Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BLM and the Twin Cities Maslowthon

It ain't easy to get that "26.2" sticker for your car. Especially if Black Lives Matter stops you:
Four days before more than 11,000 runners line up for the start of Sunday’s Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, the threat by protesters to disrupt the 26.2-mile race has some marathoners on edge about their safety, while others are angry that months of training could be jeopardized as they approach the finish line.

The St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter says it’s planning on “shutting down” the annual October running event near the finish at the State Capitol to raise awareness of recent incidents involving St. Paul police and people of color.
It's a cagey maneuver for BLM, because as the definitive "Stuff White People Like" site says, white people love marathons:
If you find yourself in a situation where a white person is talking about a marathon, you must be impressed or you will lose favor with them immediately.  Running for a certain length of time on a specific day is a very important thing to a white person and should not be demeaned.

Also worth nothing, more competitive white people prefer triathlons because Kenyans can’t afford $10,000 specialty bicycles.  If the subject ever comes up, just say that triathletes are in better shape than football and basketball players.  It’s not true, but it will make the conversation a lot more genial.
It's not clear whether BLM organizer Rashad Turner has a $10,000 specialty bicycle, but he does have a good sense of what buttons to push:
The St. Paul group’s spokesman, Rashad Turner, declined an interview request but sent a text quoting Martin Luther King Jr. saying that “the Negro’s great stumbling block to freedom…is the white moderate who is more devoted to order than justice…who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.’ ”
A well-chosen quote that's especially amusing given Turner's mode of operation. I'm not convinced that Rashad Turner gives a damn about anyone other than the fellow he sees in his mirror, so this is a great battle of narcissists. Woe betide the person who gets in the way of self-actualization, especially the sort that comes with months of training. The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment through personal growth, and training for a marathon is a good example of theory meeting practice. Let's face it -- any schlub can go to the State Fair or a Vikings game, previous targets of the Turner Troupe, but fat dudes can't run marathons. If I need to travel 26.2 miles, I grab the car keys, and maybe a donut to eat in the car. Your hierarchy of needs may vary.

Maslow also said "if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." Turner is a 5-lb. sledge. This will be interesting to watch.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A good ol' fashioned fisking

Our buddy Brad Carlson is on the case, fisking the living daylights out of a Robert Reich screed. Just click the link, in which our man Brad dispatches a purported conversation between Reich and a likely mythical Republican friend.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Numbers is hard

A friend of this feature sent this one along, in which a professor struggles to explain what should be obvious to the bien pensant It Couple of TPT, Cathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola:
[University of Minnesota Professor Sam Myers] pointed out that the survey only included those who indicated themselves as “black” and not of multi-racial background.  He also said he couldn’t reproduce the finding that there was a $4,000 drop in median income for black households, based on any previous data.  The Star Tribune reported the survey numbers with a dramatic headline, “Black household income plunges in one year in Minnesota.”  Yesterday the paper featured a commentary by Louis J. King III, president of Summit Academy, reiterating the point that “Minnesota now trails Mississippi when it comes to median household income for blacks.”  As a solution, King called for an increase in SNAP (food stamp) benefits and an increase in job training program spending,

But are the statistics valid?  Not according to Professor Myers who stated, “I looked at every single year of the American Community survey 1% sample between 2000 and 2013…… six of those years, black income went up, seven of those years, black income went down.  But, the long term trend was a positive trend.”

“I don’t know anybody who uses that 1% sample…..You should use a 5% sample, there is a 5% sample.”  Myers said.
Pick the numbers you want. Get the results you want. Nice racket. And lest you think Myers is some sort of racist who wants to keep people down, a reminder from the story:
Myers is the Chair of the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Rights and Social Justice at the Humphrey Institute.
And a reminder: Eskola and Wurzer have been hosting Almanac for 20 years.

The Pope, again

Just a few words about the Pope:

  • He's in line with Catholic teaching on most everything he says. The issue isn't with his teaching per se, but where he places particular emphasis. I've seen no discernible change in Church teaching since he became Pope.
  • He's not infallible. No Pope is.
  • We'll really see where things stand in the Church when the next synod begins in earnest, which will be next month. It is the Synod on the Family, and that's really where the largest questions reside.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Whatever Gino Wants, Gino Gets Edition

So, old dude, I saw that Gino was bothered that we didn't pick the Bears game last week.

I suppose we could pick the Bears each week as a courtesy.

Have you seen them play, Geritol Fan? It seems to me that the courteous thing to do would be not to mention the Bears at all! Especially now that they are attempting to play without half their offense!

The Bears are struggling. They don't even have Jay Cutler this week.

Well, it does set things up nicely for one of my patented outrageous point spread picks. Those are always entertaining, right?

Depends on which end of the point spread you are, I guess.

Yeah, I guess it does. But there's plenty of games and HYYYYYYPPPPPE! to offer this week, so let's get to it. Watch me work!

Ohio University Bobcats (+10) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers have issues that concern me. They have struggled against Colorado State and Kent State. No disrespect to those schools, but they are not exactly big time opponents. Jerry "The Cable Guy" Kill needs to coach them up, because Ohio is a MAC team. And MAC teams can be powerful run teams. Just ask any Razorback fan. Ohio 31, Gophers 13.

Way to work in that Bielema shot, there, young fella! The Gophers are struggling, particularly on offense. They have some talent but it hasn't been easy for them to score much lately. If you can only score 10 points against Kent State, you've got issues. Ohio is better than Kent State, so this one is potentially an issue. I think the Gophers win, but they won't cover. Gophers 21, Ohio U. 16.

Hawaii Rainbows (+24.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. Bucky looked okay last week, though the officiating left something to be desired. If the NCAA is so concerned with going after DraftKings, maybe they should have some time to look at the targeting rule. Hawaii gave Buckeye fans a little scare earlier, but they couldn't get it done. And unlike the Buckeyes, Wisconsin does not have a quarterback issue to worry about. Joel Stave is still one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten and he will make the difference. Wisconsin 56, Aloha 21.

Tough deal for the Badgers, losing Corey Clement for 4-6 weeks. Fortunately, they have Taiwan Deal, their backup running back. He'll get going this week. Hawaii played Ohio State tough for a while in the horseshoe a few weeks back, but I don't think they have the firepower to hang with the Badgers. Wisconsin 31, Hawaii 10.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+14.5) vs. Seattle Seabags. This game might be the most interesting game on the schedule this week outside of the Packer game in my eyes. Chicago looked solid against my Packers, and then reverted to form against Arizona. Seattle has looked out of sorts, and it is time for me to uncork a bit of a rant. The failure of Seattle so far can be attributed to giving Russell Wilson too big a contract. I like Russell a lot, because he is a great guy, and if you lead Wisconsin to a Rose Bowl and a conference title, you have a place in my heart forever. Still, Kam Chancellor is the key to the whole team, because he allows Richard Sherman to do his thing, and allows Seattle to only rush four. I am not saying Chancellor should have held out; that was moronic. What should have happened was that Wilson should have been a better leader and offered to restructure his contract to avoid this mess. Chancellor really hurt his team by being selfish and not doing a better job negotiating a contract that he liked. Regardless, Seattle is not going anywhere this year because the teamwork and discipline that Chancellor and Wilson showed over the past two years has gone away. I have never seen a quarterback hurt his team by taking more money than he is worth, money that could have been used to keep an important player happy,. Seattle is not going to win, because they are distracted. Jimmy Clausen gets a chance to prove he can be successful. The Seahawks are throwing away a dynasty if they don't stop the drama and just play football. da Bearz 39, Drama Queens 8. 

