Monday, May 31, 2004

No Hummels On This List

Shock jock Hugh Hewitt may have untold fortune and fame but, as Eloise over at Spitbull points out, he still has needs.

Who will be the first to fulfill Hugh's desire for a brand-new "Princess Sing-A-Long Microphone"?

Operators are standing by.
Remember The Fallen

"...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan."
Gen. John Logan (May 5, 1868)

Learning From The Masters

In obvious recognition of the Northern Alliance Radio Network's success, Al Franken has agreed to continue as host of the O'Franken Factor on Air America without collecting a paycheck.

Franken reportedly* said "Hey, if it works for those Northern Alliance guys, I figure it just might work for us. Besides, we're running out of ideas here."

NARN's "involuntary investors" could not be reached for comment.

*No Frankens were interviewed for this story.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Please Just Ignore Us

Per usual, I spent this past Thursday night at the classy Irish bar Keegan's in Nordeast Mpls, where yet another trivia match was won for the Fraters squad (21 out of 25 correct), a Timberwolves NBA playoff game on the tube was lost, and the sweet perfume of a beautiful blonde recent stranger again clung to my clothes and lingered in my mind all the way home. All things considered, not a bad night. I've certainly spent worse.

But I suspect there may have been a few folks who spent a better one. And according to reports, those folks might have been not ten minutes away from Keegan's, over at the 400 Bar on the West Bank of Minneapolis. I've spent enough cramped, smoky, under served, artistically pretentious, acoustically muddy nights at that location to not expect greatness from it. But this past Thursday none other than Paul Westerberg made an unannounced concert appearance there.

The gig was a private party (the graduation celebration for his wife Laurie Lindeen) , so I probably couldn't have gotten in anyway. And he was playing with some hipster supergroup cover outfit called "the Retro Fits". Normally the thought of a bunch of aging scenesters and their fans desperately chasing the cool and reveling in the post modern irony of playing the "hits" wouldn't interest me. I've already seen the slumming Trip Shakespeare iteration "The Flops" do this same tired schtick (as a matter of fact, also at the 400). My instincts on this atmosphere of smoke and self regard appear to be correct, if this report from the Westerberg show is any indication :

Paul occasionally asked the small, dancing, raucous, audience "Does anyone wanna hear anything special?" I kept my Mats song wishlist to myself, and some goofball yelled "Freebird." To which Paul responded by starting "Stairway to Heaven"...and didn't stop. Randy, Retro Fit's other guitarist asked "Are we really going to do Stairway??" Laurie said, firmly "No", ended that nonsense, and made a couple great requests including "All the Young Dudes" and "Suffragette City", with her and Lori Barbero singing some great backup.

At this stage in my life I have no interest in going to a crowded bar and enduring a screeching drummer from a horrible (yet critically legendary) local band from the 90's taking her falling star turn as a back up singer on a Bowie song, just so everyone in the crowd can laugh and cheer and congratulate themselves for being hip to Babes in Toyland back in the day.

But, even so, this show might have been worth it. I think Westerberg is one of the best song writers of the rock era and his albums are responsible for more smiles, poignancy, moments of clarity, and inspiration in my life than the rest of my CD collection combined. HIs shows at the Guthrie last year were ragged and amazing and beautiful and even with him playing covers at the 400 Bar, there's a good chance it was a joy to behold.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Kerry Has No Business Being Casual

On the road again. This time in Boulder,Colorado for my nephew's high school graduation. Not much time for writing of any length, what with all the family obligations and all. Here's an e-mail from Shawn on why John Kerry will not be the next President of the United States:

I was sitting there this morning contemplating the universe, in a Seinfeldian sort of way, when I began to think about the current election and trying to understand the current Democratic candidate and the party's behavior.

Understand first that while I was a Nixon youth, too young to actually have voted for him though, I was never a big Reagan fan, until the second term. And of course I'm a much bigger fan now.

And as a student of history the current partisanship doesn't bother me it's really nothing new nor is the tone. But I am puzzled by the absolutely infantile behavior on the part of the Democrats. That made me think about Mr. Carter, whom I casually disliked, but grew to like more once he was out of office. The whole Habitat for Humanity, fishing and outdoorsy stuff that made me feel he was not that bad a guy.

A view now turned upside down and I actually think I dislike him more then even Clinton, whom I regard as a mere glib opportunist. ( Actually if there is a better poster child for the corporate malfeasance that marked Worldcom and Enron then Clinton and his attitude and demeanor, I can't think of one. )

That made me think about the images of Clinton, Carter, Reagan, Dole, et al.

And that's when it hit me and made me feel a little better about the upcoming election. The one thing that seem to be common to all the last several presidents, is not their world views or domestic or foreign policy. Certainly not their speaking style, all but Reagan have been uniformly mediocre.

It is that all looked comfortable in casual middle to lower class casual clothes and activities. Think about it.

Carter canoeing, crawfishing,leaning back feet up on the porch, muddy, dusty, in jeans, shorts and worn denim shirts.

Clinton, golfing , jogging, just oozing that backwoods country boy charm.

Reagan working on the ranch clearing brush.

Bush 41-golfing , bass fishing with the small (albeit expensive) boat.

And now GW Bush working his ranch, out getting his hands dirty.

This is the image that sells. Heck good tailoring can make just about anybody look Presidential, so we don't register those images. They are interchangeable in our minds.

But let's face it for a lot of people who don't follow politics and even some of us who do, it often is not just, or even ever, the issues or policy.

It's who looks and acts most like us. Doing the things we all do, at home and for fun.

That is a fatal problem for Kerry. Look at the pictures of Kerry biking and snowboarding, and while both are popular activities he does not have that easy casual look while doing them. He is much to well turned out. He doesn't make a connection with the average voter who does those things.

Look at the bikers you see every day around town only a small percentage actually does the full race look that Kerry had. It is telling that the times I have seen Kerry in casual mode and looking comfortable is when he is on the deck of a yacht. Granted the first JFK did the same but he also had the collegiate touch football game on the quad look going.

The casual touch is something that actually goes way back in politics, I remember an old PR photo I believe it was of Harding that purported to show the president at work on the farm. Well worn coveralls, pitchfork leaning against a hayrack. The only problem is that he was wearing highly polished black low quarter cap toe dress shoes. Not the battered high top brown work boots a farmer of that time would wear.

But Bush actually does these things with ease. Coupled with the unguarded moment things, hugging a member of a crowd who had lost a loved one in the war, the probably ribald joke to his wife when he say the elephants mating during a photo op, yes even the flight suit and the "fake" turkey. You see a natural zest and natural ease. Much like, and it pains me to say this, Clinton had. It is a culmination of things like this, that I think, and hope, will give the President the critical edge with the undecided voters.

Start Spreading the News

Today, May 28, the sun is aligned to precisely 30 degrees east of north. And that means only one thing, it's New York = Stonehenge Day.

At Fraters Libertas, we welcome this astronomical event with the singing of the traditional May 28 carol (with apologies to Frank Sinatra and Nigel Tufnel):

New York, where the demons dwell
Where the banshees live and they do live well
New York

Where a man is a man and the children dance to
the pipes of pan
New York

Tis a magic place where the moon doth rise
With a dragon's face
New York

Where the virgins lie
And the prayer of devils fill the midnight sky

And you my love, won't you take my hand
We'll go back in time to that mystic land
Where the dew drops cry and the cats meow
I will take you there, I will show you how
New York

Stonehenge, New York City, the lyrics to that song fit seamlessly. An amazing coincidence. Or is it?

Happy New York = Stonehenge Day.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Talk About A Special Session

I didn't have a chance to share my thoughts earlier on the story of Minnesota DFL legislators boozing it up in their offices while the people's business was being conducted. Obviously drinking is not in and of itself necessarily a bad thing. Heck, even a few of us fellows here at Fraters have been known to knock back a couple now and again. But there is obviously a time and place for it. Drinking while on the job is simply not acceptable.

I have nothing against someone having a beer or glass of wine at lunch during work. Personally I prefer not to, as alcohol tends to sap my motivation. It's hard enough for me to get back to work after a hearty lunch, adding a beer to the mix would make it impossible. If I'm drinking anything while working it's coffee. Sweet, sweet coffee the magic elixir of life.

There's also nothing necessarily wrong with drinking at the workplace (I speak here as an employee only). I've had a well deserved beer or two on occasion after a hard day of work, usually involving a special project where you work longer hours. But always after the work is done.

I am also aware that politics and drinking are not strangers. I've been to enough conventions and election night affairs to know that most of the best political conversations and insights are shared over a cocktail. It's all part of the game.

But not while you're debating the pressing the issues of the day, discussing compromises, and casting votes. One of the yahoo legislators in this case was actually kicking back and drinking while voting was being conducted on the floor. As a representative you have a responsibility to your constitutes to perform your duties to the best of your abilities. You cannot allow your faculties and judgment to be impaired by alcohol .

The other disturbing aspect of this story was the fact that most of the drinking taking place in the legislative offices was being done by lobbyists. I usually tend to dismiss the claims that lobbyists run the government and they're ruining democracy, blah, blah, blah, but the idea of a pack of cackling lobbyists sitting around and pounding wine coolers in the office of the Senate Majority Whip while she's on the floor gives one pause. That's just a little bit too cozy for my comfort.

