Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Irony-Free Jello...Now With Extra Sarcasm

Chad, JB, The Nihilist and Mitch have jointly typed several hundred words discussing John J. Miller's list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs. Every single one of them has dropped the ball in a fashion not seen since Darrin Nelson's end zone choke in the 1987 NFC Championship Game.

There is but one song in the entire history of recorded music that sums up true conservatism and it has heretofore gone unmentioned.

Feast your right wing eyes on the lyrics to "Kill the Poor" by the Dead Kennedys:
Efficiency and progress is ours once more
Now that we have the neutron bomb
It's nice and quick and clean and gets things done
Away with excess enemy
But no less value to property
No sense in war but perfect sense at home

The sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight

Gonna kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor tonight

Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rate's gone
Feel free again
O' life's a dream with you, Miss Lily White
Jane Fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals it's okay
So let's get dressed and dance away the night

While they kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor tonight

Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor tonight
Neutron bombs, the end of the welfare state and joblessness, the eradication of crime and champagne fueled revelry. How much more conservative can you get?

Consider It Brought

You think it ain't on? Oh, it's on alright.

Just for fun read Hugh's post titled, Apollo Creed Wants a Rematch and see how many mistakes you can find:

A few years back, on a visit to the Minnesota State Fair in discharge of my duties as the state's Commissioner of Hockey and Master of the Horse (appointed to both posts by Governor Pawlenty), I accepted an invitation from the Fraters gang to assemble a trivia team and meet in four-on-four competition (along with a dozen other teams) as is their regular habit on Tuesday evenings at Keegan's Pub.

So I enlisted Lileks, his friend Swede the Giant Uke, and Michael Medved to take on the home team, and sure enough, the fix was in, and we could only achieve a tie. Fraters announced then that there would be no rematch.

1. Although Keegan's does have trivia on Tuesday night, the night that Team Fraters has made famous and the night that we had our first showdown with Hugh, was in fact Thursday. I warned Hugh about the side effects of mixing Scotch and diuretics.

2. Lileks actually has two friends that he regular refers to at The Bleat. One is the Giant Swede and the other is the Crazy Uke. Hugh apparently has blurred the two to create one composite character.

3. The fix was very much not in. If it was, then we would have won the competition, rather than finishing in a tie for second with Hugh's has beens.

4. Not only have we welcomed a rematch, we have openly called for one. You may recall that last year, Hugh skipped his annual visit to the Minnesota State Fair for fear of having to face our trivia prowess. You can run Hugh, but you can't hide.

Now, Hugh has apparently faced down his demons and summoned up the courage to run the Keegan's trivia gauntlet again.

As the president wouldn't say: Bring it on. This time we add Duane and drop the Lileks' posse. (Not that we don't like their taste in drink.)

Hugh's squad is not the only one going through a rebuilding phase. He's dropping his boat anchors from the team and we're dropping ours (although if Bridget is available, we'd love to have her on board Team Fraters).

We'll see ya in August Hugh.

Separated at Birth?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran


Jamie Farr as The Sheik in Cannonball Run?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Putting A Boot In Miller's Backside

Reading the list of supposed conservative rock songs by John J. Miller, I have to laugh. The vast majority are vague songs that could go either way and at least one is patent leftist drivel. I've taken the time to go through them all and point out which ones should even be on the list (no need to thank me):

1. "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who.
Pissed off hippies that jumped on a bandwagon that didn't produce the revolution they expected. NOT CONSERVATIVE

2. "Taxman," by The Beatles.

3. "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones.
Comparing this song to the Screwtape Letters is folly. NOT CONSERVATIVE.

4. "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

5. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," by The Beach Boys.
It is not necessarily pro-abstinence or pro anything else conservative. The line "There wouldn't be single thing we couldn't do" doesn't necessarily mean sex. And considering Brian Wilson was sleeping over at his girlfriend's house in high school WITH her parents permission--NOT CONSERVATIVE.

6. "Gloria," by U2.
I'll use Miller's own words to indict him on this one: Just because a rock song is about faith doesn't mean that it's conservative. NOT CONSERVATIVE

7. "Revolution," by The Beatles.
The point of the song is that the really radical radicals among the radicals were screwing things up for them. It isn't an embrace of anything conservative. NOT CONSERVATIVE

8. "Bodies," by The Sex Pistols.
Punk is for disaffected teens and those who should know better so I don't listen to it and never did even when it was cool to do so. CAN'T SAY

9. "Don't Tread on Me," by Metallica.

10. "20th Century Man," by The Kinks.

11. "The Trees," by Rush.

12. "Neighborhood Bully," by Bob Dylan.
Who knows what the hell he's singing about (the problem with irony), but I'll grant it. CONSERVATIVE

13. "My City Was Gone," by The Pretenders.
Teenage sentimentality and typical leftist whining at progress. NOT CONSERVATIVE (even if you are a crunchy con)

14. "Right Here, Right Now," by Jesus Jones.
Vague as to what the little guy is talking about. There is no clear message, so NOT CONSERVATIVE

15. "I Fought the Law," by The Crickets.
Miller called this The original law-and-order classic, WTF? I've never considered it a law and order classic by any stretch of the imagination and since both snotty English socialists The Clash and snotty American socialists Green Day BOTH covered it, I say NOT CONSERVATIVE

16. "Get Over It," by The Eagles.
CONSERVATIVE. Who knew that the man (Don Henley) who referred to Reagan as "A tried old man" in the song "The End of The Innocence" and was an outspoken enviro would be part of something like this. CONSERVATIVE

17. "Stay Together for the Kids," by Blink 182.

18. "Cult of Personality," by Living Colour.
Another huge stretch by Miller on this one. Nothing terribly conservative about the message that people like strong leaders and it's, like, bad and stuff. NOT CONSERVATIVE

19. "Kicks," by Paul Revere and the Raiders.

20. "Rock the Casbah," by The Clash.
Nothing conservative in the lyrics once again. A song is on the list because some army guys request it in Iraq? NOT CONSERVATIVE

21. "Heroes," by David Bowie.
I have a hard time believing David Bowie would write anything conservative and the lyrical evidence is flimsy, so NOT CONSERVATIVE

22. "Red Barchetta," by Rush.
Pretty weak, but I'll grant it. CONSERVATIVE

23. "Brick," by Ben Folds Five.
SP used to have this CD and pointed out the message to me several years ago. CONSERVATIVE

24. "Der Kommissar," by After the Fire.
How do we know it's about East German life and not West German? Or even life in America? NOT CONSERVATIVE

25. "The Battle of Evermore," by Led Zeppelin.
Miller said there were allusions to a cold war metaphor. What bong is he hitting? There's a bunch of mystical hippie-stoner nonsense and some LOTR references, but nothing conservative. NOT CONSERVATIVE

26. "Capitalism," by Oingo Boingo.
Being a life-long heterosexual, I've never listened to Oingo Boingo, but Miller makes a strong case for this one. CONSERVATIVE

27. "Obvious Song," by Joe Jackson.
On this one, Miller claimed For property rights and economic development, and against liberal hypocrisy... Complete hogwash. When you look at the rest of the lyrics you see it shows a typical leftist worldview:

And the stars are looking down
Through a hole in the sky
And if they can see, they cry
That's obvious
And the walls are coming down
Between the west and the east
You don't have to be a hippie to believe in peace
That's obvious . . . obvious
There was a kid in the city selling crack to get by
Got caught one day with a gun in his hand
When a voice said, Okay, get 'em up in the air
You're too young to live like this
But you ain't too fast to die.
Just another foot-soldier in a stupid little war
Another sound-bite on the American scene
Caught between the supplier only dreaming of money
And the demand of the man with money
Who needs a little help to dream
So we starve all the teachers
And recruit more Marines

How come we don't even know what that means
It's obvious


28. "Janie's Got a Gun," by Aerosmith.
Feminist fantasy about taking revenge on an abuser. NOT CONSERVATIVE

29. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," by Iron Maiden.
Pretentious English rocker drivel with absolutely no conservative message. NOT CONSERVATIVE

30. "You Can't Be Too Strong," by Graham Parker.

