Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gardy is out

By now you've probably heard that Ron Gardenhire got the pipe from the Twins yesterday, following a fourth consecutive 90-loss season. The Twins were marginally better this year than they had been in previous seasons, but there certainly wasn't any compelling reason to stay with the current on-field staff.

The always perceptive Aaron Gleeman sizes up the situation well:
Gardenhire's firing was justified, but it has little to do with whether another manager could have avoided four consecutive 90-loss seasons with sub par talent and a lot to do with whether Gardenhire is the manager the Twins want leading them for the next 5-10 years when the talent improves.

And it will improve. This team will be better in 2015 than it was in 2014 and better in 2016 than it was in 2015. They have too much high-end talent in the minor leagues--and some high-end talent already faring well in the major leagues--for that not to happen, so even though the next manager may have to deal with low payrolls and shaky front office decision-making the combination of an impending influx of young talent and minimal expectations should make it an appealing gig.
I think that's right. The larger question is whether this supremely insular organization will look outside of the organization. You're already seeing some very familiar names being surfaced -- Paul Molitor and Terry Steinbach, who were both on Gardenhire's staff this season, and former Twins players Chip Hale and Doug Mientkiewicz. You're also seeing Ozzie Guillen, the longtime White Sox manager/lovable villain who often served as the foil for the Twins during the previous decade. While those would be easily understood choices, I think it's time to look outside the organization entirely.

The two guys I'd be looking at are Dave Martinez, currently the right-hand man of Joe Maddon at Tampa Bay, and Jose Oquendo, the longtime third base coach of the Cardinals. The obvious advantage is that you want someone who speaks Spanish well, since some of the key youngsters in the organization are from Latin America -- Danny Santana, Kennys Vargas, Oswaldo Arcia and Miguel Angel Sano are all going to be part of the future of this team. It will be interesting to see if the Twins are willing to bring in a new set of eyes.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Potentially helpful, yet still irritating

Tom Horner, who took just enough votes away from Tom Emmer to hand the governorship to Mark Dayton in 2010, now endorses Jeff Johnson:
Minnesota still is a state of great strengths, thanks to the innovation of earlier leaders. But we are a very different state today than we were three decades ago when Mark Dayton first ran for office. We can’t solve tomorrow’s challenges with yesterday’s solutions.
Yep. Mark Dayton's platform, much like that of his party, hasn't changed in any substantive ways since the days of Floyd B. Olson. Back to Horner:
Gov. Dayton has spent four years promising to close the achievement gap between Minnesota’s white students and students of color. Yet the gap remains one of the worst in the country. Johnson has outlined a program to create stronger schools, not more powerful teacher unions, which is Dayton’s focus. 
Yep again. And there's more:
Gov. Dayton’s “tax the rich” economic plan isn’t a sustainable solution in a low-wage economy. Sooner rather than later there won’t be enough “rich” and Minnesota’s already high income tax rates will need to become higher and impact not just the top 2 percent, but the top 10, 20, 30 or 50 percent of families, creating yet another drag on Minnesota’s economy.
I'm glad that Horner is saying these things, because they need to be said. Unfortunately, he's about 4 years too late.

One other thing to note -- in his entire piece, he doesn't mention the Independence Party a single time. Wonder why that is....

Papaya with a hint of sulfur

You can tell by the smell that it isn't going well:
The Cuban government has said it will take disciplinary action against a state pharmaceutical company that created perfumes named Ernesto Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez.

In a statement in the official Granma newspaper, the government described the project as "a serious error."
I'll say. But aren't you intrigued? What would these fine fragrances be? The Beeb is on the case:
Labiofam said Ernesto, the cologne named after the Argentine-born revolutionary who helped Fidel Castro take over in Cuba in 1959, would be a woodsy and refreshing citric scent with notes of talcum powder.

Hugo, named after the late Venezuelan president, would offer a softer, fruitier fragrance with hints of mango and papaya.
Walter Russell Mead thinks the Cubans are missing a bet on this one:
It’s a pity, really. The product could have ended up being a success story, even if it was only made for export. After all, there are thousands of young fools, excuse us, idealistic ‘activists’ who want to change the world all across the developed world who blithely buy Che t-shirts. These same people would no doubt line up to buy this stuff in a heartbeat. 
I would suggest adding a little patchouli to the brew as well.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Find the Minnesota Quarterback Edition

So old dude, it's getting to be that if you live in Minnesota, none of your teams have a quarterback. I leave for a few weeks and it's all falling apart up there. What's going on, Geritol Fan?

Darned if I know. Mitch Leidner is injured, Matt Cassel is injured. It seems to be an epidemic.

Sounds like you need better quarterbacks up there. Should I look around campus and see if any of my classmates at Knox can fill the bill?

I dunno. What are their qualifications?

Well, proximity to me. And a healthy dose of HYYYYYYPPPE! That should be more than enough, I think. Meanwhile, watch me work!

South Florida Bulls (+33.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. So did you see Melvin Gordon leave his cleat marks all over Bowling Green last week? It was pretty good. And it should get better. South Florida has been good in the whatever they are calling the old Big East but this team has not been as good as in recent years. This should not be an issue as we focus on getting through conference play. Bucky 50, USF 7.

South Florida has had some good teams in recent years, but this doesn't appear to be one of them. I don't think they'll strike much fear into the Badgers, at least. Badgers 49, South Florida 14.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+12) vs. Meeshegan Wolverines. It's time for the Jug, baby! As in Little Brown Jug. I'd show you what it looks like, but since I'm from Minnesota I really haven't seen it very often and I'm not sure. Brady Hoke is in a load of hot water and this time the Michigan Men have no reason to be mad. Hoke is a Michigan Man and has been to a BCS bowl game and won it and has not run a dirty program or been a victim of a paper with an axe to grind. Michigan needs a win now and Hoke can prove that he is the right leader for this program. Real Michigan Men 31, Minnesota 7.

Michigan is a mess. There's no question about that, and Brady Hoke is truly struggling with the reality of the situation. They have high expectations in Ann Arbor and it's always an expectation that the Gophers are going to get drilled there. Maybe not this time. Minnesota 21, Michigan 20.

Lawrence University Vikings (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. It's a traditional Midwest Conference clash as my newly beloved Prairie Fire come back from their bye week looking to make amends for a tough loss at Carleton. I plan to be in attendance in the Knosher Bowl to observe this game and the guys won in the Lincoln Bowl and will have the home crowd. Knox 13, Larries 7.

