Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meanwhile, across the St. Croix -- Updated

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic challenger Mary Burke 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in the Wisconsin governor’s race. Another 3 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while 1 percent say that they will vote for someone else. Likely voters are those who say that they are certain to vote in the November election.

Among registered voters in the poll, Walker receives 46 percent and Burke 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided and 1 percent saying that they will vote for someone else.

The poll interviewed 1,409 registered voters, including 1,164 likely voters, by landline and cell phone Oct. 23-26. For the full sample of 1,409 registered voters, the margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of 1,164 likely voters is +/- 3.0 percentage points. This is the final Marquette Law School Poll before the Nov. 4 election.
And Mary Burke's claim that her tenure at her family's company, Trek Bicycle, is a qualification for higher office? Well. . . .

MADISON, Wis. — In attempting to explain her two-year work hiatus in the early to mid-1990s, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has said she was just burned out after an intense period of leading European operations for Trek Bicycle Corp., her family’s Waterloo-based global manufacturer.

In fact, Burke apparently was fired by her own family following steep overseas financial losses and plummeting morale among Burke’s European sales staff, multiple former Trek executives and employees told Wisconsin Reporter.

The sales team threatened to quit if Burke was not removed from her position as director of European Operations, according to Gary Ellerman, who served as Trek’s human resources director for 12 years. His account was confirmed by three other former employees.
Now, it must be said that Ellerman is a Republican operative these days and for that reason this report could be viewed with suspicion. Except, well. . . .
But former Trek president Tom Albers told The Associated Press that Burke's role as head of Trek's overseas operations "just didn't work out. We were losing money." He said Burke's brother John fired her.

Both Mary Burke and her brother John Burke, the current head of Trek, denied Wednesday that she was fired from the job in 1993. They say she left as part of a reorganization of the overseas operation.
But Albers does want you to think well of Burke, kinda:
Two former high-level executives of Trek Bicycle claim that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke was forced out as head of European operations for her family's business 21 years ago — an allegation that Burke and the company denied, labeling it a last-minute smear campaign.

"I'm not saying she was incompetent," said Tom Albers, former Trek chief operating officer who left the company in 1997. "Maybe this job was too big for her."
It might not be the only job that's too big for her.

UPDATE: Albers has a lot more to say here. A taste:
“Her way of managing was kind of a ‘her way or the highway’ kind of approach to things,” Albers explains, adding that her subordinates “felt that she wouldn’t listen to them and was just imposing things on them that didn’t make sense.”

“So because of all that—which had gone on for a while, obviously—John Burke went to his father basically saying, ‘We need to make a change over here.’  Obviously, being a family situation, this was extremely sensitive and very difficult to pursue.  So Dick Burke came to me and said, ‘Before anything is done here, would you go over there and give me your thoughts on what the situation is like?’”

Albers flew to Trek’s European headquarters and quickly discovered that John Burke wasn’t exaggerating.

“I pretty much came back with the same conclusions that John Burke had made; and that was that we had major people problems over there and were in a situation where we could lose a lot of people.  We were losing a lot of money and I couldn’t see where Mary Burke was going to turn this thing around.”

Albers reported his findings to Richard Burke, who listened intently and then, Albers says, acted decisively.

“The family—and by that I mean Dick and John Burke—finally agreed to bring her back.  And so, to say it bluntly, she was fired.”
A few observations:

  • It's worth remembering that the events that are under discussion here took place 20 years ago. Under ordinary circumstances, one might expect that a person's performance would improve after 20 years. It's possible that a fired executive could get another chance elsewhere and build a record of success. We aren't hearing that because, in Burke's case, that hasn't happened.
  • It's frankly stunning that Burke hadn't gotten out front on this story, particularly if she were aware that senior executives at Trek had become Republican operatives. Gary Ellerman has been hiding in plain sight -- he is still based in Jefferson County, where Trek is located. There was ample time to frame the story of  Burke's tenure at the family company, but the campaign never did that. That's a huge error and it speaks directly to Burke's management acumen. If you can't handle basic messaging, it's difficult to see how you can effectively govern a state.
  • You have seen some comparisons between Burke and Mark Dayton, but there's a significant difference in their careers. Dayton never was part of management at Dayton Hudson/Target, so he never had to manage a profit/loss statement in a corporate environment, especially one where you are held accountable for financial results. Dayton has always been a politician. That's a huge advantage. Burke, like Dayton, has tried to buy her way into politics, but since she had to work for her family's company, she had performance metrics and now we've learned what they were. Dayton's only performance metrics have come at the ballot box. If you're going to be a limousine liberal, you need to stay in the limousine.

