Thursday, July 31, 2014

Speaking of Haterade

Betty McCollum provides a charming update:

Sweetness and light
Of course, I also find out the following from my Facebook feed:

Never knew Sen. Byrd was a Tea Partier
I get the distinct impression that our betters aren't taking things very well at the moment.

A big ol' bottle of Haterade

The Leader of the Free World, in full goad mode:
President Barack Obama took his criticism of congressional Republicans to a higher pitch on Wednesday, imploring them to "stop just hatin' all the time" as they voted to sue him over charges he has overstepped the bounds of his office.
In utterly unrelated news, emails from former IRS honcho Lois Lerner offered this measured analysis of the Loyal Opposition:
Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a scandal involving that agency’s targeting of conservative groups, called Republicans “crazies” and “assholes,” according to emails released Wednesday.
We can only assume that Lerner was speaking out of abiding respect and love for her fellow citizens.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

He's only the governor, after all

This is beautiful:
Indiana governor Mike Pence said he first learned the federal government had placed 245 unaccompanied alien children in Indiana through media reports.

In a letter to President Obama, Pence wrote that the Department of Health and Human Services informed him that the federal government had housed hundreds of unaccompanied alien children in Indiana from January 1, 2014, to July 7, 2014, but only after reports surfaced in the media.
Do you think Obama gives a damn what Pence thinks? We already know the answer.

The Contours of the Verdict

Our good friend and local radio luminary Brad Carlson asks the right question:
The better question is, now that Ventura may be nearly $2 million richer, does he even care about his reputation anymore?
The Contours (and J. Geils Band) had the response:

I don't care if you got yourself a wrap
All I want is your pretty green cash
Bought me a suit, bought me a car
Want me to look like a hollywood star
Money, (Money!) I want money (Money!)
Baby, ain't no "why", baby (Money!)
I need money!
First I look at the purse!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Go figure

Former governor of Minnesota. No, really.
Jesse Ventura won his defamation case against the estate of author Chris Kyle, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who said he punched out the former Minnesota governor for criticizing the SEALs’ role in the Iraq war.

The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for “unjust enrichment” — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, as instructed. Instead, with the consent of both sides, they voted 8 to 2 in Ventura’s favor.

Ventura was not in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle said federal rules require a unanimous verdict but allow for a split verdict if both sides agree.

One man and one woman voted no on verdict when all jurors were polled in the courtroom. It appeared the forewoman was one of the two no votes.
A few thoughts:

  • First, the obvious one -- I surely didn't see this coming. Ventura has spent his adult life as a controversialist, so it's difficult to imagine that anyone would somehow think better of him after winning this verdict, but he doesn't have to convince the public at large; he only had to convince 10 people and somehow he got 8 of the 10 to agree.
  • Is he vindicated? I tend to doubt it. He might have been justified in suing Chris Kyle while he was alive, but after Kyle was murdered, it would have been a gracious move to quietly drop the matter, rather than dragging his widow into court. Jesse Ventura's never been about being gracious, though.
  • The only winner here are the lawyers who made up Ventura's legal team. I have a feeling that they'll be in great demand for the foreseeable future, because winning a case of this sort is highly impressive. Winning a libel suit when the person claiming damages is a public figure is horrendously difficult.
  • It will be interesting to see if Kyle's widow decides to settle the case now. She might win on appeal, but the court costs could further impoverish her. 
  • Does this verdict reflect unfavorably on Minnesota? Well, yes and no. I tend to think it reflects more on the jury, and again in the skills of Ventura's legal team in identifying jurors who would be willing to give Ventura the benefit of the doubt. I will be highly curious to see what the jurors say in the coming days about the trial and about the deliberations that followed.

Getcha popcorn

Matt Entenza is not a popular figure in the DFL, for reasons that Briana Bierschbach outlines in an article in the ol' MinnPost:
For Otto and her backers, the race is vintage Entenza. He served as DFL minority leader in the state House from 2003 to 2006 before leaving that position to run for attorney general. When it was discovered he had commissioned negative research on then Attorney General Mike Hatch, he left the race. Four years later, Entenza challenged DFL-endorsed candidate and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher in a three-way primary for the governor’s office. Neither won that contest, with the nomination instead going to current Gov. Mark Dayton.

Otto also believes that Entenza’s interest in being auditor has nothing to do with actually being auditor. Rather, she says, he simply wants to use the office as a springboard to run for one of the two jobs he covets, attorney general or governor. (Both Dayton and former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson previously served as state auditors.) “There isn’t an interest in this office,” Otto said. “He did run for governor, he appears to be running for governor again. … He’s doing mailings talking about policy issues for governor. That should cause great concern for the voters and Democratic activists.”
And great amusement for Republicans.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Four on the floor

The PiPress gave some space to the four Republicans who are in the primary to run against Mark Dayton. I haven't spent a lot of time on this race, mostly because I'm pretty sure that my opinion is of minimal importance to most people. I have my preferences, but I'd have no trouble supporting any of the four against Dayton, who generally makes William J. LePetomane, the addled governor played by Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, look coherent.

The PiPress does a mostly fair job of profiling the four main candidates, including providing the obligatory attack lines from Carrie Lucking, Ken Martin, and the rest of the goon squad associated with the DFL and its ancillaries. In case you care, Scott Honour is Mitt Romney, Jeff Johnson is a Tea Party stooge, and Kurt Zellers is out of touch and was completely responsible for the shutdown in 2011. Marty Seifert apparently doesn't merit a swat from the apparat, at least that Bill Salisbury is allowed to share just yet.

For the sake of party unity, it would be easiest if Johnson, who won the endorsement at the GOP convention, ends up winning the primary. I suspect the party could get behind Zellers if he wins, but there's a lot of bad blood regarding Seifert, especially his graceless departure from the nominating process. Unless Honour surges, I don't see him making it, although he's going to be spending a lot of his own money in the next few weeks. What's been most striking about the campaign thus far is that the candidates have been mostly unwilling to attack one another.

One thing seems clear -- Dayton, for his part, is going to do his best to limit the opportunities to be seen on the same stage with the GOP primary winner. He's blowing off the Minnesota Public Radio debate at the State Fair and it remains to be seen whether he'll be willing to debate much after that. If you're Dayton, that's a smart move, because he can count on the local media not calling him out for avoiding discussions, while he'll have a lot of support from Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the dirt merchants who turned Tom Emmer into Emmanuel Goldstein in the last cycle. A similar fate awaits any of the four contenders; the key will be to counter-attack and not let ABM's narrative become the campaign narrative.

One thing worth mentioning -- in an ordinary year, you'd likely have a bunch of DFLers voting in the Republican primary to pick their preferred opponent for Dayton, but that won't necessarily happen in this cycle, because there's a contested primary on the DFL side. Our old pal Matt Entenza, who has burned many bridges in his career, is taking on Rebecca Otto for the state auditor job. The DFL doesn't want Entenza to win and has needed to expend a fair amount of effort to bolster Otto. DFL voters will need to stay involved in this primary, which limits the potential for mischief.

