Thursday, June 30, 2005

And Those Nuts Are Us

Yesterday, Saint Paul reported on the hilariously desperate plea for people to start subscribing to the Star Tribune that appeared at Majority Report Radio. The author of this little beaut wailed that:

The Tribune is under assault by right wing nuts here and here and may be losing some subsrciptions.

and linked to two prominent blogs to provide evidence of this claim. No offense to Hugh or the boys at Power Line, but when you mention right wing nuts assaulting the Star Tribune these are not the first names that comes to mind.

Sure the noted shock jock is prone to be a bit loopy at times and the gents at Power Line can get as wild and crazy as the next Ivy League lawyer (especially during the acid flashbacks). And it is certainly true that both of them have been banging on the Strib for some time now.

But c'mon, throw us a bone here people. "Right wing nuts assaulting the Star Tribune" may as well be the official motto for Fraters Libertas. It's part of our mission statement. Our whole raison d'etre, if you will. Hell, it's even sculpted into the frieze over the main entrance of the sprawling FL World Headquarters (good thing that consultant talked us out of "Freedom is slavery").

We were right wing nuts before right wing nuts were cool. And we were assaulting the Strib before assaulting the Strib was cool. We're the pathfinders on this particular mission. The tip of the spear. The first wave on the beach.

We were the ones delivering withering commentary on the Strib in our underpants.

We were the ones asking telling you to cancel your Strib subscription over and over again.

We were the ones who came up the idea (and a brilliant one it was JB) to devote an entire hour of last Saturday's NARN show to a "Dump The Strib" reverse pledge drive.

And when there's a need for assaultin' the Strib, we're the nuts who get the call.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My Meme, Mine

Apparently, I've been officially tagged to become a member of the Navel Gazers Book Club. Before I start, however, I thought that this quote from an episode of Seinfeld would help sum up my feelings about this sort of exercise:
Jerry: I can't believe I'm going dancing.
Keri: You don't go that often?
Jerry: No, because it's so stupid.
Off we go, then...

Total number of books owned, ever:
This is a truly ridiculous question and I steadfastly refuse to give it one more moment of thought.

Last book I bought:
I have absolutely no idea. Excessive gin consumption must have left my short term of...yeah, what the hell was I talking about again? Bookmaking, or something? I do seem to recall losing a bundle on some glue factory bound swayback that finished eleventh in an eleven horse race at the track the other day. So, I guess that's my answer: a glue factory bound swayback that finished eleventh in an eleven horse race.

Last book I read:
That would be Handicapping 101: Finding the Right Horses and Making the Right Bets. Oddly enough, this was also the last book that I burned.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
I'm going to have to say the only book that means anything to me is The Business Of The Practice Of Law: What Every Associate Should Know About Law Firm Life by William Koster. The primary reason for this selection is that the author was one of two people present at the moment of my conception.

The second and even more compelling reason is that part of every dollar you all spend on this book will end up as part of my buy, people, buy!

I now choose to end this circle of madness by tagging nobody to perpetuate this meme.

That is all.
Someone Still Loves You

The Majority Report is one of the liberal Air America radio programs providing political analysis by stand up comedians. Today on their show blog, a plea for journalistic justice. Or is this a desperately needed fresh routine for Jeanine Garafalo? Either way, it's got more laugh lines than a Conan O'Brien monolog.


The Star Tribuune in Minnesota has one of the toughest editorial boards in the country (laughter). They have been early critics of the Bush fiasco.

They recently came out in support of Durbin and his remarks on torture. Despite the fact that Durbin backed down, we should show our love.

The Tribune is under assault by right wing nuts here and here and may be losing some subsrciptions. now anybody in minnesota ? anybody who wants to read a great local minn paper?

Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

I see no one has yet commented on this post, meaning Air America might be having trouble getting any takers for this amazing offer. If they are looking for best prospects for subscribers, according to the law firm of Halunen & Associates, they can be found on the front lawns of :

...hospitals, hotels, schools and shopping centers. And in some cases, the lawsuit alleges that distributors "dumped" unsold papers but counted all of the unsold and dumped papers as paid circulation.

"Most of them are not even viewed by anyone," [Clayton] Halunen said. "They're just thrown out."

The Star Tribune, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the invisible since 2003.

Talk About Disconnected From Reality

Despite the fact that John McCain is running away from the pack in our Senatorial Survivor poll, I continue to insist that Chuck Hagel (smartly labeled by National Review as Republican-France) is the one most deserving of getting the boot.

Now, my good buds at are providing more evidence to support my position:

Last night President Bush tried to rescue his failed Iraq policy in a nationally televised address by connecting the Iraq war to the war on terror. He is trying to change the subject from Iraq to terrorism and September 11 -- implying that Iraq attacked us in 2001.

To keep Bush from changing the subject, we've started running a new TV ad about Iraq. But, to keep the advertising on the air we need to raise $250,000 today. Just $50 from 5,000 of us will make a big difference.

What's the name of the latest MoveOn ad blitz? From a e-mail on the subject we discover:

The ad, titled "Hagel," draws a sharp contrast between President Bush's claim that we're making progress in Iraq and the words of Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who said, "The White House is completely disconnected from reality... It's like they're just making it up as they go along."1 Then, the ad calls for an exit strategy, saying, "It's time to come home. We went in the wrong way, let's come home the right way." An exit strategy with a timeline is supported by nearly 84% of MoveOn members according to the recent vote.

They're naming the freakin' ad after him? Senator Chuck Hagel, poster boy for The good people of Nebraska must be oh so proud.
The Straight Story?

I'll withhold labeling them the Enron of journalism - for now. But this developing scandal will merit following:

Four advertisers are suing the Star Tribune, accusing the Minneapolis newspaper of inflating its circulation numbers by as much as 15 percent since 1999, and overcharging advertisers along the way.

According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune Co. manipulated its paid circulation through a variety of schemes, including counting unsold newspapers that its distributors were instructed to dump at schools, nursing homes and hotels.

The lawsuit names both the Star Tribune Co. and its parent, the McClatchy Co., a Sacramento, Calif.-based newspaper firm with 29 newspapers around the country. The plaintiffs are staffing companies: Masterson Personnel Inc., Alternative Staffing Inc., Vision Staffing Solutions Inc. and Purchasing Professionals Inc.

Attorneys are seeking class status. Halunen estimated that "tens of thousands" of firms have been overcharged because of exaggerated circulation rates.

We've commented on the mystery that is the Star Tribune's claims of stable and even increasing circulation in the face of opposite industry trends and in context with the increasing alienation felt by moderate and conservative readers over the paper's radical and hostile editorial positions. I suppose the simplest explanation for this phenomenon would be that they're cooking the books. A tactic not unknown in the newspaper business.

We'll let the lawyers and courts hash this one out before passing judgment ourselves. But until we know the truth, I'll continue using a trusted advertising outlet, E-Bay, for all of my classified offerings.

UPDATE: Our circulation auditor, the Girl in Right, comments:

Your billions of readers are glad to see you're on the case of the Strib's inflated circulation numbers.

UDPATE 2: A copy of the compliant, located here.
To Live and Thrive Outside LA

Lots of reader feedback regarding the post yesterday on escaping to the heartland.

Terry leads off:

Saw your entry about the Forbes May 23rd column by Rich Karlgaard. Rich wrote a book last year on that basic theme called Life 2.0 and it's well worth your time if the topic interests you--lots of true life tales of people who cashed out and are thriving outside coastal America.

I've had some conversation on the topic with Rich since our family is selling the California home we built new in 1997 and buying a larger house on a lake in South Carolina for cash.

What could be better--no more mortgage and we shed the Blue State Blues! Not even an action hero governor can save this once-great state.

Next up is Thomas from Colorado:

I enjoy reading you guys as often as I can and I found your comments regarding the Rich Karlgaard article in Forbes particularly interesting. I was born and raised in So. California (Pasadena) and picked up and moved here to the Denver area 2 years ago. One of the many reasons I did was the climbing costs of real estate and housing out there. I'm 39 and of all of my friends that I grew up with in the Pasadena area, only 1 remains there. Some have moved out to the Temecula area (between LA and San Diego) and the rest are out here in the Denver area. The thing that was so interesting to me about the article is how dead on it is about the way things are, not to mention the things to come. I cannot walk 5 feet out here and not run into another ex-Californian. In fact the city of Highlands Ranch is known as little California. It's amazing how many of us ex- So Cals are here. I travel a lot for my work covering 4 and a half states for Motorola and the other day, coming back here from Southern Utah and Las Vegas, I was heading east on I70. I saw more cars with California license plates coming into the state, than I saw Colorado plates, it was astounding.