I also believe that it's against the law in our fair state for a lobbyist to so much as buy lunch for a legislator. I wonder if the same legislation covers attempts to ply them with alcohol. Which brings us to an interesting question. Who was picking up the tab for all this hooch anyway? Lobbyists? Staffers? The legislators themselves?

This is gonna be a fun one to follow as it unfolds. But don't expect any in-depth reporting from the Star Tribune. Today's story on the affair, which Saint Paul linked to, was buried on page B6 in the Metro section. Of course they would treated the story in the same manner if it involved Republican legislators right? Yeah right.

If the DFL is looking for a new theme song for this year's election I might suggest a BTO classic. They're taking what they're given, 'cause they're Drinking For a Livin'.

Was That Wrong?

As the Elder reported earlier today, the Minnesota DFL party has been caught with their hands in the liquor cabinet. Democratic legislators, their staffs, other government employees, and lobbyists, having a rip snorting bender, all while on the clock during the last day of the Legislative session (a session which ended without accomplishing any of its major responsibilities).

The life of the Democratic party appears to the distinguished Rep. from Maplewood, Scott Wasiluk.

According to the Star Tribune:

Rep. Scott Wasiluk, DFL-Maplewood, came over to [another legislator's] office while the House was in a late-night session. "I came to raid your whisky," Wasiluk said.

The station showed Wasiluk back on the House floor for a vote on a health care issue, looking sleepy. It also showed him at another point misunderstanding what was taking place on the floor as he monitored the session on TV from Metzen's office.

According to unconfirmed reports, the misunderstanding centered around his confusion over why Steve Sviggum was now hosting "Wild on Spring Break" on E!

But with the morning after, it looks like Wasiluk has come back to his senses and his reflexes are back in peak condition. Especially those reflexes associated with the jerking of the knee. When confronted with the video evidence of his antics, Wasiluk responded as any good, sober Democrat would. By proposing a new law:

Wasiluk issued a statement to the station saying: "I sincerely apologize for my recent behavior. If the public feels additional laws should be passed to improve public confidence in the work of legislators, I would vote for it."

Please pass a state law, prevent me from drinking on the job again!

Actually it might not be such a bad idea to outlaw legislating under the influence. It seems only fair since the government has already outlawed the citizens from voting while drunk. Seems to me if we can't ease the pain of Minnesota government by drinking ourselves numb, they shouldn't be able to either.

Getting back to Wasiluk's laughable reaction to the allegations, the parallels are striking with the Seinfeld episode where George gets confronted by his boss about having sex with the cleaning woman at his office. (Yes, there is a direct reference to all significant human endeavors in either the Simpsons or Seinfeld).

From the episode, "The Red Dot" (originally airing December 11, 1991):

Boss: I'm going to get right to the point. It has come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?

George: Who said that?

Boss: She did.

George: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I've worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.

Lord knows the DFL won't take any substantive remedial action on Wasiluk. But here's hoping the folks in his district in Maplewood have the same good sense as George's boss, who responded to ridiculous excuses in the only appropriate manner:

Boss: You're fired.
Our Lawmakers Can Outdrink Your Lawmakers

Well at least our DFL (Democrat Farmer Labor) lawmakers can:

Late at night, in the closing days of the legislative session, lobbyists, state workers and even some lawmakers gathered in offices at the State Capitol to drink beer, wine and liquor, KMSP-TV reported Wednesday night.

The station taped someone carrying a cooler into the office of Senate Majority Whip Linda Higgins. The Minneapolis DFLer was on the Senate floor at the time, in the final hours before adjournment, but several people were in her office drinking. KMSP said most of them were lobbyists. One lobbyist was sitting behind her desk, drinking a beer.

The station said it also saw lobbyists, state workers and lawmakers drinking in the office of Senate President James Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul. KMSP said it never saw Metzen drinking, and that he did not respond to requests for comment, but Rep. Scott Wasiluk, DFL-Maplewood, came over to his office while the House was in a late-night session.

"I came to raid your whisky," Wasiluk said.

"That's what it's there for," Metzen replied.

Watch the whole report on doing the people's business here.

Strap On The Mailbag

Sean writes to ask us to pimp his new book Real Men Listen to Rush. Consider it pimped.

Cindy writes to take a shot at Hugh and make us aware of Any Soldier, a site that offers opportunities to show your support for military personnel serving overseas. Two very noble causes indeed.

i would normally had sent this to da kommissar, but as his age now requires extended periods of time to convalesce from the rigors of talking into a mic; the email is being sent to you...

Let's not be too hard on Hugh there Cindy. It's been what, at least two weeks since he took a day off? He deserves a break.

Tim could relate to my observation that only fools talk loud:

I can top your question about why is it that the loudest people on a plane are also the most boring, and are usually sitting near you. Why is it that the loudest people on a plane also happen to be the most obnoxious, AND why is it that when you are on a chartered vacation, this loud, obnoxious person (LOP) will cross your path during your vacation seemingly at every turn?

My wife and I went to Cozumel a couple years ago, and sure enough, I spotted the LOP at the curb of the terminal. I had to put up with her while in line waiting to be checked in, then at the gate, and then, lo and behold, LOP was seated just two rows behind me. Of course LOP started drinking as soon as the bar cart came out; LOP walked up to were the attendants were serving the other passengers, and requested that she be served now. With drink in hand, LOP returned to her seat and finished it just in time for the attendants to arrive and serve her another.

After a couple drinks, LOP pretty much let the back half of the plane know she had to go to the bathroom. After landing, LOP stood behind me while we waited to get to the Customs counter, probably so I could continue to enjoy her witty banter. While waiting to get through Customs, my greatest fear was realized; LOP was staying at the same resort we were. My most fortunate moment of this trip happened when LOP failed to get on the same shuttle to the resort because she had to make another potty stop in the terminal.

We made our dinner reservations for the resort restaurants as soon as we were done checking in. What are the odds that we would be dining in the same restaurants at the same time as LOP? Would you believe even money?

A couple days later, we booked a half-day snorkel trip. My neighbors decided to come with us, and I give my neighbor a lot of credit because he doesn't swim, but after paddling around off of the shore of the resort with a life jacket, he said he was up for it. Well, the morning we were to go out, we were standing on the dock waiting for the snorkel boat to pick us up, and who begins to waddle down the dock? The LOP. We get on the boat, and while waiting for others to get down to the dock, the LOP announces that she has to go to the bathroom, and asks the snorkel tour operators where is the bathroom on the boat. He shows her and a few minutes later we head off for our trip. The first stop was pretty wavy, so my neighbors decided to just watch through the glass bottom of the boat.

The LOP had helped herself to a couple beers on the way, and said she was a little too buzzed to go in the water this time. At our next stop on the reef, my neighbor pulled me aside and said he couldn't be on the boat another minute with that woman. He'd rather drown, so he said he would take his chances in the water.

Luckily, we didn't have to put up with LOP as she booked a seven day trip and we only booked five days, so we were able to get home in relative peace and quiet.

He ain't down with LOPs. And neither is Tom:

Couldn't agree more. I fly a bit. Usually, I scope out the waiting area (or pre-boarding as they say in the industry) to try to determine the ratio of the last person I want to sit next to, to the possibility of having an empty seat. It is amazing that the ratio is always 50 to 1 or more.

Yesterday I flew from MSP to Atlanta. The frumpy, bookish, all clad in black (but no leather) woman in front of me had a Wellstone! button on her purse. I figured chances were excellent she'd sit next to me but alas, I was seated between two stoic Norwegian types. They didn't say a thing. Great flight.

PS: Yesterday while in Atlanta, I heard nationally syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck. I don't know if he is on in Mpls or not because he is distributed by evil Clear Channel.

Anyway, while I was listening, Beck was talking about our soon to be Democratic Senate candidate/failed radio talk show host/former St. Louis Park bully boy/current Strib "Tiger Beat" special pull out heart throb Al Franken. Beck related a story about Al at the airport in Iowa right after the caucus'. Seems, no one was getting out because everyone was trying to get out. Beck says he was in line, when Franken strolled up to inquire about the possibilities of getting out. When the agent said he'd have to wait like everyone else, Al said (paraphrasing Beck here) "There must be some mechanism for someone like me to get out of here now!". Once again, the populist is made a man of the people.

That's our Al. I'm surprised he didn't play the John Kerry's favorite "Do you know who I am?" card.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

And You Think YOU Had A Bad Day...

I felt a twinge of empathy when reading this piece regarding President Nixon's state of mind on October 11, 1973:

...U.S.-Soviet tensions were peaking over the Arab-Israeli war, and British Prime Minister Edward Heath's office called the White House just before 8 p.m. to ask to speak with Nixon.

"Can we tell them no?" Kissinger asked his assistant, Brent Scowcroft, who had told him of the urgent request. "When I talked to the president, he was loaded."

Egypt and Syria were blasting the Israelis, General Secretary Brezhnev was hopping mad, Vice President Spiro Agnew had just resigned and Prime Minister Heath was on the horn trying to reach President Nixon was holed up in the Oval Office with a bottle of scotch drinking himself silly.


