Saturday, July 30, 2016

Home truth

The invaluable John Hayward (emphasis in original):
It certainly is unconventional for a presidential candidate to say he wouldn’t mind seeing hacked emails released, but then again, it’s unconventional for the other candidate to be declared effectively above the law, with all of the oversight mechanisms surrounding her Secretary of State tenure deliberately disabled, without any legal consequence whatsoever.

In an earlier, better age, Clinton’s email scandal would have consumed the entire Obama Administration long ago – the minute that secret server was discovered, the clock on Obama’s resignation would have begun ticking down. But now we live in a time when American investigators can’t get access to data that is the property of the American people, because a politician stole it from us, hid it on a computer system she wasn’t supposed to be using, and destroyed everything she didn’t want us to see.
I am #NeverTrump because he should not be president. Hillary Clinton must not be president. We are well and truly screwed.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Face the Face

I did watch Hillary Clinton's speech last night. This was the face she showed most often:

The happiest day of her life
It's all so grim, really. Even in her moment of triumph, the face is angry and the tone is hectoring:

I'm happy. I am so happy.
The purpose of the speech, as much as anything else, was to reintroduce Clinton to the nation. I don't know how you do that. She's been in the public eye for a quarter century. She was scowling back then, too:

Watch your ass, Tammy Wynette
She has an angry persona and she's never been able to hide it for long. We know who she is.

There's no real point in belaboring the laundry list of things she promised last night. She will never deliver any of it. It's the same sack o' free stuff the Dems always promise. College isn't going to be free and the rich aren't going to pay their fair share. If those things were really possible, Barack Obama would have forced them through while he had control of the entire apparatus of government in 2009-2010.

Then again, I don't blame her for scowling. When I look at Hillary Clinton, and I look at her opponent, I find myself scowling, too. It's a grim choice.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wait, what?

Remember this?

Apparently, the 80s have answered the call:
 American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.

But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.
That gave the Donald a chance to do some trolling:

The actual quote, because this video cuts it off:
“Why do I have to get involved with Putin? I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him. I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me. He doesn’t respect our president. And if it is Russia—which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is—but if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything. But it would be interesting to see—I will tell you this—Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Are you not entertained?

So, do we need to worry about the Russians, or don't we? If you check the ol' social media feeds, chances are you'll see some people think Trump's statement is treason.

Point of order -- how would the Russians hack the 30,000 missing emails? Were they on the DNC website? That would be a story. They are not, of course. What Trump suspects, and his opponent fears, is that the Russians, or some other actor, already has the missing emails, which obviously weren't on the DNC's server but on the homebrew server that Hillary Clinton used. Those would be the emails about Chelsea's wedding and yoga classes, or so we were told. If that were true, Team Clinton could laugh Trump's taunting off as inconsequential. But I didn't hear anyone laughing yesterday.

Writing for the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky explains the problem well:
The Democratic National Committee emails that started this whole contretemps were made public via Wikileaks, with whom the pro-Democratic Party press has been collaborating for years.

How does that compute for the Democrats who blame Mr. Putin? What about Edward Snowden, who is being sheltered in Russia by the regime that the Democrats are now gleefully quoting Paul Ryan as calling a global menace? Maybe the Kremlin will enlist Mr. Snowden in finding the missing Hillary Clinton emails. The Times would probably love it. “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed,” it editorialized in 2014. “Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”
Just so. Back to Lipsky:
The truth is that when the emails that are leaked in the age of the Internet are America’s wartime secrets, such as battlefield secrets in a time when our troops are engaged in combat with a savage foe, the left is all too eager to work with the leakers and characterize them as “whistleblowers.” But when the messages being leaked include internal email traffic of the Democrats themselves, wires that show them maneuvering against Senator Sanders in a ghastly way, the Democrats are suddenly up in arms. Mr. Trump seems to have figured out the petard on which the Democrats have hoisted themselves.
There's gonna be dirt aplenty over the next three months. If we don't already hate both candidates, we will for sure by the time November rolls around.

Oh, those Russians.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A bad trend

Have you noticed that comedians are no longer jesters, but rather enforcers of orthodoxy? We got a sense of that the other day:

Not sure who the creepy guy at the podium was with Silverman, but we'll leave that aside. The trend of comedians taking off the clown nose has gone on for a while now:

We used to have jesters who lampooned the silliness of the political class. Now our jesters want to tell us what to think. It's not a positive development. I prefer the earlier model:

This is a topic worth more time than I have this morning. I'll try to get back to it.


Let's start with a definition:

What do you know?

I saw about the last ten minutes of Bill Clinton's speech last night at the DNC convention in Philadelphia. Our protagonist had to undertake an epistemological task. His goal was to tell us that everything we've recently heard about Hillary is, well, a lie:
Now, how does this square? How did this square with the things that you heard at the Republican convention? What’s the difference in what I told you and what they said? How do you square it? You can’t. One is real, the other is made up.

