Friday, October 31, 2008

Random Crap from the 70s - More Odd Kid Shows


It's Friday night and it's Halloween. So let's remember how scary things were for some of us when we were growing up.


I didn't watch this first show that much, but it was always especially strange the few times I watched it. It was our favorite secret agent:




So do you suppose that PETA would let something like this go by nowadays? You also have to love the stereotypes -- nothing like putting a Fu Manchu mustache on a chimpanzee.


I hate to admit this, but one year I carried this lunch box. Mercifully, it was only for a year and only because I had broken an infinitely cooler one. But I do remember watching the show in question, a bizarre cross between Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear. Help, help! Here come the bears




A few years on, we were treated to the "U.S. of Archie," where for reasons that are hard to understand at this point, someone decided to use the durable teenagers as instruments of learning. Only in the 70s could you have something like this, as the Archies celebrate Thomas Edison with an odd, dirgy song.


Meanwhile, Sid and Marty Krofft continued to pursue their empire of oddness with the Krofft Supershow. This clip brings back a lot of very bad memories. They're all here -- Captain Kool and the Kongs, Superbug, Doctor Shrinker and of course, the delight of any number of boys approaching puberty with some trepidation -- it's




And they're electra-annoying! But they were a stopgap between this (which had a few subtexts that I didn't get at the time) and this (which was to arrive soon thereafter). They did have some happening theme music in the 70s, too.


And it's worth remembering that as weird as the shows were, the ads were perhaps even stranger. Besides the perfidy of Mr. Owl, let's consider this interlude between Big Jim and Big Josh. What was Mattel selling here, really? At least it wasn't as odd as this ad for Calgon, which I swear ran for 20 years. But it could have been worse -- you could have spent $4.99 for this "20 Top Hits" record, with fake versions of bad songs. "Because of low royalties, we can't reveal the artists," but they were pretty good ones, like Ringo Sturr, Kat Stephens and Gladys Night and the Peps. Don't forget, order before midnight tomorrow.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Feel Better About Obama Now. . . .


You will, too, once you've seen this report from America's Finest News Source. And if you need any further convincing, I'm guessing this dispatch should also ease your troubled mind.


Fearless Dilettante Football Predictions - Playoff Feevah Edition


We've lost a few favorites in the past week, but we still have games to pick as high school football feevah continues. Cowbell is not yet indicated.


Kimberly Papermakers 40, Oshkosh North Spartans 17. Stinger's beloved wasp-like fellows should have no trouble with North, which they defeated rather handily earlier in the season. And that wasp looks nasty, don't he?


Mounds View Mustangs 28, Roseville Raiders 20. Roseville has been a big surprise, knocking off our beloved Irondale squad and White Bear Lake (Go Bears) in successive games. The run ends here as the Mustangs will prevail. But it won't be easy.


St. Norbert Green Knights 34, Beloit Bucs 17. Beloit doesn't beat St. Norbert much. And while they've really improved this year, they won't win on Saturday. The day may be arriving, though.


Michigan State Spartans 34, Wisconsin Badgers 27. I had figured this one for a tough game even before the Badgers went into their tailspin. While beating the Illini was a positive sign, I don't see them stopping Javon Ringer, especially in East Lansing.


Minnesota Golden Gophers 34, Northwestern Wildcats 20. Yes, the Gophers could be playing on New Year's Day. Northwestern started out well but has been fading of late, while the Gophers are not fading.


Tennessee Tuxedos 21, Green Bay Packers 17. I'm hoping to be wrong on this one. I still think there's reason to believe that the Packers are the best team in the division, but this is probably the toughest assignment left on the schedule. I think those powder blue unis that the Titans sport throw people off.


Houston Texans 31, Purple Helmeted Love Warriors 27. Everyone is worried about the Viking defense losing the Williamses. They should. But this week they need to worry more about Andre Johnson blowing by the aging Vikings secondary.

How Bad are The One's Numbers?

Even CBS has noticed. It's getting so bad that there's a pending report over there on the Tiffany Network that Obama was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard.

Developing. . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Moonlighting at Gino's

I'm going to be splitting time between here and my friend Gino's blog for the next week or so. It may mean that things here are a little slow for a few days, but I'll try to post at least something each day here. I would expect that many of you are already readers of Gino's blog. If you aren't, you really should be, because Gino is one of the most honest and fearless bloggers I know.

If you don't know, Gino is undergoing surgery tomorrow to remove a carotid tumor. His prognosis is excellent, but he's going to be in the hospital for probably a week. I'm deeply honored that he has asked me to keep the lights on over at his place. I will keep his readers posted on Gino's progress and probably do a few things over there to tweak him just a bit. Not gonna tip my hand on just how, though....

What was on television tonight?


I guess The One took over the airwaves tonight for a half hour. I missed the broadcast for an excellent reason -- I was at church doing my weekly duties as a Faith Formation teacher. With All Saint's Day nigh, we spent the night discussing why the lives of saints are worth studying.


I don't know about you, but my suspicion is that there is far greater value in learning about St. Francis, or St. Joan of Arc, or St. Thomas Aquinas, or St. Peter Claver, than spending a half hour listening to a messianic politician.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Political Differences Destroy Yet Another Family


As we all know this has been an especially contentious election cycle and the strains have been evident in many families. Voters in House District 50B may not have been aware of the tragedy unfolding within their midst, but we need to be mindful of, and sympathetic to, those families who have fallen victim to the raw partisan anger that has been on display.




We received what can only be categorized as a cry for help in the mail yesterday. The mailing was sent under the auspices of the ever-caring Minnesota DFL State Committee. This is an organization with a well-earned reputation for honesty and for the well-documented assertions that it makes concerning the passing scene. Because of the gentle nature of this organization, I was somewhat taken aback by the ferocious illustration on the cover of the brochure, which features feral lobbyists caged behind a glass door. It's a disturbing, alarming image.


Upon opening the brochure, I learned that it concerned the corrosive nature of lobbyists in St. Paul and the courageous efforts of certain local legislators to stem the tide of corruption that emanates from these jackals in Ferragamo shoes. I was alarmed to learn that a candidate for whom I offered support, Lori Grivna, apparently registered as a lobbyist. While it would have been easy to feel as betrayed, it seemed prudent to find out what evils she had perpetrated. As it turns out, she had indeed spoken with a number of legislators in 2007 on behalf of the Mounds View School Board. Once Lori's work was done at the end of the 2007 session, she ceased this activity.


I read on. The DFL brochure assured me that Grivna's opponent, Representative Kate Knuth, "stands up to the special interests." I learned from the brochure that Rep. Knuth "locked the lobbyists' revolving door," and that her commitment included refusing meals and gifts from lobbyists, and that, further, she was "putting solutions for our families ahead of lobbyists."


It all sounds noble, but there's a sad undercurrent to the tale. Since we know the DFL's reputation for probity, it is clear from the brochure that Rep. Knuth will have nothing to do with lobbyists. Unfortunately, that means that she has had to break openly with her own family. You see, her father is a lobbyist. Among his other clients, Dan Knuth has lobbied for Fresh Energy, an organization that has lobbied at the Capitol for years. As it turns out, Rep. Knuth introduced legislation establishing an environmental cap and trade policy that would directly benefit Fresh Energy. Imagine the betrayal Rep. Knuth must have felt when she learned that the policies that she was offering would benefit not only a lobbyist, but her own father.


The rift is so serious that one must assume that Rep. Knuth won't even eat at her father's house any more, because the DFL State Committee assures us that she eschews meals with lobbyists. One can imagine an unwrapped birthday gift sitting in a forlorn corner of her parent's house, gathering dust because their daughter would never accept any gifts from a lobbyist. Principled behavior is a lonely thing.


It's a cautionary tale and a reminder that politics are an ugly business. One can only hope that some day, once Rep. Knuth leaves the legislature, there will be a chance for this fractured family to heal.


