Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Local Scene -- Taxes

My kids have both attended school in the Mounds View School District. As the Star Tribune reports, the district is looking for money, and a lot of it, for building projects:
At Irondale High in the Mounds View district, the “four corners” area becomes a traffic jam during passing times, officials say. The district’s $164.8 million ask is one of the biggest in the metro area. But officials say most buildings are already beyond capacity, with another 1,600 students expected within seven years.
As a marching band parent, I've spent a lot of time at Irondale over the years. It's an old building and it's not unreasonable to ask for the money. While our taxes would go up, I'm willing to spend the money. But there's only so much money to go around, especially for people on fixed incomes. And if the school district needs the money, should the county and municipal governments make do with less? That's a question worth asking:
Inner-ring districts face a challenge, though: a core of older voters on fixed incomes for whom “yes” votes can mean a big tax hike. In Roseville, the proposal would add more than $400 a year for median-valued homes. In New Brighton, a City Council member held her tax form up to visiting leaders from the Mounds View district and said of the $400-plus bump she faces: “That’s kind of a kick, right?”
The City Council member in question is Gina Bauman, who is running for reelection this year against considerable opposition. She has long been the meddlesome priest who often stands alone against the merry spenders who make up the rest of the council, along with the mercurial mayor we featured yesterday. They would like to raise taxes, too. Some of the people on my street are original owners and have been in their houses for 50+ years. It's going to be a challenge for them to pay more in taxes. Bauman is correct; an extra $400 a year is kind of a kick. That's why it's important to choose your priorities. Can the municipal government make do with less money? They'd rather not find out.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Local Scene -- The Mayor of New Brighton Unplugged

Sometimes a thing speaks for itself. Behold the mayor of New Brighton, Val Johnson, in full flower of discourse:

For the sake of argument, let's say white privilege exists, although we might have quite different definitions of what it actually is. I do know it's okay to argue the premise. I'm not sure how unhinged behavior from white liberal politicians solves, or even mollifies, the problem of white privilege. We need to call a thing what it is, and Johnson's behavior here is unworthy of elected office.

Val Johnson was elected mayor two years ago by a margin of 58 votes. She really ought to return to private life. New Brighton voters have an alternative, Sharon Doffing, who previously served on the city council. I'd strongly suggest a change is in order.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- London Calling Edition

Old dude, the Vikings are over in London, hoping to enjoy their trip by beating the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns? They're still in the league? I assumed they were playing Chelsea.

Tickets would be too expensive, Geritol Fan.

I suppose you're right.

This game is starting way too early for Vikings fans. Why can't they just play it at noon so it can be in prime time for the folks in London, and we can get football on at a normal time?

Well, do you really want to watch them?

Good point.

I have them sometimes.

Don't flatter yourself. Anyway, back over here, we have more football games to discuss, and a rant from me about why the so called experts are giving one undefeated team a bad message of disrespect. So feel the HYYYYYPPPEEE! and watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Elite Boat Rowers (+7) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes. It is the battle for Floyd of Rosedale, and the Gophers are hoping to win a trophy game to prove that they can row the boat with the best of the elite. Mr. Fleck has struggled in Year 1, as he has not had a huge victory yet, and Iowa is a team that would be a pretty decent win. However, the Hawkeyes are tough to play in Iowa City, and are always going to be game opponents. I like Iowa in this matchup, as the Big Ten West teams continue to knock themselves off while the lead dogs stay the course. Hawkeyes 21, Gophers 14.

Far as I can tell, the Gophers still don't have a quarterback. That's a bad scenario in Kinnick Stadium. I think Iowa rolls in this one. Iowa 34, Gophers 13.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-27.5) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini. All right, time for a Very Special Comment. The Badgers are undefeated and are in great shape and should be viewed as a top 4 contender. The media would have you think differently, because they are biased and do not like Wisconsin. Why? Because Wisconsin is not a blue blood program, nor have they received the respect they have earned. Alabama, Penn State, and Georgia are undefeated and have gotten a lot of love, but outside of Georgia winning at South Bend, what have those teams done this year? The SEC is down, and Alabama's best win out of conference is a bad Florida State team. Penn State has not played a difficult game all year, and they likely can lose at Columbus this weekend. Some more food for thought, why is a one loss Clemson team even being talked about as a contender this year, when they lost to freaking Syracuse on the road? The Badgers get panned for playing a soft schedule, but they won double digit games against a very difficult schedule a year ago, and Barry Alvarez has scheduled quality opponents in recent years like LSU, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Washington State, and UCLA. Isn't this what the powers that be in the sport want? Why is Jonathan Taylor, who is having an amazing freshman season, not getting more love for the Heisman? It is a complete joke that the Badgers get panned for scheduling a cross country trip to a very respected football program in BYU and get crapped on because this is the year BYU decides to suck? Meanwhile, Clemson loses to a bad team in conference, Alabama gets credit for beating bad Florida State team, and those programs get a free pass for it? What a freaking joke that Wisconsin, a team who has won multiple conference titles this decade and has proven that they are a consistent threat every year getting panned? Why? The reason is because Wisconsin does not seek credit for doing it, and because their program is based on doing their job and not playing a flashy game. The college football media is really doing a disservice to the fans, and what makes it worse is that the Big Ten is not promoting the success the Badgers are having in getting good players into the program, kids who are good human beings and very good college students.

