Saturday, July 31, 2010

Be Prepared

Yesterday, we drove to western Wisconsin to pick Benster up from Tomahawk Boy Scout Camp. He came home with several new badges and segments that he had earned. Some of the badges and other skills that he has worked on over the years like how to tie knots, how to use a compass and how to do a proper flag ceremony have limited application in his daily life. On the flip side, many valuable lessons were learned last week but the lessons do not fulfill any of the requirements that are written in the Boy Scout Handbook.

A troop of boys can have fun together even when the oldest ones in the troop are seventeen years old and are looking forward to the end of high school and the youngest ones are eleven years old and are looking forward to the end of elementary school.

It is possible to survive without any electronic devices (cellphones, television and the Wii) for a week.

You can also survive without fast food for an entire week.

Sleeping in a tent for a week is not so bad.

A dad, cooking over a campfire with a dutch oven, can make a dinner that rivals Mom's home cooking.

Getting up at around 6:00 am and heading to the lake for a polar bear swim can be endured.

It's fun to do things that you don't do at home, like horseback riding, cooking hobo dinners and taking target practice.

If you don't succeed the first time at an activity, at least you tried and you'll have another chance to try again later.

Thunderstorm warnings are serious when you are sleeping in a tent.

Coming home to a Dairy Queen banana split, indoor plumbing, a real bed and voice mails from friends is wonderful.

Welcome home Benster!! We love you and missed you more than you will ever know.

On Boycotts

There are various people calling for boycotts of Target because it dared to spend some of its pocket change for an ad that supports Tom Emmer.

So, here's a question: can I boycott government employees, or more accurately the unions that spend bajillions of dollars on ads that support DFLers and attack Tom Emmer? You can't, of course. You have to deal with governmental agencies and in some instances if you don't obey their dictates you are punished.

Worth remembering the next time you hear someone complaining about how mean spirited or bullying Target and other such corporations are.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Three quick observations that deserve more attention in the coming days:
  • I'm not entirely surprised that a Bill Clinton-appointed federal judge blocked some provisions of the Arizona immigration law. It has to be awfully tough to resist the urge to play God when you have the power to play God. The practical effect will be pretty simple -- immigration will continue to be a huge issue in this election cycle. Barack Obama and his friends think that the issue will redound to their benefit, despite ample evidence to the contrary. We'll find out in a few months.
  • Apparently my former employer (Target Stores) is in trouble with certain media-savvy people because they gave money to a fund that supports Tom Emmer. Mitch Berg has a very good writeup of the issue at his place. I would say this: anything involving Randi Reitan is Astroturf.
  • I was back in my hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin over the last few days. It's increasingly difficult to recognize the place.

Back in town

Regular blogging to resume anon. Lots of news in the last few days -- have to sort it out before I pontificate....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

There Will Be (Blue) Blood

Plutocrats spending lotsa money for a seat in St. Paul:

In what is shaping up as an extraordinarily expensive race for governor, Democrat Mark Dayton reported Tuesday that he has spent $3.2 million on his bid -- most of it his own money.

Dayton's report came a day after fellow Democrat Matt Entenza said he has spent $4 million on his campaign, tapping his wealth to fight for his party's nomination.

Dayton reported loaning his campaign $2.7 million this year, on top of the $570,000 he loaned it in 2009.

Entenza contributed roughly $3.6 million of his own money to the spending effort through a July 19 reporting deadline as he faces two main DFL contenders in an Aug. 10 primary. He contributed an additional $450,000 after the deadline.

These dudes are going to end up spending close to $8 million between them to convince a small percentage of the Minnesota electorate that they should be governor. Anyone really think that they'll both continue attacking Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin, but not each other?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Noted Cap and Trade Supporter Laments Our Profligate Ways

Tom Friedman is bummed that we won't pass "cap and trade" any time soon. Fortunately, he has plenty of space in his own house (pictured above) to lament our profligate ways in privacy. Perhaps someday we'll appreciate these selfless Cassandras who are trying to teach us a better way.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Guilty Pleasures Part Seventy -- Fearless Maria Calls for Cats and Dogs

Dad, why won't you let me have a pet?

Well Maria, I don't necessarily object to having a pet around the house, but you have to realize that pets are a lot of work.

Awww, come on! We could just hire a pet sitter when we're not home and, well, maybe we add another room onto our house somehow. You just have to use some creative thinking, Dad! Isn't that your job?

No, my job is usually to convince guys that they really want to buy MIG welders and Flair Hair. But probably not at the same time.

Well, why don't you convince yourself that you really want to buy a pet?

Have you ever thought about what pets do, Maria?

Well, they give you a lot of love. Then they eat and go poop.

They do more than that, Maria. How can I explain it to you?

Well, I don't know, maybe you can text message me. But then again, I don't have a phone. That's something else you need to buy for me, now isn't it, Dad? The last time I checked, phones don't eat and poop.

But they cost a lot of money in a different way. But you know what's really not too expensive?

Sticks and dirt? That's what you always tell me you played with. That and Gnip Gnop.

True, but I was thinking about songs about cats and dogs!

Okay. I'll go with that. Dad, you ain't nothin' but a

Dad, I can see why the girls screamed for Elvis. He was a lot better looking than Bobby Sherman, at the very least.

I suppose. And you know what else? He was very influential. He had other people singing like him almost 30 years later. But they sang about cats.

Yeah, he sang a little like Elvis. But don't you think he sounds more like Jerry Lee Lewis? Sometimes I have a hard time keep all these old guys you keep showing me straight!

I suppose, Maria. Here's an old guy who is completely unmistakable:

Dad, I have a question about this guy. That's Ted Nugent, right?

Yes, no doubt about that, Maria.

Did he make a lot of money playing guitar?

I think so.

Are you sure? He can't even afford a shirt! Are you sure that what's he's doing is legal? It's one thing when you're playing outside in the summer and it's hot outside, but it's another when you're on national television! Didn't they have one of those "no shoes, no shirt, no service" signs, or did they and he just couldn't read it?

I don't know, Maria. I know he was really popular with kids my age. And I think the audience probably took up a collection to get him a shirt.

What a horrible way to spend your allowance, Dad! I don't Grandpa Ed wanted you to spend your money on that!

Well, we can show you someone who dressed a lot more, shall we say, modestly than Ted Nugent:

That's Marvin Gaye, Dad? And he's got Tina Turner with him? I'm confused. I didn't know he sang with Tina Turner! That's sure one big turner, right?

I'll say, Maria. I never knew about this until recently. Pretty cool, I think.

It is, Dad. But I think you're showing me all these videos to make me stop thinking about that pet. Nice try. And I heard that goldfish are 25 cents, so you could afford that! Even I could! You'd have more money if you'd stop trying to buy Ted Nugent a shirt, Dad!

I don't know if you can buy a goldfish for a quarter, Maria. But you could buy a single record for about a dollar when I was a kid. And I bought this one:

Dad, I'm really learning a lot about you today. So you bought single records and shirts for Ted Nugent? And you had Gnip Gnop? Wow, what a depressing childhood tragedy! I'm almost starting to feeling sorry for you! But don't think that gets you off the hook for that pet, Dad!

Well, when it comes to your requests, I'll say this for you, Maria. You're a real bulldog:

Good song, Dad! But now where's that dog?

I don't know, Maria. We'll have to talk to Mom about that one.

Okay, I'll talk to Mom. But while I'm talking to Mom, you'd better vote for your favorite song in the comment section! I don't want to have to release the hounds on you!

You know what I'm happy about, Maria?

I know -- that we didn't pick this one, right?

Yeah. Very much so. Now listen to Maria and vote, okay?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sherrod You Are

It was all going so well, too. Now I'm not so sure I accept the notion of Shirley Sherrod as absolute moral authority and authentic victim. Why? Well, consider these comments from an interview she did with Anderson Cooper of CNN (emphases mine):

Cooper: Do you think you've gotten past black versus white?

