Sunday, May 29, 2016

il miglior fabbro

It's Memorial Day weekend and we often get confused about the meaning of it. The purpose of the day is to remember those who fought and died in the service of our country.

Barack Obama was in Hiroshima the other day and was doling out the moral equivalence with a giant ladle. His remarks seem especially problematic given he was addressing a nation that was, during the time of the war, a monstrosity. The invaluable John Hayward reminds of us of a few things that Obama didn't mention:
Here’s another one every American school kid should know about: the Bataan Death March. There was no swift death for the thousands of Americans and Filipinos under siege by Japanese forces in the Philippines. They were already sick and starving when they surrendered to the Japanese.

In an act of pure, deliberate sadism, because they were enraged by stiff American resistance during the siege, the Japanese forced their prisoners to march a hundred miles to a prison camp on foot. Many of the prisoners were killed out of hand, including anyone who dared to ask for water… and anyone who collapsed from dehydration. POWs reported Japanese soldiers taking away their meager supply of water and feeding it to horses while they watched. Starving men were tortured with false offers of food. Prisoners who accepted gifts of food from civilians along the route were murdered.

Some were murdered merely for possessing Japanese items, including currency. They were killed by beheading and run through with bayonets, as well as gunshots. Bayonet victims died from orgies of frenzied stabbing, not clean and swift impalement. Some of the captives were reportedly driven insane by exposure to the sun.  They were also crammed into barbed-wire pens were malaria, dengue fever, dysentery, and other diseases ran wild.

It has been estimated that between 5,000 and 11,000 of Japan’s prisoners were killed during the Bataan Death March. That wasn’t the only death march the Empire perpetrated, either. The prisoners of Sandakan were subjected to multiple forced marches, once the Japanese lost interest in using them as slave labor. By the time they were finished, only six of the original 2,390 prisoners were still alive.
Hayward also reminds us of a few other things -- Pearl Harbor, the Rape of Nanking, the penchant of the Japanese military to murder doctors and nurses, and the occasional episode of cannibalism.

These incidents are well documented. We spend a lot of time, and rightly so, remembering the horrors that the Nazis perpetrated, but there were atrocities galore throughout the Pacific Theater. Hayward makes the salient point (emphasis in original):
This is also not an assault on Japanese citizens of today. Japan is a good friend of the United States now, and that is the happiest ending one could ask from a story this horrible. The Empire of Japan is gone. It had to go. People who think like Barack Obama have no idea how to fight a war like that. God help us all if they are in power when the next such war is forced upon us.

This is, rather, an effort to help understand what was destroyed by the right, proper, and absolutely necessary bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is the horror that would have claimed countless more victims if Japan had not been forced to surrender. It is very easy for callow politicians in 2016 to say that more Americans, and more Japanese, should have died in battle during a conventional invasion of Japan, to spare it the fury of the atomic bomb. Not many people felt that way at the time, especially if they were aware of the atrocities chronicled here.

Barack Obama treats the bombing of Hiroshima as a unique “evil.” No, sir. It was the end of an evil.
But it was the end of just one evil. There are more, and there will always be more, because evil resides in the human heart. And if we want to honor those who died horrible deaths at the hands of the Empire of Japan, and Nazi Germany, and others who still operate today, we ought to be mindful of the presence of evil in the human heart. It is a struggle we will always face. Read the whole thing.

Friday, May 27, 2016

This is what the Bern feels like

A series of cautionary tales at Chicago Boyz about life in a socialist paradise, Venezuela. Of course it couldn't happen here.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Your Greggie Song of the Day, Volume Four

Bernie's dilemma

The report from the inspector general of the State Department is out and it tells us what we more or less already knew:
Hillary Clinton and her team ignored clear guidance from the State Department that her email setup broke federal standards and could leave sensitive material vulnerable to hackers, a department audit has found. Her aides twice brushed aside concerns, in one case telling technical staff "the matter was not to be discussed further."
If it's up to the praetorian guard that has surrounded Mrs. Clinton from the get-go, the matter won't be discussed further. It's not, however. The Donald will certainly bring the matter up in the upcoming general election campaign. But with Clinton's current adversary, Bernie Sanders, still kinda in the race, will Sanders let it slide?

From the outset, Sanders declared the matter unimportant and off-limits. Does he still feel that way? Should he? Consider some of the key findings:
The 78-page analysis, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, says Clinton ignored clear directives. She never sought approval to conduct government business over private email, and never demonstrated the server or the Blackberry she used while in office "met minimum information security requirements."

Twice in 2010, information management staff at the State Department raised concerns that Clinton's email practices failed to meet federal records-keeping requirements. The staff's director responded that Clinton's personal email system had been reviewed and approved by legal staff, "and that the matter was not to be discussed any further."

The audit found no evidence of a legal staff review or approval. It said any such request would have been denied by senior information officers because of security risks.
So we're faced with the usual Clintonian word games here. Are rules the same thing as laws? And "legal staff" who are not otherwise identified apparently grant an imprimatur to whatever the lady wants. And the matter is not to be discussed any further. Capisce?

