Friday, September 13, 2019

Benster and D Pick Your Games------St. Boni Edition

Old dude, we are going to be on assignment tomorrow afternoon, watching the most important college football game of the year.

What, you're bringing a portable television?

No, Geritol Fan. We're going to scenic St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, to watch your beloved Beloit Bucs play Clown College.

Clown College?

Oh, I'm sorry, I meant Crown College.

I heard about them:

Do you want to crown their asses?

No, I wanna row the boat. So we'll start there. Watch me work!

Georgia Southern Eagles (+16.5) vs. Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat I think it's safe to say that the Gophers are lucky to be 2-0. They barely got by the Jackrabbits, and someone they pulled a Houdini act in Fresno. But give them their due, they won. Now, Georgia Southern comes calling. This game is a trap game and, quite honestly, one they should lose. Eagles 35, Gophers 14.

Thurston, you've been eating the brandied peaches without the peaches again, haven't you? Georgia Southern is the weakest opponent the Gophers have yet seen and the game is at home. I think the Gophers do much better than you think. Gophers 35, Eagles 14.

Beloit College Buccaneers (NL) vs. Crown College Storm This is going to be an interesting game. Both teams lost their opener, and neither were very good. Old dude's beloved Bucs have been, well, let's have Charles Barkley describe their performance:

But here's the thing. Crown College is also turrible. They were thrashed by perpetual MIAC footwipe St. Olaf last week, so they aren't exactly covering themselves in glory. In fact, I heard the MIAC wants to add Crown to replace St. Thomas, because that way everyone else gets a free W. Beloit 21, Crown 0.

Gee, I hope so. The Bucs have been a dumpster fire for a long time now and it's actually disheartening. Crown is a very small Christian school, with an enrollment of about 500. They may have to suit up some coeds to field a team. If my Bucs get beat tomorrow, they ought to fold it up and close Strong Stadium for good. Beloit 17, Crown 14.

Iowa Wesleyan Tigers (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire Meanwhile, let's consider my alma mater, the beloved Prairie Fire. They are playing Iowa Wesleyan, which is also a very small college in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. It's usually not very pleasant in Mount Pleasant, especially on the football field. The Fire misfired last week against Eureka, but I have to believe that we can win at the storied Knosher Bowl. Alabama is too scared to come to the Knosher Bowl, by the way. Knox 10, Iowa Wesleyan 6.

You know what's a good thing for both Knox and Beloit? They still have Grinnell in the league. Knox should beat Iowa Wesleyan, though. Knox 24, Iowa Wesleyan 13.

Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers So, let's get to some real football. Vikings fans were very happy last Sunday. Packers fans were happy a few days before that. Who will be happy this weekend? Well, this game could go either way. The Vikings will be better on offense than the Bears, who seem to share a playbook with Crown College. The Packers defense will provide more resistance than the Falcons defense, which seems to share a playbook with Iowa Wesleyan. I'm a delusional homer (you may have noticed) and that allows me to pick the Packers every time. This game won't be easy, but it is winnable. Packers 28, Vikings 24.

Hmm. I still need to see Aaron Rodgers be healthy. Until I do, the only thing that is healthy is my skepticism. I think the Vikings are the most talented team in the division overall, but the Packers are catching up. Have they closed the gap? Vikings 24, Packers 23.

Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck (-2.5) vs. Denver Broncos So, da Bearz looked pretty poor against our glorious Packers last week. Were the Packers that good? Or is Mitchell Trubisky a steaming pile? All I know is Sid Luckman is not walking through that door. The Broncos also looked putrid last week against the dumpster fire Raiders, so that's good news for Bears fans. However, the game is in Denver, where the Broncos are a tough out. Weird things happen at that elevation. Bears 0, Broncos 0.

The Broncos are looking at quarterbacks again:

I bet he could throw that steak over the damned mountains. The Bears need this game. I think they get it. Bears 17, Broncos 10.

If that game ends in a scoreless tie, I am definitely buying Powerball next week. Ben out!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


91101 was a beautiful day in which, to borrow from Yeats, a terrible beauty was born. I’ve written about 91101 more than once; how we prayed, how the powers that be at my office demanded in vain that we turn off the televisions and get back to work, how my then-kindergarten age son came bounding down the stairs to watch Scooby-Doo and saw something far, far worse.