You can bet that any cigars he had that day went nowhere near any chubby beret-wearing interns.
Summertime and the Drinkin's Easy

At least if you're a Monkey it is. Here in Minnesota we're still between seasons and so the appropriate alcoholic beverages are sharing shelf space. Right now my top shelf includes Bombay Sapphire Gin, The Dalmore Cigar Highland Malt Whisky, a fine sipping Tequila whose name presently escapes me, Armenian Brandy (courtesy of King), Chopin Vodka, and a bottle of Crema Tequila (think Bailey's but with Tequila) recently acquired on my trip to Chihuahua.

With highs in the sixties during the day and lows in the forties at night right now, all of these are potential candidates for imbibing. As the temperatures rise so will the appeal of gin and Tequila, while the desire for Scotch and brandy will wan. Of course beer is always in season. It's the just the type of beer that varies.

Anybody getting thirsty?
From Russia, With Love

Recently, Fraters correspondent the Silver Bullet was dispatched to Russia with two missions. First, get the straight dope on European media bias for posting on Fraters Libertas. Second, adopt a child. I'm happy to announce she has successfully accomplished both. Here's her report:

This will be a rambling epistle, I'm sure. I'm suffering from jet lag, new parenthood, and the ill effects of returning to work 3 days after returning from Russia with the most beautiful 7 month old baby boy on earth. Self employment has its benefits, but "family and medical leave" ain't one of them.

For the last two weeks, our only news source has been the BBC. Since our return, I haven't had time to read Fraters Libertas, watch Fox News, or listen to Hugh Hewitt to cleanse my brain of the anti-American filth. There was almost no mention on the international news of the beheading of an American civilian, but there was hourly coverage of the "atrocities" perpetrated by the American soldiers. I don't know, but to me, most of the so-called atrocities looked more like bad high school football hazing incidents. Worthy of prosecution, but not comparable to, oh I don't know, A RECORDED BEHEADING OF A CIVILIAN.

We were fortunate, though, that the two couples traveling with us were military. One, a lieutenant colonel in the Army, just back from a year in Iraq, and the other a Marine just returned from his 6 month tour. The stories they told were 180 degrees from what the media portrays. They contended that, with few exceptions, the Iraqis are thrilled that the Americans are there. That the schools are being rebuilt, the infrastructure renewed, the people being fed and receiving medical care. That the "insurgents" are terrorists imported from across Iraq's porous border. And the military is happy to be fighting them over there, and not over here. And both these guys, one stationed on the west coast, and one on the east, came home from the desert, and immediately packed up their wives and headed back around the world to adopt a baby and bring them back to the greatest country ever seen on earth.

Real nasty jerks, those American military guys. To get these children out of a country that hasn't yet rebuilt from WWII. It struck me as I was there, listening to the BBC bitch about the US not doing enough to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, that I've never heard ANYONE complain that Germany hasn't done enough to rebuild Russia after World War II. And hell, after 60 years, why hasn't Russia done enough to rebuild Russia??

I learned a lot, I guess. I learned that I'm safer kissing the dirty floor of JFK airport than I am drinking the water in Europe. That Europe is not even able to solve its own most basic problems, much less those of other parts of the world. And that, right now, I wouldn't want anyone other than George Bush calling the shots on what's best for America. As if I didn't know the last part already.

Fraters Libertas sends out a hearty congratulations to the Silver Bullet family on their bouncing new baby boy. As the progeny of a Russian immigrant grandmother myself, I couldn't be happier to have another comrade added to the great American mix. And it sounds like this kid is going to be brought up right. Extremely right, since apparently his early cognitive development will be highly influenced by nationally syndicated shock jock Hugh Hewitt.

No sooner had I finished writing you my rambling Russian saga, than I turn on the Hugh Hewitt show to give my new baby his first dose of brilliant conservative commentary, and it's not Hugh, but you!! And he promptly puked on me. I'm sure it's a coincidence......Teasing of course. How great!!

Coincidence or not, I think puking might be the least of your worries. Give this kid a few months of exposure to Hugh Hewitt and his first word just might be "Minne-so-cold". Or worse yet, "Erwin Chemerinsky". Don't say we didn't warn you.
With Victories Like This, Who Needs Defeats?

An AP report from the Washington Times on the situation in Fallujah:

With U.S. Marines gone and central government authority virtually nonexistent, Fallujah resembles an Islamic mini-state - anyone caught selling alcohol is flogged and paraded in the city. Men are encouraged to grow beards and barbers are warned against giving "Western" hair cuts.

"After all the blood that was shed, and the lives that were lost, we shall only accept God's law in Fallujah," said cleric Abdul-Qader al-Aloussi, offering a glimpse of what a future Iraq may look like as the U.S.-led occupation draws to a close. "We must capitalize on our victory over the Americans and implement Islamic sharia laws."

The departure of the Marines under an agreement that ended the three-week siege last month has enabled hard-line Islamic leaders to assert their power in this once-restive city 30 miles west of Baghdad.

Well, at least the trains probably run on time right? Apparently we've elected to trade the freedom of the majority of Iraqis in Fallujah for security. This outcome leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

(Via Power Line)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Name Game

Captain Ed likes to call it the U.N.'s Sex For Food Scandal. I prefer 'Blue Helmeted Soldiers And Their Purple Helmeted Warriors'.
How Many Totebags Did They Have To Give Away To Raise That Kind Of Money?

MPR headquarters to grow:

Minnesota Public Radio, one of the nation's biggest noncommercial stations, will spend $41 million to more than double the size of its St. Paul headquarters.

The MPR board has approved the design and budget for a 70,000-square-foot, four-story addition to its existing studios and offices at 7th and Cedar streets. The glassy building, designed by HGA architects of Minneapolis, will stretch north of MPR's signature brick headquarters.

The expansion, planned since 1999, will consolidate MPR's 300 employees, now dispersed in three buildings, and allow room for growth. The existing headquarters, built in 1979, will be renovated after the addition is done.

In related media news, local commercial talk radio station AM 1280 The Patriot announced that it will spend $41 to refurbish its studios by painting the basement "green room".
Line of the Year

Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for allowiing the Northern Alliance to host his fine radio program this evening. It was my first taste of national radio exposure and I must say it was a blast.

Also thanks to our third hour guest Mike Nelson, who, amid his witty commentary on the news, provided the comedy line of the year. In reference to Michael Moore's exploits at the Cannes Film Festival this year, I asked Mike if he ever received a 20 minute standing ovation, as Moore did following a screening of his incendiary anti-Bush propaganda flick "Fahrenheit 9/11" in France.

Mike's response: "No, but I've never hated America that much."
Give 'Til It Hurts (because it will for us)

Once again, Atomizer and I will be participating this summer in the MS SUN 75, a seventy five mile in-line skate from Hinckley to Duluth to raise money to help fight multiple sclerosis. If you wish to make a donation to our team you can do so here.
You Thought You Knew Everything About Hugh Hewitt?

In case you have not yet heard, the Northern Alliance is once again filling the argyle stockings of Hugh Hewitt, and hosting his nationally syndicated talk radio show tonight. Those of you unfamiliar with Hugh might be interested in his upcoming unauthorized biography called Hugh Hewitt: From Legal Beagle To Shock Jock-A Man Of Many Titles [my choice would have been The Life of Ralphie]. The work, which is a result of years of extensive research by the author, who prefers to simply be known as JP, chronicles the series of happy accidents which have led Hugh to where he is today. Here's a short excerpt:

Born on February 22, 1936, in Warren, Ohio, Shock Jock Hugh Hewitt, a practicing attorney in California, is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show heard in more than 60 cities nationwide, and a Professor of Law at Chapman University Law School, where he teaches Constitutional Law. He is the author of four books, with a fifth to be published by Thomas Nelson in July of 2004. Hewitt has received three Emmys during his decade of work as co-host of the PBS Los Angeles affiliate KCET's nightly news and public affairs show Life & Times. He is a weekly columnist for The Daily Standard, the online edition of The Weekly Standard, and a weekly columnist for Mr. Hewitt claims to continue to be active in the practice of law.

Hugh received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Harvard University shortly after the end of the Second World War. Remarkably enough, unable to find work during the booming post-War years, Mr. Hewitt eventually found himself at the University of Michigan School of Law. This member of a bizarre and mysterious cult known as the 'Order of the Coif' eventually "graduated" with a Juris Doctor degree. (Inexplicably, Mr. Hewitt was not admitted to the California Bar until June 1989.)

After finally completing law school, Mr. Hewitt spent his productive years as a low-level functionary of the federal government (clerk to a hanging judge, government lawyer, etc.), occasionally rising to the mid-level mediocrity. Eventually tiring of the rarified air of Washington, D.C., Mr. Hewitt, continuing with his record of spotty employment, accepted a short-term position as Executive Director of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, in Yorba Linda, California. After a very phlegmatic year at the helm of the Library and Birthplace, Mr. Hewitt vacated the position in September of 1990, leaving it in the capable hands of John H. Taylor, who served as Nixon's chief of staff for the past 10 years.

After gracefully clumsily departing the Nixon Library & Birthplace, Mr. Hewitt finally became gainfully employed with the Irvine law firm of Pettis, Tester, Kruse & Krinsky, eventually becoming a "partner" in the once reputable firm.