Anyway, I found the article and your comments particularly interesting and again, it could not have been more on the mark. The heartland is definitely the place to be in the near future.

Keep up the great work, I enjoy your Blogs and love it when you guys substitute for Hugh!!

As do we Thomas, as do we.

Tim also e-mails from Colorado to report that there no longer is room at the Rocky Mountain inn for desperate coasters seeking refuge:

Thanks. Really, thanks a lot. I know the cat has probably been out of the bag for some time now, but there are some of us in "flyover country" who hope and pray that Californians and New Yorkers are extremely happy WHERE THEY ARE.

We here in Colorado are well aware of what housing costs in California. The typical Californian comes here, and, not wanting to pay taxes on the capital gains from the sale of his million dollar 900 sq ft house in California, buys a huge 7000 sq ft mansion here in Colorado, and still has a couple hundred thou' to shelter from the IRS. Californians need to know that we have extremely long, cold, snowy winters that last from September to May. And because they use sand on the roads in the winter time, you have to get a new windshield every spring. We have wild fires in the summer just like they do in California.

Plus, we have, in one of our larger college towns, Ward Churchill. We're also the home state of former Senator Gary Hart and Congresswoman Pat Schroeder. And they still haven?t solved that whole Jon-Benet Ramsey thing; her killer's still on the loose. Pretty scary, huh?

Really, Colorado is an awful place to live. Forget all that stuff I told you when I was defending our fair state during the "Quarters War." I was just kidding.

No Tim, you were right. Colorado is about as close to heaven as you're going to find on this fallen earth. It truly is the land where anything can happen. In fact, I would strongly encourage all disgruntled Californians and New Yorkers to load up their Subaru and Volvo wagons and make haste to colorful Colorado. And when you get there, tell Tim that the Elder sent you. He'll be sure to leave the light on for you and provide a warm Rocky Mountain welcome when you arrive.

(Note: In what can only be described as small world serendipity, it turns out that Tim and Thomas live in the same town in Colorado. Now isn't that special?)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Infinite Loop?

I won't be able to listen to Bush's speech live tonight as I'll be participating in a work teleconference with some folks in China. However, I do hope to be able to follow at least part of it through Ed's live-blogging efforts. The only question is: who will be live-blogging those live-blogging the speech? And who will be live-blogging them? And...

Keep Talkin' Baby

In September 2003, I opined that President Bush wasn't talking about the war often enough:

If it's not clear to me that we need more troops at this point, it is clear that we need more talks like Sunday night's speech. The President's talk about why we were in Iraq and how it was connected to the wider war on terror was long overdue. While I support most of the administration's actions since 9/11, I believe one of their striking failures has been an inability to communicate their larger goals and objectives in the war, to continually reinforce them, and to ask the American people to support them.

Flash forward nearly two years and I believe that the administration is still making the same mistakes. Not enough talk about why we're in Iraq, why we need to win in Iraq, and how the fighting going on there is critical to defeat the Islamist threat worldwide.

Tonight, in an all too rare address on the subject, President Bush will focus on Iraq. Early snippets from the speech released today indicate that he will talk about America's resolve and stress that we will not be intimidated by "car bombers and assassins." Which is all well and good, but I certainly hope that we hear something much more substantial tonight.

Bush needs to break away from the simplistic (although correct) mantra of "staying the course" and explain why defeating the insurgency and bringing a stable, if imperfect, democracy to Iraq will forever alter the political landscape of the Middle East. We're already able to see some of the impact of this in places like Lebanon and to a lesser extent Syria and Egypt. This is the broader future vision of progress and change that will win the war and tonight Bush both needs to articulate this vision clearly and connect it concretely to events transpiring on the ground in Iraq today.

And he needs to do it again and again. And again.

More talk please.
Escape From New York (and LA)

Earlier today, I spent some time at my doctor's office, which means that I spent time in the waiting room. The choice of available reading material was sparse and what they did have definitely tilted toward the left side of the political spectrum. Lots of back issues of The Nation and The Progressive with nary a National Review or Weekly Standard in sight.

After extensive searching, I finally settled upon the May 23rd issue of Forbes. In it, I found a piece by Rich Karlgaard (who pens a column called "Digital Rules") called California Leavin' (registration required) that caught my attention. Karlgaard argues that there's never been a better time for residents of Los Angeles and New York to pull up stakes and migrate to the heartland:

* The gap in house prices between greater Los Angeles and interior America is wider than ever. Go to coldwellbanker.comand see for yourself. Click on home price index. Type in $1 million and select Santa Monica, Calif., an upper-middle-class L.A. suburb, as your base-comparison city. Now select equivalent nice suburban areas across the country and see what comparable houses cost. Here's a sample: Scottsdale, Ariz., $348,000; West Chester/Chester County, Pa., $321,000; Overland Park, Kans., $190,000. You can see that L.A. residents are paying a high price for misery.

* Get out now because house prices on the urban coasts have peaked. That's the consensus of experts, based on ratios such as house prices to local incomes and mortgage payments to local rent prices. While I'm usually skeptical of expert consensus, this smells right. Rising interest rates have started to put the brakes on house appreciation. The number of "for sale" signs in California is exploding like spring pollen.

* For most people the quality of life in interior America is better. Okay, that's just one columnist's opinion. But I do travel about the country a great deal, giving speeches. Whenever I ask for a show of hands on how the locals feel about the economy--local and national--Texans, Minnesotans and New Mexicans invariably are bullish, while New Yorkers and Californians are bearish. I suspect the crushing costs of living on the urban coasts has something to do with this. That and the sense, especially in California, that the public infrastructure is falling to pieces.

* The sophistication gap between the coasts and interior America is shrinking. Sinclair Lewis, in 1930, became the first American novelist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He came to fame by skewering small towns (in Main Street) and medium-size heartland cities (in Babbitt). Prohibition was the Blue State-Red State divide of the 1920s, and satirists such as H. L. Mencken had a field day portraying the self-righteous sobersides of the prairies (who often drank homemade corn liquor behind the barn at night). That was then, but the image lingers. The truth is, Google, FedEx and free trade (which makes possible the dispatch of ripe avocados to Fargo, N.D. in the dead of winter) have made heartland living a much richer experience than it was a generation ago.

He goes on to say that within the heartland, the best places to put down roots will be cities and towns with universities:

Real estate investments in these university cities have a good chance of growing for four reasons.

* All of the cities mentioned above are situated in states that will outgrow the U.S. general population between 2000 and 2030 (see the Web site). The U.S. as a whole is expected to grow by 29.2% during the same period.

* University cities tend to be the faster-growing cities within the fastest-growing states.

* Employers hoping to tap younger, cheaper talent in IT, biotech and nanotech--but wanting to avoid the still-cheaper but riskier bets of offshoring to India and China--will find it in American heartland university cities. "Outsource to Wisconsin" will become a recurring theme in the decade ahead.

* Broadband wireless, such as Intel's Wi-Max and Qualcomm's CDMA standard, will soon close what information gap remains between America's big and small cities.

"Outsource to Wisconsin" as a recurring theme in the decade ahead? Reminds me of those "Escape to Wisconsin" bumper stickers put out by the state's tourism bureau. It didn't take much editing to change that message around. How does "Outsource Wisconsin" grab ya?
We Got John Who's Been Driving For Years...

'Cause I wanna drive the Zamboni (drunk):

No more ice time for John Peragallo.

His Zamboni privileges at Mennen Sports Arena in Morris County were revoked after police charged him with drunken driving -- on the ice -- authorities said yesterday.

Peragallo, 63, of Randolph, was intoxicated Sunday afternoon while driving the four-ton ice-cleaning machine during a break in public skating, Morris County Park Police Lt. David Doyle said.

A concerned employee called police shortly after noon saying the Zamboni was speeding, sliding into turns and nearly crashing into the boards, while the driver wore a smile, police said.

Of course he wore a smile! Driving a Zamboni drunk is the kind of thing that most men can only dream about. Here's to John for daring to live that dream.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Bad Name, Great Cause

This Saturday, the The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be broadcasting live from the White Bear Lake Superstore. I believe that this will be your last chance to catch the NARN at the WBLSS this summer. There'll be food, fast cars, and fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend.

And representatives from Operation Minnesota Nice will be on hand to collect items to send to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. A list of goods needed is available here. Stop by the store, load up a bag for the troops, and drop it off at the Super Store on Saturday. Or, if you can't make it out there, you can donate to Operation Minnesota Nice here. For more information on Operation Minnesota Nice, check out this story from the Strib.
Driven By Drink

Nathan e-mails to point out that car sharing has been done in the past without the need for government "partners":

By the way, this concept is already in wide-spread use, but funded by the private sector instead of government, usually the liquor industry.