We didn’t have social media then; the internet was around but Facebook and Instagram and Reddit weren’t even on the drawing board yet. There were bloggers, but even that phenomenon was in its infancy. I didn’t start this feature until four years after the events of 91101. I’m still blogging, but most people have long since abandoned the field.

Many believe the aftermath was a botch. I agree. Homeland Security is a vast, pointless bureaucracy more concerned with security theater than protecting anything other than its own prerogatives. We’re still fighting in Afghanistan, even though no one seems to know why. Iraq was a blunder that continues to haunt us. We have troops deployed over vast regions, defending people who despise us. And yet, as recently as last week, it appeared we were going to invite the Taliban, who gave bin Laden safe harbor, an opportunity to visit to Camp David. It's a change I cannot understand

91119 has been, at least in the Minneapolis area, a rainy, nasty day. We’re at a rainy, nasty time in our history. We've grown older and our priorities have changed. That's inevitable; a lot happens in 18 years. My kindergarten-age son is now a college graduate, while my toddler daughter is a college sophomore. People remember the moment, but it has become more of a historical moment than a shared experience. And the cynics and conspiracy theorists have taken the field. Social media makes it easy for people to peddle nonsense and outright lies (where’s the plane that hit the Pentagon?! What about WTC 7?). I’ve seen several screeds on social media today to that effect. It’s disheartening.

I don't pretend to have answers. The last 18 years have, in various ways, disabused me of many notions I had about how the world actually works. But the one thing I did that day still makes sense to me; and I will again pray for the families who suffered and continue to suffer, and for a greater understanding.

Monday, September 09, 2019

The field, at the moment

Where I see 'em, right now.

Biden: He’s still the front-runner, but is generating no enthusiasm. He’s supposedly electable, but he’s never won an election outside of the state of Delaware -- being Obama's Veep doesn't count. Not seeing it.

Warren: Somehow, she’s not dead, but it’s likely she's gaining on the rest of the Dem field because no one is currently reminding anyone of her flaws, which are manifest. I don’t suppose Trump will be too reticent about mentioning those flaws.

Sanders: A hateful crank, but crankery is always a growth industry on the Left. Running on little more than bile, however, and it’s difficult to see how he’ll hold off Warren.

Harris: I thought she’d be a stronger candidate, but she’s got the Ted Kennedy problem of the Roger Mudd variant. She’s running but she doesn’t seem to know why. And she can't hide her nasty streak.

Buttigieg: The more he says, the more repellent he becomes. As sanctimonious as John Marty, but without the bow-tied fashion sense. Of course, he’s actually running for vice president.

Booker: A classic senatorial windbag. His greatest asset is his self-regard. Coincidentally, it’s his greatest liability. Also running for vice president.

O’Rourke: A complete moron. Married well, though. Every generation throws a Kerry up the pop charts.

Klobuchar: Her magic surname means nothing outside of Minnesota, but her mediocrity shines through. Perhaps she could move to Illinois, change her name to Kupcinet, and try again in 2024.

Castro: One-time HUD secretaries often run for president – Jack Kemp and Ben Carson did, too. He won’t get any farther than they did, though. And he's not nearly as serious as either of them were.

Williamson: I really think she means well. She’s a gust of helium, but a successful one because we live in an unserious world and she has had the wit to monetize her foolishness. Too nice to be president.

Yang: Giving away other people’s money is always a popular position, at least if its not your money being given away. But he’s going nowhere.

Gabbard: She’s the most serious candidate in the Dem field and her antiwar bona fides are undeniable. But her gloomy worldview is a mismatch for this moment and her surfer packaging doesn't square with her overall message.

I understand there are other candidates, too. Maybe you think they're worth discussing, but I can't see why.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Civil Discourse

A social media message from an old college friend:

Seems reasonable
Back in the 1980s, the individual who posted this suggestion was a nice young woman from a small town about 40 miles from my hometown. As I remember her, she was a little awkward socially, but smart and attractive. She was on the periphery of my social circle and I didn't chat her up a lot, but I was always happy to see her around. Thirty-five years on, she'd prefer I were obliterated, but she is polite about it.