It was while he was "employed" at Pettis, Tester, that Hugh Hewitt earned his reputation as a tenacious and feisty litigator. In what is still spoken about in hushed terms as the Battle of the Big Birds, Mr. Hewitt engaged in a long-running battle with the dreaded and endangered Gnatcatcher on behalf of a group of patriotic rich developers.

In September of 1993, having exhausted the resources of Pettis, Tester, in his mythic battle with the Gnatcatcher, and already feathering his nest with his side occupation as a radio shock jock (while also showing his true colors as a TV host on the notoriously liberal PBS), Mr. Hewitt turned his back on his employers and set out on his own in the company of eight others to form the eponymously named firm of Hewitt & McGuire.

Mr. Hewitt is perhaps best known as the living example of the egg-shell plaintiff, following his series of debilitating injuries on jet-skis, snowmobiles, softball games, and while jogging. Much like his hero and role model John Kerry, Mr. Hewitt also claimed to have undergone rotator cuff surgery,. Just like John Kerry mysteriously and conveniently removed himself from the Presidential campaign for a period of time, Mr. Hewitt thus removed himself from competition in the greatest sports moment in Minnesota history, his Hugh Hewitt All-Stars hockey game.

Today the Beloved Husband of The Fetching Mrs. Hewitt, Hugh busies himself with his little radio show in Los Angeles, which is growing at a startling pace, adding new affiliates on nearly a yearly basis. His hobbies include folk music, mispronouncing words on the air, consuming vast quantities of orange snack foods, injuring himself in bizarre manners, and accumulating meaningless titles.

We're Here, We're Queer, And We Want Another Order of Chicken Fingers

During my recent trip to Chihuahua, Mexico I learned that the big night of the week for people there to go out and get a little bit crazy is Thursday. The bars and clubs are hoppin' on Thursdays. And none is more popular for drinking, dancing, and general debauchery in Chihuahua than Applebee's. Yes, the same Applebee's. The Applebee's where your parents like to go and have a reasonably priced dinner. The Applebee's where people like to bring their kids.

Apparently the American restaurant import is attracting a bit of a different crowd in Chihuahua. In fact Thursday nights at Applebee's have even started to be known as a hot spot for gays looking to hook up. While no self-respecting, hip, "alternative lifestyler" in the United States would be caught dead in the staid, suburban conformity of Applebee's, for their Mexican Queer Nation counterparts it's THE place to be.

I guess Vincent Vega was right. It is the "little things".
Removing All Doubt

The following is an observation stemming from the last fifteen minutes of my flight from Houston to Minneapolis yesterday:

Why is it that people who carry on loud conversations in public are never interesting, intelligent folk whose witty banter you would actually enjoy hearing, but rather rude, obnoxious fools whose ignorant, unavoidable remarks precipitate a slow boil in the listener until it's all you can do to restrain the overwhelming urge to turn around and tell the idiotic slob behind and across the row from you to kindly shut the hell up?

Just asking.
Flaming Hot

The Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay? It just ain't right. If you need more reason to cheer for the Calgary Flames tonight, this site, brought to my attention by Tom, should win you over.

Monday, May 24, 2004

He Knows It When He Sees It

Previously on the Newspaper Newlyweds ... the cohabitating columnists from Crocus Hill were left on a relatively happy note, with Nick Coleman presenting his wife, the avaricious Laura Billings, with a brand spanking new luxury automobile. But, as is the roller coaster pattern with these two kids, the serenity couldn't last.

Eschewing his newfound domestic tranquility, Nick recently chronicled for all to see his intimate reengagement with an old friend - the local pornographic industry. In Nick's most recent column, he reveals some of his favorite moments in Twin Cities porn. Beginning with his "journalistic interest" in a recently opened dirty book store not too far from his stately Crocus Hill mansion:

...the Love Doctor, opened on University near Snelling, offering X-rated magazines, movies and novelties. This is an especially wholesome part of St. Paul where the big excitement is watching old cars drive up and down on weekends. So as an inquiring newsman, I visited the Doctor as soon as I heard of it.

Yes, an inquiring newsman must get down there quickly to see what's REALLY going on in an X-rated store called the Love Doctor. Besides, that copy of Screw Magazine isn't going to read itself you know.

Nick then goes on to feign that his knowledge of the porn industry is really not from firsthand experience:

I have not made a scientific survey of X-rated businesses in the Twin Cities, but a cursory glance at the ads in the back of a local weekly suggests that there are a dozen or so strip joints in Minneapolis and only one that survives in St. Paul.

I'm not sure what a scientific survey might imply, but my guess is his cursory glance was funded by several dozen single dollars of research.

Coleman finishes with a reminiscence of the glory days of St. Paul porn, which ended in 1989 with the closing of "a giant porn complex at University and Dale called the Notorious Faust." Well, at least that was before he met Laura. Maybe that had something to do with the end of his first marriage?

I had the good luck of witnessing the riot on the Faust's last day of notoriety, when reporters, anti-porn activists and thrifty porn customers (everything was on sale for half-off) converged in an amazing fracas, a 10-minute brawl that see-sawed from the porn aisles into the street.

I am not making this up: A toothless old man in a raincoat was pounding on a counter loudly demanding to know where the lesbian videos could be found while the beefy clerks were jumping over the counter swinging saps at reporters, customers and politicians. They shoved everyone out onto the street into a huge slush puddle while cop cars roared up and tried to save the city from turning into Sodom or Gomorrah right on the spot. That was a fun day.

Based on his ability to attract Laura Billings' affection in the first place, we know that Nick is a lavish spender. And just imagine how much more he could buy in a going out of business sale. But what, exactly, is a "sap"? From the context I have to assume it's some really disgusting sex toy that you wouldn't want swung at you. I can't say for sure, and maybe only two people in St. Paul can: that mysterious, toothless old man with the hankering for lesbian videos and Nick Coleman (assuming those are different people).

Giving more insight into the morality of Nick Coleman, recall he's the guy who was outraged at the sight of a prayer breakfast on the grounds of the state capitol. Yet a porn shop fracas is not the least bit scandalous. No, instead, that was a fun day.

Hard to say how Nick's very public interest in adult entertainment is going to go over at the House of Coleman-Billings. As the Newspaper Newlywed archives reveal, Laura hasn't been shy about humiliating her husband in print for his other indiscretions and failings (he's a slob, his advanced age makes "performance" unpredictable, he doesn't wrap presents nicely enough). But will she go as far as ridiculing her spouse in the pages of the Pioneer Press for his potential, heartbreaking addiction to pornography?

Tune in next time for all the scandalous (alleged) details in the Twin Cities favorite soap opera between-the-lines, The Newspaper Newlyweds.

(Original story submitted by Man from Silver Mountain)
Banzai Baseball

The Rocket Man from Powerline has returned from his two week trip to the Land of the Rising Sun and posts a review (including video) of his attendance at a Japanese baseball game, between the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers.

It's great stuff and really captures the excitement of the game. I've always been intrigued with Japanese baseball, something about their child like enthusiasm for the sport is really endearing. And refreshing, you'd never see it from fans in the US. The players seem to have a commitment to the fans, a sense of responsibility toward them that is alien to the US sporting scene. Which is probably why you'll never see the fans react in such an unrestrained, uncynical manner here.

I've never been to Japan for a game (or for any other reason), but last year the St. Paul Saints had a Japanese guy running around the stands, leading cheers and singing songs all season long. I think he was an exchange student and an intern in their promotions department and the team capitalized on his cultural perspective to bring some of the Japanese baseball experience to Midway Stadium. Since the Saints had him alternately dressed in a karate outfit and a kimono, not sure how authentic it all was. But the guy was a great sport and it was funny stuff.

FYI - the St. Paul Saints home season starts tonight. They probably won't bring back the Japanese guy (I imagine he graduated, or was deported, or was rescued by Amnesty International's cultural stereotype sweatshop division). But in terms of unbridled enthusiasm and camaraderie between the fans and players, independent minor league baseball is probably as close as you'll find to Japanese baseball.

Rocket's post provides another direct parallel between the two, drinking and jostling in the stands:

My companions drank a number of beers .... The chanting and singing continued non-stop, and when the home team took the lead in the bottom of the seventh, the stadium went crazy. My camera work got a little shaky because I was knocked over, briefly, by a woman behind me who, in turn, was knocked down by someone else.

One of my favorite Saints game memories was from 7 or 8 years ago, where JB Doubltess and I botched two 20-ounce beer hand offs within 30 minutes. No doubt this was on account of being jostled by the frenzied fans around us, but the tragic-comic end result was that we accidentally poured the entire contents of each gigantic cup down the back of the guy sitting in front of us. Understandably, he wasn't amused the first time and was enraged the second time. But by any standard of comedy, for everyone not getting the Summit Pale Ale Shower, this is hilarious. Only through a Herculean effort were we able to stifle the laugher long enough to apologize to the poor SOB and assuage his rage by buying him his own free beer before it all degenerated into fisticuffs. As the noted philosopher Homer Simpson once said, "To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Gawker - Cathedral Hill Edition

The Warrior Princess forwards a first hand report of a blushing bride's brush with greatness, right here in St. Paul :

Friday evening I attended the wedding of one of my dearest friends at the Cathedral of St. Paul. After the service, the new couple made their trek down the Cathedral stairs, and into their convertible to go to the reception, when a large SUV pulled up alongside the car. The back window rolled down, and whose head popped out? None other than Minnesota's Governor Tim Pawlenty!

