Friday, January 31, 2003

That Is Sooo 1916

Iraq will be another....


At least that's what Steven Den Beste believes in his post analyzing (or more accurately scoffing at) the latest reports on Iraqi defense preparations:

And there was this, the article lede, the most preposterous idea of all:

Iraq's leader has warned those who attack the country that they will face successive lines of trenches before they are "crushed totally".

Trenches? They think they're going to defeat us with a prepared defense made up of trenches? What does he think this is, World War I?

The solution to trenches is cluster bombs or thermobaric weapons. Cluster bombs burst relatively high and distributes what amounts to hundreds of hand grenades over a wide area. They fall into anything, including trenches and foxholes, and then explode and kill anyone nearby. They can be dropped by heavy bombers or fighter-bombers or be delivered by MLRS.

And everyone now knows about thermobaric weapons (sometimes called "Fuel-Air Explosives") which generate an immense concussion in a huge area, and not incidentally consume all the oxygen there. Anyone not blown apart by the shock, or incinerated by the flame, has a good chance of smothering afterwards. And a trench is no defense. (Or, if you want to fight on the cheap, you use napalm.)

Nor is any of this kind of prepared defense going to be any surprise. We'll have spotted any defenses like that long since with photo-recon, and the ground pounders will know exactly where they are long before they get near. They'll stand well back, use a bullhorn to give the defenders one (count 'em, one) chance to surrender, and if they don't take it, then the bombs start falling.

In the 21st century, a trench is nothing more than a pre-dug grave.

The Next Gretz?

Last Friday, we had the pleasure of watching fifteen year old phenom Sydney Crosby play hockey. Crosby is from Nova Scotia and has been widely hailed as the next Gretzky. This season he is playing for Shattuck St. Mary's --a prep school in Faribault, Minnesota--and they were facing Benidle-St. Margaret's high school which has emerged in recent years as a powerhouse.

Crosby did not disappoint as he tallied five points in leading his team to a 7-2 victory. When we arrived at the game we didn't know which number he wore but within five minutes it was apparent that #9 was by far the best player on the ice. Perhaps even more impressive than his five points were a couple of passes he made including a back handed cross ice saucer pass that had NHL written all over it. Remember this kid's name. You might be hearing it a lot in the future.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

You Deserve Bumper Stickers!

The “Deserve Victory!” bumper sticker promotion has started to take off. I wouldn’t call it “wild fire” just yet, but there’s definitely something smoldering in the deep, dark woods of the Left’s monopoly on slogan-related speech over Iraq. We’ve gotten responses from people all over the U.S. of A. (A big thanks goes out to the lovely and dynamically talented Rachel Lucas and the brilliant and insightful Mitch Berg for their linkage support.)

Good news, there’s still time for you to order a first edition run of the stickers. Of course the first edition will be the most prized to future historians and collectors. Your purchase of one now may someday result in one of your distant descendents appearing on the Antiques Roadshow and uttering the words: “My goodness is it really worth that much? I had no idea!” Also, since the Elder is insisting that the second run include a photo of him dressed like the Statue of Liberty, I can’t guarantee that the aesthetic appeal of our current stickers will remain indefinitely.

More good news, the “Deserve Victory!” bumper stickers are now available via mail order without the need for a credit card payment. If you’d like to receive a sticker and prefer to pay via check or even cash money, please click here for details.

Thanks again for supporting Fraters Libertas.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Alphabet Street

Northeast Minneapolis's own font maker Chank Diesel has come up with the American Propaganda Fontpack. In Chank's words:

It's war time, folks, time to break out the propaganda. If we're gonna win this War Against Terrorism, we need some good posters! Chank's got a surplus of fonts to help communicate important war-time messages. Whether your design purpose is to instill fear or boost pride, you'll find a great selection of type styles in the Chank Propaganda Pak.

The pack contains Chank fonts such as "Liquorstore"; "Husker Doo" and "Husker Don't"; "King George"; and "Braingelt." (That last one is accompanied by "Braingelt Premium", natch.) So whether you're a Deserve Victory! hawk or a No War! turn-the-other-cheek - all of you Do It Yourselfers out there deserve the best in fonts for your design needs. Check Chank out, keep that money local, and feel free to giggle out loud.

How Many Allies Are Enough?

This section of last night's Democratic rebuttal to the SOTU by Gov. Gary Locke caught my eye:

We support the president in the course he has followed so far — working with Congress, working with the United Nations, insisting on strong and unfettered inspections. We need allies today in 2003, just as much as we needed them in Desert Storm and just as we needed them on D-Day in 1944, when American soldiers, including my father, fought to vanquish the Nazi threat. We must convince the world that Saddam Hussein is not America's problem alone — he's the world's problem. We urge President Bush to stay this course, for we are far stronger when we stand with other nations than when we stand alone.

Ah yes D-Day and the grand coalition that liberated Europe. Let's see now that would be United States, British, and Canadian troops who landed on June 6th in German occupied France. Oh sure there were some Free French forces involved and other assorted countries pitched in a frigate here or a transport there but the heavy lifting that day was done by us, the Brits, and the Canucks.

Today, when we move against Iraq it will be us, the Brits, and the Aussies making up the vast majority of forces involved. Other than swapping the Aussies for the Canucks we're talking about essentially the same countries invading Iraq as invaded occuiped France on D-Day. But today we're accussed of "unilaterism" just because the French and Germans aren't on board.

We don't need any more allies today. We've got enough to do the job just as we did nearly sixty years ago.

Who knew that radical left wing politics could be so much fun!

As conservatives, we often forget that women tend to view politics quite differently than we do. With the notable exceptions of Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham and a few others, most women tend to lean left and are often at best ambivalent toward conservatives and our ideas.

I try to keep this fact in mind when perusing the web, looking for pieces that might have special interest for women (and my often sad attempts to date them).

Well ladies, I’m happy to let you know there is a contest you may be interested in. It’s called the Women, Raise Your Voices Contest, brought to us by the Women Of Color Resource Center in Oakland:


10 Reasons Why Women Should Oppose the US "War on Terrorism"

It's a CONTEST!!!!! Send in your reasons why women should oppose the US "war on terrorism." Vote on the best reasons each month! Win great prizes!

The Gender Analysis Working Group, convened by the Women of Color Resource Center, has started us off:

10 Reasons Why Women Should Oppose the US "War on Terrorism"

1. War, no matter how high-tech, kills civilians. Women and children become "collateral damage."

2. War and militarism subject women and girls to rape and sexual violence; the culture of aggression encourages domestic violence against women.

3. Weapons of mass destruction, produced, used and sold by the US worldwide, poison the environment, causing miscarriages, birth defects and cancers.

4. Governments in Israel, Colombia and the Philippines are using the US "war on terrorism" as an excuse to strike out at political enemies, violating the human rights of women in war zones.

5. The "war on terrorism" is a cover for US economic, political and military domination, which increases women's poverty worldwide.

6. When Arab, Muslim, South Asian and immigrant men are locked up without cause and without charges, women shoulder the burden of sustaining their families and communities.

7. Women's human rights are endangered when civil liberties are trampled.

8. US war industries reap enormous profits, while programs that benefit women and girls, such as healthcare, education, welfare and childcare face budget cuts.

9. Bush's war fuels racism worldwide, negatively impacting U.S. women of color and women of the Third World.

10. The oppression of Afghan women was used to justify the "war on terrorism," but the Pentagon cannot liberate Afghan women -- or any other women.

With that nice head start, one thoughtful contributor, Andrea, offered this:

Our country's Supreme Law of the Land, what we live by, suffer by, and die by was created and established by our Founding Fathers: men who have been glorified by history, men who spoke of freedom and equality; but meant for them. The ‘them’ refers to white, wealthy, men. This system that we have and are once again willing to die for is a system of patriarchy, racism, and dominance. Our sons, father, brothers, and husbands fight for a country that encourages power. They fight for men/dictators that stay at home warm and safe with their daughters, mothers, sisters, and wives. The men we love and cherish are being used as robots, soldiers, and tools, to advance and prove this nations supremacy.

So they you are, women of Fraters. Your opportunity to have your voice heard. And let's not forget who is looking out for your interests (smarmy smile).

Hell's Wedding Bells

From: Jennifer Talledge
Sent: Wednesday, January 29 9:04 AM
To: Saint Paul
Subject: Wedding Bells

Good Morning. How are you? I am doing well today. This is becoming the year of the weddings. Shelly and Jim announced yesterday that they have finally set a date- October 3 at a Winery in Napa Valley! What a great excuse for Dave and I to finally get to Napa- I am very excited! Then there is Caty's in April, Katy's in May, Kristy's in June, and Amanda's in Dec (in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!) These weddings seem to come in waves, seems like everyone is doing it!

From: Saint Paul
Sent: Wednesday, January 29 10:09 AM
To: Jennifer Talledge
Subject: RE: Wedding Bells

You're quite right, these things do come in waves. And that's why I'm happy to inform you ...... I'm getting married in June! Can you believe it!