The state is in the very best of hands

Oversight? What oversight?
An audit of the MNsure insurance exchange has found that it had “generally adequate” internal controls for spending public money, but it took issue with how officials expanded a marketing contract earlier this year.

The problem with the marketing contract — which paid for the creation of a high-profile ad campaign featuring Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox — is one of eight findings related to internal control weaknesses and instances of noncompliance, according to the report released Tuesday by the state Office of the Legislative Auditor.

The audit did not examine MNsure’s operational performance. It’s the first of three reviews the office is conducting on the state’s health insurance exchange.

“MNsure did not appropriately authorize $925,458 of additional marketing work or execute a contract amendment until after the contractor completed the work,” auditors wrote in the report.
I don't know about you, but if a vendor did $925,458 of work for my organization, I'd make damned sure it had been authorized before it happened.

Ask an expert

Our country's in the very best of hands:
The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.
If that charming description doesn't drive the point home, consider the following, from the same article in the Atlantic:
Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)  But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency. (President Obama, in interviews with me, has alluded to Netanyahu’s lack of political courage.)
"Aspergery" is particularly generous. On the bright side, no one is on record calling Netanyahu a "retard," but we still have over two years left in this administration.

So what makes Netanyahu a barnyard waste product?
“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”
Consider that last sentence. Netanyahu's to blame for Iran's nuclear program because, in the reading of a "senior official," he didn't openly defy the stated wishes of the United States government that this "senior official" represents. As I recall, about ten years ago this sort of thing was called nuance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just a reminder

That Al Franken personally approves of falsehoods:
The Franken ad implies that McFadden advised Smurfit-Stone on the bankruptcy process and that he’s responsible for the 417 layoffs at the Frenchtown Smurfit-Stone mill.

While the fact that Smurfit-Stone was listed as Lazard Middle Management’s client until recently raises some questions, McFadden’s fingerprints aren’t on the project otherwise.

As a result, this ad is misleading to the point of being false.
Franken has run a low, mendacious campaign. In other words, it's perfectly in keeping with his character.

El Norte

This should really help the ol' immigration debate:
 A man suspected of killing two deputies during a shooting rampage in Northern California was deported twice to Mexico and had a drug conviction, federal authorities said Saturday.

The suspected shooter told Sacramento County Sheriff's investigators that he was 34-year-old Marcelo Marquez of Salt Lake City. However, his fingerprints match the biometric records of a Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte in a federal database, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said.

Monroy-Bracamonte was first removed from the country in 1997 after being convicted in Arizona for possession of narcotics for sale. Monroy-Bracamonte was arrested and repatriated to Mexico a second time in 2001, Kice said.

"The fingerprints were the basis for our request for an immigration detainer," she said.
The good news now is that he'll certainly be able to stay in the United States. Meanwhile, we also learn this:
A search of Utah court records for Marquez shows a history of about 10 tickets and misdemeanor traffic offenses between 2003 and 2009. Those records list one speeding ticket for Monroy in 2009 and three small claims filings attempting to collect outstanding debts.
We aren't serious about many things.

Monday, October 27, 2014

News You Can Use

The next President of the United States explains it to you.


"Don't let anybody tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs."

So who is actually creating jobs? Give me your best guess in the comment section.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Congratulations to Senator Franken. . .

for being the likely beneficiary of illegal voting:
How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.

Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.
Mark Ritchie has ensured he'll get that vote again. Apparently Minnesota is okay with that.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- 411 Miles to the New Home of HYYYYYYPPPPE! Edition

So old dude, word is you're coming down to Knox tomorrow to see me in all my collegiate glory!

Everywhere you look, bargains galore!
It's true -- we'll all be coming to Galesburg for a visit and, if we play our cards right, an actual visit to the storied Carl Sandburg Mall.

That is a western Illinois showplace, Geritol Fan! You'll really like the JC Penney with the automotive department, I'm guessing.

Well, that and a chance to visit the Knosher Bowl and see your beloved Knox Prairie Fire in action. They still kinda stink, right?