Cross-posted at True North





Barnum Obama

I can only assume that Obama thinks he has it in the bag. How else do you parse this?

What we’re saying is that $87 billion tax break doesn’t need to go to people making an average of 1.4 million, it should go like it used to. It should go to middle class people — people making under $150,000 a year.”
That's what Joe Biden said yesterday. Haven't we been hearing incessantly that the threshold for Obama's tax manipulations would be $250,000?

Any bets that the number will change again after November 5?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fearless Dilettante Football Predictions - Wisconsin Playoff Opening Round Edition

Wisconsin high school football playoffs begin tomorrow, so we start picking early again this week. Okay, so Xavier got a tough hop in the seedings. But we don't give up hope. But as a failsafe, we do pick up Stinger's beloved Kimberly Papermakers so we someone to follow if the Hawks fall short.

Xavier Hawks 21, Wautoma Hornets 17. I have no reason to believe this will come to pass. But it's my blog. Go get 'em, Blue and White!

ACTUAL RESULT: WAUTOMA 47, XAVIER 46. A heartbreaker. Goes double-overtime, but the Hawks fall short. No shame in losing to the #1 seed, either.

Kimberly Papermakers 42, Green Bay Southwest Trojans 17. Kimberly is the defending state champion in Division 2 and they rolled through their conference without too much of a sweat. I don't see them sweating much tomorrow night.

ACTUAL RESULT: KIMBERLY 48, GBSW 13. I was in the neighborhood. Kimberly looks at Oshkosh North next.

More picks later this week!

It's a Gas Gas Gas Redux

You can get gas for $2.10/gallon at the SA by my house (County Road D and Old Highway 8) as of this morning. Think I'm gonna win my contest.

Hilarious

A practical application of Obamanomics in Charleston, SC.

Two Quick Shots


(photo Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune)


Blogging has been lighter than I planned for the past few days, but sometimes life intervenes. Anyway, here's two quick shots before I have go to work:



  • The most important local story of the past year is finally near closure. The Star Tribune reports that the NTSB report on the 35W bridge collapse will indicate that the bridge was doomed from the start because of a design error. That's an important finding for a number of reasons, but in the current political season it matters because some of the most prominent voices in the early days of the collapse attempted to pin the collapse on Tim Pawlenty, Carol Molnau and any other Republican who happened to be in view. Among the most prominent voices doing that was Elwyn Tinklenberg, who now thinks he deserves a seat in Congress. I would hope that Tinklenberg will get asked about that every single day until Election Day. He should be -- I can still remember watching Tinklenberg standing near the collapsed bridge, while rescue efforts were still under way, throwing blame around everywhere he could. Then again, with that skill set, he'd make a perfect member of the Democratic caucus in Washington.

  • This feature strongly supports Lori Grivna, who is running to unseat incumbent Kate Knuth for the seat representing District 50B in the Minnesota House. Lori has run a positive, issues-oriented campaign and has asked that no negative ads be run on her behalf. None have. The same can't be said for Knuth, who has benefited from some really sleazy crap from the DFL. Our friend Right Hook over at Boots On has all the details -- go read it. It's a classic example of why no good deed goes unpunished.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Morning Reading


Two interesting things this morning:


Michael Brodkorb is reporting that the Star Tribune has endorsed Norm Coleman. It's not on the Star Tribune website yet, but Brodkorb found an early Sunday edition that had it. If one of the most reliably leftist editorial pages in the country can't countenance an endorsement for Al Franken, that should tell you something.


I know, I know, we're beating a dead horse with the constant complaints about media bias. It's like complaining about the amount of nitrogen in the air. Still, I want to call this piece to your attention. Michael Malone's piece is full of good stuff, but here's the money quote, at least from my perspective:



The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber. Middle America, even when they didn’t agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a Presidential candidate. So much for the Standing Up for the Little Man, so much for Speaking Truth to Power, so much for Comforting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.

All I can hope is this: if Obama is elected, it turns out to be worth it for all the people in the MSM who've become his Praetorian Guard. In poker parlance, a lot of them are now all in.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Guilty Pleasures Part Thirty-One -- Sister Renita/WKAU Edition


In keeping with our celebration of Sister Renita, let's think back to what it sounded like on the radio at that time. Right around Christmas of the 1977-78 school year, disco really exploded on the national scene with the release of Saturday Night Fever. But I'm not sure Appleton really got with the program, at least right away. You would hear the Bee Gees and Donna Summer on the radio, but there was always a fair amount of pushback to it.


Some kids at XHS listened to WAPL, the "progressive" rock station in Appleton that eventually became a repository of metal mindlessness. I can still hear the dulcet tones of David Lee, a dude from Milwaukee who ended up working at "Apple 106" during the era, whose voice was an unholy cross between John Facenda and Barry White:


Apple 106. . . this is David Lee, kicking off a forty minute APPLE JAM, featuring the Scorps, Y & T, Twisted Sister, and Ratt. Let's kick it off with Axe -- Big Stick Goes Boom! Kick-ass rock and roll, on the Apple!


If you wanted Top 40, the pick was usually WKAU, out of nearby Kaukauna. They were a fairly pedestrian station but you would hear at least some of what was popular nationally on their airwaves. I remember listening to KAU a lot in those days and you would hear songs like these:


Lonely Boy, by Andrew Gold


Thunder Island, by Jay Ferguson


What'cha Gonna Do, by Pablo Cruise


And even, once in a great while, a song that was a little more, ahem, urban - like these:


Don't Leave Me This Way, by Thelma Houston


Strawberry Letter 23, by the Brothers Johnson


Musically, it wasn't very challenging stuff. And since I was about 13 or 14 at the time, I wasn't really ready to be challenged. There was such an amazing amount of music to discover that didn't usually penetrate the consciousness of a kid growing up in the Valley. But if you're like me, every one of those songs takes you right back. If you're so inclined, pick your favorite. I can't prove it, but I heard that Sister Renita was a big Brothers Johnson fan....










Responding to the Demand For Posts About Sister Renita




I've gotten some funny responses from anonymous posters from my beloved alma mater, Xavier High School, in the past day or so. One I recognize immediately, but the others are, well, a little mysterious. But the key is this - the request mentioned one of the most important names in my my high school days -- Sister Renita. So Sister Renita it is.




I scanned a page from my 1979 yearbook that features Sister Renita, along with the rest of the English department. Sister Renita is at the top left.




I wrote about Sister Renita a year ago in this post. From that post, here is a story of Sister Renita. I was talking about where I was 30 years ago (now 31). And one place was Sister Renita's Honors English class -4th hour, if I remember correctly.




A quick sketch: I was sitting in Sister Renita's Honors English class. Sister Renita was the best teacher I ever had, bar none. But she was also the most intimidating teacher I ever had, too. We used to say she ran her class the way Mao ruled China. One of the students in the class was a cheerleader and she was wearing her cheerleading outfit on this day. I was half daydreaming, half admiring this cheerleader's budding feminine form from across the room when suddenly Sister Renita pounced on the cheerleader, who was staring somewhat absent-mindedly at the blackboard. Sister Renita asked the cheerleader her opinion about something we read - the Odyssey, I think - and the cheerleader started to answer in a very soft voice. Sister Renita shot a withering glance at the cheerleader and thus began the following exchange:

"Miss, what are you wearing?"

"My cheerleading outfit, Sister."

"You are a cheerleader, but you can't speak up in my class? How are you able to lead the cheers, miss?"

"I can, Sister."

"But in here, you're a mouse?"

"But Sister--"

"You know, I ought to lock you in that broom closet and see if you can scream your way out. Maybe that will teach you how to speak up in class."

The rest of the class stared at Sister Renita, mouths agape. I was amazed and almost wanted to go over and offer comfort to the cheerleader, maybe give her a big hug. Not that I had any ulterior motive beyond the milk of human decency, of course. But Sister had her reasons for this exchange - she wanted the girls to be strong in their opinions, to not be mousy, to share their thoughts with the same enthusiasm that the boys did.

