Friday, May 30, 2003

Passing The Hat

On the weekend on July 12 and 13th I will be participating, along with the Atomizer, as part of a team in the MS S.U.N. (Skate Up North) 75. The MS75 is a two day seventy five mile inline skate from Hinckley to Duluth, Minnesota to raise funds for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It's a good event for a great cause.

In the past we haven't dangled a tip jar in front of our readers or asked for contributions because, quite frankly, the notion that anyone would want to pay us for what we're doing here seemed absurd. But this event isn't about us, it's about trying to help in the battle against MS and so we're going to break with the past and ask for your help. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated and are also tax deductible. Simply click on this Paypal button to make a pledge:

If you'd like a receipt for tax purposes just send me an e-mail with your address and I'll shoot one out to you. Upon the successful completion of the seventy five mile skate (and assuming I don't take a header off the trail into the St. Louis River) I'll post a recap of the weekend here and maybe even a pic or two.

Thanks for your support. And please pray for a dry weekend on the 12th and 13th. I know I will.
Gift Registry For Doubtless

For all those of you out there who been e-mailing me wondering how you could repay JB Doubtless for his priceless contributions to Fraters I have a suggestion. While listening to the Ian Punnett radio show today on FM107 I happened to catch the Friday music segment with James Lileks (every Friday 9am-10am). Ian introduced an album that will definitely strike a chord or two with JB.

O Mickey Where Art Thou is a collection of classic Disney tunes performed by some of the best bluegrass and country musicians around. It even includes a version of 'When I See An Elephant Fly' by none other than Robbie Fulks.

By the way I think that Hugh Hewitt is going to have to take another tack in his attempts to ridicule Lileks. Any man who spends a half an hour on the radio discussing his love for the Pet Shop Boys is quite obviously immune to criticism of his musical tastes.

I'm In The Army Now

A strange, unsolicited e-mail showed up in my inbox the other day. I'm still not sure if it's a devious new method of transmitting a virus or merely a misaddressed promotion for the worst punk/psychobilly/alt country festival in history (which given their standards, doesn’t necessarily disqualify it from being in the top 10 best punk/psychobilly/alt country festivals in history).

Date: Wed, May 28, 2003
Subject: General Patton and his Privates

Seeing the subject line I immediately thought it was another of JB Doubtless's Freudian analyses of the erotic subtext present in the George C. Scott oeuvre. It's a topic he's obsessed with, which is kind of disturbing. But I must say his essay "Dr. Stranger Love: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Obsession with the Erotic Subtext Present in the George C. Scott Oeuvre" was poignant. So much so it has been nominated for a 2003 Bloggie Award, in the category “Best Post About George C. Scott’s Genitals (Non Prostate Division)".

But this e-mail wasn't from Doubtless. It appears to be from an actual member of General Patton & His Privates (pun intended, but now regretted).

General Patton & His Privates are playing our first outside carnival of the year, this Friday, May 30th, at St. Sylvester's in Logan Square, 2157 N. Humboldt Blvd. in Logan Square.

Their first outside carnival of the year? Outside of what? Prison? A methadone clinic? The suffocating straight jacket of the traditional popular music norms of good musicianship, melody, and coherent song structure?

We will go on at 8:00 till 10:00 p.m., but get there early and go on some of the rides!

Because nothing primes one for two hours of irony-fueled, head banging, gut wrenching rawk better than a trip on the Merry-Go-Round.

Also, an early reminder for the next big summer fest...
The Peace Fest, coming up this July 12th & 13th, at Cricket Hill (Montrose & the lakefront).

Some of the bands performing will include:

Electric Medicine
General Patton & His Privates
Flathead Fillups
Broken Finger
Leroy Fix

The “Peace” Fest you say? Featuring Pissbucket, Broken Finger, Flathead Fillups, and Waste? That lineup sounds more like the leftovers of a visit to a really incompetent proctologist than it does a band roster.

The Peace Fest is a freedom of speech rally that will showcase 16 bands, including folk music, eloquent poets, drum circles, and lots of great healthy foods from the Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park.

Peace Fest? Featuring 16 bands, drum circles, AND eloquent poets!? (By the way, my favorite type of performing poets are the eloquent ones. That is, other than the deaf, mute ones).

I’m forced to conclude the promoters of this event disagree with Messrs. Merriam and Webster in defining “peace” as “a state of tranquility or quiet” or “state of security or order within a community”, as I suspect the opposite will besieging the unfortunate neighborhood hosting this event.

The Peace Fest--- a creative way to look at reality. Free in our city park. More info later.

They’re promising me more info later. So it seems I’ve been drafted into the General Patton and His Privates army.

After a summer of updates from these people, I just hope it doesn’t all end with me sniveling and cowering in a hospital, crying “I just can’t take it, I guess it’s my nerves”. Because I don’t think my reputation could handle getting slapped around and getting called a “god-d*mned coward” by the lead singer of a band appearing at a Peace Fest.

Don't Believe The Hype

Powerline douses cold water on claims that the Bush administration sought to keep a report on the deficit that might have hampered the passage of the recent tax cuts under wraps. The story was initially reported by the Financial Times and has been picked up by CNN and the BBC. The incredible thing is that if any of these major media organizations had done just a little research into the story, as Powerline did, they would have discovered that the report was not "buried" and was concerned more with the methods in which deficits were reported rather than with specific recommendations in regard to the 2004 budget that the administration submitted.

Once again we are left to wonder if this is another example of intentionally biased reporting or just slothful journalism.

Kudos to Mr. Hindrocket for exposing the lack of substance behind this latest "scandal".

Thursday, May 29, 2003

LA Times Memo: What Else Is There To Say?

As a loyal member of the Northern Alliance I understand that one of us here at Fraters is supposed to weigh in on the memo by LA Times editor John Carroll that Hugh mentioned on his show last night, but, after reading the analysis of Lileks (don't let Hugh mess with your mind James you are the Gibraltar of the alliance), Mitch Berg, and the SCSU Scholars, I just don't think there is too much to add.

I agree with Lileks that for the most part liberal bias in the media is not intentional or even recognized by those who take part in it. It's just the mindset that they have when they approach the news. Templates have been created in their minds that they believe stories should fit into. They also think that the majority of Americans share these views and, as Lileks pointed out, they have little understanding of those who don't.

The abortion story mentioned in the memo is a perfect example. The abortion template is that women have a right to abortion and that there is nothing wrong with it. It also says that anyone who opposes abortion in any way is an extremist and their credibility is suspect. That is exactly what occurred in the LA Times story where merely proposing counseling for women that abortion may increase their risk of cancer is seen as a position completely lacking in merit.

My first thought yesterday when I listened to Hugh reading the memo was that it was too good to be true and had to be a fraud. An editor of a major daily admitting that the paper's "political atmosphere is suffused with liberal values"? C'mon.

But upon further review it appears to be one of those cases where you just can't make this stuff up. The first line of the memo says it all:

I'm concerned about the perception---and the occasional reality---that the Times is a liberal, "politically correct" newspaper.

Note the serious tone. He's concerned. His brow is furrowed. He's worried about what people perceive. To him the term politically correct is not real. He's an editor at the LA Times all right. You couldn't (and certainly wouldn't want to) make him up.

Liberal Media Virus?

In the last ten minutes I've received two e-mails on my Hotmail account that contain viruses. One was sent from an e-mail address ending with , the other . Hmmmmm.....

Runaway $ Train

This is the latest and unfortunately probably not the last update on the projected cost to build the super fabulous Hiawatha light rail line to connect downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America.

Rerouting the Hiawatha light-rail line through Bloomington to take passengers directly to the Mall of America, in addition to adding more parking, would cost $35 to $45 million, project officials reported Tuesday.

What's interesting about this latest news is that I always thought that the rail line was going to go directly to the MOA from the get go. That was the whole point of the line wasn't it?

The original proposal was for a station on 24th Avenue S. that would require riders to take an escalator up to a skyway spanning 24th Avenue and walk through the east-side parking ramp to reach the mall. Those transferring to the bus would then take an elevator to the ground-floor transit station.

The new, rerouted proposal would add about 2,200 feet to the 11.6-mile rail line and would require the construction of a rail platform in the mall's existing transit station. A stop there would allow the rail line to deliver passengers directly to the mall's door and within steps of connecting bus routes, Setzer said.

"The plan makes rail service much more convenient both for mall-bound customers and employees and for those who are transferring at the mall between bus and rail operations," Setzer said.

Perhaps I'm missing something here but again the whole point of this project was to connect the MOA and Downtown. Wouldn't making it convenient for mall bound customers have been something you would have considered during the initial planning?

The original proposal to build a rail station across 24th Avenue S. came at the request of mall officials, who were not convinced that a closer connection would be an asset.

So the "mall officials" essentially f'ed up here. Now they come back to the Met Council and say, "By the way we changed our mind and now we'd like that light rail thing of yours to run right up to our door. Sorry about not telling you earlier. There won't be a problem will there?"

