Saturday, September 30, 2006

Giving That Really Counts

Helping the Poor Register Land (WSJ-subscription required):

Establishing land rights for the poor in developing nations turned into the sleeper issue at the second annual Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan last week, where celebrities, heads of state and the super-rich gathered to raise funds to help solve the world's problems.

Former President Bill Clinton secured commitments totaling $7.3 billion at this year's conference, up from $2.5 billion last year. But the buzz in the hallways centered on a topic that until recently most philanthropists all but ignored: registering poor people's property so they could borrow against it to build businesses, pay taxes or for other purposes. Many citizens of developing countries don't formally have title to their land, and many economists -- including Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, another conference attendee -- see this as a key source of urban poverty. According to Mr. de Soto's research, the value of unregistered land in developing countries totals over $9 trillion. Mr. Clinton told the audience that these assets "cannot be converted into collateral for loans -- wealth locked-up and locked-down -- keeping people in grinding poverty instead of being an asset that can lift them up." Up to 85% of urban land parcels in the developing world are unregistered, Mr. Clinton said, citing Mr. de Soto's research.

But standing in the way of widespread land-ownership records are insufficient legal frameworks, confusing procedures and corrupt property registries. And establishing land ownership is all but impossible in communist and socialist countries, where property usually is owned by the state, said John Bryant, chief executive of Operation Hope, a nonprofit in Los Angeles that provides financial services to the poor.

Calling land ownership "the cornerstone of economic stability in any region," Craig DeRoy, president of First American Corp., a seller of title-insurance and credit information, said his company would commit $1 million in cash and in-kind services to develop a "template" to give the poor in developing countries a way to establish land titles.

More foundations are beginning to think about land ownership. Patty Stonesifer, chief executive of the giant Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and another conference attendee, called the discussion about land registration "intriguing." Though her group hasn't announced any involvement in the effort, it said earlier this year it will move into funding financial services for the poor.

If you want to understand why land ownership is such a critical economic building block, I highly recommend reading The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else by the aforementioned Hernando De Soto.

Friday, September 29, 2006

You Want To Know What Torture Really Is?

Ask these guys. Ex-POWs defend tough interrogation of terrorism suspects:

The Geneva Convention meant nothing to Don Heiliger's captors.

To the men who used ropes and handcuffs to twist Heiliger's arms behind him until his shoulder blades touched and his arms went numb, the rules regarding humane treatment of prisoners of war were a joke.

Shot down over Vietnam on May 15, 1967, the Navy pilot who later became a Dane County supervisor was tortured and told he was a criminal who had no protection under the Geneva Convention.

The debate over the rules for the interrogation and trial of terrorist suspects is more than political rhetoric for Heiliger and other Wisconsin ex-prisoners of war, who spent days and weeks and years in captivity never knowing if they would survive their ordeal. Even as President Bush and key Republican senators such as John McCain reached an agreement last week over the issue, Heiliger's opinion was emphatic: The Geneva Conventions don't apply to terror suspects.

"To try terrorists doesn't bother me at all, because I don't think they're soldiers," said Heiliger, 69, of Stoughton.

Dan Doughty agrees. He, too, was shot down in Vietnam and spent almost seven years as a prisoner of war. He, too, was tortured and forced to write letters saying he was treated well.

In the war on terror, "there are no uniformed soldiers. They're not fighting for a country. They don't have a nation behind them," said Doughty, 73, who grew up in Ladysmith and now lives in Eau Claire. "I'd sure hate to see several thousand people die (in a terror attack) because we couldn't ask a question for fear we were mistreating' terror suspects.

When he was first captured, he told his captors his name, rank, serial number and date of birth--the only information military members are obligated to provide under the Geneva Conventions.

It didn't do any good and only infuriated Doughty's captors. It took two decades for the numbness in Doughty's hands and arms to go away.

Doughty saw the Abu Ghraib prison scandal photos and read about the convictions of American soldiers working as guards at the Baghdad prison. In Doughty's opinion, the Abu Ghraib prisoners were mistreated, not tortured. And the Bush administration's attempt to clarify some of the language in the Geneva Conventions probably won't matter in future wars, he said.

"I don't think anybody we'd have a future war with is going to be different than Vietnam," Doughty said. "Look at what happened to our soldiers that have been captured (in Iraq this year). They've been tortured and cut up and put in the street. That's what we're dealing with."

I wonder if liberals would be willing to bring their beloved "Chicken Hawk" standard to bear on this issue: only those who actually have been tortured are allowed to offer an opinion on what it actually is. Somehow I doubt it.

Vote Or Die

When Jim Geraghty's Voting to Kill: How 9/11 Launched the Era of Republican Leadership first landed on my doorstep, I have to admit that my expectations were not high. Another partisan take on why Republicans are good, Democrats are bad, and this is the most important and pivotal election ever, I thought. The sort of inside the Beltway wonkery that only a political uber-geek could love. With 332 pages of such sausage-making ahead of me, it looked like I was in for a long, hard slog.

But it turns out that, despite its rather off-putting title, Geraghty's book is a good read. In large part because of his engaging and entertaining writing style. More often than not he succeeds at making even the driest of voting statistics seem interesting and he does it with a heavy dose of wit and whimsy. You gotta like a guy who starts off a chapter with a quote from Sideshow Bob.

Geraghty's view is that 9/11 did indeed change everything, especially when it comes to politics. He traces the Democrats decline as a party considered strong on national defense and security from the days of Kennedy to the days of Dean. Clinton was able to win because voters did not consider security a priority, but when it's the issue du jour, Geraghty believes that voters will always prefer the GOP. His thesis will once again be put to the test this November.

You can hear for yourself this Saturday, when we will welcome Jim to the NARN Volumo Uno. He'll be on at noon to discuss Voting To Kill and how he thinks national security will influence the election. We'll also be talking some local politics on the show and trying to get a grip on one of the harshest political attack ads we've ever heard.

Listen live to the whole NARN kit and caboodle from 11am-5pm on AM1280 The Patriot WWTC or on the 'net stream. It will interesting to hear how Michael Brodkorb handles this week's shocking revelation that he is in fact a Republican (gasp) during NARN III: Extra Innings from 3pm-5pm.

He's Got The Magic Hands

WARNING: Watching the first few seconds of this video may result in pain, anxiety, and heartburn for Gopher hockey fans. Consider yourself warned Sisyphus.

YouTube - Robbie Schremp - Amazing Shootout Goal

Somebody Call Central Casting

If you had pitched last night's Twins game as a Hollywood movie, you would have been laughed out of the restaurant where you were having lunch for proposing such an improbable plot.

Start with a veteran pitcher, set to retire at the end of the season, coming off an injury that some thought had ended his career, who returns to start in front of an adoring home crowd and hurls five solid innings, giving up only one run. Add the team's inability to score a run through eight innings, leaving them down 1-0 heading to the ninth. For extra drama, toss in the opponents loading the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth, threatening to break the game open, only to have the home team escape without giving up a run. Then, this is where it simply gets absurd, have the local boy made good come up with two outs, yes TWO OUTS, in the bottom of the ninth and crack a Roy Hobbsesque game-tying home run. Wrap it up with the home team once again avoiding danger in the top of the 10th, winning the game in the bottom of the inning, and moving into a tie for first place in their division in late-September after trailing by 11 1/2 games in June. C'mon, you expect anyone to buy that?

Suspend your disbelief.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Separated At Birth?

America-hating lefty NYT writer Linda Greenhouse


The Nutty Professor?


Mr. Ed?


The stereotypical Japanese soldier as portrayed in WWII propaganda posters?

Support The Troops & Then Needle The Sox

A reminder about this Saturday's Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Day! which starts at 9am outside the Metrodome:

Join MMAF for an entertaining day in honor of Minnesota's military personnel, at home and overseas. In addition to remembering our deployed friends and neighbors, this event will be a special "welcome back" for all returned troops, especially those injured overseas, capped with a day at the ballpark with the Minnesota Twins.

Events to include a 5K run, 2 Mile Walk, Celebration Events at the MetroDome "Pad" and a Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox baseball game with additional MMAF events inside the dome

All registrants to receive tickets to the Twins vs. White Sox, a t-shirt and commemorative pin. Prize drawings also available to those that bring with them the most pledges on day of the event.

MMAF 2 Mile Walk is $15 per person / $50 per family
MMAF 5K Run is $20 per person

Military personnel, their families and Scouts are Free!

WSJ Bias On Page One

Reading this morning's WSJ, I was reminded of the Elder's tales of when he would end up literally throwing the morning Strib across the breakfast table as he encountered leftist bias that has made the paper infamous.

I usually don't see that in the WSJ, which is one of the reasons I subscribe. But today's paper featured a doozie worthy of our local rag or even the AP. It's a story about various activist groups that have come together to do something about illegal immigration since the government doesn't seem to care. Notice how I said ILLEGAL immigration? Just checking.

Right off the bat, the writer cannot help herself from trying to downplay the popularity of the first group described:

Armed with a computer and less than $100, Joseph Turner two years ago formed a group called "Save Our State." His goal: save California from turning into a "Third World cesspool" of illegal immigrants, he says. The group doesn't have a formal membership,and Mr. Turner counts barely 2,000 people on his email list and message board.