That's right, I've recently joined a Satanic cult, and according to their bylaws, I must marry the Dark Master of Smoke and Brimstone before the third phase of the next harvest moon. My cult group leader informs me they've set me up with a beautiful 29-year-old paralegal. She currently lives in Uptown, owns two cats, likes foreign movies and indy rock (especially Pete Yorn), and has been possessed by the Devil since November of last year.

Unfortunately, the ceremony will be a closed event and the wedding party must consist exclusively of members of the Evil Horde currently living in the Twin Cities. But we are planning a reception afterwards where all our friends will be invited to join us (for all eternity in the Lake of Fire). You guys will definitely be invited - I'll keep you posted as to the exact date and location, until then, keep wishing me dark thoughts and fiendish vibes!

The Grumpy Left

Paul Scott, an avowed leftist repudiates the vindictiveness that he sees displayed in much of today's anti-war movement in a surprising piece in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune.

I just wish that every gathering of my lefties didn't have to become such a tedious exercise in cause-linking, chant-bullhorning and supposed truth-telling. I have the fantasy of a progressive cause with no Youth and Student Coordinator, no West Coast Representative, no brother from the movement in the country to the south and no presumption that words like Solidarity, Network, Action and Uprising are always to be treated as gospel, the code words that say we are all the same.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Be Like Hugh

Last Friday, at the Hugh Hewitt on Ice event we were able to present tha nationally syndicated talk show host with one of the first runs of the 'Deserve Victory' bumper sticker which is now exclusively available here.

Hugh Hewitt discusses the brillance of the 'Deserve Victory' sticker

SOTU Initial Reaction

Domestic: Too much spending on too many programs. Tax cut section was on target. My reaction to this area was lukewarm at best.

Foreign Policy: Excellent. I loved the grouping of Hitlerism, militarism, and Communism together as three evils that America had to defeat in the 20th century. Good update on the war on terror to silence critics who claim Iraq is distracting us. Mention of Iranian democracy movement was long overdue. If anyone can now claim that they haven't heard the case against Saddam clearly laid out they're either not listening or just don't want to hear the message. My tepid reaction to the domestic side of the speech was quickly forgotten as I swooned like a schoolgirl over Bush's command and passion on the foreign affairs front.

Overall it was good but not great. Most importantly though it was strong where it had to be. Iraq.

SOTU Redux?

I'm predicting another impressive State of the Union address tonight from GW, perhaps not quite equaling last year's effort but still a strong performance that once again knocks his critics off balance and restores his poll numbers to their previous lofty levels. It should be a very interesting evening and I'll be curious if the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are as eager to appear on camera with the President as they were last year given the Lott fiasco, Bush's judicial nominees, and the pending University of Michigan racial preference case. Hmmmm...

Logically Challenged

Let me try to understand this:

1. The UN Security Council lays out very specific conditions in Resolution 1441 that Iraq must FULLY COMPLY with or be held in material breach of the resolution:

"failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations."

2. Hans Blix issues a report which states in no uncertain terms that Iraq is not anywhere near full compliance with the resolution after sixty days of inspections.

3. The Minneapolis Star Tribune's editorial board looks as these two events and reaches the conclusion that this proves that the inspection process is working and we should give it more time?!?!

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix was blunt Monday in his assessment of Iraq: It "appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance -- not even today -- of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace."

The world knew this, of course, but it was oddly reassuring to hear Blix say it. He's making no excuses for Saddam Hussein, and that is good to know. It suggests the world can have faith in the inspections regime if not in Iraq, and that giving the inspectors the time they need to complete their task would be a wise investment.

They're "reassured" that Blix says that Iraq is not accepting the disarmament required of it? This is supposed to give us confidence that with just a little more time for the inspectors everything will be just peachy?

We've played this game with Iraq for twelve years. Twelve friggin' years. Finally pushed by Bush's threats of action the UN says enough is enough. This is it. End of the road. Last chance.

Sixty days later we learn that Iraq has once again not lived up to the conditions required of it. And the Strib says "How about more time?" No specification on how much more time. Just more time.

I wish the editorial board just had the honesty to admit the truth. They will never approve of the Bush administration taking military action against Iraq no matter what the circumstances are. The inspections are just a delaying tactic that they hope will drag on long enough until it is impossible either politically or militarily for Bush to act. Although it is hard to discern there is a method to their apparent madness.

Deserve Victory!

I’m pleased to announce the deliberations among the Fraters Libertas editorial board regarding the coining of a new anti anti-war slogan have come to an end. (And I’m primarily pleased so I can finally get these drunken louts out of my apartment.) Befitting our creative abilities and incorporating our Conservative appreciation of the past, instead of coming up with something new, we’ve decided to reach back through the mystic chords of memory to pluck out an exhortation as salient today as it was 60 years ago. Back then, during another time of great peril and of great promise, a certain jowly son of an American mother, and a man who also happened to talk with a funny accent, said the following:

Last time I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own fellow-countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind. There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe.

If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

We cannot guarantee victory, but only deserve it.

We cannot say it any better than that. Winston Churchill’s eloquent words are the perfect response to the childish name calling, willful obfuscation, and hateful slander engaged in by the so-called peace community. It’s an exhortation to act with dignity and bravery as we face the challenges that confront us. It’s a call to those on the home front to remain strong and supportive of the troops we send into battle to defend us all. And it’s a plea, reminding us to live up to the standards set by the generations before us, those brave men and women who sacrificed so much so that we, in this generation, could live in freedom and peace.

And best of all .... you can slap it on your bumper for only five bucks! Click here for complete ordering information and thanks for supporting Fraters Libertas.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Peace At Any Price?

"I do not reject peace, but I am afraid of war disguised as peace."


Deserving All The Suffering He Gets

Last Friday, JB Doubtless and I attended the Hugh Hewitt on Ice event sponsored by local Twin Cities radio station AM 1280 The Patriot at the Parade Ice Gardens in Minneapolis. I've been a listener of Hugh's show for at least the last year or so and I've often heard him mock the Patriot's promotion director Jay Larson for his less than inspired promotional events. Now I know why.

It wasn't all bad. The sponsors (spelled SOR not SER unlike the hockey jerseys supplied by the Patriot) were great and the pizza was good and plentiful. As were the beverages although if I had my druthers it would have been on over twenty one event with cold beer in the cooler. Hugh was a gracious and accommodating host and he took the time to talk to fans and pose for pictures.

But the setting was lame. Instead of being on one of the two full sized ice sheets at Parade the event was held on a mini-ice surface used for practice and three on three games. There was little room for the crowd to watch the goings-on and in order for the players to reach the ice surface they had to fight their way through us trying not step on anyone's feet with their skate blades. We didn't even stick around to watch the celebrity game for the thought of any kind of real hockey action taking place on that rink was absurd. By the way anyone in the crowd could have told you that Jack Carlson was not in the movie 'Slap Shot', as Hugh had erroneously been informed he was. It's called homework.

Having the event at the Xcel Energy Center and maybe tying it in with the Minnesota Wild somehow could have been spectacular. Perhaps it was a bit outside of the Patriot's limited budget but I can think of ten other local arenas that would have provided a better environment. This could have been a wonderful opportunity to show a hockey novice like Hugh (and his national audience) why hockey is the greatest game in the world and why Minnesota is a hotbed of American hockey. Instead it only reinforced his conceptions of us living in a winter wasteland with nothing to do and of the utter inability of the Patriot to pull off a well run promotion. He's right on with the latter notion.

The only good thing about the location was that we were able to head over to another rink at Parade and watch a good high school hockey game between Benilde-St. Margarets and Shattuck-St. Marys which featured the 15 year old phenom Sydney Crosby from Nova Scotia who has been labeled the "next Gretzky". He did not disappoint as he tallied five points and made a number of dazzling passes in leading Shattuck to a 7-2 victory.

Imagine There's No War

One of the striking weaknesses of the anti-war movement has been their inability to offer what I consider legitimate alternatives to using force to disarm Iraq. While at least some of them acknowledge that "Saddam is bad" and that allowing Iraq to develop weapons of mass destruction is a threat to the world their solutions rely on vague commitments to "further diplomacy", "letting the inspectors have more time", or "containment". Why these actions would succeed now after failing miserably for the last twelve years is not explained nor is a vision presented of where these processes might leave us a year from now if we opt for them rather than military action.

Today's featured article at (you have to register with your e-mail address to view it) speculates on what the situation might look like a year from now if Saddam is not disarmed and it's not a pretty picture. A strengthened Saddam once again looks at building nuclear weapons, Tony Blair is removed from office, Iran's democracy movement is crushed, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict gets worse, India and Pakistan move closer to war, nuclear proliferation spreads around the world, and perhaps most ominously of all the French gain more global clout (sacre bleu!). Sure it's a worst case scenario but it's also a damn convincing argument for war and it's laid out in a more concrete manner than anything I've seen from the other side.