And it worked. The cheerleader in question did very well in Sister Renita's class. And the demanding standards that Sister Renita maintained benefited everyone who was in that room. The tough teachers are the ones you remember, because they are the ones who care.


I don't know if anyone who was in that class with me remembers that story, but I'll never forget it. Going to a Catholic high school in that era was odd, because there was a real tension between some of the religious who were teaching -- most were pre-Vatican II types -- and the sometimes touchy-feely ways of the younger lay teachers. (We also had some lay teachers who were more than a little bit sadistic, especially a certain math teacher who had a penchant for wearing a monochromatic wardrobe, but we'll let that pass for now.) There was one other bad cop nun in the school, Sister Alexandra, a/k/a Big Al. She taught typing class and was the sort who wouldn't hesitate to rap you over the knuckles with a ruler if you didn't have your nose lined up to the J key. It happened to me once and I never forgot. Even today when I approach a keyboard my nose lines up with the J key. And I can still type 65 words a minute if I need to.

I don't know if Big Al or Sister Renita are still around, but if they are -- thank you. You made a difference in my life.




Thursday, October 23, 2008

Show Me the Money


I wrote yesterday about the odd financial flows that have been taking place in this election cycle and the news today indicates that there are some real problems afoot. I'm especially interested in what Patrick Ruffini, who was George W. Bush's web guy in 2004, has to say about the Obama campaign's, uh, laissez faire approach to handling donations. Ruffini is using the F-word:




I just contributed $5 to Barack Obama.

I didn't want to. Ideally, I could have contributed $0.01 and cost them money. But it was the only way to confirm the root cause of the fraudulent micro-donations to the Obama campaign ("Doodad Pro" for $17,300 and "Good Will" for $11,000).

Obama campaign has turned its security settings for accepting online contributions down to the bare minimum -- possibly to juice the numbers, and turning a blind eye towards the potential for fraud not just against the FEC, but against unsuspecting victims of credit card fraud.

The issue centers around the Address Verification Service (or AVS) that credit card processors use to sniff out phony transactions. I was able to contribute money using an address other than the one on file with my bank account (I used an address I control, just not the one on my account), showing that the Obama campaign deliberately disabled AVS for its online donors.



AVS is generally the first line of defense against credit card fraud online. AVS ensures that not only is your credit card number accurate, but the street address you've submitted with a transaction matches the one on file with your bank.

Authorize.net, the largest credit card gateway provider in the country, lists AVS as a "Standard Transaction Security Setting," recommends merchants use it, and turns it on by default. So, in order for AVS to be turned off, it has to be intentional, at least with Authorize.net.


That is apparently what the Obama campaign has done. Why would they do that? I can think of two reasons off the top of my head:



  1. There are limits on what any one individual can give to any candidate. Personally, I don't think there should be, but that's the law right now and Obama knows it. If there is a mechanism for someone to give money with a credit card but then offer a different name, as would be the case in this instance, that's an easy way to cheat. Especially if the campaign doesn't release the names of its small donors, which is how the Obama campaign operates.

  2. It is also illegal for foreigners to give money to a presidential campaign. If one were so inclined - say, for example, a certain European financier who fancies Democrats - such a system would make it possible for money from overseas to find the coffers of a campaign.

It might all be an honest mistake. Perhaps a rogue webbie on the Obama staff decided to open the spigot a little wider and the campaign will be aghast at all this and return all the money. But maybe not. Ruffini:


"Donors" like "Doodad Pro" can submit tons of donations totaling well above the $2,300 limit using different bogus addresses (this does clarify how donations from "Palestine", or PA, got through). And the campaign has no way to reliably de-dupe these donations, besides looking at the last four digits of the credit card number, which with 3.1 million donors is an identifier that could be shared by literally hundreds of donors, and is not as easy to eyeball like a common name or address would be. The ability to contribute with a false address, when the technology to prevent it not only exists but comes standard, is a green light for fraud.

The hour is late and these revelations, even if they start to leak over the retaining wall that the MSM has constructed around the Obama campaign, are probably not going to be enough to derail Obama's quest for the White House. But this much is certain -- the revelations will come out eventually. And if it turns out that the Obama campaign turned a blind eye toward fraudulent financial transactions on its behalf, he's going to have a hell of a time governing what's already a very fractious country.

Fearless Dilettante Football Predictions - Hated Omro Edition


Back in my high school days, my beloved Xavier Hawks used to play in a league that was mostly other Catholic high schools. There were some long road trips as a result - Marinette Catholic Central was up on the Michigan border, 90 minutes away, but the rivalries were fun. That's over now and Xavier now plays schools from smaller towns in the area. Like this week's opponent, Omro. (Word to the wise -- if you click the link, you'll get blasted with an annoying civic jingle. Don't do it. I'm serious. You've been warned.) Omro is an innocuous little town on the Upper Fox River, west of Oshkosh somewhere. I'm sure that everyone in Omro is lovely. And that's the problem. Rivalries are what make high school sports fun. There was always a special glow when a Xavier squad dispatched one of the hegemonic Green Bay schools, or the satisfaction of keeping our boot on the throat of Oshkosh Lourdes. That's all gone now. Now we have Omro. It's not the same.


Xavier Hawks 34, Hated Omro Fighting Foxes 10. No history here. But Xavier will beat them. They might beat them worse if they pretend that Omro is Lourdes. Just sayin'.
ACTUAL RESULT: XAVIER 33, OMRO 0. Easy stuff. Now the playoffs begin and it gets tough right out of the box - Xavier gets the #1 seed in their bracket in the first game, mysterious Wautoma. Game is on Tuesday at Wautoma. If Xavier makes an early exit, we'll pick up the trail with my brother Stinger's alma mater, the mighty Kimberly Papermakers.

Mounds View Mustangs 41, Stillwater Ponies 14. Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, our Mustangs have a rematch with a team they crushed earlier in the season. And they'll crush 'em again.
ACTUAL RESULT: MOUNDS VIEW 21, STILLWATER 7. Next up for the Mustangs, it's resurgent Roseville, which followed up its upset over our beloved Irondale Knights by knocking off White Bear Lake (Go Bears). Good for Roseville, I suppose.


Washburn Millers 41, Simley Spartans 27. This is a step up in class for the Millers, who dispatched Holy Angels pretty easily on Tuesday. Simley is a mid-level team in a good league that has some larger schools, so they are battle-tested. But this is a very good Millers team and they carry the hopes of the City with them. For at least this week, they should hold up the banner.
ACTUAL RESULT: SIMLEY 21, WASHBURN 14. Give Simley the nod - they really played fine defense, especially in the second half, and used their size to wear down the Millers. Another nice season for the Millers.


Lawrence Vikings 17, Beloit Bucs 10. I'm a proud Beloit alum, but I do have a spot in my heart for the Larrys, since the school is in Appleton. There was a time when Lawrence was a small school powerhouse, but that time has long past. Since the game is up in Appleton, favor the homestanding Vikings.
ACTUAL RESULT: BELOIT 21, LAWRENCE 6. Good win for the Bucs on the road. Next week it's nasty ol' St. Norbert, league scourge.


Illinois Fighting Obamas 31, Don Morton Nation 24. My beloved Badgers are again putting the BAD in Badgers -- last week's loss at Iowa City was highly alarming. The Illini are an erratic bunch and the game is in Madison, but that doesn't seem to matter so much right now. Hope I'm wrong, but I suspect I'm not.
ACTUAL RESULT: WISCONSIN 27, ILLINOIS 17. A potentially season-salvaging game for Bucky. And I managed to offend Mr. Stover in yet another way. That's what you get for being a Cubs/Cowboys/Illini guy, Dan -- that's a pretty tough parlay.