For now, let's take a poll:

Your preferred candidate for governor in the GOP primary is.... free polls 
You can vote for more than one candidate, but it's probably better to vote for just one. Share your rationale in the comments section, if you'd like.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Stirring Anthem

The wonders of Obamacare proceed apace:
Nancy Pippenger and Marcia Perez live thousands of miles apart but have the same complaint: Doctors who treated them last year won't take their insurance now, even though they haven't changed insurers.

"They said, 'We take the old plan, but not the new one,' " says Perez, an attorney in Palo Alto, Calif.

In Plymouth, Ind., Pippenger got similar news from her longtime orthopedic surgeon, so she shelled out $300 from her own pocket to see him.

Both women unwittingly enrolled in policies with limited networks of doctors and hospitals that provide little or no payment for care outside those networks. Such plans existed before the health law, but with its expansion of insurance, they are covering more people — and some are shrinking enrollees' options further than before. The policies' limitations have come as a surprise to some enrollees used to broader job-based coverage or to plans they held before the law took effect.

"It's totally different," said Pippenger, 57, whose new Anthem Blue Cross plan doesn't pay for any care outside its network, although the job-based Anthem plan she had last year did cover some of those costs. "Now I can't find a doctor."
So why is that?
Insurers say they are simply trying to provide low-cost plans in a challenging environment. The new federal health law doesn't let them reject enrollees with health problems or charge them more just because they are sick. So they are using the few tools left to them — contracting with smaller groups of hospitals and doctors willing to accept lower reimbursements; requiring referrals for specialty care; and limiting coverage outside those networks.
It's really a head-scratcher, that the people who ultimately have to pay the bills would try to find ways to cut costs. That never happens in any other sort of enterprise, right?

All the standard aphorisms apply -- you can't get something for nothing. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Something that can't go on, won't go on. Wonkery and Ivy League wizardry notwithstanding, it never made sense to assume that the people who brought you the post office and the Department of Motor Vehicles could somehow do a superior job of delivering health care.

Of course, to use yet another aphorism, there are some things that are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them. Or, alternatively, it could be this (h/t Stacy McCain):

Meanwhile, Ms. Pippenger, you'll just have to deal with the doctor you can get, not the doctor you want. Change you can believe in.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Things I learn on the internet

Do you ever wonder about what the Westboro Baptist Church is doing? Me neither, but I can always find out by from Facebook. Bonus discovery -- I also get to find out what Panic at the Disco is doing these days.

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about what Michele Bachmann is doing? Me neither, but I can always find out by reading the ol' HuffPo. Bonus discovery -- apparently it's perfectly acceptable to make all manner of gay slurs in the HuffPo comments section. At least if the slurs refer to Bachmann's husband.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Oh, by the way

Just thought they'd mention it, apparently:
The United States said on Thursday that Russia was firing artillery across the border into Ukraine to target Ukrainian military positions in the conflict against pro-Russian separatists.

"We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Harf, speaking at a regular media briefing, cited intelligence reports, but said she could give no more information of what the reports were based on.
While we're at it, just passing this along, too:
Islamic State, the al-Qaeda offshoot that seized large swathes of northern Iraq last month, has warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment.

The Sunni insurgents, who have declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and have threatened to march on Baghdad, also listed guidelines on how veils and clothes should be worn, part of a campaign to violently impose their radical brand of Islam.

"The conditions imposed on her clothes and grooming was only to end the pretext of debauchery resulting from grooming and overdressing," said the Islamic State in a statement.

"This is not a restriction on her freedom but to prevent her from falling into humiliation and vulgarity or to be a theater for the eyes of those who are looking."
Theater for the eyes. That's not bad. Somehow, I also suspect that "overdressing" isn't the issue, either.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Open thread

Went to the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade last night and got back quite late, so my brain isn't working so well this morning. So let's have an open thread.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A clarification and a related observation

As we predicted yesterday, Tony Dungy had to issue a clarification in re Michael Sam:
The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play.  That’s my opinion as a coach.  But those were not the questions I was asked.

What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.

I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.

I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction.  Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.
More at the link. To his credit, Dungy's "clarification" isn't an apology, an important distinction. He had no reason to apologize. I do want to go back to one thing, though. Yesterday's post offered the following observation by Yahoo Sports writer Dan Wetzel:
This is Dungy not standing up for his own convictions.
Show of hands here -- does anyone believe that Dan Wetzel has any freaking idea what Dungy's convictions are? Or is this Wetzel projecting his own convictions onto Dungy? It's presumptuous as hell for Wetzel to tell Dungy what his convictions are. Perhaps the most pernicious thing about modern liberalism is the way that liberals attempt to control the terms of any debate. The least we can do for Tony Dungy is to let him speak for himself. We need to do a better job of calling out jackasses like Wetzel who deign to tell people what their convictions ought to be.

Don't bother

It's more exciting than a one man band
The saddest little show in all the land

-- "Sideshow," a 1974 hit for Blue Magic

Apparently we have our sideshow:
Though set to retire from the U.S. House after her term expires at the end of this year, Michele Bachmann may not be done with electoral politics.

The Minnesota congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate told RealClearPolitics on Tuesday that she is considering a second White House run. 
We haven't had a good Minnesota-based perennial candidate since Harold Stassen, so why not, right?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Look what you've Dungy

You are allowed to have certain opinions. Make sure you pick the right ones:
“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ said former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. 
“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen."
 That quote has set off a firestorm. Here's a typical measured response, from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports:
This is Dungy not standing up for his own convictions. It's Dungy using the same old buzzwords that caused society to move so slowly to grant equal rights and opportunities to minorities of all kinds, choosing what's easy over what's right (even if it likely will be easier for the generation of guys who actually play than an old man like Dungy realizes).

Integrated third grades weren't "smooth." A black man on the Dodgers caused "things to happen." The first female executives in the business world weren't welcome by all. Lots of people were aghast at the thought of minorities owning homes, especially in their neighborhood. Politicians that didn't look like the Founding Fathers were upsetting to some. Many bristled against the idea of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, gays, whatever on factory lines, boardrooms, school boards and on military front lines.

This isn't even worth arguing. Caving to the most ignorant and obstinate among us is an embarrassment and should never, ever, be the basis for anything. Ever.
You see, you're supposed to cave to Dan Wetzel. A few points:

  • Dungy is trying to explain how coaches think, especially NFL coaches. They want to keep the focus on the game itself.
  • Anyone who follows the local team understands full well how distractions can mess up a season. Remember the Love Boat? Up until that moment, Daunte Culpepper was considered a solid citizen and a leader of men. Not long after, he tore up his knee and he was out of the league entirely by 2009. 
  • Speaking of distractions, how much fun are the Vikings having now, dealing with their former punter? Our friend First Ringer has an excellent synopsis of that mess over at Shot in the Dark
Wetzel sees a more malign motive from Dungy:

Dungy is an outspoken conservative Christian and if he were to say that he wouldn't have drafted Michael Sam because the Bible that Dungy believes in condemns Sam's lifestyle that would be … well, that would be ridiculous, hypocritical and wrong also, but at least it would seemingly jibe with Dungy's sometimes expressed beliefs.