I mean, what's the standard rate for borrowing your buddy's pickup for a couple of hours - a 12-pack, right?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Eyes That They Prize

John a.k.a. Policy Guy e-mails to point that cancelling your subscription to the Strib hurts the paper in more ways than you may realize:

Your blog comments today about subscriptions to the Star-Tribune reminded me of a recent tour I made of their printing plant. Before we wandered through the enormous rolls of newsprint, we had a 10-15 minute introduction by the tour guide. She said something like this: 20 percent of the revenue of the paper comes from actual subscriptions. The other 80 percent comes from advertising.

In other words, a person's greatest contribution to the Strib's top line is not the semi-annual check, but the lending of eyeballs for the next circulation bureau audit. So even if you think you're not kicking much into their treasury with your subscription, think again.

Friday, June 24, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinking Journalism

According to cliché, journalism is the first draft of history. To me, that seems to be an accurate characterization. Meaning it probably wasn't the product of a journalist. Remember, they create first drafts, which implies clunky prose, typos, superficial reasoning, false starts, dead ends, and first and foremost, mistakes (and in my case, gravy stains on the cover page).

In other words, it's a product not really worth considering for longer than it takes to read it. Maybe they get some of it right, maybe they don't. And whatever valuable insights they've identified might get brought out after a careful review by a competent advisor, then some intellectual rigor, introspection and actual scholarship by the author. But who's going to provide that - the Star Tribune!? (rim shot - oceans of cascading laugher)

Bret Stephens of the WSJ has further thoughts on the matter:

The problem is not that journalists can't get their facts straight: They can and usually do. Nor is it that the facts are obscure: Often, the most essential facts are also the most obvious ones. The problem is that journalists have a difficult time distinguishing significant facts--facts with consequences--from insignificant ones. That, in turn, comes from not thinking very hard about just which stories are most worth telling.

Maybe they have such a difficult time deciding what's significant because no one can be expected to accurately document the significance of something as complex as human relations and politics and WAR! when the deadline is a few hours after the events take place. This would be near impossible for someone who approached their duties to report the facts in good faith. But throw in the ego-driven need to make a difference, to afflict the so-called comfortable and speak truth to the power that isn't wielded in concert with your ideology and you've got no shot at accurately identifying what needs to be reported and what doesn't. But that, my friends, is your daily newspaper, especially when they get in the business of providing commentary and analysis.

For examples of first drafts of history destined for the paper shredder of time and perspective, see the hyperventilating about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay or any piece written by noted first draft scribbler, Jim Boyd.

In contrast with that snake oil, I direct you to Victor Davis Hanson. This week in NRO, as he does every Friday, he addresses the most vital current events of the day and it reads like a doctoral thesis from some decades in the future, explaining what happened and why during the critical, confusing, tragic year of 2005. Excerpt:

If President Bush were a liberal Democrat; if he were bombing a white Christian, politically clumsy fascist in the heart of Europe; if al Qaeda and its Islamist adherents were properly seen as eighth-century tormenters of humanists, women, homosexuals, non-Arabs, and non-Wahhabi believers; and if Iraq had become completely somnolent with the toppling of Saddam's statue, then the American people would have remained behind the effort to dismantle Islamic fundamentalism and create the foundations to ensure its permanent demise.

But once the suicide murdering and bombing from Iraq began to dominate the news, then this administration, for historical reasons largely beyond its own control, had a very small reservoir of good will. The Islamists proved to be more adept in the public relations of winning liberal exemption from criticism than did the administration itself, as one nude Iraqi on film or a crumpled Koran was always deemed far worse than daily beheadings and executions. Indeed, the terrorists were able to morph into downtrodden victims of a bullying, imperialistic America faster than George W. Bush was able to appear a reluctant progressive at war with the Dark Age values of our enemies.

And once that transformation was established, we were into a dangerous cycle of a conservative, tough-talking president intervening abroad to thwart the poorer of the third world - something that has never been an easy thing in recent American history, but now in our own age has become a propagandist's dream come true.

This isn't a first draft of history, it is history, with current events merely serving as one example in a convincing litany. And VDH has no problems in identifying the significant facts from the insignificant. For these reasons I give him the highest compliment a writer can receive. He is no journalist.

The Ink Stain of Shame

On Tuesday, the Star Tribune editorial board once again brought much disdain and mockery upon itself. This time, the subject was Dick Durbin's comments on Guantanamo, which the Strib editorial heartily endorsed. The arguments presented in the editorial have already been put through the shedder in many places including: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, so I'm not going to continue beating that now quite dead equine mammal.

But this latest in a long line of outrageous editorials to disgrace the pages of the Minneapolis Star Tribune once again raises a critical question for conservatives of conscience in the Twin Cities metro area:

What the hell are you doing still subscribing to this laughing stock of leftist looniness?

Reports are that some of you finally come to your senses and are bailing on the Strib as a result of this most recent offense to common decency. But I know for a fact that there are thousands of folks who consider themselves conservatives in good standing who STILL are forking over their hard earned cash to get the Strib. Why?

Here are some of the common objections I hear to canceling your subscription outright:

- The Pioneer Press isn't as good as the Star Tribune and I'll miss my daily paper.

First off, I think the Pi Press is getting better and, if I could get it where I live, I would subscribe to it. It's far from a perfect paper. It's editorial voice is often schizophrenic and it suffers from numerous other shortcomings. But very rarely does it descend into the fever swamps that the Strib seems to now wallow in on a regular basis.

Secondly, I know the notion of giving up your daily paper is not an easy one to swallow. Last year, I struggled with it myself for some time before finally being pushed over the edge (by an editorial). But let me tell you straight up that's it not as bad as you think it will be.

Sure, I miss the ease of catching up on the baseball box scores and standings (although not as much of late with the recent Twins swoon), looking up movie and TV listings, reading the few decent columnists that paper has, and staying on top of the local news. But all of that is available on the Strib's website too. Better to go through a little extra work to read it online for free than to pay for the hard copy and continue to feed the beast.

- We like to get the Sunday paper for the ads and the coupons.

Understandable. It's nice to look at the fliers and clip the coupons for grocery shopping. But you should ask yourself whether saving a few shekels at the local market is really worth the price you pay to support people who are pretty much diametrically opposed to everything you believe in politically. Because at the end of the day, you're helping to keep guys like Jim Boyd and Nick Coleman in business when you subscribe to the Strib (or buy it at the newsstand). Would you subscribe to this just because they had Cub coupons? Didn't think so.

- Just because the editorial board is nutty, doesn't mean that I should not enjoy the rest of the paper.

As I already pointed out, you can still access the parts of the paper (Lileks, Kersten, etc.) you like to read online without subscribing. But I don't think that you can, in good conscience, continue to subscribe to the paper if its in-house editorials so blatantly offend your political sensibilities. I'm not talking about editorials that disagree with positions that you hold. Having your views challenged with civil and rational arguments is a good thing and you should be reading opinions that vary from yours. But you should not have to put up with the condescending, gratuitously insulting, and often childlike rantings that the Strib editorial board cranks out on a fairly regular basis. There is no place for that in serious debate (which you should expect from a serious newspaper) and there should be no place for that in your home either.

Some argue that the editorial board is nothing more than just another voice in the paper and should be given no more consideration than that. James Lileks is in that camp:

A few people wrote today to ask how I could possibly work at the Star Tribune after they wrote that editorial. Well. First of all, I am not going to throw away my livelihood because someone on the other side of the building writes something with which I disagree. Second, they don't speak for me, and there is no suggestion at the paper that they do, or should. I know, I know -- the editorials express the will and thoughts of the paper, its publisher and editor, etc. That's the standard line. But I have my doubts. I cannot speak for my superiors, obviously, but if the editorials spoke for the entire paper it would be impossible for anyone to do their job. If an editorial came out for raising taxes on the rich by squeezing their scrota until dimes shot out their nostrils, it would be impossible for any reporter to cover a legislative debate on the matter. Well, they could cover it, but the assumption would be that the reporter favored higher taxes -- did not the editorial establish the official paper position? -- and the piece would have to be read in that context. It just doesn't work like that. The paper is made up of individuals who believe a wide variety of things, believe it or not. Trust me. There is not a bust of Lenin in the lobby with a shiny spot on his head we rub for luck when we enter the building. I'm not saying that the journalism profession isn't predominately liberal, because it is; I'm not saying biases don't color pieces in ways reporters may not realize, because it happens. But the idea that the editorial page speaks for the entire paper would, I think, strike most of the paper's journalists as presumptuous: hey, I speak for me. We don't get into bar fights defending editorials out of team pride.