31. "Small Town," by John Mellencamp.
Not political either way. It's a song about living in a small town. NOT CONSERVATIVE

32. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," by The Georgia Satellites.
Miller claims (with a straight face) "with lyrics that affirm old-time sexual mores" Affirm? The protagonist in the song is making fun of the woman that says no huggy no kissy 'til I get a wedding ring. NOT CONSERVATIVE

33. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," by The Rolling Stones.
Again, nothing clearly conservative in any way. Although some people think the song references my home town of Excelsior, MN with the references to local crazy "Mr. Jimmy." The Stones played there in '65 at the amusement park. Anyway, NOT CONSERVATIVE

34. "Godzilla," by Blue Oyster Cult.
Miller said A 1977 classic about a big green monster--and more: "History shows again and again / How nature points up the folly of men." And how is that conservative? NOT CONSERVATIVE

35. "Who'll Stop the Rain," by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Written as an anti-Vietnam War song,...and Miller still has the cahones to convince his readers that it's somehow conservative? Another WTF moment. NOT CONSERVATIVE

36. "Government Cheese," by The Rainmakers.
I loved this song when I was in high scrool. CONSERVATIVE

37. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," by The Band.
Despite its sins, the American South always has been about more than racism--this song captures its pride and tradition. Another huge WTF moment from Miller. The traveling hippie is refused a room by the oppressive inn keeper--how is that conservative? NOT CONSERVATIVE

38. "I Can't Drive 55," by Sammy Hagar.
Socialists like to speed too. NOT CONSERVATIVE

39. "Property Line," by The Marshall Tucker Band.
Liberals like their property too. They might want to raise taxes on YOURS, but...NOT CONSERVATIVE

40. "Wake Up Little Susie," by The Everly Brothers.
Good one (finally). CONSERVATIVE

41. "The Icicle Melts," by The Cranberries.
A pro-life tune sung by Irish warbler Dolores O'Riordan: "I don't know what's happening to people today / When a child, he was taken away 'Cause nine months is too long." Yeah, and "Linger" is about a child lingering during a partial-birth abortion...but, okay, CONSERVATIVE

42. "Everybody's a Victim, by The Proclaimers.

43. "Wonderful," by Everclear.
A child's take on divorce is how Miller describes it. NOT CONSERVATIVE

44. "Two Sisters," by The Kinks.

45. "Taxman, Mr. Thief," by Cheap Trick.

46. "Wind of Change," by The Scorpions.
Simply a description of what was happening with The Wall. Nothing conservative, so NOT CONSERVATIVE

47. "One," Creed

48. "Why Don't You Get a Job," by The Offspring.

49. "Abortion," by Kid Rock. buy CD on

50. "Stand By Your Man," by Tammy Wynette.
Just because Motorhead covered it, doesn't mean it's a rock song. Doesn't count because it's country. NOT A ROCK SONG

I come up with 22 out of 50 that even remotely qualify as conservative.

I could probably name 22 country songs that are conservative off the top of my head and this is the best list Miller--with the power of his readers--could muster?

Back to the drawing board Miller.

You Can Still Rock In (Conservative) America

In a piece from National Review sure to tug at the heart strings of our own JB Doubtless, John J. Miller compiled a list of the The 50 greatest conservative rock songs:

But some rock songs really are conservative--and there are more of them than you might think. Last year, I asked readers of National Review Online to nominate conservative rock songs. Hundreds of suggestions poured in. I've sifted through them all, downloaded scores of mp3s, and puzzled over a lot of lyrics. What follows is a list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs of all time, as determined by me and a few others. The result is of course arbitrary, though we did apply a handful of criteria.

To see all 50, you'll have to read Miller's article. Here's the Top Five:

1. "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who.

2. "Taxman," by The Beatles.

3. "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones.

4. "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

5. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," by The Beach Boys.

Personally, I found a number of songs on Miller's list to be stretching the bounds of credibility. But now, he's back with fifty more that fit his bill as conservative rock songs. This list includes healthy doses of Rush (the band), The Kinks, and Iron Maiden. Overall, its choices are probably on firmer ground than some of the selections on the original list. Let the debate begin.


What a crock! Won't Get Fooled Again is about hippie disillusionment with the "Revolution." There aint a damn thing conservative about that song. Calling the list a stretch is too kind. Now on the country side there is no question as to what the songs mean. "We'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American Way"--that doesn't need a lot of nuanced understanding (and weed) to comprehend.

To All According To Their Needs

MoveOn.og is conducting an online poll to determine the organization's agenda going forward. You can vote for the top three "positive" goals to aspire toward here. My picks?

- A living wage for all
- High quality education for all
- Health care for all

I'd also like to see them push for minature American flags for all, but that wasn't an option.

A Dingo Ate Your Baby

Last Saturday, we were honored to have Major Steven A. Givler join us on the Northern Alliance Radio Network to talk about Memorial Day and his experiences in Iraq. Major Givler has a book coming out in June called, Notes of Joy And Sadness: Letters And Paintings from Operation Iraqi Freedom. You can listen to the interview with Major Givler here.

After learning of our fondness for all things trivial, he e-mailed a true tale of multi-national (as well as multi-lingual?) trivia that appears in his forthcoming book:

Happy Australia Day 26 January, 05

In one stroke on 26 January, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillips claimed Australia as a British colony, and established a thriving industry (a penal colony) on its shores. Not bad for a day's work.

So impressive, in fact, that Australians have been celebrating the day ever since. Unaware of this, I was making my appointed rounds at work tonight, when I was collared by a couple Aussie colleagues (they refer to me as a "mate.") and dragged to a party in a tent adjacent to where I work. Along the way, in order to compensate for the shocking gaps in my knowledge of History, I was apprised of the significance of this important date, said apprisings arriving on high-volume beer-scented blasts delivered directly into my ear, the loudness the result not so much inebriation, as of a myth that has arisen about my being slightly deaf.

My hearing is perfectly fine, but I seem to have great difficulty with the Australian language. Some claim it's similar enough to our language that a native English speaker should be able to understand it, but this, of course, is completely silly. They are separate and distinct languages, and while they may share some curse words, they have little else in common. I know this to be true, but I seem to be in the minority. Because of this, I frequently find myself asking Australians to repeat themselves. As a result, my "mates" have formed the opinion that I am somewhat hard of hearing.

Far from causing them to shun me, this mythical handicap of mine seems to endear me to these kindhearted people, and they go out of their way to talk to me, asking, "How're ya goin' mate?" and - well I don't know what else they say, because I can't understand a word of it. I nod and smile and make what I hope are appropriate remarks from time to time, and I seem to be doing pretty well, because I'm often rewarded with a bone-crushing slap on the back, broad smiles and a stream of throaty vowels that sound as if I'm listening from under water.

Times like these make me miss (even more than usual) my wife. They remind me of my first year or so in South Carolina, where her ability to translate Gullah, or whatever people were speaking to me, saved me from several beatings, and impressed on me the certainty that my life would never again be complete without her in it.

She is not here though, so I get by as well as I can, which means I have become a master of reading body language, facial expression, and contextual elements of conversation too subtle even to be named. These clues provide me insights into the inscrutable utterings of my friends here, and allow me to "participate" in discussions that are completely beyond my understanding. An aside: How is it I can appreciate these modes of nonverbal communication when I cannot abide a mime?

My skills of interpretation failed me tonight in the tent though, when my hosts were playing an enthusiastic game of Australian trivia. Not only did I not know any answers, I could not ascertain the meaning of a single question. At one point in the heated competition, it was the turn of my "mates" to answer a question. Whether in the spirit of inclusiveness, or because they themselves were unsure of the answer, I'll never know, all I can say for certain is that, after the question was posed, they all turned to me, and beerily shouted things like, "Gowedan givatraymate!"

Well, there I was. A close-packed throng of inebriated amateur rugby players blocked the path to the door ahead of me, while all the men stood behind me. No way out. A quick survey of all my body language skills told me only that every ear in the bar was inclined in my direction, and that the fate of my team rested on my shoulders. A hush fell over the mob. Of such situations, international incidents are made. I raised my beer and shouted, "To Australia!" and, in the pandemonium that ensued, bought a brief respite, but it was over all too soon. Once again, the place fell silent, and I felt myself being crushed under the burden of the prestige of the United States. I ran through my small vocabulary of authentic Australian words and flung one out in desperation. "Dingo," I gasped. My team erupted in cheers, joined after a slight delay by our rivals, who were unhappy to lose a point, but glad to know that an American was so well informed about their country.

Later, when things died down, I happened to see the list of questions lying on the bar. Apparently the one they had put to me was, "What was the first non-native species introduced to Australia?"

Monday, May 29, 2006

Honor Not Pity

From Friday's Wall Street Journal:

It's a sign of some progress that the men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are not spit upon and shunned as Vietnam vets were. Yet there may be something more pernicious about mouthing 'Support Our Troops' while also asserting that many of them are poor, uneducated dupes who were cannon fodder overseas and have come home as basket cases, plagued by a range of mental, emotional and financial problems.

The vast majority of vets don't fit that description. Many, like one returned Army guardsman we talked to, chalk up this portrayal to the media's fascination with bad news in general. As for his combat in Iraq, both 'going to war and coming home is very overwhelming,' he says. 'But you make choices in life . . . and through inner strength and support, I am making a choice that I want to be healthy.'

In some cases, the depiction of military personnel as damaged goods serves the antiwar agenda. Yet retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Tom Linn sees more basic impulses at work. 'I honestly believe it is guilt' and even resentment, he says. The military type as misfit 'is a stereotype that a lot of people from the Vietnam era have held on to.' Then, as now, 'they saw men and women who did more than they did . . . and they'd compensate by casting those folks in an inferior status.'