Sometimes being the operative word.
Dungy will get his mind right. There are plenty of people who will see to that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What passes for thought on the Left these days

Much of what we see and read from the Left is self-congratulatory and dismissive of legitimate concerns. Often, it’s boiled down into bumper sticker-sized graphics that appear on social media. Consider this one:

Let's give every internet meme a non-sequitur

The border crisis is a crisis for many reasons; the largest reason isn’t that it’s some horrible alien horde or invasion, though. The real reason it's a crisis is much more simple than that. Each one of the people coming across the border are arriving because they have specific needs that must be addressed. And in a lot of cases, they are coming to a place that is going to have a hell of a lot of trouble addressing those needs.

We’re hearing reports that the recent arrivals are getting dumped off in places like Nebraska. Let's think about this for a moment. The majority of these folks are coming from Central America, specifically places like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Let’s assume that some of the new Nebraskans are from Guatemala, perhaps hailing from the Quiche region, which is west of Guatemala City and near Lake Atitlan. I was in this region many years ago, as a high schol exchange student. I saw what it was like -- conditions there are pretty horrible and there's little question that the Guatemalan government, then and now, treated the Quiche Maya quite badly. There would be multiple reasons why children would go, or be sent, to el Norte. So, for the sake of argument, a 14-year-old girl from Quiche arrives. She might look something like this young lady:

Where am I going to go?

The girl in this picture was in Mexico, hoping to get north. Say she gets here and the feds send her to Nebraska, bound for Omaha or Scottsbluff, or some place else. What is her condition upon arrival?

  • She might have the clothes on her back, if that
  • She would not have much of any formal schooling
  • She would not speak English
  • She would not speak Spanish, either; instead, she would speak a Mayan dialect, most likely Kaqchikel
  • The chances of finding someone who could speak to her in her native language in Nebraska is even more remote than the village she comes from

Supposedly there are sponsors for this young woman. What if there aren't? If you are a social service official in Nebraska, how do you handle the case? Do you expect any help from the federal government? Would you get any? Or would you be on your own?

Suppose she stays, and you should assume she will stay, because there's not much chance she'll be sent back. She needs to go to school and would need to catch up to her peers. She's going to need education, health care, a place to live. For the sake of argument, we'll stipulate that she has a dream. Can she realize it if she's placed somewhere that doesn't have the resources? Can you just place her in an American high school and be done with it? This is going to happen to these children. It already is happening.

I am highly sympathetic to the plight of immigrants generally. I realize that the Know-Nothings didn't want my Bavarian ancestors coming over here in the 1850s, and that my Irish ancestors, who mostly came over a decade or more before that, were told that they need not apply. I am fortunate that I am a 4th/5th generation American, because I have never borne the brunt of prejudice as some of my ancestors did.

Still, it's important to ask if we have a plan for taking care of thousands of people who have nothing. And posting smart-ass internet memes isn't a plan.

The bench

With Hillary Clinton again looking less than inevitable, the Dems have to consider their bench for 2016. WaPo has a roundup that includes a familiar name:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) will test her folksy politics next month in Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) is coming out this fall with a book, “Off the Sidelines,” that is part political memoir, part modern-feminist playbook and certain to generate presidential buzz. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also is publishing a memoir this fall with a wink-wink title: “All Things Possible.”
Yes, that would be our Amy. Quickly -- tell me five things about Sen. Klobuchar's history and career that make her qualified to be president. Hell, tell me one.

Of course, the alternative might be this guy:

Ahh, yup
Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley seems to respond yes to every party speaking invitation that comes his way and is slated to address Democrats in Nebraska and Mississippi in coming weeks. He also endeared himself to liberals in recent days by breaking with President Obama on how to deal with an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border.

Of course, we've got Biden out there, too. And if you really want a blast from the past, take the recommendation of the former commander of Monkey Business:
One Democrat who knows a thing or two about insurgent campaigns, former senator Gary Hart of Colorado, said he intends to huddle with California Gov. Jerry Brown at their upcoming Yale Law School reunion (Class of 1964) to chat about the possibility of Brown running for the White House.

“Don’t rule out my law school classmate,” said Hart, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1984 and 1988. “If you pay attention to his career, you see that he does very unexpected things.”
It would be worth mentioning that Jerry Brown ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1976, 1980, and 1992, a Harold Stassen-like record of achievement, and with a similar success rate. In fact, every year that Brown ran, so did Stassen. I've been checking to see if William Jennings Bryan also ran in those same elections, which seems possible.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


The fate of those poor souls on Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17, and those below:
First came the loud explosion that made buildings rattle: then it started raining bodies.

One of the corpses fell through the rickety roof of Irina Tipunova's house in this sleepy village, just after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 exploded high over eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are fighting government forces.

"There was a howling noise and everything started to rattle. Then objects started falling out of the sky," the 65-year-old pensioner said in front of her grey-brick home.

"And then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen, the roof was broken," she said, showing the gaping hole made by the body when it came through the ceiling of the kitchen in an extension to the house.
Meanwhile, the pro-Russian rebels that probably shot the plane out of the sky aren't letting the investigators find out much:
International monitors investigating the Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine said Friday the team was not given full access to the site and was greeted with hostility by armed men.

"There didn't seem to be anyone really in control," Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe team, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Armed men, apparently pro-Russia militants, loosely guarded the area but couldn't answer the monitors' questions, he said.
Oh, there's someone in control, all right. One hint: it isn't this guy.

Making the rounds

This old National Lampoon parody has been making the rounds lately:

It was a takeoff of ads like this, that Volkswagen ran at the time:

I remember Stanley Siegel from his days in Green Bay. He later went on to considerable success with WABC in New York.

By the way, it was 45 years ago when the Conscience of the Senate drove off the Chappaquiddick Bridge and left Mary Jo Kopechne to die.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Give the Drummer Some -- Bumped

Fearless Maria is now in high school(!) and is a member of the Irondale Marching Knights Band. She's a percussionist and is in the pit. It's a great opportunity for her, as Irondale historically has one of the best marching band programs in the state, with a national reputation as well. So we're delighted for her.

Of course, as anyone who's involved in youth activities well knows, if you are a parent you're usually on the hook for fundraising. So for the first time in the history of this feature, the blog becomes a "bleg."