I can neither confirm nor deny that, Decrepit! But I do think there's no doubt that we need to pick some games now, so let's stop the banter and get to the truth! Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Gophers (-6.5) vs. University of Illinois Fighting a Losing Battle. Let's see.... the Illini are swirling the bowl on another Big Ten season and that means they'll be looking for yet another new coach soon. That being said, Illinois is a tough team and will look to get the big win to save their season and to build momentum. Minnesota has been good but I think the upset will get pulled. Illini 23, The U 20.

I agree -- this has got trap game written all over it, Seabiscuit. The Gophers got a scare against Purdue but they rallied to win and the hype machine is starting to build up here in the Twin Cities. Jerry Kill's team is tough minded and has some talent, but Purdue exposed some weaknesses on defense and the Illini can score. The pace of the game will be key here. If the Gophers can pound away on the Illinois defense, they'll win. If it turns into a track meet, it could be a problem. Minnesota 31, Illinois 28.

Maryland Terrapins (+11.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. The Terps are coming to Madison for the first time and this is the first meeting between the schools in football. What to expect? Well, that' why you come here. Maryland had a nice win over Iowa in College Park, but this time they have to play the big boys on the road. I think with the week of preparation, Maryland will understand that the Big Ten is not a joke conference, but you would never hear that from ESPN. Wisconsin 48, Maryland 17.

The Badgers had a bye week, but there's no evidence they've solved their quarterback dilemma yet. My impression is that Tanner McEvoy is the quarterback that Gary Andersen would prefer to play, but that Joel Stave is a better quarterback generally. The one thing that tilts this one towards the Badgers is that Maryland isn't very good against the run, while the Badgers have Melvin Gordon. I think that the Terps will be seeing a lot of Melvin's heels on Saturday. Badgers 42, Maryland 31.

Grinnell College Pioneers (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. Okay, old dude, this week it's gonna be different. Knox should be better because whenever I attend a game we pick, good things normally happen. A win here would set up momentum towards the vital game against the Monmouth "Safety School" Scots. And the Knosher Bowl is very beautiful. Knox 27, Grinnell 18.

Back in 1985, I saw a Beloit/Knox game at the Knosher Bowl. It was about 96 degrees that day and my Bucs beat Knox 45-36 on a day when it was about 96 degrees. Grinnell is a beatable opponent for your Fire and I think they'll want to give the parents a good show. Knox 31, Grinnell 24.

Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You know, old dude, I don't know what to think about the Vikings at this point. Either they play very well, as they did against Atlanta, or they look bad, as happened in Green Bay. Thankfully, Tampa Bay is not a good team in a very weak sister division and I like Minnesota a lot in this one. Teddy is the Chosen One 31, Bucs 10.

Tampa's not very good. That's good news for a team that needs to get better. I'll be curious to see what ol' Leslie Frazier has cooked up for Teddy Bridgewater. I'm guessing that he'll see something a little different than just the Tampa 2. The Vikings are going to be lucky to be 6-10 at this point, but to get to 6 wins, they'll need to win one on the road. This seems like a good place to do it. Vikings 24, Bucs 20.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+6.5) vs. New England Belichicks. It's not easy being Jay Cutler, old dude! First Brandon Marshall and now Brian Urlacher have called him out. Is Jay the problem? Or is it something else? I think the problem is in the choices that were made. Jay needs to step up and be the leader, because he is getting paid a lot of money and has not been able to beat the Packers consistently, which is inexcusable. I have quietly been hinted that the Bears need to make changes to win and maybe it starts with removing their quarterback. New England is a tough place to win and although the Bears have played well away from home, if they do not win on Sunday, maybe Jay can go to Montreal with his head coach. Patriots 45, Bears still suck 0.


I'm not sure what to think. I do know that New England is a tough place to win and right now the Bears are struggling with a lot of issues. If I were the Bears, I'd be more concerned about keeping Brandon Marshall happy than caring much about what Urlacher thinks -- you do need to remember that his departure from Chicago was a little less than amicable. Tom Brady has something to prove this year and the Bears aren't very solid defensively. This could get ugly. New England 35, Chicago 17.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+1.5) vs. New Orleans Saints. It's the red hot Packers against the Saints, who are always tough at home and are officially a desperate team. What now? Last time the Packers played in New Orleans they got destroyed, but that was in 2008, when Aaron Rodgers was only showing flashes of his brilliance. Crowd noise will be a factor but the Saints have a horrible pass defense and the Packer defense has shown it can hold teams and get the ball to the offense, which has looked very good. I would love to have the scenario NBC fears most, which is a fast Packer start and cruise home. Packers 45, Saints 17.