You just have to decide. You just have to decide which is which, my fellow Americans.
So how do you decide? Well, you can certainly look at the veracity of the fellow asking the question:

And you can look at the veracity of the person he is vouching for:

I suppose you could believe the Clintons. If you do, I'd suggest another definition is in order:

It's a growth industry in Philadelphia these days
The Clintons have been on the stage for a quarter century. A recently departed moral philosopher explained them well:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

il miglior fabbro

Reporting from exotic Wichita, our man Bud Norman provides a tidy summation:
Trump prevailed with such unprecedented tactics against a crowded field of better-funded and better-organized Republican challengers, who varied in quality but in every case were more appealing public figures than Clinton. What those pleading-for-calm pundits won’t tell their readers is that Clinton is such a thoroughly awful candidate in every way that her unfavorable ratings are now even higher than Trump’s, which is saying something that should provoke a widespread and bipartisan panic throughout the land. Her tenure as First Lady was mostly spent enabling her perv husband’s sexual assaults, which Democrats at the time applauded because at least he was pro-abortion, but these days the feminist wing that was supposed to go all sisterly solidarity for the First Woman President are carrying mattresses around campus to protest a mythical “culture of rape” with the Republican nominee praising the good works of Planned Parenthood and quite obviously insincere about his recently acquired anti-abortion principles nobody’s all that anxious about the looming theocracy these days. Her brief and inconsequential time in the Senate was mostly spent plotting her presidential run, which she lost to an even more junior and inconsequential Senator, and her run as Secretary of State was one disaster after another. She’s humorless, apparently in ill health, and every bit as mean and morally compromised as her more entertaining and robust opponent.
Emphasis mine. Yes, I know, entertainment shouldn't be a factor, which Sarah Silverman conclusively proved last night. Trump may have a bizarre orange glow, but he's otherwise healthy. I continue to think Clinton is not particularly healthy. Her moment was eight years ago, but unfortunately for her, she ran into Barack Obama. And now she strides on stage as a political Miss Havisham.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Can't make it up

Hillary Clinton said Republicans have created a “Hillary standard” that has contributed to the negative impression many people have of her, giving her first joint interview with her newly announced running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine.

"I often feel like there's the Hillary standard and then there's the standard for everybody else," the presumptive Democratic nominee said in the interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes."

Clinton explained that there has been a "concerted effort" by Republicans to portray her in a negative light, and described the double standard she believes is set for her as “unfounded, inaccurate, mean-spirited attacks with no basis in truth, reality, which take on a life of their own."
James Comey had no comment.

Belly of the Beast

We spent a lot of time discussing about the People's Stadium back in the day. Now it is here and I went to the open house yesterday with the Benster and another blog correspondent. It's quite the structure, to be certain. As you approach the front of the building, you get a sense of the scope:

Along the enormous glass facade, you see the enormous doors to the stadium, which stand nearly 100 feet high. I am told those are among the largest doors in the world. Inside the stadium, you can see parts of the skyline quite clearly:

The halo building looms
It was a beautiful day yesterday and the light coming in from the windows and the ceiling does illuminate the field quite nicely:

The sun shines and people forget
If you look closely, you can see that the fans are in the end zones and not in the primo seats. And thereby hangs a tale. The open house we attended wasn't, well, that open. You cannot get to the primo seats without passing through a lobby/suite area and since those of us in the building hadn't ponied up the $20 or so for a tour, we didn't have access to the areas at all. Unless you have some coin, you don't apparently get access to the good seats, even on a day where nothing in particular is happening. As taxpayers, we do get to pay for the building, though. Maybe I should be more grateful.

The main concourse is wide and easy to navigate, but getting up to the bleeders may be a problem, as there aren't as many escalators as you might expect. We didn't check out the bathrooms or the concessions that closely, but there doesn't seem to be a lack of options. That's good.

We'll be back in the building in October for a marching band event; we may get more access then.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

RIP, Dennis Green

He arrived in Minnesota the same year that Mike Holmgren arrived in Green Bay. And he was the most consistent nemesis that Packers had in the Brett Favre era. Dennis Green is gone at the age of 67:
Dennis Green, whose 10-season tenure as Vikings coach was a remarkable mixture of regular-season success, distressing playoff losses and off-the-field controversy, has died of a heart attack. He was 67.

A statement from Green’s family to an reporter said Green died Thursday night. Green had been living in the San Diego area but the statement did not indicate his place of death.

Green, who famously pronounced that there was “a new sheriff in town” when hired by the Vikings in 1992, won more games than any coach in franchise history except Bud Grant. His Vikings teams reached the playoffs eight times in his first nine seasons and advanced to NFC Championship Games after the 1998 and 2000 seasons, though never to the Super Bowl.
Talk about a complicated legacy. . . . He was a pioneering African American coach in the NFL, far more successful than the Art Shell. He was a mentor with a strong coaching tree that includes Tony Dungy and Brian Billick, who both won Super Bowls. He was a public-service minded fellow who started the trend of NFL players and teams using their off days during the season for community service. He won games with quarterbacks as varied as Sean Salisbury, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham and Jeff George. He nurtured the careers of teams with personalities as disparate and difficult as Cris Carter, Randy Moss, McMahon, George and Corey Fuller.