Didn't see that coming! I'll have to agree to disagree with your assessment. Not a promising scenario for the Bears, I think. Seattle is, to use the Benster's favorite phrase, the desperate team at home. And it's difficult to see where the Bears are going to get their offense, especially since Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey are unavailable for this game. Matt Forte is going to have about six dudes in his breakfast nook at all times during this game. If the Seahawks finally figure out how to use Jimmy Graham, this could get ugly. Seahawks 38, Bears 13.

San Diego Chargers (+2.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. San Diego is  a good team and has been in my lifetime. Phillip Rivers is a guy I enjoy watching. Norv Turner will be the key this week because he knows Rivers very well and can help Zimmer figure out how to stop Rivers. Keenan Allen is a dangerous threat and will test the Vikings, who looked good against Detroit and are my pick to finish second in the division and maybe challenge for the division title. Vikings 42, Sterling Hitchcock 28.

This is actually a pretty intriguing matchup. The Chargers are an entertaining team and they can score points. The Vikings defense looked very good last week against the Lions and basically beat Matthew Stafford into a pulp. That won't happen this week, but it could be tough sledding for Phillip Rivers and company. Close game, I think. Vikings 27, Chargers 24.

Kansas City Chiefs (+6.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. So, old dude, did you see that the Best Sportscaster Ever, Jack Harry, has retired? This guy was a fixture in Kansas City for years and was the crustiest person you'll ever see on local television. Check him out in all his glory!

When Jack points the finger at you, watch out! The Packers won a game that the fan base needed. This game is making me nervous, because if you recall last year the Packers won a huge home game against New England, then got ambushed in the second half against Atlanta. The Chiefs do have a quarterback in Alex Smith who was the better option in the Bay Area, but got thrown under the bus for a read option quarterback who is just an athlete, and not a quarterback. The Packers will win, but expect a close and tough game. Packers 27, Chiefs 23.

More crust on Jack Harry than on a four-foot baguette. As for the game, the Chiefs have some tools, but I don't think they'll be able to move the ball through the air that much. Aaron Rodgers is awfully tough to beat in Green Bay, especially in prime time. The Packers will wear them down. Packers 31, Chiefs 17.

Okay, old dude! Now if only we could get Gino to replace Jack Harry in Kansas City, then you'd have something! Ben out!

Local scene -- first look

We have municipal elections coming up in New Brighton shortly. I'll look at this election in more detail later on, but the outlines are pretty simple:

The incumbent mayor, Dave Jacobsen, is a good guy, but over time he's been pulled to the left, especially on spending issues. Gina Bauman, who has long been the voice of fiscal sanity on the city council, is running against him. Gina winning would upset the apple cart. Another woman named Val Johnson is also running, but based on a cursory look at her Facebook page, it's not clear why.

Two city council members are up for re-election. Paul Jacobsen is also a good guy, but like his namesake the mayor, he's been pulled left over time. Mary Burg is a big spender and friend to the municipal employees, who like her on the council because she's a reliable vote for their interests. The two primary opponents to Paul Jacobsen and Burg are Rick Moses and Susan Erickson. I've known Rick for years and he's a solid fiscal conservative. I've met Erickson, although I don't know her well. She's also a fiscal conservative.

For the citizens of New Brighton, it comes down to name recognition vs. motivation. If you'd prefer the city to be run more efficiently, Bauman, Moses and Erickson are the people to choose. If you're okay with the free spending status quo, the Jacobsens and Burg are your choices.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Saga -- Part Four

It was about 7 a.m. when we left the hospital. My wife drove the car out of the parking ramp onto Thompson Street, then turned left onto Grand Avenue. The sun was about to rise, but it might as well have been midnight. Sheets of rain were hitting the windshield. As she prepared to turn from Grand Avenue onto Smith, my phone let out an alert.

“What’s that?” my wife asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I’ve never heard my phone do that before. Let me look.”

It was a warning from the National Weather Service – Ramsey County was under an urban and small stream flood warning. A severe thunderstorm was moving through the area. Heavy rain would fall throughout Ramsey County and localized flooding was possible.

I thought about our house, about 20 minutes away. While it's been a mostly beautiful summer, we’d had a number of torrential rain storms over the course of the year and water had overwhelmed our gutters and downspouts, causing a small amount of water to leak into the basement. We’d been able to avoid major damage, but this storm didn’t look promising. We are getting things repaired, but the problem remained.

“We’ll have to see what things look like when we get home,” I said. "I hope the gutters aren’t overflowing.”

The rain and the regular rush hour traffic turned a 20-minute drive into a 45-minute slog. As we arrived home, we could see that water was coming over the gutters, but just a trickle. The rain was coming to an end, though.

“Looks like we dodged a bullet,” I said. “I’ll have to check the gutters later on, but we need to get some rest.”

Neither of us had slept since the previous morning, so we were exhausted. We went to sleep. By this point, the medication I'd received from the hospital had kicked in and my blood pressure had returned to normal levels. I was breathing deeply and freely. About three hours later, it was 11 a.m. and the phone rang. It was the heart clinic -- they wanted to see me at 3:30 that afternoon for a consultation with a cardiologist. I wrote down the information and headed back to bed.

Not 20 minutes later, I could hear thunder and heavy rain. I put on some workout clothes and looked outside the front window of the house. Water was coming over the gutter -- a lot of water.

A few days before, we had set out a series of containers in front of our house to catch any rain water that had come over the roof. The containers were full and the water was starting to splash on the landscaping in front of our house. I grabbed the ladder from the garage, climbed up the ladder and looked up into the gutter. It was filled with water and leaves from our ash tree. I tried to fish out some of the leaves from the gutter, which helped a bit, then I carried the ladder to the downspout area on the end of the garage. The downspout was filled with leaves as well. I fished out what I could from there, all the while getting soaked by the rain, which was coming down in sheets. 

I put the ladder aside, then grabbed a pail from the garage and started bailing the water out of the plastic storage containers that were catching some, but not all, of the water. I filled the pail about 20 times and tossed the water out onto the lawn, bailing water like I would if I were on a leaking boat. That helped somewhat, but it wasn't a promising way to start my recovery. The rain started to slow a bit and I got somewhat ahead of the water that was pouring over the roof line. After about 10-15 minutes of this, the rain started to slow.

I went back into the house and turned on the computer to check the local radar. We had a brief respite, but more rain was coming. I grabbed a tarp and tried to rig up a barrier in front of the house, but the wind was howling and made it almost impossible to keep anything in place.

