Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Vote Yes in New Brighton - Part Four

You may have noticed this, but in general in our politics these days, a call for civility is generally not about civility, but rather about silencing those who might oppose you.

I have lived in New Brighton for over 20 years now, and the oleaginous note from City Manager Dean Lotter that appeared in a taxpayer funded newsletter sent to all city residents over the summer was, well, stunning in its bad faith. Titled "The Efficiency of Civility," it was singularly lacking in civility and was a naked attack on a former member of the City Council, a turbulent priest. It's frankly jaw-dropping in its malice:
There is a place where civility has been improved and it’s due to you, the voters of New Brighton. Now having time to get familiar with new Councilmembers Emily Dunsworth and Graeme Allen and working with returning members of the Council, Mary Burg, Paul Jacobsen and Mayor Val Johnson, I am reminded and rejuvenated by how well opposing views can lead to better decisions when those differing views are handled professionally.
Set aside the propriety of using a taxpayer funded publication to bash one's political opponents, even though that's a crucial issue as well. The real issue is that Lotter's assertions are baked wind. As a practical matter, there aren't differing views these days in the New Brighton City Council, because anyone who might object to how Lotter runs things is effectively silenced. City Manager Lotter likes it that way:
Mayor Johnson and the rest of the current City Council have breathed a new air into the Council and staff relationship. Mayor Johnson and the City Council still ask probing questions and hold staff accountable, but they do so professionally. As a result, staff feels comfortable offering creative solutions to service or budget issues that oftentimes improve things and save money. This restored sense of civility means the City is not having meeting after meeting on the same topics repeatedly for the sake of a narrow political agenda. 
The "narrow political agenda" Lotter references is trying to ensure that the city council doesn't just rubber stamp what the city manager wants. Whether Lotter wants to accept it or not, the former council members most responsible for challenging how New Brighton does business -- Gina Bauman, Sharon Doffing, and David Phillips, along with former mayor Dave Jacobsen -- had a constituency among the citizens of this community. All these individuals spoke for me and many of my neighbors. Did these individuals, especially Bauman, cause Lotter heartburn? I'm certain they did. Too bad.

The point of the referendum on the ballot is to ensure that those of us who prefer to have watchdogs on the council have a chance to consider their credentials. The current council members were elected to four-year terms and Mayor Johnson was elected to a two-year term. They were not elected for five years and three years. By eliminating the 2019 election, these individuals have extended their terms and denied the voters a chance to exert scrutiny and, potentially, oversight over the work of Lotter and the city staff.

A yes vote ensures that Lotter and his tame overseers receive the necessary scrutiny that voters by definition exercise. Voting no on the referendum rewards malfeasance and lets the current crew get by with having an extra year in office that they bestowed upon themselves. Under no circumstances should an election be taken away from voters.

Vote Yes in New Brighton - Part Three

Every move the New Brighton City Council has made regarding elections has been, in a word, disingenuous. No matter how the matter is framed, the real objective has always been the same -- maintain power for themselves and freeze out anyone who would challenge that power. Cancelling the 2019 election has never been about saving money; it's really about making sure that certain people in the city are denied a voice in government for as long as possible.

Gina Bauman was a member of the New Brighton City Council for two terms. Gina saw her role as being a watchdog and advocate for the taxpayers of the city. She had some success in her time on the council, most notably ensuring that local government assistance (LGA) money was returned to the taxpayers, not spent on pet projects. This was always a wise stance, because it is never a given that the city will get LGA money.

The rest of the council, and those within the city who preferred the status quo, always hated Bauman for her green eyeshade and her fearlessness. They tried to change the term of office in 2015 to shorten Bauman's term, but got swatted down by the courts. Badly. So when Bauman's term ended following the 2017 election, the council immediately moved to extend terms a year. This was never about saving money, but to prevent Bauman and others who share Bauman's views an opportunity to run against the current occupants of the office. Who will rid the City Council of these turbulent priests?

It's not about saving money, of course. The City Council loves spending money and, now that Bauman is out of the way, gets to spend even more. It's about avoiding accountability for as long as possible.  A no vote on the initiative rewards the City Council. A yes vote keeps the day of reckoning where it should be.

Next:  don't bother the City Manager. He's very important.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Vote Yes in New Brighton - Part Two

A few things to consider:

If the powers that be in New Brighton have their way and the 2019 city elections are cancelled, will that mean an end to off-year elections in New Brighton?

It won't. School board elections and other off-year elections will continue to take place. The city will still have to help conduct these elections.

Why has the city been using its newsletter and producing YouTube videos to campaign against the referendum?

Because they can. No one currently in city government is willing to question the propriety of using taxpayer funds -- remember, any revenue a government entity has comes from taxes and fees it charges citizens -- to get what they want. They call this civility.

Was there ever an outcry about the horrible inconvenience of off-year elections among the citizenry of New Brighton?

Of course not. But that's never been the issue. The whole point of the exercise has always been about maintaining power for the current council.

Next: turbulent priests.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Brave man

The crap stain who shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend killed 11 people. One of those individuals was a 97-year old woman. I oppose the death penalty, but man, if I ever wanted to make an exception to my opposition, it would be for this guy. What a sack of crap.

Vote Yes in New Brighton - Part One

We've spent a fair amount of time over the years discussing the stupidity and cupidity of the local government in New Brighton, Minnesota. I've lived in New Brighton for 21 years. For much of this time, the levers of power have been in the hands of the very old guard within the city, especially longtime former mayors Bob Benke and his pal, Steve Larson. While both Benke and Larson aren't particularly visible these days, their successors have continued to treat city government as a fiefdom. The city employees like the arrangement just fine, because it means they aren't ever challenged on their decisions. The city manager, Dean Lotter, especially likes it, because he has no use for oversight or accountability.

Following the city council election in 2017, the outgoing city council, for the second time, changed the election laws for the benefit of those who would remain in office. Ordinance 857 cancelled the 2019 election, thus extending the terms of the mayor and all members of the city council by one year. The mayor, who is elected to a 2-year term, now would serve three years, while the city council members, elected to a 4-year term, would get 5 years in office.

This is wrong on its face; if politicians can extend their own terms and get by with it, the opportunity to hold them accountable is fundamentally reduced. By repealing Ordinance 857, the citizens of New Brighton would not lose a vote. We're going to spend the next few days discussing all of this in greater detail.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Crossroads Time Edition

Old dude, thankfully I was not feeling enough HYYYYYYYYYYPPPEEEE! to oversleep based on the ballgame last night.

That baseball game went way past my bedtime. Good lord, 18 innings.

And there was a lot of confusion, too, Old Dude. Check this one out!

Sandy Koufax, the Science Guy
How dumb is that?

At least they didn't post their picture of Bob Gibson:

Image result for neil degrasse tyson
Or is that Ferguson Jenkins?
Oh, goodness. Thankfully we're here to talk about football. It is time to pick some games, and time to watch me work!

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-3.5) vs. Northwestern Wildcats. This game is going to be a difficult test for the Badgers. Evanston is no easy place to play, and now we learn that Alex Hornibrook will be sitting out the game because of a concussion and Jack Coan, who has never started a game, takes the reins. There is a subset of Badgers fans that really does not like Hornibrook, so now they get to see what life is like without him. I expect this game to be close, but Wisconsin will escape. Badgers 24, Wildcats 17.

