Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
No vote - just enjoy!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Another politician showed up as well -- Ed Matthews, the GOP candidate for the 4th CD, who is running against incumbent Betty McCollum. As it turned out, our municipal hospitality wasn't so, shall we say, bi-partisan. Force50 from Boots On picks up the story (read the whole thing!):
The Republican candidate for U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 4th
District, Ed Matthews, came to meet people at the April 26th Town Hall meeting.
He had already met dozens of people including the City Manager with no problem.
But just before the program began, Mayor Larson shows up and stops Ed Matthews.
He told Matthews, “… this is tacky, you shouldn’t be doing this!”
There was no evidence that Matthews was disrupting the event in any way. The other politicos were free to do as they pleased -- in fact, as Force50 notes in his dispatch, Chaudhary was given an opportunity to address the audience.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
It's sort of the same approach that Democrats in the Minnesota Senate like to use to push for legislation to get their global warming/regulatory agenda off the dime. Watch as Sen. Ellen Anderson talks about how children are afraid they are going to die from global warming, then listen as her Republican counterpart Julianne Ortman calmly and methodically calls her out.
As usual, Leo is on the case.
In our day, our teachers would scare us while telling scary stories of
goblins and witches on Halloween. These days, kids are frightened with equally
frightening (and equally fanciful) stories of polar bears swimming and the earth
conflagrating in a huge fireball, all because mom and dad drive an SUV and don't
throw the pop cans where they're supposed to. The difference, back then was that
the teachers didn't give the impression that the witches and the goblins were
- Word comes that The Capital Times is ending its 90-year run as a daily afternoon paper in Madison. I never liked the Cap Times much -- it's long billed itself as "your progressive voice," and the type of progress they advocate (relentless expansion of government) hardly seems like progress to me. It will now become a twice weekly tabloid and will mostly devote its efforts to its internet presence. I'm not sure that the Cap Times will do much better in this arena, where they will be competing for eyeballs with Kos, HuffPo and rest of the portside commentariat. Madison is still a lefty place but especially on the west side of town the populace tends to be affluent and less inclined to subscribe to the oppositional leftism that the Cap Times has long pushed. My guess is that the Cap Times will continue to struggle in its new incarnation. They never liked Joseph Schumpeter much at the Cap Times, but as usual his insight was better than what they had on offer.
- It's the most hype-filled day of the year -- NFL Draft Day. Of all the marketing triumphs that the National Football League has accomplished in its history, Draft Day has to be the most amazing. A two-day administrative exercise is now an industry where amazing amounts of contradictory information and opinions are synthesized into a quasi-scientific goulash that millions of addled fans swallow whole. And yep, I'm one of those fans. I have spent a lot of time in my life watching the musings of Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Mort, Boomer and the rest of the refugees from the S. I . Newhouse School of Public Communications that dot the ESPN roster. Back in the day I spent many hours on beautiful spring afternoons holed up with the Anonymous Truck Driver, watching endless commercials and pointless discussions of the vertical leaping abilities of Darrell Thompson or the 40 time of Tony Mandarich, both of whom came through the NFL without making even the slightest impression despite the thousands of hours of analysis offered on their behalf. Even though the weather today is abysmal, I'm really going to try to stay away from the screen this afternoon. Good luck with that. So, who are those Packers going to take anyway?
- We were supposed to start Ben's baseball season today. I guess the snow on the ground put a stop to that. I wonder if Kate Knuth could do something useful and cap and trade some of this foul weather for me. . . .
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
- The exit polls are pretty interesting. As has been the pattern throughout the primary season, Obama won the youth vote pretty substantially, with voters between 18-29 giving him a 61%-39% advantage. The problem, as always, is this - that cohort only represented 12% of the electorate. Meanwhile, Hillary cleaned up with the Early Bird Special crowd, winning those 60 and over by 62%-38%. And that cohort represented 32% of the electorate. We keep hearing about how the energy of younger voters is going to carry the day. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's nonsense. The only time I ever saw it happen was when the army of north suburban dudes wearing mullets put Jesse Ventura over the top back in '98. And those guys aren't the "youth" that the chattering classes so adore.
