Friday, June 30, 2006

You know, your little hair hat there

While channel surfing tonight, my wife noticed an outrageous toup' on C-Span, being sported by one James Kunder. He was talking about the efforts to limit poppie production in Afghanistan, but we were far too distracted by the hair to pay attention to what he was saying.

I Should Have Known Better With A Vet Like You

Thursday night trivia at Keegan's is back to normal. The Fraters crew is riding a winning streak, the smoking patio is open for business, out-of-staters are making long overdue pilgrimages and even the Guinness seems to be tasting better than ever.

Last night's festivities, as always, began with some lively pre-game banter. Eventually, the discussion turned to the recent Supreme Court decision to clog up the U.S. court system with the pleas of hate-consumed jihadist cowards who would just as soon wish to see this country engulfed in flames as they would lend momentary credence to our judicial system in order to save their pathetic souls from retribution.

When one of the group said he felt that the Court did the U.S. Military a huge favor with this ruling, I was thoroughly flummoxed. This man happens to be a proud former who bravely served in the last war that the left in this country openly hoped we'd lose. I expected rage and resentment. I expected bitterness and bile. What I got was what seemed to be unequivocal support for the Court's latest misstep.

I turned to him and asked why on Earth he would believe such a thing. He looked at me, smiled and said two simple words: No prisoners.

I will never question the motives of a Marine again.

Still The Champs

I hate to burst Robb's Hollywood induced bubble, but unless you defeat the reigning champion, you cannot lay claim to victory. A draw means that the holder of the title, retains it. Since the Fraters squad was the defending champion, our draw in trivia at Keegan's last night means that we continue as champions for another week.

But we must give the lad from Arizona credit. Playing on the road and teamed with Tommy from The Patriot radio station and Paul from Wog's Blog (who frankly seemed more interested in tilting at windmills than playing trivia), Robb somehow found a way to lead his squad to a score of twenty-four out of twenty-five. Not bad at all, despite the fact that the quiz was far from difficult.

It featured a patriotic theme and it was curious that the team featuring David Strom and Mark Yost fared so poorly. As Sisyphus plaintively asked, "Why does David Strom hate America?" We'll probably never learn the answer to that query, but those of us at Keegan's last night can go to our graves knowing what the word peeler means.

We also had a chance to engage in a little debate with Robb about some of the pressing issues of the day. Although I find myself disagreeing with much of what Robb believes, I do admire the uniformity that he and other like-minded libertarians (Vox Day for instance) tend to exhibit in their arguments about government power. It doesn't matter if they're talking about Bush, Clinton, Roosevelt, or Lincoln, they apply the same principles (unlike many on the left). In my opinion they are consistently wrong, but at least they're consistent.

The Gospel According To...Hugh?

If you haven't heard yet, shock jock Hugh "Jelly Bean" Hewitt will be in the Twin Cities this weekend. Thankfully it's not snowmobile season, but if you happen to see an uncoordinated silver haired gent trying to navigate a jet ski on a local waterway (while probably still wearing his omnipresent Dockers), I would advise that you get the heck out of the water.

Hugh will be broadcasting his show tonight (5pm-8pm) from the White Bear Lake Superstore if you want to stop by and give Hugh your regards. The people from Operation Minnesota Nice will also be there, so if you head out to White Bear Lake, be sure to drop off some items for our troops overseas.

On Saturday and Sunday, Hugh will be speaking (preaching?) at the Cedar Valley Church. He'll be at the Eagan (that's how we spell it around these parts) facility for the Saturday night service and at the Bloomington church on Sunday morning. If you get a chance, drop in and listen to Hugh explain what kind of talk radio show Jesus would have had.

Driving Under the Influence

Forbes magazine reports on a new study examining the effect of cell phone use on traffic accidents:

Maneuvering through traffic while talking on the phone increases the likelihood of an accident five-fold and is actually more dangerous than driving drunk, U.S. researchers report. That finding held true whether the driver was holding a cell phone or using a hands-free device, the researchers noted.

Sobering news there. But this study might only be scratching the surface of what's happening on American streets. Including the streets of our very own Twin Cities, if this Pioneer Press story can be believed:

... current [Minnesota Timberwolves ] center Eddie Griffin was served with a civil suit accusing him of crashing his SUV into a parked car because he was drunk and watching a pornographic DVD.

The complaint, filed in St. Paul District Court, alleges the crash occurred because he was "under the influence of alcohol" and masturbating while watching pornography on a TV set in his dashboard."

I think it's safe to assume, Eddie Griffin was not using a hands free device in this incident.

Simultaneously driving the streets of Minneapolis while drunk AND "actively watching" pornography on his dashboard TV set? The words of former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich from NBA draft night in 2001 upon acquiring Griffin have never rung truer:

He's so versatile," Tomjanovich said

And Griffin will finally get the last laugh on his critics, who had this to say when he was a mere prospect out of Seton Hall:

Ball handling while not bad could stand a tad bit more improvement on protecting the ball as he turned the ball over too many times.

I don't think anyone can legitimately question his ball handling skills again.

Yes, I'll stop now.

It's His World, We Just Live In It

Yesterday, he made an in-studio guest appearance on the Hugh Hewitt show (joining the likes of Mark Steyn, James Lileks, et al). Tomorrow, he'll be guest hosting the Patriot Insider show on AM1280 from 9am-11am (listen live here). What's next, The Nihilist In Golf Pants anchoring a local news broadcast with his wife? It is a brave new world we're living in folks.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Drink Whisky And Shut Up

Friday, July 7th. 7pm. Keegan's. Scotch. Cigars. NARN. There or square. 'Nuf said?

A Friend In Need

When you see a colleague suffering, your first impulse is to ask what you can do to help. Often events are beyond your control and there is nothing that can be done to assist your friend. But there are also those times when an opportunity presents itself to step in and make a difference. And this may be one of those times.

Our friend and blogger of note, Captain Ed is in rough shape. He's far too proud to admit that he's on the ropes, but those of us who know him, know that the last few days have been particularly difficult. For you see Ed needs a transfusion. And he needs it immediately.

