Saturday, November 29, 2014

Try Edmonton

Ray Rice can come back to the NFL, or so we're told:
Former Ravens running back Ray Rice has won his appeal and been reinstated to the NFL.

The judge who made the ruling in the case believed Rice did not lie to the NFL during a meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell in June.

"I find that the NFLPA carried its burden of showing that Rice did not mislead the Commissioner at the June 16th meeting, and therefore, that the imposition of a second suspension based on the same incident and the same known facts about the incident, was arbitrary," Judge Barbara Jones wrote in her decision, which was obtained by ESPN.

"The Commissioner needed to be fair and consistent in his imposition of discipline," Jones added.
I don't think Rice will play in the NFL again. You can't be running this ad:

And then welcome back the guy who did this:

You can "start a conversation," but the NFL isn't particularly interested in having that particular conversation at the moment. It's just not going to happen. If Ray Rice is going to play football again, it's a lot more likely that he'll play in Canada than in the NFL.

What does the decision mean for Adrian Peterson? Well, he'll probably be reinstated, too. It may not be this year, but I don't think Roger Goodell will want to lose again. I suspect Peterson will have a chance to play in the league next year; will it be in Minnesota? I suspect the Vikings are doing some focus group work on the matter even as we speak.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Go Get That Axe Edition

Well, Decrepit, do you feel the inspiration?

It's real, it's raw. Sometimes it's real raw. Did you know that?

Is this post going to require a parental advisory?

No, but as an expert on HYYYYYYPPPPE!, I do have to give props to one of the biggest hype machines around. We miss Coach Brew, who was never dull but usually got his butt kicked. Speaking of butt kicking, watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+14) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. This game will decide who gets Ohio State next week. I'm kinda surprised at how little love the boys in Vegas are giving those Gophers, who have proven that they can win in tough venues. However, Camp Randall is the toughest venue yet and the Gophers have to deal with this man:

The lesson that Minnesota has to learn is that Wisconsin is not a one-man team. The temptation will be to load up the box and stop Gordon at all costs. Joel Stave isn't a great quarterback, but he can hurt you if you try to stop Gordon. Just ask Iowa, or some of the other teams he's faced this season. The Gophers are tough and will not go away quietly. Sorry Gopher fans -- the Axe stays in Madison. Wisconsin 35, Minnesota 32.

It's always funny to watch those old Brewster tapes, because he was (well, still is) such a buffoon. Jerry Kill and his staff are turning things around and they are going to be a tough out. Still, I think the Badgers have too much firepower and Camp Randall will be rocking. Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 20.

Carolina Panthers (+2.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings came close last week against the Packers, but fell short. This week our old pal Scam Newton comes to town with his limping Carolina squad, who are still contending for a playoff spot even though they well, stink. Such is the NFC South these days. The Vikings are doing better each week and it's pretty clear that Mike Zimmer knows what he is doing. The question is when the Vikings can get it done. They still have some personnel issues and while they are making progress, it should be interesting to see what they do against a lesser opponent at home. Vikings 20, Panthers 17.

The Vikings are getting better, but at the same time they are starting to face a lot of attrition. Losing Phil Loadholt for the rest of the season will certainly hurt their offensive line and at this point, the line isn't doing what's needed to keep the pass rushers out of young Teddy Bridgewater's grill. The thing I worry about is that the Vikings might get their quarterback hurt unless they protect him better. Carolina is no great shakes but they can rush the passer. Vikings 24, Panthers 14.

New England Belichicks (+3) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. So, Geritol Fan, you say you want some HYYYYYYYYPPPPPPPE!? Well, this matchup has plenty. If you read the national publications, they are calling this a Super Bowl preview. I don't know about that -- there is a lot of football left, but for the moment our Packers are playing superb ball, especially at home. The Patriots are on a major hot streak and are more balanced than they have been in recent years. They can run the football effectively and Tom Brady always has all the throws. Last time these teams played, Matt Flynn was at the helm and almost beat the Patriots in Foxboro. This time, the game is in Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers is more than ready. This game should be high scoring and I don't expect the Packers to run away with it as they did against Philadelphia. Packers 56, New England 49.

So you're suggesting we bet the over, then. I don't think it's going to go quite like that, but it will be a close game. The Patriots are having an outstanding season and they can beat you with their offense or their defense. I think Aaron Rodgers has something to prove and that will make the difference. Green Bay 34, New England 27.

So that's all we have -- too many games on Thanksgiving and earlier today. They need to space these things out a little bit. Who has time to watch all that football, anyway? Maybe Coach Brew. Ben out!

You really don't have to answer this

What is your major malfunction? free polls

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Turkeys Hitting the Ground Like Sacks of Wet Cement Edition

Decrepit, I'm back in the house! That means we can actually do Benster and D old school!

We're glad you're back from Knox, but western Illinois is noticeably lacking in something in your absence.

That's their fault. If they have to import the HYYYYYYYYPPPPPE!, then it's probably in short supply.

True. But they do have Steak 'n Shake.

But the real question, Geritol Fan, is do they have a scrumptious Thanksgiving Dinner like this one:

Bon appetit, y'all!
We have to keep hope alive. Meanwhile, lotsa games today. Watch me work!

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+7) vs. Motor City Kitties. This game looks to be an interesting one. As I've been thinking all along, the wheels are starting to come off the wagon for those irritating Lions. They get their traditional Thanksgiving Day game against da Bearz, who have been a train wreck all season long. Last time da Bearz were on national television, they got crushed in Lambeau. Now they arrive in Ford Field, where they find a desperate team at home. Jay Cutler's reaction?

Come to where the flavor is, Jay. Bears 42, Lions 41.

Fess up, Seabiscuit -- you picke717d that way just to see if Gino would send you some venison sausage, right? There's no way da Bearz score 42 today. The Lions need this game to keep pace and while they are flawed in some fundamental ways, they are better than the Bears, especially at home. While I think the Bears could hurt the Lions in Chicago in December, it won't happen today. Lions 27, Bears 14.

Philadelphia Iggles (+3) vs. Dallas How Bout Them Cowboahs. The Eagles come to town with the Sanchize at the helm. Yep, Mark Sanchez is still spelling Nick Foles, which is a problem for Chip Kelly and company. Sanchez hasn't butt fumbled yet, but he likes to do dumb things before a national audience. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have figured a few things out this season, but, as always, December looms. We're still in November, though, and the inevitable choke is a week away. Still... Eagles 27, Cowboys 18.

So you're trying to fake everyone out today, it would appear. The Cowboys are a hard team to read this season, but generally the bad karma hasn't been on them as much as in past years. As always, they have a lot of talent, but you wonder about their long-term prospects. Sanchez does not do well under pressure and the Cowboys will bring pressure. So once again, I disagree with the young fella. Cowboys 35, Eagles 31.