Maria would love to sell you an Irondale Marching Knights Mega Raffle Calendar. Here's how it works --

* You pay $25 to enter. The ticket goes into the drawing and you get a borderline stylish calendar with information about the program.
* The Irondale Marching Knights pull a winning ticket every day, with prizes ranging from $30 - $250, with total prizes of $20,100 awarded throughout the year.
* If you win, they will mail the prize to you. You can also check the Irondale Bands website for daily winners.
* You have about a 1 in 8 chance of winning, which isn't too bad, actually.

If you're interested, drop me a line at my email address, which you can find by clicking the "Mr. D" profile on the sidebar, and I'll hook you up. Sales are available through September 29, with the first drawings starting on October 4.

Thanks for your kind attention.

Grammar Alert

Like most satirists, Weird Al Yankovic has been hit-or-miss over his long career. This latest song is genius, though:

Most entertaining grammar lesson outside of Schoolhouse Rock. I do wonder what Sister Renita would think about it, though....

Geography Lessons

Time was that immigration issues were essentially issues for border states. Not so much anymore:
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has denied a request from federal authorities to temporarily house up to 2,000 illegal migrant children from Central America at the Southbury Training School.

The state Office of Policy and Management wrote in an email Monday that its concerns about the aging school’s condition, the sensitive nature of caring for the developmentally disabled clients already there, as well as several legal and procedural hurdles, prevent Connecticut from assisting.
Same thing in Maryland -- no room at the inn:
After his strong criticism of the Obama administration's plans to return thousands of young undocumented migrants back to Central America, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley asked a top White House official that the children not be sent to a site that was under consideration in his home state, sources familiar with the conversation said.

"He privately said 'please don't send these kids to Western Maryland,'" a Democratic source told CNN. The heated discussion between O'Malley and White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz occurred during a phone call late Friday evening, sources familiar with the conversation added.
Setting O'Malley's cynicism aside, at least he and Malloy were asked if they'd take people. In Nebraska, you don't get that courtesy:
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman believes federal authorities are conducting secret operations by sending immigrant children into states without the knowledge of state officials.

Heineman told Fox News he learned from Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., that 200 unaccompanied immigrant children were placed with relatives or sponsors in the state. Heineman says no federal officials notified them that would be happening.

“We want to know the names of those individuals, who their sponsor is. Is their sponsor legal? What communities did you send them to? Why are they conducting a secret operation, essentially, transporting them all over the country … and the federal government won’t tell us what’s going on.”
Murrieta is everywhere.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lightning Round 071514

Flashing lights:

  • The All-Star game turned out well for the Twin Cities. Good game and everyone seemed to have a good time. It will be interesting to see if MLB ever comes back, or if we'll have to build 'em another new stadium.
  • Jesse Ventura isn't going to win his lawsuit. On the bright side, maybe he'll go away now.
  • Barring that unlikely possibility, look for Ventura and Chris Kluwe to go out on a "we're outspoken, therefore you must love us" tour.
  • It gets tiresome writing about the myriad misbehaviors of Barack Obama and his administration. Which, I assume, is a feature, not a bug. There's just too much ground to cover.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dream On, Fantasy Girl

I wrote last week about an interesting piece concerning Classic Rock radio; both its ubiquity and its regional variations. Out of curiosity, I started writing down some songs I'd heard on local radio over the weekend, just to get a flavor of what's out there. A few particulars:

  • I was bouncing between KQRS, "JACK-FM" (KZJK) and KOOL-108, which lately has become much more of a classic rock station, more or less abandoning the oldies format.
  • The songs all came on while I was running errands, mostly on Saturday and Sunday.
The first song I heard was the #1 song reflected in the national research, "Dream On" by Aerosmith. After that, I heard the following:

Black Dog, Led Zeppelin
Take It On the Run, REO Speedwagon
Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty
Under My Thumb, the Rolling Stones
Pretty Woman, Van Halen
After Midnight, Eric Clapton
Fantasy Girl, .38 Special
Fooling Yourself, Styx
Seen All Good People, Yes
Fool for the City, Foghat
Beast of Burden, Rolling Stones
Sea of Joy, Blind Faith
Don't Fear the Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult
All I Need is a Miracle, Mike + the Mechanics

A few thoughts:

  • The only song that surprised me a bit was the number from Blind Faith, a short-lived supergroup that featured Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Ginger Baker. While Clapton and Winwood are both easy to hear on the radio, Blind Faith was a bit of a failed experiment.
  • The Stones were the only repeat band and "Under My Thumb" was the oldest song of this group, dating back to 1966.
  • The most recent song on this list is the one from Mike + the Mechanics, which dates to 1985.
  • Do any of these songs really hit you where you live? I personally like a number of these songs, but mostly they aren't particularly interesting or challenging.
  • The most interesting set of songs I heard over the weekend came from the Muzak at Culver's. That's a future post.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Access Market

Maureen Dowd, wandering off the reservation for the moment, isn't enjoying a Chelsea morning:
With her 1 percenter mother under fire for disingenuously calling herself “dead broke” when she left the White House, why would Chelsea [Clinton] want to open herself up to criticism that she is gobbling whopping paychecks not commensurate with her skills, experience or role in life?

As the 34-year-old tries to wean some of the cronies from the Clinton Foundation — which is, like the Clintons themselves, well-intended, wasteful and disorganized — Chelsea is making speeches that go into foundation coffers. She is commanding, as The Times’s Amy Chozick reported, up to $75,000 per appearance.

Chozick wrote: “Ms. Clinton’s speeches focus on causes like eradicating waterborne diseases. (‘I’m obsessed with diarrhea’ is a favorite line.)”
I believe the term is logorrhea, but we'll leave that aside. Back to Dowd:
There’s something unseemly about it, making one wonder: Why on earth is she worth that much money? Why, given her dabbling in management consulting, hedge-funding and coattail-riding, is an hour of her time valued at an amount that most Americans her age don’t make in a year? (Median household income in the United States is $53,046.)
Since someone has to answer the rhetorical questions, here you go:

  • She's not worth $75,000 by herself. Having access to the Clintons is worth quite a lot, though, and if you don't think that the Clintons pay attention to their benefactors, you're not paying attention. The Clintons pay attention to everything.
  • It's not just 34-year-olds who don't make 75 large per annum; it's most Americans, period. 
But Dowd's not done:

There was disgust over Politico’s revelation that before she switched to a month-to-month contract, Chelsea was getting wildly overpaid at $600,000 annually — or over $25,000 per minute on air — for a nepotistic job as a soft-focus correspondent for NBC News.

Chelsea is still learning the answer to a question she asked when she interviewed the Geico gecko: “Is there a downside to all this fame?”

