Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Take It Back

The American Prospect offers a hatchet review of Take it Back, the new book by Democratic hatchet men James Carville and Paul Begala.

The review comes from a "more radically leftist than thou" perspective and savages the authors' more mainstream approaches to electoral politics. As such, it's not very enlightening. But I did find this critique right on the mark:

It starts with the book's cover. The two of them are standing there in the photo, very seriously, attempting to look like a couple of gunmen and succeeding only at looking like the two toughest guys in Human Resources.

Picture here.

Monkeys On Endangered Species List?

You can't really call it a clash of civilizations since we are talking about monkeys here, but the infidels at Infinite Monkeys have certainly kicked up a Shiite storm with their recent series of posts daring to depict the Prophet Mohammed:

-All Your Image Are Belong To Us

-The Left Hook is For Infidels Only

-Moo-Hammad: Udderly Ridiculous (my fav)

-Mo-HAM-med: The Porcine Prophet


Reading some of the comments at the posts (assuming they are real), you have to wonder how "infinite" this group of simians will turn out to be.

The Monkey's shrieking of course was precipitated by the real story of Jihad Against Danish Newspaper:

Islam is no laughing matter. The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten is being protected by security guards and several cartoonists have gone into hiding after the newspaper published a series of twelve cartoons (see them all here, halfway the article) about the prophet Muhammad. According to the Islam it is blasphemous to make images of the prophet. Muslim fundamentalists have threatened to bomb the paper's offices and kill the cartoonists.

The newspaper published the cartoons when a Danish author complained that he could find no-one to illustrate his book about Muhammad. Jyllands-Posten wondered whether there were more cases of self-censorship regarding Islam in Denmark and asked twelve illustrators to draw the prophet for them. Carsten Juste, the paper's editor, said the cartoons were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark.

Intolerant Muslims? Who would have thunk it?

So Much Right Wing Rhetoric, So Little Time

The state of the conservative union is strong. At least it is if you measure it's health by the number of nationally prominent speakers in town tonight spreading the good word:

Michael Medved in Hopkins

Jonah Goldberg at the University of Minnesota

Dinesh D'Souza up at St. John's University.

Heck, we'll even throw in anti-political correctness agitator, Camile Paglia at the Edina Barnes & Noble.

And of course, there's a little something called the State of the Union address tonight, by the President of the United Sates.

For the liberals, options for watching their hopes and ideals articulated tonight appear to be slim. The best chance might be CSPAN reruns of the failed Alito filibuster attempt. Failing that, maybe Dirty Jobs, tonight on Discovery. That sounds like a good spot to catch failed judicial filibuster attempts as well.

The Elder Adds: I understand that Atomizer is feeling very conflicted today. He had his heart set on live-blogging the State of the Union like its never been live-blogged before. He was going to live-blog the hell out of it and set a new standard for live-blogging that few could ever hope to emulate. But he's attending tonight's Patriot Forum with Michael Medved and so will miss the SOTU. Oh well, there's always next year. Those of you looking forward to Atomizer's ground-breaking live-blogging performance will just have to settle for Captain Ed.

Eye Plank Ignored

Many on the left are getting excited over the prospect that there may be photos in existence showing President Bush standing next to discredited lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The chills and swooning they are experiencing is best summarized by this Time magazine teaser:

TIME has seen five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed. While TIME's source refused to provide the pictures for publication, they are likely to see the light of day eventually because celebrity tabloids are on the prowl for them. And that has been a fear of the Bush team's for the past several months: that a picture of the President with the admitted felon could become the iconic image of direct presidential involvement in a burgeoning corruption scandal like the shots of President Bill Clinton at White House coffees for campaign contributors in the mid-1990s.

Maybe, maybe not. I doubt it, though Time can dare to dream. And while I don't support the guilt-by-association smear campaign being waged by Time, sometimes fire needs to be fought with fire.

After all, what is truly the more odious social mingling - the President hanging out with a guy accused of purchasing political favors. Or a US Representative hanging out with a murderous dictator bent on world destruction? Yes, here is Rep. Betty McCollum laughing it up with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. Or is it Betty McCollum laughing it up with St. Paul City Councilperson Debbie Montgomery? It's hard to say.

Does this mean McCollum is complicit in facilitating the proliferation of nuclear weapons to rogue states? I doubt it. As we all know, sometimes you just end up full-body embracing a brutal tyrant at a cocktail party. No crime in that.

In related news, Brokeback Mountain scores eight Academy Award nominations.

Fact-Checking: The Kids Are Alright

More on fact-checking in the publishing industry in today's Wall Street Journal (free for all this time):

Even though the scandal has rocked the book business, publishers and literary agents say that employing fact-checkers is impracticable. But all of the textbooks published by Pearson PLC's Pearson Education unit are fact-checked, said spokeswoman Wendy Spiegel. The Pearson unit issues several thousand new textbooks each year, she said. Textbooks are a particularly profitable segment of the book business.

"We fact-check them because we stand behind the integrity of our content," Ms. Spiegel said. "We couldn't afford not to have fact-checkers."

April Hattori, a spokeswoman for McGraw-Hill Education, the textbook arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., said all of its textbooks are fact-checked. "Our goal is to ensure accuracy, she said.

The same goes for many other nonfiction books for kids. "Every book we publish is fact-checked," said E. Russell Primm III, president of Editorial Directions Inc., in Chicago, which produces an estimated 300 titles a year for educational publishers.

Mr. Primm said his eight-year-old company creates series for publishers, hiring the writers, copy editing the books and providing the art. He employs a small army of free-lance fact-checkers. The books involved are relatively short, ranging from 120 words for a preschooler to 60,000 words for a high-school text. "The argument about not having enough time or money to fact-check is ridiculous," Mr. Primm said.

At The Child's World Inc., a Chanhassen, Minn., publisher specializing in preschool through grade three, Mary Berendes, director of production, said that all 200 titles published annually are fact-checked. "We started using fact-checkers three or four years ago because librarians would call and say this or that date is wrong," Ms. Berendes said.

One veteran full-time fact-checker, Peter Garnham, said that some publishers pay by the hour; others pay a flat fee per title. He rarely gets more than $500 to $600 per title. Mr. Garnham said he works for eight publishing houses, mostly vetting children's nonfiction. Though he has offered his services to major New York publishers of books targeting adults, he has so far been rebuffed. "In terms of the cost of publishing, it's not that expensive," Mr. Garnham said.

People often say that you can't put a price on your integrity and reputation. Many in the publishing world apparently have done just that and decided that maintaining them are just not worth the cost.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Running Her Through The Spin Cycle

For some reason when I read this, I can help but think of this. Oh please, oh please...

Don't Know Much Geography

Don e-mails to report that while James from Folsom may know his prisons, his orienteering leaves a bit to be desired:

Great post...

However, James from Folsom has led you down the wrong path. Windsor isn't north of Detroit - it's actually due south. So they are friendly neighbors to the south, not north. But, that might confuse other people who might then confuse Windsor with Mexico. Ahh, the problems with geography. (Just like how Miami is west of Pittsburgh and Reno is west of Los Angeles)

Get the podcast up and running...can't always listen in via the net out here in "too blue" Seattle in "too blue" Washington.

The Importance Of A Kept Gate

To put a new spin on an old yarn...

If the world were going to end tomorrow, the headlines in the MSM would say:

World To End Tomorrow. Reporters and Photojournalists Hardest Hit.

The Truth? We Can't Afford The Truth

The next time you scurry off to pick up the latest gripping memoir recommended by The Dear One (her cult of personality following is rather Kim Jong-Il like), you might want to keep the following in mind. Today's WSJ (subscription required) reports that Publishers Say Fact-Checking Is Too Costly:

Indeed, many members of the publishing industry have rallied around Ms. Talese and Random House, saying that they would have published "A Million Little Pieces" as well and could have been duped just as easily. Unlike journalists, publishers have never seen it as their purview to verify that the information in nonfiction books is true. Editors and publishers say the profit-margins in publishing don't allow for hiring fact-checkers. Instead, they rely on authors to be honest, and on their legal staffs to avoid libels suits. "An author brings a manuscript saying it represents the truth, and that relationship is one of trust," says Ms. Talese.

What was Reagan's line on such relationships? Trust but verify.

There are two things that I find striking here. The first is that the publishing industry would use profit margins as an excuse for not delivering what they promised to customers (in this case a non-fiction book). Boo frickin' hoo. Every company must deal with profit margins. Can you imagine how this would explanation would fly in other industries?

How about Halliburton? Sorry about sending rat milk instead of real milk to the troops in Iraq, but you know we have profit margins to consider.

Or Northwest Airlines? We deeply regret having that engine fall off our airplane, but with the slim profit margins in the airline industry we just can't afford to maintain our aircraft.