Seattle Seabags (+1) vs. San Francisco Harbaughs. It's the D-Bag Bowl! On this day of giving thanks, we are greeted with the spectacle of the two biggest jerk coaches in the NFL playing one another. Do you feel thankful? It is no secret that both teams have struggled this season and are still chasing Arizona. There's a pretty good chance that one of these two teams will not make the playoffs, while the other probably get the equivalent of a first round playoff bye with a trip to a woeful NFC South venue. So this game matters a lot.  One thing to look out for is Chris Borland, who has been a tackling machine since he's entered the starting lineup for the 49ers. You would figure that he has the book on his former Badger teammate Russell Wilson. I would expect a close game with a few extra curriculars. Harbaughs 23, Seabags 17.

The question at this point -- who do you like better, Wilson or Colin Kaepernick? I like Wilson. Seattle 23, San Francisco 17.

We'll be back tomorrow for our regularly scheduled football brilliance. Well, at least I'll be brilliant; I wouldn't count on much from the old dude. Ben out!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The police and the state

We're not going to make any progress talking about the issue at this moment, but we do need to think about the amount of firepower that police departments have these days. It's still worth asking why St. Cloud, Minnesota has this vehicle:

It's also worth asking why a small town in Wisconsin has a vehicle like this:

And it's definitely worth asking why this vehicle and 24 armed officers went after a 75-year old man for a civil judgment. A taste of the reasoning:
Marathon County sheriff's officials aren't apologizing for their tactics. Sheriff's Capt. Greg Bean said officials expected to have to seize and remove tractors and wooden pallets to pay the judgment — hence the cadre of deputies. He also said what while Hoeppner was never considered dangerous, he was known to be argumentative.
That's the beauty part -- if you have armored personnel equipment, you are far less likely to have to apologize for anything. And woe betide you if you are an argumentative 75-year old guy. As Bean points out:
"I've been involved in about five standoff situations where, as soon as the MARV showed up, the person gives up," saving time, money and increasing safety, Bean said.
Massive force is often quite efficient.

il miglior fabbro

John Hayward, yet again, on the ludicrous notion that the Justice Department is going to really, no really, pursue a civil rights prosecution in the Michael Brown/Ferguson case:
This perpetual fantasy of federal double jeopardy to satisfy the mob is silly, because such charges are considerably more difficult to bring than regular criminal indictments.  The grand jury couldn’t even see “probable cause” – a very low standard – to charge Wilson with involuntary manslaughter.  A federal civil rights trial would have to prove that he abused his authority with the intent to deprive Michael Brown of his civil rights.  That would be orders of magnitude more difficult to prove than the less sensational charges the grand jury decided not to hand down.

I don’t think it’s healthy to use the Justice Department for performance art to entertain rioters, and give activists something to talk about on television for a few days.  This idea of civil-rights prosecution as a “do-over” when the regular court system fails to bring “justice” to a minority victim is poisonous.  It undermines confidence in the courts, and since the last-ditch civil-rights revenge trial never actually happens, it only makes everyone more cynical about the justice system.  For all the sunny rhetoric about “hope and change,” cynicism hangs like a dark cloud over everything these days.
More at the link.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Anyone could become obsessed with the past with a background like that!

-- Charlie Riedel, Associated Press
Talking loud and saying nothing
-- David Goldman, Associated Press

Actual caption follows, emphasis mine: A protester walks out of a store with goods after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed,...  Photo: David Goldman

Monday, November 24, 2014

Stories people don't like to cover

For years, the stories about Bill Cosby's apparent, ahem, predilections have been hiding in plain sight. No one really wanted to talk about it, but now it's all out there and his career is in ruins.

For years, Jonathan Gruber was telling his pals in the know how smart he was, littering the internet with tales of how his big brain and super spreadsheets fooled the masses. A lot of people still don't want to talk about it, but it's all out there and his career, while not in ruins, isn't going so well:
North Carolina’s state auditor on Thursday terminated a contract with Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economics professor and health-care expert whose comments on the Affordable Care Act have generated fury among conservatives.

Auditor Beth Wood (D) had hired Gruber to analyze the state’s Community Care of North Carolina program, which provides managed care to the poor and disabled. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and state lawmakers involved in reforming the state’s Medicaid system were studying whether to include the Community Care program in the reformed system.
Why do that? According to the linked report, it was because those darned conservatives were angry:
The month before he was hired, Gruber had appeared at a health-care policy conference in Pennsylvania, where he credited “the stupidity of the American voter” with helping pass the Affordable Care Act. Unnoticed until this month, the comments — and others in which Gruber glibly insults voters and taxpayers — exploded on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, Fox News and conservative Web sites.
Of course, conservatives knew all along that the Affordable Care Act was a disaster and voted accordingly. This was more of a cartoon villain doing a monologue:

No capes, Mr. Gruber. No capes.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Birthday Brilliance Edition

So old dude, how do you feel about yesterday being my 19th birthday?

I'm delighted about it. One of the most important days of my life. Even when you were just a tiny baby, I could sense the hype building.

Yes, it's true. I was born to deliver the HYYYYYYYYYPPPPE!

You were little, though. Here's what you looked like that day:

Pumping up the crowd, even then
That picture proves the point, though -- see that fist? I was already leading the crowd! Just like I'm a leader in picking games!

You've done well enough at it.

Time to go from strength to strength. Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+10.5) vs. Nebraska Speed Bumps. You know, Geritol Fan, I think I'm probably giving Nebraska too much credit by calling them a speed bump. A speed bump would have had better success than the Nebraska defense did last week. You remember this?

So that's the Nebraska defense? And they're favored by 10 1/2? Not quite. The Gophers gave Ohio State a scare last week and are a sneaky team that is better than the talking heads at ESecPN would let you know. Nebraska started well last week lest we forget it, but ended up getting thumped quite badly. As much as the "Desperate Team at Home" theory would say that Nebraska has got this, but remember that Minnesota has a running quarterback in Liedner and David Cobb, who is a very underrated back. Minnesota 31, Nebraska 17.

I think Nebraska will play better than that. They have to, actually. As for the Gophers, there's little question that they are improving, but this is going to be a tough test. Nebraska has a lot of pride and they don't lose very often in Lincoln, still one of the most intimidating addresses in college football. If Nebraska gets off to an early lead, the Gophers could have trouble. If the Gophers can control the clock, they win. Nebraska 28, Gophers 24.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-10) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes. Old dude, can I admit something? Iowa confuses me. They are really an inconsistent team. They crush Northwestern, then get crushed by the Gophers. I'm not sure what to make of them, to be quite honest. So how will they do against Mr. Gordon and the Badgers? I talked to a friend who is a Hawkeye fan and he tells me that Iowa has been bad and he thinks that Ferentz could be on his way out. Iowa City is going to be a factor because the last two times Wisconsin was there they had to fight to get tough wins. The running game and defense should keep it close, and Iowa has a worse quarterback in Jake Rudock than Wisconsin has in Stave. Wisconsin 31, Iowa 30.