The Clintons keep acting as though all they care about is selfless public service. So why does it keep coming back to gross money grabs? It’s gone from two-for-the-price-of-one to three-for-the-price-of-20.
Why do the Clintons do this? Seriously? Because they can. Dowd may tut-tut and clutch her pearls a bit, but she'll have their back when it really matters. And why not take the money? People are willing to give it to them. I offer my wisdom for free on this blog and it's worth every penny. In my day job I charge a little more than that. It's what the market will bear.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sitting here in Queens/Eating refried beans

Tommy Ramone died yesterday; he was the last of the original members of the Ramones. I don't want to overrate the Ramones, but they were a hell of a lot of fun and they had their moments. Here are two from their 1977 release, "Rocket to Russia":

I really didn't discover the Ramones until I got to college in 1981, but in retrospect it's easy to understand why they must have been a breath of fresh air for the lucky folks who did get to hear them. We got a diet of this stuff when I was growing up:

Although I didn't hear this song until later, the Ramones wanted something different:

The 70s were a strange time -- here's a video from network television of the era that, ahem, speaks for itself:

And let's not forget this event, which happened 35 years ago today:

I missed the Disco Demolition because I was still in Guatemala as a high school exchange student at that point. You could argue that the 70s ended that night, though. You certainly didn't hear much disco after that day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

We don't need no steenkin' oversight

Not a smidgen of corruption:
The new emails also raised new questions for some lawmakers about Ms. Lerner, the now-retired head of the IRS exempt organizations division who has become a focus of the inquiry. The emails show her urging colleagues to be cautious about what they say in their emails, because Congress had previously tried to obtain them.

“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails—so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Ms. Lerner wrote. “Someone asked if [instant messaging] conversations were also searchable—I don’t know, but told them I would get back to them. Do you know?”

“[Instant] messages are not set to automatically save as the standard; however the functionality exists within the software,” the technician wrote back. “My general recommendation is to treat the conversation as if it could/is being saved somewhere, as it is possible for either party of the conversation to retain the information and have it turn up as part of an electronic search.”

“Perfect,” Ms. Lerner replied.
It is perfect -- you can get away with anything if you choose membership in the right gang. John Hayward, yet again, making the salient point:
Crime almost always involves some cost/benefit analysis – from robbery, to violating the U.S. border, to high government officials taking bribes or abusing their powers.  The potential rewards are balanced against the risk of detection and prosecution.  The rewards for what Lois Lerner did were vast – it is quite possible she helped turn the 2012 election, as the entire U.S. media would be loudly explaining to you every single day, if this was a story about Republican operatives using the IRS against left-wing groups.  The risk of detection and prosecution is essentially zero.  The next Lois Lerner will shred hard drives, conveniently fail to print hardcopies, and take the Fifth.  The next Tax Exempt Organizations bureaucracy will drag its feet for years and dribble out subpoenaed documents to frustrated congressional overseers, while Party hacks scream that the whole thing is a phony scandal.  The next John Koskinen will claim he doesn’t know anything about anything.  Therefore, it will happen again.
Of course it will. We do not have public servants. We have rulers.

Home truth

The scales having fallen from her eyes a number of years ago now, Peggy Noonan asks a question she can answer:
Meanwhile some in the conservative press call the president incapable, unable to handle the situation. But he is not so stupid he doesn't know this is a crisis. He knows his poll numbers are going to go even lower next month because of it. He scrambled Wednesday to hold a news conference to control a little of the damage, but said nothing new.

There is every sign he let the crisis on the border build to put heat on Republicans and make them pass his idea of good immigration reform. It would be "comprehensive," meaning huge, impenetrable and probably full of mischief. His base wants it. It would no doubt benefit the Democratic Party in the long term.

The little children in great danger, holding hands, staring blankly ahead, are pawns in a larger game. That game is run by adults. How cold do you have to be to use children in this way?
Everything is for the children.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Good to Be King

The invaluable John Hayward, being invaluable:
The disturbing political genius of Barack Obama was to realize that many of the limits on executive power are theoretical.  Separation of powers has become a gentleman’s agreement over the past century.  A spirited historical argument can be had over exactly when the process began in earnest, but the bottom line is that ambitious presidents realized the executive could use its power to expand its power, in a way the other branches of government can’t quite match.  Sure, you can point fingers at Supreme Court justices or members of Congress, left and right, who pushed the limits of their authority in various ways, but the executive is uniquely suited to do things like what Palin accurately accuses Obama of doing on the border: deploying the immense resources of the federal government to take actions that change the rules.

However we might chart the history of this degeneration – perhaps it was simply an inevitable result of the central government growing larger, producing a spreading mass of bureaucratic weeds beyond the reach of either legislative gardeners or the public – the bottom line is that Barack Obama realized there’s virtually nothing anyone can do to stop him, provided the media doesn’t turn against him and gin up massive public outrage.  Quite a few of the restrictions on power are now effectively enforced by the media, which is is very strongly partisan, and also favorably disposed toward increasing the size of government.  The same people who went nuts over everything George Bush did are utterly complacent, or even actively supportive, when Obama does the same thing but ten times worse.
Emphasis in original. Hayward is discussing the quixotic call from Sarah Palin for impeachment for the Leader of the Free World, but his larger point is more important. Everyone, including Sarah Palin, knows that any attempt to impeach Barack Obama is a nonstarter. We have at least a half dozen political scandals going on at the moment and not one of them will bring Obama down. You can't, because the executive branch has an overwhelming amount of resources available to reward friends and punish enemies. A great deal of law enforcement is done through regulation, not statute, and as long as the agencies are on board, a president can do damn well whatever he pleases. There's a reason that Obama is willing to spend his time shooting pool with John Hickenlooper and fundraising, all while pointedly refusing to join Texas politicians from both sides of the aisle when they ask him to visit the border; he'll pay no real political price for it. Back to Hayward:
There’s always the danger that a serious impeachment threat would rally disaffected Democrats around a President with cellar-dwelling approval ratings, with perhaps enough spare energy to influence some congressional races.  This is, again, a political consideration, not a structural argument… but the structure is inert without political force to animate it.

Which is not a bad way to sum up the problem with living in a post-Constitutional non-Republic: there aren’t many abstract limits on power, and the public is generally comfortable with that.  They’re getting more into this idea of an “elective monarchy,” which is just a way of putting a charismatic human face on the sort of majority mob rule the Founders were terrified of.  The average person interprets this system as “Whatever the majority supports, the government is empowered to do,” but a more accurate rendition would be “the government can do anything it wants, unless a substantial majority says no.”  Both of those creeds are a horrible way to run a Republic, but there’s a world of difference between them, and the latter is much worse.
Again, emphasis in original. Dick Cheney claimed that his boss had enormous power over the government when he promulgated the notion of a "unitary executive."  Cheney was mostly talking about foreign policy and warmaking in particular, but if the president has such powers in that arena, it's difficult to imagine that he wouldn't be able to effectively extend similar powers in domestic matters. That's what's going on here. There was a time when liberals denounced this sort of thinking. Not any more.

