Friday, February 28, 2014

How do you solve a problem called sloppy reporting?

KARE 11 was proud of itself for its reporting on yet another predatory priest, which led its 10 p.m. newscast on Wednesday. See if you can figure out the problem here:
By his own account, Gerald Funcheon of the Catholic Order of the Holy Cross - the Croisers - started abusing young boys in the 1970's here in the Twin Cities.

"I suspect, and I don't remember, it would have been at it St. Odilia's," he testified in a 2012 deposition.

"The guy was a wolf," according to David Bidney, one of kids who says he was abused starting when he was just 10. "They hurt me bad. And they hurt a lot of kids bad."

In addition to St. Odilia's in Shoreview, Father Jerry served in parishes and schools in Anoka, Onamia, and St. Cloud plus other assignments literally from coast-to-coast.
Let's stipulate that this guy was, and is, a monster. Let's also stipulate that, like all the predators, he should have been stopped. But there's a problem in the report. Here's more:
At least one of the complaints was from Minnesota, because the memo suggests talking to Father Kevin McDonough about the "Statute of Limitations" here. That's the same church official now at the center of a legal battle over whether he'll be forced to testify about how the church handled predatory priests.
We don't know if any conversation actually took place. Here's the point, at least from KARE's perspective:
And the priest's deposition? It's been posted publicly on YouTube for nearly a year.

And even though it's there for anybody to see, when the Archdiocese released its original list of abusive priests back in December Father Jerry Funcheon wasn't on it.

He wasn't added until last week, after an outside company hired by the church recommended it.
Coverup, right? That must be it. Well, not necessarily. The list of priests is here. If you look at the list, you'll notice something. The vast majority of the priests on the list are diocesan priests, along with a handful of order priests and monks. Jerry Funcheon was a Crosier, an order priest. The report says so right at the beginning.

The Crosiers were at St. Odilia, which is a large parish in Shoreview, for a long time, but they pulled up stakes in 2007. It's difficult to explain the role of Catholic orders to a largely non-Catholic audience, but it's important to understand that while order priests sometimes do become pastors or work in parishes, it's pretty rare. It's also important to understand that order priests aren't really answerable to any diocese. Fr. McDonough may have been advised about Funcheon, although we don't know that. McDonough would not have been able to do much about the abuse in any event, because the Crosiers were responsible for Funcheon.

Assuming McDonough knew about Funcheon, could he have turned him into the authorities? Maybe, but this is why the statute of limitations matters. If Funcheon's actions took place in the 1970s and McDonough theoretically learned about them in 1992, it's quite likely that the statute of limitations would have run out by then. And if Funcheon were no longer in Minnesota at the time, it's hard to say what he could have done. No law enforcement agency pursues extradition for crimes that fall outside of the statute of limitations.

I don't dispute that Fr. McDonough has a lot of questions to answer about the other priests on the initial list, and potentially other priests as well. But there was never much he could have done about Funcheon, even if he did know about him. And KARE presented no evidence that he did know. I would suggest that KARE follow up with the Crosiers about this case.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, is getting pretty good at this game:
Sen. Rand Paul still believes Bill Clinton is a detriment to Democrats as the former president is reprising his role as super surrogate for the party.

Speaking to Fox News Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican and potential 2016 White House contender said that the Democrats are mistaking Clinton’s popularity after the former president spoke at a campaign rally for Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenger to Sen. Mitch McConnell.

“We have a lot of conservative Democrats in our state who go to church each week and really don’t approve of his behavior, what he has done with sexual harassment in the workplace,” Paul said, referencing the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “A lot of Democrats in our state don’t approve of that kind of behavior.”
But that ain't all:
Talking about Clinton’s appearance at Grimes’ rally, Paul said Democrats should return money he has raised and that they should be “embarrassed” to be seen with him.

“I think he’s a bad role model for the workplace, for women’s rights, for all of that, and I think really they ought to be a little embarrassed to be associated or being seen with him,” Paul stated.
This would be what's known in the trade as Alinsky Rule 4, to wit:
“The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”
The Dems use the War on Women meme all the time. Bill Clinton has quite the horndog history and it's especially effective to throw that in the face of female candidates. After all, if Bill Clinton isn't a good role model, why is he speaking on your behalf, ma'am? This works on Grimes and it will work with Mary Landrieu (in Louisiana) and Kay Hagan (in North Carolina), among others.

I don't know if Rand Paul is going to be able to do much in 2016, but if he can minimize Bill Clinton's value in 2014, it will pose problems for Hillary Clinton down the line. Politically, a very smart play.

All aboard

So the President comes to town to tout transportation, with specific mention of the "spiffy" new light rail line. A few blocks away, hilarity ensues:
At approximately 4 p.m., wheels on the lead car of an out-of-service, three-car light-rail train came off the tracks while traveling northbound on the Green Line through the intersection of 12th and Cedar streets in St. Paul. This train had been located at the Union Depot and was returning en route to Minneapolis.

Wheels on the lead car came off the tracks because of snow that had accumulated in the rail right of way. Trains had not traveled on this section of the track since the snowstorm last week. Rail operations responded to the scene to clear the snow and put the wheels back on the tracks. Metro Transit Police and St. Paul police directed traffic through the partially-blocked intersection. Two train cars that were attached to the lead car were moved to Tenth Street Station to clear the scene. The train cars were returned and reattached to pull the train car back onto the tracks. The effort to put the train car back on the tracks continues.
Obama himself played the "spiffy" card:
"I just had a chance to take a look at some of those spiffy new trains," Obama said in a speech at St. Paul's Union Depot. "They are nice.  And they’re energy efficient.  They’re going to be reliable.  You can get from one downtown to the other in a little over 30 minutes instead of when it’s snowing being in traffic for two hours."
Unless they derail or something. And anyone who sits on 94 between the downtowns and endures a 2-hour traffic jam apparently has never heard of Marshall Avenue, or Selby, or Summit, or Grand, or St. Clair, or....

But hey, they're spiffy. That's something.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ask an expert

Gov. Dayton on nasty independent expenditure groups:
It will be challenging and there will be — unfortunately — a great deal of negativity. The independent expenditure groups can come in and spend unlimited money without disclosing their sources and run whatever kind of vile trash they decide to without any consequences.
Yep. They might even run something like this:

I'm sure the Alliance for a Better Minnesota will be more than happy to put out all manner of vile trash -- they've got a long track record of that sort of thing. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Mark Dayton can blow it out of the orifice of his choice.

