Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cheesehead Agonistes

Not so great a time for your average Wisconsin sports fan. The situation in Green Bay looks more and more like an Ionesco play and in Miller Park, our beloved Brewers get swept out of their own yard by Stover's Boys. Oh well, I always try to take the advice contained in the first line of this song.

Open Question to my Democratic Pals

Here's the current state of play in the debate over drilling in the Senate. Enjoy the tennis match between Sens. McConnell (R-Ky.) and Salazar (D-Colo.).

So tell me, portsider friends - how will this play? Discuss. Oh, and my conservative colleagues can play, too.
(H/T: Captain Ed)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Take Five

I love YouTube because it seems like so many really cool things are now available. Especially music. And best of all, you can share it with people.

I was trying to play a variation of the old "next five songs on your shuffle" meme. Instead, let's play deejay. I was a college deejay at the mighty 90.3, WBCR-FM, during my college days. My show was pretty odd - half new wave/punk, half 60s soul, with a smattering of classic rock as a bridge. So tonight I'm going to play deejay and pick five of my favorite songs and present them to you. No votes, but I would be curious about your five favorites.

First up is my favorite from the Fab Four. The clip is an excerpt from the movie "Help," which was not nearly as good as "A Hard Day's Night" cinematically but was chock full of great songs. Including this one, with one of John's best vocals, tricky time signatures and lots of other goodness. Here are the boys cavorting in the Alps, singing

Next up, my favorite 60s soul tune, from the most dramatic singer in the Motown stable, Levi Stubbs, and his compadres in the Four Tops. The Tops weren't as consistent as the Temptations and certainly less influential than Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson, but when they were on their game, they were magnificent, and this is their crowning achievement. From a 1966 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, here they are, singing

Next, the title song for this post. Dave Brubeck is still going strong, pushing 90 and still performing. While he never reached the level of genius that Armstrong, Ellington, Davis or Coltrane did, I greatly enjoy his music. And his most famous work still sounds fresh, 50 years on. Here is Brubeck and his group from 1961, featuring the brilliant saxophonist Paul Desmond, performing

So if Brubeck wasn't a genius, who was? Well, Miles Davis, of course. And John Coltrane. And around the same time that Brubeck and Desmond were creating their best work, Davis and Coltrane were collaborating with Gil Evans on one of the most influential records in the history of jazz, Kind of Blue. And the best piece on Kind of Blue is this one. Here are Davis, Coltrane and several other collaborators in a 1959 performance of

And finally, something from the Only Band That Matters. At the end of 1979, I was a junior in high school and I heard something startlingly new. I've owned this album in one form or another ever since. And while this song isn't my favorite from the album, it's probably one of the best performances/statements of purpose in the history of rock and roll. It's the Clash, performing

So, if you were to "Take Five," which five would you take?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Watching Justin Morneau Through a Picket Fence of Tiaras

Twins win 6-5. We ended up leaving early because my daughter has a friend over tonight for a sleepover and they wanted to come back and do sleepover stuff - you know, watch movies, tell ghost stories, giggle - that sort of thing. We did see the crucial 5th inning, when the Twins put together a typical rally - a dink here, a dunk there, a few walks, a rattled pitcher (tonight's victim the immortal Clayton Richard) and Justin Morneau applying the coup de grace with a line drive that you could have hung all the laundry in New Brighton on. Typical stuff for the Twins. Glen Perkins didn't pitch especially well, but did just enough to win the game. The Mighty Whities laid waste to our heroes in Chicago last month, but strange things seem to happen under teflon skies. And suddenly a team that has three rookies in the starting rotation is only a half-game back.

As I mentioned, we took Maria's friend to the game with us, since Ben is up at scout camp this week. It was her friend's first major league game and she had a pretty good time, even though she wasn't always sure what was going on. The most amusing part of tonight's game was that we were seated directly behind a bevy of beauty queens. The Aquatennial is going on right now and all the contenders for the Queen of the Lakes beauty contest, from ports of call throughout the Gopher state were at the game tonight. You could see them all, from Richfield, Coon Rapids, Willmar, Duluth and towns I'm not familiar with. There were several young Nordic-looking lasses from the Minnewaska area sitting in front of us, all sporting plastic tiaras and sashes draped over their Joe Mauer t-shirts. The young ladies were having a splendid time munching Dome Dogs, taking pictures of themselves with their cell phone cameras and half-heartedly attempting to get a wave started. Word may not have reached Minnewaska that the Wave was passe a few years before any of them were born. Maria and her friend were amused at the spectacle, but neither seemed especially interested in taking a walk down the runway themselves later on. I can tell I'm getting old, because I was more interested in watching the game than the spectacle in front of me.

I realize that a lot of people are eagerly awaiting the new ballpark that's being built on the other side of downtown Minneapolis. It should be, from all accounts, a cozy little bandbox with a neat view of the Minneapolis skyline and enough skybox revenue to keep the Pohlad family smiling in perpetuity. And on summer nights like this, it's tough to go inside a dome to watch a game. But I'll say this - the Twins have had great success in this building and I really suspect that we will miss the reviled old Dome once it's gone.

Close Encounters of the Teflon Kind

We’re off to the Metrodome tonight to watch the Twins battle the ever-menacing White Sox. We’ll be sure to say hi to A. J. Pierzynski for y’all. Full report tomorrow!

Monday, July 28, 2008

There are some who call me. . . . Tim?

So the rumors du jour in the Veepstakes are that a pair of governors named Tim are getting scrutiny from the respective campaigns. The Tim that McCain is considering is our old pal Tim Pawlenty, governor of our fair state, while the Tim that might have caught Obama's eye is Tim Kaine, governor of Virginia. So will either of these Tims lead their searchers to the Holy Grail?

I understand the logic of both picks. T-Paw has been a loyal McCain supporter throughout and has been an effective surrogate for McCain out on the road. He's certainly had his share of success here in Minnesota, especially winning in 2006 in what was in retrospect a very tough year for Republicans. We all know his strengths and weaknesses pretty well here in Minnesota, although you'd get disagreement regarding what specifically those strengths and weaknesses are, depending on who you talk to. He's smart, affable and politically adroit, but you have to wonder if he wouldn't be susceptible to getting the Dan Quayle treatment once he hits the national stage.

Kaine has been governor of Virginia since 2006. He is, like all Virginia governors, limited to one term. He has had some success but the word you hear about him is that he's pretty ho-hum and it's not clear that he could deliver the state to Obama. Like most Democrats, he's popular in Fairfax County but not so much elsewhere. He's Catholic and has been fairly pro-life by Democrat standards, which might be a deal-breaker for some of the feminists that Obama will need. The biggest knock on Kaine is that he has run big budget deficits. The one thing I didn't know about Kaine until recently is that he was born in St. Paul.

Bottom line - these two guys would certainly be adequate vice presidents, but it's difficult to see that either would bring any real benefit to their respective tickets. I'd like to see McCain be bolder. I'd like to see Obama pick someone with a little more gravitas. The problem is the ideal candidate to run with the Lightworker is this guy, and he hasn't been available for a long time now.