The particular requirements of his needs mean that they are likely only to be filled by those living in the greater Los Angeles area. And so we appeal to readers from that region to consider pitching in and making a small sacrifice on their part to help Ed take a big step on the road to recovery.

The recent bloodletting at the Metrodome has left Ed with dangerously low, almost anemic levels of Dodger Blue in his system. His National League cell count is also down and if something isn't down soon, he may be forced to accept the idea of the DH and live the rest of his life supporting the Twins.

If you're a Dodger fan and you haven't consumed Chablis or sushi in the last twenty-four hours (narrowing the pool down greatly), please consider donating a pint or two of Dodger Blue and helping Ed through this very difficult period. We thank you and Ed thanks you too (well he would if he wasn't vomiting at this very moment over the sorry state of Dodger pitching).

UPDATE: I was just checking out the standings and I noticed that although the Twins recent run hasn't brought them much closer to Detroit or Chicago (what are the chances that when you go 9-1 in your last ten, the two teams in front of you do the same?), they have opened up a nice seven game cushion over the fourth place Indians.

In fact, the Indians are now only 9.5 games up on the last place Royals, who have gone 7-3 in their last ten contests. While most of the AL Central has been tearing it up of late (The Twins, Tigers, Pale Hose, and Royals are a combined 34-6), the Tribe has dropped six of its last ten.

Talk About A Hostile Work Environment

An e-mailer who wishes to remain anonymous (for obvious reasons) writes to comment on my recent post on music at work:

Your "Leading Economic Indicator" post really struck home with me, because I work at a company in Saint Paul. The owner there insists on piping music into the front office over the P.A. There is SO much more about your comment on "subjecting a workforce to 'spirit-crushing' music" than you realize, Chad...

When I came back to work there in February (I had worked there previously, 1995-98), they were quietly piping in Minnesota Public Radio's classical music service. Quietly, and unobtrusively. Fine. But then, the owner turned up the volume, and switched to "Cities 97." And now, we're back to the Lite Rock I endured the first time I worked there. It's even worse than before, because they're putting in Shania Twain songs into their narrow rotation. I actually put in earplugs one afternoon so that I could concentrate on my work, but I got scolded by my boss, the owner's son.

Almighty God, and thousands upon thousands of doctors, oncologists, and cancer patients, all know of the dangers of second-hand cigarette smoke. It is REALLY too bad there is no corollary for "background music." I now wake up in the morning with demented, minor-key versions of Celine Dion tunes going through my head. I should be able to enjoy Scarlatti, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Smokey Robinson at home in the evening, but the Chinese Water Torture-effect of Lite Rock (with the same @#$%--- play list every day) leaves me just wanting nothing but quiet. And that's sad, IMHO.

Steven Halpern is the author of an excellent quote that you can probably appreciate, and it would go VERY well with your post:

"When Mozart was composing at the end of the eighteenth century, the city of Vienna was so quiet that fire alarms could be given verbally, by a shouting watchman mounted on top of Saint Stefan's Cathedral. In twentieth-century society, the noise level is such that it keeps knocking our bodies out of tune and out of their natural rhythms. This ever-increasing assault of sound upon our ears, minds, and bodies adds to the stress load of civilized beings trying to live in a highly complex environment."

I left the office three hours ago, but Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight," and Elton John and Kiki Dee's "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" are now going through my head. I think I need to vomit...

Something's Brewing In New Ulm

Schell's Showplace:

NEW ULM--With blue skies providing a perfect setting for its pastoral scenery, the August Schell Brewery dedicated its new visitors center Wednesday with a Marti family reunion and ribbon cutting.

About 35 members of the Marti family, ranging from 84-year-old George Olsen, a fourth-generation descendant of August Schell, to toddlers in the seventh generation, attended the dedication.

The new building wraps around the brewery's old truck garage, which was converted several years ago into a brewing museum. It includes a gift shop upstairs, and a rathskeller, or taproom, on the lower level. A patio off the back of the building gives brewery visitors a peaceful place to sit, look off into the woods and listen to the birds while sipping a Schell's product.

Note to self: Make plans to visit Schell's Brewery again. Soon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

This One's For The Girls

Damn. I'm almost out of booze. I've been finally polishing off all those 3/4 empty bottles I had been accumulating for years.

Off to Sam's Buze Mart. I love this place because just like Sam's Club, his Buze Mart means huge bottles and delightful low, low prices. One of the side benefits of doing major business here is knowing that I'm screwing over the poor, unskilled saps that work there with the below-poverty wages, no benefits and lack of advancement opportunities (if the left is to be believed).

Let's see here, Jim Beam 1.75, Smirnoff 1.75, Jose Cuervo 1.75, Tanqueray 1.75 and four bottles of wine. That's the heavy lifting. Some ahole is upset because he can't use his Visa. It's a Sam's Club buddy, no credit cards. How else are we supposed to keep the working poor down?

I also stopped at my local likker store for some beer. As I've said before, I love a good microbrew as much as the next Elder, but today I spied an 18 pack of delicious Old Style for ten bucks that could not be passed up. I also saw a jar of Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey and have been wanting to try it for a while so I picked that up.

Back home.

Ahh...that's much more like it. I love the feeling of opening my booze hutch and seeing nothing but solid bottles.

Now what will I mix up tonight?

Crap. I gotta watch my boy as the wife takes a moment for herself. Have you ever tried to mix a proper cocktail with a three month old on your shoulder? It aint easy.

Let's see, maybe I can come up with something even the wife would enjoy. Usually after I mix up a particularly brutal combination of hard buzes and little mix, I make her take a swig and delight in the faces she makes. Lets me know it's a Real Drink. But this time, this one is for the ladies:

JB's Dame Drink

2 shots tequila
2 shots Captain Morgan (hey, it's still a drink)
splash of strawberry margarita mix
splash of regular margarita mix
splash ginger ale
splash lime juice
splash cherry juice
splash cherry liquer (adds a slight dryness to the drink)

After appropriate shaking in your shaker, pour contents into a proper high ball glass with plenty of ice.

I guarantee even the daintiest of gals will enjoy.