I don't think this will be easy -- trips to Iowa City rarely are. Having said that, the Badgers are looking pretty good right now. The last four games the Badgers have been outscoring their opponents  by an average score of 45-12. Melvin Gordon is just a monster and they have one of the best defenses in the country. I tend to think the trend continues. Iowa will make it interesting for a while, but the Badgers roll. Badgers 38, Iowa 20.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-9.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. Speaking of rolling, Aaron Rodgers is doing some pretty amazing stuff. You don't expect an NFL team to score over 50 points two games in a row, but that's what the Packers have done. The first meeting was a Packer rout in Green Bay, but the Vikings play the Packers tough at home. Ben Tate signed with the Vikings this week and should be helpful until noted Packer killer Adrian "All Day" Peterson returns next year. This game should be close as normal, but as much as I love the Vikings and wish them well, this is not that week. Green Bay 45, Minnesota 23.

I do think the Vikings are headed in the right direction and I'm glad that they've finally figured out that Adrian Peterson isn't going to be walking through the door. You can't really plan with all the uncertainty. It hasn't helped. Teddy Bridgewater does some things well, but I do wonder about his arm strength, especially on what looks to be a rainy and windy day in Minneapolis. Aaron Rodgers can handle the weather. I also expect that the Packers fans will be numerous at the stadium, taking away some of the home field advantage. You have to like the Packers in this one. Packers 38, Vikings 17.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. So Lovie Smith and Josh McCown are coming back to town to face their old friends? Jay Cutler is ready for the event:

Did you know that the surgeon general has determined that watching Jay Cutler play football is hazardous to your health? Tampa Bay has looked as ugly as those old jerseys, which caused an incident with Green Bay down there a few years ago. I said in this feature that the Bears made some choices that were questionable, and if literature is any guide it is time to pay the Piper for all the success they once had. Old Bear Leader 31, Fire Everyone 11.

Jay is smokin', all right. Tampa is a pretty bad team, though, and I think the Bears hit bottom in Green Bay a few weeks back. Marc Trestman is fighting for his job right now and while Cutler appears to be nonchalant about his career, I think he does care. And remember, Tampa is a bad football team. Bears 28, Bucs 17.

New York J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets (NL) vs. Buffalo Bills, in Detroit. Ordinarily this game would rank quite high on my I Couldn't Care Less Meter, but did you see what that storm in Buffalo looked like? Look at this:

It's incredible. They can't get Ralph Wilson Stadium shoveled out in time for the game, so they have to move the game to Detroit. I hope everyone in the Buffalo area is doing ok and I pray for their safety. I said at the start of the year that the AFC East was up for grabs and that these teams could make some noise. I was horribly wrong about the Patriots. Both teams are struggling and the neutral field won't give any home advantage, so in that case: Buffalo 17, New York 17.

It's pretty incredible. Every time I see those pictures, I realize that I have no complaints about the early winter we're having up here. Buffalo is a mediocre team and the Jets are a bad team, so I 'll pick the mediocre team. Bills 24, Jets 17.

That's all I have, old dude! I'll see you on Monday as I plan for my triumphant return to the Twin Cities. Ben out!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Groundhog Day

President Obama did what he wanted yesterday. Nothing new there. What really changed, though? Think about it:

  • He's always been about selective law enforcement and ignoring things that are inconvenient to him. It's been the entire purpose of Eric Holder's career. Same thing for Lois Lerner, Jeh Johnson and everyone else who has ever been in the employ of this administration.
  • Will immigrants come out of the shadows? Why would they, really? Once you do, you reveal yourself to the government, assuming you're honest about your actual identity, and you get the privilege of paying taxes on your income. As long as there are people who are willing to pay for work that's off the books, a lot of people will continue to work that way.
  • Will border security be increased? Of course not. That could have happened at any point in the previous six years of this administration. Or, to be fair, in the previous 60 years since Eisenhower cracked down on border crossings. There are too many incentives, for too many people, to avoid an actual crackdown. The Chamber of Commerce wants low cost labor and the Democratic Party wants a larger clientele. Nothing new about any of that.
  • Most people who claim they don't like cheap labor are selective in their opposition. And we're all complicit in that. I had a new roof put on my house a month or so ago. The work crew that did the work were clearly guys from Mexico or further south into Central America. I talked to a few of them and more than a few couldn't speak English. I speak some Spanish so I was able to figure out what they were talking about as they worked, and it was mostly about the job they were doing. Had I called any roofing contractor in town, I'd have seen similar groups working on the job. On those days that I stop for coffee on the way in to work, I often see similar work crews who are getting coffee as well. They might be roofers, they might be landscapers, they might be painters. That's the way the world works and there's no point in pretending otherwise. I have no idea whether the roofing contractor was employing anyone who was in the country illegally, but it wasn't in my interest to make an inquiry.
  • At bottom, this action is a finger in the eye of Obama's political adversaries. The goal is to make the opposition mad, so that they say and do things that can then be portrayed as insensitive, or racist, or violating the sensibilities of the platoons of social justice warriors arrayed across our fair land. It's also a finger in the eye of many of his supporters as well, especially lower income workers who will have more competition for jobs, but Obama doesn't care about that particularly. He does what he does. As do we all.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hugh Hewitt Calls Me Out

When I was a young lad, I caddied. $4 a round. $6 for a double.  Three rounds a day on the weekends.  With tips you could make $25 in a day. Not bad for a 12 year old in 1968.

But there were jobs which, with sufficient seniority, you’d skip, even if it was the last bag of the day.  Crazy Lou –who was given to every newbie because he yelled at you.  A particular doctor who played worse then than I do now.  And Mr. D.

Mr. D was a cheater.  It was ignominious to be associated with him.  Everyone knew he was a cheater.  Everyone he played with.  The pro shop staff.  And of course the caddies.  Everybody knew.  He was disreputable.

Elections have consequences

The election that is most consequential at the moment isn't the one we just had, but rather the one we had in 2012. We'll find out more about the specifics tonight, when the Leader of the Free World speaks. Meanwhile, the Leader of the Free World has a message for all y'all:

We could have avoided this unpleasantness if you'd just given me what I wanted in the first place

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


It's a safe bet that Adrian Peterson will not be playing for the Minnesota Vikings this year:
In suspending the Minnesota Vikings star running back for at least the remainder of this season, the National Football League on Tuesday seemed to be using the case to set strict new guidelines for players, and at the same time try to rebuild its tarnished image.

