Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy... commit petty acts of vandalism against the brave souls of the left. At least that's what you would be lead to believe after reading the latest drivel from Laura Billings at the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

A friend is considering scraping the "No War in Iraq" sticker off her bumper, convinced that it is the cause of the rising number of unexplained dents and dings on her high-mileage vehicle.

A neighbor who once displayed a "Howard Dean" sign believes it attracted a higher than usual amount of dog poop in the front lawn.

Dang. You're on to us Laura. Every Saturday afternoon after the Northern Alliance Radio Network show we all hop in Hindrocket's Jag, light up the stogies, and drive around Minneapolis and St. Paul laughing maniacally and looking for rusty Suburas with anti-war stickers so we can park real close and ding the doors.

I'm not sure who's masterminding the campaign to crush dissent with dog poop, but it wouldn't surprise me if Jasper wasn't somehow behind it.

They Know It When They See It

Paul e-mails to point out this post at Beautiful Atrocities which juxtiposes reviews from the same critics of Farenheit 911 with The Passion of the Christ. As Paul says, it is amazing how many of them lauded Moore while decrying Gibson as a pornographer.

It's Only a Movie

Fraters reader Joe B. writes in with some constructive criticism for the production of "The Invisible Hand":

Don't forget to have CEO's and boards of directors thrashing around on the floor dying. And farmers as well. Those two groups alone take orders of magnitude more money from federal coffers than the poor. Die! Die! Die!

Not sure how many of the "poor" exist in government, the media, the arts, and academia, but point well taken Joe.

A piece of friendly advice for any liberals brave enough to see "The Invisible Hand". Just keep repeating to yourself "it's only a movie, it's only a movie".

As a service to them, we will have an ambulance parked out in front of the theater, ready to go with it's engine running and sirens blaring. But we will have to ask all patrons to sign a liability waver form upon entering. And if you have a heart condition (a heart?) we beg you not to see this movie.

Green Light

Yesterday I had an idea for a movie.

Genre: horror/economics

Setting: the present day, mid-sized American metropolitan area.

Plot: Everything seems perfectly normal in Urbantown USA, until one day members of the press, academia, the arts, and government bureaucracies start mysteriously thrashing about and dropping dead at work, in full view of their coworkers. All due to strangulation. No assailant is ever seen.

Title: The Invisible Hand

Tag line: In a world where where government spending was out of control, no force on Earth could control the ravenous appetite of the public sector. No force ..... on Earth.

Alternate tag line: Great nations are never impoverished by private, though they sometimes are by public prodigality and misconduct. The whole, or almost the whole public revenue, is in most countries employed in maintaining unproductive hands... Such people, as they them-selves produce nothing, are all maintained by the produce of other men's labour... Those unproductive hands, who should be maintained by a part only of the spare revenue of the people, may consume so great a share of their whole revenue, and thereby oblige so great a number to encroach upon their capitals, upon the funds destined for the maintenance of productive labour, that all the frugality and good conduct of individuals may not be able to compensate the waste and degradation of produce occasioned by this violent and forced encroachment.

The story needs to be fleshed out a little bit, but this baby writes itself. Anybody out there getting me a thirty page treatment by the end of the week gets cut in on the gross.

For the cast, I envision Heather Graham in the lead role. She'll play the intrepid, brilliant classical economics professor (Dr. Erika Love) who finally connects the dots and begs the authorities to limit the rate of growth in government spending to that of inflation. Before it's too late! The thrilling climax of the movie occurs during her riveting testimony about the Quantity Theory in front the Senate Budget Committee.

I, of course, will play her love interest, the handsome, cadish blogger (Paul Saint). While she painstakingly cracks the case, risking life and limb in the process, I sit back and make sarcastic comments.

I see a Summer 2007 release. Summer 2008 will bring the release of the sequel -

"The Invisible Hand 2: The Wrath of Keynes"

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

With Friends Like These...

Jim e-mails to observe:

While reading the New York Times article on John Kerry's recent Hollywood fundraiser, I came across this sentence in the twelfth paragraph:

"Mr. Kerry, as he is happy to tell you, has longstanding friendships with James Taylor and Carly Simon, as well as with Mr. Affleck and Matt Damon, but he lacks the cachet of Mr. Clinton in these parts."

I decided to check Neighbor Search to see how much money these wealthy and famous longtime friends donated to John Kerry. I came up with nothing for the singer James Taylor, however Carly Simon's only donation was $1500 to Howard Dean.

Ben Affleck donated $2000 to Wesley Clark and $1000 to Dennis Kucinich. Not a dime to John Kerry.

Matt Damon gave $2000 to Dennis Kucinich. Again, nothing to Kerry.

All three will no doubt donate the full $2000 to Kerry, but it is interesting that Kerry seems to have been the second or third choice of these supposed longtime friends in the Democratic primary (assuming the NY Times story is accurate--a risky assumption, I admit).

Dealing With The Pain

As a way to deal with the pain of losing her, Martin Zellar's brother has been concocting his own Plain Layne fantasies:

We also once, on a complete lark, went to New York for the weekend to see Urinetown, purely because we had been concocting elaborate and far-fetched speculative versions of our own for months. My favorite was Layne's take-off, based on Oliver, where the hard-drinking and weak-bladdered denizens of a squalid village in England relieve themselves any- and everywhere, and where the streets run with urine and the characters break into riotous song as they make their contributions to the river of piss ("Piss, glorious piss! Never before has a piss felt like this!" Or: "You're in, you're in, you're in Urinetown, where continence is frowned upon." And, finally, Layne's twist on 'Kiss On My List,' the Hall and Oates' classic: "Oh piss! Oh piss is on my list/Oh piss is on my list/of the best things in life!").

I think I miss that Layne even more than the authentic fake one. Somebody please let me know when the mourning, support group blog starts for Zellar's creation.

We Are the Wind Beneath the Right Wing

Today the City Pages comments on the continuing Plain Layne crisis. Celebrity blogger Mitch Berg makes another appearance:

Just as it seemed that Layne had disappeared into the ether, the online investigation unit uncovered more information. Mitch Berg, author of and member of the right-wing Midwestern blogger association Northern Alliance of Blogs revealed that he was "99 percent certain" he knew Plain Layne."

There it is. In the paper, so it must true. We're in the right wing! I'll be checking my mailbox for the membership card and the instructions for the secret handshake . It's also news that the Northern Alliance is an "association." Did someone go and incorporate us without me knowing? If so, that's great. Just let me know how I can start claiming myself as a nonprofit organization on my taxes.

The Way They Are

This weekend Barbara Streisand attempted to get into the novelty song business, parodying her own lyrics to "People" with this attempt at sticking it to George W. Bush. A sampling:

I MEAN G - O - P - EOPLE -


I don't think Weird Al or Ray Stevens has anything to worry about. Although I would like to see what Streisand could do with the Stevens classic A-Hab the A-Rab.

Jennifer from Eagan writes in with her own parody of Streisand's "The Way We Were":

Activism--turns on the bulb of my tiny mind.
I don't think Bush caused 9/11 --but they say "that's the way things were."

Scattered pictures of Kerry at the communion rail. Sees no contradiction being Catholic and pro-choice. Wants to propose abortions by mail.

Can it be that I'm such a simpleton?
Fundraising for John Kerry who supports men marrying men? If we have the chance to vote for Dukakis again tell me, would we, could we?

Memories of beheadings on the internet.
911, torture, and terrorists--we simply choose to forget.

So it's the laughter, the belief in God and heaven. Whenever we remember our world before 911. I wish we could go back to being "The Way We Were".

That's great stuff. I'm sure it would be even better if I knew the melody to that sappy song, but I'll trust Jennifer nailed the meter exactly. For more on Streisand and more song parodies, check out Tim Blair and his commenters. Tim Blair and the Commenters, now that's a band I'd pay to see.

Here's To Ya Potosi

Putting Potosi on the map:

Potosi, Wis., a town of about 700 people where a brewery named after the community operated for 120 years, has been chosen to house a museum of U.S. brewery memorabilia.

The American Breweriana Association, which convened in Denver earlier this month, selected the southwestern Wisconsin river town over Milwaukee, where the Miller Brewing Co. is based, and St. Louis, the home of Anheuser-Busch.

Association President Len Chylack said the collectors' group made the choice because of Potosi's passion for beer, brewery history and beer-making culture. The museum is to go into a renovated building where the Potosi Brewery operated from 1852 to 1972. It will display beer cans, bottles, trays, coasters, glasses and other items that sport the name of any U.S. brewery.

A passion for beer? Sounds like my kinda town.

Another One Bites the Dust

News reaches us this morning that radical St. Paul bookstore Ruminator Books is finally closing. After years of sketchy financial performance and poor business decisions by its owner Dave Unowsky, the lease holder, Macalaster College, pulled the plug on it this week.

I've written previously (here and here) on the efforts by DFL City Councilman Jay Benanav to channel tax dollars into this floundering enterprise. I'm happy to read that his ill conceived scheme to publicly subsidize a failing business never came to fruition:

St. Paul City Council members earmarked a $50,000 grant in March to help the store continue to attract national writers for readings. Council Member Jay Benanav planned to funnel another $25,000 of city money allocated to his ward to help. But none of that money has been spent, city officials said.

"It's sad," Benanav said. "It's more than just a bookstore. It's part of the community. And there are fewer and fewer places in the community to get together. It's pretty hard to gather at Wal-Mart."