Trying To Knock Jack Off The Hill

The Blog From The Core has a profile of Diana Irey, the woman challenging Jack Murtha in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District:

Ms. Irey is now in her third term as county commissioner. Why did she decide to get into the Congressional race?

"It was just before Christmas, and Mr. Murtha was saying we need to redeploy from Iraq, and I started thinking about what he was saying at that time. I talked to a few people about the length of time he has been in office--32 years. And I spoke with people about his issues. I started getting phone calls from people in the district encouraging me to take a hard look at this race. So I did that. When I took a look at Mr. Murtha and this race, I decided that he doesn't at all represent what the people in this area want. So I felt quite a responsibility to take him on."

You can make a donation to her campaign here.

Below The Beltway

Although Morton Kondrake is not Saint Paul's favorite Beltway Boy (Freddie Barnes won his favor long ago), I'm sure that he'll be reading this interview with Mor-ton conducted by Rick, The Real Ugly American:

TUA: Which was my next question. So you think it is fair to say that ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSBC, they all lean left?

Mort: right, you know I don't think that they sit down and say ok how can we help the liberals today. I just think that the people who populate the mainstream news media tend to be liberals. You know their not raving liberals. Their not far left liberals but they have a mindset which is to the left of the center of the country and they don't understand conservatives at all. They don't understand what conservatives think about and therefore they don't present a fair picture of the world. Certainly not a balanced picture of the world.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

That Was Then, This Is Bush

Over on The Home Front, Mark Yost notes that during the Clin-ton administration the media didn't seem quite so concerned that the government was tracking international financial transactions:

A decade ago, when I was an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe, I took an interest in money laundering and what the G-7 (now G-8) were doing to try and stem it. Meetings were often held in Brussels, where I was based, and on several trips back to the U.S. I visited the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a then little-known adjunct of the Treasury Department that was developing some pretty sophisticated software to not only track international financial transactions, but to disentangle them so that they could see who was really transferring the money. The targets then, of course, were tax cheats and drug dealers and there was nary a peep out of the press about civil rights and the Fourth Amendment. Of course, now that we're fighting an enemy that can really do harm to us, and the avenger is George Bush, the whole thing is an outrage.

Leading Economic Indicator

We have a PA system at work that also plays music in the background. Usually the music is innocuous and almost unnoticeable unless you're unlucky enough to be located right under a speaker. It does get a bit annoying around the holidays, when the rotation of the same forty-odd Christmas songs is played day after day after day from the time you come back from Thanksgiving until the Christmas break. Most of the time though it's a non-factor.

But lately, one particular song featured on the PA play list has become the plague of my mornings: Cats In The Cradle by Harry Chapin. Good Lord, is there another song that so malevolently assaults your sunny disposition and sucks the will to work live right out of your very soul?

There has to be a inversely proportional relationship between the amount of time one spends listening to Harry Chapin and one's productivity. Why in the world any company would choose to subject its workforce to such spirit-crushing music is beyond me. All I know is that if this continues, we run the risk of dragging the entire economy into a recession. And you know we won't have a good time then.

Democracy, Whisky, Sexy!

What are three things that you'll find in abundance during the July 7th Scotch tasting with the Northern Alliance Radio Network at Keegan's Irish Pub & Restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis?

Well, we might need to work on the last one a bit, but I understand that Atomizer's going to unveil his kicky new 'do that night and the ladies will tell you that there's nothing sexier than a well-coiffed architect.

Those of you with an appreciation for the joys of Scotch will be able to savor samples of some of the finest whisky around for a mere twenty-five bones. And you may get a chance to pair your Scotch with a fine stogie from St. Croix Cigar if you are wise in the ways of tobacco.

If your tastes don't run to the malted delicacies from Scotland, fear not. Keegan's offers a wide selection of wine, beer, and other spirits sure to please even those with the most discriminating taste. Yes JB, they do have Apple Pucker.

Come on down to Keegan's on July 7th for a taste of the good life.

Monday, June 26, 2006


In a review of John Podhoretz's "Can She Be Stopped?" that appeared in the June 19th issue of National Review, R. Emmett Tyrrell points out the inaccurate manner in which the term "neocon" is commonly used these days and suggests a more appropriate, if much more difficult for liberals to swallow, alternative:

Podhoretz is the son of Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, two brilliant New York intellectuals who were among the real neoconservatives--that is to say, the small band of liberal Democrats who broke with liberalism when it went off into its narcissistic fantasy world in the early 1970s. To be a true neoconservative one has to be at least in one's sixties--and a little embarrassed about the good old days. That the younger hawkish foreign-policy advocates are now called neoconservatives by the media is another example of the sloppy thought that pervades the Kultursmog. More accurately these are conservatives with a Rooseveltian-- not Wilsonian--agenda. They would use far more force than President Woodrow Wilson in spreading Western value-- and they would test the limits of the Constitution, as FDR did in confronting Nazism.

Tyrrell's commentary raises a question for the Left to ponder in their criticism of just about every aspect of the Bush administration's conduct of the war: if faced with same existential threat to civilization from radical Islamists, what would FDR do?

Trust, But Verify

In the mailbox this week, an advanced copy of a new book that looks fascinating: Tailgating, Sacks, and Salary Caps: How the NFL Became the Most Successful Sports League in History." It's written by our old friend Mark Yost, so it has to be good. Not available for sale until September, but advance orders are being taken on Amazon.

I've begun my skim review and it's very entertaining. But this excerpt jumped out as highly curious:

[Ben] Koster used to get annoyed when his cousin, Paul Happe, would come into Al's Bar and cheer for an opposing player to score against the Vikings simply because it was good for his fantasy team. "I'd scream what are you doing?" said Koster, "and he'd reply, 'I can win money."

Yost's journalistic ethics are pristine, I'm sure. But I must admit, that has a bit of a James Frey, A Million Little Pieces vibe to it. A guy ironically named "Happe" who apparently is a nihilist, with no soul. And he sublimates his love and loyalty to our home town heroes, all for a few filthy pieces of silver. Can a human being really be that cynical? As drama and the setting up of a villian, this story sounds too good to be true. I hope the editors checked to confirm that this Paul Happe character really does exist.

