Thursday, August 31, 2017


I don't write about my day job much here, because my world of work has little to do with blogging. At one point I was a copywriter by job title, but now I manage a team of copywriters. It's a familiar pattern in corporate life -- your expertise in one area leads you to career advancement, but the job responsibilities at your next stop preclude you from doing what actually advanced your career.

I am in the midst of hiring someone for my team. We had a tremendous response for the position and the applications came in so quickly that we turned the ad off so we could evaluate the candidates we'd received. One of the candidates who applied for a job on the team was my predecessor. He had left to work for a competitor, but the competitor has hit the skids lately and he was laid off, so he needs a job. For obvious reasons, I can't tell you how we're handling the situation, but it's a scenario they don't tell you about in business school.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A useful taxonomy

Victor Davis Hanson demonstrates, yet again, that he understands the moment and the players better than most. A taste of a column that should be read in full:
What also scares mainstream Democrats is that Trumpism may have exposed an existential vulnerability of the contemporary Democratic party, heretofore known but rarely voiced: It is now a rich man’s, bifurcated party of the two coasts. It hates the culture of the middle classes (who lack both the romance of the poor and the refinement of the rich) and cynically relies on promises of never-ending entitlements for the underclass. It offers boutique issues for the affluent who, with winks and nods, are assured that they will have the clout and money to navigate around the messy ramifications of their own policy positions. In other words, it is tailor-made to empower a figure like Trump.
Things we'd rather not discuss. And related:
Republican establishmentarians logically might thank Trump’s movement, given that they now control the majorities of the state legislatures, governorships, and all the branches of the federal government. Yet they still feel that saying “I voted for and support Donald J. Trump” is almost not worth the political price. They believe that Trump is unsteady and dangerous (and they may be right), but they concede that 90 percent of Republicans (no less than in 2008 and 2016) voted for the Republican nominee. 
For all their skepticism of Trump, they are quietly relieved by the excellence of his appointments, the boldness of his proposals, and (so far) the obvious conservativism of most of his agenda items. They wish only that he would cease tweeting, stop attacking Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, cancel campaign rallies, and end the impromptu news conferences. 
And yet they are not quite sure that Trump’s in-your-face aggression is not the source of his support, and so they worry that if he were more like they are, he might lose his ability to empower them. They are more plentiful than, but not unlike, the few old congressional Democratic blue dogs who were not so silly as to deny that Obama’s obnoxious but winning radicalism was to their own political benefit.
If you read this feature regularly, you're probably in one of the camps Hanson identifies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Qu'est-ce que c'est

Psycho Killer
Qu'est-ce que c'est
Antifa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run run run run run run run away 

I can't seem to face up to the facts
I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax
Some in Berkeley worried that Sunday’s chaos, captured on video and quickly disseminated through social media, would provide unwanted ammunition to Trump and his supporters.

“We can’t keep producing this audio-visual propaganda,” said Andrew Noruk, a counter-protester who denounced the fights. “It is recruiting for the right.”
You start a conversation you can't even finish it
You're talking a lot, but you're not saying anything
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
Say something once, why say it again?
At one point, protesters in Berkeley chanted, “No Trump! No wall! No USA at all!”
We are vain and we are blind
I hate people when they're not polite
I thought for sure they were going to attack.
I was just waiting for it.
But I stayed calm even though I thought this may not end well for me.
Here's how the conversation went.
And as you're reading this keep in mind that they were yelling at me and their words were filled with venom, anger, hate and intolerance.
There's just no other way to describe it.
I was stunned.
Hey! No pictures or we'll take your phone!!!
(At that point I'd already taken these shots)
Me (In calm voice):
You're on public property and I can take a picture if I want to.
Oh so you're a big man with a camera?
No I just wanted to take a picture and talk with you.
Them (rushing toward me):
We outnumber you and we will take your camera!
You're not going to take my camera and you're not going to tell me what to do.
Why can't we just have a respectful conversation.
(I then touched one of them on her hand to say it's okay I just want to talk)
Don't touch me!!
I'm not trying to do anything.
I just want to try to understand and have a respectful conversation.
We'll block your shot!!!
That's fine.
All I wanted to do was have a conversation.
Now is not the time.
(In fairness he was the one person who was respectful)
Then as I started to walk away a woman started screaming at me saying:
We're not interested in talking to you!!
We're not interested in talking to you!!
I walked away stunned.
I grew up in Berkeley.
I marched in anti-war protests during the sixties.
Its one thing to read about HATE
It's another thing to be right next to it.
In my opinion, these people dressed in black are just as hateful and intolerant as the people they are protesting against.

Monday, August 28, 2017



  • Trump has the absolute right to pardon Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.
  • I think it was a mistake.
  • I also think that, had the case worked its way through the system, Arpaio's conviction would have been overturned.


The pictures out of Houston are astonishing. This one tells the tale:

Instant sea
There's a bayou a block away, but this is not a bayou at the moment. And there's more rain, potentially a lot more, on the way. This area is about four miles southwest of downtown Houston.