Sherrod: I know I've gotten past black versus white. He's (note: Breitbart) probably the person who's never gotten past it and never attempted to get past it so he can't see because he's never tried and because he hasn't he can't see what I've done to get past it and he's not interested in what I've done to get past it. I don't think he's interested in seeing anyone get past it because I think he'd like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery. That's where I think he'd like to see all black people end up again. And that's why I think he's so vicious.

Cooper: Do you think, do you think he's racist?

Sherrod: Yes I do. And I think that's why he's so vicious against a black president, you know. He would go after me, I don't think it was even the NAACP he was totally after, I think he was after a black president.

Cooper: So when he says this wasn't about you, that this was just about the NAACP and what he says is their racist or their bias, you say you don't buy that?

Sherrod: I don't buy it at all. What has he done to promote unity among the races? Tell me. Tell him to come forth and tell us what he's done. I haven't seen him do anything but try to divide us. You know. Where does he think this will take us? What does he think this will accomplish? I'd like to hear him answer that. I'd like him to show me how he's not a racist.

A couple of observations, if I may:
  • If someone were truly past black and white, they would probably be a little more, shall we say, circumspect about throwing around accusations of racism, no?
  • While he's at it, Andrew Breitbart really ought to show Shirley Sherrod that he's stopped beating his wife, too.
  • I can understand the anger Shirley Sherrod likely feels about the manner in which she has become a household name. I also wish that Andrew Breitbart had been more careful, because he did cause damage to Sherrod, and to Breitbart's own cause. Neither of those factors justify calling someone a racist or asserting that Breitbart wants to bring black people back to slavery, now does it?

Question for the audience

1) Do you use Twitter?
2) Do you find it useful?
3) Could I use it for avant-garde haiku?

Okay, that's 3 questions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Swift Boating, or I Know a Boat You Can Get On

As Elvis Costello sang it, I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused:

Sen. John Kerry, who has repeatedly voted to raise taxes while in Congress, dodged a whopping six-figure state tax bill on his new multimillion-dollar yacht by mooring her in Newport, R.I.

Isabel - Kerry’s luxe, 76-foot New Zealand-built Friendship sloop with an Edwardian-style, glossy varnished teak interior, two VIP main cabins and a pilothouse fitted with a wet bar and cold wine storage - was designed by Rhode Island boat designer Ted Fontaine.

But instead of berthing the vessel in Nantucket, where the senator summers with the missus, Teresa Heinz, Isabel’s hailing port is listed as “Newport” on her stern.
No point in getting mad about it, people. He's got options, you see. And let's be honest -- it's smart money management, as the article points out:

Massachusetts still collects a 6.25 percent sales tax and an annual excise tax on yachts. Sources say Isabel sold for something in the neighborhood of $7 million, meaning Kerry saved approximately $437,500 in sales tax and an annual excise tax of about $70,000.
Or in this case, Massachusetts doesn't collect a 6.25 percent sales tax and an annual excise tax on yachts.

So is there a lesson in this for Minnesotans? Only if you choose to accept three things which are obvious:

1) People respond to incentives.
2) People also respond to disincentives.
3) Dan Hindbjorgen and the Sioux Falls Development Council are definitely supporting Mark Dayton in the Minnesota gubernatorial election because of 1) and 2). I don't know if Sioux Falls has a marina, but I'd bet that Dan Hindbjorgen could get one set up.

Tales of Kid Journolist

While I'm still not entirely convinced that the exposure of the Journolist is a game changer, some of what we're learning is quite interesting.

First, there's the important matter -- that there was apparently a direct connection to the Obama campaign. Jim Lindgren at Volokh has the skinny:

One question that has arisen in the last week is how closely JournoList members, not only discussed how to shape the news to advance the fortunes of Barack Obama, but coordinated with the Obama campaign. Jared Bernstein’s position as an unpaid adviser and surrogate shows that there was at least one direct link between JournoList and the Obama campaign.

Bernstein’s serving on the Economic Advisory Panel of the CBO is less worrisome, though it appears to violate Ezra Klein’s first rule for JournoList:

At the beginning, I set two rules for the membership. The first was the easy one: No one who worked for the government in any capacity could join.

It would appear that Bernstein’s presence on the list violated Klein’s first rule, since he met the test of working “for the government in any capacity.”

Rules are for suckers, of course, especially when you have to carry the message to the benighted masses.

The second piece is more amusing, though it shouldn't surprise anyone: even lefties don't have a lot of use for Keith Olbermann. The ever-quotable Spencer Ackerman sums up the mood:

The Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman said a brutal parody of Olbermann reflected his true nature. “I hate both Ben Affleck and Saturday Night Live, but this should end all debate about the merits of Olbermann,” he said, linking to the parody.

The good news for Olbermann is that Ackerman didn't advocate throwing him through a plate glass window. Then again, others weren't so sure:

Salon’s Rebecca Traister agreed Olbermann regularly displayed his contempt for women. “Olbermann has a terrible record of going out of his way to talk about young, attractive women he believes to be stupid in grotesquely dismissive and oversexualized terms.”

Traister had written the same thing in her columns for Salon, for instance calling Olbermann out when he “felt free to call [Paris] Hilton a slut on air and speculate about whether anyone had ever ejaculated in her face.”

Blogger Lindsay Beyerstein said maybe the time was now to take down Olbermann. “When we liberals were fighting for political survival after 9/11, it was important to be disciplined and to pick our internal battles very carefully. Now that the Democrats are in charge and progressivism is ascendent, we can afford to demand more from our leaders.

“We can certainly afford to smack down Keith Olbermann when he spouts misogynist garbage,” she said.

Not that anyone other than Ben Affleck really did smack down Olbermann, of course. But that's another post.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Campaign website of the year

I present to you the wisdom of Basil Marceaux, candidate for governor of the State of Tennessee. First, watch the video:

Then, you need to visit the website. Genius stuff, really. My favorite parts:


Oh yeah. And then there's this summation of Mr. Marceaux's bona fides:

Things I done for my citizens

1.Served in the U.S. Marine as a Force Recon, Bn. Recon, and a plain Marine who is maintain and recognized as once a Marine always a Marine with a Protect and Defend Oath land and sea , foreign and domestic against all enemy land and sea for life and no other services has this authority .
2. Filed suit against Governor Sunquest for promoting Slavery in Tenn.
3.. Filed a suit against Soddy Daisy Judge for promoting slaving at traffic stops.

I really hate the slaving at traffic stops myself. Can't blame this guy for trying to enjoin Soddy Daisy Judge, either -- I mean, who wouldn't? It's a strong platform and he should make an excellent advocate for the good people of Tennessee.

The only remaining question is this: how much money has his campaign accepted from Alida Messinger?

Lunchtime spin

Two things worth noting on a very busy day:

1. Howard Kurtz clears one thing up on the Sherrod matter:

But for all the chatter -- some of it from Sherrod herself -- that she was done in by Fox News, the network didn't touch the story until her forced resignation was made public Monday evening, with the exception of brief comments by O'Reilly. After a news meeting Monday afternoon, an e-mail directive was sent to the news staff in which Fox Senior Vice President Michael Clemente said: "Let's take our time and get the facts straight on this story. Can we get confirmation and comments from Sherrod before going on-air. Let's make sure we do this right."

Sherrod may be the only official ever dismissed because of the fear that Fox host Glenn Beck might go after her. As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tried to pressure her into resigning, Sherrod says Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook called her Monday to say "do it, because you're going to be on 'Glenn Beck' tonight." And for all the focus on Fox, much of the mainstream media ran with a fragmentary story that painted an obscure 62-year-old Georgian as an unrepentant racist.
Fox News only has as much power over the Obama administration as the Obama administration grants it.

2. The AP (via MSNBC) reports on very bad Bush administration behavior:

The Freedom of Information Act, the main tool forcing the government to be more open, is designed to be insulated from political considerations. Anyone who seeks information through the law is supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose confidential decision-making in certain areas.

But in July 2009, Homeland Security introduced a directive requiring a wide range of information to be vetted by political appointees for "awareness purposes," no matter who requested it.

Career employees were ordered to provide Secretary Janet Napolitano's political staff with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived, whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked.