No. No problem here. Not like there's a budget crisis in the state or anything. We'll just hit the taxpayers up for that extra $35 to $45 mil. Besides we'll get most of it from the Feds so it's really like free money anyway.

Transit officials are looking for federal funds to cover 80 percent of the cost and local contributions to cover the balance.

But when it's all said and done it's going to be worth all the trouble and expense isn't it?

For commuters, the new design would replace a 200-space lot at 24th Avenue with a 600-space lot at E. 82nd St. and 28th Av. S., adding 400 spaces. Even with the larger lot, however, Setzer has said the rail line would lack parking. The original design provides a total of about 1,000 park-and-ride spaces rather than the 4,000 to 5,000 spaces that officials believe will be needed to accommodate rail riders.

So we'll be able to ride the train. We just won't be able to park anywhere near the frickin' station! Maybe if they had a shuttle bus....

Council Member Peggy Leppik of Golden Valley said that Minnesota taxpayers deserved the council's best efforts to make the rail line successful.

"If it bombs, it bombs for all of us," she said. "I do hope you will be able to put together a funding package."

I actually know Peggy Leppik and she's a very nice and hard working woman but I wonder if she's heard the old adage about throwing good money after bad?

If your ire as a tax payer isn't raised just yet consider this gem.

So far, project officials have spent $100,000 to explore the design changes. That money would be lost if the changes were not made.

No I'm afraid that money was "lost" a long long time ago.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

You Can Check Out Anytime You Want, But You Can Never Leave

We would like to extend our congratulations and warmest welcome to Mitch Berg's Shot In The Dark and the SCSU Scholars on their inclusion in Hugh Hewitt's Northern Alliance of blogs. They join the existing triumvirate of Power Line, James Lileks, and of course us humble souls here at Fraters in creating a formidable pentagon of blogging power on the Northern Frontier.

Pending the completion of a thorough background investigation (the results of which will, of course, remain completely confidential. Don't worry King what you did at summer camp stays at summer camp) these newest additions will go through the time honored ritual initiation and be branded (and we mean literally branded-we picked up a nifty cattle brand for a song when the New Abilene ranch went out of business a few years ago) as full fledged members of the alliance.

The specific details of the initiation ceremony itself are cloaked in secrecy but suffice it to say that the real fun begins when Hindrocket shows up with the goat.

Welcome aboard gentlemen!

We Like It Here

It’s always a thrill to see your home state mentioned in The Economist. That is, it’s thrilling when it isn’t preceded by words like “SARS ravages...” or “US Marines smash the outskirts of....” or most humiliating, “Mark Dayton, the Senator from.....”

When it’s a benign or laudatory reference, you feel like you’ve made the big leagues. The goings-on in your little corner of the world sharing glossy newsprint space with the great and weighty issues of the day, being read by the great and weighty leaders of the day.

It’s thrilling, thrilling I say! Which of course helps to counterbalance the chagrin felt when reviewing the help wanted ads in the front of the magazine and thinking about one’s own qualifications . According to the current issue, there are openings for the Economic Research Director of the International Monetary Fund, the CEO of the Baltic Ship Brokerage Exchange, and the Director of the Legal & Constitutional Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

My God, who the hell do the advertisers think is reading this publication? Highly educated, wealthy, cosmopolitan guys? The guys from Powerline? Ha! According to my observations from this corner of St. Paul, the readership consists of guys like me. And also a bunch of unemployed bloggers. The classified ad sales staff of The Economist better hope that their reader profile surveys never happen to find any of our growing legion with their random samples. Because if they do, there go the socio-economic status numbers baby! And with them the advertisers.

For this reason I sometimes suspect that The Economist would prefer I not even bother picking up their august publication, lest they start getting employment advertising overtures from the Globe College of Business rather than the World Bank.

But enough of the pain associated with The Economist and back to the thrills. That is, a reasonably substantial article on Minnesota appears in the May 17 edition. One of only five articles in the “United States” section (By the way, Wisconsin? You got nothing.) Sadly, the Minnesota article is only available online for a fee, so I can’t link. But, I’ll risk violating international copyright law (and probably a summons issued by the Director of the Legal & Constitutional Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat) to summarize it for you .

Primarily, it’s an article about Minnesota’s budget crisis and the Republican plan to address it without raising taxes. But it also serves as a promotional piece for Tim Pawlenty, positioning him as a young, energetic leader with new ideas and big potential. Perhaps this is The Economist’s way of indicating they think Pawlenty has prospects for a larger stage than the Minnesota Capitol building.

However, the entire piece also has a rather Continental undercurrent of bemusement at the unsophisticated nature of Minnesotans and their politics. This is best exemplified by a picture of Pawlenty furiously skating down a rink and smiling away, wearing a Wild jersey and jeans. (Which granted, isn’t exactly sophisticated. But it’s not a petulant, bald lummox wearing a feather boa around the Governor’s mansion either. Give us some credit gents, we’re making progress here!)

My favorite part of the article is the title. It’s only three words long, yet still reveals a knowledge of Minnesota political history and sports history and is perfect in summarizing the current efforts of Republicans in reversing profligate government spending trends of the past 30 years.

"Miracle. On ice."

Upon reading this I had high hopes that The Economist found a writer with some insight into Minnesota culture and history, knowledge of how we found ourselves in this fiscal predicament, and a sense for the current political trends in the state.

These hopes lasted all of about a second, until I read the first sentence of the article and realized the writer's research consisted entirely of listening to A Prairie Home Companion and renting Fargo:

“Cold, northern, and Lutheran, with ice fishing and coffe-klatches apparently the pinnacle of its social life, Minnesota does not always seem the most desirable place to live.”

Yikes. A lede that would make Jayson Blair wince. Although the unnamed Economist writer did nail that “northern” part perfectly. Way to read a map, bub.

Maybe I’ve given The Economist way too much credit over the years. Yes, they’re Conservative and British and have the air of stuffy certainty to them. But is it possible they’re just another group of newspaper hacks? A breed John Derbyshire pungently (and persuasively) referred to last week as “scum”?

I’m not sure about that, but I’ll leave you with a couple of Derbyshire literary examples with which you can make up your own mind:

"The journalists-are-scum assumption has a long pedigree in the land of my birth. It is almost as if, since show business became respectable, British journalists have inherited the old prejudices about the acting profession — "vagabonds and strumpets." When the London satirical magazine Private Eye, back in the 1960s, wanted to invent an archetypal denizen of Fleet Street, they named him Lunchtime O'Booze.

Forty years earlier Humbert Wolfe had written:

'You cannot hope to bribe or twist
Thank God! The British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
Un-bribed, there's no occasion to.'

Around the same time Evelyn Waugh wrote his wonderful satire on newspaper life, the novel Scoop.

'Why, once Jakes went out to cover a revolution in one of the Balkan capitals. He overslept in his carriage, woke up at the wrong station, didn't know any different, got out, went straight to an hotel, and cabled off a thousand-word story about barricades in the streets, flaming churches, machine-guns answering the rattle of his typewriter as he wrote, a dead child, like a broken doll, spreadeagled in the deserted roadway below his window — you know.'

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Balance of Power Shifting Northward?

A dispatch has been sent post haste on behalf of Fraters Libertas and our Northen Alliance members in good standing Power Line requesting that the grand poobah of the Northern Alliance consider a request to expand the Alliance to include both Shot In The Dark and the SCSU Scholars. A edict on the matter is expected to be issued shortly.

Helloise Has Got Nothing On Me

My gas grill is designed so that the grease that results from cooking drains out the bottom of the grill in two places. You need to place aluminum cans with their tops cut off underneath the grease exits, attaching them by means of wire hangers. The cans tend to fill up rather quickly and it is not the easiest task in the world to cut the top of the can off while maintaining the can's structural integrity. Yesterday I happened upon a much better solution.

When you purchase single malt Scotch the bottle usually comes in a protective container. If the container happens to be metal all you have to do is punch a couple of holes in the sides at the top (easily done with a flat edge screwdriver) and viola you have a much deeper and easier to attach grease pit for your grill.

Reason #132 why you should always drink good Scotch.

Tomorrow: How to use spent Summit beer bottles to forecast the weather.