I Went To A Bon Jovi Concert And A Football Game Broke Out

The blurring of sports and entertainment which has been getting worse in recent years hit a new low point at yesterday's Super Bowl. No, it wasn't having to watch Celine Dion sing 'God Bless America' before the game (We couldn't find an American diva to handle the chore? We had to settle for this Canadian import?). And it wasn't even trying to figure out just what the hell Shania Twain was trying to go for with that Gothic hooker look or why she was reduced to lip syncing (poorly I might add) while the other halftime performers at least had the decency to perform live. By the way Sting I have two words for you: Go Away. And stay away for that matter. Your time has come and gone. You've got a pile of money and a family. Spend time with them and enjoy your years of maturity with dignity. No one needs to hear 'Message In A Bottle' ever again especially not at a Super Bowl half time show.

No the nadir of the evening was at the conclusion of the game. Having won the first Super Bowl in franchise history and erased years of futility the Tampa Bay Bucs were now world champions and ready to kick the celebration off by accepting the coveted Lombardi Trophy. Not so fast boys. First we need Bon Jovi to sing. I was incredulous. Was I watching the SUPER BOWL, the ultimate showdown after sixteen grueling regular season games and three rounds of playoff games to determine the best team in professional football or was I watching some ridiculous variety show? Is the game itself not enough anymore? Do we have to cram a banal musical act into every available free moment of time?

As Bon Jovi pranced around the stage to the delight of the Buc cheerleaders (and apparently no one else) my initial thoughts echoed Bart's plea of "Come on snipers" but that quickly gave way to a vision of Derrick Brooks rushing the stage and delivering a crunching tackle to Bon Jovi, separating vertebrae and dislocating various other body parts so that we might never have to witness this sad spectacle again. I guess I still had images of those "office linebacker" ads (clearly the best of a mediocre bunch) dancing in my head.

I imagine that Vince Lombardi was spinning in his grave (which I believe is now unmarked after troubles with Packer fans performing odd rituals at the site involving beer, deer urine, and pictures of Brett Favre) and for his sake and for the sake of all true football fans out there I hope that next year Super Bowl organizers will hold off on the musical finale until AFTER the trophy is presented. We're watching a football game not a concert.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Who Can Turn the World On With His Bile?

Sometimes I think the French are too easy of a target for ridicule. Yes, they generally act like the 15-year-old girl of the international community. Their insecurity over their status and popularity among their peer group manifests itself in vindictive back stabbing and supercilious gossiping and snarling as they try to play one supposed friend off another to further their own jealous interests.

Pretty much everyone in America knows this to be true, at least those who have a knowledge of history and who keep up with current events. And while we’ve correctly chided and ridiculed the French over the past few decades, and it’s been fun, I think we’re about at the point where references such as “cheese eating surrender monkeys” and it’s many variants are no longer funny, since it’s not surprising any more (surprise being a key determinant of humor).

But reading the most recent musings from a master of ridicule, Jonah Goldberg, I think I may be wrong about French bashing no longer being a productive vein of comedy. In his NRO column Friday, entitled Le Chutzpah, Goldberg draws fresh blood and fresh laughs with a multitude of zingers aimed at the soft white underbelly of the French. Here are a couple of my favorites, but the entire column merits reading:

On Wednesday, French president Jacques Chirac declared: "As far as we are concerned, war always means failure and therefore everything must be done to avoid war."

Not only does this encapsulate French military philosophy... it summarizes the full extent of the mainstream antiwar movement's "argument." This shouldn't be news to anybody by now, but just to clarify: If you go into every situation saying there's absolutely nothing worth fighting over, you will inevitably end up on a cot sleeping next to a guy named Tiny, bringing him breakfast in his cell every morning, and spending your afternoons ironing his boxers. Or, in the case of the French, you might spend your afternoon rounding up Jews to send to Germany, but you get the point.

Consider for a moment the current French position — and, no, I don't mean prone. This week they announced that containment works. The French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, declared, "Already we know for a fact that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs are being largely blocked, even frozen. We must do everything possible to strengthen this process."

Well, if France knows for "a fact," then France also knows for a fact that Iraq has such weapons programs. After all, you can't block or freeze what doesn't exist (if you don't find this logic compelling, go right now and tell your wife that your longstanding efforts to bed Filipino hookers have been "largely blocked, even frozen" by her constant inspections into your bank account and that she therefore has no reason to take a more aggressive posture towards you. Then, see what happens).

Friday, January 24, 2003

Bringing It All Back Home

Back during the early eighties, we fans of loud guitars, crashing drums, and gutsy singers (you know: rock 'n' roll) had to endure what was referred to as "The New British Invasion." It was all over the radio, magazines, and MTV and was NOT fronted by bands who imagined themselves to be the new Yardbirds or the next Pretty Things. Instead, it was made up of a bunch of swishy con artists like Duran Duran, Culture Club, and ABC.

These were desperate times. Heavy metal was in a recession, hip-hop hadn't exploded yet, and it seems kids across the USA were exchanging their guitars for synthesizers and drum machines. It was enough to turn an impressionable teenager like myself deeper and deeper into Old Rock - it seemed I spent way too many trips to record stores digging through the "M" section of the used bins, looking for Mott the Hoople and MC5 albums. One winter during this era over a long-distance phone call, my older brother told me about a band called the Blasters.

"Check 'em out - they're rockabilly," he advised.

"Rockabilly?" I scoffed, "Like the Stray Cats?"

I didn't pause to think for one lousy moment that this was the same kind, wise brother who had turned me on to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd when everyone else in the schoolyard was listening to John Denver and Abba.

"Yeah, only much better," he replied.

"Rockabilly won't come back until Creedence Clearwater Revival re-forms," I said, quoting something I had read in the Rolling Stone Record Guide.

"Yeah, that's what these guys are," he said, "Creedence."

Then I'm sure I came back with something even dumber, handed the phone over to Mom, and probably proceeded to contemplate buying the new Rainbow album.

That summer while flipping through the unorganized bins in a newly-opened used record store, I came across a Blasters EP - Over There: Live at the Venue, London. I decided to heed my brother's words (the three-dollar used price didn't hurt) and bought it, along with Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The Derek and the Dominos album is one of those that you are Supposed To Like and hence hasn't graced my turntable in about fifteen years. The Blasters EP, on the other hand, is a tiny slice of live on-fire magic that never fails to bring a smile to my face. Covers of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. Piano. Saxophones. Loud guitars. Crashing drums. A gutsy singer. Rock 'n' roll.

Today whilst doing some menial paperwork here at home, I threw on Over There. While placing the vinyl upon the turntable, I noticed something I had never noticed before: A small postage-stamp-shaped box containing a certain hell-yeah symbol dating back to the Revolutionary War. How, after twenty years of owning this slab of kickass vinyl, I had never taken note of that stamp is beyond me. But the freakin' Blasters put it on the label of an EP recorded in the capital of the British Would-Be-Empire. And they did it smack-dab in the middle of yet another failed, over-hyped, British musical invasion - surely it was to let the Haircut 100s of the world (and anyone foolish enough to buy the Brit hype) know which country was the once-and-forever King when it came to music. Yeah.

Tonight I played Over There again, loudly and proudly. Don't tread on me, don't tread on the Blasters.

News From the Front

Day two of the search for the right anti anti-war slogan continues today among the Fraters Libertas editorial board. The good news is that all sorts of provocative, fiery comments have been emerging from the deliberations. The bad news is, most of these concern their objections to not being able put corn liquor and skin mags on their expense accounts.

The boys did take a stab at sloganeering based on information torn from today’s headlines. And I mean that literally. Upon reading this article one of them released the two handed death grip on his whiskey tumbler, reached over and flayed the Star Tribune to ribbons with his butterfly knife.

It was all over an article about one Matt Walker Jr., a 16-year-old from Blue Earth, Minnesota. A precocious youngster who reportedly wears an upside down American flag on his black leather jacket and writes “coarse denunciations about the Gap clothing company across his stocking cap”. Which I believe says something on the order of “My g*dd*mn pants are too f*cking tight!”.

He’s now staging a one man all night protest on the streets of Blue Earth against the war with Iraq, for the following reasons:

"After 9/11, I was one of the guys saying, 'Go over there and bomb 'em.' Now, I just don't think it's right. Saddam's a flat-out bad guy, but he poses no immediate threat to us." A U.S.-led war against Iraq would be about securing a source of oil, Walker said, not rescuing Iraq's people from tyranny or saving the world from weapons of mass destruction. But it also would have serious consequences for domestic programs already bracing for budget cuts.

Considering the source of this wisdom, the following slogan was submitted:

"One alienated, self-absorbed teenager from Blue Earth can’t be wrong! (despite overwhelming historical precedent to the contrary)".

As brilliant as this is, we can’t fit it onto a bumper sticker, and thus the idea has been rejected. But as I see another case of Yukon Jack has just been brought into the conference room, I suspect we’ll have a winner shortly. Stand by...

Strawberry Quick

The Elder and I braved the cold last night to view "About Schmidt" at the Lagoon in Uptown. Decent, if not great movie, with some laugh out loud moments and other moments of eye-rolling from clichés.

Besides the horrifying site of Kathy Bates nekkid, there was something else that piqued my interest and immediately shot me back to my childhood.

Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) goes to Denver to attend his daughter's wedding and has to stay with his son-in-law-to-be's mother (Kathy Bates). The house is disgusting. Junk is piled everywhere. Couches containing an untold number of fungi and bacteria abound. The family shoves food in their mouths ala the Simpsons and greedily grab more from a Lazy Susan in the middle of the dinner table.

It reminded me of going over to eat at friends houses when I was a kid. Not so much the white trash aspects, but more of the overall feeling of "what the hell is THAT?" that you got from sharing with the family THEIR daily ritual.

Ritual is everything to kids and they don't like it interrupted. We got very used to everything being a certain way and it pretty much rocked our world when it wasn't.

It would hit you right when you walked in the door of your friend's house. The Smell. It was the first sign that things as you know them are going to be very different from now on. The smell was a combination of all the people, pets, household cleaners and food that passed through the house on a given day. It was never a neutral smell and always distinct from house to house.

Next, you might go downstairs to watch TV before "supper". Now normally you and your brother were given control of the tube, very graciously I might add, from your Old Man, which meant you knew when all the Hogan's Heroes, I Dream Of Jeannies, Gilligan Islands, etc. were on.

So you walk your pal's living room and sprawled out on a Lazy Boy drinking a beer in his t-shirt is your pal's Old Man and he's watching....the news! He nods at you as a greeting and you spend the next half hour sitting politely bored out of your mind and you think "who cares what Ron Magers has to say?"

After what seems like hours of sitting their faking your contentment, the food is ready and you head upstairs not really knowing what to expect.

The basics of the meal are pretty much what your Ma would serve: some type of hot dish, potatoes, a vegetable of some persuasion, bread and milk. But nothing ever tasted the same. There would be big chunks of onion in the hot dish. The potatoes would be julienned (something your friend's Ma read about in Good Housekeeping). The vegetable was always something you never had to eat at home, like broccoli, but you accepted a serving anyway. The bread was some hard, dark brown wheat variety only your dad ate and spreading that runny margarine on it didn't make it much more palatable. And the milk, skim. It was literally blue and tasted like water. "We drink 2 percent" I would declare.

So the meal is over and all you're thinking is "Okay, that food sucked, but bring on the dessert!". Now at home, after every supper, we would take large bowls and fill them to overflowing capacity with scoop after scoop of ice cream, Nestle's Quick, Hersey's Syrup, cookies, or anything else that we could fit in there and then dollop the whole thing with some good ol' 2 percent.

So you see the matron shuffling about in the kitchen, getting a small tray together and you are all set for a sugary delight....when she sets down a dish of Jell-O in front of you. Jell-O. Jell-O was something we ate on the side of our meals; it surely wasn't dessert material. And how can something with carrots be considered a dessert anyway? I think we all remember the green Jell-O with carrot shavings in it that I'm referring to--couldn't it at least have been the red Jell-O with bananas?

So the crappy meal is finished and all the dishes are still on the kitchen table. Like home, you immediately bolt from the area since you have done what you came to do. "Aren't you forgetting something?" a nagging voice cries out. "Umm...thank you?" you say, hoping that was it. "Take your plate to the sink." Wait a minute, she's saying I have to bus my own dishes? We never have to do that at home but you sheepishly retrieve your plate and haul it over like a good little henpecked husband to be.

You can't wait to get out of there and back to your own family ritual, which you appreciate for about 10 minutes until you're back to taking it all for granted and whining because Mom bought strawberry Quick instead of chocolate.

Weird Science?

Last week, after what I considered a fairly innocent post on the Bjorn Lomborg flap I received an e-mail from a Danish scientist taking me to task for my views. It's very long so I won't post it all here but this is my rebuttal:

In regard to your long winded missive, dripping with condescension and arrogance, I'm going to respond with a few quick points. Unlike Danish scientists, who apparently have a great deal of time on their hands (I found it amusing that while you claim to be "too busy with my own research" to write a book exposing Lomborg. you have plenty of time to author a 4500 word e-mail to me), my hours are precious and so I'll be brief:

1. I will not attempt to answer your assertions by offering scientific evidence to dispute them. I am not a scientist and have never claimed to be one and you know that. It is incredibly disingenuous of you to challenge me to respond in that manner knowing full well that it beyond my scope of knowledge.

"I find it amusing that you like the book, so i expect you to use all of your scientific skills to counter the criticisms I levy against it. This should be interesting....."

I don't know why you find it so amusing that I enjoyed the book but you must feel very proud of yourself to challenge me in a subject that you are a professional in and that I have only a passing knowledge of. You are quite the big man.

2. Most of the charges that you level against Lomborg are related to his failures to use what you consider the proper scientific methods in his work such as peer review, inclusion of all studies, use of empirical data, etc. So you hold Lomborg and his book to a rather strict scientific standard. Yet you also point out that Lomborg is not a scientist but rather a statistician so what does he really know about these matters anyway?

Like Julian Simon and other non-scientists, Lomborg dismisses these.

To me this approach smacks of hypocrisy. On the one hand you expect Lomborg to meet the same standards as a scientist but on the other you knock him for not being a scientist and so unable to judge these matters objectively. Please pick one and go with it.

3. I don't have much of a problem with Lomborg's "selective use of studies" as you call it. I would challenge you to name one book intended for the wider market on environmental, sociological, or health and safety issues in the last thirty years that included all the published studies on a particular subject. Were you equally voracious in your criticism of Lester Brown or Paul Ehrlich and the books that they wrote predicting widespread environmental disasters which certainly used "selective" (and it turns out largely erroneous) studies on their subjects? What about works by the WWF, the WRI, the Worldwatch Institute, or Friends of the Earth? While you try to distance yourself from these groups and claim the mantle of objective scientist you must acknowledge that all of these groups have used selective scientific studies to push their causes in the past. So now Lomborg had written a book using scientific studies to present a different viewpoint. He might not be correct on every point but for the last thirty years all the public has heard has been the doom and gloom views. As Lomborg has said, let the debate begin.

4. I found this comment from you most interesting:

If he had called his book, "The Skeptical Statistician" and would have written that the contents are his opinions, then I would not have cared less.

Maybe I read the book differently than you did, after all I'm not a senior scientist, but I didn't get the impression that Lomborg was claiming that he was the sole arbiter of truth. Rather he was presenting his interpretation of the statistics available and drawing conclusions from them. The book was not called "The Skeptical Environmental Scientist" and Lomborg made no such claim to being one. He is an environmentalist in his perspective and, although you would probably scoff at the notion since you seem to believe that I've been bought off by corporate interests (I only wish!), I consider myself an environmentalist too.

5. Your conclusion on the damage that Lomborg is doing and why his message is wrong is a good example of the problem that many of us have with the environmental movement and the scientists who have supported it.

Because we understand so little about how the complex biosphere works, further assault on these systems may alter their functioning in ways that we cannot adapt to, and that may compromise the welfare of future generations. There are many thousands of studies that detail human impacts on various parts of the biosphere, and Lomborg chooses to ignore them. But we are not exempt from the laws that govern the existence of other life forms, a point I have made many, many times. In essence we are heading in the wrong direction, and it doesn't take me all of my scientific abilities to see this.

Are you honestly going to claim that this is objective scientific analysis? "Further assault on these systems"? That's a bit of loaded rhetoric don't you think? And the use of the word "may" is also troubling. Should we halt the march of progress which has benefited much of civilization because we MAY alter natural systems or we MAY compromise the welfare of future generations? One of the things that Lomborg calls for in his book is a realistic look at the cost and benefits of our actions that impact the environment rather than a blanket condemnation of anything that harms the environment in even the slightest way in spite of the huge gains that could be achieved from it.

6. Lastly you label Lomborg as a "classic con man" and a "dishonest fraud" , call him "dishonest" several times other times, and finally accuse him of being "the most disingenuous person to enter the scientific arena for years". If these accusations even remotely resembled the truth than surely the esteemed Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty should have had no problem issuing a finding consistent with those charges. While the DCSD did find him guilty of "scientific dishonesty" for not following accepted scientific practices (while acknowledging he was not a scientist) it also said:

In view of the subjective requirements made in terms of intent or gross negligence, however, Bjørn Lomborg's publication cannot fall within the bounds of this characterization. Conversely, the publication is deemed clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice.

In other words the DCSD's criticism of Lomborg rests with his methods not his intentions which you spent an inordinate amount of time on in your e-mail. You seem to have a personal problem with Lomborg that goes far beyond merely a disagreement on these issues. Jealousy perhaps?

Anyway as I said earlier I hope that you continue to visit Fraters Libertas and if you find the need to please feel free to drop us an e-mail anytime.


The Elder

P.S. In case you missed it Lomborg has a piece in today's Wall Street Journal. Check it out.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

(Reasonably) Good People Doing Something (To Be Determined Shortly)

If I didn't know better, I'd have to say the self proclaimed "voices of dissent" may indeed be the voices of the overwhelming majority. I base this observation entirely on the many "Say No to War with Iraq" signs seen in and around my neighborhood in Saint Paul. More and more of them are sprouting up every day, including a big one that just went up near Lexington and Summit. Granted, I happen to live in an area disproportionately populated by the employees of government: bureaucratic apparatchiks, teachers, professors, lawyers, and social workers with wealthy yet overly indulgent husbands (who really should know better). These types are defiantly verbose about their negative feelings toward the upcoming war. I suspect it's because they feel the increased levels of funding necessary for national defense will cut into the double digit rates of growth they assume their budgets and salaries are entitled to over the next 25 years.