Quarry Owner Complains About Rocks

Mark Dayton, in MinnPost:
“The occupation of the Republicans is to make me and the DFL majority in the House look as bad as possible so they can defeat us in November,” Dayton told MinnPost in a wide-ranging interview the day before session.

“There will be no cooperation, and there will be all sorts of throwing rocks from the sidelines and trying to cause problems at every piece of significant piece of legislation to try and score their points,” he said.
I guess it's true, he's stone in love with you, Republicans.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

By the way

The roads still stink. When the hell is Carol Molnau going to get this resolved?

Paying the freight

Northstar commuter trains are getting waylaid because, not surprisingly, freight trains are a whole lot more profitable for the railroad:
In what has become a chronic problem for the Northstar line from Big Lake to Minneapolis, heavy freight traffic pushed the commuter train off schedule and is expected to do so several days this week.

Officials for BNSF, which owns the tracks, said Monday afternoon that riders should “expect it will take several days to work through the freight congestion,” according to spokeswoman Amy McBeth. “In the meantime, we are rerouting traffic where possible … to help with the recovery.”

A tweet from Metro Transit warned Monday morning’s riders to “expect significant delays (60-90 minutes) due to freight traffic.” Commuters could wait for their trains or board replacement buses.
A few observations:

  • While it's likely disconcerting to some Northstar riders to find out that their patronage is less important to BNSF than a tanker of oil, it really shouldn't be surprising. Trains are about freight and have been from the very beginning.
  • One of the things that's changed for BNSF in recent years is that they are hauling a lot of oil from North Dakota on their lines. At least some of that oil would get transported on the Keystone XL pipeline, which is still being held hostage. Anyone who rides the Northstar really ought to consider that, especially if a particular rider opposes pipeline construction.
  • I rode a lot of trains when I lived in the Chicago area, 20 years ago now. The rail lines in Chicago were coming into the city from all directions and the service was, in the main, pretty good. Chicago is a very different place geographically than the Twin Cities. The places where rail works the best are cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, where the city and its suburbs grew along the rail lines. The Twin Cities aren't like that. It gets old for some people when we belabor that point, but it's important. Running trains into downtown Minneapolis is useful for some commuters, but it has limited utility for many people in the area. And because of that, rail is always going to be an afterthought around here. The railroads need to concentrate on their paying customers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How do you solve a problem called pederast priests?

You don't, any more than you solve a problem of pederast public school teachers, or pederast plumbers or any other profession. The Church couldn't solve the problem, so it attempted to manage it. Which is why people like Gil Gustafson and Michael Stevens got paid:
After the Rev. Gil Gustafson was convicted of child sex abuse 30 years ago, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis made sure he was financially secure for decades to come.

The church continued his priestly salary and health insurance, covered his living expenses and psychological treatment and paid for his education and training, according to church records and a former archdiocese accountant. It has given him jobs in the chancery, helped him establish his own consulting business and steered clients his way.
In retrospect, that decision doesn't look so good. It's easy to understand why it was made, though. I'm going to start picking at this subject again in the coming days, but it's going to take some time.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Post 4000

You are reading the 4000th post on this blog. That's a lot of blogging. Thanks for reading and your continued support. We'll continue to do our best to make it worth visiting.

Maybe Edina Realty Can Get the Listing

Looks like deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich might have a problem returning to his digs. And they are quite the digs:
 A beautiful forested estate of graceful waterways, summer houses and exotic gardens.
This is the home of Ukraine's fugitive president, who was dramatically ousted from power after one of the worst periods of violence in the country's history.

Ukraniains streamed to see Viktor Yanukovich's luxury estate, which has been closed off to the world for nearly a decade, and rubbed their eyes in disbelief when they were confronted by the scale of the opulence he built around him.

The property in Mezhyhirya, an hours drive from Kiev, has a golf course, helicopter pad and is situated in a country where the average salary is less than £300 a month.
A few pictures tell the tale:

Might even work on Lake Minnetonka
When you want to make Versailles look like a starter home
Lots more at the link. Despots are the same the world over. The Ukraine story is only starting, since Russia can put the screws to the new government there in any number of ways, and it's still quite possible that the whole thing could spiral into a particularly vicious civil war. In the meantime, we'll take the moment to enjoy another bad guy going down.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Real Urban Planners of Genius

One month ago, the Star Tribune reported that "city leaders" think that Minneapolis needs 100,000 more people, but that they don't want them to have cars, or something:
“The first reaction of most neighborhoods would be that there’s not enough parking,” said Ted Tucker, president of the city planning commission. “But the trouble with that is, of course, the city may devote too many resources to parking automobiles and not enough to making life pleasant for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Parking-free residential developments have popped up in other cities, but several Minneapolis developers said prospective tenants, nervous investors and neighborhood groups still demand ample parking in new buildings.
Yesterday, the same newspaper reported that snow emergency towing isn't, ahem, uniformly applied:
Where you park in Minneapolis matters, at least when it comes to snow emergencies.

Hundreds of vehicles were towed from neighborhoods around the University of Minnesota during the Jan. 30 snow emergency, but almost none from the streets in the southwest corner, near Lake Harriet, according to towing data requested by the Star Tribune.

“That shouldn’t be,” said Council Member Kevin Reich, who chairs the city’s transportation and public works committee, of the lack of towing in the southwest. He called the disparity on the newspaper’s map of towing locations “glaring.”

Limited resources means the city tows fewer cars farther away from the core, but public works officials said the complete lack of towing in one area was unusual.
Let's make a few reasonable assumptions, shall we? First, while this winter has been unusually ferocious, it's hardly unprecedented. Second, people like to be able come and go as they please, which is precisely why automobiles are ubiquitous. Third, it's a lot easier to tow cars from the U over to the impound lot than it is to schlep all the way over to Lake Harriet. And finally, I can think of two very compelling reasons for why towing wouldn't be happening in Linden Hills, to wit:

  • The population isn't as densely concentrated and many of the homes in the neighborhood have garages; and
  • A smart government doesn't piss off its primary tax base, and towing the cars of the gentry is bad for bidness
So, where are these new 100,000 people gonna go? I can tell you this -- it won't be Linden Hills. I do hope that in their great planning schemes that the city leaders leave ample room for expanding the impound lot.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Snow Day

Long, nasty commute forthcoming, so mostly another open thread. Still, as much as we're tired of the snow and the cold and the unceasing cruelty of this winter, I'd much rather be here than in Venezuela.