- Another interesting finding -- those who "cling" to their religion were perhaps a smidge offended by Sen. Obama's undergraduate-level sociological explanations for their behavior. Weekly churchgoers supported Mrs. Clinton 58%-42%, while those who don't attend church supported Obama 56%-44%. Again, the key is that weekly churchgoers represented 36% of the electorate, while their secular counterparts are only 17%. And occasional churchgoers, who represent the remaining 45% of the electorate, supported Mrs. Clinton 55%-45%. That pretty closely mirrors what the overall numbers will look like. And among Catholics, Mrs. Clinton won by better than 2-1, despite the ministrations of Sen. Bob Casey Jr., the theoretically pro-life senator who supported Sen. Obama.
- Turning away from the numbers, here's something else for the Obamaphiles to consider. Stephen Green at Vodkapundit makes an excellent, pre-cocktail observation as he "drunk-blogs" the Pennsylvania primary, to wit:
What’s wrong with the Democratic nominating process? Look. You can become
President of these United States by winning just 11 states: California, Texas,
New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, North
Carolina, and Georgia. Of those, Clinton has won California, New York, Florida
(which didn’t count), Ohio, Michigan (which also didn’t count), New Jersey,
presumably Pennsylvania tonight, and the popular vote in Texas. If the Democrats
ran a winner-take-all system like the Republicans and the Electoral College do,
she’d have this thing clinched — and Obama would look like a regional candidate
who can’t win much outside the South and his home state of Illinois. Instead,
the race goes on and on and the candidates get weaker and weaker and without an end in sight.
And that's what you get when you game the system in the interest of "fairness."
So What Does It All Mean? Beats me, kids. Mrs. Clinton will certainly slog on to the next states and Obama will continue to flood the airwaves with his gauzy advertisements. But the only thing I can conclude with any certainty is this - the Republicans may be the Stupid Party, but the (Sid Hartman) geniuses (/Sid Hartman) in the Democratic Party are doing what they always do - screwing up a Sure Thing. Darn shame, eh?
Cross-posted at True North.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
-- Paul Simon, "The Boy in the Bubble"
Sage advice from the former partner of Art Garfunkel, circa 1986, an excellent year in rock history. But that's not why you're here. A regular reader of this feature sent an e-mail referencing a recent CNN.com article about the worst song in history. Link is here:
While an instructive tour of the horror that is Bobby Goldsboro, it only references in passing what the author refers to as the "annus mirabilis" of 1974. And that, friends is the mother lode, the money shot, the greatest repository of dire that I know.
"Let's go back, let's go back, let's go back to way back when."
--Aretha Franklin, "Think"
Do you remember? The President was reeling, gas prices were soaring and waves of pessimism were threatening to engulf the land. It even seems vaguely familiar today. But AM radio was not yet the province of Rush and his shout show acolytes, and stations like my old hometown favorite, WNAM, were spinning the top hits. And what a cavalcade it was. Just let the soundtrack play in your mind.
Seasons in the Sun
Billy, Don't Be a Hero
The Night Chicago Died
Having My Baby
Rock Me Gently
Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)
My Girl Bill
Midnight at the Oasis
Hooked on a Feeling (the "Ooga Shocka" Blue Swede version, not B. J. Thomas)
Are you wincing yet? It was a strange and wondrous time, when novelty artists like Jim Stafford and Ray Stevens, who are now safely confined in Branson, ruled the airwaves. It was a time when a Catholic nun (Sr. Janet Meade) could ride the charts with a bad, discofied version of the Lord's Prayer, followed immediately on the WNAM playlist with "Having My Baby" and, if you were lucky, the "Bertha Butt Boogie." I remember getting on the phone with my brothers to call the WNAM studios, pestering the d.j.'s to play Cheech & Chong's "Sister Mary Elephant," because, apparently, we weren't satisfied that the music they were playing was sufficiently strange.
It would be worth studying, I suppose, the convergence of forces that turned an entire summer over to an ocean of novelty tunes. And it is worth remembering that 1974 was also the year of Eric Clapton's comeback album, 461 Ocean Boulevard, and Dylan's masterwork Blood on the Tracks, among other things. Sometimes the Zeitgeist blows strangely. Sometimes, it just blows.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The Pope made one thing very clear: he does not view faith as a private matter. During the question and answer session with the bishops, he was asked about "a certain quiet attrition" caused by Catholics distancing themselves quietly and gradually from attendance at Mass and identification with the Church. His answer was pretty interesting. I've given you the full answer, which makes this a pretty long quotation (and post), but I've highlighted the "money quotes."
