Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This seems like news

Funny you're not seeing it anywhere beyond The Hill:
Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
I thought Trump was the one colluding with the Russians. Huh. And there's more:
The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.

Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI. The probe is not focused on McAuliffe's conduct but rather on whether McCabe's attendance violated the Hatch Act or other FBI conflict rules.

The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year.
Seems convenient, doesn't it? Have the people who should be under investigation investigating something else. If Trump wants to stir the pot, he ought to retweet this story. Other than conservative comment sites, the only newspaper that seems to have the story is the New York Post. I strongly encourage you hit the link and read the piece from The Hill.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Local Scene -- Game Theory

We have a municipal election in New Brighton and voting is already underway. The general contours of the election are pretty clear.

Mayor: The incumbent is Val Johnson, who snuck in last time in a three-way battle. From what I can tell, her mayoral priorities are (a) giving Dean Lotter, the city manager, whatever he wants; and (b) virtue signaling. It's not a promising combination. Her challenger is Sharon Doffing, a former city council member who would be far more likely to challenge the comfy status quo at City Hall.

City Council: Two seats are up for a vote. One incumbent, lefty Brian Strub, decided not to run. The other, Gina Bauman, has a target on her back. Gina has fought the powers that be for over a decade. She views her role as a watchdog for the taxpayer and because she's never been afraid of being in the minority on a vote, she's not particularly popular with Johnson and the rest of the council, who like spending money and taking bows for their generosity with other people's money.

Challengers: Two candidates are essentially running together for the council seats -- Emily Dunsworth, a cookie-cutter liberal lawyer closely connected to the DFL; and Graeme Allen, who is a less affable version of Strub. Running as a more conservative candidate is Susan Erickson, who would work well with Bauman. Former mayor Dave Jacobsen is also running for a council seat, but from what I can tell he's mostly phoning it in. There is also a libertarian candidate named Peter Berthelsen in the race, but he's not really making much headway.

So the choices are fairly simple. If you like the status quo, which means higher taxes with a bien pensant veneer, you ought to choose Johnson, Dunsworth, and Allen. If you'd actually like to change the direction New Brighton is going and bring some fiscal responsibility to City Hall, Doffing, Bauman, and Erickson are the way to go.

There's more to say about this race -- a lot more, actually, and we'll return to the topic in the coming days.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The day after

Aaron Rodgers goes down. A few thoughts:

  • You can't really replace Rodgers. Another guy can play the position, but you can't replace a guy with the skill set Rodgers brings to the team. It's yet another reminder of how blessed the Packers have been for the past quarter century. 
  • Brett Hundley will be better next week at home than he was in Minneapolis yesterday. He was a very good college quarterback and he has two years in the system. He can make plays. I don't know if he'll make enough to keep the Packers alive this season, but he'll give it a go. And it won't all be bad. He's playing for his future, which could be lucrative if he makes good.
  • Should the Packers bring in Colin Kaepernick? I would not be surprised if the Packers do sign Kaepernick. I believe them when they say they want to ride with Hundley, but they'll need a competent backup. With the bye week coming soon, they would have time to teach him what he needs to know if something happens to Hundley. And the NFL would dearly love to have that grievance Kaepernick just filed against the league to go away. There are certain teams in the league that could "take one for the shield" (e.g., Packers, Giants, Steelers, Bears, old school teams) and I wouldn't be surprised if Roger Goodell and his friends haven't been on the phone with Mark Murphy about it. 
  • The downside of Kaepernick isn't his silly politics, per se -- it's the question of whether or not he's sufficiently committed to doing what it takes to succeed. The 49ers let him go because he wasn't particularly effective after the first two seasons; the stories I've read indicate he wasn't willing to do the work outside of the team building that the top quarterbacks do, primarily because he had become too involved in the political causes du jour. If you're going to be a top quarterback, you have to be dedicated to your craft. The potential advantage for Kaepernick to come to Green Bay is simple; people there don't care about the politics nearly as much as they do about football. If you want to concentrate on your craft, Green Bay is a great place to do it, because there aren't as many distractions available as you would find in San Francisco, or even here in the Twin Cities.
  • Is there an upside for the Packers signing Kaepernick? Maybe. I do not believe the Packers seriously want to see Joe Callahan playing in a regular season game, which is the current scenario if Hundley is injured. Although Callahan has experience in their system, the jump from being a Div-3 quarterback to the NFL is awfully steep.
  • One last thing -- tell me, do you think the following meme is amusing? It was posted on something called "Minnesota Vikings Memes," which I assume has nothing to do with the Vikings organization itself: 
  • Image may contain: one or more people and text
    Humor
Apparently some Vikings fans do. I think it's crappy as hell.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Benster and D Pick Your Games-------Border Battle Editon

Old dude, the Packers have crossed the St. Croix and are looking to beat up on those Vikings.