Historically, Lawrence has been pretty good in football. But the key word there is "historically," because it's been 30 years or so since they won a conference title. Should be an even game, so take the home team. Knox 27, Lawrence 24.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+1.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Jay Cutler is back and there's gonna be trouble. Or will there be? The guys on my floor have been talking me up saying that the boys are cooked and this game is over already. But what is encouraging is that the Packers have had success in Chicago and that Brandon Marshall at best is going to be limited. And last time Aaron told us that things are good, they destroyed a good Houston team. Sorry Gino. If Jay Cutler were a present, I would exchange him for a McCown. Packers 37, Bears 34.

The Packers almost have to be better after the stinkeroo they put out against Detroit last week. This is the end of a very tough stretch to open the season and I'm hopeful that things will start to improve. The Bears aren't nearly as formidable across the defensive front as the Lions were and so I expect Eddie Lacy to get untracked. If he does, the Bears will have to abandon the 2-deep zone and Rodgers will be able to take some shots. And with the Bears being all banged up in the secondary, there should be some opportunities. I predicted a shootout last week and it didn't happen. This time, it will. Packers 31, Bears 28.

Hotlanta Falcons (-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings. Seriously, the Vikings are a home dog? Man, what is happening? I have not seen much of the Vikings. That being said the fans have gotten their wish and I think Teddy Bridgewater can be the quarterback that the Vikings have been waiting for. And Teddy will be just as good in his rookie year as Big Ben was. And that is very good, indeed. Vikings 24, Dirty Birds 21.

The Falcons looked like world-beaters last week against Tampa. I think the Vikings are better than Tampa and this time the game is outside of the dome. Can Teddy Bridgewater have a nice game? Yes. Do the Vikes have enough weapons? That's a tougher question. Falcons 28, Vikings 17.

Well, football is a magic thing, old dude. And the HYYYYYPPPPE! is coming back. So try not to trip over your Dentu-Grip. Ben out!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Big Brother and the Holder Company

Eric Holder is leaving. Good. John Hayward takes us through his resume. Click the link, it's a fun trip down memory lane.

Money is bad, except when it isn't

Stewart Mills is a bad guy with fabulous hair, or something. If you've watched local television at all in the past week or two, you've almost certainly seen the ads that ridicule Mills for being rich. And there's no question that Mills is rich, because he's part of the Mills family that is best known for operating the various Mills Fleet Farm locations throughout the upper Midwest.

It's a given that rich scions should never get into politics, especially the offspring of people who build retail empires. So remind me again, who's the governor?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Things aren't going well. Who gets the blame?

Pollcode isn't working right. Here's a workaround for now.

Things aren't going well. Who gets the blame?

I Blame William Henry Harrison

Reg Henry wants you to know it's still George W. Bush's fault:
If there’s a sacred commandment in the one true church of conservative belief, it is thou shalt not name the president who must not be blamed, for to name him is to blame him. From the earliest days of the Obama administration, an ironclad type of right-wing political correctness clanged down like a huge gate, fencing off the former president from all who would criticize him.
Oh, they love ol' W. on the right. But Reg wants to get your mind right. Some more:
The ordinary, boring truth is that Mr. Obama doesn’t go around blaming the other guy all the time. Early in his administration, he did dare to suggest he had inherited a situation, this before you-know-who was fenced off entirely from all criticism and guarded by a praetorian guard of grumpy old guys with computers.
Well, every president has inherited a situation or two from a predecessor, with the possible exception of John Tyler, who succeeded William Henry Harrison, the president who died a month into office. So I'm going to blame William Henry Harrison, since poor Tyler never had the chance.

But since blame needs to be assigned, apparently, for current situations, let's poll who's really responsible -- you can choose more than one answer, and you really should, doncha think?

Things aren't going well. Who gets the blame?

pollcode.com free polls

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

As seen on the internet

Submitted without further comment:

Anything you can do, I can do better

Feel the love

Every time the POTUS comes to Manhattan, it causes huge traffic problems because city officials end up shutting down a lot of streets to keep the president protected. This is not a recent problem, either. 

A little story: Mrs. D and I were in Manhattan for the initial part of our honeymoon, way back in 1991, and I remember that we talking to the cab driver who was giving us a ride back to our hotel. He was complaining quite bitterly about the problems it caused when "El Presidente" comes to town. In this case, he was talking about George H. W. Bush, who happened to be in town for some event and was staying at the Waldorf-Astoria. We were staying at the Algonquin, which is about 6 blocks away from the Waldorf. Later on, when we walked out from the Algonquin to get dinner, we ended having to walk about three blocks out of our way to get to our destination because all the streets were blocked off around the Waldorf.

Of course, if you're as much of a narcissist as the current occupant of the Oval Office appears to be, you find the inconvenience you cause others to be very amusing:
President Barack Obama joked today during a New York speech that he doesn't seem to have the traffic problems the city's residents are always complaining about.

'It's actually pretty smooth for me during the week,' Obama said, after playfully arguing that everyone in New York 'hypes' the traffic.

'I don't know what the problem is,' he told attendees of the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting. 'I haven't noticed.'
This sort of behavior doesn't surprise me, nor does the reaction it gets:

The already busy streets were even more jam-packed this week as the United Nations convened for a climate change summit and a General Assembly meeting.

Per usual, New Yorkers took out their outrage over the gridlock caused by Obama's motorcade on twitter.

'GO HOME OBAMA NO ONE WANTS THIS TRAFFIC,' twitter user Rebecca Plaine said.

'Thank you Obama for causing all this bulls*** traffic in NYC,' a user named Ramirez tweeted.

'Pres and Lady Obama we love you guys but please leave NY ASAP! This traffic is unbearable!' user Rachel Johnson begged.

First Lady Michelle Obama accompanied the president to New York this afternoon, and the first couple will remain there through Thursday.

After learning that Obama had mocked their travel problems, residents of New York and the surrounding area were even more irate.

'I know multiple folks who missed flights today because of him. File Under: No laughing matter,' twitter user @lisaedlisa said.
It's not a laughing matter. But it's no big whip to a guy who has his own plane. Speaking of which, here's an amusing image:

Bet those Marines appreciated the sentiment. But the Leader of the Free World has an answer for people who notice such things.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A good point

I haven't written about the governor's race much yet, but I'll give Jeff Johnson credit for this much -- if he can find a way to get his message across, he's got a target-rich environment:

If you're wondering what Johnson means, read this.