The other thing that is surprising is the apparently almost complete lack of fact-checking by publishers. While I would probably not expect a publisher to check every fact in a book, especially a memoir where I understand that some latitude is given, I would have thought that they at least check SOME of the facts. How much time and cost would it take to randomly fact-check? If an author was told before submitting their final manuscript that someone would be performing a random fact-check and that there was an expectation that what the author had written was true (a crazy concept for non-fiction), I have a hunch that most writers would keep it real. In high school, the mere possibility that teachers will check out the references that you cite in term papers is usually enough to ensure compliance.

But now there is a growing chorus both inside and outside the industry calling for publishers to take more steps to validate the authenticity of works that are marketed as nonfiction. "This is a breach of ethics, and who addresses that, whether it's the editor, the agent, or the publisher's legal counsel, is yet to be determined," says Lorraine Shanley, a principal in the industry consulting firm Market Partners International Inc.

Nice to someone addressing the ethics of the situation. Others think that the power and influence of television, especially forces like The Dear One, bear part of the blame:

Other nonfiction authors say the James Frey incident illustrates that publishers in general are devoting far more resources to marketing books than editing them. "There's less editorial process now, dramatically, compared to 25 years ago," says David Halberstam, author of "The Best and the Brightest" and numerous other titles. "All the money goes into marketing to get books onto television." He says that publishers' desire to get authors onto broadcasts like Ms. Winfrey's has even changed the type of book that publishers want. "A fiction writer can't do that, but a memoirist can," he says.

Now that Random House knows that "A Million Little Pieces" is in large part fiction rather than fact, surely they will step up and do the right thing by having nothing to do with further propagating Frey's fabrications, right? Surely you jest:

Last week, the publisher issued a statement saying, "We bear a responsibility for what we publish, and apologize to the reading public for any unintentional confusion surrounding the publication of 'A Million Little Pieces.'" In an interview, Ms. Talese said, "We will continue to print the book as long as there is public demand for it."

Never let the truth get in the way of incremental sales.

The Constant Manure Spreader

Last week, Lileks directed us to Louisville Courier-Journal and their so called "Public Editor" column written by Pam Platt. The subject, her reaction to complaints her paper received regarding their selective, therapeutic editing of Ray Naggin's racially charged comments about restoring New Orleans as "Chocolate City". In summary, the editors willfully changed a direct quote, changed the reality of the situation, in order to make it less offensive. By any "news" standard, an unpardonable sin.

But never underestimate the power of an MSM internal watchdog to pardon the unpardonable. And in Platt's column I recognized the familiar style of the Star Tribune's so called "Reader Representative" Kate Parry. That style, outlined and excerpted for your pleasure:

1) Cop to a lesser charge:

It's not a monumental goof...

We dropped a plate here; we didn't smash the china cabinet.

Though the editor's personal sensibilities are to be admired, this time they did not serve the readers, or the newspaper, or journalism

2) Question and belittle the motives of the readers pointing out the error:

but it's [an error] that fuels suspicions some readers have about the news media in general and this newspaper in particular.

Also, his couching of the mayor's statements made the newspaper a target for familiar broadsides of bias

In trying to address potential sensitivities of some readers by excising the controversial remark, it could be taken by other readers -- and believe me, it was -- that the newspaper was trying to cover or protect this particular public official from his own articulations.

Finally, for those keeping score (and you know you're out there).

3) Mention how hard it is to work at a newspaper and characterize those who made the error as the real heroes of the story.

One more thing about copy editors: They are the mostly unsung heroes and heroines of daily journalism. They spin a lot of important plates in a very short amount of time, and on deadline to boot. Theirs is a difficult job and their efforts go mostly unnoticed when they do the job right, and keep all those plates spinning -- which is most of the time.

So they're not gatekeepers, they're plate spinners. That explains a lot. As does this candid photo of a recent Star Tribune editorial staff meeting.

The similarities between the Louisville and Minneapolis public editors may seem astounding. (And for Parry's latest text book carbon copy, see her column from yesterday.) But less so when you realize that both were plucked from the same insular, conformist journalistic culture that produces the reporters and editors they are supposed to be watch dogging. By the volume of praise they relentlessly heap on their colleagues, it is a culture they admire and very much wish to sustain. So we shouldn't be surprised that the work they produce is more on the level of damage control and public relations than as good faith advocates for the concerns of the readers.

Pod People

The second most frequently asked question about the Northern Alliance Radio Network concerns Podcasting. We get a lot of queries about Podcasting, usually along the lines of "Hey, when are you a-holes gonna set up Podcasts of the show?"

The answer is soon, very soon. The wheels are in motion and we hope to be able to have it set up in a matter of weeks. Archives of past shows will also be available.

Oh, the answer to the first most frequently asked about the NARN? Yes, Saint Paul does look as sexy as he sounds.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tomorrow Today Yesterday on the Northern Alliance Radio Network

It was a terrific experience interviewing the great Victor Davis Hanson yesterday and he was typically insightful and provocative in analyzing our enemies of today through the lens of history. For those who missed it, you have one more chance to hear it on the Northern Alliance Radio Network Replay - tonight starting at 9 PM (central) on AM1280 the Patriot and on the station's web stream.

It is interesting to note that VDH is currently a Senior Fellow at Stanford University. The same institution of higher learning responsible for producing VH1 smirk meister and LA Times columnist Joel Stein.

As you may recall, Stein was responsible for producing the now infamous column where he attempted to bring VH1 level sarcastic petulance to the subject of whether or not the people on the home front should support our soldiers in fighting in Iraq. With hilarious intended consequences:

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.

The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying.

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades. Seriously, the traffic is insufferable.

Ha! The sarcastic, above-it-all tone of this column makes me wonder if Stein was using it to audition for a new VH1 series, I Love the Liberals. You could get Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and for laughs, throw in that that guy who looks like Martin Zellar (or maybe Martin Zellar himself). It could be a big hit, at least in certain sniffing sectors of the urban core.

It is bittersweet to speculate on how it might have all worked out differently, if only Joel Stein as a pimply, pompous undergrad could have taken a class taught by Professor Victor Davis Hanson. For then he might have learned something about war and sacrifice and the honor earned by the men who serve and fight for us, whether we approve of them or not.

But, luckily for Stein (and for us products of public schools), it's never to late to learn. And VDH's new book is a good place to start. Relevant excerpts on supporting the troops from A War Like No Other:

For a writer who is supposedly interested in power rather than tragedy, Thucydides misses no occasion to note how heartbreaking the losses of particular armies were. What seems to capture the historian's attention is not, as is so often claimed, the role of force in interstate relations but the misery of war that is unleashed upon thousands, the subject of this book, who must fight it.

Thucydides sometimes opines that a particular campaign was wise or foolish, but he nearly always adds enough detail and editorializing to convey to us that the soldiers who believed in the cause for which they were dying deserved commemoration in term that matched their sacrifice.

Whereas historians search for messages about the "lessons" of Thucydides embedded within his text, the general reader has no problem in sensing immediately what his history is about precisely from those memorable passages that will never go away, reminding us of the passions and furor that are unleashed on otherwise normal men when they go to war.

Such recognition is not necessarily cause for pacifism, rather, to Thucydides it calls for acceptance that thousands will end up rotten in little know places ...

But between emotion and logic resides the fate of thousands of mostly unknown ... who will surely then and now be asked to settle through violence what words alone cannot. Remember them, for the Peloponnesian War was theirs alone.

And, of course, the same can be said for America's experience in the Iraq war.

A little less time with VH1 and little more with VDH might help Joel Stein and the rest of the non-troop supporting Left understand this.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Gridiron Goldmine?

Mark Yost had a piece in yesterday Wall Street Journal on the economic impact of hosting the Super Bowl that asks Will Detroit Be the Loser?:

Indeed, Detroit natives are watching in amazement as their city, long the poster child for urban decay, has undertaken a massive effort to clean itself up for the 100,000 out-of-town guests expected for Super Bowl XL. Major highways have been repaved, long-abandoned buildings have been demolished, and there's a plan to get the homeless off the streets for Super Bowl weekend, Feb. 3-5 -- all at a cost of about $100 million in public and private money.

The NFL and the Detroit Super Bowl XL Host Committee put the projected payoff at about $300 million, which would make the investment seem reasonable. But that's a fiscal Hail Mary that's never likely to result in a touchdown. Or so say a bevy of sports economists who argue that the economic impact of the Super Bowl is as hyped as the halftime show.

"The NFL says $300 million, but I'd say it's closer to $50 million," says Allen Sanderson, a University of Chicago economist.

What's a couple of hundred million dollars between friends? Another problem with measuring the true economic impact of the Bowl is figuring out how much money actually stays in the local economy.

"The athletes, the chain hotels and restaurants receive money from the Super Bowl and take the money out of the area," notes King Banaian, economics chairman at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. "This reduces the impact on the local economy."

I know that dude.

"They swipe the credit card in Detroit, but that's about all Detroit will see of that money," says Prof. Porter. Furthermore, he argues that higher hotel rates and occupancy have more of an impact on hotel investors in Riyadh than on taxpayers in Detroit.