Minnesota Golden Gophers 27, Purdon't Boilermakers 17. The Boilers are down this year, so this is a good opportunity for the Gophers to assert themselves as an actual factor in the Big 10. The guess here is that they will.
ACTUAL RESULT: GOPHERS 17, PURDUE 6. You know what's really strange about the Gophers? They play defense. I've lived here for 16 years and the Gophers never play defense. A nice road win. Next up -- puzzling Northwestern.


Our pro teams are on bye, so no NFL this time!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Deus Ex Cash Machina

UPDATE: This is getting good. Read this.


So Michele Bachmann showed up on Hardball last week and let Chris Matthews steer her into a bad corner. Now, a week later, she's in the fight of her political life. That's the story. Do you sense that there's a lot more than meets the eye?


First, as far as Bachmann's comments go -- I'm not convinced that she meant to call Barack Obama anti-American, but there's no doubt that she did. So be it. Defining someone as un-American is hardly new -- Nancy Pelosi described Republicans as unpatriotic less than a month ago. I'm guessing that if someone is unpatriotic, they're anti-American, too; maybe there's a distinction that one of the resident portside Bertrand Russells around here can make for us, but it's most likely a distinction without a difference. As far as I can tell, Nancy Pelosi hasn't suffered too much for making that statement.


Bachmann is a different matter, apparently. Chris Matthews's show is seen by far less than 1% of Americans, so it's passing strange that Bachmann's appearance on such a small platform would lead to nearly a million dollars coming into the campaign of her opponent in less than two days, especially since her comments didn't really reach that many people in her district over the weekend. One might conclude that Matthews's audience is amazingly well-heeled and disposed to providing large sums of money to anyone who speaks ill of Obama. That might be the answer. But I wonder about that.


The recent flow of money to Elwyn Tinklenberg's campaign was nearly entirely over the Internet. This is where Barack Obama's seemingly endless supply of money comes from. Now I have it on good authority that there's money to be made on the Internet -- you could ask this guy whether it's true or not. But Ty Coughlin has nothing on Barack Obama. The very mention of Obama's name seems to cause money to fall from the sky, either to build a fabulous campaign on The One's behalf, or to bury his opponents.


Where does the money come from? Well, we are told that it mostly comes from small contributions, mostly concerned people who give $50, or $100, or maybe $200 if they're feeling flush. But it's hard to tell for sure, since the Obama campaign hasn't been willing to disclose much about its small donor base. What we have learned suggests that money might be coming from places it shouldn't, like overseas. These financial practices have raised plenty of eyebrows, even in liberal enclaves like Seattle. And what we are told is that these famous small donors are the ones ponying up for the cash infusion that Tinklenberg is getting. If these small donors are really the silent sufferers from the forgotten middle class who have been tossed to the curb by Chimpy McBushitlerburton and his sidekick Evil Dick, I do have to wonder -- where are they getting the money to send to E-Tink? I thought they were deciding between paying their mortgages or filling their vehicles with gasoline, and that they were living paycheck to paycheck. That's what you hear, no? So where do they come up with the Jackson or the Benjamin for an obscure congressional candidate in Minnesota?


One thing has been pretty clear -- there's a lot of funny money flowing into Democratic coffers in this election cycle. Is it possible that E-Tink has gotten some? I hope it's not anti-American of me to wonder about that. And if you think it doesn't matter, remember what P. J. O'Rourke said -- when buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first thing bought and sold are the legislators. So here's my question -- who's buying Elwyn Tinklenberg?


Cross-posted at True North

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Give the Meme a Twist


My brother the Stinger is playing the old "Next Five" game over at his place. You've probably seen this one before; in fact, I'm pretty sure I've played it here. The game is to put your music player (iPod or whatever else) on shuffle and report what the next five songs are. It's usually fun and it tells you a little about the person who plays.


We need a break from politics anyway, so here's my twist on the game:



  • Find the next five songs on your player (in my place, the Media player on my laptop)

  • Find an accompanying video for each on YouTube (if you can)

  • Report your results and say one thing about each song

So, here is what I've come up with:


First, it's Donald Fagen with New Frontier. This one reminds me of my sophomore year in college - it was a minor hit in 1982.


Second, we get Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell in a classic from 1968, You're All I Need to Get By. This one doesn't have any special resonance for me, other than the fact it's a great song.


Third, we get the pride of Tulsa, the Gap Band, with Early in the Morning. This is also from 1982. Another college song for me - we weren't always too much into dance music in those days, but this was a good one. Also, you gotta love the cowboy hats.


Fourth, we return to the 60s, and we get Jimi Hendrix with Freedom. This song is pure 60s and an example of something that's easy to forget with Hendrix -- for all the guitar pyrotechnics, he was pretty firmly grounded in traditional song forms and there's a little bit of everything here - 12 bar blues, a great bridge and some excellent countermelodies. Man, he left too soon.


Last, we get someone else who left way too soon, also a guitar hero and sometime Hendrix acolyte, Stevie Ray Vaughan, with Life By the Drop. Stevie died in August, 1990, in a helicopter crash after a triumphant concert with Eric Clapton and Robert Cray at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin. It's easy to remember that, because my dad died four days later. This particular song came out posthumously but it's an apt summation of how Vaughan was living his life following the wild times he'd had earlier. He was really great and was poised for outright superstardom. Sometimes fate intervenes.


Totally random selection -- I have thousands of songs. Music can tell you many things. So if you're interested, put a few links in the comments section and tell me a story or two.


The Chicago Way

In a previous life I attended a few National Restaurant Association shows at McCormick Place in Chicago. One story you always heard is how exhibitors got squeezed for money if they wanted to participate – our vendors who were exhibiting there told us horror stories about the number of palms you had to grease to get your booth set up.

So I wasn’t surprised at all to hear that the MSM, which has provided such yeoman assistance to the Obama campaign, is going to have to grease a few palms in order to cover the coronation of The One:

A memo sent to news organizations on Tuesday by the Obama campaign says credentials will cost $715 to $1,815, depending on whether electrical and phone lines are needed and whether an indoor or outdoor seat is requested for the event, which is expected to be held outside the evening of Nov. 4 in Grant Park.

The only free admissions are for a “general media” area. But, the memo says, “Please note that the general media area is outdoors, unassigned and may have obstructed views . . . standing room only.”

The area also does not include access to top Obama campaign officials, whose statements likely are to be in hot demand on Election Night. They apparently will be available only in the “press file” tent, to which an additional admission fee of $935 per person is being imposed.
Change You Can Believe In.

Everlasting Gobstopper of Obama Goodness

If you want a comprehensive argument against Barack Obama's candidacy, click this link. Lotsa stuff to read and view. Ed Morrissey, Mary Katherine Ham and Guy Benson have done a great job with this extended post.

Highly recommended.

Fearless Dilettante Football Predictions – Always Listen to Mrs. D Edition

This feature keeps getting earlier and earlier during the week, but we have to do that because the Minnesota football playoffs begin tonight. I am officially adding another school to the mix – Mrs. D’s beloved alma mater, Washburn High School. She has asked for it and I have found that it’s always wise to agree to reasonable requests from Mrs. D.

So, here are the first two picks – more later:

Irondale Knights 31, Roseville Raiders 17. Irondale got smoked at Hopkins but this is a below-average team by Roseville standards. Mounds View got the bye in the section.

ACTUAL RESULT: ROSEVILLE 28, IRONDALE 20. Another good season ends way too soon. There was a reason that Irondale joined the North Suburban a number of years ago -- they still apparently can't compete with the larger suburban schools. Too bad.

Washburn Millers 41, Holy Angels Stars 34. This is an interesting game. Holy Angels usually has a lot of talent – it’s the alma mater of Larry Fitzgerald and former Badger quarterback John Stocco, but the Stars won’t have an answer for Washburn’s gigantic tight end, RaShede Hegeman.