The NFL has been under fire from sponsors and fans for the perception that it has treated player transgressions lightly, and Commissioner Roger Goodell has vowed to form policies that will strongly address those complaints. His penalties on Peterson, who two seasons ago was the league’s most valuable player, are likely evidence of the league’s change in policy.

Some attorneys said that arguing whether Peterson’s punishment for beating his child was more severe than what other NFL players had received for more serious crimes was no longer the point.
This case had the NFL in a box, largely of its own making. You can't be running things like this public service announcement during your broadcasts:

and then let Adrian Peterson back on the field as if nothing really happened.

It's a tough blow to the Vikings to lose the guy who has been the public face of their team for the better part of a decade. Having said that, Peterson's days as a Viking were numbered anyway. It's a tough time to be a running back in the NFL generally, since most runners are considered disposable. It's far more common for most teams in the NFL to have a new featured back every two years or so than to have a guy like Peterson; the only other back in the NFC North with any longevity on his team is Matt Forte of the Bears. Every year a new crop of running backs appear and the Vikings will find a suitable replacement soon enough.

For his part, Peterson seems far less nimble off the field than he is on the field. His admission that he was smoking marijuana while his case was being adjudicated certainly didn't help matters, and the league's ostentatiously pious pronouncements about his lack of remorse were particularly striking:
“In the absence of speaking to you to understand your current disposition toward child discipline,” Goodell wrote, “we cannot be sure that this conduct will not be repeated. Moreover, we are unaware of any effort on your part to acknowledge the seriousness of your conduct and your responsibility to demonstrate a genuine commitment to change.”
About that "absence of speaking to you" part. . . Peterson blew off a scheduled hearing last Friday, no doubt at the advice of his attorneys and the NFLPA. That was a mistake and it's emblematic of a larger problem for the players, i.e., the fecklessness of their union. The NFLPA is not like the baseball union; most NFL contracts are still pretty one-sided and players often get a lot less money than the reported figures indicate. If you doubt that the NFLPA is feckless, consider this weak sauce:
The NFLPA disagreed. Perhaps drawing the lines for a coming legal battle with Peterson caught in the middle, the union said Tuesday the league’s decision “is another example of the credibility gap that exists between the agreements they make and the actions they take.” The NFLPA added that an unnamed NFL executive had earlier told Peterson that his time on the commissioner’s exempt list — the running back was placed on it with pay shortly after his indictment in September — “would be considered as time served.”
Emphasis mine. If this were true, you'd expect the NFLPA to name the executive in question. There will be grievances filed and posturing galore, but we should all be surprised if anything really changes. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

With the usual subtlety

The New York Post asks the question:

If you have to ask
While it's too early for 2016, it would hardly be surprising if Hillary Clinton falls short yet again. She's also susceptible to the Roger Mudd question:

Inevitability is evanescent.

il miglior fabbro

John Hayward, yet again, on "Shirtgate," in which one of the scientists who landed a space probe on a comet was brought low because of his love of bad shirts:
We get these Internet mob actions so frequently, over such trivial affairs, because they’re easy.  In an early day, staging a demonstration, or even writing a letter of protest, would have taken some effort, especially if the outcry was loud enough to be noticed  by major media.  Now it’s the easiest thing in the world to join a mob by popping off a Tweet with the right hashtag.  The cost of participation is nil, while the satisfaction gained from destroying someone’s career or forcing a tearful apology from them is considerable.

No resource has ever been less expensive to produce than Internet bile.  Forgive me, feminist legions, if I find the fate of Yazidi girls at the hands of ISIS a far more important War on Women than anything happening on Matt Taylor’s shirt.  You’re not doing the real cause of women’s rights any favors by allowing yourselves to be distracted into trivial pursuits, high-fiving each other because you made a science nerd cry.  But this is all about low-effort, high-reward entertainment, isn’t it?  As we’ve seen from the insipid online campaign against the slavers of Boko Haram, it’s not much fun throwing hashtags of shame at savages who couldn’t care less about social media campaigns.  (By the way, for any social-justice warriors keeping score out there, Boko Haram just overran the village it kidnapped those girls from.  But who cares, right?  You guys are all over the cheesecake shirt menace.)
More at the link.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanks for reading, as always

I wrote a very short piece on net neutrality the other day and MinnPost ran it in their "Blog Cabin" feature. I was very amused by the responses I received there, which were in the main earnest and predictably outraged. I wrote a response to the responses (warning -- this is going to get a little meta), which I'm republishing here. I assume this comment will go through their moderation and eventually appear on the site, although it's not up as I post this. I've decided to offer it here because it's actually worth reminding people about why we (well, mostly Benster and me these days) operate this blog:
Glad you all enjoyed, or didn't enjoy, what was intended as an observation, not a full-blown argument, concerning net neutrality. A couple of points:

I have no dog in this fight, nor any great love for Comcast. I rather dislike them, actually -- hence the "mild profanity."

The point I'm making about New Brighton politicians is that they do have a voice in granting franchises. There's a pretty good chance that we will have a new cable provider/ISP serving our area soon, because the local commission may not choose to go with the successor company to Comcast -- my understanding is that Comcast is going to have to divest certain markets because of their pending merger. And that's the point -- to the extent that I, like most people, get my internet service from a de facto monopoly, I'd prefer to have that oversight of the monopoly take place at a level that's closer to me. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, I don't write for MinnPost, so whatever standards readers might envision for MinnPost don't enter into my thought process or approach. I never know when, or what, MinnPost chooses to publish from my blog. I am grateful that MinnPost does run my posts from time to time, since the MinnPost audience is significantly larger than the small but loyal readership I have on my own blog. To its credit, MinnPost is offering a conservative voice in what is largely a center-left format. And I'm happy to be a piñata for y'all. If I can get MinnPost a few extra clicks by offering a contrarian view, that's good for everyone. I'm not a member of the StarTribune alumni association that works for this website, nor am I attempting to be a professional journalist or pundit. There's a reason why my blog name uses the term dilettante; I have no interest in being comprehensive or definitive. I'm just offering my take on things.
I've been at this for nearly nine years and we have over 4,300 posts on the blog. I end up writing about politics more often than anything else, because political power and its uses are the greatest threats to my liberties. I harbor no illusions about the larger meaning of this blog; it's a spit in the ocean. It's worth doing because we can, and do, reach people. And that's good enough.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games: Showdown Weekend Edition

Old dude, this weekend has games that will undoubtedly show if the teams we care about most are where they want to be at this time.

Yes -- it's always a voyage of discovery. 

