast, not a football
It didn't end well for Bobby Douglass in Chicago. Too soon to tell how Trubisky will do, but it's always worth paying attention to trends. Vikings 28, Bears 27.

Be aggressive if you're a football coach. Don't be like Mike McCarthy! Ben out!

Mostly open thread

There's not as much news right now and one might expect. While it's evident that Bad Orange Man is not pleased with Robert Mueller, that's not really news. The fires in California are horrifying and tragic, but until they are extinguished, there's not much to report beyond the sadly burgeoning death toll. Republicans are feckless, Democrats are reckless -- you knew that.

So again it's a mostly open thread, although I'd like to post video of the great Roy Clark, who passed away yesterday at the age of 85. Clark is mostly remembered today for his many years on the syndicated variety show "Hee Haw," where he held court with Buck Owens and a cast of Nashville Grand Ole Opry performers and cornfed cuties. You got glimpses of Roy Clark's brilliance on the show, but he was an amazing guitarist who could play anything. If you want evidence, consider this performance from about 1975, when Clark was a guest on "The Odd Couple":


RIP.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Benster Picks Your Games----NFL Mandated Emergency Edition

Looks like I am going to have to discuss the Packers on my own today thanks to the scheduling of the game and due to D being on assignment. The Packers won a critical home game against the Tuna Net Victims, but instead are going to have to win on the road for the first time since Cleveland last year. I think we can do that, but it will be hard. Watch me work.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+3) vs. Seattle Seabags. The last three trips the Packers have made to the Pacific Northwest have been some of the worst days in team history. The best thing that happened was that the Packers were blown out as part of a banner raising on national television. The league office screwed the Packers many moons ago on a play I won't even link, and the last time we were there was a game that I will never watch again because it was arguably the worst playoff defeat a team I support suffered. That was then, and both teams are a lot different since that horrible day a couple years ago. This game matters in the NFC North, because I think this game is the pivot point of the divisional race. If the Packers win, they will gain ground on either the Bears or the Vikings and they still have yet to lose to either of them this year, with the Packers having plenty of time to prepare for Thanksgiving weekend against the Vikings. The key to the Packers getting a win is going to revolve around keeping Russ in the pocket. We all know that Russ likes to move around and get plays off scramble drills. I am looking for one of the outside linebackers to step up along with the linemen. On offense, I want to see Aaron Jones continued to be a featured part of the offense with Aaron Rodgers being able to use short stuff. This game will not be easy, but I think the Packers are on the verge of putting 4 quarters together and vaulting themselves back into contention. Packers 28, Seahawks 13.

Enjoy the football tonight, and we will see you tomorrow to discuss the Vikings, Bears, and other games. Ben out.

Speaking of annoying blowhards. . .

Jim Acosta, CNN's bien pensant apostle of self regard, thinks he's entitled to White House press pass, mostly because he has Important Questions to Ask Bad Orange Man. The redoubtable Mollie Hemingway states what should be obvious:

Pay attention to MEEEEEEEEEEEE!
The First Amendment ensures a right to speak. It does not mean anyone who speaks is guaranteed an audience, or even a platform. CNN is filled with people who would ask Bad Orange Man nasty and tendentious questions. Many of them also have White House press passes. Jim Acosta's presence is not required.

Least surprising headline of the year

You could see this one coming down Wilshire Boulevard:
Michael Avenatti, who became famous for representing Stormy Daniels in her battle with President Trump, has been arrested for felony domestic violence ... law enforcement sources tell TMZ.

Our law enforcement sources say Avenatti was arrested Wednesday after a woman filed a felony DV report. We're told her face was "swollen and bruised" with "red marks" on both cheeks.

Our sources say the alleged incident occurred Tuesday night, but there was another confrontation Wednesday between the two at an exclusive apartment building in the Century City area of L.A. 
I'm not a fan of TMZ generally, but on this sort of thing they're quite good. There's more:
We're told Wednesday afternoon the woman was on the sidewalk on her cellphone with sunglasses covering her eyes, sobbing and screaming on the phone, "I can't believe you did this to me.  I'm going to get a restraining order against you."

We're told security brought her inside the building, took her upstairs and Michael showed up 5 minutes later and ran into the building. He screamed repeatedly, "She hit me first." We're told he angrily added, "This is bulls***, this is f***ing bulls***."  We're told he tried getting into the elevator but security denied him access. 