Everywhere you look, you see devastation. About 5.6 million people live in the Houston metropolitan area. By contrast, the Twin Cities has a metro population of 3.5 million. Try to imagine evacuating the entire Twin Cities metro, then adding another 60% more people, and you see the problem.

We haven't had a hurricane of this magnitude since Katrina in 2005, but this one might be worse, because it's sticking around the Houston area. Katrina, for all its fury, at least kept moving, traveling almost all the way to Chicago before finally dissipating. This storm might still be in Houston on Thursday. Dang.

Under normal circumstances, we might have been whining about it being a rainy weekend here in the Twin Cities. I think I'll not worry about that any time soon.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Open thread

Not much to say, except that I'm praying for the folks on the Gulf Coast who are in the path of Hurricane Harvey, which looks like it's going to be a bad one. Talk amongst yourselves; I've thrown out a tune at the outset -- meanwhile, I'll also add some strangeness that Crankbait brought to my attention in a different context:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

That clinking clanking sound

So do you remember how much flak former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau caught for being out of town in the immediate aftermath of the Justine Damond shooting? Apparently Harteau wasn't the only person who wasn't around:
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges flew to Los Angeles four days after Justine Ruszczyk Damond’s shooting death for a campaign fundraiser, a trip her opponents pounced on Wednesday in the wake of Police Chief Janeé Harteau’s ouster and a delay from Hodges in releasing her 2018 budget.

Hodges appeared at the Wilshire Country Club with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on July 19 for the fundraiser, she confirmed on Facebook Wednesday afternoon following media inquiries.

The fundraiser took place two days before council members called for Harteau’s firing and the chief stepped down, in part because of the withering criticism she took for being out of town in the aftermath of Damond’s shooting by a police officer, which happened on July 15.
We have video of Hodges and Garcetti at the event:

I'm not particularly outraged that Hodges left town to shake the money tree in California -- if you're a Democrat, that's where the money is. It looks terrible for Hodges, but she's in a lot of trouble anyway, so bad appearances aren't likely to get any worse with this revelation. And let's face it, doesn't this sound like a whole lotta fun?
The fundraiser at the country club just south of Hollywood was billed in the invitation as an evening of “lefse and kale wraps, kombucha tasting with Garrison Keillor and an artisan-crafted hot dish featuring organic, locally sourced tofu.” According to campaign finance reports, Hodges raised $10,150 from California addresses between July 17 and July 25.
Kombucha tasting with Garrison Keillor? Artisan-crafted hot dish? Organic, locally sourced tofu? Now that's a draw. I'll bet the line to get in went all the way to Santa Monica. Hodges is getting a lot of criticism for the trip, especially from her opponents. High dudgeon is always a growth industry in the Mill City. The way I look at it, Hodges might as well enjoy the kale and kombucha now; no one is going to be flying her out to El Lay next year.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Wide World of WTF

Spanning the globe to bring you a constant variety of dopes. Couldn't be more stupid if they tried, actually:
ESPN broadcaster Robert Lee will not work the University of Virginia's season opener because of recent violence in Charlottesville sparked by the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

A spokeswoman for ESPN says Lee has been moved to Youngstown State's game at Pittsburgh on the ACC Network on Sept. 2. The network says the decision was made "as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name."

Plans to remove a statue of Lee led to a protest in Charlottesville earlier this month that attracted what is believed to be the largest group of white supremacists to come together in a decade. Violent clashes erupted between a large gathering of white supremacists and hundreds of counter protesters.

ESPN says the decision to put Lee on another game was made "collectively." It also says it's "a shame that this is even a topic of conversation."
Forty years ago, we did our stupid differently:

I'm here and I don't believe it, Howard

In related news:

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) explained what's going on recently:
A mass hysteria happens when the public gets a wrong idea about something that has strong emotional content and it triggers cognitive dissonance that is often supported by confirmation bias. In other words, people spontaneously hallucinate a whole new (and usually crazy-sounding) reality and believe they see plenty of evidence for it. The Salem Witch Trials are the best-known example of mass hysteria. The McMartin Pre-School case and the Tulip Bulb hysteria are others. The dotcom bubble probably qualifies. We might soon learn that the Russian Collusion story was mass hysteria in hindsight. The curious lack of solid evidence for Russian collusion is a red flag. But we’ll see how that plays out.
I have friends I care about across the country who are caught up in this hysteria. They swear up and down how much they hate Trump. And they inevitably watch his rallies on television. Why would you do that? Some of these friends are afraid we are living in 1984, or headed that way. As prophetic as he might have been, Orwell didn't have the wit to imagine a world in which Emmanuel Goldstein was president.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I tried to hold you but the moon got in the way

Bonnie Tyler can just go home.