Stay safe.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Feb 20

Thundersnow in suburbia
Glimmerings of panel trucks and roundabouts
Buckling the blue spruce standing vigil in the boulevard
A metric ton of moisture topping four foot drifts

It’s the feast day of Wulfric of Haselbury
Anchorite monk and medieval seer
Rocking the hair shirt, confidant of King Stephen
Cell hard against the village church

Reciting psalms in a bath of cold water
Buried twice per dictum of the Bishop of Bath
And celebrated with folk and jazz

Feast day of an ascetic
Forgone of hunting with hawks and hounds
Line of ramblers barely visible
The dappling of winter surmised

Chicago politicians in the news

If nothing else, you have to admire Mel Reynolds for his consistency:
Former Congressman Mel Reynolds – who spent time in prison for statutory rape and child pornography charges – has been arrested in Zimbabwe, suspected of making pornographic videos.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports Reynolds, 62, was arrested at his hotel in the capital of Harare, and was being investigated for alleged possession of pornography and a violation of immigration laws.

Zimbabwe’s largest newspaper, the state-controlled Herald, quoted a former Reynods aide as saying Reynolds had shot pornographic videos with models and other women in his hotel room.

Another source told the paper Reynolds had filmed more than 100 videos, and shot 2,000 nude pictures of at least 10 different women on various occasions. The paper also said he owes more than $24,000 in unpaid hotel bills.
Kids, if you want some fun
Mr. Mel Reynolds's your man
He's always laughing, having fun
Showing his films in the den
So come on, come on

Just stop, already

More bluster and meaningless "lines" from the Leader of the Free World:
At a news briefing during a summit of North American leaders in Mexico on Wednesday night, President Barack Obama expressed hope.

"If the truce is implemented, it could provide space for the sides to resolve their disagreements peacefully," he said, adding that the U.S. and its European partners would continue to engage with all sides.

Earlier in the day, Obama condemned the violence in Ukraine, saying that the U.S. holds the government "primarily responsible for ensuring they are handling protesters peacefully" and that "there will be consequences if people step over the line."
You know who's on the other side of the line? Bashar Assad, sitting comfortably. Everyone within a 1000 miles of Kiev knows full well that President Obama isn't going to do jack squat about Ukraine. There will be no consequences for whatever happens, so let's just stop pretending, mkay?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Simple Question

If the St. Paul teachers make good on their threat and go out on strike, where is the money they want going to come from? Discuss.

Ukraine, Ukase, U Have Seen This Before

An anti-government protester is engulfed in flames. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP
It's getting nasty in Ukraine:
Three months of confrontation in Ukraine between the president and a large protest movement reached its peak on Tuesday night in the worst bloodshed since the country separated from Moscow more than two decades ago, with more than 20 people reported killed as riot police moved in to clear Kiev's Independence Square, the crucible of the anti-government activism.

Hopes for a settlement of the crisis went up in smoke amid scenes of rioting, burning buildings, police bombings and rubber bullets that also left up to 500 people injured.

A large section of the protest camp in the capital, Kiev, was engulfed in flames on Tuesday night as police advanced on the demonstrators using water cannons and stun grenades.
The question here, as it has been for the last 20 years, is which way will Ukraine go? Will it face the West, or will it remain part of the Russian orbit? The current president, who was elected in 2010 on what he assumed would be a "one man, one vote, one time" basis, is (a) an ally of Vladimir Putin and (b) not inclined to give up on his notions of elections:
The violence, the worst since a government-opposition confrontation erupted last November, came after President Viktor Yanukovych, the main target of the protests, stalled on outlines of an agreement to appoint a new technocratic coalition government or have his powers cut back.

The president issued a statement warning leaders of the opposition to dissociate themselves from radicals, otherwise he would "talk differently" with them. Yanukovych said some members of the anti-government opposition had crossed a line when they called on supporters to bring weapons to the demonstration in Kiev. The president called those people "criminals" and said they would face justice in court.
Or get blowed up real good. The escalation of violence is happening while Putin's attention is on the Olympics, but that's going to be done in a few days. Things could get especially interesting if the protesters can hang on until then.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dope Fiends

I'm personally ambivalent about medical marijuana. I am reasonably certain that most people who would like to have medical marijuana really don't have a medical need for it, but we'll leave that aside. What's more clear is that the people who are really hooked on drugs are those who are enforcing the drug laws for fun and profit:
In her push to legalize medical marijuana in Minnesota, Rep. Carly Melin expected there would be tough negotiations and, inevitably, some compromise on the fine points of the proposal. That seemed a reasonable assumption, given the hard line opposition from many of the state’s law enforcement leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton’s insistence that lawmakers need to get those top cops on board before he signs on.

The negotiations haven’t been tough, she said, they have been virtually non-existent:  “It’s like negotiating with a brick wall. All along I have said that I am willing to amend the bill. But they won’t move at all.”
Why is that? As always, follow the money:
“They wouldn’t discuss any specific provisions and said they had a blanket opposition to medical marijuana,” Melin recalled. She took note of one objection voiced at the meeting but not mentioned in the coalition’s 10-page, bullet-point laden white paper: concern about the impact the measure might have on police budgets.

According to Melin, Dennis Flaherty, the executive director of the MPPOA, explicitly told her that he was worried that legalization — in any form — could lead to harmful reductions in the federal grants that are an important funding source for many police agencies.
After all, you need some serious jack for stuff like this:

St. Cloud Shock and Awe
And there's a lot of money riding on asset forfeiture as well:
For those police who see medicinal marijuana as gateway legislation, the financial implications of change are real. In Washington, where recreational marijuana is legal, police are already complaining they’ve been forced to slash budgets because they can no longer rely on any revenue from marijuana-related asset seizures. A drug task force in one county cut its budget by 15 percent to compensate for the lost revenue.

In 2012, police in Minnesota seized approximately $8.3 million of cash and property under the state’s forfeiture law, according to a report from the Office of the State Auditor. About 47 percent of those forfeitures were related to controlled substance violations, with most of the rest associated with drunk driving.
Well, surely they are taking the money away from the drug kingpins, right? It's the Mexican cartels that are really feeling the pinch on this, of course. Guess again:
According to Lee McGrath, an attorney with the libertarian Institute for Justice, Minnesota law enforcement agencies netted nearly $30 million between 2003 and 2010 through the use of forfeiture.

“What is most offensive in Minnesota is that you can be acquitted in criminal court and still lose your car or your cash in civil court,” McGrath said. “The only people defending the current law are in law enforcement. Everybody else is offended by the idea.”

While forfeiture was sold to the public as a good way to hit drug kingpins and gang leaders in the wallet, McGrath said, Minnesota law enforcement mostly use forfeiture to target small game. “No Colombian drug lords are being busted under this law. The average seizure in Minnesota is worth $1,253,” he said.