Now that I got that rant out of my system, Illinois is a team that the Badgers always get a tough game from, and I expect that the Badgers will not blow them out. I like the Badgers, and I hope that the powers that be really take a long look in the mirror and give Paul Chryst, Alex Hornibrook, Jonathan Taylor, T.J. Edwards, Jim Leonhard, and Barry Alvarez the credit they deserve and move them up into the 4th slot in the next rankings. Wisconsin vs. Everyone 45, Illinois 27.

I take your point, Benster, but the Badgers need to be more flashy to get the attention of the silly people in the national media. You know what gets the attention of the media? A beatdown, that's what. Wisconsin 77, Illinois 0.

Penn State Nittany Lions (+6) vs. A School in Columbus. This game matches the other two Big Ten contenders, and for Ohio State, this game is the big one. Ohio State has not been challenged since Oklahoma had the stones to not only win, but plant their flag in the middle of Ohio Stadium. Penn State has not really had a win against a good team, but since they are a brand name program and have a coach that is respected and plays the game with the media, they still get a pass. This game is going to be physical, and I expect Penn State to get enough plays in order to eliminate Ohio State from the playoff, and to set them up for a run at the Big Ten Championship Game and a national title. Penn State 17, O-H-N-O 9.

I have no idea how to pick this one. Penn State looked very good against Michigan, but it's possible Michigan is a mirage this season. Ohio State is playing lights out football right now and the game is in Columbus. So we disagree. Ohio State 38, Penn State 27.

Cornell College Rams (NL) vs. Knox College Prarie Fire. The Fire are having their Homecoming celebrations this weekend, meaning that all the alums are back and looking for a win. Cornell is not the greatest outfit, and Knox has been very good at home this year. I like Knox to win again, and continue the fun I have had at games this year. Fire 31, Rams 17.

Knox is having a pretty good year, actually. I think they win a close one. Knox 24, Cornell 21.

Minnesota Vikings (-9.5) vs. Cleveland Browns, in London. The NFL continues to try and export the league over to folks in the United Kingdom, but why are they sending the Browns? That is like having the Premier League send Brighton and Hove Albion over to play a match against Newcastle in the Rose Bowl. That is not a shot, but it does not seem like good marketing. The Vikings are going to be fine, considering that they are a game up in the North, and Aaron Rodgers is doing rehab and will not be playing until December. I like the Purple's chances in this one, but don't let Anthony Barr tell whomever the Browns quarterback is that he is number one. Vikings 34, Clowns 0.

I think Brighton and Hove Albion would be a tougher matchup. Vikings cruise, but trouble awaits later on. Vikings 28, Browns 7.

Enjoy your weekend of football and if the media and the playoff committee have issues with my brutal message of truth and wisdom, you are welcome to debate me. Ben out!


I was born days after JFK was assassinated, so I have no memories of the event. I have been to the Sixth Floor Museum. While you can't get directly into the same window where Oswald was standing, you can get to the adjoining window. It's easy to see how he might have shot Kennedy from there. Oswald knew how to use a weapon. Ever since I visited the Sixth Floor, it's been clear to me that any conspiracy theories about other shooters don't really make any sense.

It's been nearly 54 years now since Oswald fired the shots that killed JFK. We've had ten presidents since then. There are still a few people around who might prefer that some of the more embarrassing details concerning the event and its aftermath remain hidden, but no one who had any real power then is still around. President Trump wants to release the remaining records, but he's still fighting through bureaucratic obstacles. I hope it ends soon. We can handle whatever uncomfortable information might come out.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

But they don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason

Remember those lazy, hazy, crazy, days of summer? Those days of soda, and pretzels, and . . . treason?
 "This is moving into perjury, false statements and even into potentially treason," Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., says of investigations into Team Trump’s adventures among the Russians. “We understand why some are raising issues of treason,” ethics lawyers Norman Eisen and Richard Painter write in The New York Times.
So we were told. Donald Trump Jr. took a meeting with Russian operatives. It was treason. Tim Kaine was going to be Hillary Clinton's vice president, you might recall. It was quite the contretemps for a while.

Winter is approaching. And now what?
What’s the difference between the infamous Russian dossier on Donald Trump and that random fake-news story you saw on Facebook last year? The latter was never used by America’s intelligence community to bolster its case for spying on American citizens nor was it the foundation for a year’s worth of media coverage.