This Northwestern team is hard to read. They've won some impressive games, but barely got out of Rutgers with a win last week. This is not as talented a crew as Pat Fitzgerald has typically fielded, but they are gamers, and Ryan Field has been a house of horrors for the Badgers over the last 20 years. I think Bucky wins, but it's a nailbiter. Badgers 28, Northwestern 24.

New Orleans Saints (-2) vs. Minnesota Vikings. This football game is going to be very interesting. I like to remind Vikings fans that they came oh-so-close to another playoff flameout against the Saints, until Stefon Diggs bailed them out. Local media seem to think the Vikings will play the Lions for first place in the division in a couple of weeks. That is a dangerous idea, because the Saints are a very good football team and should command full respect. Saints 56, Vikings 42.

Take the over, then? I agree, the Saints are dangerous. The Vikings have been better lately, but they have a lot of key injuries on defense. Drew Brees will find the substitutes and exploit them mercilessly. Kirk Cousins had better be good, or this could get ugly. Saints 38, Vikings 28.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+9) vs. Los Angeles "Greatest Show on Turf" Those quote marks were intentional, by the way. I think the Rams are, like the Saints, a very good football team. However, the Los Angeles Coliseum will have plenty of Green and Gold in the stands. Everyone is counting the Packers out and that confuses me. The Packers have the better quarterback and are fully healthy and coming off a bye week. The Packers also do their best work when no one gives them a chance. Make no mistake, the Packers will have to play a perfect game to win. Packers 35, Rams 20.

That's bold. But it gets the first "uh, no" of the season. I think the Packers are going to be competitive, but I don't see them having the quickness on defense to defend the whole field. The Rams dictate that, which is why they are so strong. If the Packers can slow down Todd Gurley, they have a chance. No one has done that yet. Rams 35, Packers 31.

New York J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS (+8) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz Still Suck. Our favorite Bears fan Gino has a good chance to be happy this week. Da Bearz have been the surprise team of the year for me and they are the one team that the Vikings should be worried about, aside from their friends to the east. The Jets are scuffling these days and a trip to Soldier Field will not help them. Da Bearz 100, J-E-T-S 0.

Good, we can have two "uh, no" comments in the same post! That's progress. Don't get me wrong -- I think the Bears will win, but it's not going to be a rout. The one thing to watch -- Khalil Mack is already starting to wear down. The Bears are a good defense, but if he fades any more, they'll be in a posture where they need to do their best Air Coryell imitation. And the Bears have never mastered that feat. Bears 28, Jets 20.

Next week, I have words for a local radio station. Stay tuned. Ben out!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Benster Picks Your Games------Emergency Gopher Edition

I gotta fly solo because D is out on assignment at this point of the day. Don't worry, he will be back tomorrow. The Big Ten office moved this Gopher game against Indiana to tonight for reasons unknown to man. I'm a traditional guy when it comes to college football, and like games on Saturday unless it is the first week of the season or Thanksgiving weekend. Watch me work.

Indiana Wants Me, Lord I Can't Go Back There (-2) vs. Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat. First of all, I owe you guys the video:

Don't worry about R. Dean, because the game is outside the state lines of Indiana. In fact, he had a much better trip to Indiana compared to A School in Columbus last week. The Gophers got waxed pretty good in Lincoln last week, and it is anyone's guess at who will be playing quarterback tonight. Indiana is a team that would be better served in the West, but is a solid team most years and seem to be getting their type of kids. I don't think P.J. Fleck is worth the price of admission for the Gophers, because he focuses too much on the cutesy metaphors instead of doing his job and coaching his kids. Fleck is a product of our society where having a big personality can substitute for results, and at some point the Gophers have to ask themselves is it worth being known for playing good football or selling stupid shirts with rowing metaphors on them. Hoosiers 30, Row Row Row Your Boat Elitely 0.

D and I will be back with more football discussion, and I can promise you that I have some more hot takes. Ben out!

Imaginary Hazard Day

About 20 years ago now, my old boss and I came up with the idea of Imaginary Hazard Day. It is always "celebrated" on October 26, for no apparent reason other than that was the day we came up with it. Every year, we urge everyone to take all unnecessary precautions.

As it happens, this year Imaginary Hazard day falls a few days after someone (singular or plural, as yet undetermined) sent a series of devices that may (or may not, and likely not) be bombs to some of our favorite portside politicians.

I don't know the whole thing is a legitimate terrorist activity, or a false flag, or something else. I do know this -- if these bombs were really a danger, we'd have never seen one of them. The bomb squads would have detonated all of them to prevent danger, mayhem, whatever. We have seen pictures of the bombs, though, pulled right out of the envelopes in which they arrived:

Image result for mail bombs this week
Blowed up real good
So, if there was a real threat, we do we have this image? Frankly, the device looks more like a Pez dispenser than a bomb. If this were an actual explosive device, it would have been removed immediately from the place it was delivered and no one would have opened the package. So what's really happening? It's a question well worth asking on Imaginary Hazard Day.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Trump goes to Mosinee

Image result for mosinee paper mill
You can tell by the smell it isn't going well
I don't have a lot to say about Trump going to Mosinee -- to a large extent, a Trump rally is the same no matter where it is -- but I do find it amusing. I grew up in a town with a lot of paper mills. They can be foul-smelling places. Mosinee is about 90 miles northwest of my home town and it has the reputation of being the town with the nastiest smelling paper mill of them all. I pass through there on my way home and it can be just awful. For his sake, I hope the wind was strong and out of the west yesterday.

You were my hope baby, you were my smoke

We don't know who sent bombs to Democrats. We just don't. We'll find out eventually. And that's all one can say at the moment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Seventy years later

Harold Rosenberg wrote the essay "The Herd of Independent Minds: Has the Avant-Garde Its Own Mass Culture?" back in 1948, and it's still spot-on:
American intellectuals are, however, reluctant to face the mass-culture consequences of their historical self-definitions. They retain a nostalgia for the personal and unique, for esoteric art, for small-group attitudes, even while they deplore the inadequacy of these standpoints. As individuals they see themselves in terms of what they have in common with others; in the mass they sense themselves despondently as individuals. Thus they cannot act creatively either for the individual or for the mass.
There's more:
Poses are a matter of taste, sometimes of achieving spiritual efficiency. I should like only to make sure that nobody is bullied by the abstract concept of social responsibility into becoming useless to himself and to his fellow men, or even a menace. 
Strike a pose.

We're always sorting through the junk drawer of our experience and pulling out what we think works. As fascinating as we believe 2018 to be, we're still grappling with the same notions we had at midcentury.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Why should I care. . . why should I care

That's the musical question that begins the song "5:15" by the Who, which also include this stanza:

Tightly undone
They know what they're showing
Sadly ecstatic
That their heroes are news

I've been wondering why certain things are in the news for a long time now. Wondering isn't the right thing to do, though, Kurt Schlichter suggests. He has a different idea:
I don’t care about the [Jamal]  Khashoggi caper because I see no reason to join in the faux shock that foreigners are terrible, or that the Saudis are so especially terrible that we must abandon a crucial ally against Iran, which hangs more gays from a single crane every day than the Saudis have ever chopped up in their consulates.