What is not in question is that Mark Yost continues his prolific and important work since his departure from the Pioneer Press Editorial Board. And that includes his blogging at Iraq Heroes. Don't miss the text of his recent speech to the Army-Air National Guard Surgeons Conference in the Twin Cities. Excerpts:

Yes, the enemy is inflicting horrific casualties on our troops and the civilian population. But thanks to a revolution in combat medicine that has gone largely unreported in the media, soldiers who just five years ago would have been killed are coming home and going on to lead prosperous lives. Some are even returning to active duty.

Another advancement in combat medicine is a bandage made of chitosan, a biodegradable carbohydrate found in shrimp and lobster shells that bonds with blood cells and helps form a clot. There's another new bandage that contains fibrinogen and thrombin, clotting proteins that can reduce blood loss by up to 85 percent."Both products have been highly effective and there are many reports from the field where they have been able to stop bleeding that normal bandages have not been able to control," according to Army literature.And we?re using this great medical technology to save the lives of Iraqis as well as our own soldiers.

Shrimp and lobster shell imbued bandages? It's news to me, but that I can believe. A Vikings fan named "Happe" selling out his dreams and his comrades for a few dollars at Al's Bar, preposterous!


If you were listening to the radio this morning and noticed a horrible gassy odor that made it difficult to breath, don't be alarmed. It was just Rusty Humphries filling in for Laura Ingraham. I don't know if it was a case of too much Beef-A-Reeno or if Humphries is simply the foulest hack on the conservative talk radio circuit.

Hot Time In The City

What: Scotch tasting and cigar-smoking evening with the Northern Alliance Radio Network

Where: The patio at Keegan's Irish Pub & Restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis

When: Friday July 7th at 7pm

Why: More fun than you should legally be allowed to have (and given its recent history, it's quite possible that the City of Minneapolis may soon ban any such future gatherings)

Cost: $25 for a sampling of top shelf single malts with a Scotch tasting expert.

There will also be a cigar based trivia contest with winners receiving cigars specially selected to compliment the Scotches. Cigars will be provided by the fine gentlemen from St. Croix Cigar in Hudson.

No pre-registration necessary. Just show up at Keegan's on the night of July 7th. Even if you're not a Scotch fan, stop by for the usual mix of beer, food, and camaraderie that Keegan's is known for. Hope to see you there.

UPDATE-- Theresa e-mails with her regrets:

Although I am a proud MOB member, I'd sincerely like to know how many women drink whiskey and smoke cigars? And just how would I let my DFL husband know that I was going to a mostly Republican whiskey-drinking and cigar-smoking gathering? Thanks for the invite, though. I will be there in spirit.


A beer lover

First of all, there are no doubt some women who do enjoy fine whisky and cigars. But even if you are not among them, it doesn't mean that you won't enjoy the event at Keegan's. You don't have to participate in the Scotch tasting if it's not your bag. You can avail yourself of the many fine beers that Keegan's offers on tap. Or wine, vodka, gin, or whatever your preferred beverage of choice happens to be.

The second part your problem is a little dicier. This just might be a good opportunity to show your husband that conservatives are not the uptight, dour lot that we are often portrayed as in the media. In fact, he may discover that he enjoys hanging out with a group largely made up of happy, well-adjusted people (from a piece in today's WSJ by Arthur C. Brooks-subscription required):

For example, data collected on Americans in 2004 by the National Opinion Research Center show that self-described political conservatives are almost twice as likely as political liberals to say they are very happy with their lives. These differences are not due to demographics such as education, income, age, gender or race. Indeed, if two adults are identical in all these ways and only differ in their politics, the conservative will be, on average, 14 percentage points more likely to say he or she is very happy than the liberal.

Political conservatives are also far less likely than liberals to express maladjustment to their adult lives. For example, adults on the political right are only half as likely as those on the left to say, "at times, I think I am no good at all." They are also less likely to say they are dissatisfied with themselves, they are inclined to feel like a failure, or they are pessimistic about their futures.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Coals To Newcastle And Whatnot

In case you were curious, yes it is a nightmare to drive four Russians with limited English skills from Eden Prairie to Saint Paul for a 6:30pm dinner reservation on a Thursday night. The only consolation was that I was able to expose them to the joys of American media in the process. And that AM-1280 was one of the presets on the radio in the company vehicle, which I had never driven before. And that the Martini I enjoyed before dinner was delicious.

Okay, so maybe nightmare was a little strong. But the congestion was miserable. For a considerable time, we were bogged down like the Wermacht in '41, when the fall rains turned the roads to Moscow into a muddy quagmire (a truly appropriate use of the term). Desperate for something to talk about, I asked the cove riding in front with me about the World Cup. Turns out he hates soccer. His sport of choice? Ice hockey. Talk about an icebreaker.

Very Gross Domestic Product

Usually I leave the economic visual aids to King, but this chart from a recent edition of National Review was so striking that I had to run with it.

It is a bit small and hard to read, but the article that accompanied it tells the tale of the economic tape. And the U.S. is in a class of its own:

The accompanying chart illustrates the point. The United States is a giant. Its GDP is roughly comparable to that of Japan, Germany, the U.K., and France combined. But the really striking thing is that the U.S. is so prosperous and productive that many of its cities have larger economies than whole countries.

In 2005, for instance, the New York metropolitan area alone out-produced all but eight countries. Russia, on an economic roll because of its massive oil wealth, has a much smaller economy than New York.

Los Angeles topped both Belgium and the Netherlands. The annual production of our nation's capital was almost identical to that of Poland. The Iranians are certainly causing political problems for the West. Their nuclear development has tied our diplomats in knots. Their threats move oil prices. In terms of purchasing power, however, they are Lilliputians. Even with all of their oil wealth, the Iranians have about the same size economy as Detroit. And Iran is relatively wealthy in its part of the world. Pakistan has about the same economic heft as Cleveland. If you could convince someone to give you the economy of Milwaukee in exchange for that of Kuwait, you would come out ahead (and have a beer to toast your good fortune).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Look Who's Talking

It appears Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Collins has been attempting to broaden his listening horizons beyond The Splendid Table and the Savvy Traveler.

