Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Kids Say The Darndest, Most Stupid Things

I listened to this evening's RNC speeches while doing some touch up painting in my office at home. Not as glamorous an assignment as the boys in Bloggers Row (why do I think of strip clubs everytime I hear that?) have perhaps, but we all have our role to play.

Ahnold was Ahnold. What he says doesn't matter as much as the way he says it, although tonight's speech had plenty of content to match his charisma. A-

Hearing the Bush twins pathetic attempts at self-deprecating humor (could not they find someone to write some decent lines for them? Give us a ring next time girls and we'll talk.) was painful. The less we hear from these two the rest of the way, the better. D-

Laura was Laura. Plain-spoken, modest, and nice. And boring. She's a wonderful woman and makes a great First Lady. But a headline speaker she ain't. C+

Other that Ahnold, a rather unimpressive evening. I still wonder why they stacked McCain and Rudy on the opening night, instead of saving Rudy for Wednesday. I'm sure that Zell Miller will do a bang-up job, but I can't imagine that he'll be able to approach the rhetorical heights reached by Giuliani. Tomorrow night will tell.

Talking About Ideas Or Crushing Them...

Is apparently all the same to the Star Tribune editorial board. Last Friday we noted the story of a couple of College Republicans being manhandled at the Minnesota State Fair by union goons wearing t-shirts that read "Laborers For Kerry". We predicted that the Strib's stable of columnists who normally would be all over such crushing of dissent would not deign to cover this particular example. And they did not. But today the Strib editorial board did weigh in with a piece titled Bad and dumb/Political news to grimace at:

The Minnesota standard of spirited but nonviolent political disagreement was violated during John Kerry's visit to the State Fair Thursday, when three or four men, at least one wearing a "Laborers for Kerry" shirt, roughed up two College Republicans from the University of St. Thomas. The students were wearing costumes that resembled giant foam "flip-flop" sandals. One man was caught on camera elbowing a student in the head. An observer said he saw pushing, hip-checking and bumping that went on for 10 or 15 minutes.

State Republican chairman Ron Eibensteiner asked state AFL-CIO president Ray Waldron for an apology. That should come from the perpetrators themselves -- and Waldron and other leading DFLers should publicly condemn this dangerous conduct. The scuffle at the fair could easily have become a melee causing serious injury, and turning peaceable people off to politics.

Kerry supporters have plenty of ammunition for a war of words with Bush backers. Those at the fair, and outside the convention hall this week in New York, should recognize that if they resort to fists instead, they'll lose.

We heartily applaud the Strib's condemnation of this event, even if it wasn't quite as adamant as we would have preferred. They seem to be more worried that the "scuffle" could have injured bystanders and left people with a bad taste in their mouths about politics, instead of focusing on the despicable nature of the assault itself. But no matter. If this would have been all that the editorial concerned itself with, it would have been quite appropriate. But this was not the case.

In fact the ugly incident at The Fair was the third and last item that the Strib editorial came down on. First and foremost in the sites of their criticism was the Stalin/Hitler/Tojo/Jenjis Khan/Mussolini of our times; David Strom from the Taxpayers League of Minnesota:

Proving that it lacks appreciation for both state culture and history, the Minnesota Taxpayers League is asking State Fair-goers to sign a petition supporting renaming Olson Memorial Highway for the late President Ronald Reagan. The group would also tear down statues of Depression-era Gov. Floyd B. Olson at the Capitol and on his namesake highway, which runs through the north Minneapolis neighborhood in which Olson grew up.

The League condemns Olson, a Farmer-Laborite, as a "socialist," and on issues such as utility ownership, the label fits. But Olson was also a patron saint of the shared asset that Minnesotans prize most -- quality public education. His promotion of a new tax -- a state income tax -- dedicated to paying for schools helped lift this state out of the depths of the Depression. Rather than taking Minnesota down "the failed path of socialism," as the League's David Strom said, Olson put this state on a path toward prosperity that pays huge dividends to this day.

Surely Reagan can be remembered without denying Olson the honor he deserves.

Now you may not agree with the Taxpayer League's idea to change the name of the highway. But it is an idea they feel should be debated in the public forum. They haven't forced anyone to accept their idea; they have done nothing illegal or untoward to promote it. They just brought it up. And isn't that what freedom of speech and democracy are really all about?

You have an idea about something you think would be good for the town/city/state/country that you live in. Using the proper public channels, you seek to convince others of the worthiness of your cause have your idea implemented. It's called politics. Since it's a petition drive, you could call it grass roots politics.

If the Strib editorial board disagrees with Strom's proposal (and they haven't met one yet that they haven't) they could pen an editorial explaining why they oppose it. But to lump the Taxpayer League's drive to change the name of a highway in with a couple of Union thugs using violence to intimidate their political opponents and branding them collectively as "bad and dumb politics" is outrageous. Outrageous, but not unexpected.

Will Vote For Airfare To Iceland (and concert ducs)

City Page's "Best Villian" of 2004 is certainly living up to his name:

David Strom, CityPages' 2004 "Best Villain of the Year" and President of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, today charged that the weekly newsmagazine is probably violating federal law with a promotion they are running at the State Fair.

Part of the CityPages "Young Voter Project" is chance at a trip for two to Iceland and tickets to a 5 day music festival in exchange for a promise to vote this November, or in exchange for registering to vote.

TITLE 42 , CHAPTER 20 , SUBCHAPTER I-A , Sec. 1973i, subchapter C (how?s that for a mouthful?!) of the United States Federal Code specifically prohibits paying or accepting payment for voting, or registering to vote. Violating that law could result in a $10,000 fine and/or 5 years in jail.

The CityPages promotion sure appears to violate the law, and the Secretary of State should look into ending the promotion before the feds swoop in and jail the staff of that fine weekly.

"I'm sure that CityPages has nothing but the finest intentions, but there is little question that their promotion violates federal voting laws. I hope that Secretary Kiffmeyer intervenes before the FBI does!" said the "Best Villain of 2004," David Strom

"At least they aren't giving cigarettes away for voting as happened in Wisconsin!" Strom quipped.

Lileks Lit Up

In the last couple of weeks, James Lileks has taken shots at the latest fashion offerings from Marshall Field's, both in his Daily Bleat and in his Backfence column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Today, in the Strib's letters to the editor, he receives return fire:

I chuckled while reading James Lileks' column in the Aug. 21 Star Tribune about the 'tragedy' of fall fashion. The column stated, in short, that this year's fall fashion is a tragic, tasteless hodgepodge of decade-straddling garbage.

Tragic? That's a mighty strong word to use when discussing the lighthearted topic of fashion. In my opinion, it would be quite sad if fashion trends remained stagnant every season and disregarded the influences of the past. The truth is, nothing stays the same in the world of fashion. Those in the fashion arena, or those who are just into fashion, thrive on change -- whether it's a subtle nuance or an all-out overhaul, we're always looking to freshen up our wardrobe with a trendy new item or two.

For those of us who embrace fashion and all its transformation and variations, it's thrilling that the trends of today pull from numerous eras, and flaunt an eclectic mix of formal with casual, new and old, luxe and kitschy. From the proper, buttoned-up looks of the '40s to the laid-back, bohemian styles of the '60s and '70s, today's fashion trends -- in my opinion -- represent a fantastic medley of decade-spanning styles.

It comes down to this: Fashion is fun, and it's not to be taken so seriously! We use fashion to express ourselves and our creativity. We can be daring with a few trend-forward pieces paired with classics, or we can fully embrace the fluctuating, ever-evolving forum that is fashion by wearing a head-to-toe, statement-making ensemble. The beautiful thing is that it's completely up to you.

JoAnn Young, Minneapolis;
Marshall Field's trend expert.

Hear that James? Fashion is fun! Now march yourself down to Marshall Field's, pick up a pair of bell bottoms, and lighten up.

The Paper Chase

The Warrior Princess, by day, is a 3rd Year law student and fast rising star in legal circles. She puts her considerable research talents to use on the Star Tribune, Jim Boyd, and the potential for a defamation lawsuit against them.

Happened to be at the Fair Saturday in conversation with Scott "the Big Trunk" Johnson and Hugh "the Prince of Pronto Pups" Hewitt when Scott unveiled an advanced copy of his rebuttal to Jim Boyd's smear piece in last week's Star Tribune. Shocked and amazed at Boyd's article, Hugh noted Hinderaker and Johnson (H & J) probably have an actionable defamation suit on their hands. I did a quick search of current case law to try to figure out their chances.

Jim Boyd's column would be defamatory if it caused enough harm to "lower the community's estimation of the individual or to deter others from associating or dealing with the individual." Weissman v. Sri Lanka Curry House, Inc., 469 N.W.2d 471, 473 (Minn.App.1991). In Jim Boyd's two columns addressing H & J, he referred to their piece as "fraudulent" and to the Powerline duo as "smear artists" who "take the art of slime-throwing to levels of immorality seldom seen". In Mr. Boyd's estimation, their "deliberate smear" of John Kerry did not rise to a level of discourse worthy of the Star Tribune editorial page. He accused H & J of knowingly disseminating false information, not only besmirching their personal honor but also their professional reputations. I leave it to the reader to hypothesize whether or not this rises to the level of defamation as defined by the courts of the State of Minnesota.