Weird, but the elite was totally mad about Donald Trump pulling out of the “We’ll pay you mullahs to get nukes slightly slower” deal and these same people are now demanding we ditch our primary Arab ally against Tehran. I mean, if I were cynical, I’d say this whole imbroglio was a steaming wheelbarrow of crap.

But I’m not cynical. Their motive for trying to destroy the US-Israeli-Saudi alliance against the mullahs is totally that they care about this sketchy dude who none of us ever heard of before last week. And Chet agrees.  
Chet’s my unicorn.
Because Khashoggi, a political operative who was lately donning the vestments of a "journalist," was killed, it's an international crisis. Or it isn't. It's okay not to care that much. The Saudi royal family and their retainers are horrible people. By some accounts, Khashoggi wasn't a great dude, either. I would strongly prefer that governments not murder their own citizens, but it's been a practice from time immemorial. It's also why I oppose the death penalty in the United States. But I'm not convinced cutting ties with the Saudis, loathsome as they are, is in our interests, either. Back to Schlichter:
I don’t care. And if you think that makes me a bad person, good. Then you won’t try to hang around me.

See, I reserve the right to decide what I care about. My caring, my choice. And I think I’ll care about things that matter to me, not things that liberal snobs care about.

I care about the interests of the United States of America more than the interests of foreign countries.

I care about Americans not being murdered here more than foreigners being murdered somewhere else.

I don’t care about the media’s peeves and whining. It brought all its misfortune upon itself with its bias, incompetence, and general scuzziness.
For now, we have the right not to care. We ought to guard that right with eternal vigilance.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

If you're gonna go ad hominem, do it with style

In a column full of clever put-downs, this one might be the best. Kevin Williamson, the floor is yours:
Senator Warren is a variation on the theme of Rachel Dolezal, a.k.a. Nkechi Amare Diallo, the sanctimonious white lady who masqueraded as a black woman for political gain (she was a person of some consequence as the NAACP president in Spokane), blonde and blue-eyed though she had been until she adopted a cosmetic strategy to appear passably black. (Doležal is Czech for “bum.” Fitting.) Like Senator Warren, she had public ambitions that weren’t entirely well served by her private reality, so she invented a new one.

A milder version of that is playing out this election year in the campaign of Robert Francis O’Rourke of Texas, who has adopted the Hispanic nickname “Beto” as part of his public political persona. O’Rourke is as Mexican American as Senator Warren is Native American and as Rachel Dolezal is black. But Hispanic names poll well in Texas, and so this smug prep-school jackass is playing a backhanded race card against Senator Ted Cruz — the man in the race who is actually Hispanic. If O’Rourke really had wanted to Spanish up the ballot, he at least could have had the honesty to run as “Pinche Gringo,” which is what he is.
Emphasis mine. You probably know what "Gringo" means. "Pinche" has multiple meanings, but generally it's a substitute for an f-bomb. More at the first link.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Benster Picks Your Games--------No D This Week Edition

Hi everyone. D is on assignment this weekend, so I am going to have to do this one solo. This will be fun and something different. Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat (+5) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Gophers normally would be expected to lose in Lincoln, but this year is a little different. Scott Frost, the link to the last golden period of Husker dominance under Osborne, has not produced the magic that Husker fans were expecting. To be fair, Frost has a bare cupboard to work with and some of the underclassmen he has look pretty good. This is a big chance for the Gophers to get a win in a tough venue before the Huskers start to get closer to the glory days. Row Row Row Your Boat Elitely 45, Huskers 10.

Illinois Fighting Illini (+24) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. The performance that Wisconsin pulled off on national television last weekend was highly disappointed. I don't know if the Badgers are that terrible or if Michigan was that good. Thankfully, the Badgers still control the Big Ten West right now if they win out, and it does not matter what Iowa does in conference play the rest of the year. Illinois is a horrible football team and it is clear that Lovie Smith is not a good college coach after all the interest when he was hired a couple years ago. Badgers 60, Illinois 24.

Michigan Hail to the Victors (-7.5) vs. Michigan State Sparty the Spartans. The announcers in Ann Arbor talked about Jim Harbaugh finally getting his signature ranked win during the Badger massacre last week. I disagree and think the biggest problem that the Khaki Man has is beating his rivals. Since coming to Michigan with a lot of hype and fanfare about bringing back the glory days, Harbaugh has only beaten Michigan State or a school in Columbus once. If we hold Harbaugh to the John Cooper standard where you have to beat your rivals, he fails the test and it is not even close to passing. In addition, Sparty is a very tough out in Spartan Stadium for a big game. Sparty 17, Michigan 0.

Minnesota Norsemen (-3.5) vs. New York J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS. At this time, I can't confirm if Kirk Cousins convinced Mike Zimmer to have Olive Garden provide the team meal tonight at the team hotel. We can't have Cousins eating there, because some insecure New Yorker thinks going to Olive Garden should be beneath all of us. The Vikings look to have passed the crisis stage of the season, and I think they should comfortably do that. The Jets look like they will struggle this year, and there will be plenty of purple in the stadium. Vikings 31, Jets 17.

New England Patriots (-2.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck. This game looks a lot better than when the schedule came out. The Bears are leading the NFC North, but this is a prove it game because when you want to be elite, you have to beat the good teams. The Patriots had an emotional come from behind win against the Chiefs last week, and they should be able to comfortably beat the Bears in Chicago. Patriots 35, Da Bearz Still Suck 10.

Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Open thread

Suddenly it's busy again. Ran out of time. Fill the space as you deem appropriate.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Apropos of nothing

Lolita Lebron, who shot up the U.S. Capitol in 1954:

Image result for lolita lebron
She looks familiar
Someone who will be most likely working in the Capitol in 2019:

Image result for alexandria ocasio-cortez
So it goes

In re Taylor Swift

We'll leave it to Bob Newhart:
I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down'.
And yes, I know Swift hasn't been a country music performer for some time. If you watch even five minutes of the CMA, you realize no one has been a country music performer for a long time now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

il miglior fabbro

A lot of skulduggery afoot in Minnesota. Our friend Brad Carlson is on the case:
 At the end of the day, the lust for power is turning people into subhumans. Some of you may believe that my description of these events as political "terrorism" is a bit heavy handed given that people normally reserve such a word for radical Islamists who are willing to die for a cause while taking scores of "infidels" with them. But given these awful activities likely dissuade many from seeking elected office, it's safe to say that it is due in large part to people feeling overcome with terror (i.e. terrorized).
Yep. Brad shares a shocking tale at the link. You should read it all.

Phony Betomania Has Bitten the Dust

Mine, all mine!
On Monday, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke announced that despite the alleged pleas from other Democratic senatorial candidates for him to share some of the funds he has accrued for his campaign, he has no intention to do so, even though their races may be closer than his race against Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

According to The New York Times, Democrats feel that they would have a better chance in winning close Senate races in Missouri, Florida, and Indiana if O’Rourke would share the wealth.