The way I see it, the Packers have four fairly tough games remaining on their schedule and this is one of them. The Saints are still pretty formidable offensively, although their line is starting to age, which is why Drew Brees has had a few problems in recent weeks. The Packers are absolutely going to score in this game, maybe a lot. Will Brees be able to keep up? That's the question on this one. I think the Packers are a better team but it's really close. Green Bay 35, New Orleans 34.

Okay, old dude! Can't wait to show you around Knox this weekend. You'll find out where we keep the HYYYYYPPPPE! Ben out!

The Republicans get in the game

While it might be too late, the state Republican Party has a good and nasty anti-Dayton ad up, which I posted below. I am glad that someone is finally mentioning the astonishing comments that Dayton made earlier in the year, when he suggested that mothers who were being denied medical marijuana could go out and buy some on the street.


New anti-Dayton ad

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Home truth

John Hayward on compulsion in re same sex marriage:
In a contest between super-sincere same-sex couples who totally love each other and want to get married at this chapel right here, and stubborn eccentrics who defend their kooky hobby by quoting from some dusty old Bible, there is no way to hold compulsive force at bay by muttering about the theoretical right of American citizens to practice kooky hobbies.  Everyone who values liberty needs to get passionate about defending people like the Knapps, and that includes same-sex marriage proponents who believed a single word they said about valuing freedom and respecting conscience over the past decade.  You don’t have to share their beliefs in order to respect them.  And if you’re cool with the idea of using State power to break people whose beliefs you don’t agree with or respect – even when it’s not necessary to stamp out dissenters in order for your beliefs to flourish – the correct word for you is totalitarian.  It doesn’t matter one little bit that you think your beliefs are righteous.  Every other totalitarian feels the same way.
Emphasis in the original. And also this -- again, emphasis in the original:
Secular libertarians who seriously wish to help preserve religious liberty must learn to see it as more valuable than that, because I’m here to tell you, guys: our tightly fused government/media culture long ago abandoned the notion of absolute principles.  Everything is a value judgment now.  Nothing is truly off-limits to the power of the State; it awaits only an invitation from those who passionately desire its presence to enter any part of our lives.
The larger question is whether many people who claim to be secular libertarians give a damn about religious liberty. Put it this way -- there's ample reason to suspect they don't. Martin Niemöller, call your office.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You can check out any time you'd like, but you can never leave

Welcome to the Hotel Obama:
"Well, look, here's the bottom line," said Obama, "We've got a tough map. A lot of the states that are contested this time are states that I didn't win. And so some of the candidates there, you know, it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turn-out. The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress. They are on the right side of minimum wage. They are on the right side of fair pay. They are on the right side of rebuilding our infrastructure. They're on the right side of early childhood education.

"So, this isn't about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me. And I tell them, I said, you know what, you do what you need to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn up."
So Alison Lundergan Grimes, your ad may say this:


But reality says this:



No kidding

Confession is good for the soul. First, an acknowledgement from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which Iowahawk accepts with grace:

If you doubt they're out of ideas, watch one of their Torrey Westrom attack ads sometime

Meanwhile, watch this video, especially the fumbling at the 1 minute mark, and remember that this man is a sitting United States Senator:


I dunno -- when I think of songs and Sen. Udall, this is the one that occurs to me:


Monday, October 20, 2014

You are very sleepy. Very sleepy.

Bill Glahn has been one of the best bloggers in Minnesota for a while now and the handy synopsis he published yesterday is right on the money:
We boil down the Sunday Minneapolis Star Tribune Opinion page to its basic message.

Lori Sturdevant:  All of the long-serving Democrat legislators, who occupy safe seats, tell Lori that this has been a quiet election year.  Everyone is just sitting around waiting for the labor unions and lefty billionaire donors to post their new list of demands.