About 20 minutes passed and the second wave of rain came in -- this time, a torrential downpour. It took only a minute for the water to start coming over the roofline again and splashing all over the front of our house. I tried to hold up the tarp to keep the water from flowing back toward the house, but it was too much. By then, my wife had awoken and understood what was happening. She came out and helped me to hold up the tarp, but the water kept coming.

Over the course of the next 20 minutes, we received over an inch of rain, part of a total of about 3 inches of rain that we would receive that day. We alternated between trying to keep the water out and bailing what had collected in the storage containers. We could see that water was getting into the window well behind us, so we bailed out that water as well. Some water would get into the basement, but we managed to forestall disaster.

Finally, the rain slowed. We were drenched and exhausted. I had feared I was having a heart attack less than 12 hours before, and now I was still standing, drenched, but alive.

A little bit of water had dripped through the window well into our family room. We also had a little bit of water in the back playroom. A short session with a ShopVac would clean it up. The rain was over and the storm had moved on.

After I pulled off my wet clothes, I posted a cryptic message on Facebook:

A fair number of people who read that post were puzzled by what I meant. Now you know. 

About 90 minutes later, I was able to drive myself to my appointment with my new friend, the cardiologist. He told me about the stress test he was scheduling for me. I will take that test in a few days from now. I have little doubt that the stress my heart will receive from the test will not be any greater than what I had experienced. Bring it on.

The Pope

I'm going to wait until his visit is done before I say much more about the Pope. Suffice it to say we'll see a lot of coverage about his global warming remarks but not much about him visiting the Little Sisters of the Poor.

So you can be the president
(You can be the President)
(Kick it)
I'd rather be the pope
(Rather be the Pope)
(I wanna be, so happy)

You can be the side effect
(You can be the side effect)
I'd rather be the dope
(You, you, you)
(You can be the dope)
The Pope

A voice returns

The Friendly Neighborhood Republican blog is back. This is good news and you should be reading Crystal's work. Click this link, or find it on the sidebar.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Saga -- Part Three

We continued to wait. Every 10-15 minutes or so, the blood pressure cuff attached to my right arm would start up again, taking another reading. The numbers remained too high. It was now approaching 4 a.m. The emergency room doctor arrived, with the nurse and with a woman furiously transcribing every word of the conservation.

"Well, we've got some good news for you," the doctor began. "We've looked at the CT scan and we don't see any evidence of a blockage, so you're not having a heart attack."

"That is good news," I replied. "So what is going on."

"We don't know, actually. We're going to have to get your blood pressure down and I've got some medicine to do that. That's the easy part," the doctor said. "What we need to find out is why this happened. Have you ever had a stress test?"


"Well, you're going to get one. We'll have that set up for you. Can you walk on a treadmill?"

"I've been doing it for a while now -- I have a membership at Snap Fitness and I use the treadmill when I go," I said.

"Well, good. The test will last about 3 hours. We need to find out what your heart is capable of doing and then we'll be able to figure out how to treat things going forward," he said.

The nurse then gave me two pills to take. "We're going to have you stay here until your blood pressure starts to go down," she said. "My shift is done, so there will be another nurse coming in to check on you in a little while."

I wanted to rest, but that wasn't coming easily. The second nurse came in. She told me she was from Pittsburgh and we talked about going to baseball stadiums. I've never been to Pittsburgh, but it's on my list of parks to see. The blood pressure cuff started up again. The number was lower, but still not where it needed to be.

"If we can get your blood pressure down below 140, you should be ready to leave," she said. As she said this, the cuff began to deflate.

"Do I get my 'get out jail free' card?" I asked.

She laughed. "Not yet, but soon."

By this time, it was now approaching 6:30 a.m. My blood pressure was now at a normal level; the medication had worked. I had instructions to see a cardiologist later that afternoon. It was time to go home.

As we walked to the car, we could see that it was raining heavily. That would matter quite a lot later that morning, but for now, it was time to go home and rest.

Next -- the rain keeps coming

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scott Walker is gone

Too bad. He had potential and Walker made mistakes, but I think Trump killed his campaign, especially by loudly retailing the, and I'm going to use a clinical term here, bullshit claims of a previous Walker opponent, Mary Burke. Trump did the same thing in the last debate, and Walker objected to it, but after that moment CNN assured that Walker was barely on the screen any more. And that was the end. Trump is pretty much dead to me anyway, but his performance in re Walker was particularly egregious. You can highlight policy differences, but to outright lie is beyond the pale. And that's what Trump did in this matter. Go ahead and support Trump if you like his attitude and his swagger, but understand what you're getting is a man without any fixed principles other than his own self-regard. Trump will be a conservative champion until he gets bored with it. When that's over, he'll wipe his butt with all of his acolytes and not think twice about it. Again, if that's your thing, feel free to get on his bandwagon.

I don't have a favorite candidate at this point. If I had to pick today, I'd rank them as follows:

Rubio -- a compromise, but at least plausible
Fiorina -- not sure she's really the right person, but worth a listen
Cruz -- like him, but I don't think he's electable
Carson -- a very nice man and brilliant at what he does, but he'll not last
Trump -- look in my eyes, what do you see? Cult of personality
Bush -- go home, "Jeb!" Seriously, go home

I don't think anyone else has a chance. Do you see any sign of, say,  Bobby Jindal fever? I sure don't.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Mark Steyn, with a head of steam, in re the moral imperative of defending the Leader of the Free World against the claims of random attendees at Trump rallies:
 In the normal course of events, the President - who is supposed to serve as president of all the people, not just the half of the country that voted for him - should command a certain respect. But this particular president has compared the members of the loyal opposition to terrorists and to the more hardcore Iranian ayatollahs. And none of you media bigfeet huffing and puffing about lèse-majesté gave a crap about that. So, if you'll forgive me, as someone designated a terrorist and ayatollah by Obama, I'm disinclined to rise to defend the President's amour propre. Go hector someone else.
No kidding. More, a lot more, at the link.

Saga -- Part Two

The blood work had come back and nothing was amiss. "There are markers that we see in the blood test that indicate a possible heart attack, but we don't see them," the nurse told us. "The CT scan should tell us more. We should be able to get you in for that in a short while. We're still trying to get you into a room as well for more observation, but it's taking a while," she added.

This wasn't surprising. A big city emergency room, even if it's cleaner and less chaotic than what you see on television, is still a busy place. The public address system called out a similar message with regularity --"ambulance on the way, six minutes out." There were more patients like me in the waiting room and the staff at the hospital was doing its best to get to everyone, but I would have to wait.

That I was waiting seemed like a good sign. "If I were in real danger, they would have wheeled me in right away," I said to my wife.

"That's true, I guess," she said. She had been steady all night, never once betraying a sense of panic. We didn't say a whole lot -- this had already been a very long day for both of us and we were starting to realize that we weren't going to get an answer right away.