Webster’s Entries 5/27/03 K

ketch n (ca. 1649): a fore-and-aft rigged vessel similar to a yawl but with a larger mizzen and the mizzenment stepped farther forward

kick-ass adj (1970): strikingly tough, aggressive or uncompromising--often considered vulgar

kohl•rabi n (1807) a race of cabbages having a greatly enlarged, fleshy, turnip-shaped edible stem

kouprey n (1940) a rare, short-haired ox of forests of Indochina having a large dewlap

keen n (1830): a lamentation for the dead uttered in a loud wailing voice or sometimes in a wordless cry

knit-stitch n (ca. 1885): a basic knitting stitch usually made with the yarn at the back of the work by inserting the right needle into the front part of a loop on the left needle from the left side, catching the yarn with the point of the right needle, and bringing it through the first loop to form a new loop--compare PURL STITCH

kel•pie n (1747): a water Sprite of Scottish folklore that delights in or brings about the drowning of wayfayers

Monday, May 26, 2003

Cake Eating Cops Congregate

For months, we here in Minnesota have had to endure constant caterwauling from our public officials over reduced budgets and lack of funds for critical community services. Police and sheriff departments have complained endlessly about staffs that are stretched too thin due to increased homeland security demands. We have heard them complain that the recently passed legislation extending on-sale liquor hours to 2:00 am would increase these demands, not to mention the additional staff needed to process the oncoming onslaught of new gun permit applications after the conceal and carry law passed. After having such concerns repeatedly pounded into one’s brain, it’s not hard to be left with the impression that the safety of our citizens must truly be in danger.

Not so in prestigious Edina. Making my way home through the city at 8:30 pm on Memorial Day, we came across what looked like a major accident along the highway. Six squad cars were plainly in sight, two with lights a-blazin’. Was it a horrific ten car pile up, you ask? Thankfully, it was not. Maybe it was an overturned semi? Not today. Could it be that a vanload of suspected terrorists have just had their nefarious plans thwarted by the men in blue? Not likely. No, what we had here was a speed trap. There was one squad car on the side of the highway whose occupant had his radar gun at the ready. Three cars were lined up on the entrance ramp waiting to de dispatched to the next dangerous citizen bold enough to flaunt the law in broad daylight. The other two were further on up the road processing their speed crazed victims.

Now, Edina’s police patrol division is comprised of 39 officers with one supervisor and 6 officers serving on a typical 8 hour shift. Let’s assume that these forces were doubled to deal with the increased traffic typical of a holiday weekend. This means that half of Edina’s forces on the streets were stationed on a half mile stretch of highway. Does that sound like a staff that is spread too thin to you?

Oh yes, did I forget to mention that the city of Edina is in the process of building a new 57,000 square foot City Hall and Public Safety building. That’s a lot of speeding tickets….

Not Ready For Prime Time Playa

I have never been a talk radio show host. And it's been many years since I've called in to a talk radio show. But I listen to talk radio regularly and I've picked up some tips from those in the know about these things.

So the other day when Hugh Hewitt was looking for input on the Star Tribune's decision to publish the outrageous Scheer piece (was it intentional or are they just that oblivious?) I felt confident that the time had come to break my silence and join the fray.

After telling the screener who I was and what I wanted to discuss I was told that I'd be up shortly. While waiting through a commercial break I worked out my spiel from the opening words to the conclusion. Don't ask how's it going. Check. Don't mention the fact that you met Hugh in Minneapolis last January. Check. Do mention the blog. Check. End the call before the host does. Check. I was ready. I had my rap down.

This was going to be the best call of the day on Hugh's show. Maybe the best call he ever had. Hell, this was going to be the best damn call in the history of talk radio!

The commercial break is over and Hugh goes to some guy from California. The caller mentions David Horowitz. Beautiful! One of my talking points includes the Strib's misidentification of Horowitz a few years ago by an editorial columnist. Things couldn't be going better.

Then I'm up. "Chad from Minneapolis intentional or not intentional?"

Wait. This wasn't how the call was supposed to start. Resist the urge to panic. Suddenly my well-prepared script is thrown out the window and I have to improvise.

"Well Hugh I actually believe it was not intentional. While the Star Tribune editorial page is very left wing it is also very clueless..." I then relate the Horowitz story, which Hugh finds amusing. I'm just about to move on and unveil my true identity as one of the Fraters when I hear music being piped up. No! I'm not ready to go yet!

I feel like Ralphie from A Christmas Story at the department store as he clings to the top of the slide and blurts out:


Except I say:


But it's too late. The music is playing and they're going to another break. Like Ralphie I get the boot in the face and go careening down the slide. My call is over.

Next time I'll be much better. That I promise.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

In the Cards

Mitch Berg has put together an amusing set of playing cards for Minnesota Democrats.

By the way don't feel too bad about the Northern Alliance snub Mitch. We've been pushing for your inclusion and even the guys over at Powerline mentioned that you deserved a place. Maybe you need the real king maker in the group to put in a good word on your behalf.

NIMBY Update in Minnesota

The latest example of "I've got mine. Now you can't have yours."

The Beautiful and the Sublime

Last night I attended a performance of the 'Clockwork Orange' soundtrack er... actually Beethoven's 9th Symphony in St. Paul. (I enjoy downtown St. Paul except for the parking. It's probably the only city in America where many parking ramps are closed on Saturday nights) The orchestra opened with Beethoven's 8th which was kind of like watching a preview before the main feature. Once I managed to get the droogs and the ultraviolence out of my head I was able to appreciate the majesty and brilliance of Ludwig Van's tour de force. If you can listen to the entire 9th and not be moved during some point you are simply not human.

When Spam Speaks To You

James Lileks asks what Spam wants of us in today's Backfence column. He also has a little problem with a parking ticket as well. At least he's not bitter about it.

I Feel Your New Age Pain

Yanni is back in town and he's got a lot to say:

At the end of his 1998 concert tour, the Greece-born, Minnesota-educated instrumental icon was -- to put it simply -- burned out. His single-mindedness had forced a breakup with actress Linda Evans, his companion of nine years. He was unsettled and unbalanced, tired and restless -- driven, he says, yet low on passion. He had gone nonstop for six years. He was unhappy, with no sense of direction.

"It was painful because it was two breakups at the same time -- one with Linda and one with my career," said Yanni, who performs Friday in St. Paul. "And I got very lost."

To pull himself out of his doldrums, Yanni immersed himself in two projects: building a recording studio at his new home in south Florida and writing his autobiography.

"The building of the studio was part of my healing process," said Yanni, who took a nearly five-year hiatus from live performances until this winter. "It took my attention away from the music [for two years] and put it into something else creative. We built it from the pilings up. It's about 100 feet from the ocean."

Yanni, 48, had previously refused offers to write his autobiography because he thought he was too young. Having taken "a pause" from his career, he finally accepted an offer from Miramax Books because he had time for "introspection and retrospection." Still, he insisted on the proviso that he could pull the plug on the project at any time.

He's an inspiration to us all. No word yet on a possible Chameleon reunion tour.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Let's Face It, Boys Are Better Than Girls by Dave Thompson

As I submit this article, Annika Sorenstam is about thirty minutes from teeing off in the second round of the Bank of America Colonial golf tournament. She put up an “impressive” one over par 71 on Thursday. You might wonder why I put the word impressive in quotes. Well, because +1 in a PGA event is impressive only if you are an amateur or a girl. If you don't trust my opinion, I refer you to ESPN's Website that points out the fact that she will have to putt better today than yesterday in order to make the cut. A man who shoots a +1 during the opening round of a PGA event will not make the highlight reel on any national or local sports broadcast.

There are many important things to be done in this society that are done equally well by men and women. However, men of equal skill beat women at anything that can be done better or more easily given superior size and/or strength. While women can attain the same level of competence and precision with a golf club, they cannot hit the ball as far as men. That is why virtually every golf course has ladies' tees that shorten the course. A man may have to hit a 270-yard drive in order to be in the same location on the fairway as a woman who hits a 230-yard drive. This golf convention was started long before the political correctness movement came to be, and is therefore a pretty accurate reflection of reality.

Poor Annika is hitting from the men's tees this week. Even if she hits a tee shot with the same sweet stroke of the best man out there, she will be hitting her approach shot to the green from 20, 30 or 40 yards further out. This makes the task of hitting the ball close to the pin much more difficult. She is to an inherent disadvantage by virtue of the fact that she's a girl.

Are you still unconvinced? Well then put your money where your mouth is. If the PGA tour is open to women, it only seems fair that the LPGA tour should be open to men, right? I’m sure you are already in the business of trying to rationalize. Give it up; you can't do so with any intellectual honesty. The fact is that marginal players on the PGA tour and some of the better players on the tour would migrate to the LPGA tour and take it over. Their size and strength put them at a huge advantage over the women. The folks who run the LPGA will not (and should not) let this happen.

Since men will not be given the chance to play on the LPGA tour, women should not be allowed to take slots on the PGA tour. I hope we are near the time when it is clear that boys and girls do not belong together in competitive athletic events beyond about age ten. In sports such as football, hockey and wrestling it can result in unreasonable risk of injury and awkward situations for everyone involved. In sports like golf it results in politically correct arrangements that take male professional athletes out of their sport without the permission to go play with the women.

Women on the LPGA tour can no longer make the Rodney Dangerfield argument that they get no respect. ESPN, The Golf Channel and the major golf magazines provide comprehensive coverage of the LPGA tour. Sponsorships are flourishing, resulting in larger tournament purses. (Yes, I will admit that golf is the rare venue in which men have bigger purses). The women really don’t need the men or the media circus surrounding Annika’s excellent weekend adventure. Come to think of it, does the LPGA even have an event this week?