Unsigned institutional editorials on Deep Global Matters are an anachronism, a vestige of the top-down, shut-up-and-listen era when newspapers monopolized the municipal ear. Those days are done. The entire idea of an editorial board, with its overtones of egghead think-tanks staffed with MacNamara clones, may have worked for the Univac era. But those were the days of The Authorities. You know: whenever there was a problem in a sci-fi movie, someone Alerted the Authorities. That meant the big omniscient grey seamless apparatus with a million meshing parts. The Army, the Government, the FBI, the TV stations, the newspapers, the guy who got on the loudspeaker and told everyone to stay in their homes or flee for the hills, depending on whether the threat was Martians or irradiated giant ants. Authority is now a distributed network, to use an old buzzphrase, and no more so than opinion journalism. (To use another cliché: Some readers interpret a StarTribune editorial as damage, and route around it.) Opinion is now in such abundant supply that there's no reason to value a newspaper editorial above a Powerline reposte.

I have to respectfully disagree with this assessment. James is right to say that the world of opinion has become such a vast expanse that the influential power of an individual newspaper's editorial board has diminished significantly. But it is still widely regarded as the institutional voice of the newspaper, whether everyone (or even most people) at the paper recognize it as such. An editorial in the Star Tribune is not the same as a Kim Ode column (although at times they are difficult to distinguish) and it carries more weight. It also should carry the burden of higher standards and expectations of well-reasoned, thoughtful discourse. All too often the Star Tribune editorials fail miserably to live up to these expectations.

The rubber is meeting the road. It is time (actually it is well past time) for conservatives to break their cycle of dependency and just say no to the Star Tribune. It's not easy and there will be withdrawal pains. But the joy you feel after kicking the nasty habit more than makes up for it. It's a cleansing. liberating experience and, at the end of the day, you'll be a much better person for it. You know in your hearts that it's wrong to continue to subscribe to the Star Tribune.

Take the first step today towards a brighter future by canceling your subscription. Better yet, call in to The Northern Alliance Radio Network in the third hour tomorrow and participate in our live drive to encourage people to dump the Strib. We'll be collecting the names of people who have reached the end of the line with the Star Tribune and passing those names on directly to the paper.

Let's see those hands conservatives. Those formerly ink-stained hands that once bore the shame of your relationship with the Strib, but are now clean and free of guilt. The hands of freedom.

(Note to the powers that be at the Wall Street Journal and Pioneer Press: You might want to consider switching to a blue or maybe red ink just so there's no confusion with the whole "ink stain of shame" idea. Thanks.)
An Expert Marksman?

The genius that is JB Doubtless has not escaped the attention of one of the most thoughtful, interesting bloggers of our time. JB's twice monthly posts have apparently so impressed this well-known blogger that he has offered JB an opportunity to post on his blog as one of his "expert witnesses." Which means that we'll probably see even less of JB (if that is indeed possible) here in the future. Gee, thanks Joe.

Yes, Joe Carter from the evangelical outpost has been poaching on our turf and the result is the first installment of Expert Witness: JB Doubtless on Country Music. As the title implies, the post reviews a couple of recent country music releases, while also taking shots at one of JB's favorite targets.

Joe does a good job of capturing the essence of JB with this descriptive byline:

JB Doubtless is a hard-drinking, Star-Tribune mocking, country-music loving crank.

I suppose that there's more than enough of JB to go around and that showcasing his skills for a new audience is a good thing. But if Joe has any further thoughts of rustling talent out of our stables, I would suggest that he think again. You go after Atomizer and the gloves come off.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Old Dude Guns Down Young Creep

Why can't we ever see a headline like that?

From this month's NRA magazine:

A 64-year-old traveler from Arkansas stopped to ask for directions at a Milwaukee gas station and soon found himself confronted by a gang of young men. A fight started, during which one attacker choked the motorist (ed note: "Out of my way, I'm a motorist!") while a second beat the man with his own cane.

Acting in self defense, V.O. Goins then pulled a handgun from under the seat and shot and killed the 20-year-old thug who had been choking him. Officers responding to the scene found Goins' car keys on a juvenile accomplice. A Milwaukee assistant DA said Goins would not be charged.

--Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 04/07/2005

What a great American. Don't mess with the Razorbacks.
Senatorial Survivor?

If you had a chance to vote one Republican senator "off the island", who would it be? Vote in our latest poll at the top left of the page. After the filibuster compromise and some other recent actions by "moderate" GOP senators, it's a very full field. It could have been even more crowded, but I decided to leave Arlen Specter and George "The Sad Clown" Voinovich off the list. Specter has actually been fairly reliable of late and I don't want to make Voinovich cry (again).

My choice? The oh so senatorial one locked up my vote with this gem:

In an interview late last week with U.S. News Senior Writer Kevin Whitelaw, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska blasted the Bush administration's performance in the Iraq operation, using some of his strongest language yet "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality," he said. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is, we're losing in Iraq."

You know what's "disconnected from reality" Chuck? Any talk of you becoming the GOP nominee for president in '08.

from each according to his abilities, to each according to who has the keys

Witness a bad idea whose time has come:

Called HourCar and started this week by the Neighborhood Energy Consortium, a St. Paul nonprofit organization, the program is modeled after a car-sharing program in San Francisco. It offers the benefits of a car without the hassle and expense of ownership, said Mary Morse, the organization's executive director.

Members pay a fee to join and then reserve times to use one of the six cars available.

The new American dream: sharing a car with strangers. Doesn't exactly stir up images of James Dean, Route 66, and the lure of the open road does it? I was shocked, yes shocked to discover that this utopian car sharing concept did not originate here in the land of the free. From San Francisco's City CarShare:

By the middle of the 1990s, car-sharing was booming in Europe, attracting tens of thousands of members in various German cities, in Switzerland, and in Holland. The activists behind this movement believed that car-sharing had implications beyond its personal benefits. Car-sharing prefigured the role of the automobile in a sustainable society.

In a sustainable society, instead of taking a car along to every destination throughout the day, people would rely primarily on foot, bike, and public transit. But for special trips--carrying something heavy or going somewhere rural--cars would still be necessary. This is the niche for car-sharing. Members would pay based on how much they drive, giving people a price incentive to drive less. The total number of cars needing to be stored-parked-in a city would be reduced, allowing land to be converted to better uses than parking lots. Shared cars would be kept at train stations, helping people get from the train to their final destination.

Across the Atlantic, we watched all this, and we knew that we had to find a way to bring car-sharing to North America. Vancouver and Montreal were first. Portland, Oregon came next, followed quickly by Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco.

And now Minneapolis and St. Paul. Lucky us.

If you are wondering how this can possibly work from an economic perspective, don't worry, it doesn't have to. If you visit the Hour Car web site, you can see who their "partners" (read-groups that sling the ching) are:

*Metro Commuter Services

*Hennepin County

*Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

*Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

*The Saint Paul Foundation

*Citizens for a Loring Park Community

*The Minnesota State Office of Environmental Assistance

*The Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul

*The Capitol River Council

*Transit for Livable Communities

*The Federal Transit Administration

*The Aveda corporation

*The Uptown Association

A few nonprofits, a couple of civic organizations, a foundation, a business and a bunch of government organizations. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the majority of the funding is coming from the gubamint. In other words, the taxpayers are helping to foot the bill so that a very small group of urban sophisticates can feel smug and self-satisfied because they're living a more "sustainable lifestyle." And without all that "hassle and expense of ownership." It would be nice if part of this "sustainable lifestyle" credo included the concept of self-reliance. How about livin' it on your own dime for a change?
Reading Nothin' But The Handwriting on the Wall

My good friend and valued colleague King Banaian has decreed I respond to an informal survey of reading habits. He claims I'm an enigma when it comes to my literary influences, because he knows less of what I read that the rest of the NARN. I interpret that as meaning he's not all that sure that I can read at all. Given some of my NARN commentaries he's been subjected to, I understand his point of view.

For the record, read I can. Books, however, not so much. Instead, I'm an obsessive newspaper and magazine reader. And a Book TV watcher on CSPAN, which is a terrific way to get the gist of dozens of books a month, without ever having to leave the pale blue gaze of our dark master.

What time I did have to read, well, the advent of blogs pretty much took care of that. Really, who among us in the blogosphere has time to read Paradise Lost when we need to check Pair O' Dice blog six times a day for any breaking updates? Not me, friend.