You could hear them coming all the way from Hudson.

I know that Carl Gerbschmidt is getting excited to call into Bumper to Bumper on Sunday.

You realize Gerbschmidt is a bit, right? Not a real person, right?

Yes, but whoever is doing the voice does a decent job of capturing the tone of the rivalry.

You might want to ask a Vikings fan about that.

Vikings fans? Why ask? Just watch. They are really feeling the HYYYYYYPPPPEE!, and this rivalry matters in Minnesota in a way that is hard to explain to outsiders.

That's true. Minnesota fans would like to treat the Wisconsin sports teams like Little Brother, but it's not so easy.

Especially when they lose. But we'll get to that later. It is time to get down to bidness. Watch me work!

Michigan State Spartans (-4) vs. Minnesota Elite Boat Rowers. The P.J. Fleck Elite Boat Rowing Experience has gone down a couple of rapids lately, with the Gophers 0-2 in conference play. I would probably put the West title out of reach for the Gophers, but this a winnable game for them. Sparty had a huge win over Jim "Lost the Super Bowl to my Brother" Harbaugh and the always overrated Wolverines in Ann Arbor last weekend. The danger I see for the Spartans is that they have to play a game that is not as big to their team, and I think Fleck gets a good win, if not a signature win. Row Row Row Your Boat 34,  Spartans Hate Walls 29.

I don't know what to make of Sparty. I think winning in Michigan Stadium is a pretty good trick, but I could see it going sideways on them tomorrow. Gophers 24, Spartans 20.

Purdue Boilermakers (+17) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers continue to quietly keep playing well, as evidenced by a very good win on the road in Memorial Stadium last weekend. I am surprised that nobody is giving freshman sensation Jonathan Taylor any credit for being the best running back in the conference and he should be a contender for a trip to New York in December. Purdue is a team that has improved and has played teams pretty tough, but I think the Badgers will continue to play well enough to get a routine home win. Badgers 42, Spoilermakers 13.

Purdue is getting better. Not good enough to beat the Badgers in Madison, though. Badgers 34, Purdue 17.

Grinnell College Pioneers (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire.  There is a good chance that I will be at this game, since the Knosher Bowl is one of the most iconic and legendary venues in all of college football. Only Camp Randall and the Rose Bowl are more iconic than the Knosher Bowl in terms of great places to watch a game. Knox should get a nice home win, and the guys on the Knox team are great guys who are Champions of Life. Knox 89, Grinnell 0.

I might add that Grinnell is terrible. Knox cruises at home. Knox 35, Grinnell 3.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Packers come into the Twin Cities on a major high after winning an epic game in Dallas against the Cowboys. The Vikings will roll with Case Keenum yet again at quarterback, but are coming in on a short week after playing on Monday night. The Vikings will play the Packers tough, and are going to be fully ready to go. I think the Packers can win, but it will not be a huge blowout. Packers 31, Vikings 20.

The Vikings will hit the Packers in the mouth and might even lead for a time. But they won't be able to hang with the Packers down the stretch. Packers 27, Vikings 21.

Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz (+6.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens. For the Bears, this season is still a mess. I know that Trubisky looked pretty good against the Vikings, and that the Chicago fans and media are looking for the quarterback to finally lead them back to the top of the mountain, but this Bears team is not good enough yet. I feel bad for poor Gino, going to a Bear bar every Sunday and having to watch his team get beat, but it warms my Packer fan heart. The Ravens should get this win at home, no problems at all. Ravens 10, da Bearz 0.

Gino will be okay with it. He's used to it by now. If the game were in Chicago, I'd pick the Bears. Not in Baltimore. Ravens 24, Bears 14.

That is all from us, and enjoy your football this weekend, and please help and pray for those dealing with natural disasters in this country. Ben out!

Bottom line

I should say a few brief words about this particular topic:
The Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday that girls will soon be allowed to become Cub Scouts and to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest honor.

"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children," said Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts.

The scouting board of directors voted unanimously to make the historic change in an organization that has been primarily for boys since its founding more than 100 years ago.
Why would girls want to join the Boy Scouts instead of the Girl Scouts? A guess:
The Girl Scouts have long focused on social justice, diversity and inclusion in their activities. 
Show of hands -- would you rather focus and social justice, or go camping?