I didn't hear what he said, but I'm sure it was some form of congratulations. My friends were shocked and pleasantly surprised. He was definitely a welcomed though unexpected well wisher. They chatted for a few seconds, then Governor Pawlenty proceeded to get out of his vehicle, help the new couple out of their convertible, and pose for pictures!! It was awesome.

Governor, my heartfelt thanks to you for taking time out of your day to help make another couple's most important day even more special. You didn't have to stop, and you certainly didn't have to get out of the car to pose for pictures, yet you did so with joy. Though you had no way of knowing, you could not have picked a more deserving couple to bestow the honor of your congratulations upon. Your kind gesture was an unexpected blessing that helped make their wedding day infinitely beyond all they could have asked or imagined, and those of us who wanted nothing less for them are truly grateful to you.

I can't personally vouch for the veracity of this report, but it all seems plausible. The Governor's Mansion is only about 5 blocks away from the Cathedral, straight down Summit Avenue. I also like how this unknown, anonymous correspondent lapsed into a first person address to the Governor, which assumes he reads Fraters Libertas. I don't know that he does, but maybe this person knows something I don't. Since she's anonymous, who can say? (We here at Fraters Libertas specialize in pseudonymous reports, not anonymous.) But what the heck, if it was good enough for Woodward and Bernstein, it's good enough for us.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Separated At Birth?

Coach choker and current Timberwolf Latrell Sprewell

And movie choker and dated cultural reference Jar Jar Binks?

Life At Balsawood Begins

Moving. What a colossal pain. I absolutely love the end result but I loathe the process. It always starts with the painful surveying stage. This began for me on a day so far removed from the actual moving date that mail was still arriving with the little yellow address correction labels from my previous moving experience. This stage entails standing amidst all of your accumulated stuff, letting go with a big exasperated sigh once the enormity of the task ahead sets in and then pouring a drink and forgetting about it for the evening.

After that bottle of gin is gone comes the purging stage. That's when you comb through your stuff and separate the items that are deemed move-worthy from those that are just dead weight. When one's future roommate will soon be referred to as "the wife", this involves some careful consideration. Some items are easy. Pictures of any and all ex-girlfriends...trash them. Better yet, hire a courier to pick them up and deliver them directly to the core of the sun. The argument slated for sometime in 2006 when they are discovered in the corner of the basement closet is therefore successfully averted.

Some items, however, are not so clear-cut. These require clever planning and strategic boxing techniques. Since the lovely Atomizerette does actually read this site on occasion, I will refrain from giving specific examples. Suffice it to say, the argument slated for September of this year, when the first of these items is discovered, is still very much in play. Needless to say, I am prepared.

Next come the utterly mundane stages of packing, loading, transporting, and unloading all that stuff. Nothing good or witty can be said about these actions. They are necessary. They are ugly. Best of all for me, they are done.

After the bottles of gin necessary to accomplish those stages are empty comes the unpacking stage and that is where you, gentle reader, have found me today. The lovely Atomizerette and I have spent the last two days transforming someone else's house into our new home. This process had me, among countless other tasks, feeding my inner obsessive-compulsive demons yesterday morning by carefully placing my 300 plus CDs into their racks in strict alphabetical order. So strict, I might add, that despite my strong desire to file my Elvis discs under "E" for Elvis where my heart feels they belong, I felt compelled to file them under "P" for Presley.

When the time came to combine the lovely Atomizerette's CD collection with mine, I was struck by a curious juxtaposition. As it happens, the immutable laws of the modern Roman alphabet dictates that my copy of Rapeman's "Two Nuns And A Pack Mule" sits next to her copy of country boy-band Rascal Flatts' sophomore effort "Melt". The only thing that these two bands have in common, aside from the fact that the members of each are all biped humanoids, is that both bands are trios. In fact, our two CD collections have very little in common. Tim McGraw is now next to The Melvins. Faith Hill is pressed up against The Hives (and the boys never looked happier).

Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking my wife-to-be's taste in music. It just has occurred to me that the melding of our two collections represents the first in what I imagine will be a long series of eye-opening revelations, some good and some bad, that will present themselves now that our two solo acts have become a permanent duet...and I can't wait to see what comes next.

And so, life now begins in the not-quite palatial suburban estate we lovingly call...Balsawood.
Talk About Winning Ugly

The Fraters trivia team managed to claim yet another victory last night at Keegan's Irish Pub despite the absence of my handsome mug and wealth of trivial knowledge. Apparently what the squad lacked in numbers and beauty, they more than made up for in intellectual prowess and trash talking, as they crushed all competition including a team made up of teachers at the high school that JB, Atomizer, and I all gradumawated from. When I recall some of the faculty that "taught" me in my school daze, the result doesn't come as much of a surprise at all.

We continue to tune up with trivia victories over inferior opponents as we prepare for an end of summer, State Fair trivia showdown with Hugh Hewitt and whomever he can scrape together for a team. Hugh threw down a challenge some time ago to take us on in trivia, and we are more than willing to take him up on it. Fraters trivia team to Hugh: "Bring it on."
Losing Ugly

Speaking of wince-worthy spectacles, the WNBA Minnesota Lynx have are starting their regular season soon and the Star Tribune published its rah-rah preview of their prospects. In order to advance its gender equity political agenda, the Strib does its best to accentuate the positive while completely ignoring the putrid quality of the product being offered.

But, the poor SOB assigned to the Lynx beat (John Millea) can't help but clue us in on his state of mind as he looks forward to an entire season of writing about professional women's basketball. I believe the tone of these excerpts tell the real story:

At first blush, the looming 2004 season might appear to cause Lynx stomachs to churn.


They have performed a Timberwolves-type remodeling project, bringing in enough new blood to make Quentin Tarantino flinch.

Remember, this was a article promoting the team. Makes you want to run out and buy some season tickets, don't it? Or at least buy some Pepto- Bismol.

Believe it or not, I plan to read Star Tribune Lynx coverage this season. It's not often you get treated to passive-aggressive, violent, Freudian imagery such as this in the newspaper on a regular basis. As the season progresses, it should be fun to count Millea's cries for help until he finally resigns or has a nervous breakdown.
Winning Ugly

The NBA Western Conference finals begin tonight featuring the LA (nee Minneapolis) Lakers and our own Minnesota T-Wolves. The local club got there by triumphing over the Sac Kings in a do-or-die game 7 that proved to be gut-wrenching, red hot anxiety-enflaming, hang-on-by-the-fingernails drama. In other words, it was a typical Minnesota sports experience. With our local teams, this happens all the time. For those not from here, let me be clear, this is not a good thing.

For the fan, the experience of winning such a game isn't that different from losing. It's still mostly painful. Your very real hopes of abstract sports glory all riding on the capricious fortunes of a group of guys entirely incapable of seizing a victory that's already lying their in their grasp. A group of guys, whom you've devoted your undying devotion to because they're wearing shirts with the name of your city on them, who seem intent on giving the opposition every chance to steal the game away, and with it our dreams, forever.

As the game progresses you feel the rapid bleeding away of your serenity and your happiness, to then experience the methodical, relentless ratcheting up of your anxiety and the awakening of all the echoes of Minnesota sports failures past. You sweat, you gnash your teeth, your temperature rises, your heart races, you get a headache. And even if your team somehow wins the game, as the Wolves did on Wednesday, you still had to go through all that turmoil. And all for a slight sense of relief afterwards. Not happiness, not rejoicing, but momentary relief that it all didn't end as horribly as you thought it would.

After the game I was listening to KSTP's Tommy Mischke and he was articulating this experience brilliantly. Despite his better judgment, he got sucked in to the Wolves series and game 7 (which ended just as he came on the air at 10 PM) and he likened the fan's experience of them winning in the manner they did to surviving a free floating trip down a raging, white water rapids. You're only reaction is "oh well, I guess I didn't drown today." After thrashing about, clawing and scratching to stay alive, that's all the benefit you get.

The negative affect a game like this can have on your psyche was evident in Mischke's reaction to a crank caller he had later in the show. The guy just babbled on and started singing and whistling before hanging up, which prompted Mischke to pause for a beat, then say

"Sir .... I rarely wish AIDS on anyone. But I sincerely pray to God that in the next 48 hours you learn that you are HIV positive."

In context, with Mischke's mild mannered delivery, it was hilarious (whereas if Michael Savage mouthed the same words, it probably would have been cause for a national uproar and boycott).

Needless to say, professional sports Minnesota style are not good for one's health. As proof, Mischke referenced the local legend that Fran Tarkenton's father had a heart attack during the 1975 Vikings-Cowboys playoff game, as a result of the spirit immolating last second Hail Mary pass which cost the Vikings the game and a trip to the Super Bowl. According to Snopes, the Hail Mary pass didn't actually cause Fran's dad's death, although Dallas Tarkenton did die during the game:

Some fans, determined to find more than coincidence in coincidences, later concluded that the infamous "Hail Mary" game had actually caused the death of the elder Tarkenton. The terrible combination of the Cowboys' last-minute comeback, the controversial officiating on key plays, the specter of a referee's being hit in the head with a bottle on national television, and yet another crushing defeat for his son's team had, they assumed, induced Dallas Tarkenton's fatal heart attack.