It's a target-rich environment. But does Bernie dare to broach the subject? Something worth watching, I'd say.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Your Greggie Song of the Day, Volume Three

A wrong turn in Albuquerque

It's gonna be fun, everyone:
Protests outside a Donald Trump rally in New Mexico turned violent Tuesday night as demonstrators threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles and other items at police officers, overturned trash cans and knocked down barricades.

Authorities responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd outside the Albuquerque Convention Center in what police later called a "riot."

During the rally, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who shouted, held up banners and resisted removal by security officers.
This part deserves special mention:
The banners included the messages "Trump is Fascist" and "We've heard enough."
We've heard enough. As always, the debate is over. It's one thing to dislike Trump -- goodness knows, I'm a declared #NeverTrump person myself, so my bona fides are in order -- but it's quite another to say "we've heard enough" and then try to shut down free speech. And if you're calling someone a fascist while simultaneously using fascist tactics, well....

At least one local observer got it right:
Albuquerque attorney Doug Antoon said rocks were flying through the convention center windows as he was leaving Tuesday night. Glass was breaking and landing near his feet.

"This was not a protest, this was a riot. These are hate groups," he said of the demonstrators.
Yes. And the more we see behavior of this sort, the more it helps The Donald.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Your Greggie Song of the Day, Volume Two


Whispers getting louder

Since they came on the national scene, some 25 years ago now, there's always been a sense of sleaze about the Clintons. Now one of their longtime henchmen might be in trouble:
The FBI is investigating whether Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's 2013 campaign accepted illegal contributions, law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News.

Federal officials say for the past several months, the FBI has been looking at whether McAuliffe's 2013 campaign for governor of Virginia accepted political contributions that were forbidden by federal law.
So why does that matter?
McAuliffe is a one-time board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, the foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton and likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2000 to 2005, McAuliffe was also a co-chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.

Records show more than 100 donors contributed to both the foundation and McAuliffe's campaign.
McAuliffe knows where the bodies are buried. If the FBI is on his tail, that's not good news for the Clintons.

Meanwhile, The Donald is out with the ad I've posted elsewhere that features the voice of Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused ol' Bill of raping her back in 1978. It's become evident that one primary Trump strategy is to turn Bill Clinton into Bill Cosby. If this strategy is successful, Hillary loses her best weapon. 

Hillary has wanted to be president in the worst way. She's getting her wish.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Your Greggie song of the day

This will be a recurring feature for at least a while. RIP, my brother.

State of play

There is a downside to being #NeverTrump -- in this cycle, it means you have less to write about. We've made our case concerning the qualifications of The Donald. He would be a horrible president. People don't seem to care. Now that the Washington Post has come up with a poll showing Trump leading Hillary Clinton, it's become evident that logic and reason aren't in the saddle.

It's not particularly tough to understand how this is possible. Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. It's amusing to watch my lefty pals on social media pretend otherwise. They know it in their bones; she has nothing to offer except a connection to a time gone by. And because Trump understands how to attack people, he's made the correct strategic decision in going after Bill Clinton first. I imagine the Democratic high command is in a panic right now.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A half-cent here, a half-cent there

It's the little funding engine that could:
The Metropolitan Council is rapidly running out of options to come up with $135 million needed to lock in critical federal funding for Southwest light-rail transit. GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s refusal to put state dollars toward the project has left few viable alternatives with only four days left in the session.

Gov. Mark Dayton, DFL legislators, local mayors and business groups are making a last-ditch effort to raise a half-cent sales tax in the seven-county metro region to expand a transit system that must accommodate 750,000 new residents who are expected here in 25 years.

“We think this is a long-term, sustainable solution,” said Adam Duininck, chairman of the Metropolitan Council, which manages the transit system used by about 275,000 people in the region on the average weekday.
Will a train that runs from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie help the traffic in Forest Lake? What's in it for Hastings? How do you like your rail, St. Michael? The Met Council thinks you should pay for it, even if you never use it.

But it's only a half-cent. You won't even notice. And that's the point. You should notice the impact of taxes. After a while, it does become noticeable. Back to the linked Star Tribune article:
If the increase is approved, the Minneapolis sales tax would rise to 8.275 percent, with rates well above 10 percent for liquor, hotels, restaurants and entertainment.

St. Paul’s sales tax would also go north of 8 percent.
Is that a competitive disadvantage for those cities? Yes, eventually it is. An example -- if I want to buy something at Home Depot, I have two locations that are nearby. The closest location is in Northeast Minneapolis, while there's another one in Fridley that is a few miles further away. Currently, the sales tax rate in Fridley is 7.125%. It's 7.775% in Nordeast. If I'm buying something inexpensive, it doesn't make a lot of difference. If I'm buying new carpeting, or building materials for a remodel project, it starts to add up. And if the Minneapolis City Council decides they'd like a sales tax hike to fund some other scheme, the Nordeast location faces even a greater challenge. And since it's highly likely that a Minneapolis business faces larger costs in other ways, especially if the Minneapolis City Council jacks up the minimum wage to $15 an hour, it's increasingly difficult to run a business there.