il miglior fabbro

You like your hot takes with a touch of Rickles? Take it away, Kurt Schlichter:
This new breed of Nazis - for whom breeding doesn't seem to be in the cards - is less menacing that the originals. Instead of schmeissers they pack Tiki torches - for reasons no one seems able to explain. The old Nazis invaded Poland and wouldn't leave; these invade their moms’ basements and will never leave. But apparently these 300 or so misfits and malcontents are a potent peril to our republic. 
He's talking about the dorks in Charlottesville, who apparently have powers far beyond the ability of what one can actually see. They can cause total strangers to remove statues all across the country, for example. But there's more, as Schlichter gives the Arizona senatorial delegation the ol' what for:
It's also got the usual suspects of the wuss right activated. That's why you see needy Fredocons like Mitt Romney being retrieved from their well-deserved obscurity and sent out to dance eagerly for the nods and nickels tossed his way by the same media that said he gave people cancer. I don’t know, but assume the guys vying to replace John McCain as the leader of the Blue Falcon wing of the GOP, Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse, competed vigorously to see who could ignore violent leftists in order to signal the most solemn rejection of Nazis in a manner that validates the lying liberals’ premise that the Republican Party harbors Nazis. 
If you like red meat, the linked column is like a trip to Fogo de Chao. Plenty more at the link.

Monday, August 21, 2017


The news cycle has been simultaneously eventful and boring lately. No one has made a point for or against Trump in months that has moved the needle. Those who love Trump still do and those who hate him still do, but with greater intensity and more lunacy. I don't see any groundswell of support for Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, although I see the Antifa charm offensive continues apace.

The other big news over the weekend was the loss of two major figures of midcentury comedy, Dick Gregory and Jerry Lewis. Both of them were comics with larger agendas -- Gregory became a major figure in the civil rights movement, while Lewis devoted much of his life to charitable endeavors. Gregory's old comedy bits aren't plentiful on the internet, but he was very sharp, and he was a tireless voice of activism for nearly half a century. I wasn't a fan of Jerry Lewis, especially the idiot comic persona that made him so popular in Europe, but there's no disputing he brought a lot of joy to the world and his 40+ years at the helm of the Muscular Dystrophy telethon were instrumental in raising many millions of dollars for medical research and treatment.

I've been reading about midcentury entertainment and entertainers recently; I've just started reading a biography of Peggy Lee, who went from being a small-town North Dakota girl to one of the best singers of her era. You can still hear the crackle of her voice on her signature number, the Little Willie John classic "Fever":

Things went off the rails, quite badly, later in her life, but she was pretty great.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Don't think we're not keeping score, brother

"Don't think we're not keeping score, brother." So the man said.

Mitch Berg noticed:
The other day, a “progressive” – a onetime prog-blogger, who seems to have gone to intellectual seed just a bit – snarked at me on social media; “I haven’t seen your resounding denunciation of the Nazis”.    (A lesser light who started his political life well in the “To Seed” camp asked me a parallel question – “Did you ever vote for David Duke?”).

You’d think you progs would be more aware of the history of rhetoric like “did you denounce them with satisfactory fervor? Hm? No? What does THAT tell us?” Orwell wrote a book about it. Stalin held show trials over it. Millions disappeared from this earth over it. (Did you ever denounce that? Send the cite, please).
I generally avoid the political threads on Facebook and other social media, especially since FB has a tendency to place any comment you make on someone else's timeline. But increasingly I'm getting the same sense Mitch expresses in his post -- it's not enough to oppose Nazis, or to find some of Le Grand Orange's ruminations irritating. You'd better be denouncing it entirely, or are you a Nazi sympathizer?

The only way I know to express myself on FB without having the Furies unleashed on me is to post songs in a gnomic fashion. For example, this one:

Don't ask me what I think of you/I might not give the answer that you want me to. Fortunately, you can momentarily distract a would-be commissar with some tasty Peter Green guitar work. Oh well.

I'm not sure we have the luxury of silence, of a social media Miranda right, at least at the moment. Free speech does not mean you are compelled to speak just because a pixel-driven commissar demands you do, but the trend lines are disturbing. Lately I've been reminded free speech has consequences. XKCD explains it well enough.

Image result for xkcd free speech

That's true enough. But it doesn't work the other way all that often, and increasingly, silence has consequences. As our pal Crankbait has noted elsewhere, the formulation is "I found your silence disturbing." Don't think they're not keeping score, brother.

The socially maladjusted dorks with the tiki torches and the J.C. Penney polo shirts who were in Charlottesville last weekend are not people I'd want to see running the country, because I think they are sincere in their hateful beliefs and, if they ever were in power, would run roughshod over people. It's difficult to imagine they'd be much worse than the thought police currently running amok.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Great, but. . . .

Carol T. Christ, UC Berkeley’s 11th chancellor and the first woman to lead the nation’s top public research university, unveiled plans Tuesday for a “Free Speech Year” as right-wing speakers prepare to come to campus.

Christ said the campus would hold “point-counterpoint” panels to demonstrate how to exchange opposing views in a respectful manner. Other events will explore constitutional questions, the history of Berkeley’s free speech movement and how that movement inspired acclaimed chef Alice Waters to create her Chez Panisse restaurant.