O’Rourke has accumulated a $38.1 million war chest, the largest in Senate history; he informed reporters he will spend it all before Election Day. He sniffed that if his donors want to offer additional support to other candidates, they can fork over more cash, according to The Washington Examiner. O’Rourke said, "I've got to honor the commitment that those who've contributed to this campaign have made to me, and their desire that we use this to win this election. If they want to contribute to someone else, they should do so. If they want to contribute to a campaign that's going to win this historic victory for Texas and the country, then I'm grateful for the contribution and I'm going to make the most of it, so that's what we're focused on."
All that money and he's still gonna lose. I'm amused.

Meanwhile, back in Trumpland

Another shot across the bow at Jeff Sessions:

Maybe Waldo knows
It is quite possible that Ohr is still working at the Justice Department. It's been very quiet on this front lately, especially since Trump said he would declassify all the relevant documentation. I suspect we're going to see some action soon. Getcha popcorn.

You can run, but you can't Heidi

What a maroon:
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election this year, apologized Tuesday for a newspaper ad run by her campaign which, without permission, named some women who had experienced sexual assault and some who were not victims of abuse.

The ad was structured as an open letter to Kevin Cramer, Heitkamp's Republican opponent, chastising him for comments he made during the Supreme Court confirmation process of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In September, Cramer questioned whether the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh disqualified him from serving on the court, even if they were true. Heitkamp voted against Kavanaugh's confirmation.

However, many of the 127 women named in the open letter had not given their permission for their stories to be told.
So, let's help victims, even if they aren't victims, by identifying them. Heitkamp's statement is beyond stupid:
"In an attempt to bring awareness to this issue and push back against dismissive comments toward sexual assault survivors by Kevin Cramer, our campaign worked with victim advocates to identify women who would be willing to sign the letter or share their story. We recently discovered that several of the women's names who were provided to us did not authorize their names to be shared or were not survivors of abuse," Heitkamp said in a statement from her campaign on Tuesday. "I deeply regret this mistake and we are in the process of issuing a retraction, personally apologizing to each of the people impacted by this and taking the necessary steps to ensure this never happens again."
How do you retract something like this? Once the information is out there, it's out there forever. And since some of the women weren't victims, how do you suss out what's true and what's not true?

There's some good news -- I'm reasonably certain this will never happen again, because Heitkamp will be leaving the Senate soon enough.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Channel flipping

It's rarely been an issue most years, because most years the Milwaukee Brewers typically aren't playing meaningful baseball in the middle of October. Yet here they are, leading the National League Championship Series 2-1 following a 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers last night. Meanwhile, at Lambeau Field, the Packers rallied to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 33-30.

If you're a Wisconsin sports fan, what do you watch? I had a previously scheduled event at our parish last night, so I didn't really watch anything until 9 p.m. We were flipping back and forth between the Brewers and the Packers -- while the Benster likes the Brewers, he's more of a Twins fan, so he was more concerned about events at Lambeau. I have my doubts that the Packers are going anywhere this season, so I was more interested in what was happening at Dodger Stadium.

Post-season baseball is a lot more interesting than most regular season games, because the chess match aspect of the game comes to the fore. Brewers manager Craig Counsell is a Milwaukee kid and he's been wheeling and dealing all season, leveraging an outstanding bullpen to great success. It's an odd way to approach the game and traditionalists who value starting pitching are a big aghast, but so far it's worked well. The Brewers essentially have three starting pitchers right now, all journeymen. But they might have the most effective relief pitcher on the planet in Josh Hader. And they have a versatile lineup with good balance and a genuine star in Christian Yelich.

I grew up with the Bambi's Bombers/Harvey's Wallbangers Brewers, who would bludgeon their opponents with one power hitter after another. They never really had enough pitching, though, and in their only visit to the World Series, they fell short as their ace Pete Vuckovich, who was pitching with a torn rotator cuff, ran out of pitches in the end. Since then, the Brewers have only been close one other time, back in 2011, but this team is better than that 2011 group.

Wisconsin is a football-mad state and the Packers are almost a religion there, but this year, I'm grateful for the Brew Crew. Post-season baseball is a wonderful thing.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Eyes open, New Brighton

I'm going to write more about this in the coming days, but the local politicians are at it again. There's an important question on the November ballot and the city council and their minder, Dean Lotter, are trying to mislead the public. No surprise there.


You may have heard about Jamal Khashoggi, purported to be a Saudi journalist, who apparently met a grisly fate in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. So was he? Spengler hears otherwise:
Germany's leading right-of-center daily Die Welt this morning reveals that Jamal Khashoggi was not a journalist, but a high-level operative for the Saudi intelligence service, an intimate of Osama bin Laden, and the nephew of the shadiest of all Arab arms dealers, the infamous Adnan Khashoggi.
I had thought his surname familiar. It's been a long time since Adnan Khashoggi, who died in 2017, was in the news, but back in the 1980s he cut a wide swath. There's more:
So much for the whining in the Establishment media about freedom of the press and protection of the rights of journalists. The presumed-dead Khashoggi was a top-level spook who swore fealty to some of the Arab world's nastiest elements, and who played a high-stakes game in Saudi spookdom. We don't know why he disappeared, but we know what we don't know.

Among other things, we know that Khashoggi was bitterly opposed to the new Saudi government's rapprochement with the state of Israel. As a Muslim Brotherhood member, he backed Palestinian intransigence.
He was also a partisan, apparently. The linked article refers to a piece in Die Welt, which has more:
Die Welt: What do you suspect, what could have happened to Khashoggi?

Difraoui: If he was murdered, then I would be surprised if his journalistic activities were the only reason. The Saudis own half of the international Arab media. They have generally built up a very effective media shield. As a journalist and activist, Khashoggi may have been extremely annoying, but no real threat. But Khashoggi knew a lot. He was not just the media officer of intelligence chief Prince Turki. He was one of his main advisers and was said to have worked for the secret service for a while. Khashoggi was extremely familiar with sensitive issues of the kingdom. And he was a member of the super-elite. He might have known too much.

Die Welt: What sort of knowledge could have become dangerous for him?

Difraoui: Corruption or past knowledge about links to extremism. Above all, however, the internal conflicts or misconduct of the royal family. If the secret service protects the security of the country, it must also know what is happening in the ruling family. The current, often unpredictable crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is currently the really strong man in the country. But he has also made enemies in the family. What if his father Salman dies? Then Mohammed will probably have to fight for his position once again. Perhaps Khashoggi's knowledge was dangerous in this regard. His old patron, Prince Turki, wanted to position himself as Crown Prince. He has surprisingly not commented on the case so far. Turki knows almost all internals of the family.
There's no point pretending that the Saudis aren't nasty people, but it's not clear why we would want to intervene there. We're doing enough intervening already. Back to Spengler:
There are no good guys in Saudi Arabia, just bad guys and worse guys. This, after all, is a country ruled by a family, and its family politics often recall Game of Thrones. I condone nothing and endorse no-one, but I don't believe it's America's job to fix the problems of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I'm not interested in bad guys or good guys, just in our guys vs. their guys. So a bit of caution is warranted in drawing conclusions from the Khashoggi affair. We don't know what happened and I don't trust the intelligence Establishment to tell us.
I don't, either. Meanwhile, the usually invisible Betty McCollum turns up making the Israel is apartheid argument:
As USCPR’s Executive Director Yousef Munayyer put it last week in a fundraising email to his group’s supporters and donors:

Ten days ago, a sitting Member of Congress used the ‘a’ word: apartheid…Smack dab in the middle of our three-day conference, where more than 550 people from around the country came together for 40+ workshops, panels, and artistic performances that organized, energized, and amplified the incredible work people like you are doing, history was made. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) openly, and correctly, named Israel for what it is…This. Is. Huge.”