And yet, he was clearly a sexual harasser. His teams were regularly among the most talented in the league, but he never got to a Super Bowl. His career in Minnesota included a bizarre episode in which he threatened to sue his employer and laid out the lawsuit in an autobiography. And while he was quite intentional in spewing cliches and doubletalk in his interactions with the media, which he largely held in contempt, at times he would drop the mask. After he moved on to Arizona, he let loose with one of the most memorable (and unintentionally hilarious) rants in the history of coaching:

As anyone who reads this feature knows, I'm a Packers fan. For me, Green is the reason the Packers/Vikings rivalry is now one of the best ones in the NFL. In the 1960s, the Packers owned the Vikings. In the 1970s, the Vikings owned the Packers. In the 1980s, things were even but rarely did the games matter very much. For the last quarter century, the Packers/Vikings series has usually been decisive in who wins the division. The Bears have had their moments, but they have not been a consistent factor. The Lions haven't mattered at all. More than any other team, the Vikings have been the team the Packers needed to beat and that's been the case, pretty much without interruption, since Dennis Green first arrived at Winter Park all those years ago. And with the possible exception of Mike Ditka, he's been the most entertaining coach in the NFC Central/North. Never dispute the importance of entertainment value.

RIP, Coach. Thank you for the memories.

As seen on the internet

Why jump the shark when you can dance with them?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump Day

I wasn't able to watch Donald Trump's speech last night. From what our roving correspondent Benster tells me, it was long -- over 70 minutes as delivered. I think there's a reason for that. The transcript is here. A few random thoughts:

One line from the speech caught my eye:
America is a nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics.
Yes. We've had a solid 7+ years of Shut Up, He Explained. And it's a particular lazy group of freelance censors. Another speaker at the convention was Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who created PayPal. Thiel is gay, but coming out as gay isn't apparently as deleterious as coming out as a Republican, at least in certain precincts. Today, if my social media feed is any indication, Thiel is a modern-day Roy Cohn. That seems fair, right?

And yet, and yet... there was ample cynicism on display in Cleveland this week. We've reached Bizarro World when a call to vote your conscience gets catcalls. Somewhere, Barry Goldwater, who wrote "The Conscience of a Conservative," is shaking his head.

One factor to watch as the campaign unfolds -- how much will we actually see of Hillary Clinton? Both she and her opponent are pushing 70. Trump is healthy as a horse. Clinton seems to have a number of health problems. I'm not sure Hillary Clinton can give a 70+ minute speech. Trump hit Jeb Bush hard as being "low energy." I suspect he'll use a similar attack on Clinton and I expect it will be effective.

I don't have a horse in this race. The choices on offer are odious. I can't imagine voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. But here we are.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Family Feud

I usually go to my local health club in the evening, generally arriving a little bit after 8. I'll spend time on the treadmill and I usually watch television while I'm there. Most nights, the easiest thing to watch is old episodes of "Family Feud" on the Game Show Network, which seems to run in a continuous loop most nights.

On Wednesday nights, GSN runs a different show that I don't particularly enjoy, so last night I left the television on the station where it was. And so I got to see Ted Cruz's speech at the Republican National Convention.

Cruz rolled the dice last night. Endorsing The Donald would have been the easy thing to do -- Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, two prominent rivals of Cruz, did so, although without evident enthusiasm. Cruz didn't endorse. Instead, he spoke for 22 minutes about freedom, and conscience. A taste:
America is more than just a land mass between two oceans, America is an ideal. A simple, yet powerful ideal. Freedom matters.

For much of human history government power has been the unavoidable constant in life. Government decrees and the people obey, but not here. We have no king or queen, we have no dictator, we the people constrain government.

Our nation is exceptional because it was built on the five most beautiful and powerful words in the English language, "I want to be free."

Never has that message been more needed than today. We stand here tonight a nation divided. Partisan rancor, anger, even hatred are tearing America apart. And citizens are furious, rightly furious, at a political establishment that cynically breaks its promises, and that ignores the will of the people.

We have to do better. We owe our fallen heroes more than that.
By the end of the speech, it became clear to the delegates in the hall that "better" didn't necessarily mean Donald Trump:
We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect from everybody. And, to those listening, please don't stay home in November.

If you love our country, and love our children as much as you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the constitution.  
Is Donald Trump such a candidate? While Cruz didn't say so explicitly, the speech suggests he doesn't believe the GOP standard-bearer lives up to the standard.

Ted Cruz, in his own way and own style, is perhaps even more of a polarizing figure than Donald Trump. The GOP establishment may grumble about Trump's various apostasies, but they do believe they can do business with him. The Mitch McConnells of the world are, at bottom, transactional politicians and Trump made his bones as a dealmaker, so it's understandable that McConnell and his ilk can make common cause with The Donald.