If a member of Congress sought such documents, employees were told to specify Democrat or Republican.
Oops, I'm sorry. I got that wrong. The Bush administration had already left office when this directive came down.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I've had a chance now to read some of the excerpts from the "Journolist" that have been shared thus far over at the Daily Caller website. You can read all you want over there at this link. A few observations:
  • If you're looking for some sort of smoking gun that proves a conspiracy against conservatives, you really won't find it. That's not surprising, since just about every conspiracy theory I've ever encountered doesn't hold up to scrutiny. I think it's fair to say that some of the Journolist participants are in the mood to conspire, but it doesn't appear that anything ever comes from it.
  • Some of the quotes are pretty nasty -- one participant, a gentleman by the name of Spencer Ackerman, seems to be a truly repellent fellow. He suggests the following (profanity alert): "Let’s just throw Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the fuck up, as with most bullies." I apologize for leaving the F-bomb in there, but I'd prefer not to bowlderize him. And "Dr. Alterman" is similarly charming, with a bon mot that includes the F-bomb, the term "retards" and a form of entertainment popular especially in the American South.
  • Then again, before reading the excerpts, I'd never heard of Spencer Ackerman. There doesn't appear to be any reason to think about him now that he's entered my consciousness. His boasts seem like those of a guy who is desperate to be part of the "in-crowd" and tries to get attention by saying outrageous things.
  • As for the profanity and the crudeness of the ideas expressed, I heard worse things said about people on the playground at St. Mary's back in the 1970s. And maybe that's the most disappointing part of what we've seen so far from the Journolist excerpts -- these aren't especially deep thinking people. You really get a junior high school vibe from a lot of the excerpts. There's a lot of emotionalism and silliness, huge chunks of early adolescent emoting. There's nothing wrong with getting emotional, especially when you get something you've desired, but some of the reaction is pretty cringeworthy, especially this excerpt from someone named Alyssa Rosenberg, who is labeled as a "government executive":
I’ve gotta be all non-partisan on GovExec, so I hope you’ll all indulge me a minute here. On Monday night in Manassas, the band warming up the crowd before Obama arrived played “I Need You To Survive.” I think the core lyrics are pretty good statement of principles for progressives, especially going forward from a victory like this one:

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

Whose will, exactly? It's not a happy thing to find out that your betters are so, well, lacking in nuance I guess?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two stories - UPDATED

And I'm not sure which one bothers me more.

The strange tale of Shirley Sherrod

The Journolist

You can't trust liberal journalists. Nor, apparently, can you trust Andrew Breitbart in this case.

I'm sure there are some reasonable explanations for all this. I'd like to hear them.

UPDATE (7/21): Here's one explanation from Paul Mirengoff at Powerline. Does this make sense to you?

But the point Breitbart was making has nothing to do with the merits of Sherrod or her fitness to continue at the Agriculture Department. The portions of the tape of interest to Breitbart are those in which members of the NAACP laugh at and approve of Sherrod's initial impulse to provide inferior service to a white farmer. These NAACP members have been caught on tape condoning racism by a government official and demonstrating their own racism. Meanwhile, the NAACP condemns the Tea Party for what appears to be phantom racism.

That seems right and true. But I'm still troubled that the tape was truncated, which wrenched Sherrod's words out of context, if not the reaction of her audience.

The Anchoress has an excellent roundup and I think this observation is correct:

This whole sordid mess of a story–which is clearly not over–may tell us that it is past time for people of good will to stop tolerating politically-expedient charges of racism, regardless of whether they originate from genuinely from overzealous, malicious
or from Congressmen who are confident that any charge they make will be deemed insta-credible, or from journalists who ignore real racism while trying to ignite the charge elsewhere, for the advancement of their own partisan agendas, or from the rightly marginalized, fringe-living, stupid people who every sensible person

The NAACP’s maneuver last week was an attempt at cynical manipulation, a lazy card they thought they could play, because it’s always taken the pot, before. They ticked off Breitbart, who upped the ante, but appears to have done so recklessly.

Everyone’s credibility is now strained, and perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps the left should finally leave behind the smug instinct to sniff, “racism, straight up” over sincere disagreements on policy. If they can manage that, then perhaps the right can stop feeling so defensive.

It's a good thought, but don't count on it.

SECOND UPDATE (7/21): Meanwhile, the story gets more interesting as we learn more about Shirley Sherrod's back story:

Ms. Sherrod's previous background, the circumstances surrounding her hiring, and the USDA's agenda may all play a part in explaining her sudden departure from the agency. These matters have not received much scrutiny to this point.

An announcement of Ms. Sherrod's July 2009 appointment to her USDA position at gives off quite a few clues:

RDLN Graduate and Board Vice Chair Shirley Sherrod was appointed Georgia Director for Rural Development by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on July 25. Only days earlier, she learned that New Communities, a group she founded with her husband and other families (see below) has won a thirteen million dollar settlement in the minority farmers law suit Pigford vs Vilsack.
Vilsack, in case you don't know, is Tom Vilsack, who is now the Secretary of Agriculture. There's a lot more at the link, including some fascinating stuff about the Pigford case, which apparently has been going on for nearly 30 years. Let's put it this way: Tom Vilsack probably didn't mind that Andrew Breitbart gave him a pretext for taking action against a particularly meddlesome priest.

Cats in a Sack

We're now 3 weeks away from primary day in Minnesota and we still have no idea who will be the DFL standard-bearer against Tom Emmer in the general election. Up to now, the three candidates in question have been hesitant to pull out the knives against each other, preferring to establish their bona fides with the DFL electorate through ostentatious attacks on Emmer. While that might be good for style points, eventually the candidates will need to start turning their attacks on one another.

So, who's likely to strike first? And who's likely to be the person attacked?

The conventional wisdom is that Mark Dayton is leading right now. He would seem to be the person to attack. Both the endorsed candidate (Margaret Anderson Kelliher) and the unwanted candidate (Matt Entenza) will need to make a decision. Entenza, who has shown every willingness to throw an elbow in his career, certainly has the money to flood the airwaves with anti-Dayton ads in the next 3 weeks. The challenge Entenza faces is simple -- he has very little goodwill within the party and if he attacks Dayton too vociferously, the attacks will then be available for the Emmer campaign if Entenza falls short, which still seems likely.

Dayton, who has even more money than Entenza, would likely feel compelled to return fire against Entenza. While it would be the proper response, it would stall whatever momentum he currently has.

Meanwhile, Kelliher sits with her endorsement and little else. She's not likely to be attacked by the other two candidates and because her campaign has so little money, she can't really afford to play on television beyond the gauzy introductory ads she's run thus far. Meanwhile, her campaign has problems of its own, including the highly embarrassing failure to get the endorsement of NOW, which went to Entenza instead. She really has to do something to get the attention of the voters beyond the DFL foot soldiers who support the endorsed candidate above all else. The problem is this -- historically there have not been enough DFL foot soldiers to elect an endorsed candidate. Paradoxically, it might be in her best interest to do nothing.

So what's going to happen? Here's my guess:

  • Look for Entenza to run ads that obliquely attack Dayton, while simultaneously turning his underlings loose with whatever oppo his campaign has managed to get on Brave Sir Mark.
  • Dayton's team will try to stay above the fray, but Dayton's thin skin will cause him to respond to Entenza, most likely in an overwhelming way that will not only defeat Entenza, but that could also end Entenza's political career entirely.
  • Kelliher will largely sit things out and hope that the DFL field organization can get enough voters to the polls in August to eke out a victory over her wounded rivals. If Kelliher wants to study an election scenario that supports this approach, she ought to look at the 1992 Illinois Senate primary.
In the end, my guess is that Dayton will emerge from the wreckage with a thin victory over Kelliher. The question will be this: can the DFL regroup? Either way, it will be fun for those of us on the starboard side. Getcha popcorn.

Home Truth

Benster's baseball season ended yesterday. The team ended up losing more games than it won, which is too bad, but very few people outside of the members of the team care very much about that. What matters is that he had a chance to play ball and improve as a player and as a person. And he did both.