When an injured party is a public figure, as are H & J, beyond the regular elements of a defamation claim, (which probably wouldn't be in question in this case) a successful claim must prove the offending party made the false statements "with knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard for the truth." Weinberger v. Maplewood Review, 668 N.W.2d 667 (Minn. 2003). Boyd called H & J's piece "fraudulent," yet as pointed out in their rebuttal did so in a "remarkably fact-free" fashion. Maybe Boyd has some secret crib sheet completely exonerating Kerry that he fails to share with not only his readers, but also the Kerry campaign. If Boyd does not, then it would seem he is in quite a bind. Either Boyd maliciously accused H and J of fraud knowingly and willfully seeking to defame their character without cause, or his visceral reaction to the sight of Kerry being skewered before his eyes led him to recklessly ignore the facts clearly communicated in H & J's article. Either way, it would seem Boyd's actions amount to actual malice, making him liable under the tort of defamation.

Maybe the Star Tribune recognized the merits of H & J's original piece, and printed H & J's rebuttal against Boyd's wishes out of a sense of fairness and accuracy. Maybe they printed the rebuttal because their legal department informed them the first amendment doesn't protect journalists who maliciously slander those holding opinions not their own. Whatever the case, at least in this wannabe lawyer's opinion, they better hope Hinderaker and Johnson let bygones be bygones, because that would be one ugly case for Jim Boyd and the Star Tribune.

I agree, the Star Tribune could have their hands full if Hinderaker and Johnson aren't satisfied with their make good overtures. We encourage the Powerline duo to consider their options very carefully before letting bygones be bygones. The Star Tribune's editorial page arrogance needs a cold slap of reality. Plus, we encourage anything to distract Hinderaker from planning his defamation lawsuit against the Elder for this.

Separated At Birth?

Joe Carter from the evangelical outpost submits the following SAB:

Political pundit, who went to school in Massachusetts, Hugh Hewitt...


...Political putz, who ran the state of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis.

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Space Race

Vox Day sends a letter to the Star Tribune, pointing out the ridiculous nature of Jim Boyd's claim that:

"Now comes their second piece. I could do extensive line-by-line analysis, but I will not. It would take space I do not have."

To which Vox says:

Considering that the digital bits available at www.startribune.com should be more than adequate to fulfill Mr. Boyd's no doubt copious needs, and to which his piece in the paper could easily refer, this sounds suspiciously like empty words. Also, is "Moonie paper" an acceptable religious slur now? My AP Stylebook wasn't clear on the preferred term.

But maybe Jim Boyd is right. Maybe they don't have space to spare at the Strib, what with the daily State Fair pull out sections, CJ's monthly gossip columns, and intriguing stories about towns in other states named Minneapolis.

So in the interests of bridging the partisan divide, we are offering Jim Boyd space here at Fraters Libertas. Free space. As much as needs, when he needs. It will be a bit of a sacrifice for us. We're going to have spike a forthcoming piece by JB Doubtless calling for the merger of Applebee's and Wal-mart. And Atomizer's long-awaited final installment in his meal preparation series called "Atomizer Does Lunch (or how I ended up in the ER trying to make a peanut butter and 'nana sandwich)" will have to wait for another day.

Space is no longer an issue Jim. You've got all you need right here. We now anxiously await your "extensive line-by-line analysis."


Russ Vaughn, who served with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, was kind enough to e-mail this beautiful verison of a Kipling Classic. Enjoy:

(With apologies to Mr. Kipling and the British Army)

Johnny went public with 'is boasts, an' 'ero without fear,

'Til sudden like the Swifties say, "We got a turncoat 'ere."

The Libs they just ignored 'em, sayin' "Ah, it's all a lie!"

Then Johnny's outted by their ads an' to myself says I:

Oh it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, 'e's the 'ero of the day.

But it's wait now, Mr. Kerry, what's that record really say?

The horns are loudly blowin' boys as our band begins to play,

An' it's goodbye, Mr. Kerry, as they blow your arse away.

Johnny goes to Cincinnati sober as a man can be,

An' they give ol' George a "Bravo Lad!" but John no sympathy.

They give 'im plain their message, sittin' silent in the 'alls,

That when it comes to fightin' men, they know oo's got the balls.

For it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, but wait, he might 'a lied

From the platform of his campaign train an' on the Boston tide.

His ship is on the tide, my boys, his ship is on the tide,

An' it's plain as day she's sinkin' boys, because the turncoat lied.

Yes Johnny mocked our uniforms that guard you while you sleep.

He cheapened all our medals throwing his upon that heap;

An' rustlin' up his phony troops, he led them for a bit,

Until his aspirations and theirs no longer fit.

Now it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, an' Johnny how's yer soul,

In that brave front rank of 'eroes as our drums begin their roll?

The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,

An' they'll keep right on a rollin' boys, 'til we chuck 'im in the hole.

We make no claim as 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,

But 'onorable men an' warriors fightin' once agin for you.

An' if your 'ero's record, our charges soundly taint,

That's what we're tryin' to tell you blokes, your 'ero ain't no saint.

For it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, an' "Check him out, the Loot!"

Was 'e the "Savior of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot?

Now it's Johnny's turn to prove us wrong, an' make us all out liars,

By signin' that one eighty form an' puttin out the fires.

Oh it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, 'e's the 'ero of the day,

But it's hold on, Mr. Kerry, what's that record really say?

The horns are loudly blowin' boys, as our band begins to play,

"Cheerio, Old Man," to Johnny and blows his arse away.

Hugh In Title Town

No, he wasn't at Lambert Field with John Kerry. He was at the Minnesota State Fair on the Northern Alliance Radio Network on Saturday. Actually he was on all the live AM-1280 broadcasts that day, including the Tax Payers League with David Strom and Rabuse on the Right. When Hugh's pimping a book, you can't keep him away from a live mike, whether he has been asked to appear or not. About that little incident involving Cathy Wurzer and Hugh at the MPR booth, we shall speak no further. Let's just say that Eric Eskola can do more with that scarf than just make a fashion statement.

During the third hour of the NARN show, we presented Hugh with a few additional honorary titles to add to his already sagging mental mantel place. Official representatives were on hand to honor Hugh on the air with his titles and honor Generalissimo Duane with plenty of free food samples. Henceforth Hugh will be known as:

The Master of Fudge Puppies

The Prince of Pronto Pups

And The Sultan of Scotch Eggs

Hugh wanted the moniker of "Ambassador of Pronto Pups", but this was Minnesota, not California. It was our show, not his. And so he is the Prince of Pronto Pups.

He also took a few moments to strap on his Minnesota Commissioner of Hockey crown and take a few questions about the sport:

It's not the yellow tuxedo, but seeing Hugh in a hockey helmet is probably the next best thing.

Of course he utterly failed to coherently answer even the simplest of hockey queries (For example: What is icing?). Hugh should familiarize himself with the rules of the game as well as the World Cup of Hockey, which starts today and includes games at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul later this week. It may seem incredible, but I daresay that Hugh knows more about wine (he is the state sommelier for California) than he does hockey.

If not for a few logistical issues, I would have also arranged for a special event involving Hugh and his title of Minnesota's Master of the Horse. Maybe next year. Or maybe we can change Hugh's title to Governor of the Goat. It's more fitting anyway.

After our Scotch-infused conversation on Saturday night, I actually felt a bit sorry for Hugh (especially his wallet) and so will probably go easy on him for the next couple of days. Or at least the rest of today. Maybe just the rest of the hour...

Finally, I was also able to continue my work on my on-going photo serial called "NARN Hosts Eating On The Job". Hindrocket from Power Line joins Mitch Berg in the gallery of regrettable food consumption. I hope to catch King next week with his favorite Fair fare; fried tofu on a stick.

A Savage Home Companion

The gentle, tax subsidized bard of the Prairie, Garrison Keillor has another temper tantrum published, this time in something called In These Times. New adjectives to include to the burgeoning list of hate rhetoric include:

... paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element.

... a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics

And this breathless chunk of a catharsis:

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.

I assume this Keillor screed is officially comedic hyperbole, exaggeration for humorous affect. No doubt it's based in his darkest, worst case suspicions, but he doesn't really believe it, does he? In particular, his weird preoccupation with the alleged financial status of Republicans, is that really who he thinks we are?

I met dozens of folks at the Fair this weekend, both at the Patriot Broadcast center and at the Taxpayer's League booth (in the lower grandstand), and none of them fit these descriptions. They're just good hearted, middle class people, seeking to get greater control over their destinies as they pass through this world. People, by the way, who would be thrilled to make in a year what Keillor pulls down in a week. His Public Radio salary, by the way, paid by those same, good hearted middle class folks he now calls brownshirts in pinstripes, Lamborghini libertarians, and corporate shills. Corporate shills, this coming from a guy whose entire career and decadent lifestyle is based on taking people's money via the force of government.

His littany of insults, from an objective distance, read like a nervous breakdown. As a long time, occasionally chagrined, but usually entertained listener to Prairie Home Companion, this is just sad. The man is desperately flailing about trying to hurt people, trying to draw blood, no longer even attempting to use his considerable talents to entertain or persuade. He's turned into an elitist Don Rickles, but without the basis of self deprecation. Rickles act was as a throbbing blood blister of a human being, his hateful persona built up to a point that it had to be spewed in all directions, tainting everything he saw. It was undeniably funny, but only because you knew Rickles didn't believe he was better than anybody else.