But it wasn't so. If nothing else, at least Fran Tarkenton had the consolation of knowing that nothing about that fateful game had anything to do with his father's death. Dallas Tarkenton, Sr., was stricken during the third quarter, before the "Hail Mary" pass, before the controversy over the lack of an offensive pass interference call, before the bottle-throwing incident, before the Vikings' final defeat, and died without regaining consciousness. He never saw the end of the game.

Perhaps, as a sportswriter suggested at the time, in an odd sort of way, God was looking out for one of His ministers that day by calling him home a little early.

Amen. Any Vikings fan old enough to remember that game will attest, getting yanked through this veil of tears in the third quarter (before he had to suffer through Drew Pearson blatantly committing offensive pass interference on the Hail Mary pass, which the refs ignored) was indeed a mercy killing.

In recent years, I've often come to the fleeting conclusion that putting so much emotion into outcomes of sporting events is foolishness. To put up with all of this trouble, all for a contest in which I have no real material interest. If I gave it all up on my own, or all the teams moved away because we wouldn't build them publicly financed stadiums, maybe that would be a good thing.

Mischke echoed those comments last night. And it seems there are others out there who have already adopted the right frame of mind. Take the Lakers' Shaquille O?Neal, for example. He provided this lesson in proper perspective (and brilliant disrespect), when asked on Wednesday if he planned to watch the T-Wolves-Kings game (the winner of which would go on to face his team, the Lakers):

"I'd rather watch you walk butt-naked down Sunset Boulevard," O'Neal told an aging sports reporter.

Knowing the slovenly, gluttonous personal habits of most sports writers (and those are just the women), that's a guy who REALLY doesn't care about watching sports. I can't say I'm there yet. But I am proud to say I will be skipping watching the Wolves game tonight.

That's right, I'll be at the Metrodome instead, watching the Twins and White Sox battle it out for first place in the American League Central. She starts at 7:05 tonight. Baby steps, that's how I'll kick this addiction.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

But Are They House Trained?

Is it just me or are these just about the most domesticated group of monkeys you've ever seen?
Better Stop Flogging Now

Peter e-mails to offer up a thought for consideration:

So far I have not seen a blog using the following analogy in the Abu Ghraib
case. Feel free to be the first.

"In 1997, in a police station bathroom, Haitian immigrant Abner Louima was
brutalized by NYPD Officer Justin Volpe. Volpe pleaded guilty to the assault.
Officer Charles Schwarz was found guilty of assisting him, though both Volpe and
Schwarz insist that the second officer in the room -- though not taking part in
the attack -- was Thomas Wiese. Schwarz, Wiese, and Thomas Bruder were
subsequently convicted of obstruction, for attempting to cover up the facts of
the case, though these convictions were put aside on February 28, 2002."

Did the people of New York City or New York State lose all confidence in the NYC
police department? Did newspapers call for an accelerated exit strategy that
would remove all police presence from the streets of NYC as quickly as possible?
Was the relationship between the police and the public declared a quagmire? Did
anyone outside of NYC pay any attention to this event at all? Outside of the US?

The answers, of course, are NO, NO, NO, NO, and NO.

The Abu Ghraib case not only seems analogous. It seems IDENTICAL. Rogues with
unclear personal boundaries did some weird stuff. They were caught. Proper
channels were followed in identifying, apprehending, and trying them. End of

It is now up to the media to explain why they think it is NOT the end of the
story. I know, the temptation for bloggers is to guess at their motivation.
Perhaps this. Maybe that. But it is not a guessing game. It is an editorial
choice. If they can't tell us why they continue to flog this dead horse, they
should stop the flogging.

Peter does make an apt comparison. However, I have one small bone to pick with him. Although I did not make a direct analogy between NYC cops and the abuses at Abu Ghraib, I was on a similar wavelength way back on May 6th when I wrote:

The mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison by U.S. military guards is disgusting and shameful. All of those who are responsible in any way for the actions, be they the guards themselves, their commanders, U.S. intelligence agents, or private contractors should be punished appropriately. While their conduct will no doubt damage Coalition efforts to provide security and stability to Iraq, it should in no way be seen to invalidate the reasons for the war. Nor should it influence U.S. decisions on the future course of the war.

Do the actions of a few bad cops mean that the noble efforts of the majority of the police force to fight crime was wrong? Would you then conclude that because of these inappropriate actions the police should completely abandon their efforts at fighting crime? Of course not. Only a fool would believe so.

Wanna Be Americano

Back to Chihuahua for the annual physical inventory. Yes, it's about as exciting as it sounds. We arrived last night which meant we missed the Wolves game. Fortunately the hotel has cable so I was able to catch the highlights. Looking forward to watching Friday's game down here. The locals seem to have no love lost for the Lakers (a lot of Spurs fans here) so the Timberwolves should have their support.

Speaking of support, despite Barbara Boxer's clams to the contrary, I have not detected any particular animosity towards Americans here because of the Abu Ghraib abuse. In fact the attitude of most of the Mexicans that I've spoken with toward the war in Iraq is detached indifference. They're much more concerned with their political imbroglios involving the mayor of Mexico City than anything happening in Iraq or the United States.

The idea that the abuses at Abu Ghraib have somehow soiled the "American brand" and will hurt American business overseas is ridiculous. People understand that individual Americans do not represent the policies of the American government, much less the actions of some idiots who abused prisoners in Iraq. I believe that in most areas of the world they are able to separate their feelings toward American policy from American business and products. Looking for proof? Check out France, where McDonald's sales are stronger than almost anywhere else in Europe, and the French teenagers mimic the clothes and style of their counterparts across the Atlantic.

They might not always like us, where us represents the policies and actions of the U.S. government. But they usually like us, where us is individual Americans traveling overseas. And they really like us, when us represents our stuff.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Something For Atomizer To Keep In Mind When He Plans His Wedding

Maybe it's just me, but I would think that if you're in Iraq these days you might want to reconsider the traditional celebratory gunfire after a wedding:

A U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party Wednesday in western Iraq, killing more than 40 people, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said it could not confirm the report and was investigating.

Iraqis interviewed on the videotape said partygoers were firing in the air in traditional wedding celebration.

I don't mean the downplay the seriousness of this very tragic incident. The story is not completely clear yet, and it appears very possible that U.S. forces have made a grave mistake. But on the other hand, is this "traditional" post-nuptial firing of weapons really worth the potential consequences? How many incidents like this have to happen before Iraqis realize that it just is not a real good idea to be firing live ammunition in a war zone?

Maybe while we're over there trying to import democracy, we can bring along some new wedding traditions as well. Like getting stinking drunk, dancing to crappy music, and making a complete fool of yourself. You may feel like hell when you wake up the next day, but at least you wake up.
Who Are You Who Are So Wise In The Ways Of Science?

A letter to the editor that appeared in today's Star Tribune:

In a room of 70 standing people, all who knew anyone affected by cancer were asked to sit. After the request, one person remained standing. These people were teenagers. Someone please tell me why we shouldn't pass the smoking ban.

Someone please tell me why shouldn't pass a ban on moronic, illogical letters to the editor! Please!

Unfortunately, this is the kind of muddled thinking that is regularly featured in letters to the Strib. Little details like statistical probability, causation, and correlation are not important. Try, if you can, to follow this letter writer's logic [I am withholding her name to protect her family-no one should be forced to admit to being related to anyone this dense]:

Young people know other people who have cancer.

Smoking has been proven to cause cancer [although the jury is still out on second hand smoke].


Smoking should be banned in bars and restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Of course. And if a woman weighs the same as a duck she's a witch. It all makes perfect sense now.

[Sigh] Perhaps we really do deserve to be represented by Mark Dayton after all.
Fleshing Out A Rant

I have about had it with the bizarre fascination, the endless prattle about every detail and the misplaced pride of a certain group of people--in this case my co-workers. I'm talking about new dog owners and I swear if I have to hear one more cutesy story about how your new black lab puppy kept you up last night I'm going to douse you with a bucket of barbecue sauce and release a box of flesh-eating ants in your cubicle.

A few points: It's an animal. Does this point have to be made? It does not have a personality. It does not understand anything more than you have food and it wants some and you have attention and it wants that too.

What I'm saying is that the thing ain't a kid. So quit your proud parent stories about how the beast chewed up your favorite pair of Nine Wests and piddled in your Great Room (actual detail overheard yesterday, 2:09 p.m.) and isn't that the sweetest thing?

Dogs are kind of like Johnny Cash--everybody likes 'em. You don't hear quite as much anti-dog rhetoric as you do from the rabid and more socially accepted anti-cat crowd. I'm frankly not a big fan of either--after a girlfriend's cat had his way in my apartment for a week several years ago and now with the inundation of dog stories--but I'm starting to become more virulently anti-dog as I get older.

So does anyone know where a guy can get a box of flesh-eating ants?
There's No Place to Hide, When Agendas Collide

Fraters reader Honest John has been watching the PBS program Colonial House and shares his observations on the creeping political agenda of government run broadcasting into proceedings:

As I was watching the show on Monday, I was struck by how much of it centered around religion: going to church, observing the Sabbath, prayer, Christian teachings, etc. It was strange to see PBS airing what seemed to be such a pro-Christian program.