Why "barely"? Why not "more than"? And why does formal membership mean anything? The clear message being conveyed by the language is that this is a meaningless little group of wackos who don't mean anything.

But who is the leader of the group?

"My idea of activism is aggressive, street-level and in-your-face activism," says Mr. Turner, who strikes a clean-cut look with slicked-back black hair and icy blue eyes. He adds: "I don't believe in turning the other cheek."

The icy blue eyes of a cold, hard, unfeeling racist perhaps?

The next little trick the writer employs is to portray the group as being against immigrants in general as opposed to ILLEGAL immigration--which is the entire reason for the organization.

The Center for New Community, a Chicago organization (ed: just an "organization" how about a liberal organization?) that tracks immigration issues, says there are 211 so-called nativist groups -- groups that advocate protecting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants -- across the U.S., up from 37 two years ago. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, also says nativist groups are on the rise and that several are hate groups, including Mr. Turner's Save Our State. The law center defines a hate group as one that singles out and promotes hatred of another group, based on ethnicity, language, religion, sexual inclination or immigration status. Mr. Turner denies he runs a hate group.

So now she has successfully labeled an anti-illegal immigration group as a "Nativist" group. From there, she hits a few left-wing activists in the golden rolodex and they make a case that they are a "hate group". THEN, instead of letting the leader of the group make a decent rebuttal of the false and inflammatory charges, she simply writes "Mr. Turner denies.."

Is there any doubt about how she is manipulating the reader and how she wants the reader to feel?

She goes on with the template:

Several budding groups receive funding from older, well-endowed national organizations, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has been battling immigration for decades.

Are they battling immigration or illegal immigration? The distinction does not seem important to our scribe.

Anti-immigrant sentiment has swept the U.S. before, targeting Irish, Italian, Jewish, Chinese and Japanese newcomers

Good Lord. "Anti-immigrant sentiment"? Who is anti-immigrant? Again, I love how she turns anti ILLEGAL immigration into anti IMMIGRATION. Also note the heavy-handed and loaded use of the word "Targeted" as one might do with say a gun.

She goes on:

William Gheen, a former conservative campaign strategist and legislative assistant, formed the Americans for Legal Immigration-PAC, or ALIPAC, on Sept. 11, 2004, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks...

So this guy gets labeled as a conservative, which is a way of saying "Don't listen to this guy, he's one of those kind of people" and the Southern Poverty Law Center gets no label whatsoever?

The technique of presenting very inflammatory, specific charges and then not letting the attacked have a say (as seen in the earlier example) is repeated again here:

Mr. Luebke also says Mr. Gheen preyed on the discomfort felt by many white North Carolinians over the increased visibility of Latinos -- the spread of Mexican restaurants and stores, Spanish-language signs and Spanish-language movies at video stores. With manufacturing jobs also moving overseas, "the brown immigrant was an easy scapegoat," says Mr. Luebke.

Mr. Gheen says his is a "moderate group" and denies trying to stir up racial animosities.

Why did moderate group need scare quotes?

Ahhhh...there's plenty more, but this is representative of the piece. The sheer audacity that the writer has to think they can pull this kind of crap off in the WSJ amazes me.

Coming Soon To JB's Amazon Wish List

From a review by S.T. Karnick of Paul Hollander's The End of Commitment: Intellectuals, Revolutionaries, and Political Morality in the Twentieth Century that appeared in the latest National Review:

Hollander provides copious examples of the appeal of Communism in the journeys of former Western sympathizers such as David Horowitz, Ronald Radosh, Eugene Genovese, Christopher Hitchens, Doris Lessing, and several lesser-known individuals. Hollander notes that Lessing eventually realized that the attraction of Communism in the West is caused "not so much because of moral indignation aroused by specific social injustices but rather due to disappointment with a wide range of unmet and unrealistic personal expectations."

The theme of alienation likewise occurs repeatedly in Hollander's descriptions of numerous non-famous American leftists who answered his call for self-revelations. Hollander writes, "Virtually every respondent harbored deep disaffection from American society and an acute awareness of its shortcomings and injustices, its unrealized ideals. . . . A wounded idealism seeking an outlet in leftist social or political activism appeared to be the most widely shared trait, indeed the defining characteristic of these respondents."

This alienation from American life and values is most evident in Hollander's account of linguist and political gadfly Noam Chomsky and his virulent, anti-American attitudes. Individuals such as Chomsky are so thoroughly alienated from their society that they find fault with everything about it and are quick to excuse any attack on it. Chomsky claimed, for example, that the 9/11 attacks pale next to the West's "deep-seated culture of terrorism." This sort of thinking has made him a hero to many American leftists.

Such a worldview leads easily to the demonization of one's enemies. Hollander observes that, like Islamic radicals, some Western leftists show a "ready acceptance of inflicting great suffering on behalf of glorious ends, in the untroubled subordination of ends and means."

Hollander ends his book on a note of hope, observing that some individuals do indeed face the evidence and change their minds. Unfortunately, these individuals appear to be rather less common than the true believers, in Hollander's revealing account. The human capacity to pursue illusions is enormous, and as a result, the work of thwarting the politics of personal alienation is never done.

People making a left turn because they feel alienated, bitter, and disaffected in their personal lives? Imagine that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cleveland Rocked Again

If the Indians once again failing to live up to expectations and the Browns once again stumbling out of the gate wasn't tough enough for Clevelanders to swallow, comes the news that Cleveland loses 2008 GOP convention:

Republican sources have said their 2008 convention will be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul, not Cleveland.

The Associated Press is reporting the decision which had not been expected for weeks, has already been made.

Cleveland pressed hard for the 2008 Republican Convention, wooing decision makers in late August with several days of spectacular events.

AP does not name the sources, but says the decision will send the 2008 convention to Minneapolis-St. Paul.

New York City and Tampa had also been in the running with Cleveland.

The selection was expected to be announced later today, said the Republican source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the GOP sources, the choice of the Twin Cities over Cleveland would provide a major political punch for the GOP, capturing the media markets in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota -- all battleground states in the 2004 election.

The convention would be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., home of the hockey team.

An NHL hockey team I might add. Just part of the growing list of things that the Twin Cites has that Cleveland doesn't:

A playoff bound major league baseball team

A respectable NFL team

The 2008 Republican Convention

UPDATE-- Robert e-mails to report that, based on leaks of classified information, his sources are confirming that Hugh Hewitt has already made a reservation at his favorite local hotel for the '08 convention.

A Life Well Lived

We our sad to report that Emma Torkelson, a resident of Fergus Falls, Minnesota who received national attention (including an appearance on the Northern Alliance Radio Network) a few years ago when she decided to register to vote for the first time at age one-hundred, passed away on Sunday. An e-mail from her grandson Rick provides the details:

I wanted to let you know that grandma Emma passed away today in Fergus Falls. She was 102 this June and she just couldn't go anymore. We were very fortunate to have had this prayer warrior in our family for as long as we did. This June she held my son Gabriel as we prayed the Lord's prayer together, I really thank God for that memory. Grandma was a devout Catholic who prayed everyday for every single member of her family. She is survived by 3 children, 11 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.

After she greets her husband Oscar in heaven, I'm sure that the next thing she will do is turn on Sportscenter to see exactly what happened in today's Twins game. She was a fan of the Twins right up until the end.

Sportscenter in heaven? That's my kind of after-life. When you're watching the baseball playoffs this October, you would do well to remember that if you're cheering against the Twins, you're cheering against Emma. And it sounds like she might have a little pull with the Big Guy.

Here is her obit from the The Fergus Falls Daily Journal (the Fergus Falls Daily Otter would be a much catchier name, wouldn't it?).

Emma Torkelson R.I.P.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lay It Down Clown

If you've been itching for a chance to release some of your long pent-up teenage angst and light me up over my views on The Replacements, but you're just too shiftless when idle to compose an e-mail, you now have an opportunity to sound off in the comments at this post at Shot In The Dark. Keep in mind though that nothing you can say compares to the slander against my good name that Mitch "Amnesty International" Berg has already perpetrated in the opening line of his post.

The latest e-mail on the subject worthy of posting comes from Robb from Arizona:

As someone who likes "the idea of" The Ramones but not actually listening to them, I'm sympathetic to your feelings about The Replacements, even though I don't share them. If you delete "All Shook Down" from their catalog (I like to consider it Paul's first solo album) what's left ranges from the "pretty good" to the divine. If it was just punk music, it wouldn't be all that great. But it wasn't - it was the scarred, dark, beer-soaked trainwreck that was Paul Westerberg's soul. No stupid politics and no self- righteousness. Paul (and Bob Mould, for that matter) had a way of dumping out the pain in a way few others have had the honesty to do. And sometimes they were just drunk and silly, and that was pretty honest, too.