Actually Jay, people do gather at Wal-Mart. I see them doing it every day, hundreds of them at the Stillwater branch, near where I work. And you know why? Because Wal-Mart sells things people actually want to buy. That was the missing ingredient, the fatal flaw, in the Ruminator Books business plan. If only they would have seen it sooner!

Sadly, some folks still don't see it. This comment from alleged author Carol Bly:

"If America hadn't gone totally junk culture, totally commercial, bookstores like Ruminator wouldn't have any trouble at all," Bly added. "David would have done just fine at the tail end of the 19th century. You can't sell Shakespeare to someone who comes in looking for a discount paperback copy of 'Reagan's OK, You're OK.' "

Like it or not Carol, if the people want to buy a discount paperback on Reagan, the Ruminator should have considered selling that to them. Because, it was a book store, not the ministry of high culture.

I guess I can understand Carol Bly's hostility to success. Her latest page turner is called "My Lord Bag of Rice." Nice title, sounds like a profile of a cult devoted to worshipping Uncle Ben. Which would be a far more interesting topic than what Ms. Bly actually penned:

eleven exquisitely observed stories about sharp-eyed characters who stand a little apart from their peers, nurturing a hardy sense of self-worth in a mostly mediocre world.

Ugh. I just about lapsed into a coma cutting and pasting that description, I can't imagine the torture of actually trying to read that awful crap. But, believe it or not, Carol Bly is an author whose books the Ruminator carried. Carried them right to its grave. Or did Carol Bly and her kind carry the Ruminator to its grave? (Yes, that last part sounds right.)

Through the Looking Glass

The curious case of the Pioneer Press continues. One day they announce they're reassigning Brian Lambert to an unnamed position at the paper. The next day celebrity blogger Mitch Berg mysteriously appears in a Pioneer Press article, opining on gender bender blogger Odin Soli:

On June 23, St. Paul blogger Mitch Berg, an old friend of [Plain Layne hoax-ster Odin] Soli, revealed that he knew the real story behind Layne but couldn't say more. Soon after, others fingered Soli as the perpetrator.

Berg, who followed the Layne saga without knowing that Soli was behind it, questions why people got so attached to her. "People supplied their own vortex," he said. "They swam toward the hole in the water."

Swam toward the hole in the water? My confusion over this statement is similar to what I experience when reading Lambert. I don't want to start any rumors. But has anyone ever seen "Mitch Berg" and Brian Lambert in the same room together?

Monday, June 28, 2004

More Of This Please

Muslim leaders denounce those who are violent:

Through news releases, public forums and petitions, Muslim groups in Minnesota and across the country have gone on record condemning the recent beheadings of Americans Nick Berg and Paul M. Johnson Jr. and South Korean Kim Sun-il.

'We wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent,' read a statement by the Twin Cities-based Islamic Resource Group on the day news broke of Johnson's murder.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have signed an online petition condemning terrorist acts since it was posted last month by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights group in Washington, D.C.

Too bad the story is buried on page three of the Metro section.

More On Moore

I join Saint Paul and Atomizer in their stance on Fahrenheit 911. I will not see the movie under any circumstances. For those who say that you cannot judge the movie unless you view it, I say that if a dog craps in my yard I don't need to smell the pile of feces to know it reeks. And Fahrenheit 911 is really nothing more than Michael Moore squatting down and crapping all over the movie screen. Take a good look at the man and tell me that you don't think his shit stinks.

Jamie e-mails to question the attendance figures from the opening weekend:

Given the new trend of marketing tickets to groups and the attendant publicity for "sold out" shows and ticket sales,

"When will the media get savvy about the actual ATTENDANCE at some of these "sold out" venues?"

Last night at the most popular theatre in Minneapolis' trendy nighttime entertainment area, Uptown, the Lagoon Theater had three screens of five screens devoted to Fareinheit 911. All three screens were "sold out", but 2/3 of the seats were empty. has caught on to authors pumping up their sales numbers with similar tricks, when will the Movie entertainment industry catch on and stop being used for publicity?

Don't hold you breathe on that one Jamie.

Tim seeks to distance himself from the flatulent film maker:

I know that theaters rent the movie, and therefore, have already paid Mr. Moore most of his take, but I would also bet that Mr. Moore would also get a percentage of the total receipts, so I refuse to go see the movie because giving Mr. Moore one penny of my hard-earned money only encourages him to produce more senseless drivel. Plus, I wouldn't want anyone to see me walk into the theater to see it, either.

But I have a little history with Mr. Moore, albeit pretty removed. Like Mr. Moore, I too, am from Flint, Michigan. When Roger and Me came out, I was living in Colorado, and I wasn't much into documentary films or TV programs, so I didn't bother to see it at the theater. I caught it later on cable or someone rented it and left it for me to watch. I doubted anyone would take it seriously. But whenever I would meet someone new and the conversation turned to hometowns, and they would learn I'm from Flint, they would ask if I'd seen Roger and Me, and say wasn't that a great film. I would respond that no, it wasn't a great film, or even documentary, and I would explain that Mr. Moore didn't show Flint or its residents in an honest setting, that the film and the people in it were distorted from the truth.

Now when I go home to visit, and the conversation turns to where do I currently live, I reply Parker, which is a little south of Denver. Often, the next question is, "Is Parker near Littleton, where that Michael Moore documentary "Bowling For Columbine" was filmed? Did you see that film? Wasn't it great?"

Geez, I can't get away from the guy. I'm glad he's moved onto a more national scene. Hopefully, the brighter lights will show him for the crackpot and purveyor of lies that he is and his fifteen minutes of fame will quickly expire.

His fifteen minutes was up years ago. Unfortunately, I think we'll be subject to his silliness for years to come.

This Place Smells Like Lileks

Local political maven Sarah Janacek (of the Politics in Minnesota Newsletter) writes in to confirm that there's only one degree of separation between everyone in Minneapolis. At least those who attended the University of Minnesota:

Regarding James Lileks, I've never really met him, although I did have an apartment at the U that he had before me. It was an efficiency apartment on the 19th floor of the E building in that multi-colored monstrosity on the West Bank. I don't even know what they call that complex anymore.

I remember getting all this mail for a guy named James Lileks. The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, and tapes from a club, which I always returned to sender. The mags were different, though. As a broke college student, they were a gift, and I figured this Lileks guy must be rich not to change the addresses on them. After reading months of The New Republic, I also thought this Lileks guy must be a classic mushie little liberal college puke. Of course, that spring semester, I was writing a major paper on Cesare Borgia, the model for Machiavelli's "The Prince." I should thank Lileks sometime. Reading all those New Republics helped solidify my conservative thinking.

That multi-colored monstrous apartment building on the West Bank is called Riverside Plaza. Formerly known as Cedar Square West. Lileks discussed his days there in this Bleat from April 1, 2001. Key quote:

I hated living there. It smelled, and the walls were thin, and my building had bugs.

That's all true. How do I know so much about it? I am an alumnus of the Riverside Plaza as well. The 19th floor no less, but I was in one bedroom in the D building. Worst thing about it was the roaches. And in the early 90's nobody there got the New Republic. At least not the English language version.

For all of you others pining away for your days at old Ski-U-Mah, Lileks has a great review of the neighborhoods in his old stomping grounds.

Michael Moore Does America

I don't think I'm going to see Fahrenheit 911. Sure, I'm an advocate of witnessing cultural phenomenon, especially those I'm bothering to criticize. But from the numerous reviews I've read, I'm not sure my mental health and my felony free criminal record would survive sitting through this thing.

I love documentary film, and the man does violence to the genre with his gimmickry, sleight of hand, and intentional distortions of the truth. I know every documentary has to have a point of view, and I respect that. But in order for a documentary to have any merit, it's got to be as close to the truth as you can possible make it. Otherwise I might as well go see Harry Potter. And his reliance on the ambush interview with selective editing drives me nuts. It's local TV news, Candid Camera level artistry. It's ridiculously easy and lazy, and the guy is hauling down Oscars and Palm d'Ors for it. Just because he hates America as much as the elites doing the voting. It's shameful and I suspect these awards will someday be irrefutable historical evidence of the twisted, corrupt nature of our elites during this strange time.

It's clear to me that this movie has no merit, beyond giving a perverse thrill to those who wish it all to be true. It's like liberal pornography. Obscene fantasy sequences meant to give them prurient pleasure and nothing more. Michael Moore is printing testimonial letters on his Web site and most of them read like a political Penthouse Forum. Excerpts:

... there were hundreds of people lined up, and the announcement was blaring that the next two shows were sold out, and that the only one left available was the 10:30 p.m. Show. A massive GROAN went out.

Just wanted to say that we went to the showing this afternoon at the Grand Lake Theater, and it was sold out. The line stretched for blocks and, thankfully, some of the media were there to see it. It give me shivers, and it gives me hope.

We loved it. You did a great job. The theater applauded at the close of the movie. I wish we still had reporters with enough balls to report the real news instead of the butt kissers we have now.

I personally was overwhelmed with emotions and moved by this

I had goose bumps all over my entire body!!

What really hit home to me, however, was the fact that you touched my friends. They may still be Republican, but they are reconsidering voting for Bush. As I told them, the opinions may be yours, but the facts are irrefutable and hold true. We laughed, cried, and were inspired. Thank you.