“Now what public speech is about is shouting, screaming your point of view in a public space rather than really thoughtfully engaging someone with a different point of view,” Christ said in an interview. “We have to build a deeper and richer shared public understanding.”
The article further details upcoming visits from Milo Yiannopolous, whose earlier foray into the cradle of the Free Speech Movement was met with violence, and Ben Shapiro, among others.

So it's Free Speech Year. Great. What happens next year?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who is more likely to put a boot on your throat, if given the opportunity?

These people?

Or these people?

Is that a hardwood dowel, or are you just happy to see me?
Does it make a difference? I'm being told it does.

UPDATE: Apparently we have the wrong view of Antifa, so Andy Marlette sets us straight:

The dude with the dowel is really G. I. Joe
Make sure you have your mind right.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Submitted without further comment

The statue was getting wobbly

. . . and had a great fall:
A protest in downtown Durham on Monday night left a statue of a Confederate soldier erected nearly a century ago crumpled on the ground.

Sheriff’s deputies recorded the event but did not intervene as a protester climbed a ladder and slipped a yellow, bungie-like cord around the soldier’s head and arm and a group pulled the cord.

The statue did a somersault, collapsing against the stone pedestal in front of the old county courthouse on East Main Street.

Protesters cheered and started to kick the crumpled mass.
So who were the "protesters?" Bet you recognize some of the names:
Groups at the rally included members of the Triangle People’s Assembly, Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America and the antifa movement.
You know, the people who loved the people who ran the gulags. And they're taking names, brother:
“This is a really an opportunity, this moment of Charlottesville to see what side of history we are choosing to side with,” [Eva] Panjwani said. “This is not a call to make someone to feel guilty or ashamed. This is a call to say this is an ask from people of color to say which side are you on.”
Eva Panjwani is on the right in this picture, holding the megaphone. I'll bet her side is a lot of fun:

Alles klar, fraulein commissar

So what happens if you're a person of color and you're on the wrong side? That question does not get asked. Of course, these worthies will tell you:
Some of the protesters started to yell at sheriff’s officials standing on the steps of the old courthouse recording, and then Durham police officers blocking the street.

Pierre Faulkner waved a sign in front of them that said “cops and clan go hand in hand” on one side and “Black Lives Matter smash white supremacy” on the other.

“If y’all aren’t going to help us, we are going to help each other,” said Faulkner, 27, a student at Durham Technical Community College. “You understand that. Do you understand that? You look like you voted for Donald Trump.”
It would be great if the mouth breathers of the alt-right crawled back under their rocks and stayed there. Really, it would. Lucky Pierre and his pals are no better, though. Faulkner wasn't done:
“The message that they are trying to explain to these police is it doesn’t matter about your skin color. Everybody is one person. Everybody should be treated equally,” he said. “They’re standing out here with guns and bullet proof vests. We have no weapons. This is a peaceful protest. All we want is our voice to be heard.”
That's crap, of course. Peaceful people don't vandalize and don't go around smashing anything. Pierre wants his voice to be heard, but anyone else's voice is less important. Pierre's problem is simple -- we've heard what he's had to say. He's not saying anything different than the Wobblies had on offer a century ago. And when the Left gains control, the people aren't empowered, but the self-appointed leaders eventually have excellent bankrolls elsewhere.

We should have no illusions. None of this is about justice, or making the world a better place. It's all about power. If you want angry people with megaphones to run the world, by all means run to their banner. Just know they don't give a shit about you.

Monday, August 14, 2017


Anyone who claims to be a Nazi in 2017 is contemptible. There's no future in it, only the lingering stench of evil. It's a path to ruin in this world and perdition in the next.

The Nazis came to Charlottesville this past weekend. It did not go well:
Brittany Caine-Conley, a minister in training at Sojourners United Church of Christ, arrived in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday morning expecting that there might be violence. She did not expect things to get out of hand so quickly.

But what began as a rally of white nationalists in a city park soon spun out of control, resulting in melees in the streets and the death of a 32-year-old woman after a car rammed a group of counterprotesters. The police have charged a 20-year-old Ohio man described as a Nazi sympathizer, accusing him of intentionally driving his car into the crowd.
The police didn't do much to stop the violence, it appears. More from the New York Times:
But if Charlottesville was grieving on Sunday, it was also questioning. Governor McAuliffe fiercely defended the police in an impromptu sidewalk interview, noting that many of the demonstrators were armed, and saying the officers had done “great work” in a “very delicate situation.” And he said Ms. Heyer’s death, which he called “car terrorism,” could not have been prevented.

“You can’t stop some crazy guy who came here from Ohio and used his car as a weapon,” Governor McAuliffe said. “He is a terrorist.”

But others, including Mr. Kessler and Ms. Caine-Conley, openly wondered if the violence could have been prevented.