Munayyer is absolutely right that what McCollum said is a big deal. But best I can tell, the mainstream media has completely ignored this story.

Basically, it’s important because it marks the first time that a U.S. lawmaker has publicly equated the only Jewish state on the planet, and the only country in the Middle East that provides its citizens with rights and liberties that other people in the region can only dream of, with the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa.
This apparently happened at an event in St. Paul last month. Didn't hear a word about it in the local press. McCollum doesn't really need any help to win an election, because this congressional district is about as blue as it gets. It's highly unlikely any Republican will defeat her, but she's an interesting case. It will be interesting to watch what happens in the next cycle. I'm guessing another DFLer may challenge her now. More, much more, at the link.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Urban Liar Edition

Old dude, I have been waiting a long time to make a Very Special Comment on the Urban Meyer situation.

I thought I heard sawing going on out back. Figured you were building a scaffold of some sort.

It's going to be epic, and I am not afraid to drop the hot takes like they are going out of style. We also will discuss the Khaki Man and if he can finally break through and win a big game to justify the insane contract he is getting paid by Michigan.

I sense controversy.

I feel the HYYYYYYYYYYYYYPPPPPEEE!, and it is time to watch me work.

Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat (+30.5) vs. A School in Columbus. Time for a Very Special Comment concerning Urban Liar. There is no doubt that Urban can win games, and he has a long track record of giving teams a huge amount of success, and that is tough to do. What really annoys me is that this success has given him an excuse to let him be pretende to be above reproach, as long as he keeps bringing money and wins to his employers. That's not how it is supposed to work, kids. In the era of #MeToo, and especially after recent political events have shown, Ohio State continues to double down on him and keep pushing him as a face of the university, who relies on the state of Ohio and donors to keep their doors open. All of this trouble started when Meyer did not do enough to handle the matter about Zach Smith, who was abusing his former wife. Zach Smith has a grandfather any Big Ten or national college football fan knows. That would be Buckeye coaching legend Earle Bruce, the man who gave young Urban Meyer his first job in football. I'm one voice among many, and I certainly have been a harsh Buckeye football critic. That being said, if Ohio State and the Big Ten office had any sense of doing what is right, they should have punished Urban a lot more, or even canned him right away. That sounds harsh, but Meyer made respecting women one of his core rules for his football team. Apparently it isn't. Ohio State as a Big Ten school has made a horrible mistake by suspending him for cupcake games. The message here is not #MeToo, but rather #It'sGoodToBeKing. What we've learned is that if Urban is a good coach, he can get away with just about anything in his work hours. I'm frustrated because I have enjoyed watching Dwayne Haskins and the Ohio State offense, and these players have done nothing wrong and should not have to see their coach embarrassingly break his rules and taint a beautiful team. It makes me sick how Ohio State makes a team that should be celebrated and a national title contender tainted with the grime of a scandal that should have been corrected and ended with a termination.

Now, we can talk about the actual game. Ohio State has one of the best Big Ten offenses I have ever seen, and they should be 12-0 heading into Indy for the league title game. That being said, the Gophers are the team playing with house money. If Fleck loses this game, nobody is going to hold that against him. I think the Gophers have to go for broke here, and try to never punt here and go for touchdowns every single time. In addition, every single time they kickoff, go onside and make Urban Liar have to respond to that. I would love to give the Ohio State players the win, but in light of their horrible head coach and his double standards about his rules, I would never allow myself to do that. Row Row Row Your Boat Elitely 24, Fire Urban Liar During the Game On Live Television 11.

I don't disagree with your assessment of Meyer, but because I'm old and cynical I'm not surprised it went down that way. Unfortunately, the Gophers are going to get their butts kicked today. Buckeyes 49, Gophers 14.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (+9.5) vs. Michigan Wolverines. Meanwhile, the Wolverines are facing their most difficult test at home this year. Wisconsin has recovered nicely from their disaster of an afternoon against BYU. The Wolverines are looking to feast on the thin Badger defense, but the problem is that Jim From State Farm builds his teams to run the ball, and not to go Air Raid. I think this game is going to be a lot closer than the experts think. If you remember, in 2016 the Badgers played a better Wolverine team very close in Ann Arbor. Badgers 24, Michigan 10.

Tough game. Can the Badgers defend the pass? A pass rush would help. Not sure they can get one going. I think it's close, but. . . Wolverines 27, Badgers 24.

Raising Arizona Cardinals (+10.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are one of the teams in the NFL that honestly makes me question who the real team is. The Purple looked good in Philly, but their last home game was one of the worst efforts I have ever seen a Mike Zimmer team deliver. One wildcard is that Sam Bradford has good reason to want to give Zimmer a little bit of revenge. Bradford is the former Viking quarterback who was cast aside in order for Zimmer to get media darling Kirk Cousins. I'm going to be honest with you guys, I still question the move. Cousins has done well, but Bradford is the one that had success with the Vikings and was a good quarterback here. I think the Vikings are too strong, but this will be our first look at how well Cousins does against someone who he took a job away from. Vikings 35, Cardinals 10.

I'm not sure Bradford will even see the field. The Cardinals are a hot mess right now. Vikings should handle this one easily. Vikings 38, Cardinals 17.

San Francisco 49ers (+9.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. The Packers have been deemed a team in crisis, which is quite frankly an absurd notion. Yes, the Packers lost to the Lions because they couldn't make a field goal to save their lives. However, the Packers offense looked good and moved the ball. The Niners are without Jimmy G and have struggled on offense. I like to see the Packers get a good win and coast into the bye week with an eye to improve themselves and get their wounded a chance to heal. Packers 30, Niners 9.

You've identified the formula, Seabiscuit. Can the Packers get it done? I think they will. Packers 31, 49ers 21.

Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck (-3) vs. Miami Tuna Net Victims. The Bears are the surprise leaders of the NFC North and only had one bad quarter of play that will haunt them forever. They should easily win on Sunday, since the Dolphins are no great shakes this year and seem to offer very little value to their ticketholders. I think the heat might be a concern, but nothing that can't be dealt with in practice. Bears 50, Dolphins 0.

On the ol' bandwagon, eh? This one is going to be a problem. The Dolphins are at home and better than you think. The Bears do look formidable, but the heat and the layoff may actually hurt them. Dolphins 24, Bears 21.

Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out!

Friday, October 12, 2018

It's not an angry mob, they shrieked

Oh, don't call it a mob:

Just don't.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

This will go down on your permanent record

A third-grade teacher dishes on a White House official:
I can still picture him sitting in my classroom.