Editor's Note: The Dave Thompson Show can be heard in the Twin Cities every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 PM on KSTP-AM 1500.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Hang Ten Hugh

Me too, Me too, Me too!

A little free radio consultant advice for 107 FM host Ian Insta-Punnit:

When you have someone of Lilek’s caliber (like Lileks himself) on your show for an hour,


I tuned in this morning to find Punnit finishing Lileks’ sentences, jumping his punch lines and basically beboppin’ and skattin’ all over him. James is only on for an hour for chrissakes, you would think Punnit would just get out of the way and let the sonorously-piped and nothing-if-not-loquacious man do his thing.

Nope. He has to try to compete. “See, I’m funny and witty and offbeat too!” No, no you’re not, Ian. It has to say something about his show that one of today’s segment ideas was to have his wife call to discuss what they were going to do this weekend (!)

At first I thought they accidentally left the mike on during a break or something and this was just a typical conversation between man and wife, one you may have had this morning yourself. No. It was an entire segment. Perhaps next week she can call to discuss what she should get at Cub. Or what video they should rent at Blockbuster--oh, wait a minute, they did discuss that.

The few words Lileks did manage to squeeze in were quite entertaining. He brought along an amazing version of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” from the Mulholland Drive soundtrack that was just beautiful. And he played one of the more ridiculous song-poems from his disturbing collection.

But it was too little too late. In the entire hour, he probably spoke 2 uninterrupted sentences. Thanks, een.

You Don't Have To Go Home, You Can Stay Here (At Least For Another Hour)

Deal is sealed: 2 a.m. closing time for bars in Minnesota

Good news. Ten years ago I would have regarded this event as earth shattering and would have been out in the streets celebrating. Today I just smile and say about time.
Sheer Insanity At The Strib

On Tuesday Robert Scheer wrote a piece for the LA Times which claimed that the US military rescue of Private Lynch was staged, based on a report from the BBC. His column raised a firestorm of criticism particularly since the BBC has pretty much backed away from the original story. Talk radio host Hugh Hewitt has been all over Scheer, the story has been widely covered by InstaPundit, and many noted bloggers including the Shark Blog, James Lileks, and the guys over at Power Line have all written on the subject. You can hardly click on a link in the blogsphere without coming across the Scheer flap. Bill O'Reilly even discussed the matter on The Factor on Wednesday evening.

So today I open up the editorial section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and see what?

The bleepin' Scheer piece. No mention of the swirling controversy. No addendum that the original BBC story that Scheer based his claptrap on has been discredited. Nothing.

Can the editors possibly be that oblivious? Or do they simply not care? Neither provides much comfort to the unfortunate readers of the Star Tribune.

Words of Wisdom For Memorial Day Weekend

Thursday, May 22, 2003

A Brave New Minnesota

Arriving at work today I notice a brand spanking new bright yellow sign adorning the entrance:

'So & So (The company I work for which shall remain nameless) Bans All Guns On These Premises'

Dang it. I guess my idea for "Bring Your Gun to Work Day" isn't going to come to fruition after all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Her Cheatin' Heart?

Today was the last installation of a four part series on infidelity in the Star Tribune. The series focused on one couple's struggles to overcome a little steppin' out by the little lady and to save their marriage. In case you're wondering they did manage to work things out in the end.

When the series started there was a section called How common is infidelity? which gave some estimates on the prevalance of infidelity today. According to "mid-range estimates" 44% of husbands and 25% of wives cheat at some point in their marriages.

These numbers tend to bear out what is still probably the accepted conventional wisdom on infidelity. The horny hubby is out having a romp with a younger, more attractive bimbo while the poor wife's at home taking care of the kids and the house. I'm not saying that this still doesn't happen because I'm sure it does. But if my own observations are in anyway applicable to society on a larger scale we might have to revise our notions of infidelity.

I've played on the same men's recreational hockey team for about ten years. During that time there have been a number of different players on the team. Five have gone through divorces. While it's always hard to know the whole story behind each divorce, from what I've heard each of the five breakups were initiated by the wives. In three of the divorces the wife was cheating although in only one case was that initially apparent. In the the other two the women claimed to be in need of "more space" or "just needed to be alone for a while". Later the information emerged that, in fact, they had already been carrying on affairs. And ,while acknowledging that I might not be getting the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to the best of my knowledge none of the men involved had been unfaithful.

Now I'm not saying that this is irrefutable proof that women are cheating more. This is a very small and specific sampling of the general population. Maybe guys who play hockey are losers who drive women into the arms of other men (Say it ain't so!). But it does cause me to raise my eyebrows a bit and wonder why.

The way I see it there are two main factors at work here:

1. The ever increasing number of women in the workplace. (Yes I've heard about the Lindberg baby smartass.) I know that women working is hardly a new phenomenon. But men and women are working side by side in the same industries and professions now more than ever before. And the workplace has become for infidelity what the locker room floor is for athletes foot; a breeding ground. From the Strib piece:

Baltimore psychologist Shirley P. Glass raises an alarm over these developments in particular:

Friendships, especially at work, that start as healthy connections and then slide down that proverbial slippery slope into romance. This is not the old boss-beguiles-secretary routine. It's two people drawn close because they share a big piece of their lives.

2. The Feminist movement of the 60's and 70's told women they could have it all: Career, love, and family. This in turn raised expectations of what women wanted in men. It used to be that it was wives who had a hard time measuring up to the often unrealistic expectations of their husbands to raise the kids, manage the household, and still be sexually attractive and interested. Now women increasingly expect men to still be able to provide for them in addition to being a good father, and satisfying their needs both sexually and emotionally. He has to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, be a stud between the sheets, as well as a sensitive listener. These days that's proving to be a tall order for some men to fill and it leaves their wives disappointed. Maybe they can't have it all after all.

Perhaps all this is an inevitable result of women wanting to be treated more like men. I'm sure that certain folks would welcome the fact, if it is indeed true, that women are cheating more and see it as progress towards their notion of true equality. I might add a warning to be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

One thing is certain.

This ain't just your father's infidelity anymore.

Where Is The "Hate" Coming From Again?

From today's Minneapolis Star Tribune:

A House DFL aide publicly apologized Tuesday for likening House Republicans to members of the Ku Klux Klan and branding them as liars in a published interview in a black community newspaper.

Lou Harvin, a longtime Twin Cities TV news reporter who is now public affairs director for the House DFL caucus, issued his apology shortly after Sen. Tom Neuville, R-Northfield, demanded one on the Senate floor.

The Spokesman-Recorder article quoted Harvin as saying:

"A lot of members of the Republican Party in this House, to me, are basically -- I don't want to scare people -- of the KKK mentality, but totally without the hoods. They have gotten smart; they wear neckties, they wear dresses, they don't use the 'N' word. But their thought process is exactly the same: 'Black people are lesser people than I am . . .'

"I'm not saying they're going to go out and hang people. . . . I'm saying that KKK mentality is alive and well, and it's so slick now. . . . What Republicans do is lie, they lie, they lie. And they lie so much I have to spend my entire day unraveling the lies before I'm even able to promote my party."

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Up and Down the Dial

Yesterday Mitch Berg at Shot In The Dark featured a solid overview of the local Twin Cities talk radio scene (permalinks are kaput you have to scroll down). His description of Mike Gallagher as "everybland" is the perfect tag for Gallagher's complete lack of a distinguishing personality or style. And I have to give Mitch props for even knowing who the WCCO hosts are these days. Unless I'm tuning in to a Wild or Twins game I avoid the Good Neighbor like the plague. I guess I'm still haunted by childhood memories of listening to Joyce LaMont, the barking dogs on Boone and Erickson (yeah that never gets old), breaking news on pork belly futures, and the corn detassling bus pickup schedule (if you've never lived in the Midwest and have no idea what I'm referring to consider yourself lucky).

However, I think Mitch did overlook a few shows and was a bit hasty in his judgment of others. How and why would you not want to include the lovely Laura Ingraham in the mix? Yes, her show is on 1570 AM KYCR which is hardly a household name in the Twin Cities radio scene but I'd rather listen to the rebroadcast of her program in the morning (6am-9am) than the dreck they're spinning these days over at KSTP. The only downside to Ingraham's show is the God awful impersonations that she tries to pull off. Usually I'll listen to her until 8am when I switch over to Ian Punnent at FM 107. Punnent is a lot like Tommy Mischke at KSTP in that you need to listen for a while before you "get it" and it's probably not everyone's cup of tea. KYCR also does have Ingraham live from 6pm-9pm in the evenings but I usually am busy listening to Hugh Hewitt's show at that time. Hugh manages to assemble an amazing collection of guests and provides incomparable insight into the national political scene. Plus he throws out some love to us humble bloggers every once in a while and likes to push Lileks buttons so you gotta respect him.