Indeed. Hard to argue with that statement. Watch me work.

Ohio State Buckeyes (-13) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. Minnesota has been a surprising team, contending in the Big Ten West, and the Gophers still has a chance to get a trip to Indy. This game looks like a mismatch, considering Ohio State had a big win on the road in East Lansing to pretty much seal the East. J.T Barrett has surprised many by keeping Ohio State on the outside of the top 4, and they still have a chance to play in the College Football Playoff if they win out. My views on the Buckeyes are no secret -- I hate 'em. This game smells like a trap because teams often will come off a big win in a hyped game and then lose to a surprising young team. It happened to Alabama two years ago when a guy named Johnny announced his arrival on the big stage. Mitch Leidner has the chance to write himself into legendary status. Look for him and David Cobb to win the biggest game Minnesota has played since that horrible night 11 years ago, when Michigan broke Glen Mason's heart. Minnesota 27, O-H-N-O 17.

Ohio State really surprised me last week. They're formidable. Having said that, I think the Gophers are getting better. This game is a pretty good measuring stick for Jerry Kill. I think it's going to be a battle, but in the end, I think OSU survives. Buckeyes 31, Gophers 24.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (+ 6.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers.  This series since Nebraska moved into the Big Ten has been interesting. Wisconsin destroyed Nebraska 3 years ago in Camp Randall in a "welcome to the real world, boys" moment. Nebraska won a tight tension filled game in Lincoln the next year, then Wisconsin hung 70 points on the Cornhuskers in the conference title game that year, the last act of Bret Bielema in Madison. Both teams have a powerful ground attack, and Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon are the best in the country. Abdullah is hurt, though. If Abdullah can't answer the bell, or is less than 100% effective, I like Wisconsin, especially with the game in Mad City. Wisconsin 35, Blackshirts 24.

The secret of the Badgers is that they play very good defense. Nebraska is the best team they've played since LSU, but they are flawed in some ways. I think home field is going to matter a lot in this game as well. Badgers 38, Nebraska 27.

Beloit College Buccaneers (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. The Midwest Conference is having Championship week this week, where teams play crossover games. It makes no sense at all, but okay, so the Bucs are heading down to the Knosher Bowl. Both the Bucs and the Fire are not elite, but they could probably score on the Bears defense. Now, as you know, the old dude is a Beloit alumnus, so I have to tread carefully here. As much as I love the Bucs and respect the school, Knox is my school. I want the boys to win once more for the seniors. Fire 24, Bucs 10.

My Bucs were close in a lot of games this year, but had trouble closing the deal. Knox has the home field, but I suspect the Bucs have the better players, especially their talented running back named Mason Dixon. No, really -- the kid is really named Mason Dixon. For that reason alone, how could I not pick my Bucs? Beloit 31, Knox 24.

Minnesota Vikings (+ 3.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. I said that the Bears would play the Packers in a tight game. Boy, things did not go as anyone thought. Surprisingly, nobody in Chicago lost their job for that performance, which was embarrassing for the Bears, the league and for NBC, which had to be cringing as television sets were switched off everywhere but in Wisconsin t.v. markets. The Vikings have been playing better as of late and look to be going in the right direction, and considering that me and 10 other random guys on my floor could look good against the Bears, I like a real pro team's chances. Vikings 55, Bears 14.

We're going to find out a lot about the Bears this week. They can't be that bad. Or maybe they are. Just a hunch: Bears 27, Vikings 20.

Philadelphia Iggles ( +5.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. In Green Bay the mood is radically different than in Chicago. Aaron Rodgers played one of the best games I have ever seen a quarterback play on Sunday night. Philly will be a challenge because of Shady McCoy, but in an ironic twist from last year's meeting, Nick Foles will not be playing with a collarbone injury, which is very unfortunate. Last year, the Eagles had fun in Lambeau dealing with Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien. This year, they get Aaron Rodgers. I don't expect the Packers to play as well as he did against the Bears, but a win is vital. Packers 31, Iggles 29.

This should be a great game. The Eagles are 7-2 for a reason and Mark Sanchez, while not a great quarterback, should be serviceable. I think Rodgers and company are too much in Lambeau, though -- they've been blowing teams out. This one won't be a blowout, but it will go the way we'd like. Packers 38, Eagles 28.

Detroit Motor City Kitties (Even) vs. Arizona Cardinals. Who would have thought that this game would be a much anticipated game at the start of the season? The Lions have been winning games by the sleight of hand and luck, but they are winning them, so you have to give them credit for that. Arizona is a serious threat to win the NFC West and is looking like it could be the first team since Bayern Munich to host and play in a major sports championship. Even without Carson Palmer, Arizona should get the win. Arizona 35, Lions 34.

The Lions have surprised me -- they are playing well and have a good formula for success. The next two games will tell us whether they are for real; they play New England next week in Foxboro. Former Michigan State QB Drew Stanton runs the show for the Cardinals now. Can he break his home state's heart? Why yes, yes he can. Cardinals 24, Lions 20.

Thank you for reading and I will hopefully be more accurate this week. Ben out!

Friday, November 14, 2014


The question in the "Pointergate" kerfuffle isn't really about the actual incident, or the news report from KSTP that started out the whole controversy. It's about the current state of the Minneapolis Police Department.

It's been evident for a long time that the MPD has problems. It is also evident that Janee Harteau, the chief of MPD, and the rank and file officers in her organization, do not agree on much. I'd like to see more reporting on the causes and larger meaning of this rift, rather than the self-congratulatory theater of protest that we saw yesterday at Augsburg College.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On net neutrality

It's a fairly simple question, really.

My current internet service provider (ISP) is Comcast/Xfinity/whatever the hell else they are calling themselves these days.

My current utility company is Xcel Energy.

The idea behind net neutrality is to turn ISPs into a regulated monopoly. As a practical matter, Comcast is a regulated monopoly, since they are able to provide monopoly service within a local area. The regulation here comes, in large measure, from the local governments that oversee the franchise agreement that Comcast operates under -- essentially, a swath of the Ramsey County suburbs. I can't get Charter, or Time Warner, or some other company. I do have the option of getting my phone and internet from CenturyLink; perhaps some day, I will.

Xcel Energy is regulated by the State of Minnesota, as is CenterPoint Energy. I can't buy my energy from CenterPoint, because I live in an area that Xcel serves.

At bottom, net neutrality is turning ISPs into regulated monopolies, but at the federal level. If you want to address the performance of a regulated monopoly, you have to take it up with the level of government that oversees the regulated monopoly. Right now, I can buttonhole someone in New Brighton city government about Comcast. If Comcast was regulated at the national level, I'd have to go to my congresswoman, Betty McCollum. Who is more likely to take my call?