But Keillor's using the same insulting approach, in hyper-erudite fashion, in an attempt to show his superiority to those he insults and to affect an negative consequence on those same people. It's pathetic and also the definition of hate rhetoric.

By the way, you'll hear nothing like it from conservative radio hosts, like Rush, Hannity, Hugh Hewitt, or any of the regulars on AM1280 the Patriot. OK, you might occasionally hear something similar like that from Michael Savage. That tells you the level Keillor is now operating on. But at least Savage isn't on government run radio.

He Was Boyd-Bashing When Boyd-Bashing Wasn't Cool

Okay, so most of this 2002 piece by Gary Larson is more generalized Strib-bashing. But if you look closely enough you will find a reference to our favorite deputy editor:

A deputy editorial editor here alleges Bush's 'political methods' are the very equal of Hitler's. [Sept. 25, 2002 {Ed. note:no link available}]. Such over-the-edge stuff is business as usual. In 1998, after it dismissed Clinton's misdeeds as 'ethical lapses,' this paper labeled Kenneth W. Starr as 'the greatest threat to the republic' [Aug. 18, 1998]. Down is up, up is down? Just how Orwellian does it get?

If This Is It...

It appears that the idle speculation that Saint Paul and I engaged in last week was quite accurate. Jason Lewis is returning to the Twin Cities to appear at a special AM-1280 The Patriot (or Partiot as we like to call it) election event with Hugh Hewitt. On Sunday October 3rd, at the Downtown Hilton in Minneapolis, they will be giving a blow by blow analysis of one of the presidential debates as it happens. Get your tickets now while they last.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Fairly Beat

Long day yesterday. We did the first NARN broadcast from the Fair, and had a lot of fun with Hugh, Generalissimo Duane, and Mike Nelson. After quaffing a couple of well deserved post-show beers, Saint Paul, Atomizer, JB, and his gal wandered over to the DFL booth to catch a speech by Al Franken. It was quite simply the worst political performance I've ever seen. If this guy is the best they've got, the Dems in Minnesota are in deep trouble.

Home for dinner with my wife and then over to Jasperwood for a night of good ol' fashioned fun. Drinking Scotch, smoking ceegars, and talking 'bout the state of the world. It don't get much better.

Much more later on all this later. Today my wife is running the 5K Milk Run at The Fair and then another NARN show at noon so I gotta cruise.

Check out Plastic Hallway for some nice pics from yesterday's action.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hail To The Victors

The championship team from Thursday night at Keegan's, sans Mrs. K:

Trial lawyer Bill Koster, his daughter Maggie, and Bridget Nelson.

A Thousand Words

If you're wondering what all this hype over the Minnesota State Fair is about, check out our much talked about photo essay from last year. Not while you're eating though.

Friday, August 27, 2004

To Each His Own

Larry e-mails to agrue that this is his favorite Laurie Coleman picture. Not bad, but it's hard to beat the classy look of the cocktail hour pic. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. (In case you're curious, I am not working today and have been sitting around in my boxers surfing the 'net on my laptop all day. God bless America!)

More Crushing Of Dissent...

...in John Ashcroft's Amerika? Funny that the Strib's account of John Kerry's visit to the Minnesota Star Fair yesterday didn't mention this (excerpt of a letter from MN GOP Chairman Ron Eibensteir to Ray Waldron, President, Minnesota AFL-CIO):

Even during the most heated political battles, Minnesotans have always prided themselves on a nonviolent and civil political discourse.

That is why I was shocked to learn that during John Kerry's visit to the State Fair today union members wearing "Laborers for Kerry" t-shirts physically assaulted two College Republicans.

These two college students were peacefully assembled to express their points of view, which is every American's right. What is even more troubling is the fact that this is not the first time that we have seen these tactics from union officials, and DFL and Kerry campaign supporters.

Thugs supporting a candidate using violence to stifle their opponent's freedom of expression at a politcal event? Sounds like the kind of outrage that Nick Coleman, Doug Grow, and Kim Ode of the Star Tribune would be all over doesn't it? I can't wait for their columns this weekend, denouncing this despicable behavior. Yeah, right.

This weekend, the Northern Alliance Radio Network will be broadcasting live from the State Fair on both Saturday and Sunday from noon until 3pm. And we will not be shy about approaching the DFL and union booths to engage in reasonable debate. It sounds like we might have to be prepared for more than just a verbal smackdown if the actions of these union goons yesterday is representative of the approach of Kerry supporters. Be sure to tune in for all the fun on AM1280 The Patriot here in the Twin Cities or via our internet stream.

A Tall Drink Of Gin

We gotta figure out how to get invited to cocktail hour at the Coleman's:

The Pressure Mounts

And the archives of Hugh in his yellow tux continue to emerge.

James has uncovered this picture of Hugh stepping out for a smoke during his prom.

Meanwhile, Richard thinks he's found the tux itself.

Kevin at Cadet Happy, may have the real deal here.

Robert e-mails to give us idea what seed art Hugh (like the pic of Senator Wellstone on the left side of the page) might look like.

Tim chimes in via e-mail as well:

I didn't think you could pull it off, but you did manage to get Hugh's prom picture. Nice work. Did he ask the bearded lady to the prom? Did his dad loan him the little clown car, and did he take all of his friends and their dates to the prom? When he got to the prom, did he do the mime bit pretending he couldn't find the door? I could go on, but it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Finally, Cameron at Way Off Base (I wonder who came up with that clever name) has discovered a list of names that Hugh was referred to at his prom:

Ol' Yellow Stain
The Ohio Yoke'l
Big Bird
Little Mary Sunbeam
Take It Off! You're Blinding Me!
Put It Back On Before Your Pale Skin Burns Out My Corneas!
The Dividing Line
Legal Pad
Dandy Lion
Pee Diddy

The truth cannot be supressed for long. The picture must be released.

Be Like The Squirrel Girl, Be Like The Squirrel

You know that old line about how "the acorn never falls far from the tree"? A bunch of BS I tells ya. How else do you explain last night's trivia results at Keegan's Irish Pub?

For the record, we did not win. But, we also did not lose to Hugh and his "all-star" team. Both of our squads struggled mightily and finished in tie for third place, far out of the money. I could go on and on about the poor quality of some of the questions and the questionable judging of the answers (to paraphrase something Lileks said last night, "there's only one President frickin' Clinton!). There were three questions that we answered correctly, but were scored as incorrect because our responses weren't "complete" enough. And it was not exactly easy to concentrate last night either, what with the constant interruptions from standers-by wanting to meet us, get our autographs, or take a picture with us (do you think that might have had something to do with having Mike Nelson on our team?).

But we are not sore losers or boastful winners (okay, we're a little bit boastful). We wish to salute the victors, Team Koster. Yes, Team Koster, the dominant force from Keegan's Tuesday Night trivia competition was slumming last night and showed up to mingle with the Thursday night crowd. Team Koster consists of Atomizer's father, his sister, and the straw that stirs the Koster cocktail, his mother. She is the undisputed Queen of Trivia. You doubt me? How many woman in her age group (over thirty) would know that the group Mud Honey coined the term "grunge"? That is simply scary.

Team Koster was bolstered by the addition of Mike Nelson's wife Bridget, which left Saint Paul and I to wonder if, in addition to not having the right Koster, we might have chosen the wrong Nelson for our squad as well.

Another impressive performance was turned in by Chumley Wonderbar and his collection of Northern Alliance misfits (Captain Ed and Mitch Berg). They claimed second place last night besting both us and Hugh's hotshots. We've had the pleasure of having Captain Ed and Mitch participate on the Fraters team in the past, as well as the distinct displeasure of being tied by a team led by Chumley. Which leads me to conclude that while Ed and Mitch are both solid contributors, Chumley is the X-factor. We look forward to matching wits with Chumley again in future trivia nights at Keegan's.

The most important thing was that a good time was had by all. The SECOND most important thing was that a good time was had by all. The most important thing of course was that Hugh LOST. Keep that in mind when you listen to Hugh's show today and he tries his darndest to spin the results or blame his teammates (especially Lileks). If Hugh really wanted to go around pointing fingers (and you know he does) he should look no further than fellow talk radio host Michael Medved who missed a Clint Eastwood movie question (one that we answered correctly). Medved missing a MOVIE QUESTION?!? That's almost as bad as Lileks missing a question on the World's Fair.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Battle Is Joined

Yesterday, Atomizer said, "I know a good fight when I see one." And you know what? He's right. This is turning out to be a damn good one.

It began on Sunday when Star Tribune editorialista, Jim Boyd unleashed a savage, frontal assault on the noble gents at Power Line over a piece they had published that dared question John Kerry's stories about his Vietnam service. Boyd expected to use the Star Tribune juggernaut to roll over his opposition with little resistance. But this time Boyd seriously underestimated his opponent.