Then again, you get what you pay for. We now know Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid as much as $9 million for the discredited dossier on Trump.

According to The Washington Post, a lawyer named Marc Elias, who represented both the 2016 Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, had hired Fusion GPS, a DC firm working on behalf of the Russian government to soften sanctions at the time, to provide opposition research for them. The firm then hired a former British spy named Christopher Steele who reportedly purchased salacious rumors about Trump from the Russians.
Taking a meeting with Russia is treason. Spending $9 million for Russian oppo is not. Has anyone asked Tim Kaine for a clarification? This must be another cause where our lack of nuance is keeping us from a greater truth.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Swamp things

So you're wondering why the headlines today are about Jeff Flake's denunciation of Le Grand Orange? It keeps the real stories off the front page:
The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.
It wasn't Trump colluding with the Russians. But there's more:
Here’s another story as plausible as we can make it based on credible reporting. After the Cold War, in its own interest, the U.S. wanted to build bridges to the Russian nuclear establishment. The Putin government, for national or commercial purposes, agreed and sought to expand its nuclear business in the U.S.

The purchase and consolidation of certain assets were facilitated by Canadian entrepreneurs who gave large sums to the Clinton Foundation, and perhaps arranged a Bill Clinton speech in Moscow for $500,000. A key transaction had to be approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

Now we learn that, before and during these transactions, the FBI had uncovered a bribery and kickback scheme involving Russia’s U.S. nuclear business, and also received reports of Russian officials seeking to curry favor through donations to the Clinton Foundation.

This criminal activity was apparently not disclosed to agencies vetting the 2010 transfer of U.S. commercial nuclear assets to Russia. The FBI made no move to break up the scheme until long after the transaction closed. Only five years later, the Justice Department, in 2015, disclosed a plea deal with the Russian perpetrator so quietly that its significance was missed until The Hill reported on the FBI investigation last week.
And who was involved in all that? Robert Mueller, who conveniently is the guy heading up the witch hunt against Trump:
The agency, when Mr. Mueller headed it, soft-pedaled an investigation highly embarrassing to Mrs. Clinton as well as the Obama Russia reset policy. More recently, if just one of two things is true—Russia sponsored the Trump Dossier, or Russian fake intelligence prompted Mr. Comey’s email intervention—then Russian operations, via their impact on the FBI, influenced and continue to influence our politics in a way far more consequential than any Facebook ad, the preoccupation of John McCain, who apparently cannot behold a mountain if there’s a molehill anywhere nearby.
And that's not all:
Which means that Mr. Mueller has the means, motive and opportunity to obfuscate and distract from matters embarrassing to the FBI, while pleasing a large part of the political spectrum. He need only confine his focus to the flimsy, disingenuous but popular (with the media) accusation that the shambolic Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Mr. Mueller’s tenure may not have bridged the two investigations, but James Comey’s, Rod Rosenstein’s , Andrew Weissmann’s , and Andrew McCabe’s did. Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel. Mr. Weissmann now serves on Mr. Mueller’s team. Mr. McCabe remains deputy FBI director. All were involved in the nuclear racketeering matter and the Russia meddling matter.
So if we're reading this correctly, the criminals are the ones doing the investigating. All summer long, we've heard that Trump couldn't fire Mueller, because it would provoke a constitutional crisis. You know what is a crisis? Having a permanent government that can't be removed and can spend millions of dollars to throw the country off the trail of its own corruption. Comey may be gone, but why the hell are McCabe and Rosenstein in charge of anything other than preparing for their own depositions?

And one other thing -- if you've followed the story, you might remember that an unnamed Republican campaign started the ball rolling on this. Can you guess which campaign it was? Maybe this will help you figure it out:
Former President George W. Bush rejected the trade and immigration stances that President Donald Trump has made a centerpiece of his administration, and argued that the U.S. should continue defending free markets and democracy globally.

In a speech at a George W. Bush Institute event Thursday in New York, the 43rd president, who has largely avoided the political fray since leaving office, also denounced bigotry and bullying, saying civil discourse was needed. Mr. Bush didn’t mention his fellow Republican by name.
Civil discourse in this context means letting the status quo slide. Nope.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

St. Louis News

We were in St. Louis for a marching band competition over the weekend. One thing I always try to do when I'm in a different place is to catch a local newscast. I ended up watching KDSK, the NBC affiliate, and they obviously use the same production company as KARE does here. The intro music is essentially the same, up to having the same music that starts the sports portion of the broadcast.

I sensed a weariness in the broadcast, especially in the station's coverage of the ongoing protests over the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a police officer who killed a black man in 2011 following a high-speed chase. For reasons that seem bizarre to me, Stockley had been charged with first-degree murder, which doesn't make any sense given the context of the event. Over the weekend, the protesters apparently decided to go to the St. Louis Galleria Mall, but the coverage, which you can see here, is perfunctory and it seems like everyone is kinda bored.