We all laughed and cried, applauded and gasped together. ... but the way you put it together, your humor and your humanity, your integrity and dedication to the truth....this has touched us all.

I supported their cause by buying some "Re-defeat Bush" paraphenalia including a "Re-defeat Bush" condom (so we don't get screwed again!).

I absolutely adore this movie. And I say to anyone, you cannot walk away from this movie without being effected. Even if you close your ears to all the facts, the images will live with you forever.

That last line sounds more like a threat than a testimonial. Images from some piece of partisan propaganda living with you for the rest of your life? Leni Riefenstahl should be so lucky. And if I'm going to have pornographic images live in my mind forever, I'd prefer them to include some breasts. (And not those of Michael Moore, triple D's though they may be.)

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Hmmm...Could It Be That Your Product Sucks?

In today's Star Tribune, Pam Schmid wastes over twelve hundred words wondering why WNBA attendance is floundering when the answer could be provided with four:

Women's basketball is unwatchable.

SAINT PAUL ADDS: Or maybe it has someting to do with this, the lead article in Saturday's Pioneer Press sports section.

Random Jamming

On Monday night the folks at are having house parties around the country to celebrate the release of Fahrenheit 911. Here's a description of one in Minneapolis:

we welcome folks to the goddess house for some eatin' (please bring something to share)and respectful dialogue about our current political situation. Whether you join in the online forum with Michael Moore (we can connect 2-3 additional labtops to the internet), chat in the dining room or jam out with random instruments on either or both of the porches, weather permitting- we hope to have everyone leave with a personal action plan and a smile. Volunteers appreciated.

Don't forget to bring your labtop and random instrument. I wonder if that includes bagpipes.

Unholy Alliance?

Mike of Clan Keegan, e-mails with speculation on the cozy relationship between Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar and local televison station KARE 11. The story of the man nabbed for his twenty third DWI spurred Mike to write:

Last night I once again had the displeasure of seeing Matlock, I mean Ms. Klobuchar on T.V. I'm not sure if I'm hyper-sensitive to hearing her voice and seeing her face or if she is using her office and KARE 11 to position herself for her next job. I suspect the latter.

If she is indeed guilty as charged, KARE 11 should be identified as partner to this scheme because they continually go back to the same well for a few seconds of video. Is there a formal arrangement between Klobuchar and KARE 11 or is it simply an unspoken agreement?

As Klobuchar was talking last night about this drunk (Sherman) who was fleeing from police in what proved to be another feeble attempt at escaping justice, I pondered the question, "Why doesn't KARE 11 drill Ms. Klobuchar about why this guy had the opportunity to drink excessively and get in a car for the 23rd time (that he's been caught) in the first place?" Isn't Ms. Klobuchar's job to prosecute people who the police identify as being a danger to the rest of us? So why after 22 DWI's didn't Ms. Klobuchar do something about it?

Answer--there was no substantial media coverage until yesterday so it wasn't important enough to her. I realize there are legislative procedures that result in asinine laws to protect the idiots that are beyond Ms. Klobuchar's control, but step back for a minute and ask yourself why Sherman wasn't prosecuted after 22 DWI's? Are we to believe that number 23 will be different now that Klobuchar has come on T.V. and told us this time she's really mad? And more importantly, why didn't KARE 11 put the screws to Matlock, I mean Ms. Klobuchar for not doing her job the first 22 times?

Her job is to prosecute. She didn't. I don't know if his first 22 DWI's were in Hennepin County but I'd guess that at least several of them were. Klobuchar always manages to make the time to provide a few seconds of video to KARE 11, and KARE 11 provides her with a free P.R. spot. Good deal, there are no victims, right? Until this guy hits a little kid playing in the street or rams his car into your living room, destroys your 42-inch plasma and spills your drink.

Maybe instead of scheduling interviews, Ms. Klobuchar should re-evaluate how she spends her time and focus on prosecuting even the cases that aren't going to get her face time on KARE 11.

My advice to the guy charged with his 23rd DWI, don't run from the cops next time, you won't be prosecuted anyway.

By the way, what are Mike Hatch's daughter's up to these days?

Words of Wisdom

Vox Day, on the recent exposure of lesbian blogger Plain Layne as actually being 35-year-old married father of two in Woodbury:

This is news? I always thought the first rule of intersexual relations and the Internet is this: if a girl is on the Internet and you have no direct evidence of her sex, she's a guy.

I guess I don't have enough experience in the world of intersexual relations on the Internet to know the first rule. Next you're going to tell me that there are pictures of nekkid ladies somewhere on the Web too. (Yes, I've heard rumors.)

In any regard, I won't be fooled again. I trust no one. Virginia Postrel, Sheila O'Malley, Elaine Cassel, RobbL from Infinite Monkeys? Men.

Let me state for the record that I have met Eloise from Spitbull and I can confirm she is a woman. ALL woman.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Moose, Rocko Help The People Find Their Checkbooks

We're only two weeks away from the 2004 MS75. Once again, Atomizer and I will be participating in the charity fundraiser, a seventy five mile in-line skate from Hinckley to Duluth to raise money to help fight multiple sclerosis. This year Fraters Libertas is "sponsoring" our team and we're trying to break all our previous pledge records.

If you wish to make a donation to our team you can do so here either through Pay Pal or through snail mail.

Thanks for your support.

Friday, June 25, 2004

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Being Quirky

Leave it to James to come up with the perfect definition:

To me "quirky" means "twitchy loner who collects sugar packets and watches TV with the sound off while making up his own dialogue in the voice of Gomer Pyle,"...

Forty One Goes For Twenty Three

A chase ends with driver's 23rd DWI:

Stopped for drunken driving after a chase early Thursday in Eagan, Raymond Sherman knew the drill; he'd been arrested 22 other times for drunken driving.

Sherman, 41, who hasn't had a valid driver's license since 1984, was released from jail in March after serving time for a drunken-driving incident in 2002.

On Thursday, he was charged in Hennepin County District Court with impaired driving, refusing a blood-alcohol test and fleeing police.

Not to make light of a fellow who obviously has a serious problem, but take a moment and think about the numbers here. Sherman is forty one years old. In Minnesota you can get a drivers license at age sixteen, which means he has been driving for twenty five years. In that time he has managed to rack up TWENTY THREE DWIs, averaging nearly one per year of driving. In you throw out the eighteen months he served after his 2002 DWI conviction (#22), it is just about one DWI for every year he was able to drive.

Unless he was the most unlucky man on earth, he must have driven drunk dozens of times for each time he was caught. That adds up to hundreds, if not thousands, of occasions over the years when he was boozed up behind the wheel. That's a frightening, and rather sobering point to ponder as you hit the roads tonight.

Accusations Of Torture And Abuse Of Prisoners

This hits a little close to home. Mexico won't drop murder charge:

A Minnesota family's hopes for the release of their daughter from a Mexican prison were dashed Thursday when they learned that Mexican authorities will continue to press murder charges against the Bloomington woman, contrary to promises made by Mexican President Vicente Fox in Minnesota Friday.

The arrests of Kiecker and Perzabal, a Mexican native, received banner headlines across Mexico because authorities alleged that they killed 16-year-old Viviana Rayas in a 'satanic ritual.' Later, however, the couple said they were tortured into confessing to the crime. Three witnesses against them also later said publicly that they had been tortured into testifying.

There have been numerous demonstrations in Mexico over the case and the unsolved murders of as many as 370 young women in the last 10 years in the state of Chihuahua. Several people held in connection with murders reported similar torture. The victim's family has even sided with the Kieckers in the case. Contacted Sunday in Chihuahua City, where the couple is being held, their lawyer, Miguel Zapien de la Torre, said that if 'Fox would follow up on his promise, they could be out in days.'"

A little too close to home.

Don't Believe Anything on the Internet

The Plain Layne Internet saga seems to be coming to a conclusion. For those that aren't aware of it, Plain Layne was a personal web journal, written by a local girl struggling with romance, career, sexual orientation, and sanity in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. It was a real life soap opera, and from my description it sounds awful (which is probably why I don't write soap operas). But in reality it was compelling stuff. I casually read her for the past year or so and I must admit to have believed it. In character development and plausibility it was flawless in execution. According to unconfirmed reports, her site was getting up to 10,000 visits a day.

Now it turns out it was all a hoax. This twenty-something, hip, messed up lesbian is really a thirty-something, establishment, suburban dad. Here's the story of why he did it. (Check out Berg for more on the back story). Apparently he did it because of a brush with mortality, failed business ventures, art, and the meaning of life. Or so he claims. It again all sounds plausible and the guy's a hell of a writer. But given his serial hoaxing tendencies (this isn't the first time he's pulled this scam) and flair for writing fiction, it's hard to know what to believe. And the only rule for dealing with a habitual liar is to assume he's lying. Always.

I suppose you couldn't blame him for embellishing his motivations a little bit. The alternative of simply telling people, "yes, I'm the guy who pretended to be a lesbian on the Internet for two years" isn't likely to enhance his real life prospects all that much. In any case, I think the this is a great story, and I hope more details are forthcoming on the truth behind the Plain Layne hoax. I believe Mitch Berg is going to try to get this guy on Northern Alliance Radio in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Just A Student On The Street?

Michael e-mails to provide some background for a Star Tribune story on the rumors about a military draft that I referenced in this post yesterday:

In checking your blog this morning, I noticed the brief paragraph on yesterday's draft story from the Star Tribune. The story was erroneous from the beginning. I sent the reporter [Libby George] the following email and links as proof at noon yesterday, but have not heard back and saw no correction printed today.