This Memorial Day, most of us will remember the Americans who have served their country since the Revolutionary War not with pity but with admiration. For those who want to show their gratitude, Major John Morris has some recommendations. He's deputy chaplain for Minnesota's Army National Guard and a founder of a state program called Reintegration: Beyond Reunion. Its broad goal, he explains, is to help returning guardsmen and reservists frame their "experience, to draw from it everything that they can to grow into productive citizens."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

All Gave Some...Some Gave All

I had the Ipod on shuffle last night and a song I didn't even know I had came on. It was the patriotic (cue dismissive sneer of leftists) story of a soldier killed fighting for his country.

It goes without saying that it was a country song since a topic like this is verboten in the world of the rock and roll, with their complicated shoes, hamburger sandwiches, french-fried potatoes and malted milks.

The surprise was the song was from Billy Ray Cyrus from the same album that spawned the cultural epoch (greatest moment of western civ?) Achy Breaky Heart.

Anyway, Some Gave All, a little something to consider this memorial day weekend:

I knew a man called him Sandy Kane
Few folks even knew his name
But a hero was he
Left a boy, came back a man
Still many just don't understand
About the reasons we are free

I can't forget the look in his eyes
Or the tears he cries
As he said these words to me

All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all

Now Sandy Kane is no longer here
But his words are oh so clear
As they echo through out our land
For all his friends who gave us all
Who stood the ground and took the fall
To help their fellow man

Love your country and live with pride
And don't forget those who died
America can't you see

All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all

And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall, yes recall
Some gave all

Some gave all

Friday, May 26, 2006

It's All About Them

At NRO, Myrna Blyth reminds us that Memorial Day is Not Just A Day Off:

Too many people today tend to think of Memorial Day as the three-day weekend when the pools open and the grill gets fired up for the first time of the season. But, of course, it is a lot more significant than that.

The holiday, you may know, was originally known as Decoration Day, when flowers were laid on the graves of the Civil War dead, both Union and Confederate. After World War I, observances began to honor all who had died in any of America's wars. Today, amidst family picnics, the end of school, and, yes, the opening of pools, there are still many observances of the solemn nature of the day. Flags are lowered to half-staff from dawn until noon and many communities observe a moment of remembrance in ceremonies throughout the nation.

I have been working on a book entitled How to Raise an American. In the book my co-author Chriss Winston and I not only explain why instilling patriotism in the young can be so very challenging these days; we also give lots of practical suggestions about how to deal with this situation. Some of our ideas, we think, will help parents make their kids understand the meaning of our country's most important holidays.

She goes on to suggest some things that parents can do with their kids to help them understand the real meaning of Memorial Day.

Suck It Up Degenerates

The ever-salient Ted Dalrymple had an excellent piece in yesterday's WSJ (subscribe already!). He tears into the conventional wisdom that drug addicts are victims and specifically that heroin is easy to become addicted to and almost impossible to get off.

To wit, a person takes a little of a drug, and is hooked; the drug renders him incapable of work, but since withdrawal from the drug is such a terrible experience, and since the drug is expensive, the addict is virtually forced into criminal activity to fund his habit.

The latter part of that quote has been standard orthodoxy on the left for years: addicts can't help it, it is a disease, they only commit crimes in order to feed their habit, they don't WANT to do drugs they have to, on and on.

'Rymple goes on to say that these degenerate addicts have been gaming the system for years:

I have witnessed thousands of addicts withdraw; and, notwithstanding the histrionic displays of suffering, provoked by the presence of someone in a position to prescribe substitute opiates, and which cease when that person is no longer present, I have never had any reason to fear for their safety from the effects of withdrawal. It is well known that addicts present themselves differently according to whether they are speaking to doctors or fellow addicts. In front of doctors, they will emphasize their suffering; but among themselves, they will talk about where to get the best and cheapest heroin.

But why are so many criminals hooked on smack? Aren't they committing crimes to feed their habit? What would make them do these things?

Furthermore, I discovered in the prison in which I worked that 67% of heroin addicts had been imprisoned before they ever took heroin...In other words, whatever caused them to commit crimes in all probability caused them also to take heroin: perhaps an adversarial stance to the world caused by the emotional, spiritual, cultural and intellectual vacuity of their lives.

That was pure conservative intellectual gold right there--strong adversarial stance to the world caused by the emotional, spiritual, cultural and intellectual vacuity of their lives.

Describes much of the left fairly accurately too, actually--the adversarial nature of their endless adolescent greviances against big business, the suburbs, religion and Normal Americans in general.

But I digress. 'Rymple doesn't see a bright future for his view on dope and criminals being widely accepted, since:

...addicts and therapists have a vested interest in the orthodox view. Addicts want to place the responsibility for their plight elsewhere, and the orthodox view is the very raison d'ĂȘtre of the therapists. Finally, as a society, we are always on the lookout for a category of victims upon whom to expend our virtuous, which is to say conspicuous, compassion. Contrary to the orthodoxy, drug addiction is a matter of morals, which is why threats such as Mao's (who threatened to shoot anyone who couldn't kick junk), and experiences such as religious conversion, are so often effective in "curing" addicts.

Drug addicts are scum. Low-lifes. Losers. The more clear we are on that point, the easier this issue is to deal with. The amazing thing about 'Rymple is the clarity of his reasoning: getting hooked on dope is an individual moral problem, not a medical problem or societal problem that we need to pour money into.

So suck it up degenerates. The excuses are done.

The Feminization of America Part 768

After a rather lengthy absence, I returned to Thursday night trivia at Keegan's Irish Pub & Restaurant last night. Our team's results were not impressive, as we were barely able to answer more than half the questions correctly, finishing three behind the victors. However, what was far more disturbing was the nature of the quiz itself.

Rather than answering questions such as "Why are Marines called leathernecks?" or "What color is Guinness?", we were subjected to a series of queries lifted from the pages of Star magazine. Mindless celebrity gossip about the latest Hollywood starlet to adopt a baby from the Third World and give it a goofy name or who Colin Farrell was sleeping with three years ago is not our idea of a trivia quiz. At least not our idea of the kind of trivia quiz that men would willingly participate in.

It appears that the creeping feminization of our culture has now infected the hallowed grounds of Keegan's Pub. Terry Keegan has become a softer, kinder, gentler quiz master, the Alan Alda of trivia if you will. Rumor has it that Phil Donahue will be making a special appearance as celebrity announcer soon, that Happy Hour will be replaced by "Feelings Hour," and that quiche will replace ground beef on the Keegan's menu. I even understand that if you happen to stop by Keegan's this Saturday, you'll likely find Terry wearing a dress. (sigh)

Paging Harvey Mansfield. Professor Mansfield, please report to Keegan's STAT.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Joe Hanson, Rest in Peace

Mitch Berg brings us the sad news of the far too early demise of Joe Hanson. Joe was the original producer of the Northern Alliance Radio Network and held that job until about a year ago. Before that, of course, he was a fixture at KSTP-AM , working with local legends like Jason Lewis, Mischke, and the others. Back then, that was the only conservative radio outlet in town and a whole generation of young Republicans grew up listening to shows produced and enhanced by the genial Smokin' Joe Hanson.

As anyone who ever got the chance to talk to him knows, he was a great guy. Friendly to all, except perhaps to a few callers whom he accurately determined as not air worthy. Believe it or not, conservative talk radio draws a few cranks calling in, and nobody was better than Joe in assessing, halting in their tracks, then terminating those conversations in an efficient manner. His barking "what do you want! No, they're not talking about that now!" then his laughter afterwards over clean dispatch are sounds I can still hear in my memory. Joe was a pro yet he was always patient and supportive to a bunch of radio amateurs trying to learn on the job what they were supposed to be doing.

Joe left in a rather abrupt fashion from the Patriot and we never got a chance to say goodbye to him. That is a regret now. He was such a youthful looking and energetic guy, I never would have conceived of his death so soon. And I fully expected him to surface again somewhere. With the return of Jason Lewis, coincidentally just announced yesterday, I figured he'd be back on the air in short order. Alas, that was not meant to be.

Our prayers are with Joe Hanson in the next world and with his friends and family here today.

Time For A Beer Run

Nineteen new beers have been added to the FL Beer Ratings list, including a couple of quality brews from Bell's (you wouldn't expect anything else) and a slew of suds from Sleeman's. Speaking of Canada and beer, the Oilers playoff run has led to a run on beer at bars in Edmonton:

Establishments throughout the city have been running low on suds during recent Oilers games because of beer-drinking fans knocking down brews.

Hockey fans drinking beer? If that don't beat all.

The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake

Catching up on the April edition of First Things last night, I came across an article by Joseph Bottum which brought me back to the days of my not-always-misspent youth:

In 1961, however, there appeared in the magazine Boys' Life three stories by Bertrand R. Brinley: "The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake," "Night Rescue," and "The Unidentified Flying Man of Mammoth Falls." Four more stories joined them to make up The Mad Scientists' Club, which the publisher MacRae Smith brought out in hardback in 1965--and which Scholastic Books quickly added to its paperback catalogue, along with the five additional stories that formed The New Adventures of the Mad Scientists' Club in 1968.