Gino on the Scene

You may not find much news about the standoff in Murrieta from the MSM, but we're fortunate to have a correspondent on the scene:

The anti-migrant protestors seem like an honest bunch to me. I went there twice over the weekend... to check things out... get a vibe for the scene in person. While I was there, a dude bout my age walked up and offered to bring sodas, bottled water, some sandwiches... "whatever you need". He spoke in a clear, proper English with an obvious Spanish accent (Think Ricardo Montalban from Fantasy Island). I struck up some convo with him.
He's a migrant from Argentina, many decades ago... (paraphrasing) "who did it 'the right way, when nobody gave me anything'.  He stressed: I'm not anti-immigrant. I'm not anti-Latino. I am both, and pro both. My children are Latinos and Americans... And I'm an American, by choice. First and always. My choice. They need to do it the right way, with the right heart. This country gave me a chance when my old country never did. Have to respect that."
Gino has more details at the link, including observations on strategy and his own efforts at being, ahem, entrepreneurial.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Dream On, Cross-Eyed Mary

So what is classic rock, exactly? Depends on where you live, says Walt Hickey, writing for Nate Silver's shop:
I found that classic rock is more than just music from a certain era, and that it changes depending on where you live. What plays in New York — a disproportionate amount of Billy Joel, for example — won’t necessarily fly in San Antonio, which prefers Mötley Crüe. Classic rock is heavily influenced by region, and in ways that are unexpected. For example, Los Angeles is playing Pearl Jam, a band most popular in the 1990s, five times more frequently than the rest of the country. Boston is playing the ’70s-era Allman Brothers six times more frequently.
What has always boggled my mind is that music this old still has the audience it does. If you were to back to 1974, which wasn't a great year in music by any means, could you even imagine a radio station that played songs that were generally 40-50 years old? You'd be looking at Al Jolson and Rudy Vallee.

Hickey's research shows these songs to be the top 25 of Classic Rock, at least for now:

Also known as any random hour stretch on KQRS
This seems exactly right. I like a number of these songs, but would you have ever thought that "Wheel in the Sky" would still be in heavy rotation on radio stations in 2014? As it happens, "Dream On" is the Benster's favorite song, but I swear that if I put KQRS on my car stereo, there's at least a 25% chance that I'll hear "Dream On" on any given trip, at any time. I would imagine they play it every single day, at least once. The same thing happens when I go back to Wisconsin and listen to WAPL, which has always had an amazing penchant for playing "Cross-Eyed Mary" by Jethro Tull, for some reason.

There's more, a lot more, at the link. I may pick at this one a few times in the coming days.

Cease and desist

The most transparent administration ever, in action:
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has served one of its agents with a letter saying “you must immediately cease and desist” from issuing statements and press releases to the media with information that is “Law Enforcement sensitive,” according to the document, obtained by National Review Online.

Kathleen Scudder, assistant chief patrol agent of the San Diego Sector, sent the letter to agent Ron Zermeno, health and safety director of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613, notifying him of an investigation into his conduct and to “remind” him that no agent should make statements or issue press releases “without proper authorization.”
Not only that, they're union busting, too!
Zermeno confirmed the validity of the letter to NRO. He says he thinks the order is retaliation for his actions as a whistleblower, which have involved exposing the public-health risks associated with the illegal immigrants transported to the San Diego Sector. “As a union officer, I feel it’s my job to expose when management is putting people at risk,” he says. “They violated their oath as Border Patrol agents.” Before receiving the cease-and-desist letter, Zermeno wrote Paul Beeson, the San Diego Sector’s chief patrol agent, to explain that two agents at the Brown Field Border Patrol Station contracted scabies after processing illegal immigrants transported from Texas last week, according to a letter obtained by NRO. Zermeno has spoken to local news outlets about the scabies outbreak too. 
I remember when whistle blowers were appreciated. Good times. Meanwhile, down in the west Texas town of El Paso, reports are that untreated tuberculosis patients are being treated at hospitals. The country is in the very best of hands.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A billion dollars of clarity

Hey, guess what? The Green Line isn't doing so great. Bob Collins of Minnesota Public Radio has noticed:
Since the end-to-end speed of the light-rail line from St. Paul to Minneapolis was announced a few weeks ago, supporters and opponents have lobbed grenades over the time it takes, roughly the same as the Route 16 bus. If you’re lucky.

During construction, I’d intended to take the line to Target Field for the July 4th game vs. the Yankees. But when push came to shove, and with four people in the car, it made more sense to just drive into town.

Part of that decision is owed to the 55 minutes it took to get from 10th Street in St. Paul to the Nicollet stop in Minneapolis when we tried the new line out on the weekend of Rock the Garden.

More often, we hear “it takes too long” among potential riders. There’s a good reason for that. It takes too long.
If you have a larger group, it's not necessarily cost-effective, either. Say you're a St. Paulite and you want to go to Minneapolis to see the Twins. On the weekend, you can get a special pass that lets you ride for $7, but on ordinary days if you ride it's $3.50/person outside of rush hour. If you have a group of 4 with you, that's $14. You can beat that price at a lot of ramps downtown.

Meanwhile, if you want more, a lot more, detail about the poor thinking that went into building the Green Line, it's here, in a post from David Markle on the Streets.MN blog. A taste:
It’s pretty clear that higher transit speed using the freeway alignment would have attracted the additional 33% of riders, including many commuters. University Avenue had 25 stop lights plus many additional intersections on the 6.1 miles between Huron Avenue in Minneapolis and Rice Street in St. Paul. On such a busy commercial street, a surface train must stop for red lights at the many major intersections: a thwarted train. In contrast, the Blue Line’s Hiawatha Avenue is a spacious divided highway with only eight stop lights on the four miles between Lake Street and Highway 62, and the train has priority at those lights, permitting relatively high track speeds. Unfortunately, tunneling or elevating the Green Line tracks was considered too expensive.[1]

Consequently the train will have a transit speed only about the same as the present Route 16 bus, but with 46 fewer places to get on and off. It’s likely to run more slowly, on average, than the Route 50 limited stop bus, which had at least eight more passenger stops. The 50 was dropped when the new train started operating, the 16 service has been significantly reduced, and, importantly, the Route 94 express bus service was eliminated outside of rush hour–even though it gets from downtown to downtown far more quickly than the train. These service reductions seem calculated to force riders onto the train and cut costs, but will hardly help the mobility impaired who may have to wait longer for the bus or else roll a wheelchair an extra half-mile or more to or from a station. It appears that by most measures, addition of the new train will result in poorer service, and a step backwards for public transit.
Other than that, and the traffic accidents, it's pretty great.

If you're going to San Ysidro

If you aren't wanted in Murrieta, you might be going to San Ysidro:
 Another group of undocumented Central American migrants arrived Monday in San Diego, continuing a process that has prompted intense opposition as well as widespread compassion for the plight of the exiles.