In the end, we're all neocons, I guess:
The U.S. and five Arab countries launched airstrikes Monday night on Islamic State group targets in Syria, expanding a military campaign into a country whose three-year civil war has given the brutal militant group a safe haven.

Using a mix of manned aircraft — fighter jets and bombers — plus Tomahawk cruise missiles, the strikes were part of the expanded military campaign that President Barack Obama authorized nearly two weeks ago in order to disrupt and destroy the Islamic State militants, who have slaughtered thousands of people, beheaded Westerners — including two American journalists — and captured large swaths of Syria and northern and western Iraq.
It appears that someone has given some thought to the appropriate targets:
Some of the airstrikes were against Islamic State group's self-declared capital in Raqqa in northeastern Syria. Military officials have said the U.S. would target militants' command and control centers, re-supply facilities, training camps and other key logistical sites.

Syrian activists reported several airstrikes on militant targets in Raqqa. One Raqqa-based activist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the airstrikes lit the night sky over the city, and reported a power cut that lasted for two hours.

An anti-militant media collective called "Raqqa is being silently slaughtered" said among the targets were Islamic State buildings used as the group's headquarters, and the Brigade 93, a Syrian army base that the militants recently seized. Other airstrikes targeted the town of Tabqa and Tel Abyad in Raqqa province, it said. Their claims could not be independently verified.
Raqqa is a city about the size of Madison, on the Euphrates River. If the U.S. so chose, it could turn Raqqa into a parking lot, but we haven't chosen that option since Vietnam.

There's a larger question that hovers over the events of the last quarter century -- is radical Islam an existential threat? If it is, going after terrorists everywhere is required. If radical Islam is not an existential threat, then we've spent a lot of time and effort chasing a chimera. We can, and likely will, spend a lot of time sorting out the political blame for all this, but it doesn't do much to answer the larger question.

Monday, September 22, 2014

You could use Skype instead

Personal pet peeve -- when grandees burn fossil fuels to go to sustainability conferences:
An announcement expected Monday in New York will break the news that Minneapolis will host a major global conference on sustainability that will attract the former heads of state of nearly 100 countries to Minnesota in October 2015.

The theme of “MN2015,” as the conference will be called, is “democracy in a sustainable future.” Given the governing crises in many democracies — and the challenge of climate change — the timing couldn’t be better.

The host state is hard to top, too. Minnesota’s growing global reputation for good government, multisector collaboration, and innovation in business, education and the arts makes it an ideal place to host a serious dialogue on these fundamental issues.
If climate change is as intractable and dangerous a problem as we are told it is, why the hell are former heads of state from nearly 100 countries coming here? Are they all taking the same plane?

The Silent Move Star

Mark Dayton's new ad is out and the thing you notice right away is that he does not speak:

It will be interesting to see what happens when we actually get to evaluate how well he's able to communicate.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Wondering Where the Lions Are Edition

Old dude, I'm settling in to my routine here at Knox and I'm kicking butt all over Illinois. Not that you're surprised by that.

No, I'm not. How do they like the HYYYYPPPE!

They're able to handle it. It's a bit surprising, actually. But for the most part, they seem to be rolling pretty good with my brilliance. And so now it's time to unleash some more HYYYYPPPE! Watch me work.

San Jose State Spartans (+ 9) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers did not perform well in Fort Worth and the wonder is if this team can finally put things together. San Jose is defiantly a step down but the way the Gophers look right now things are very shaky. And teams that are shaky lose. SJSU 21, Minnesota 17.

I'm not sure the Gophers will score much, but they will score enough. Gophers 21, San Jose 7.

Bowling Green Falcons (+27) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin did not look very good in the first half but turned it around against Western Illinois. With the extra week to prepare, Wisconsin should be looking good because the book is out that McEvoy can make teams pay for crowding the box. A win here should be no problem. Wisconsin 56, Bowling Green 17.

I kinda think the line is a bit high. Bowling Green did beat Indiana. Mind you, everybody beats Indiana. But the Badgers will be rested and ready. And Melvin Gordon wants to get his motor running. Badgers 35, Falcons 14.

Clemson Tigers (+16) vs. Florida State Seminoles. This game was a blowout last year in Clemson but Jameis Winston is suspended for being an immature college kid, which as a college kid is amusing to me. Clemson is in a better place right now and you have to figure that if karma is a female dog, then Jameis will learn about maturity on Saturday. Clemson 35, The New Hurricanes 9.

Jameis Winston seems to have trouble controlling his emotions. He can control the scoreboard, though. I'm not yet convinced that Florida State is really a legitimate contender for the national championship. If they roll over Clemson, you have to pay attention. Seminoles 34, Clemson 17.

Minnesota Vikings (+10) vs. New Orleans Saints. I was able to watch the game down here last week and the Vikings did not look well. Zimmer will have his troops ready to play this week but without AD against a video game offense in a dome, this could be a long day. Saints 42, Norseman 17.

Now, I don't think the Vikings will just roll up into a ball and quit. However, this was going to be a tough game whether Peterson was available or not. The Saints are seeing their rivals get off to fast starts, so they can't take another loss. They won't. Saints 34, Vikings 14.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+2.5) vs. Detroit Lions. This game is going to feature an Old West duel of gunslingers. The Pack rallied for a very good win against the Jets last week and if the defense can show up, the Lions will be in trouble. While the Lions have looked good this year, you have to wonder if they can get over the hump under Jim Caldwell. I think they can but it still is early for them. Packers 42, Lions 38

It's a shootout for sure. Neither team has proven they can play defense and both teams can score at will, so you'll want to bet the over. Packers 38, Lions 31.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (-2.5) v. New York J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS Da Bearz surprised me last Sunday by ruining the opening of the House that Harbaugh screamed at. The Jets are a very good young team who gave the Pack a major scare and I think are real playoff contenders this year in the AFC East. Jets 17, Bears 10

The Bears played very well against the 49ers. The Jets feel like they should have stolen one at Lambeau last week, so they'll be angry. I like the Jets in this one. Jets 28, Bears 24.