For not only did the Power Line crew repulse Boyd's assault with extreme prejudice, they launched a devastating counter-attack of their own. They then challenged Boyd to take the field against them in a showdown at the Minnesota State Fair. But Boyd had enough at that point, and went to ground. He refused to respond to their call for battle, and burrowed deeper into the earth, despite numerous efforts by the Power Line forces to engage him.

On Monday I sensed an opportunity to strike at the exposed flank and so submitted this letter to the editor of the Star Tribune:

Perhaps if Jim Boyd wasn't so busy selectively cherry-picking the arguments presented by Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker that he claimed to be fact checking and scurrilously attacking the characters of both men in his editorial that appeared in Sunday's paper, he might have found the time to address the key component of their argument that has yet to be rebutted. There is no evidence anywhere, other than John Kerry's own words, that he was ever in Cambodia at all, be it Christmas 1968 or January 1969. There is nothing to support the various claims that he and/or his official historian, Douglas Brinkley have made over the years that he was running guns to anti-communist rebels there, dropping off SEALs for clandestine operations, or delivering CIA agents in exchange for charmed chapeaus. The issue is not John Kerry's service in Vietnam. Rather, it is the tall tales that he has told since the war about his time in Vietnam that seek to create a larger-than-life heroic persona in order to further his political ambitions.

I was disappointed, but not surprised that it did not see the light of day at the Strib. It usually takes about ten attempts to land one letter in the Strib. As Wayne Gretzky used to say. "You can't score if you don't shoot."

But I was surprised yesterday, when I received this reply from Jim Boyd himself:

Hey, Chad. How do you know there is nothing to support that? Or do you really mean there is nothing you've seen? And how could you see all?

Here's a challenge for you: I served for a year with an Army outfit named U.S. Army Field Activities Command in Washington. I'll give you a week to find ANY mention of it anywhere. I'll give you two weeks to find out what it really was. I'm not making it up. my DD214 says I served there.

My point: It was a secret agency doing secret work in secret places.

Also, did you see this:

John O'Neill of Swift Vets, in a taped 1971 conversation with President Richard Nixon:

O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.

I'm not making that up either. It comes from Fox, the Hannity and Colmes show, as well as CNN's Newsnight with Aaron Brown.

John O'Neill in a taped 1971 Oval Office meeting with President Richard Nixon.

After the beating he had taken at the hands of the Power Line boys, Boyd was apparently so desperate for a victory, any victory to raise his sagging morale that he was willing to crawl out of his hole for a moment and take a pot shot at a unknown letter writer. But once again, he miscalculated. For this letter writer was not just an isolated crank on a solo sortie, and Boyd ran smack dab into the meat grinder once again.

With Boyd finally in the open, the big guns at Power Line unleashed a withering barrage:

But I'm a state of the art Google searcher, so it took me about a minute and a half to respond to Jim Boydot's challenge. The U.S. Army Field Activities Command does not appear to be a super-secret organization, as Boyd suggests, given that the official, publicly-available Dept. of the Army account of the year 1973 notes that: "Pursuant to the action to terminate area intelligence collection activities, the U.S. Army Field Activities Command was disestablished in November 1972 and its remaining responsibilities assumed by the 902d Military Intelligence Group."

Another reference to the supposedly hush-hush Field Activities Command can be found here.

No doubt if you Googled for another five minutes, more references to the Field Activities Command would tumble out. What is striking to me about this exercise is the spiritual kinship between John (pocketa-pocketa-pocketa) Kerry and Jim (pocketa-pocketa-pocketa) Boyd. Apparently Boyd, like Kerry, envisions himself as a sort of Secret Agent Man. Boyd alluded--vaguely and irrelevantly, of course--to his own Vietnam doings in castigating us as fraudulent, lying smear artists, and, like Kerry, he seems to think that his own Secret Agent Man status gives him a license to slander others while conferring immunity against any response. In that context, it is easy to see why Boyd rises so readily to the defense of Kerry's fantasies. Boyd harbors fantasies of his own.

That wasn't, of course, the epistemological problem that the Trunk posed. But it doesn't take a philosopher to figure out that when there is no record of Kerry's being ordered into Cambodia; Kerry's crewmates say they were never in Cambodia; Kerry's boat was unsuitable for secret missions to Cambodia; no CIA man has come forward to confirm the story of the Magic Hat; there are no documents suggesting that Kerry was ordered into Cambodia; Kerry's journals don't say he was in Cambodia; and the last entry in Kerry's journal depicts him looking wistfully over at the Cambodia border and wondering what is on the other side--well, as I say, you don't have to be an epistemologist to conclude that Kerry was never in Cambodia.

They were aided by their sharp-shooting readers sniping at Boyd as well:

More google searching would find you this link. Check out Wyatt B. Kirby's bio:

"Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Officer in the Army Field Activities Command with assignments in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Washington, DC. During 1970-1972, he was Chief of Operations, G3, 525th Military Intelligence Group, supervising HUMINT collection in the Republic of Viet Nam."

I'd bet Mr Kirby could provide some interesting information on the "Field Activities Command."

Boyd is a putz.

But I can do even better. The commander of the Field Activities Command was Col Alfred W. Bagot. Google rocks.


Well here's a link. See page 52, second paragraph from the bottom.

The link above was the first return on the search "Army Field Activities Command" in Google. Took about 30 seconds, to get Google up, copy the phrase, get the return and click on the page. Most of the week is left.

Here's another link that suggests that the Army Field Activities Command ran Army Intelligence agents overseas.

As to the second part of Boyd's challenge -- what his old outfit really was -- it appears, based on the material in the second link, to have been involved in internal security within the military, defense department and affiliated organizations.

Obviously, Boyd is lacking in Internet skills or he wouldn't have issued this challenge without Googling it first.

A person working at a newspaper not knowing how to Google? Imagine that.

Next, Steve from Double Toothpicks joined the fun with a volley of his own:

Boyd's view rather typifies the postmodern pragmatic view of truth. Skeptical of information authorities and of absolute truth itself, the postmodern mind becomes subject to all kinds of conspiracy theories and what used to be called 'kooky' ideas. The X-Files tells us that "The Truth Is Out There," code language for this absurd claim: since we can't absolutely deny that alien abductions take place, the government must be covering them up. This view of truth ignores a maxim that has stood well the test of time: extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. If Kerry really ferried CIA men into Cambodia, then his is the Super-Size burden of proof of this extraordinary claim.

Finally, my latest salvo in response to Boyd's e-mail:


Thanks for the response. I know you're a very busy man, what with the ducking of debates and all. I had hoped that you might see fit to actually publish my letter, but I suppose hoping for any semblance of balance on the Strib editorial pages is wishful thinking.

If I understand your position correctly, you would argue that if John Kerry claimed he paraglided into Hanoi and trimmed a strand off Ho Chi Minh's beard it would be up to me to offer evidence that could conclusively disprove the claim. Otherwise I would have to accept it as fact. An interesting approach to say the least.

As to your challenge, here's what found in a few minutes of research (with a little help).

The commander of the Field Activities Command was Col Alfred W. Bagot. It appears to have been involved in internal security within the military, defense department and affiliated organizations. And it in 1973 it looks like it was dissolved:

"Pursuant to the action to terminate area intelligence collection activities, the U.S. Army Field Activities Command was disestablished in November 1972 and its remaining responsibilities assumed by the 902d Military Intelligence Group."

I am sure that I could find much more detailed information if I had the time (and the inclination). In two weeks I could likely have an multi-page article available on it, which your paper would no doubt refuse to print.

If I'm not mistaken, John O'Neil was serving in Vietnam in 1970 when U.S. forces invaded Cambodia. That makes it quite likely that he was indeed in Cambodia, but does nothing to further John Kerry's claims to have been there in '68 or '69 (depending on which story he's now going with).

I look forward to hearing from you again.



I'll keep you updated on further communications from Boyd. But I wouldn't count on any.

Boyd's strategic position is precarious. He has so been battered and bludgeoned that he has fled the field of battle, beating a hasty retreat. New forces seem to be springing up almost hourly to take shots at him, while allies are few and far between. He may hope that local lefty bloggers will join the fray on his behalf, but he will soon learn that they're not good for much in battle except carrying the Strib's water (sorry-couldn't resist). Meanwhile, the rest of the Northern Alliance waits in reserve, ready, if needed, to deliver further crushing blows.

At this point I don't think they will be sent in. Boyd is no longer a viable force as evidenced by his latest witty rejoinder, directed at those criticizing Kerry's 1971 testimony to Congress:

What relevance this entire issue has to a presidential election 33 years later is, frankly, beyond me, but to my mind Kerry's testimony reflects enormous courage and conviction on the part of a young veteran just home from war.

(Sigh) This time we'll simply let Boyd's word speak for themselves. If he shows up on Saturday, the hostilities will most certainly be resumed.

Knowledge War

The trivia challenge at Keegan's tonight should be monumental. With the squad of Hugh Hewitt-recruited ringers arrayed against us, we knew it was going to be tough. This picture shows exactly how tough.

Yes, that earnest, horn rim spectacled young man is Michael Medved appearing on the CBS game show "Scholarquiz" in 1964. On a championship team, according to his bio. It seems he's been preparing his whole life, in hopes of one day defeating Fraters Libertas in the public forum.