Certainly, much of this has to do with the passing away of a religious
culture, sometimes disparagingly referred to as a "ghetto", which reinforced
participation and identification with the Church. As I just mentioned, one of
the great challenges facing the Church in this country is that of cultivating a
Catholic identity which is based not so much on externals as on a way of
thinking and acting grounded in the Gospel and enriched by the Church's living
The issue clearly involves factors such as religious individualism and
scandal. Let us go to the heart of the matter: faith cannot survive unless it is
nourished, unless it is "formed by charity" (cf. Gal 5:6). Do people today find
it difficult to encounter God in our Churches? Has our preaching lost its salt?
Might it be that many people have forgotten, or never really learned, how to
pray in and with the Church?
Here I am not speaking of people who leave the Church in search of
subjective religious "experiences"; this is a pastoral issue which must be
addressed on its own terms. I think we are speaking about people who have fallen
by the wayside without consciously having rejected their faith in Christ, but,
for whatever reason, have not drawn life from the liturgy, the sacraments,
preaching. Yet Christian faith, as we know, is essentially ecclesial, and
without a living bond to the community, the individual's faith will never grow
to maturity. Indeed, to return to the question I just discussed, the result can
be a quiet apostasy.
So let me make two brief observations on the problem of
"attrition", which I hope will stimulate further reflection.
First, as you know, it is becoming more and more difficult, in our
Western societies, to speak in a meaningful way of "salvation". Yet salvation -
deliverance from the reality of evil, and the gift of new life and freedom in
Christ - is at the heart of the Gospel. We need to discover, as I have
suggested, new and engaging ways of proclaiming this message and awakening a
thirst for the fulfillment which only Christ can bring. It is in the Church's
liturgy, and above all in the sacrament of the Eucharist, that these realities
are most powerfully expressed and lived in the life of believers; perhaps we
still have much to do in realizing the Council's vision of the liturgy as the
exercise of the common priesthood and the impetus for a fruitful apostolate in
Second, we need to acknowledge with concern the almost complete
eclipse of an eschatological sense in many of our traditionally Christian
societies. As you know, I have pointed to this problem in the Encyclical Spe
Salvi. Suffice it to say that faith and hope are not limited to this world: as
theological virtues, they unite us with the Lord and draw us toward the
fulfillment not only of our personal destiny but also that of all creation.
Faith and hope are the inspiration and basis of our efforts to prepare for the
coming of the Kingdom of God. In Christianity, there can be no room for purely
private religion: Christ is the Savior of the world, and, as members of his Body
and sharers in his prophetic, priestly and royal munera, we cannot separate our
love for him from our commitment to the building up of the Church and the
extension of his Kingdom. To the extent that religion becomes a purely private affair, it loses its very soul.
Let me conclude by stating the obvious. The fields are still ripe
for harvesting (cf. Jn 4:35); God continues to give the growth (cf. 1 Cor 3:6).
We can and must insist -- even in our own time and for our own time -- as the
late Pope John Paul II did, that God is preparing a new springtime for
Christianity (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 86). What is needed above all, at this
time in the history of the Church in America, is a renewal of that apostolic
zeal which inspires her shepherds actively to seek out the lost, to bind up
those who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are languishing
(cf. Ez 34:16). And this, as I have said, calls for new ways of thinking based
on a sound diagnosis of today's challenges and a commitment to unity in the
service of the Church's mission to the present generation. Thank you.
Emphasis mine. There's a pretty strong challenge from the Pope, don't you think?
The second thing I noticed was the choice of music for the liturgy - "The Battle Hymn of the
Republic." In particular, consider the final verse:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on!
[chorus]Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps.
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on!
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on!
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me;
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
I think there's a challenge back to the Pope in that particular musical selection, no? I will be very interested to see how Benedict responds.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
- Libertas is reporting that the NFL is involved in making a biopic about Vince Lombardi. This is the first time the NFL is directly involved in a motion picture. I'll be very curious to see how this turns out. And by the way, I wanted to give Libertas a shout-out. It's a site that looks at film from a conservative perspective. It's very well done and well worth a visit. Hit the link and see for yourself, or visit my sidebar.