Do you remember that character in Peanuts, the one called Pig Pen, with the dust cloud and crumbs flying all around him? That was Stephen Miller at 8. I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk — he always had stuff mashed up in there. He was a strange dude. I remember he would take a bottle of glue — we didn't have glue sticks in those days — and he would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.
You should hear what Julie Swetnick says about him. But speaking truth to power is a tough gig:
At the end of the year, I wrote all my concerns — and I had a lot of them — in his school record. When the school principal had a conference with Stephen's parents, the parents were horrified. So the principal took some white-out and blanked out all my comments. I wish I could remember what I wrote, but this was 25 years ago. I've taught a lot of third-graders since then. Of course, Stephen wasn't political then — it wasn't until later that he started to make waves. 
Seriously, what kind of third-grade teacher would tell such a tale? Not to put too fine a point on it, but these people really suck.

Lessons learned, yet again

Another former #NeverTrumper sees the dawn:
Kavanaugh was a normal establishment Republican pick. Destroying him had nothing to do with opposing Trump’s particular flaws. This was about annihilating anyone who gets in the Democrats’ way, especially anyone who threatens their illegitimate Supreme Court policy wins. It was a declaration of war on every conservative, no matter how respected, reasonable, and mainstream.

There is no refuge from this sort of totalizing, destructive politics. The Republican rejection of Merrick Garland was political hardball; the sliming of Kavanaugh was categorically different and much worse. The Democrats crossed the line from policy disagreement to personal destruction, and in doing so they nuked any middle ground between themselves and conservative Trump skeptics. And they put every conservative on notice: You could be next.
And the home truth:
Capitulation to the outrage mob is contemptible, but it has become the norm, with lives ruined professionally and personally. The worst aspects of the online mob, the campus tribunal, and the gutter press have been embraced by the leaders of the Democratic Party, and they think any and everyone on the right is fair game. Those determined to believe the worst about the accused also believe the worst about those standing up for the rights of the accused, and want to destroy them as well. Dissent will not be tolerated—those who dare speak out against the witch-hunt will be burned as witches themselves.

I wish this was not so. I would rather be arguing about the Enlightenment than jumping on the Trump train. As a writer and scholar I want to persuade, not to destroy. I do not want American politics to be like this.

But as a voter who recognizes the unfortunate realities of our politics, I believe supporting Trump has become the responsible choice. Things may change, but right now Trump’s policies are better than I expected, he is not the authoritarian some feared, and he does not want to destroy me and mine. It isn’t much, but since Trump stands between me and those who would ruin me, he will have to do.
You have to deal with the world as it is, not as you would wish it to be. You may not want to fight, but there's a war on.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lessons learned

In a lengthy (but deeply useful) summation of the Kavanaugh aftermath, Victor Davis Hanson deftly explains what I got wrong in 2016:
The preppy Kavanaugh — by class, education, comportment, and prior employment — was about as pure a Bushite as one could imagine. His opinions were doctrinaire conservative and traditionalist, in the sense of interpreting rather than making laws.

To destroy a judge like Kavanaugh reflected that the New Left’s hatred of Trump had always been incidental to its essential loathing of conservatives in general. For a remnant group of Never Trumpers to oppose Kavanaugh, then, reflected the elevation of their own personal hatred for Trump over the critical elevation of a principled jurist to the Supreme Court. Supposedly, Kavanaugh was soiled by a Trump handprint, and therefore it was better to have a more liberal court than see Trump get any credit for taking the court in a direction only previously dreamed of by conservatives.

Never Trumpers had always assured their former conservative colleagues that Trump would either fail or prove liberal. But he has done neither. And as far as his demonstrable crudity and uncouthness, the hearings showed that the Democrats were far crueler and crass in deed than Trump was in word. So perhaps half of the small minority of Republican Never Trumpers, in horror at the Antifa tactics of the Democrats, retreated to the old adage of “hang together or hang separately.” Those who doubled down by joining leftists in opposing the Kavanaugh nomination revealed that they have crossed their Rubicon and now are either orphaned or unabashedly part of the new progressive Democratic party — at least until their useful obsequiousness no longer serves current progressive agendas.
Emphasis mine. The lie I told myself back in 2016, when this feature had a NeverTrump badge, was that Trump was simply pulling a scam and that his lack of scruples would lead to ruin. But nearly two years on, it's become clear that Trump, for all his crudity and uncouthness, has been the man for the moment. He's always going to say things that will make me cringe, but despite it all his heart is in the right place and his instincts are a lot more sound than those of his starboard side critics, myself included.

And right on cue, Hillary Clinton reemerged yesterday and drove the point home:

Civility can only return if Hillary and her cabal gets power back. People are always docile if there's a boot on their throat. And let's not pretend civility, in the Left's construct, is anything other than a boot on the throat.

Can you think of anyone on the Left who has behaved honorably in recent weeks? Is there anyone on that side of the aisle who wouldn't crush people who get in their way, if only afforded the opportunity?

My great concern is that conservatives of all stripes will enjoy the Kavanaugh victory and then stop fighting the Left. It's the default position of many conservatives, who are involved in politics only because they are required to be. The Left never sleeps and never relents. There is an election in less than a month. The Left must be defeated again.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Mostly open thread

Plenty to write about, but I got so busy reading this morning that I've run out of time. A few random thoughts to get us started:

  • Milwaukee Brewers fans haven't had much to be proud of over a long and sorry history, but this year's team looks like it could make it back to the World Series for the first time since 1982. We've been talking about 1982 a lot lately, it seems.
  • The Creepy Porn Lawyer isn't helping the Democrats very much, is he?
  • We're in the middle of a four-day rainstorm. This hasn't been the worst autumn I can remember, but it's right up there.
The floor is yours.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Nice 'n' Neat -- Conclusion

Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court and will be hearing cases tomorrow. We all have a sense of how he got there, but to put a cap on this particular saga, I want to revisit why his accuser's story never made any sense to me. I don't know that I'll ever be able to prove any of these suppositions, but I make them because they are the only way I can figure out what happened.

  • I'm almost certain the event never happened. No one remembers it happening, including all of the witnesses Christine Blasey Ford identified. That, in and of itself, is reason enough to doubt it.
  • Ford's friend, Leland Keyser, does not know Brett Kavanaugh. That makes sense, because she's two years younger than Kavanaugh.
  • If you remember your high school years, and nearly everyone does, do you remember attending parties, or even informal gatherings, where the girls are two years younger than the guys? In general, you would hang out with kids in your own graduating class. Some girls pursued upperclassmen, but in general that interest was reciprocated only if the girls were, well, hot. We knew who the attractive girls were in the younger classes, but we were focused on the girls in our own class. I think that's the same dynamic just about everywhere.
  • It's difficult to find pictures of Christine Blasey Ford from that era, because most of the information about her life was somehow scrubbed from the internet before her emergence, which in itself was an interesting development. But from the few pictures I've seen, young Christine Blasey was not the sort of girl that would turn the heads of Kavanaugh and his pals. Her friend Keyser was more attractive, but she didn't know Kavanaugh, so it strikes me as implausible.
  • It's been reported that young Christine Blasey was dating Kavanaugh's friend, Christopher "Squi" Garrett. As far as I know, no one has independently confirmed that relationship actually happened, including, crucially, Garrett himself. And considering Garrett was prominently mentioned by conservative operative Ed Whelan, he'd have reason to speak on the matter. And he's said nothing publicly. The FBI did talk to Garrett, but we're not likely to find out what he said to them.
  • The date that Sheldon "Clouseau" Whitehouse and his pals settled on, July 1, 1982, was a Thursday. The next two days, Kavanaugh's calendar says he went to the beach with Garrett. Does it seem likely that, had Kavanaugh attempted something sexual with Ford, that Garrett would have hung out with Kavanaugh immediately thereafter, especially if Garrett and Ford were really dating? Here's the calendar:
A very important date

Setting aside all the political arguments, the story never made any sense to me. But after 36 years, there's nothing nice 'n' neat about it. 