Boys' Life, Scholastic Books and the Mad Scientists' Club? Talk about fond memories. I loved ordering books at school from Scholastic. Choosing your selections from the catalog, convincing your parents to pony up for a couple (which probably meant all of $5.80), the agonizing wait, and the excitement when the shipment finally arrived in the classroom.

No doubt the foundation of some of the appeal of finding an Amazon delivery on my front steps today was laid by Scholastic Books. And for an adventuresome young lad, it didn't get much better than the Mad Scientists' Club:

What Brinley layers on top of all this, however, is a kind of late 1950s or early 1960s gloss of something that he calls science, though it isn't really. The stories pay ready lip service to the experimental method, the glories of theory, and the high calling of the scientist. But what they are actually after is, instead, the simulacrum of science that is old-fashioned science-boy science--invention, in other words, and the problem-solving of elegantly and cleverly applied technology. Each story is like the latest patent-worthy plan for yet another genuine American apple-peeler, though in the case of The Mad Scientists' Club, the apple to be peeled is some traditional challenge of literary boyhood: adults to be bamboozled, rival clubs to be defeated, adventures to be had, dragons to be slain.

The decline in the later book-length tales is proof, perhaps, of how surprisingly delicate a thing Bertrand R. Brinley pulled off with the early stories. They had comedy, and comradeship, and wish-fulfillment fantasy--and, most of all, they had that science-boy thing of chemistry sets that got used instead of gathering dust in a closet, of walkie-talkies that proved useful instead of being lost in the basement when their batteries died, of junkyards where you could actually find the eight-foot steel bar you needed to bring one of your ideas to life.

Hopefully, no matter how much the world changes, there will always be a place in a boy's imagination to dream about the kind of adventures detailed in the Mad Scientists' Club.

UPDATE: Jeff e-mails to remind me that the Mad Scientists' Club series has been reprinted by Purple House Press and is available for sale.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Gore Lied, The Healthy Economy Died?

Overstating the extent of the threat? Cherry picking data to make the case? Ignoring the views of dissenting voices? Implying connections that have not been proven?

Must be talking about the Bush administration's actions in the run-up to the war in Iraq, right?

Try Al Gore's new movie. Dr. Robert C. Balling Jr., a professor in the climatology program at Arizona State University, specializing in climate change and the greenhouse effect, looks at some truly Inconvenient Truths:

"An Inconvenient Truth" is billed as the scariest movie you'll ever see. It may well be, but that's in part because it is not the most accurate depiction of the state of global warming science. The enormous uncertainties surrounding the global warming issue are conveniently missing in "An Inconvenient Truth."

Oil Spill Threatens Ducks

Oilers slip past Ducks--Edmonton leads series 3-0

I've never been cheering more for Big Oil. If you missed last night's contest, you missed a whale of a hockey game. Tune in Thursday night as the Oilers look to close Duck season early.

Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To Newt

The poll has closed and, by a significant margin, the message you're sending is, "Run Newt, Run!"

60.6% of the respondents said that they would support Newt Gingrich for President in 2008

29.2% said they would not

and 10.2% of you are too busy watching "American Idol" to make up your mind

The people have spoken. Well, our readers have at least.

Keep Your Friends Close...

Last night on his talk radio show, Hugh Hewitt was dishing out some slightly amusing, if incredibly ill-informed, bashing of the greater Twin City metropolis of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Now, Hugh knows about as much about the Twin Cities as he does wine, hockey, music, and _____(fill in the blank), but I have to agree with Hugh that the 2008 GOP convention should not be held here.

In fact, as a blogger and hobby talk radio host, I am much more interested in seeing the Democrats bring their 2008 convention circus to town. We could witness the coronation of Queen Hil. Or the touching comeback of Al Gore (sure to melt even the coldest of ice-capped hearts). Or the return of the living dead, with John Kerry in the lead role. Maybe the Kos kidz fantasies will come true and Russ Feingold will be at the top of the Dem ticket (please, oh please). Or a dark horse like Chris Dodd (who?) might break away from the pack.

No matter who eventually emerges as the Democratic candidate, the 2008 convention should be a riot (perhaps even literally). Cleveland or Tampa or some other second-tier city in desperate need of a shot of self-esteem can have the 2008 GOP convention. We want the Dems.

(Memo to Hugh: Twins 6 Indians 5)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Don't Judge Him Until You've Walked A Mile In His Khuffs

One of the more disgusting tendencies of the Left during the Cold War was their unwillingness to pass judgments on the relative moral standings of the two protagonists. This moral equivalency usually manifested itself it statements excusing the actions of the Soviet Union because the Untied States wasn't perfect.

"Sure, they have prison labor camps, but we lock up a disproportionate percentage of minorities in our jails, so how can you really say that we're better than them?"

It's nice to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same as evidenced by this column in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer by Robert L. Jamieson Jr. criticizing Mike McGavick's suggestion that Iran be barred from this year's World Cup:

Iran has no such repugnant policy. It has not implemented any diabolical plans, unless you count its push to become a nuclear power like the United States, China and other members of that club.

Admittedly, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has invoked language that is tough, defiant and downright ugly at times.

Sure, he questioned whether the Holocaust ever happened and has talked about the end of Israel (and of history for that matter), but is he really any worse than you know who?

That just puts him in good company.

In many parts of the world, President Bush doesn't exactly come across as a honeyed voice of reason, either.

On the one hand you have the president of Iran and on the other the president of the United States. Who are we to judge?


A clear, comprehensive, concise, and combative defense of the decision to go to war in Iraq? Backed by ample evidence and examples? Penned by an administration official no less? Sounds too good to be true, right?

Well it is true. Peter Wehner, deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives, demolishes four of the most oft-repeated accusations against the adminstration's actions, in an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal (available to all):

Iraqis can participate in three historic elections, pass the most liberal constitution in the Arab world, and form a unity government despite terrorist attacks and provocations. Yet for some critics of the president, these are minor matters. Like swallows to Capistrano, they keep returning to the same allegations--the president misled the country in order to justify the Iraq war; his administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments; Saddam Hussein turned out to be no threat since he didn't possess weapons of mass destruction; and helping democracy take root in the Middle East was a postwar rationalization. The problem with these charges is that they are false and can be shown to be so--and yet people continue to believe, and spread, them.

Read the whole thing and then keep a copy handy for future reference. As past experience has well-proven, no matter how many times allegations of this nature are soundly refuted, they have a curious habit of popping up again and again.

Political Gamesmanship

Lost amid all the hype about football and baseball stadiums was the impact of the recent Minnesota legislative session on the one sport that truly matters: hockey. The results are mixed.

First the bad news. DECC Expansion Left Out Of Bonding Bill:

A special referendum, months of lobbying, and plenty of support from Northland residents was not enough to secure money for the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center expansion at the Minnesota Capitol.

The Legislative Session comes to a close on Monday, and funding for the DECC was left out of the bonding bill and the supplemental budget, money made available from the health impact fee.

The DECC is home to the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and is badly in need of an upgrade.

But there was also a silver lining in one of the stadium bills. Hockey Hall of Fame staying put:

State Rep. Tom Rukavina, a DFLer from Virginia, made a big stop for Eveleth this weekend.
A provision in the University of Minnesota's stadium bill that passed in the waning hours of the Legislative session commits about $80,000 in taconite taxes annually to keep the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minn.

Citing sagging attendance, hall officials earlier this month said they wanted to close the museum's doors and look for a new home. St. Paul officials, including City Council Member Dan Bostrom, suggested the capital city would welcome a new Hall of Fame, particularly on the East Side.

Granted, Eveleth is not exactly an easily accessible location for the Hall. But there's an undeniable appeal to having it located in a region that long has been a hockey hotbed for Minnesota and the country as a whole. Like the sport itself, a pilgrimage to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is not for the faint of heart or the casual fan. It requires a true dedication and devotion to hockey. It may not attract the most visitors, but it does draw those most passionate about the game. Keep the Hall in Eveleth. Let hockey be hockey.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Open Wound, Apply Salt

My favorite part of yesterday's Pistons/Cavs game seven showdown occurred late in the game with the Pistons holding an insurmountable lead and the Cavs about to become the latest in a long line on Cleveland teams to disappoint their fans in the playoffs. ABC played a montage of some of the more ignomious defeats suffered by Cleveland sports franchises in the past. Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, Jordan's last second shot to knock the Cavs out of the playoffs, and the Indians kicking away the 1997 World Series. Cleveland fans are fortunate that the Barons never made the playoffs in their brief existence.

It almost seemed cruel to mock these long suffering fans at the very moment their hearts were once again being broken. Almost.

The Next Great Game In Santa's Backyard?

Ann e-mails to bring our attention to a story from The Week Magazine on the North Pole being up for grabs:

Who stands to gain?