As readers of this feature know, Benster is an Eagle Scout and Fearless Maria is a Gold Award winner. While there's no question both of our kids gained great benefits from the respective Scouting experiences, it's easy to see why the Boy Scouts are a better organization. Fearless Maria's troop essentially ended the moment she earned her Gold Award, because the other girls in the troop had fallen away from Scouting. Benster's troop existed long before Ben became involved and continues onward today. That's the bottom line.

And as Ann Althouse rightly observes:
If I were a young girl, I'd pick the organization that had activities that were fun and useful for me to learn, and "social justice, diversity and inclusion" doesn't even sound like an activity.
And as one of her commenters rightly observes:
More people would want to do Girl Scouts if it were better.
Indeed.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Free Speech, More Speech

Bad idea, Mr. Trump:

We get to decide what's fair, pal. Not you.
I get why Trump is frustrated. I don't doubt much of what is reported isn't accurate. Much of it is outright crap. But when someone, anyone, with the ability to wield the vast powers of the regulatory state threatens to shut off the liars, that's no good.

Free speech is not provisional. And never claim power that you would not be willing to have used against you.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Full Polanski

I don't think he's coming back:
Harvey Weinstein is boarding a private jet Tuesday night, bound for a rehab center in Europe for sex addiction ... sources connected with the former mogul tell TMZ.

We're told Harvey has decided to take the advice of the people around him and leave immediately. We're told he will enter a live-in facility and will deal both with sex and other behavioral issues.
Extradition may not be one of the behavioral issues in question, but it wouldn't surprise me. If half of the reporting about ol' Harvey is accurate, he really ought to be in jail. But I suspect he'll be hanging with Roman Polanski instead.

Of course, other people see the bigger picture:

Bet he doesn't even have UCare

Hollywood-style debauchery is a very old story. The sensational trials of Fatty Arbuckle are almost a century in the rearview mirror now. I recently read a book about the still-unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, essentially from the same era, which goes into detail about the murder, the various stars and hangers-on around the case, and the studio executives who saw the dangers the moral scolds provided to their nascent industry. What happened in 1922 isn't terribly different than what's been going on in the Weinstein cases.

I don't care about that world; I'm not part of it and never wanted to be. Nor do I have any brief for moral scolds. Watching Weinstein get his comeuppance is pure schadenfreude. And for me, it's less about Weinstein than it is about his dwindling supply of defenders, who were all too ready to give Weinstein a pass on his behavior as long as he made successful movies and kept the political donations coming. All that is over now. Now all that's left for Weinstein is the inevitable:


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Chez Che

Che Guevara has now been gone for 50 years. The world may not be a demonstrably better place because he's been gone -- we never run out of monsters entirely. But he was a monster. And all the hagiography and t-shirts in the world don't change the story.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Vogue

It makes no difference if you're black or white
If you're a boy or a girl
If the music's pumping it will give you new life
You're a superstar, yes, that's what you are, you know it

A dance floor sensation of 25 years ago? No. It was the National Anthem:
Vice President Mike Pence walked out on his home-state Indianapolis Colts Sunday when members of the opposing team kneeled for the national anthem, but a report that Colin Kaepernick, the player who started it all, will stand if given another shot in the NFL was quickly dialed back.

"I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence tweeted.
Pence almost certainly knew that 49ers players would take a knee; they have been doing it all season. And you know what? Good for Pence. Why not play the game? There's more than one way to virtue signal, right?

Don't just stand there, let's get to it
Strike a pose, there's nothing to it

Whatever point Colin Kaepernick was trying to make is long gone, as people who make more money each time they get a game check than most of their fans make all year tell us how oppressed they are. The whole thing is tiresome. It's all limousine liberalism writ large. And there's nothing entertaining, or enlightening, about any of it.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Question Mark Edition

Well. it seems that the teams with interest around here all have some question marks. What say you, old dude?

What was the question again?

Put down the Metamucil and pay attention, if you would.

I need my fiber.

First of all, TMI. But answer the question. Don't the teams we pay attention have question marks?

Yes. More question marks than exclamation points, for sure.

Well, will anyone answer the questions this weekend?

I thought that was your gig. It's why we write this piece, isn't it?

I'm asking the questions.

I question that.

You are incorrigible, old dude! Let's see what happens this weekend.

It depends on how well the Metamucil works.