“There was no police presence,” Ms. Caine-Conley said. “We were watching people punch each other; people were bleeding all the while police were inside of barricades at the park, watching. It was essentially just brawling on the street and community members trying to protect each other.”
It got ugly:
As the white nationalists massed in the park, Ms. Caine-Conley and other members of the clergy locked arms in the street. Behind them were hundreds of protesters, including black-clad, helmet-wearing members of the far left known as antifa.

Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, was watching the events from a command post on the sixth floor of a Wells Fargo bank on the downtown mall. There were sporadic fights. “I compare it to hockey,” he said. “Often in hockey there are sporadic fights, and then they separate.”

Suddenly, people were throwing water bottles, some filled with urine. Some used pepper spray; from his perch on the sixth floor, Mr. Moran saw smoke bombs being thrown. People started clubbing one another. The clergy retreated to a “safe house” — a restaurant nearby.

But according to many witnesses, the police waited to intervene. Ms. Caine-Conley called it “fascinating and appalling.”
Fascinating and appalling is an apt description of this entire moment. Look at the faces of two people who have been involved in hurting or killing others in the name of their ideology: first the accused driver of the car in Charlottesville, James Alex Fields:

Then, Linwood Kaine, a son of Sen. Tim Kaine who was arrested for his role in attacks of Trump supporters at the Capitol in Saint Paul earlier this year:

The dazed yet baleful expressions are the same. The only obvious difference is tonsorial. Is one young man more worthy than the other? It's easier to predict their fates. Fields will be going to prison, and maybe death row. Kaine won't. Fields may not have had a great future before he drove his car into a crowd, but he has no future now. Kaine will have the opportunity to leave his past behind.

It must be said again. Fields is not a victim; he's chosen perdition. Still, the sound of John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son" blends in with the stench of Fields. Even as we make a point of condemning Fields and his ilk, we ought to remember he's hardly the only combatant in this war.

Friday, August 11, 2017


As in how you're wired. Megan McArdle, explaining why she left the tech field early in her career:
No, the reason I left is that I came into work one Monday morning and joined the guys at our work table, and one of them said “What did you do this weekend?”

I was in the throes of a brief, doomed romance. I had attended a concert that Saturday night. I answered the question with an account of both. The guys stared blankly. Then silence. Then one of them said: “I built a fiber-channel network in my basement,” and our co-workers fell all over themselves asking him to describe every step in loving detail.

At that moment I realized that fundamentally, these are not my people. I liked the work. But I was never going to like it enough to blow a weekend doing more of it for free. Which meant that I was never going to be as good at that job as the guys around me.
McArdle is now a successful writer for Bloomberg. And good for her. She found her people and she has prospered.

The current contretemps involving Google and its highly public firing of one of its workers, James Damore, because he shared his opinion a little too freely, is an example of trying to force a culture that would otherwise happen organically. You can read the memo that got Damore fired here.

It's always seemed common sense to me -- do what you love and, if you can get paid for it, even better. My day job involves writing, but it's supervisory and in the main, I spend much of my day trying to remove obstacles from the path of the other writers on my team. I'd prefer to write more, but it turns out I'm good at managing the work of other writers. So that's what I do. It's how I'm wired.

Google's corporate culture is currently going through a period where they are trying to rewire their people. It will not end well.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Subject for further research

File this one under "huge if true":
Time stamps in the metadata provide further evidence of what happened on July 5. The stamps recording the download indicate that it occurred in the Eastern Daylight Time Zone at approximately 6:45 pm. This confirms that the person entering the DNC system was working somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. In theory the operation could have been conducted from Bangor or Miami or anywhere in between—but not Russia, Romania, or anywhere else outside the EDT zone. Combined with Forensicator’s findings on the transfer rate, the time stamps constitute more evidence that the download was conducted locally, since delivery overheads—conversion of data into packets, addressing, sequencing times, error checks, and the like—degrade all data transfers conducted via the Internet, more or less according to the distance involved.
If the hack of the DNC server didn't take place remotely, who did it? There's a ton to read at the link, and I'll be getting back to it later, but if the Russians didn't hack the DNC server, much of what has happened in Washington since Donald Trump was inaugurated is based on a lie.

I hope they've stopped beating their wives

I don't write about the Second Amendment all that often. We have a number of excellent organizations in Minnesota who are dedicated to ensuring that those who would render the Second Amendment a dead letter are held in check. And the most prolific blogger in Minnesota, my friend Mitch Berg, is eternally vigilant on the matter.

We also have feckless and dishonest organizations in Minnesota who would disarm the population if they could. Among these organizations is Protect Minnesota, the latest iteration of a long series of groups under the same general umbrella. These folks have a tendency to periodically rebrand themselves, because they are, in the main, feckless and dishonest.