That's more important, in the long run, than much of anything that's happening in Washington, or St. Paul for that matter. The 13 young men on Benster's team are all top-notch kids: smart, eager to learn and good-natured. They laugh easily and enjoyed each other's company. You get hope from seeing that.

Betty McCollum Explains, In a Manner of Speaking

Mitch Berg transcribes the deep thoughts of my congressional representative:

Now what do we do in the meantime? Well, stimulus, funding to keep Americans working and keep the economy moving forward and create confidence is what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was about, that’s what I voted for, and we’re going to see some big things happening for instance in Saint Paul for example with Central Corridor being the largest work project in the state of Minnesota, with state and local and government funding, investing in our community um so I’m very pleased that people’re going to see more of those projects moving forward there’s a lot of the traffic inconvenience we’re all suffering, our investments make putting Minnesotans to work through the recovery act and um I’m not gonna be apologetic for making sure that americans have a chance get up and go to work in the morning people in Minnesota do, there’s still too many people without jobs.

We may have to put that to music.

Monday, July 19, 2010

An epic thumbsucker

There are a lot more deep thoughts in this piece by Angelo Codevilla than you might want to encounter before you've had a chance to put down a cup of coffee, but I'd like to commend it to your attention. A few representative quotes:

Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters -- speaking the "in" language -- serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

And this:

Important as they are, our political divisions are the iceberg's tip. When pollsters ask the American people whether they are likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the next presidential election, Republicans win growing pluralities. But whenever pollsters add the preferences "undecided," "none of the above," or "tea party," these win handily, the Democrats come in second, and the Republicans trail far behind. That is because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans tell pollsters that Republican officeholders represent them well. Hence officeholders, Democrats and Republicans, gladden the hearts of some one-third of the electorate -- most Democratic voters, plus a few Republicans. This means that Democratic politicians are the ruling class's prime legitimate representatives and that because Republican politicians are supported by only a fourth of their voters while the rest vote for them reluctantly, most are aspirants for a junior role in the ruling class. In short, the ruling class has a party, the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans -- a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents -- lack a vehicle in electoral politics.
Do you think Codevilla is on to something here? And what are the implications? We really ought to be talking about such things. And you should read the whole thing -- but pack a lunch.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A simple link, just follow it!

This is Fearless Maria, and I would just like to link this. It is a non-choking hazard, and a non-politics hazard. A.K.A, it's SAFE! So here it is.


PS: Dad, I hope you don't mind me posting this....

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sending a Messinger to the Minnesota Citizenry

Mitch Berg has outdone himself with an outstanding bit of reporting concerning the shadowy and scurrilous group "Alliance for a Better Minnesota" (AfaBM). These are the people who've been recently running fact-free attack ads against Tom Emmer, including an ad that recently earned an F from the KSTP-TV Truth Test.

Mitch, who is doing the work that the professional media in this state ought to be doing, did something that shadowy, scurrilous groups like the AfaBM really hate: he followed the money. And he learned some fascinating things. There's a great amount of detail in Mitch's report, which you should read in its entirety. One thing becomes quite clear: there's a whole lot of Dayton family money behind the AfaBM. Mitch found the following names donating big bucks to an organization tied to the Alliance for a Better Minnesota called "Win Minnesota" (the parentheticals are Mitch's):

Andrew Dayton $1,000
David Dayton $50,000
John Cowles $25,000 [Remember him from 2006?]
MaryLee Dayton $250,000
Emily Tuttle (MN) $5,000
Ronald Sternal (MN) $5,000
Alida Messinger (NY) $500,000
James Deal (MN) $50,000
Roger Hale (MN) $10,000 [Remember him from above?]
Barbara Forster (MN) $25,000
Democratic Governors Association $250,000;

So of the $1.1 and change million warchest, $851,000 came from Daytons, and Alida Messinger.

Now I can understand that the rest of the Dayton family would like to buy their relative a nice political office and I don't begrudge them that. It's a good way to keep Brave Sir Mark busy and away from getting involved in the rest of the family business. Why they want to give Mark Dayton the power to get involved in my business is another matter.

The puzzling part is this Alida Messinger woman, who has now given well over a million dollars to the various front organizations. Why would she do that? Mitch has the answer:

And who is this Alida Messinger who has contributed so mightily – over $1.46 million over the past four years! – to the cause of disinforming Minnesotans about Republicans? Other than the youngest daughter of John D. Rockefeller III?

The ex-wife of candidate Mark Dayton.

So “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” is essentially a front for a group of unions and, to the tune of millions over the past four years, Mark Dayton’s family, friends and ex-wife.

Look, if the Dayton family wants to buy a governorship, they're certainly entitled to try. What the citizenry needs to know is that they are trying to do it by filtering the money through front organizations. Mitch has provided a valuable service in exposing this game they are playing. Now let's see if the kept media here in the Twin Cities (I'm looking at you, John Croman and Pat Kessler) are going to mention any of this highly useful information to their viewers -- there's almost no hope that the Star Tribune will.

One last thing -- I'll give one of Dayton's opponents, the otherwise risible Matt Entenza, credit for one thing: Entenza is trying to buy the election, too, but at least he's up front about it.

I'll say it again: go and read the rest of Mitch's piece. It's the best piece of journalism that anyone in this state has done all year, by a fairly substantial margin.

Lightning Round Sports Edition

A few very quick points:
  • It's becoming clear that the Twins need some more starting pitching. Other than Carl Pavano, there's really no one in the current starting rotation that you would trust. I'm not sure what the asking price is for someone like Roy Oswalt, but something needs to happen. It's hard to win games when your opponents are scoring 8 runs.
  • I have no idea what Timberwolves GM David Kahn is doing, but he surely does a lot of it.
  • Football season is almost here and it should be a lot of fun. On the local level, one of the most interesting questions is what is going to happen to the big, powerful high schools on the southwest edge of the Metro. Eden Prairie was essentially ousted from the Lake Conference and they are having a difficult time finding teams to play. They have to travel to Winnipeg this season to get games, mainly because other Minnesota schools aren't interested in getting their brains beat in. It will be interesting to see how the Minnesota High School League deals with this issue. They were able to find a home for Cretin-Derham Hall, so there's probably a solution available. But it's going to take a little arm twisting.

Stimulus at 3 MPH

Teaparty, longtime proprietor of the excellent blog Les Enfants Terrible, has been noticing all the signs:

The Obama administration certainly thought they found a clever way to spend taxpayer money on what are essentially political campaign signs. While that is inherently wrong and shows raw disdain for the taxpayer, it may also backfire as more and more people are reminded who is responsible for out of control spending
in D.C., and the gridlock that is making everyone's lives miserable this summer, across the state.

This is a Chicago thing: if you are ever driving around Chicago, you notice right away that the name Richard M. Daley is written all over the place, from the signs when you enter the city, to construction signs, various buildings and more. You don't really see this behavior in other places -- I don't know that any politician has his name on a state-supported sign in Minnesota. You would not know that R. T. Rybak is the mayor of Minneapolis just by driving into the city.