I've been feeling the same way for a while now. The news continues to follow a predictable pattern. There's no interest in listening to each other, because political positions are completely polarized. We won't listen to each other, because we've heard it all before.

It won't end well.

Monday, October 23, 2017

An eventual return to blogging

Was out of town over the past few days for marching band, so blogging has been a low priority. Have to catch up on actual life requirements today, so we'll call this an open thread. We'll try to return to a normal blogging schedule tomorrow. It doesn't seem like the news has become any less irritating over the past 4-5 days, anyway.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Hundley Time Edition

Well, Brett Hundley holds the Packers season in his hands, and a lot of folks in Wisconsin and around the country are wondering if he can pilot the plane into the promised land. Meanwhile, the Old Dude is in St. Louis looking for the promised land of sport of the arts achievement.

Yes. And the mighty Irondale Knights put on a fabulous performance.

They should be fine. After all, who doesn't want to play in a former NFL venue that the city has to pay off with no big tenant?

Actually, Bands of America might be their biggest tenant at the moment.

We will discuss Brett Hundley and his chances later, but we have other games to talk about first. Feel the HYYYYYYPPPPEEE! and watch me work!

Illinois Fighting Illini (+13.5) vs. Minnesota Elite Rowers of the Boat. If P.J. Fleck was getting a grade from the Gopher faithful in Elite Boat Rowing Experience Year 1, I would give him a D. I know that he will have to recruit his guys, but the football has not looked good, and he has yet to have a win that really says that he is building something. A college buddy of mine said that Fleck should run the option, but my buddy is a Hawkeye fan, so take that as you will. Illinois is a dumpster fire, and even though I highly respect Lovie Smith for the success he had at the NFL level, he really has not made Illinois football as relevant as it should be. The Gophers should win this game comfortably, but I would not read too much into this game in terms of where Fleck is leading the program. Elite Rowers of the Boat 35, Fire Lovie Smith 9.

That's about right. There's no reason to believe the Illini will win another game this season, but Fleck needs to show a little more. Getting rid of the quarterback controversies would help. Won't matter tomorrow, though. Gophers 24, Illini 10.

Maryland Terps (+24.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. This game makes me a bit nervous. First of all, Alex Hornibrook really struggled last week, and the defense had to bail him out against a very game and improving Boilermaker squad. Second, Maryland has played most of their games tough and already have two good road wins, and this is the type of game that Wisconsin can struggle with. I do think that the Badgers should play better and should win, but it won't be by 24.5 points, so bet on the Terps to cover, but Bucky to win. Badgers 28, Terps 17.

At this point, Maryland is on their fourth-string quarterback. They may not score more than a touchdown. Bucky will, though. Badgers 33, Terps 10.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Illinois College Blueboys. Knox has a winning record, and easily cruised last week in the monsoon at the Knosher Bowl. Illinois College is a good team most years, and this is the type of game that is going to be hard for Knox to win. However, I do know that this year Knox is good at football, and should pull out a squeaker under the lights. Knox 19, IC 15.

Knox will play them tough, but don't count on a win. IC 34, Knox 24

Baltimore Ravens (+5.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. Well, if you are a Vikings fan last week went very well. The Vikes now own the tiebreaker over the Packers, and because Aaron Rodgers is out for a while, the Vikings are now the lead dog in the NFC North. However, the Vikings a year ago were thought to be the lead dog in October, and melted down in amazing fashion. This Vikings team is a good outfit, but they have to do their part and keep ahead of the Packers, because as the Bears found out in 2013, when you aim for the king, don't wound him and do not let him come back for revenge. The Vikings should win this game, though the Ravens should give them a good game. Vikings 24, Ravens 20.

This has trap game written all over it. Vikings should win easily. They won't. Ravens 24, Vikings 17.

New Orleans Saints (-4.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. For the Packers, last week went about the worst it could have. Aaron had his surgery, and will be out for a while. This is not a new scenario for the veteran core of this team though, since unlike 4 years ago Brett Hundley knows the offense and showed flashes last game that he can make things happen. What the bigger issue facing the Packers is that they are very thin on the offensive line, and Hundley might have to run for his life on every play. This is the type of game that all Vikings, Bears, and Lions fans better hope that Hundley does not pull off, because if the Packers dig in and get a win, then some confidence will be restored. I think the Saints are going to score points, because that is what they do. I think that Brett Hundley will play well, and will make enough plays and get enough help on the ground and from his teammates in order to get a win that will feel like 5 wins. Packers 31, Saints 26.

I actually like Hundley. I think he'll respond well. It will be a shootout. Packers 35, Saints 34.

Enjoy the football this week, and hopefully your team wins, unless you are playing my team. Ben out!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This seems like news

Funny you're not seeing it anywhere beyond The Hill:
Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
I thought Trump was the one colluding with the Russians. Huh. And there's more:
The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.

Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI. The probe is not focused on McAuliffe's conduct but rather on whether McCabe's attendance violated the Hatch Act or other FBI conflict rules.

The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year.
Seems convenient, doesn't it? Have the people who should be under investigation investigating something else. If Trump wants to stir the pot, he ought to retweet this story. Other than conservative comment sites, the only newspaper that seems to have the story is the New York Post. I strongly encourage you hit the link and read the piece from The Hill.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Local Scene -- Game Theory

We have a municipal election in New Brighton and voting is already underway. The general contours of the election are pretty clear.

Mayor: The incumbent is Val Johnson, who snuck in last time in a three-way battle. From what I can tell, her mayoral priorities are (a) giving Dean Lotter, the city manager, whatever he wants; and (b) virtue signaling. It's not a promising combination. Her challenger is Sharon Doffing, a former city council member who would be far more likely to challenge the comfy status quo at City Hall.

City Council: Two seats are up for a vote. One incumbent, lefty Brian Strub, decided not to run. The other, Gina Bauman, has a target on her back. Gina has fought the powers that be for over a decade. She views her role as a watchdog for the taxpayer and because she's never been afraid of being in the minority on a vote, she's not particularly popular with Johnson and the rest of the council, who like spending money and taking bows for their generosity with other people's money.

Challengers: Two candidates are essentially running together for the council seats -- Emily Dunsworth, a cookie-cutter liberal lawyer closely connected to the DFL; and Graeme Allen, who is a less affable version of Strub. Running as a more conservative candidate is Susan Erickson, who would work well with Bauman. Former mayor Dave Jacobsen is also running for a council seat, but from what I can tell he's mostly phoning it in. There is also a libertarian candidate named Peter Berthelsen in the race, but he's not really making much headway.

So the choices are fairly simple. If you like the status quo, which means higher taxes with a bien pensant veneer, you ought to choose Johnson, Dunsworth, and Allen. If you'd actually like to change the direction New Brighton is going and bring some fiscal responsibility to City Hall, Doffing, Bauman, and Erickson are the way to go.

There's more to say about this race -- a lot more, actually, and we'll return to the topic in the coming days.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The day after

Aaron Rodgers goes down. A few thoughts:

  • You can't really replace Rodgers. Another guy can play the position, but you can't replace a guy with the skill set Rodgers brings to the team. It's yet another reminder of how blessed the Packers have been for the past quarter century. 
  • Brett Hundley will be better next week at home than he was in Minneapolis yesterday. He was a very good college quarterback and he has two years in the system. He can make plays. I don't know if he'll make enough to keep the Packers alive this season, but he'll give it a go. And it won't all be bad. He's playing for his future, which could be lucrative if he makes good.
  • Should the Packers bring in Colin Kaepernick? I would not be surprised if the Packers do sign Kaepernick. I believe them when they say they want to ride with Hundley, but they'll need a competent backup. With the bye week coming soon, they would have time to teach him what he needs to know if something happens to Hundley. And the NFL would dearly love to have that grievance Kaepernick just filed against the league to go away. There are certain teams in the league that could "take one for the shield" (e.g., Packers, Giants, Steelers, Bears, old school teams) and I wouldn't be surprised if Roger Goodell and his friends haven't been on the phone with Mark Murphy about it. 
  • The downside of Kaepernick isn't his silly politics, per se -- it's the question of whether or not he's sufficiently committed to doing what it takes to succeed. The 49ers let him go because he wasn't particularly effective after the first two seasons; the stories I've read indicate he wasn't willing to do the work outside of the team building that the top quarterbacks do, primarily because he had become too involved in the political causes du jour. If you're going to be a top quarterback, you have to be dedicated to your craft. The potential advantage for Kaepernick to come to Green Bay is simple; people there don't care about the politics nearly as much as they do about football. If you want to concentrate on your craft, Green Bay is a great place to do it, because there aren't as many distractions available as you would find in San Francisco, or even here in the Twin Cities.
  • Is there an upside for the Packers signing Kaepernick? Maybe. I do not believe the Packers seriously want to see Joe Callahan playing in a regular season game, which is the current scenario if Hundley is injured. Although Callahan has experience in their system, the jump from being a Div-3 quarterback to the NFL is awfully steep.
  • One last thing -- tell me, do you think the following meme is amusing? It was posted on something called "Minnesota Vikings Memes," which I assume has nothing to do with the Vikings organization itself: 
  • Image may contain: one or more people and text
Apparently some Vikings fans do. I think it's crappy as hell.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Benster and D Pick Your Games-------Border Battle Editon

Old dude, the Packers have crossed the St. Croix and are looking to beat up on those Vikings.

You could hear them coming all the way from Hudson.

I know that Carl Gerbschmidt is getting excited to call into Bumper to Bumper on Sunday.

You realize Gerbschmidt is a bit, right? Not a real person, right?