In your article today regarding the possibility of a draft, you feature Nathan Mittelstaedt without giving his correct affiliations. Nathan has been a leader of the campus group Students Against War and they have been extremely outspoken against the current war on terrorism and in Iraq. To feature him as a typical college student is misleading.

I had the chance to speak with Nathan last year when Students Against War held a campus-wide vote on the Iraq war. Although he was against the war --one of his reasons being that the United Nations did not support our actions--he admitted that he had not bothered to read UN resolution 1441 (supported unanimously in the Security Council) detailing the actions to be taken against Iraq for not complying with UN weapons inspectors.

I felt the rest of your article was fair in outlining both sides and clearing stated that the rumors were nothing more than rumors, but that portraying Nathan as simply worried about the draft hid his true agenda.

Here's a link on Mittelstaedt's participation in the vote on the war.

This is how the Strib described Mittelstaedt:

Although there hasn't been a draft in more than 30 years, 22-year-old Minneapolis college graduate Nathan Mittelstaedt is worried that he might be forced into military service.

Just an ordinary, every day college graduate. Who also happened to be a prominent member of an anti-war activist group. Might that be a detail worthy of inclusion in your story?

Thanks for the Hegemony

Thursday night at Keegan's Pub is the occasion of their trivia challenge, undoubtedly the toughest in the city. And last night the Fraters Libertas produced another victory. A crushing one at that, 25 questions asked, 22 correct. The closet competitors (four scrappy teams all tying for second place) managed only 18 correct.

The victory was especially noteworthy given the high caliber of talent on hand. Because Keegan's was a stop on some free form jazz odyssey tour going on in Minneapolis last night, the bar was stocked with sophisticated, advanced degreed urban professionals (SAD-UPs). It was so sophisticated, a guy sitting at the table right next to us looked just like Mark Dayton (without the facial tics).

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all came from Mitch Berg who recruited a team composed of the finest intellects in the greater Midway area to challenge us. (Their team, named the Minnehaha All Stars, was comprised of Berg, Anoka Flash from Centristy, PJZ from Tacitus, and an unnamed gentleman introduced to me as only "a doctor" who I assume was Mitch Berg's psychiatrist).

They fought valiantly, but despite their efforts and pre-game bravado they too felt the wrath of the brains of the Fraters Libertarians. I trust there's no hard feelings and hope they show up again for the game. But from the looks on their faces after the results were revealed, I suspect they may be wearied by the enormity of the task they face. Which is of course understandable. In fact, I fear all bar patrons on Thursday may be losing their desire to continue the struggle. And some of them, including the plucky bar manager and trivia master Marty, may be wishing that the Fraters Libertas team would fall from the heights of victory, and recede back into the mob, just another team scratching and clawing for survival.

My advice to those who yearn for such a day: Watch what you wish for.

Earlier this week Opinion Journal published a brilliant essay by the historian Niall Ferguson. (Note, according to his CSPAN interview of a few weeks ago , his first name is pronounced "Neal", not "Nile". It's a Scottish thing, you wouldn't understand). In it he speculates on what the world might look like if the USA does not fulfill its responsibilities in being the (relatively) benevolent global hegemon. In summary: it's not pretty. (As good as my summary is, I encourage you to read all of Ferguson's piece. He fleshes out the argument a little more fully).

And I think his scenario exactly parallels the absence of Fraters Libertas hegemony at Keegan's. Below the words of Ferguson, with a few strategic word replacements.

What if KEEGAN'S is heading for a period when there is no hegemon? What if, instead of a balance of power, there is an absence of power?

Unfortunately, the experience of TRIVIA CONTESTS with power vacuums is hardly encouraging. Anyone who dislikes FRATERS LIBERTAS hegemony should bear in mind that, instead of a multipolar GAME of competing great TEAMS, a TRIVIA CONTEST with no hegemon at all may be the real alternative to it. This could turn out to mean a new Dark Age of waning empires and religious fanaticism; of endemic rapine in the BAR'S no-go zones; of economic stagnation and a retreat by BAR MANAGEMENT into a few fortified enclaves.

These are the Dark Age experiences that a TRIVIA CONTEST without a hyperpower might find itself reliving.

Religious fanaticism, endemic rapine, and economic stagnation? That kind of sounds like the atmosphere at Keegan's Tuesday night trivia contest. But the ownership of Keegan's can breathe easy. We have no plans at this time to shirk our responsibilities in dominating Thursday night trivia.

That is, if we can finally come to an agreement on the size of our appearance fee. Two free beers a piece ought to do it. A small price to pay for avoiding rapine.

THE ELDER ADDS: Savvy bookmakers had installed the Fraters Foursome as three and a half question favorites heading into last night's competition. So now only did we win, we also covered.

A Tear In Saint Paul's Eye?

Pioneer Press to cut coverage, shift staff:

The St. Paul Pioneer Press will undergo a major newsroom reorganization this fall, eliminating its online staff and several high-profile news beats, reducing its Minneapolis presence and increasing coverage of the suburbs.

As part of a redesign and refocusing of the paper to be introduced in mid-September, the Pioneer Press will reassign several writers, including TV/media critic Brian Lambert and religion columnist Steve Scott. It also will drop its Friday Eat section. Critic Kathie Jenkins will continue to review restaurants, but other food staff members will be reassigned.

Without the Friday Eats section, Saint Paul's life just won't be the same.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Who Ever Told You That You Could Work With Men?

There is NOT going to be a draft next year you frickin' idiots. So stop forwarding that ridiculous e-mail you ignorant children.

Don't believe me? Read this at Snopes.

Still not enough for ya? Try this from today's Star Tribune:

The warnings contain questionable assertions. For example, they claim that the Selective Service System received an additional $28 million from Congress in fiscal 2004, when there was no funding increase. They also claim that the White House is pushing to get the bills through, when in fact the administration opposes a draft.

Pretty clear. Pretty straightforward ain't it?

Still, the fact that bills exist in the House and Senate was enough to convince Michael LaBrosse, a 57-year-old leadership consultant from Minneapolis, that a draft is coming. After confirming that the bills were real, he said he forwarded the e-mail to more than 100 friends.

"This is about as real a thing as I ever sent out," said LaBrosse. "It makes sense that if there's a bill like that out there under the radar, that there are other people getting ready for it."

And you want to be my leadership consultant? To borrow a few lines from Glengarry Glen Ross:

"You stupid f**ckin' c**t. You, Labrosse, I'm talkin' to you, sh**head. You're f**ckin' sh**. Where did you learn your trade? You stupid f**ckin' c**t. You idiot. Who ever told you that you could work with men?"

When MoveOn Is With You Who Can Be Against You?

From a e-mail titled "Candidates who need our support":

Finally, in Minnesota's 6th Congressional district, Patty Wetterling has recently emerged as one of the most thoughtful and courageous Congressional candidates of 2004. Since the 1989 abduction of her son Jacob, Patty has been a tireless advocate for missing and exploited children and wants to take her platform of child advocacy to Congress.

Warren, a MoveOn member from St. Cloud, MN, writes: 'Patty Wetterling is a person of great integrity and compassion. Because of her work with missing and exploited children, she has already been instrumental in passing significant national legislation. She is liberal on all the issues that truly matter: ending the war and supporting those who have had to fight it, opposition to the marriage amendment, advocate for public education, strong support for progressive environmental and wilderness legislation, and advocate for working people and a living wage. Patty is smart, tough, but human.'

Her Republican opponent Mark Kennedy is apparently a heartless android.

UPDATE: King wonders how Warren arrived at his conclusions about Wetterling's liberal views on "all the issues that truly matter."

As Long As They're Talking About You It Doesn't Matter What They Say REDUX

Hopefully, K-Lo at National Review Online agrees with that statement.

As Long As They're Talking About You It Doesn't Matter What They Say

A little Monkey told me that we're mentioned in Hugh's new book due out next month. Not bad for a site once described by Mark A. R. Kleiman as "a deservedly obscure blog."

A Red Rider For Osama?


A career CIA officer claims in a new book that America is losing the war on terror, in part because of the invasion of Iraq, which, he says, distracted the United States from the war against terrorism and further fueled al-Qaida's struggle against the United States. The author, who writes as "Anonymous", is a 22-year veteran of the CIA and still works for the intelligence agency, which allowed him to publish the book after reviewing it for classified information.

Not unexpectedly, the media is playing up this authors opinion that the war with Iraq is a distraction in the fight against Al-Qaida. And, although I still support the decision to invade Iraq, this argument is by far the strongest case against it.

What is not receiving as much attention is the CIA officer's contentions that we are not taking the threat from Al-Qaida seriously enough, that we refuse to acknowledge the true nature of the war, and that we have not pursued it aggressively or violently enough. From an interview (same link as above) with NBC's Andrea Mitchell:

Anonymous: ...I think we are, for various reasons, loath to talk about the role of religion in this war. And it's not to criticize one religion or another, but bin Laden is motivated and his followers and his associates are motivated by what they believe their religion requires them to do. And until we accept that fact and stop identifying them as gangsters or terrorists or criminals, we're very much behind the curve.