On the recommendation of Gary Miller at Kennedy v. the Machine, I started listening to [Hugh Hewitt's] radio program and, I'm sorry, I just couldn't continue. It's not my cup of team (sic). Lest you think , "aha, he admits he's against conservatives," well, no, I don't listen to Al Franken and those folks either for pretty much the same reason.

Comparing the Hewitt program to Al Franken? Aha - he admits he has no idea what he's talking about.

Although I am surprised to see him burying the hatchet in the backs of Al Franken and "those folks" - which I have to assume would include former MPR queen Katherine Lanpher who co-hosted his program until jumping ship from the good ship Franken-tanic a few months ago. Is he admitting MPR's Midmorning under her watch wasn't his cup of tea(m) either?

Back to his review of Hewitt:

I just don't think it's very good radio. Plus I usually only listen in my car and since I started going deaf, I've had to stop listening to the radio so that I don't miss stuff I need to hear -- police cars, ambulances, and the sound of a crankshaft breaking in two, for example.

I don't know what's worse, getting compared to Al Franken or being judged by someone who works for MPR that your show isn't very good radio.

Personally, I like Hewitt. I listen to all talk radio, all the time (including Air America and MPR) and Hewitt has one of the best shows on the air right now. Beyond his ebullient personality and presentation and his excellent analytical abilities of the news, he regularly brings on some of the most provocative intellectuals and articulate communicators of this generation: Victor Davis Hanson, Christopher Hitchens, Mark Steyn, James Lileks, and others. Not to mention giving copious amounts of air time to the best and brightest among liberals, like Erwin Chemerinsky, Peter Beinart, Matthew Yglesias, and others.

But according to MPR's Bob Collins, not good radio. Back to the wit and wisdom of Sound Money with Erica Whitlinger for him.

The silver lining for Bob is that he's able to delicately sample something like Hugh Hewitt, quickly spit it out in revulsion, and it's over. He can turn it off and never have to deal with it again. And if enough people agree with his opinion, that will be it for Hewitt. He'd be cancelled, off the air, and no longer irritating the eardrums of the likes of Bob Collins.

Ah, if only that were the case with all broadcast entities on the dial! Because, whether we the people consider MPR to be good radio or not, there is no getting away from them. We are joined to them at the pocketbook. No matter what we think of MPR programming, we are legally required to have a portion of our incomes redirected to support them each and every blessed year. And even if the overwhelming majority of the people agreed it wasn't good radio, they will, (and do) go on and on and on. The government may not be good for producing quality radio, but it is very good for producing job security. I suspect those two conditions are not unrelated.

Hugh Hewitt regularly devotes hours of his program to discussion of the media with his critics and other liberal practitioners of the trade. If I may forward a programming suggestion, I think an hour with Bob Collins discussing what makes good radio would be fascinating. And, for the taxpayers, horrifying.

Simon Says

Typically, we turn down requests for interviews from other bloggers because we can't possible imagine why anyone would care about our answers to the standard fare questions that most of these interviews involve. However, in a moment of weakness (or possibly intoxication), we made an exception for Simon from the luridly named Bloggasm (I can only imagine the sort of Google searches he gets). The fact that the interview was short and the questions well-prepared made the entire ordeal somewhat tolerable.

Since the other members of this fine blog appear to be taking a European approach to their duties of late (I knew I should have never agreed to the twelve weeks of vacation a year clause), I took the liberty of speaking for the group.

Read the interview here. Ignore the related posts links at the end. I think they have something to do with Atomizer's favorite pastimes.

Oh, Those Catholic Values

This tidbit from a City Pages interview with 1st Congressional District DFL candidate Tim Walz (ironically touted as "from the cafeteria to Congress?" on the cover) caught my eye:

CP: The First District runs along the entire border of southern Minnesota and is viewed as being socially conservative. There is a reference to your "Catholic values" on your website. Are you pro-choice or pro-life on abortion?

Walz: I am pro choice, openly pro choice. And the reason for that is that if our goal is to get women true opportunities, true choice, and to reduce the number of abortions, criminalization is not the way to go. That is just based on fact. The second part is the privacy issue: me extending my values and my beliefs into somebody else's values and beliefs on something as personal as that. Guess the Catholic values thing was more the social justice thing. When I went to the CYO camps, the message always was, Don't be too big for your britches; look out for people less fortunate because it could be you. There was a real sense that we are all this together. I reference those values because I feel strongly about it.

Yeah, guess you weren't really all that serious about that whole "Catholic values thing" after all, were you? Must have been a phase you were going through.

On the abortion issue, reports show that 71 percent of women who have abortions one year later say it was strictly because of economic means. So in the Clinton years when we were having the ability to provide health care and the ability to provide daycare and food, the WIC program, and those things, the abortion numbers went way down. And in the Bush administration they have gone way up. I think there are some people who are maybe searching for a little personal salvation on this and I know they feel really strongly about it. But I say, if you really want to reduce the number of abortions you make sure there are opportunities for women and that our education system is strong.

I'm constantly amazed that no matter how times an alleged fact is refuted and proven untrue, there's always an opportunistic politician (usually a Dem) who's willing to dredge it up and give it new life. Abortions have increased under Bush, right? Wrong!

Politicians from Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Howard Dean have recently contended that abortions have increased since George W. Bush took office in 2001.

This claim is false. It's based on an opinion piece that used data from only 16 states. A study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute of 43 states found that abortions have actually decreased. Update, May 26: The author of the original claim now concedes that the Guttmacher study is "significantly better" than his own.

Not that this will stop Walz or the next fact-challenged Democrat from making this thoroughly discredited assertion early and often between now and November.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Friendliest Evil Super Genius Ever?

I gotta admit that this is pretty sweet.

An Empty Blouse?

For everything that you need to know about Patty Wetterling and her run for Congress, check out her campaign blog. What? You were expecting something more meaty?

But I'm Just Back-dated, Yeah

Two good articles from the opinion page of today's Wall Street Journal and its online counterpart. The first (available to fat-cat capitalist subscribers only), by Holman W. Jenkins, one of my favorite scribblers, seeks to defend the much-maligned practice of back-dating CEO stock options:

Let's try to remember -- as some of the subsequent scandal coverage hasn't -- that options typically vest over time, and the value of the CEO's pay package is determined by two factors, not one: The net price of the options multiplied by the number of options.