Still, I didn't live in Minneapolis, and I was a few years too young anyway. My "live Replacements shows" were The Gin Blossoms before they finished their first major label album and Doug killed himself. So I don't know first-hand what that kind of insane hometown hype was attached to them. But I do know this: no ass in Minneapolis is or has been more over-hyped than Prince's purple posterior.

Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago

Last night, while the Twins were committing regicide at the Metrodome, Ozzie's gutty World Series Champions were laying down like dogs beside Lake Erie. The result? The Twins clinch their first ever AL wild card playoff spot. It's nice to have a local squad claim a wild card spot that actually means something, unlike the Vikings semi-regular stumbles into the post-season via the NFL wild card.

For of those who wish to cluck about my now infamous call back in May that the Twins were done, I remind you that hindsight is usually nothing but a crutch for the lazy and simple-minded. Step up to plate and give foresight a shot and then get back to me. While I received numerous taunting jabs about my erroneous prediction once the Twins had rallied to get back in the hunt, I received zero, I repeat ZERO, such admonitions back in May after I said the season was all but over.

[Sid Hartman voice]

Listen up all you arm chair geniuses out there sitting at home who like to second-guess the professional bloggers and think it's easy to make sports predictions. Let me tell you something: it isn't. I'd like to see what you'd do if you ever had to lay it on the line like I have to every day on this job. Sometimes the fans in this town are just unbelievable. They never give you credit for what goes right, they just want to blame and nitpick about every little thing that goes wrong. You don't even deserve to have a great blog like Fraters Libertas in this town and I wouldn't blame the owner if he just packed up and left. Then you'd be sorry.

[/Sid Hartman voice]

The Boys Of October

Just in case any of you Cleveland Indians fans out there are curious, this is what a Major League Baseball playoff ticket looks like:

Monday, September 25, 2006

If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on

When Red Bull just ain't getting it done you might want to try Cocaine:

A NEW energy drink that crashed parties in the US last week is called Cocaine, and its makers are billing it as "the legal alternative" to the drug.

The drink's maker maintains that "doing Cocaine", the beverage that is, gives a bigger and better high without the crash other energy drinks cause.

They say a high hits within five minutes, followed by a caffeine boost 15 minutes later. The ride lasts five hours and the concoction is "350 per cent stronger than Red Bull", they claim.

They argue the effect is part chemical - the drink uses "simple" sugars that don't need to be broken down by the body to create a sugar buzz, and a much larger dose of vitamin B12 - and part psychological.

In the interests of increased productivity, we're going to begin filling the water coolers around Fraters Libertas world headquarters exclusively with this new wonder drink. The risk of side effects (Atomizer going all "Cornholio" on us) are far outweighed by the obvious benefits.

Rock 'N' Roll Ghost

In the interests of equal time, I once again yield the floor to Jim to allow him another chance to respond to my post from Friday on Paul Westerberg and the Replacements. I received this e-mail from him very early on Saturday morning:

"Jane, (Chad) you ignorant slut."

There were plenty of other bands that were just as loud if not louder and angrier. Not just locally, nationally. INTERnationally. But the Replacements were unique. Husker Du was adound. Didn't move me like them. Fear, The Exploited, Black Flag, Soul Asylum, Dead Kennedys, name any loud fast band you want...I went to the shows, and the only thing that moved me was the Replacements. I wasn't into it because Rolling Stone had given their record 4 or 5 stars. I was into it because they were the Rock n Roll equivalent of James Dean.

Why did (does) James Dean speak to youth? Because, in his own words, "In this fist I have Marlon Brando saying 'F*** You,' and in this fist I have Montgomery Clift saying 'Love me.'"

The Replacements played loud and fast and hard, but they had a vulnerability, one they rarely showed on stage. But since you knew it was there, you understood it in the noise.

I'll be the first one to tell you that their Twin Tone catalog is superior to the Sire WB days. But that does not equate to over hyped. You had to be in the room. And sometimes they were so drunk that you wished you weren't in the room. But most of the time there was a gem, whether it was Paul growling and pleading through "GO" or "Unsatisfied," or maybe it was just the smile of them doing Ronnie and the Daytonas "Little GTO," Bobby chiming in on the "Wa-wa wa wa waaaa," Or Edison Lighthouse's "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes." Or maybe it was Bobby playing in coveralls on a hot summer night in the Cabooze, until during his solo, Paul and Tommy decided to pants him. He played nude the rest of the night. Or maybe it was the night at the Entry when Bobby picked a fight with someone standing in front of him. Paul jumped in, and so did Tommy, but Chris kept drumming. 2 minutes later the three came back up, minus their shirts, picked up each other's instruments and picked up with Chris' drumming to finish the song. Maybe it was stopping them after the show, in the hallway at SCSU, and asking Bobby, "Where are you playing next?" just as Paul and Tommy went whizzing by on a flat bed cart that was meant to move their gear

Without missing a beat he replied, "Ahh, down the hall, I guess."

I have well over 500 vinyl LPs, close to 1000 CDs. I've fawned over Both Elvi, Dylan, Rod Stewart, The Gear Daddies,Buddy Holly, and the Rolling Stones. As a 40 year old I flew with a friend from MPLS to Dallas to see the last stand of a bar band called Slobberbone. None of them compare to what this little band had. No one has ever touched the raw nerve in me that The Replacements did.

It's 12:30 in the morning and I have to get up and be Mr Mom tomorrow for a 6 yr old and 3 yr old twins. WOULD I BE UP AT NIGHT TYPING THIS BECAUSE OF HYPE? F*** NO.

You said it, you weren't there. Therefore, you don't know what you're talking about.

All The Best,


P.S. If they're so over hyped, why is it NARN theme music?

It's entirely within the realm of reason to say that a band is over-hyped while still liking them. Such it is with The Replacements. We chose them for the NARN theme because we like the song (Brian and I do at least-John's more of a Paul Anka guy), not because we worship the band. By the way, I think James Dean is overrated too.

Name Some Names

With the wisdom of hindsight, it's easy to jump into the blame game and start pointing fingers about who should have done what when to prevent 9/11. When it comes to judging the pre-9/11 fight against terrorism, I don't find much value in trying to pin responsibility for the multitude of failures on specific individuals or even specific administrations. The truth is that beginning with Jimmy Carter and continuing right through George W. Bush on September 10th, 2001, the government's dereliction of duty in the area was thoroughly a bi-partisan affair.

Having said that, I must take exception with attempts to re-write pre-9/11 history when I believe I see them occurring. And Sunday morning, on "Fox News Sunday," former President Bill Clinton was attempting to do just that:

And I think it's very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn't do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush's neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden. They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn't do enough said I did too much--same people.


They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in "Black Hawk down," and I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the United Nations.


There was not a living soul. All the people who now criticize me wanted to leave the next day.


The people on my political right who say I didn't do enough spent the whole time I was president saying, "Why is he so obsessed with bin Laden? That was "wag the dog" when he tried to kill him."

And all this business about Somalia--the same people who criticized me about Somalia were demanding I leave the next day. The same exact crowd.

Notice anything missing from Mr. Clinton's well-publicized little outburst? How about a SINGLE name? Instead of the intentionally vague "the people", "they", "all the conservative Republicans", "all the right-wingers", "the people on my political right", "same exact crowd", it might have been nice if Mr. Clinton could have provided at least one name to back up his argument.

For you see, I happen to fall into a number of those categories that Mr. Clinton rattled off and his recollections and mine don't quite jive. Let's start with this supposed "obsession with Bin Laden" that "we" criticized then-President Clinton for. During the final years of his administration, Bin Laden's wasn't the head that I recall most of us were accusing Bill Clinton of being obsessed with.

As for Somalia in 1993, I probably hadn't filled out my app to join the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy yet, but I don't remember conservatives leading the charge to cut and run. In fact, rather than calling for getting out, my circle of politically like-minded friends was calling for getting some payback for the deaths of eighteen soldiers and the disgusting desecration of some of their bodies. The only reason that I would have wanted us to leave the next day would have been to avoid any friendly fire casualties from the devastating air strikes that I would have liked to have seen launched against Mogadishu. I believe the term is "making the rubble bounce."

I don't hold Mr. Clinton responsible for what happened on 9/11. However, I do hold him responsible for an honest accounting of what he and his political opponents did and didn't do and say in the years leading up to it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Remembering A Fallen Hero

Derek from has organized an effort among local bloggers to honor the memory of Medal of Honor winner Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith. Today would have been Smith's 37th birthday.

Medal of Honor - Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith

On April 4, 2003, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, attacked to seize Objective Lions, the Baghdad International Airport. As part of the Brigade scheme of maneuver, Task Force 2-7 Infantry was tasked to establish a blocking position against a brigade-sized counterattack on the main entrance to the airfield.

Task Force 2-7 had been fighting for three consecutive days and had moved through the night before reaching the blocking position. Morale was high, but Soldiers were experiencing fatigue. B Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment (Knight) was in the east-most position oriented along the main avenue of approach ready for the main enemy counterattack. A Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment (Rage) was attacking to the southeast of the Highway.