Protect Minnesota had an astonishingly dishonest post out there on Facebook yesterday, which they subsequently changed. Fortunately, Facebook allows users to see the edit history of a post, so check out what they originally posted, versus what appears now:

In the original post, Protect Minnesota insinuates that Second Amendment defenders would have knowledge of whoever was responsible for bombing a mosque in Bloomington, and an affirmative responsibility to share what they know with the FBI. Let's think about this. Why would Protect Minnesota assume that GOCRA, to use one example, would know about the bomber? Are Second Amendment protectors known for bombing mosques? Is there any evidence that GOCRA has abetted bombings, anywhere? Is it because GOCRA members are fearful and violent? What evidence does Protect Minnesota have to back up that assertion?

We don't know much about what actually happened in Bloomington over the weekend, but it's clear that local and federal law enforcement will devote ample resources to find out and the individual (or individuals) responsible will be called to account. What we do know is Protect Minnesota is willing to issue baseless attacks to further its agenda. Why anyone takes them seriously is quite another matter.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Glen Campbell, RIP

His heyday was long ago, but he left a lot of wonderful music in his wake, especially in the late 60s. A taste:

He also played on some big hits as a session guitarist, including this:

And this:

And this:

A tremendous career. RIP.

You Dropped the Guam on Me

Getting all bellicose up in here:
North Korea and the United States traded escalating threats, with President Donald Trump threatening Pyongyang "with fire and fury like the world has never seen" and the North's military claiming Wednesday it was examining its plans for attacking Guam.

The comments follow reports that North Korea has mastered a crucial technology needed to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.

Despite regular North Korean threats against Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers) from the Korean Peninsula, it is extremely unlikely that Pyongyang would risk the assured annihilation of its revered leadership with a pre-emptive attack on U.S. citizens.
Two things about that last statement. First, I suspect the Norks don't have a death wish, so a pre-emptive strike is unlikely. Second, reverence toward the the leadership isn't necessarily a given. I'm not worried. Yet.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Odd headline of the week

I have heard many writers complain about the headline a publication chooses for their article. This headline from the Star Tribune might be the worst one I've seen in a while:

So what does this mean?
If people in one place feel unsafe, no one else gets to feel safe? Is that what this means? We don't yet know who attacked a mosque in Bloomington over the weekend. I wish people wouldn't attack mosques, or synagogues, or churches of any sort. It happens, though. Being a member of a faith community means you have faith. I'm not sure the headline writers at the Star Tribune understand that.

The Crony

It's good to be Elon Musk:
A study published two years ago by The Los Angeles Times revealed that just three of Musk’s ventures – SolarCity Corp. (which manufactured and installed solar energy systems before its 2016 merger with Tesla Motors Inc.), Tesla Motors Inc. (which manufactures electric vehicles), and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX (which builds rocket ships) – had received $4.9 billion in government subsidies to that point in time. By now, Musk’s various ventures have sucked well over $5 billion from government coffers.
So do you want your tax dollars used to subsidize this guy? Or do you want the federal government to subsidize the purchase of an electric car by providing a $7500 rebate? Set aside the relative merits of electric cars, especially since a lot of electricity comes from fossil fuels, especially coal. Does it seem smart to subsidize the enterprises of one guy with that much money?


There are now 5,501 posts on this blog, counting this one. Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 07, 2017

So much for that

City officials in Baltimore vowed this past weekend would be free of murders. Didn't happen:
Two fatal shootings on Saturday put an end to a weekend cease-fire in Baltimore, NBC News reported.

Police said a 24-year-old man and a 37-year-old man were shot and killed in separate incidents.
The need to get things under control is real:
Although it has less than a tenth of New York City's population, Baltimore has suffered 48 more homicides in 2017, according to police statistics.

The Maryland city's murder rate is also on the rise, 20 percent higher compared to the same period last year.
A lot of people don't trust cops in Baltimore. The Freddie Gray incident a few years back is a huge consideration, and brutality is only one issue:
A number of criminal cases in Baltimore have gone up in smoke over the past two weeks after two Baltimore police body-camera videos have allegedly shown officers planting drugs on residents of the city.

The most recent video, released Tuesday by Baltimore defense attorney Josh Insley, has led the Baltimore City States Attorney’s Office to refer two officers to Internal Affairs and postpone all cases involving the officers.

Five cases have also been dismissed — including Insley’s client, Shamere Collins, 35, whose car appears in the newly released video.
You can't get trust back quickly. And because Batimoreans don't trust their government, they are at risk for other predators. Human life is either precious, or it isn't.

The new bridge

I traveled over the new bridge over the St. Croix river on Saturday. It's an impressive structure and it will make life easier for people in western Wisconsin to get to Minnesota, but unless current conditions change, it may not have a huge impact on travel in the region. On either side of the bridge, the infrastructure to match it does not currently exist.

The amount of development on the south edge of Stillwater, on the approach to the bridge, means you need to go through multiple stoplights, which will back traffic up substantially. On the Wisconsin side, drivers encounter a series of roundabouts that impede traffic even further. If you want to head south from the new bridge to get to Hudson, prepare to go through three roundabouts and then slog down an underdeveloped 2-lane highway into town.