The melting ice cap represents a colossal commercial opportunity. Russian icebreakers are already preparing to take tourists to the Pole for $30,000 each this summer, and the thaw could open up some highly lucrative shipping routes. A northeast sea route, north of Siberia, would allow shipping to sail from Europe to northeast Asia, cutting the journey by a third; and the fabled Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic archipelago could be open to shipping in a few decades, cutting the journey from Europe to East Asia (now routed through the Panama Canal) by 4,000 miles. The greatest profits, however, are likely to be found under the ice.

What is being discovered there?

Oil and natural gas. A quarter of the world's untapped fossil fuels (including 375 billion barrels of oil) are thought to lie under the Arctic, and will become accessible as the ice melts. Industry experts now talk of a "black gold rush," as companies such as BP Amoco, Statoil of Norway, and the Russian giant Gasprom all race to tap already discovered reservoirs in the region. The Arctic, says Moscow-based energy analyst Christopher Weafer, "is the next energy frontier."

Four Blind Squirrels

For some reason, we've been tapped as Power Line's Blog of the Week. Maybe it's because JB and Scott Johnson share a similar viewpoint on music (especially on Muddy Waters' contribution to Western civilization.) Or because Atomizer and Paul Mirengoff are both noted for the ability to imbibe early and often (Mirengoof is going to absolutely tear up the DC party circuit). Most likely it was Saint Paul's willingness to go over to John Hinderaker's house this weekend and perform some "jobs that American's aren't willing to do" (sod laying, Bonsai gardening, pool cleaning, car washing, etc.)

Power Line News

Well, whatever motivated the decision, we're honored to have been chosen. Although we must demur on the "paleocon" label that John has applied to us. I don't know if it's possible to come up with a tag that truly captures our political philosophy, but "paleocon" isn't it. If you have something better in mind, feel free to submit it for our consideration.

When Animals Attack (the bottle)

The story of our cat Lola showing an almost Atomizer-like taste for gin brought about a number of interesting responses.

JB puts her action to song:

Well she walked up to me and she asked me to dance
I said no not now you're just a cat
L-o-l-a Lola

She dipped in my gin when I turned my back
I said shoo you beast 'fore I pound you flat
L-o-l-a Lola

EJ reports that gin fever is not restricted to felines:

Major Lewis and his lovely wife had a yellow lab named Morgan, who used to visit us on the patio whenever we barbequed. Mom and Dad always had a big martini beaker filled with ice they'd leave in the kitchen to sweat the gin. Every weekend they went through quite a bit of gin and couldn't figure it out. They suspected us kids, but we only stole the beer. Anyway, they finally realized that every time they got up, they were putting their martinis down on the ground next to their chairs and then Morgan would get up from his usual spot, walk over to lap up all the gin he could from their glasses, and then quickly go back to his favorite spot and lie down. They finally figured out why he was so friendly and well-behaved because one Saturday evening Mrs. Lewis called Morgan to come home when we were all sitting outside grilling our supper and Morgan got up, knocked over all the tray tables and crashed headlong into the bushes before beginning a zig-zagging and stumbling jaunt all the way across our backyards to throw up on Mrs. Lewis's back porch. He threw up six olives and of course wreaked of alcohol.

So that's how we met Major and Mrs. Lewis, who thereafter frequently came over for cocktails and brought Morgan, who always got his own martini. He'd lie on the ground with his martini between his paws and just lap it up. We gave him a glass that he couldn't quite get his nose in, but had just enough room to "sip" off the top. We'd refill it for him and give him another olive, but Mrs. Lewis insisted he not get so drunk that he couldn't walk home like a proper dog. We tried giving him beer and scotch, but he wouldn't touch it. He only liked gin. Beefeater. And he was always very well-behaved.

Cool dog.

And finally, Henry can't resist having a little fun:

I always thought catatonic applied only to felines lapping up gin and quinine water.

[Ba doom boom]

The Game Is Afoot

Happy birthday to one of my favorite authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, born on this day in 1859. No matter how times I read them, I never tire of his tales of Holmes.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cold Cash

Lawmaker Accused of Hiding $90G in Freezer:

A congressman under investigation for bribery was caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer.

At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret what the government contends was his corrupt role in getting his children a cut of a communications company's deal for work in Africa.

As Jefferson and the informant passed notes about what percentage the lawmaker's family might receive, the congressman "began laughing and said, 'All these damn notes we're writing to each other as if we're talking, as if the FBI is watching,'" according to the affidavit.

Jefferson, who represents New Orleans, has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.

Another Democratic pol caught up in scandal? Almost starting to seem like a "culture of corruption" with them, isn't it?

Kitty Cocktail

Saturday night and I'm preparing to fire up the grill and throw a coupla steaks on. Before I head outside to 'que, I mix up a batch of Martinis made with "ridiculously good" Hendricks Gin, pour myself one, and set it on my basement bar. I then walk over to select a bottle of wine to serve with dinner.

When I return to the bar, I recoil in horror as I see one of our cats, Lola, standing with her hind paws on a bar stool, her face on the bar, tongue in my Martini. Tongue in my Martini!?!? It wasn't like she just had a sample sip out of curiosity either. She was lapping it up like a saucer of milk. Unbelievable.

After shooing her away, I kept a close eye on her the rest of the night to make sure she didn't suffer any adverse reactions to the booze. She seemed fine, if a little more laid back than normal. In the future, I'll be mindful not to turn my back on my Martini when she's in the room. Cats dig gin. Who knew?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Even Cowboys Get The Hues

What are the words that critics most often use when describing the foreign policy of the Bush Administration?

"arrogant, inept, reckless"


"dangerously simplistic"






More than anything else critics claim that because the Bush Administration "views the world through a black and white lens", we've isolated our allies and created new enemies. They demand more nuance, more sophistication, less idealism and more realism from Bush.

And yet these are exactly some of the characteristics that have marked what is probably the administration's biggest foreign policy coup (although you won't hear much about it in the media); the decision by Libya to renounce support for terrorism and give up its WMD programs.

Just this week, the United States announced that it would resume diplomatic ties with Libya. On Wednesday, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal looked at The Libya Lesson:

The story of how Mr. Gadhafi acquired and later abandoned his nuclear capabilities is reported nearby by Judith Miller. By 2003, Libya was in possession of 4,000 advanced uranium centrifuges and sufficient quantities of highly enriched uranium to make a 10-kiloton bomb, or nearly the yield of Hiroshima's "Little Boy." This is vastly more advanced than what Iran is suspected of possessing, not to mention what was ultimately discovered about Saddam's WMD programs.

What changed Mr. Gadhafi's mind? A decade of international sanctions had an effect. A more proximate cause was Mr. Gadhafi's belief, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in Oct. 2001, that he was next. And when U.S. troops began deploying in Kuwait prior to the invasion of Iraq, Ms. Miller reports, Mr. Gadhafi phoned Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to pass this message to the White House: "Tell them I will do whatever they want."

But the decisive factor was Mr. Gadhafi's belief that his best hope of escaping the American onslaught was to abandon his nuclear dreams. "The purpose of WMD is to enhance a nation's security," Mr. Gadhafi's son Saif told Ms. Miller. "But our programs did not do that."

Had Mr. Gadhafi persevered, he may have had a functional weapon this year, or in 2008 at the latest, according to the head of the Libyan weapons program. Preventing that would have required a showdown with Libya akin to the present showdown with Tehran. Ultimately, the administration might have had no choice but to invade. It seems to us, however, that American interests are better served by deploying diplomats to the shores of Tripoli than cruise missiles and GIs.

The WSJ also published a fascinating two-part series by Judith Miller (yes, that Judith Miller) that provided new details on how Libya was persuaded to give up its WMD programs.

The first part, titled How Gadhafi Lost His Groove examined the reasons that the Libya dictator decided that he no longer wanted to be part of the WMD game:

As the Bush administration struggles to stop Iran and North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, it might recall how Libya was persuaded to renounce terrorism and its own weapons of mass destruction programs, including a sophisticated nuclear program purchased almost entirely from the supplier network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's bomb.

When Libya dramatically declared on Dec. 19, 2003, that it was abandoning its rogue ways, President Bush and other senior officials praised Libya and Moammar al-Gadhafi, the surviving dean of Arab revolutionary leaders, as a model that other rogue states might follow. In fact, the still largely secret talks that helped prompt Libya's decision, and the joint American-British dismantlement of its weapons programs in the first four months of 2004, remain the administration's sole undeniable -- if largely unheralded -- intelligence and nonproliferation success. And a key figure in that effort, Stephen Kappes, is now slated to be the next deputy director of the demoralized Central Intelligence Agency.

With Hayden and Kappes on the way perhaps there is still a ray of hope for the CIA.

Col. Gadhafi's hip, 34-year-old son, Saif-al-Islam, told me in Vienna -- where he earned an M.B.A. and lives when he's not carrying out tasks for his father, or studying for a doctorate in political philosophy at the London School of Economics -- that his father changed course because he had to. "Overnight we found ourselves in a different world," said Saif, referring to the Sept. 11 attacks. "So Libya had to redesign its policies to cope with these new realities."

September 11th did change everything. At least for Libya.