When voters go to the polls in November, they'll have a lot of factors to weigh. It's possible that people will forget the hideous traffic jams we've experienced in the Twin Cities, especially here in the I-35W corridor, all summer long. But if they remember, it won't help the DFL.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Radio Free Dilettante — Midsummer Afternoon Edition

Dreaming is optional:

Last Five:
Mainline Florida, Eric Clapton
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, The Platters
Tears of Rage, The Band
Love Train, The O'Jays
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Band

Next Five:
Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin
Free for All, Art Blakey
Crown of Creation, Jefferson Airplane
Maria Maria, Santana
What a Difference A Day Made, Dinah Washington

Performance Art at Ol' Mexico

Too bad I had to work yesterday and didn't get a chance to join the fun at Ol' Mexico in Roseville yesterday, where Tom Emmer went into the hamster cage and was chewed on a bit before being doused with 2000 pennies. So did we learn anything from yesterday's Teachable Moment? I suspect so:
  • Probably the top learning that Emmer should take from yesterday's adventure is this: if you think out loud, it bothers the unthinking. You can muse about things like a tip credit all you'd like, but when you are being followed by reporters and DFL operatives with flip phones 24/7, you no longer have the luxury of thinking out loud about any topic.
  • The second learning is this -- while Tom Emmer has significant political gifts, including the ability to make persuasive arguments, there are people he will never be able to reach. The key is to reach the people you can reach and not get distracted by those who wish you ill.
  • It looks like the DFL meme in this cycle is going to be "Emmer is teh crazee" or something like that. Calling the mental health of your opponents into question is an old dodge, of course. If Mark Dayton, who has been quite open about having received treatment for mental illness issues himself, wins the primary on August 10, which seems likely, that's going to be a pretty tough sell. Watch Mark Dayton's eyes sometime -- even in his ads, you see a faraway look that's kinda, well, spooky. He'll have a very difficult time selling the idea that Emmer is the one who is somehow unhinged. And that's even before we get into the cognitive dissonance that is DFL policy -- runaway spending is fiscal discipline!
  • I'd also like to thank "Robert Erickson," the fellow who dumped the pennies on Emmer, for pulling a stunt that's far more likely to garner sympathy for Emmer than it is for the plight of the people "Erickson" purports to champion. What's next -- a pie in the face? Dousing Emmer in ketchup that represents the blood of undocumented workers? Wait, I'd better stop giving "Erickson" ideas.
  • As Mitch Berg points out, no matter the optics of the last few days, it's awfully early in the campaign and there's no reason to panic. The fundamentals of this election cycle are quite good for Republicans. Take a deep breath and realize that we're still over a month away from the State Fair. No one except political obsessives is really paying attention right now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

News You Can Use

In case you missed it, note that KSTP television's "Truth Test" gives an anti-Tom Emmer ad currently running a grade of F. See the report here.

You're going to see a lot of F-level ads from the portside in this cycle. That's all they have right now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things We'll Never Know

There's been much trumpeting in recent days about the report that Minnesota Majority produced that shows as many as 341 felons voted illegally in the 2008 election in Minnesota. Since Al Franken's official margin of victory was only 312 votes, there have been more than a few people who have surmised that these felons may have provided Franken with his margin of victory.

It's possible, I suppose. We'll never really know, which is the problem. I don't know that convicted felons are a reliable DFL voting block. I do know that the law states they are not allowed to vote and that under the current system, there's really no way to stop them from voting. All that can be done is to punish them after the fact.

The bottom line is this: it is exceptionally easy to game the system in Minnesota. We do not require photo identification to vote in Minnesota and we allow same-day registration. We get strange results because of this -- I'll never forget the 1998 election, when we had scores of giggling 20-something dudes with mullets lined up in the new voter registration line at my polling place, all awaiting their chance to vote for Skip Humphrey. No, I'm kidding. They wanted to vote for Jesse Ventura and it was their votes, cast mainly as a lark, that put a bullet-headed conspiracy theorist in the governor's chair.

Personally, I'd like to see two things happen:

1) Require photo identification to vote. I need to show an i.d. to do many other things.

2) If we think felons should vote, let's change the law and let them. If we don't, we need to enforce the law and stop them. But we need to decide.

I'd also like to see Mark Ritchie, who allowed all manner of shenanigans to happen in the 2008 cycle, out on his ear. But that's another post.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lightning Round - 071210

Lou Christie, call your office:
  • We went to the new Ramsey County Library in Roseville yesterday. We'll have more to say about what we saw in the next few days, but I do want to confirm one thing: what Force50 of Boots On saw was true -- they have "reserved" spaces for politically favored vehicles. And sure enough, there was a Prius sitting in one of the "Reserved for Fuel Efficient Vehicles" spots that are right outside the front door. I think it appropriate that someone park a Ford Excursion or a '73 Dodge Dart in one of those spots just to see what happens. Also, since I had Mrs. D, Benster and Fearless Maria with me, I felt free to park in one of the carpool spots with my benighted SUV. No one said a word.
  • I guess Spain won the World Cup. Good for them. Can we put the vuvuzelas away now?
  • There's probably a significant readership overlap between this feature and Mitch Berg's Shot in the Dark, so it's possible many readers have already seen his always-excellent posts on military history. If not, it's just another reason why you should visit. He has a fascinating piece up about the beginning stages of the Battle of Britain right now. Check it out -- highly recommended.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Despicable Me

Another very bad day for Satveer Chaudhary:

Sen. Satveer Chaudhary decided Sunday he will leave it up to the voters.

Moments after being handed another political defeat, this time before a special state DFL panel, a lawyer for the controversial state senator said Chaudhary would end his attempt to win back his party's endorsement.

The three-term senator will now face an Aug. 10 primary without his party's backing but with a continuing firestorm over his attempt to get special fishing regulations for a lake where he owns a cabin.

The long knives are out for this guy. If he weren't such a deserving target, one might even feel a little bit sorry for him.

There's two ways to look at this: either Satveer Chaudhary has now received the kiss of death, or this series of misfortunes may work to his advantage. The DFL endorsement has some value in a district that has been a DFL redoubt for a long time, but it will still take an intense effort of the party activists to get enough voters to pull the lever for his lackluster primary opponent, longtime DFL SD50 operative Barb Goodwin, who served in the state house a few terms ago. Goodwin seems like a nice enough person, but her campaign, which has spoken of reform, is risible. Goodwin, like the rest of the DFL apparat, never had any public issues with Chaudhary until his troubles surfaced. It beggars belief that she would do anything other than fill the seat until a better option arrives. Meanwhile, the better option is the Republican candidate, New Brighton City Councilwoman Gina Bauman, who waits patiently for her opportunity to clean up a district that has been in DFL hands for over 30 years.

Andy Warhol once said: Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. Chaudhary has built himself quite a clipping file in recent weeks, and it's not clear how carefully a summertime electorate is paying attention to the race. And on the bright side, he bears a remarkable resemblance to the new cartoon character in the movie Despicable Me. This might a be a good month for antiheroes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

From my window I'm staring while my coffee goes cold

Remember the big hype a few months back about the Coffee Party? Me neither, but it's just as well, because the latest portside attempt to counteract those nasty Tea Party people is now underway and the Washington Post has a breathless dispatch:

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, the "tea party" movement must be honored.

In an effort to replicate the tea party's success, 170 liberal and civil rights groups are forming a coalition that they hope will match the movement's political energy and influence. They promise to "counter the tea party narrative" and help the progressive movement find its voice again after 18 months of floundering.

The large-scale attempt at liberal unity, dubbed "One Nation," will try to revive themes that energized the progressive grassroots two years ago. In a repurposing of Barack Obama's old campaign slogan, organizers are demanding "all the change" they voted for -- a poke at the White House.

One Nation? I'm glad they left out Ein Volk and Ein Fuhrer. Okay, now that we got that cheap shot out of our system, let's think about this one.

Quick, show of hands: who knows what, precisely, is the "tea party narrative?" I've been watching it for over a year now and I'm still not sure I know. What I do know is that the various people who have called themselves Tea Partiers (and who have been called something obscene by their critics), bring a variety of concerns to the table. If there is an overarching theme to the movement, it is that the size and scope of government, which has grown substantially since the Democratic Party regained control of Congress in 2007, is becoming a danger to the future of the nation. From what I can tell, social issues are secondary to the people who show up the rallies.

Now let's look at the idea that the progressive movement has had "18 months of floundering." I think we can rewrite that statement more accurately. The progressive movement (through the politicians it championed, sometimes sotto voce) has controlled two of the three branches of government for 18 months. If there is a perception that the movement is floundering, it is because the moves that its champion and his allies have made are turning out to be a lot less popular than the progressive movement imagined they would be.

Oddly, people aren't really all that excited about the shiny new health care system that was rammed down the nation's throat a few months back. If people really wanted what the Democrats were offering, there wouldn't have been a need to use a recess appointment to put Donald Berwick into his office overseeing Medicare and Medicaid. It's weird -- you would have thought the Democrats would have been delighted to explain why we want a man who believes we "must have a redistribution of wealth."