That's it, that's all. Ben out!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Plagiarism or Boilerplate

I haven't written much about the governor's race in Wisconsin, but I am watching it with interest. Scott Walker has done well in his four years, but those who hate him really, really, really, really, really hate him, so it's been a fairly close race. Now comes word that his challenger, Mary Burke, might not exactly be an original thinker:
Large portions of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s jobs plan for Wisconsin appear to be copied directly from the plans of three Democratic candidates who ran for governor in previous election cycles.

Burke’s economic plan “Invest for Success” copies nearly-verbatim sections from the jobs plans of Ward Cammack, who ran for Tennessee governor in 2009 before withdrawing from the race, a 2008 plan from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, and John Gregg who ran for governor of Indiana in 2012 and lost to Mike Pence.
BuzzFeeder Andrew Kaczynski reproduces some representative samples, which indicate that Burke did pretty much lift a lot of material verbatim from other candidates. A few thoughts:

  • Are we surprised by this? Really? The Democrats have been using terms like "invest" for years, even though their notion of investing is actually channeling money to their clients. If you call it boilerplate language, you're getting closer to the truth.
  • If plagiarism is a hanging offense, no one bothered to tell Joe Biden.
  • The larger issue is that Democrats haven't had a new economic idea in half a century. I've always found it amusing that they call themselves progressives, since they are essentially reactionary in everything they do. Heck, their playbook against Walker isn't much different than what we saw in a certain town back east in 1692.

The most recent polling indicates that Walker has a narrow lead, which is about what you might expect, given the outright hatred the Blue Fist brigade has for Walker. There are still a lot of people in the Badger State who sound this way:

No politician in the past few years has had to overcome more scurrility than Scott Walker.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Probative View on Scotland

The Scots are going to decide if they want to be independent from the rest of the United Kingdom today. I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I do think you should ask an expert:

If it happens, I suspect that if they become independent, Scotland will become Albania with kilts, but we'll see. Other groups are watching this vote with great interest, however. As someone with a smidge of Flemish ancestry, I'm amused to see that they're getting riled up in Flanders, too. And I don't mean Ned Flanders.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pall Bunion

If an insurer falls in the MNsure forest, does it make a sound? Oh yeah:
The top-selling insurer on the state’s MNsure exchange has pulled out of the online marketplace just two months before this year’s open enrollment period begins.

Golden Valley-based PreferredOne had set the lowest premium prices in the nation last year and signed up nearly 6 in 10 consumers who shopped on the MNsure exchange.

But the insurer’s CEO, Marcus Merz, said this week in a letter to the exchange’s leaders that “continuing to provide this coverage through MNsure is not sustainable.”
Not sustainable? Fancy that. Why would that be? One guess, from the Star Tribune article, make sense to me:
But Caroline Pearson of health consulting firm Avalere Health, who has followed exchanges and the health reform rollout, said it was surprising to see an insurer drop out.

“Everyone was heading into 2014 with limited data about the true health demands,” she said. “My guess is they may be seeing premium prices that can’t sustain the medical costs they experienced with their enrollees.”
The point of being in the insurance business is to avoid paying out premiums wherever possible. The goal of the customer is to maximize the premiums they receive while minimizing the costs involved. It would hardly be surprising that the pool of enrollees that MNsure attracts would include a lot of people who haven't been receiving medical care in the past and would have underlying health issues. It's always been a dubious model.

The timing of this announcement doesn't work so well for Mark Dayton, which explains why he was more interested in talking about Adrian Peterson than about this issue. Jeff Johnson was less reticent:
“This is yet another example of everyday, middle-class Minnesotans paying the price for Mark Dayton’s incompetence,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who is challenging Dayton for the governor’s seat. “Six out of 10 people who’ve purchased insurance through MNsure will now have to go through the nightmare process of purchasing another plan all over again — thanks to Mark Dayton.”
Stay tuned, folks. This story isn't going away.

Purple and Green

The Vikings announced early Wednesday morning they have placed running back Adrian Peterson on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list, which will keep him away from the team while the legal process involving his child abuse case plays out.

The decision was rendered after a flurry of statements — some literal and others figurative — from sponsors of Peterson, the Vikings and the NFL expressing disappointment that the Vikings had reinstated the running back Monday morning.
Matt Vensel, Star Tribune

Money, (Money!) I want money (Money!)
Baby, ain't no "why", baby (Money!)
I need money!
First I look at the purse!

-- The Contours
Peterson was back at Winter Park on Tuesday, an off day for players, and was reportedly tailed by a TMZ cameraman as he departed the facility. Also Tuesday, Nike pulled Peterson jerseys off the shelves at its area stories, sponsors distanced themselves from Peterson and Anheuser Busch publicly called for the NFL to get its house in order.
-- Vensel

We think we know what we're doin'
That don't mean a thing
It's all in the past now
Money changes everything

-- Tom Gray (and Cyndi Lauper)
In the long term, it is fair to wonder if this will be Peterson’s final season with the Vikings.

The six-time Pro Bowler is under contract through 2017, but the salary-cap ramifications of cutting him now would not be debilitating. The Vikings would actually save $12 million on this year’s salary cap and $2.4 million in dead money would carry over to next year’s cap.

If they decided to release Peterson, who is scheduled to make $13 million in salary and workout bonuses in 2015, after the season, they would have no future cap penalties beyond 2015.
-- Vensel

Sonny it's money that matters, hear what I say
It's money that matters in the USA
It's money that matters
Now you know that it's true
It's money that matters whatever you do

-- Randy Newman

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just win, baby

We can safely assume that the Code of Conduct of the Minnesota Vikings is similar to the motto of the Oakland Raiders under Al Davis -- just win, baby:
The Vikings announced Monday that star running back Adrian Peterson -- deactivated for Sunday's Week 2 loss to the Patriots after being indicted on child abuse charges late Friday afternoon -- would practice fully throughout the week and "is expected to play" in Week 3 when the Vikings travel to New Orleans to play the Saints.

"Today's decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday's game, this is clearly a very important issue," Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf said in a statement. "On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved."
Last year, you might recall that reserve cornerback A. J. Jefferson got in trouble with the law for domestic violence. He was gone within hours.

So what do we conclude from this? The Vikings are just as mercenary as everyone else in the NFL. If Matt Asiata, Peterson's backup, had done what Peterson has admitted doing, he'd have received the A. J. Jefferson treatment.