ACTUAL RESULT: WASHBURN 35, HOLY ANGELS 0. An impressive win for the Millers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stop Me If You've Heard This Before


It's the centerpiece of Barack Obama's pitch. 95% of Americans, The One assures us, will get a tax cut. Well, there's a problem with that -- as many as 40% of the public doesn't actually pay income taxes - they might have taxes withheld, but they get every penny back and sometimes more. So how do you give someone who isn't paying income tax a refund?


You take it from someone else, of course. The Wall Street Journal's William McGurn explains it well - the real bone of contention is the payroll tax, which funds Social Security. You can't take money out of the "lockbox" of course, so what's happening is really a bait and switch where money is taken from taxpayers and given to those who aren't paying taxes. You could call it what it really is, which is welfare. You could also call it what Obama discussed with our old pal Joe the Plumber, which is "spreading the wealth around." Or you could call it buying votes.


But my guess is that, in the end, what we're going to call it is a mirage. I'm old enough to remember 1992, when then-candidate Bill Clinton, who ran as a fiscal conservative, told us that a tax cut, specifically for the middle class was in the offing. Oddly, I never got that. If Barack Obama wins, we'll hear that, darn the luck, that $700 billion bailout has the government tapped out.


If you really believe that Barack Obama is a better candidate than John McCain, go ahead and vote for him. If you really believe that a guy who has never been an executive can suddenly take on the largest, most divergent executive job imaginable, then cast your vote accordingly. But if you are voting for Barack Obama because he's promised you a tax cut, you really need to think it through.

The Global Test


You might remember that John Kerry came in for more than a little grief in the last election cycle when he made reference to a "global test." Well, it sounds like Joe (I'm from Scranton) Biden is concerned about that, too, but in a far different way than Kerry meant:




"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

Well, if Biden is concerned about that, there's an obvious solution -- elect John McCain instead. Somehow I don't think that's what Biden is suggesting.


What's also interesting is that Biden suspects that the halo will come off The One pretty quickly. How else would one parse the meaning of "it's not gonna be apparent that we're right." Well, why would that be?


Biden suggests 4 or 5 possible scenarios. I'm going to suggest one. Israel understands something that I'm not sure Obama really does -- Iran represents an existential threat to its existence. Israel will not let the the Iranians develop their nuclear program to the point that a bomb could land in Tel Aviv. Obama can claim that he is the best friend Israel could want, but the Israelis will be rightly skeptical. If Obama wins, the Israelis will not depend on Obama. They will attack Iran. What will Obama do?


We've got 2 weeks before Election Day. The election, as a practical matter, is going to be a referendum on Obama. Is he ready to handle the entirety of the Presidency? Joe Biden, bless his heart, has raised an issue that voters should consider.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Order Before Midnight Tomorrow


I guess I'm supposed to be impressed that Colin Powell endorsed The One today. Okay. I'm impressed. Another ostensible Republican orders a Strange New Respect award. You can, too - just call 1-800-BARACKME. Operators are standing by. Rumor has it they'll throw in the spiral slicer, too, just like they used to with the Ginsu Knives.


The ever-insightful Brad Carlson makes the point I really wanted to make about this. So you might as well read it over at his place. Click the link, y'all.

Well, the DFL Does Believe in Recycling. . . .


We're often lectured to by our DFL betters about the importance of sustainability and recycling to protect the environment. Lately we've been getting some mixed messages on that front. Voters in 50B recently received a bunch of mailings from the DFL, some extolling the virtues of Kate Knuth, and others attacking challenger Lori Grivna. We can assume that the DFL has no compunction about killing trees (apparently, they deserved to die), but the recycling comes in when it involves the attacks. The ever-sagacious Thrifty Scot over at Boots On has the skinny, so I won't belabor the point. Let's put it this way -- the attack was a lie two years ago and it hasn't become true since then. Nor, might I add, has the DFL become more honest.


Lori Grivna has served the residents of this area well as a member of the school board. She won't raise your taxes by billions of dollars or spend your hard-earned dollars on boondoggles, as Kate Knuth already has. Lori deserves your support.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Online Predators


It's an unfortunate reality of the digital age - young people who have Facebook accounts are often the target of online predators, who trade in the trusting nature of youth and attempt to use that trust for their own perverted purposes. It's important that we share these sorts of stories so we can prevent something tragic from happening.


The story begins this way: a 16-year-old girl gets an unexpected note. The note inquires about a girl who might attend the same school. The writer wants to know more about this other girl and, oddly, about her relationship with her mother. The reasons? Well, let the note speak for itself:



I saw on facebook that you went to Xavier, and if you don’t mind, I’d love to ask you some advice about a story. I’m a reporter at the New York Times, writing a profile of Cindy McCain, and we are trying to get a sense of what she is like as a mother. So I’m reaching out to fellow parents at her kids’ schools. My understanding is that some of her older kids went to Brophy/Xavier, but I’m trying to figure out what school her 16 year old daughter Bridget attends– and a few people said it was PCDS. Do you know if that’s right? Again, we’re not really reporting on the kids, just seeking some fellow parents who can talk about what Mrs. McCain is like.

Also, if you know anyone else who I should talk to– basically anyone who has encountered Mrs. McCain and might be able to share impressions– that would be great.

Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

Jodi Kantor
Political correspondent
New York Times

Not too suprisingly, the note came to the attention of the McCain campaign, which released its contents. The McCains indeed do have a daughter named Bridget. She is the girl that the McCains adopted from Bangladesh. It's a well-known story.


Where to begin on something like this? Let's just list off a few of the pieties we've heard in recent years about families of politicians should be treated. The Clintons famously asked that their daughter Chelsea be kept off-limits from scrutiny. It was a reasonable request and the MSM largely respected it. The Obamas have asked that their daughters be free from scrutiny as well, also a reasonable request and the MSM has complied. Barack Obama has asked that his wife be kept off-limits, a more problematic request since she is an integral part of his campaign, but coverage of her has been limited. I am glad that the MSM has chosen to respect the privacy of Chelsea Clinton and the two Obama daughters.


What would be nice is if the same courtesy were to apply to both sides. Clearly, that is not the case. The piece that Kantor was working on ran in today's edition of the Times. It's a remarkably catty piece that doesn't seek to illuminate as much as to diminish. It would be unthinkable that the Times would publish anything remotely as critical of Michelle Obama or Jill Biden. You can even see the hole that Kantor was trying to fill in the story:



Some of Mr. McCain’s Washington friends say they have barely met Mrs. McCain, while fellow mothers at their children’s schools say they have little sense of her husband.

That may or may not be true. It may not even be relevant. But as this campaign continues, more and more people are getting a sense of people like Jodi Kantor.



Cross-posted at True North

These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

Just a reminder: if you don't regularly read my friends at BootsOn, you need to. They have several excellent posts up right now over at their place. Just click that link and keep scrolling.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Levi Stubbs, RIP


It's been a tough year for Motown fans. We lost Norman Whitfield a while back and today comes word that one of the greatest voices from Motown's glory days, Levi Stubbs, has died. The Tops weren't as consistent as the Temptations, as innovative as Smokey Robinson or as touched by genius as Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder. But when they hit a song on the nose, they were awesome.


And never more awesome than in this smash from 1966, one of my all-time favorite songs.




Rest in peace, Levi.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Guilty Pleasures Part Thirty - Joe the Plumber Edition


Let's give all those Average Joes a little love. In honor of our favorite Ohio plumber, select from the following:


Jimi Hendrix singing Hey Joe at Monterey and likey infuriating 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed by playing guitar with his teeth - my daughter Maria suggests that perhaps Jimi was just flossing?


Simon and Garfunkel discussing the departure of Joltin' Joe in the context of their classic Mrs. Robinson, here rendered in Central Park in 1981.


I apologize in advance for this, but you had to see it coming. Next, in honor of the shabby treatment that JtP has received today, we break out one of the all-time bad ones. Yes, it's the immortal David Geddes performing with cheeseball splendor the horrifying earworm Run Joey Run.