But whatever the reasons, their naïve preference for morale sapping agitprop are making my beautiful little neighborhood look like some radical, Leftist cesspool. Something like Left Bank Paris circa 1953. Or Berkeley during the 1960's. Or worse yet, like South Minneapolis today.

As we all know, these folks are not in the majority. In fact, I'd surmise the percentage of the population consciously willing to appease those that threaten us and to peremptorily surrender to fascism and terrorism make up less than 10% of the general population (and certainly no more than 49.9% of those in my neighborhood). Yet because of their unchallenged presence in the marketplace of yard sign-related editorial discourse, these people have gone a long way already in creating the impression that a massive movement of dissent is bubbling just beneath the surface of middle America. And if good people do nothing in the face of this devilishness - we all know what the cliché tells us. (If not, click here.)

But, my perusal of the Internet tells me there really isn’t an effective slogan response available for right thinking Americans to rally around. Nothing that captures the essence of the challenge ahead of us, while at the same time being pithy and biting in the face of our yapping critics.

This gaping void in the marketplace has piqued my interest, and as such I’ve been in contact with a group of local scholars of political rhetoric and masters in the sophisticated art of persuasion (and by coincidence, all are members of the Fraters Libertas editorial board). I’ve asked them to come up with just the right slogan to respond to this assault on our sensibilities. They've been in conference all day today. So far nothing concrete has emerged. There are some vague indications of creative progress. For example, one chap, who also is a particularly brutal adherent of Machiavelli, suggested a parody of the Wellstone campaign signs, a sign that would use the same white lettering on forest green background, but with the word "Gravestone!" superimposed over the ghostly image of Saddam Hussein’s face. I of course condemned that idea as hateful, tasteless, and just plain wrong. Then I doubled his salary. And with this extra boost of capitalist incentive I’m convinced we'll have something ready for public consumption shortly. Developing...

We Can Take It

5:30am this morning. Temperature -12 degrees. Windchill -34 degrees. On my way to play hockey (indoors) I see one of my neighbors outside.

Walking his dog.

Welcome to Minnesota.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Horseman, Pass By

Back in November, Paul Beeston from the American Prowler wrote a touching review of the terminally ill Warren Zevon’s final appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show. I missed the program, since Letterman’s unfunny, threadbare shtick had driven me away from bothering to pay attention to his show years ago. And this is unfortunate since it appears I missed something extraordinary for TV, a sincere display of poignancy, dignity and human grace in the face of oblivion:

Like most people do in cases like this, Zevon has responded by focusing on the essentials -- spending time with his children, and doing what he loves, in his case playing music. In one sense, there is nothing remarkable about such choices. What else would you do, after all? But in stepping out into public view and letting us see him, Zevon has been courageous. He has given people a look at what an encounter with death looks like, and an example of how to meet it -- with stoicism, with humor, above all with dignity.

And so there he was again on the Letterman set, walking out somewhat gingerly to generous applause. He would sit for a talk first, and one wondered how this would go. In the past, Zevon has indulged the very tired rock convention of obscurity in response to interview questions. But now, as would befit a man in his predicament, all pretensions were dropped. He did retain his crackling wit, as when he told Letterman that his "tactical error" in refusing to see a doctor for 20 years was "one of those phobias that really didn't pay off." At other points, the gallows humor was a bit too close to the bone, and even Letterman winced:

Letterman: What was the diagnosis?

Zevon: It's lung cancer that's spread.

Letterman (pause): That's tough…that's tough…

Zevon: Well, it means you better get your dry cleaning done on special!

Unlike many celebrities who live recklessly and spend their waning days campaigning against their former behavior, Zevon accepted his illness as the likely result of choices he had made. "There are always consequences," he said, refreshingly. Letterman asked if his illness gave him any insights into life and death. Zevon shrugged and said he didn't think so, "Not unless I know how much you're supposed to enjoy every sandwich." There was a hush in the audience. And then Letterman did the most difficult thing, which was to conclude the interview. How to do that? Television is not designed for such situations. It is made to show images, not to comment on them. It turns most human sorrow to the mush of sentiment. So Letterman simply said, "Thank you for being here, and thank you for everything."

The subtext of the Beeston’s review is the value of life itself, and how Zevon’s final days were spent in acknowledgement of this, recognizing the value others bring to our own lives and simplistically put, recognizing how wonderful it is to be alive. As it ever was, it seems only those near death can fully understand this.

And in honor of the 30 Year Anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision and it’s vocal celebrant St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Laura Billings, I must say the uniquely human and objectively ethereal emotions displayed by Letterman and Zevon were brought to you exclusively by former unviable tissue masses, zygotes, fetuses and embryos.

You're Hanging Out With The Wrong Crowd Norman

It was a bit disquieting to pick up my morning Minneapolis Star Tribune today and read that recently elected Senator Norm Coleman has reservations about the Bush tax plan and has been meeting with a group of like minded senators to discuss possible alternatives. When the names of this group were revealed the disquiet turned to incredulity bordering on indignant rage (which is my common reaction to reading the Strib):

Accepting an invitation from Sen. John Breaux, D-La., Coleman attended a meeting in which senators aired their concerns. Coleman said the group included Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Dianne Feinstein of California, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Carper of Delaware, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

The Republicans attending were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, George Voinovich of Ohio and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Dianne bleepin' Feinstein? I suppose with her at least you know what you're getting as opposed to the "Republicans" Lincoln Chafee and Olympia Snowe. These aren't exactly the folks I had in mind for Coleman to be consorting with when I pulled the lever back in November. And I have a hunch that neither did GW when he was on the campaign trail stumping for Norm.

The comments of Grover Norquist made me feel a bit better:

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, predicted the president's plan will pass both the House and Senate. "It's beyond a good idea: It's just brilliant," he said. "This is the first tax package aimed at the investor class, and 70 percent of the people who voted on Election Day November 5th own shares of stock."

He said Coleman is engaged in "smart politics" but predicted Republicans will line up behind the president.

"It is wise for Coleman to do the bipartisan thing," Norquist said. "First of all, he's new here. He needs to meet these guys. . . . That is exactly the right approach. Coleman's a smart cookie."

Let's hope that Norquist is right and Coleman is just playing this bipartisan game to gain influence and dispel the idea that he is the President's lap dog and that when the time comes to be counted he will support GW's tax plan. Fight the peer pressure Norm and stay true to yourself. After all if Dianne Feinstein jumped off a bridge would you do it too?

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Abortions will not let you forget

Three cheers to Ron Dreher for his piece on the sad anniversary of Roe v Wade on

He includes a link to this profound 1945 poem by Gwendolyn Brooks:

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches,
and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?--
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you

Revenge Of The Nerds?

David Brooks, author of the witty Bobos in Paradise , casts the current anti-SUV campaign in the light of the classic "Geeks versus Jocks" battle in this amusing piece at Personally I'm not a hufe fan of sport utes myself but when I hear the hysterical screeching against them I find myself thinking along the same lines as Brooks:

I don't own an SUV, but now that they've been identified as the locus of evil, I'm thinking of getting one. And if I do, I figure I might as well let the inner wolf out for a rampage and get the most obnoxious SUV I can find.

My SUV, assuming Hummer comes out with a model for those who find the current ones too cramped, will look something like the Louisiana Superdome on wheels. It'll guzzle so much gas as I walk out to my driveway there will be squads of Saudi princes gaping and applauding. It'll come, when I buy it, with little Hondas and Mazdas already embedded in the front grillwork. Inside I'll install video screens so that impressionable youngsters can play Grand Theft Auto on the way to weekly NRA meetings. And there will be room in the back for tobacco lobbyists nibbling on french fries and endangered prawns.

I might add an extra large beer cooler within easy reach of the driver's seat for those long road trips.

Monday, January 20, 2003

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Enjoy Humor

I attended a dinner party this weekend with the ostensible purpose of watching the Godfather DVD my brother had scored for Christmas. Somehow, after many cocktails of various incarnations, the subject of funny movies came up. I mentioned that I thought Dumb and Dumber was one of the most brilliant and yes, one of the funniest movies ever made.

I was met with comments like "It was okay" or "That was one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen". Finding it hard to fathom how someone couldn't laugh out loud at a minimum of 25 times during the film, I inquired what they thought a good "funny" movie was.

Someone mentioned Dr. Strangelove.

Funny? Really? Yes, I was told, this was a laugh out loud affair. With character names like Buck Turgidson, Jack D. Ripper, Bat Guano and General Faceman I now see their point. What they explained to me was that this was a brilliant satire of the entire military industrial complex. They explained that there was this thing called the Cold War, where the US had, as Jimmy Carter referred to it, an "Irrational fear of communism". Well this movie poked a giant hole in that! Yes, they went on, it showed how crazy this whole arms race was and how we were all doomed to a world of nuclear annihilation. Or, as Roger Ebert put it:

...a film that pulled the rug out from under the Cold War by arguing that if a "nuclear deterrent" destroys all life on Earth, it is hard to say exactly what it has deterred.