So be it. The Vikings are going to do what they please and there's no sense in pretending otherwise. There are codes of conduct for some people and not for others. And if you assumed that, since you are a taxpayer who will be supporting the Vikings by financing their new stadium, that you had any say in how they operate, you should be safely disabused of that notion. You can hyperventilate about that if you'd like; Jim Souhan does a fine job of it here. But nothing changes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mostly open thread

The muse is intermittent these days so this will be a mostly open thread. Having said that, a few very brief observations:

  • I think the best way to read the latest Star Tribune polling on the governor's race is this -- people are open to the idea of getting rid of Mark Dayton, hence the very close approval/disapproval rating. People don't know who Jeff Johnson is yet. They'll find out next month. If Dayton looks shaky during the debates, and my guess is that he will, at least once, it could be game on, especially since I expect Johnson to perform very well.
  • The NFL may have all manner of public relations problems off the field, but the football continues to be intriguing. Show of hands -- how many people saw San Diego winning yesterday? And how about Gino's beloved Bears, coming back from way down to ruin San Francisco's party? And oh, by the way, the preferred green-clad squad won at Lambeau yesterday.
  • If the Scots vote for independence, there are going to be a lot of people in other parts of the world who will try to do the same. Spain in particular could become fragmented in a hurry.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The other issue

Now that Adrian Peterson's future with the Vikings appears to be problematic, there's another issue that needs to be addressed. As we've all seen, the artist renderings of the new stadium have prominently featured Peterson in a heroic stance:

Come to me, citizenry
Well, that might not work. Fortunately, the Vikings do have a Plan B:

Give the past a slip

Saturday, September 13, 2014

In re Adrian Peterson

The Bill James quote from yesterday again applies:

What Watergate was about was not the corruption of government, as most people thought, but rather, the establishment of new and higher standards of ethical conduct. Almost all scandals, I think, result not from the invention of new evils, but from the imposition of new ethical standards.

Adrian Peterson grew up in a world where the switch was used. As an adult, he lives in a different world. He apparently didn't know that. As we are regularly reminded, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Adrian Peterson is not a role model, either. And if he is going to raise his kids, or even have a role in their lives, he's going to have to find a way to live in the world we all occupy today, not a world that no longer exists.

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Police Blotter Edition

Old dude, it's a regular crime spree in football these days! Ray Rice is in trouble, Josh Gordon won't admit that he is a druggie and is selling cars at a lot somewhere in Northeastern Ohio. What is going on in this league?

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around it myself. I have to rely on my favorite football mind to explain things to me:

That was clarifying. Still, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. We need less domestic struggle and more football, I think.

I agree, Geritol Fan! James Brown needs to stop talking about social stuff and more about the game. Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+15) vs. Texas Christian Horned Frogs. Minnesota has shown progress but traveling down to Fort Worth should cause a problem. Mitch Leidner is hurt and if he plays I would not be surprised if his instincts to be mobile will be possibly curtailed. TCU is a sneaky team and the Gophers are looking shaky after playing subpar halves against minnows. That is a recipe for disaster and Vegas is justified. TCU 28, Gophers 17

I'm confused by this line. So far the only team TCU has played is Samford. I have some game highlights:

Oops, I guess that was the wrong tape. Anyway, I'm hardly convinced that TCU is two touchdowns better than the Gophers, whether Leidner is available or not. It will be a low-scoring game, old school, even. TCU 17, Gophers 13.

Iowa State Cyclones (+11) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes. No Badgers this week, so we'll turn our attention to the state I must cross to get to my new alma mater! This game is a grudge match and Iowa is a team favored to win the West in my eyes but Ball State should not be a challenge. Iowa needs this one but once again I sense ISU is looking for a soft target and the bitter memories of losing to NDSU will linger for them. Time to take out some frustrations for the Cyclones. ISU 35, Iowa 7.

So Iowa can barely beat Ball State, but they're 11 points better than the Cyclones? Really. I find that difficult to believe. The Cyclones got beat badly by the NoDak State Bison, but that's not surprising. I think it's going to be pretty close, actually. Iowa 24, Iowa State 21.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Carleton College Knights. Yes, it's time for more red-hot Prairie Fire action! Knox is a good school populated by great people. However, the Fire are looking good led by Matt McCathry, who is a freshman quarterback who looked very good against Eureka. Carleton is good but once again if Knox is putting me up for 4 years, might as well pick em. Knox 32, Carleton 18.

This will be a true intellectual showdown between two schools with that aren't exactly known for football prowess. I'm very happy that you've settled in at Knox, but they aren't gonna win up in Northfield. At least take solace in this -- it would have been worse if they'd played St. Olaf. Carleton 33, Knox 21

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+7) vs. San Francisco Harbaughs. So da Bearz are the team that gets to debut against the 49ers in their new facility, Levi's Stadium. To honor the event, 49ers coach and all-around jerk Jim Harbaugh has chosen to wear bad looking khakis to show his appreciation for the corporate sponsor:

That's a tremendous look there, Jim. Harbaugh is going to attack Conte because Conte has a tendency to freeze during big moments. However, Jay Cutler will not have to deal with Navarro Bowman and Justin Smith. With no Donte Whitner in the building, look for the Bears to attack at will and ruin the festivities. da Bearz 13, D-Bags 6.

While I think it appropriate to pick on Jim Harbaugh's pants, the problem the Bears had was the way they got undressed in their own building last week. Did you see Fred Jackson lower the boom? It was brutal. The Bears will need to get better quickly, or get buried. Harbaugh's pants are good for grave digging, too. 49ers 31, Bears 24.

New England Patriots (-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings.  I'll be honest -- I don't know what Adrian Peterson did, or if his attempt at disciplining his son turned out to cross a line, but he's not playing on Sunday, so it's going to be tough. They looked very good and the Vikings can win without Peterson. Sweaterman Belichick is a master coach but how do you stop Cordarrelle Patterson? Special players change the game, plain and simple. Vikes 31, Pats 24

Tom Brady needs to get things back to normal. The Vikings didn't get much of a test last week. This week is very different. We'll find out if Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon can play. If they can't, the Vikes will be one dimensional. Bill Belichick eats one dimensional teams for lunch. Patriots 31, Vikings 16.

New York J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS (+8.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. The Packers have had a few extra days to dwell on their loss in Seattle. Geno Smith is a similar quarterback to Russell Wilson and the Jets are a sneaky team. However, the Packers have the advantage of extra preparation time, which is a huge edge in my eyes and Aaron Rodgers is right that even though the sky is falling around them, they are just fine inside. Packers 45, Jets 17.