Let's at least hope that visitors to Detroit will patronize the local working girls. Those of us in Minneapolis know all too well what a blow to civic pride it can be when out of town talent is imported for such pursuits. Yes, I'm looking at you Fred Smoot.

UPDATE--James from Folsom e-mails to report that while the Super Bowl may not help Detroit economically, the sex trade in Windsor, Ontario is primed for a surge in business:

Apparently, nearby Windsor, Ontario, has some of the finest strip clubs in North America, and they are bringing in "out-of-town talent" to supplement their, um, talent. With Windsor just a short drive over the Ambassador Bridge or through the tunnel, I can see a lot of Super Bowl money boosting the economy of our friendly neighbors to the north. Not sure that seems right.

James was also kind enough to send along some links as well.

Super Bowl, meet Super Sin City:

According to the Windsor police, the city could see more than 100,000 visitors over Super Bowl weekend. And no sector is more prepared than its vice peddlers: its casinos, its escort services and, in particular, its renowned strip clubs, collectively known as The Windsor Ballet. It's a bounty of riches that has led newspapers south of the border to dub the town "Sin City."

Windsor hopes Super Bowl can show it's more than just sin:

Prostitution and gambling are legal, naked ladies dance in strip clubs and Cuban cigars are for sale in shops along the main street.

It's hard to dispute that many of the 100,000 Super Bowl fans expected in Detroit next month will visit this border city for some sinful delight.

'Detroit News' Report on Border Town as 'Sin City' Upsets Mayor:

Windsor, Ontario's mayor and downtown business officials are upset with a Detroit News article that pointed out something well-known to many male visitors with an expense account: The Canadian border town permits sex-for-money escort services, sells Cuban cigars, and is home to some acclaimed strip clubs.

The object of their ire is a Jan. 1 report by News business writer Louis Aguilar headlined, "Is Windsor the Super Sin City?/Canadian town's sex trade may lure game revelers to cross border."

"The testosterone-charged throngs of Super Bowl XL may temporarily turn this pleasant border town into Sin City North," Aguilar wrote. "There are things you can get in Windsor that you cannot legally get in Metro Detroit. Cuban cigars. All-nude strip clubs. Sex for money."

In anticipation of Super Bowl crowds, the story reported, Havana Heaven and other retailers are stocking hundreds of extra Cuban cigars.

The News said the all-nude clubs known in the region as the "Windsor Ballet" are also gearing up for a big week: "Clubs like Cheetah's of Windsor say women from around the world have been applying in droves to bare it all and dance during Super Bowl week."

Escort services reported that they received requests for reservations beginning more than a year ago, according to the News.

While street solicitation of prostitution is illegal, sex-for-money arrangements through "escort services" is legal in Windsor.

The article quoted the owner of four all-nude clubs as saying Super Bowl week is "like a dream" for his and similar vice businesses.

Windsor super for sin, U.S. fans told

American sports fans are beginning to talk up the perfect weekend in a foreign city--football, Cuban cigars and sex for money.

Hell, why not just cut to the chase (and save the tunnel ride) and have the Super Bowl in Windsor?

Tomorrow Today on the Northern Alliance Radio Network

Today's local broadcasting on AM1280 the Patriot promises be as stimulating as ever - and I'm not just talking about the Paul Rubin ads for the White Bear Lake Super Store.

Once again, the Northern Alliance has expanded to 4 full hours, now running from 11 AM - 3 PM (central time). The first two hours will feature Chad the Elder, John Hinderaker and myself, discussing (tentatively) the latest developments in the so called "domestic spying" by the Bush administration and updates in the Alito confirmation hearings.

In the noon hour, we're honored to be joined by Victor Davis Hanson, the distinguished Classics professor, National Review columnist, and author. We'll be discussing his latest book, A War Like No Other: How Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War and the lessons history can teach us about modern military and foreign policy challenges.

From 1 - 3 PM, it will be King Banaian, Captain Ed Morrissey, and Mitch Berg.

And don't forget the new lead in broadcast for the Northern Alliance, called the Patriot Insider. this week it is hosted by Craig Westover of the Pioneer Press and Patrick Campion. And it will feature the Doctor Evil of the St. Paul bar and restaurant scene, smoking ban architect and City Council Person Dave Thune.

The complete schedule (all times Central):

9 AM - 11 AM The Patriot Insider
11 AM - 1 PM NARN Volume I
1 PM - 3 PM NARN Volume II

Catch it locally at AM1280 the Patriot and world-wide on the Web stream (link available on the station web site). Don't you dare miss it!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Taking Minnesota Back - Postponed

Air America Minnesota Radio host Wendy Wilde, commenting at the recent Blue State Ball:

"[It's] the opportunity for people feeling overwhelmed by right-wing domination of the media, it almost seems like a takeover of thought in America, to refuse to give in and to get together and celebrate that not only are [liberals] coming back, but we're going to take both Minnesota and the United States back from the extremist right-wingers."

Alas, she should have spent less time worrying about the extremist right wingers and more time worrying about the extremist mold spores.

Breaking news, her show is off the air:

So that misinformation doesn't go around, I want to tell you why I decided to leave the show to look for other opportunities. The studios are located in a mold-infested basement, and management had a construction crew tear out the moldy basement walls and carpet, but that actually threw mold spores into the air and the mold dust is everywhere. Hepa filters helped some but I continue to get sick.

For the first 8 months my office was in the same moldy basement so I was spending 8-9 hours a day in the moldy air, and I have developed an extreme allergic reaction to mold.

Sounds like right-wing allergies to me.

In any regard, we wish Wendy Wilde the best. The airwaves won't be the same without her. Recalling this quote:

And I'm not really White, I'm beige

At the very least, they'll be more colorful.

Tomorrow on the Northern Alliance Radio Network

Tomorrow's local broadcasting on AM1280 the Patriot promises be as stimulating as ever - and I'm not just talking about the Paul Rubin ads for the White Bear Lake Super Store.

Once again, the Northern Alliance has expanded to 4 full hours, now running from 11 AM - 3 PM (central time). The first two hours will feature Chad the Elder, John Hinderaker and myself, discussing (tentatively) the latest developments in the so called "domestic spying" by the Bush administration and updates in the Alito confirmation hearings.

In the noon hour, we're honored to be joined by Victor Davis Hanson, the distinguished Classics professor, National Review columnist, and author. We'll be discussing his latest book, A War Like No Other: How Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War and the lessons history can teach us about modern military and foreign policy challenges.

From 1 - 3 PM, it will be King Banaian, Captain Ed Morrissey, and Mitch Berg.

And don't forget the new lead in broadcast for the Northern Alliance, called the Patriot Insider. this week it is hosted by Craig Westover of the Pioneer Press and Patrick Campion. And it will feature the Doctor Evil of the St. Paul bar and restaurant scene, smoking ban architect and City Council Person Dave Thune.

The complete schedule (all times Central):

9 AM - 11 AM The Patriot Insider
11 AM - 1 PM NARN Volume I
1 PM - 3 PM NARN Volume II

Catch it locally at AM1280 the Patriot and world-wide on the Web stream (link available on the station web site). Don't you dare miss it!

I Might End Up Somewhere In Mexico

Once you turn off the highway, it's easy to lose your bearings. There aren't many landmarks other than the surrounding mountains. The partially washed out roads and scattered buildings are almost indistinguishable. As we bounced along in a Suburban whose shocks had long since ceased to absorb, I finally realized that Alex was using the overhead power lines to guide us to the Casa Hogar Misericordia Orphanage outside Chihuahua, Mexico.

We arrived just before dusk last Thursday, having learned the hard way on our last visit that you don't want to be looking for it after dark. The truck was packed with supplies that we had picked up earlier in the day. Included among them were a few items that you might not find at your typical Wal-Mart in the States:

crates of tomatoes
crates of potatoes
crates of onions
crates of fruit
80lb bags of sugar
large boxes of eggs
rubbing alcohol
anti-diarrhea medicine
a ton of other prescription medications too numerous to list
tooth brushes
coloring books
sticker books
The Chronicles of Narnia series (en Espanol of course)
jump rope
soccer balls
play balls
air pumps
fruit bats

Sorry, got a little carried away there. Suffice it to say that we brought a lot of stuff with us. All told it was around $1400 worth of goods. We also donated $600 for them to use for heating fuel. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

Right now the orphanage is paying close to $500 a month to heat their water and keep the buildings warm. Because of the cost, they try to minimize the heating as much as possible. A recent donation of a fleece blanket for every bed helps them in that regard. But for the foreseeable future, paying the fuel bill will be an on-going challenge.

Another challenge is keeping the clothes clean. With nearly one-hundred kids, ranging in age from five to eighteen, they have a lot of dirty laundry to deal with. And right now the orphanage is down to one working washing machine. It is one of those commercial models that can handle large loads, but, just to keep up, they need to have it running pretty much around the clock. This is an specific area that we may try to assist with in a future effort.