But I'm sure it wall be fine. We can trust the Met Council to do the right thing. After all, they are accountable to the people, right? There's no chance that the Met Council chairman would be the husband of the governor's chief of staff, right? It's all on the up and up.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

We're #1! We're #1!

As most readers of this feature know, I grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin. Appleton is in the news today for a particular reason:
A new list of the “Drunkest Cities in America” puts a perhaps unwelcome spotlight on Wisconsin, which is home to 12 cities in the top 20, ranked by the highest rates of binge drinking in adults.

The findings were compiled by online financial news outlet 24/7 Wall St.
And look what city comes in first?
Wisconsin outdrinks any other state, results showed. Our neighbor to the east boasted seven of the top 10 “Drunkest Cities,” including the top four: Appleton, Oshkosh-Neenah, Green Bay and Madison.
Why do people in Wisconsin drink so much? It's nothing particularly new. My people are of Bavarian and Irish ancestry and drinking is part of the culture; a lot of people in Appleton have similar ancestry. Downtown Appleton has bars galore on the main street, College Avenue, and in my youth I spent plenty of time downtown. Appleton is also, by and large, a fairly prosperous community, and young people have disposable income and opportunity to go out and party. If you look at the list, nearly every non-Wisconsin location is a college town.

So what does it mean? Well, the story mentions something in passing that I think is especially significant:
The group analyzed self-reported data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Excessive drinking, concentration of bars and alcohol-related driving deaths all were contributing factors in determining America’s drunkest cities — all but two of which are in the Midwest.
Emphasis mine. People drink in Wisconsin. Sometimes they drink a lot. I think people in Wisconsin are simply more honest about how they go about it -- there is no particular stigma to drinking in the state; you don't have a lot of people who are teetotalers. If you grow up in Wisconsin, none of it seems very unusual. This bit from the comedian Lewis Black is spot-on. It's also, without question, NSFW.

I'll be back in Appleton over the weekend for my stepbrother's memorial service. I would imagine we'll have a few beers as well. It's the way we roll.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Silence speaking volumes

Now that's it's essentially over, many Republicans are getting behind The Donald, much like the guys who follow the horses on the Rose Bowl parade route. So far, the most famous refusenik has been Paul Ryan, but the other person who hasn't gotten in line is the man who fought Trump the longest, Ted Cruz. And Patterico has noticed:
I think Cruz genuinely believes (as I do) that Donald Trump will end up as a disaster, either because he will hand the election to Hillary Clinton — or else will get into office and stab conservatives in the back so many times that they’ll look like someone sicced O.J. on them.

At some point the depth of Trump’s incompetence and betrayal will be obvious to all but his most mindless supporters. So why not be the person who actually stood athwart history yelling stop? — in the words of the founder of National Review, which actually did that in this primary, to their everlasting credit.
It's the smart play; while I could easily see Trump winning the general election, he's still a disastrous choice. And why would Cruz support Trump, really? Remember the remarks Cruz made on the day of the Indiana primary:
Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Now, let’s be clear. This is nuts. This is not a reasonable position. This is just kooky. . . . This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. . . .

The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist. A narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen. Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes: ‘Dude, what’s your problem?’ Everything in Donald’s world is about Donald.

And he combines being a pathological liar — and I say pathological because I actually think Donald, if you hooked him up to a lie detector test, he could say one in the morning, one thing at noon, and one thing in the evening, all contradictory, and he’d pass the lie detector test each time. Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute, he believes it.

But the man is utterly amoral. Let me finish this, please. The man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him. It’s why he went after Heidi directly and smeared my wife. Attacked her. Apparently she’s not pretty enough for Donald Trump. I may be biased, but I think if he’s making that allegation, he’s also legally blind.

But Donald is a bully. You know, we just visited with fifth graders. Every one of us knew bullies in elementary school. Bullies don’t come from strength. Bullies come from weakness. Bullies come from a deep yawning cavern of insecurity. There is a reason Donald builds giant buildings and puts his name on them everywhere he goes.

And I will say: there are millions of people in this country who are angry. They’re angry at Washington. They’re angry at politicians who’ve lied to them. I understand that anger. I share that anger. And Donald is cynically exploiting that anger. And he is lying to his supporters.
I don't think Cruz can walk that back. And I'm guessing he won't. His silence will become increasingly eloquent as the year goes on.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fifty years ago

Two albums were released at this time in 1966 -- Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Amazing albums both, in their own ways. A sample of each -- first, the most beautiful song Brian Wilson ever wrote, and one of the best:

You can't easily link Dylan videos to the blog, but I can post a link to the funniest song Dylan ever wrote:

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

Great stuff. Hard to believe it's been 50 years.