These simple facts make a mockery of two standard assumptions of the media coverage: that backdating automatically means CEOs were "padding" their pay; and that backdating is the equivalent of being allowed to bet on a horse race after it has been run.

Think about it this way: Options packages don't spring out of the ground, but must be designed and agreed upon. A company and its executive both have an interest in simplifying the negotiation as well as an interest in understanding clearly what the package is likely to be worth.

Why would backdating be appealing in this light? Because it lets one parameter be locked in so negotiation can focus efficiently on the other, the size of the grant. It eliminates a perverse incentive to game the stock price during the negotiation. It leaves a valued executive no reason to grump about the issue date or feel there was any invidious message in its selection, yet the company retains full control over the size of the package.

The second (free to all the wretched refuse), is by Eric Peters and predicts the demise of the new generation of bitchin' Camaro (cue The Dead Milkmen):

The new Camaro will probably die on the vine for the same reasons--and a couple of new ones, too.

And again, it's not all that hard to understand why. Or to see the iceberg dead ahead.

Unlike the Mustang--which has always managed to appeal to a broad base of buyers ranging from young women to old men and everyone in between--the Camaro is and always has been a strutting muscle machine. A car for drive-throughs, Friday night cruising, and teenage boys.

Back in the day, we referred to such vehicles as "penis cars" owing to the belief that the owners must be seeking to make up for certain deficiencies in other areas of their manhood. No, I don't see a lot of gals being in the market for such a ride either.

The Face Of The Enemy

The barbaric murder of two US soldiers in Iraq is horrific, but hardly surprising. Brutally torturing captured prisoners to death is a page right out of the mujahideen playback from the war against the Russians in Afghanistan. After a few such incidents, Russian troops took to making sure that they saved the last round for themselves rather than be taken alive. A precaution that US cavalry soldiers on the frontier also were advised to take during the Indian Wars and one that will no doubt be considered by US troops in Iraq going forward.

Living In Never Land

Gary Larson examines the irony of the Star Tribune editorial board's call for "civility in public discourse" in a piece at Intellectual Conservative

Jonathan Swift these editors are not. Satirical? Try juvenile, snooty and smug, besides inaccurate. "War on terrorism?" Gosh, what war?

Catch the mean-spirited conjectures? Marked by my "[sic]" as in "thus as written," they suggest no need for textual analysis of some wacky-tacky stuff. It's all upfront, easy to see: Forget facts, ignore truth, make up stuff, all to malign "King George." It has all the earmarks of high school journalism. Would the editors please, just Grow Up?

Don't hold your breath Gary.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

He's Back--And This Time It's Personal

Anthony Sacramone notes some disturbing cinematic news at FIRST THINGS:

Somebody thought The Passion needed a sequel, and not merely in the theological sense. What's more, somebody thought that Tim LaHaye, coauthor of those uber-bestselling successful Left Behind comic books, was the man to produce it. And so he shall. The movie is tentatively entitled, you guessed it, The Resurrection. The screenwriter is Lionel Cheswynd, whose penmanship credits include The Hanoi Hilton, Kissinger and Nixon, and P.T. Barnum. Sony is the studio--the same studio that brought you The Da Vinci Code. It's set to be released Easter-ish 2007. This is the most frightening news I've heard since Sylvester Stallone announced he was making Rambo IV.

A Hard One To Swallow

Hugh is trying to gin up interest in the adventures of SuperDuane.

I had some other super heroes in mind for the dynamic duo:

The Gary and Ace of the airwaves make a nice team, don't they?

(Thanks to Derek from Freedom Dogs for the assist.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Kudos To The 'Canes

Congratulations to the Carolina Hurricanes on their much deserved Stanley Cup championship. They were the better team tonight and earned their 3-1 Game Seven victory. I just wish the Oilers had shot a bit more in the second period and hit the net a bit more in the third. But it was a good game and it capped off a season that showed that the NHL is indeed back and better than ever. Let the party in Raleigh begin.

UPDATE: Gee, thanks for the extensive post-game coverage NBC. You couldn't spare more than twelve minutes of watching the players celebrate with the Cup?


When did the freaking families start thinking it was okay to come on the ice at the end of the game? It's not. Get off the ice. You weren't part of the team. I saw a bunch of trophy wives standing there YAKKING ON CELL PHONES! (btw if I see a woman operating a motor vehicle, I swear nine times out of ten she will be yakking on a cell phone. It's very consistent).

Give the men their due and get off the damn ice!

Things That Are Impossible To Put A Positive Spin On

#683---Cutting your finger (almost to the bone) with a dull knife while trying to open the wax seal on a bottle of Tequila.

Down To This

After eight preseason games, eighty-two regular season games, three rounds of best-of-seven playoff series, and six games of Stanley Cup Finals, the right to have your name engraved on the most coveted prize in all of sports (sorry Foot, it's not the Larry O'Brien trophy, which sounds like something you win for selling the most insurance polices in the North Central region) will be determined tonight. The 'Canes have the home ice. The Oilers have the momentum. It should be good un'.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Cinderella Story Gone Sour

If one more chucklehead in the gallery at the U.S. Open today yells "It's in the hole!" after a tee shot I'm going to hurl a shoe through my television screen. We get've seen Caddyshack about three thousand times and now you want to share your brilliant wit with the entire world.

That line may have been hilarious when Carl Spackler first uttered it about 26 years ago but it simply ain't funny when you say it...and say it and say it and say it and say it. Knock it the hell off and let me enjoy Mickelson's imminent choke.

Lightweight--Second Place

It may seem to be a little bit out of season, but is there really any season for poking fun at Mark Dayton? Craig Westover certainly doesn't think so and, with a little help from Mr. Dickens, he give us the "real reason" Mark Dayton decided not to run for reelection to the U.S. Senate. It's a long tale, but well worth the read.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

We Can Take It

Apparently the jokers over at Nihilist In Golf Pants received a number of complaints from their pals at the City Pages about a post the poked fun at DFler Matt Entenza. Unable to take a little heat and no doubt fearing that they might be jeopardize their standing as favorite right-wing blog among the liberal urban hipster set, they caved and pulled the post.