On what needs to be done militarily:

Mitchell: "You call for some very tough actions here. You talk about escalating our war against them, and you say in your book that killing in large numbers is not enough to defeat our Muslim foes. This killing must be a Sherman-like razing of infrastructure. You talk about civilian deaths. You talk about landmines. Is that really what we have come to in this war on terror?"

Anonymous: "I think we've come to the place where the military is about our only option. We have not really discussed the idea of why we're at war with what I think is an increasing number of Muslims. Which -- it's very hard in this country to debate policy regarding Israel or to debate actions or policies that might result in more expensive energy. I don't think it's something that we wanted to do, but I think it's where we've arrived. We've arrived at the point where the only option is military. And quite frankly, in Iraq and in Afghanistan we've applied that military force with a certain daintiness that has not served our interests well.

Fallujah anyone?

Advice to Bush:

Mitchell: "What would you like to tell the president?"

Anonymous: "I would like to tell the president, I think, and, and it's presumptuous of me, but I genuinely think that we have underestimated the scope of the enemy, the dedication of the enemy and the threat that it poses to the United States. I think someone should have gone to the president when the, when the discussion of going to Iraq was broached and have said, Mr. President, this is something that can only help Osama bin Laden. Whatever the danger posed by Saddam, whatever weapons he had, is almost irrelevant in that the boost it would give to al-Qaida was easily seen. And if that message wasn't delivered, then I think there was a mistake made. I also think that Mr. Lincoln's view that one war at a time is plenty is probably a good piece of guidance."

More stick less carrot:

Mitchell: "And what are you going to say to those who say that this is anti-American and that this is a really prejudiced approach? What do you say to those who say that your call for a war against Muslim people, is really only going to make the situation worse?"

Anonymous: "I wonder how much worse the situation can be, in the first instance. We continue to believe that somehow public diplomacy or words will affect the anger and hatred of Muslims. And I'm not advocating war as my choice. What I'm advocating is, in order to protect the United States, it is our only option. As long as we pursue the current policies we have, until we have a debate about those policies, there's not a lot we can do. We won't talk them out of their anger, we won't convince them we're an honest broker between the Israel and the Palestinians. We won't convince that we're not supporting tyrannies in the Arab world from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

"It's the only option. It's not a good option; it's the only option. And I'm not saying we attack people who aren't attacking us. But in areas where we realize our enemies are, perhaps we have to be more aggressive."

On weighing the costs of inaction:

Mitchell: "Even if it means civilian casualties?"

Anonymous: "That's the way war is. I've never really understood the idea that any American government, any American elected official is responsible for protecting civilians who are not Americans. My experience working against bin Laden was there was multiple occasions when we did not take advantage of an opportunity to solve the problem because we were afraid of killing a civilian, we were afraid of hitting a mosque with shrapnel, we were afraid of disrupting sales of arms overseas. Very seldom in my career have I ever heard anyone ask what happens if we don't do this.

My own opinion is we should err on the side of protecting Americans first. And if we make a mistake in that kind of action, I think the American people will accept that..."

Even though I've excerpted quite a bit of the interview, I still urge you to read the whole thing. You may not agree with all his assertions, but, unlike the silliness that is Fahrenheit 911, at least they are worth debating. Plus anyone who provides a reference like this deserves a chance to be heard:

Anonymous: "If you're familiar with that wonderful Christmas movie, 'A Christmas Story', at the end of the day, Ralphie getting his air rifle even though his mother was worried his eye would get shot out. It's a terrific gift."

The World at War

Lately I've had an increasing level interest in the 2004 Euro Soccer championships (an interest stoked by the Vox Day reports). This has led me to checking out the FIFA Web site. FIFA stands for the Federation of International Football Associations. In English, that means they're the world governing body for soccer. Didn't know we needed such a body, but we got one. Say what you will about your interest in the sport, but for stats freaks, geography nuts, and political junkies (and crystal meth fiends), I think they may have the best Web site in the world. And all because of this page, the FIFA World Rankings.

I don't know of any other milieu where every nation on Earth is subject to a rigorous, hierarchical ranking scheme. I love it. It tells every person alive exactly where their society stands in this world. To me, that knowledge provides some level of comfort in these uncertain times, even when the context is soccer. Makes we wish somebody would do the same thing with armed forces. I think seeing the USA on top by miles would make all of us all feel justifiably good. Plus, then I could finally prove my theory that Ecuador would fight Canada to an absolute standstill in a ground engagement. Their FIFA rankings, by the way, Ecuador #37 and an appalling #95 for Canada. Let's just hope our northern neighbors never have to run into relative powerhouse Togo (#94) and be thusly humiliated in a public exhibition.

Because even soccer alone is an interesting measure of national health. For example, according to these rankings India (#143) would get its tail kicked by the Faroe Islands (#134). Population of India: 1 billion. Population of The Faroe Islands: 50,000. I realize soccer may not be India's national sport (I think it's cricket or bubble and squeak or something). But when you've got a talent pool roughly 20,000 times greater than your opponent, you ought to be able to find 11 guys who can be a little more competitive.

These rankings also allow you to think about geographically goofy match ups you'd like to see. Like say, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan (#189) vs. Caribbean island paradise Montserrat (dead last at #212). Wouldn't that be fascinating? Well, wonder no more, because they actually held the match, back in 2002:

Aptly named the "Other Final", the game saw the Caribbean side travel half the way across the world to face Bhutan to determine, as the Montserratians themselves put it, the "worst team in the world".

The game, played in front of 10,000 fans some 2,000 metres above sea level in the Bhutan capital of Thimphu, finished in a 4-0 triumph for the Asians. The two sides then sat down together to watch the "real" Final between Brazil and Germany on TV. They may not be the best team in the world but the boys from Montserrat could certainly claim to be the best losers!

The FIFA ranking is so exhaustive that it includes countries that aren't even countries, and never were countries. Like Palestine (#132). It would be nice if FIFA required that those folks stopped sponsoring terrorism and slaughtering Israeli women and children with human bombs before getting let into the club. But in the club they are, and actively attempting to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Sadly, things haven't gone so well for the Pals, who were thrashed 3-0 by Uzbekistan in a recent Asia Zone Group 2 qualifying match.

Call me a dreamer, but I'd like to see the upstart Palestinians play a match against the scrappy Israeli squad (#57). Maybe settle this whole intifada thing on the pitch, as they say. I'm not sure what would happen. Either brotherhood and mutual understanding via the noble crucible of sport or a crazed, bloodthirsty riot. Either way it would be interesting. And either way I suspect the Palestinians would be the losers. (Something tells me they wouldn't be quite as good sports in defeat as Monserattians.)

Speaking of which, yesterday the Elder updated us on his continuing fuedin' and fussin' with the island nations of the world. It all sounds like kind of a mismatch, a successful, savvy, celebrity blogger like the Elder, matching wits with the primitive denizens of various third world backwaters. But as FIFA shows us, sometimes the competition isn't always as it demographically appears to be. Given what the Elder has already faced and vanquished ( #65 Iceland and #114 Singapore), I still like his chances against Trinidad and Tobago (tied for #77 with Zambia). Island-wise, my prediction is he has nothing to worry about until he finally pisses off the Japanese (#23). That should be a war.

Prima Donna Alert

Sports writer Jeff Pearlman, of Sports Illustrated, had this to say about the nature of sports talk radio:

It started in Baltimore. Or was it Nashville? I am unsure because, quite frankly, my brain has morphed into a bowl of watery mashed potatoes. That's understandable because over the past six weeks I have exposed it to a toxic influence a million times more potent than crack, LSD, Twinkie goo and Menudo combined.

I should not complain. It was my idea to write a book, and I knew I'd have to promote the damn thing. But when the PR department at HarperCollins presented me with a list of, oh, 80 sports-talk radio interviews, the impending doom made me crank up Hall & Oates real loud. To any scribe with half a brain, sports talk radio is Satan's spawn. It's the home to people nicknamed Mad Dog and Boss and Big Boy; men who believe communication is a synonym for "Scream your head off at the guy from Urbana who thinks the Cubs could actually trade Glendon Rusch for Albert Pujols." Talk radio is generally logic-free. There is little reporting involved. Sports talk hosts usually open the morning newspaper to get their information then pass it on.

Oh, talk radio hosts aren't working hard enough for him? Harsh criticism coming from a sports writer, a profession employing some of the laziest human beings on Earth (Soucheray, Barreiro, Sansevere).

His main complaint is that radio hosts don't read his book before having him on. I can understand his frustration with that a little bit. It would be nice for the interviewer to be familiar enough with the subject matter to ask good questions. (For an example of proper technique, listen to Powerline's Scott Johnson and his insightful interviews with authors every Saturday at 1:00 PM on Northern Alliance Radio, broadcast on AM 1280, the Patriot).

But jeez Louise, this Pearlman thinks so highly of himself (he's a "scribe with half a brain") and demands such rapt attention to his work, yet his book is a historical account of ..... the 1986 New York Mets. Subtitle of his book:

A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo-chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, The Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets

Cold reality check--outside of those living in Queens, nobody in their right mind (which, come to think of it, excludes those living in Queens) has any interest in reading about this boring, meaningless topic. Not even talk radio hosts want to read it. And the only thing that proves about their intelligence is that they have some.

As opposed to the typical NARN featured author (prominent writers, attempting to educate or influence policy), obscure authors writing fluff about pop culture are lucky to get on the radio at all. Pearlman's attempting to sell a product, nothing more. Any station that puts him on is doing him a favor. Given his ingratitude, it's a favor that will not be extended by 1280 AM any time soon. (With this ban, there goes his sales in the greater Eagan metropolitan area. Take that Pearlman!)