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Justice Kavanaugh

A quick sum-up:
  • He needed to be seated because if the Democrats and their allies had got by with this, we'd be endorsing screaming mob rule and abdicating due process. That would have been a disaster.
  • I'm not a fan of Kavanaugh's jurisprudence. I am hoping that his most recent experience will chasten him a bit on the value of the 4th Amendment. Guess we'll find out.
  • I think this was a moment of clarity for the nation, though. Everyone was paying attention and now a lot of people see how the Democrats behave. Lindsey Graham said it best:

  • I'm not aware of any Democrat who has publicly expressed any misgivings about throwing due process out the window. Perhaps there is one, but that individual was not on the stage in Washington this month. The Democratic Party, as it is currently comprised, is corrupt to the core. It must be defeated at every turn. This does not mean the Republican Party is a force for good; far from it. But the malevolence on display throughout this saga demonstrates conclusively that the Democrats are unfit for public office.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games----Desperation Avoidance Edition

Well, old dude, I bet you're happy with the baseball so far!


Good grief. What is wrong with you? That's just awful!

Well, I figure highlights from the early 1980s are in the newspapers these days, so why not share what it was like?

I never want to go back in time to the early 80s, no matter what Phoebe Cates looked like in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Anyway, we're going to see how happy the Wisconsin sports fans are with their football this weekend. And, as always, with a heaping helping of HYYYYYYYYPPPPE! Watch me work!

Iowa Hawkeyes (-7.5) vs. Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat. The Gophers are definitely not brewing right now. Last we saw them, they were getting their multi-striped tails kicked in College Park, Maryland. Now come the Hawkeyes, hated invaders from the south. The rub for P. J. Fleck is he needs to win these rivalry games. No Pig, no Axe, no good! Iowa is a well-coached team that reflects its leader Kirk Ferentz quite well. They do things properly and without a lot of flash. Our man Fleck is all about the flash. Gophers 24, Iowa 13.

The Pig wants to stay in Minneapolis? Sure, why not? But will it happen? The Gophers looked to be outclassed in the athleticism department against the Terps, but Iowa doesn't have the dazzling athletes. But they are hard-nosed. And this will be a hard-nosed game. Iowa 27, Gophers 20.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (+17.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. This might sound weird, but this game could be the most difficult game on the Badgers's schedule this year. Nebraska may be having a down year, but they have a lot of pride. The Badgers still look like they're trying to figure things out and had a narrow escape from Iowa City two weeks ago. I also worry about looking ahead to Michigan. I think the Badgers win, but this will be a dogfight. Badgers 20, Nebraska 17.

You did notice the Cornhuskers have lost to Troy and Purdue, right? I sure did. Nebraska has a lot of speed, but they can't use it if they are getting steamrolled. Time for the Badgers to put that offensive line in gear. Badgers 38, Nebraska 20.

Minnesota Vikings (+3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings are in deep trouble this week. Philly is a tough place to play and it's not clear that the Vikings remember how to play defense. Did you see Anthony Barr chasing Cooper Kupp? It was ridiculous! This might sound melodramatic, but Mike Zimmer has to prove he can handle a turnaround. I know that sounds harsh, but it's clear that Vikings are a different team than they were last year. The Eagles are going to look different with Carson Wentz at the controls, too. I think Doug Pedersen is the best head coach in the league right now. Eagles 44, Vikings 21.

I think the Vikings do better than that. Not much, mind you. They are weak on the lines right now because of injuries and overall attrition. All the skill players who hide behind the lines have no place to hide right now. Eagles 34, Vikings 24.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-1.5) vs. Detroit LOLions. This is gonna be a weird game. Detroit is kinda schizo, frankly -- they get blown out by the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS at home, but then handle the Patriots with ease. The question arises, yet again:

And since they are the Lions, of course they're getting on my nerves. The Packers rebounded last week against Buffalo, but are going to be shorthanded offensively. Old dude's favorite, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, will actually be part of the game plan this week. I think the Packers can win this week, but it's not going be smooth. Packers 28, LOLions 20.

That's surprisingly plausible. Frankly, the NFL confuses me these days. I'll go with the default. Packers 31, Lions 24.

Enjoy your football and baseball this week! Ben out!

Nice 'n' Neat -- Part Four

He said, hey Big G you said there's my problem
I'm not so sure 'bout what's true
He said I'll let you in on my big secret, Ray
The final truth is - there is no truth, and

Na-na-na-na, bop shoo wop shoo wop
Na-na-na-na, Oh-hey-yeah

That's the conclusion of the song "Nice 'n' Neat." The final truth is there is no truth. But we don't really believe that, do we? We're not talking about truth right now, though. The difference, as it always does, hangs on the question of truth vs. validity. Something that is valid flows directly from its premises. At bottom, everything we've seen from the Left in this entire saga flows from this construct:

It's the duty of good people to stop bad people from harming others
Conservatives generally, and Republicans in particular, are bad people
Brett Kavanaugh is both Conservative and Republican
Brett Kavanaugh must be stopped

If you believe, as many do, that this world is the only world we have, the political process is paramount. And if you believe people are bad, they must be stopped. For most of my life, I didn't believe political opponents were bad people per se. Having watched the way the political opponents of Brett Kavanaugh have behaved, I'm less likely to believe that now.

Of course, people who believe Kavanaugh must be stopped by any means necessary don't cavil. I don't see anyone on the Left who worries about the precedents that will follow this moment. The only question is winning. And if you have to burn down the village to save it, break out the ol' Zippo.

More to come.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Nice 'n' Neat -- Part Three

We're approaching the endgame in the Brett Kavanaugh saga. His sins, the ones he committed and several he almost certainly didn't commit, are out there now, forever. It won't matter what the truth is, really. You can still find people who think Alger Hiss was innocent. We've said it before:

I came of age in the same era as Brett Kavanaugh. Our paths never crossed; there was never a chance they would, really. We at least one similarity -- we both went to Catholic high schools. The difference between Georgetown Prep and the Xavier High School of the late 1970s-early 1980s is significant, though. While some of the parents who sent their kids to XHS were wealthy, many weren't. Kavanaugh and his family had significantly more resources than I ever did and he was able to leverage those resources, the greatest of which is proximity to the corridors of power. I don't begrudge him that; what would be the point?

For the past two days, I've relayed a few anecdotes about my youth. None of what happened then has anything to do with how I've lived my life since those days. Once I met the future Mrs. D, our lives have been on a mostly steady progression to the middle of the middle class. We've never been wealthy and we still have to talk about money most months, but we've been able to send our kids to college and support their activities along the way. We've been mostly immune from economic hardship and our health has been good enough.