After nearly an hour, the doors of the emergency room opened and another nurse came out with a hospital bed. It was my turn. "We have a room now for you. We'll have you go there and we'll be installing an IV port so they can put the dye into you. "Have you ever had a CT scan?" the nurse asked.

"Yes, I've had a number of them, and several MRI tests as well," I replied. "About eight years ago, I had surgery here for a pituitary adenoma and they took a lot of pictures then."

"Well, this won't be as extensive as all that," the nurse said with a smile. "The CT scan will only take about three minutes. They will put some dye into your veins to see what's happening and then take the scan."

I was wheeled into the imaging area of the hospital and saw the machine. It was familiar, but had been updated and was, for the most part, open sided. "Well, this isn't an MRI tube," I said.

The nurse in imaging laughed. "No, this isn't nearly as bad as all that. We are going to put some dye in your IV port. It will feel warm, and then you'll feel like you need to pee, but you won't really need to. Can you make it up onto the bed?" she asked.

"I think so," I said. I managed to do that with a little difficulty, then it was time to enter the scanner. The familiar feeling of warmth and then slight burning was there, just as they predicted. And as they'd promised, it was done within a few minutes.

"Okay, we're going to take you back to your room now," the nurse said. "We should have these read in about 30-35 minutes. The emergency room doctor will see you then and let you know what's next."

So it was back to the room. My wife was waiting. They put me on the monitoring equipment and tested my blood pressure. It was still quite high, over 175. "We'll be giving you some medication to get that blood pressure down," the nurse said. "It's very effective."

"I hope so."

"It is. How is your breathing," she asked. "It looks better."

"Yes, it does seem to be better," I responded. "I'm trying to rest, but I'm not particularly good at this sort of thing. At least I'm trying not to yell at you like some of the other people do."

The nurse laughed. "Yes -- we hear all sorts of things in the emergency room. Sometimes the patients don't like me very much."

"Well, we like you," I said. "Don't know if that counts for much, but I want you to know that."

"Thank you. The doctor should be here in a few minutes."

Next -- the doctor arrives and the results come in.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saga -- Part One

I came home early on Wednesday and went to the dentist for a routine cleaning, then I went home. Not long after that, I started to feel, well, a little off. We have a standing phone call with the Benster every Wednesday evening and we discussed his latest adventures, then we had a quiet dinner. I then went downstairs and turned on the presidential debate.

As the evening went on, I could feel that something was wrong. I started to perspire and, as the evening went on, it became more difficult to breathe. When my wife came down and we watched the news. She looked at me and could see that I was laboring.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

"I'm not sure. Do I feel warm to you?" I responded.

She put her hand on my forehead. "No, not really."

"I feel warm. I've been sweaty and I don't know why," I said.

As the newscast went on, I was starting to have difficulty breathing. "Something's not right," I said.

Upstairs, my daughter was getting ready for bed and had just retired for the evening when we came up the stairs. At this point, I was having difficulty breathing and getting frightened. My family has a horrible history with heart disease and while I wasn't having any chest pains, something was clearly not right.

"I think I need to go to the doctor," I said.

"Urgent care is probably closed now, so we're going to have to go the hospital," my wife said.


"Okay. Let me get my keys."

It's about a 20 minute drive from our house to United Hospital. As we were going along, my brain was going into overdrive. This can't be happening. I have so much to do. I have to reject fear, but how do you do that? I tried to pray, but my mind was racing so fast it was difficult to focus. As my wife took the turn from 280 to 94 east into St. Paul, lightning flashes were visible and vivid in the eastern sky.

We got to the hospital. "Can you walk to the door?" my wife asked.

"I think so," I responded. "Go park the car and I'll meet you in there."

I found a triage nurse. The modern emergency room is a lot more corporate than what I remembered in the past. The nurse was sitting at a work station with a computer, but she had a blood pressure cup nearby. She started getting my information and then took my blood pressure. It was over 200.

"That's very high. Are you experiencing any chest pains?" she asked.

"No, not really, but I'm having a difficult time breathing."

"We'll get some blood taken right away. We'll also give you an EKG. We'll be able to see if you're having a heart attack pretty quickly. Have a seat and we'll have someone out to see you right away."

By then, my wife had walked in and I sat with her. Within about three minutes, they had taken blood and done an EKG. The EKG looked normal. But things weren't right. "We're going to get you a chest x-ray and a CT scan," another nurse told me. We have to get your blood pressure down and we can do that, but we need to find out what's happening."

"If I'm not having a heart attack, what would be causing the difficulty in breathing?" I asked.

"I don't know. It could be a number of things. It could be a pulmonary embolism. The X-ray and CT scan will be able to tell us that," she said.

Pulmonary embolism. Two of my least favorite words. A pulmonary embolism is when a blood clot formed elsewhere in the body travels through the body and reaches the lungs, making it impossible to breathe. My father died in the hospital because he developed a pulmonary embolism during his recovery from surgery. These days that rarely happens, but a pulmonary embolism can develop in a variety of ways.

I had taken a tumble over the weekend, while walking in the darkness of the vast expanse of land at Eastview High School. We'd been there to see my daughter's marching band compete and the only available parking was about a third of a mile from the stadium. I hurt my ankle a bit and got a few scrapes, but other than being sore the next day, I thought everything was better. Could that have caused a clot to form? I would have to await the answer.

Next -- a long night in the ER.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- The Big Payback Edition

Old dude, I think we need some theme music for this one:

It's the big payback. And I'm mad!

Didn't know you were a James Brown fan, young fella.

Well, sometimes I have to expand past my extensive Aerosmith collection, you know. I'm at Knox, Geritol Fan! We learn about new things here. Even new things that are old! Almost as old as you, even!

Well, you teach me many things, grasshopper.

Okay. If I'd wanted a Kung Fu reference I'd have picked this one:

But that would get in the way of the HYYYYYYYPPPPE! And we can't have that. Watch me work!

Kent State Golden Flashes (+24) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. I know what you are thinking. You must be thinking that the Gophers should have no problem with a MAC team at home. Well, Arkansas fans thought the same thing about Toledo, and they lost. The Gophers have had trouble winning games they should in my lifetime, but thankfully Jerry Kill doesn't run his mouth about scheduling issues. Minnesota 13, Toledo 9.

Kent State is famous more for historical events than for football, mostly because they're historically bad at football. They did give the world Jack Lambert, the nasty linebacker for the Steel Curtain, but lately? Ehh, not so much. Don't expect them to be much competition for the Gophers. Minnesota 31, Kent State 10.

Troy Trojans (+35) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers looked good as they cruised last week and calmed me down after the disaster in Jerry World. This game can build momentum into the Big Ten season where the games actually matter. I would like to see more solid passing from Joel Stave, which he has done in both games. He reminds me a lot of Scott Tolzien, who you might remember had a good senior season. Badgers 56, Troy 16.