The paradox of Ted Cruz is that while he speaks the language of conservatism, he is an apostate in the party that ostensibly carries the conservative banner in this country. The further paradox of Ted Cruz is that his ambition and his beliefs are at variance with one another. I suspect a lot of people can't get with him because of this second paradox. Cruz is either the real thing, or he's even a larger charlatan than Trump, who doesn't much bother to pretend he believes in much of anything other than himself. If you support Cruz, it's also a roll of the dice.

Donald Trump will either win or lose this election regardless of what Ted Cruz says, or doesn't say. If Trump wins, Cruz will be in the outer darkness. If Trump loses, Cruz will be in the mix in 2020. The interesting question for the GOP electorate would be this -- do you admire Cruz more, or do you admire the approach of Scott Walker, who did endorse Trump? Are you more loyal to principle, or to process? Or do you have to value both? The question may become relevant on or about November 9.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My social media feed this week

None of these people are in Cleveland, incidentally
I don't have to watch the GOP convention, because I've hired the work out.

Meanwhile, in the real world

A reminder of storms ahead:
California’s massive public pension fund has been severely underfunded and mismanaged for decades, but its accountants have managed to conceal the extent of the problem by assuming that the state-run asset manager would secure white-hot seven to eight percent returns over the long run. Independent analysts have estimated that at a more realistic rate of return of five percent, the fund would be over a trillion dollars in the hole. But the latest returns make even that figure sound like a pipe dream. 
CalPERS is hardly the only major pension fund that's going to come a cropper. A trillion dollars is a lotta money. To project 7-8% growth year-over-year is nuts, especially if your asset managers favor cronyism and politically correct investing strategies. It's going to get ugly when things go south, it might already be happening.

Trump is the nominee

Not my circus. We'll observe from a safe distance. As an aside, I am disappointed to learn that Wright State University in Dayton will no longer be hosting the first debate between the Donald and Hillary Clinton. It would have been wholly appropriate to hold the event at the Nutter Center.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stay close to the candles. The stairway can be... treacherous

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune 
Hillary Clinton was in Minneapolis yesterday. That faint sound you heard in the distance may have been the horses whinnying.

Song of the day

A man ain't supposed to cry.

Oh noes

I'm mostly going to ignore the Republican Convention this week; it's not my circus. One thing deserves mention, however.

I awoke this morning to see at least fifty of my lefty friends on social media (yeah, maybe I need better friends, but we'll leave that aside) gasping with a combination of anger and glee because it appears that The Donald's current spouse, Melania "Zsa Zsa" Trump, apparently plagiarized a section of her speech. Here's the offending section:
"Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go a university? Why is it that my wife... is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? ...Is it because they didn't work hard? My ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come after 12 hours and play football for four hours? It's because they didn't have a platform on which to stand."
Oh, I'm sorry. That wasn't what Melania Trump said? I did think it odd that she was referring to herself as Joe Biden, but as I said, I didn't watch the convention so I may have been confused.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lightning Round -- 071816

The news hasn't been very good at all lately and it comes so fast that I'm finding it difficult to keep up. That's when you need a Lightning Round!

  • Three police officers murdered in Baton Rouge, which was the scene of a controversial police-involved incident in which a suspect named Alton Sterling was killed during a struggle with police. The guy who killed the cops seems to be ex-military and a self-styled Black Panther. Meanwhile, another cop was shot in Milwaukee, although he survived because of his bullet-proof vest. I have a feeling this is going to get worse.
  • The local Black Lives Matter was planning to protest at Rosedale Mall on Sunday, but the protest was canceled. Roseville is just south of us and our parish is there, so we were in the area after going to Mass. The police presence was, frankly, a little unnerving. I saw at least a half-dozen state patrol vehicles driving up and down Snelling Avenue, which borders Rosedale on the east and we even saw increased security at the neighboring HarMar Mall, which is down the road a half mile from Rosedale. According to the linked article, the planned protest was a diversion and that the real target is Falcon Heights, which is where Philando Castile was shot. I am glad that BLM stood down, especially in the wake of what's happening in Baton Rouge. Tensions are very high right now in our area.
  • Meanwhile, it's been essentially radio silence on the Castile matter. Investigations are underway, but there's been little news in the last week or so. I still would like to know more about the robbery incident that took place in Lauderdale two days before Castile was killed, especially since the St. Anthony police officer who shot Castile apparently stopped him because he resembled the perps in the Lauderdale case.
  • They've been building expensive new sporting venues all over the Twin Cities in recent years, but I'd not been to two of them before this weekend. Now I have. We were at a Drum Corps International show at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, and then we attended a Saints game at their tidy new ballpark in Lowertown on Sunday. TCF is an impressive facility and it was a good place to watch a competition. The sightlines in the stadium are terrific and the view of the skyline and the university itself are fantastic. The one problem was concession prices were ridiculous, but we enjoyed ourselves. The new ballpark in St. Paul is a great place to watch a game -- it's intimate and fits well into the existing neighborhood, which has a lot more bustle than it used to. I've lived in the Twin Cities for nearly a quarter century and we've never had much reason to spend time in the Lowertown area of downtown St. Paul; most of the major attractions (Xcel Energy Center, the History Center, the Science Museum) are on the west side of downtown and until recently, unless you had business in the area, it wasn't a place worth visiting. Gentrification is ongoing in Lowertown now, however, and it's got the same vibe you get in the Warehouse District in Minneapolis. I'm a suburban guy and it's not my milieu, but it was fun to visit. We'll get to see the new monstrosity where the Vikings play later on in the year.
  • Meanwhile, I haven't even gotten to Turkey and Mike Pence. Maybe another time. Events are in the saddle.