McGrath, as well as some liberal and libertarian-minded lawmakers, want to prohibit the use of forfeiture in the absence of a criminal conviction or admission of guilt. Rep. Susan Allen and Sen. Dave Thompson have proposed such legislation.
People, and organizations, respond to incentives. If you make asset acquisition a key metric in law enforcement, you get stories like this one, from the local paper:
A driver slurred his order at the fast-food drive-thru in the 1100 block of Silver Lake Road the night of Jan. 31, so the passenger gave it a try. “He was incoherent,” the employee said after she called police.  The driver, a 33-year-old Fridley man, failed FSTs and blew a .21 percent BAC on the Data Master. His vehicle was impounded for forfeiture, his license plates were destroyed and he was booked at the Ramsey County Jail on a gross-misdemeanor third-degree DWI charge.
Happens all the time. Should it? I have no problem with booking the guy on a DWI charge. Taking his car away? Yeah, that's a problem. And if you're some dude with a roach in your vehicle and you get pulled over for a tail light, the cops could impound your car, too. We need to ask if this is a proper role for law enforcement.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Open Thread

Ugly commute ahead this morning, so not much time for blogging. Have at it!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Surrender Dorothy Poll has spoken, and

Apparently Mark Dayton is the bomb:
A true margin of error
Gov. Mark Dayton heads into re-election with the highest job approval rating of his term, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

The poll found that 58 percent of Minnesotans think Dayton is doing a good job as governor, with 29 percent saying they disapprove. Those numbers come after the governor orchestrated an income tax increase on the wealthy and after the troubled rollout of the state’s health care exchange that opponents hoped would diminish his popularity.

“Given that it’s been a challenging couple of months with MNsure and the light-rail line and the like, I think it shows people are looking at the big picture of how the state is doing overall,” Dayton said. “I’m certainly gratified by these numbers, but there’s a lot more work ahead. I think Minnesota has made excellent progress in jobs and education but we have a lot more to do in those and other areas as well.”
A few thoughts:
You throw out your gold teeth

  • I do have to wonder if some of the candidates running for governor now wish they'd taken a shot at Al Franken instead. Franken may have the money, but his popularity is nowhere near as high as Dayton's. And frankly, the current slate of GOP contenders for Franken's perch is highly unimpressive. If I were Jeff Johnson or Dave Thompson or Marty Seifert, I'd have to be second-guessing myself just a little right now. Any one of these three gentlemen would be a significant improvement over the likely GOP nominee, Mike McFadden, who has more incisors than principles, at least based on the available evidence. I understand the theory behind having an independently wealthy candidate running against Franken, but the GOP will never be able to outspend Al. I'd much rather have had a principled, articulate opponent who could throw Franken's sophistry back in his face.
  • Best of all, whoever wins the gubernatorial primary gets to face Alida Messinger and her Alliance for a Better Minnesota goon squad. I sincerely hope that none of the GOP hopefuls has ever had more than a busted taillight on their driving record, because if they have, we'll hear about it with mournful string music and high dudgeon.
  • The local economy has done fairly well in the past three years. There are big flashing warning signs ahead, but for now, things are going well. Dayton will get credit for that. The thing about raising taxes on the rich is this -- they will respond, but they will respond slowly. The reason most people who get rich stay rich is because they think through the implications of what they are doing. We'll know the effects of these 2013 tax increases in 2015 and 2016. And the beauty part for the DFL is that, if somehow a Republican candidate wins, he'll get blamed for the downturn, because it's axiomatic that nothing a Democrat does is his (or her) fault, or at least so it is reported. After all, what difference does it make?
  • Having said that, it's not over. At this point, the MNsure debacle is only affecting a small number of people. Once the employer mandate takes effect in the fall, the numbers could change substantially. The Obama administration has done its best to push the effects of the mandate past November, but it will be difficult to do that this year. If you start to see a lot of upheaval in the insurance market right before the election, things could swing the other way.
  • Finally, the legislative session will be interesting; there are a lot of people who want to spend, spend, spend, and if they get out of hand it could become problematic for Dayton. However, there will be a solution. Look for Dayton to pass a symbolic but meaningless veto on something that the DFL lege sends his way, all to burnish his reputation for parsimony and watchdog-itude. Or something. We love our kabuki.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pardon me boys. . .

. . . but the UAW isn't yet on the Chattanooga choo-choo:
Employees at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee have rejected joining the United Automobile Workers union in a major defeat for organized labor in the South.

The workers at the VW plant in Chattanooga voted 712-626 to stay out of the union after a lobbying fight in which Republican politicians warned unionization could lead Volkswagen and automobile companies to leave the state.
There are any number of ways to interpret this result:

  • The UAW isn't exactly dealing from a position of strength these days and it's become quite clear that the major U.S. automakers are struggling precisely because of their labor issues.
  • Having said that, the vote was close enough that the UAW will be back.
  • Things in Chattanooga have improved greatly in recent years, while things in Detroit are about as bad as they've ever been. If you were in Chattanooga, would you want to be like Detroit? That's how a lot of people were seeing the matter.
  • If unionization were to happen at all in the southern auto plants, Volkswagen was the place it would, because trade unionism is strong in Europe and the steel union in Germany has seats on the VW board. As a result, VW let the union folks have pretty much free rein through the plant in the organizing drive. The other automakers in the region, including Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai, won't make it as easy for the UAW to get a foothold.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The point of the pointer

Some people prefer a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman as a multitool. Via Hot Air, we've learned that others take a different approach:
Jerome M. Hauer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's director of homeland security, took out his handgun and used the laser sighting device attached to the barrel as a pointer in a presentation to a foreign delegation, according to public officials. It happened Oct. 24 in Albany at the highly secure state emergency operations center below State Police headquarters.

These officials, one of whom claimed to be an eyewitness, said that three Swedish emergency managers in the delegation were rattled when the gun's laser tracked across one of their heads before Hauer found the map of New York, at which he wanted to point.

Hauer, commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, was disabled by a stroke a few years ago and can be unsteady. He isn't a law enforcement official. He carries the loaded 9-millimeter Glock in a holster into state buildings, an apparent violation of state law barring state employees from bringing weapons to the workplace, several witnesses say.
That last part about the state law violation might be a bit of a problem, right? Not so much:
On Wednesday, the Times Union learned that Hauer had received a waiver allowing him to carry a handgun to work. The waiver was issued only four days after they ran the story about Hauer using the laser sight as a pointer.