Finally how could one write about the local radio scene and not mention Dave Thompson? Thousands of Twin Cities residents spend their Saturday and Sunday afternoons listening to Dave's soothing tones while doing various chores around the house. Whether he's talking about conceal and carry reform or his reluctance to touch salamanders Dave brings his unique style into our lives and has become an indispensable part of our weekend routines. Cleaning out the gutters just wouldn't be the same without him.

Cereal Philandering

I have a bad habit of not quite finishing the last of the cereal in the box. When it feels like there is less than a full bowl in there I dispatch it to the bottom of the pantry, where it can sit for a long time.

This morning I woke up and realized that I had no fresh cereal. I usually like to keep at least 2 boxes at the ready to avoid this type of calamity, but I must have screwed up.

Looking down at the bottom of the pantry I found partial boxes of Raisin Bran, Great Grains, Cub-brand Honey Nut and Corn Chex. Now there is nothing worse than pouring an ounce of leftover cereal in your bowl and then getting 4 ounces of cereal dust that tastes like old chalk along with it. So, I decided to try to combine the cereals to make what I hoped would be two full bowls.

The obvious way to do this was to group like-cereals together. For example, the Corn Chex and the Cub Honey Nut were basically birds of the same feather--oven toasted corn cereal and oven toasted rice and corn cereal respectively.

That would make one bowl, but the next one was a bit more of a dilemma. The Great Grains describes itself as “The goodness of whole grains...and crunchy pecans”. By itself a morning delight, but with Raisin Bran?

Being a natural risk-taker, I decided to combine the Raisin Bran with the Honey Nut, reasoning that since Honey Nut was sweeter, it would overcome the inherent conflict of a bran with a non-bran cereal. Turned out okay, only there was too much Raisin Bran for the Honey Nut to overcome.

That left the Great Grains and the Corn Chex combo, which I consumed with mixed results. The Corn Chex immediately floated to the top of the bowl and the Great Grains, bloated by the weight of the pecans, went straight to the bottom. They were basically a soggy mess by the time I got through the first layer of Chex and the pecans had not aged so well.

So I’m off to the grocery store to score some more boxes. I think I’ll need to get at least four, meaning I'll probably repeat this entire rediculous episode in about a month.

Separated At Birth?

Nervous, overachieving New Republic Editor Peter Beinart,


Nervous, underachieving Dilbert intern Asok?

Monday, May 19, 2003

Ludwig von Mises Meet JB Doubtless

From Liberalism published in 1927:

The jobless worker who is on relief does not consider it necessary to look about for a new occupation if he no longer finds a position in his old one; at least, he allows more time to elapse before he decides to shift to a new occupation or to a new locality or before he reduces the wage rate he demands to that at which he could find work. If unemployment benefits are not set too low, one can say that as long as they are offered, unemployment cannot disappear.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

I Don't Make A Party Out Of Lovin' (sandals)

Ahhh...the beautiful summer weather is here. Glorious sun, blue sky as far as the eye can see, the nothing-says-summer-better aroma of lilacs (I don’t know what Lileks smells like).

Many are breaking out their summer duds for the first time. Shorts are coming out of the storage box. Linen shirts are being ironed for hours to make them at least presentable.

And somewhere in the closet lay those sandals you got a few years ago.

Let’s just end this little charade right now, shall we? The sandals must go. Dispatch them to the ash can this instant. You are an adult, and unless you’re still an active hacky-sacker or a university professor, then it must end, now.

Do you really think anyone wants to see your calloused, fish-belly-white, hairy feet? Why would you put society through viewing that nasty, worn-out old leather with literally years of sweat and fungususses ground in?

Does anyone want to know firsthand your skills at toenail clipping? At loofahing your corns?

And I’ll not even mention the odoriferous sins you commit simply sauntering by.

So before you even put them on for one more season, just end it.

As Merle put it:

leather boots are still in style for manly footwear
beads and roman sandals won’t be seen


Friday, May 16, 2003

Windy City Weekend

Off to Chicago for a hockey tourney. I can't promise that we'll be bringing back any hardware but I can guarantee that we'll put a few biscuits in the basket. Let's hope the Wild can do the same tonight.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

What Are They Smoking In St. Louis Park?

You don't smoke. You don't like second hand smoke. But how do you avoid restaurants where you might be exposed to the evils of second hand smoke?

Well if you live here in St. Louis Park, Minnesota the city government is working on a solution.

A St. Louis Park task force proposal requiring restaurants to disclose secondhand smoke levels could mean an increase in license fees for restaurants that aren't smoke free.

Representatives from the city and the St. Louis Park Restaurant Smoking Task Force will outline a proposal during a series of upcoming meetings requiring restaurants that allow smoking to disclose secondhand smoke levels to customers and employees.

"So when patrons walk in to a restaurant they'll see a posted certificate or graph of smoking levels in the establishment and they can make an informed consumer decision comparing levels to other restaurants," said Brian Hoffman, director of inspections.

Silly me. I thought that maybe by walking into a restaurant you could decide for yourself whether it was too smoky for your tastes. Obviously other St. Louis Park residents must have been clamoring for a GRAPH so that they can make an "informed" decision. Clearly government intervention is required.

Gary Rackner, co-owner of Bunny's Bar and Grill, 5916 Excelsior Blvd., said he's willing to go along with the testing and pay an increase in license fees to appease the task force.

Now I've been to Bunny's a few dozen times and when it comes to smoking in the joint, it's not the smoke that's second hand it's the breathable air. So I was curious why the owner would favor this proposal.

"I'm glad it came to this. They were originally talking about making all restaurants in St. Louis Park non-smoking. That would be horrific," said Rackner. "If it was a state ban then fine, but if it was just non-smoking here, with businesses in other cities offering smoking, it would kill us."

When Rackner said he was willing to "appease" the task force he wasn't kidding. Faced with a choice of paying a bit more in license fees or going out of business he's doing whatever it takes to survive.

But I guess as long as the restaurant owners are picking up the tab this really won't affect us taxpayers in St. Louis Park right?

If the proposed program was enacted, Hoffman said the city would need to purchase equipment for staff to use when collecting the samples.

"We are still working to finalize the costs, however the estimated total initial capitol costs could range from a few thousand dollars to approximately $20,000.

These costs could be amortized over time and included in the annual testing cost or possibly covered through a grant from some interested party wanting to promote tobacco awareness," said Hoffman.

Now 20k isn't a lot of money. And I suppose that if some "interested party" was willing to pick up the cost it would be okay. But we have a state budget crisis here in Minnesota and all I've been hearing from the city for the last six months is whining about how much they're going to have cut back (and raise my property taxes) because state funding to cities is being trimmed back. My question is do we REALLY need this program?

There are approximately 70 restaurants in St. Louis Park--one-third of them would be affected by the proposal, which, Hoffman said, is not meant as a punishment for restaurants allowing smoking. "The real goal is to promote awareness of secondhand smoke so residents can make wise decisions."

Obviously there are non-smoking options available. You don't like second hand smoke? Don't eat in smoky restaurants. Don't work in a smoky restaurant. It's called the marketplace.

Awareness? Don't tell me that you need a chart on the wall to tell you whether it's smoky. Walk into Bunny's. Look around. Smell the air. Get a clue.
Keep This In Mind Next Time You're Whining About That $15 Copay

Developing drugs is not cheap.

Developing a drug, including studies required after regulatory approval, costs nearly $900 million, according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, an industry-funded group. The cost, estimated at $897 million, is up from an estimated $802 million in November 2001, which excluded postmarketing approval costs.

''Drug development remains a time-consuming, risky, and expensive process,'' Kenneth I. Kaitlin, director of the Tufts center, said in a statement. ''To mitigate rapidly rising R&D [research and development] costs, pharmaceutical firms over the past decade have aggressively sought to identify likely drug failures earlier in the development process. These efforts appear to be paying off, as the rate of late-phase terminations in the 1990s declined, compared to the 1980s.''

OutWilding The Wild

After watching the Wild toil fruitlessly yet again last night I have to admit that I'm damn impressed with the Ducks. Giguere gets all the attention (and deservedly so) but what is less appreciated is the marvelous team defensive effort that the Ducks have been turning in. Defensemen and forwards all work hard, block shots, and clog up the defensive zone. They rarely make mistakes and when they do Giguere is there to bail 'em out.

The first five minutes of last night's game were like watching a couple of the Wild victories over Colorado and Vancouver from the opponents perspective. The Wild were all over the Ducks controlling the play and creating chance after chance. But they got nuthin' for their efforts. Then the Ducks come down, throw a shot on goal, jam home a rebound and bam it's 1-0. Turn out the lights the game's over.

I certainly don't expect the Wild to climb out this hole and win the series and I'm pretty doubtful if they can even win Game Four to send the series back to St. Paul. But for the love of Pete (that phrase has a whole new meaning for Mr. Townshend) can you boys please, please score a freakin' goal? This is getting downright embarrassing.