This week's featured NARN author interview will be Karl Zinsmeister. He's the author of the modern military classic "Boots on the Ground: A Month With The 82nd Airborne In The Battle For Iraq" and most recently "Dawn over Baghdad: How the U.S. Military Is Using Bullets and Ballots to Remake Iraq".

So tune in on Saturday, it should be outstanding stuff. Granted, it's not going to be brawling, boozing, and bimbo chasing. But if that's what you're looking for, you can always tune into the Patriot at 11 AM for Rabuse on the Right. (You think you know
boozing, brawling, and bimbo chasing?)

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Is That A Grade School In Your Coat Or Are You Just Happy To See Some Propaganda?

My intentional avoidance of all things Clinton related is equalled only by my aversion to discussing Michael Moore and the guano he produces that amazingly continues to qualify as documentaries, but I read something today that made me laugh out loud.

In defiance of the Motion Picture Association of America's refusal to remove the "R" rating from his latest work of fiction, Moore said this:

"I encourage all teenagers to come see my movie, by any means necessary. If you need me to sneak you in, let me know."

After a stop at H. Dumpty's for a trench coat large enough to conceal his ever expanding waistline, I do believe Mr. Moore could sneak an entire grade school past the ticket booth.

On Second Thought....

This past week, I have made a conscious effort to avoid getting immersed in the seemingly endless coverage of the biggest story ever created by the media. I speak, of course, of the recent release of Bill Clinton's memoirs. Eight years of having to deal with the man as my Commander in Chief was hard enough so I'll be damned if I will subject myself to reliving the whole ordeal over the course of a few days.

That said, I did catch a snippet of Dan Rather's 60 Minutes interview in which Clinton revealed that the nickname he disliked most was "Slick Willie".

I hope Bill wasn't listening to The Laura Ingraham Show this morning (broadcast locally, along with various other programs, on AM1280 The Patriot) when guest PJ O'Rourke referred to him as "Pudgy the Wonder President".

Do you want to change that answer, Bill?

You'll Get Nothing And Like It Singapore

What is it with me and islands? Last December I managed to cheese off some folks in Iceland with comments I made after visiting the volcanic isle. Now I've raised hackles in Singapore with my opinion that the island nation is a not exactly a model of democracy. David e-mails to demand satisfaction:

As a permanent resident of Singapore, I must take you to task for your comparison between the PRC and the Republic of Singapore.

To be sure, Singapore has had only one political party in power since independence. But this is the choice of the electorate, who participate fully in a parlimentary democracy, and a testament to the leadership of Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Furthermore, Singapore has an independent, English-style judiciary, something the PRC clearly lacks.

I think you owe Singapore an apology.

Sorry David, but no apology will be forthcoming. At the risk of a severe caning, I must direct you to this speech on the reality of the state of democracy in Singapore. Holding elections and having a judiciary does not make a country democratic if the elections are not fair and free and if the judiciary is nothing but an instrument of power for the sitting government.

What are you looking at Trinidad and Tobago? You want some of this too?

I Love the Eighties

While doing some background research on former Star Tribune sportswriter Dan Barreiro, I came across this picture.

I don't think it's the same guy (according to my sources, the school and age is wrong). But if you ever wondered what Barreiro looked like with hair, it's a pretty good approximation. I think this other Dan Barreiro's hair is real, but it still looks like a bad toupee. The poor SOB.

To experience your time opportunity cost of the day, scroll down the entire list of 1984 Northern Illinois University Student Leaders for a seminar in great 80's hairstyles.

Ahhh, Kate MacCrimmon (Kate enjoys performing as a dancer in coffeehouses...) and Avis Woods (She was named to "Who's Who in American High Schools" and was a finalist in the Miss Metro Chicago Pageant), where have you gone?

A Fine Line Between Clever And Stupid

Rumor has it that Chuck Olsen, a local filmmaker who is working on the long awaited (it took less time to complete the LOTR trilogy) documentary film on blogging called Blogumentary, has decided to interview our Northern Alliance colleagues at Power Line as part of his project.

We welcome this chance for wider exposure of the right wing of the blogosphere. It's about time that the hoary stereotype of conservatives as wealthy, powerful, elitist, stuff-shirted, middle-aged, white men in business suits is laid to rest once and for all.

Ummm...Guys? You might want to loosen up your ties for this one.

Three Strikes And You're...

Sorry to burst you bubbles Hugh but:

1. I was competing in the Under Forty Division.

2. I took home a bronze medal thank you very much. In fact had my partner been able to make the trip, I'm certain we could have sewn up a gold in the pairs competition.

3. I am actually quite happy. I was able to pick up a lovely new sequined silk outfit in Shanghai, which I will debut in my next competition at the State Fair.

Try to get the story straight next time Mister "Voice of Reason."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Don't Use The C Word

One of things that surprised me most about my recent trip to Shanghai was the lack of governmental presence. From the customs and immigration posts at the airport to the bustling streets of the city, it was rare to see a uniformed government official or even so much as a flag of the PRC. The absence of flags was especially noticeable. It was almost as if there was an intentional effort to hide the identity of the country you were in. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if that actually was the case.

In Shanghai the emphasis is all on business. No one wants to talk about politics. The local people will tell you that Beijing is where the politics is, Shanghai is where the business is. Which is understandable up to a point. But after a while the act of tippy toeing around the eight hundred pound gorilla sitting in the corner of the room gets to be a bit ridiculous. I speak of course of the eight hundred pound gorilla wearing the cap with the Red Star. For although you can find people to talk about almost anything in Shanghai, the one word you rarely if ever hear mentioned is communism. Yes communism, as in the Chinese Communist government that rules over the most populous country on earth.

Now you might think that no one wants talk communism for fear of reprisal. But, as far as I could tell, it wasn't as if the secret police were monitoring every conversation. In fact the environment appeared to be fairly open for sharing thoughts and opinions. Of course that may simply be how it came across on the surface. That certainly is the impression that I'm sure the Chinese government wants foreigners to have. And I was only in Shanghai for five days, hardly enough time to draw hard conclusions. But during my short stay I got the feeling that if someone wanted to express displeasure with their government they could have.

I just don't think that most of them care. At this point it appears that they are happy with the tradeoff between freedom and security. In the old days of communism the tradeoff involved giving up political freedom in exchange for economic security. You didn't have freedoms of speech, religion, or assembly for example, but you were guaranteed a job, a place to live, and health care. Now, in China at least, the tradeoff is political freedom for economic opportunity, the ability to pursue and accumulate wealth.

If you're busy pursuing material gain you don't worry much about politics. I'm not saying that this is the attitude of all Chinese people, just the ones I came across. And I fully understand the folly in extrapolating from my very limited experience. Trying to draw wider conclusions about China from visiting Shanghai would be like trying to claim that you understand America after spending five days in New York City. But it's what I got and I'm going with it.

The key question becomes how long this situation will last. In some ways China today is similar to South Korea and Taiwan in the 60's, 70's, and 80's (although the Chinese government is much more repressive than either ever was). Both countries enjoyed prosperous, booming economies, but had limited political freedoms. Over the years they have transitioned slowly and sometimes painfully towards democracy. Today both boast relatively free and stable democratic systems. Economic freedoms eventually led to political freedoms.

And it's possible that the same thing could happen in China, although it's hard to imagine it occurring without upheaval. Or China could decide to stick with the current formula and hope that its people will continue to be willing to sacrifice political freedom for economic gain. It seems to have worked for Singapore.

Oh The Places He'll Go

I had previously mentioned that I was not alone on my recent trip to Shanghai. Yes, that little scamp Ralphie insisted that he accompany me on my journey to the People's Republic of China. He may be small in stature, but he's got a big heart and a strong will. And considering the beating that he's been taking while traveling lately, he needs plenty of both to keep on keeping on.

After an arduous journey there's nothing better than relaxing with a nice cold beer.

Ralphie was worried that he would lose contact with his hero and mentor while in China. Fortunately, Hugh's site was easily accessible and Ralphie read every pearl of wisdom posted by the light of his life.

More Travels With Ralphie later this week.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Would You Borrow Milk From This Man?

I dunno. He looks pretty quirky to me.

(Thanks to Jim S. from Minneapolis for the pic. Click to enlarge.)

Something's Rotten In SoCal

Last Thursday Hugh Hewitt revealed:

Finally, the Air Quality Management District of Southern California --full disclosure, I served a year on the Board of this agency until California Democrats threw me off-- is attacking the very dangerous problem of cow manure. Perhaps it can widen its scope to consider the work of the 9/11 Commission.

Which lead Tim from Colorado to e-mail and ask:

If you caught Hugh's blog last Thursday you would have discovered that he was removed (thrown off?) from the Air Quality Management District of Southern California, an agency that is currently discussing, as reported by Hugh, the urgent and fascinating problems of cow manure.

I have three questions:

1) Why did the board wait until Hugh was gone to discuss the cow manure problem? If you listen to his show everyday, it is clear Hugh knows his crap.

2) One would assume a board such as this would attack problems in a logical order of importance, so it begs the question, what comes after the solution of the cow manure problem?