Bob Novak

News came out this afternoon that longtime Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Novak has been on the beat in Washington for half a century now and has seen it all. He and his long-time writing partner Rowland Evans were two of the best reporters in Washington and broke countless stories. He’s best known these days for his role in the Valerie Plame kerfuffle and recently got himself into trouble for a traffic accident where he hit and injured someone. Novak said he didn’t see the guy he hit. If he has a tumor, that’s quite possible. When I had my pituitary tumor diagnosed last year, one of the first things that doctor did was take away my car keys.

At this point we don’t know much about Mr. Novak’s prognosis; we’ll revisit the matter later today once we know more. Meanwhile, say a prayer.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Working for the Clampdown

The news often seems an unceasing parade of evil. It's easy to forget since we live in a place where people can say pretty much anything they want about the political leadership (and do), but in many places in the world people are not free. There are more kleptocracies, dictators and bad eggs running things in the world than there are countries where freedom is a given. But sometimes, like in the final reel of an old Hollywood Western, the bad guys get it in the end.

Two of the worst guys who have tread the world stage in the last 20 years are now apparently about to be brought to justice, or at least brought low. The first is Radovan Karadzic, the Serbian thug with the bouffant hairdo who oversaw the destruction of Sarajevo and the killing of thousands of Croats and various Balkan Muslims in the goal of creating Greater Serbia. Over 15 years on from the actual events, it's easy to forget the savagery of the wanton killing that took place in the region, much of it at Kardzic's direction. He had escaped justice for a long time, hiding in plain sight in Belgrade as a sort of New Age shaman, until he was finally arrested this month. It appears that he will finally be called to account for the atrocities that he oversaw, a modern-day war criminal facing the apparatus of the Hague.

Meanwhile, it appears that the reign of terror in Zimbabwe may finally be coming to an end. Robert Mugabe, who took power from the white leadership nearly 30 years ago now, steadily devolved into a typical African kleptocrat who thought nothing of impoverishing his people. The country he took over had a horrible history of racism at the hands of the whites who had run it as Rhodesia, but with abundant resources and a lush landscape, Zimbabwe was well poised to be a success story, a happy ending. But by 1985, it was already becoming clear that Mugabe wasn't about to let it happen. In the 23 years since then, Zimbabwe has become perhaps the biggest basket case in Africa, which is saying something. In recent weeks Mugabe was threatening to nationalize pretty much everything, after having stolen yet another election. Today it appears that the regime may finally be coming to an end. Thabo Mbeki, president of neighboring South Africa, has told Mugabe that the game is over. It's not clear yet what the endgame will be, but it appears that Mugabe's political rival Morgan Tsvangirai will, at a minimum, share power. In the end, it is possible that Mugabe may join Karadzic in the cell block.

One of the reasons I get so irritated with the fools who prattle on about Chimpy McHitlerburton is that they don't seem to have any concept what real evil is like. President Bush will return to Crawford, TX on January 20, 2009 and it is highly likely that either Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain will take the oath of office without any shots being fired. There is no question about it. I am a Catholic of German-Irish ancestry, a minority in Minnesota. I do not worry about Norwegian Lutheran death squads coming 'round to kill me. I do not worry about the government taking everything I own away from me, although sometimes Larry Pogemiller does seem a smidge too covetous of my stuff. I do not fear the sniper's bullet or the tread of the secret policeman's boot. I post my thoughts on a blog that anyone can read and don't worry in the least that my public declarations will cause me any lasting harm, except for the occasional flame from a commenter. We are fortunate, highly fortunate, that we live in a place where we can believe any silly thing, say what we want and get up the next morning and do it again.

Cross-posted at True North

Sunday Funnies

I've spent too much time this month discussing two figures who irritate me - Barack Obama and Brett Favre. And a fair amount of what's been written here has been mocking and just a smidge bitter. Hey, kvetching can be fun, but let's face facts -- it gets old. So today, I thought we should look at something else entirely. I want to talk about funnymen.

We lost George Carlin earlier this year. Carlin was a very funny comedian and social observer. While Carlin continued to perform almost until the end of his life, he'd largely faded from the scene and a lot of younger people really didn't know a lot of Carlin and his work. While some of it was of its moment, his larger observations had a timeless quality to them.

There are several other comedians out there who are still alive but whose work isn't seen as much any more. The four men I'd like to feature today are all still alive and it's good to recognize them while they are still with us. They are all a half generation older than Carlin and they are worth thinking about and appreciating while we still have them.

The first, not suprisingly, is my favorite comedian, Bob Newhart. Newhart is now 78 years old and my understanding is that his health is a little dicey. His name came up earlier this year primarily because of the passing of Suzanne Pleshette, his co-star in his highly successful 1970s vehicle The Bob Newhart Show. Newhart had already been successful for well over a decade before that show aired and some of his early stuff is absolutely hilarious. Here's a representative bit from 1965, featuring Newhart as an embarrassed customer attempting to return a gift to shopkeeper Dean Martin, who is improbably dressed in a tuxedo. Part of the fun is Dean Martin cracking up repeatedly.

Speaking of Dean, one of the highlights of his old television show on NBC was the celebrity roasts. I remember watching these when I was a kid. I didn't always get the jokes, but my dad's laughter was usually enough to get me (and my brothers) roaring along too during the wacky hijinks. These roasts often had a jaw-dropping array of talent on them - Jack Benny, Orson Welles, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and lots of others were regulars. I'm posting two quick clips featuring two very different comedians roasting the then-governor of California. Fella you may have heard of named Ronald Reagan. First is the brillant but now largely-forgotten Jonathan Winters (now 82) in his Maude Frickert outfit pretending to be Reagan's first-grade teacher from Tampico, Illinois, and second is Don Rickles (now 82 as well), doing that voodoo that he do so well. And because it was the 70s, for some reason Mark Spitz was on the dais. And while were at it, here's a 9 min. distallation of the roast of Muhammad Ali. Watch the clip then riddle me this - could you get by with saying some of this stuff on network television any more?

Finally, here's something that dates even a little farther back. It features the great sketch comedian Sid Caesar (now 85) and Nanette Fabray (who I remember most from appearances on Match Game), pantomiming an argument to Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Funny, inventive, dazzling and not a word is spoken.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Because doing something about energy prices is too hard, some of the bien pensants up on Capitol Hill held a tantrum, I mean hearing today to do some play acting impeachment stuff.

They were all there: Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Maurice Hinchey and Zoe Lofgren were all there to posture and heap calumnies on Chimpy McHitlerburton.

Conyers expressed his profound regrets that they didn't have the guts to do what they wanted to do, mostly because if they were serious they would be hooted off the stage.

Lofgren suggested that The Current Occupant (as this guy so lovingly refers to the President) was "the worst president that our nation has ever suffered," causing audible sighs of relief from Plains, Georgia.

Hinchey, last seen suggesting that it was time to nationalize the oil companies because he knows more about the industry because he might have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express with Hugo Chavez (it's easy to get confused about this) suggested that "this is the most impeachable administration in the history of America because of the way that it has clearly violated the law," using the same standards of evidence that he had previously used when he explained that Karl Rove had planted the Rathergate memos.