The I-94 bridge over the St. Croix is 10 lanes wide and is built for a lot of traffic. The effect of the new bridge on the I-94 crossing may be less than people imagine.

Friday, August 04, 2017

It's a coup

Call it what it is:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase, according to people familiar with the matter.

The grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, signals that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry will likely continue for months. Mr. Mueller is investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign or associates colluded with the Kremlin as part of that effort.

A spokesman for Mr. Mueller, Joshua Stueve, declined to comment. Moscow has denied seeking to influence the election, and Mr. Trump has vigorously disputed allegations of collusion. The president has called Mr. Mueller’s inquiry a “witch hunt.”
It's not a witch hunt, Mr. President. It's a coup. How Trump responds in the coming days will determine his fate. The people trying to take Le Grand Orange down are talented, ruthless, and motivated. They don't care what Trump's supporters think about any of it, nor are they particularly concerned about the long-term ramifications of what they are doing. They just want to win and they assume they will.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Bridges in the news

This week we remembered the day, 10 years back, when the 35W bridge collapsed. This feature was in operation at the time and here is what I said about it then:
The images, now ubiquitous, are horrifying. The twisted green metal superstructure, tangled and jutting out at bizarre angles, providing a reminder of the incredible force unleashed. The slab of concrete blocks the river flow, with equally large slabs jutting out from the shoreline below, pointing toward the hazy, August sky. The cars, buses and trucks are scattered throughout the site, with unknown numbers of late model vehicles submerged under tons of steel and concrete.

It’s a horrifying thing, the collapse of a major bridge. The rumble of death will reverberate here for a long time. This is the stuff of disaster movies, a Jerry Bruckheimer image writ large and real. We’ll live with the consequences of August 1, 2007 for many years.


We are 10 years on and for most of us, the consequences faded a long time ago. A new bridge came on line in little more than a year. I cross it every day. Each crossing is utterly uneventful. It's a much better bridge, too, with five lanes in each direction; the traffic often bottlenecks on either side of the bridge, but it flows smoothly across the span.

The fear we had then was real:
We were far away from the event as it happened, fetching the weekly groceries. We had no idea what had happened and had turned on WCCO radio, more because we noted a line of storms on the western horizon and were looking for a weather update. As we drove home from the store on 35W, about 10 miles north of the site, it became clear that something horrific had happened. The answering machine was already filling with concerned calls from my relatives in Wisconsin. I have crossed the 35W bridge thousands of times in the 15 years I’ve lived in Minnesota and my relatives knew that. It is quite possible that when the list of victims becomes known, I will know someone who was on that bridge at the fateful moment; many of my friends and neighbors use this bridge each day. I hope not, but all of us who live and work in the northern suburbs must prepare for the possibility. All the victims, whether we know them or not, will need our prayers and support. 
As it turned out, no one I knew personally was on the bridge at the time, although I've since met people who were. In the end, 13 people died and many other suffered life-altering injuries, but as a community we absorbed the blow surprisingly well. The prayers and support did come through and while the pain is still real, this community responded well. Ten years on, I'm not certainly we would do as well.

Meanwhile, about 25 miles to the east, another bridge opened yesterday:
Hundreds of cars lined up on Minnesota 36 in Oak Park Heights on Wednesday night to cross the new St. Croix River bridge.

But the honor of being the first to cross appeared to go to Phil and Terry Crampton of Lake Elmo, who pulled up on the highway shoulder about 7:30 p.m on their Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.

“We’ve been circling around for a while,” Phil Crampton said. “We went down to Bayport and had dinner. We’re trying to time it just right.”

They faced stiff competition from a sporty blue Mini Cooper, driven by Mike Burton of Stillwater. Burton joked that he and his wife, Lynn, were going to get the first speeding ticket on the new bridge.

“We’re excited about it,” Lynn Burton said. “We live right in downtown, so it will be nice to get the traffic out of there.”

Minnesota Department of Transportation workers removed the barricade blocking entrance to the new bridge at exactly 8 p.m. Within seconds, the long line of cars began to cross the river into Wisconsin with horns honking and cellphone videos rolling.
The new bridge replaces the ancient Stillwater lift bridge, which dated to 1931. The new bridge is impressive:

The changes we'll see in the area are going to be fascinating to observe. I may take a drive over it this weekend, as I have business in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Get to it

Victor Davis Hanson, with a call to action. The whole piece is brilliant. Two excerpts:
The Republicans should announce far more forcefully to the media that Vladimir Putin may have been funneling via shady third-parties millions of dollars to anti-fracking groups. Such collusion, if proven through investigation, really is treasonous—given that the crashing price of oil, brought about solely due to North American frackers, is about the only check on Putin’s ambitions that the West enjoys. So, to take one example, did the San Francisco-based, family-controlled, and hedge-funded Sea Change Foundation receive laundered Russian money to help enhance its anti-fracking messaging? If so, when, how, and who?
Did you know that? It seems important. One more:
Fourthly, what an Orwellian world it is when progressives allege “obstruction of justice” (which  Mueller’s burgeoning team of lawyers is apparently investigating) in the case of Donald Trump’s sloppy, off-handed, and out-loud wishes to FBI Director James Comey that he hoped “good guy” Michael Flynn did not get ruined by a loose investigation.