The main entrance to the airfield was a four-lane highway with a median to separate incoming and outgoing traffic. Large masonry walls with towers approximately 100 meters apart bound the highway. On the morning of April 4, 2003, more than 100 soldiers from the Task Force 2-7 Forward Aid Station, mortars, scouts and portions of B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion were in the median behind the forward most blocking positions. The B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion 2nd Platoon Leader was on a reconnaissance mission with the B Company, Task Force 2-7 Infantry Commander.

During his absence, 2nd Platoon received the mission to construct an Enemy Prisoner of War holding area. Sgt. 1st Class Smith was in charge of 2nd Platoon.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith assessed the best location to be behind the masonry wall bounding the highway. Two guard towers along the wall were ideally situated to provide overwatch to the holding area. An M9 armored combat earthmover (ACE) knocked a hole in the wall to create an opening to a large courtyard with a louvered metal gate on the north side. With the help of a squad leader and team leader, Sgt. 1st Class Smith checked the far side of the courtyard for enemy, found none, and posted two guards. From the guard post at the gate small groupings of buildings were 100-200 meters to the northeast. To the northwest, a large white building with a white dome was visible. The location seemed perfect as the courtyard was along the northern flank of the blocking position and enemy actions to this point were mostly from the east.

While an engineer squad began to clear debris in the courtyard, one of the guards saw 10-15 enemy soldiers with small arms, 60mm mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG). These were the lead elements of an organized company-sized force making a deliberate attack on the flank of Task Force 2-7. Sgt. 1st Class Smith came to the position and identified 25-50 more soldiers moving into prepared fighting positions. Sgt. 1st Class Smith instructed a squad leader to get a nearby Bradley Fighting Vehicle for support. While waiting for the Bradley, Sgt. 1st Class Smith had members of 2nd platoon retrieve AT-4 weapons and form a skirmish line outside the gate. By this time, the number of enemy identified rose to 100 soldiers, now a confirmed company-sized attack. Three of B Company's M113A3 armored personnel carriers (APC) oriented .50-cal. machineguns toward the opening in the wall and the surrounding guard towers, now occupied by enemy soldiers.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith's actions to organize a defense against the deliberate attack were not only effective, but inspired the B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion Soldiers. He then began to lead by example. As the Bradley arrived on site and moved through the hole in the wall toward the gate, Sgt. 1st Class Smith ran to the gate wall and threw a fragmentation grenade at the enemy. He then took two Soldiers forward to join the guards and directed their engagement of the enemy with small arms. The enemy continued to fire rifles, RPGs, and 60mm mortars at the Soldiers on the street and within the courtyard. Enemy soldiers began moving along the buildings on the north side of the clearing to get into position to climb into the towers. Sgt. 1st Class Smith called for an APC to move forward to provide additional fire support. Sgt. 1st Class Smith then fired an AT-4 at the enemy while directing his fire team assembled near the front line of the engagement area.

Running low on ammunition and having taken RPG hits, the Bradley withdrew to reload. The lead APC in the area received a direct hit from a mortar, wounding the three occupants. The enemy attack was at its strongest point and every action counted. Not only were the wounded Soldiers threatened but also more than 100 Soldiers from B Company, the Task Force Aid Station, and the Mortar Platoon were at risk.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith ordered one of his Soldiers to back the damaged APC back into the courtyard after the wounded men had been evacuated. Knowing the APC's .50-Cal. machinegun was the largest weapon between the enemy and the friendly position, Sgt. 1st Class Smith immediately assumed the track commander's position behind the weapon, and told a soldier who accompanied him to "feed me ammunition whenever you hear the gun get quiet." Sgt. 1st Class Smith fired on the advancing enemy from the unprotected position atop the APC and expended at least three boxes of ammunition before being mortally wounded by enemy fire. The enemy attack was defeated. Sgt. 1st Class Smith's actions saved the lives of at least 100 Soldiers, caused the failure of a deliberate enemy attack hours after 1st Brigade seized the Baghdad Airport, and resulted in an estimated 20-50 enemy soldiers killed. His actions inspired his platoon, his Company, the 11th Engineer Battalion and Task Force 2-7 Infantry.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith's actions to lead Soldiers in direct contact with a numerically superior enemy--to personally engage the enemy with a fragmentation grenade, AT-4, and individual weapon, to ultimately assume the track commander's position to fire the .50-Cal. machinegun through at least three boxes of ammunition before being mortally wounded--demonstrates conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. His actions prevented a penetration in the Task Force 2-7 sector, defended the aid station, mortars, and scouts, and allowed the evacuation of Soldiers wounded by indirect enemy fire.

Take a moment to remember the heroes like Sergeant Smith. And support his comrades in arms who are defending America today.

Soldiers' Angels

Separated At Birth?

Long-time friend of Fraters Bill T. submits the following SAB for your consideration:

From "Seinfeld," Elaine's dad and mad novelist Alton Benes, played by actor Lawrence Tierney and...

...from the State Department, Colin's pal and alleged mad bomber Richard Armitage?

"Master of the house..."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Minnesota Military Appreciation Parade

Saturday, September 30, 2006 is Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Day! 9:00 am Start Time:

Join MMAF for an entertaining day in honor of Minnesota's military personnel, at home and overseas. In addition to remembering our deployed friends and neighbors, this event will be a special "welcome back" for all returned troops, especially those injured overseas, capped with a day at the ballpark with the Minnesota Twins.

Events to include a 5K run, 2 Mile Walk, Celebration Events at the MetroDome "Pad" and a Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox baseball game with additional MMAF events inside the dome

All registrants to receive tickets to the Twins vs. White Sox, a t-shirt and commemorative pin. Prize drawings also available to those that bring with them the most pledges on day of the event.

MMAF 2 Mile Walk is $15 per person / $50 per family
MMAF 5K Run is $20 per person

Military personnel, their families and Scouts are Free!

Friday, September 22, 2006

That Which Does Not Follow

Can anyone explain the point of this AP "news" story on how U.S. deaths in war equal those from 9/11? Besides being pointless, the piece includes pablum like this:

Not for the first time, war that was started to answer death has resulted in at least as much death for the country that was first attacked, quite apart from the higher numbers of enemy and civilians killed, too.

Yes, and?

The meaningless of the milestone is even mentioned in the story itself:

Historians note that this grim accounting is not how the success or failure of warfare is measured, and that the reasons for conflict are broader than what served as the spark.

Exactly. So why even write a story about it? Why indeed.

UPDATE-- James e-mails to try to help clarify matters:

So there is a link between 9/11 and Iraq? Is that what the article is suggesting?

I've heard that the total U.S. combat deaths in WWII exceeded those of December 7, 1941. Of course, I have no way of proving that.

Oh, and I seem to recall some hillbillies firing some cannons on a place called Ft. Sumter back in April, 1861, and that a war followed in which lots of people died. Again, I have heard that more people died in the next, oh, four or five years, than died that fateful spring day, but I can't prove that.

I'm just sayin.

James makes a good point on the Civil War that demonstrates how hollow this article truly is. The actual bombardment of Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War, killed no one. Yet the war that followed claimed over 600,000 lives. Wars are not started to "answer death" as the AP story claims. They are more often than not joined in response to attacks.

Whatever Makes You Happy

Today's Wall Street Journal features the story of local rock legend Paul Westerberg's latest project(subscription required):

Paul Westerberg, leader of the legendary rock band the Replacements, isn't a household name -- except in homes where the kids are dressed in vintage punk T-shirts and Mohawk hairdos. He gained notoriety and influence in the 1980s with songs such as "Treatment Bound," "Dope Smokin' Moron" and "Bastards of Young." But when contemporaries such as U2 and R.E.M. soared to commercial prosperity, the Replacements ran their career into a ditch.

Now Mr. Westerberg is set to receive a jolt of mainstream exposure -- thanks, improbably, to a big-budget animated children's movie for which he wrote a clutch of songs and the cinematic score. "Open Season" is the debut feature from Sony Pictures Entertainment's new Sony Pictures Animation division. It features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher, and concerns a bear (Mr. Lawrence) who has lived his whole life in comfortable captivity. Circumstances force him to try living in the wilderness, where he must choose between his old life of ease and the rigors of the forest.

For the 46-year-old Mr. Westerberg, whose career could be characterized as a series of near-misses with big-time success, Hollywood represented both a gilded cage and a fearsome wilderness. It's a land of plenty: He was paid handsomely (he won't say how much) for his work on "Open Season" and recorded with bigger budgets and more musicians than he ever had before. Yet he also was put through the Hollywood wringer -- the studio even hired another singer to record a showpiece song Mr. Westerberg wrote for the film (though both versions appear in the movie and CD.) He now jokes about accepting the movie gig as "community service after my last arrest."

I'm sure that some of Westerberg's hardcore fans, still desperately clinging to the long past glory days of teen angst and rebellion, will denounce this effort and brand Westerberg with the dreaded scarlet "S" as in sellout. Personally, I applaud his decision to dip his toe into the pond of mainstream entertainment and introduce his skilled songwriting to a whole new generation. Rather than continuing the Quixote pursuit of "breaking through" and bringing "my music" to the masses, as so many would-be rock stars do well past the age when they should know better, Westerberg is taking a realistic approach and recognizing that while this may not be exactly the future he dreamed of back in the heyday of the Minneapolis music scene, it ain't a bad way to make a living.