But it wasn't just Congresscritters having a whack at the piñata. Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted the Charles Manson case 40 years ago and has been coasting ever since, was there to hawk his wares, acknowledging that "I am forbidden from accusing him of a crime, or even any dishonorable conduct" under House rules. But he could still encourage people to read his book, "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder." Here's a tip, kids. Read Helter Skelter instead. But check it out from your local library.

There was a voice of reason in the room, though. That would be Jeremy Rabkin, a law professor at George Mason University. His take?

"The tone of these deliberations is slightly demented," Rabkin said. "You should all remind yourselves that the rest of the country is not necessarily in this same bubble in which people think it is reasonable to describe the president as if he were Caligula."

Professor Rabkin, you've got it all wrong. Caligula was a piker compared to Chimpy McBushhitlerburtonplameslayerviolatoroftheconstitutionratbastardkatrinacauser. Just ask these folks.

When You're a Jet, You're a Jet All the Way

Okay, after a one-week moratorium in re: Brett Favre, we may have some news to ponder. Brett's bobo Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Jets have received permission to talk to Favre. The scenario that is being floated is that Favre will report to Packers camp and then the Packers will trade him to the Jets for a draft pick or maybe some of Eric Mangini's pocket lint or something.

That would be just about perfect. It would get Favre out of the NFC and send him to a place where (a) there's almost no chance he could bite the Packers in the butt and (b) he would learn how good he's really had it in Green Bay all these years. Wait'll the Daily News, Post and Newsday get a hold of this guy. I can already see the headlines now:

Flustered Favre Fails Again

Do Us a Favre and Retire, Already

Come Back, Chad Pennington -- All Is Forgiven

Jets Fans Nix Hix From Stix (sorry, that would be from Variety)

QB Gave Better Performance in "There's Something About Mary"

Headless Quarterback in Topless Bar

If this plays out, all I have to say is have fun in New York, Brett. And look on the bright side - at least this guy won't be around to torment you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Come to the Cabaret

So the cabaret came to Berlin, for one night only. Another performance before a rapt audience, not at the Kit Kat Club, but instead out in the open air in front of the Siegessäule monument, though most of the attendees were ineligible to provide the support the performer needs. The performer didn't wear a bowler hat and a garter belt, but he managed to attract a crowd in Berlin that rivaled other performers of his sort, as many as 200,000 people.

There's no need to invoke Godwin's Law here. The performer in question is a politician, not a nascent dictator. If he succeeds in his quest, he will have the world stage for a maximum of 8 years. But like the Emcee in the Kit Kat Club, he is a particularly cynical performer. Even as the cleaning crews were removing the debris from the Tiegarten, his operatives had already started milking the event for more money. Money makes the world go 'round.

The show rolls on to Paris tomorrow. Enjoy it, folks. Hopefully it won't end like this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One of These Names Just Doesn't Belong Here

Here's a little quiz for you. What do the following names have in common?

Christopher Dodd

Tim Johnson

Jack Reed

Charles Schumer

Evan Bayh

Tom Carper

Robert Menendez

Daniel Akaka

Sherrod Brown

Robert Casey

Jon Tester

Barack Obama

Richard Shelby

Robert Bennett

Wayne Allard

Michael Enzi

Charles Hagel

Jim Bunning

Mike Crapo

Elizabeth Dole

Mel Martinez

Bob Corker

If you said they were all United States senators, you are correct. But that's not what we're here for today. They all have something else in common, except one. Do you know what it is?

Twenty-one of the 22 senators named on this list are members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. One is not. Do you know who it is?

Here's a hint. John Hinderaker at Powerline noticed something today. One of the senators on the list made the following statement today:

Now, in terms of knowing my commitments, you don't have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds. Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon.

Here's a hint. The senator who said that today is the one who is not a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Who is it? It wasn't Crapo, even if the statement was crap. It wasn't Tester testing the bounds of propriety. It wasn't even Chuck Schumer, slayer of IndyMac and the king of self-aggrandizement on Capitol Hill.

Nope, it was Barack Obama.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Thoroughgoing (And Deserved) Fisking

Right Hook has taken Kate Knuth's latest self-serving pronouncements down in grand style over at Boots On. Anyone who lives in 50B should read this, but I want to call particular attention to one particularly risible claim Knuth makes that RH called out (emphasis his):

Balanced the state budget without raising taxes. [WTF???? I apologize to our "family oriented" readers, but sometimes there is only one expression that does such a brazen lie justice! I guess all of the taxes the DFL did raise, including the gasoline tax at a time of $4/gallon gas had nothing to do with the final "balanced" budget.]

WTF indeed. For Kate Knuth to claim that the legislature balanced the state budget without raising taxes is transparently dishonest. I know that she didn't learn how to talk like that when she was involved in Scouting. I'm paying every day, as is every person who drives an evil automobile in Minnesota. There's a lot more and RH has it all. Go punch that link, or punch this one. It's worth linking twice.

L'Etat, c'est Obama

I'm not sure we even need to have an election. It's pretty evident that Senator Obama is already president, given the wall-to-wall, fawning media coverage he's getting on his triumphal tour of the world. And his staff clearly thinks it's just a formality, as this report from the Politico would indicate.

At a morning background briefing, reporters parried with senior advisers on the characterization of Obama’s speech Thursday in Berlin as a campaign rally. The outdoor speech at the Victory Column could draw thousands of people, similar to the size of Obama events in the United States.

“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.

“But he is not president of the United States,” a reporter reminded the adviser.

“He is going to talk about the issues as an individual … not as a candidate, but as an individual, as a senator,” the adviser added.

Nice, huh? Look, life's not fair. There are a hell of a lot of people who want to pull this guy across the finish line and while I think there's still a chance to stop him, we stand an excellent chance of having this guy take the oath of office in January. The Republic survived four years of Jimmy Carter, so we would survive 4 or even 8 years of this guy. But I hope McCain roughs him up a bit. Obama needs someone to do that to him, because if he becomes president, he'll face a lot of people on the world stage who won't hesitate to test him. And as this terrific column from David Aaronovitch of the Times of London reminds us, even Obama's European fans will eventually turn on him. Consider this, Obama fans:

Some on the Left are getting their count-me-outs in already, realising that Mr Obama is, after all, a big-game hunter, a full-trousered American candidate. They, I think, are more realistic than those who manage on one day to laud the Democrat as not being a real politician, and on the next to praise him for his sensible left-trimming when seeking the party's nomination and his equally sensible centre-hugging once it was in the bag. I say the antis are more realistic because, eventually, we will hate or ridicule Mr Obama too - provided, of course, that he is elected and serves two full terms.

George W.Bush, of course, represents a particular kind of offence to European sensibilities. He blew out Kyoto, instead of pretending to care about it and then not implementing it, which is what our hypocrisies require. He took no exquisite pains to make us feel consulted. He invaded Iraq in the name of freedom and then somehow allowed torturers to photograph each other in the fallen dictator's house of tortures. He is not going to run Franklin Roosevelt a close race for nomination as the second greatest president of the US.