This sort of toxicity doesn't make me angry. It makes me sad.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- I Told You So Edition

I told you the Packers were going to go down to Chicago and beat the Bears.

You did. And you were right. How about that?

I don't just bring HYYYYYYPPPPPE! I also bring knowledge from a higher plain.

Columbia Heights?

No, I shared it with Marianne Williamson.

Crystal blue persuasion, then.

I have no idea what you're talking about. As usual. You might want to adjust that Geritol dosage there, old dude. But although my wisdom is well demonstrated, we have more games to pick. Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat (-3) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs. The Gophers have paddled their boat out to an arid agricultural area, Fresno. This is the type of game the Gophers can lose. The crowd at Fresno is loud, obnoxious, and inebriated, and the Bulldogs are actually pretty good at football. Bulldogs 35, Row Row Row Your Boat Elitely 10.

The knock on Jeff Tedford is that his system is good for tricking people, but when the talent differential is sufficient, his bag of tricks doesn't work. Are the Gophers talented enough to avoid getting turned into a bag of pistachios? We're gonna find out. Gophers 24, Fresno 21.

Central Michigan Chippewas (+35) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers.  The Badgers looked like a machine against South Florida last week. The encouraging sign was Jonathan Taylor getting involved in the passing game. Two catches? Two touchdowns. Meanwhile, he rushed for his usual 100+ and two more touchdowns, and then he took most of the second half off. The Chips are historically a solid MAC team, but last year, not so much. I like the Badgers in this one, not surprisingly. Badgers 42, Chips 17.

Bucky was shockingly good against South Florida, a team that has been bowling in recent years. The thing that impressed me the most was the defense, which shut the Bulls down completely. The Bulls are more talented than the Chippewas, so this could get ugly. Badgers 50, Chippewas 0.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Eureka College Red Devils. It's the fabled Lincoln Bowl game, in which my beloved Prairie Fire takes on Eureka, the alma mater of one Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, Ronald Reagan is not walking through that door. Of course, since he's been dead for 15 years, he hasn't been particularly ambulatory lately. Knox 21, Eureka 14.

I have no idea. I have no idea. Did I mention I have no idea? Eureka 21, Knox 14.

Hotlanta Falcons (+4) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings come into this season with a lot of hope and question marks. One thing that confuses me to no end is why Gary Kubiak is not the offensive coordinator when Mike Zimmer wants to run Kubiak's offense? Is it because Zimmer needs to spend more time working with his beloved double A gap defensive system? Or is it that he wants to reserve the right to fire yet another offensive coordinator, with Kevin Stefanski in the always-molten chair. Regardless of what you think, this year will tell a lot about the Vikings. I think they can beat Atlanta, but I'm not certain that will happen. Falcons 27, Vikings 24.

The Vikings are hard to gauge. They will defend, as has been the pattern under Zimmer, but will they be able to score? Kirk Cousins is, well, enigmatic. But I think Good Kirk shows up this week. Vikings 31, Falcons 20.

It should be an interesting weekend. My recommend is to avoid going downtown on Sunday. The Vikings are in town. The Twins are in town. And I-94 is closed in St. Paul and I-494 is closed near the airport. If you're not coming to the games from Maple Grove, good luck with that. Ben out!

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Here's blood in your eye

Not a good look:
Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to have a blood vessel burst in his left eye while participating in CNN's town hall on climate change.

A broken blood vessel in the eye, also known as a subconjuctival hemorrhage, can be caused by several things, including high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, blood thinners, or even excessive straining.

Biden, 76, has long been plagued by health issues. In 1988, he suffered an aneurysm that burst and required him to undergo emergency surgery. The then-senator was so close to death that a Catholic priest began preparing to administer the sacrament of last rites.
What did it look like? Kinda dire, actually:

Image result for biden blood eye cnn
It's not supposed to look like that
He's leading in the polls, but I don't think he's going to make it. And frankly, I am worried about him. I don't want any Democrat to win in 2020, but I also don't want any Democrat to die on the hustings, either.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- The Bears Still Suck Edition

Old dude, what better way for the season to start than by having the Bears take on the Packers?

Sing it with us!

They really really really really really really suck. It's one of the truths in the world.

In uncertain times, it's always good to hold fast to your core beliefs, young fella.