Well, maybe some people want that. And they certainly have a right to get organized. The top-down model might be a better approach for people who favor wealth redistribution, because it's certainly going to take a top-down approach to get wealth redistribution. Or, as it's sometimes known, a boot on the throat. So why not take that approach? Sadly, there's trouble in paradise, as the Post reports:
But the liberal groups have long had a kind of sibling rivalry, jostling over competing agendas and seeking to influence some of the same lawmakers. In forming the coalition, the groups struggled to settle on a name. Even now, two of the major players disagree about who came up with the idea of holding a march this fall.

Of course they want to do a march. That's been the ticket forever. P. J. O'Rourke wrote over 20 years ago on squabbling that took place at a homelessness/free housing march, in a chapter he called "Among the Compassion Fascists" that was part of his book, Parliament of Whores:

The big, resentful woman I mentioned earlier went on to extol a group of what appeared to be just plain street bums called the New Exodus Marchers who had walked to DC from New York. When the New Exodus people arrived in Washington,
they promptly got into a fistfight at the Center for Creative Non-Violence. The fight had to do with the disposition of royalty proceeds from the sale of HOMELESS T-shirts.

20 years on, the list of people getting this One Nation project off the ground is pretty much exactly who you'd expect, the Post reports:

The groups involved represent the core of the first-time voters who backed President Obama -- including the National Council of La Raza, NAACP, AFL-CIO, SEIU and the United States Student Association.

Back in 1990, O'Rourke called folks like this the "Perennially Indignant" and his explanation of how they think remains apt.
For the Perennially Indignant homelessness is a fine rallying flag where they can all gather and show off how much they care. Homelessness is also a splendid way to indict the American system and, while they're at it, all of Western Civilization and its individualism and freedom. Of Thomas Paine's "natural and imprescriptable rights of man . . . liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression," the Indignants believe only in security. They would replace the democratic paradigm of government as a free association of equals with the totalitarian paradigm of the state as family.
Substitute health care for homeless and the view is the same. Especially if you're Donald Berwick.

The people who would form an organization called One Nation and hope to organize our fractious nation into the One Nation they envision are certainly entitled to try. But it's my job to do everything in my power to stop them. And there are a lot of people who call themselves Tea Partiers who feel the same way I do. We'll be having this conversation all the way to November. And if a look back at O'Rourke's book is any indication, we'll probably still be having the same conversation 20 years from now.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Senator Seven Car Pileup

Two of the busiest freeways in the Twin Cities, I-35W and I-694, bisect Minnesota Senate District 50. Things get complicated where the two freeways meet and it's quite common to see traffic accidents and occasional roadside carnage in the area. It's an apt metaphor for Satveer Chaudhary, the man who holds that SD50 seat, whose life increasingly resembles a multi-car crash:

The Minnesota state senator who pushed through last-minute legislation for Fish Lake that contributed to the governor’s veto of a major fish and game bill is the subject of a federal tax lien for $252,000 in past-due income taxes, the News Tribune has learned.

Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, and his wife, Denise, failed to pay $100,000 in income taxes in 2007 and $151,000 in 2008, according to tax records.

That's a lot of scratch and the IRS doesn't tend to be especially forgiving when a person owes that much money. Now, there has to be a logical explanation for this sort of liability, right? Reporter Brandon Stahl of the Duluth News Tribune relays Chaudhary's latest travails:

Chaudhary, who owns a home on Fish Lake that would have been affected by his legislation, told the News Tribune on Thursday that the delinquent taxes were due to his wife’s wrongful termination by Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company.

“It forced her to exercise or lose some of her stock options,” he said.

“In general, she had to use some of her stocks to purchase other stocks, and so that led to a huge tax liability.”

He said his wife has filed a wrongful termination suit against Celgene with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

For the sake of argument, let's stipulate that everything Chaudhary says here is true. That would be a tough hop and certainly would explain a huge tax liability for a given year. But it only explains the events of 2008. What about the $100,000 liability for the previous year, 2007?

[Chaudhary] said he didn’t know the reason for the 2007 tax delinquency and was checking with his accountant to learn more.

Now, I don't know about you, but if a tax liability of $100,000 were at issue, I'd be quite clear about where it came from and what the disposition of the money was. One has to assume that Sen. Chaudhary signed his 2007 tax form and you'd like to think he reviewed his accountant's work on it. I would also hope that he paid a little more attention to pending legislation than he apparently did with his own personal tax returns.

One other thing — while we're always warned that correlation doesn't equal causation, it's reasonable to wonder whether a $252,000 IRS lien might have entered into Chaudhary's thinking when he got involved in legislation that would have had the effect of raising the value of one of Chaudhary's greatest assets, his home on Fish Lake.

I hope that Chaudhary's accountant has a plausible explanation, because the Senator may have to account for himself in about a month's time.

Real Tarryl Clark Ads of Genius

Tarryl Clark, the latest person sent up to attack Evil Michele Bachmann, has been running a boatload of anti-Bachmann ads that reference Bachmann's comments concerning BP's role in cleaning up the oil spill.

Among Bachmann's concerns was the establishment of a $20 billion trust fund to pay damage claims. Clark's contention, which is ludicrous, is that Bachmann wants to let BP "off the hook" for damages or something.

Bachmann had a point: even for a huge multinational like BP, $20 billion is a huge chunk of change. It's hard to operate with that sort of gouge taken out of your company. And now we can see one result of the problem: BP is having trouble paying its other bills. Ed Morrissey shares a report from a local television station in the Gulf:

Hundreds of fishermen from Lake Charles to Moss Point, Miss., were supposed to get checks from BP on Wednesday but didn’t. Wednesday night, their lawyer wanted answers. Jeffrey Briet represents more than 500 fishermen, and he said the payment system he set up with BP required his clients to be paid every 30 days.

Now that process has suddenly changed without warning, Briet said.

“Not only did they spring it on us that the process has changed, but the people I’ve been dealing with for six weeks who’ve done a good job said, ‘We don’t know what the process is going to be. We’re not authorized to talk to you about it. Someone from BP will contact you,’” he said.

But Briet said he hasn’t heard from BP or its lawyers. He said the claims people have been given so much conflicting information about the process that they can’t provide answers.

So is BP evil? Well, let Ed explain the problem, which anyone who actually understands the private sector could have explained:

Generally speaking, when a company fails to make payroll or meet its Accounts Payable on time, it’s a sign of potential collapse. Sometimes, it’s just a simple issue of red tape within large corporations. It’s hard to tell which is which, but with BP transferring $20 billion into a trust fund and spending a few billion more on the cleanup, it’s certainly not unreasonable to wonder about its cash flow and stability.

Bachmann understood that, which is why she complained about the Obama administration's heavy-handed approach. The irony is that Clark is trying to say that Bachmann wants to let BP off the hook. If BP ends up collapsing, the $20 billion the Obama administration took out of its hide will be one of the primary reasons. And if BP collapses, guess who will be on the hook?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Benster and D Discuss Your LeBron Modell HYYYYYPPE!!!!

Hi everyone, Benster is in the house. And Miami fans are feeling the HYYYYYYYPPPPPEEEE!

And Cleveland fans are feeling the shaft.

So, Decrepit, I've already seen fans in Cleveland burning their LeBron James jerseys in the streets. I wouldn't be surprised if they start burning effigies next. They are certainly feeling burned, right old fella?

I swore I didn't care about all this, Seabiscuit. The ridiculous spectacle, the dog and pony shows, the 24/7 coverage on all 9,467 ESPN media outlets. By the way, I'd better check and make sure they haven't acquired us yet. But I digress.

Well, you can call what you're doing a digression, but I think it's more likely yet another Senior Moment. But I digress.

Feel the love. Well, anyway, I suggested titling this post "LeBron Modell," in honor of the last major sports figure to break the hearts of Clevelanders, Art Modell. This stuff happened around the time you were born, youngblood.

But I know the story and unlike Robert Irsay, Modell didn't sneak out of town in a Mayflower moving van.