Now, the truth King seeks:

Total number of books owned, ever: Not counting text books, which I was compelled to buy under extreme duress, I'd say about 25 to 30.

Glancing at my book shelf now, I'm forced to admit, most of them suck. One of the worst, Rebel Baseball: The Summer the Game Was Returned to the Fans. It's the alleged first hand account of the St. Paul Saints first season back in 1993. A terrific subject, miserably executed by what reads like a first time author without much knowledge of baseball or of tailgating bacchanalia, which were the twin foundations of that glorious summer at Midway Stadium. The wisdom of markets reveals itself when noting one can go to Amazon and purchase this book (which initially retailed for $22) for the rock bottom price of ... three cents. And it's still over priced.

Last Book I Bought: Can't remember. But I do remember the last book I got for FREE. The brilliant Reagan's Revolution, by Craig Shirley. Thanks to an enterprising and blog savvy publicist, the book was sent to me, as a learned opinion leader. A few weeks later we booked Craig Shirley on NARN and had a terrific discussion. And that book still sits on my nightstand. And by golly, I vow to read it by, hopefully the end of the year.

Last Book I Read: See above.

Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me:

The Revenge of Conscience, by J. Budzisweski. Not a book, but a magazine article, a JB Doubtless recommendation from years ago. As I mentioned, I've read my weight in magazine articles and I'd be remiss if I didn't include an example of at least one of them in this list.

The Power Broker, by Robert Caro. In college I was assigned to read this monster about New York City master builder Robert Moses in no less than three different classes. Of course, I really didn't READ it until years after college (and I found it to be absolutely brilliant). But I skimmed it enough the first time to skate through the subsequent two classes without doing any extra work at all. As such, this may be the most meaningful book I've
ever owned in my life.

The Civil War: A Narrative. Volumes I, I, and III by Shelby Foote. Since it's three books, three huge books (each running in the neighborhood of 1,000 pages), I'm counting them all separately.

Stunning, comprehensive history of the defining event of American history. Not from the perspective of a trained historian, but from a story teller and novelist. Foote documents dozens of political and diplomatic episodes, hundreds of battles, thousands of characters, all in captivating, fluid prose.

As I started to get into Volume I and discovered how wonderful it was, I realized I wanted to read it for pure enjoyment and not for knowledge alone. So I made a point of reading every single word and understanding every sentence. And if I didn't quite grasp the meaning or reference, I'd go back and read the sentence again.

And the writing was so beautiful, the quotes and speeches from the era were so articulate and earnest and well composed, all the words fit so well together, I would often pause, reread, then read them a third time aloud. I liked the sound of them so much, I began to even affect the accent of the speaker. Languid southern drawls for the likes of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson (model, Foghorn Leghorn). High and screechy gravitas from Honest Abe. (Everyone assumes Lincoln sounds like James Earl Jones, but according to prestigious Doctor Zebra's Medical History of Abraham Lincoln, it was a "penetrating and far-reaching voice that could be heard over great distances. It was high-pitched and tended to become even more shrill when he became excited. At times, it was even unpleasant." So, as a model, I used Chad the Elder's radio voice).

Pretty soon, merely mouthing the words wasn't enough. I'd look around the house for period attire. My general lack of 19th century garb forced me to improvise a bit. (Artist conception of what that looked like here).

Sometimes I would even stand and simulate the poses I thought these guys would strike as they delivered their words. (For example, delivering the surrender statement of Fort Sumter, while moonwalking across the kitchen). By the time I was up to staging the Second Battle of Bull Run in my bathroom, I knew I had taken things a bit too far.

As I read and read at my deliberate pace and the weeks and months began to fly by, I wasn't sure I was ever going to finish these books. About two and half years in, it dawned on me that it might take me longer to read the history than it took to actually fight the damn war. To avoid responsibility for this scathing indictment on the abilities of modern man, I kicked it into high gear and finished it a few months shy of four full years.

I found the ending of this literate journey very moving, very emotional. Those weighty tomes were with me through all the big benchmarks of my life during that period. The clearing up of my teen age acne, the pilot episode of Herman's Head on Fox, my first prostate exam. Good times.

These thoughts were with me, as I read Shelby Foote's closing words in Volume III, and shed a single, manly tear:

So, anyhow, "Farewel my book and my devicion," my rock and my companion through two decades. At the outset of this Gibbon span, plunk in what I hope will be the middle of my writing life, I was two yeas younger than Grant at Belmont, while at the end I was four months older than Lincoln at his assassination. By way of possible extenuation, in response to claims that it took me five times longer to write the war than the participants took to fight it, I would point out that there were a good many more of them than there was of me. However that may be, the conflict is behind me now, as it is for you and it was a hundred-odd years ago for them.

After the ordeal of reading this post, I'm sure many of you feel the same way right now. And in that poignant, deeply meaningful spirit, I leave you with this.

Vows Are Made To Be Broken

December 14, 1980. That was the last time that I willingly left a professional sporting event early. It was the dead of winter at Metropolitan Stadium and the Vikings trailed the Cleveland Browns by three touchdowns late in the third quarter. My 13 year old spirits were quite low. My core body temperature was even lower and was crashing at an alarming speed.

As the onset of a severe case of frostbite before the beginning of the fourth quarter became increasingly likely, my father dutifully whisked my brother and me away from our air conditioned end zone bleacher seats and loaded us into the family station wagon for a warm ride home. At that point, I was simply too cold to argue. It was also at about that point that the Vikings scored ...The First Touchdown. We heard the crowd cheering for that one from the parking lot.

I began to regain feeling in my all of my fingers, and most of my toes, when we were about halfway home. I regained full functional use of both eardrums at about the same time that the Vikings scored...The Second Touchdown.

It wasn't until we pulled into the driveway at home that I realized we had made a grave, grave error by leaving that game before it was over. I made this horrible realization at precisely the same time that the Vikings scored...The Touchdown: the Hail Mary pass from Tommy Kramer to Ahmad Rashad in the final play of the game to beat the Browns 28-23 in one of the most dramatic comebacks in Minnesota Viking history......and my seat at the stadium had someone else's butt in it.

I learned my lesson that day. I vowed to never leave a game early again. I kept that vow for over 24 years. Then I had to go and see the Twins last night. The wife and I sat through six of the most pathetic innings imaginable before we threw our hands up in disgust and walked out of the stadium with the hometown team trailing the fourth place Detroit Tigers 7-1. Trust me, the game wasn't nearly as close as the score suggests.

The 2005 Twins have done what 24 years of abject failure foisted upon me by the combined forces of the Minnesota Vikings, Timberwolves, North Stars, et al could not do. Today, I became one of "those people"; the ones that I've ruthlessly disparaged in years past. Today, I left a Twins game early to...(gulp)...beat the traffic.

Am I ashamed? Hell yes! But I'm not nearly as ashamed as the Minnesota Twins should be for expecting their fans to actually pay for what I witnessed at the Metrodome yesterday. It'll take a whole lot more than raising the roof to make that stench go away.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Talk Is Cheap

This Saturday, we are pleased to welcome Christina Hoff Sommers to The Northern Alliance Radio Network. Sommers will be joining us in the second hour to discuss One Nation Under Therapy:How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-Reliance, which she co-authored with Sally Satel. Here's a quick summary from Amazon:

Philosopher-turned-controversialist Sommers and psychiatrist Satel argue as forcibly against contemporary psychotherapeutic notions and nostrums as Sommers did against radical feminism in Who Stole Feminism? (1994) and The War against Boys (2000). The American Enterprise Institute colleagues question five pet doctrines of contemporary therapy by presenting the research evidence for and against them. That is, they review the relevant literature, letting its conclusions speak for themselves; though they are critical of the five shibboleths, they don't have to apply spin to be convincing. Properly conducted research doesn't, they show, back up the fashionable dogmas that (1) children are psychologically fragile and mustn't be stressed, (2) self-esteem is the sine qua non of psychological health, (3) what moralists call sins are expressions of mental illness, (4) the emotional effects of trauma must be acted out, and (5) all war and disaster witnesses suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As mentioned in the review, Sommers is also the author of The WAR AGAINST BOYS: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. It's going to a jam packed hour.
The Tubby Broad Is Crooning

Usually I don't like to make my doom and gloom call on the Twins until at least August. But, after yet another pathetic effort by the local nine last night, it's time to face the brutal truth: this team is not very good and they're going nowhere. Nowhere but down that is. It would not be all that surprising to see the Twins finish behind not only the hated White Sox in the Central Division, but also the Indians and Tigers.