I guess Roger Ebert (and just about everyone else who loves this movie) thought the cold war was simply a conceit, an invention by those in power to enrich their brothers on the industrial side of the complex. It seems having an understanding such as this is important if you think this movie funny.

Apparently, you also have to understand subtle humor as one long-winded reviewer tells us:

Kubrick's picture has so many targets that it's difficult to know where to begin. Certainly, the "balance of power" nuclear deterrent policy gets the most obvious jabs (although ardent supporters may not see this -- Dr. Strangelove's attacks are subtle enough that it's possible for an unsophisticated viewer to miss the point). Parodying the "missile gap" at the heart of the arms race, we are given the "doomsday gap" and the "mine shaft gap."

What about the humor gap? From all the glowing praise I have read (and from my own bored viewing of this film as well) this movie is all about subtext and sneer. Nothing is actually funny for funny's sake--it's funny because smart people understand that "those in charge are the craziest ones of all and they are holding the fate of everyone else in their weak hands" to quote another reviewer.

Satire is never going to be as funny as plain, old fashioned humor, (the site of Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels on the frozen minibike for example in Dumb and Dumber) because the viewer has much more work to do than to just laugh at the absurdity of something. With satire they have to proclaim "Yes, I see what you are doing there! I am with you! No, this isn't over my head. Bat Guano, isn't that bat shit? And the guy is supposed to be a man of respect? My laughing is the only way I know to socially signify that I'm with you".

No, the audience probably doesn't LAUGH as much, but there seems to be a deep sense of self-satisfaction concomitant with liking this movie. By proclaiming your undying love for Strange, you are telling the world that you aint one of them NASCAR-watchin', Bud Light chuggin', country music listenin' people who think things is just funny--you're in on the joke!

In the film, when General Jack D. Ripper (God help us) becomes convinced that the Soviets are poisoning the "purity and essence of our natural fluids" there's nothing inherently funny at work. But the subtext, ah the subtext is where the laughs are to be found since the US government told so many lies about the evils of communism during the cold war this deftly concludes why there really was no danger at all.

To say that Strange is held in high regard by just about everyone is an incredible understatement. cites it as the number one movie of All Time and Rotten Tomatoes, a site with a collection of reviews, gives it an overall 9.7 out of 10, and it routinely makes the Top Ten lists of movie critics.

The only review I could find that even remotely suggested that this might not be the Crowning Achievement of Film was from the original review of the movie that ran in the New York Times in 1964:

...On the other hand, I am troubled by the feeling, which runs all through the film, of discredit and even contempt for our whole defense establishment, up to and even including the hypothetical Commander in Chief.

But when virtually everybody turns up stupid or insane--or, what is worse, psychopathic--I want to know what this picture proves. The President, played by Peter Sellers with a shiny bald head, is a dolt, whining and unavailing with the nation in a life-or-death spot. But worse yet, his technical expert, Dr. Strangelove, whom Mr. Sellers also plays, is a devious and noxious ex- German whose mechanical arm insists on making the Nazi salute.

The ultimate touch of ghoulish humor is when we see the bomb actually going off, dropped on some point in Russia, and a jazzy sound track comes in with a cheerful melodic rendition of "We'll Meet Again Some Sunny Day." Somehow, to me, it isn't funny. It is malefic and sick.

In Their Own Words

Rather than getting into a lengthy discussion of this weekend's anti-war protests perhaps the best way to understand their meaning is simply to listen to the protesters themselves. Here's a sampling of some of my favorite quotes from stories in yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune:

"The underlying motives for this government's actions have always been greed and racism," said Moonanum James of United American Indians of New England.

"In the spirit of Dr. King, in the spirit of Crazy Horse," he said, "no blood for oil."

In spirit of people I admire I spout off insipid clichés?

Aris Cisneros, 38, brought his two young children.

"I want Bush to see that his people are against the war," he said. "I want to show my children that they can stand up to stupidity."

You know Aris I have a feeling that your kids may start doing that any day now.

In Des Moines, about 125 protesters marched 2 miles in below-zero windchill. "Standing out in this kind of temperature is nothing compared to innocent people losing their lives in Iraq," said marcher Eric Kimmer, 32, a credit union worker.

Innocent people losing their lives in Iraq? Are you speaking of the hypothetical innocent deaths in the event of a US military action or the real innocent lives being lost today under Saddam?

Here's a little local flava:

Nancy Slocumb, 55, a research coordinator at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, said, "I deplore the killing of the Iraqis. We have no business saying that we are going to force a regime change."

Strapped to Slocumb's back was a Wellstone sign that a neighbor sent with her. "It's an eloquent statement because he was such a lone ranger in Congress," she said.

It's a statement all right Nancy but eloquent might not be the word I would use to describe it. Pathetic. Desperate. Sick. Perhaps disturbing.

"Why is it that we have the world's biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons?" asked Lana Abboud, a student at Bloomington's Northwestern Health Sciences University who came with the Anti-War Committee contingent.

Abboud, 27, said calls for Iraq to disarm are hypocritical since the United States has allowed countries such as North Korea, Pakistan and Israel -- and itself -- to possess weapons of mass destruction.

A dose of moral relativism that would make Chomsky proud. She seriously believes that the U.S. has no more right to nuclear weapons than Iraq or North Korea. Nuclear weapons that helped end World War II and win the Cold War. Would she rather that another country on earth had the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons? I don't think I really want to know that answer to that one.

And finally a well know figure makes what might be the best quote of the day:

Added civil rights activist Jesse Jackson: "We march today to fight militarism, and racism, and sexism, and anti-Semitism, and Arab-bashing."

I'm sure the people of Israel are sleeping much better knowing that the Reverend "Hymietown" Jackson is now fighting for them.

Typical Weekend

Friday night we caught The Lord of the Rings : The Two Towers . It did not disappoint. Even though it clocks in at nearly three hours there is never a dull moment. Great story, great special effects. As good if not better than the first film in the LOTR trilogy which up to this point is making Star Wars, particularly the last two episodes, look silly and shallow by comparison.

I have never read Tolkien and so don't want to speculate as to the allegorical meanings of the Lord of the Rings, but as my wife said on Friday it's hard not to watch the latest installment and not think about events of the day. The acknowledgment of evil in the world, the need for groups to unite to fight it, the inevitability of having to face conflict no matter how you hope to avoid it, and the benefits of fighting the enemy on your terms not his (when the Rohan king elects to abandon his city and withdraw to the "impregnable" fortress of Helms Deep rather than confront Saruman's army in the field I couldn't help but think him worthy of honorary EU membership) were all brought out at various points in the film.

Saturday morning was a crisp wintery day with the temperature hovering just under ten, the sky blue, and the sun bright. Perfect outdoor hockey weather which I took advantage of by playing shinny for a couple of hours at a rink in Minneapolis. It don't get much better than that.

Saturday night brought a gathering of friends to watch the first two movies in the Godfather saga since I had received the DVD box set at Christmas and was itching to break it out. The evening was filled with eating, drinking, and animated discussions nearly leading to blows which is probably the perfect tribute to viewing the story of an Italian family. Civility was maintained for most of the entirety of GF One but during the Second (and undoubtedly better) of the two classics orderly debate broke down into a cacophonous chaos of overheated rhetoric and overwrought opining which resembled your typical DFL convention. I guess that's to be expected when you elect to venture into such passionate subject matter as whether 'Dumb and Dumber' is one of the best movies of all time as JB Doubtless championed.

Sunday brought much needed rest before reffing two hockey games in the afternoon and playing in another one that evening. Home later that night for a post game night cap and NFL playoff game recap on ESPN before bed. I quickly slipped off to sleep pondering the meaning of life and more importantly the meaning of funny. Pretty typical weekend.

Tax Cuts For Some, Miniature American Flags For Others

If you look at the stats from today's Featured Article at it's not just the "wealthy" who will benefit from Bush's tax plan but rather all income brackets. In fact in terms of raw percentages those in the lower brackets will actually see a greater reduction in taxes that the "rich". Now that the facts are out there I'm sure the Democrats will get on board to ease passage of the cuts through Congress and cease and desist in their efforts to label the plan as "tax cuts for the wealthy" or even more outrageously as "income redistribution" as if somehow not taking money from people was the same as taking it from one group and giving it to another.

Yup. That'll be happening any day now. (Sound of wind whistling, tumbleweeds blowing by.)

But What About The Bowl Bart? What About The Bowl?

If you're looking for a bit of hateful satire and can't find a decent talk radio show at this time of day check out this piece at IMAO:

Helen Thomas then stood up.

"Merciful God, please kill me now," Fleischer was heard muttering.

"Why does Bush want to kill Iraqi children?" Helen Thomas asked, "What did Iraqi children ever do to him?"

"Here, I have a question for you," Fleischer respond, "Why won’t you die, you shriveled, old hag? What sort of unholy agreement do you have with Satan to keep your body living long after your mind has expired?"