“Despite the lack of a waiver before January, several witnesses said he has been carrying a gun on the job since Cuomo appointed him in 2011,” the Times Union reported.
As it happens, Hauer disputes the story:
In an email to TheDC early Thursday evening, Jerome Hauer personally disputed the Times Union’s story, insisting that only an administrative rule prevents state employees from carrying guns to work, and that he has been granted a waiver. He also says he’s never owned a 9-millimeter Glock.

“The [Times Union] reporter involved has made libelous statements in his articles,” Hauer said.
Of course, this begs a question -- if he doesn't own a Glock, why would he need a waiver? The question that isn't begged is this -- would someone who isn't working for Gov. Cuomo get a waiver that quickly?

The drumbeat is out there and it's getting louder. People are starting to understand that we're in a place where the law is now so arbitrary that it's very easy to run afoul of it if you are an everyday Joe or Janey, but that you can get by with things if you are an agent of the state, or someone who enables it. It's one thing if Jerome Hauer carries a gun or is "unsteady." It's quite another if law enforcement is unsteady.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

You can do it, but....

You've probably noticed that the Obama administration seems to have shifting rules for employer mandates and when they go into effect. Patterico noticed something else, quoting a Fox News article on the latest rules:
Further, Treasury officials said Monday that businesses will be told to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate. Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.
Isn't that nice? Patterico:
Attest that you didn’t do something you have a right to do — and if you’re lying you go to jail. How about that?

Let’s be very clear about this. I feel confident in saying that there is no law in existence that prevents employers from laying off (or reducing the hours of) workers in order to avoid a burdensome federal regulation. I feel confident in saying this because if such an incredible intrusion into the management of small business were ever proposed, I think we would have heard about it. If I am wrong, and there is some small poisonous overlooked provision in ObamaCare or another law that imposes such a requirement, then this is an even bigger story than the one we’re currently looking at. I sincerely doubt it.

So take it as a given: the Obama administration says they will require employers to certify, under penalty of perjury, that they have not taken an action that they have every legal right to take.. This is a breathtaking abuse of power that deserves to be screamed from the rooftops of every home in the land. It should be a banner headline in every newspaper, not just a muttered afterthought in a mundane story about politics.
Should be, but isn't. And we know why -- because on any topic, at any time, too many people are saying something like this:

The good news is that it's possible we'll have a Fourth Estate that actually cares about oversight in about 3 years.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Coincidentally, he's also grown tired of cleaning his teeth with a fire hose

It's the pronouncement you've been waiting for -- a water carrier is getting tired of carrying Barack Obama's water:
It's getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation.
That's the authentic voice of Ron Fournier, longtime AP writer now at the National Journal. And he's bitter, just bitter:
Defending the ACA became painfully harder when online insurance markets were launched from a multi-million-dollar website that didn't work, when autopsies on the administration's actions revealed an epidemic of incompetence that began in the Oval Office and ended with no accountability.

Then officials started fudging numbers and massaging facts to promote implementation, nothing illegal or even extraordinary for this era of spin. But they did more damage to the credibility of ACA advocates.
Emphasis mine. And there you have the key -- don't make Ron Fournier look bad, people! But he's not done:
Finally, there are the ACA rule changes—at least a dozen major adjustments, without congressional approval. J. Mark Iwry, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for health policy, said the administration has broad "authority to grant transition relief" under a section of the Internal Revenue Code that directs the Treasury secretary to "prescribe all needful rules and regulations for the enforcement" of tax obligations, according to The New York Times.

Yes, Obamacare is a tax.
And how! But there's more, much more:
Advocates for a strong executive branch, including me, have given the White House a pass on its rule-making authority, because implementing such a complicated law requires flexibility. But the law may be getting stretched to the point of breaking. Think of the ACA as a game of Jenga: Adjust one piece and the rest are affected; adjust too many and it falls.
I'll try to put this as gently as possible, because we all hate having our noses rubbed in it. You can't defend the indefensible and maintain credibility. I'd have more sympathy for Fournier's dilemma if he weren't capable of writing something like this:
Put me in the frustrated category. I want the ACA to work because I want health insurance provided to the millions without it, for both the moral and economic benefits. I want the ACA to work because, as Charles Lane wrote for The Washington Post, the link between work and insurance needs to be broken. I want the ACA to work because the GOP has not offered a serious alternative that can pass Congress.

Unfortunately, the president and his team are making their good intentions almost indefensible.
Allow me to translate -- the GOP does not control the Senate, so Harry Reid can kill any proposal he wants to, which means that any alternative the GOP proposes is, by definition, not serious. I would suggest that Harry Reid isn't "Congress," but that would be churlish, I suppose.

Let's make it easy for the tortured soul of Ron Fournier -- we'll all stipulate that Ron has good intentions. The president and his team? Not so much. And yes Ron, you get the Stephen Furst Award (as always, NSFW):

And remember this as well -- the solution to Flounder's dilemma, as proposed in this eternally wise clip, is to commit insurance fraud.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Green Eggs and Sam

If this report is true, it's possible that Michael Sam might be the flip side of Tim Tebow:
The problem is that while Sam is a good prospect, he's not a great one. While starring as a defensive end for the Tigers, Sam was asked to play linebacker at the Senior Bowl and he struggled with the position change, showing limited flexibility and fluidity. This fact could limit him to the defensive end position in the traditional 4-3 alignment, further complicating his stock.

And while NFL teams may be more willing to accept a gay player in 2014, there remains a bit of a don't-ask-don't-tell policy. By announcing his personal lifestyle, Sam made it public. And with that announcement, Sam is inviting the media and by extension the public to follow his journey into the NFL.

Sam's homosexuality isn't the point. There are gay players in the NFL now and almost surely teammates, coaches and front office executives who know about them. But by coming out, Sam turned a very bright spotlight on himself.

And the reality is teams would rather the bright lights shine on their superstars on game day. Any club drafting Sam would add distractions for players, and teams normally work to avoid any distraction.

If you want to know why Tim Tebow was on the outside of the NFL looking in this past season, this is why. Sam, like Tebow, has been a great college player. Not all great college players make it in the NFL and Sam might be too small to be a defensive end in the NFL, but a step slow to be a linebacker. Some team will give him a chance to play, but it's possible that he'll not be much of a factor in the league. And just as Tebow became a big distraction for reasons that don't have much to do with his ability on the field, Sam is now in a similar position, for different reasons. I hope he ends up in the NFC North, because it would be interesting to watch this unfold up close.