But even if he had been a half-Chinese ballet-loving Francophone, he would have been hated by some who should have loved him, for there isn't an American president since Eisenhower who hasn't ended up, at some point or other, being depicted by the world's cartoonists as a cowboy astride a phallic missile. It happened to Bill Clinton when he bombed Iraq; it will happen to Mr Obama when his reinforced forces in Afghanistan or Pakistan mistake a meeting of tribal elders for an unwise gathering of Taleban and al-Qaeda. Then the new president (or, if McCain, the old president) will be the target of that mandarin Anglo-French conceit that our superior colonialism somehow gives us the standing to critique the Yank's naive and inferior imperialism.

Often those who express their tiresome anti-Americanism will suggest, as do some of the more disingenuous anti-Zionists with regard to anti-Semitism - that they, of course, are not anti-American, and that no one really is. But, coming as I do from an Anti-American tradition that wasn't afraid to proclaim itself, I think I know where the corpses are interred. For example, the current production of Bernstein's Candide at the English National Opera is a classic of elite anti-Americanism, in which we are invited to laugh at the philistine invocation of “Democracy, the American Way and McDonald's”. The laughter that accompanied this feeble satire showed our proper understanding that we, the audience, had a proper concept of democracy, and would never soil ourselves with an Egg McMuffin.

This is why one of the regnant critiques of Chimpy McHitlerburton has never made much sense - Americans aren't disliked because we elected THE STUPIDEST MAN EVAH (and his minder Evil Dick); Americans are disliked because we are Americans. Currying favor with people who aren't going to like us anyway is a fool's errand, which is what Obama is on right now. In 2011 or so, the contrived goodwill he has been seeking this week won't matter a bit. And as Americans, we need to be clear-eyed about this. Especially a President Obama.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Here Comes the Veep?

Bob Novak is reporting that John McCain may name his vice-presidential nominee this week. It's too soon to do that. The only reason to do it now would be to gain a (very) short-term strategic objective of knocking the official Barack Obama Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show off the front page.

So who will Maverick pick? Novak is speculating that it might be Mitt Romney. I preferred Romney in the primary and still believe he would be a good president because of his executive experience. But I'm not sure he has the skill set for the Vice Presidency. McCain should look at Romney as a potential Secretary of the Treasury if he gets elected, but not as a running mate. I've also heard speculation about a couple of Ohioans, John Kasich and Rob Portman. Both are highly capable men, but both would elicit a yawn from the voting public, I suspect. I personally think that McCain needs someone younger and more exciting, someone who would be an interesting new face on the scene and someone with the ability to take over and run things if needed. He needs a youthful governor.

There are five Republican governors out there who have garnered a lot of attention and speculation. The first is the governor of this fair state, Tim Pawlenty. He probably wouldn't carry Minnesota for McCain and even though he's not a hick, I could see him getting the Quayle treatment anyway. He should bide his time.

An even younger contender is Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana. Jindal is not yet 40 years old and has had an impressive rise. He also has a big mess on his hands in Louisiana and he probably needs time to deal with it. You'll see him on the hustings, but probably not unitl 2016 or maybe even 2020.

Maverick owes Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who seems popular enough in his home state. But it's hard to see what he adds, except even more gray hair. My guess is he won't get it. Another southern governor that McCain owes is Mark Sanford of South Carolina. He's a rock-solid conservative, but he won't excite anyone, either.

The last name is perhaps the most intriguing. That would be Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She is young and relatively new to the governor's mansion, but her main claim to fame is as a reformer. She took on the big spending Murkowski family dynasty and won and she is wildly popular in her home state. She also has impeccable conservative credentials and could play a key role in what I think is the biggest issue in this campaign, energy. And she would give some of the disgruntled Hillary supporters something to think about.

That's my take on it. What's yours?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Triumph of the Shill

Barack Obama got a lot of criticism for thinking about giving a major address at the Brandenburg Gate, so he decided on a new venue. But it looks like he didn't vet the new location very well, either. The new location for Barack Star's European Tour is the Siegessäule monument in the heart of Berlin. I've posted a picture of it. It's a majestic monument and certainly phallic enough to send another thrill up Chris Matthews's leg. But there's a problem, as Der Spiegel points out:

Still, even as the issue of his speech's location has now been settled, a number of politicians in Berlin are still dissatisfied with the site. The Siegessäule -- or Victory Column -- was erected in memory of Prussia's victories
over Denmark (1864), Austria (1866) and France (1870/71). The column originally
stood in front of the Reichstag, Germany's parliament building, but was moved by
Adolf Hitler to its current location in 1939 to make way for his planned transformation of Berlin into the Nazi capital "Germania."

"The Siegessäule in Berlin was moved to where it is now by Adolf Hitler. He
saw it as a symbol of German superiority and of the victorious wars against
Denmark, Austria and France," the deputy leader of the Free Democrats, Rainer
Brüderle, told Bild am Sonntag. He raised the question as to "whether Barack
Obama was advised correctly in his choice of the Siegessäule as the site to hold
a speech on his vision for a more cooperative world."

While I understand why the Germans might be a smidge sensitive to such a history, I think the Siegessäule is the perfect place for Obama to hold his rally. It's a symbol of Prussian triumphalism and there isn't a candidate around who is as triumphal as the man who will bring us Change We Can Believe In. He and his wife have promised us that once we have elected this man, our lives will be transformed. He'll certainly be as benevolent as the people this monument memorializes, right? Certainly Bismarck had a vision for a more cooperative Germany; never mind that the cooperation entailed that some of my ancestors serve as cannon fodder in some of the wars that that the Siegessäule commemorates. Fortunately for me, some of the more non-cooperative Bavarians who were able to get over on a boat in the 1850s and settle in Wisconsin included my great-great grandparents.

We should probably start quarrying the marble for something like this, because clearly we'll need something like this on the Capitol Mall once Obama's reign is over.

(H/T: Captain Ed)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jesus Christ Oberstar

Jim Oberstar has been in Congress a long time. He went to Washington with the Watergate babies following the 1974 election and since he represents Duluth and the Iron Range, he hasn't been seriously challenged for his congressional seat. Aside from someone like this guy, he's about as venerable as they get.

I can only say that Oberstar must feel especially safe about his reelection, because only a guy who has a fiefdom would propose something as dumb as raising the federal gas tax. Per this AP report (via Fox News):

Now, lawmakers quietly are talking about raising fuel taxes by a dime from the current 18.4 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents on diesel fuel.

But that's not all. Oberstar and his partner in obliviousness, Peter DeFazio (D-OR) wants to index the tax to inflation, adding a permanent upward ratchet on taxes.

Oberstar, D-Minn., said his committee is working on the next long-term highway bill. He estimated it will take between $450 billion and $500 billion over six years to address safety and congestion issues with highways, bridges and transit systems.

"We'll put all things on the table," Oberstar said, but the gas tax "is the cornerstone. Nothing else will work without the underpinning of the higher user fee gas tax."

At the very least, the gas tax should be indexed to construction cost inflation, DeFazio said.