The Hockey Commisioner of Minnesota may decide to voluntarily step aside if this continues much longer.

By the way if the current trend holds up expect the Wild to lose by a score of 8-0 on Friday. That result should be painfully familiar to any of you who followed the North Stars back in the day.

The Right Choice

The guys over at Powerline have already linked to it (and nobody can link like they link) but I can't resist bringing this piece on Minnesota guv Tim Pawlenty by John Fund at to your attention. I've been a Pawlenty guy for a long time but less than a year ago some of my associates (you know who you are) doubted whether Pawlenty had the goods to get elected and perform effectively as governor. This editorial is just the latest affirmation that Pawlenty is the man of the hour in Minnesota politics.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Toughest Fill In Gig In Talk Radio

Subbing for Rush Limbaugh and his legions of devoted listeners? Nah.

How about trying to fill the shoes of Dennis Prager and being able to discuss politics, philosophy, religion, and photography (sometimes all on the same show)? Nope.

It must be replacing the talented Hugh Hewitt and having to juggle the amazing variety and quality of guests that he's able to attract? Not even close.

You want the want toughest temp job in talk radio? Try filling in for Michael Savage.

Last night I stumbled across the Savage Nation and was surprised (and actually relieved) to not hear Savage's voice. I can't recall the name of the fellow taking Savage's place but after listening to him for a few minutes I realized what an unenviable position he was in. Think about it. You may take Savage for granted but it's not easy to find someone that hateful, that spiteful, that angry, that bombastic and no one can match Savage's grating, annoying delivery.

Sure this guy gave it a try but I just couldn't feel the bile coming through the airwaves like you do with Savage. I guess in that way he is just about irreplaceable. Everyone else seems so milquetoast in comparison.

Maybe Vince McMahon will be available next time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The Crushing of Dissent 1-2-3

Last night we furtively huddled in the basement of an undisclosed location in the western suburbs of Minneapolis clandestinely watching the Wild-Ducks hockey game. We kept one eye on the hockey game and one eye on the door half expecting the jack booted thugs of Hockey Commissioner (more accurately Commissar) Hugh Hewitt to come crashing through it at any moment and haul us off to one of the camps.

You haven't heard of the camps?

People only dare whisper about them around here but from the few details that have emerged the "re-education"camps were designed by the despotic Hewitt himself and built deep in the North Woods of Minnesota. "Campers" are required to study Hewitt's In, But Not Of for hours on end and must carry a copy of the book with them at all times. They are forced to watch propaganda films regaling the glory days of the Browns and Indians (all in black and white of course). The diet consists mostly of a heavy regimen of Vitaganza products and the camp's loudspeakers blare Canned Heat's Going Up The Country twenty four hours a day. It's the closet thing to hell on earth yet devised by man.

That is the fate that awaits us if we fall into the nefarious clutches of Hewitt. He is, at this very moment, preparing a "proclamation" banning us from all hockey related activities in Minnesota and threatening to send us into exile after the playoffs are over. When Hugh learned that I was leaving the state to play in a hockey tournament in Chicago this weekend he darkly hinted that he might seal the border and not allow my return.

What has brought about this unprecedented wave of terror and repression?

We dared to raise our voices and speak out. We said that we're mad as hell that a Ducks fan is our Hockey Commissioner and we're not going to take it.

Can there be any doubt at this point that Hugh is not acting in the best interests of the state as our Hockey Commissioner? How else to explain the Wilds 2-0 deficit in the series with the hated Ducks then the presence of a Fifth Column here in Minnesota led by Hewitt from his So Cal redoubt?

Wake up hockey fans of Minnesota (and elsewhere). Rise up and shake off the chains of oppression and fear.

Read the petition to Recall Hugh Hewitt and act upon it.

This battle is not just for Fraters Libertas it is for all lovers of liberty and hockey.

Take comfort in our motto: The Fraters can die but cannot yield.

To victory!

It All Depends What You Mean By Bailing

Andrew Sullivan claims that independent voters are "bailing" on President Bush after the war in Iraq and concludes that it is due to the President's domestic policies which Sullivan says do little to warm the hearts of independents. Now when I hear the word "bailing" used in this context I imagine a mass exodus of supporters leaving Bush. However, if you examine the actual poll results it's not all that clear cut.

Keeping in mind that the poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.5% we see that Bush's support has indeed slipped among independents. An earlier poll conducted in early-mid April had 31% of independents saying that they would "definitely reelect Bush" while in the most recent poll only 25% of independents responded similarly. A 6% drop is nothing to sneeze at but considering the 2.5% margin of error is it a sign of "bailing"?

If you continue to look at the results you see that the number of independents who would "consider someone else" for president rose from 32% to 40%, again not a good sign for Bush. But interestingly whereas 28% of independents would "definitely vote for someone else" in the previous poll this time around only 25% would. It would appear as if the independent supporters that Bush has lost haven't found other candidates to support yet and are aren't even committed to not voting for Bush, they're just "considering" other candidates.

The poll results clearly show that Bush's support among independents has eroded since the war ended. And it is something that his administration should be concerned about. But is "bailing" really the best way to describe it?

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Excellent piece at Enter Stage Right on the Conservative-Libertarian clash and how it has played out in the Bennett gambling story. The main takeaway is that although there are significant differences between them, Conservatives and Libertarians need to work together on the overriding value that both camps wish to preserve; individual liberty.

Do We Need A Deck Of Cards For Texas Democrats?

Long time reader and FOF Rick from So Cal brings to our attention the pathetic tale of Democratic legislators in Texas fleeing the state in a desperate attempt to stall votes on legislation that they were against.

Rick sees deeper implications in the actions of the dashing Dems:

I see this as a man-on-the-street reference of exactly when and how the Clinton infected Democratic party collapsed? Do you think that, with the exception of the 4 Dem legislatures who stayed in session, ALL of the rest of the Democrats in Texas are going to be called YELLER for slinking across the border? To Oklahoma no less? We have Karl Rove, those wily Dems have Terry McAulliffe. If this is what they come up with as strategy, we'll never beat these guys...

We grew up in a society where the liberal party controlled near super-majorities on a consistent basis. Are we, or rather, have we experienced generationism? A flip-flop in politics and social mores nearly consistent as a generational marker? I can't believe the way the Dems appear to be just laying down and taking it, or more appropriately, giving us the prize. (Reminds me of the Wild, 2 short handed goals last night?)

Monday, May 12, 2003

Selected Not Elected

The fact the he's now trying to claim credit for the success of the Wild will not halt the building momentum of the campaign to recall Hugh Hewitt as Minnesota's Hockey Commissioner. Rather than trying to circulate a petition to the many thousands of you who have expressed an interest in joining the campaign we have decided to post a text, a declaration of our desires if you will, that you can easily copy and paste and e-mail to Governor Pawlenty. Be sure to copy Hugh on your e-mails as well to give him an idea just how restless the natives of Minnesota are getting.

Dear Governor Pawlenty:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bonds which have connected them with their Hockey Commissioner, and to ask for another more suitable Commissioner to be appointed, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all Hockey Commissioners are not created equal, that the people of Minnesota are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of hockey happiness, that whenever the Hockey Commissioner becomes destructive of these ends the people of the state which claims hockey as its sport and whose governor himself plays the game has a right to alter or abolish the office of Hockey Commissioner and institute a new Hockey Commissioner.

The history of the present Hockey Commissioner Hugh Hewitt is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over the state of hockey in Minnesota. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never played hockey and has little understanding or appreciation of the finer points of the game.

He has mocked and belittled the hockey accomplishments of teams in the state even going so far as to compare the Gophers 2003 NCAA hockey title with synchronized swimming.

He has aided and abetted the enemy while the state is even now in the midst of hostilities by his support of the hated Ducks of Anaheim and his talking smack about our beloved Wild.

He lives in California.

Finally and perhaps most egregiously of all, he has continued to use the lame and tired expression "Minne-so-cold" when describing our state. It was marginally amusing the first time. Now it is beyond the pale and is an affront to the good people of Minnesota and anyone with a sense of humor.

We, therefore, the people of the great state of Minnesota, appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good people of this state, solemnly publish and declare, that this state, ought to appoint a new Hockey Commissioner; that we are absolved from all allegiance to Hockey Commissioner Hugh Hewitt, and that all connection between us and Hockey Commissioner Hugh Hewitt, is and ought to be totally dissolved. And for the support of this petition, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. Game on.

Attorneys General As Head Hunters?

Interesting piece in yesterday's NY Times on the trend for state attorney generals to step in and appoint board members and administrators for charity and non-profit groups that have run into difficulties. And who should be on the leading edge of this movement but Minnesota's own Mike Hatch:

No other attorney general has drawn more attention for such appointments than Mike Hatch of Minnesota, who has conducted two high-profile investigations of nonprofit health care organizations accused of profligate spending and lax board oversight.