However, here at Fraters Libertas we refuse to pull any punches and have obtained an exclusive copy of said censored post which we now present for your reading enjoyment.

Top 11 Things That Matt Entenza Will Do To Avoid A Conflict of Interest With His Wife If He Is Elected Attorney General of Minnesota

11. Instigate a close examination of all bonuses and backdated stock option grants to all Jr. CFOs at UHC

10. Strictly enforce the "We don't discuss business at the table" family rule

9. In casual conversation, start referring to his wife as "dingbat"

8. To avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, he'll run off with Angelina Jolie

7. Legalize gay marriage, then propose to Jeff Johnson

6. He and his wife will no longer role play the "greedy businesswoman makes corrupt government official an offer he can't refuse" fantasy

5. Insist that Lois stop referring to him in public as her "kept man" and "little gigolo"

4. Restrict pillow talk topics to "American Idol", Brad and Angelina, and the weather

3. Stop accepting his weekly allowance from Lois

2. Admit that he just lives in the basement like K Fed and they aren't really "married"

1. Begin sleeping with Blue Cross and Medica executives to avoid appearance of favoritism

Friday, June 16, 2006

What's In A Name?

Tomorrow on the first half of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, we'll be breaking down the week's news as well as the World Cup (Brian's a big Togo guy). We will also be joined at 12:30pm by Dr. Charles Kupchella, President of the University of North Dakota, and author of this blistering letter to the NCAA in response to their attempts to ban the use of the Sioux nickname and logo.

The matter appears to be headed to court and we'll get the inside scoop from Dr. Kupchella on why he felt that UND had no other recourse.

Listen locally on AM-1280 The Patriot or live on the 'net here.

UPDATE: King has more on some of the possible consequences of the lawsuit.

We All Scream

A co-worker and I decided to head to lunch this afternoon. We ended up at the Great Steak Escape where I enjoyed a Philly Cheese Steak (sans onions thank you) and some of their wonderful fries.

After lunch, we noticed a Dairy Queen on the way back and decided to stop in. In our yout (please note, not a typo--say in Joe Pesci voice) our Dad would only let us order cones. No Dilly Bars, no Buster Bars, no Peanut Buster Parfaits, no Mister Mistee Freezes, basically none of the cool stuff, just cones. Small cones at that. That didn't keep us from asking for some of the more delightful items EVERY time we stopped the DQ, but he would never budge. "Four small cones" was heard time and again.

Why did our Old Man limit us to the cones? My theory is that he felt stupid saying words like "Buster Bar" or "Peanut Buster Parfait" (since he did all the ordering). He was a man who built houses and such men simply didn't utter such goofy words. "Four small cones" was simple and to the point. Easy in, easy out.

Once on the way to our grandparents in Iowa we stopped at an A&W. The ordering system consisted of a phone in each booth where you picked it up and let the person in back know what you wanted. This was when A&W had cutesy names for their burgers like Papa Burger. After asking us what we wanted Dad picked up the phone and began ordering. Much to everyone's chagrin his voice sounded like it was being amplified through Jimi Hendrix's Marshalls at Woodstock.

"Yes, we would like one Papa Burger, one Mama Burger, one Teen Burger..." he went on with this for what seemed like 10 minutes each silly name loudly echoing around the restaurant for all to hear. A stiffer performance you cannot imagine. I'll never forget it.

And as long as I'm relating ordering stories I will tell one of my most personally humiliating tales of ordering pizza with my parents when I was a freshman in high school. Out clothes shopping or whatever, we stopped into a Godfather's for dinner (sans the Elder, this was during his Flock Of Seagulls phase and he was too cool).

Upon entering the establishment, I noticed the cash register was being staffed by one of the hotter Juniors in the entire school. She always wore those tight washed out Guess jeans...anyway we go in and for whatever reason (perhaps remembering the A&W incident?) Dad made me order.

(voice cracking) "Umm, yeah, can we get a large pepperoni and sausage pizza for here"

Suddenly I hear a voice in my ear impatiently demanding "Order sauce! Order sauce!" I wanted to turn around and explain to him that you don't have to order sauce, it is assumed you want sauce when you order a pizza but he was insistent and this time his voice grew louder "Order sauce! Order sauce". I finally broke down and like a total idiot said "With sauce".

The Hot Chick just kind of looked at me and rang it up. To this day I have not set foot in another Godfather's.

We're all getting together Sunday for Father's Day and I think I'm going to tell this story and ask Ol' Pa why he made me order the sauce. The good thing is that as a father now myself I plan on doing this very thing to my own son someday. Perhaps it's a rite of passage I don't fully understand yet?

We'll see.

Post No Bills

The Mexican national elections are only a few weeks away and when I was in Chihuahua last week, I found the city buzzing with anticipation. Well, actually that anticipation was all about the start of the World Cup. The attitude of most of the Mexicans I spoke to about the July 2nd voting could best be described as "casual indifference."

But the streets were filled with signs that the political season was peaking. In fact, you couldn't swing a dead gato in Chihuahua and not hit a campaign poster bearing the mug of a candidate. They were plastered everywhere: lampposts, street signs, utility poles, traffic lights, trees, etc. You almost had the feeling that if you stood on the corner for more than two minutes, someone would staple one on your gut.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Pat Anderson's non-union Mexican equivalent.

Isn't it about time we elected a Vulcan?

Hello, I'm Victor Anchando (cue music to Folsom Prison Blues). The pair also has the chummy look of the Chris Coleman and R.T. Rybak of Mexico.

Some people believe that presidential candidate Lopez Obrador is a bit of socialist. Let's take a look:

1. Manifestacion
2. Raised fist
3. Mob of workers

Where would anyone get that idea?

Do you notice my casual easy-going nature?

Yes, Dennis Weaver can!

With my over-sized fist, I will crush all enemies, foreign and domestic!

Ahmadinejad's glow of light is nothing compared to mine.

Who lives on a watch face under the sea? Ju-dith Tor-res!

Yo apenas farted!