Thanks for avoiding the obvious Trojan joke, young fella. The Badgers righted the ship in a big way last week against Miami of Ohio, and this team also looks like a nice simple pastry. The Badgers would like to get Corey Clement some action if possible. They don't need him against these guys, but they will once the have to play Nebraska, Iowa, and the like. Joel Stave is having a decent senior campaign as well, which is good news for the Badgers and not so good news for their opponents. Wisconsin 42, Troy 7.

Detroit Motor City Kitties (+2) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Lions claim all the time that they are going to be different, and not blow things this time. Of course, I am smart enough to ignore that because the Lions are like Congress. No matter who comes in, nothing will get done and it will be a dumpster fire on live television. The Vikings should win, especially if Norv Turner figures out that he has a great back in the lineup. A first grader could figure out that if you have something amazing, use it! Vikings 35, LOLions 7.

I don't know what to make of either of these teams. The Lions pretty much imploded in the second half of last week's game, while the Vikings apparently never got on the flight to San Francisco. I'm pretty sure the Lions are going to be worse defensively than they have been in the past, but I'm not sure the Vikings are ready to exploit that potential advantage. If I'm Mike Zimmer, I make sure Adrian Peterson gets more carries than he did last week. Lions 24, Vikings 20.

Hated Seattle Seabags (+3) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. The NFC Championship was a painful day to deal with, and now the Packers have a chance to take that snake and strangle it. Russell Wilson plays his first game in the state of Wisconsin since Thanksgiving weekend in 2011. The Packers have won 9 home games in a row, and Aaron Rodgers goes from very good to an elite quarterback. Seattle lost last week thanks to giving the ball to Beast Mode in a short yardage spot and not getting it. Maybe Marshawn Lynch was worried about getting fined. The Legion of Boom is without Kam Chancellor, who is holding out for a bigger contract despite not understanding the law of diminishing returns. He was also dumb enough to say that his team was going to lose. There will be no "Hand of God", no fluke onside kicks, or bandwagon fans leaving early. Packers 29, Seachickens 13.

You don't need HYYYYYYYPPPPPE! for this one. You might not even need James Brown. What matters at this point are the players on the field. I wonder how the Packers are going to stop Marshawn Lynch, but I also suspect the Seahawks are going to have trouble stopping a fully functional Aaron Rodgers, especially at Lambeau and even more importantly, without Kam Chancellor. I expect this to be a high scoring game and the Packers to have one more big play than the Seahawks. Packers 37, Seahawks 28.

I think we've made our point here. Ben out!

The second debate

Saw it -- didn't write about it yesterday because I was indisposed -- more on that in another post, probably tomorrow. Impressions:

  • The format was terrible. It was all about goading the candidates to trash talk one another. And we might have finally found the way to silence Hugh Hewitt, who might as well have been on a milk carton.
  • The Donald had a rough evening, but it may not matter, since many of his supporters aren't looking for wonkery. At some point Trump is going to need to offer specifics. I'm not sure his specifics will comport to the base as well as his attitude does.
  • Carly Fiorina was impressive. Not surprising, because you don't get to the C-Suite in Corporate America unless you have presence and polish. She gets dinged for losing to Barbara Boxer, but I would suggest the California electorate is hardly representative of the rest of the country. I'm not sure how her skill set translates to political leadership, but she's going to rise in the polls for sure.
  • I'm pretty sure Scott Walker was at the debate, but he was on camera about as much as Hugh Hewitt. I'm afraid Walker isn't going to make it, which is unfortunate because I think he has demonstrated the proper skill set in Wisconsin.
  • There's a lot to like about Ben Carson, but he's not going to be president. It's evident that he thinks before he speaks and while we could use a thoughtful individual in the White House, that's not the prototype.
  • John Kasich is running for president. Not sure why, though.
  • Jeb Bush is going to stick around because he has a lot of money and even more institutional support from the old guard, but I'm pretty sure his moment has passed.
  • I'm starting to think Marco Rubio is the guy to watch. He's made enemies with his unfortunate and unsuccessful alliance with Chuck Schumer, but I doubt that allegiance will be fatal.
  • Mike Huckabee can go home now.
  • Chris Christie was forceful, but he's not going to make it, either. We haven't elected a fat guy to be president since William Howard Taft.
  • I like Ted Cruz, but there's something about his manner that's always seemed a little off. He almost comes off as Robert Mitchum in "Night of the Hunter." If he has "LOVE" and "HATE" tattooed on his fingers, we'll have confirmation.
  • I also like Rand Paul, but he's got no chance.
Lemme know your thoughts in the comments.


Another study, telling us what's obvious:
Left-wingers are more likely to use swear words than their right-leaning counterparts, a study of thousands of Twitter accounts has suggested.

While conservative-leaning individuals are, perhaps unsuprisingly, more likely to use religious terms such as "God" and "psalm", those on the liberal end of the political spectrum are heavy users of "f***" and "s***" online.

Researchers at Queen Mary University in London analysed more than 10,000 Twitter users who follow either the Republican or Democrat party Twitter accounts.
I've always assumed this is because, at bottom, an example of the innate conservatism of the Left, manifesting itself in particular devotion to the use of simple, unadorned, Anglo-Saxon words. That has to be it, right?

Your Better Minnesota

Well, this is counterintuitive:

Black political and community leaders on Thursday criticized Gov. Mark Dayton and his administration, saying he is not doing enough to address the vast racial disparity in Minnesota’s socioeconomic conditions, following a report that black household income plunged in the state last year.

The trend appears to be unique to black Minnesotans. They were the only racial group to regress economically, with their median household income dropping to $27,000 in 2014, down from $31,500 in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That stands in stark contrast to other racial groups in Minnesota, whose household incomes grew or stabilized during the same period. The state now trails Mississippi in terms of median household incomes for blacks.
The money quote:
State Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, blamed what he called a lack of urgency and political will at the state Capitol to act more aggressively in addressing income disparities by race.

By contrast, he pointed to Dayton’s recent urgent calls for a special legislative session to help Lake Mille Lacs resorts being hurt by a walleye shortage.

Hayden said the black community is hearing the message that, “Fish are more important than black people.”
Why is there an achievement gap? It's difficult to say precisely. Any systemic problem is multi-factorial. It doesn't help, though, when you have corrupt nonprofit organizations involved:
Jeff Hayden served on the Community Action of Minneapolis board in 2008 as a proxy for his aunt. After his election to the Legislature in 2009, he appointed his wife, Terri, as his proxy.

But as the nonprofit came tumbling down in the fall after a state audit concluded CEO Bill Davis misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money on travel, golf, spas and other perks, Hayden quit the board and said he knew nothing of any problems inside Community Action.

"When I was serving with the organization, and I think my wife would say the same, things were going well, people were being served appropriately and these allegations were new information to us," Hayden, a Minneapolis DFL state senator, told the Senate ethics committee in October. "Everything I knew at the time was that things were going well with the organization."
Is that the same Jeff Hayden quoted in the Star Tribune? Why yes. Yes it is. And the lesson we get from Hayden? Due diligence, it would appear, is also more important than black people. And some people are noticing. Back to the Star Tribune:
“It doesn’t matter who’s working in the administration — if you start talking to elected officials, they start pointing fingers,” said Louis King, president of the Minneapolis-based Summit Academy, a job training center. “If you’re black in Minnesota, you’re better off in Mississippi.”