Monday, May 16, 2016


It's already been a tough year in a lot of ways and got a lot worse over the weekend. My stepbrother, Greg Collar, passed away on Saturday at the VA hospital in Milwaukee. He'd been there for surgery and it appears that complications ensued.

I'm struggling with the notion that any mentions of Greg must now be in the past tense. Greg was a character. I'm going to take the liberty of quoting a Facebook post my sister Carol wrote last night; she explains it well.
When my dad married my stepmother Darlene, we got a new batch of brothers and a sister that came with the package. Most of Dar's kids were older than we were, particularly Margie, Mike and myself. So there was an age gap that was a little different at first, but we soon found that Greg in particular was just a big kid himself, a goofy and lovable guy with a rather odd sense of humor and a big love of music- the guy had tons of albums! He loved what I guess you would call novelty songs- and all the pop music of the late 60's and 70's. He also loved movies, his collection of those was always impressive too. I particularly remember he loved the movie "Uncle Buck" among many others.
It was almost a genre, the "Greggie song." The guy had just about every oddball one-hit wonder song you can think of in his collection, especially from the early 1970s. I was posting YouTube videos of some of these songs over the weekend on Facebook. A representative sample:


And one more:

I was a little kid, barely in elementary school, when these songs were on the radio; Greg was about six years older than me, so they were certainly the soundtrack of his early adolescent years. Over the years, he found a way to amass an incredible collection of such music. Listening to these tunes now, all these years later, there's an innocence about it all -- while much of it was product and the bands were essentially interchangeable, the cynicism that pervaded the music business later on is largely missing from these grooves. It was happy, optimistic music. And there was an optimism and innocence that Greg carried with him, even though he'd seen his share of struggles. Greg was diabetic and he was in the hospital because he'd needed to have a foot amputated, which happens to a lot of diabetics as they get older. He'd had a kidney replacement a number of years back and while that helped, health was a struggle for him.

By the time I met Greg and the rest of Dar's kids, in the early 1980s, I had a foot out the door and was well on my way to college, so they were only sporadic presences in my life. There was a summer, 1983, where Greg was a major presence in my life. He spent a lot of time with us and he got to know a lot of my friends. We spent a lot of time together that summer and he was a comforting presence at a time of great transition in my life. There's more to the story of 1983 than I can share here, but I'll never forget that summer and how Greg was instrumental in making sense of it all.

I'll write more about this in the coming days. I'd appreciate prayers, if you're so inclined, for his wife Carmen, his daughter Connie, and his granddaughter Cavalina.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Open thread

Apparently my dudgeon isn't high enough this morning, so let's make this an open thread. What's on your mind?
He's not fond of the sidebar

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Starting over in Dinkytown

I've lived in Minnesota for nearly a quarter century now and I continue to be amazed at how poorly the revenue producing sports and the University of Minnesota have done. And now the U is starting over, yet again:

Mark Coyle’s first words Wednesday as the leader of the embattled Gophers athletics department weren’t hard-edge, like the ones University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler had just spoken about Gophers basketball.

Coyle, 47, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, had listened to Kaler’s introduction, which featured this assessment of his men’s basketball program: “I’m profoundly disappointed in the continuing episodes, poor judgment, alleged crimes, and it simply can’t continue.”
Sure it can. It's been happening. We're talking about a pedigree that goes back to Corky Taylor and Ron Behagen stomping an opponent on the court, through the various excesses of the Bill Musselman era, through the Gangelhoff cheating, up to today. And when the football program hasn't been awful, it's been mostly invisible. The Gophers haven't been to the Rose Bowl in my lifetime, and I'm getting old, frankly.

Can Mark Coyle change the culture? Will he be the Pat Richter of Dinkytown? It ought to be possible. The schools that should be the yardstick for the Gophers are our neighbors to the east and south. The Badgers and the Hawkeyes have been, in the main, making the Gophers look foolish for years.

Coyle has an excellent track record. He should have institutional support. Good luck to him.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Submitted without further comment

Victor Davis Hanson:
Another dilemma hinges not on the omnipresence of crudity but on how one prefers to have it presented — delivered in a chartreuse monster truck, or by Tesla? One is the gutter sort — besmirching John McCain’s war record, or fibbing about releasing tax returns, or bragging about rank adultery; the other is dressed up with sonorous cadences about why you must be the first presidential candidate to reject campaign-financing-reform rules in the general election, when you vowed you would be the most transparent candidate in history (as you hid both your medical records and your university transcripts and became Wall Street’s most endowed cash recipient).

When Obama later was forced to admit that his autobiographical memoir was mostly fiction, or when Bill Clinton was revealed to have jetted around with convicted sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein, or when Obama invites as an honored White House guest a rapper whose latest album cover glorifies homies on the White House lawn gloating over the corpse of a white judge at their feet, I think we long ago eroded any notion of presidential decorum. The honest and quite legitimate argument against Trump on this count is the one we never hear: that instead of offering a corrective to the present crudity, he might continue to erode the dignity of the office in the manner of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Even Trump, however, could hardly do more damage with the Iranians than did Obama’s in-house wannabe novelist, Ben Rhodes, who, in the twilight of his one and only policy career, now brags how he misled the Congress and the public by easily salting the media field with phony nuggets of expertise and punditry. The point is that we are worried about Armageddon on the Trump horizon while we are living amid the Apocalypse.