Then, we have Roger Daltrey covering a song by, of all people, Murray Head of "One Night in Bangkok" fame. Yep, it's time to implore: Say It Ain't So, Joe


And we'll wrap it up with Boz Scaggs from 1980 with one of his last big hits -- Jojo.


Pick your favorite Joe!






Who Will Rid Me of this Troublesome Plumber?


I wrote a brief midday piece about the trashing of Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher earlier today, but what has happened since is really pretty sickening. This gloating article from National Journal is pretty typical of the whirlwind that this guy has been reaping ever since his question to Barack Obama got airplay.


Obama showed his class by piling on, as this video shows. Click the link before it disappears and listen to the contempt in Obama's voice as he says "plumber."


The invaluable Ed Morrissey pretty much sums it up over at Hot Air:



Now, we have people crawling over his tax records, his voter registration, his professional licensing, and whatever else they can find in the public record. Someone has linked him to the long-deceased Charles Keating, suggesting that somehow Obama managed to pick a McCain plant out of a ropeline full of people by accident. How much longer before a certain blogger at The Atlantic demands a paternity test to see if Joe the Plumber fathered Sarah Palin’s baby — or Bristol’s, for that matter?

The guy just asked Obama a question, for goodness sakes. He surely didn't expect that Obama's answer would be as controversial as it was. He didn't ask for his situation to come up in the debate. He is just a guy who works in the plumbing business in Ohio. Whether he's a fully credentialed plumber is beside the point. What matters is that he asked the leading presidential candidate a pretty simple question. If you watch the video, you'll see that he wasn't combative. He wasn't rude, nor was he threatening to Obama in any way. He's just a face in the crowd.


The good news is that the shabby treatment he's received today will probably mean that some wealthy conservative will hook him up with a better gig than what he has now. In a way, it's about as good as winning the lotto. So in the end he'll be fine.


But the question remains -- why would so many people fall on a guy like Joe Wurzelbacher like jackals? There is something uniquely disturbing about this incident, something far more disturbing than what happened to Sarah Palin and her family after she was nominated for the Vice Presidency. Sarah Palin willingly stepped into the arena. Whether she and her family deserved the beating they took, they had reason to know it would happen. Joe the Plumber didn't ask for this. He just asked a question and now he gets to stand naked in the public square for his troubles.


I'm not sure what is worse -- that Obama doesn't seem to have any sympathy for this guy, or that so many people were so eager to rid him of this troublesome plumber. There's a real moral sickness on display here and Senator Obama would do well to address it. And if he won't, I sincerely hope the voters will address it for him on November 4.

Doing Oppo on Joe the Plumber

While I remain pessimistic about the election, there is a chance that Obama and his people could still screw the pooch. How? Well, one way is by sliming someone like Joe the Plumber. Obama and his flying monkeys aren’t very nice people, but most voters don’t understand that. If they do gratuitous things like attack a guy no one heard of a few days ago, we might see an epiphany or two from some of those who are under the spell of The One.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Game, Set, Match


In a different world, John McCain might have had a chance. But in the world we live in, tonight was probably the last chance he had to turn things around in his campaign for the Presidency. From where I sit, he didn't get it done. A few observations:



  • One of my favorite moments of the debate was a Freudian slip that McCain made, where he inadvertently (or not?) called Barack Obama "Senator Government." If he'd meant it, it would have been apt and even witty. But wit has been the one thing that McCain has lacked throughout this campaign. And when I say wit I mean being ingenious, clever, sagacious -- pick your term. McCain just seems like a plodder when he shares a stage with Obama. And it hurts him.

  • Moderator Bob Schieffer was not a factor at all. That means he was effective.

  • Obama was running the four corners tonight and was pretty much able to get by with it. He said a few things that were demonstrably wrong -- his claim that McCain has run 100% negative ads is ridiculous, and his assertion that he can save the average family $2500 in health insurance doesn't stand up to scrutiny, nor does his repeated assertion that he will provide tax cuts to 95% of Americans. He may give refunds to people, but those refunds will be something akin to the Earned Income Tax Credit, because as many as 40% of Americans do not actually pay income tax. Income taxes are withheld, of course, but a lot of Americans have sufficient tax credits that the entirety of the amount is refunded. But try explaining that in a 30-second ad.

  • Joe the Plumber apparently is a hell of a guy. He must be, because he was the focus of a good portion of the debate and both candidates were pandering like hell for his vote. Joe probably understands that he'll lose out under Obama's plan, but he isn't saying who he'll vote for. Good for him, by the way. And I do hope that he enjoys his 15 minutes of fame. Someday he'll be on a Trivial Pursuit card, right after the one for Quemoy and Matsu.

  • It was probably six months too late, but it was about time that McCain said what he did about George W. Bush, especially saying that if Obama wanted to run against Bush, he should have done so four years ago. I don't think it will help McCain at this late hour, but Obama deeply deserved that particular rebuke.

  • The one avenue of attack on Obama that I have been waiting for McCain to make almost came up today, but he didn't follow up. Early on, McCain challenged Obama to name one time that he had bucked his party's leadership. Obama essentially sidestepped the question and that was the end of it. But the question that McCain really ought to be asking for the remainder of the campaign is this: what has Obama ever really accomplished? I asked this question a while back in a long comment thread regarding the Palin-Biden debate and my one of my portside posters submitted a list of eight rather pedestrian achievements, including writing a bill in the Illinois Senate that passed 58-0 (a real profile in courage, that) and another about the time that Obama took a public AIDS test in Africa to show people there that they don't need to fear testing. What's become increasingly clear is the disconnect between the faith that a lot of voters have in Obama's rhetoric and the actual record of accomplishment that he has produced. His career as the junior senator from Illinois is remarkably undistinguished: Amy Klobuchar has done more in two years than Obama has in four and no one would suggest that she should be President. But McCain has never made this case effectively. Truth be told, he hasn't really tried.

Unless there's some sort of deus ex machina in the next three weeks, Obama is going to become President of the United States. There is a fair amount of smoke coming from the ongoing revelations about ACORN (and a RICO suit would focus the issue nicely) and there's a chance that Tony Rezko could still cause Obama some heartburn, but none of that will come out until after the election, because Patrick Fitzgerald isn't Lawrence Walsh. Besides, my guess is that Fitzgerald is really after Mayor Daley, not Obama. Let's put it this way: Obama had better be as good as my portside friends think he is, because he will inherit a real mess. If it turns out that Obama is an empty suit, God help us.

Fearless Dilettante Football Predictions – Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooher Edition

Since Education Minnesota essentially controls the calendar in the month of October, I’m putting out a few picks now because of games that will be played this evening.

Hopkins Royals 42, Irondale Knights 35. An interesting non-conference game for the Knights, who face an explosive Hopkins squad. The game is at Hopkins, so I expect the Royals to prevail, but Irondale has been awfully good.

ACTUAL RESULT: HOPKINS 42, IRONDALE 24. Hopkins is really good, especially on their home field. That Classic Lake is a bizarre league - only 5 teams and 4 of them (Hopkins, Edina, Minnetonka and Wayzata) might be Top 10 caliber.

Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders 24, Mounds View Mustangs 14. Cretin is the reigning royalty in the Suburban East and is, as usual, loaded. The Mustangs have played very well since an opening loss to an excellent Woodbury team, but this is a real step up in class.

ACTUAL RESULT: CDH 33, MOUNDS VIEW 0. I'm guessing CDH will play for the championship this time around - Wayzata and Eden Prairie would be the other favorites. Meanwhile, Mounds View waits to see if it will be a 1 or 2 seed in its sectional. Whatever MV is, Irondale should be the other.

Waupaca Comets 24, Xavier Hawks 17. Just a hunch that the Hawks won't have enough against the league bully. Hope I'm wrong!

ACTUAL RESULT: WAUPACA 34, XAVIER 0. Guess they didn't. Next week it's hated Omro.