Added King: “People can get upset at my words, but they cannot ignore facts.”
Perhaps Mississippi is A Better Minnesota.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Joy of Lakeville

It's the city vs. suburb thing again, this time in the pages of the Star Tribune:
I’m always disappointed that my urban acquaintances know very little of the suburbs surrounding their city. But I’m never more disappointed than when urbanites spout clichéd opinions about suburban living.

Not long ago a Facebook friend posted her feelings on the blandness of the suburbs, positing on the beige-ness of every house, the only difference in color being “beige, taupe, buff, butter, mushroom, ecru, linen and bone.” And she pronounced all of them ugly. I must admit, the statement really hurt. I happen to live in a beige house.

So forgive me if I sound defensive when I say that I live in the suburbs and I love my community, cream-colored houses and all.
The writer of this piece lives in Lakeville, a big outer ring suburb. I live in the suburbs as well, but am inside the 494/694 loop. And I can see it both ways.

There's no question that there's a lot of sameness in suburbia -- if you drive down France Avenue in Edina one day and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park, Kansas, the next, you'd not notice any significant differences. I lived in the Chicago area years ago and keeping track of the suburbs there was a chore. Were you in Oak Park, Forest Park, Park Forest, River Forest, Riverside, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Lake Forest? Hard to know without a GPS.

At the same time, there's nothing especially unique about Grand Avenue in St. Paul, either -- you can find similar districts in a lot of cities. Gentrification inevitably brings Restoration Hardware to the area.

I couldn't wait to get out of my hometown, Appleton, Wisconsin, when I was a kid. Nowadays the west side of Appleton might as well be Roseville. Do you enjoy where you live? I hope you do. Enjoy your town and your tribe.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I don't think so

Bernie Sanders, explaining more than he realizes:
“I am far, far from a perfect human being, but I am motivated by a vision which exists in all of the great religions — in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam, Buddhism and other religions — and which is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12,” Mr. Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, told the crowd at a convocation. “And it states: ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.’ That is the golden rule. Do to others what you would have them do to you.

“It is not very complicated,” he added.
Bernie is a socialist, so he's all about doing unto others. I was also surprised to learn that the Golden Rule is part of Muslim teaching.

Keep talking, Bernie. Tell us more.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Walker ups the ante

Seeing his campaign imploding in the face of The Donald, Scott Walker is going big:
Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker on Monday will call for sweeping restrictions on organized labor in the U.S., seeking to replicate nationwide his successful effort as Wisconsin's governor to curb the power of unions.

At a town hall meeting in Las Vegas, Walker will propose eliminating unions for employees of the federal government, making all workplaces right-to-work unless individual states vote otherwise, scrapping the federal agency that oversees unfair labor practices and making it more difficult for unions to organize.

Many of Walker's proposals are focused on unions for workers at all levels of government, while others would also affect private-sector unions. Labor law experts said such an effort, if successful, would substantially reduce the power of organized labor in America.
A few thoughts:

  • The idea of having states vote to reject right-to-work is audacious. It's probably a nonstarter as well, but it's worth getting the proposal out there.
  • Public sector unions are the real problem, because they make it possible to have union supporters on both sides of the table in any negotiations. If you try a scheme like that in the private sector, you go to prison.
  • Unions hate Walker anyway, so he might as well go after them hammer and tong.
The key for Walker, and all the other Republican candidates, is to get specific and force The Donald to start getting specific as well. Trump wins if he gets to use the force of his personality to drive the debate. As long as the debate is about personalities and borscht belt insults, Trump the Insult Comic Dog will continue to dominate. He's turned the campaign into a Friar's Club roast (vid is NSFW, of course):

Look for other candidates to start making like Walker and rolling out larger proposals. It's their only chance.

I'll bet

Headline on the Star Tribune website this morning:

No, really?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Season Debut and HYYYYYYPPPE!

Old dude, it's hard to imagine that it's 2015 and it's time to start reasserting my dominant picking skills.

Picking what?

I'm not sure I like the implications of that, Geritol Fan! We're talking football, fella. The sport that brought us Lombardi and Wayne Fontes. The game of destiny! You know, right?

Oh, that. Yeah, we should get back to that.

The way I look at it, if this is the political season of Donald Trump, it's a perfect time to unleash the HYYYYYYYPPPPE!

Wouldn't that be the YUUUUUUGGGE?

Hmm. Maybe. I'm not sure you should do the comedy, though -- it may not work well for you. In the meantime, I have some picking to do. Watch me work:

Minnesota Golden Gophers (-4) vs. Colorado State Rams.  The Gophers gave TCU a good battle, and are going to be good. The problem is that going out to Colorado State is that Goldy is a favored team in a hostile environment. Jerry Kill has quietly done a great rebuilding job, and I feel that Goldy might soon be booking tickets in a few years to Pasadena. I think they win, but considering the struggles they have OOC in my lifetime, expect a tougher game. Gophers 27, CSU 25.

The Gophers gave it a good effort against TCU last week, but you could see some of the same issues we've seen with Gophers teams in recent years, especially that the squad is offensively challenged. This is also a tough place to play a non-conference game -- Fort Collins is not a hospitable place and a lot of teams have left there with problems. Do I see the Gophers having problems? Not necessarily. Challenges? For sure. But they prevail. Gophers 24, Colorado State 21.

Miami (Ohio) Redhawks (+31) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. The good news is that Bucky always plays well at home. I don't know how much of the offensive struggles was due to coaching, replacing players, or playing an elite defense. Miami is not a Power 5 team, so things will be better. Again, it might be closer than you think. Bucky 35, Miami 24.

Bucky got their trouble out of the way early this year. I'm concerned that they couldn't move the ball at all on the ground against 'Bama -- you would think they could, but the offensive line is young. Miami is not close to Alabama quality defensively, so I think the Badgers will score, but I think that line is a little high. Closer than we'd like. Wisconsin 38, Miami 24.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-7) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. The Bears learned from their last coaching change. John Fox is one of the few coaches to take a team from each conference to a Super  Bowl, and he gets good play out of his quarterbacks. Problem that the Bears did not count on is that James Jones is back in Green and Gold. He takes pressure of Randall Cobb, and might force the Bears to play man coverage on Adams. This game is a bit of a trap game because Packer fans are living to play Seattle again. Sorry, Gino. Packers 42, Bears 32.

It's not easy being Gino sometimes. I do think the Bears are going to get better under John Fox -- he's won everywhere he's gone. Still, they are a long ways away defensively and it's going to take a while for the 3-4 concept to gel. Cobb looks to be good to go and unless the Bears muster a pass rush, this is going to be a long day for their secondary. I think the Packers win this one comfortably. Green Bay 34, Chicago 20.

Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco must have had horrible luck this offseason, because it seemed like half the team left or retired. It was like Steve McQueen busted them out of Alcatraz or something. Minnesota is a team who is going to be a huge contender in the NFC North. Teddy Bridgewater has improved a lot in training camp, and getting AP back is a huge help. Who knows, it might even be a circular journey for the Vikings, if you get the drift. Vikings 35, Book of Exodus 11.

Who knows about the Vikings, really? We haven't seen Adrian Peterson play in almost a year, so we don't really know what the Vikings offense is going to look like at all. I am very concerned about their offensive line, though -- losing John Sullivan for 8 weeks is a tough blow, especially since there's not much stability elsewhere on the line. The 49ers have been having an against-their-will fire sale in the offseason and I don't know that they have much defensively at this point, so that will be the difference. I think Zimmer will have something in mind for Kaepernick. Vikings 28, 49ers 17.

That's all I have for the moment. But don't worry -- the HYYYYYPPPPE! is building up and you'll be stunned and amazed at how classy and YUUUUUUGGGE! this feature is going to become as the year goes on. Ben out!

Amazing, all right

People write crap like this with a straight face:
Joe Biden's unique trait as a politician is -- and always has been -- his honesty. Sometimes that honesty gets him into varying degrees of trouble. Sometimes it makes it seem as though he's the closest thing to a real person you could possibly hope for in politics.
Joe Biden is a straight up plagiarist. There's no getting around it. Here he was, way back in 1988, interspersed with his source material from British Labour leader Neil Kinnock:

Is it too much to ask that we not engage in hagiography for people like Biden? Seriously?

Long time coming

Finally, an indictment in the case of Community Action:
A federal grand jury Thursday indicted the former director of the Community Action of Minneapolis and his son, a Minneapolis police officer, on charges of alleged theft and fraud for misusing $250,000 in taxpayer money.

The indictment in the ongoing public corruption case alleges that Bill Davis ordered that his son, Jordan, be paid more than $140,000 from an alleged “slush fund” that was intended for heating and energy assistance for low-income residents.
Bill Davis had a nice gig going, for sure. Some of the details:
The indictment shows that Bill Davis used the CAM credit card for personal travel for himself and three girlfriends. He took more than 19 trips at CAM’s expense, including the presidential inauguration in January 2013 and a Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in 2012. Other trips included Key West, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Cancun in Mexico, and a Caribbean cruise in February 2012.

Perfectly understandable destinations -- you can get a lot of action in those communities. But wait -- there's more:
Prosecutors also allege that Bill Davis incorrectly told CAM’s human resources staff that he married his girlfriend and that she was entitled to health and dental insurance. After falsifying their marital status on a form, the organization wrongly paid $7,826 in insurance premiums.
So, where was the oversight?
Bill Davis insisted last year that he would be vindicated after a scathing Minnesota Department of Human Services audit, which found that the nonprofit organization misspent at least $800,000 between 2011 and 2013 for everything from a car loan for Davis, travel, golf and other unauthorized expenses.

After the audit was first reported by the Star Tribune, the state raided the organization, confiscated documents and then shut it down. Bill Davis was suspended as several high-profile Democrats resigned from the board, including U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, state Sen. Jeff Hayden and several Minneapolis City Council members. Earlier this year, local FBI agents and the IRS began to investigate Community Action as a state-appointed receiver began determining how much money was misspent.
In a lot of places, the politicians who were supposed to be performing oversight would have a few questions to answer themselves. But here, in a Better Minnesota, there's apparently no need for watching the watchers.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Heckuva a deal, there

Peace in our time, baby:
Israel will not survive the next 25 years, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday, making a series of threatening remarks published online.
In a quote posted to Twitter by Khamenei’s official account, Khamenei addresses Israel, saying, “You will not see next 25 years,” and adds that the Jewish state will be hounded until it is destroyed.

The quote comes against a backdrop of a photograph showing the Iranian leader walking on an Israeli flag painted on a sidewalk.

“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists,” the quote from Iran’s top leader reads in broken English.
Here's the image:

Don't think this is Faux Pelini

A great deal. Nice job, everyone.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Light posting this week

We're gonna be busy, so you may not see much from this corner for the next few days. Hoping to have more later in the week, including the season debut of Benster and D.

Home Truth

David "Spengler" Goldman, writing for the Asia Times:
The immediate future in the Middle East does not point towards stability. The international recognition of Iran as a major regional power in the P5+1 nuclear deal will persuade the Sunni states to use whatever instruments are handy to contain Iranian power, including ISIS and assorted al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Iran’s $150 billion windfall under the nuclear deal will allow Tehran to increase its support for the Assad regime in Syria, for Hezbollah in Lebanon, for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and other Shi’ite elements that it has cultivated as cat’s paws. The Sunnis will respond in kind. Turkey, meanwhile, will redouble its efforts to crush the nascent Kurdish state emerging on its border in Iraq and Syria. Europe supported the P5+1 deal in part because it was the path of least resistance, and in part because it hoped to make money once the Iran sanctions were lifted. It will pay a big price for its sloth and cynicism.
More, much more, at the link. As an aside, this unfolding scenario is why Hugh Hewitt was asking Donald Trump about the identities of players in the Middle East. The next president will face a gigantic mess and you do need to understand who is doing what to whom.

Monday, September 07, 2015


My dad's family, circa 1948-49:

A Catholic family
My dad is back right in the two-tone jacket. The two younger children are my Aunt Mary and my Uncle Ken and they are the only people in this picture who are still alive. The others are my Aunt Patricia (seated), my Aunt Julia and my Uncle Joe. I never met my grandfather (also named Joe), who passed away four years before I was born, but you can tell that he was a formidable fellow. My grandmother (also named Julia) passed away in 1976; she was a wonderful lady. All told, my grandparents had nine children; two (John and Eleanor) died in infancy and another, my Aunt Margaret, died of peritonitis in the 1940s.

My grandparents weren't wealthy -- my grandfather was a millwright who worked at the Institute of Paper Chemistry, a specialized school that is now housed at Georgia Tech, but had been located in my hometown until the late 1980s. My grandparents valued education and all of my aunts and uncles attended college, which was unusual for this generation.

I don't have a tidy summation here. I just think it's cool.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Trump fails the pop quiz

Traffic was horrible yesterday and it took nearly an hour and a half to get home from from my office, doubling the usual commute time. As it happened, I had tuned in to Hugh Hewitt's radio show and so I got to hear Donald Trump's interview with Hewitt as it was broadcast. Let's just say it didn't go so well for The Donald:
“I’m looking for the next commander-in-chief, to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?” Hewitt asked the 2016 Republican candidate, referring to the respective leaders of Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.

“No," Trump said.

"You know, I’ll tell you honestly, I think by the time we get to office, they’ll all be changed. They’ll be all gone,” he said. “I knew you were going to ask me things like this, and there’s no reason, because, No. 1, I’ll find, I will hopefully find Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the pack.”

Trump said asking him who the key players are was a type of “gotcha question.”