If you support net neutrality, you are supporting oversight at a higher level of government. I can see why Barack Obama and Al Franken would like that. Should you? Here's a compelling argument why you shouldn't.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The party of the future

It's long been an article of faith that the Democrats are the party of the future. That may be, but the current leadership of the party doesn't give off a particularly youthful glow.

When you look at potential presidential candidates for 2016, you have Hillary Clinton, who just turned 67; Elizabeth Warren, a spry 65; and Joe Biden, who is 72. Can you think of a credible Democratic candidate for 2016 who isn't at retirement age?

It's no different in Minnesota, as Bill Glahn noticed:
 After Republican wave elections in 2010 and 2014, Democrats nationwide have been left with a thin bench to replace aging leaders.  Here in Minnesota, we see something of the same phenomenon at work.

Democrat Governor Mark Dayton is entering his final term as governor at age 67.  His Lt. Gov., Tina Smith, is 55.  Sen. Al Franken is 63.  Sen. Amy Klobuchar is 54.

The much-touted “youthful” former mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak, is turning 59 this week.  The only prominent state-level Democrats in their 40’s are incoming House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (47) and Attorney General Lori Swanson (47).
Are the Republicans younger? Yes. Among the likely aspirants for the presidency in 2016, the oldest is Rand Paul, who is 51. Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan are all in their 40s.

Is youth better than experience? Your mileage may vary. Does it matter? There's a good chance it will.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What you deserve

Joel Kotkin on the most recent election:
If they are losing the middle and working classes, and even some millennials, what are the Democrats left with? They did best in states like California and New York, where there is a high concentration of progressive post-graduates and non-whites, and where many of the sectors benefiting most from the recovery have thrived, notably tech, financial services, and high-end real estate.

Yet these areas of strength could also prove a problem for the Democrats. A party increasingly dominated by progressives in New York, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Seattle may embrace the liberal social and environmental agenda that captivates party’s loyalists but is less appealing to the middle class. Unless the Democrats develop a compelling economic policy that promises better things for the majority, they may find their core constituencies too narrow to prevent the Republicans from enjoying an unexpected, albeit largely undeserved, resurgence.
Emphasis mine. Did the Republicans "deserve" to win last week? That's an excellent question and one that Republicans ought to consider.

Democrats won, decisively, in 2006. They flipped the Congress and set the stage for the arrival of Barack Obama's presidency. Did the Democrats "deserve" to win then? I certainly didn't think so, but the Republicans deserved to lose. I think this is what Kotkin is getting at.

The Democrats have a major problem in that they have no bench. Meanwhile, the Republicans have no lack of potential candidates for president in 2016, arrayed in a crazy quilt manner. Think of the potential options:

  • Rand Paul, libertarianish senator and mild-mannered provocateur
  • Ted Cruz, Ivy League-credentialed Tea Partier, not so mild-mannered
  • Mike Huckabee, disgruntled fundamentalist
  • Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, dueling plutocrats
  • Scott "Governors Are Better" Walker
  • Marco Rubio, because, well, we're not really sure why
That's hardly a definitive list of candidates, either. How do you sort that out?

Well, I think the way you sort out the candidates is by governing, which requires Republicans in Congress to figure out a way to "deserve" the tepid confidence now bestowed upon them. The issues that come up in 2015 will shape the presidential battlefield and will, in many ways, tend to dictate which Republican becomes the standard bearer in 2016. 

When we eventually look back on the presidency of Barack Obama, we are going to realize how consequential it was. For all his petulance, corruption, bad faith and operational ineptitude, he managed to change America more than perhaps any president since FDR. Republicans will have to figure out how to deserve power in a different context than the one they encountered in 1994. Obama and his works were rebuked last week, but they weren't necessarily rejected.

Monday, November 10, 2014


We're getting clobbered so not much time to blog today. Briefly:

  • While the Packers played great last night in dismantling the Bears 55-14, the Bears were kinda shameful. A few Bears played hard, but that's not what we've come to expect. If they don't clean house at the end of the season, I'll be awfully surprised.
  • This article from AP suggests that Democrats and Republicans are living in different countries. If my FB is any indication, that's definitely true. We don't agree on much these days.
  • Scott Walker thinks governors make better presidents than members of Congress. I'll bet he thinks that
Off to fight the commute. One last thing:

Friday, November 07, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Good Heavens, I've Been Raunered Edition

So old dude, what's the deal? Why couldn't you get rid of Mark Dayton? What's wrong with you guys, anyway?

The people have spoken, Seabiscuit.

Well, they aren't any more coherent than Dayton! Oh well, we got rid of our governor down here in Illinois. Did you hear about that?

Yes -- some guy named Rauner.

So let me get this straight -- we can get rid of Democrats in Illinois, but you can't manage it in Minnesota? C'mon, Geritol Fan! We need to see a little better effort out of you!

I'll try harder next time.

Well, you'd better. Meanwhile, I have to get these picks in quick, so I can concentrate on my final exams. I always pass the HYYYYYPPPPE! exam. So watch me work!

Iowa Hawkeyes (-1.5) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. So it's Floyd of Rosedale time! Let's see the pig, okay?

We want bacon!
That's the prize at the Bank this time. Iowa has it and they're bringing it back up the Avenue of the Saints. What do we make of it? Well, this is one of the games that will decide the West, and it is possible that the Gophers could be playing either Sparty or Ohio State. This is the one trophy that the Gophers get in recent years. I like the chance it stays here. Gophers 27, Hawkeyes 20.

I've often thought the losing team should get a visit from this guy, Floyd the Barber. So the question for the rest of us is who gets a haircut tomorrow in Minneapolis? It's awfully tough to read this game, because the Hawkeyes are very inconsistent. They lose to a middling Maryland team one week, then blow out Northwestern the next. Which team are you gonna see? I have no idea. I think the Gophers will be ready, though, coming off a bye week and a bitter loss to a team they should have beaten easily. The Pig joins the Jug in the Gopher trophy case, at least for a year. Gophers 24, Hawkeyes 20.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-17) vs. Purdue Boilermakers. No love for Boilermaker Pete, Decrepit! Do you believe that line -- 17 point home dog? Purdue has gotten whooped multiple times in recent years and Wisconsin finally has at least a semblance of a passing game. I would start running some zone read type stuff with McEvoy in the game. Wisconsin 45, Purdue 13.