La loi, c'est moi

Do you remember when Barack Obama said he'd simply bypass Congress whenever he could? Apparently he can do it any time he wants:
Most employers won't face a fine next year if they fail to offer workers health insurance, the Obama administration said Monday, in the latest big delay of the health-law rollout.

The Treasury Department, in regulations outlining the Affordable Care Act, said employers with 50 to 99 full-time workers won't have to comply with the law's requirement to provide insurance or pay a fee until 2016. Companies with more workers could avoid some penalties in 2015 if they showed they were offering coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers.
There's no way this should stand, of course. Choose your reason -- equal protection, separation of powers, no damn kings -- it really doesn't matter which one. The guy who used to teach a constitutional law class is now demonstrating that constitutions don't mean very much unless people are willing to abide by them. And because Harry Reid sits in the Senate, there's nothing Congress can do to curb this guy. And if you think John Roberts will do anything, guess again.

By the way, all this does is move the goalposts. It used to be that hiring the 50th worker would trigger all manner of costs and regulations for a business. Now it's the 100th worker. Why is that better?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lightning Round - 021014

Ready? Go:
  • Apparently defensive lineman Michael Sam, late of the University of Missouri, is gay. Sam would like to play in the NFL. I would assume that if he has the skill set, and a lot of people who know about such things seem to think he does, he'll get his opportunity.
  • The Strib has gotten around to reviewing the Republican candidates for governor. They could have saved time if they ran the "Surrender Dorothy" shot from the Wizard of Oz instead of Baird Helgeson's article, which spends as much time talking about how great things are as it does about the candidates who are running. A lot of people on the port side seem to think that Mark Dayton is in great shape. I'm not so sure.
  • There's some interesting stuff in this trove of documents from Hillary Clinton. Let's just say that she makes Henry Kissinger look like a moony-eyed idealist. Might have more to say about this later.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Welcome to the Vaseline Dome

The roof is gone from the old joint and the lawsuits are now dismissed or moot. So what is left to do but start looking at the menu:
Minnesota Vikings fans will pay $500 to $9,500 per seat in the team’s new $1 billion stadium, set to open in 2016. That will be in addition to ticket prices that will run between $50 and $400 per game for season-ticket holders.

The personal seat licenses in the so-called stadium-builder license program are expected to net $100 million. That revenue will count as part of owner Zygi Wilf’s contribution to the construction.

The Vikings soon will begin contacting season-ticket holders — according to their Metrodome seat locations — to persuade them to buy the personal seat licenses.
The $500 fee will be for the seats that require a sherpa, while the seats you couldn't afford before are now really out of reach. But man, will the average fan miss out on something special:
The priciest seats will be on the lowest level: $9,500 for the license and a per-game ticket of $400. For the eight home games, that would be a total cost of $12,700 per seat for the first season.

Seats at that price will come with what fans may consider a priceless proximity: Those seated at the 50-yard line will be close enough to high-five Vikings players coming onto the field. 
No word on whether they'll throw in a bottle of Purell. But seriously, who wouldn't want to drop nearly 13 large for the chance to give Erin Henderson a high-five? Well, maybe not Erin Henderson. I would think that an enterprising criminal defense lawyer could snap up a seat and use the high five opportunity to hand out business cards.

Still, I wonder if Minnesotans who aren't math-challenged will go for this deal. If you were to go to 90 games and buy your tickets from StubHub, even if you ended up paying a $100 premium per ticket, you'd still be ahead of the game. And people who can afford the high-five seats are usually pretty good at math.

So what happens if the Vikings aren't successful in selling their licenses? Not to worry, we're assured:
[Michele] Kelm-Helgen pointed out that the team is responsible for the license program. If sales fail to produce the necessary $100 million, she said, the state has “ironclad agreements” that require the Vikings to make up the difference.
I hope so, because if we have learned anything about the Wilfs since they've come to town, they are very good at fighting off creditors.

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Nicollet Maul

To set things up, let's stipulate a few things:
  • Al Franken, who currently holds the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota, really needs to go.
  • The roster of current Republican candidates vying for Franken's seat is profoundly lackluster.
  • If a better candidate emerged in another party, I could see voting for that candidate.
Which leads us to the matter of Hannah Nicollet, who apparently is a candidate for Senate in the Independence Party. She's a fresh face and bears a passing resemblance to Zooey Deschanel. And the surname is pure Minnesota -- heck, she shares her name with the main drag in Mill City.

New Girl (photo via MPR News)
From what I've been able to gather, she's a fan of limited government. She's supported Ross Perot and Ron Paul in the past and also apparently supports the efforts of Justin Amash, a Michigan congressman who has proven to be an effective irritant to many people who deserve the irritation.

According to a profile on the MPR News website, Nicollet chose to run for the Senate because she was frustrated with the ongoing revelations concerning the National Security Agency, along with the ongoing wars and the size of the national debt. It's difficult to argue with her characterization of the current situation:
"The debt puts us in a very precarious situation nationally," she said. "National Security, if you want to talk about national security, our debt is a threat to it. The biggest threat, I would say."
In addition, she's skeptical of the War on Drugs and would prefer to get the government out of the marriage business entirely. I know rather a lot of people who share those views as well.

I've often argued for the Cincinnatus model of public service -- the citizen who puts down the plow and takes up the mantel of government for a short time. As a stay-at-home mom from Roseville, Nicollet fits that model much more closely than someone like Mike McFadden, the investment banker whom I expect will ultimately emerge as the Republican standard-bearer against Franken. We have a boatload of wealthy businessmen in the Senate already and McFadden seems superfluous, even before he opens his mouth. So I could see an opportunity for Nicollet in this cycle. Having said that, I see two pretty major problems with the nascent Nicollet campaign, to wit:
  • She's thrown in with the Independence Party, which throughout its amorphous history has been a center-left amalgam of technocrats and egotists.
  • Some of her most visible supporters aren't exactly diplomats.
Why does this matter? Well, for one thing, it means that the party apparatus at her disposal would be at best lukewarm to her principles and potentially openly hostile to them. I don't see Tom Horner or Tim Penny, IP standard-bearers of the past, rushing to her aid. And then you have some of her supporters, who take a dim view of people whose support she will need:
Hannah represents the views of most people under 50 who consider themselves free market advocates. If the GOP wanted to earn new votes, it needs to do a better job appealing to real people. The flag waving, Reagan worshipping, God fearing aspect of this party is no longer a mainstream perspective in American life and especially in Minnesota.
That's precisely the sort of charm offensive that builds goodwill and winning coalitions. If Ms. Nicollet is serious about going to Washington as someone other than a spectator in the gallery, she'll need to manage the messaging of some of her would-be surrogates. The only way she'll win office is if she can earn the votes of  a significant percentage of the mossbacks her acolytes disdain. Because this much is certain -- while there are plenty of people in Minnesota who sneer at Reagan worshippers and flag-wavers, most of them will be voting for Al Franken.