That's right. He slinked out of town like a slug leaving a trail of slime. I really feel sorry for the people of Cleveland. They are uncommonly loyal fans but they haven't won a championship since 1964.

I knew this was going to happen, because LeBron wants the bling and Cleveland was not the best choice for winning championships. I hate to burst your bubble, Cleveland, but that's the way it is.

Well, you have to wonder about that. I never thought I'd see the Red Sox or the White Sox win championships. Now that James is leaving northern Ohio, the teams in Cleveland all pretty much stink, but there has to be hope for them.

I would not be surprised if Miami actually wins it all next year, because they did win after they acquired Shaquille O'Neal a few years back, and Boston won the first year they had the Big Three. Things turn around quickly in the NBA and I am predicting that Cleveland will miss the playoffs.

Cleveland might have the worst record in basketball next season. Then they can get a lucky ping pong ball and start this process all over again.

True. You win the lottery and get a college freshman. Unless you're the Timberwolves. Then you get some old guy who's played nine years for Syracuse and a bunch of dudes from Croatia or something. Maybe the Cavs could get Chuck Norris? They may not score, but there opponents will be dropping like flies when Chuck delivers a devastating roundhouse kick. And then maybe he can throw in a Zidane head butt, too.

Good plan. And I will say that Souljah Boy had that roundhouse kick coming.

Agreed. Anyway, back to the HYYYPPPPEEEE! I can't wait to see what the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks like tomorrow.

I suspect it will be a little somber, young fella.

Probably right, old dude. Ben out!

Fearless Maria would like to remind you. . .

. . . to vote in the latest installment of Guilty Pleasures. Don't make her come over there.

Mind-Boggling if True

You really have to hope that NASA Chief Charles Bolden was just blowing smoke up Al-Jazeera's butt and that this isn't true. The ever-vigilant Andrew Malcolm at the L. A. Times reports on what Bolden said to Al-Jazeera last week:

When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering.
The "he" in this instance is President Barack Obama, of course. So why on earth (pun intended) would the head of the space agency be placed in the hybrid role of goodwill ambassador and Bill Nye the Science Guy? And more importantly, why hasn't anyone in the MSM other than Malcolm (who is a columnist/blogger for the L.A. Times) reported anything about this story? One theory -- offered here:

The reason the MSM has the lid on NASA's new "mission" to snuggle up to Islam (in between decapitations and floggings) is that it would be devastating to Obama if it became known. On the surface, the new NASA "mission" seems merely screwball, and thus a small story. But I think it's a good deal more than that. It shows that Obama's thinking is unrecognizable to the average person. It also shows that he's unserious -- frivolous, really -- about something that made a generation of Baby Boomers take pride in their country. How many millions of people sat in their junior high auditoriums and watched the Alan Shepherd and John Glenn launches? How many millions more were up at midnight on July 20, 1969 to watch the first human being, an American, put his foot on the moon?

When the domestic roots of skepticism about America (and sometimes flat-out anti-Americanism) were being laid -- in the 60's assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the exposure of the country's treatment of blacks -- the one thing in which we all took pride was the space program. So for Obama, it's now one thing that needs to be perverted. Making it a dumbed-down PR front for Islam is, in its way, a genius move for this purpose. But as the MSM recognizes by its silence, it's a bridge too far.
That's a very harsh assessment, but can we reject it out of hand? Like I said, I hope Bolden was just blowing smoke up Al-Jazeera's butt.

Our Friends at Boots On Notice Something

Apparently the new Ramsey County Library in Roseville isn't going to be SUV-friendly. Force50 reports:

After detailing all the luxurious new features at the renovated Ramsey County Library in Roseville -- fire places, terazzo floors, computers galore -- the article casually dropped this little tidbit:

"Pavement murals adorn parking spots reserved for carpools and fuel-efficient vehicles near the front door."

Since when should librarians and libraries decide what is fuel efficient? And implement what amounts to a preferred clientele program to boot.

In a followup comment on the blog, Force50 went over there and reports further:

Worse than I thought. Checked out the parking lot and nearly the entire convenient south lot is designated for compact cars. In front of the west side entrance are the spots designated for fuel-efficient cars. This is a lefty utopian dream whereby they can send an SUV driver or a Crown Victoria driver to the north lot to take a long walk. They know who their second class citizens are. Ironically those are likely the most taxed.

Classy, Ramsey County. Real classy. It does beg the question, though -- if I bring my kids to the library, which I generally do, do I count as a carpool? And who decides that? Are we going to have library staff/traffic control officers?

This won't last and they'll have to repaint the parking lot, which will waste more tax money. Genius!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Guilty Pleasures Part Sixty-Nine: Staff Picks

Fearless Maria is here and she's reminded me of something.

Dad, the visitors to the neighborhood maybe don't always like our songs. But that's because you're always picking weird stuff, you know.

I've heard that criticism, yes.

Well, why don't we have our staff pick out some songs that they like and then let people vote on that? We'll see who they agree with! That's a way to take the guilt out of Guilty Pleasures. And the disgust, too! I think there's a bit of Music Justice to that!

Well, we believe in justice around here. Truth, too. And even the American Way.

Dad, stop the Superman stuff! Superman wasn't always so super, you know....

True, but we can try to pick out some super songs, doncha think?

You betcha by golly, wow. And no, that is not one of the songs! And besides I really don't want to have to critique their atrocious fashion choices. Those tuxes are so long they could be tutus! It goes along with the ballerina moves. Dad, what's the name of that band?

The Stylistics, Maria.

They should change their name to the Style-Challenged!

I'll send them a note about that. Anyway, whose song should we choose first?

Let's put the HYYYPPPE-master out of the way first, Dad!

That would be the Benster, who has volunteered this song, which only came out about 20 years before he was born:

Dad, that's some long hair on those guys. And what's with the full orchestra? That's weird. Even a bit uncalled for, too.

Well, I guess they're trying to dress it up a bit, even though they decided to go with the bad hair. And I can think of a weirder use of an orchestra.

Dad, did the person who created that scene have a few drinks before he filmed that?

Don't know. It's hot out there in the desert, though, so maybe. Anyway, Benster's pick is "Dream On" by Aerosmith. Who's next?

Well, we got Uncle Stinger on the phone and asked him about his favorite song. Assuming Dad heard it right, this is what he picked -- it's New Order:

You know what, Dad? I think Bernard Sumner needs to get a new order of that old book. You know, that old book called "The Definition of Weird." In case you haven't read that one, here it goes: Once upon a time there lived the three Primary Brothers. They were all shaped like Humpty Dumpty and liked to act like they were walking on the moon. And of course, they wore red, yellow and blue. And then, not too far away, there was a weird Japanese figure doing some sort of sign language and also looked a bit like Humpty Dumpty as well. And finally, on the streets of Weirdville, lived a bunch of street boys. Some of them were slapping each other and the others did very odd stuff and were sometimes disrespectful.

Is there more to this story, Maria? I'm fascinated.

Well, yeah, Dad. Then they were all caught by the authorities and the smartest police officer said, "Odd citizens, you have all done something that no citizen has done before. You completed the definition of extremely weird." The end.

That's an interesting tale, Maria. But I'm confused -- is there a moral to the story?

Yes -- just act normal. Can you send a memo to Bernard Sumner about that?

Okay, although I'm getting a lot of writing assignments from this post -- it's like being at work.

I have to keep you on your toes, Dad. Meanwhile, rumors are floating around that Mom's favorite song is next.

Where did you hear these rumors, Maria?

Dad, you know:

That's a really cool version - Marvin Gaye singing a capella. What a voice!

I thought so too, Dad. Better dancing than those Humpty Dumpty guys that Uncle Stinger likes! But the version with the background music is pretty great, too!

So should we just concede the contest to Mom, then?

No, Dad! What fun would that be? As good as Marvin Gaye was, we don't know that all our guests would choose him! So what's your song, Dad?

It's hard for me to choose, Maria. I like so many songs. But I'll pick this one:

Now remember, this is my song, Maria. Be gentle in your analysis, please....

Well you know, Dad -- the Beatles were fairly good skiers, but there was one part where they were free falling. But at least they were better than the "agony of defeat" guy!