Read the whole thing.


I missed this when it first came out, but it's worth mentioning. It's Kevin Drum, writing for Mother Jones, providing some revisionist history about Flint:

These people desperately need to be told the truth:
  • What happened in Flint was a horrible, inexcusable tragedy.
  • Residents have every right to be furious with government at all levels.
  • But the health effects are, in fact, pretty minimal. With a few rare exceptions, the level of lead contamination caused by Flint's water won't cause any noticeable cognitive problems in children. It will not lower IQs or increase crime rates 20 years from now. It will not cause ADHD. It will not affect anyone's ability to play sports. It will not cause anyone's hair to fall out. It will not cause cancer. And "lead leaching" vegetables don't work.
For two years, about 5 percent of the children in Flint recorded blood lead levels greater than 5 m/d. This is a very moderate level for a short period of time. In every single year before 2010, Flint was above this number; usually far, far above.
For a little context about lead exposure, consider this:
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, in the mid-1970s 88 percent of children nationwide had blood lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dl). In the old days the dangerous level was thought to be around 30 ug/dl, but of course we’ve moved that down to about 5, and you hear a lot of people breathlessly say that there is no safe level. 
When I was a child, lead levels were much, much higher, primarily because most of the cars on the road were burning leaded gasoline. Steve Hayward shares the relevant chart:

We got the lead out
The meaning of this chart -- in the late 1970s, nearly 90 percent of children had lead levels over 10 micrograms per deciliter. This was all over the country. If you look at the numbers from Flint, about 5 percent of children there had similar levels for a short time.

Does this mean we shouldn't solve the issue in Flint? Of course not. However, as we consider the path forward, there might be other issues to address as well:
The Flint water crisis has triggered yet another lawsuit, this one filed by the city's former administrator, who claims she was wrongfully fired for blowing the whistle on the mayor of Flint for allegedly trying to steer money from a charity for local families into a campaign fund.

Former City Administrator Natasha Henderson, 39, who now lives in Muskegon, claims in a lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court that she was terminated on Feb. 12 for seeking an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Weaver directed a city employee and volunteer to steer donors away from a charity called Safe Water/Safe Homes, and instead give money to the so-called "Karenabout Flint" fund, which was a political action committee or campaign fund created at Weaver's direction.
As the man said, never let a crisis go to waste.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The 2016 Election, as seen from 1940

We are all Lampwicks.

Madness takes its toll

I've got to keep control:
"I have a little announcement to make ... I'm voting for Hillary. I am endorsing Hillary," noted conservative author P.J. O'Rourke said on NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me. The episode aired over the weekend.

If the Clinton campaign wants to tout O'Rourke's support as it tries to woo moderate Republicans who supported Jeb Bush and George W. Bush, it might want to end the quote there.

"I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises," O'Rourke continued. "It's the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she's way behind in second place. She's wrong about absolutely everything, but she's wrong within normal parameters."
Well, I was walking down the street
Just having a think
When a snake of a guy
Gave me an evil wink.
Well it shook me up
It took me by surprise
He had a pick-up truck
And the devil's eyes
He stared at me
And I felt a change
Time meant nothing
Never would again.
Some say that a ban on sex discrimination “require[s] unisex restrooms in public places.” “Emphatically not so,” according to a prominent feminist:

Separate places to disrobe, sleep, perform personal bodily functions are permitted, in some situations required, by regard for individual privacy. Individual privacy, a right of constitutional dimension, is appropriately harmonized with the equality principle.

The author? Now-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing in The Post on April 7, 1975, and explaining why the Equal Rights Amendment shouldn’t be opposed based on “the ‘potty issue.'” 
What will it be - some soothing herb tea?
That might be just the thing
Let's say we spike it with Deludin
Or else - maybe tonight a hand of solitaire

(Narrator) It's just a jump to the left.
(Guests) And then a step to the right.
(Narrator) With your hand on your hips.
(Guests) You bring your knees in tight.