Yet obstruction is not much pursued even when no one seems to deny that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch met stealthily for private discussions with the spouse of a suspect of a current Justice investigation (subsequently dropped), and when she unapologetically seems to have directed the self-described moralist, Director Comey again, to alter the nomenclature of his ongoing investigation of fellow Democrat and presidential candidate Clinton (and Comey shamelessly acceded to Lynch’s detailed requests).
All told, Hanson identifies six ripe scandals worthy of investigation and exposure. He doesn't even need to go back further, into the perfidy of Lois Lerner and the IRS, or Solyndra, or Fast and Furious, all of which were effectively buried earlier.

And Hanson also identifies the reason this perfidy isn't getting the full airing it deserves:
[I]n contemporary Republican La-La Land, the party in power with control over all three branches of government allows its minority-status opponents to dictate the rules of special investigations and inquiry—a Jeff Sessions recused, a Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excused from his investigations of unmasking and leaking, a Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel, friend of to-be-investigated James Comey, and employer of partisan attorneys.

Is naiveté the cause of such laxity? Do Republicans unilaterally follow Munich rules because they hope such protocols will create a new “civility” and “bipartisan cooperation” in Washington?

Or is the culprit civil dissension among the ranks, as the congressional leadership secretly has no real incentive to help the despised outsider Trump? When Republicans get re-elected on repealing and replacing Obamacare during the assured Obama veto-presidency, and then flip in the age of surety that Trump would reify their campaign boasts, should we laugh or cry? Is the Republican establishment’s aim to see Trump’s agenda rendered null and void—or does intent even matter when the result is the same anyway?
Republicans told us they should govern. It's time they get to it. More, much more, at the link.

Cranking the absurdity up to 11

Well, all righty then:
Lewd and rude “desnudas” – naked female panhandlers – are harassing tourists in New York’s Times Square, but cops reportedly can’t arrest them “because most of them are illegal immigrants.”

The desnudas -- a Spanish word meaning "naked" -- are part of a Times Square assembly of popular costumed children’s characters and mostly-naked females hitting tourists up for money in the uber-popular New York City district. A law enforcement source told The New York Post that past proposals to license the often obnoxious street performers went nowhere because most of them are illegal immigrants and wouldn’t register anyway. Plus, City Hall, under Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, isn’t interested in going after illegals such as the desnudas, the source told The Post.

So with little police enforcement, squads of Minnie Mouses, Incredible Hulks and painted women continue to pester passersby.
You can see pictures at the link if you really want to. There's a method to their madness:
Times Square Alliance President Tim Tomkins told The Post many of the Times Square performers continuously leave their Designated Activity Zones in an effort to earn more cash as part of what he called a “scam.”

“Suddenly, there’s three Minnies in your picture,” Tomkins said. “And a Batman, and a Spider-Man. And they all want cash. And they’re all outside the zone.”
And if you don't want to pony up?
“I told you, if you don’t have a tip, then f--- off!” one desnuda told a Post reporter.
We don't have that sort of thing in Minneapolis or St. Paul, at least not yet. But I wouldn't put it past anyone.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Know where you are

The thing (anonymously, of course) speaks for itself:
On the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany, President Trump’s advisers discussed how to respond to a new revelation that Trump’s oldest son had met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign — a disclosure the advisers knew carried political and potentially legal peril.

The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.

But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed.

Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared a story, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”

The claims were later shown to be misleading.
The article from the Washington Post (via the Star Tribune) might be misleading as well, but we'll leave that aside for a moment. There's more:
Over the next three days, multiple accounts of the meeting were provided to the media as public pressure mounted, with Trump Jr. ultimately acknowledging that he had accepted the meeting after receiving an e-mail promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.

The extent of the president’s personal intervention in his son’s response, the details of which have not previously been reported, adds to a series of actions that Trump has taken that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy.
We're assuming a lot of facts that aren't in evidence yet. We don't know if Trump did anything of the sort. We know what we know because of anonymous sources. Let's guess who this one is:
“This was … unnecessary,” said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. “Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.”
Who's the source? Sean Spicer? Reince Preibus? Someone else? Someone who was there? Someone who wasn't? We don't know.

My suspicion? It's not particularly important who is actually doing the leaking. Trump is a big believer in loyalty, but he's not in an environment where loyalty is rewarded. He's not in New York any more. He really can't trust anyone, even in his inner circle. Anything he says can be used against him, and almost certainly will be. He is an outsider and the folks in Washington won't accept anyone who messes with their rice bowls.

The next few weeks will be crucial. Trump has to change how he operates. And if he's got a counterattack planned, he'd better get on with it now.