Friday, July 15, 2016


A terrorist who used a hired lorry to kill at least 84 people in a rampage during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice has been named as a convicted criminal well known to the police for armed attacks.

Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old delivery driver, was reported to be a French passport holder who lived in the Riviera city and was regularly in trouble with the law.

At least 10 children are among the dead following the "cowardly and barbaric" atrocity that left at least one British national among the many injured. Officials fear the death toll will rise.

As hundreds remained in hospital - including 18 fighting for their lives in intensive care - anti-terrorist judges opened an investigation into "mass murder" and investigators searched the home of the driver in the Abattoirs area of Nice.
Abattoir is a term for a slaughterhouse. Seems fitting. There is video out there of the carnage, but I'm not going to link to it -- we have altogether too many snuff videos out there now and I'd rather not traffic in such things.

France has a real problem on its hands. There are thousands, maybe millions, of people who are similar to Bouhlel, many seething with rage over their station in life and thereby susceptible to the siren of ISIS. Civilization is a fragile thing.

il miglior fabbro

Yet again, Walter Russell Mead gets to the heart of the matter:
We do not, as a nation, have a lot of experience with choices like this, and it may be that voting behavior will be harder than usual to predict. It’s likely, for one thing, that Trump’s shortcomings grate much harder on elite sensibilities than they do on those of ordinary Americans. The well-socialized, well-seasoned upper-middle class is scandalized by Trump’s bluster and contempt at such a deep level that it is hard for many in the political class to understand, much less assess, his appeal.

And there is a factor that needs to be taken into account as well: Given the manifest shortcomings of both candidates, it is likely that many voters will approach the choice this year with a bitter sense of betrayal and disdain—for the status quo and the political establishment that has presented them with such a terrible choice. In that case, voters might think that with two unacceptable candidates running, the only way to express their distaste for the process and anger at those whose leadership has brought the country to this point is to vote for the candidate the establishment most hates. That would clearly be Trump.
That's my sense, too -- after 7+ years of Hope and Change, things aren't really going very well for a lot of people, and it's difficult not to pick up the sense that people want to take a 5000 PSI pressure washer to Washington to blast away at the corruption. My opinion on Trump has not changed one iota, but there is no way in hell to deny that the "well-socialized, well-seasoned upper-middle class" has completely earned the contempt it gets from Trump and his followers. As is always the case with Mead, you should read the whole thing.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Diminishing returns

I drive on 35W nearly every day. My morning commute brings me across the bridge usually between 6:35 - 6:45 a.m. If I'd left later yesterday, the commute would have been significantly longer:

Minnesota highways once again became protest grounds Wednesday, as dozens of people took to the southbound lanes of Interstate 35W near downtown Minneapolis at the peak of the morning commute, the latest public disruption in the wake of last week’s police killing of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights.

Police arrested 41 protesters who were charged with misdemeanors, including public nuisance and unlawful assembly.

The coalition, in a statement, said it condemned the killing of Castile and “believes this shutdown reinforces our belief that comfort and business as usual must be disrupted until substantive changes occur in our city and throughout the country.” The group also said it was demanding dismantling of police departments. “We believe that security for all of us does not lie in use of aggression and force.”
Here they are (photo from Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune)

Two quick observations:

  • I think the protesters would do better to spend less time with Saul Alinsky and more time with Dale Carnegie. This is a stupid, petulant way to get one's point across. It's also perilous as hell, since southbound 35W has a lot of twists and turns as it approaches downtown Minneapolis and the cars traveling on that stretch of road often have to brake quickly when there's a slowdown. They were putting people's lives in danger, including the lives of black people, who use 35W quite a lot. If one truly believes that Black Lives Matter, this is an odd way to demonstrate that belief.
  • If these folks think eliminating police forces is a good idea, they might want to think again. In the absence of force, eventually you'll have vigilantism. And a lot of the folks these people enjoy pissing off are heavily armed. Just sayin'.

Point of order

Regarding the Philando Castile case, I have two questions that I would hope an enterprising reporter might ask:

Q1. The police scanner audio we've heard indicates that the St. Anthony cops who stopped Castile were on the lookout for an armed robbery suspect who held up a gas station in nearby Lauderdale, one of the other small communities that contracts with the SAPD for law enforcement. This security camera picture shows the robber in action:

Who is this man?
Are the local police still on the lookout for the perpetrator of this robbery? If they are, it would be good to know, because we don't want armed robbery suspects out on the streets.