The Badgers have given Maryland and Rutgers a rude introduction to the Big Ten in the past two weeks. We're a long ways from the days of Drew Brees in West Lafayette. Purdue is improving, but they have a lot of trouble stopping the run. Oddly enough, running is what the Badgers do. I'm guessing Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement both get 150 yards and a couple of touchdowns apiece. Then it's time for Nebraska. Badgers 38, Purdue 17.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Monmouth College Fighting Scots. It's the grudge match, the battle for the Bronze Turkey! Old dude, I am pumped! Have you seen the Bronze Turkey? It's a beautiful thing. The guy holding it is some coach at Monmouth, and that's the problem -- Monmouth has held the trophy for a long time. Well, it's time it returned to its rightful home in Galesburg, I say! Knox has looked bad in football but most of the students will be at the conference championship game for men's soccer. Still, I think that the turkey is coming back to Knox. Oak Room 34, Safety School 17.

Monmouth is about 15 miles southwest of Knox, but when it comes to sports, it might as well be a million miles away, at least historically. The Scots have held the turkey a lot in recent years and it's going to be tough for Knox to get it back this time. I hope it stays in Galesburg some time, but not this year. Monmouth 41, Knox 20.

Miami Tuna Net Victims (+2.5) vs Detroit Lions. Old dude, I keep waiting for the Lions to be the Lions and to choke, but they've refused to cooperate so far. Can the talented but erratic Dolphins beat them? Miami should have beaten Green Bay a few weeks ago but choked it away. Miami has the talent and the Lions needed a miracle at Wembley last time out. The Lions are like Auburn last year, they had a lot of miracle wins but in the big one they ran out of them. Sorry Charlie 31, Same old Lions 6.

I'm not confident in the Dolphins at all. They are getting better, and quickly, but winning in Detroit is a tough assignment, at least right now. I think Ryan Tannehill will be a better quarterback in the long run than Matthew Stafford, but he's not there yet. Lions 27, Dolphins 24.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+7) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. So our pal Jay Cutler is coming back to Green Bay. He's always doing what we'd like -- throwing picks. This game makes me very nervous. The last time the Packers played the Bears, Micah Hyde changed the game by simply stepping in the camera and removing a touchdown. I don't know how Aaron will do moving around and we all know what happened last time the Bears went to Green Bay. I like our chances, but this is by no means easy because Bear games are never easy and the big one last year nearly raised my blood pressure to a dangerous level. Packers 27, Bears 24.

Jay is our favorite in Green Bay. He sure is. The Bears do have other ways to hurt a team. Matt Forte is an awfully good running back and he's caused the Packers a lot of heartburn over the years. Still, I suspect that while Forte is trouble, the Packers will have little difficulty scoring against the Bear defense. That will force Cutler to throw and take chances. And when Jay Cutler takes chances, bad things tend to happen. The Packers aren't where they want to be yet, but they'll be closer after they take care of business this week. Packers 35, Bears 21.

Well, that's all you need to know. I've got finals coming up in a week or so, but I'll be back home later in the month. And that's when you'll really see the HYYPPPPE! Ben out!

If my social media feeds are any indication. . . .

The current wisdom from our betters in re Tuesday's election results is as follows:

  • The "What's the Matter with Kansas" meme applies to just about everyone who doesn't live in Minnesota; and/or
  • Because voting participation was down somewhat, the legitimate will of the people wasn't expressed on Tuesday.
In other words, the reason that Democrats lost is because people are either too lazy or too stupid to understand what's in their interest. That should be a persuasive message when the Party of the People goes back out on the hustings.

il miglior fabbro

If you haven't bookmarked John Hayward, you really should. A taste from a real stemwinder he wrote yesterday:
The nervous survivors of the 2014 Democrat massacre won’t be thrilled to hear Obama saying he plans to triple down on everything that pushed his approval ratings into the cellar, but it’s consistent with Obama’s ego and governing style.  I wonder if we’ll hear a lot of tough talk to chin up the Democrat base this week, followed by a good deal of golfing, vacations, and speeches to adoring college students, rather than hand-to-hand political combat with the Republican congress.  The Republicans are, sadly, going to give Obama a good deal of what he wants without a fight – they’re already moving quickly to disarm themselves of their budgetary weapons.  Posturing is cheap, and Presidential bluster can wring a lot of concessions from an opposition party that lives in terror of the political media.  Those concessions might prompt hostile “journalists” to lean back in their seats with folded arms and give the GOP leadership a little credit for “bipartisanship”… but they’ll outrage the voters who handed the Republicans a landslide in 2014, making it unlikely they’ll turn out for a repeat performance in the next election.  The Democrats can improve their position considerably by talking tough, acting reserved, and allowing the normal inertia of Washington to slide the Senate back into their hands in 2016.
It's one thing to conclude that the Democrats deserved to lose. It's another to say that Republicans deserved to win. Lots more at the link.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The IP Brand

It's possible that a few readers might have heard of Hannah Nicollet, who was running for governor, although one really can't be sure because there wasn't a lot of evidence of her campaign. She said something yesterday that deserves amplification:
Nicollet said she’s disappointed in the Independence Party losing its major party status, but that it’s essentially a brand rather than a philosophy. “I think it’s a needed third option just for the people who resonate with those beliefs,” she said. “I just wish there was a better outlet for the people who are more socially left and fiscally right.”
A brand, rather than a philosophy. Let those words rattle around in your brain for a second. What does a brand mean? It's a question that nearly every business faces. Businesses typically sell tangible goods or experiences, and their brands comes to connote the experiences your customers have when they purchase and use the product or service. Certain expectations come with the brand, especially a well-established one, and protecting the brand is crucial. And as long as the brand continues to meet expectations, success follows.

So when Nicollet says that the Independence Party is a brand without an underlying philosophy, she neatly encapsulates the reason why it's always been silly to call the IP a "major" party. Political parties are based on philosophies, ways of seeing the world. A typical Republican is skeptical of the blandishments of government, while a typical Democrat believes that government blandishments are essential to the ordering of society. Voters usually understand these views and since voters are, whether they like it or not, consumers of the political process, they base their political choices on those underlying world views. The parties suffer when they do not meet those expectations, or when they botch the execution of programs designed to further their world view. With the notable exception of our fair state, the Democrats suffered on Tuesday.

Minnesota took a flyer on what is now the IP in 1998, mostly because the two primary parties had milquetoast candidates on offer. That experience was mostly forgettable; for all his bravado, Jesse Ventura never had enough power to effect any lasting changes, because he never had any institutional support. As a result, he had to make a choice on who he would work with, and generally that was the DFL. He didn't like being Roger Moe in a do rag, but that's what he was.