When do the Vikes start training camp again?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Time Enough To Read

Usually I don't like to participate in these type of navel gazing activities, but I've been tapped by Doug at Bogus Gold and I hate to think what he might do if I don't respond (I really need to get my laptop drinkproofed). Here goes...

Total number of books owned, ever:

Impossible to answer. I've loved books since I was a kid. Not just reading them, but owning them. I have become much better in recent years at turning over my books (especially paperbacks). That, and the book "borrowing" black hole known as JB Doubtless, serve to help keep my current collection manageable.

Last book I bought:

Bertie Wooster Sees It Through. Bought but have not yet read.

Last book I read:

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

That's easy.

< gratuitous ass kissing >

Blog : Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World

The Embarrassed Believer

In, But Not Of : A Guide to Christian Ambition

First Principles : A Primer of Ideas for the College Bound Student

If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It

< /gratuitous ass kissing >

(Note: if you add up all five of Hugh's books they total 1087 pages, an average of 217 per volume. Bill Clinton's "My Life" stretches to 1056 pages all by itself.)

Seriously, this is a difficult question. What does "mean a lot to me" really mean anyway? Books that influenced my thinking? Books that hold fond memories for me? I suppose that's part of the "fun" in doing this little exercise. My list includes some of both.

Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 by Strauss and Howe. You won't look at history the same way again.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Short but significant look at what it means to be a Christian.

The Road to Serfdom by Hayek. Why markets work and socialism doesn't.

The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I received this book for Christmas many years ago and have probably read it through ten different times. But the stories and characters never get old for me. I could pick it up today and enjoying reading it again as much as I did the first time.

The Hardy Boys series by Franklin Dixon. I loved reading the Hardy Boys when I was young. I can remember getting three or four of the hardcover books one year at Christmas (note: I also received hockey sticks and guns so don't even think about playing the nerd card) and the excitement and anticipation they generated. I couldn't wait to burrow myself in my room and read them through cover to cover. And I still have a handful of them with me today.


Saint Paul has already been hit but just for the sake of getting these SOBs to post something, I will pass this assignment along to Atomizer and JB Doubtless.

For the same reason, let's see what Michael J Nelson has to say.

And Eloise at SPITBULL.

Last but not least, how about the Educated Heel over at The Kool Aid Report? Seems like something that would be right up his alley.

How Many Right Wing Bloggers Does It Take To Tell You Who's Screwing Up America?

John Hawkins has the results of his latest survey posted at Right Wing News. This time around, he asked several prominent right wing bloggers (and us) to list up to twenty people we believed were screwing up America. The Top Twenty list is dominated by politicians (including one well known Republican) and overall it is pretty inclusive. But there are a few notable exceptions in my opinion, including Al Franken, Paris Hilton, and Gary Bettman. And what of Minnesota's own Garrison Keillor? Perhaps we need our own list of the people screwing up the North Star State. Could be a very interesting collection...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Maybe He Was Just Trying To Save The Republic...

Sisyphus is back with his latest Top 11 list at Nihilist In Golf Pants. This time it's Senator Robert Byrd's Top 11 Excuses for Having Founded the Crab Orchard, WV Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. A sample:

10. He originally wanted to found a branch of the Republican Party, but knew that the press would never let him live that down.
Mint That Baby

The Kool Aid Report has come up with a much more appropriate design for the Colorado quarter. Dude.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Out-Manned By A Canadian?

The Elder wrote last year of some dude's plan to have a night of hockey fighting as entertainment. There was talk of even having it in Minneapolis, but our feminized culture up here would not have such "Brutality" as entertainment, so he took the idea to Winnipeg.

It was poo-poo'ed there too, but now he looks to have things together in Prince George, B.C. on August 27 of this year.

He intends to put 12 men on the ice in full hockey uniforms, two at a time sans sticks, so they can punch it out for 60 seconds in front of a panel of five judges. Each man will get a flat fee, with additional cash to be allotted to winners. Wolski declined to put numbers on the dollars.

This dude (Darryl Wolski) besides having come up with a damn cool idea, lets on that he might be one of us:

Wolski plans to get it on pay-per-view TV, which gives people an option, said Craighead.

"If you don't want to see it then don't buy it," he said.

It's a business venture, said Wolski.

"It's a capitalist idea," he said. "If left-wing people of the world don't like it, I don't care."

So we here at Fraters would like to raise a big Tanqueray tonic (90/10) to Darryl Wolski, of Brandon Manitoba for nutting up and providing people with a great piece of entertainment(even if he had to do it in Canada).

Savage Streaming?

City councils stream the Web:

Talk to Jeff Renner about the possibility of the city of Savage offering webcasts of its City Council meetings and he gets a little excited.

"This thing with the Internet has been a dream of mine for three years," said Renner, video production coordinator for the Scott County community.

Armed with survey results revealing a stunning level of interest in the council's cable-TV broadcasts -- 88 percent of subscribers had watched during the past six months -- Renner is taking the first steps in what he hopes is Savage's move into webcasting, the new frontier of citizen access to government.

St. Paul, too, is hoping to soon join a small number of Minnesota cities -- Minneapolis and Bloomington among them -- that have opened their City Council meetings to a worldwide Internet audience via free streaming video.

Although I don't see myself sitting down to watch too much of the Savage City Council and question whether 88% of cable subscribers really watched the meetings on TV or just gave the answer that they thought sounded good, I applaud the effort. More openness and therefore accountability in local government is always a good thing.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Who What Why Where How, Maybe

As all the dusty textbooks and dusty commentators remind us, the sacred profession of journalism is all about imparting the facts to the unknowing masses. Facts, that is: something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed.

And if that's journalism, I have to wonder what exactly the Pioneer Press was serving up to us yesterday. From the front page, above the fold lead article, beneath the scream headline (War Debate Grows Louder), I present the opening sentence:

Two years after the Iraq invasion, America seems to be losing its stomach for war.

Seems? Seems!? In the most prominent, most influential, most read position in the entire paper, the showpiece for the journalism they are able to create, and in the opening sentence, they give us .... seems!?

It seems to me the reporter wasn't quite sure about that conclusion. Maybe he needed a few extra days to flesh out the facts and come to a conclusion he can state unequivocally and stand behind (or abandon the thesis entirely). Until then, how about we keep this idle, speculative editorializing out of the news coverage, let alone giving it FRONT PAGE treatment.

"Seems," one of the classic CYA words in the professional journalist lexicon. Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong. And if I am wrong, it sure "seemed" that way at the time. Who can argue with that? 100% accurate reporting, as always. No bias here, move along now, nothing to see here, give my regards to Kate Parry.

The unseemly nature of the claim (that Americans are not supporting the effort to rebuild Iraq) is revealed later in the article, where the only evidence presented is a superficial interpretation of a BS poll and the publicity seeking antics of a group of radical appeasement Democrats, a rogue Republican, and a Libertarian RINO in Congress. Neither of which would even be close to front page news on their own.

But haphazardly "connect the dots" and add some editorial commentary and that's good enough to earn a flashing, blaring, front page claim that America is "losing its stomach" for the effort in Iraq. You know, if we get a few more scream articles like this appearing on the front page, they just might convince enough people to make that statement true.

After reviewing this article, I opened up the Pioneer Press to read what else was happening in the world. And I had to laugh seeing the lead to this article, appearing on the Nation/World page.

June appears likely to become one of the deadliest months for U.S. troops in Iraq as U.S. officials announced Thursday the deaths of five Marines and a sailor in and near the restive city of Ramadi.

Appears likely? Is this the Pioneer Press or the Psychic Friends Network?

If reporting the month end casualties for June as a barometer of the success for our efforts in Iraq is so damned important, why not wait until the facts actually present themselves before guessing about them in print?

I suppose we'll have to tune back in a couple of weeks to see how all that speculation actually worked out. And if they're wrong, don't expect to see it in the corrections column. Remember, it only "appeared likely," no factual assertions were actually made. For actual facts, it seems we'll have to look somewhere else than the newspaper.

For the facts on Iraq, my suggestions:

Austin Bay

Steven Vincent

Belmont Club
Selected, Not Elected

The polling at Radio Blogger is over and it is alleged that the Colorado quarter has won by the narrowest of margins. As we speak, our crack team of attorneys is preparing to contest the election results. We have received widespread reports of polling irregularities, massive voter fraud, intimidation of Minnesotan voters, and votes not being properly tabulated. Some Minnesota voters report that they had to wait twenty-four hours before being able to vote. There are also claims that Polling Host, the company who conducted the electronic polling, has ties to the brother-in-law of the owner of Bill Owens's favorite Sonic Drive-In in Denver. Connect the dots people.