Editorial Board:  The Board suggests voting for Democrat Mark Dayton.  Why?  See above.
There's more at the link and you should read it. In fact, you should have bookmarked Bill a long time ago if you care at all about Minnesota politics. A few observations of my own:


  • The Dayton endorsement was expected, of course, even though there's some generous observations made about Jeff Johnson. The Stribbers know that Johnson would be a good governor, but they like the Better Minnesota they've created. And Lori Sturdevant misses the good ol' days, when the only role Republicans had in this state involved offering a few cavils before the DFLers divided up the spoils.
  • The race has been sleepy precisely because a lot of people, including the Strib editorial board, aren't particularly interested in having an engaged citizenry. The television stations in town aren't covering the election with much fervor at all in this cycle and the debates are taking place at times when the chances that viewers might actually see them are pretty minimal. Why on earth would you have a debate at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning? If you didn't want anyone to see it, it would be an excellent time. And if the local stations present a little context-free Johnson said/Dayton said and leave it at that, the rest goes right down the ol' memory hole.
  • Hannah Nicollet continues to complain that she is being left out of the debates and announced that she is going to sue Hamline University for keeping her off the stage on Sunday morning. That should get adjudicated a few months after the election is over. What the "major" Independence Party in general, and Hannah Nicollet in particular, are finding out is pretty simple -- now that a Better Minnesota is established, your services are no longer required. Outside of the weird amalgam of aging frat boys and slide rulers who seem to be Nicollet's primary consistency, no one cares about her campaign. When previous IP candidate Tom Horner endorsed Johnson instead of Nicollet, that meant the party was over. I think Hannah has a future if she chooses wisely. I made a modest suggestion last week
  • Johnson's only chance to win is if the unrest in outstate Minnesota sweeps out Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan. Dayton may have given Johnson a bit of an opening earlier, when he called Johnson a huckster and brought up the ill-fated chopsticks factory that was supposed to help the Iron Range 30 years ago. That raised a few hackles, but it won't matter if the DFL metrocrats can get enough votes in their districts. And that's the only danger for the DFL -- if the populace is too sleepy, there might be enough motivated Republicans in the exurbs and outstate to tip the balance. There's nothing like gay marriage, or another moral vanity vote for Obama, to motivate the bien pensant gang in this cycle. That may prove to be a miscalculation, but we likely won't know until election day.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Lord Have Mercy, Where is Percy Edition?

Old dude, did you ever read any of those "Where's Waldo" books when you were a kid? Or did they even have offset printing in those days?

Where's Waldo hadn't been created yet. I think the first book came out in the 1980s. Besides, there's really not a lot of "reading" involved in a Where's Waldo book. But anyway, why do you ask?

Because I see that Percy Harvin has been traded to the Jets. He's harder to find than Waldo these days.

I'll bet there's a story behind all that. I'll be curious to see what happens to him in New York.

His next stop might be Galesburg at this rate. I'll let you know if he shows up here. In the meantime, watch me work!

Purdon't Boilermakers (+14) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. No Badgers this week, Geritol Fan, so we'll start out with this one. The Gophers are getting some love now that they're leading the Big Ten West. Minnesota is not home free at this point considering they still have to play Iowa, Bucky, and Nebraska. That being said ,considering what is happening nationwide, Minnesota winning the West would not surprise me, especially against a Purdue team that is getting better but not there yet. The Real U 34, Purdon't 9.

I'm pretty confident the Gophers will hold serve at home, but I'm not sure a 14-point spread makes much sense. Purdue's got some work to do, but we're starting to see some progress. I watched some of their game against Michigan State last week and they weren't intimidated at all. I think they come in and play the locals pretty tough. Minnesota 27, Purdue 23.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Cornell College Rams. Boy oh boy, old dude. It's the school I chose against the school I might have chosen, up in Mount Vernon, Iowa, baby! Knox looked bad last week mostly due to playing a physical D3 version of Nebraska football circa 1995. Knox can still finish good and I think that the mojo of the undefeated soccer team will rub off in Mt. Vernon. Old Main 26, One Loss at A Time 17.

A young fella like you chooses a college for a lot of reasons. You apparently didn't take winning football into consideration. Cornell will contend for the conference title this year, as they usually do. Your beloved Fire? Not so much. This one won't be pretty. Cornell 35, Knox 14.

Minnesota Vikings (+5) vs. Buffalo Bills. So now what, Vikings? Two pretty bad stompings in a row by division opponents, and now a trip to Buffalo? What will happen this time? Mike Zimmer sounded
frustrated on KFAN with the amount of picks that have hampered his team. That being said Buffalo is one of the teams that is sneaky good if they can figure out a way to pull it together. I like Zimmer to coach up the Norseman and get a W. Vikes 21, Buffalo Wild Wings 18.