Cops showed up and escorted Avenatti into a corner of the apartment lobby and spoke with him for 5 to 10 minutes and then took him into custody.
It's been clear from the outset that this guy is pond scum, but without the essential nutrients. He trotted out his current wife and his former wife as character witnesses, but the issue here is what happened with the woman who is filing charges. Is she honest? Is she Julie Swetnick? Maybe Avenatti was facilitating gang rapes on the beach?

Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead

This much I know -- there's more evidence against Avenatti than he provided when he went after Brett Kavanaugh. And I may need to go out to the ol' Hy-Vee and get some more popcorn.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Open thread

You can write if you want to. I got nothin'.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Quickly

Not exactly a lightning round, but close:

  • I was never a big Marvel Comics guy, but there's no disputing the importance of its creator, Stan Lee, who died yesterday at the age of 95. Marvel is, at the time of  Lee's death, perhaps the most powerful non-Disney brand in the entertainment industry. Spider-Man was a different kind of superhero and one who has consistently resonated with the American public for over 50 years now. That's a hell of an accomplishment.
  • As expected, Joe Mauer retired yesterday. He had a 15-year career with the Twins. He wasn't always great, but often he was. And he will be in the Hall of Fame within the next 10 years. He might not make it on the first ballot, but he did enough in his career, especially as a catcher, to merit the selection. I also am glad he didn't try to extend his career to build up his overall numbers. A lot of players do that and that clouds our memories. I remember Willie Mays as a New York Met, and John Unitas as a San Diego Charger. I'm glad we never saw Mauer wear anything other than a Twins uniform.
  • I may take a break from politics for a few days. At this point, there's not much worth talking about. But we'll see.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Controlling what you can control

Bad Orange Man strikes again:

No sign of Agent 99
It's not that simple, but he's not entirely wrong, either. Controlling the weather and the wind is well-nigh impossible, but more aggressive management can make a difference. Clearing underbrush on a regular basis means there is less fuel available for the fires once they start. And it's always going to be a risk to build housing deeper into the forest.

Now that the flames have reached Malibu, there might be some impetus to look at underlying causes and what can be done easily. But if you're a betting person, assume California officials will just slap a Prop 65 warning on something else and call it a day, then blame Bad Orange Man instead.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games-----No More Snow Edition

What is up with the snow? It is only a week or so after Halloween, and it is too early for snow. People also don't know how to drive in the snow.

Well, since we only got rid of the snow around here at the end of April, our six months of not winter are up, young fella. You can feel the chill in Minnesota in any number of ways.

Well, thankfully the HYYYYYYYYYYPPPPPEEEE! I bring can melt the snow. I need to get on it. We shall see this weekend if the Packers are going to be buried come the end of the weekend. However, do not let them in the playoffs.

Well, they have to find a way in.

We'll get back to that, Geritol Fan! It is time to get to work and discuss football. Watch me work!


Purdue Boilermakers (-10.5) vs. Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat. The Big Ten West might be the college version of a mosh pit, as figuring out who is good is very difficult to tell from afar. Purdue is a team that has turned the corner, as evidenced by their signature win over A School In Columbus. The Gophers looked like they would struggle to beat a good high school team last week against an inspired Illinois team. This is going to be a very unpopular sentiment, but the Gophers are paying the price for canning Glen Mason over a decade ago. You don't overreact to losing one bowl game, even though it was a horrible choke. Basement Brew and his successors have struggled to bring the winning Gopher tradition back, and you have to wonder if this is the football gods trying to warn against making a rush to judgment based on one bowl game collapse. Spoilermakers 45, Capsize Your Boat Elitely 0.

It hasn't been all bad in the last 10 years, but it hasn't been that good, either. Fleck needs to stop making excuses and start winning a few games, but I don't see any wins left on the schedule. Purdue 31, Gophers 17.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (+9) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions. This game looked a lot better when it was scheduled, to be honest with you. I don't know what happened with Wisconsin, but I expected better from them. I also don't know why Penn State has a couple of losses, since they are arguably as talented as A School In Columbus or Team Khaki Man. State College is going to be a heck of a challenge, but history shows us this decade that the Badgers are a difficult November out. Call me an optimist if you must, but Michigan should not assume they have seem the last of the Badgers, who will make no bones about forcing their way to Pasadena. Badgers 20, Penn State 11.

Bucky has to win out and Northwestern has to lose twice. That might be a heavy lift. But I can see Bucky winning today. Penn State is down, too. But better get a spy on Trace McSorley. Penn State 31, Wisconsin 27.