Like Kavanaugh, my 50th birthday is in the rearview mirror. He's on the verge of being a Supreme Court justice; I'm a middle manager. My past will mostly remain hidden because middle managers are a dime a dozen. No one really cares what I did 35 years ago, because it's not relevant to anyone, even my immediate family. What Kavanaugh did, or didn't do, 35 years ago isn't relevant, either. But we print the legend.

More to come.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Nice 'n' Neat -- Part Two

We were talking about parties and stupid behavior. Let's move ahead, to the summer of 1983. A bunch of us went to a drive-in movie. We brought beer and cherry bounce, a homemade concoction made from cherries infused in brandy. For reasons that still seem odd to me, one of the people along with us that day was an older woman who had been one of our teachers in high school. She was single and we were all drunk. I don't precisely remember the sequence of events, but as the night went on we left the drive-in and ended up at a tavern. Somehow, she and I started to make out, right in the bar. It started to get a bit more intense and, suddenly, she had enough and burst out of the bar and went home. And that was that. Nothing ever happened with her again, although I saw her numerous times over the rest of the summer.

The next summer, I remember going to a party about a mile from my house. This party was completely out of control -- booze and pot and cocaine were all available. Somehow I got into a conversation with a guy who claimed to be a drug dealer and, in a drunken stupor, I remember discussing the possibility of helping him sell drugs at my college. In my drunken state, that seemed like a fine idea. I never saw the guy again. I walked home and enjoyed the hangover I'd earned the next day. Later on, I found out one of my friends who had been at the party got busted for drunken driving.

Those were two events that, had things gone a little differently, could have significantly altered the course of my life. I am certain there are people in my life who could recall these two events. If I were a public figure and one of these individuals were looking to monetize their relationship, or to settle a score, it would be relatively easy for that individual to draw up an affidavit and speak of my deviant ways, now 35 years ago.

More to come.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Nice 'n' Neat -- Part One

Almost forty years ago now, I heard these lyrics, from a song by the Boomtown Rats:

Bits and pieces I remember slightly, it was a long time ago
We'd have our hot and holy conversations
And solve the problems of the drunken world

This was about 1980; I was 16 most of that year, but it was never an issue to get alcohol in the Wisconsin of that era. And we'd have hot and holy conversations, although sometimes we'd fall short of that. We didn't get drunk all the time, but when alcohol was available, we availed ourselves of it. Sometimes it would be in somebody's basement. We would also rent motel rooms; I remember playing penny ante poker at Bloomer's Motel with some buddies and mixing sloe gin with orange-flavored Mister Misty slush drinks from the Dairy Queen. Class all the way.

Later, I  remember going to a party at the Guest House Inn the following year, in which a number of my drunken classmates trashed a hotel room. I remember leaving quickly as the mayhem started to ramp up. I don't believe anyone actually got arrested for the incident, because the person who booked the hotel room paid cash and booked it under the name of Duane Roland, who was the guitar player for Molly Hatchet. The garbled police report that ran in the local paper a few days later claimed Appleton police were looking for a "Milwaukee woman" in connection with the vandalism. Don't think they ever solved that case.

That was 1981. That was an actual crime I witnessed. I was there because the girl I liked at the time was there. She wasn't involved in trashing the hotel room, either. The statute of limitations has long passed. I still wouldn't identify the classmates involved; none of them have gone on to a life of crime, as far as I know, and even though there would be no legal consequences, it wouldn't be good form to rat them out now, now would it? Some of them are now grandparents; most of them have had good lives. I'm sure the insurance at the Guest House Inn paid for the vandalism.

More to come.

Monday, October 01, 2018

The Mitchell Report

No, not the baseball one. The one that Rachel Mitchell, central figure in the Kavanaugh Klash, put together. WaPo has the document, not that any of Christine Blasey Ford's partisans will accept it:

The main observations, although you should absolutely read the whole thing:
Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of when the alleged assault happened.
• In a July 6 text to the Washington Post, she said it happened in the “mid 1980s.”
• In her July 30 letter to Senator Feinstein, she said it happened in the “early 80s.”
• Her August 7 statement to the polygrapher said that it happened one “high school
summer in early 80’s,” but she crossed out the word “early” for reasons she did not
• A September 16 Washington Post article reported that Dr. Ford said it happened in the
“summer of 1982.”
• Similarly, the September 16 article reported that notes from an individual therapy session
in 2013 show her describing the assault as occurring in her “late teens.” But she told the
Post and the Committee that she was 15 when the assault allegedly occurred. She has not
turned over her therapy records for the Committee to review.
• While it is common for victims to be uncertain about dates, Dr. Ford failed to explain
how she was suddenly able to narrow the timeframe to a particular season and particular
She had help, of course. Who helped her? We're not likely to find out until much later. Back to Mitchell:
Dr. Ford has struggled to identify Judge Kavanaugh as the assailant by name.
• No name was given in her 2012 marriage therapy notes.
• No name was given in her 2013 individual therapy notes.
• Dr. Ford’s husband claims to recall that she identified Judge Kavanaugh by name in
2012. At that point, Judge Kavanaugh’s name was widely reported in the press as a
potential Supreme Court nominee if Governor Romney won the presidential election.
• In any event, it took Dr. Ford over thirty years to name her assailant. Delayed disclosure of abuse is common so this is not dispositive.
Dispositive? No. But does it raise questions? Mais oui. More:

  • When speaking with her husband, Dr. Ford changed her description of the incident to become less specific.
  • Dr. Ford testified that she told her husband about a “sexual assault” before they were married.
  • But she told the Washington Post that she informed her husband that she was the victim of “physical abuse” at the beginning of their marriage.
  • She testified that, both times, she was referring to the same incident.
  • Dr. Ford has no memory of key details of the night in question—details that could help corroborate her account.
  • She does not remember who invited her to the party or how she heard about it.
  • She does not remember how she got to the party.
  • She does not remember in what house the assault allegedly took place or where that house was located with any specificity.

Specificity would doom her account, most likely. Back to Mitchell:
Perhaps most importantly, she does not remember how she got from the party back to her
• Her inability to remember this detail raises significant questions.
• She told the Washington Post that the party took place near the Columbia Country
Club. The Club is more than 7 miles from her childhood home as the crow flies,
and she testified that it was a roughly 20-minute drive from her childhood home.
• She also agreed for the first time in her testimony that she was driven somewhere
that night, either to the party or from the party or both.
• Dr. Ford was able to describe hiding in the bathroom, locking the door, and
subsequently exiting the house. She also described wanting to make sure that she
did not look like she had been attacked.
• But she has no memory of who drove her or when. Nor has anyone come forward
to identify him or herself as the driver.
• Given that this all took place before cell phones, arranging a ride home would not
have been easy. Indeed, she stated that she ran out of the house after coming
downstairs and did not state that she made a phone call from the house before she
did, or that she called anyone else thereafter.
Although Mitchell is circumspect, the answer is clear -- it's a tale that doesn't add up. There's a lot more to read, including the frankly bizarre memory lapses that surround Ford's interactions with the Washington Post and with the Democrats who greased the skids.