I have no idea what to expect from either of these teams, to be honest. On paper, Buffalo is probably a better squad at the moment, because they have a pretty good defense, but then again, they haven't exactly figured things out on offense, either. The Vikings are finding out that it's going to be hard to win if they don't have a credible running game. At this point, they don't. Buffalo 31, Vikings 17.

Carolina Panthers (+7) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, the Packers return to Green Bay after a nifty escape from the Tuna Net in Miami. The last time Carolina came up to Lambeau they won but that was a very different time for both teams. The major worry is the banged up secondary for Green Bay because we all know that Scam Newton likes to run, whether it is from defenses or from allegations about his shady doings. I like the chances for Green Bay because they win in October and, with no Greg Hardy or Steve Smith this time, I look for Green Bay to continue to relax and have fun. Green Bay 49, Carolina 17.

I think the Packers are hitting their stride. Cam Newton is a problem, because he's liable to run, but he's got very little help at this point. I think he'll make the Pack nervous a few times, but in the end it will be a happy day at Lambeau, because the Panthers don't have the defensive backfield that can slow down Jordy Nelson and his pals. Packers 35, Panthers 23.

Miami Tuna Net Victims (+3.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Oh, so many subplots, old dude. It's Brandon Marshall versus his old team. It's, it's... well, maybe there's only that one subplot. The question for both teams is which quarterback shows up. Jay Cutler will either be brilliant or will find a way to lose the game. The Bears have been very good on the road but have lost 3 home games this year, which will kill them later on. I like Miami because they ambushed our boys and if Chicago loses there will be questions asked about the decisions that were made by the general manager and the head coach. Not Sorry Charlie 24, da Bearz 20.

The Bears played very well last week in Atlanta, which was something of a surprise. The thing that should worry the Bears is that the Miami defense is very quick, especially on the defensive line. That could get Jay Cutler nervous and when that happens, bad throws start to come. I sense a shootout. Chicago 31, Miami 28.

I think that's all we have time for, old dude! Next week, you show up in Galesburg! What then! Ben out!

Amusing

We don't worry much about Kentucky politics around here, but I have to admit it's amusing to see that the Democratic candidate to unseat Senator Mitch McConnell refuses to say whether she voted for Barack Obama:
Alison Lundergan Grimes again refused to reveal whether she voted for President Barack Obama, dodging the question for the second time in a week Monday during the only debate of Kentucky's Senate race.

Grimes, the Democratic secretary of state who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in one of the nation's marquee races, cited the "matter of principle" of privacy at the ballot box, noting that she is the state's chief election officer.

"I'm not going to compromise a constitutional right provided here in Kentucky in order to curry favor on one or (an)other side or members of the media," she said during Monday night's debate.
This is ridiculous. If you are a private citizen and you aren't running for office, it's a rude and presumptuous question to ask about your political allegiances. This woman wants to be a Senator. That's a little different, I'd say. If things were going better in Washington, Grimes would be shouting her support for Barack Obama to the housetops. What she really fears is the follow-up question -- do you regret that vote?

Noted in passing

Oops:
The US vice-president’s son Hunter Biden has been discharged from the US navy reserve after testing positive for cocaine.

Biden failed a drug test administered in June 2013, sources said. The son of Joe Biden issued a statement confirming his discharge and expressing regret and embarrassment for his actions.

Navy spokesman Commander Ryan Perry confirmed that Biden was discharged from the navy reserve in February 2014 but said privacy laws prevented him from releasing any details.
Morgan Grams had no comment.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Not what one would have preferred

So you went on the MNSure exchange last year and picked PreferredOne, because it was reasonable? Well, if you stay with them, not this year:
Sticker shock awaits thousands of people with health coverage through PreferredOne, the top seller on the MNsure exchange during its first year.

The Golden Valley-based insurer said Wednesday that its individual market subscribers will see an average premium increase next year of 63 percent due to high claims costs.

“Given the volatility of the individual marketplace due to the first year of the [federal health law], this increase is a significant step at stabilizing our rates and plans for the years to come,” the company said in a statement.

The announcement represents a startling turnaround for an insurer that offered some of the lowest premiums anywhere in the country in 2014.
If you wondered why the gubmint could claim MNSure rates were only going up 4.5% or so, this is why -- the dominant player in the exchange for this year is taking huge rate increases, but is no longer part of the exchange.

Guess we'd better start talking about Adrian Peterson or Ebola or something instead.