Well, to quote John Kerry, from his original draft of his acceptance speech, "commence with your efforts!"

Sure, Medved may excel with hoity toity categories such as Poetry and Literary Heritage and Long Division. But this ain't the Scholarquiz. This is Irish pub trivia, aimed at the unwashed masses. And that's us (or at least it's the Atomizer, who's been preparing by refusing to shower all week). All the memorized Walt Whitman verse in the world isn't going to help the Hewitt All Stars when it comes to knowing what Marge Simpson's maiden name is.

And that stuff, we know. Come to think of it, Hewitt team member James Lileks knows that stuff too. Damn, advantage negated! Here's hoping Frater-for-a-Day Mike Nelson is a Sex and the City fanatic, because we generally get screwed on those questions, and they may be our only hope.

By the way, Mike Nelson (yes, THAT Mike Nelson of MST3K fame) is now blogging. And he's stumbled across a way to generate revenue without resorting to those annoying Blog Ads:

I have decided to post my own pictures and a diary in the hopes that strange men will be motivated to send me cash, cars and, instead of jewelry, please, audio visual equipment. Rest assured, there is nothing untoward about this arrangement, nothing implicit. It is a simple transaction wherein I post things and you send me stuff.

The trivia starts tonight, 9 PM at Keegan's. Be aware, this isn't a feature match. The public is encouraged to bring their own teams (max of 4 people) to challenge us all. Although we sternly discourage the attendance of teams of strange men motivated to give Mike Nelson things.

If you're coming, you better arrive early. Space may be short, and believe me, you don't want to miss it.

On Tap

Today is the kick-off of the Minnesota State Fair.

It also marks the beginning of a run of activities and events that guarantee that the next eleven days will be insane. Here's a quick look at what's in store (all times are CST):


5pm-8pm Hugh Hewitt broadcasts live from The Fair.

9pm-??? Trivia showdown at Keegan's Irish Pub. Hugh will be on hand along with Michael Medved, James Lileks, and Michael J. Nelson among others. I even think Chumley may stop by. Here's how some guy named Doug envisions it:

I have images of Medved sipping Mogen-David from a tiny glass, Hugh nursing a Miller-lite, Lileks drinking coffee and looking longingly at the Fraters table which is over-flowing with top-shelf martinis, pitchers of dark beer, and tequila shots. Naturally, I'll be gravitating toward the Fraters. They've already taken out smoking in Minneapolis. Booze could well be next. It's our civic duty to make public displays of our affection for the stuff. Out of towners like Hewitt and Medved (and hometown suck-ups, like Lileks) do not appreciate the urgency.


12pm Hugh and Jay Larson will be waxing and buffing cars at Bobby and Steve's Autoworld on the corner of 35W and Washington Ave in Minneapolis.

5pm-8pm Hugh Hewitt broadcasts live from The Fair.

Saturday August 28th

9am-12pm Taxpayers League Live with David "Playa" Strom and Rabuse on the Right broadcast live at The Fair.

12pm-3pm Northern Alliance Radio Network broadcast live at The Fair. Guests on Saturday include Michael J. Nelson, James Lileks, and some guy named Hugh.

5pm Hugh's book signing at the Barnes and Noble at the Mall of America.

Sunday August 29th

9am-12pm Taxpayers League Live with David "Playa" Strom and Rabuse on the Right broadcast live at The Fair.

12pm-3pm Northern Alliance Radio Network broadcast live at The Fair.

Saturday September 4th

9am-12pm Taxpayers League Live with David "Playa" Strom and Rabuse on the Right broadcast live at The Fair.

12pm-3pm Northern Alliance Radio Network broadcast live at The Fair.

4pm-??? The second Minnesota Organization of Bloggers gathering at a beer garden (TBD) at The Fair.

Sunday September 5th

9am-12pm Taxpayers League Live with David "Playa" Strom and Rabuse on the Right broadcast live at The Fair.

12pm-3pm Northern Alliance Radio Network broadcast live at The Fair.

Mark your calendars now. Line up the babysitters, kennel the pets, and lock up the liquor. The next two weeks is going to be a wild ride and you don't want to miss out on all the fun.

Smackdown the Vote

Regarding my post yesterday on the political implications of professional wrestling, a couple of astute observers of the scene have chimed in.

First, John Hawkins from Right Wing News has an insightful post on the lessons politicians can learn from professional wrestling crowds and their reactions to various hyperbolic characters (a description that equally applies to grapplers and campaigning politicians). Excerpt:

...wrestling fans, particularly American fans tend to be very nationalistic. You will never go wrong talking up America or waving a flag around. Furthermore, the WWE made a big show of supporting the soldiers in Iraq.

On the other hand, there's no easier way to gin up "Heat" than to trash the US as villains like the Iron Sheik, "The Russian Bear" Ivan Kolov, and the latest annoying foreigners, La RĂ©sistance (they're French, but shocker there, I know) have proven.

Application: If you can point out to people how people like Ted Rall, Michael Moore, & Noam Chomsky trash America, you will permanently turn people off to their ideas.

I also received an email from Josh Almas, a professional wrestling aficionado. He applies the skills of a journalist and historian in this fascinating look at the background of the wrestler JBL and his political implications.

I just read your article on WWE superstar John 'Bradshaw' Layfield (JBL) and it's possible reflection on the Presidential race. As a Republican and an avid pro-wrestling fan (I hold a BA in History and Political Science, and have traveled the country to attend WrestleMania (the super-bowl of pro-wrestling) each of the last four years), I thought I'd point out a few things.

Overall I was impressed by your analysis, and researching, a lot of bloggers wouldn't have done the research to find out that Layfield has a background as an investment analyst for CNBC, or the details of his termination. Although Layfield's time with CNBC was short-lived, he had previously served in a similar role with Fox News Channel for a much longer period of time.

However there were a few points in the article that contained mistakes and I thought I could shed some light on these points.

Taking it from the beginning MFSM recounts Layfield's use of the phrase "God Bless the United States of America" to end his speeches. MFSM is correct that this phrase has been met with great hostility from audiences. However, what he fails to inform you of, (or perhaps was unaware of himself,) is that fact that Layfield uses this type of language when performing before crowds in Canada. Such was the case this past week when JBL used the phrase at a show taped at Hamilton, Ontario. Prior to using the "God Bless" phrase as a sign-off JBL had riled up the nationalist fervor of the Canadian crowd by referring to Canada as America's "little sister," saying he was better than them because he was from the United States, and saying that they shouldn't boo this because, "we protect you."

Insulting Canadians and playing up to anti-Americanism in Canada just like goose-stepping in Germany, is, in wrestling vernacular, referred to as "cheap heat." Layfield in his is no stranger to this practice, his Buchanan-esque anti-immigrant railings were a part of his character when he was feuding with Mexican-American WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero. Now that he has moved on from this feud with Guerrero, JBL only pulls out the anti-immigration part of his character when performing in areas with large Hispanic populations. When performing in the Northeast he emphasizes his Texas heritage, but when performing in Texas he proudly proclaims that he now lives in New York City and had to leave Texas to become wealthy.

This reliance on "cheap heat" stems largely from the fact that Bradshaw is generally not liked by the fans (and by not-liked I mean not only in a "we don't love him" way, but also in the "we don't love to hate him" way). Never an accomplished singles-wrestler JBL was given his new character and immediately pushed into a headlining role this past April, due to the departure or injury of an astonishing number of main-event superstars. The fact is in the eyes of most fans JBL as a main-eventer has been a huge failure. WWE continues to push him, and has even made him WWE World Champion because they simply don't have much of a choice right now on Layfield's Smackdown! brand.

You cite an article by Phantom Lord talking-up the potential of the gimmick to be a success. I have never read anything by this particular columnist before, but know he is not one of the more well-respected wrestling columnists currently writing on the Internet. However since that column was written in mid-April most of the potential seen by Phantom has not been realized due to general fan disinterest for the character of JBL. (Interestingly enough, Phantom also gets it wrong on the other new gimmick he discusses, "Special" wrestler Eugene Dinsmore. While JBL has floundered as a main-eventer Eugene quickly was embraced by the fans, and although he was intended as an under-card wrestler recently found himself in a main-event feud with Triple H, who due to his status as Vince McMahon's son-in-law always is able to attach himself to the WWE's hottest stars.)

A couple other notes to touch on.

The mock political commercial that MFSM references is a pretty accurate portrayal except for one huge problem. The commercials targeting Foley had nothing to do with John 'Bradshaw' Layfield. They were part of a storyline between Foley and Randy Orton, those commercials even ended with a "Paid for by friends of Randy Orton" tag.

WWE, much like Major League Baseball is divided into two distinct leagues, referred to as brands; Raw, and Smackdown! Each brand has its own TV shows, announcers, referees, title belts, and wrestlers with very little cross-over between the two brands. Both Orton and Foley are a part of WWE's Raw Brand, while Bradshaw is a part of Smackdown! Moreover, the fake ads in question ran in December, when JBL was still beer-drinking Bradshaw of the APA (a gimmick which actually did last for the better part of five years). The description of the ads is accurate, however, and it is worth noting that the program between Foley and Orton was instrumental in building up Orton's character to the point where he has just recently won the World Title for the Raw brand, and is in the midst of turning face (becoming a good guy).