Beloit College Bucs 27, Illinois College Blueboys 17. Yes Virginia, the Blueboys. The term comes from the Civil War. The nickname for the Illinois College womens' teams is infinitely cooler: they are the Lady Blues. This is a team my beloved Buccos should beat, especially at home.

ACTUAL RESULT: IC 58, BELOIT 42. Ya see, to win football games, there's this thing called defense. Winning teams play it.

Wisconsin Badgers 24, Iowa Hawkeyes 14. Who knows about the Badgers any more? The last three weeks have been bad, worse and then catastrophic. Iowa City is usually a tough port of call for Bucky, but this year's Hawkeye squad just might be the one to get Kirk Ferentz fired.

ACTUAL RESULT: IOWA 38, BAD-GERS 16. Brett Bielema has a call in to Don Morton, asking about where he rented that coffin for his coaches' show. I don't think I've ever seen a season go off the rails this badly. Every other team in the Big 10 is playing some version of the spread offense. What do they know that the Badgers don't?

Gophers have a bye, so let's pick this game:


Mount Union Purple Raiders 74, Heidelberg Student Princes 0. Any school whose nickname is Student Princes deserves to get their butts beat. And perennial D-III power Mount Union is just the team to do it. No word on who the Amherst Lord Jeffs are playing, by the way.

ACTUAL RESULT: MOUNT UNION 49, HEIDELBERG 0. Not much else to say -- gotta love that D-III Ohio football.

Green Bay Packers 27, Indianapolis Colts 24. Probably being too optimistic on this, but it's my blog.

ACTUAL RESULT: PACKERS 34, COLTS 14. The most satisfying game of the year so far, by some measure. And now Aaron Rodgers gets a bye to rest that shoulder and get ready for a tough second half of the season.

Chicago "Focus of Evil in the Modern World" Bears 7, Purple Helmeted Love Warriors 2. Figure that Kyle Orton will be so busy stroking his porn star moustache that he'll inadvertently step out of the endzone like that guy for the Lions did last week. There's no reason to presume that the Viking offense will score in Soldier Field.

ACTUAL RESULT: BEARS 48, VIKINGS 41. I don't think I've ever been more wrong on a pick. The Vikings give up 48 points to da Bears? How's that Jared Allen thing workin' out for ya there, Purple fans?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Moment of Clarity



It's been an interesting few weeks on the starboard side. Even though the election is still 3 weeks away, the long knives have been out and we've seen something of a schism develop regarding the state of conservatism.





The flashpoint of this debate has been the nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate. Gov. Palin is an outsider; hell, you don't get much more outsider than a moose hunting governor with a Marge Gunderson accent. The credentialed, establishment East Coast commentariat, conservative division, does not like Gov. Palin. She's been reviled by Kathleen Parker, David Brooks, George Will, Peggy Noonan and now, most notably, Christopher Buckley. I would imagine there are others, too. Buckley has even come out publicly for Barack Obama and subsequently resigned from his father's beloved National Review, a resignation that was quickly accepted.





All of these individuals share common traits. They are all denizens of the eastern media nexus and they all spend a lot of time hobnobbing with people who share an animus toward people like Palin. They live in a world where verbal ability (being glib, really) is the coin of the realm. Some, most notably Will, have a long-standing animus against John McCain. And the world where they live is quite inhospitable to upstarts from the hinterlands.





From my perch in the Midwest, it's an odd thing to watch. I admire Sarah Palin a great deal and think that when the election is over, she will come out of the aftermath well positioned for another run at national office. The complaint you hear is that she is absurdly unqualified for the position, a view that was set in amber following substandard performances in the nationally televised pop quizzes that she took from Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric. Yet, strangely, she has become a sensation out on the hustings, drawing far more enthusiastic crowds than McCain does. It must mean something.





My suspicion is this: the nation has twice tried to send outsiders to Washington to clean things up, only to find that Washington spits out the outsiders utterly transformed. Bill Clinton ran as a reformer and part of a new breed of politician, avatar of his Baby Boom generation. George W. Bush ran as a prodigal son, returning from the wilds of Texas. Clinton left as a quintessential insider, while Bush is leaving essentially unloved in any quarter, a traitor to his class and a disappointment to his followers. Barack Obama is yet another putative outsider, but with a fully Washingtonized sheen. He hasn't been in Washington long enough to do much of anything in the Senate, but that reality hasn't seemed to hurt him thus far. Obama's cynicism and careerism don't particularly bother world-weary people like Will, Parker, Brooks, Noonan and Buckley. He's utterly recognizable and seems safer, more reasonable than someone like Palin, who doesn't necessarily know which fork to use. McCain should haven known better than to bring a ruffian to the party.

Palin is popular among the Republican base precisely because she's not part of the nexus. She's something totally unexpected - a frontier woman who shares the moral code of a certain type of man. She may sound like Marge Gunderson, but her personality and approach is something different -- fearless, unsentimental and lacking deference to the social constructs that govern polite society. Palin is not impressed with what she's seen so far and that's particularly troublesome to pundits who are themselves viewed with suspicion among their social betters. That's why Parker talks about cringing when she hears Palin speak.

The question for conservatives at this point is this: do you accept the worldview of the Parkers and Wills of the world, or do you look at Palin as only the first of a new wave of Republican leaders? The irony that Barack Obama will face if he wins is this: he may be an attractive new face, but the apparatus of the Democratic Party is ashen and hidebound in ways that will hurt him. He'll have to share the podium with Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, with people like John Murtha, Steny Hoyer and Christopher Dodd in the background. These are the people that George Will has known for his many years in Washington. These are the folks who will likely take the reins of power in 2009. Many of the people pulling the lever for Obama will be quite surprised to see that their votes will enable an elderly generation of insiders.





It may go badly for the Republican Party three weeks from tonight. Perhaps Christopher Buckley will enjoy his sinecure on the Obama bandwagon. What I suspect we are learning is this: the future of the Republican Party may begin on November 5. And it's considerably more likely that the standard-bearer for that future will be from Wasilla (or Baton Rouge or perhaps St. Paul) than from Bethesda or Westchester County.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fight the Power Part Two -- House District 50B


In an election cycle where big government seems to be in the saddle, it's important for conservatives to look at first principles. While it's easy to pay attention the big show taking place in Washington, what happens in St. Paul will likely have a greater impact on how you live your life each day. The previous legislative session was eventful in ways that most conservatives would find distressing. A huge tax increase of over $6 billion was essentially rammed down the throats of Minnesotans when the legislature was able to override Gov. Pawlenty's veto.

There's a strong chance that the Minnesota House will remain in DFL hands after this cycle, which means that there is also a strong chance that Speaker Kelliher and her minions will be back looking for more next year. The current incumbent in District 50B, Kate Knuth, will support whatever Speaker Kelliher wants.

Perhaps the voters of 50B are okay with that. Perhaps the new taxes that 50B will pay to fund a train that most 50B residents will never use are just part of the cost of doing business with the leviathan state. Maybe some day the DFL will deign to throw 50B a bone. And perhaps the residents of 50B are eager to accept broad increases in environmental regulation of the sort that Kate Knuth endorses.

But there's a better alternative. Instead, the residents of 50B can send Lori Grivna, a proven, conservative leader to St. Paul to represent our interests. Lori has a distinguished record serving the residents of 50B as a member of the Mounds View School Board and as a legislative consultant. She has been an observer and participant at all levels of local government and has positive working relationships with representatives at the municipal, county and state level. She will not be a foot soldier; rather she will be able to make a positive difference in St. Paul from the first day in office.

But more importantly, Lori Grivna understands conservative first principles, especially where fiscal discipline is concerned. Lori will ask tough questions and demand accountability from government. She understands the impact that taxation and regulation have on local businesses and the citizenry in general. Unlike her opponent, she has spent the majority of her career working in the private sector and brings an understanding of the real world effects of government depredations. Kate Knuth is very young and has not ventured outside of the world of academe in her brief career, which has meant that she doesn't quite understand the impact of her decisions on working families. Lori Grivna and her husband Wally have a made a life together and Lori understands what's at stake.