One of the most critical needs facing the proprietors, Fidel Rubio and his wife Marianna, is to get a clinic set up. With close to one-hundred children in close quarters, you can imagine that containing the outbreak of various illnesses is a constant problem. When many of the children arrive at the orphanage, they have been living without adequate food or shelter for months (and years) and suffer from a variety of physical ailments. Fidel would like to devote space in the clinic to nurse these children to health before they join the general population. They would also like to have a place to store and dispense medicine and carry out check-ups when doctors come out to the orphanage.

Construction of the clinic has begun as you can see from this picture:

But they still need windows, flooring, a roof, and electrical work before it can be used. Fidel estimates that the cost to complete the clinic is roughly $5000 (US).

There are a number of areas where the orphanage has made improvements since our last visit. They managed to acquire a newer (although certainly not new) and much more reliable school bus. One of the boys dorms has a new tile floor and roof. And the bathrooms throughout the facility have been redone.

There are more books in the library and study center and they even have a few very old PCs for the kids to work on. As I have mentioned before, there are a number of churches in the U.S. that support the orphanage. For the first time, I noticed a quilt that hangs on the library wall. If you look closely, you can see that it was from the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arvada, Colorado.

But the most impressive thing that you notice when you visit the Casa Hogar Misercorida Orphanage is not physical. It's the faith, spirit, love and commitment to the children displayed by the Rubio's and the staff. You can witness the way that their efforts have paid off by the organization and cleanliness of the facility and the behavior of the kids. The children are playful and usually happy, but also disciplined and well-behaved.

When we pulled up with a truck full of goodies and the kids helped us to unload, I expected them to immediately break out the new balls and dip into the candy. Instead they did exactly what Marianna asked them to do with the supplies. With the exception of a couple of coloring books that she allowed a few of the younger girls to peruse, everything else was carefully stored. Toys, balls, books, cleaning supplies, and medicine went into the office to be sorted and dispersed later and the food went to the kitchen.

All this was done with little or no whining from the kids and without Marianna ever having to raise her voice. I suppose that when you're trying to raise one-hundred children in a confined space, the only way to survive is with organization, routine, and discipline (and a healthy dose of love), but it's still striking to see it for yourself.

Another memorable moment from this visit was when we had the privilege of hearing one of the older children, a girl of fourteen or fifteen, recite a couple of speeches that had won her a top spot in a state forensics competition. I could not comprehend most of what she was saying, but her flawlessly delivered, passionate performance broke through the language barrier and was truly moving. She appears to has a natural talent for the stage and I could imagine her becoming quite an actress some day.

I was told later than one speech dealt with a criminal's pleading in court and the other was a lamentation asking where the hands of God (las manos de Dios) were in a world so full of pain suffering. At the end of the speech, the answer emerges that the hands of God are our hands and it's up to us to see that his work is done in this world. An appropriate message indeed.

There's Gold In Them There Hills

Jay Nordlinger, from National Review, is once again attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. His commentary on the meetings is, as always, insightful and delightful. Here's his latest dispatch on a speech by Angela Merkel:

Ladies and gentlemen, this has been an amazing performance. Again, all of this may sound elementary to you--but it's astounding, in the context of Davos, and of "Old Europe" generally. As a (right-leaning) buddy of mine remarks, Merkel, in her speech, said "freedom" about a hundred times. And she was amazingly self-critical--critical of her own country, critical of countries that have pursued a similar path. She didn't blame America once, for anything. There was no self-pity, no excuse-making, no self-congratulation. No resentment, no whining, no petulance. Just clear, sweet thought.

Watch this lady, and see if she can get creaking European machinery moving, just a bit.

Day One

Day Two

Playing Chicken With Avian Flu

We had a meeting at work today for people who travel internationally to discuss what might happen if there was a widespread outbreak of avian flu. The bottom line is that if you happen to be in another country when the pandemic levee breaks, you could be left high and dry and not be allowed to return to the US. Possibly for an extended length of time. Be sure to throw an pair of underwear in your bag.

When It Comes To Stocks, Trust Your Gut Feeling

No one who read Saint Paul's widely-heralded tale of free burrito fever would be surprised to learn that Chipotle Mexican Grill's IPO sizzles:

The debut of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s stock yesterday was spicier than a three-alarm hot sauce, overshadowing strong openings by two other new issues.

The burrito chain opened at $45 and was at $44 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, double its initial public offering price of $22.

From his stomach to your portfolio. What's for lunch today, Saint Paul?

UPDATE--A man who knows a thing or two about greed and gluttony, The Nihilist In Golf Pants, e-mails to lament missing a chance to climb aboard the burrito bandwagon:

I heard about the IPO on my drive in this morning. I had no idea they were doing an IPO. I'm not saying I would have bought, but I sure wish I had been aware so I could crunch some numbers.

I have talked to dozens of people about Chipotle and I can only think of a handful that don't absolutely love the place. I believe they could sell their burritos for an extra buck or two without losing many customers.

Another missed opportunity.

Or perhaps another Krispy Kreme? Only time and the ravenous appetites of men like Saint Paul and The Nihilist will tell.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nihilist On The Dear One

The Nihilist has just posted the Top 11 Other Ways Oprah has been duped.

It's a hoot.

Must See TV

Today Oprah Winfrey reportedly addressed the James Frey situation, and the overall quality of her programming:

"I feel duped," she said. "I don't know what is true and I don't know what isn't"

On the bright side, with qualifications like that, she may be getting a call from the Star Tribune when they decide they need a few more layers of editors.

To be fair, you have to give credit to Ms. Winfrey for standing up and taking responsibility for her most public of mistakes. That's something you'll never see from the likes of Mary Mapes, Jim Boyd, Kate Parry, etc.

Oprah even gives an apology, sort of:

I gave the impression that the truth does not matter," Ms. Winfrey said. "I made a mistake." To all of the viewers who called and wrote to her telling her she was wrong to allow Mr. Frey to maintain that his book reflected the "essential truth" of his life even though substantial details were falsified, Ms. Winfrey said, "You are absolutely right."

We accept her apology. And as long as she's opening up the veins, maybe a few more overdue apologies will be on their way for other broadcasting frauds:

The Police Chief of New Orleans on babies being raped in the Superdome

Leonardo DiCaprio on global warming

Presidential candidate Al Gore, on being a successful, sensitive, middle-aged professional who really, really loves his wife

Oprah's Book Club Fleece Throw

(Although that last one sounds like an appropriate premium for anyone conned into buying Frey's book based on Oprah's recommendation).

I'll also accept an advance apology for tomorrow's show, summarized on her web site as:

A passionate affair. Two gorgeous men in love. It's the movie everyone is buzzing about.

Ah, James Frey, if you'd only have added a couple of gay cowboys to your story, you'd still be the toast of day time TV.

"Dear One" Now Says She Was Duped

The Dear One, (Oprah Winfrey) now says she was duped by author James Frey and his outrageous lies in the book "A Million Little Pieces".

"I made a mistake," a somber Winfrey said at the opening of the live show, "and I left the impression that the truth does not matter, and I am deeply sorry about that because that is not what I believe."

But what about when Oprah called into Larry King's show a few scant weeks ago to defend Frey. Saint Paul wrote at the time:

A second caller:

James, I love your book and I fully support you. Do you think Oprah will support you, too?

This was a theme throughout the show, anxious speculation on how Oprah would react to the fact that she was conned into personally perpetrating a fraud on the American public. Never one to miss out on a chance for drama, right as the show was ending, the grand dame of emotional infotainment called in:

KING: I'm going to hold the show a little longer because I understand we have Oprah on the phone. Let's see what she has to say. Are you there, my friend?

WINFREY: Hello, Larry, how are you?

KING: Hello, dear one, how are you doing?

After King removed his lips from the studio camera lens, he got around to asking Oprah for her opinion on the matter at hand. Amid the rationalizations, blaming of others, excuses, and general gushing, she assured her audience:

... we support the book because we recognize that there have been thousands and hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been changed by this book.

And, you know, one of the things James says in the book, for all the people who are going through any kind of addiction, is to hold on. And I just wanted to -- you know, I have been calling this number and it's been busy, trying to get through to say to all those people out there who have received hope from reading this book, keep holding on.

So what of that call Oprah? The Chicago Tribune piece says:

Oprah, who had helped the book reach 3.5 million in sales by choosing it for her book club in September, defended Frey during his Jan. 11 appearance on the Larry King Show on CNN. Today, she opened her show by saying, "I regret that phone call."

Amazing. Guy lies. Oprah uncritically supports the lies. Irrefutable evidence is then presented that the lies were, well, lies. Oprah then supports the liar telling the lies in no uncertain terms. Then later, after some presumably taking some heat in focus groups for her complete lack of ethics, she turns around and says "Whoops, I made a mistake."