The group of about 140 immigrants, who entered the United States illegally in Texas, were flown into Lindbergh Field late this morning and then bused to a U.S. Border Patrol facility in San Ysidro for processing.

On Tuesday, an initial group of the same size arrived in San Diego and were driven to Murrieta, where crowds of angry protesters blocked their entrance to a USBP facility, prompting authorities to take them instead to San Ysidro.

The departure of the migrants from the Riverside area marked a victory for the roughly two dozen protesters who had gathered to decry the foreigners' arrival there, many waving flags and others carrying signs reading "Stop Illegal Immigration" and "Return to Sender."
I've been to San Ysidro, which is the border crossing that separates San Diego from Tijuana. That was back in 1980, when you could take a Greyhound bus and go visit Tijuana for the day, which I did when I was in San Diego for a Key Club convention. The only time that San Ysidro was otherwise in the news was later on in 1984, when it was the scene of a mass shooting at a McDonald's. It's not a particularly pleasant place and given that things in Mexico haven't improved since then, it's likely not very pleasant now. However, it's not Murrieta, where things continue to be tense:
Demonstrators opposed to illegal immigration stood their ground again at the Murrieta Border Patrol station on Monday, where U.S. Border Patrol had been scheduled to transfer a third round of buses, with approximately 140 illegal aliens aboard in total, transferred from overcrowded Texas detention facilities.

For a third time, the buses were rerouted to the San Ysidro, California Border Patrol station, near the U.S.-Mexico border, for processing. The demonstrators gathered in areas to the north and south of the Murrieta station after law enforcement blocked off the road near the station itself. Many told Breitbart News they considered their stand a success, since buses scheduled for Murrieta are avoiding it as long as demonstrators remain.
My guess is that the demonstrators will remain in position for a while. For now, this story isn't being reported too much in the national media, but the longer it goes, the less possible it will be to ignore.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Inland Empire Strikes Back

Remember how the folks in Murrieta, California, sent a bus full of [insert euphemism of your choice here] away from their town last week? Did you think the Feds were going to accept that? We'll see:
Jeremy Oliver, a resident of Temecula, California--a town that neighbors Murrieta--told Breitbart Texas that local police officers warned the protesters that "it's going to get ugly."

Oliver said, "The feds are pissed that they haven't been able to use this facility. Officers out there warned people that federal agents will be in Murrieta on Monday--they are going to get the next bus through no matter what. Riot gear and shields will be used to push the crowd back."

John Henry, a Murrieta resident since 1991, was told the same thing by local officers.

"We're being told that federal Marshals or ICE will be here in the next few days and that they are bringing riot gear," Henry said. "They're apparently going to be blocking off the street with concrete blockades so that no vehicles can get through. The River County Sheriff's Department showed up last night and brought a huge watch tower that shoots up into the air 35 feet."

On Friday, six protesters were arrested in Murrieta. One was apprehended for crossing "the yellow tape that blocked protesters from the Border Patrol station entrance," according to USA Today. 
This will be worth watching. 

Voting yourself rich

Do you recall the rapturous response when Seattle announced that it would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour? Well, the folks who are supposed to provide the largesse are trying to put the brakes on the money train:
A Seattle business group has submitted signatures to try to force a public vote to repeal a municipal measure that would raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, a leader of the organization said on Thursday.

Forward Seattle, which represents restaurants, retailers and other businesses, handed in just under 20,000 signatures to the Seattle City Clerk on Wednesday, more than the 16,510 needed to qualify for the November ballot, said group co-chair Angela Cough.
C'mon, why would you want to do that, Ms. Cough?
"Right now, the (city) ordinance on the table we think is going to be pretty damaging to the city from the business perspective, and from the workers' perspective," Cough said.

It will hurt workers because a number of businesses are preparing to move from Seattle or halt expansions, she said.
Reporters who visited Cough at her home were surprised to see her favorite leisure time activity:

First I look at the purse
That's how it always goes.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Everything's on the up and up

After Al Franken miraculously won the Senate election in 2008, we were all told there is no vote fraud in Minnesota and by the way, shut up. So I'm sure there simply must be some mistake here:
The Hennepin County attorney’s office is investigating whether a private mailbox center in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood has been improperly used as an address for more than 140 voters.

State records show that 419 Cedar Avenue S. has been used by some of the voters as far back as 2008.

No one lives at the address, which is a Somali-dominated commercial building housing several small businesses and a popular mail center. Several dozen apartments upstairs use a different building number. Records also show that more than 90 of the registrants at that address have voted in previous elections, although it’s unclear how many voted while registered at 419 Cedar.

The investigation reignites a long-running debate about voter fraud in Minnesota and is the latest flash point in the highly competitive race between Capitol stalwart Rep. Phyllis Kahn and Mohamud Noor, who would become the first Somali-American elected to the Legislature if elected. Kahn was denied the DFL endorsement in April due in part to Noor’s ability to turn out Somali supporters. An August primary will decide the fate of the race.
So we're clear on this -- there isn't voter fraud if Norm Coleman is on the business end of irregularities, but if Phyllis Kahn is somehow imperiled, we'll need an investigation.

Actually, there's a useful lesson here -- if you want to stop voter fraud, you have to stop it before it happens. Once the votes are in, it's too late. Coleman didn't necessarily know he needed to watch every precinct in the entire state in 2008, and look at every voter roll, until it was too late; even if he had, it's unlikely he would have had the resources to do so. Kahn only has to monitor the polling places in her local district, not the entire state.

Meanwhile, there's this amusing allegation:
The campaign of Rep. Phyllis Kahn (D-Minneapolis) has filed two complaints regarding improprieties that have allegedly taken place during her heated primary battle with Mohamud Noor.

One alleges that a Minneapolis elections judge named Fadmo called Kahn "an old Jewish Lady" while interpreting the primary ballot for a Somali man who was recently at City Hall to cast his absentee ballot. On the other hand, Fadmo characterized Noor as "our Muslim brother," the complaint says.
Well, that's not very nice of Fadmo. However, it's worth noting that Phyllis Kahn is indeed 77 years old, and is, in fact, Jewish. And Noor is Muslim. The truth is an absolute defense. Still, you have to wonder about something else -- citizenship requirements do involve having the ability to speak English. You can become a citizen without passing the English language requirement if you meet one of these two criteria:
Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years   (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception).


Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).
Maybe the gentleman that Fadmo was assisting actually fit those criteria. I'm sure he did, because there is no voter fraud in Minnesota.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Let's hear it for the boycott

The moral vanity brigade is on the march through social media, outrageously outraged over Hobby Lobby and they are calling for a boycott. Megan McArdle makes the salient point:
Most boycotts fail because most people just don’t have the intensity to keep them up. In 2003, folks were promising to boycott French products such as Dannon yogurt over the country’s stance on Iraq, but Dannon is still on the shelves and seems to be selling well. A few years later, liberals were going to boycott Whole Foods because … well, I don’t remember what the CEO had done, but I’m sure it was something. Whole Foods is also suffering — from increased competition in its core business. The boycott seems to have had little to no effect.