Friday, June 17, 2005

We Were Merely Freshmen

Too new to the old boys club to understand that you're not supposed to openly challenge your colleagues in the "world's oldest deliberative body," seven freshman GOP Senators issued this joint statement today:

June 17th, 2005 - Washington, D.C. - Freshman Senators Richard Burr--NC, Tom Coburn--OK, Jim DeMint--SC, Johnny Isakson--GA, Mel Martinez--FL, John Thune--SD and David Vitter--LA today issued the following statement in response to comments made by Senator Dick Durbin--IL on the Floor of the United States Senate comparing U.S. troops to Nazis, Soviets and others:

"As freshman Senators, we recently campaigned to change the tone in Washington and accomplish great things on behalf of the American people. We are united in our support for our troops in the ongoing War on Terror. We found Senator Durbin's remarks to be highly offensive and dangerous. This rhetoric is harmful to our soldiers and emboldens our enemies. We call on Senator Durbin to issue an apology to the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

"The American Armed Forces are the best in the world and to compare them with Nazis, Soviet Gulags, or Pol Pot is outrageous. Millions of innocent people were murdered in death camps under these evil regimes."

I would have preferred a response similar to Dick Cheney's short but sweet retort to Pat Leahy last year, but I suppose this will suffice.
Not That We're Complaining...


Swiss finish drilling world's longest overland tunnel:

Eleven years of drilling and blasting using a total 16 tons of explosives were completed Thursday when Swiss engineers detonated the last few yards of granite completing the 21 mile (35 km) Lötschberg tunnel in the Alps. The Lötschberg is now the longest overland tunnel in the world, and the third longest tunnel overall.

Just in case you missed it, the key line is:

Lötschberg tunnel in the Alps

The Alps. Not the "Swiss Alps." Just the Alps.

That is all.

[More here]
Rocky Mountain High

During hard fought campaigns, last minute revelations often emerge that influence the way people vote and sometimes the very outcome of elections. The boys at Kool Aid Report believe they've uncovered the "October Surprise" of the MN-Colo quarter quarrel:

Many of us clear-headed sentient folks have expressed confusion as to the design of Colorado's quarter. The silver on silver coin sports the motto "Colorful Colorado" beneath a picture of (what is likely) a grey and white mountain. Are they color blind?

No. They're stoned:

"Both college towns, Boston and Boulder, Colo., share another distinction: They lead the nation in marijuana use."

Shocking and disturbing news. You would think that by now Coloradoans would understand that "Drugs are bad, m'kay?" Just say no to the cannabis quarter at Radio Blogger.

UPDATE: Psycmeistr's Ice Palace is the latest to speak out against reefer madness.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

And He Don't Even Knowit

Craig Westover is the latest to jump in on the state quarter dispute and the first to do so with a poetic touch. At last count, only forty-two votes separated the states. Hit Radio Blogger and make your voice heard.
Not Early and Not Often

The Iranian elections are set to begin in just hours and, with many opposition groups calling for people to stay away from the polls, it will be interesting to see what kind of turnout there is. You can keep up to date on all the latest news from Iran by visiting Regime Change Iran.

Gary Metz a.k.a. Doctor Zin is the proprietor of the site and will be appearing with us this Saturday at 1pm on The Northern Alliance Radio Network. We will be discussing the results of the Iranian elections and what they mean for the future of the country.
Local Area Network

One of the media niches that holds great opportunity for blogs is local news coverage. In a metro area, the larger newspapers, television, and radio stations either can't (or won't) provide the in-depth coverage and follow up on these types of stories. The smaller community papers are limited by their publishing schedule (many only come out once a week), their desire not to ruffle feathers, resources, and, quite frankly, talent. The quality of the writing in the community weekly that I receive is a joke.

Two blogs that demonstrate the benefits of this laser-like focus on local issues have recently come to my attention:

On the BorderLine, which has been keeping tabs on the school board in Hudson, Wisconsin and their unwillingness to allow those who oppose their views (which can be succinctly summarized as "Mo Money') a chance to speak.


Rambix and the Red Star, which has been all over the recent increase in crime in Minneapolis, particularly the Uptown area. While many of these crimes have been covered in the media, the stories are often lacking in detail and are not viewed as part of a larger trend. As Rambix notes, the Star Tribune a.k.a. the Red Star is a prime culprit:

Rambix noted these trends by paying attention to the back pages of the Red Star and linking together important stories that the Red Star appeared to be suppressing, burying, and relegating to the unseen parts of the paper. In other words, if you weren't looking for these stories, you weren't likely find them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Exercise Your Franchise

The voting continues at Radio Blogger in the Great Quarter Quarrel.

Apprehension and The Kool Aid Report are the latest members of the MOB to join the crusade (can I say still say that?). KAR definitely has the best post title on the subject so far with Vote for Change.

UPDATE: Bogus Gold throws down.
Cinema Verite

Summer and a young man's fancy turns to movies. No, not the over-hyped, over-budget, overwrought blockbusters that Hollywood cranks out every year. We're talking about the classics of cinema. Films that have stood the test of time and continue to entertain and enlighten us to this day.

In order to properly pay homage to these movie masterpieces, we are going to bring some of them back to life, with a modern twist. A blending of old movies with new media. And so, in collaboration with Freedom Dogs, we are pleased to announce the creation of the first annual Hugh Hewitt Film Festival.

The festival will be held at a middle school gym in Warren, Ohio at a time to be announced later and will include several remakes of classics of the big screen with everybody's favorite shock jock playing prominent roles. A panel of celebrity judges (and Emmett Of The Unblinking Eye) will critique the entries and present the coveted "Pants D'ocker Award" for the film they consider best in class.

The first entry in the competition is a joint venture between FD and FL Productions. It's a tribute to the Alfred Hitchcock horror classic that ruffled many a feather in its day:

It also features a cameo appearance by our own Atomizer, who appropriately reprises the role of the kid who gets attacked on the playground.

Budding filmmakers out there still have time to finish up their editing and get their movies submitted for consideration. Details on how to enter the festival are available at Freedom Dogs.
He's Your Captain

You've read his blog. You've listened to him on The Northern Alliance Radio Network. You've begged him to take off his Notre Dame football jersey for the sake of all that is good and holy. Okay, maybe that was just me.

Now you can see him on the stump. Tonight, Captain Ed takes the stage at the Coffman Union at the University of Minnesota. He will be speaking on the role of the blogs and the media starting at 7pm. You can get all the details at Captain's Quarters and Dog Park Walker.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Real Thing

Steven Vincent is the author of the book "In The Red Zone" as well as the blog of the same name. He has appeared as a guest twice on the Northern Alliance Radio Network with us, and his accounts of traveling around Iraq are riveting. He's back in the country once again and shares the story of an Iraqi stringer in this piece at NRO:

Months went by, and the government refused to say what happened to Samir. With his family growing increasingly distraught, Ali took the hazardous step of visiting the party's Basra headquarters to ask about his brother's whereabouts. In response to his query, the Baathists arrested Ali, accusing him of belong to the Shia opposition group, Dawa Islamiyya -- as had, so they claimed, Samir. (Accusing someone of membership in Dawa was an all-purpose charge the regime used to "disappear" its citizens.) "I was sent to prison for trying to find out if my brother was alive or dead," Ali says.

At one point in his imprisonment, the Baathists took Ali to a "special" interrogation room, and ordered him to strip off his clothing. The interrogator then offered Ali a choice -- either he allowed torturers to shove a large bottle up his rectum, or hammer a nail into his back. "I chose the nail," Ali recounts in a flat tone. Twisting in his chair, he lifts up his t-shirt to exhibit a quarter-sized lump in his shoulder blade. "Believe me, sir, you have not felt such pain."

At least they didn't drop his Koran on the floor, disturb his sleep, or put underwear around his neck. 'Cause you know, THAT would have been torture.
And The Vote Goes On...

[Inside the rec room at the Frater Libertas compound]

Atomizer: War's over, man. Owens dropped the big one.

Elder: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

Saint Paul: [whispering] Germans?

JB: Forget it, he's rolling.

Elder: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... [thinks hard] the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go! [runs out, alone; then returns] What the f*** happened to the Fraters I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Elder, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Owens, he's a dead man! Keller, dead! ClayCalhoun -

Saint Paul: Dead! Elder's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.

Elder: We're just the guys to do it.

Atomizer: Let's do it.

Elder: LET'S DO IT!!

Go to Radio Blogger and vote now.

More MOBsters are on board:

Rambling Rhodes

Spruce Goose

Flown to the Roll

Martin Andrade

And last, but not certainly not least, the dames from the M.A.W.B. Squad.