But a review of confidential government records and interviews with current and former officials in London, Tripoli, Vienna and Washington suggest that other factors were involved. Prominent among them is a heretofore undisclosed intelligence coup -- the administration's decision in late 2003 to give Libyan officials a compact disc containing intercepts of a conversation about Libya's nuclear weapons program between Libya's nuclear chief and A.Q. Khan -- that reinforced Col. Gadhafi's decision to reverse course on WMD.

While analysts continue to debate his motivation, evidence suggests that a mix of intelligence, diplomacy and the use of force in Iraq helped persuade him that the weapons he had pursued since he came to power, and on which he had secretly spent $300 million ($100 million on nuclear equipment and material alone), made him more, not less, vulnerable. "The administration overstates Iraq, but its critics go too far in saying that force played no role," says Bruce W. Jentleson, a foreign-policy adviser to Al Gore in the 2000 presidential campaign and professor at Duke University, who has written the most detailed study of why Col. Gadhafi abandoned WMD: "It was force and diplomacy, not force or diplomacy that turned Gadhafi around . . . a combination of steel and a willingness to deal."

No steel, no deal.

And not without our allies. Our real allies anyway.

Although the Camp David talks focused mainly on the impending Iraq war, Mr. Bush reportedly accepted Mr. Blair's proposal that they explore Col. Gadhafi's avowed interest in discussing WMD in exchange for lifting sanctions. In October 2002, Mr. Blair wrote a letter to Col. Gadhafi proposing such a dialogue; a few weeks later, Col. Gadhafi replied affirmatively: "I will instruct my people to be in touch with your people," a diplomat quoted his letter as saying. Col. Gadhafi, who Saif says avidly surfs the Net for news, had by now become even more anxious about press reports of Iraqi-Libyan nuclear cooperation. Stories sourced to senior Israeli officials accused Iraq of having sent nuclear physicists to Libya to work on a joint weapons program.

Gadhafi sounds like he'd be right at home in Hollywood.

"Hey Tony baby, have your people talk to my people. Maybe we can have lunch at the Tower Bar sometime."

He's got a "hip son" and he "avidly surfs the net for news" too. This isn't exactly your standard image dictator here.

The diplomatic lull soon ended, however. Libyans close to the Gadhafi family told me that after Saddam Hussein's sons were killed in a shootout with U.S. soldiers in Mosul in July 2003, Safiya, Col. Gadhafi's wife, angrily demanded that he do more to ensure that Saif and her other sons would not share a similar fate.

It's comforting to know that even though you may be the dictator of your country, you're not immune to getting nagged by your wife.

"Now you listen and you listen good Moammer. My babies are not going to get riddled with bullets and dragged out into the street. Do you understand that? So you get on that fancy phone and you call up whoever you need to call and make sure that doesn't happen. Am I making myself clear? Moammer? Are you even listening to me?"

"Yes, dear."

The second part was called, Gadhafi's Leap of Faith and looked at what the US learned from dismantling Libya's WMD programs:

Several things surprised him: first, the relatively small number of Libyans involved in the WMD programs. "Though the Libyans I dealt with were knowledgeable, dedicated and innovative," he said, "there was almost no bench." "The same six people -- most of them American-educated -- did almost everything," said Harry L. Heintzelman IV, senior adviser on noncompliance. A second lesson was how relatively easy it was to hide elements of a WMD program, even in an open desert, "if there is a national dedication to do so," Mr. Mahley wrote in a "Lessons Learned" paper for an arms-control newsletter.

Team members were also struck by the extent to which sanctions had complicated Libya's hunt for unconventional weapons, especially biological. Though U.S. intelligence officials still debate whether Libya has disclosed all aspects of its early effort to make or acquire germ weapons -- in particular, how much help, if any, was provided by Wouter Basson, head of South Africa's illicit germ-warfare program under apartheid -- sanctions apparently helped dissuade Col. Gadhafi from building an indigenous program. "The program, if you can call it that, just kind of fizzled out," said a member of the British-led biological team that first toured suspect Libyan sites and interviewed some 25 scientists during a two-week trip in the late spring of 2004.

This does not mean of course that the deal with Libya was perfect. Far from it. Gadhafi is still in power and the Libyan people are still suffering under his regime. In fact, on Thursday another piece by a Libyan human rights activist appeared in the WSJ criticizing the diplomatic recognition:

The State Department's decision undermines U.S. credibility. Realists say the administration is sending a positive message to the Arab world that it will reward good behavior in the war on terror. What despots hear, though, is that lip-service will obviate the need to reform or respect human rights. Re-establishing relations with Col. Gadhafi is not a victory and it may very well be a defeat unless Washington begins full-court pressure to force political change in Libya.

One hopes that closer contact with the US and a turn away from being a rogue state will, in the long run, improve the situation in Libya and lead to freedom for the Libyan people. What this episode demonstrates conclusively is that the Bush administration is willing to take different approaches with different countries when dealing with threats from terrorism and WMD.

Libya's continuing political repression and human rights abuses have prompted officials to cite Reagan's motto for dealing with the Soviet Union during its own tumultuous transformation: Trust, but Verify. "And this is exactly how we approached the case of Libya," said Mr. Bolton, now U.S. ambassador to the U.N., in a July 2004 speech. But not even the very conservative Mr. Bolton defends the halfhearted effort to assure Col. Gadhafi that he was right to renounce WMD. Calling Libya's about-face "an important nonproliferation success" because it "proves that a country can renounce WMD and keep its regime in power," Mr. Bolton told me recently that preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons "requires long-term strategic thinking and concentration."

And a healthy dose or two of nuance.

Another Mouse At My House/Pulling A Haps

Coming back from a walk last night I noticed a couple of door-knockers working our neighborhood. As I parked and walked through the garage to our condo one of them was knocking on our neighbor's door. Not wanting to be bothered in five minutes when he would knock on OUR door, I inquired as to who/what he was canvassing for.

"The American worker."

Okay, I responded, but who is sponsoring this? I looked down at his signature sheet and saw AFL-CIO in big letters. Oh, so you are doing this for the AFL-CIO. "No, we are doing this for the American worker." My blood started to boil a little at this point. "Well, that may be your talking point but the reason you are out here is to gain influence and power for the union."

"Sir that is not right at all. We are here to save American jobs and stop outsourcing" he retorted.

Well sure, but it's FOR THE UNION, can't you just admit that?

"But I'm not even in a union. Why would I be out here if I wasn't in a union"

"Because you're a liberal and this is a liberal issue."

"I am NOT a liberal."

"You're not a liberal? You're out knocking on stranger's doors for the AFL-CIO but you're not a liberal."

"No, I am a progressive"

(At this point I have visions of throttling the little twerp, but continue the verbal sparring)

"You're a lefty"

"I am not a lefty, I am a left-winger and I suppose you are not a conservative"

"Of course I'm a conservative. I have no problem admitting it. Is this really what you want to be doing with your life--playing these little rhetorical games with people and not admitting what you're trying to do?"

"We are out here for the American worker"

"Yeah, you said that. I just wish you could admit it was for the union"

"We are here for the American worker"

At this point I had to walk inside and close the door. I woke up today and found a "Know Your Rights In The Workplace" pamplet at my door.

Sponsored by the AFL-CIO.

Swimming to Columbia

Jonathan Last has a great piece in today's Wall Street Journal (available to all) on the dubious merits of J-schools:

Those of us saddened by the declining fortunes of the newspaper industry had hoped that shrinking newspaper staffs would have at least one salutary effect: fewer journalism-school graduates. This has not proved to be the case. In 2005, newspapers cut 2,000 jobs; this spring more people graduated from journalism schools than ever before.

On the education of young journalists, there has been much recent debate. There is one argument over whether or not journalists should aspire to objectivity and another about the liberal bias that permeates journalism programs. But the problem isn't that journalists are being taught improperly; it's that the foundations of journalistic education are faulty.

The notion of a special program for journalists first surfaced at the turn of the century, when Joseph Pulitzer dreamed of founding a school of journalism at Columbia. In 1902, he offered the university $2 million to establish one. The administration wavered; Pulitzer's peers thought the idea ludicrous. As Michael Lewis once reported in The New Republic, a New York newspaper editor "suggested that one might as well set up a graduate school in swimming."

Last goes to suggest that instead of teaching students how to be journalists, schools should focus on providing them with real knowledge:

Instead of educating future journalists on the nuts and bolts of journalism--because let's be honest, it isn't rocket science or even carpentry--it would make more sense simply to teach them things. Facts, it turns out, are useful.

Most people can write a nut graph after 30 minutes of practice, but comparatively few people can explain, say, econometrics, or fluid dynamics, or the history of the French Revolution. Aspiring journalists don't need trade-craft--they need a liberal-arts education that gives them a base of mastery in actual academic subjects.

Such knowledge might help journalists avoid such embarassing mistakes as not being aware of the political views of John Kenneth Galbraith or knowing that the American military decoration for being wounded or killed in action is the Purple Heart, not the Purple Star (to cite two recent examples from the corrections page of the "paper of record").