Oy vey. It is time to pick some football games. I am feeling the HYYYYYYYYYYYPPPPPEEE! and I am ready to go. Watch me work.

Minnesota Golden Elite Boat Rowers (+3.5) vs. Purdue Boilermakers. The local sports media types in Minnesota are not happy about what happened last week at home against Maryland for Mr. Fleck and his charges. The Gophers took a step back, no doubt about it, and this game does not get any easier. Purdue looks like they have improved a lot this year. It is also the first home game since former Purdue coaching legend Joe Tiller died, so look for Purdue to surge on emotion early. I like Purdue here, because they are a threat that not a lot of people are banking on being scary. Boilermakers 35, Rowing Out of Town 11.

We'll actually answer some questions about the Gophers tomorrow. It's a tough matchup, as Purdue appears to be much improved. While the previous regime didn't leave the cupboard bare, Fleck's team doesn't appear to be elite where roster depth is concerned. Purdue 34, Gophers 27.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-10.5) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers. This game is going to be a war, and the Badgers are getting too high a line. Nebraska is always a tough team to beat, and they have a very good record in night games in Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin did struggle against Northwestern, and there are questions surrounding Alex Hornibrook, who took a step back last week in terms of making good choices with the football. I still think the Badgers win, but they will have to earn this win in a very nervy game. Badgers 27, Huskers 21.

Nebraska isn't Nebraska these days. I think they'll give Bucky a good punch early, but they won't be able to hang with the Badgers. Watch for the Badgers to wear the Cornhuskers down late. Wisconsin 34, Nebraska 23.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Lake Forest Foresters. So, it turns out that Knox got beat down last week against St. Norbert. No biggie, they go to Lake Forest, who is a pretty good team, but not exactly Alabama level in the Midwest Conference. I never pick against my school, because our guys are men of distinction and honor, and they will find a way to win. Fire 35, Foresters 19.

While I am sure they are men of distinction and honor, they won't beat Lake Forest. Foresters 31, Fire 27.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+2) vs. Dallas How 'Bout Them Cowboahs? The Cowboys and their fans have been waiting for this game since Mason Crosby won that epic playoff game in Janurary. The Cowboy homers in the media say that this time will be different, but the Cowboys have struggled, while the Packers look like they will get some of their injured back. Make no mistake, the Packers will have to play at a high level to win, and I think they will. If that happens, be sure to watch a certain former Dallas sportswriter on Monday. Packers 38, Cowboys 30.

The Packers had enough time to start getting healthy. That should help them tremendously. This game is pretty crucial for the Cowboys, because if they lose this one, they'll be well behind other teams in the conference. Desperate team at home? I hate doing this, but. . . Cowboys 31, Packers 28.

Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz.  Yeah, the Bears are still a dumpster fire. They really looked bad against the Packers last Thursday, and even though Mr. Trubisky will start, it still is a mess. Quite frankly, I wonder how Gino even deals with watching them play. Maybe he should take a knee in protest of the front office. The Vikings will be without Dalvin Cook for the rest of the year, but they should be fine here, especially with a chance that Sam Bradford will make his return. Of course, there is always the matter of the Vikings not playing well in Chicago at times. Da Bearz 24, Vikings 10.

Young Mr. Trubisky will see things he's never seen on the football field before. And he'll be on his back a few times. Vikings have just enough to win. Vikings 14, Bears 13.

Enjoy the football this weekend, and please pray for the folks in Las Vegas. Ben out!

A tale as old as time

Harvey Weinstein had a casting couch:
Two decades ago, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she said.

“How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” Judd said she remembers thinking.
Apparently Weinstein did this sort of thing quite a bit. Hardly anything new. Sex and power are often intertwined. And guys who have power assume they can use it to get what they want from women. The story is more interesting because Weinstein has been hugely successful and regularly sanctimonious:
The allegations piled up even as Weinstein helped define popular culture. He has collected six best-picture Oscars and turned out a number of touchstones, from the films “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Good Will Hunting” to the television show “Project Runway.” In public, he presents himself as a liberal lion, a champion of women and a winner of not just artistic but humanitarian awards.
So he's none of these things. Are we surprised?

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Stasis

Still finding it difficult to write anything. We've reached a point of annoying stasis in the political world, which the events in Las Vegas have underscored. The lefties I know are still calling for gun control, but they know they can't have it, so they just get on with their virtue signaling and self-talk. The NFL thing is dying down. I suppose we could ask why U.S. special forces are getting killed in Niger, but first we'd have to ask people to find it on a map.

It's a roundabout way of saying you've got an open thread.