Not everyone is happy about this practice.

"It's like state-mandated supervision, and fraught with potential conflicts of interest," said Michael W. Peregrine, a lawyer who frequently advises nonprofit institutions.

"This is a role that belongs to the courts," said Marion Fremont-Smith, a former assistant attorney general for charity oversight in Massachusetts who is now a senior research fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University. "The attorney general has the clout to force people to let him do it, but he has no legal right to do it."

Even some attorneys general agree. "We really don't have the authority to say to a board, you must hire or appoint someone," said Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, who recently succeeded in having the directors of a Dallas foundation removed the old-fashioned way, by filing a lawsuit. "That's a decision that belongs to the courts."

Conflict of interest you say?

Four of the appointees had been contributors to Mr. Hatch's campaigns. Theodore Deikel, a multimillionaire businessman whom Mr. Hatch named as chairman of the Medica board, had been host of a fund-raising event for Mr. Hatch two weeks before his appointment. Mr. Deikel and his wife, Beverly, had also contributed $500 each to Mr. Hatch's political campaigns, and three of his four children contributed $1,000 apiece, the maximum allowed under Minnesota law.

But at least Hatch is clear and straight forward on the matter.

Asked whether those contributions and the contributions of other Medica appointees posed a conflict of interest, Mr. Hatch said, "It could, but I don't think it does."

You don't THINK it does? Well that's reassuring Mike.

Hatch has overstepped the bounds of his powers as attorney general time and again. Currently he’s trying to strong arm HealthPartners, another Minnesota non-profit health care firm, to force them to allow him to appoint two new members to their board. HealthPartners is not caving in to Hatch’s demands and is taking him to court to block his efforts. Let’s hope that the court slaps Hatch down and restores some boundaries to the office of attorney general.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Hugh Throws Down

In response to my post yesterday questioning his sports allegiance, renowned talk radio show host Hugh Hewitt, takes a break from book signing and offers this rebuttal:

Elder: I spent a good amount of my on-air time yesterday arranging for the Gov and Senator Coleman to sit with the Mayor of Anaheim in his box at the Pond this Wednesday, and this is the thanks I get. I suppose I could have arranged for one more seat, but it’s a little late for that now. Still a little bitter over the Twins rough handling at the hands of the Angels, eh? You are in the middle of a play-off daze, something I realize is rare for Minnesota sports fans, so I will explain a few things for you.

First, the best professional sports fans in the world are from Northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Browns are the most storied franchise in NFL history, and if it wasn't for the low-rent man-who-must-not-be-named, the dominance of the team in the late '90s would have made that clear even to a Vikings fan.

That the Indians fans are the best is simply attested to by the fact that no other franchise has entered the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game of the world series, lost the game, and still been greeted rapturously by their fans.

Next, Jim Tressel has built a dynasty in a single year. Maurice Clarett is from Warren, Ohio, home of the best high school football in America. Deal with it.

You may not know that Ohio State also won the synchronized swimming championship, which is on a par with the hockey championship, since the hockey championship doesn't really matter compared to the Bean Pot.

The other significant college football franchise, Notre Dame, is basically an Ohio expansion club. Just so you have a note in your files, when ND plays for OSU, I pull for ND.

This is because in sports affections, as in politics, there is a hierarchy of allegiance. Sure, I like the Angels, unless the Tribe is in town. The backyard clubs aren't the hometown clubs, but they have to do.

Now, you may have missed it, but the Gov. did name me Commissioner of Minnesota Hockey on air a few weeks back after neglecting to review my application to become DNR Commissioner. In that capacity, I could ban you for life from Minnesota hockey in all its forms. So watch your step.

And I am sorry about the big whack that is coming the Wilds' way. I am not much of a Ducks fan, just an objective observer of that mysterious force called momentum.


So you're saying there still might be a chance to get me into the mayor's suite on Wednesday night?

I have to admit that Hugh does have a point about the Browns. They once were a dominant football team. And then the forward pass was invented.

Twins fans don't know much about choking away the World Series in Game Seven since the last couple of times our squad has been there we've won the big game. In the Indians defense they were playing one of the more storied teams in baseball history. The Florida Marlins. Yeah, no shame in losing to that baseball dynasty.

As for the two time defending national championship Gopher hockey team what more needs to be said other than that they became the first team in over thirty years to win back-to-back titles. Put that in your Beanpot and smoke it.

Finally the fact that Governor Pawlenty named Hugh as the Hockey Commissioner of Minnesota is a travesty and I believe that we see the negative reaction to it reflected in Pawlenty's sliding approval ratings. The good people of Minnesota will not allow this disgrace to stand. We cannot have a Hockey Commissioner who knows next to nothing about the sport, has never played hockey (at least Dwayne had the guts to get on the ice at last winter's Hugh Hewitt on Ice event unlike Hugh who very conveniently claimed to have a shoulder injury), and worst of all is a Ducks fan (admittedly a lukewarm one at that).

In response to the enormous public outcry the crack legal staff here at Fraters is at this very moment burning the midnight oil to draft a recall petition to rescind the appointment of Hugh Hewitt as Hockey Commissioner of the North Star State. The draft is scheduled to be finalized tomorrow and we expect to get the required 10,000 signatures within hours of its release to the public. The petition will then be hand delivered to Governor Pawlenty's desk and we expect him to officially reverse his appointment shortly thereafter.

Sign it early. Sign it often.

And the Award For Abusive Aliteration Goes to...

Melinda Roger's story on the governor's fishing opener in today's Star Tribune titled:

Pawlenty Plucks A Pike Promptly


A House Made of Straw

The guys over at Power Line mentioned the story yesterday about the 'innovative' house insulated with straw in Minneapolis that had to be destroyed after the straw began to rot. It is a story about how easily good intentions can go bad especially when the hand of government is involved.

This was no ordinary house. It was a house stuffed with straw -- in the walls, in the foundation, and, under the original plans, in the attic.

The nonprofit developers boasted that the house was only the third straw-insulated house erected under the Minnesota building code. They touted it as a groundbreaker for sustainable and affordable construction.

Then the straw began to rot.

The words sustainable and affordable give you an idea of the mindset of the folks involved in this project.

Two Minneapolis nonprofit agencies, Southside Neighborhood Housing Services and the Community Eco-Design Network, teamed up in the mid-1990s and worked together on the straw-bale house.

Eco-Design co-founders Eric Hart and Rick Peterson said they could deliver a house with prefabricated modular construction for less cost than standard city-subsidized housing.

These nonprofit agencies are heavily subsidized by the city and state and are, in effect, merely an extension of the government.

One preconstruction budget for the project totaled $91,000, but the house ended up costing more than $200,000, Hart said. The state contributed $20,000, and other nonprofits committed more. Southside absorbed the brunt of the costs, selling the house to Simmons for $83,000.

Hmmm....That doesn't seem to quite meet the definition of either sustainable or affordable.

Construction began in 1998 and dragged on for months. Visitors recall seeing power tools being charged with solar cells, and rain soaking into straw bales. Jim Buesing said he had a gut feeling that although the crew was strong on enthusiasm, there were complications from weaving together alternate building techniques.

"I've been around the alternative movement enough to know that what they were trying to do was beyond their capacity," said Buesing, who leads a nonprofit housing agency that contributed a small amount of money.

There were signs that the project was running out of funds. Volunteer workers helped to cut costs.

"When you have volunteers involved, you're not necessarily going to have quality construction," said Shawn Young, who worked on the house early on.

Who needs quality when you have enthusiasm? The really sad aspect of the story though is the woman who moved into the straw house.

Simmons fit the Southside criterion of earning less than half of the region's median income when she and her two children moved in. She was a graduate of Southside's homebuyer education program. She started a day-care business, soon buying several houses, including one next door, for her enterprise.

She did everything that she was supposed to do. And now?

She remains on the hook for six mortgages on the property. The biggest was for a $66,400 loan made by U.S. Bank. Rogers said some parties to the financing are trying to work out debt relief for Simmons, but multiple target dates for wrapping up a deal have come and gone.

Rogers said Simmons continued payments on the house even after demolition, until settlement talks began.

All she wanted was a house. And if these agencies had just built her a regular old house (the kind that have proved effective in Minnesota for many years) she would have one today. But in their desire to pursue "alternative" methods they have left her with nothing but mortgage payments for a house that doesn't exist. Another proud day for the taxpayers of Minneapolis.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

A Flurry Of Faux Fans

The Wild's improbable playoff run has started to attract a lot of attention here in Minnesota, even from folks who normally pay no heed to hockey. Heck even long in the tooth sports columnist Sid Hartman wrote about the Wild today:

But the only local pro sports team achievement that compares with what the third-year Wild has done -- going to the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs -- was accomplished by the Minneapolis Lakers.