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Book Learnin'

Since the coffers here at Fraters Libertas Inc. have been relatively flush of late, the executive board decided to reinvest a bit of our hard earned filthy lucre. Several untraceable transactions between accounts in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, and Dubai later, an order was placed with Amazon for purposes of continuous learning. Once the shipment arrived at an undisclosed location and was signed for by a Joe E. Sixpack, the contents were distributed by means of dead drops to the relevant parties.

Each of us has been presented with a book to read, review, and pass on.

Saint Paul was given first dibs and chose, Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam by Mark Bowden. Given Saint Paul's usual reading pace and the prodigious amounts of time he spends watching C-SPAN, I would expect his review to be posted no later than the end of the first quarter 2007.

JB Doubtless has been tasked with Imperial Grunts : The American Military on the Ground by Robert D. Kaplan. Once "American Idol" wraps up, I expect JB to knuckle down and knock his assignment off shortly thereafter.

Atomizer has been asked to digest Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror by Mary Habeck. Barring any unexpected binges, a resurgence of the Twins, or a sudden reoccurrence of the gout, Atomizer will likely have something to say on the book very soon. Whether he'll ever post it here is an entirely different matter.

Lastly, I am plowing my way through Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam by John A. Nagl. The main thesis of Nagl's book is that the British counterinsurgency effort in Malaysia succeeded because the British Army was a learning organization, while the US Army was not such an organization in Vietnam and thus was unable to win the war. Nagl spent a year in Iraq as well and shares a few thoughts on what lessons of those two conflicts are applicable there as well as some reasons why Iraq is different. He believes that the US has the opportunity to be victorious in Iraq because the current Army is able to learn and adapt. We certainly better hope that is the case.

An interesting side note in Nagl's book is a discussion on how it was Jomini much more than Clausewitz who proposed that the only way to win a war was to destroy the enemy's army on the battlefield. Over the years, that view has often been incorrectly attributed to Clausewitz, despite the fact that he, much more than Jomini, recognized the importance of the government and the people in ultimate victory, factors which became crucial to the revolutionary war concept espoused by Mao and adapted by many insurgencies in the 20th century. [Editor's note: The preceding paragraph was penned solely for the benefit of JB Doubtless and his buddies at the Claremont Institute.]

Summer School

There's a new conservative organization in Minnesota that's been formed to attempt to counter the political efforts of liberal groups such as Wellstone Action (or should that be Wellstone! Action or maybe Wellstone Action!), TakeAction Minnesota, etc.. It's called the Minnesota Academy for Conservative Leadership:

Minnesota Academy for Conservative Leadership is a 501(c)(4) political education and training organization dedicated to advancing the conservative movement in Minnesota through electoral politics. The Academy was created to meet the challenges that conservatives face here in Minnesota from the burgeoning amount of liberal grassroots organizations pouring millions of dollars to reverse the recent trend of conservative electoral victories.

Among others, the MACL board includes notable names such as Ronald Eibensteiner, Chris Georgacas, Brian LeClair, and former Congressman Vin Weber. They've even included the man least happy to pay for a better Minnesota, David Strom, head of the Taxpayer's League and bete noire of local liberals.

And they've got a campaign tactics seminar set up for this summer:

MACL's kick-off training seminar will be held July 21-23 in St. Paul. Open to conservative candidates, campaign leadership and activists, this training will combine intensive campaign tactics with issue breakout sessions, where attendees can get up-to-the-minute information on current issues facing Minnesota in the coming election.

You've probably heard about Camp Wellstone. Just wait 'til you get a load of Camp Strom. Make that Kamp Strom to really rile the local lefties.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Eden Prairie Parks Not Safe?

is the story I saw last night on channel 5 regarding the sad state of the parks in Eden Fuggin' Prairie.

Eden Prairie residents are becoming concerned about an increase in crime in area parks.

Residents near Nesbitt Park Preserve tell police teens from outside the community are causing problems such as fistfights and graffiti.

"It's almost like they take it over," says Ken Hallonquist of the Nesbitt Park Homeowners Association. "They almost kind of chase you away."

A crowd of nearly 20 youths caused a melee a few weeks ago. Police eventually arrested one young man threatening others with a baseball bat.

Not MPLS. Not even Hopkin(s). Eden Fuggin' Prairie. Not exactly what comes to mind when you think of roving packs of youts (Herman Muster to Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny: "Did you just say 'yout'?") brawling and grafitting a formally nice area.

If you read the small story you will find no details that give any clue to what is actually going on, but the piece last night did get into it. Eden Prairie is home to 700-800 Somali families who are running into problems with youts from MPLS who are apparently reverse-commuting to play basketball at the parks.

It is not clear if it is MPLS Somalis fighting Eden Prairie Somalis or MPLS blacks fighting Eden Prarie Somalis, but there has been a history of bad blood between the latter groups.

For whatever reason, American blacks and Somalis do not get along. Here is an article saying that the biggest problem Somalis are facing is not "Racism" from whites but rather discriminatory behavior by blacks.

"As a general trend, the two groups are having tensions," said Jacqueline Copeland-Carson, a scholar with the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and author of the book, "Creating Africa in America."

Mr. Doerue says his children were picked on and targeted simply because they speak differently.

Accents can also target immigrants as people less familiar with the system and thus more vulnerable to scams, robbery or attack.

Some of the 30 to 40 Somalian families in town have faced other hostilities from black Americans.

It would be interesting to hear from some Eden Prairie residents who have seen the park situation first hand because it sounds like things are out of control.

Appeasement In Our Time

Politicians, scientists, and writers fleeing Europe and coming to America to escape oppression and threats to their very lives? Sounds like 1938.

Try 2006. From today's WSJ (sub. required), Islamist Threats To Dutch Politician Bring Chill at Home:

Three weeks after a Dutch court ordered her out of the building in response to complaints from Mr. Verhagen and other residents, she resigned from Parliament and said she would leave Holland altogether. Her decision follows a cascade of problems: angry neighbors, a government threat to revoke her citizenship and, more generally, growing public disenchantment with her denunciations of both radical Islam and more conventional Muslim doctrines.

The travails of Ms. Hirsi Ali, 36 years old, raise questions about how Europe, seeking calm rather than confrontation, is grappling with the challenges posed by Islamic extremism in its midst. Born in Somalia and raised in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, Ms. Hirsi Ali says the attitude of her neighbors smacks of World War II-style "appeasement." Others say they sympathize with her predicament but fault her for polarizing society with her attacks on Islamic custom as backward and incompatible with Western values.

Let me get this straight:

- Hirsi Ali says that Islam is backward and incompatible with Western values.

- As a result, Islamists threaten her with death, drive her underground, and eventually force her to leave the country, conclusively proving her original assertion.

- And now, SHE is criticized for "polarizing" society?

I fear for the future of Holland.

She's not the only one either:

Across Europe, dozens of people are now in hiding or under police protection because of threats from Muslim extremists. Dutch police say politicians reported 121 death threats last year. The number this year will likely be much higher. Geert Wilders, a right-wing member of parliament who also lives in a high-security apartment owned by the state, says he has received 120 menacing emails and letters since January. One of the latest reads: "Oh you cursed infidel! Don't think you are safe from our mighty organization....It is our wish to kill you by decapitation. Your infidel blood will flow freely on cursed Dutch streets!"

In Germany, several researchers, journalists and members of Parliament receive police protection because of threats by radical Muslims. Hans-Peter Raddatz, an Islamic-studies expert under police protection, recently moved to the U.S.

Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, is also mulling a move to America, at the urging of friends and security contacts. He set off a global storm by publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Twelve Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures are staying out of public for fear of attack.

Mr. Rose complains that Europe is going wobbly. At the height of the cartoon furor in February, Danish businessmen who criticized their publication were denounced as traitors to free speech. Since then, a segment of the public, eager for a return to calm, has favored a more conciliatory approach toward Muslim anger, Mr. Rose says.

Peace (calm) at any price? It really is starting to sound like 1938 all over again.

OutVoxed (again)

It seems like Vox Day has once again managed to stir up a quite a shiite storm. If you've been hiding under a rock lately and missed the fun, just go to his site and start scrolling through the many posts on the controversy.

I'm not going to get into a detailed debate on the matter, but I would like to offer a little advice to the hyperventilating critics who have been harrumphing and thumping their chests in righteous indignation for the last few days.

1. Read the WHOLE piece that started the scrum. If you want to disagree with the comparison Vox employed because you believe that it's not relevant or appropriate, feel free. But don't read more into the article than what he wrote and don't attribute motives or viewpoints to him that are not in evidence.

2. Consider the source. Vox is a master provocateur. He loves to say the things that you're not supposed to say and knows how to push peoples' buttons. Don't think for a moment that he didn't know that his article would elicit exactly this sort of response. He wanted it to and by reacting to what he wrote in the manner that you have, you're playing right into his game. He's laughing at your ill-conceived outrage.