A teachable moment

It's cold out there and if you have to stand out in the cold and wait for a train, it's problematic. And that's what's happening to rail passengers:
Crude oil rail shipments have exploded in recent years thanks to the North Dakota oil fields. Rail cars began moving oil from North Dakota in 2008, and now account for 71 percent of the crude transported from the Williston Oil Basin. Rail capacity this year is projected to hit 1.2 million barrels of oil a day — 38 times the volume handled six years ago.

The rash of associated delays on the Northstar Commuter Line this winter has forced some users to form impromptu car pools or drive solo to get to their jobs. Metro Transit handed out letters of apology Thursday, after one morning outbound train was canceled and passengers ended up taking a bus.

Heather Beyer showed up Thursday at the Elk River station in subzero weather to catch the 6:31 a.m. train only to find it delayed.

“They didn’t start announcing it until five to 10 minutes later and you are standing in this warming house that is not all that warm,” said Beyer, a Northstar rider since its 2009 inception. “We were just stuck waiting.”
So what do we learn from such things? Mostly, things that we should know, but pretend not to know. A few examples:

  • Trains don't always run on time, for a variety of reasons.
  • If you depend on trains as your mode of transportation, sometimes you won't get to your destination in a timely manner. Of course, this problem won't happen with light rail, because light rail never has any issues.
  • The primary business of those who own the rail lines is freight. Oil from Williston is more valuable to those who run the railroads than passenger trains. So while passenger trains are supposed to get priority; they don't.
  • Oil that could be shipped to refineries via a pipeline ends up on rails because we won't build the pipeline. See, if we build the pipeline, it could theoretically benefit some evil gazillionaires like the Koch Brothers. It's far better that it be shipped on the rail lines, which are under the purview of a noble gazillionaire, Warren Buffett, who primarily supports Good People for public office. And if you are sitting out in the cold waiting for a train that might not show up, your discomfort is a secondary consideration. We need to make sure that noble gazillionaires are the ones who move our oil, even if there are a few, ahem, problems.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Oligarchy for a Better Minnesota

Who runs Minnesota? Less people than you think, actually. It became clear when Gov. Dayton jettisoned Yvonne Prettner Solon for  his current chief of staff, Tina Smith, who will now be Dayton's running mate. The invaluable Bill Glahn noticed:
The announcement itself occurred at a most unusual location, state headquarters of the AFL-CIO labor union.   The state AFL-CIO donated more than $500,000 to Democrats during the period 2007-2012.  Ms. Smith herself has long been associated with Planned Parenthood, a six-figure Democrat donor organization in 2012.

Planned Parenthood has a seat on the board of Alliance for a Better Minnesota.  ABM sits at the heart of the Democrat money machine.  ABM’s executive director, Carrie Lucking, is the better half of Dayton Deputy Chief of Staff Bob Hume.

WIN Minnesota is the primary fundraising arm of ABM.  WIN’s 2007-2012 donations of $1.9 million rank the group as the state’s 4th largest.  ABM’s Executive Director, Adam Duininick, is married to incoming chief of staff Jaime Tincher.  Adam, of course, is also Chair of the big dollar Democrat PAC 2014 Fund and a member of the Met Council.

WIN’s former head, Ken Martin, is now the head of the state’s Democrat party.  His wife, Jennifer O’Rourke, now serves as yet another Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Dayton.

Bringing it all back home, WIN board member and the state’s No. 1 political donor, Alida Rockefeller Messinger, is Gov. Dayton’s ex-wife.  And it turns out that Mrs. Messinger recommended Tina Smith for the job in the first place.
If you had this amount of nepotism and self-dealing going on in any other place, it would be a scandal, and rightly so. It takes a lot of big brains to keep a guy like this in office:

What am I signing, Radar?
This is your Better Minnesota, people. Meanwhile, read the rest of Bill Glahn's piece. If you're not reading Glahn regularly, you're not informed.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Caucus Night, as seen from a classroom at Columbia Heights High School

SD41 Republicans were there and I was, too. A few thoughts:

  • The group of caucus-goers was significantly smaller than 2012, which is not surprising in a non-presidential election year. I didn't see what was going on in the other precincts, but our group (New Brighton Precinct 1) had about 20 people in the room. It's a start, I suppose.
  • Our straw poll heavily favored State Senator Dave Thompson. I understand that Marty Seifert might have led statewide. I haven't written much about the race yet, because I'm still not 100% sure what to think about it. I tend to prefer Thompson, who is principled, an excellent communicator and a thoroughly decent man, but I think Jeff Johnson is potentially a good candidate as well. Seifert has some fences to mend after he took his ball and went home in 2010. I can tell you that, at least in our caucus room, people remember that and it could cost him down the line. If I ran the world, I'd have Seifert take on Collin Peterson for the CD-7 race. I suspect Seifert could win that pretty easily, but apparently he's got other ideas. Thompson has money problems, which might be his undoing.
  • At this point, the Senate race is pretty amorphous and that came out in our voting. Jim Abeler won narrowly in our precinct, but there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for him. Mike McFadden, who has the money to run a statewide race, needs to get his name out there a bit more and sharpen his views a bit. At least in our precinct, there wasn't much support for Julianne Ortman, although she apparently ran better statewide.
  • SD41 is tough territory for Republicans. The political power in the district resides in Columbia Heights, which is reliable DFL territory. While there are more people in New Brighton than in the Heights, New Brighton (and St. Anthony, which is also in the district) tends to be purplish, while the Heights is probably 65-35 DFL. The current roster of politicians representing the district is not especially impressive, but finding good candidates has proven difficult in this cycle. At this point there is no Republican candidate to run in 41B against Carolyn Laine, who despite a singularly undistinguished record has firm control over her seat.
  • The BPOU for the district will take place on March 8. We'll likely know a little more then. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Ask an expert

So now the Target CFO gets to explain himself to the grandees and solons in Washington:
Target Corp.’s chief financial officer heads to Capitol Hill Tuesday to face congressional questions for the first time about one of the largest computer data breaches in U.S. history.