This game makes me nervous. I don't know that the Jets can do what the Seahawks did, but they can run the football and they do play hard-nosed defense. It's not going to be an easy game at all for the Packers, but I think they'll prevail. Packers 24, Jets 17.

Well, that's all I have for now. I think it's going to be a lot of fun at Knox. But I already know football, baby! Ben out!

Friday, September 12, 2014

In re Ray Rice and Roger Goodell


  • Domestic violence is a bad thing.
  • Whatever good things Ray Rice has done in his life, he's effectively negated them with his actions.
  • I don't know what else to say about Roger Goodell except to quote Bill James's observation, which I first quoted a few years ago:
What Watergate was about was not the corruption of government, as most people thought, but rather, the establishment of new and higher standards of ethical conduct. Almost all scandals, I think, result not from the invention of new evils, but from the imposition of new ethical standards.

Back from Knox

The Benster is safely ensconsed at his new alma mater, Knox College. The level of "HYYYYPE" in western Illinois has increased substantially.

It was a happy and exciting trip -- few things are more fun than starting out in a new chapter in your life and the modern American college campus can be a very pleasant place to spend four years. Like a lot of smallish liberal arts schools, it has a bit of a lived-in feel; Benster's dorm room is large but the ancient radiator in the corner lets you know it's an older building. It's a nice setup for him, though, because the living space is directly atop the student union and cafeteria, so he and his crew can just roll down the stairs and get their meals, pick up their mail, etc.

The grandees at Knox gave us all a formal welcome before we said goodbye, including high-minded speeches from a couple of deans and the president of the college. One thing the president said was interesting. She implored the freshly minted students to listen to differences respectfully. That's not news. What was newsworthy is that she said this -- liberals, listen to the conservatives. I will be curious to see if this actually happens, because conservatives views aren't particularly welcome on many college campuses these days.

Benster will continue to grace this feature with his accumulated football wisdom; we're figuring out the logistics of it but he's committed to the bit.


Buy a location, close a location:
The new owner of two Rainbow Foods stores has decided to close them, four months after picking them up in a multicompany, 27-store deal that reshaped the Twin Cities grocery scene.

Jerry’s Enterprises Inc. notified workers and city officials that it will close the stores at 1660 S. Robert St. in West St. Paul and 2919 26th Av. S. in Minneapolis in early November.

Both stores employ about 25 full-time workers and another 60 or so part-timers.

Jerry’s, an Edina-based operator of about 40 stores in Minnesota and Florida, owns other grocery stores under the Cub Foods name next to both locations. A spokesman for Jerry’s confirmed the decision but declined to comment further.
This was an easy decision for Jerry's -- it's often cheaper and a better business decision to buy out and close a competitor's location than it is to let another party enter the market. HyVee is starting to enter the Twin Cities grocery market and certainly would have been interested in these locations had they been available.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Off to Knox

The Benster is headed to college:

That's Main Hall at Knox College, in Galesburg, Illinois. He'll be living in Seymour Hall, shown below:

He'll spend a lot of time in the building shown below, George Davis Hall:

It should be a nice place to spend the next few years. Posting will be light the next few days as we attend to the transition.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Open thread

The world's a dumpster fire and my mind is elsewhere, so after staring at a blank screen for most of my allotted blogging time this morning, I got nothin'. Pick a topic, any topic, and have at it. A few suggestions, just for giggles:

  • Is it worse to get drilled in Seattle, or to get beat by Buffalo on your home field?
  • Could you be any more cynical than to plan a big move on immigration, but waiting until after the election?
  • Where the heck is Knox College, anyway?
If you have something else, bring it on!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Res ipsa loquitur

The pure essence:
More than $725 million was spent by the Army on a high-tech network for tracking supplies and expenses that failed to comply with federal financial reporting rules meant to allow auditors to track spending, according to an inspector general’s report issued Wednesday.

The Global Combat Support System-Army, a logistical support system meant to track supplies, spare parts and other equipment, was launched in 1997. In 2003, the program switched from custom software to a web-based commercial software system.

About $95 million was spent before the switch was made, according to the report from the Department of Defense IG.

As of this February, the Army had spent $725.7 million on the system, which is ultimately expected to cost about $4.3 billion.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Prairie Fire, Baby! Edition

We're back! So, we're not going to discuss what happened on Thursday night. You all saw it anyway. We are choosing to follow the advice of Edna Mode -- don't look back, it distracts from the now! So we have a new season and a whole lotta football. And, of course, HYYYYYPPPPE!!

Hype -- the eternal growth industry.

Don't you forget it, Geritol Fan! Watch me work!

Middle Tennessee State Something or Others (+15.5) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. Actually, I believe MTSU is the Blue Raiders, but it could be something else. Doesn't matter. They've come to Minneapolis to get a beatdown. There is no way the Gophers are going to lose. Gophers 63, Something or Other 0.

Oh, it will be closer than that. Not much, though. Gophers 37, MTSU 14.

Western Illinois Leathernecks (NL) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. So, the Badgers played valiantly down in Houston but came up short against mighty LSU. Now they play another team that wears purple, but is not nearly as good. The Leathernecks hail from Macomb, Illinois, which is about an hour south of my new school, Knox College, about which more in a moment. Even though the Badgers kinda blew it against LSU, there's little reason to assume they'll have any trouble with the Leathernecks, who are overmatched here. Let's see if Tanner McEvoy can avoid throwing passes to the student section. Badgers 83, Leathernecks 17.

Okay. Again, probably less than that. Wisconsin 42, WIU 7.

Eureka College Red Devils vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. Surpringly, there doesn't seem to be a betting line on this game. Bovada is missing a bet here, which is unusual for a sports book. This fierce non-conference rivalry marks the debut of the Knox College Prairie Fire in this feature. I will begin orientation at Knox in four days, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the Prairie Fire does. My research indicates that they aren't very good, but as an Irondale High School graduate I'm familiar with cheering for teams with a limited chance for success. However, as long as Knox beats hated Monmouth, which I understand Knox does hate, it's all good in the hood. Knox 24, Eureka 21.

The only thing I know about Eureka is that it is Ronald Reagan's alma mater. I have it on pretty good authority that Reagan is not playing in this game. Go Prairie Fire, right? Knox 17, Eureka 13.

Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) vs. St. Louis Sheep. The Rams got a lot of ink in the offseason as being the temporary home of Michael Sam, who should just be what he is, a marginal football player, rather than a cause celebre. But he's not in St. Louis any more. The Rams are going to start Shaun "Blueberry" Hill, the former Viking, Lion, and probably several other team journeyman. Hill is a poor man's Gus Frerotte and I'm surprised that the Rams are favored in this game. However, the Rams do have Tayvon Austin and a fierce defense. Let's see what ol' Norv Turner has cooking. Vikings 31, Rams 20.

I'm not sure what to think about this game. It's a measure of the disrespect the Vikings have earned that they are a dog against a team playing a backup quarterback. Having said that, it's hard to get a read on who the Vikings are right now, based on their body of work in the preseason. They did not use Adrian Peterson at all, so we have no way of knowing how he'll do. Usually, you should assume he'll do very well, but I wonder just a little. Rams 24, Vikings 21.

Buffalo Bills (+7) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Da Bearz are still angry about how they had their season crushed last year. Want to see the highlight again? I'm sure you do, Gino!

Tecmo, baby! I never get tired of seeing it, in whatever format you choose. The big thing that should concern Bears fans is that Josh McCown is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and da Bearz are again putting their fate in the hands of Jay Cutler, who has consistently been inconsistent throughout his entire career. What's even more concerning is that da Bearz could not win the big game. Buffalo is not a big game, so this one should be straightforward. Bears 35, Bills 0.

I'll be curious to see the rebuilt Bears defense. The Bears will score, but they still look like an updated version of the Dan Fouts-era Chargers. That's not gonna work in December, as they learned last year. It's September, though, so... Bears 31, Bills 24.

We will have to see how this feature works now that I'll be at college, but we're going to try our best to give the adoring public the same high-quality football coverage they've come to expect from me, the Benster. And here is your Prairie Fire logo:

It's a flag of great justice

Ben out!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Just a reminder

You can demand $15/hour for your labors, but it doesn't mean you're going to get it:
A company called Momentum Machines has built a robot that could radically change the fast-food industry and have some line cooks looking for new jobs.

The company's robot can "slice toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible." The robot is "more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour." That's one burger every 10 seconds.

The next generation of the device will offer "custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem."

Momentum Machines cofounder Alexandros Vardakostas told Xconomy his "device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient. It’s meant to completely obviate them." Indeed, marketing copy on the company's site reads that their automaton "does everything employees can do, except better."
Put a couple of iPads on the counter for order taking and you'll understand why the SEIU is whistling in the graveyard.

Meanwhile, we should point out the following:
In Milwaukee, Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore was taken away in handcuffs by police for blocking traffic at a McDonald's.

"I take great pride in supporting Milwaukee workers as they risk arrest in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow for their families," Moore said in a statement through her communications director, Eric Harris.
That's mighty sporting of Congresswoman Moore. To show her commitment to the cause, let's look at how she walks the talk:

You'd be better off working at McDonald's

Update:  Keith Ellison is similarly generous:

They'd also prefer not to pay you

Change you can believe in, yet again

Man, is Barack Obama gonna be upset when he finds out about this:
The Fed survey released suggests that wealth and income is concentrated not just within the top 1 percent, as some analyses have suggested, but actually among a slightly broader slice of the ultra-rich: the top 3 percent.

From 2010 to 2013, average income for U.S. families rose about 4 percent after accounting for inflation, the survey showed. All of the income growth was concentrated among the top earners, the survey showed, with the top 3 percent accounting for 30.5 percent of all income.

The disparity was even greater by wealth, with the top 3-percent holding 54.4 percent of all net worth in 2013, up from 51.8 percent in 2007 and 44.8 percent in 1989.
I thought all this was going to end in the our new egalitarian era. Huh.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Game --- Revenge of the Jobbed Edition

Hi, we're back. It's football, dang it!

So it appears. What's the topic, young fella?

Well, in the not so distant past a great wrong was done to the Packers. A wrong so hideous and violent, we are banned by law from even showing it because it makes potentially dangerous emotions come to the surface. This time, this day, the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seahawks open the regular season against the Super Bowl XLV champion Packers. I know that the fans streaming into CenturyLink Field are HYYYYYYYYYPPPEEED! up but so am I. First, a note that we are working on a way for us to do Benster and D remotely because I am about to leave for lovely Galesburg, Illinois, where I will be attending college and will have to figure out my schedule.

Yeah, that social life is a big deal.

No, that's not it, Geritol Fan! I have to study! And I've studied this game very carefully. Watch me work!

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+6) vs. Seattle Seabags. We've already discussed what happened last time the Packers were in the PNW and it wasn't pretty. Almost as ugly as the uniforms the Seahawks have busted out in recent years. Most people tend to think that Seattle will roll over the Packers, because this game is a celebration and coronation. However, comma, in the two games the Seahawks played in the playoffs last year, they were not exactly dominant. In fact, they struggled against two high-powered offenses. Now comes the Packer offense, which features Aaron Rodgers and a real live running game this time. The Packers aren't busting out Cedric Benson, or Cedric the Entertainer, or whoever else that was last time. It's Eddie Lacy, bruising tailback extraordinaire. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Packers spread the ball around. You can't just concentrate on Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb -- you have to think about everyone. On the other hand, the Seahawks have our old friend Percy Harvin, who is apparently healed up from his 438 assorted injuries that he suffered last season, apparently while he was trying to get out of the whirlpool, since he rarely saw the field. As much as we love and respect Russell Wilson, he is going to have to hope that Harvin doesn't dissolve on the way to the field and that Marshawn Lynch isn't arrested or something. It's going to be fierce, but it's time for the Seahawks to get boomed. Packers 28, Seahawks 24.

Plausible, I think. Very plausible. It's the first game of the year and hope springs eternal. I'll be curious to see what Julius Peppers can do now that he's wearing Green and Gold. If the Packers can get a pass rush, they have enough coverage in the secondary to make things interesting for Wilson. I'm going with my heart on this one, even though it's going to be a tough one to win in an exceptionally hostile environment. Packers 30, Seahawks 27.

Don't be surprised if these teams meet again later on. Could be in Green Bay next time, too. We'll be back on Saturday morning with more picks and the inaugural appearance of the Knox College Prairie Fire in this feature! Ben out!