As Monday's show progressed, we then started to see perhaps their real agenda. We learn that one of the colony's families doesn't believe in God and they really don't want to be attending Sunday services (not attending is considered a crime in the colony). Nevertheless, they attend and hear the Governor's daughter proclaim her love for God. The show then has the wife of the anti-God family give the viewers a little lecture about how bad it is for the preacher's daughter to be putting her faith in something other than herself. Oh, the Governor's daughter is so un-21st century...

Why did this family sign up knowing they would have to be attending two 3-hour church services each Sunday? Why did the show's producers allow such a family to sign up? Are they really the best candidates for a show trying to recreate 17th Century life?

It gets better. On Tuesday's show, we find out that many of the colonists don't want to go to church either. It gets so bad that, eventually, the Governor waives the requirement that all colonists attend Sunday services. Later on, one of the newcomers discloses to the preacher and his wife (the newcomer was staying in their home) that he's gay (this was obvious from the moment he opened his mouth). The preacher's wife embraces the gay man and they tell him that it's OK because they have a gay child! No doubt this was a "typical 17th Century scene."

Afterwards, the gay man stands before the congregation and reveals his secret to the rest of the colony. The Governor described it as a sin but the damage was done; PBS's attack on Christianity was well underway.

History on PBS, giving us the opportunity to look back through the ages and proudly proclaim of previous generations: "Boy, were those people stupid!" Now that's 21st century entertainment.

Being charitable, perhaps given the 17th century setting, the producers thought the guy announcing he was "gay" actually meant he was just really, really happy. Which I think was a sin in and of itself among the Puritans.

Hard to say what's going on there, especially since I haven't seen the program. But if they do an abortion special, where instead of a scarlet letter "A" sewn to somebody's shirt, they start a parade led by walking, talking three-foot-long felt and satin vagina, then we'll know something's up. We'll stand by for further updates from Honest John as the series progresses.
I Don't Understand

Boxer Concedes.
Oh The Places You'll Go

You may have noticed a few changes to the look and feel of the site lately. Hopefully, you've also noticed a few additions to our Special Features section.

Newspaper Newlyweds is Saint Paul's brilliant look at the domestic life of the Star Tribune's Nick Coleman and his wife Laura Billings of the St. Paul Pioneer Press as interpreted through their columns. Talk about reading between the lines.

We are also now proud to present Travels With Ralphie, a chronicle of the people and places encountered by everyone's [especially Hugh's] favorite action figure.

We hope that you enjoy these recent additions and all of the Special Features. Look for more in the not too distant future.
Dumber Than A Box Of Barbara

A late surge by California's Barbara Boxer resulted in one of the closest poll outcomes we've yet seen. But the last minute momentum wasn't even to propel Boxer over the top, and Minnesota's Mark Dayton held on to win the coveted title of 'Dimmest Bulb In The Senate'. Dayton collected 39% of the vote with Boxer nipping at his heels with 36%. Patty Murray finished third with 17% and Joe Biden brought up the rear with a mere 9% of the tallies.

Dayton's triumph comes just as he is basking in the glow of media attention as detailed in an article in today's
Star Tribune:

The CNN appearance was just one example among many of how the Iraqi prisoner-abuse scandal has elevated Dayton's profile unlike anything else in his career.

Since a testy exchange with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a nationally televised Senate hearing on May 7, Dayton has suddenly been discovered by the national press, receiving calls from such biggies as Time magazine and '60 Minutes.' Even the BBC called.

The self-deprecating Dayton, who's in his fourth year in the Senate, said he is receiving '15 seconds of my 15 minutes [of fame], as Andy Warhol would say.'"

With statements like that Dayton appears to be the smart bet to retain his newly won title for some time to come.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Kneebone's Connected To The...Something

I found this story via Drudge:

Fidel Castro's doctor denied rumours that the president's health was ailing, saying today the 77-year-old leader is in excellent health and claiming he can live at least 140 years.

Yeah, right...and, just yesterday, MY doctor told me that my liver was indistinguishable from those owned by newborns. Just to be safe, I ain't making any plans for my 140th 2107.
Here At The Dude Ranch Above The Sea

I make a stupid face every time I purchase something. I have no idea why, but I noticed the other day that I do this during every single transaction, be it at the dry cleaners, the gas station or my local oft-visited smoke and buze shop.

The face I'm talking about is after the cashier has finished the transaction and they thank me. I, being a Minnesotan, usually thank them too for no other reason than it is easy to say and wraps things up. But, I noticed yesterday that I also make a face. It's not really a smile, or even a grin, but kind of a lame, half-hearted upward movement of my lips accompanied by a blase fling of the eyebrows. I imagine I must come across as a real prick when I do this.

I noticed this face yesterday when I went to the dry cleaners where all the hot 20-year-old girls work. I tend to pay a little more attention to my transactional behavior around said lovelies (as opposed to say the weird dude at the parking ramp who always makes gratuitous eye contact when giving change) and happened to catch myself in a mirror behind the counter as one of them handed me my receipt. Good lord.

The face says "I don't really know what kind of face to make, or if I should smile or what, and I don't get out of the house much so here--take this one. It's all I can pull together on short notice."

I wonder what kind of face Steve McQueen made when he picked up his dry cleaning?
The Postman Always Zings Twice

Yesterday I dropped by a branch office of the U.S. Postal Service near my workplace to dispatch a few parcels and pick up stamps. I was assisted in these efforts by a mustachioed, wispy haired, rapidly balding postal employee who appeared to be in his late forties, early fifties. He was helpful and polite in taking care of the packages that I was sending. When I requested for a book of stamps, he asked if American flags were okay. I nodded and then he said,

"That's a good idea. You wouldn't want the neighbors to see you sending mail without a flag and get you in trouble with John Ashcroft."

I hate situations like this. All I wanted to do is buy some stamps and be on my way. Small talk was not on my agenda, especially political small talk. Business transactions and political conversation should not be intermingled.

Not knowing how to respond, I fell back on the tried and true nervous laughter. Of course I didn't think what he said was in the least bit funny, but I felt a societal obligation to fill the void with something. Anything. And so a quick chuckle it was.

Unfortunately, this was interpreted by the postal employee as a sign that I was on his side. We were now kindred spirits, joined in our disgust for the administration and everything it stood for. He decided to take it up a notch.

"Do you know who John Dean is?"

Oh no. I knew where this one was going. But now I was trapped like a stray Cheeto in one of Michael Moore's stomach folds. There was no escape.

"John Dean of Watergate fame?", I reluctantly replied.

"Yes. He's got a book a book out now. Called...", he paused and scanned his hard drive. Searching. Searching.

Too stupid to just play dumb I helped him out with the title,"Worse Than Watergate."

"Yeah that's it."

I was already in so deep I figured a couple more shovelfuls of dirt couldn't hurt. So I asked him if he had read Dean's tome.

"No, not yet. But I understand that he says that there are eleven scandals brewing in the Bush Administration right now that are all worse than Watergate."

A lame, "Really?" was all I could manage in response. What was I supposed to say? That John Dean is an opportunistic shill, willing to say anything to sell a book, and that he probably knows about as much about the inner workings of the Bush administration as Maureen Dowd? If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that you don't want to make a postal employee mad.

By this time I had paid for my stamps, pocketed my change, and was looking for a way to end this conversation and get out the door. I tried a new tactic by suggesting that the Watergate break in itself wasn't all that bad, that it was the cover up that really got Nixon in trouble. I know it's a trite, clich├ęd view, but I was desperate and willing to try anything to reach an end game. And my change in direction threw him momentarily off balance.

"Well...I don't know. Paying someone to break into an office isn't a good thing," he stammered.

This was my opening. I made my break for daylight.

"Yeah, maybe you're right," I admitted as I shut the conversational tap, gracefully pirouetted, and bolted for the door.

The next time I hit the PO I'm wearing a Bush button. The service I receive might be lazy and surly, but it's better than having to pretend that I'm down with the Bush bashing crowd.
Polls Close Tonight

Today is your last chance to choose the U.S Senator with the least between the ears. Results will be announced tonight. Right now, Mark Dayton is still leading the pack, but Barbara Boxer has closed the gap and seems to be picking up momentum.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Detached At Parturition?

Ever expanding filmmaker Michael Moore and...

slime coated, legless, worm-like, slug villain Jabba the Hutt.
What We Have Heeya...

Is a failyuh to communicate.

From late April to mid-September I play pick up hockey on Saturday mornings. This particular get together has been around for going on around ten years, and some of the same guys have played there the whole time. It's an hour and a half of decently paced, fun hockey and is a great way to start the day. At least it usually is.

Last Saturday, late in the session, I popped free for a breakaway. Now the normal etiquette in pick up hockey is to not go after a guy too aggressively if he's in front of you on a breakaway. We're there to have fun. There are no referees so everyone operates on a type of honor system when it comes to the rules. If you're offside you leave the zone and regroup. You try not to commit penalties. You respect the other player and he respects you. Usually.

As I headed down the ice on this breakaway, a guy on the other team (we split up into whites and darks each week depending what jersey you put on) started hooking me from behind. This particular fellow has a reputation for such shenanigans, and a couple of weeks prior had done the same exact thing to me in the same situation. I fought through his hooks and bore in towards the net. Then he slid his stick up higher on my body and hooked my shoulder hard. This was more than I could take. Once was bad enough. Twice was not acceptable.