Long-suffering Replacements fans may get something out of it, too. They have waited more than 15 years to see the band, or even just some of its members, reunite for a live performance. That finally is set to happen at the film's premiere in Los Angeles on Monday night, when Mr. Westerberg is to be joined by Replacements bass player Tommy Stinson to play two songs. It's an appropriately bizarre twist for rock's most lovable losers.

"We get back together to open up for a cartoon, in front of a bunch of people who never heard of us," Mr. Westerberg says. "That's fitting."

If this mini-reunion warms the hearts of diehard Replacement fans, I'm happy for them. I don't count myself among them, for while I appreciate the music the Replacements made, I consider them to be perhaps the most over-hyped band of all time, especially on a local level. Like Paul Wellstone, the legend that has emerged after their demise does not match the reality of what they actually did.

UPDATE-- I should have put an over/under on how long it would take to receive the first e-mail like this one submitted by Jim:

I take it you weren't in the Uptown, Cabooze, Duffy's, or the 7th Street Entry to see it first hand.

Never before, never since, on any level; local or national, have I experienced a rock n roll show like the one The Replacements could put on.

I don't really blame you. You can't hear it in the record if you haven't seen it live. It was a bloodletting release of hostility, anger, angst. It was a comic aside. It was yawn at the world outside the club. It was a nod to 60s and 70s pop, 70s metal, and a thumbing of the nose at anyone and anything of authority.

And for the record, I stopped liking anything they did after 1988 or so.

For the record, no, I do not claim to have seen The Replacements first hand, which makes me unique for someone of my age cohort who grew up in the Twin Cities. It's not unique not to have actually seen them, but it is unique not to have claimed to have seen them back in the "day." Seriously, if as many people who now say they went to see The Replacements at The Entry actually did, the band would have broken through to mainstream success.

I don't mean to diminish Jim's affinity for The Replacements in any way, but I wonder how much of his adulation is based on an objective appraisal of the band and how much is simply fuzzy nostalgia for the simple-minded rebellion of youth. I know, I know. That's what rock and roll is supposed to be all about. Flipping off authority, expressing your frustration, alienation and all that. But was it really The Replacements being that good or was it just that they came along at a particular point in time in their fans' lives where they filled an emotional hole? I don't know if the question can be answered with any authority, but I think it's worth considering.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Our Man In Havana

This Saturday at noon, we will be welcome journalist/author Anthony DePalma to the Northern Alliance Radio Network Mach 1 (11am-1pm) to discuss his book, The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of The New York Times:

Writing about Cuba is not for sissies. Covering this fiercely contested slice of Caribbean real estate has singed the fingers of many, but few have felt the burn as badly as New York Times correspondent Herbert L. Matthews.

Back in the 1950s and '60s, Matthews was the first in a long succession of reporters bedazzled by the wily Fidel Castro. But Matthews enjoyed a singular distinction, as he noted to his editor in 1958, "as [the] inventor of Fidel Castro." Of course, Castro didn't need Matthews to invent him, though it's hard to imagine Castro having achieved a more satisfying result without the eager Timesman.

In December 1956, UPI gullibly trumpeted a government report that Castro had been killed; in fact, the 29-year-old leftist rebel leader was hiding out in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Desperate to jumpstart his revolution -- and his life -- Castro dispatched an emissary to find an A-list messenger.

After a grueling trek, slogging through the near-impenetrable Sierras, Matthews was told to wait in the wet, chilly, dark woods. It was dawn before Castro, ever mindful of stagecraft, descended from the hills -- establishing his standard, media-savvy operating procedure. The result was a heroic portrait that landed on page one of the Times and ran for three days.

Anthony DePalma, another Times reporter, carefully chronicles Matthews's Cuba story and decades-long career. Cuban history aside, The Man Who Invented Fidel is a cautionary tale about the uses and misuses of the media.

Throughout the 1950s and '60s, the erudite and multilingual Matthews enjoyed an unusual hybrid perch as both editorial writer and news reporter. It was a woeful arrangement for which both sides would pay dearly. But Matthews, an elegant writer and dresser (he was partial to fedoras, gloves and spats), had become the paper's golden-boy correspondent. It didn't hurt that he was a favorite of Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the paper's publisher (and grandfather of the current one), or that Sulzberger's wife, Iphigene, was godmother to Matthews's son.

Blurring of the lines between the news and editorial pages, reporters romanticizing leftist leaders, AND a writer receiving special treatment because of his connections? Almost sounds like a certain local newspaper today, doesn't it? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tune in locally on AM1280 The Patriot WWTC to catch the interview with DePalma and all six hours of the NARN (11am-5pm) this Saturday or listen to the internet stream from anywhere in the world.

This Is The Age Of The Expanding Man (Part VIII)

It's 9:12 am and I just ate two hot dogs. They were free of course, which explains why it was mandatory to eat my own alotted dog plus the dog of my admin which she was nice enough to hand over (after much begging and cajoling on my part).

Seems our company is having some kind of rah-rah-football-season-is-here-let's-party-like-it's-1979 kind of deal so we were treated to free hot dogs, a bag of salty snacks and about 5 ounces of 9 am.

Whatever, free food is free food and I was taught growing up that it's a sin to waste.

My performance was reminiscient of Twins games when they sell Dollar Dogs (not the delicious Dome Dogs mind you--they truck the crappiest snout-laden links this side of Austin in for this promo). The lines to get these crappy casings is always 40 people deep, with many people throwing down ten dollar bills and walking away with heaping piles of animal by-product.

For whatever reason, I stand in line and buy two of the aforementioned nasties and always eat both of them. They don't just lack taste, they are actually gross yet the deal is so good!

And free make the deal even better which explains how I could eat two dogs this early in the morning.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

El Diablo!

After listening to today's speech at the United Nations where Hugo Chavez referred to the President of the United States as "the Devil," the burning question of the day has to be:

Will Noam Chomsky get a blurb from Chavez for his next book?

Demonization Separated At Birth?

Kathy Griffin playing washed up actress Sally Weaver on Seinfeld:

"Hi everybody think you're really going to like this 'cos it' about me...All right it's not just about me It's about me and this guy; Jerry Seinfeld, who I like to call; The Devil...Okay, Okay so.. I run into this Jerry on the street and he says to me " Sally , You stink , You should give up acting." Oh! I'm doing Jerry now so you've got imagine I have horns , a tail and hooks instead of feet."


...Hugo Chavez playing world leader pretend at the U.N.?

"Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.

I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday's statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.

An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: 'The Devil's Recipe.'"

I Am Somebody

From the Minnesota Daily, a first hand report from a fledgling journalist stepping onto the lip of the nurturing nest of academia and breathing the cruel, cold air of the real world:

I was in the [University of Minnesota] Athletics Communications office on Friday, squaring away some work-related things when Sid Hartman walked in. I laughed on the inside, as I'd heard about him making the rounds in the Bierman athletics building. While he was in an office, I sat down to talk with a friend of mine and another person who works in the office.

He walked by and got to the door, only to turn and look toward the three of us. "You can do better than that," he said to the other two people in the room while gesturing to me. "This guy's a nothing."

Apparently Sid didn't even know the lad to whom he directed this shot. Which makes this all the funnier.

I suspect Sid was joking, at least to some extent. Anyone familiar with his 60 year+ career in the local sports/entertainment business knows that is Sid's style. On his venerable WCCO radio show, disparagement and ridicule are the standard introductory banter for any guest who comes on. Soucheray has told the tale on-air of his first encounter Sid in the newsroom , which consisted of the elder scribe asking "hey [bleep]-head, how do you spell "music"? And I'm sure the venerable Craig Westover has a few tales to tell of when, believe it or not, he was Sid Hartman's copy boy. (Or was it cabana boy? I forget which.)

To a larger extent, this is how men joke with each other, disparagement humor being a primary form of initiation and validation of male dominated social institutions (at least since waterboarding has been outlawed by the Geneva Convention). And getting called out by Sid like this is really a badge of honor.

But I fear the modern, caring, therapeutic environment of college hasn't sufficiently prepared our young reporter for what happens when he gets a real job. His reaction to the Sid drive-by:

For one of the few times in my life, I was speechless. I didn't catch the whole insult because Hartman mumbles, but the "This guy's a nothing," I heard plain as day.

I sat there, dumbfounded, asking everyone, "Did he just call me a nothing?"

Look at the bright side, he didn't call you [bleep]-head!

Instead of tearing me down, why not build me up? Why not share his extensive knowledge and experiences with the next generations of sports reporters, who hope they can be around as long and be as recognized as him?

... after Friday's brief encounter, my opinion of him has changed. I wouldn't want to be considered the next Sid Hartman or anything like him.

I don't think there's much chance of him becoming the next Sid Hartman. The next Oprah Winfrey, maybe.

Why We Don't Do Celebrity Baby Talk On The NARN

K102's Hines apologizes for on-air remark about baby Zahara:

It's hard to imagine the context in which it would be acceptable or funny for K102's John Hines to call celebrity baby Zahara Jolie Pitt "Chocolate Monkey."