A promise we're sure to keep

Monday, May 09, 2016

Feelbad Headline of the Day

Okay, this is NSFW, but here you go:

The orifice of Delphi
Usually Foreign Policy is a pretty sedate publication, so what has Thomas Ricks using such an Anglo-Saxon description of Mr. Rhodes?
Rhodes comes off like a real asshole. This is not a matter of politics — I have voted for Obama twice. Nor do I mind Rhodes’s contempt for many political reporters: “Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

But, as that quote indicates, he comes off like an overweening little schmuck. This quotation seems to capture his worldview: “He referred to the American foreign policy establishment as the Blob. According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.” Blowing off Robert Gates takes nerve.
It's been evident for a long time, especially in the case of Iran, that this administration had a plan and had no compunction about gaslighting people to get what it wanted. Doubt that? Consider the evidence:
Watching Rhodes work, I remember that he is still, chiefly, a writer, who is using a new set of tools — along with the traditional arts of narrative and spin — to create stories of great consequence on the biggest page imaginable. The narratives he frames, the voices of senior officials, the columnists and reporters whose work he skillfully shapes and ventriloquizes, and even the president’s own speeches and talking points, are the only dots of color in a much larger vision about who Americans are and where we are going that Rhodes and the president have been formulating together over the past seven years. When I asked Jon Favreau, Obama’s lead speechwriter in the 2008 campaign, and a close friend of Rhodes’s, whether he or Rhodes or the president had ever thought of their individual speeches and bits of policy making as part of some larger restructuring of the American narrative, he replied, “We saw that as our entire job.”
There's enough here to pick at for days. I would encourage you to read the entire piece from the Times that I've linked directly above. Eventually we are going to understand why Thomas Ricks has chosen the right description for the man who supported the president that Ricks voted for twice.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Feelgood Headline of the Day

That is a shame
Walter Russell Mead gets to the larger meaning:
The global oil market is no longer dominated by a psychology of scarcity, but rather one of abundance. A sizable glut led to the price collapse we’ve witnessed these past 23 months, and it persists even with prices hovering (and perhaps finding a new equilibrium) near $45 per barrel, $70 cheaper than where they were in June of 2014. In this new world, the threat of OPEC dialing back its prodigious share of the world’s total crude supplies no longer seems as serious.
I'd also add the "no blood for oil" argument doesn't have as much, ahem, currency either. Will it mean that the world, particularly the Middle East, becomes less of a concern? I doubt it, but I do wonder if anyone remembers this feature, from about ten years ago?

TV news series on peak oil
by Don Shelby
WCCO-TV in Minnesota began broadcasting the first US news series that explicitly covers peak oil. The first segment has interviews with Peak Oil figures like Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Kenneth Deffeyes and Matt Simmons.

One energy story per night will appear during the second half of the 10 p.m. news program April 10-14. Each segment will be 7 minutes long.

The spots will be combined into a one-hour documentary that will be aired separately and remain up on the website. WCCO-TV plans for a roll-out of 30 stories during April and May and additional stories to appear throughout the balance of the year.
We're not talking much about peak oil any more. Wonder why that is?

Friday, May 06, 2016

What does #NeverTrump mean, local edition

Our friend and multimedia sensation Brad Carlson offered a useful synopsis of what #NeverTrump should mean:
So does this mean I would vote for Hillary Clinton for President? Uhhh, no. Not. A. Flippin'. Chance. I would not vote for a Democrat if someone literally (and I do mean literally) held a gun to my head while at my polling place.

Of course the typical retort might be that "not voting for POTUS or a vote for a third party candidate is equivalent to a vote for Hillary." Well, I live in Minnesota. A Republican hasn't carried this state in a general election since Richard Nixon in 1972. That trend isn't likely to change in 2016, so my vote would be of little consequence regardless of whom I support. 
The gun to one's head won't happen until after Hillary repeals the Second Amendment, but I digress. And Brad is right about one thing -- it doesn't matter how you vote in Minnesota. I will be supporting a number of candidates on the ballot with an (R) after their names. In particular, I'll be supporting Camden Pike in his efforts to grab an open seat in House District 41B. It will be a tough push to get any Republican elected in Minnesota in this cycle, but doing so matters and Camden is the sort of young, enthusiastic candidate we need to change the disastrous trajectory in St. Paul.

The point about #NeverTrump is rejecting a guy who isn't a conservative, a guy who would take the country in a bad direction. It's not a matter of party, at least for me; I have backed away from party politics in the last two years, a decision I made before Trump began his campaign. It's about rejecting the orc-like behavior of too many Trump supporters, rejecting a man who lacks a moral compass, eschewing a man who treats principles like Charmin. Most of all, it's providing a categorical no to the installation of yet another unscrupulous individual in the Oval Office based on a cult of personality.

I can promise you this much -- I am prepared to document every outrage from both the of likely major party candidates. Hillary Clinton is a monster and she'll receive nothing from this feature other than the contempt she richly deserves. I look forward to the FBI leaks once the Obama Justice department wipes its butt with the rule of law and ignores the crimes Clinton has committed. We'll talk about all of it. But I can't -- I won't -- support a man who accuses his rival's father of being an accomplice to Lee Harvey Oswald, based on nothing. I don't know the condition of Donald Trump's soul, but I have my own to worry about; supporting a scoundrel like Donald Trump won't help matters.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

One practical advantage of being #NeverTrump

You don't have to defend stuff like this:

Bonehead appétit!
Actually, this cleared one thing up for me -- it turns out the Trump Tower Grill Taco Bowl is not a game that the Gophers are likely to play in next fall. So that's good news.