A Detroit Gems team that finished on the bottom of the National Basketball League at 4-40 in 1946-47 -- and sent only one signed player when it moved to Minneapolis -- was transformed into a championship team in its first year of operation as the Lakers in 1947-48. And then when they moved to the NBA the following year, they won again, finishing with a total of six championships in seven years.

Yeah Sid that's exactly the comparison I was thinking of. Besides Sid himself, there are probably eight or nine other people in the entire Twin Cities who actually might have witnessed the '47-48 Lakers and only half of them can still remember anything about it. That Sid, he’s right on the cutting edge.

And the Star Tribune published a “Hockey 101 primer” apparently for those readers who don’t know anything about the game. How fargin’ embarrassing! This is Minnesota not frickin’ Anaheim. If you live here and you don’t know hockey then don’t bother learning now. There are plenty of real hockey fans in Minnesota already.

Speaking of Anaheim I’ve received a few e-mails from readers informing me that the notoriously fickle Southern California sports fans are now pushing each other out of the way to try to jump on the Ducks bandwagon, much in the same manner as last year when come October suddenly everyone was an Angels fan. Even esteemed talk radio show host and FOF (friend of Fraters) Hugh Hewitt is now claiming allegiance to the Ducks and trying (without much success) to talk smack about the Wild. We love Hugh’s show and he’s done a lot to promote our blog but when it comes to sports his loyalties are questionable at best. He’s supposedly an Indians fan at heart (don’t look now Hugh but Detroit is now only two and half back of the Tribe) but when they’re not competitive he’s a big Angels backer, attending playoff and World Series games and dissing the Twins. When Ohio State won the college football national championship his gloating was nearly insufferable but yet I have a hunch if USC or UCLA made a run he’d be wrapping himself in their colors in a heartbeat. Good thing the NFL doesn’t have a team in So Cal are we’d have to listen to Hugh whine about the bad calls that got just like we do every time the Browns are “robbed”.

If you want to stay true to your roots Hugh you really should be a Dallas Stars fan.

Or have you already forgotten the glory days of the Cleveland Barons? The club that merged with the Minnesota North Stars, who, despicably abandoned Minnesota to become the Dallas Stars.

Besides how can you cheer for a team called the Mighty Ducks? There’s something very unmanly and vaguely French about that name.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Separated At Birth?

Confused, dopey actor Benicio Del Toro


Confused, dopey Canuck Todd Bertuzzi?
You Gotta Have Faith

Recently Steven Den Beste had an interesting series of posts on atheism. Here, here, and here. Yes they're lengthy but if they weren't it wouldn't be Den Beste would it? What I found compelling was that while Den Beste describes himself as an atheist he believes that it is not possible to disprove the existence of God anymore than it is possible for a believer to prove that God does exist. I find this sort of atheism refreshing for in the past when I've had discussions about religion with atheists or agnostics I've usually found myself being asked to prove that God exists as if I could just walk over to a chalkboard, scratch out a few theorems, and win them over. When the discussion boiled down to the root cause of my beliefs and faith was my explanation I usually got the "that's what you always say" response as if us true believers were expected to come up with better talking points after all these years. Den Beste acknowledges that his atheistic beliefs are just as much based on "faith" as are someone's who believes that God exists.

What was missed in Den Beste's discussions was that, in fact, one man has proved quite conclusively that God does not exist. He just needed to get that crayon removed from his brain first:

Homer: Hey, Flanders, heading for church? Well, I thought I
could save you a little time.

Ned: Oooh, found a new shortcut.

Homer: Better. I was working on a flat tax proposal and I
accidentally proved there's no God. [shows Flanders a
sheet of paper with complex figuring on it]

Ned: [flustered] We'll just see about that. [reads the paper]
Uh-oh. Well, maybe he made a mistake. [checks it again]
Nope, it's airtight. Can't let this little doozy get out.
[uses a lighter to burn the "proof"]
[in the background, Homer puts more copies of his no-God
paper on the windshields of nearby cars]

Formula For Success

(Warning to Mitch. This post and probably any other posts of mine today will focus on hockey. No baseball. No bagpipes. No bread baking banality. Perhaps later this summer I'll compare the relative merits of the American and National leagues, Great Highland bagpipes versus North Thumbrian Smallpipes, and the differences between short mix, improved mix, and intensive mix but for now it's hard core hockey baby.)

I have adopted a rather strict regimen while watching Wild playoff games. One beer per period. This forces me to conserve the precious nectar of life and makes me aware of my consumption. Otherwise the tension of a hockey playoff contest would cause me to raise my glass early and often. When the Gophers won the 2002 National Championship in overtime I probably averaged a beer per shift at Tom Reid's Hockey Pub.

I also have become rather superstitious in my choice of brews. On Monday while preparing for Game Five I was about to reach into my frig and pull out a Sleeman's Cream Ale when I suddenly had a revelation. I can't drink no Canadian beer while my squad is playing a team from Vancouver. Back went the Sleeman's and out came the Belgian Primus Lager. Not a strong pro-Wild choice mind you but neutrality was good enough at that point. I saved a Summit Pale Ale for my third period selection figuring that a St. Paul brewed beer would be a nice karmic touch. The pattern was repeated with much success in Game Six. Last night I had to hustle off to the local beer merchant before the opening face off to restock my Summit supplies. Once again my beer per period formula proved effective. To mark the improbable Wild victory and the elimination of the Canucks I capped the night off with a celebratory Scotch.

Now that the next opponent is the Anaheim Ducks I am once again free to enjoy my Sleeman's Cream Ale. Thanks Vancouver! Now we all now what the C on your sweater stands for. If you can take your hands off your throat for a moment let's have a toast. This one's for you.

And the next one's for Todd Bertuzzi. He had a great regular season and is a damn good hockey player. But he's also an incredible bonehead at times, demonstrated for all to see last night with his mindless interference penalty at the end of the game that pretty much sealed the deal for the Wild. Thanks Todd! Have fun playing golf.

If you enjoy a little schadenfreude you may wish to check out this Canuck fan site. Opinion among Vancouver fans seems to be split among four camps:

Cloutier sucks (hard to argue with this one)

Crawford sucks (he's no Jacques but then who is?)

The Canucks suck (it has a nice sound to it)

Or... let's be happy the Canucks got as far as they did and celebrate their achievements. I call this the loser group. Let's see, you blow a two goal lead in Game Seven at home and a three to one series lead in the second round of the playoffs to an expansion team that's only three years old and you're okay with that? These are the kind of people who are just as happy winning a consolation trophy as the real thing. But the Canucks tried hard and that's all they can do right? Yes they tried and they failed. It's now time to feel shame.

Finally why do Canadian fans feel the need to elevate every contest into a national showdown with the U.S.? The way the Vancouver fans were waving their Canadian flags around last night during the O'Canada you would have thought we were watching the Olympics. The series was Minnesota versus Vancouver not the U.S. versus Canada. There's just something desperately pathetic about a country so lacking in national self esteem that its people leap at any opportunity, however inappropriate, to demonstrate their patriotism and wave the flag. I guess that's the kind of thing that happens when you become militarily, politically, and economically irrelevant. Word to the French.
A Team The British Bulldog Would Love

"Never, never, never, never give up." -Winston Churchill

Down three games to one for the second straight time in a best of seven playoff series?

Trailing 2-0 more than halfway through Game 7 in your opponents building?

No problem if you're the incredibly gutty Minnesota Wild. Don't start fretting about that library just yet Jay. We've got another playoff series ahead of us. How very sweet it is.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Another One For The Shelf

Add Mona Charen's Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First to the voluminous collection at the recently expanded Fraters Library.

Useful Idiots is a devastating and biting indictment on the left's moral relativism in the Cold War. You'll recognize a lot a familiar faces as Charen liberally (no pun intended) sprinkles damning quotes from well known lefties throughout the work. She also covers the continuing post-Cold War anti-Americanism that infuses much of the left with sections on the Elian Gonzalez fiasco and the war on terrorism. The recent actions of the left before, during, and after the war with Iraq perfectly fit the "If America's For It, We're Again It" leftist template that Charen exposes in this book.

One of my favorite passages concerns the media's reaction to some of their members showing their patriotism after 9/11:

It isn't objectivity or neutrality that journalists like Westin guard so jealously. They do not hesitate to condemn their country when they think censure is justified (namely constantly). No, what shames them among their peers is to be caught sympathizing with their country, or indulging patriotic feelings. Still, those feelings did surface after September 11-if only briefly. (After all, if the French were momentarily pro-American, it isn't altogether surprising that liberals were as well.)

The only bone I have to pick with Charen's writing is admittedly a minor one. The word tendentious has a nice ring to it and is an apt choice when describing many of the statements made by prominent leftists in this book but to use it SEVEN times in 263 pages seems a little bit over the top. Instead of ruminating on the outrageous claptrap uttered by some windbag lefty you instead can't help but ask yourself, "Didn't she just use that word ten pages ago?". Again a minor distraction in what is otherwise an excellent recollection of the disgraceful role that much of the left played in the Cold War.