It’s just hard to maintain that sort of intensity when you’re busy and vacation is coming up, and Mom needs help with her computer, and yes, honey, I’ll stop on the way home and pick up more yogurt. For all but the most bitterly partisan of partisans, motivation eventually gives way to more pressing concerns such as convenience.

Culture warriors face two additional problems: 
• They tend to want to boycott places they never shopped at in the first place.

• The company’s actual core demographic takes umbrage about the boycott and stages a much more effective counterboycott.
McArdle is right, of course. She talks at length in the article about the failed boycott of Chick-fil-A, which you might recall. On the other hand, about the only boycott that I can remember working was that of a different sort of Chick, the Dixie Chicks. You might recall the Dixie Chicks, who were having a pretty nice career in the country music business, until they started popping off about the war a decade or so ago. A lot of country music fans essentially cut them out and the radio stations that were playing their music did so as well. While these moves didn't completely kill their careers, it hurt them a lot.

So what is the difference between what the Perennially Indignant* are braying about today and what happened to the Dixie Chicks? The facts were different. The Dixie Chicks had two problems:

(a) they pissed off their core demographic, and
(b) the people who were going to rush to support the Dixie Chicks weren't country music fans and didn't follow up on their pledges to buy records.

More from McArdle:
Back to Hobby Lobby. Their demographic is women! I have heard cry. And women will be outraged!

Indeed, many women are. But which women?

At least in my circles, everyone in the crafting demographic meets at least one of the following criteria, and often all of them: conservative, Christian, married, older, stay-at-home mom. I’m not saying this is universal; I’m sure there are young, single, progressive crafters out there! But the overlap between the people in my Facebook feed proclaiming a boycott and the people in my Facebook feed whom I know to be frequenters of crafting stores is basically zero. The people with the passion are not the people who will be crafting, in other words.
Yep. I would wager that most of the outraged social media commenters on my FB feed have never set foot in a Hobby Lobby. They've been effectively boycotting Hobby Lobby for years, anyway. The good news is they're already ahead of the curve.

Of course, such concerned citizens do have options. They can always give their money to a politician who really supports women.

* "Perennially Indignant" is a term originally coined by P. J. O'Rourke. I highly recommend it. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Embittered Raisin Farmer Strikes Again

A real stemwinder, this one, from Victor Davis Hanson. Here's a taste:
Apparently someone other than Obama is in charge when the IRS goes rogue, the VA implodes, the Justice Department goes after Associated Press reporters, the consulate in Benghazi is overrun, the NSA taps the phones of allied leaders, Iraq is torn apart, the Middle East melts down, or we trade five terrorist kingpins for an American deserter. Obama’s impromptu adolescent moaning was bizarre and reminds us again why he would be wiser to stay close to his teleprompter.

Obama also seems oddly to forget that when he promised to use his pen and phone to run things by his lonesome, nearly everyone took him at his word. And so he tried just that. What Obama is now angry about is not partisanship per se, but that his own partisanship and subversion of settled law have been repudiated consistently by both the Supreme Court and the American public. Were Obama’s poll ratings at 60 percent, and were the Supreme Court upholding his pen-and-phone governance, and were the Democrats on the verge of winning back their long-lost supermajority in the Senate and taking back the House, then Obama would hardly be decrying partisanship, the media, the Tea Party, or Republicans in general. “Messing” with Obama means not being convinced that his record has helped America.
I disagree with one part of this analysis. I tend to doubt that the IRS has gone rogue, but we'll have to get past the trashed hard drives and other Macguffins to find out. But the rest? Hard to argue. More at the link.

It's getting interesting on the border

I haven't written much about the border issues, but things are getting interesting. People are starting to get angry with the gubmint:
Buses carrying migrant families were rerouted to a U.S.-Mexican border station after being blocked by protesters waving American flags in a suburban Southern California city Tuesday.

Protesters, some yelling, "They're not born here!" and "Go back to Mexico!" stood in the street, blocking the buses as they were headed to the suburban border patrol station in Murrieta.
I probably should rephrase that -- I'm guessing that people have been angry with the gubmint all along, but this sort of direct action is pretty rare.  I'm also guessing that we may see more confrontations in the coming days.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A Better Minnesota, by fiat

So the Supreme Court decision in Harris v. Quinn essentially put the brakes on forcing a union into the affairs home health care and day care providers. That should be the end of it, right? Not if you're Mark Dayton:
 DFL Gov. Mark Dayton showed no signs of backing down from the legal fight. A spokesman said the state will not drop its challenge to the lawsuit.

“The court has voted to roll back the cause of civil rights in America,” Dayton said.
That's crap, of course. It's never quite been clear how forcing an unwanted third party into a negotiation furthers the cause of civil rights, but while it always appears that there are many strange alleyways in the brain of our governor, he's actually very good at doing what his job really is -- the care and feeding of third parties.

The primary purpose of modern liberalism is to reward third parties, who are almost always liberals, by inserting them into all manner of public policy debates. You see it all the time: the environmentalists who throw sand in the gears of things like the PolyMet mine; the urban planners who jam down light rail lines on communities that don't want them and that don't benefit from them; the Michael Bloombergs who precisely calibrate the proper size for a soft drink cup. The list goes on and on, because these third party liberals are everywhere. And all of these third parties use the muscle of government to force themselves into business relationships and personal relationships, too.

If you are Mark Dayton, your sole purpose is to facilitate these third parties, who insist that they are providing a Better Minnesota. Does a family-run day care need a union? Of course not, but by thunder, the union has to be part of it, because they are delivering a Better Minnesota. And they will not go quietly:
State DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin called the ruling “devastating” and said it jeopardizes 100 years of union advancements wages, benefits and working conditions.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said the Supreme Court decision was one “nugget” in a larger fight.

“It’s a bad ruling … but it’s not going to stop us from organizing,” he said on MSNBC. “They may have more money, but we’ve got more people, and organized people beat organized money.”
As usual, Ellison is projecting more than a 20-screen multiplex. The organized money in this case is all on his side; the mom-and-pop operations they are trying to muscle in on are only loosely organized, at best. As for Martin, he's just waving the bloody shirt to help his fundraising, as the Star Tribune points out:
Highlighting the high-stakes political ramification of the ruling, DFLers sent out a fundraiser immediately after the decision urging people to fight back.
Of course he is. A Better Minnesota costs money and if the Supremes won't let his pals extract it by fiat, he has to ask for it. And that is what this case is really about -- as we've learned in Wisconsin, public sector unionism is entirely dependent on extracting dues by fiat from the people it purports to represent. Martin would rather not have to ask for money.