After Ventura left, about the only thing that remained in the IP was a conceit -- we're not really like those other people. The IP never really got around to telling people what it was, mostly because it couldn't agree on even those first premises. In the end, that's the IP brand -- we're an alternative, but we can't define what that alternative means, although we're not icky like those Neanderthal Republicans and those spendthrift DFLers. We're not like them -- just ask us! And that's why the IP is no longer a major party in Minnesota.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Lucy and the football in Minnesota

While the wave of Republican success came through strong elsewhere, we appear to love our Better Minnesota here, as it looks like the DFL got just about everything it wanted in this election, with one notable exception. A few thoughts:

  • Mark Dayton limped home, but he had enough support in the metro area to hold off Jeff Johnson. Life gets more complicated for Dayton now, about which more in a moment.
  • Al Franken won easily, but as I've mentioned before, he's now returning to a very different Senate. There are going to be a lot of temptations to emulate Paul Wellstone, but Franken isn't Wellstone -- he's much less of a happy warrior type than Wellstone was. Since constituent service doesn't really interest him that much, I'm not sure what he'll do, other than try to elbow Chuck Schumer out of the way when the cameras set up.
  • It looks like Steve Simon is going to squeak by Dan Severson and become Secretary of State, but Severson's campaign is something the Republicans really ought to study. He ran well ahead of Johnson and the other statewide candidates, primarily because he made an effort to reach minorities and voting blocks that the party hasn't actively courted in a while. It almost worked and suggests that a little more outreach could tip the balance in future cycles.
  • The Republicans are going to take back the House, which is big news, because it now means that they can force the Better Minnesota crew to consider some measures that would otherwise die. Meanwhile, look for likely House Speaker Kurt Daudt to be come the most hated man in Minnesota, as he is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the state.
  • Once the results are final, we'll know if the Independence Party is going to be a "major" party any more. Looks like they got close to the magic 5% in one race, but perhaps not close enough. That's a future post.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Gotta get some sleep, but a few thoughts

No wave in Minnesota, but nationally it's a different world. A few thoughts:

  • Scott Walker has easily won reelection. I don't know if he'll really run for president in 2016 or not, but he's going to be on the short list.
  • We'll have plenty of time for buyer's remorse on this side of the St. Croix. The over/under on a Dayton resignation for health reasons is 17 months. Watch for a bunch of human interest stories about Tina Flint Smith in the meantime.
  • Al Franken wanted to be senator in the worst way. Now he gets his wish. Let's see if he keeps his head down now that the shield that Harry Reid has provided him is gone.
  • The question, in the end, is how many seats the Republicans will actually control. The best guess is 53, assuming Mark Begich gets the pipe in Alaska and that Bill Cassidy ousts Mary Landrieu next month in the Louisiana runoff. I also think you could see at least 2 Democrats cross the aisle -- Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and my personal hunch, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. You might also see independent Angus King of Maine caucus with the Republicans as well, since there won't be much advantage to caucusing with the Democrats at this point. If that happens, the margin would be 56-44 in the Senate.
More in the morning. By then we'll know what happened to Stewart Mills, among other things.

Election day

I'm not going to make any predictions on what happens today. If you want some, my friend Brad Carlson has a good set over at his place.

I will make a prediction about the longer term -- there will be a lot of voters in Minnesota who will have buyer's remorse, but they won't be people residing in the 8th CD. Okay, there's an implicit prediction in there about what happens today.

Another guess -- if the Senate does flip to the GOP, don't be surprised if at least one Dem senator flips to the GOP as well. I'm looking at you, Heidi Heitkamp.

Also, one of the operating assumptions going into 2016 is that a lot of freshman GOP senators are going to be vulnerable. I'm not sure I buy that. To use one example, people are speculating that Ron Johnson is going to be in trouble in Wisconsin in 2016. Here's a question -- who would run against Johnson? Mary Burke?

One prediction I can make with absolute certainty -- the 2016 campaign begins tomorrow. Sorry.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Hope for Johnson?

While you still sense that Lucy's gonna pull the football away from Charlie Brown, things are tightening up in the governor's race:
The final KSTP/SurveyUSA poll in 2014 has familiar names on top of both the Minnesota governor's and Senate races, but the leads for Mark Dayton and Al Franken are the smallest they've been since the general election campaign began in August.

In the governor's race, incumbent Democrat Mark Dayton still leads Republican Jeff Johnson 47 percent to 42 percent. Hannah Nicollet of the Independence Party is at 2 percent tied with Libertarian candidate Chris Holbrook. Another 6 percent are either undecided or support other candidates. Dayton lead by 12 points a month ago and five points two weeks ago.
The key number is the top line -- if this poll is accurate, Dayton can't get to 50% and is, in fact, well short of 50%. A few guesses regarding what is happening:

  • Johnson's primary task in this campaign has been to demonstrate that he is a viable alternative to Dayton. He's done that with ease. He comes across as serious and sensible and the extremist tags that the DFL and its bobos have tried to foist on Johnson ring false. 
  • Dayton is shaky in a lot of ways. I posted a somewhat snarky post over the weekend that compared Dayton to the character Foster Brooks played on Dean Martin roasts in the 1970s. You have to be a certain age to get the joke, but the reason the joke works is because Dayton's behavior in office has ranged from erratic to incoherent. He's been well protected by his praetorian guard, but the evidence has leaked out here and there.
  • We won't know if this is true until after the election, but I think that selecting Tina Flint Smith is going to hurt Dayton. While the Esme Murphys and John Cromans of the world aren't particularly interested in telling you that Smith is a former grandee of Planned Parenthood, you can be sure that the pro-life community in this state knows full well about her resume and has shared that knowledge. And since Dayton's health has been questionable, the prospect of having a less glitzy version of Wendy Davis in the governor's chair is probably going to be a factor in the final result.
  • I don't know Hannah Nicollet. From what I've been able to observe, she's a likable candidate and could have a future if she plays her cards correctly. In this cycle, she and the IP are probably doomed, though. While the definition of a major party, at least in Minnesota, is a party that gets 5% of the vote, the IP has not realy been a major party since 1998, in the sense of the term that matters -- a party that can win elections. Jesse Ventura has been gone for over a decade now.
As for Al Franken, he's probably safe, since the polling shows he has 51% support. The good news is that Franken will likely be a minority member of the senate and will actually have to build a record in his next term, because he won't have Harry Reid killing bills that come to the Senate from the GOP House. And since his party won't be in control, there's a good chance that Franken won't be able to resist stepping to the microphones to weigh in. My favorite part of Franken's campaign has been the assertion that he's "kept his head down." Well Al, it'll all be different next year. Let your freak flag fly.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Your Governor

Via Mitch Berg -- my favorite part is where Paul Thissen goes all Hedley Lamarr at about 26 seconds:

You doubt the Hedley Lamarr reference? Try this:

Meanwhile, there's this element as well:

These bits are pretty funny, but what's likely to happen on Tuesday is significantly less amusing. Remember -- here is the man who many of your fellow Minnesotans support:

Open your eyes to the thousand mile stare.