But did you like the song, Maria?

Well yeah, Dad. Who doesn't like the Beatles? Maybe someone who reads this doesn't and will tell us!

Good point, Maria. So what's your choice?

Well, Dad, I thought about this one. And then I thought about this one. And I even thought about this one. But I like rock and roll, Dad. So I chose this one:

I don't like cigarette smoke at all, Dad. But this song is smokin' hot!

Deep down, I knew you were a rocker, Maria. But what does the audience like?

Well, don't be shy, Dad! Let's ask them to pick their favorite in the comment section! I know it's been a while since we did one of these, but you haven't forgotten the rules, have you Dad?

Nope. I remember. Listen to what Fearless Maria says, y'all. I know I do.

Just so we're clear

I couldn't care less where LeBron James goes.

Well, at least we know -- WITH UPDATES

The things we learn. Consider the lawsuit the federal government is pursuing against the State of Arizona:

The filing is expected to include declarations from other U.S. agencies saying that the Arizona law would place a undue burden on their ability to enforce immigration laws nationwide, because Arizona police are expected to refer so many illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

Let's think about that. What the government is really saying here is this: we have laws but we are either unable or unwilling to enforce them, so Arizona needs to back off and stop insisting we live up to the laws we've passed, because the laws we've passed create an undue burden. The rule of law is one thing, but bureaucratic comfort levels are quite another, especially when the party in power relies on bureaucrats as one of its most loyal constituencies.

I'm a conservative, but I tend to take a libertarian view on many issues. In my view, one of the largest problems of a leviathan government is this: it tends to pass laws it cannot, or will not, enforce. When the government does these things, respect for the edifice of law erodes over time. Apparently the immigration laws we have on the books are part of that problem. It's long since past time that our betters in Washington come clean -- either they want to protect the border, or they don't. It would appear that this administration doesn't want to protect the border. The Feds want to stop Arizona from doing anything about enforcing the border, either.

Really, what we need to decide is this: either we enforce immigration law as currently written and allocate the resources necessary to do it, or we should change our public stance and say, hey, we're happy to have you in El Norte -- come on in, amigos! If that's our view, we ought to stop pretending the laws on the books matter and set out to repeal them.

Arizona's law is all about clarifying roles and responsibilities. At least for this administration, the answer is now clear -- they don't really want to enforce the laws. Good to know. Now the voters can decide whether or not that stance is acceptable.

UPDATE: a member of Arizona congressional delegation, also a member of the President's party, weighs in.

UPDATE TWO: That nasty racist Arizona law approach is spreading. Well, that would be true except for the little matter that Rhode Island has been reporting people to ICE for years. I'm beginning to wonder why Eric Holder isn't coming down hard on those racists in Providence....

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Mike Kaszuba of the Star Tribune has been doing an excellent job following the ongoing saga of Satveer Chaudhary, who represents Senate District 50 and is now in the fight of his political life. He picks up the story here and his reportage provides some news that ought to disturb anyone who is involved in politics:

William Krueger, the Senate District 50 DFL chair, said he has had multiple anonymous death threats through telephone calls and an e-mail over the past month and had informally asked Ramsey County sheriff's deputies to patrol his home. He said the threats were "very explicit" and involved "me and my family," and said he's been concerned enough to take his family to an undisclosed location on weekends.

"I don't know how valid it is, but it was such that I wasn't going to take a needless chance," said Krueger.

Whether it's valid or not, it's terrible. Our politics shouldn't matter that much to anyone. If the person issuing the threat is a Chaudhary supporter, that individual ought to know that such threats hardly benefits the senator's cause. I hope that the Ramsey County sheriff's deputies find the person responsible and that the individual is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Meanwhile, I'll say a prayer for Mr. Krueger and his family and I'd encourage everyone else to do the same.

Blogger just ate my post on this topic

But please read the link from the New York Times regarding the parlous financial situation in Illinois. I had a lot more to say on this (before Blogger ate my post, that is); suffice it to say that the upshot is this: we are reaching the point where it is no longer possible for the political class to insulate itself from its actions.

Mark Dayton, I'm looking at you.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Love Hurts

A guy with no chin hits the U.S. on the chin:

The Obama administration’s failure to facilitate change in the Middle East shows that it is weak, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday during a visit to Latin America amid rising regional tensions over last month’s Gaza flotilla incident and increasing efforts to defuse the Iranian threat.

Assad was quoted Monday in the Argentine daily Clarín as saying that Washington did not “seem to be able to manage a peace process from beginning to end.” He added that while the US was capable of pulling “all its weight” to support a peace process, the current administration has so far proved to be impractical and unable to gain the backing of Congress.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Bashar Assad doesn't give a rat's ass about peace. He's the Fredo Corleone of the Middle East who got the job when his brother met an early demise and his taunts ought to be met with scorn. Peace, for Assad, amounts to pushing the Israelis into the Mediterranean.

The more interesting question: why is this chinless doofus touring South America? Because he doesn't fear any repercussions and he knows that the actors on the stage are elsewhere:

While criticizing the Obama administration, Assad had only words of praise for rising players in global and regional diplomacy – namely Turkey and Brazil, who recently brokered a deal to enrich Iran’s uranium on Turkish soil. The move, said Assad, transfers “essential political weight from a few countries in the North, such as Europe and the US, to others in the world.”

Yep -- it's hard to play the game when you're not in the game. And there's more:

Assad expressed hope that initiative would lead to increased cooperation between the less affluent countries south of the equator. On the nuclear issue, he said only that Syria wishes to prevent an “uncontrollable” arms race and “transform the Middle East into a zone free of nuclear weapons … If Israel continues to be a nuclear power from a military point of view, unfortunately this race will take off some day”.

Israel should disarm, of course. And everyone should expect the nations around it to act in good faith. Sure. Makes perfect sense, if your endgame is the Mediterranean.

It's a question that dates back to Machiavelli -- is it better to be loved or feared? At the moment, the U.S. is not feared. That lack of fear doesn't seem to be leading to love, either.

Fat Cats Don't Fill the Kitty

You only give me your funny paper:

A perfect storm of events — the recession, Wall Street anger at Washington, donors who feel ignored by the White House and interest group dissatisfaction — has Democrats bracing for a brutal fundraising period and fearful of losing dominance in longtime donor stronghold and megarich New York. While the exact quarterly figures won’t be known until after the July 15 filing deadline, a number of Democratic campaign insiders said the past few months were a mighty struggle to raise cash for candidates.

And that's a problem for the party of the workingman, because that fat cat New York money goes all over the country to elect the Men (and Women) of the People. So why are the gilded angels of mercy failing to cough up the dough?

Things are different now. While most Democrats blame the economy and anger from Wall Street for the fundraising predicament, President Barack Obama, whose own donor model was low-dollar contributors and Internet contributors over high-dollar types, has headlined just one major New York event so far this year, for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And several fundraisers said they knew of very few major events in the Hamptons — the summer playground for the wealthy that was long worked by the Clintons, who used it for simultaneous socializing, vacationing and rainmaking for the national party committees.

While it's possible that the Obama administration got confused and has been holding donor events in Hampton Inns instead, I suspect the larger issue is that it's become evident that Obama is in over his head and people don't want to continue to finance a trainwreck.

Ed Morrissey makes an important, point, too:

While many of us argue for more market-based approaches to public-policy issues, the people with capital like to pursue a more influenced-based outcome. While the Obama administration makes Bill Clinton look like Calvin Coolidge by comparison, the truth is that both Democrats campaigned on hostility towards capital, especially in 1992 for Clinton. Both of them were redistributionists; Bill Clinton was just smart enough to wise up after the 1994 midterms and tack back towards the center.

There's always a temptation to game the system if one senses it is possible. It's not noble but it is human nature. Wall Street often favored the Democrats under Bill Clinton because there was a sense that he was willing to play, especially after 1994. While I think that plenty of Obama's people are willing to play, it's not clear that Obama understands the rules of the game just yet. We're going to find out if Obama is as capable of learning as his predecessor.