What a great idea! The average price of gasoline has fallen here in recent days, but it's still at historic highs. The added expenses of transportation are getting passed on throughout the larger economy, which is making things cost more at the grocery store and everywhere else. I saw diesel fuel going for about $4.65/gallon today. Some truckers are parking their rigs. But these guys aren't satisfied.

The Democratic party has been blocking domestic oil exploration for most of my adult lifetime and because enough Republicans have been feckless on the issue (take a bow, Sen. McCain), they've gotten by with it. Now, with many of their constituents suffering real economic hardship, they want to raise taxes on gas further and index it to inflation, locking in higher prices in perpetuity. And yet the Netroots people think that Congress is unpopular because Speaker Pelosi hasn't gotten around to impeaching George W. Bush.

Two questions:

1) What planet do the Democrats live on?

2) How inept is the leadership of the Republican Party if Jim Oberstar and his pals are expected to be able to take over the country in November?
Cross-posted at True North

Leo Gets to the Point

As usual. Read the whole thing, but here's the money graf:

Word to the Republicans (including John McCain): Energy is your issue. You own it. Use the issue as a sledgehammer, use it often, and use it mercilessly. Those bastards deserve it.


SAYB North 9, Centennial Lakes South 7

Good game for the SAYB North American League tourney team, defeating Centennial Lakes South 9-7 at Lions Field in Circle Pines. The kids fell behind 6-0 but righted themselves after that and shut down the formidable CL South lineup the rest of the way.

Tourney play continues tomorrow with a game against our friends from SAYB West. Game time is 4 p.m. at Carl Eck Field, also in Circle Pines. As always, Mr. Dilettante is your source for SAYB action.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Guilty Pleasures Part Twenty-Five -- Endless Self-Love Edition

We're starting the back nine of 2008 and it's been apparent that the overarching theme of this particular year is egotism unleashed. So in honor of a few people who shall remain nameless (but have been discussed at some length in this feature), we present the following choices.

First up, a timeless tune from late 1972. It's Carly Simon, who bets you think this song is about you, don't you?

Next our obligatory oldie, complete with compulsory, anachronistic go-go dancing, always a specialty of this feature. You would cry too if happened to you, Lesley Gore says, because:

Next, we advance ahead to the wilds of 1992, for this bold statement of purpose from one hit wonder Right Said Fred, as they do their little turn on the catwalk and remind their adoring public that:

Next, Living Colour's 1988 offering that is the song most likely to welcome a certain politician who thinks he should appear before the Brandenburg Gate. Look in my eyes, what do you see?

And to complete our presentation, we offer a rejoinder to the strutting with some vintage Stevie Wonder in a performace from the 1975 Grammy Awards, complete with some truly spectacular tuxedos with the I-94 lapel style that was so prevalent then. See if you can spot Tony Orlando, the Temptations and Phoebe Snow in the audience shots and sing along as Stevie explains to so many of the peacocks currently strutting the stage that if you really want to hear our view:

Feel the self-love. And cast yer votes!

Common Sense Held Hostage - Day Five

As the stench from Green Bay gets stronger and stronger, I've decided against writing any more about l'affaire Favre until there's some actual news. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't read other people's writing about the topic. For example, this typically wise take from our friend the Nightwriter.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Talk About Junk Mail

Look what came over the transom today. Guess the Vikings weren't satisfied with tampering with Brett Favre; now they're pestering Packers fans.

Will the madness ever end?

Best Headline of the Year

Is right here. Glad to see that the leadership over on the portside is keeping a reasoned perspective on things.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Forecast Calls for Pain

I will give Al Gore this much - he's consistent. And his consistency is causing some of his pals heartburn.

With gas prices around $4 a gallon, fealty to environmentalism seems a little less important to some people in the Democratic Party. Tomorrow Gore is planning to make a major speech in Washington to try to keep his global warming crusade going. According to The Hill:

Al Gore hopes to put global warming back at the top of Washington’s agenda Thursday, but some Democrats in Congress are questioning his timing when they
are getting pummeled by Republicans over record gas prices.

Gore hopes to deliver a major speech on the environment at Constitution Hall in Washington Thursday that will “press the reset button on how people are looking at the energy crisis and the climate crisis,” said Brian Hardwick, spokesman for Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection.

Some in Gore's party would prefer to skip past Al's message, though, especially some less-tenured Congresscritters.

“I think the American public will be much more receptive to arguments about climate change when gas prices aren’t so critical,” said Rep. Zack Space, a
freshman Democrat who represents a mostly rural district in Ohio.

I almost feel sorry for guys like Rep. Space, who have to fall in line with their leadership on environmental issues. But in the end, there's no reason for sympathy. The Democrats deserve the pummeling they are getting. President Bush has been absolutely consistent on this issue for the entirety of his presidency. Meanwhile, Gore and his colleagues have been consistently on the other side. Now that things are tough, Bush's position looks better.

It will be interesting to see if the Democrats abandon their full-bore (pun intended) environmentalist posturing for the remainder of the campaign. They may have to. A lot of ideas that the Left holds dear have been thrown under the zero-emission bus recently. Will Prophet Al be next?
Cross-posted at True North

This Is the Big One, Elizabeth

We're a lot more sensitive than we were in the 1970s. Is that progress?

One of the most popular television shows in the early to mid-70s was Sanford and Son, an Americanized version of the British sitcom "Steptoe and Son" transplanted to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. The show featured comedian Redd Foxx, who was best known for working blue in his nightclub act. Foxx played a scheming, irascible junkman named Fred Sanford, who was sort of a cross between Archie Bunker and Ralph Kramden. The show trafficked in a certain number of stereotypes and cliches, but it was often quite funny, especially because some of the supporting characters were excellent foils for Foxx's particular brand of put-downs. The battles between Sanford and the psalm-singing Aunt Esther (played by LaWanda Page) were often especially amusing.

Esther -- Fred Sanford, the wrath of God will strike you down!

Fred (brandishing baseball bat) -- And this Louisville Slugger will knock you out!

I was thinking about Sanford and Son today because of a particular episode of the show that probably couldn't be shown today. In this episode, Sanford is attempting to open some sort of social club, but his goal is to get a wealthier clientele. In Sanford's mind, that means white customers. So he becomes angry and disgusted when the place starts filling with African-Americans. It's been more than 30 years since I've seen it, so I'm going to have to paraphrase it, but the Sanford character says something like this:

"There's more n******s in here than in a Tarzan movie!"

I remember staring at the screen, dumbfounded, when he said that. But there it was. This was nationally televised on NBC in the 1970s. Thirty years on, I won't even use the actual word on my blog. So things have changed.

Which brings us to the latest news concerning the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Apparently during the same interview session where Jackson suggested a little freelance surgery ought to be applied to Sen. Barack Obama, Rev. Jackson suggested that Obama was "talking down to black people ... telling 'N-words' how to behave." Except that he didn't say 'N-words,' of course. Now it turns out that Jackson has used the word and is being hoist on his own petard.

Is this progress? The word in question is one of the ugliest slurs in the English language and you simply don't hear people use the word in the larger society much any more. In my experience, if a white person utters the word, he does it quietly, almost in a conspiratorial whisper. And I think less of people who use the word.