UPDATE: When pinkmonkeybird is with you, who can be against you?

Monday, June 13, 2005

True Guerilla Marketing?

Muzzy caught a preview of Air America's latest advertising blitz last week and you can see the handiwork for yourself in his post at Blogizdat (Just Think About It). I hear Mike Malloy kills with the 18-34 homeless demographic. Well, at least he would if they had their own radios.

Summertime & The Drinkin's Easy

Check out the freshly updated Beer Ratings.

Twelve new brews have been added to the list, including entries from Norway and Sri Lanka. Despite that fact that I firmly believe that the best beer is made right here in the US of A, I've been thinking about embarking on a world beer tour for some time now. I'm on the lookout for foreign flavors that can be enjoyed in the cozy confines of my basement bar. If you have a suggestion for a palate pleaser that I have not yet rated, drop me a note.

Tails We Win?

The voting continues at Radio Blogger to pick the better state quarter. After Colorado built up an early lead, the latest returns seem to indicate that the momentum is swinging the way of the Gopher State, no doubt due to the get out the vote efforts of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers. Kudos to the following stand-up MOBsters:

Questions and Answers

People's Republic of Minnesota

Northern Alliance Wannabe


Let Freedom Ring (Throughout the World)



And even fifth columnists like Kathy at Cake Eater Chronicles need to be recognized for their participation. Where else would you expect to find a Quisling but Minnesota?

Finally, Sisyphus has put together his list of Top 11 Reasons Minnesota is better than Colorado at Nihilist In Golf Pants.

UPDATE: Radio Blogger is reporting that Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi has now weighed in on the quarter quarrel. The MSM is on your side Colorado. I suppose Jacques Chirac appreciates the subtle complexities of your state's quarter too.

UPDATE II: More MOBsters join the fray:

Northern 'burbs

Blogizdat (Just Think About It)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Fat Bottomed Girls, They'll Be Riding Today

Reader Dave L. from Inianapolis shares his thoughts on this past Saturday's World Naked Bike Ride to protest "the world's dependence on oil":
I guess someone needs to remind our almost nude cycling friends that all the plastic on their bikes, their helmets and their shoes is derived from oil. Don't forget, their tires too.
Excellent point, Dave.

While we're trying to list the vast number of oil based commodities being shamelessly exploited by these bare-skinned bikers, let's not leave out the vats of Vaseline that must have been required to assuage their post-pedalling pain.
You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Run The Party

For a great analysis of yesterday's Minnesota GOP State Central meeting, and the motivations of the delegates to throw over party chair Ron Eibensteiner in favor of Ron Carey, check out this post at The First Ring titled Nose, Face; Meet Spite?:

The sentiment of many party activists against Eibensteiner was as plain as the noses many delegates lopped off today to spite the GOP's face. A devilish brew of poor decisions, misunderstandings, bad luck and consequences beyond control became the magic elixir that elected the GOP's Treasurer, Ron Carey, to the post of chairman. The loss of 13 House seats, and in practicality, the Republican majority in the House, was a major---and legitimate---rallying cry for those dissatisfied with Eibensteiner's performance since 1999. How fickle the political fates can be when one considers that two years ago, Eibensteiner ran unopposed for his third term and buoyed with the mammoth year of 2002, appeared all but untouchable within the Republican Party.

At this point, it's difficult to determine who will emerge as the real winners in this little intercine struggle. But, as First Ringer notes, it is quite apparent who the real loser is:

Who truly lost today was Tim Pawlenty. And if the Governor lost, no one really won. Democrats and the media will be encouraged to press him harder for a bigger tax increase because if Carey follows through on his campaign themes, the state GOP will officially place Pawlenty between a rock and a hard place. For some conservative activists, that suites them just fine, believing the current situation is entirely due to Pawlenty's lack of resolve. That the House is 68-66 and only nominally in Republican hands is apparently of little consequence.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Bicycle Kids! It's Evolution In Reverse

In a profound display of human stupidity, thousands of extremely silly people worldwide shed most of their clothing and all of their dignity today to participate in the World Naked Bike Ride protest against the world's dependence on oil.

Chad Neilson, one of the organizers of the London protest, had this to say:
"It's a protest against oil dependency and car culture and the overuse of cars for unnecessary reasons. There is too much pollution, it stinks in London, and we use too much fossil fuel. I think people should be a lot more comfortable with their bodies. There is nothing wrong with the naked body."
Leaving aside the Holy Roman Empire sized non sequitur in Mr. Neilson's statement, I must, most humbly, beg to differ. This photo of the WNBR in Spain conclusively proves my point.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hatch Girls Exposed!

No, it's not what you're hoping for. This is a text only post. Sorry to disappoint, but I imagine it will be worth a hit or two from Google searches.

Minnesota Democrats Exposed should be your first stop if you're looking for more on the trial of the Hatch hotties. Plenty of good posts on the subject, including this one detailing comments Hatch once made about Morgan Grams, another officeholder's offspring who ran afoul of the law.

UPDATE: The verdict is in from Chicago. Not guilty on all counts.
The Truth about Ruth

More on the quality of information to be heard on the loyal radio opposition, Air America. Our Al Franken Listener (OAFL) Rick has been checking the fact checkers over there and finds them to be wanting:

As you know, Al Franken likes to play gotcha, catching conservatives in "lies". I overheard the following recently on the Al Franken show. Al had a clip where he claimed Rush Limbaugh was making things up. The following transcript comes from Alan Skorski:

Limbaugh clip: "You know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is more extreme than any of these nominees that Bush has brought up. I went through this list of things she actually believes in, that came out in her testimony, such as getting rid of Mother's Day and Father's Day and replacing it with Parents' Day."

Franken to Mark Luther: "She never actually said anything about Mother's Day and Father?s Day for Parents' Day anywhere."

Mark Luther: "So you think he is just fabricating this completely?"

Franken: "I think it's an urban myth from conservatives. We got this from Thomas E. Mann, a Brookings Institute Senior Fellow on Government Studies. He told us - I now have it on the highest and closest authority that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has never, in any setting, proposed doing anything with Mother's Day."

Thanks to Ed Whelan, who writes on the new, excellent NRO Blog Bench Memos, we know what a Senior fellow of the Brookings Institute does not. Quoting page 133 of "Report of Columbia Law School Equal Rights Advocacy Project: The Legal Status of Women under Federal Law," co-authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Brenda Feigen Fasteau in September 1974:

Replacing "Mother's Day" and "Father's Day" with a "Parents' Day" should be considered, as an observance more consistent with a policy of minimizing traditional sex-based differences in parental roles.

Maybe instead of relying on the Prestigious Brookings institute, Al should go back to getting information on his own research staff. Of course, I don't expect to hear a retraction from Al Franken anytime soon.

Incidentally, Alan Skorski is writing a book on Franken, called "Pants on Fire" due out in October 2005. He might make a terrific guest for NARN!

It is the nature of modern, informal discourse to get the facts wrong. Because of the availability of oceans of information on every conceivable topic and the break away fire hose of the media blasting it at us from every direction, most conversations are now littered with things half-heard, half-remembered and half-understood. Throw in a couple of generations of hearsay and innuendo and manipulation and idiocy and it's a wonder that we can even properly understand what happened in the Twins game last night, let alone what Ruth Bader Ginsberg's position on Mother's Day is based on a line item in a ponderous, unread, academic exercise in self gratification from 31 years ago.

Point being, of course Limbaugh makes mistakes. Everybody does. The human brain and life cycle isn't equipped to produce perfection. Although Limbaugh has such a strong work ethic, pride in the quality his output, and sense of responsibility to his influential position, that he takes pains to get things right.

But when he does occasionally slip up, the attempt to brand him a "LIAR!" is nothing more than childish name calling. And an attempt at preemptive demonization to undermine his future influence, all for the benefit of an opposing political party seeking power. This strategy is enough to make a media star out of Franken, although there is no evidence to suggest it is effective in actually changing minds or voting behavior (those who made him a star need no evidence to demonize Limbaugh or other conservatives, they've got their minds made up already).

I suppose Franken deserves the same slack given to Limbaugh, to occasionally make mistakes. But when your entire shtick is exposing people as LIARS! it would be nice if you had your own facts straight. And worked a little harder to prove your allegations than merely relying on what someone else told you on the "highest and closest authority." Which sounds like another way of saying you're just another link in the chain of hearsay, innuendo, manipulation, and idiocy.

PS: If any of the facts reported to me by our heretofore unimpeachable source OAFL Rick prove to be LIES! -- never mind.