"Where’s my cat?" Thomas demanded, "Your talk of war has scared away my cat!"

"For the last time, Helen, your cat died thirty years ago!" said an exasperated Fleischer. "Someone please watch her. Any other questions?"

Who wouldn't enjoy a news conference like that?

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Media Pet Peeve Of The Day

In reporting the anti-war demonstrations today I've already heard a couple of news outlets, including ABC news, describe them as "possibly the largest anti-war demonstrations since Vietnam" as if that is supposed to give them some special weight and gravity. Other than some anti-nuke protests in the 80's and protests against the first Gulf War have there really been any significant anti-war demonstrations to speak of since Vietnam? Not that I can think of. But it sounds impressive and it you don't understand the background you could attach more meaning to it than it deserves.

The wording also contains the unstated implication that we all know that the war protesters ended the Vietnam War and so if anti-war demonstrations today are of the same scope and size they too could prevent or end a war. The problem is that anti-war demonstrations did not end the Vietnam War. Sustained heavy bombing of North Vietnam, in particular Hanoi, in 1972 brought the North Vietnamese to the table and ended the war. Watergate lost the war as Nixon was forced to resign and Ford was so weakened that he was unable to overcome Congress and honor the U.S. commitments to defend South Vietnam that had been a condition for the peace accords to succeed.

Part of the mythology of the 60's and early 70's was that the anti-war protests gradually convinced the majority of Americans that the war was wrong and that's why it ended. Not so. It that was true that how could one explain the 1972 presidential election when Nixon, the embodiment of the evil war monger according to the peace movement, absolutely crushed peace candidate George McGovern. 520 electoral votes for Nixon to 17 for McGovern. I guess not everyone was burning draft cards and putting flowers in gun barrels.

Clear Eyed Realism

Stephen Den Beste overwhelms the imagination with his detailing of US naval capabilities and the deployment underway to the Persian Gulf. As nothing more than a casual observer of military affairs and expenditures, I’m stunned by the resources we find ourselves with. During times of peace and contentment, much of this seems excessive. But suddenly, faced with the real and growing dangers menacing us at this moment in history, it’s clear this unassailable sledgehammer is exactly what we need. I have to say I’m grateful for the wisdom and foresight of those responsible for the creation of this force over the past few decades. Those oft maligned, clear-eyed realists who took the responsibility to face the unpleasant truths of life, while the rest of us were allowed the luxury of not paying attention in our unfettered pursuit happiness.

Den Beste also captures the same feelings I have about the coming hostilities. Grateful for the overwhelming resources we have at our disposal, confident that our cause is just and necessary, supportive of the troops we’re sending off to do the dirty work, yet also terribly worried about them all:

They're really going to start fighting, and soon. And as is always the case for me in the days before combat begins, I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have been advocating this war all along. I still do. We must fight it. We cannot wait any longer.

But there are a lot of good people in those ships, who are going to put themselves into harm's way for the rest of us, and I know that some of them won't come back. I'm terribly afraid for them. I know they'll fight well. I am absolutely certain that they'll prevail. I know that none of them are eager for combat, but they're all ready for it, and they're as prepared as it is possible for them to be. They are tough and they are confident and they will do what they need to do.

And I know that they're fighting in a good cause, and I have no doubts about the decision to send them. But all we can do, here on the home front, is to sweat it out and hope for the best (and pray if you got 'em).

When you read the headlines, as combat begins and as the war develops, remember that we're not moving counters around on a map. It's not a real-life replay of the SuperBowl. The people who fall down don't get back up. They're real people fighting for us; they're our neighbors and our friends; our sons and daughters and cousins; some of them are mothers and fathers. The Iraqis will be shooting real bullets at them. This is no sporting event. It's deeply serious and horribly ugly and incredibly dangerous.

We must fight and we must win, and we will. But we will pay a high price to do so, and we must remember the price, and remember those who pay it, and know that victory is always dearly bought, even if there's only one casualty.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Why I Love Rush

"Some of you have tough decisions to make about healthcare. Me, it's golf tournaments."

As heard 1/17/03 11:44 am.

Every Desire I've Ever Had

I like TV. Love it, as a matter of fact. Sitcoms? Yup. Reality TV? You bet. Watching a hick work on his truck? Check. The Bread Baking Channel? You better believe it.

So, as a long time and hardcore consumer of television dating back to the early 70's, I thought I had seen it all. That is until the other night when I was flipping about and came across my new favorite program The Minnesota Experience hosted by the stunning Tawnja Zahradka, a former Mrs. America (and apparently now single?).

The show is on local cable channels and consists basically of Ms. Zahradka going to different businesses to interview them about their products or services. The focus seems to be on food, with porn-like shots of spaghetti, ribs, brushetta--you name it.

Ms. Zahradka, besides being breathtakingly gorgeous, makes what could be a dull show into something remarkable. Her sheer comfort in front of the camera is soothing and I imagine must be soothing to the TV neophytes she interviews. Her ready wit and playful style turns this low budget cable access into something magical.

This is a woman who is completely comfortable in front of a camera and seduces it with eyebrow raises, sly grins and come-hither glances. In other words, what movie stars used to deliver on a regular basis before the endless parade of beige, skinny hacktresses began.

The only problem is that there seems to only be one friggin' episode. Now granted, I've watched this episode every night for the past 3 weeks, but some new product would be most welcome.

Food, a gorgeous woman; that pretty much sums up every desire I ever had.

The Kharmic Consequences of Tax Cuts

Hard lessons learned in St. Paul the other day. I was in the final leg on my trip home from work and turning onto my street, nearing my garage, I spied a beautiful young woman up ahead of me on the sidewalk, casually strolling along in the cold, late afternoon air. She was tall and slender, yet generously curvaceous in all the right spots, which was apparent even under her red sweater and stylishly unzipped ski jacket. From beneath her white knit hat, long golden braids poked out on either side, framing her face and her flawless alabaster skin, her cheeks tinged pink courtesy of Jack Frost. She was in a word, perfect, and I swear I saw her wistfully gazing off in the distance at the last fleeting robin's egg blue of the day time sky as the sun reluctantly slipped beneath the tree tops and roof lines that make up the western horizon in these parts. She sighed. I sighed. Then I got work on a quick algebraic equation, ultimately surmising that if I hurried up just a little bit, she'd be passing my garage just as I would be pulling up in my car and jumping out to manually open the garage door.

Needless to say, a huge opportunity and one that doesn't come around too often in my neighborhood. For whatever reason, old people and distinctly not beautiful people are the norm here in the residential familyland of inner city St. Paul. Thus, knowing the stakes were high, my heart raced and I checked my look in the rearview mirror, adjusted my scarf and gave my top coat lapel a quick ketchup stain cleansing with my thumbnail and some saliva, all while picking out just the right smile to wear and just the right vocal tone to affect upon greeting her.

By the time I reached the garage, I had the perfect presentation picked out. The smile would be sly, yet also convey innocence and joy. Upon making eye contact with her, the right hand corner of my mouth would raise ever so slightly as if I were beginning to smirk. A split second later, upon catching the totality of her attention, I'd break into the full smile, as if I were about to start laughing, yet I'd catch myself before a sound was made. Then my eyebrows would raise as if I'd just then recognized and fully comprehended the beauty of the woman before me. Then I'd softly bite my lower lip, as if I were nervous, in a boyishly charming way. And then I'd say "hello", in a soft, slightly hoarse voice, just louder than a whisper.

This was going to work, I knew it. She’d blush, smile back, and say "hi" followed by a girlish giggle. And then spontaneous conversation would ensue. I'm not sure who would say what next. But there was no question it would happen, such would be the electricity of attraction vibrating in the air between us. And then we'd be laughing. And then she’d be giving me her phone number. And then 40 years later we’d be looking back on the grand romantic adventure that was our lives together and we’d be laughing again at the sublimity of fate, throwing us together at precisely that spot in front of my garage at exactly that moment, in the cold January twilight of 2003.

A warm wave of confidence washed over me as I opened my car door, got out, and strode toward the predestined intersection of her, me, my garage, and the future. It was all falling into place. She arrived right on schedule, her head turned my way, her big baby blues looked into my own, the right side of my upper lip began to rise and with it the killer smile to be delivered and ....... I heard a man shouting. Actually, screeching is a more accurate description, screeching like a stuck pig. I turned my head toward this sound and I then heard angry words, frenzied histrionics about .... tax cuts.

My God, it was Jason Lewis. In my angel headed distraction, I left my car door open and the radio was on LOUD to the local talk radio station. And now, at the critical moment of my existence, Jason Lewis was engaged in the violent process of disabusing some caller of the notion that the richest 5% of Americans aren't paying their fair share. Just as he was wailing "WHAT YOU LIBERALS DON'T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND IS...." I turned my head back, just in time to catch my lovely future bride rolling her eyes, scoffing in my direction, and rushing past me and away down the street, forever. I stood there for several minutes, not believing what had happened and just listening. (Fade to black)

Looking back now, all these days later, I can’t deny that Jason's words were factually accurate, and I guess knowing the truth about progressive tax brackets and their affect on the distribution of government revenues does give me some solace. But I'll always wonder if it all would have turned out better if only I were listening to some bore ass leftist on MPR.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

The Family Next Door?