Q2. Does the gun this robber is holding match the gun that Castile had at the time Officers Yanez and Kauser stopped him? That would also be good to know.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

That's entertainment

Getcha popcorn:
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges blasted the “jackass remarks” made by the head of the city’s police union on Tuesday, while Police Chief Janeé Harteau issued a more measured response after four Minneapolis police officers walked off an off-duty job at a Minnesota Lynx game Saturday.
Here are the actual remarks, but notice something:
Mayor Hodges wrote, “Bob Kroll’s remarks about the Lynx are jackass remarks. Let me be clear: labor leadership inherently does not speak on behalf of management. Bob Kroll sure as hell doesn’t speak for me about the Lynx or about anything else.”
The context -- members of the Lynx wore warmup t-shirts before a recent game that namechecked Black Lives Matter. I'm not sure that was a particularly good public relations move, but the team can do as they please. Bob Kroll, the police union leader, ripped the Lynx for it.

So Mayor Hodges believes Bob Kroll acted stupidly, as another great orator of our time might have suggested. But did you catch the part about labor and management? I thought public sector unions were A-OK with Democratic politicians. Hmmm.

Cleanup on Aisle 8

So you thought we were out of Iraq? Well, not so much:
The United States is stepping up its military campaign against Islamic State by sending hundreds more troops to assist Iraqi forces in an expected push on the city of Mosul, the militants' largest stronghold, later this year.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement on Monday during a visit to Baghdad, where he met U.S. commanders, as well as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi.

Most of the 560 additional troops will work out of Qayara air base, which Iraqi forces recaptured from Islamic State militants and plan to use as a staging ground for an offensive to retake Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city.
If you remember the previous decade, the name of Mosul came up rather a lot, because it was a primary base of operations for the military. It fell to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/whatever the hell you want to call them once we left in 2011. Now, as the Obama administration prepares to leave the stage, we're back, trying to retake it. Will we stay this time?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A quality investment

Seems like money well-spent:
When former presidents and other dignitaries traveled to California to wax nostalgic on the speaking circuit, they may have been demanding, but none insisted on being flown from San Francisco by private jet to a venue just 70 miles down the freeway.

That was before Bill Clinton came along.
A great deal:
Clinton would demand in his contract to be shuttled by private jet from San Francisco to UC Davis, where he spoke at the Mondavi Center. The center had to appeal to its network of donors to find someone able to fly him the 70 miles, something it had never done and hasn’t since. “That is the one and only time,” said Jeremy Ganter, director of programming at the Mondavi Center.

The center also found itself, along with the other event hosts on that Clinton swing, in the awkward position of having to pay some oddly large expenses.

Fearful that their costs would get out of hand, the event organizers worked with the Fairmont to discreetly view the charges being rung up by Clinton and his entourage on each of the five days they stayed there. Assurances from the Harry Walker Agency that they were “reasonable expenses for a president traveling on the road for week” and that “we have never had a client complain” provided little comfort to the event hosts.

They ultimately got socked with the $1,400 hotel phone bill and $700 dinner for two.
I'm guessing it's not cheap to eat in San Francisco, but $700 for dinner seems a bit much. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose. There's plenty more at the link.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Fog of War -- Part Three

The protesters came to St. Anthony yesterday and shut down Silver Lake Road, the main north-south thoroughfare through the village. As far as I can tell, things stayed peaceful, although I didn't go near the area, which is 1.4 miles from my house.

Things were far worse in St. Paul on Saturday night, where I-94 got shut down for about five hours and someone was throwing various items from the Dale Street overpass bridge at the cops who were on the expressway. Eventually we got the familiar visuals:

The Fog of War -- or a smoke bomb
Reports from the scene indicate that 21 officers were injured by the flying debris, which included chunks of concrete and rebar.

We are now hearing from the lawyer for Jeronimo Yanez, the cop who shot Philando Castile. He's claiming the presence of Castile's gun was the factor. We've heard that Castile had a carry permit. We've heard a lot of things, frankly. We still don't know what's true.

There's no point in making the same arguments over and over -- it really doesn't matter who is to blame for the current state of affairs, since no one takes responsibility for their own actions. What I worry about now is what happens to St. Anthony. We may learn that the police department deserves all the opprobrium now being heaped upon it. Perhaps the citizens of St. Anthony should have raised alarms before, even though the policing tactics that the SAPD uses are in place in countless other communities. Perhaps the lawyer for Janez is correct. We don't know if the protesters are staying around or if they're going to go home. We don't know if opportunists will blend among the protesters and use the discord to burn and loot, as happened in Ferguson, and Baltimore, and so many other places. We'll find that all out. The war is here.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Fog of War -- Part Two

Why should we wait to offer two many opinions about the Philando Castile case? I'll give you a few articles that explain why:

First, consider this backgrounder from the Star Tribune:
Their names are still enshrined at their alma mater as Baton of Honor winners.

The faculty at Minnesota State University, Mankato’s law enforcement program chose Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser from about 500 students as the best in their class — an award given to promising future cops for their smarts, respect and leadership qualities.

The longtime classmates and friends-turned-colleagues graduated together in 2010. Two years later, both wore the gun and badge for the St. Anthony Police Department — their first jobs in law enforcement.