God Save The Queen

Compared to what's going down with the Liberal Party in Britain, the Jack Abramoff brouhaha seems rather tame. U.K. party hit by sex, lying and alcohol scandals:

Liberal Democrat leadership contender Simon Hughes acknowledged on Thursday he had had homosexual relationships, after twice having denied to newspapers that he was gay.

"I am perfectly willing to say that I have had both homosexual and heterosexual relationships in the past," party president Hughes, 54, told the Sun.

"I hope that does not disqualify me from doing a good job in public life and I propose to carry on doing that with the usual enthusiasm and determination," he told the tabloid.

A little of the ol' usual enthusiasm and determination. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Know wot I mean?

Last weekend, Mark Oaten, another one-time leadership candidate, quit as Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman after revelations of a relationship with a male prostitute.

Hughes' announcement was the third major blow in the space of a month for the party.

Something tells me the writer had to be smirking when scribbling that last line.

Earlier in January, party leader Charles Kennedy resigned after admitting a drinking problem he had previously denied.

At least no one can accuse the Liberal Party of not living up to their name.

Hughes' acknowledgement of his homosexual past came just a week after he had denied being gay to The Independent newspaper.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday, Hughes said he was sorry for his comments to the newspaper.

"I apologize if misled people, I apologize if I unintentionally gave the wrong impression. ...I had relations with women and men so stereotyping and pigeon-holing is not actually that easy," the MP said.

Indeed. It is apparent that pigeon-holing Mr. Hughes is not easy at all. Hail Britannia.

Good News For Growler Monkeys In Duluth

Brewery looks forward to new rule:

It took a change in state law and an amendment to Duluth's city charter, but it appears that Lake Superior Brewing Co. will begin offering its microbrews directly to consumers by the growlerful in a matter of weeks.

A growler is a 64-ounce container filled from a brewery tap, then sealed and sold for off-premises consumption.

Although the Duluth City Council approved an off-sale malt liquor license for Lake Superior Brewing earlier this week, the brewery needs the blessing of the state liquor control board before it may proceed with its growler plans.

Don Hoag, one of Lake Superior Brewing Co.'s owners, hopes selling growlers will increase the profile of his business and encourage more people to tour its production facilities in Duluth's West End/Lincoln Park neighborhood. He said the brewery has no intention to steal business from distributors of its bottled products.

Minnesota has a lot of archiac liquor laws on the books and we should raise a glass whenever one of them is amended to reflect present day realities rather than the immediate post-Prohibition world when many of them were enacted.

Lake Superior Brewing Co. produces a number of quality brews, my favorite being the Special Ale. If you get a chance to swing by the brewery, take a tour, and pick up a growler or two, I'd strongly encourage you to take it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them

A rather revealing photo essay from the March for Life held in San Francisco on Saturday.

Make sure you go all the way to the side-by-side comparisons on page 3. For a moment, forget the logical arguments and morality of the issue. Based on empirical criteria alone, who's side are you on?

First Things First

A coupla weeks back, after I told my priest that I subscribed to First Things, he offered this revealing response:

"Almost all the priests and deacons I know read First Things. Well, at least the ones that I still speak to."

Except When The Deals Are This Good

Is anyone else freaked out by Little Dick Enrico, the pint-sized protege for Second Wind Excerise's ad campaign?

Look at this. That just freaks me out, man.

Here's another. What the hell is going on?

And one more just in case you aren't weirded out yet.

The sight of an infant with a fake mustache and toupee may be a little off-putting, but company President Dick Enrico knows what he's doing. A couple years ago the Wall Street Journal ran an interesting piece on him. He's had quite a go of things in his business life.

Mr. Enrico was never short on ideas, but it took a long string of failures for the 64-year-old entrepreneur to learn how to create a lasting success. Throughout his 46 years as an entrepreneur, he has started about 20 businesses that have folded or been sold at fire-sale prices, including a water-bed retailer, a parking-lot striping service and a franchise that helped people quit smoking.

One business, United Crane, sold vending machines with tiny cranes that picked up stuffed animals. In another, Mr. Enrico sold kits to make backyard-storage units through a company called Handihut. The pitch: "The storage solution to garage pollution." His water-bed stores, called Aqua Knight, promised customers that "a knight on water is a night to remember." All of the companies went under.

This guy has wrecked more businesses than the smoking ban. But like a good American, he kept at it until he came upon the idea of selling used exercise equipment (he later added new equipment as well). This idea has now grown into a company that does $50 million a year in sales. Not bad for a former loser.

But Little Dick still freaks me out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Am I a hipster dufus?

Mpls-St. Paul Magazine has conducted a survey of local hipsters. It's tough to decide which one of these folks you'd least like to have to spend ten minutes with. Pretentiousness? You're soaking in it.

Hanging Tough

Dreckless is the newest kid on the local political blogging block. Its contributors are Jonathan Blake and Corey Miltimore. I first met Corey years ago through SD44 activities and his name should be familiar to state Republicans as he recently completed a stint as Executive Director of the MN GOP.

Meanwhile, the newest member of the MOB (Minnesota Organization of Bloggers) is Dare2sayit. We haven't been able to confirm rumors that Luther Campbell is one of their contributors.

Check out both sites when you get a chance.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Killer Promotion

It seems like only yesterday we were all caught up in the excitement of the Star Tribune's marketing promotion for naming the new baby dolphin at the Minnesota Zoo. We are sad to report, that promotion now sleeps with the fishes.

Over the weekend, little Harley leapt to his death. Investigators are no doubt looking into the cause. Maybe it was an accident, as preliminary reports indicated. But could it have been a suicide? The pressure of being the Star Tribune dolphin must have been immense and we know the sad downward spiral of child stars in this culture. Or could foul play have been involved? Does anyone know the whereabouts of Pioneer Press columnist Craig Westover at the time of death? It seems to me a guy from a competing newspaper using the alias "Captain Fish Sticks" might have an interest in several hundred pounds of free fish meat.

As CNN's Jack Cafferty is fond of saying, who knows? We'll let the authorities figure that one out.

But we do know the need to promote newspaper sales never ceases, even in death. And what better way to market the usefulness of the Star Tribune than by wrapping Harley in copies of the front page from the last 6 months of before he is lowered into the ground? I can see that image in the TV commercials now. Voiceover: "The Star Tribune, serving you from cradle to grave." I think I smell a Clio award.

The Gift Of Life

An article on the dearth of organ donations appeared in the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal:

Despite years of publicity about the virtues of organ donation, the number of people who need transplants has been growing about five times faster than the rate of donations. Most new suggestions for closing this gap are controversial, particularly among professionals who administer or advise the national listing and matching program of the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. But nobody denies that there is a tragic shortage of organs.

In a way, the imbalance between supply and demand reflects a positive development. Before medical advances made more transplants of all kinds an option, many of those on a waiting list today would have died without hope.

So far, however, scientists have not found a way around the basic imperative that organs be taken undamaged, and quickly, from their donors. And only about 15,000 people a year die in circumstances -- such as brain death after a car crash -- that make them suitable donors for life-saving transplants.

Yet that number is not as small as it looks, because each of those people may have organs of use to several recipients -- including two separate kidneys. In any given year, there might even be enough organs to prevent the 6,700 or so waiting-list deaths that occur annually now.

The real problem, experts say, is that many of the 15,000 do not become organ donors. No matter how often Americans tell pollsters that donating an organ is a wonderful thing, less than half the population has signed up -- say, on a driver's license -- to actually do so. When it falls to a family to decide after a loved one's death, only about 50% give permission. By some estimates, 20,000 transplantable organs are buried or cremated each year.

I've never understood why people don't agree to have their organs donated. The idea that your death, as much of a bummer as it might be for you personally, could help prevent the death of another person would seem to make it a no-brainer. It's selfish to hold on to organs that aren't going to do you any good anymore. When you're dead, you're dead and that spleen ain't going to be of much help. Not only is the captain going down with the ship, he's taking the life rafts with him.

In order to encourage more organ donors, one group is offering a practical reason to sign on:

It's statistics like those that have led more than 3,500 people to join a nonprofit organization called LifeSharers. Each has signed a legal document authorizing the donation of his organs and -- this is the significant part -- requesting that they be offered first to another member of LifeSharers if a suitable recipient is on the UNOS waiting list. Kindness aside, each member's goal here is to increase his chances of receiving a transplant, should he ever need one, by giving other people an incentive to sign up in the hope of increasing their chances.

This is called a directed donation, and directed donations are not popular at UNOS, where the watchword is "fairness." Somebody's willingness to donate is not supposed to count when scarce organs are rationed out.

The principle of equality among sick people is morally attractive. An even greater good would be saving more lives with more transplants. Dave Undis, who heads LifeSharers, may sound harsh when he says that the current system "seems to be more interested in the equal distribution of death than in preventing deaths." Yet his incentive-based organization is at least offering a strategy for boosting the organ-donation rate -- at a time when appeals to disinterested altruism are no longer enough.

I have mixed feelings on this approach. On the one hand, it does offer an incentive for people who may have hesitated about agreeing to be an organ donor. And the more organs available, the better. But it does seem to be a little cold-blooded, especially if the potential recipient just happens not be a member of the particular pool.