3) What could Hugh have possibly said at the meetings to get himself booted off of such an august body like the Air Quality Management District of Southern California? This group seems to be fairly benign. I bet there was fisticuffs involved. Or maybe Hugh kept parking his snowmobile in the chairman's parking spot.

Good questions all Tim. Hugh's claims don't pass the smell test. We need to clear the air on these matters at once. What did Hugh know about cow manure and when did he know it?

Making A Difference

Jim Hake from Spirit of America is back from Iraq:

I'm back from my trip to Iraq. This message provides observations, conclusions, implications for Spirit of America moving forward, a few photographs and an interesting story or two.

This is a long message so if you read no further please understand three things: (1) there is hope for Iraq, (2) the support of the American people can make a critical difference to the Iraqi people and their future, and (3) our job at Spirit of America is to help the American people make that difference.

Read the whole thing.

The Perils Of Fame

Many of the would be pundits in the blogosphere fantasize about what it would be like to turn their oddball obsession into a full time career. To be paid for the words of wit and wisdom that spring forth from their keyboards. To be a real honest to goodness writer. To be a columnist for a major daily newspaper.

But my friends you should be warned. Not all that glitters is gold. Sometimes the price that must be paid to maintain such a prominent position in the media hierarchy is high, and leads one to ponder if the gain is truly worth the pain.

This morning my wife asked if the Star Tribune was having a hard time selling advertising. I was aware of no such difficulties at the local news organ and asked what brought on that particular query. She replied, "Well, they've got a half page ad for Lileks in today's Variety section."

And indeed they did. I would have scanned it for your viewing pleasure, but it does takes up half a page of newspaper after all. It's fargin' huge.

The ad is titled 'Get neighborly with James' and features a pic of Mr. Lileks, trying his best to force a smile, reaching over a prop white picket fence (representing the Backfence apparently) to offer us a measuring cup of what appears to be milk. Perhaps his lack of joy in the photo stems from the fact that his arms seem to be impaled on the fence posts. That may have been the only way they managed to get James to "agree" to the shoot. It is not exactly a Norman Rockwell scene of the friendly neighbor next door. In fact if I was the one on the receiving end of milk I'd be having second thoughts about the wisdom of taking anything from the grim faced neighbor whose sincerity in giving is at best questionable. You know on second thought I don't need that milk after all. Yeah, in fact my wife picked up a carton just today. Sorry to have bothered you James. Well, gotta go.

The text on the left side of the ad invites us to:

Go inside the mind of James Lileks,

And you thought Being John Malkovich was an unusual trip.

whose "Backfence" column is filled with humor, pop culture, and the adventure of everyday life.

Nice build up. And now for the payoff:

Perfect when you need to borrow a cup of quirky.

Honey we're out of quirky again. Can you run next door to the Lileks' and borrow a little? James has plenty to go around.

There are a lot of adjectives that a man doesn't mind being used to describe him. Quirky ain't one of them. Hell, I'd rather be called eccentric than quirky. At least eccentric contains the possibility of genius and even a hint of danger. Quirky implies more of a harmless oddness. In fact one of the definitions of quirky is "a peculiar trait."

So there you have it America. You can spend years toiling in obscurity, finding your inner voice, and refining your writing style. Finally, your talent is recognized and appreciated. You're regarded as one of the best and brightest (at least among the blogosphere). You write syndicated columns, appear on a national talk radio show, put out popular books, and have a thrice a week gig at the daily newspaper in the city that you love. You're on top of the world.

Until you open up said newspaper and see yourself warily extending a measuring cup of milk, with a pained expression on your mug, in an impossible to ignore ad that invites readers to experience your "quirkiness." And you ask yourself if it really is worth it. Maybe it would have been easier to just sell you soul to Satan all those years ago. At least he wouldn't call you quirky.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

All Politics Is Local

After a week in Shanghai, I returned home yesterday and got caught up on the local political scene. As the Warrior Princess reported, First Lady Laura Bush was in town on Friday. My wife was also in attendance at the affair, although she did not report any unintentional groping. She did notice a few protesters across the street, whom the Strib described thusly:

Two hours before she appeared, about 50 people gathered at a union hall a few blocks away and stood before a wrecked sedan plastered with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers (teeing off the Test Drive 4 W plan).

'We've test-driven George W. Bush for 3 1/2 years, and 3 1/2 years is enough,' said party Chairman Mike Erlandson. 'It's time for a change.'

They marched to RiverCentre, where Bush was speaking, chanting 'JK all the way!'

Separated from the John Kerry supporters by a busy Kellogg Blvd., Bush supporters waiting to enter the building laughed and waved across the street.

'JK All The Way'? Yeah, that'll ya carry to victory in November. I believe a more accurate report would be that Bush supporters pointed and chortled dismissively. I know that's how I react to hearing or seeing a motley crew lead by Mike Erlandson.

On Friday our colleagues at Power Line mentioned a local fundraiser for John Kerry that sought to tap into the hatred that drives so many on the left these days. Yesterday the Strib dutifully picked up the story:

Democrats apparently figure that the madder you are at President Bush, the more you're going to be willing to pay to beat him.

That seems to be the strategy behind a Minneapolis fundraiser for John Kerry that's basing its ticket prices on whether you are angry, livid, or mad as hell about the direction of the country.

The variety show, to be held Sunday night at the Southern Theatre, was organized by Mary's Grassroots Political Therapy Group -- nine women who call themselves progressive and who came together after a series of events, including the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone and the outbreak of war in Iraq.

Events no doubt viewed as equally important in their eyes. Funny that 9/11 didn't move them to action.

The show, 'Cabaret for Kerry,' will feature music, comedy and political satire. Entertainers include playwright and actor Kevin Kling, singer Prudence Johnson, actor Phyllis Wright and the Mojo Mamas.

The show is sold out and is expected to raise about $20,000 for the Kerry campaign, said chief organizer and professional puzzle maker Mary Logeland of Minneapolis.

Professional puzzle maker? Karl Rove must be shaking in his boots.

Members of the audience of 250 are paying anywhere from $50 per seat if they are merely troubled to $500 if they are mad as hell.

I think it's safe to say that anyone willing to spend their Father's Day attending this event is at least "troubled".

'We had some furious [$400], some livid [$200] and a lot of angry [$100],' Logeland said.

No one ballistic will attend the show.

To borrow a line from a local talk radio host: "Uh...We don't know that."

A conservative political Web log, Powerline, posted the group's ticket categories Friday and opined that it was doubtful 'a party that defines itself by hate and anger can command the support of a majority of Americans.'

Lighten up, Logeland said.

"We just decided we wanted to do something a little bit funny," she said. "Rather than traditional sponsors, we'd just try to make it a little more interesting. ... It's a great marketing technique, and I can't tell you how many people have said that it's clever."

Self-proclaimed "progressives" peddling hate as humor. Just who needs to lighten up here? Kudos to Power Line for capturing the paper's attention.

Finally, something to keep in mind when you're listening to the next MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) pledge drive:

Minnesota Public Radio star Garrison Keillor, whose homespun humor and songs sometimes take on a political edge, will head the bill for an unusual state House DFL fundraiser as a pivotal legislative election campaign opens next month.

He will host an evening of music and comedy July 1 at the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, preceded by a $250-a-person reception. Tickets for the main show will be priced at $100, $50 and a student rate of $25.

Rep. Nora Slawik, DFL-Maplewood, recruited Keillor for the fundraiser when she attended a local DFL dinner this spring in Rochester, where he was the guest speaker.

'He's obviously interested in helping Democrats,' Slawik said. 'He agreed to do it on the spot.' Keillor did not return a reporter's call to his office on Friday.

UPDATE: Giving credit where it's due, I see that Spitbull had the scoop on Powerline being mentioned in the Strib.

Everything a First Lady Ought to Be

The Warrior Princess reports in from her attendance at First Lady Laura Bush's speech in St. Paul on Friday. As a teaser, let me mention her piece does include reference to Sen. Norm Coleman's wife Laurie Coleman, and this line:

... minor unintentional groping inevitably occurs in crowd settings ...

Happy Fathers Day from Fraters Libertas

Ah, the campaign season. After an hour of standing in line outside the St. Paul Rivercentre the Republican Party faithful, of whom I am one, were ushered into a stuffy ballroom where we proceeded to stand for another hour and a half before the festivities began. It was tedious as expected, though amusing nonetheless. The woman behind me knew a good one about a Priest, a Baptist, and a Pentecostal, and there was a minor rift of excitement when not just one but two, count them two choir girls passed out on stage in quick succession. Well into hour three the MC was trying to space out speakers as long as possible, as our main speaker was running a mite bit late. The poor man ran out of material pretty fast, but I'd say we were a pretty gracious lot, and we continued to stand and talk amongst ourselves.

It's always kind of interesting to hear people's stories. Where are you from, how'd you get invited, do you know my cousin Rufus from Wayzata, that kind of thing. And as minor unintentional groping inevitably occurs in crowd settings, it's a little more comforting for me to be assured that the woman behind me who keeps brushing my rear end is just Grandma Anderson, the retired schoolteacher from Maplewood.

Our warm up speakers included Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Laurie Coleman, wife of Senator Norm Coleman, all qualified and entertaining speakers in their own right. But we stood and waited for a different purpose. The goal of our fortitude was to get a glimpse of the First Lady of the United States. We were not disappointed.