To that end, Lori will cast a cold eye on the current process. She won't simply accept baseline budgeting that keeps a permanent upward ratchet on budgets and expenditures. She'll challenge programs that have outlived their useful life. And most importantly, she'll not impose one-size-fits-all solutions to education, transportation and energy issues.

District 50B isn't a gilded precinct. Citizens in our area work hard and are productive citizens. They understand the value of a dollar and effort needed to earn one. Lori Grivna understands these things, too. She will ensure that the dollars the citizens of 50B send to St. Paul are used wisely. She richly deserves your support.

Cross-posted at True North

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fight the Power Part One -- 4th CD


John McCain has declared a rhetorical cease-fire and Norm Coleman has decided that he's going to try to play nice against the most loathsome opponent a politician could ever hope to have. If you wonder why conservatives are angry, it's because of stuff like that. So what to do?


Anger is understandable, but it has its limitatations. The better alternative is to spend time on campaigns for conservatives who are willing to fight, who aren't afraid to call their opponents out, who understand the real danger inherent in a complete governmental takeover by the Party of Government. For the next few days, we'll turn our attention back to people who are willing to fight.


In a year where the Democrats are riding high, not many people would expect a candidate running against an incumbent DFLer for a seat that has been in DFL hands for over 60 years to win. But in the 4th Congressional District, the Republicans are running the best candidate they've had for a long time. After chasing Betty McCollum for months, Ed Matthews finally gets to share a stage with the incumbent. The occasion is a "candidate forum" at Hamline University that takes place tomorow night, Monday, October 13. The event, sponsored by the theoretically non-partisan League of Women Voters, takes place at the Klas Center on the Hamline University campus at 7 p.m. The Hamline campus is just south of Pierce Butler Route on Snelling Avenue in the Midway district of St. Paul and the Klas Center itself is part of the athletic complex at Hamline.

Here is the key - all questions will come from the audience. Betty McCollum has done pretty well for the last eight years because (a) she has the right three letters after her name and (b) she's been able to avoid any real scrutiny. As a practical matter, McCollum is simply a foot soldier in the Pelosi army. Her only real distinction is the shrillness of her rhetoric, which has at times been audible only to domesticated animals. Her reputation as a leader is obvious by the noticeable lack of buzz surrounding her career. Ordinarily a 4-term congresswoman would be on the short list for potential higher office; say, for example, running for Governor in 2010. When a person like the disgraced Matt Entenza is on the short list and McCollum is not, it speaks volumes about the esteem with which Betty McCollum is held in her own caucus.


If Ed is able to get some of his supporters to attend the event and ask Rep. McCollum some questions beyond the usual NPR-style boilerplate, she can be exposed. Ed is a very sharp fellow with absolute mastery of the issues and excellent stage presence; he'll command respect that previous McCollum opponents have not been able to get. Ed Matthews isn't running as a sacrificial lamb - he's in it to win.


If you can get to Hamline tomorrow night, please do so. Almost all the local media attention for congressional races in this cycle has gone to the scurrilous campaign that Aswin Madia and his bobos have run against Erik Paulsen for the open seat in the 3rd CD, so a strong, visible showing by Ed Matthews would give the chattering classes something else to talk about for the next 3 weeks.


Cross-posted at True North

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Camp


Young Ben is at the Boy Scout Camporee in Cannon Falls today and I'm driving down to join him this afternoon. Mrs. D and Maria will be bachleloretting it tonight, although a steady stream of Maria's 3rd grade pals seem to be arriving on an hourly basis. Ah, testosterone! Back tomorrow.

Good Will Punting

So Norm Coleman forswears negative campaigning. How does Al Franken's campaign respond? Take it away, Andy Barr:

It's like an arsonist burning down every house in the village and then asking to be named fire chief.

Stay classy.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers


For they shall inherit the earth. They aren't likely to run the government, though.




I don't know if the Republicans raised the white flag yesterday, but you could make that argument based on comportment of the gentle, gentle gentlemen at the top of the ticket this year. John McCain was in Lakeville yesterday and he basically shut down some of his supporters who were calling for him to attack Barack Obama. At one point he was even booed when he spoke well of the junior senator from Illinois.


Meanwhile, Norm Coleman has announced that he will stop running negative ads against Al Franken. Over half of Coleman's negative ads have consisted of showing footage of Franken in full rant mode, swearing, swaggering, cursing and acting like a low-rent thug. But recent polls suggest that showing Franken in his own words doesn't seem to hurt Franken as much as it does Coleman. Franken will of course continue to run his scurrilities.


Perhaps the internal polling that the campaigns are doing is saying something that's not immediately apparent, but it seems passing strange to start playing Mr. Nice Guy at this late hour. People always say that they hate negative advertising, but it inevitably works. That's why it is done in every election cycle. It's why Franken may win and why a nothingburger like Aswin Madia has a good chance of taking the open 3rd CD seat away. Madia and his surrogates have run an especially appalling campaign against opponent Erik Paulsen that has been pretty much 100% false. And his reward may very well be a seat in Congress. Madia is apparently Change You Can Believe In. To his credit, Paulsen has been fighting back, but the damage may have been done.

It's possible that McCain and Coleman may be rewarded for taking the high road from here on out. But I'd be very surprised.






Friday, October 10, 2008

A Premonition Explained


Most of us haven't lived through a panic before. It's been nearly 80 years since the Crash of 1929 and the actors who brought us that particular drama been gone for a long time. You don't always notice it as it's happening to you, but I'd be willing to wager that the past 2-3 weeks will turn out to be one of the most momentous periods in the history of this nation.


Back in February I wrote this post. I used Carole King's song "It's Too Late" as a jumping off point to talk about something I couldn't quite explain. I had a sense that something pretty big was up, but I wasn't sure what it was. Here is what I wrote back then:



So here's my weird thought - I hear the song and it makes me think of what's happening right now, and not only in this election cycle. I've done my fair share of alternately mocking and cringing at the Obama campaign in recent days. But it's becoming increasingly evident that there's something else in the air, something that's only tangentially related to Obama, his campaign or even what his adminstration would look like should he ultimately prevail in November. I'm not sure what's happening, but whatever is happening is bigger and more momentous than all that. My sense is that there are forces at play right now that are a lot more powerful than anything else that we've experienced in my lifetime. I think that the next 4-8 years are going to be transformative regardless of the occupant of the Oval Office. Something very new and potentially quite strange is on the horizon. I'm not worried or fearful about it, because there's no use in worrying about things you cannot control. But my sense is that we're in for a hell of a ride, and soon.

What's happened, it would seem, is a panic that stems from a systemic crisis of confidence in many institutions, but primarily the financial industry and the government. We have seen a Treasury Secretary who has feet very much in both worlds essentially demand that the taxpayers save Wall Street. The apparatus of government has complied. And the markets have sent an unmistakable message about the efficacy this unprecedented government intervention, with one of the largest drops in the Dow Jones average in history.


And what now seems likely to happen is that the American people are going to turn the government over to the Party of Government. Barring something really unforeseen, John McCain is not going to win the election. There's an excellent chance that he might lose in an electoral landslide. And at a time where we need an experienced hand at the tiller, it looks likely that we will be sending an inexperienced product of the Chicago political machine to become Leader of the Free World. It also appears quite possible that the citizens of this state are prepared to toss aside a reasonable senator for a guy who began his political career by writing ad hominem screeds.


It's possible that this may turn out well. My social betters in the East Coast commentariat have lately been trying to reassure us that the Senator from ACORN has a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament, and that Obama surely won't do what it would seem he plans to do, because if he did, "he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr."


Just a guess - if this doesn't turn out well, Barack Obama won't be the only one reaping a whirlwind.


Cross-posted at True North