Hines could not have agreed more when he telephoned from vacation Friday to respond to a complaint made to me, and reportedly the Federal Communications Commission, that he did just such a thing a few weeks ago.

"Looking back, knowing now about Jon Voight's [grandchildren], which I didn't have a clue about before, I could see where that would be very offensive," said Hines, who also phoned in to apologize on the air to K102 listeners.

Zahara's name came up when Hines and cohorts were on the air discussing a news story about Voight sending happy birthday wishes to grandson Maddox Jolie Pitt. Voight has not met any of the children of his estranged daughter Angelina Jolie.

Hines & Co. poked fun at Voight's alleged bumbling when pressed to name Jolie's children. "My co-workers were mocking that he didn't even know his grandchildren's names. But one of them sounded like some multi-syllable thing," he said.

They tossed out the names Chaka Khan and Scheherazade trying to get to Zahara.

"I don't know what that child's name was, but I said, 'He could have said Chocolate Monkey for all I know and what would the difference be? He's never met the kids.' This reporter was just putting him on the spot and making a mockery of the fact that he didn't know the kids' names. 'Why should he know the names?' " Hines said.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And He's Floating In A Most Peculiar Way

Space Shuttle Atlantis will not be landing tomorrow as scheduled due to the discovery of a "mysterious object" in orbit just below the spacecraft. Mission controllers have publicly expressed concern that the object may, in fact, be a piece of the Shuttle itself and do not want to risk re-entry without making sure the crew's safety is not compromised.

The reality is that the Shuttle is whole and completely fit for flight and the crew is as safe they've ever been. The only thing delaying the end of STS115 is pure human curiosity.

I got this assurance this afternoon from a buddy of mine who works at NASA. He said the crew will be spending just a little extra time in orbit so they can find out how in the hell the "mysterious object" (here's the official image and the super-high resolution image) got up there.

Does anyone out there know? Anyone?

Worst Week Ever?

From the front page of today's Wall Street Journal comes a story on How Giant Bets on Natural Gas Sank Brash Hedge-Fund Trader (subscription required):

Of all the traders gambling big sums on energy, a 32-year-old Canadian named Brian Hunter made some of the brashest bets and the fastest money.

Last week, he fell hard, proof of how quickly fortunes can reverse in gyrating commodities markets.

Here in this bustling new energy frontier, Mr. Hunter headed the energy desk for a Connecticut hedge fund called Amaranth Advisors. At the end of August, trading natural gas, he was up approximately $2 billion for the year. Then Mr. Hunter lost roughly $5 billion, in about a week.

And you thought you had a bad week at work.

Before you feel too much empathy for Mr. Hunter you should know that:

While energy consumers have seen their bills rise, many traders' paychecks have soared. Mr. Hunter is estimated to have taken home $75 million to $100 million last year.

Bust Up the Party Like It's 419 BC

Victor Davis Hanson, from the terrific A War Like No Other, on the evolution of ancient Greek war-making ability:

A society that could sculpt the Parthenon friezes and easily lift them high up on the architraves of the temple apparently had no means of tearing down a simple enemy wall during a siege.

That stagnation too began to end in the Peloponnesian War, as both sides scrambled to invent new siege techniques at Plataea, weird devices like fire cannons at Delium, and constant naval modifications at Syracuse.

The major sieges left an indelible impression on both attacker and besieged, especially when the belligerents had experimented with siege towers, flamethrowers, and elaborate circumvallation.

Say what you will about the Minneapolis police department. But the ancient Greeks had nothing on them. From the Pioneer Press, a report on siege craft and a recent crackdown on crime in the City of Lakes:

One house party on the 1000 block of Fulton Street in Minneapolis resulted in 70 underage drinking citations and the two renters being arrested. Police secured a search warrant and used battering rams to enter the house after its occupants barricaded themselves inside.

For historical accuracy purposes, I pray this was a toga party.

It's got to be rough for those students getting busted by the police during their first week at college. But the kids probably shouldn't worry too much. They've got at least 109 more arrests to go before the city really starts getting serious.

Separated At Birth?

Comically uncoordinated food additive expert Clark Griswold and...

...comically uncoordinated talk radio host Hugh Hewitt?

Yesterday, listening to Hugh describe how he managed to drop his cell phone in the Charles River while taking off his hat, I began to wonder whether he really can walk and chew gum at the same time. You add this most recent clumsy mishap to his falling through the ceiling while trying to do home repairs, tripping on a curb while jogging and breaking his wrist, and his infamous snowmobile in tree incident (it works on so many levels) and you have to conclude that he's a living, breathing accident waiting to happen. The next hot reality show could be someone following Hugh around with a camera and documenting his daily struggles with the laws of physics. All we need now is the a catchy title...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Confirming The Obvious

Where are you going to turn for the most insightful commentary on the Pope's speech and the reaction to it? I would always look to FIRST THINGS first:

Herewith a potpourri of reflections on the Regensburg lecture by Pope Benedict and reactions to it, intermixed with a bit of my own commentary. As many commentators, Muslim and other, do not know because they manifestly have not read the lecture, it was not chiefly about Islam. It was a considered reflection on the inseparable linkage of faith and reason in the Christian understanding, an incisive critique of Christian thinkers who press for separating faith and reason in the name of "de-Hellenizing" Christianity, and a stirring call for Christians to celebrate the achievements of modernity and secure those achievements by grounding them in theological and philosophical truth.

I have had the opportunity of many extended conversations with Ratzinger-Benedict over the years, and he is a man of great gentleness and deliberation and extremely careful to say what he means. What he said at Regensburg he has said many times before. Contrary to many reports, he has not apologized or retracted his argument. He has indicated sincere regret that many Muslims have reacted to his statement as they have. The response of those who are properly called jihadists is, "If you don't stop saying we're violent, we're going to bomb more churches, kill more nuns and priests, and get the pope too." In short, the reaction has powerfully confirmed the problem to which Benedict called our attention.

Strategery Redux

It's been reported that one of the reasons that the DFL was supporting Keith Ellison so strongly in the 5th District primary is that they expect him to improve turnout at the polls among their urban base who otherwise might not be all that excited by the headliners at the top of the DFL ticket such as Mike Hatch and Amy Klobuchar. While there is some logic to this argument, you have to believe that Ellison, who, as Saint Paul pointed out on the radio show Saturday, is a divisive figure in the mold of Paul Wellstone, being on the ballot may also increase turnout for the GOP, especially among disaffected conservatives who have been threatening to stay home this November over issues like immigration and spending. This could especially be true if the "Party of Ellison" tagline gains momentum outside of the Twin Cities.

Rally 'Round Tha Family

Patriot-Town Hall Radio Rally:

6pm on Sunday, October 15th at the Hopkins Center for the Arts

Tickets will be $12.80 at the door, but will be available for free in advance on the Patriot Website or by calling 651-289-4444

Nationally syndicated radio hosts Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager will moderate

Scheduled guests: Tim Pawlenty, Norm Coleman, Mark Kennedy, Rudy Boschwitz (tentative)

Separated At Birth?

A reader known only by the letter "L" submits the following SAB for your consideration:

Dallas Star who plays a sport looking for the boomstick, Mike Modano and... star who plays a guy looking for his Chapstick, Jon Heder?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Memo To Charlie Weis & The Rest Of The Notre Dame Nation

Proverbs 11:2

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."

Giving up forty-seven on their home turf should bring plenty of wisdom to the Irish.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Don't Know Much Strategery

There have been many reasons cited to explain the Democratic Party's lack of success in recent election cycles. Poor candidates, unclear messages, inability to respond to GOP "attacks", and not understanding or sharing the values of average Americans are just some of the causes they have been cited.

Another issue that seems to once again be rearing its head is the absence of on overall perspective on the political landscape. You might also call it a lack of strategic vision. While Democrats are able to focus like a laser beam on individual races, many of the party faithful appear unable or unwilling to consider the broader implications of the outcomes of these contests.

The effort to oust Joe Liebermann in Connecticut is one recent example. Keith Ellison's victory in the 5th District primary on Tuesday another.

When you step back at the larger political picture, Ellison's victory is not good for the DFL. If 5th District Democrats had selected Erlandson or Junge, they would likely have easily held Sabo's seat with a comfortable margin and the race would have attracted little attention outside the district.

Now, it's being discussed on national conservative talk radio shows (yesterday I heard Bennett, Medved, and Hewitt all spend time on Keith Ellison) and will be the focus of local media attention from now until November. The Minnesota GOP has come up with a "party of Ellison" tag for the DFL and I expect to hear that a lot in the next couple of months.

I still believe that Ellison will win, but if anything emerges from his past that hasn't come out yet or more dubious ties are revealed, it could get interesting. The national attention that the race has attracted should also help Republican Alan Fine raise more money and may force the DFL to invest resources into a contest that they otherwise could have taken for granted.