Northwestern Wildcats (+10.5) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes. This is the game that will define the rest of the Big Ten season. I know that sounds odd, but hear me out. I am assuming that Michigan will go to the Shoe and win, and I think that Northwestern and Iowa are going to have a major say on if Michigan is going to win the Big Ten for the first time in a long time. Both these teams are characteristic of their head coaches because they play tough, steady football and make life difficult for their opponents. Northwestern controls the driver's seat on the road to Lucas Oil Stadium, but Iowa City is the stadium that is the proving ground in the Big Ten. I doubt that Northwestern can beat Iowa there, and look for the Big Ten West to be blown wide open. Iowa 36, Northwestern 19.

Northwestern is a hard team to read. Iowa is Iowa. Go with the team you can trust, especially if you trust them to be good. Iowa rolls. Iowa 35, Northwestern 24.

Detroit LOLions (+7) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck. The Chicago Bears are still in first place, and Gino can be glad that I reminded you about that fact. He will not be glad that I reminded you that the Bears blew a 20-0 lead in the second half against the Packers with a one legged GOAT at quarterback. In all seriousness, the Bears are positioned perfectly, since they have a good defense and a quarterback who is improving and, I might add, has a better record as a starter this year than some quarterback who got paid 84 million dollars guaranteed. Da Bearz 35, LOLions 0.

Shots fired! It's going to be cold in Chicago. The Lions don't like that. They won't like much about what happens tomorrow. Bears 28, Lions 17.

Miami Tuna Net Victims (+10) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. The Packers come into this game having played two games in which they took New England and LA into the fourth. Both those games were lost due to bad offensive execution in the late stages of the game and making costly mistakes with ball security. A lot of Packers fans seem to think that this team is not very good. I disagree with that statement. Yes, the Packers have not played a very good game yet this year. Yes, Mike McCarthy has done a bad job with playcalling. Yes, Aaron Rodgers has not been himself. What people forget is that the Packers are a very good November and December team, and are undefeated at home. I think the Dolphins are going to play hard, but the Packers look closer to success than people think. Remember, we beat the Bears when nobody gave us a chance at halftime. We outplayed the Vikings and earned a tie. We beat the Niners with clutch plays at the end. We beat the Bills when the overrated Vikings got their butts kicked at home by the Bills. We played the Rams tougher than the Vikings did and held them to fewer points than the vaunted Vikings D did. Packers fans, I implore you to keep the faith. This year will be special, and the team is going to have a Super season where we add one for the thumb. It starts on Sunday, and enjoy the ride. Packers 45, Tuna Net Victims 20.

Wow, that's some impressive tent preaching! I certainly imagine the Packers winning tomorrow, but they essentially have to run the table. Do you think that's going to happen? Benster does. Allow me a measure of skepticism. Packers 28, Dolphins 21.

R-E-L-A-X. Enjoy your weekend and the football. Ben out.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Same old same old

It always happens and everyone knows it, but no one does anything about it. But Bad Orange Man has noticed:

Everyone considered him the Broward of the County
And the same game is going on in Arizona, where somehow a 51-49 McSally margin is changing because the votes they are counting in Maricopa County are now 60-40 Sinema. Democratic strongholds find votes, lots of them, after the election is over, and the votes always swing the election to the Democrats, just as they did in Minnesota for Al Franken in 2008. The Dems intended to steal the election in Georgia, too, but that's not going to happen. This time.

Additional votes found after the fact always help Democrats. Always. This won't end well.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

A modest proposal/prediction/grenade in the ol’ foxhole


Since it is customary for presidents to make cabinet changes at mid-term (e.g., Jeff Sessions), I make the following modest proposal:


You may not have heard of him, but the current Secretary of Labor is a fellow named Alexander Acosta. He is no relation to Jim Acosta, but he is also dead weight and has done almost nothing to roll back the egregious work of his Obama-era predecessors. So Trump needs a new Labor Secretary. I have just the guy.

….

….

….  (wait for it)

…..

Scott Walker

The confirmation hearings alone would be well worth the price of admission.

Still thinking

What It All Means? You know, the Grand Sweeping Conclusions?