But, no matter what you feelings about groups like LifeSharers are, the bottom line is that there is no good reason why everyone should not be an organ donor. If you need to put a face on the need, look no further than Captain Ed's First Mate. Sign up to be an organ donor. Today.

UPDATE--David J. Undis, the Executive Director of LifeSharers, e-mails to share his perspective on the issue:

Thanks for mentioning LifeSharers on Fraters Libertas today.

You said LifeSharers "does seem to be a little cold-blooded". Perhaps. But what's really cold-blooded is burying or cremating your organs when your only other choice is donate them to save lives.

It boggles the mind (my mind, anyway) to think that someone who won't donate his own organs deserves to get an organ that a registered organ donor needs. But about 60% of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die. So LifeSharers is making the organ allocation system fairer as we expand the number of organs available. Giving an organ to a non-donor when there's a donor who needs it is like giving the Powerball jackpot to someone who didn't buy a ticket.

I hope you'll decide to join LifeSharers. It's free. It could save your life. You can sign up at http://www.lifesharers.org/enroll.asp

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tomorrow Today on the Northern Alliance Radio Network

Please tune in to the new, improved, and expanded Northern Alliance Radio Network. Remember, it now starts an hour earlier than before, 11 AM yet still lasts until 3PM. A full 33% more radio goodness.

Taking the helm for the first two hours will be John Hinderaker of Power Line and myself. Among other topics, we'll be discussing the week in Democratic rhetoric. How low did they go? We'll find out and take your nadir submissions. And we'll take a look at modern gatekeeping techniques, as exhibited this past week by the Star Tribune, the New York Times, and CNN.

At noon, we'll be joined by Peter Schweizer, author of Do as I Say, Not as I Do: A Profile in Liberal Hypocrisy. It focuses on Al Franken, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, and their ilk and analyzes how their social engineering prescriptions for the rest of us match up with their own behavior. (Hint: not well.) Following that, on NARN Volume II from 1 - 3PM, Mitch Berg, Captain Ed Morrissey, and King Banaian serving up their patented blend of wit and wisdom (which I understand is being copied with impunity in boiler rooms and warehouses all over China).

Once again it all starts today at 11 AM Central, locally at AM1280 the Patriot and around the world on the Web stream (access from the station Web site).

Post Script: Mitch reminds me to mention the new show immediately preceding NARN. At 9 AM Central, The Patriot Insider. It's hosted by Mark Yost of the Pioneer Press. Each week you can tune in and find out why reporter Chuck Laszewski is embarrassed to call him a colleague. Also featured is Craig Westover of the Pioneer Press ( and his own blog), whom the Gorton's Fisherman is embarrassed to call a colleague. Also hosting is savvy radio veteran Patrick Campion, Patriot operations manager (and a blogger himself) who is no doubt embarrassed to call radio neophytes Yost and Westover colleagues. It's red faced radio all around.

The full schedule for today:

Patriot Insider: 9 - 11 AM
NARN Volume I: 11AM - 1 PM
NARN Volume II: 1PM - 3 PM

Don't you dare miss it!

That's How We Skate

Later this morning, I'll be heading out to play in the inaugural U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, being held on Lake Calhoun. Based on the number of former Gophers and other guys who played D1 college puck on the team rosters (you'll recognize quite a few names), the chances of our squad bringing home the coveted Golden Shovel are probably not good. But that's not why we play game. It's all about having fun playing the greatest sport in the world (sorry Hugh, cribbage is not a sport). Did I mention that there's a Summit beer tent as well? It really doesn't get much better.

If you happen to wander down to the tourney and see a team sporting some of the ugliest yellow sweaters in the history of hockey, that's us. I'd tell you to look for the guy with the missing tooth, but that probably wouldn't narrow the field much.

As our beloved governor might say, "Drop the fu...puck."

Friday, January 20, 2006


A complete write up on the trip to the orphanage and more pics when time allows.

Tomorrow on the Northern Alliance Radio Network

Please tune in to the new, improved, and expanded Northern Alliance Radio Network tomorrow. Remember, it now starts an hour earlier than before, 11 AM yet still lasts until 3PM. A full 33% more radio goodness.

Taking the helm for the first two hours will be John Hinderaker of Power Line and myself. Among other topics, we'll be discussing the week in Democratic rhetoric. How low did they go? We'll find out and take your nadir submissions. And we'll take a look at modern gatekeeping techniques, as exhibited this past week by the Star Tribune, the New York Times, and CNN.

At noon, we'll be joined by Peter Schweizer, author of Do as I Say, Not as I Do: A Profile in Liberal Hypocrisy. It focuses on Al Franken, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, and their ilk and analyzes how their social engineering prescriptions for the rest of us match up with their own behavior. (Hint: not well.)

Following that, on NARN Volume II from 1 - 3PM, Mitch Berg, Captain Ed Morrissey, and King Banaian serving up their patented blend of wit and wisdom (which I understand is being copied with impunity in boiler rooms and warehouses all over China).

Once again it all starts tomorrow at 11 AM Central, locally at AM1280 the Patriot and around the world on the Web stream (access from the station Web site).

Post Script: Mitch reminds me to mention the new show immediately preceding NARN. At 9 AM Central, The Patriot Insider. It's hosted by Mark Yost of the Pioneer Press. Each week you can tune in and find out why reporter Chuck Laszewski is embarrassed to call him a colleague. Also featured is Craig Westover of the Pioneer Press ( and his own blog), whom the Gorton's Fisherman is embarrassed to call a colleague. Also hosting is savvy radio veteran Patrick Campion, Patriot operations manager (and a blogger himself) who is no doubt embarrassed to call radio neophytes Yost and Westover colleagues. It's red faced radio all around.

The full schedule for tomorrow:

Patriot Insider: 9 - 11 AM
NARN Volume I: 11AM - 1 PM
NARN Volume II: 1PM - 3 PM

Don't you dare miss it!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

With a Name Like That, It Has to Be Good

Don't miss the latest brilliant red carpet reporting from Katie, at Yucky Salad with Bones. It's entitled Golden Shower for Brokeback Mountain.

It's scary to think how famous and widely read this girl could be, if only she had a better sense for writing titles that didn't repulse. Remember, advertising is the Wonder in Wonder Bread. And Yucky Bread with Mold hasn't been popular since the Middle Ages.

More Bang For The Buck

We're heading to the orphanage later today to make our drop. And we're going to be picking up the goodies at Wal-Mart. Yes, Wal-Mart's tentacles of evil have extended to Chihuahua (in fact, I believe there are at least two of them here). The funny thing is that most of the people I know here don't really seem to mind having access to Wal-Mart's huge selection of goods at bargain prices. Poor peasants don't even realize how they're being repressed.
Bow Down Before the One Who Brings the Mail on Time

During my lunchtime jaunt through the streets of Stillwater today, I do believe I had a divine vision. Or a vision of reliable parcel shipment services. It's hard to say which, but it looked exactly like this.

Suggested company tagline: Embracing the First Amendment and ignoring the Second Commandment since 1984.

If nothing else, that bold commercial statement gives me the confidence to go ahead and purchase that new, acronym branded semi-truck trailer for the latest Fraters Libertas business venture: Allied Lubricants Linguine And Handlebars. As sala'amu alaikum!
that's why I say hey man nice shot

This has to be the most efficient hockey fight I've ever seen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Look Folks, No Gatekeepers

If you're looking for an example of the danger posed by renegade bloggers operating without editors and gatekeepers, you need look no further than the man oft regarded as the father grandfather senile great-uncle of the 'sphere, Hugh Hewitt. Consider the misquote attributed to me that currently is posted on the upper left hand corner of his site.

My actual comment was:

"Hugh Hewitt is the Jack Abramoff of talk radio and the blogosphere."

Where are the gatekeepers, editors, and fact checkers (not to mention spell checkers) when you need them? It's also interesting to note that during Hugh's recent appearance on CNN's "On The Story" (I liked the use of the web cam for Hugh-in his case the blurrier the better), he stressed the fact that bloggers ALWAYS provide a link to the source they are citing. Yet, in the case of this erroneous quote, no such link is provided.

The next time Hugh prepares to launch one of his tirades against the MSM, he might just want to pause and take a good hard look in the mirror (assuming it doesn't crack). Physician heal thyself.

Don't Leave Home Without It

I want to weigh in with a hearty "Amen" to JB's post on BYOB when flying. One of the key lessons learned from Monday's travel nightmare (beside the obvious one that Continental Airlines is run by lying pig-dog wreckers) is to be self-sufficient when it comes to your drinking supply. Maintaining a SAR (Strategic Alcohol Reserve) at all times is critical, especially when on the road when you might run into a situation where the airport bars close at 9:30pm (thanks again Houston) or you get to your hotel too late to procure your pre-sleep nightcap. JB gave me a nice pocket flask for Christmas and I considered filling it with a little single malt before this most recent trip. My decision not to take pursue such a prudent course of action has haunted me ever since.