Also, I can't wait to find out what the Trump Tower Grill has on the menu for Juneteenth. I'm sure it will be the best.


A few tweaks to the blog, including adding a label list and a statement of purpose. Ideally, it should be easier to navigate now.

Home truth

A good parodist gets inside the target. And this is good parody:

And this is even better:

No respect for woodwork
As I try to wrap my brain around the horrible choices on offer this November, it's worth considering why conservative pundits are so easy to parody. Most of the Trump trolls I've encountered on the internet are just obnoxious, but this guy is telling us something we need to understand:
Think about it. If you fancy yourself a Serious Conservative Intellectual™ who writes for a Serious Conservative Periodical™  like National Review or The Federalist, your online conduct ought to be consistent with that. When your audience sees you slapfighting with @MAGA_Dude_1985 for an hour straight, it doesn’t matter how cleverly you think you roasted him, it still looks silly. It looks petty.

This is one of the reasons why the more established conservative thinkers have been so bad at controlling the conversation this election cycle. The main reason, no doubt, is Trump, who is a virtuoso at getting his opponents to chase their own tails. But down in the trenches of social media a lot of pundits are also taking heat from their right for the first time, and they’re reacting by getting down and dirty with their detractors, which makes them seem like anything but the principled, high-minded voices of reason they want to be perceived as. Trump supporters, by comparison, have no such pretensions to erudite sophistication, so we’re at an advantage in these exchanges.
And out on the trail, it plays out like this:

You have to understand the world you live in. At this point, I don't.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The landscape

I'm deeply unhappy with our politics. And I can't see any circumstances in which supporting Donald Trump makes sense, at least personally.

So What Does It All Mean? Not sure, but two voices are worth considering today. Let's start with Victor Davis Hanson:
On race, Trump supporters are tired of hearing that black lives matter, while no one mentions that all lives matter. They are sick of seeing protestors wave the flag of the country they do not wish illegal aliens to be sent back to and trash the country they under no circumstances want them to leave. They don’t like getting a letter from an IRS that employs Lois Lerner — a letter that would be ignored with impunity by those who are here illegally, or who run the Clinton Foundation. They are tired of wealthy minorities claiming they are perpetual victims of ill-treatment at the hands of people who are less well off than they. They don’t like hearing from elites that huge trade deficits have little to do with loss of jobs or that cheating by our trade partners is just a passing glitch in free trade. They cannot stand lectures from those who make more money in an hour than they do in a year about their own bad habits or slothfulness. They don’t know what the on-screen savants mean by a leg-tingle or a perfectly pressed pant leg or a first-class temperament or a president as god — and they don’t care to find out. They do not hate political correctness so much as one-sided political correctness, which gives a pass to some to say things that would get others fired or ruined. They don’t want to be lectured that their own plight is part of a larger, healthy creative destruction or a leaner, meaner competitiveness or an overdue restructuring — by those who are never destroyed, rendered noncompetitive, or restructured. And they don’t like to be talked down to by the experts who ran up $10 trillion in debt, ruined the health-care system, dismantled the military, and screwed up the Secret Service, the IRS, NASA, and the VA. Trump is their megaphone, not their solution. The Trump supporters have seen plenty of politicians with important agendas, but few with the zeal to push them through; at this late date, they would apparently prefer zeal without agendas to agendas without zeal.
Emphasis mine. At the same time, I wonder if Trumpism has any meaning beyond the black swan with the combover. Take it away, Walter Russell Mead:
Many analysts have argued that Trump’s popularity shows that elite GOP orthodoxy—limited government, lower taxes, entitlement reform, hawkish foreign policy—is a dead letter, and what Republican primary voters really want is Trump-style welfare state ethnocentrism at home coupled with America First-ism abroad. There may well be some truth to this (especially the first part; the tenets of traditional Republicanism really are in desperate need of re-imagination if the party wants to address today’s problems). But are voters dead-set on Trumpism as the alternative? The absence of successful Trump-like candidates for Congress raises some doubts. After all, if there were a huge, unfulfilled demand in the Republican primary electorate for white identity politics, wouldn’t we expect enterprising candidates for state, local, and Congressional offices start supplying it? European far-right parties, like Front National, don’t just run candidates for the presidency—they compete for seats in Parliament as well.
Now that Trump is going to be the GOP nominee, he'll have to run on something other than invective. I have a difficult time believing he will be in any great congruence with the GOP platform. So what do you do with a candidate who doesn't believe what his party believes? That's one of the questions we'll be facing in the next six months.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Triumph of the horse's ass

It now appears that Donald Trump has an essentially clear path to the Republican Presidential nomination, as Ted Cruz has decided to end his campaign this evening, following thorough thrashing in the Indiana primary.

This is a disheartening result, as Trump is probably the biggest horse's ass that has ever run for president. He's right up there with George Wallace and Henry Wallace, a thoroughgoing scoundrel.