“I will be so good at the military, your head will spin. But obviously, I’m not meeting these people. I’m not seeing these people,” Trump said.
You might remember a related performance back in 1999:
Andy Hiller, political correspondent with WHDH-TV in Boston asked Bush to name the leaders of four current world hot spots: Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan.

Bush was able to give a partial response to just one: Taiwan.

''Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?'' asked Hiller. He was inquiring about Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, who seized control of the country on Oct. 12.

''Wait, wait, is this 50 questions?'' asked Bush.
As it happened, Bush became quite well aware of Pervez Musharraf after he became president; they met several times -- Musharraf is on the right in this picture:

It is true that presidents have plenty of aides who help them understand who the players are. What Trump needs to understand is that you do need to have an understanding of the issues as well. Hewitt is a conventional Republican and has a fairly well known modus operandi -- he tends to ask lefties if they know who Alger Hiss was, among other things, to establish a baseline of knowledge.

In his time, Ronald Reagan was often considered a lightweight. Old Washington hand Clark Clifford used the term "amiable dunce." Reagan wasn't a dunce, of course. He'd spent years preparing for public office and had served two terms as governor of California before he first pursued the presidency in 1976. He had a deep understanding of conservative principles and he had a consistent worldview on foreign and domestic policy matters. It's possible that Trump has a similar worldview, but he hasn't demonstrated that yet. When the time for actual voting arrives, he will need to show that. The interview with Hewitt demonstrates that Trump has work to do.

Not difficult

In re the county clerk in Kentucky who is now in jail because she refuses to process marriage licenses for gays, it's pretty simple: your conscience should be your guide. Of course. But if your conscience conflicts with your duties, the honorable course is to resign your office.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Your "huh?" moment of the day

Mitch Berg has a good piece up at his place about 80s music. Here's one that will likely leave you wondering what the heck was wrong with these people:

Yeah, the WTF quotient is off the charts on that one. Apologies in advance.

Minor detail

So you've probably heard about Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gays. But it's the law of the land, right? So she's gotta do it, right?

Well, yeah. There is a reason why she thought she could get by with it, though:

Look for the label
She's a Democrat. Democrats get by with selective enforcement of statutes all the time.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The process at St. Rose - continued

Picking up on yesterday's post concerning the allegations against our pastor, some more considerations:

  • St. Rose of Lima is not a wealthy parish, but it is not without resources. Having said that, the parish school has struggled in getting enough students. Like many Catholic parishes, you see a lot of gray hair in the pews at St. Rose. The parish school is about to celebrate its 75th anniversary, but there are concerns about the long-term viability of the school. Even if the allegations against Fr. Fitzpatrick are false, there will be repercussions in terms of attracting children to the school. This will be a definite challenge for the staff.
  • Some commenters on the previous post were wondering about the identity of the accuser. We don't really know much about that. The archdiocese has to be quite circumspect about discussing any of these cases in a public forum. As the process goes forward, we'll likely learn more about the accuser.
  • We don't know if the timing of the accusation is tied to the deadline for filing claims against the archdiocese in the bankruptcy proceedings. The deadline for new claims has now passed and the local lawyers, especially Jeff Anderson, were trolling like crazy for a month prior to the deadline. If you listened to the radio in your car on your commute in July, you likely heard Jeff Anderson talking about the deadline. It is possible that this accusation comes from that, but we don't know, because at this point the accuser has not come forward publicly. If that happens, we'll hear plenty about the case in the local media, which always takes Anderson's calls.
  • What makes this case an additional challenge is that Fr. Fitzpatrick is the pastor at two parishes, St. Rose and Corpus Christi, a smaller congregation about a mile west of St. Rose. The two parishes work together a fair amount but they are separate and Corpus Christi will have a similar meeting with the archdiocese in a few weeks. 
  • It's tough to know how this will play out. The archdiocese has to operate differently now and, given the problems of the past, that's a good thing. The Catholic Church has lost many, many people because of this ongoing scandal. While some have found shelter in Protestant congregations, too many Catholics of my generation no longer practice the faith. The Church has weathered plenty of other scandals over the past 2,000 years, and I suspect it will weather this one. In the meantime, the damage is immense.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The process at St. Rose

We went to a meeting at our parish, St. Rose of Lima, last night. The topic is the allegation lodged against our pastor, Fr. Robert Fitzpatrick, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor that allegedly took place in the 1980s.

The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Andrew Cozzens, was there, along with Tim O'Malley, who is the Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment. O'Malley is a former FBI man and judge. They covered, in general, the charges against Fr. Fitzpatrick and answered, to the extent they could, a variety of questions from the parishioners.

The challenge that Archdiocesan officials face is twofold -- how to ensure that the process is fair, and how to deal with the reality that the Archdiocese is going through bankruptcy. A few particulars:

  • Since Fr. Fitzpatrick is pastor at two churches, St. Rose and nearby Corpus Christi, it was important to get another priest into position, serving as a canonical administrator. The new priest's name is Fr. Jim Devorak, who comes to the position after serving as a priest in the New Ulm Diocese, mostly in parishes in the southwestern part of Minnesota. 
  • The investigation of Fr. Fitzpatrick has two tracks -- first, the criminal investigation, which falls to Ramsey County, and then the internal investigation that the archdiocese will conduct. The process could take a long time. If the county investigators believe a crime has been committed, then the question comes down to whether the statute of limitations has run. It is possible that the law enforcement officials will determine that the allegation is without merit as well. Given the high profile that abuse cases have, it's likely the criminal investigation will take place sooner than later. Since the allegations go back potentially 30 years or more, it's difficult to say how much time it will take.
  • The archdiocesan process will follow the criminal investigation and involves a 12-person review board that includes two diocesan priests and 10 lay people.
  • Some of the questions that the parishioners have can't be answered, at least not directly. The identity of the accuser and the potential of a civil lawsuit are things that the archdiocese can't discuss. And because the archdiocese is bankrupt, they have severe limitations in what they can do because all expenses end up getting scrutiny from the judges and trustees administering the bankruptcy, to say nothing of Jeff Anderson and the other attorneys who have been chasing the archdiocese for years.
  • As I mentioned in my earlier post, we are relatively new to St. Rose, but it is evident that Fr. Fitzpatrick is much beloved. The sense you get from the parishioners is incredulity that their beloved pastor could have done such a thing. Based on my limited dealings with Fr. Fitzpatrick, it does seem implausible, but I would imagine similar accusations against other priests must have seemed implausible as well. We don't know what happened, or didn't happen, all those years ago.
  • What's difficult about the process is that, for the moment, Fr. Fitzpatrick has to stand alone and apart from the archdiocese. Given the history, it has to be this way. There can be no possibility that the archdiocese is seen as harboring a potential fugitive priest. In some respects, Fr. Fitzpatrick is paying for the sins of others. It may not be fair, but that's how it is.
  • Parishioners asked if they could take up a legal defense fund for Fr. Fitzpatrick. The bishop indicated that this could be done, but was hesitant to say more. He also discouraged the notion that the parish could take up a second collection at Mass for such a fund.
There's more to the story, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.