Although Bob Mould did indeed spend a period of time as a writer for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and WWE did indeed buy WCW in January of 2001, Mould has never, to the best of my knowledge, been employed by WWE. The last word in WWE writing is and has always been Vince McMahon, and while McMahon does indeed employ a team of writers lead by his daughter Stephanie, the buck stops with him.

The JBL push in particular has been identified by insiders as something of a pet project of Vince's. (Hence the top of the card status despite general fan apathy, nobody could back that type of a push except the boss.) But I don't think this is a part of some project by McMahon to advance liberalism. While he has never publicly announced his political affiliation, the North Carolina born-and-raised McMahon certainly doesn't look like a Democrat to me. Consider that this past December McMahon personally led a WWE tour to perform live for the troops in Baghdad. Additionally a quick search on the Federal Campaign contribution database through Newsmeat, shows that both Vince and Linda McMahon (Vince's wife and WWE CEO) have generally, though not exclusively, supported Republican candidates.

In conclusion, while I more than anyone, would love to be able to draw political understanding from the world of pro-wrestling, I think that JBL is not such a case. If anything I would say that it just goes to show that the concept of an Evil Capitalist Republican wrestler isn't nearly as hated as WWE bookers seemed to think it would be.

Wow. I'm confident in saying that ends the debate about what the JBL phenomenon really means. Now Man From Silver Mountain can go back to watching WWE Smackdown! with an untroubled mind. I wish all controversial issues were so easily resolved. (Easy, in that someone else did all the work).

Maybe we can get Josh to investigate this whole Kerry in Cambodia mess and get that solved once and for all. Until he does, you can catch more of Josh's work at his home site and he's involved with another site called ewrestler.com.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Sound Of Silence

I know a good fight when I see one. This one is so good that I can no more resist jumping headfirst into it myself than I can a full half gallon bottle of Bombay Sapphire.

That's why I found myself Googling our local rag's editorial page editor, Jim Boyd, rather than addressing the invitations for my upcoming wedding. I'm sure that the lovely Atomizerette will understand.

What I found, via an old Matt Welch post, was this nugget penned by Boyd back in 2002 regarding some negative criticism directed his way:

I'm not talking disagreement, which is a given in the business we're in; I'm talking outright attacks on our integrity, our intelligence, our professionalism. It's wearing, and that, it seems to me, is its goal: To intimidate into submission -- or at least into submissive silence.

Now, is it just me or is Boyd decrying the same sort of tactics he used in this piece published by the Star Tribune this past Sunday attacking Powerline's Hinderaker and Johnson?

The only difference in this case is that the "submissive silence" is now coming from the 800 pound gorilla holding the truncheon.

And the silence is deafening.

The Commissioner In Yellow

There has been a lot of focus on a single burning issue lately...an issue that could be easily cleared up if the man at the center of the maelstrom would simply release the pertinent documents to the public. There has been obfuscation, denials and outright pig-headedness on the part of this individual and while some bloggers have succeeded in scratching at the surface, the truth is still out there.

Wait no longer, friends. After a lengthy bargaining session with a home economics teacher in Ohio, I present to you now a photograph of Hugh Hewitt dressed for his 1974 prom.

Yikes!!! That's quite the outfit. Hugh's date was one lucky girl.

By the way, Hugh's old home ec teacher told me that he was quite skilled at the art of macrame while in high school. In fact, she said that he was her most gifted student. Or did she say "special"?

A Man's Man

Somehow I missed the news of the passing of a real red-blooded American. Paul Neal ("Red") Adair, firefighter, died on August 7th, aged 89
(from The Economist-subscription required):

From the crater that was Kuwait City's airport, Mr Adair surveyed the scene. The horizon was filled with one continuous fire. At the core of the wells the temperature was 3,000°F, or about the heat needed to melt steel. On the ground, 50 feet away, it was still close to 1,000°. The fires were often not shooting up straight from the wellhead, but spewing out in all directions. Mr Adair and his men donned their overalls, discarded their plastic hats in favour of aluminium, and set about doing their job. "Red", by the way, was then 75.

In retrospect, Mr Adair--never wanting in confidence or cockiness where fires were concerned--thought Kuwait had been easy. "We put all the fires out with water, just went from one to the next." In fact, he reversed the flow in the oil pipes, pumping the nearest sea ("the Adriatic" as he blithely supposed) into the oilfields and saturating the ground with water before capping the wells. His 76th birthday found him joyfully moving the giant valves into position with a crane. In the end, he put out in nine months a conflagration that was expected to burn uncontrollably for three to five years.

I can still recall the awe-filled respect that I felt for Red as a kid, after watching a documentary chronicling his exploits. This guy put out some of the most dangerous fires in the world for a living. And he did it with bravado, creativity, and confidence that marked him as an American original. Today people talk about having a "can do" attitude or "gettin' 'er done". Red Adair did much more than talk. He did whatever had to be done to put out the fire, to finish the job. R.I.P.

Covering His Bases

Chumley opines on The Fair, the return of Jason Lewis, and a radio show that's taking baby steps.

Birds Of A Feather?

The credibility clock continues to tick for two prominent media types who persist in ducking challenges.

Jim Boyd from the Star Tribune can talk the talk (as he did in a Sunday editorial ripping the gents at Power Line), but he cowardly refuses to walk the walk and appear in a live, on-air debate at the Minnesota State Fair.

Meanwhile, the Hugh Hewitt camp is in full damage control mode as the "Long Carbine of Yellow" still declines to release his 1974 prom photo.

Given Hugh's cover-up and stubborn stonewalling (he did work for Nixon didn't he?) David from Pittsburgh suggests an alternative to the actual photo:

I wouldn't wait for Double-H to cough up the photo. Why not commission the Wellstone artist to render Hugh in sweet, delicious yellow corn? He's already been called "Kernel" Slanders. And if he doesn't like it, he can just eat it.

James Phillips, from the Fraters West Coast Research Bureau Northern California Office, has been doing some digging as well and has uncovered previously unpublished photos of Hugh wearing the infamous yellow tuxedo.

More recently he appeared with the First Lady and Peter Beinart:

And then there is this shot of Hugh at his high school prom sitting in to jam with the band:

The truth is out there Hugh. You can't hide from it. Release the photo now or I'm sure we'll see many more archives start emerging from the woodwork.

The Politics of the Fore Arm Smash

For the last few weeks, our correspondent Man from Silver Mountain has been getting nervous about the upcoming Presidential election. He's a Bush supporter and he thinks things are looking bleak. But it's not the polls that bother him. It's not news from Iraq or updates on the rate of job creation or even the endorsement by Bright Eyes that haunts him. What has him near despondency is what he sees while watching professional wrestling.

Apparently there's some guy on WWE parodying a rich Texas Republican and the crowd hates him. MFSM comments:

An update on my theory that W will lose because bad guy wrestlers are imitating him. One was wearing a suit and a cowboy hat, complaining of high taxes and ending his speeches with the phrase, "God bless the United States of America." The people boo him and throw things at him.

The plot has developed to the point where he is now pretending to take out advertising to smear his opponent. The ads are a parody of a well known Bush ad campaign. The "ad" starts like this (Mick Foley is his opponent and the name of the show is Hardcore): "Mick Foley claims to be a Hardcore legend. But let's look at the facts: Mick Foley . . . "

It goes on to accuse Foley of various non Hardcore legend offenses before concluding with: "Mick Foley claims to be a Hardcore legend. But in reality, Mick Foley is a little p-word."

I'd personally like to see W use that last line in his advertising.

Foley himself was on Air America's morning show this week. It is kind of funny to hear pro wrestlers talk about their scripts. He claims to have actually dreamed up the smear campaign against himself. He also pointed out that politicians have been stealing from wrestling for years. "CNN's Crossfire is really just an old wrestling interview."

Does MFSM have reason to worry? Professional wrestling is an excellent barometer of the mood of the middle and lower socio-economic strata. And I've never heard of a wrestling crowd turning on a true blue, flag-waving son of the South. Could this be evidence of a growing anti-Bush backlash among the blue collar heartland?

Short answer, probably not. Remember, this is professional wrestling we're talking about, where the crowd reactions are played like a Duane Alman guitar solo. Google research shows the much hated cowboy hat wearing wrestler in question is a masterfully conceived and well executed heel (heel, in pro wrestling parlance, meaning predetermined villain). He also happens to be the WWE Champion of the World. Goes by the name JBL or Bradshaw. Real name is John Layfield. His history:

John Layfield first appeared as Justin Hawk Bradshaw in the mid 1990's as the tag team partner of Barry Windham in The Blackjacks. Bradshaw was then 'sacrificed' by The Undertaker and became an Acolyte, alongside Faarooq and shortened his name to Bradshaw. After this 'dark side' gimmick, he turned face as a cigar-smoking bar-brawler. This gimmick was an evolution of the Acolyte gimmick and continued his teaming with Faarooq as the Acolyte Protection Agency (or the APA). Their motto: "We need beer money."