UPDATE--Nick e-mails to report that flasks do not pose a threat to Homeland Security:

I flew out to Vegas last year from St. Paul. When I was going through
security they spotted a flask shaped object in my inner jacket pocket. I
confirmed their identification of my stockpile and didn't have to deal with
it at all beyond that. Point being, at least on the ground end there's no
problem slipping a flask onboard a NWA flight. They didn't even demand that
I take a swig to prove its contents.

When All My Dime Dancing Is Through

In the Elder's travel travails yesterday he probably missed an article in the WSJ about how airline perks are drying up. Important perks. Booze, for example.

Starting Feb. 1, Northwest Airlines--the last remaining US carrier to give out free booze in international coach class--will phase in a $5 per drink fee on Asian-Pacific flights.

But what's that you say, you have enough miles or prestige to ride in bidnez class where the beer flows like wine?

Also, some frequent travelers say they have noticed that the drink cart rolls through less often, and the pours are less generous, even on flights and parts of the plane where drinks are still free. "They generally wait for you to ring if you want a refill, even after meal when you're in business class," says David Balcon, a 55 year old documentary filmmaker from Toronto.

So, given that those of us who can handle our drink and like to throw back a few on boring flights are now being denied one of our most cherished constitutional rights, what are we to do?

One fine American, Richard Brklachich from Orange County CA, brings his own half liter bottle of vodka onto flights in his briefcase because he doesn't like the airline's selections. He pours the liqour when the flight attendants aren't watching and sometimes shares with his seatmates. "I haven't had any trouble with flight attendants. I keep it to myself and they don't bother me."

I see no other recourse to enjoy a little sauce in the air without having the approval of our nannies in the sky.
The Gathering Gloom

If the concept of a future with a nuclear armed Iran hasn't gotten you overly concerned yet, let me refer you to the opinions of three of the finest historians and foreign policy analysts in the business. All serious men, using the lessons of history to look forward as if they were looking back:

Wretchard from the Belmont Club, reminding us of what we missed along the way:

... the mixture of smug amusement with which the Western intellectual elite watched the growing number of Wahabist mosques, the photography of landmarks, the application for flying lessons and the attendance at courses of nuclear physics by students from older worlds. They laughed, for nothing could threaten the dominion of Western Man, supreme in his socialized state at the End of History. Even after September 11 the only question for many was how soon history would return to normal after a temporary inconvenience. Little did they imagine that the expansion of the European Union, the Kyoto Agreements and Reproductive Rights -- all the preoccupations of their unshakable world -- might be the least of humanity's concerns in the coming years.

Victor Davis Hanson, with the grim assessment of where we find ourselves today:

When a supposedly unhinged Mr. Ahmadinejad threatens the destruction of Israel and then summarily proceeds to violate international protocols aimed at monitoring Iran's nuclear industry, we all take note. Any country that burns off some of its natural gas at the wellhead while claiming that it needs nuclear power for domestic energy is simply lying. Terrorism, vast petroleum reserves, nuclear weapons, and boasts of wiping neighboring nations off the map are a bad combination.

Finally, the public must be warned that dealing with a nuclear Iran is not a matter of a good versus a bad choice, but between a very bad one now and something far, far worse to come.

Niall Ferguson, on that far, far worse choice to come and where we might be 5 years hence, if we follow the present course of wishful thinking and appeasement:

The devastating nuclear exchange of August 2007 represented not only the failure of diplomacy, it marked the end of the oil age. Some even said it marked the twilight of the West. Certainly, that was one way of interpreting the subsequent spread of the conflict as Iraq's Shi'ite population overran the remaining American bases in their country and the Chinese threatened to intervene on the side of Teheran.

Yet the historian is bound to ask whether or not the true significance of the 2007-2011 war was to vindicate the Bush administration's original principle of pre-emption. For, if that principle had been adhered to in 2006, Iran's nuclear bid might have been thwarted at minimal cost. And the Great Gulf War might never have happened.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Made it to Chihuahua this afternoon safely but hardly soundly. At least I've got a couple days free of air travel now. It's going to take a lot of cerveza (and no doubt years of therapy) to make up for yesterday's hell.
Where Have All the Gatekeepers Gone?

Gone for proofreaders, one by one. At least according to reader George from Excelsior. He comments on yesterday's post about the Star Tribune's Gearin/Gaertner follies:

As a former journalist (1961-1968), I can't figure out where all of the editors have gone. That is ... editors who could edit ... as opposed to those who merely are proofreaders. I remember editors who had a fundamental understanding of reporters' jobs, because they had been in those shoes, and would question whatever in an article didn't ring true. In other words, they had a nose for anomaly. And it certainly stands out as an anomaly that a judge would risk prejudicing a case by making contact with a victim's family. But you need to know that might be out of the ordinary.

It's not as if they didn't have enough gatekeepers. I imagine the editing process is about the same today, albeit the technology has advanced from pastepots and No. 1 pencils to advanced computer systems. That article would have followed this path ? to an assistant city editor (at least), a news editor who assigned space and headline, copy editor who was responsible for style and content and a copy chief to review the copy editor's work.

When I was an ink-stained wretch, we had a copy chief who was an astute investor. With his knowledge of the market, every now and then, he'd catch an error, just because of his special understanding.

An editor like that saved my buns when I was working at a small newspaper part-time during my senior year of college. I had gotten the pallbearers transposed in a pair of obituaries. An editor of long standing in the community--hell, lets be honest, she was a proofreader--knew enough about the locals to spot my error, because she recognized some of the names and knew who likely would have been associated with whom.

I suspect one problem is editors who are not grounded in beat reporting. That may explain why nobody in the editorial chain had enough of a nose for anomaly to sneeze when he or she read what the judge was alleged to have done. Every newspaper used to have reporters on police and/or courthouse beats; I don't think that's the case any longer.

If you want an example of what good can come from turning an experienced city-hall reporter into a columnist, read John Kass in the Chicago Triune. (Registration required but worth the trouble.) Kass knows city hall inside and out and does a great job of following corruption and Mafia issues in the city. There's nobody local to compare with him, let alone measure up. He also writes about the White Sox and other issues, but really comes into his own when he's tracking corruption to the mayor's office, whom he often calls "Little Big Man."

Fallen Fraters

With the Elder lost somewhere between Houston and the Bermuda Triangle I had hoped to take up some of the blogging slack with some witty entries of my own. Unfortunately, a mysterious pinched nerve in my arm has left my right hand unusable since Sunday morning (though I do believe my wit has survived intact). I'm typing this with my almost equally useless left hand and, occasionally, my nose.

If I were conspiracy minded, I'd think someone was trying to silence us.

Yeah, We Definitely Have A Problem

8:22am and I'm STILL in Houston. After spending a night in a seedy Ramada Inn near the airport, I will be flying to Chihuahua at 9:30am this morning. Allegedly.

Last night, our flight was cancelled shortly after 11pm. By the time we got done running Continental's "customer service" gauntlet, were able to wrangle hotel stays out of them (barely-more on this later), and were actually in our rooms it was after 1am. I'm wearing the same clothes that I spent 22 hours in yesterday and other than a shower, my personal hygiene routine missed several critical steps today (brushing my teeth, applying deodorant, etc.). Why? 'Cause we couldn't get our bags back last night. I'm just lucky that I stuck an extra pair of boxers in my carry-on backpack.

We don't like to engage in the use of gratuitous profanity here as we strive to maintain our family friendly image, but the only words that even begin to describe what occurred yesterday is A FUCKING NIGHTMARE. A FM of biblical proportions.

More later as time and sanity allows.
The More Things Change ...

Al Gore, yesterday, endorsing pointed (and anonymous) political commentary by the average citizen:

The intricate and carefully balanced constitutional system that is now in such danger was created with the full and widespread participation of the population as a whole. The Federalist Papers were, back in the day, widely-read newspaper essays, and they represented only one of twenty-four series of essays that crowded the vibrant marketplace of ideas in which farmers and shopkeepers recapitulated the debates that played out so fruitfully in Philadelphia.

Al Gore, in 2004, condemning pointed political commentary by the average citizen:

"The administration works closely with a network of rapid-responders, a group of digital brown shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors and publishers and advertisers and are quick to a accuse them of undermining support for our troops."

So which is it, vibrant and fruitful or fascist and destructive? I suppose that depends on (cheap shot alert) what the meaning of the word "is" is.

I know, the guy took the initiative in creating the medium. I should know my place and just shut up. (Cue the chill wind sound effect)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Blame It On The Rain

It's almost 10pm and I'm still sitting stewing at the Houston airport. Our flight was supposed to leave at 9:10pm, but thunderstorms have pretty much screwed up all flights coming or going here. I've been up since 3am and in Houston since 11am. But hey, that EIGHT DOLLAR food voucher from Continental really came in hand. Yeah, a crappy turkey sandwedge really makes up for WASTING MY WHOLE FRICKIN' DAY! Thanks guys. The Elder's getting upset!!!