Last Friday the Washinton Times ran an editorial taking the New York Times to task for its story on a family in Austin, Texas who were none too impressed with the Bush tax plan. Andrew Sullivan and Mitch Berg both referenced the Washington Times piece which explained that, although the family portrayed, the Moorheads, did not realize it, the Bush plan would actually have a rather significant benefit for them tax wise. It also mentioned that the one of Mr. Moorhead's remarks sounded like a Democratic talking point:

"They're trying to sell this once again as trickle-down economics," Mr. Moorhead conveniently observed, using the favorite pejorative of the Democrats and the Times to ridicule Reaganomics.

Rick from the Golden State was kind enough to point out a few things about Bee Moorhead the average "mother next door" in the NY Times piece. Her name is listed on the Voices for Peace: Signatories web site which published an ad in a local Austin newspaper opposing military action against Iraq. She is also the acting director of Impact Texas a group who describe themselves as "people of faith working for justice". Hmmm... Could that be a Left leaning group? Just check out their legislative agenda if you have any doubt.

Of course there's nothing wrong with Mrs. Moorhead being a very active political liberal. But as Rick asks:

Do you think it coincidence that the NY Times just happened to "find" her family for their story?

And will we ever see this? Headline - NYTimes Finds Conservative Couple in America, Asks For and Publishes Their Opinion.

Legacy Of Equivalence?

There is quite a bit of noise being made about legacies in regards to the college admission process and how that relates to the immoral system of race-based admission as practiced by the likes of the University of Michigan.

The Wall Street Journal had a big piece on this yesterday and as I turned on my radio this morning, the Disaster That Is The Morning Spin (featuring the limp and distracted Ron Rosenbaum) was also discussing the issue.

As I told Ron this morning, there is absolutely no logical equivalency between race-based admissions and legacy-based admissions. The former takes race into consideration as a condition of acceptance. The latter does not. The former is morally wrong, the latter perhaps just unfair.

Now, if whites happen to benefit more from the legacy system (which would be expected due to past discrimination at mainly private schools) then that is an unintended consequence. Again, as I told Ron, the admissions officers are not accepting them more frequently because they are a legacy and WHITE, they are accepting them more frequently because they are LEGACIES. There is nothing stopping a black, Hispanic or native American legacy from getting the added benefit of legacy status. In fact, coupled with the points they get from the color of their skin, adding legacy status undoubtedly puts many of them even further ahead.

This legacy flap is being treated as the "Gotcha" that the media loves and the political hacks lick their chops over. "What does legacy preference do to advance fairness and merit" asks Theodore M. Shaw, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. (Incorporated!). "Why is it more defensible than an attempt to include people from minority groups that have been excluded in the past and are still under-represented?"

It is more defensible because blacks and other minority groups that are deemed under-represented are not necessarily harmed by legacy preference more than whites. Someone could argue that it is unfair to all groups that the legacies get in more frequently, but they would have to demonstrate that the test scores of legacies are much lower than those of non-legacies (as they are when comparing minority students who get accepted and whites who don't). At Harvard, the SAT scores of legacies are just two points below the school's overall average, which would be expected of students coming from a family tradition of academic excellence.

So this gotcha! is just nothing more than a red-herring to distract the country from the real issue being considered: can an institution use race as an admission criteria? Ron Rosenbaum (a lawyer who referred to the historic Bakke case today as "I think that was the case that said quotas were illegal" You think? Do your homework, putz!) would say yes. The Supreme Court will decide for good in the spring.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

How to Serve Man

In today's Pioneer Press, Joe Soucheray comments on a recent Minnesota state legislative auditor's report regarding the use consultants by state agencies. This practice resulted in payments of $188 million over the past two years. As Soucheray speculates, it's possible that some of these expenditures were justified. However, it's an almost certainty that many were not.

The most egregious example of the latter seems to be the curious case of Tim Gard, an alleged comedian from Denver. He was hired by something called the "Human Services--Families with Children Division" (and yes, that's a Minnesota state agency, not something Isaac Asimov came up with to describe how Martians will organize the care and feeding of it's earthling livestock herds). Gard's mission, to teach state welfare workers how to use humor on the job. His fee, $40,000.

Given some of the wild hyperbole and howl worthy reasoning I've heard espoused by welfare rights activists regarding the upcoming budget cuts, I'm not sure the use of humor is a problem among those living off the public largesse. Events such as a group of protesters outside the capital building holding signs that say "You Suck Pawlenty, Make the Rich Pay!" must be a joke, right?

But despite the impish tendencies of the employees and clients of government, Tim Gard was brought in anyway. And what did we get for our 40 grand? From his web site, here is a sample of the kind of banter soon to be heard from a public servant near you:

Throughout my programs I give examples of how to use ordinary items, such as toys, in extraordinary ways. For example, I have a hand puppet that looks like an orange crab that I call a "cube crab." I like to crabcrawl along the top of a coworkers cubes with the crab and when they see just the crab I say in my crab voice, "Are we being a little crabby today?" (Then I run away!)

Excuse me while I clean up the Diet Coke I just spat all over my computer screen while reading the above sentences, and trust me, my reaction was an editorial comment and not an involuntary spasm of laughter. Maybe that’s why Tim Gard runs away after delivering his crab jokes, he’s tired of wringing Diet Coke out of his work shirts.

Here’s another example of what Minnesota taxpayers paid $40,000 for:

At the end of every day, it's important to leave work and not drag all the situational stress home with you. I suggest at the end of every day, the last thing you should do is throw your arms in the air and do your best impression of a gymnastic "dismount" and then, as you leave your cube, point at your desk and say "STAY" and then go home. Leave work at work. It will all be waiting for you when you arrive the next day to again, "do that voodoo you do so well."

I can honestly say if Tim Gard worked in the cubicle next to me, I would try to kill him.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Slowly Strangling the Golden Goose

Depressing news out of Boston that a judge will allow a lawsuit against drug companies, which charges them with inflating prices, to proceed. She did say she would "narrow the scope of the case" but by opening up the Pandora's box to further lawsuits like this we risk destroying what has been one of the most productive industries in America and limiting the opportunities for continuing the amazing advances that American drug companies have been able to achieve. There was an article in National Review recently that stated that the United States has produced something on the order of ten times as many new drug patents as the rest of the world combined in the last twenty years. Why? Free markets baby. Do we really want to become more like Europe in this area with our companies heavily regulated by government, stifled by price controls, and unable and unwilling to fund the R&D necessary to develop new products? Is the price of cheaper drugs worth the costs of undiscovered cures?

What's Good For The Goose...

There's been a bit of a fuss lately about the ad campaign put out by the The Detroit Project, pushed by Arianna Huffington, and supported by Hollywood celebrities that urges Americans to not drive SUVs because doing so indirectly aids terrorists. The argument being that the low gas mileage of the SUVs causes us to buy more oil from regimes like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait among others who have been linked to having financial ties to terrorists groups. Leaving aside the rather tenuous nature of the claim, ( The U.S. imports about 52% of the oil we consume, 40% of the oil we import is used for gasoline, and the top five importers of foreign oil are in order Canada, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico, and Nigeria. When you start doing a little math with those numbers it's hard to see how switching from an SUV to a more fuel efficient vehicle is really going to have a significant impact on the amount of cash available for a country to support terrorism. Unless of course you include Canada on that list which could be justified if you consider unleashing the music of the Crash Test Dummies on us to be an act of terrorism.), I don't really have a problem with the ads.

After all isn't this what free speech in America is all about? A group of citizens bands together, raises some money, and uses the proceeds to try to raise public consciousness on an issue that they are passionate about. Rather than asking the government step in and ban SUVs they are at least making an effort to persuade people to make their own choice on the matter by buying more fuel efficient vehicles. And if more consumers demand more fuel efficient cars the auto industry will produce more of them with a wider variety of offerings.

Last year, my wife seriously looked into purchasing one of the new hybrids, the Toyota Prius. The problem was that the car had very few features compared to other cars in a similar price range and size. She chose to go with a very well equipped Volkswagen Jetta rather than a bare bones Prius at around the same sticker price. It was obvious at the time that if you wanted the hybrid you were going to pay a significant premium for it. If greater fuel efficiency really turns your crank more power to you. Buy the hybrid. It should be all about choice.

And it should be your choice to drive a gas guzzling SUV if you want to as well. It might cost you more both in fuel consumption and vehicle price tag but that's your choice. I know that part of the ad campaign is also to try to get Congress to raise the minimum fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and if meeting increased standards is not an unreasonable burden on the auto industry I don't see a problem with that either. Pass the cost on to the consumer if you have to and make that part of the cost of driving an SUV.

Finally, there is a bit of irony here in that I believe that a lot of folks who support the Detroit Project and Arianna Huffington's efforts here are also the same folks who decry the influence of "special interests" in politics, lament the power of PACs, and have called for campaign finance reform. I can think of another group of citizens who raise money, purchase advertising, push political agendas, and seek to change the public's views on controversial issues of the day.

They're called the NRA.