Based on that timeless, universal theme, it's hard to believe that gimmick didn't last. But Layfield has moved on and his current shtick is based on being an obnoxious rich guy. According to some observers, it is an act that could become a ratings bonanza:

Despite what others are saying, I think [WWE Chairman Vince McMahon] has struck gold with him. Here you have a big bad republican capitalist who happens to be a wrestler. It's a thing of greatness. The skit last night where he offered $1,000 to a kid who could wax his Limo's hood in a minute brought me back to my childhood and the good old days of The Million Dollar Man screwing over someone at the last second so he didn't have to pay them. That my friends is great heelwork and because of that, it's going to be a very good year for JBL.

So JBL's persona isn't so much playing on ideology, as it is playing on the issue of class (and classlessness). This is a time tested rasslin' crutch. Making him a Republican is a new wrinkle, which leads me to wonder if the promoters of WWE may have a political agenda of their own. Or maybe it's the bias of the script writers. Could this story line be the product of former Twin Cities punk legend, now liberal activist and professional wrestling script writer, Bob Mould?

If you're going after the arrogant RICH in this political season, you wouldn't necessarily have to make him a Republican. Making him a hypocritical Massachusetts aristocrat, who wears lycra shorts with a daisy zipper and blames his body guards for every loss he suffers would seem to work just as well. You could even have him flip flop between being a heel and being a hero, depending on the situation. It would be brilliant satire.

Making Bradshaw a Republican does have one thing going for it - accuracy. John Layfield is a Republican in real life, scheduled to appear the Republican National Convention next week. He's a successful investor, author, and former investment analyst on CNBC. Although that last position was terminated early based on this episode, during a match in Germany:

Three weeks after announcing it had hired WWE wrestling bad boy John "Bradshaw" Layfield as a financial analyst for the network, CNBC said yesterday it was shocked to learn that JBL was in fact a WWE bad boy and it sacked him for doing the Nazi goose step and stiff-armed salute during a World Wrestling Entertainment match in Munich.

In Layfield's, defense he was in his villain character, doing a routine guaranteed to rile the Teutonic masses to rage (at least we'd hope it would profoundly offend them). Desperate partisans on the Left may latch onto this as supporting evidence in their Bush = Hitler quest. But they'd be wrong. According to the Washington Post, Layfield's persona is based on a Bush opponent from the 2000 election:

"Most of my promos are straight out of Pat Buchanan's run for election. That's where I got it from -- preaching against immigration, the fact that they're teaching in Spanish in public schools, and I say 'Spanish' with a despicable look, like I want to throw up. I got all of this from Pat Buchanan."

All things considered, it probably doesn't make sense to have this guy showing up at the Convention next week. There's already a bad precedent set with Pat Buchanan antics at Bush nominating conventions.

An Open Letter to Senator John McCain from a Vietnam Veteran

Russ writes to Senator John McCain:

Senator McCain,

I begin this missive with an embrazo, as we call it here in Texas, for your service to our country, as a warrior, as a prisoner of war and as a United States Senator. You have served far better and endured far more in the service of America than most men will ever do. For that, this old sergeant salutes you.

That said, as a Vietnam ground combat veteran, I must take issue with you on the situation of John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans. You have labeled these men "dishonest and dishonorable," and that, Sir, is nothing more than your opinion based on no direct knowledge of the events they dispute. For you to so condemn these men publicly, without any firsthand knowledge of John Kerry's performance in their midst and under their professional observation, is unfair to them and all veterans who share their view that John Kerry is unfit to command. Who was best qualified to evaluate you as a naval aviator, those senior officers who flew with you or the enlisted men who serviced your aircraft? Who had the experience, training and knowledge to make a professional military judgment of your performance in the air, the trained naval aviators on your wing or the enlisted flight crew back on the carrier? Certainly the enlisted men were vital in performing the mission but observing and rating your performance was not their role.

It is my understanding that you originally shared our animosity towards John Kerry, but during your senatorial service, you came to know John Kerry more personally and chose to forgive him for his labeling you a war criminal. That you are able to forgive a man even though he had denounced you and your fellow aviators as you languished in North Vietnamese prisons, with your captors using his testimony to try to break your will, is truly commendable. I admire you for your ability to turn the other cheek. However, I must point out that your forgiveness of John Kerry is purely personal and imposes not one iota of obligation to forgive him on those of us who still consider him contemptible.

You carry no mandate to speak for us. Your personal feelings are yours and yours alone; but, emphatically, you do not speak for us. You spoke up to defend your friend and your friend has turned your words into talking points. It is truly reprehensible how the Kerry campaign and the mainstream media are hiding so cynically behind your condemnation of the Swiftvets, using your statement as an excuse to dismiss their claims as baseless, smear politics. Honestly, Senator, did you really intend to provide this kind of cover for those who are so desperate to prevent the truth from coming out?

With all do respect, since you weren't there to observe John Kerry first hand as were these Swiftvets, may I humbly suggest that the honorable thing for you to do, is to stay out of this fight and allow them and us to have our voice. Moreover, there is one thing you could do to level the playing field: acknowledge that you have no true knowledge of events the Swiftvets describe and that your immediate condemnation of these men was premature. Call on the mainstream media to investigate all parties fairly and determine whose version of events is true. I understand John Kerry is your friend, but that places him neither beyond accountability nor above the truth. You have a unique ability at this moment in America's history to make a difference. You have long been a dutiful warrior and servant of the people.

Please, do your duty now.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

I would request that all who agree with the sentiments expressed here copy this letter and send it to:


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Full and Complete Disclosure

Last week on his nationally syndicated radio broadcast, I believe during a segment where he was running down women for the pace at which they play golf, Hugh Hewitt mentioned that he had recently unearthed a prom picture from the 70's that featured him wearing a canary yellow tuxedo (and this is a guy who likes to pretend that my nickname is "Peeps"? I believe the psychological term "projection" applies here). Since radio is not a visual medium, the full impact of this intriguing image was lost on his many faithful listeners. As a service to those listeners, I have made numerous requests on their behalf (through the proper channels of course) to have the photo released for wider public consumption. Unfortunately, the mighty Hewitt Empire has so far stonewalled all attempts to give the public what they want and rightly deserve to see.

I now believe that our only recourse is to start a campaign asking, nay demanding that Hugh release this photo immediately. Hugh's continuing refusal to produce the photo leads one to wonder just exactly what is he trying to hide here. What is he so afraid of? Unless, and only unless, the photo is released, lingering doubts about Hugh's character will continue to build in the public's mind. The resolution to this matter requires a simple act on Hugh's behalf to restore our trust and faith in him. The truth shall set you free Hugh.

Join me in asking Hugh to reveal the truth (no matter how ugly it may be) and release the photo. You can contact Hugh via e-mail at:


Or you can call his talk radio show which airs from 5pm-8pm CST at 1-800-520-1234.

Or, if you live in the Upper Midwest, you can come out to the Minnesota State Fair and see Hugh broadcast live this Thursday and Friday.

Whatever method you use to communicate with Hugh, just remember to keep the message short and clear. Demand that Hugh release the prom photo now. The whole world is waiting.

The Return of Mr. Right?

Regarding the Elder's rumor mongering about Jason Lewis, I actually heard Hugh Hewitt mention on his show a couple months ago that Jason and him are planning to do an appearance together in the Twin Cities sometime before the election (Hugh's comments were to the affect of "I ran him out of town once and now he's back for more..."). So, it's more than a rumor.

I must admit I was confused by the Patriot promotion. I knew Jason was coming and knew that's what the commercial referred to. But I couldn't figure out what the music was about. I concluded that the connection with Huey Lewis was Jason Lewis's well known fondness for all things classic chloroform rock related. (And from his WBT promotion page, I see "Beatle Bumper Fridays" are alive and well in Charlotte. A ratings bonanza to be sure, for where else can one hear the Beatles these days?)

I found it curious to see a Jason Lewis penned editorial appearing just yesterday in the Star Tribune. Why would a Charlotte, NC resident take the time to opine on the urban planning policies of little Lake Elmo, MN? Most likely, it is masterful promotion on his part, keeping his name in the public imagination in advance of his appearance. He's using the Star Tribune editorial page for his advertising, the magnificent bastard.

Or could something more dramatic be at work here than just a one time appearance? Would the Patriot really spend all this money and effort on promoting a guy a year gone from the scene and prominent only because he worked for their competition?

Letting my conspiracy instincts run wild, I wonder if this event could be the announcement of a regularly scheduled Jason Lewis presence on AM1280. Their afternoon line up (Prager, Medved, Hewitt) is well set already, so I can't imagine him squeezing in there. And I can't imagine a talent of Lewis's caliber agreeing to work evenings again, so that's out.

But, what about a show for the mornings? The Bill Bennett program isn't yet fully ensconced and is dreadfully boring besides, fully deserving of the axe. (Listening to Bennet a couple of days ago, for some reason they were playing a clip of Alice Cooper's 'Schools Out'. He said "interesting song for the former Education Sectretary." Then followed by assuring us: "that comment is intended be a little levity this morning.")

Since Jason has only been at WBT for a year, it doesn't seem likely his contract would be up so soon, thus allowing him to move back to Minnesota. So maybe something less than a full-time program is in the works. Something of a syndicated nature perhaps. Maybe an evening, or more likely, weekend replay of the Best of Jason Lewis?