3. Vox Day is not a Nazi. In fact, he's an uber-libertarian and may be the farthest thing from a National Socialist that you could imagine. He likely believes that the only proper role for government is national defense and, if there was a way for each citizen to have their own F-22, he'd probably abolish it entirely. You can accuse him of being tactless and crude at times, but calling him a Nazi only demonstrates your own ignorance.

That is all.

UPDATE-- Rose e-mails to advise:

WND has edited out the Nazi reference. You might want to post an update.

If you want to read the original, unedited version of the article that started the firestorm, you can still find it here.

"Okay ladies now grip the axe with your toes"

I was Googling for some info about a story on channel 5 last night about how parks in Eden Prairie (!) are not safe because of fights and came across a little gem about female firefighters.

Apparently a fire fightin' gal is trying to recruit more dames into the departments of Minnetonka, Bloomington, Chanhassen, Edina and Hopkin(s) by holding a Fire Service Expo on June 10.

But what of minor details like brute strength that women generally lack and is generally needed for the fighting of fires? Oh, that. Well, she's got a solution:

Female firefighters can do the job, Hanlon said, but they might use different techniques from male firefighters.

For example, using an axe to ventilate a burning building requires, from males, significant upper-body strength. But women can learn different ways to hold the axe and use strength from their lower body to do the same task, Hanlon said.

"We still have to do the job," Hanlon said, "but we can find other ways to do it."

Like holding the axe with their toes? (Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces: "I want you to hold it between your knees!")

Carrying an unconscious, 225 pound man from a burning building requires (from anyone) strength. Upper AND lower body strength. How would this fire fightin' gal suggest women approach this task? Perhaps they could grab an axe and (using lower body strength) chop the legs and arms off the victim making him easy to carry in pieces.

They still got the job done (they can sew the pieces on later) they just found another way to do it. It's the same thing.

But in case any of you MEN thinking about becoming firefighters were considering attending this fair, you are not welcome:

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 10.

Where: The fire training tower at 7252 Braemar Blvd., Edina.

For whom: Women who live or work in Eden Prairie, Edina, Bloomington, Minnetonka, Hopkins or Chanhassen who are considering becoming firefighters. This program is not open to men; males who wish to inquire about firefighting may do so at their local departments.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Play Ball

Hugh Hewitt is a long suffering Cleveland Indians fan (all now pause to pity him). While the local nine have given the fans here in Minnesota very little to cheer about this year, I can't imagine the indignity of having to muster support every year for a team that hasn't won a World Series since the Truman administration. Add to that the fact that their current crew just got swept by the Kansas City Royals and you've got a fan base that is absolutely starved for nostalgia.

All of that pent up frustration must have been the compelling force behind Hugh's on-air plea last Thursday for an audio file of his beloved Tribe's futile attempt at capturing The Commissioner's Trophy in 1995. Since World Series rings are rarer in Cleveland than joy is in Mudville, I guess the next best thing for Hugh was the Indians' triumph over the Seattle Mariners in the A.L.C.S. eleven years ago.

was the file I sent to him. He was not too pleased.

So, in the interest of restoring harmony with The Blogfather and forestalling his frequently irrational wrath, I present to Hugh...the Indians winning the '95 A.L. pennant

You're welcome.

Miami Vice, Minnesota Nice

Survey looks at road rage across nation:

Stressed Miami drivers speed, tailgate and cut off other drivers so frequently that the city earned the title of worst road rage in a survey released Tuesday.

AutoVantage, an automobile membership club offering travel services and roadside assistance, also listed Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles and Boston among the top five cities for rude driving.

Minneapolis, Nashville, St. Louis, Seattle and Atlanta were rated as the cities with the most courteous drivers, who were less likely to change lanes without signaling or swear at other motorists.

Having driven in a number of cities around the United States, as well as a few in foreign countries, I would have to concur with the assessment on Miami drivers. I never experienced the rage as much as the complete disregard for any road rules and the utter lack of courtesy for other drivers. Driving in Miami is a Darwinian challenge and only the fittest survive.

Book Drive

Got too many books and magazines cluttering up you house? Scott Johnson has a grand idea of how you can put them to better use:

Sergeant David Thul writes that he is serving with the Minnesota National Guard in Iraq. He asks a simple favor. If you have conservative books or magazines sitting around the house that you'd be willing to part with, he asks that you send them to him for his unit in Iraq. He says that the unit is short of reading material -- he read Sean Hannity's Let Freedom Ring about three months ago and it is still being passed around and read again. He says that books and magazines can be sent directly to the USO or to him:

SGT Dave Thul
Weapons Company 1-133

It isn't enough that these brave soldiers are risking their lives in trying conditions to serve their country, they now also have to put up with reading Hannity? Our troops deserve better than this. Show how much you really support them by sending some spare reading material today. Some good reading material.

UPDATE-- Tim e-mails to inquire:

One question: If I sent my copy of "If It's Not Close They Can't Cheat" to the MN National Guard, would I receive thanks, or would I receive a knock at the door in the middle of the night and be the recipient of a blanket party?

Monday, May 15, 2006


Simpson's Episode 9F13 "I Love Lisa":

After Lisa gives Ralph a valentine out of pity, he falls for her. He invites her to the Krusty 29th Anniversary Show (Chief Wiggum got the tickets after "busting" Krusty at an adult movie explaining, "Krusty knows how to play ball") and, even though she thinks of him as nothing more than a pathetic paste eater, Lisa agrees to go with him. At the show, it all falls apart:

It's the dreaded "Talk with the audience" part. As Krusty wanders the audience in search of a victim, Lisa quietly pleads, "Oh no, don't show me with Ralph." Too late. Ralph professes his love for Lisa and promises to marry her when he grows up. Unable to stand it any longer, Lisa lets out a prolonged yell and adds, "I don't like you. I never liked you. And the only reason I gave you that valentine is that nobody else would!"

Watching a videotape of the incident, Bart narrates the scene frame-by-frame. "Watch this, Lis. You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half." He does so. Lisa covers her face.

I thought of that scene as I listened to Hugh Hewitt's show last night. After Bush's speech, Hugh was doing his darnedest to put the best possible face on it. And since the proposals were not big on specifics, they left some wiggle room for positive interpretation.

Then Hugh had Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers on to follow up. He asked about her for details about what sort of fencing the President had in mind. She replied by rehashing the well-worn excuse, "If we build a fence, they'll just build tunnels."

Hugh was stunned, "staggered" is the word he uses to describe it, and momentarily fell silent. He came to back Myers again, unable to believe that she had really uttered those words. But she stood by them. We can't build a fence, we won't build a fence, stop talking about fences.

If you listen to the show again, you can actually pinpoint the second when Hugh's political heart rips in half.

He Turned Me Into A Newt (supporter)

The idea of Newt Gingrich as a viable candidate for President in 2008 had always struck me as nothing more the Quixotic dream of people who spend too much time watching C-SPAN in their boxers. But after catching Newt's command performance on Meet The Press yesterday morning (full transcript here), I'm suddenly open to the possibility.

Gingrich appeared to be on top of his game. He was well-spoken, engaging, and thoughtful as he delivered a stinging critique of the Congressional GOP's drift from conservative principles along with a few well-aimed barbs at particular Bush administration policies. His attacks were not designed to bring down Republicans, but rather to prod them to actions more likely to help them retain power.

He also delivered a sterling defense of the decision to go to war in Iraq (it should be noted that he definitely has issues with the way the occupation has been handled):

Iraq has been painful, we have learned some very difficult lessons, we are better prepared today if we have to do something than we were four years ago. But if you were to say, again, because all of history is looking forward. I would--I read the--as you know I'm on the Defense Policy Board--and I went--I read the initial report, the 100-page report the president got. Knowing what the intelligence community--not in the U.S., in Russia, in France, in Italy, in Britain--knowing what they believed in 2003, it would have been irresponsible not to have eliminated Saddam's regime in 2003.

Every thrust by Russert was deftly parried by Gingrich, who calmly and confidently defended his own past actions, unabashedly defended conservative views, and articulated his positions in a manner sure to get the blood flowing among the most anemic members of the conservative base.

Gingrich is in the unique position of being a Republican insider who's been outsider long enough to avoid being negatively associated with the party's recent struggles. He harkens back to the "good ol' days" of the Nineties when conservative Republicans could still be proud of the party's control of Congress.

He does carry some baggage with him of course and I don't know how "electable" he'd be in a national race, but when you listen to him and then consider the alternatives, a "Gingrich in 2008" campaign starts looking awfully appealing. And realistic.

Gingrich himself remains coy on the subject:

MR. RUSSERT: But you're not, you're not ruling out running?

MR. GINGRICH: I'm not ruling out running, but I'm also saying we have real things to do in '06. We have real things to do in '07. And it'll be nice to have a couple of years of talking about solutions, not just talking about ambitions.

But I don't think he's running around Iowa because he likes to collect feed hats. Run Newt run.

UPDATE: Kurt at Writing History was already on the bandwagon.