Yes, but whoever is doing the voice does a decent job of capturing the tone of the rivalry.

You might want to ask a Vikings fan about that.

Vikings fans? Why ask? Just watch. They are really feeling the HYYYYYYPPPPEE!, and this rivalry matters in Minnesota in a way that is hard to explain to outsiders.

That's true. Minnesota fans would like to treat the Wisconsin sports teams like Little Brother, but it's not so easy.

Especially when they lose. But we'll get to that later. It is time to get down to bidness. Watch me work!

Michigan State Spartans (-4) vs. Minnesota Elite Boat Rowers. The P.J. Fleck Elite Boat Rowing Experience has gone down a couple of rapids lately, with the Gophers 0-2 in conference play. I would probably put the West title out of reach for the Gophers, but this a winnable game for them. Sparty had a huge win over Jim "Lost the Super Bowl to my Brother" Harbaugh and the always overrated Wolverines in Ann Arbor last weekend. The danger I see for the Spartans is that they have to play a game that is not as big to their team, and I think Fleck gets a good win, if not a signature win. Row Row Row Your Boat 34,  Spartans Hate Walls 29.

I don't know what to make of Sparty. I think winning in Michigan Stadium is a pretty good trick, but I could see it going sideways on them tomorrow. Gophers 24, Spartans 20.

Purdue Boilermakers (+17) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers continue to quietly keep playing well, as evidenced by a very good win on the road in Memorial Stadium last weekend. I am surprised that nobody is giving freshman sensation Jonathan Taylor any credit for being the best running back in the conference and he should be a contender for a trip to New York in December. Purdue is a team that has improved and has played teams pretty tough, but I think the Badgers will continue to play well enough to get a routine home win. Badgers 42, Spoilermakers 13.

Purdue is getting better. Not good enough to beat the Badgers in Madison, though. Badgers 34, Purdue 17.

Grinnell College Pioneers (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire.  There is a good chance that I will be at this game, since the Knosher Bowl is one of the most iconic and legendary venues in all of college football. Only Camp Randall and the Rose Bowl are more iconic than the Knosher Bowl in terms of great places to watch a game. Knox should get a nice home win, and the guys on the Knox team are great guys who are Champions of Life. Knox 89, Grinnell 0.

I might add that Grinnell is terrible. Knox cruises at home. Knox 35, Grinnell 3.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Packers come into the Twin Cities on a major high after winning an epic game in Dallas against the Cowboys. The Vikings will roll with Case Keenum yet again at quarterback, but are coming in on a short week after playing on Monday night. The Vikings will play the Packers tough, and are going to be fully ready to go. I think the Packers can win, but it will not be a huge blowout. Packers 31, Vikings 20.

The Vikings will hit the Packers in the mouth and might even lead for a time. But they won't be able to hang with the Packers down the stretch. Packers 27, Vikings 21.

Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz (+6.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens. For the Bears, this season is still a mess. I know that Trubisky looked pretty good against the Vikings, and that the Chicago fans and media are looking for the quarterback to finally lead them back to the top of the mountain, but this Bears team is not good enough yet. I feel bad for poor Gino, going to a Bear bar every Sunday and having to watch his team get beat, but it warms my Packer fan heart. The Ravens should get this win at home, no problems at all. Ravens 10, da Bearz 0.

Gino will be okay with it. He's used to it by now. If the game were in Chicago, I'd pick the Bears. Not in Baltimore. Ravens 24, Bears 14.

That is all from us, and enjoy your football this weekend, and please help and pray for those dealing with natural disasters in this country. Ben out!

Bottom line

I should say a few brief words about this particular topic:
The Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday that girls will soon be allowed to become Cub Scouts and to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest honor.

"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children," said Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts.

The scouting board of directors voted unanimously to make the historic change in an organization that has been primarily for boys since its founding more than 100 years ago.
Why would girls want to join the Boy Scouts instead of the Girl Scouts? A guess:
The Girl Scouts have long focused on social justice, diversity and inclusion in their activities. 
Show of hands -- would you rather focus and social justice, or go camping?

As readers of this feature know, Benster is an Eagle Scout and Fearless Maria is a Gold Award winner. While there's no question both of our kids gained great benefits from the respective Scouting experiences, it's easy to see why the Boy Scouts are a better organization. Fearless Maria's troop essentially ended the moment she earned her Gold Award, because the other girls in the troop had fallen away from Scouting. Benster's troop existed long before Ben became involved and continues onward today. That's the bottom line.

And as Ann Althouse rightly observes:
If I were a young girl, I'd pick the organization that had activities that were fun and useful for me to learn, and "social justice, diversity and inclusion" doesn't even sound like an activity.
And as one of her commenters rightly observes:
More people would want to do Girl Scouts if it were better.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Free Speech, More Speech

Bad idea, Mr. Trump:

We get to decide what's fair, pal. Not you.
I get why Trump is frustrated. I don't doubt much of what is reported isn't accurate. Much of it is outright crap. But when someone, anyone, with the ability to wield the vast powers of the regulatory state threatens to shut off the liars, that's no good.