Think about it, seriously. The presumptive Republican standard bearer was on television today accusing his primary rival's father of being an accomplice to Lee Harvey Oswald. How in the hell can this man represent the Republican Party? It's utterly beyond the pale.

Ted Cruz has his faults; of this, there can be no doubt. Still, how on Earth can anyone support  someone like Donald Trump? There's nothing remotely entertaining about any of this. It's a dumpster fire of the first magnitude.

Spiritus Mundi

Ace Commenter Brian pointed us to a very long piece in New York magazine from Andrew Sullivan, concerning the rise of Trump and its larger meaning. There's more to the essay than I can tackle this morning; as is usually the case with Sullivan, it alternates between brilliance and incoherence. A pull quote to get us started:
The deeper, long-term reasons for today’s rage are not hard to find, although many of us elites have shamefully found ourselves able to ignore them. The jobs available to the working class no longer contain the kind of craftsmanship or satisfaction or meaning that can take the sting out of their low and stagnant wages. The once-familiar avenues for socialization — the church, the union hall, the VFW — have become less vibrant and social isolation more common. Global economic forces have pummeled blue-collar workers more relentlessly than almost any other segment of society, forcing them to compete against hundreds of millions of equally skilled workers throughout the planet. No one asked them in the 1990s if this was the future they wanted. And the impact has been more brutal than many economists predicted. No wonder suicide and mortality rates among the white working poor are spiking dramatically.
All true. And more:
Much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well. A struggling white man in the heartland is now told to “check his privilege” by students at Ivy League colleges. Even if you agree that the privilege exists, it’s hard not to empathize with the object of this disdain. These working-class communities, already alienated, hear — how can they not? — the glib and easy dismissals of “white straight men” as the ultimate source of all our woes. They smell the condescension and the broad generalizations about them — all of which would be repellent if directed at racial minorities — and see themselves, in [Eric] Hoffer’s words, “disinherited and injured by an unjust order of things.”
Sullivan is getting to what Charles Murray has been writing about recently, the idea that our elites live in a bubble and have little interest in understanding the concerns of those who don't travel in the same circles. And yet, and yet...
But elites still matter in a democracy. They matter not because they are democracy’s enemy but because they provide the critical ingredient to save democracy from itself. The political Establishment may be battered and demoralized, deferential to the algorithms of the web and to the monosyllables of a gifted demagogue, but this is not the time to give up on America’s near-unique and stabilizing blend of democracy and elite responsibility. The country has endured far harsher times than the present without succumbing to rank demagoguery; it avoided the fascism that destroyed Europe; it has channeled extraordinary outpourings of democratic energy into constitutional order. It seems shocking to argue that we need elites in this democratic age — especially with vast inequalities of wealth and elite failures all around us. But we need them precisely to protect this precious democracy from its own destabilizing excesses.
How, precisely, would the elites do this? We're at a dangerous place because, I think, the elites have been dining on the seed corn. And if the economy starts to go south this year, and there is strong reason to believe it is already happening, it could be an ugly year.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

I hear the birds.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The ignorance of certainty

I remember reading a book years ago called "The Ignorance of Certainty," written by Ashley and Edward Darling Montagu. I was pretty young when I read it -- it's been at least 35 years -- and the book is not readily available anymore, but the notion behind the book was simple -- our certainty about a given topic is inversely proportional to our knowledge.

The more I've watched this campaign season, the more I'm convinced I don't understand a thing about it. I had thought (hoped, really) that the Wisconsin primary was a moment of clarity and that people had finally figured out what I was certain I knew to be true, especially where Donald Trump was concerned. Turns out the moment was an outlier -- ever since that moment of triumph for Ted Cruz, Trump's campaign has gained strength and now seems poised to roll to a decisive victory in Indiana, a state I expected was a good place for Cruz to win.

We have great unhappiness in the land. We have a orange-faced bloviator who bids fair to Make America Great Again, although without concrete suggestions concerning how one would go about the task. And we have a dismal, eat-your-spinach candidate emerging on the Left whose corruption is known but rarely acknowledged in polite society, a distaff Bob Dole wearing oddly metallic caftan pant suits. These are our choices.

How the hell did this happen?

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Credit where due

I don't hate much, but I do hate hate hate the White House Correspondent's Dinner, the annual masturbatory event in which our grandees show how cool they are by celebrating their contempt for everything that's not, well, them.

But I do have to give credit to Larry Wilmore, who I'm told is a comedian on Comedy Central*, for this line from his appearance:
But I have to say, it’s great, it looks like you’re really enjoying your last year of the presidency. Saw you hanging out with NBA players like Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors. That was cool. That was cool, yeah. You know it kinda makes sense, too, because both of you like raining down bombs on people from long distances, right? What? Am I wrong?
You can read the rest at the link. Not sure that you'd really want to, but this is a free country, at least for the moment. Meanwhile, here's our President's inspiration.

*Not so much as you could tell from the transcript, but anyway....