After I got off a weak shot that the goalie easily pushed aside, I wheeled around, slashed the stick out of the offender's hands, and advised him that conduct of that sort was not appreciated. Of course I added a few choice obscenities not appropriate for this family friendly environment. He replied lamely that his action was "part of the game" and we continued our verbal sparring for another thirty seconds or so as play continued. Then we separated and it appeared as if peace was once again at hand. I had sent my message and felt no need for further hostilities.

Unfortunately the feeling was not shared by all. I was playing defense at the time and had just gotten back into position after the little dust up to defend a rush. The puck carrier, who happened to be friends with the chap who had hooked me, skated in on my side and as he came in on me I knew that he had more in mind than trying to create an offensive opportunity. When you know that you're going to get hit the best way to defend yourself is to brace and position your body to take the blow and give a little back. He lowered his shoulder and tried to knock me off my feet. I lowered my shoulder and we slammed into each other and fell to the ice. I quickly got up, skated over to him, and asked why he had felt the need to take such action, once again sprinkling my language with adult content.

We were soon standing toe to toe jawing back and forth. Apparently he felt some silly chivalrous need to defend his friend, which I found a bit absurd considering that I'm all of five nine, a hundred and seventy pounds, about the same size as the guy who hooked me. I explained the rational for my earlier action and assured him that I had no quarrel with him. Of course at times such as this the testosterone if flowing freely and the tension is palpable. It's a powder keg ready to explode into violence at the slightest provocation.

So I sought to defuse the situation by appealing for calm.

"C'mon...", I said. As in come on let's be reasonable about the whole thing, we're here to have fun not to fight, can't we all just get along?

The problem was that in hockey "come on" is not typically viewed as an invitation for discourse. Rather it is a challenge to take matters to the next level. Often it is accompanied by the waving of the hand towards the body as in "C' want a piece of me?" and followed by the question "You wanna go?", which is an invitation to engage in a fisticuffs.

So when I said "C'mon" he interpreted it as just such a challenge and responded with, "C'mon? What you wanna go?"

The ridiculous nature of the situation we were now in was perfectly illustrated as I had to explain to him the meaning of my c'mon. No, I don't mean c'mon I want to fight. I mean c'mon let's settle down and act rationally. Which brought him back from the edge and prevented the outbreak of a fracas.

At this point a couple of other players gingerly stepped between us and we went our separate ways. We played the last few minutes without incident, and as far as I can tell, there in no lingering bad blood between any of us.

Unless that guy hooks me high again at which point there will be trouble. At least then I'll know what to not to say.
Aint No Way No Man Do That To Me

The Star Tribune is always trying to stay on the edge of trendiness with its use of language. Just last week the term "Trannie" was invoked in a piece as if readers knew what that meant.

Today's laugher is an account of the altercation between Anthony Peeler and Kevin Garnett in last night's Wolfes/Kings game:

A Western Conference semifinal series that was already getting rather testy got ratcheted up about 15 notches the moment Peeler's left elbow went upside Garnett's head late in the third quarter.

"Upside Garnett's head," as in to go upside one's head. As in "I'm going upside ya head with a bat you don't shutup, fool."

Curious how many of our readers speak in this way on a regular basis. Perhaps the writer is from the South and this is a regional distinction I am not aware of. Whatever. I just found the sentence amusing and continue to marvel at what the Star Tribune does every day.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Bright Antennae Bristle With The Energy

Yesterday on the Northern Alliance Radio Show, we were fortunate to have Vox Day, World Net Daily columnist and proprietor of Vox Popoli, and Joe Carter from the evangelical outpost join us to discuss the Abu Ghraib scandal and women in the military. Both gentlemen offered insightful commentary on the subjects and we look forward to future appearances from each of them.

In other show news, the logo contest rolls on. We have received a number of high quality entries so far, but are always looking for more. The contest runs until the end of the month. If you wish to enter simply e-mail your design to any one of the Northern Alliance bloggers.

If all goes as planned, the show will be available for internet streaming in June. Keep your fingers crossed.

Last but not least, Hugh Hewitt, apparently off his meds at the time, has asked us to fill his large, white suede shoes once again. And so on Tuesday May 25th the Northern Alliance will take the con of his nationally syndicated talk show. In addition to Hugh's regular lineup of guests, we'll have one or two special additions of our own.

Our Radical Entertainment Columnist

As regularly reported here and on Northern Alliance Radio, Brian Lambert (entertainment columnist for the Pioneer Press) is the epitome of media bias in the Twin Cities. He's an entrenched mainstream media institution, he's assigned to a nonpolitical beat (TV and radio), and he injects highly politicized opinion into nearly every story he writes.

These particular characteristics aren't rare in the media. But what makes Lambert the most reprehensible example is that his role happens to be the paper's one and only staff expert on the media. What he says is the official voice of truth as far as the Pioneer Press is concerned. And , conveniently, he consistently denies any liberal bias exists in the media. In fact, he regularly mocks the notion. In Lambert's world, if any media bias exists, it's of a conservative nature.

Keep this in mind when you read this Lambert paragraph. It's from an article congratulating the mainstream media for playing up the Iraqi prisoner abuse story while downplaying the beheading of Nick Berg:

In a world saturated with cameras, this cavalcade of shocking imagery isn't stopping anytime soon, if ever. But the context, the war on Iraq and the response by terrorist groups, meant the imagery was indisputably newsworthy.

Lambert shamelessly inserting his own opinion that the US is to blame for being the aggressors in the war on terrorism, and the terrorists are just reasonably reacting to our provocation.

It's hard to believe any American could feel this way. Sure, you hear radical academics, far left politicians, and Yasser Arafat- types disseminating this line of morally-confused BS. But, to have this theory slyly slipped into the entertainment column of my local newspaper? Call me crazy, but that seems like a certain political bias in reporting.

Knowing how Lambert feels about the war (America started it, the terrorists are now responding), how can anyone then take seriously his hyperbolic criticisms of local media outlets who have taken a stance contrary to his own? As an example, here?s his even handed, dispassionate description of the decision by the KQRS morning show to play the Nick Berg beheading audio:

A local example of calculated cloddishness was KQRS polling its radio listeners Wednesday morning on whether they wanted to hear the death screams on the beheading video, something every reputable news outlet refused to broadcast. Not surprisingly, a 4-to-1 majority of "The Morning Show's" fans were eager for it. In case you wonder where KQ is coming from with a stunt like that, the station's Web site directs you to links to the site of Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who made official Tuesday the current talk radio line that real patriots are "outraged by the outrage" over the abuse photos.

I suppose it's just a coincidence that KQRS and its listeners generally support the troops and the US efforts in the war on terrorism, yet Lambert feels they are "calculated clods" who are "eager" to hear a death scream "stunt"? Since I'm listening to a replay of the scholarly, well-reputed Dennis Prager right now on the Patriot (a show on which he also played the shocking, clarifying Berg audio), I have to wonder at Lambert's assertion that it's "something every reputable news outlet refused to broadcast." Does Lambert not know Dennis Prager aired this audio? Or is he slyly slurring conservative Dennis Prager and all other Conservative radio shows that played it as ill-reputed?

I think we know the answer to that. Day in and day out he's unabashedly attempting to score political points for the Democratic party and running down conservatives, all under the guise of being a journalist, with the official sanction of the supposed objective filter of information that is the daily local newspaper. Lambert's a fraud and he's proud of it. I submit that his self-knowledge is betrayed in the smirking countenance featured in his column photo. Simply put, Brian Lambert's career as a journalist is a bad joke that never ends.

Friday, May 14, 2004

If It's Not Funny Just Try Screaming Louder

Tom e-mails to ask,

Not sure if you were going to write about this or not, but did you read Neal Justin's column regarding un-famous comedian Lewis Black?

I did read it, but frankly I just didn't have the energy to comment. Tom however is raring to go and so I will gladly yield the floor:

This past week, I was traveling and the hotel had HBO as a selection. In one of their between presentation breaks (ten to twenty minutes of self-congratulations for HBO on how award winningly edgy they are) was an ad for Lewis Blacks' comedy special. It shows him telling a bunch of children that their government is nothing but a front for big oil and other such "on the edge" and "dangerous" comments. I surfed on fairly quickly because "edgy" in my view would be John Stossel doing an hour on how ill served we the people are by incompetent bureaucrats in our government.

Today, Neal Justin covers the aforementioned Mr. Black. Neal doesn't give him credit for being very original...

"You've heard the routines before: I hate airplanes; I hate Bush; I hate cold weather. The jokes aren't inspired; the delivery is"...

All I could think of is The Simpson's Krusty the Klown. This over-the-hill hack (Krusty or Black) gets cancelled and makes a comeback as an "angry" comedian. But I loved this line from the column as well...

"If that doesn't make you laugh, at least it'll wake you up, which is more than I can say for much of the comedy scene over the past decade. For too long we were lulled by the decaffeinated humor of Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Foxworthy. They're clever enough, and are still headliners, but you can't help feeling their acts could have been heard by our grandparents, sitting in front of the phonograph with a mug of chamomile tea"...

Yeah, Neal, if we are not shocked by someone screaming bad words, we are not entertained.