I'm feeling the HYYYYYYYYYPPPPPE! and excited for yet another season in which the people get to read my delusional rantings, er, I mean, reasoned analysis. Watch me work!

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+3) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck. Gino would like to remind you that Bears NFC North Championship gear is still available at your local store, although at a slight discount these days. I would like to remind you that the Bears started last year by blowing a 20-0 lead to the Packers, and ended the year by hitting the upright against the Eagles. Kinda like this:

Oh my goodness, Cris Collinsworth delivers the eulogy! A double doink! Just remember that it was all Cody Parkey's fault. It wasn't the fault of the Bears offense, which certainly could have scored more than 15 points. Nor was it the fault of the defense, which gave up a late touchdown! Now, I can already hear the Bears fans saying, "hey, the Packers were 6-9-1 last season." That's true. But the Packers have improved. This game is going to be close. I like the Packers's chances. Packers 24, da Bearz 17.

I want to believe. But I also remember this:

Miraculously, Aaron Rodgers got up from that one and won the game. But the rest of the season was a slow-motion fade into oblivion. I do hope the Packers have figured out how to block the Bears, because the next time, Aaron might not get up. I think the Packers will be better this season. They might even be substantially better than last year. It would be difficult to be worse. But I see Tim Boyle on the sideline. And it makes me worry. This will be a tough one to win. Bears 21, Packers 14.

Oh, Old Dude of little faith! You need to stop watching this sort of thing:

1977 isn't walking through that door. It's 2019, baby! We'll be back on Friday with more picks! Ben out!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Talking sports with the inimitable Mr. Carlson

My friend Brad Carlson, multimedia sensation that he is, will have me on his radio show tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. Central. We'll be previewing the NFL season, with particular attention to the NFC North. Brad is a diehard but rational Vikings fan. I am a diehard but (mostly) rational Packers fan. If you're in the metro, tune in to AM1280; it's also available in a variety of other formats that Brad details here. It's always a good (and good natured) time; the only drama will be to see if I can accurately pronounce the names of Olabisi Johnson and Marquez Valdez-Scantling, among others.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Sanctimony Bulk Pack

James Comey is a tall man and his self-regard towers over even his expansive height. Jonathan Turley reminds us of a few things:
The inspector general has confirmed what was clear and obvious. The memos were FBI material, and Comey did violate provisions of the Federal Records Act and FBI rules clearly barring their removal and disclosure. Moreover, the inspector general agreed that it was not necessary to guarantee an investigation into Trump. Investigations were ongoing and the report cites other “options” that Comey refused to use. The report concludes, “What was not permitted was the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive investigative information, obtained during the course of FBI employment, in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.”

The reason Comey violated these rules was as obvious then as it is now. Leaking the memos was designed to improve his stature in the media and it worked. Comey transformed himself into a badly needed hero to use against the villain Trump. He knew the memos would change the focus of media coverage to his new role as a federal government whistleblower.
No one owes James Comey an apology.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Something else to watch

My alma mater, Beloit College, is a lefty place. They do have a Young Americans for Freedom chapter on campus and the YAF is bringing in some really heavy hitters to campus this upcoming semester:

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling
Here comes Dick
Given the reaction on campus that Erik Prince received last year, this should be fun. And I suspect the world, or at least the academic world, will be watching.

The old-fashioned way

Some people decry Ilhan Omar because of her anti-Semitism. That's not what could bring her down, though. Simple, old-fashioned graft just might:
An independent government watchdog says Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar's campaign may have committed serious campaign finance fraud.

Omar's campaign spent $21,547 on travel for the E Street Group, run by Tim Mynett, whose wife is now accusing him of leaving her for Omar. Tom Anderson, who is with the conservative National Legal and Policy Center, said the travel payment may actually be Omar using campaign funds for personal use, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

"We believe Representative Ilhan Omar may have touched the third rail of campaign finance law: disbursing campaign funds for personal use," Anderson said. "It's a brazen act Representative Omar was caught doing before in Minnesota and all of the evidence we've seen tells us she’s probably doing it again."
Omar has operated under the assumption that the Esme Murphys of the world will cover for her. If the "probably" turns into "is," she'll have to leave. There are dozens of the DFL politicos who would love to have her seat in Congress. We're watching this one.