They were on duty together Wednesday evening when they pulled over Philando Castile, his passenger, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter in a traffic stop. The encounter would spark grief and outrage across the world after Yanez shot Castile four times as he sat in the driver’s seat — the aftermath broadcast on Facebook by Reynolds.
How does someone go from being the star pupil to being the guy who blew someone away on a traffic stop? Maybe this is the reason:
Olson said on that day three years ago, he expected the St. Anthony officer to stand just behind the driver’s side door at the traffic stop, which is generally standard practice. Instead, the officer stood about 3 feet behind his SUV and conducted the interview through Olson’s driver’s-side mirror.

“His voice had the tremor of fear,” Olson said. “He couldn’t see my hands. He couldn’t see if anyone was in the car. I thought: This is dangerous for both of us.”

Eventually the officer asked Olson for his license and registration, but he couldn’t see Olson while he was digging in the glove box.

“I realized I could have had a grenade on the seat and he’d have no idea,” Olson said.

He eventually got a ticket, but Olson said he was troubled enough that about two years ago he went to talk with John Ohl, who was then St. Anthony’s police chief. He wanted Ohl to provide better training for his officers during traffic stops. Instead, he said Ohl praised the officer.

“I realized he wasn’t listening,” he said.
The Olson in question is Joe Olson, the retired Hamline University law professor who helped to write the state's concealed-carry law, which is very much a bone of contention in this case because:
Philando Castile had a valid permit to carry a gun when he was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer, a source confirmed to the Star Tribune Friday.
We've heard that Castile was pulled over for a broken tail light. But is that true?
When Philando Castile was pulled over Wednesday night by officers Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser, purportedly for a broken tail light according to the video account of the aftermath of his being shot and killed by Yanez made by passenger Diamond Reynolds, the officers' real reason for wanting to pull them over and check I.D.s is because they thought he was a robbery suspect, according to scanner audio obtained by KARE 11 NBC TV in Minneapolis.

The station did verify the license plate mentioned was that of the car Castile was driving, and the "locations mentioned also correspond" to the stop. They did not get police to authoritatively state that it was indeed scanner audio preceding the incident.

An officer says "I'm going to stop a car and check I.D.s. I have reason to pull it over, the two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery. The driver looks more like one of our suspects just 'cause of the wide-set nose." A minute and a half later, "shots fired" is said on the audio.
So what do you know about the case, really? I could believe all four stories are true. But what does that mean?

This much I know -- St. Anthony is real to me. The village itself is 100 feet to my right as I write these words. The St. Anthony police have a reputation for being better at writing tickets than solving crimes, but that's a reputation, not necessarily a fact. If you do even a cursory search on Google, you can find all sorts of things about the case, and about Castile himself, that are wildly contradictory. Some of what's out there is most certainly false, but can you sort it out, especially if you're viewing the matter from thousands of miles away?

We don't know anything yet.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Fog of war

I had a theory (well, more of a supposition) about the incident in Falcon Heights on Wednesday night that left Philando Castile dead. I do not think my theory was accurate.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, five cops are dead, mowed down sniper-style. We don't know anything about the perps; one person involved is in a standoff with police as I write this.

Two things I do know, courtesy of Instapundit:

It did
Nah, emoting is better

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Not good

We don't know much about what happened yesterday in Falcon Heights, but at first glance it doesn't look good:
A St. Paul man died Wednesday night after being shot by police in Falcon Heights, the aftermath of which was recorded in a video widely shared on Facebook in which the man’s girlfriend says the “police shot him for no apparent reason, no reason at all.”

Friends at the scene identified the man as Philando Castile, 32, cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul.

Castile’s cousin said on her Facebook page that he was dead. Castile’s uncle, Clarence Castile, who was at Hennepin County Medical Center with other family members, said Philando died at 9:37 p.m., a few minutes after arriving at the hospital.

The girlfriend started the live-stream video with the man in the driver’s seat slumped next to her, his white T-shirt soaked with blood on the left side. In the video, taken with her phone, she says they were pulled over at Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street for a broken taillight.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, the incident occurred north of the Fairgrounds, about four miles southeast of where I live. Larpenteur Aveune is the road that divides St. Paul from its neighboring suburbs. The geography in the area is a little murky; unless you know the area well, it's hard to know whether you are in Falcon Heights, or Roseville, or St. Paul. The officers involved were St. Anthony officers. The St. Anthony police department provides policing for St. Anthony, Falcon Heights and the neighboring community of Lauderdale. St. Anthony itself is literally steps from my house; my house is on the border between St. Anthony and New Brighton.  I see St. Anthony officers driving around just about every day; I also see officers from Roseville and New Brighton driving around our area all the time. I'm telling you these details because it will help you to understand what the girlfriend is saying. Back to the Star Tribune report:

The girlfriend said on the video that the officer “asked him for license and registration. He told him that it was in his wallet, but he had a pistol on him because he’s licensed to carry. The officer said don’t move. As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times.”