CFO John Mulligan will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with federal officials charged with protecting consumer information. Mulligan returns to the witness stand Wednesday before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Lawmakers are expected to grill Mulligan on the details of how hackers gained access to the payments data or personal information of up to 110 million Target customers late last year. The vast data breach at the retail giant remains under investigation by the Secret Service, the Department of Justice and a forensics team. State attorneys general have joined to conduct their own probe of the theft.
After all, when it's time to investigate IT issues, who better to sift through the evidence than the architects of Obamacare?
Democrats on the House ­committee have pushed ­Target to provide detailed information about its computer security system as well as its discovery of the breach in mid-December.

“Security experts have found that the hackers may have been able to break into systems at Target and other stores as a result of weak passwords on point-of-sale systems,” Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., wrote to Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel in late January.
Henry Waxman? Ol' Henry is finally retiring from Congress after 40 years there. He hasn't spent even a day in the private sector in that time, but he's spent a lifetime pestering business people. He's hauled countless people into his star chamber to explain themselves and rarely has it made any difference in the products or services they produce, nor the corporate governance that these people operate under. And Waxman was one of the key people driving Obamacare, so you know he's fantastic at IT issues.

Two fearless predictions:

  • We won't learn anything new from the hearings
  • Henry Waxman will have nothing constructive to say, but he'll do some kick-ass grandstanding
Here's a Waxman quote:
"There are elements of Congress today that I do not like. I abhor the extremism of the Tea Party Republicans," Waxman said in a statement. " I am embarrassed that the greatest legislative body in the world too often operates in a partisan intellectual vacuum, denying science, refusing to listen to experts, and ignoring facts."
Physician, heal thyself.

Monday, February 03, 2014

80s Flashback

Apparently Radio Shack had a commercial on during the Super Bowl that made fun of the 1980s. Turns out that the football game was an 80s flashback, too, with the Broncos getting drilled by a superior NFC team, in this case the Seattle Seahawks. A few thoughts:

  • Peyton Manning will get a lot of heat for his performance, or lack thereof, yesterday, but I don't think it's fair. The guy was running for his life most of the time. His offensive line failed him from the opening play (a bizarre safety) through the end. Manning had a great year and what happened yesterday didn't change that.
  • Having said that, I'd personally like to see Manning retire. He's still got his health and I have to wonder how many more beatings like that he can take. I'm sure he wouldn't want his career to end this way, but he really doesn't have anything left to prove. 
  • John Schneider, the Seattle GM, grew up not far from Lambeau Field and also has ties to the Twin Cities as a graduate of St. Thomas. He was a star player at one of Xavier's old rivals, De Pere (Wis) Abbot Pennings High School, which no longer exists. There are some who wonder if he'll come back to Green Bay someday to replace Ted Thompson. If he did, I'd hope he'd bring some of the defenders with him.
  • I'm happy for Russell Wilson, who is a pretty good dude. I suspect that winning a Super Bowl is only one of the things that Wilson will accomplish in his life and that it won't be the most important thing he does.
  • Still don't like Pete Carroll. 

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Game -- Super Bowl Sunday Edition

Yeah, it's the big one this time. How big?

We're comin' to join ya! Watch me work!

Seattle Seahawks (+2.5) vs. Denver Broncos, in suburban Jersey. Okay, first things first. I know you've been waiting patiently for me to address the now-infamous rant of Richard Sherman. I think that he should not have used the opportunity to make himself a target. All he did was tip a pass. Nothing more, nothing less. Don't talk unless you get a pick, all right? In fact, I hope he has been working on pre-snap adjustments, because you can be assured that Peyton Manning will be making a boatload of pre-snap adjustments. He might even mention Omaha while he's at it. What concerns me about Seattle is that they have no Super Bowl experience. Not one of their players has even been to a Super Bowl. That's a scary thing. What's even more scary is that Denver has the X Factor -- Montee Ball. Yes, you heard right. Everybody is talking about the matchups in the passing game and if Seattle can generate pressure against Manning. But, what Ball gives you is another running back who has played very well in big games. If Denver is going to win, they need to run the football. Ball and Knowshon Moreno need to combine for 150 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. If they do that, Seattle will have to play catch-up, and as much as it  hurts me to say this, Russell Wilson hasn't had to make comebacks yet. Denver 31, Seattle 28. By the way, that score is in overtime.

Okay. That's plausible. Let's also address Richard Sherman. Here is his rant:

Actually, there's a prototype for this rant, way back in the early 1970s:

Switch out "Crabtree" for "Raschke" and tell me it's any different. I will say this -- I think I speak for all Americans in saying that I prefer looking at Erin Andrews over Marty O'Neil. Anyway, now that we have that resolved, on to the game. I think Peyton Manning is ready. Have you seen this game face?

Rubbing his hands just like Snidely Whiplash
I give all credit to Richard Sherman for being a total entertainer, but seriously, do you really want some of that? I don't think so. Denver 28, Seattle 24.

And a message to Richard Sherman -- if you think I'm wrong, you can tell me. Use me for motivation -- I don't care. I'm a mediocre picker. Mediocre, right? We'll find out. Ben out!

Everywhere you look, it's Stephen Furst, circa 1978

The other day I wrote about the Illinois pensioners complaining about their lot. Actually, they aren't the only ones complaining:
Even as the economy improves, years of economic malaise have left many millennials unemployed, underemployed or just lower on the career ladder than they had hoped to be at this age. Many are burdened by debt, unable to afford a house and too consumed by uncertainty to meet all the adult milestones yet.

Milllennials including Trowell say they aspire to the same things their parents’ generation had — and bristle when older Americans say they are lazy, or lack drive and ambition.

“It’s kind of a disillusionment that we’re facing,” Trowell said. “We were told that you can be anything you want, and now here we are and you can’t find a job.”
Five "Recovery Summers" into this presidency and they're still in this situation:? Well, they're not alone:
Many labor leaders hope to make headway in talks with the administration and have opted to withhold sharp criticisms of the White House. AFL-CIO officials declined to comment, referring reporters to a resolution passed at the organization’s last convention that echoed the policy concerns expressed in the Reid-Pelosi letter.

The rejections by the White House follow previous disappointments for the labor movement, which poured money into pro-Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012 and deployed millions of grass-roots volunteers motivated largely by their support for Obama’s push to bring about near-universal health insurance. Another major goal of the labor movement — card-check legislation to make it easier for workers to form unions — failed to win support after what many labor officials thought was a lackluster effort by the White House.

Union officials expect the health-care controversy to intensify a raging debate within the labor movement over how deeply labor should invest in Democratic Party candidates.
We ran the clip in the last post, but it's still working well. And it's still NSFW:

Alternative explanations? You could always go with (a) the frog and the scorpion; or (b) the Jackson is on the nightstand.