Free speech is not provisional. And never claim power that you would not be willing to have used against you.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Full Polanski

I don't think he's coming back:
Harvey Weinstein is boarding a private jet Tuesday night, bound for a rehab center in Europe for sex addiction ... sources connected with the former mogul tell TMZ.

We're told Harvey has decided to take the advice of the people around him and leave immediately. We're told he will enter a live-in facility and will deal both with sex and other behavioral issues.
Extradition may not be one of the behavioral issues in question, but it wouldn't surprise me. If half of the reporting about ol' Harvey is accurate, he really ought to be in jail. But I suspect he'll be hanging with Roman Polanski instead.

Of course, other people see the bigger picture:

Bet he doesn't even have UCare

Hollywood-style debauchery is a very old story. The sensational trials of Fatty Arbuckle are almost a century in the rearview mirror now. I recently read a book about the still-unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, essentially from the same era, which goes into detail about the murder, the various stars and hangers-on around the case, and the studio executives who saw the dangers the moral scolds provided to their nascent industry. What happened in 1922 isn't terribly different than what's been going on in the Weinstein cases.

I don't care about that world; I'm not part of it and never wanted to be. Nor do I have any brief for moral scolds. Watching Weinstein get his comeuppance is pure schadenfreude. And for me, it's less about Weinstein than it is about his dwindling supply of defenders, who were all too ready to give Weinstein a pass on his behavior as long as he made successful movies and kept the political donations coming. All that is over now. Now all that's left for Weinstein is the inevitable:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Chez Che

Che Guevara has now been gone for 50 years. The world may not be a demonstrably better place because he's been gone -- we never run out of monsters entirely. But he was a monster. And all the hagiography and t-shirts in the world don't change the story.

Monday, October 09, 2017


It makes no difference if you're black or white
If you're a boy or a girl
If the music's pumping it will give you new life
You're a superstar, yes, that's what you are, you know it

A dance floor sensation of 25 years ago? No. It was the National Anthem:
Vice President Mike Pence walked out on his home-state Indianapolis Colts Sunday when members of the opposing team kneeled for the national anthem, but a report that Colin Kaepernick, the player who started it all, will stand if given another shot in the NFL was quickly dialed back.

"I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence tweeted.
Pence almost certainly knew that 49ers players would take a knee; they have been doing it all season. And you know what? Good for Pence. Why not play the game? There's more than one way to virtue signal, right?

Don't just stand there, let's get to it
Strike a pose, there's nothing to it

Whatever point Colin Kaepernick was trying to make is long gone, as people who make more money each time they get a game check than most of their fans make all year tell us how oppressed they are. The whole thing is tiresome. It's all limousine liberalism writ large. And there's nothing entertaining, or enlightening, about any of it.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Question Mark Edition

Well. it seems that the teams with interest around here all have some question marks. What say you, old dude?

What was the question again?

Put down the Metamucil and pay attention, if you would.

I need my fiber.

First of all, TMI. But answer the question. Don't the teams we pay attention have question marks?

Yes. More question marks than exclamation points, for sure.

Well, will anyone answer the questions this weekend?

I thought that was your gig. It's why we write this piece, isn't it?

I'm asking the questions.

I question that.

You are incorrigible, old dude! Let's see what happens this weekend.

It depends on how well the Metamucil works.

Oy vey. It is time to pick some football games. I am feeling the HYYYYYYYYYYYPPPPPEEE! and I am ready to go. Watch me work.

Minnesota Golden Elite Boat Rowers (+3.5) vs. Purdue Boilermakers. The local sports media types in Minnesota are not happy about what happened last week at home against Maryland for Mr. Fleck and his charges. The Gophers took a step back, no doubt about it, and this game does not get any easier. Purdue looks like they have improved a lot this year. It is also the first home game since former Purdue coaching legend Joe Tiller died, so look for Purdue to surge on emotion early. I like Purdue here, because they are a threat that not a lot of people are banking on being scary. Boilermakers 35, Rowing Out of Town 11.

We'll actually answer some questions about the Gophers tomorrow. It's a tough matchup, as Purdue appears to be much improved. While the previous regime didn't leave the cupboard bare, Fleck's team doesn't appear to be elite where roster depth is concerned. Purdue 34, Gophers 27.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-10.5) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers. This game is going to be a war, and the Badgers are getting too high a line. Nebraska is always a tough team to beat, and they have a very good record in night games in Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin did struggle against Northwestern, and there are questions surrounding Alex Hornibrook, who took a step back last week in terms of making good choices with the football. I still think the Badgers win, but they will have to earn this win in a very nervy game. Badgers 27, Huskers 21.