I don't have any inside information (nobody tells me nuthin'), but it sounds plausible. If Northern Alliance Radio wasn't the runaway hit of the summer I might be getting nervous about our future prospects. But since there are hours and hours of time being used for reruns on the weekends, I welcome the possibility.

Remember, you heard it here first. Unless I'm wrong, in which case forget I said anything.

A Fine Line Between Clever And Stupid

Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?

Last Saturday, while slaving away at the palatial AM1280 The Patriot studios, I heard a new promotion for an upcoming station event that left me dazed and confused. After hearing it a couple of more times yesterday, I think I have finally figured out what was going on. And now I will share it with you. Don't blame me if reading any more of this leaves you groaning and rolling your eyes.

The promo talks about a "long awaited return" and says that someone is coming back to town for a special political event. It never mentions any names, but during it there are three or four different Huey Lewis and The News songs playing. My initial thought was that the group was going to be playing a concert sponsored by the station. But Captain Ed informed me that Huey Lewis was a John Kerry supporter, a fact confirmed by Derek from Freedom Dogs. Hmmm...

(WARNING: Possible Spoiler ahead)

This can't be confirmed yet, but there is a rumor that former local talk radio host Jason Lewis (currently toiling away in Charlotte, NC) is coming back to the Twin Cities in October for a special presidential debate event with...

...everybody's favorite nationally syndicated talk show host, Hugh Hewitt.

Get it? It may just be idle speculation, but I theorize that

Hugh Hewitt plus Jason Lewis


Huey Lewis


I warned you. You can't say that I didn't warn you.

Almost sounds like something that the guy at Plastic Hallway would come up with, doesn't it?

Mild-mannered Lawyer Or...Jack-booted Thug?

Hindrocket at Power Line looks forward to crushing dissent at the RNC:

In 1968, I thought it was terrible that protesters were getting beaten up. This year, I'll probably join in if I get the opportunity.

Too bad fellow Power Line colleague Scott Johnson is not attending. Talk about a guy who knows how to crack some heads.

The Magic Eight Ball Says...

That when you've lost eight in a row and you're eight games down on August 24th, your hopes for a division title are as good as crushed . Remember Hugh, there's no crying in baseball.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Blackened Cajun Trivia

According to an e-mail from Joe, O'Flahertys is home to the finest Sunday night trivia competition in all of New Orleans. Sounds like an excellent road trip for the Fraters squad. As soon as we get that sponsorship deal worked out with Keegan's...

Get Ready To Rumble?

In this corner we have the personification of the old media. Plodding, unaccountable, unresponsive, stubbornly stuck in the past, and unwilling (and probably unable) to adopt to the rapid changes overtaking the playing field. But also arrogant, cocksure, and dismissive; relying on its institutional gravitas (increasingly diminishing) to shout down those who dare to dissent. It still believes that it alone wields the power to open and close discussion on what it deems to be newsworthy. And if some upstarts should come along to challenge its rule, all it need do to win the day is to selectively cherry pick elements of its opponents arguments (without ever addressing their key contentions), slander their names, and assert facts without any supporting evidence in an editorial in the all-important Sunday newspaper.

That whole controversy over Kerry's Vietnam service? No need to discuss it further. For now that JIM BOYD from the Star Tribune has spoken on the matter, nothing else need be said. Jim and his fellow editorialistas will have the final word on the subject you see, and the rest of you can now just move along to something else.

The funny thing is that it don't work that way anymore. Because now, in this corner, we have the challengers, the tip of the new media's spear. Fleet of foot, agile, flexible, and constantly changing and adopting as circumstances warrant. Independent, aggressive, and questioning; they almost fall over backward to cite sources and correct errors. They don't accept the media status quo. Rather, they challenge old media and seek to hold it accountable. They create new avenues for discussion and break the old media's stranglehold on the issues in the public forum and how long they stay in the spotlight.

Jim Boyd likes to think that his position at the Strib allows him the last word in his argument with Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker from Power Line. But the good ol' days of the all powerful paper are gone. Just because he says it's over, don't mean it's over as evidenced by the devastating response to Boyd that appeared on Power Line yesterday.

I would love to see the two sides meet in a live, on-air debate at The State Fair, as John and Scott have proposed. It would be a old media vs. new media showdown, which I believe would vividly demonstrate the gap between them. When the C.S.S. Virginia steamed into Hampton Roads and laid waste to the wood-sided Union ships, it showed that the age of the ironclad had arrived. When the Polish cavalry was torn to shreds in a futile charge against German tanks in 1939, it showed that the age of the horse was officially over. If Jim Boyd would dare show his face at The State Fair, I daresay that we would see similar results.

It's been over twenty-four hours and still no response from Boyd. The whole world is watching and waiting (well at least Vox Day, Mike at Cold Fury, Dave at No Illusions, the Puddle Pirate at Brain Shavings, the Leather Penguin, Bunker Mulligan, Joshua from The Conjecturer, Jim at zmetro, and our own Saint Paul are) to see if Boyd rises to the challenge.

Say what you will about the Polish cavalry, but at least they had the balls to take the field.

Separated at Conception?

Senator Wellstone, immortalized in dried corn kernels at the 2003 MN State Fair ...


the immortal Lon Chaney, as the Phantom of the Opera.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

I'm not sure if I've ever seen someone personally attacked in the Star Tribune the way the Powerline guys were on Sunday. In an editorial by Star Tribune editorial staff member Jim Boyd, the distinguished John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson are referred to as frauds, smear artists, and immoral slime throwers. In addition, there are contemptuous of democracy, unintelligent, and surrogates of the Bush machine.

He went on to say they were "freelance racists, hobby cops, misanthropic frat boys, lizardskin cigar monkeys, jerktown romeos, and ninja dittoheads..."

Actually that last part is Garrison Keillor's description of Republicans in general. But I'm sure in Jim Boyd's eyes, these terms equally apply to the Powerline duo. And these assertions are no less absurd than the invective aimed at our Northern Alliance colleagues.

As this election season progresses, I think weere going to have to get used to the fact that this is how Democrats respond to any substantive issue that threatens them - with childish name calling and hysterics . But, as I heard John O'Neill say to an interviewer this weekend, 'you know you're not over the target unless you're receiving some flack.'

The gents from Powerline have responded to Boyd and have invited him to debate these issues face-to-face, LIVE during an upcoming Northern Alliance Radio broadcast from the Minnesota State Fair. Since Boyd referred to them as frauds, I think he owes it to them to show up. It's what any professional journalist, and frankly what any real man, would be compelled to do.

Jim Boyd's professional credibility is on the line with this one, not to mention the institutional reputation of his employer, the Star Tribune. Are they interested in substantive debate on the issues, to the benefit of all Minnesota voters? Or are they only interested in hit-and-run-and-hide cheap shots? We shall see.

Along with Powerline, we encourage you to email the responsible parties at the Star Tribune, Jim Boyd and editorial section editor Eric Ringham.



Let them know your feelings on Boyd's piece and how interested you are in hearing a full debate on this issue at the Fair.

Doin' It For Themselves

W. Thomas Smith Jr. looks at the fighting in Najaf and what it says about the future of Sadr in a piece at NRO:

"It appears to me that in April and May we killed the best and brightest [of the Mahdi army]," 1st Lt. Brian Suits of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division in Najaf, said during a radio interview with talk-radio host Kirby Wilbur on Seattle's KVI radio, last Thursday. "What al Sadr is doing now is sending in the guys who are left behind to make a statement. He's running out of guys. The guys he has are frankly running out of motivation. There are ill-prepared and ill-trained. They are beginning to question their authority. I think they're saying "wait a minute, you told us that God was going to guide our bullets, but we haven't killed one American soldier in our area and we are dying left and right here."

There is also good news on the combat performance of at least some of the Iraqi units fighting there:

Asked if Iraqi national military forces and police are measuring up to their U.S. and British allies on the battlefield, Suits said, "I've been in combat with these guys over the last couple of days, and I was as wary as anyone else. I saw their performance in the first Gulf War, but they have since coalesced into an effective force. I'm not lying. I'm not propagandizing. I'm not delivering a message someone else said. I have confidence in them being on my left or my right. They will go forward. They will close with the enemy. They will fix him. And they will kill him. They do not retreat. They do not cower. They support each other. They drag their wounded out of the line of fire. And I have confidence that these guys will be able to defend their country because they are doing it now."

Last week Hugh Hewitt linked to a letter at The Green Side on the situation in Fallujah. And while it was not a very rosy assessment, it did offer some hope on the capabilities of the Iraqi government forces:

We also have an entire battalion of Iraqi Special Forces soldiers who have stepped forward. We have trained these guys and they are a different breed of cat altogether. Many are veterans of the Iran Iraq war and are hardened. They don't necessarily love us but they now have a bond with the Marines and operate jointly with them everyday. They shake their head at the hesitancy to resolve Fallujah and are willing to fight inside the city. It will be a very tough fight but in the end I just don't see how we can move forward as a coalition, or Iraq as a fledgling country, while this festering sore remains open.

Clearing out Fallujah and mopping up Sadr's rabble are critical steps for the future stability of the Iraqi government. Having the Iraqis do it themselves (or at least play a key role in the operations alongside US forces) will go a long way towards speeding the day when they truly will be able to control their own country.