Yet there is a tendency for some in the African-American community to use the word, often quite indiscriminately, sometimes in the same manner that the Fred Sanford character used the word in that television episode of yore. I have no desire to use the word as it serves no good purpose. But I also suspect that by establishing such a taboo around the use of the word, we give the word more power than it might have otherwise. The N-word has become the Voldemort of the English language - that which cannot be named. And because the taboo surrounding the word has such power, when someone like Jackson uses the word, even in a private conversation, it becomes national news. Is this progress?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


As I write, the All-Star Game is still going on, now in the 11th inning and former Twin Cristian Guzman has just popped out to center. It's a baseball week as I am helping to coach a Little League all-star team that will be competing in a tournament for the next two weeks. It's a good group of 11 kids, all gamers with a couple who have a chance to perhaps play high school ball someday.

We spend a lot of time around here writing about selfish athletes, narcissistic politicians and the cynics and sycophants who hover in their orbits. That's one of the reasons that coaching is so much fun. I've been coaching for six years now and I've probably coached over 100 kids. Some of them have been outstanding athletes; most have just been typical suburban kids. But every kid I've ever coached has wanted to get better and has been open to learning and improving. It's hard to remain cynical when you see that.

Roosh Has Left the Building

I've long admired Roosh Five, a very good MOB blog under the steady hand of proprietor JRoosh. He's decided to hang it up and explains why in his final post. I completely understand his reasoning - there are only so many hours in a day and blogging can hoover a ton of time out of your life if you let it. Given where he is in his life right now, something had to give and blogging is it.

A fella's gotta do what he's gotta do. I would be remiss if I didn't say that the local blogosphere shines a little less brightly today. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your good example, good sir!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Who Would Have Guessed

That Jesse Ventura is more sensible than Brett Favre? I was out coaching baseball tonight so I missed the dueling mewling taking place with Larry King and Greta Van Susteren. But as near as I can tell, Jesse has decided that he'd rather be surfing or some such rather than sharing a cloakroom with Daniel Akaka, whereas our hero Brett is pretty much filled with caca.

Let's put it as simply as we can -- Brett Favre is being an ass. He's put his team, his teammates and the fans who have supported him for most of his adult life in a situation where they have to choose between him and the team that he has represented. There was never any reason for this -- he could have come back in late March and all would have been forgiven. But now it's impossible to solve this situation amicably. If the Packers reinstall Favre, they stick a shiv in the back of Aaron Rodgers. If they stay true to their original plan, they have to deal with a continuing soap opera.

Favre, God love him, has surrounded himself with sycophants. Some are in Wisconsin, some are in and around Hattiesburg, Mississippi and a fair number of them live and work in the vicinity of Bristol, Connecticut. Like ZZ Top, he's bad, he's nationwide. But what Brett really needs aren't sycophants. What he needs is someone to tell him the truth.

Both Greta Van Susteren and I are graduates of Xavier High School. She failed to tell Brett the truth tonight. Even though they don't encourage the use of foul language at XHS, they do encourage us to tell the truth, so it's incumbent upon me to say what my fellow alumna could not.

Brett, you're full of shit. Take a step back, look at the damage you are causing your team and your legacy. Take a deep breath, slowly back away and go back to Hattiesburg before it's too late. We'll see you in Canton in 5 years.


For being the stupidest man to ever be president, George W. Bush is still apparently smarter than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. He's lifting the executive order signed by his father (bad Dad!) that would allow offshore oil drilling to commence.

Thing is, Congress has to lift its ban, too. They don't want to, but here's the message from El Presidente:

"This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil reserves is action from the U.S. Congress," Bush said.

Your play, Harry and Nancy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

If you happen to see. . .

The Nightwriter wandering around the streets in a daze, clutching a bottle of this stuff, take pity on the poor fellow. He touched the third rail, and we aren't talking about his recent experiments involving public transportation.

More kidblogging

This time it's Maria, who has been very busy with her blog, Fearless Maria. Go check it out!

Triumph of the Grill

This is amusing. That august news organization, Sports, is reporting on a pro-Favre rally that some Packer fans held in the Lambeau Field parking lot today. It was an overwhelming show of support for the most important single thing in Wisconsin. Here's the money graf (emphasis mine):

The crowd of more than 100 chanted "We want Brett" and carried signs reading "Favre for President" and "Favre Forever." Many in the parking lot wore No. 4 jerseys, tossed footballs and grilled.

In other words, it was a summer day like most any other in Green Bay since 1993 or so, except that the folks wearing the 4 jerseys were in the Lambeau parking lot instead of being scattered around various city parks in Green Bay. You could draw a crowd of 100 people wearing 4 jerseys to rally for Brett Favre, freeing Mumia or the Spartacus Youth League, so long as you had Charlie Murphy at the helm of a 4-ft. grill and a ready supply of bratwurst.

Here's a tip, Sports: this ain't news.

A must-read - UPDATE

UPDATE: I originally posted this piece this morning. Now I see that the New Yorker has decided to pair the very serious article that I recommend below with a satiric cover that will get far more attention than the article. I still recommend Ryan Lizza's article wholeheartedly. The cover, not so much.

I'm not ordinarily in the habit of endorsing articles that appear in the New Yorker, but you should go read this piece by Ryan Lizza. Lizza went to Chicago and talked to a lot of the politicians and political movers who were witnesses to the rise of Barack Obama. There are plenty of good bits that I could excerpt, but it's worth the time it takes to read in its entirety. Chicago politics are often quite Byzantine and Rizza does a good job of chronicling Obama's journey through that environment. The piece answers a lot of questions and raises still more. Go get a cup of coffee and punch the link.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Exhuming an Old Meme

I've been playing with my computer and trying to get my music files organized. I have a lot of music and I'm finally going to be joining the 21st Century one of these days and getting an iPod or some other MP3 player. For now, I can shuffle music using the existing media player on my computer. And that reminds me of an old meme:

What are the next five songs on your shuffle?

So let's play. Here are mine:

"Biko," Peter Gabriel

"Let's Go Get Stoned," Ray Charles

"Sunday Morning Coming Down," Johnny Cash

"Dazed and Confused," Led Zeppelin

"Dear Doctor," the Rolling Stones

Sure the heck seems like a theme, huh? Maybe I should go get a beer....

So let's throw the meme out to the vast North American Mr. Dilettante reading audience - what are the next five songs on your shuffle?

Kid blogging

My son Ben has a post up at his blog. It's pure Ben. Give him a look and a comment if you're so inclined.

Chucky Kills IndyMac

You don't have to look too hard to find adverse economic news these days, but yesterday was a particularly egregious day. Federal regulators took over IndyMac Bank, a thrift out of Pasadena that was one of the key mortgage lenders in the recent housing boom. IndyMac wasn't as high-profile an outfit as Countrywide, but they were also a big subprime lender and there are a lot of people in this country who have mortgages through IndyMac.