Help Us, Obama Wan Kenobi

“One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.”
― Oscar Wilde

They're pretty upset at the Old Curiosity Shop on Portland Avenue:
The president was right to suggest that social media amplifies the world’s messiness. But he failed to acknowledge his own complicity. Obama, himself, stands as a prime reason for the world’s confusion. Another of his remarks last week, that “we don’t have a strategy yet” against ISIL, also known as ISIS, adds greatly to a gnawing sensation that the civilized world is missing a leader capable of articulating a way forward against what seems like mounting chaos. As NATO begins its summit today in Wales, the world is waiting for a leader — maybe even Obama — to step forward and make sense of it all.
We've been through this already, kids. Obama leads from behind. In other words, he doesn't. Meanwhile, the bien pensants on the Strib editorial board are desperately clinging to the illusion that they aren't actually full of baked wind, despite their protestations which add a continuing whiff of methane in the air:
This page twice endorsed Obama for president and, considering the options, he was and remains the right choice. Americans are better off with his realistic approach to world affairs than they were with the neoconservative policies of the Bush-Cheney era, a span that contributed greatly to the world’s current troubles.

But Obama, for all his skill as a campaigner, has been astonishingly inept at telling his story as president. Americans know almost nothing of his considerable accomplishments (a vastly fairer health care system, an impressively recovering economy), owing to his painful inability to construct a policy narrative at home and to articulate a program abroad. One begins to wonder if any coherent foreign policy exists.
His "considerable accomplishments" are both failures, but we'll leave that aside. That our betters are still blaming Bush, six years on, for the failings of their hero, tells you all you need to know. Heck, they're even blaming Lloyd George and Clemenceau:
 Even our so-called allies (the Saudis, Kuwaitis and Qataris) are indirectly funding ISIL, whose grievances, by the way, date back to the treachery of other allies (Britain and France) who betrayed Arab aspirations after World War I by carving the region into faux states for their own colonial benefit.
Why stop there? Arab grievances go back to the 7th Century. It doesn't matter, though, as long as our Hero does everything the Strib editorialists deem necessary. It's a long list and I've already excerpted enough of the piece; you should go read it yourself. The desperation is palpable.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Lay down your Jackson and you will see

In the night you hide from the madman 
You're longing to be 
But it all comes out on the inside 


-- Steely Dan, "Here at the Western World"

Let fury have the hour
Anger can be power
Did you know that you can use it?

-- The Clash, "Clampdown"

You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim

-- Jim Croce, "Don't Mess Around with Jim"

Walter Russell Mead is wondering if ISIS is pulling on Superman's cape:
Disheartened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lacking confidence in the nation’s political leaders, until recently the American people have been more interested in ignoring the world than in dealing with it. Now, with everyone from Putin to ISIS treating the United States with undisguised contempt, public opinion is beginning to stir.

We aren’t there yet, but ISIS isn’t far from igniting a Jacksonian firestorm in American politics that would transform the country’s foreign policy stance in short order. 
Today is 9/3. If something happens 8 days from now, maybe things will change, but at this point I still see a lot of weariness out there. Back to Mead:
There are few things in the world more terrifying than the American people in full pursuit of an enemy that is cowardly, treacherous, and mistreats American prisoners. ISIS is, according to some, planning terror attacks on American soil and on the soil of our NATO allies. It is impossible to tell in advance what the tipping point will be that sets off something like the post 9/11 reaction or something even stronger. (Americans have a tendency to respond with more violence and less restraint after a second offense.)
Do you think that we will respond? Let's poll it -- you can vote for more than one answer:

Should the United States respond to the depredations of ISIS with great fury?
pollcode.com free polls

The Daily News Would Like to Know....

Res ipsa loquitur:


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Intermittent Vigilance

We've all talked a fair amount about the predations of Lois Lerner and her efforts to use the apparatus of the State to keep those untidy Tea Party miscreants in line. Not surprisingly, she apparently took a more lenient view of other players in the political arena:
In 2006, the year leading up to Lerner’s email, the national headquarters for the AFL-CIO reported no direct or indirect political expenditures with the IRS on their 990 form, leaving the line 81a blank. That same year, the AFL-CIO reported $29,585,661 in political activities with the Department of Labor.

Also in 2006 the Teamsters Union reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $7,081,965 with the Labor Department.

Again in 2006, Unite-Here reported no political activity with the IRS and $1,451,002 with the Labor Department.

In 2005, the National Education Association also reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $24,985,250 with the Labor Department.
The reason for the discrepancy, and why it didn't concern Lerner very much?
Lerner acknowledged in the 2007 email, “The definition of political campaign activity required to be reported on Form LM2 coincides with the definition of political campaign activity expenditures required to be reported on Form 990.”

But she did offer some possible reasons for the discrepancies. “The Form LM-2 does not separate this reporting from the reporting of lobbying expenditures,” she wrote. “Furthermore, even if section 501(c)(5) labor organizations were required to report their lobbying expenditures, the amount required to be reported on Form LM-2 includes activity, such as attempting to influence regulations, that is not required to be reported as lobbying, as the IRS limitations apply to legislative lobbying.”

Lerner conceded, “Having said that, we did see some instances that raised concerns and we referred that information to our Dallas office to determine whether examination is warranted.” It does not appear any further investigation was conducted.
The Dallas office apparently was less vigilant the Cincinnati office was with the Tea Party folks. Or something. More at the link.

The world someone else wants

Joel Kotkin makes a point that should be obvious, but apparently isn't:
[C]urrent conventional wisdom embraces density, sky-high scrapers, vastly expanded mass transit and ever-smaller apartments. It reflects a desire to create an ideal locale for hipsters and older, sophisticated urban dwellers. It’s city as adult Disneyland or “entertainment machine,” chock-a-block with chic restaurants, shops and festivals.

Overlooked, or even disdained, is what most middle-class residents of the metropolis actually want: home ownership, rapid access to employment throughout the metropolitan area, good schools and “human scale” neighborhoods.

A vast majority of people — roughly 8o percent — prefer a single-family home, whether in the city or surrounding communities. And they may not get “creative” gigs at ad agencies or writers collectives, but look instead for decent-paying opportunities in fields such as construction, manufacturing or logistics. Over the past decade, these jobs have been declining rapidly in “luxury cities” like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
We're trying to build two luxury cities here, as both Minneapolis and St. Paul want to reinvent their downtowns and transform into such places. We're spending billions to do it, too. There's a lot more at the link and it's definitely worth your time.