Nebraska isn't Nebraska these days. I think they'll give Bucky a good punch early, but they won't be able to hang with the Badgers. Watch for the Badgers to wear the Cornhuskers down late. Wisconsin 34, Nebraska 23.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Lake Forest Foresters. So, it turns out that Knox got beat down last week against St. Norbert. No biggie, they go to Lake Forest, who is a pretty good team, but not exactly Alabama level in the Midwest Conference. I never pick against my school, because our guys are men of distinction and honor, and they will find a way to win. Fire 35, Foresters 19.

While I am sure they are men of distinction and honor, they won't beat Lake Forest. Foresters 31, Fire 27.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+2) vs. Dallas How 'Bout Them Cowboahs? The Cowboys and their fans have been waiting for this game since Mason Crosby won that epic playoff game in Janurary. The Cowboy homers in the media say that this time will be different, but the Cowboys have struggled, while the Packers look like they will get some of their injured back. Make no mistake, the Packers will have to play at a high level to win, and I think they will. If that happens, be sure to watch a certain former Dallas sportswriter on Monday. Packers 38, Cowboys 30.

The Packers had enough time to start getting healthy. That should help them tremendously. This game is pretty crucial for the Cowboys, because if they lose this one, they'll be well behind other teams in the conference. Desperate team at home? I hate doing this, but. . . Cowboys 31, Packers 28.

Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz.  Yeah, the Bears are still a dumpster fire. They really looked bad against the Packers last Thursday, and even though Mr. Trubisky will start, it still is a mess. Quite frankly, I wonder how Gino even deals with watching them play. Maybe he should take a knee in protest of the front office. The Vikings will be without Dalvin Cook for the rest of the year, but they should be fine here, especially with a chance that Sam Bradford will make his return. Of course, there is always the matter of the Vikings not playing well in Chicago at times. Da Bearz 24, Vikings 10.

Young Mr. Trubisky will see things he's never seen on the football field before. And he'll be on his back a few times. Vikings have just enough to win. Vikings 14, Bears 13.

Enjoy the football this weekend, and please pray for the folks in Las Vegas. Ben out!

A tale as old as time

Harvey Weinstein had a casting couch:
Two decades ago, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she said.

“How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” Judd said she remembers thinking.
Apparently Weinstein did this sort of thing quite a bit. Hardly anything new. Sex and power are often intertwined. And guys who have power assume they can use it to get what they want from women. The story is more interesting because Weinstein has been hugely successful and regularly sanctimonious:
The allegations piled up even as Weinstein helped define popular culture. He has collected six best-picture Oscars and turned out a number of touchstones, from the films “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Good Will Hunting” to the television show “Project Runway.” In public, he presents himself as a liberal lion, a champion of women and a winner of not just artistic but humanitarian awards.
So he's none of these things. Are we surprised?

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Still finding it difficult to write anything. We've reached a point of annoying stasis in the political world, which the events in Las Vegas have underscored. The lefties I know are still calling for gun control, but they know they can't have it, so they just get on with their virtue signaling and self-talk. The NFL thing is dying down. I suppose we could ask why U.S. special forces are getting killed in Niger, but first we'd have to ask people to find it on a map.

It's a roundabout way of saying you've got an open thread.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Still too soon

Not yet time to write about the mass murder in Las Vegas. Some information about the murderer is emerging, but it's not conclusive in any way. I would like to know if he really wired $100,000 to the Philippines, and what that meant, but the only thing you can reasonably conclude thus far is he planned his attack out in great detail.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tom Petty, RIP

It was easy to take Tom Petty for granted. He was the rock and roll equivalent of a Honda Accord -- always reliable, comfortable, capable. His songbook is one of the deepest of the rock era. He may not have had the moments of sheer brilliance that you get from Bruce Springsteen, or Prince, or Dylan, but he was consistently listenable. As word spread of his heart attack and death, with reporting retracted and then confirmed, the radio filled with his songs. And there were a lot of them. A few favorites, then -- first out of the gate, a well-executed emulation on the Byrds:

Then some straight-ahead rock and roll:

A collaboration with fellow titans Roy Orbison, Dylan, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne:

A moody reflection on madness and love presumably lost:

Another straight ahead rocker:

And finally, where we are:

You probably have your favorites, too. RIP.

UPDATE:  Mitch Berg offers a heartfelt tribute of his own.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Fog of War

We don't know why a guy opened fire on a country music contest in Las Vegas last night, but we do know it was awful. Various news reports indicate at least 20 people are dead and over 100 are injured, and that gunman opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay complex on the Vegas strip. There are plenty of photos and video out there, some pretty gruesome. You can find them for yourself; I'll not point you there.

What I do know is prayer is always in order. So we'll start there and see where the story goes after that.

UPDATE (5:50 a.m.): Apparently the number killed is up to 50. More prayers.