Don't have any. But a few more thoughts are in order:

  • Is the job of an Attorney General to be the president's wingman? Eric Holder thought so, as did Loretta Lynch and Janet Reno, and they all acted accordingly. That was okay then. Apparently things have changed.
  • Eric Holder, you might remember, routinely ignored Congressional subpoenas. And apparently, that was okay, too. I'll be curious to see how that tactic goes over if the new Attorney General follows the same game plan next year.
  • The single biggest thing the next AG should do is make sure that the Janus decision is actually implemented. Someone I know exceptionally well is in AFSCME and, as a result, I see a fair amount of AFSCME materials. At least in Minnesota, AFSCME wiped its butt with the Janus decision. That has to change.
  • Generally speaking, Republicans in Minnesota have volunteers. The DFL has mercenaries. It's never going to be a fair fight under the current conditions.
  • If self-regard were hard currency, Jim Acosta would be wealthiest man in the world. If the White House were to freeze out CNN entirely from asking questions, that would be an issue. But I don't have a problem if they put Acosta in time-out. Sam Donaldson used to be obnoxious, but he never got physical with White House staffers.
  • Tony Evers is going to be a thoroughgoing train wreck. The key for Wisconsin Republicans will be to let him.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

End of Sessions


First Impressions

On balance, more bad news than good from election day, especially in Minnesota. Thoughts? Oh, I have a few:

  • This state is turning into Illinois, at least electorally. The metro area has gone decidedly to the left in the last 4-6 years and outstate is becoming more conservative with each passing cycle. Since the majority of the population is in the metro area, it's becoming awfully difficult for any Republican to win a statewide election. No one did yesterday.
  • Tim Walz is going to be a weak governor. He was a backbencher in Congress and nothing about his record suggests he has the sort of experience he'll need to be effective. But he did have the one thing that matters -- the letters DFL after his name. I like Jeff Johnson, but he didn't stand a chance.
  • Keith Ellison is an ethical dumpster fire and a guy who, to be frank, doesn't give a damn about the law. And he's our new Attorney General. This is really the most disappointing result of the evening. Doug Wardlow wouldn't have been my first choice to be the Republican standard-bearer, but he ran a good campaign. It wasn't enough.
  • The sneaky part of the evening in Minnesota is that the House flipped back to the DFL. That means a whole lotta grandstanding is coming up and not much is going to get done, because the Republicans will continue to hold the Senate. 
  • Keeping with the demographic changes, they become most evident in the Congressional delegation. CD1 and CD8 turn red, while suburban CD2 and CD3 go blue. I'll spend more time on these results in a later post, but I'll say two things for now -- it's a shame Jason Lewis lost. He was actually trying to do some things to make life better. Angie Craig will feign bipartisanship, but opearationally she'll be Betty McCollum with a mostly surpressed hint of Tennessee twang. That seat could flip back in 2020 if a few things break correctly. As for Erik Paulsen, he got what he deserved. It looks like voters who could have helped him, especially 2nd Amendment supporters, sat on their hands, while the voters Paulsen was courting went with the empty suit DFLer Dean Phillips. This was totally predictable. 
  • Over in Wisconsin, it looks like Scott Walker is out. Too bad -- he's the most innovative politician we've seen in the Upper Midwest in a long time. It's tough to win three terms. The good news, if it can be called good news, is that Tony Evers will be a trainwreck and the Republicans will retake the governorship in four years, after Evers spends four years mewling and whining and failing to repeal Act 10. People will get sick of his act quickly.
  • On the federal level, the House will be under the management of the California Democratic Party for the next two years. That's potentially a blessing in disguise, because Speaker Pelosi is going to be especially effective for the Republicans as she reminds America that she is an elderly and incoherent loon. And I'm eager for the electorate to see more of Maxine Waters on television, because she will be on all the time. I'm sure another Dem loon of the California variety, Peter Schiff, will try to hassle President Trump, but I would also guess that Trump will, before the new Congress is seated, declassify and release all the documents about Russiagate, which will effectively cut Schiff off at the knees. Also, expect a lot of braying about Trump's tax returns in the next two years.
  • Meanwhile, in the Senate, the Republicans will have a stronger hand. The final numbers aren't in yet, but several key states flipped red, including Florida, North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri. It looks like the Dems will flip Nevada, but that might be it, and at this point Montana looks to be a Republican pickup as well. And in Texas, Beto O'Rourke, the biggest fraud of all the frauds the Democrats ran in this cycle, can go have a seat next to Wendy Davis. I do wish John James had won in Michigan and that Karin Housley would have won here, but it wasn't meant to be. 
  • Other than Walker's unfortunate defeat, the most consequential governor's election was in Florida, where Ron DeSantis held off straight-up socialist Andrew Gillum. Gillum is really a bad dude, but his charisma made him a formidable candidate. DeSantis isn't my favorite, but it was really important that he win, and he did.
We'll have a lot more to say in the coming days.