Reflecting on the primary results on Wednesday, local Democrat blogger Flash from Centristy was able to see the forest for the trees:

But the disappointment I have is not that my AG candidate lost, but the shortsightedness of the 5th district voters. That deserves its own post, which may go up later today. It will be my only post on the race since because of those results, the DFL now has their work cut out for them all the way up the ticket.

When Flash did expand his thoughts about Ellison in a post called It's About the Baggage, he was set upon by his political compatriots, who couldn't believe that he didn't share their excitement about Ellison's victory and their desire to anoint him as the next Wellstone. Be sure to read all the comments to get a flavor of where they're coming from.

A couple of things need to be pointed out to these easily excitable Ellison partisans:

1. I think I can speak for most Republicans when I say that, from a strictly political position, we are indeed happy that Ellison won. As a resident of the 5th District, I gotta admit to having some qualms about Ellison representing me in Congress. But there isn't some vast dezinformatsiya campaign underway to pretend that we like the fact that he won when in reality we're crushed and demoralized by his victory.

2. Again, I think I can safely speak for most Republicans when I say that we are not afraid of Keith Ellison. In fact, like Paul Wellstone before him, we crave having opponents like Keith Ellison. It makes it very easy to differentiate yourself from an Ellison or a Wellstone as opposed to an Erlandson or a Sabo. Guys like Ellison and Wellstone stir up a lot of passion on both sides. This can be used to rally supporters, but also to rally opposition.

Like the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War, the hard left wing of the Democratic Party (which increasingly seems to be the majority) appears more focused on using their resources and energy to win symbolic battles instead of advancing their party's broader strategic objectives. Let's hope they continue to follow that formula for failure.

UPDATE: I almost forgot to point out one of my favorite comments at Centrisity defending Keith Ellison:

His offenses that Republicans play up, as seen by almost all people (who are not, I remind you, followers of politics), are that he has unpaid traffic tickets (as do most of us), he had tax and campaign-finance issues (understood given his wife's health), and he did some dumb things 20 years ago as a college kid.

No, "most of us" do not have unpaid traffic tickets. And "most of us" do not excuse campaign finance violations and a failure to pay taxes because of family health problems. Finally, "most of us" probably did some dumb things as college kids. Like drinking too much, skipping class, and perhaps being a little too free-wheeling in our amorous pursuits. But "most of us" were not writing articles defending leaders of extremist groups with virulently anti-Semitic beliefs.

Classic 'Za

What are you doing for lunch next Tuesday? If you happen to be anywhere near the University of Minnesota, you may want to drop by the Law School and catch a free speech by Victor Davis Hanson on "Why We Must Stay the Course in Iraq":

Featuring one of America's most renowned historians, Victor Davis Hanson. University of Minnesota Law School, Room 25. Free and open to the public, made possible by Tocqueville Center for the Study of Liberty and Free Institutions, Federalist Society, Students for a Conservative Voice, and AM1280 The Patriot.

That's next Tuesday, September 19th from 12:15pm-1:30pm. I also understand that there pizza available for all attendees. Free VDH and free pizza, does it get any better?

Professor Hanson will also be appearing tomorrow at 2pm on NARN Volume II a.k.a. "Mitch & Ed In the Middle" on AM-1280 The Patriot.

On NARN Volume 1, we're trying to line up Tony Snow to come on and discuss the battle over the administration's request for Congressional approval of powers to interrogate and try suspected terrorists, including Tony's personal desire for the extraordinary rendition of Helen Thomas (I jest of course).

You can listen to all six, yes SIX, hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network tomorrow from 11am-5pm live on AM1280 WWTC on the internet as Steven from Brooklyn does:

Just a little shout out from deep within the Democrat Numb Zone (the DNZ). your blog is great, as is your voice (perspective) on The Patriot, which I listen to streamed (the DNZ seems to be allowing it to come through, at least for the moment...), and on those Podcasts (that haven't been posted since the Fair--what's up with that)?

The thing I don't get is, I don't hear any views from you, or the Powerline guys, etc., that strike me as particularly "Right Wing." Did the Center, as I understood it, move to the right, or did the Right move to the center?

John has been slacking on getting the podcasts up at Power Line, but you can listen to the first hour of last Saturday's show, when we interviewed Michele Bachmann and Congressman Pete Hoekstra (Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Detroit Tigers fan) here.

The second hour, when we interviewed Thomas P.M. Barnett, has already been posted and is available for downloading here.

The Company They Keep

Political Affairs magazine gives us the low down on the state of the union to impeach the President. In the House of Representatives, from which impeachment must emanate via a simple majority of 50% +1 vote:

9% of US Congress now supports the impeachment review, including 18% of Democrats, 100% of Independents (1 out of 1), and 0% of Republicans.

Given the rhetoric of some of the noisier members of the loyal opposition, 18% of Democrats supporting impeachment is a paltry sum. Maybe the mainstream of the party is still lying in the weeds on this issue, not wishing to spook the electorate before the show trials can begin. If those publicly supporting impeachment at this stage are not the mainstream, one state is far overachieving in representation in the extremist vanguard.

Yes, it is us. Fully 75% of Minnesota Democratic Congressmen are on the bus for impeaching the President over ... something, anything ... during this time of war:

Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Jackson, Jr., (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. David Wu (D-OR).

Out of the four DFL standard bearers sent to Washington by our fellow citizens, only Collin Peterson up in CD7 is not co-sponsoring the bill to drum up grounds for impeachment. Betty McCollum, Jim Oberstar, and Old Marty Sabo, marching side-by-side toward this brave new world (of President Dick Cheney, I guess) with the likes of socialist Bernie Saunders, communist Barbara Lee, dementianista Cynthia McKinney, and the rest of the Democratic bomb throwers.

Given the mutating environment of Minneapolis liberalism which produced Sabo, I'm not surprised by his stance. I see the MN GOP is trumpeting Keith (nee X) Ellison's recent remarks that he's up for impeaching the Commander-in-Chief as a sign of his unfitness for office. I guess we can take as a silver lining that at least that position is a wash terms of increasing radicalization of that Congressional seat.

But Betty McCollum from blue collar, common sense St. Paul? And Jim Oberstar from the hard working, American values Iron Range? I think the swing voting folks back home might be a bit put off by the unsavory crowd their representatives have fallen in with since they were sent to Washington DC all those years ago. That would be 6 years for McCollum and a staggering 32 years for Oberstar.

They've been gone a long time. Maybe that's why their constituents don't recognize them anymore.

Post script: Regarding that radical Minneapolis 5th District, I see Nick Coleman follows Doug Grow's lead and continues the Star Tribune's policy of pre-emptive, degrading strikes on any who would dare criticize Keith Ellison's record. I especially like this remarkable description of the candidate:

a Democrat, an African-American legislator and a Catholic-Muslim

I'll let the religious scholars (and Kate Parry) work out that doctrinal imponderable and stick to advice I'm more adept at. MN GOP, for your next scream press release:

Ellison Flip Flops - He was for the Crusades before he was against them!

He Rode A Blazing Saddle

Being a former radio personality, I have been asked recently what I think of the new Jason Lewis program on KTLK. So, for the past week I have been listening (sorry Hugh but 1280's signal barely makes it to Bloomington, let alone SE MN) and here are some conclusions.

1. There are ALOT of commercials! I heard Jason say the other day that they are planning on re-jiggering things somewhat and I hope that means less spots because it seemed like every time he had any momentum going it was interrupted by a blaring ad.

2. Do we really need the news at the top AND bottom of the hour? This cuts into program time that could be better utilized. Anyone who wants news can find it in one click of a button so why stick it in the middle of an opinion program?

3. Jason clearly listens to Rush before his program. If you listen to Rush and Jason in the same day it's hard to miss Jason's borrowing of ideas, phrases and topics. Jason, stop listening to Rush!

4. Jason ignores bloggers. Ignoring bloggers is usually a good idea, but he spent a good deal of time discussing Hakim Ellision and not once cited Powerline as the source for much of the material he was repeating. Lame. Wake up Jason, blogs aint goin' nowhere and they aren't the competition.

5. Jason still isn't funny. So why does he continue to try?

6. Overall, I enjoy the show quite a bit. Jason hits hard and pulls no punches with the MN left. A few changes here and there and it will be even better.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Phoning It In

It's over. The jig is up. The code has been broken. The curtain has been pulled back.

Yes, I am sorry to report that the real secret of the Republican success of the last three electoral cycles has finally been uncovered. And it has nothing to do with better candidates, better issues, and better messaging either. Nope, the folks at have finally unraveled the method behind Karl Rove's madness:

He calls voters first.

Armed with this priceless nugget of information they are planning to steal a march on Rove's Republican machine and seize the day as detailed in an e-mail sent yesterday:

To win back Congress, we've got to beat Karl Rove to the punch by reaching voters first,. We're going to call thousands of key voters this weekend from Call for Change house parties nationwide. Join us at a party in the Minneapolis area?

Call for Change is our secret weapon--volunteers like you making 5 million calls to the most critical voters in the most critical districts. Real human contact from people who actually care--it's Karl Rove's worst nightmare. We tested Call for Change in special elections and primaries earlier this year and the results were clear: these calls gave a bigger boost to voter turnout than any volunteer phonebank ever studied!