What's interesting is that the actions of one Senator probably were the primary cause of IndyMac's failure. That senator is Charles Schumer, the senior senator from New York, who might be the biggest attention whore in the Senate. And given the competition, that's saying something. Schumer went gunning for IndyMac late last month, sending a letter to federal regulators that questioned the bank's solvency. Word got out about Schumer's concerns and we saw an old fashioned bank run. Per the report in the Wall Street Journal:

The director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, John Reich, blamed IndyMac's failure on comments made in late June by Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), who sent a letter to the regulator raising concerns about the bank's solvency. In the following 11 days, spooked depositors withdrew a total of $1.3 billion. Mr. Reich said Sen. Schumer gave the bank a "heart attack."

Schumer disputes this account, of course. The interesting question is this: why did Schumer make the contents of his letter public? Senators and other legislators certainly communicate with federal regulators all the time, but in most cases the content of these communications aren't made public, so what Schumer did was highly unusual. It's possible that Schumer was simply grandstanding - that's the Occam's Razor explanation. There is this, though - Schumer may have been doing the bidding of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who has been feuding with federal regulators over rules covering New York banks, and potentially ACORN, the self-styled housing advocacy organization that has also been active in voter registration drives that have sometimes skirted legality. This particular blog raises some interesting questions.

Back in my B of A days, we were looking for a partner that could assist some of our higher-risk relocation clients with mortgage financing. We took a hard look at IndyMac, since they had expertise in dealing with Alt-A financing (also known as "stated income" loans, or more cynically, "liar's loans.") The program we were contemplating never did materialize and after I left B of A, it ultimately ended up acquiring Countrywide. We're now three years removed from those days and a lot has changed. It's possible that IndyMac was going to fail anyway. But there's no question that Chuck Schumer greased the skids.

Friday, July 11, 2008

You Supply the Prose Poems, I'll Supply the War

Chris Mortenson is quickly becoming the William Randolph Hearst of the NFL. After a week worth of jawing and leaks and whatnot, now we hear from ol' Mort that Brett Favre wants his release so he can play for some other team. Various fans in Minnesota, Chicago, Baltimore and Long Island are almost tingly with excitement.

I am a Packer fan first. Always have been. Brett Favre has been the public face of the team for nearly two decades now and is now the Greatest Packer of Them All. More than Starr, or Hornung, or even Hutson. He's right up there with Lambeau and Lombardi. We all love you, Brett. Swear to God.

IF (and it's still IF) the reports are true, Brett Favre has let his own ego get in the way. There is no way he can go someplace else, learn a new system, get himself into football shape and be anything other than even a shadow of what he was last year, to say nothing of what he was back in the 1990s. The more likely scenario -- the Packers won't give him his release and he'll either have to come back to Green Bay all surly, or they'll put him back on the roster and then trade him to someplace like Oakland, where the greatest Iron Man in NFL history will get his tuchus kicked and probably will end up getting carted off the field. I hope the Packers do put Favre back on the roster and force his hand. If Brett Favre is truly throwing this tantrum, he deserves to go the woodshed. And the proprietor of the woodshed is Ted Thompson.

The picture I've posted here is of another elderly quarterback who hung around too long. The fellow in the Chargers uniform is Johnny Unitas, still considered the greatest quarterback of all. It ended very badly in San Diego, where he ended up losing games and getting beat up in the service of a very bad team that had a serious drug problem. Some 35 years later, Brett Favre may have the same fate. It's a shame, really.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We Will Sell No Whine Before Its Time

Phil Gramm committed a gaffe the other day when he talked about the country being in a "psychological recession." Technically, he's right - the country hasn't had negative growth for two consecutive quarters; in fact, growth has been anemic but consistent, at least according to the government measurements that are used to make determinations about such things.

But here's where he screwed up.

"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in
decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth
continues in the economy, he said.

Even if this statement is intellectually defensible, it's not very smart. And as a practical matter, Gramm's statement can be fairly construed as whining, too.

McCain wasted no time throwing Gramm under the bus, of course.

A reporter asked if there’s any chance that Phil Gramm would be McCain’s
Secretary of Treasury or play a significant economic policy-making role in a
McCain administration.

“I think that Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for
Ambassador to Belarus,” McCain joked, “although I’m not sure the citizens of
Minsk would welcome that.”

As one of my old bosses, who had a deathgrip on the obvious, used to say, perception is reality. It doesn't matter whether Gramm is correct or not from a technical perspective - there are a lot of people who are hurting. It's not psychological for the people at Northwest Airlines who are losing their jobs right now. And while I personally think people are overreacting to gas prices, it's still not easy for a lot of people. The thing is, people tend to forget how bad the bad times have been in the past. Many voters don't remember what life was like in the 1970s, when we had the famous "misery index" of double-digit unemployment and double-digit inflation. Things aren't nearly that bad right now. But try telling that to an angry mob.

The impression I'm getting is that both Obama and McCain don't really understand much about the way people live their lives. When he's not attached to his TelePromTer, Obama oozes condescension, like he did the other day when he offered his silly "merci beaucoup" bon mot to the bien pensants who had gathered before him at a campaign event. A great many Americans quite sensibly don't give a rip what Europeans think about our gringo language skills; most Americans never make it to Paris. Meanwhile, McCain sends out a guy who paints all of us with a broad brush and calls us whiners. And it's only early July, so we have another four months of this stuff. Yay, huh?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

They Are Not Going To Be Ignored

I made a little joke about conflating Jesse Ventura and Brett Favre earlier today, but to be honest what's been going on recent days isn't particularly funny.
No one likes the party to end. Only the most painfully shy completely eschew the spotlight. It's a lot of fun to have people fawning over you, to have your name in the paper, to be the focus of attention. It has to be.

But it's getting ridiculous. Jesse Ventura doesn't have any chance of winning a seat in the Senate this year. He hasn't even lived in Minnesota since he left the governor's mansion in a huff back in 2002. As much of a carpetbagger as Al Franken is, give him this -- at least he's been in the state, meeting people, making himself part of the fabric of things around here after over 30 years away. These days Ventura has as much to do with Minnesota politics as his buddy Kinky Friedman does. The pretext for Jesse's potential run is that he's mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. What he's mad as hell about is harder to discern. Perhaps he doesn't think there are enough people wearing mullets inside the Beltway. I'd make a joke here about Ventura's personal hygiene but given Larry Craig's continuing presence in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, Ventura would fit right in.

As for Favre, it's difficult to know whether all the talk is something Favre is orchestrating or if it's just a ratings push for ESPN. I still think, in the end, Favre will stay retired. But he's being altogether too coy about it and it's pretty irritating. The Packers need to find out if Aaron Rodgers is the guy or not. They need to get on with their future. And ol' number 4 is the past. A glorious past that we all cherish? Yes. Of course. But it's over now.

The Script Writes Itself

(photo Maury Gash, AP)

Well, the great CC (No Periods) Sabathia experiment started out well enough last night as the Brewers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-3. Sabathia was a little wild but he pitched well enough to win. If he can give up 3 runs a game, figure that he'll win at least a dozen of the 18 or so starts he'll have during the rest of the season. That's pretty good.