- We finally were able to get outside and have a decent practice with the Little League team that I'm coaching this evening. It has been a long winter here in Minnesota (just ask Leo)and the kids were happy to actually take the field, even if it meant dancing around an ungroomed infield with an absolutely astonishing amount of goose poop. I'm cautiously optimistic about the team's chances: we have some talented kids this year and so far the attitudes are very good. Coaching youth sports is probably my favorite activity and baseball is such a wonderful game. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to help.
- Pope Benedict arrived today and will be very busy in the next few days. The headlines have related to Benedict's statement that he is "deeply ashamed" about the sex scandals that have rocked the American church in recent years. I'm glad he's talking about this issue up front, because you know he'll be asked about it repeatedly while he's here. For the sake of the Church and for the sake of all Catholics, we need to start repairing this breach. And if that means some of the Church hierarchy needs to go, especially here in the United States, so be it.
- It's tax day and it looks like we'll be okay for the year. Other people, not so much. But since we're all Happy To Pay For A Better Minnesota, guess we can't complain. Maybe tomorrow I'll go and take a subsidized light rail train ride to celebrate.
- If I've seemed cranky in recent days, there's been a good reason. I managed to get through 40+ years of life with my wisdom teeth intact, but had to get them pulled last week. I've tried to be my usual self, but blogging and painkillers don't really mix well. What a drag it is getting old....
Monday, April 14, 2008
I scored a Far Out
90% on the
Quiz by SheGoddess: Lose Weight Fast
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
HT: Mickey Kaus, who says no.
Update: The original video was pulled. See how this works for you. Apparently Obama is now doubling down. It's not he who is out of touch; it's his opponents, natch.
First rule of holes, Senator: when you're in one, stop digging.
Even more: watch and learn as CNN bien pensants Gloria Borger, Jeffrey Toobin and Jack Cafferty explain why Obama is right. Especially enjoy Cafferty's reasonable analysis comparing the economic sufferers in Pennsylvania to the sorts of people who train to join Al Qaida. I'm sure this is the kind of support that Senator Obama really appreciates. They've got yer back, Senator.
Friday, April 11, 2008
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
It's a pretty remarkable statement, really. If we go back 25 years, we're going back to the first Reagan administration. We are also back in 1983, which is precisely when things got better, pretty much everywhere. If things were better in the Pennsylvania towns of Obama's imaginings more than 25 years ago, then we must assume that the Carter era was a time of great economic progress. No one seriously believes that, of course.
Then we have the image of people "clinging to guns." What do you suppose Obama means by that? Are there a lot of hunters in rural America? Of course - I knew plenty of hunters growing up in a small Midwestern town. I'm not aware of any compelling reason why people who like to hunt and who are responsible shouldn't "cling to their guns."
And they also "cling to their religion." Why on earth is that a bad thing? Obama seems to imply that their religion is wedded to "frustration." How would he know that? Did Pastor Wright tell him that?
And their supposed "antipathy to people who aren't like them"; is Obama able to look into the hearts of people and know these things?
And "anti-immigrant sentiment"; is sentiment somehow actionable? If so, which sentiments?
And then the money idea - "anti-trade sentiment." Gee, last time I looked, the enitre Democratic Party apparatus has been quite vocal in opposing trade agreements. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have contests condemning NAFTA pretty much on a daily basis. Meanwhile a potential treaty with Colombia, our most consistently reliable ally in South America, languishes in the Congress. The construction of the sentence implies that "anti-trade sentiment" is somehow less than desirable. If so, why is Obama on record opposing trade agreements?
One of the obvious premises of the Obama campaign is that we need to get past our prejudices and move on to a better understanding of the world. As the campaign unfolds, it becomes increasingly apparent that what Obama actually wants is to replace one set of prejudices with another. Maybe he'll succeed.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
But he's retired. And once he made that decision, he should stick to it. It's not fair to Aaron Rodgers, the Packers or Packer fans to keep this dance going on, which Favre did again yesterday by hinting he might come back if the Packers need him.
Brett, we all love you. Always have, always will. But now you need to stay away. Come back in September and we'll retire your jersey. And if you're ever in New Brighton, feel free to stop by. But please stay retired. This stuff is getting tiresome.