The video shows a uniformed police officer holding a pistol on the couple from outside the car. The officer can be heard to say, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”

The girlfriend says in the video that her boyfriend was shot by a Roseville police officer.

St. Anthony police Sgt. Jon Mangseth, who is the interim police chief, told reporters at the scene that the primary officer who initiated the traffic stop and the backup officer who responded were St. Anthony police officers.
From what I can tell, protests have begun and apparently people are already out in front of the governor's mansion in St. Paul. I have a feeling we'll be talking a lot about this event, and the aftermath, in the coming weeks. I don't want to prejudge the situation, but I'm confident in saying this -- if an officer pulls someone over for a broken taillight, it shouldn't end this way.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

An important point

Mark Krikorian, writing for National Review:

For all the tumult surrounding Watergate, the outcome actually strengthened our political order, because it demonstrated that even the president was not above the law. Today’s announcement was a reverse-Watergate, demonstrating that open contempt for the law is no bar to the White House.

Read the whole thing. I can't get with his conclusion, but electing someone who can't be held to account would be a terrible mistake.

Comey's Nut Graph

The main thing about FBI Director James Comey's presentation yesterday was this little tidbit, presented in plain sight:
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
In other words, anyone else other than Hillary Clinton would have not fared as well.

I've seen people trying to blur the issue by bringing up the issue of mens rea, a legal term that refers to state of mind, or intent, in this case. It's worth noting that the statutory requirement for a violation is gross negligence, not willful negligence. The relevant portion of the statute is here:
(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
By definition, Hillary's homebrew server was not a proper place of custody. Maybe a better mind than mine can explain the difference between gross negligence and "extremely careless," the locution that Comey chose, but it strikes me as a distinction without a difference,

Comey talks about intent in his statement, but it's not in the statute and I'm sure he knows that. I'm also sure he has his reasons. Perhaps this matter should be adjudicated in the political arena and not a courtroom, but if anyone tells you that Hillary Clinton was somehow exonerated yesterday, don't believe it.

And while James Comey may have given us a nut graph, Matt Drudge boils the real meaning of yesterday down to one image:

And you are one of them

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The silver lining of being above the law

It's official — Hillary Clinton is above the law.

On the bright side, now that the threat of prosecution is gone, all that blackmail dirt the Chinese and Russians have on Madame President is irrelevant. You can't blackmail someone who is immune from consequences.

It's good to be Queen.

The dilemma

Victor Davis Hanson:
Never Trumpers, then, face a sort of existential quandary: The more they attack Hillary Clinton, the more it becomes surreal to attack simultaneously (and far more frequently) Trump, who has attacked Clinton in a fashion never before seen in her long political history. And if Never Trumpers insist that the two candidates are of equal odiousness, what then is the point of daily reiterating their oppositions: On Monday attack Trump, on Tuesday Clinton, on Wednesday Trump again? Very quickly the message is received that the two are equally terrible people and therefore the election should not warrant any more commentary or interest, given that any outcome will be wretched. The logic of Trump voters trashing Clinton and Clinton voters trashing Trump is obvious; but what is the rationale of trashing both, other than a sort of detached depression that does not wear well in daily doses?
I write more about politics than anything else, although I really don't enjoy politics very much. If it were up to me, the politicians would all go away and leave us all alone. It's not up to me, though, so all of us end up in the arena, whether we choose to be or not.

The stench and corruption of the Clintons must be addressed. Every time I see Bill Clinton on television, he reminds me more of Noah Cross, the odious character played by John Huston in the movie Chinatown. There's always a threat hiding behind every statement. And Hillary Clinton is worse. The Clintons are evil in an almost existential way.

But do you simply call out the Clintons when their opponent is odious in dozens of different ways, or do you have a duty to call out both of them? As Hanson suggests, it's a rhetorical dead end. And it's a box for a largely political blogger.

Saturday, July 02, 2016


Steve Sack has been the cartoonist for the Star Tribune for decades. He's an exceptionally reliable indicator of the current liberal wisdom and his cartoon for today's edition is a perfect example of how we're supposed to interpret recent events:

If I were a betting man, I'd guess the conversation was more like this:

They have some lovely picnic areas at Ft. Marcy Park, by the way
Fixed it for ya, as they say on the internet. Let me know if you have any questions, Steve. Always glad to help.

Friday, July 01, 2016


Get back home, Loretta:

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch plans to announce on Friday that she will accept whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director make about whether to bring charges related to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, a Justice Department official said. Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case. 
The Justice Department had been moving toward such an arrangement for months — officials said in April that it was being considered — but a private meeting between Ms. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton this week set off a political furor and made the decision all but inevitable.
The Obama administration on Thursday asked a federal court to delay until October 2018 the release of 14,000 pages of emails from aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a court filing on Wednesday, administration lawyers said the State Department miscalculated the amount of material it would need to process the documents as part of a lawsuit with the conservative organization Citizens United.

As a result, the government asked for a 27-month delay to release the emails, which were originally due out on July 21.
I suspect if State gave Citizen United the whole cache, they'd find what they needed in a few days. And since we have assurances that Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest, there should be nothing to hide. Right?