This Week in Gate Keeping

We begin with the ceremonial reading of the gospel of media according to U of MN professor Larry Jacobs:

Along with partisanship, credibility is another problem for blogs. There's nothing in the First Amendment about the need for an editor. Bloggers can write anything they want; they can spout fact or fiction. Jacobs advises readers to beware: "There's no gatekeeping here."

And now the latest demonstration in modern gate keeping techniques at the Star Tribune (from last week):

Star Tribune mistake prompts call for mistrial


No, this mistake wasn't in regard to the trial of Isaac Asimov for murdering the credibility of the Super Quiz. This was a far more serious situation. The trial of the alleged murderer of St. Paul police officer Jerry Vick has begun and the Star Tribune published on its Web site a report that the presiding judge was seen comforting the wife of the victim - a rather serious accusation of judicial misconduct.

But, it never happened. Despite layers of editorial review, this fiction was published by the Star Tribune. How can such a thing happen? According to the offending reporter:

Paul Gustafson told the Pioneer Press that during a break in the trial Wednesday, he dictated information to another Star Tribune employee for posting online. During that process, he said, his description of [Ramsey County District Attorney Susan Gaertner] approaching the widow mistakenly got reported as Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin taking that action.

Gearin, Gaertner;
tomato, to-mah-to;
judicial misconduct, entirely appropriate consoling by the DA;
let's call the whole thing off!

Interestingly, the reporter Gustafson blames "another Star Tribune employee" for the error. But where were the editors in this process? According to the Star Tribune's internal investigation:

The error occurred as the online report was being dictated from a reporter to an editor and there was a misunderstanding involving the names Gaertner and Gearin.

Hey, thanks for that oversight, Ben Bradlee.

As you may recall, during a previous installment of Poor Gate Keeping Theater, the publishing of falsehoods on the front page of the Star Tribune were blamed on the editors not being woken up in time to work their magic. All things considered, I guess sometimes it still pays to let sleeping dogs lie.

Manic Monday

Oh, that flight that was supposed to leave Minneapolis at 5:40am this morning? Well, the first officer wasn't feeling so hot, so he called in sick. Which meant that the flight was delayed by almost two hours. Which meant that we missed our connecting flight to Chihuahua in Houston. Which means that we are faced with a TEN HOUR layover in Houston, since the next available flight to Chihuahua leaves at 9:10pm tonight. Which means that I'm sitting in a Barnes and Noble at the Woodlands Mall outside of Houston trying to kill a little lot of time. Which means that I'm just a tad bit cranky, since I managed to catch less than two hours of sleep last night. Which means that the EIGHT DOLLAR food voucher and free in-flight drink coupon provided by Continental for my troubles hasn't exactly swung around my feelings toward the airline.

And unless it turns out the first officer had Dengue Fever, I don't see that attitude changing anytime soon.

How's your Monday going?

Ay Chihuahua!

It's 12:23am and I just got home from hockey (Skating ban? What skating ban?). I'm in the process of downing a couple, two three beers as part of my post-game cool down. Tomorrow morning I leave for Chihuahua. At 5:40am. That's not when I have to get up. And it's not what time I have to be at the airport. That's when my flight actually departs. Which means I'm probably looking at a solid two, two and a half hours of sleep. If I'm lucky.

Great news on the orphanage fundraiser. We had hoped to collect $1000 of donations to use to purchase medical supplies and various other items. But, with money raised here and money collected at work, we have over $2000. Thanks to all those who chipped in, especially to a couple of very generous donors. Rest assured that your money will be put to very good use.

It looks like I'll be able to get out to the orphanage on either Wednesday or Thursday this week. I'll have a complete report with plenty of pictures after that.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Four Hour Party People

The upheavals in the local talk radio market schedule are by no means over. The latest news that still has tongues wagging is not the demise of the Chris Kroc show (didn't see that one coming), but rather last Saturday's announcement that the Northern Alliance Radio Network is expanding to four (yes four!) hours. Starting this Saturday we'll be kicking off the festivities at 11am (set your alarm clock Atomizer). As Mitch Berg has mentioned earlier, this means that you get to enjoy 33% more NARN for the same low price. You asked for more NARN and now we're giving it to you. Well you might not have, but you're getting it anyway.

Tomorrow's show will include at interview with Stephen Hayes at 12pm. You may have heard of Mr. Hayes. He wrote a book called The Connection : How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America that was published in 2004. More recently, his blockbuster article in The Weekly Standard on captured documents providing evidence of Saddam's Terror Training Camps has landed him on Fox's Hannity and Colmes and was the focus of the lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal:

It is almost an article of religious faith among opponents of the Iraq War that Iraq became a terrorist destination only after the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein. But what if that's false, and documents from Saddam's own regime show that his government trained thousands of Islamic terrorists at camps inside Iraq before the war?

Sounds like news to us, and that's exactly what is reported this week by Stephen Hayes in The Weekly Standard magazine. Yet the rest of the press has ignored the story, and for that matter the Bush Administration has also been dumb. The explanation for the latter may be that Mr. Hayes also scores the Administration for failing to do more to translate and analyze the trove of documents it's collected from the Saddam era.

The Northern Alliance Radio Network can be heard on Saturdays from 11am-3pm central time on AM1280 The Patriot. Listen live on the net here.

Chihuahua Orphanage: Still Time To Donate

We're very close to our goal of raising $1000 for the trip to Chihuahua next week. If you would like to make a donation you can do so via PayPal or drop me an e-mail if you want to send a check:

Here are some excerpts from a 2003 story on the orphanage by Gary Perez that originally appeared in The Pueblo Chieftain:

At a glance, the children appear to be like most of their peers.

They love to sing and dance. They enjoy drawing and jumping rope. They love eating potato chips and candy bars, fresh fruit and ice cream. Their favorite subjects in school are math and writing. And some of them aspire to be teachers and others doctors.

As much as they appear to be like their peers, though, the children who live at the Casa Hogar de la Misericordia orphanage have very different lives than their friends.

A discarded shoe sits on the playground at Casa Hogar orphanage. The orphanage works to feed and cloth about 100 children with meager means.

Despite the picturesque backdrop of Mexico's central mountains, the drive from the city of Chihuahua to Cuidad Aldama where Casa Hogar is located is not pretty.

The stench of the nearby sewer plant is almost unbearable, especially on a hot, muggy day.

From the highway in Aldama, there is no indication that an orphanage exists there.

Without knowledge of it, the orphanage would be impossible to find. There are no buildings visible from the busy highway lined with a variety of food stands, fish restaurants and several gas stations.

There are no road signs to show that the dirt cutoff leading to the orphanage is a road. Many residents of Chihuahua don't even know the orphanage exists.

But those who frequent Casa Hogar know of the small, unkept, bumpy, dirt road off of the highway that leads to the complex that more than 100 children call "mi casa" - my home.


Orphanage director Fidel Rubio Alvarado and his wife, Mariana, are doing their best to help these children who have been abandoned and abused, orphaned or have run away from their homes.

Alvarado doesn't have much in the way of luxury or material items to offer the children, but he does tout that Casa Hogar provides a safe environment in which the children may grow up.

He receives only a little money from the Mexican government monthly (400 pesos or $40), so Alvarado has used much of his family's income as well as the generosity of others - including several people from the United States - to make ends meet.


When Fidel Rubio Alvarado stands on his front porch and glances across at the Casa Hogar de la Misericordia, he realizes his dream has come true.

"My dream always has been to take kids from the trash and offer them a safe place to live," Rubio said in his native Spanish. "When I look out and see these kids, I know my dream has come true."

It was the goal of providing poverty-stricken children living on the streets of Chihuahua, Mexico, with a safe place to live that prompted Rubio to open Casa Hogar orphanage nearly 12 years ago.

A troubled youth himself, Rubio said he felt that after God offered him a second, third and fourth chance at life, he decided to dedicate himself to helping others receive those same opportunities.

Twelve years ago, while serving as a missionary in the mountain communities near Chihuahua, Rubio got the inspiration to start an orphanage.

"There were two kids from Chihuahua that came to my church who had been living on the streets and they were scared," he said. "They didn't have any food or any clothing."

At the time, Rubio said he and his wife, Mariana, felt compelled to help them.

"We really didn't quite understand what God had in store for us," he said. "But we knew these kids were in crisis."

Thanks to Bryan Kelsen, the photographer who accompanied Perez on the visit, for making the story available. You see pictures that Bryan took at the orphanage

I can report that things have improved at the orphanage since their 2003 visit. A new septic system was installed (thanks to a donation from the company I work for), a greenhouse has been built to improve the variety of food and make the orphanage more sustainable, and a program has been set up to teach the older boys carpentry skills (thanks to a donation of tools from a US church). But the needs are still great and the resources are meager. Your support is much appreciated.