When the First Lady took the stage we forgot about our numb legs and our aching backs, and we listened intently. She gave a typical stump speech for the Presidential campaign seeking to invigorate the grass roots loyalists, but its predictability did not detract from our interest, because First Lady Laura Bush possesses a rare but dignified quality that draws in every ear within her reach. Grace.

First Lady Laura Bush has a wonderful ability to connect with an audience because every air of her demeanor displays a message to the audience that she is one of us. Her tone is humble and jovial, her words unassuming, and her voice soothing. She exudes in a word, grace.

In 2000, I had the opportunity to hear Hillary Clinton speak, and though I no longer remember the substance of her speech, I still remember the separation we felt as an audience. She was not one of us, and it was clear she did not desire to be, or want us to think she was. Her tone was edgy and hard. Her demeanor did not seek to invite us in, but to elevate herself in our eyes. The contrast between the two is astounding.

Long after the majority of the crowd had left, First Lady Laura Bush continued to work the rope line, talking, joking, and taking pictures. The TV crews had gotten their shots, the PR muscle had stopped caring, there was no publicity reason for her to continue to take the time and energy to shake our hands and make small talk with strangers she would probably never set eyes on again. The only reason I can think of is that the attitude she displays on stage must be genuine, the humility of her words and demeanor sincere, and the grace in her air authentic. She truly must be one of us, and the best part of us at that.

Friday, June 18, 2004

I Didn't Do It! Nobody Saw Me Do It! You Can't Prove Anything!

I take no small amount of umbrage at the Elder's claim that I have been drunkenly harassing a respected local columnist. I never call people when drunk, and I rarely make wild assertions.

First of all, I hate the telephone. When sober, this hatred simply manifests itself in ignoring the cursed thing when it rings. When loaded, however, I've been known to attack a ringing phone with a ball peen hammer and a welder's torch. The LAST thing I'd do when on a bender is intentionally get on the thing and prattle on. That would cut into valuable drinking time.

Secondly, regarding the reported "assertions" I was to have been making, I have always been told that when you make assertions you only end up making an "ass" out of "ert" and "ions"...which is all well and good for those positively charged ions, but those negative ones can be quite surly when made an ass of. I, for one, always try to avoid getting bombarded by enraged subatomic particles. And don't even get me started about ERT. There's still a restraining order in effect from the last time I pissed those guys off. Environmentalists can be so grouchy.

As for the implication that I was drunk last comment.

I Want a New Drug

The local media has made several attempts at breaking into the blogging business. And without exception they've been underwhelming efforts. The prime example is the Star Tribune's sad attempt at becoming Instandit, called 2 Cents. Not only don't I know anyone who reads it, I've never even heard a rumor of anyone reading it. Its tag line: "from kooky to conventional 2 Cents explores the universe of opinion." From it's links this week, the universe appears to be bounded by Atrios one on end and Joshua Michah Marshall on the other. Reminds me of that scene in The Blues Brothers where the waitress at the Bob's Country Bunk House is asked what kind of music they have and she explains "we have both kinds, country and western."

But perhaps the most pathetic of these big media blogs is Single in the Cities from the Pioneer Press. It's allegedly a chronicle of a single girl's dating exploits in the Twin Cities and it purports to give advice to the lovelorn. From its name and style, I think its trying to be a Sex and the City rip off. I don't get premium cable, so I've never seen that TV show and therefore it's tough to say how successful of a copy it is. But I do imagine the girls on Sex and the City actually have sex once in a while. Not to be cruel, but I'm not sure the girl that writes this (Ruby) has ever had a date before. It seems all of her social encounters end as follows:

Soon, my friends are ready to go, and we say goodbye. In the car, one of my friends who knows the guy tells me he's not really my type anyway. But mostly I'm perplexed that I couldn't get any real read on him. Hell, I'd done everything short of rubbing my leg against a wall or peeing on his bar stool.

No shame in being a shrinking violet, or a barstool peeing desperado (OK, there is shame in that), but when you're hired to comment on the social scene for a big time newspaper, I think it would help to actually have a social life.

The tag line for Single in the Cities is "Get Hooked". Which made me initially think it was written by a hooker. Which would be some uncharacteristically edgy and interesting reporting for the Pioneer Press. But, it turns out they mean "get hooked" as in, if you read it, it will become an addiction for you.

Unfortunately Ruby only sees fit to update the site once every two or three weeks. Meaning if some poor sap actually managed to get hooked on her stuff, they'd be perpetually suffering from withdrawal symptoms. (New slogan suggestion--Single in the Cities ... it sets your skin on fire!).

Given the lack of commitment shown by Ruby I find it hard to believe anyone could get hooked on her, even if they wanted to. She writes so infrequently that she might be a good addition to the City Pages Babelogue. They're also a big media blog. And they have over 20 regular contributors (most of them professional writers, of a sort). And they can still go days without a single update from anyone.

Getting hooked on Ruby is further hampered by the fact that her typical commentary on the dating scene consists of reporting like, "my friend said that his friend is coming with another friend and then we're meeting up with our other friends and maybe we'll watch Friends and then ...."

Or to quote Ruby directly:

A friend and I drive up north to help another friend celebrate her birthday. We get dressed up and have a nice dinner with about six other friends, then head to a well-known area bar. One of my friends has invited some of his co-workers to join us, and soon they arrive.

I like the fact that she did substitute the word "co-workers" for friends in that last sentence. Either she's learning to use a thesaurus or maybe that's the work of some sharp editor, noticing Ruby was about to exceed her average of 1.33 friends references per sentence.

She's a bad writer who doesn't know a lot about the subject she's hired to write about. Well at least the Pioneer Press is consistent, since that accurately describes their sports columnist (Bob Sansevere) and their political columnist (Laura Billings).

For real insights into the world of dating, look no further than Vox Day (a former Pioneer Press contributor himself, back when they used to hire real talent):

A few months ago, I was talking to two different single 30-something women. Both are well-educated and have good jobs, (one is an architect, the other is a mid-level manager at a glamorous company in NYC), both are flat-chested and have short hair but are otherwise attractive, and both have trouble getting dates. And both were astounded and distressed to hear me say that not five men in one hundred cared about either their education or their jobs.

Now, what is interesting to me is how women know that men love long hair and large breasts--you seldom see a stripper or a porn star without them--and yet few women will seriously consider the first option, still less the latter. Now, no woman should go in for elective surgery unless she really wants to upsize on the topside, but it amazes me how these dateless wonders will sneer at the "tacky stripper hair" of the girl that every man on the street is trying, and failing, to avoid noticing. As I told both women, if you want more attention from men, grow your hair and get a boob job.

Ruby, are you listening?

Reason #127 Not To Give Atomizer Your Home Phone Number

The Drunk called again last night.

Time to spring for caller ID James.

He had no arguments, only assertions.

Yup. Definitely A-dog. I suppose he was off on one of gin fueled Fugazi tangents again. Like all the members of the Northern Alliance, I've been on the receiving end of Atomizer's boozy, belligerent phone babbling more times than I care to remember.

Take my advice James and hang up the phone. The last thing Atomizer needs is an enabler. Tough love baby. Tough love.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

...You Ain't Gonna Make It With Anyone Anyhoo

As I've mentioned before, I've been quite surprised by just how "normal" things are here in Shanghai. I'm able to access the internet easily and without apparent restrictions. I get my daily dose of biased news coverage by watching the BBC in my hotel. ESPN is also available. I could eat lunch at McDonalds or Pizza Hut if I so wished. Or grab a cup of Joe at Starbucks. If you don't like the local beer you can get a Budweiser, Corona, or Heineken almost anywhere. All the comforts of home. Even talk radio.

Yes, talk radio. And it should really come as no surprise to learn that the king of the talk radio market in China is none other than Hugh Hewitt.

Yes, Hugh Hewitt. Apparently the Chinese authorities are well aware of Hugh's moderate, inoffensive political views (he was after all a self-proclaimed "Gerald Ford Guy") and consider his show harmless enough to allow it to be broadcast openly. It's not live of course due to the time differences. And I believe that the signal is being pirated (Intellectual property piracy in China? Imagine that...) so Shanghai is not officially considered part of the far flung Hewitt empire of affiliates.

But Hugh is huge here. And I don't just mean the larger than life images of Hugh's face that are ubiquitous throughout the city. You almost can't go anywhere here without running into Hugh's goofy mug staring down at you vacantly. Big Brother is watching you. And he's wearing Dockers.

It's really a bit frightening, this cult of personality that has sprung up around the bland, gray haired shock jock. It's rare to find people on the street without a copy of In But Not Of (Hugh's little white book) tucked under their arm. Hugh's influence has even spawned the formation of a group fanatically dedicated to the clumsy talk show host and his pedestrian way of life. These Gray Guards will stop at nothing, excepting an open bag of Cheetos in the street, to see Hugh's blurred vision of a utopian future realized. They sing stale folks songs as they march (tripping often over their own feet) into the public squares, holding aloft portraits of their beloved leader, and demanding retribution for the latest outrages against the people perpetrated by the counterrevolutionary running dogs at Fraters Libertas (derisively referred to as the 'Gang of Four').

But I am not afraid. Yea, though I walk through the valley of Hugh's pot bellied shadow, I will fear no evil: for Ralphie art with me; his glasses and his hockey stick they comfort me. When Ralphie is with me, who can be against me?

I suppose these foppish followers of the ultimate fair weather fan mean well. They all want to change the world. But when you go carrying pictures of Chairman Hugh...