We're getting together this weekend in Minneapolis (and lots of other places around the country) to call voters in key districts BEFORE Karl Rove gets to them. It's pretty easy to do, and fun in a group. The more of us, the merrier--I hope you can come. Congress is on the line, and it'll take every last one of us to win this fall.

Damnit. We would've gotten away with it again if it hadn't been for those meddling kids.

By the way, "real human contact from people who actually care" is not Karl Rove's worst nightmare. It's a dry turkey sandwich.

As Long As They Know Their Place

A while back, the Star Tribune's Doug Grow wrote a complimentary column about 5th District Republican candidate Alan Fine. Now, the Strib runs lots of puff pieces about candidates (look up just about anything with Rochelle Olson's byline), but rarely are those articles about Republicans. And Grow is definitely a man of the left, so seeing him pen a column that painted a Republican candidate in a positive light was something of a shock to long-time Strib watchers.

We can now report that the honeymoon is officially over:

A few weeks ago, I wrote a glowing column about a fresh, moderate Republican running for the Fifth District congressional seat, which for decades has been owned by DFLers.

I couldn't come up with enough positive adjectives to describe Alan Fine -- business prof, author, swimmer, composer, pianist.


Somewhere between a recital/rally he held at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown a month ago and Keith Ellison's Tuesday night victory in the DFL primary for the Fifth District seat, Fine changed keys. In the process, he lost any claim to moderation, thoughtfulness or originality, which were just a few of the attributes I poured on him.

Pick up the key words there? As long as Fine was one those nice cuddly "moderate" Republicans, Grow could tolerate him. He wouldn't ever dream of voting for him of course, but he could pat him on the head, rub his belly, and toss him a bone every once in a while. But now that Fine has dared to bare his teeth, growl, and bark at his DFL opponent, Grow is treating him like a rabid pit-bull that needs to be put down. He must be terribly disappointed to find out that his lapdog has turned out to have some bite.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Aint No Stopping Us N......

There I was, just moments ago, sitting on my couch, eating a cheese and white bread sandwich, watching some daytime TV, and happy as a clam. Sure, that's the prescription for joy for any working class hero. But today I was happier than usual. For this just wasn't any lunchtime escape from the office. No, this was a day I had some Gulden's Honey Mustard to spread on that slice of American (really, it's a miracle condiment that makes anything taste glorious) and my watching options included something other than 100 Most Shocking Celebrity Oopses or CSPAN coverage of the Senate Committee on Committee's hearing on Committees.

Today was a Twins day game with rare live coverage by the local cable outlet. On the hill was whiz kid Francisco Liriano, fresh from the disabled list and throwing as every bit as good as his 12-3 pre-injury record indicated. 97 MPH fastballs were sinking and sliding, A's hitters were flailing and muttering, and I was certain the 2006 Twins were destined for October immortality.

What team, in a short series, could hope to survive the devastating one-two punch of Santana-Liriano? I was laughing at the prospect! Throw in the rumors of a resurrected Brad Radke and they might as well ship that World Series trophy over right now. I swear I could hear hack local TV producers all over town illegally downloading Queen's "We Are the Champions" for their tribute montages.

Then the third inning started and Liriano comes up arm lame on the first batter and leaves the game in agony.

It was a nice run while it lasted. On the positive side, my sandwich did not let me down.

UPDATE-The Elder Adds: To add insult to injury (literally) the Twins ended up losing the game 1-0.

Put Some Pants On


FROM: The Fraters Libertas Inc. Human Resources Department

TO: All employees

RE: Workplace attire

Fraters Libertas Inc. wants to have a flexible, informal work environment where employees feel productive and comfortable, so we have adopted business casual dress. At the same time, Fraters Libertas Inc. would like to convey a professional image to our readers and other visitors. Every employee's personal appearance is an important part of that image.

It is important that employees dress appropriately for the job and the situation. When meeting with our readers, it may be appropriate to dress more formally.

Recently it has come to our attention that certain clothing styles may be causing some confusion among our employees as to whether they are appropriate for the workplace or not. Therefore we want to be perfectly clear that this is ABSOLUTELY NOT ACCEPTABLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES:

We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pawlenty Give Jeffers The Bum's Rush

It's early, but it's already over:


It's interesting to note that, for all the attention that Jeffers' campaign received, Becky Lourey is much closer (although still far behind) to Mike Hatch on the DFL side than Jeffers is to Governor Pawlenty on the GOP ballot.


UPDATE: Mike Erlandson just threw in the towel and it looks like Keith Ellison is the winner on the DFL side in the Fifth Congressional District. Good news for Republican challenger Alan Fine, although he will still face long odds in November in the dark blue Fifth. Great news for bloggers and amateur radio hosts as Ellison promises to provide us with a wealth of material.

Separated At Birth?

The elderly leader from Star Wars Emperor Palpatine and...

...the elderly dude from The Path to 9/11 who played Dick Cheney?

Seriously, I saw Cheney on Meet The Press last Sunday and he looked like he could be the son of the Dick Cheney from The Path To 9/11. And Penny Johnson Jerald as Condoleezza Rice? Puh-leeze. Penny might have had something goin' back in her day (I understand that JB Doubtless even had a little thang for her), but she ain't no Condi.

Praise The Lord And Pass The Paint

Kevin Ecker takes a break from painting the ceiling to organize a paintball match between local bloggers:

WHO : Blogger and blogger groupies of the right and left

WHAT : Paintball game of two teams, right vs left

WHEN : Saturday, September 16th at 3:00 PM - Right after the NARN radio show
[Technically, that's right after NARN V1 and NARN V2.] plus the Vikings don't play that day! We have a 4 hours time slot to play. In between games we can take a break to get liquids, food, etc.

WHERE : Adventure Zone Paintball in Rosemount.

WHY : To relax and have fun by shooting those with whom you've been competing all year

HOW MUCH : Adventure zone will charge me $35, however, I am recommending you pay $40+ and proceeds will be going to the charity Soldiers' Angels

This is your chance to do blast away (more than just rhetorically) at local bloggers and it's for a good cause. If you're interested drop Kevin a line at:

Just Vote Baby

As of 8:20am this morning, I was the thirtieth person to vote at my friendly neighborhood polling place. It's hard to say with any certainty, but I believe this would be an indicator of higher than normal turnout for a primary election (which is usually pretty abysmal).

If you're wondering where you can fill in the circle (doesn't have quite same ring as "pulling the lever," does it?) for your favorite candidates check out the Minnesota Election Poll Finder. It's fast, it's easy, it's fun (especially when you're trying to blacken a circle with one hand while holding your squirming thirteen-month-old son with the other). Just vote baby.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Prime Time

Tomorrow is primary day here in Minnesota and, even if you there's not a compelling race in your area, you should still turn out and exercise your franchise. For Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, there are primary challengers to the endorsed candidates in the U.S. Senate, Governor, and Attorney General races (the DFL also has two candidates vying for Secretary of State). Some are more serious than others, but all are deserving of your attention.

For Republicans, this means resisting the urge to crossover and instead pulling the lever for Mark Kennedy, Jeff Johnson, and yes Tim Pawlenty. The Sue Jeffers bit was fun while it lasted, but it's now time to get serious, roll up our sleeves, and to get to work reelecting Governor Pawlenty. As Hugh Hewitt ably put it, it's "time for politics not purity." At the risk of sounding like a redundant political hack, let me pull a hoary cliché out of the rhetorical quiver and remind you to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Is Tim Pawlenty a perfect governor? Of course not. Is he a good governor? Absolutely. In fact, while I certainly don't agree with everything that he's done, he's easily the best governor that Minnesota has had during my lifetime.

If you live in Hennepin County, you'll also have a choice of six candidates for County Sheriff. My money's on Rich Stanek .

Of course, the race that will likely get the most attention tomorrow--as well as being the one most difficult to prognosticate--is the DFL free for all in the Fifth Congressional District (my district) to succeed Martin Olav Sabo, who's retiring after a mere twenty-eight years in office (term limits anyone?). While there are seven candidates in the mix (Keith Ellison, Mike Erlandson, Andrew Vincent Favorite, Gregg A. Iverson, Paul Ostrow, Ember Reichgott Junge, and Patrick J. Wiles), only three are considered serious contenders: the DFL endorsed Ellison, the Martin Sabo endorsed Erlandson, and the Up With People endorsed Reichgott Junge.

Two weeks ago, I thought that Junge had the momentum and would be sparked by the anti-Ellison backlash among some Democrats to victory. But her recent downbeat commercials, in which she makes Ingmar Bergman seem like a sunny optimist, and the Star Tribune editorial board's endorsement of Erlandson have given me cause to revise my opinion. I now like Mike to emerge from Tuesday's tumult.

This all assumes that Democratic voters are rational enough to decide that, given his questionable past, his current connections, and his propensity to be less than forthcoming about either area, Keith Ellison is not fit to represent them in Congress. Given that the City of Minneapolis makes up most of the Fifth District, that may not be such a well-founded assumption.