Since Sabathia is here, that means it's time for Ben Sheets to blow out something again. Maybe for something different, he'll have one of these. Or maybe he'll go old school and get this. Or maybe this. Place your bets in the comments section.

Ventura Announces He Will Be Next Quarterback of Green Bay Packers - BREAKING

At least that's what I think I heard. I may be be getting confused about that. Developing. . . .

UPDATE: Oops, sorry. Jesse may want to be a Senator. My bad.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Inherit the Wind

I just put up a post talking about the dangers of taking polling too seriously. However, if you want to know why Congressional approval ratings are low, here's a possible reason:

“Right now, our strategy on gas prices is ‘Drive small cars and wait for the wind,’ ” said a Democratic aide.

Savor the rich political goodness of that statement. Let's face it, $4 a gallon gas is making people cranky. And when people get cranky, politicians get nervous. The Democrats have a real problem on this, because they are beholden in many ways to the environmental lobby. President Bush can rightly point out that he has been calling for increased oil production for pretty much the entirety of his presidency. Republicans can also rightly point out that Bill Clinton made exploration on many federal lands well nigh impossible, declaring over a million acres of federal land as national monuments by executive order late in his presidency.

To be fair, Republicans have enjoyed drinking green kool-aid over the years as well; John McCain himself has been known to have a big glass from time to time (and rarely misses a chance to have a photo opportunity while doing it). But the truth is pretty simple - Big Green puts their big green almost exclusively on the left side of the aisle and the Democrats are stuck with that.

Environmentalism isn't bad per se, but it is only possible in affluent places. Where economic conditions aren't so good, environmental degradation is a given. While Al Gore apparently doesn't understand this, most people do. Some 30 years ago, we had Jimmuh Carter appearing on our televisions in a cardigan sweater telling us about how times were tough. That eat-your-spinach stuff has never been an easy sell in America. The guess here is that it still isn't.

63% of Those Surveyed Believe the Following Post is Crap

You can hardly go a week without hearing some breathless MSM speaker prattling on about the terrible approval ratings that George W. Bush has. And if you look at this sampling, there's no question that he's not well-loved, at least where polling is involved.

One other thing you hear is this -- because Chimpy McHitlerburton has been such a one-man Hurricane Katrina who has turned EVERYTHING TO MERDE, MIERDA, CRAPOLA, DUNG, FECES, GUANO, etc., that his personal unpopularity means that anyone who is seen within 45 statute miles of him is DOOMED. THAT MEANS YOU, JOHN MCCAIN!

Bush may have to reach up to get to the sub-basement, but he's still way ahead of our friends Harry and Nancy and the rest of their pals in Congress. See for yourself. When the Democrats came sweeping into power in 2006, Congressional approval ratings were about 30%. Recent numbers are well south of that number, and if you believe this report, the People believe that things are far more fetid on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Should you take all polling with a grain of salt? I think so. But I also think you should take the more confident pronouncements of those who tout Democrats with a grain of salt, too.

Monday, July 07, 2008

McCain Youth Outreach Efforts Fall Short

The continually troubled McCain campaign hit another snag today following the release of a disastrous new training film designed to teach campaign operatives how to reach the touted youth vote. A well-placed source within the campaign blamed the faulty message making on youth coordinator Dexter Holland, who was unavailable for comment.

Dead Support Barack Obama

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Grateful Dead may reunite to help support the Obama campaign. The announcement was expected as historically the Dead have long supported the political aspirations of Chicago Democrats. Jerry Garcia appeared in this news conference and performed the moribund California rock band's 1987 hit "Touch of Grey" in a poignant tribute to the presumptive Democratic nominee's recent penchant to operate in various gray areas of political rhetoric.

The ostensibly surviving members of the Dead were quick to dismiss rumors that the other officially deceased members of the band, rhythm guitarist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan and keyboardists Keith Godchaux and Brett Mydland, were supporting the campaign of Senator McCain.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Milwaukee Gets C.C. Sabathia?

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the deal is done. ESPN is confirming this as well. Sabathia may turn out to be a rent-a-player, but he'll certainly make a difference in the pennant race. Personally I think the Brewers need a stopper in the bullpen (maybe this guy) more than another starter, but Sabathia should fit quite nicely in the Brewers rotation. And it certainly won't hurt the red-hot Twins to see Sabathia go away.

The guy Sabathia has always reminded me of is an old Pirate pitcher of the 1970s named John Candelaria. Candelaria, like Sabathia, was a tall lefty with good stuff who probably could have been better than he was. It's worth remembering that the Candy Man was a key contributor to the 1979 Pirate staff that won the World Series. One thing - it's nice to see the Brewers actually being a buyer in a pennant race for a change - it seems like the last time they were in this position was when they picked up Don Sutton in 1982.

Let the eat yellowcake

The article didn't run on the front page, of course, but I did see a version of this report in the Pioneer Press this morning on Page 2:

The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program - a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium - reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.

The removal of 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" - the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment - was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.

Amusingly, the Star Tribune ran an excerpt of the article on the bottom of page 6 under the cryptic headline "Remnant of Saddam's ambition arrives in Canada."

Who knew Saddam had a nuclear program? I thought that Saddam didn't have any yellowcake. That's what America's favorite couple, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, told us, remember? And I thought that we'd established there wasn't any threat from an Iraqi nuclear program. Bush lied, people died, all that stuff, right? Hmmm....

Just a guess - we're going to find out a few more things in the next few months that might, shall we say, alter the prevailing narrative just a smidge.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Joy Division

We're now almost a month past the moment when Hillary Clinton accepted the reality that she would not be president in 2009. It appears that some of her supporters didn't get the memo, or perhaps that they didn't like the memo. CNN, hardly a Republican outlet, is reporting that as many as a third of Clinton's supporters may be sitting on their hands this time out.

In early June, 22 percent of Clinton supporters polled said they would not vote at all if Obama were the party's nominee, now close to a third say they will stay home.

In another sign the wounds of the heated primary race have yet to heal, 43 percent of registered Democrats polled still say they would prefer Clinton to be the party's presidential nominee.

That number is significantly higher than it was in early June, when 35 percent of Democrats polled said they preferred Clinton to lead the party's presidential ticket.

That wasn't in the script. What was supposed to happen was this: Obama would begin to heal the party and bring the warring factions together, ensuring a huge victory over the hapless John McCain and the dispirited Republicans. A month on, it's gone backward. Why?

I don't claim to understand how portsiders think. But there are clues all over the place. Look to the left and see Tom Hayden issuing a jeremiad over at the always-sensible Huffington Post, which is also offering this helpful information. Look closer to the center and watch Jeff Jarvis chronicle the buyer's remorse at Buzz Machine. Even notice the restiveness at that wholly-owned subsidiary of the Obama campaign, the editorial page of the New York Times.

This was supposed to be a transformative year. Perhaps it will be. But it really helps an advancing army if all its troops are marching in the same direction. And so far, that's not happening. And as rock fans know, before you can have New Order, sometimes you have to have Joy Division. As Tom Kelly might say, "aw, that's a shame."
Cross-posted at True North