Finally, I think these guys need to work on their messaging a bit. Remember, it's all about sound bites these days.

Any Enemy Of My Country Is A Friend Of Mine

A article in today Wall Street Journal (subscribe already, won't ya?) details how Hugo Chavez has become The New Icon Of Radical Chic:

Hugo Chávez, the fiery president of Venezuela, has called President Bush a "donkey," a "coward," a "drunkard," and, most famously, "Mr. Danger." Such statements win him few friends in Washington, but they recently brought together a dozen ardent supporters here.

Over a cramped conference table in a Chinatown loft, the group, including several engineers, a student, a nurse and couple of full-time activists, met to plot their next move. They'd helped lead a pro-Chávez demonstration in Washington just a few weeks earlier. And a pro-Chávez movie night seemed old hat.

Jorge Marin, a Boston engineer, had a different idea: a birthday party for Mr. Chávez's idol, Simón Bolívar, who helped liberate South America from Spanish rule. They quickly started planning a "Boogie for Bolívar" party, complete with a birthday cake, on July 24, when "the Liberator" would have turned 223. Two young women also pushed for a dance band.

It's hard to say what the most pathetic aspect of these losers is, their insipid political beliefs or the vast wasteland of their social lives.

To a slice of the American left, Mr. Chávez has become a revolutionary hero nearly on a par with Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The 51-year-old Venezuelan president has used his nation's oil riches to prop up Mr. Castro's regime and improve the education and health care of Venezuela's poor. His dream is to spread the Venezuelan brand of socialism across Latin America.

Human-rights groups and the Bush administration warn that he is also dangerously centralizing power, emasculating Venezuela's judiciary and threatening press freedoms. Chavistas wave off those complaints as the ravings of the anti-Chávez U.S. media.

"My political belief is that the U.S. is a horrendous empire that needs to end," says Jake Irwin, a Chávez supporter at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., which is pretty much what Mr. Chávez argues. Every time Mr. Chávez clashes with Mr. Bush -- most recently over the Venezuelan's torpedoing of a U.S. effort to create a hemispheric free-trade agreement -- his stock rises with the amalgam of college students, antiglobalization protesters and graying allies of Central American rebels.

But don't you dare call them unpatriotic.

Brroom Brroom Brroom

Twins wrap up sweep of Sox:

Some late trouble, thanks to David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, certainly put a scare into the Twins, but with solid pitching, great defensive plays and, well, a little luck, too, the Twins were able to hold on for a 5-3 victory over the Red Sox to complete the three-game sweep.

Somewhere in the hintherlands of Stearns County, King's mighty heart is breaking.

Hugh's may be as well, for the sweep of the Sox moves the Twins into a tie with his beloved Tribe for third place in the black and blue AL Central.

UPDATE: More taunting at Let Freedom Ring.

Thursday, June 15, 2006



Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

I nearly spit up my Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter last night when I heard Joel Achenback unleash this whopper on the Hugh Hewitt Show after Hugh asked him who he had voted for in past presidential elections:

JA: And I'm not going to tell you who I voted for. And if you want to tell people who you voted for, that's great. I mean, all power to you. I don't think I've ever told people who I voted for, and a lot of people around here...they actually, they don't even believe in voting.

You don't think that you've EVER told people who you voted for? BullFreakin'Shiite man. This guy expects us to believe that, in all the elections he's participated in, he's NEVER told anyone who he voted for? Not even one time? C'mon pal. You really think that we're going buy that?

If you don't want to tell Hugh who you voted for, that's fine. But don't try to pretend it's some sort of sacrosant information that you've never shared with anyone before.

Brokeback Radio?

Mayors may replace Pawlenty on radio:

The mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis have been discussing the prospect of replacing Tim Pawlenty when the governor signs off from his WCCO Radio show at the end of this month.

"We've had a conversation with them about it," said Bob Hume, spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. He said there aren't any negotiations going on "at this moment."

The governor in 2003 succeeded Jesse Ventura, a former talk show host, who went on the air as governor in 1999.

Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak also would follow in the footsteps of former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, who regularly appeared on KSTP-AM before he ran for governor and for U.S. Senate. Like Norm Coleman, both Rybak and Chris Coleman are thought to have higher political aspirations.

Rybak has said he would not rule out a run for U.S. Senate, against Norm Coleman, in 2008. Chris Coleman ran for Congress in 2000 and has been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2010.

What would they call the show featuring our dynamic mayoral duo?

The "The Half-Assed Mayors Show" perhaps?

Your suggestions are most welcome.

Paisano Pisani!

Rally in Raleigh!:

Lose and it would be all over. One slip-up and this incredible playoff run that began in Detroit could have ended Wednesday night in Raleigh.

And it would have ended were it not for the Edmonton Oilers' dogged determination, for the outstanding play of goaltender Jussi Markkanen, the dazzle of Ales Hemsky and, most of all, for the hands and head of Fernando Pisani.

Seconds after Steve Staios was ushered to the penalty box in overtime for tripping up Mark Recchi, Pisani broke in on Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward and fired in the goal at 3:31 that gave the Oilers a 4-3 win and kept their Stanley Cup dream alive.

It was the first short-handed overtime goal scored in a Stanley Cup final, and the first to stave off elimination for a team in any playoff round.

Last night's game featured some great hockey only slightly marred by the fact that the refs seemed to revert to their early season "call everything and anything" form. There were at least five silly penalty calls that disrupted the flow of the game and had the players shaking their heads in disgust. I understand the desire to cut down on the clutching and grabbing to open up the game, but sometimes you just gotta let the boys play on. This ticky-tacky penalty calling also seems to encourage diving (yes, I'm looking at you Adams) and that's not something we need more of. This ain't soccer for chrissake!

After the Oilers lost Roloson, I was down on their chances, but the longer this series goes on the more the momentum is swinging their way. They've been physically beating the tar of the 'Canes the last few games and it's starting to show. Ward and Weight were both knocked out for stretches last night and I gotta think that all the Carolina defensemen are licking their wounds today. The Oilers definitely looked like the fresher team in overtime and I think they're holding up better overall.

If they can just get the power play cooking in Game Six (granted, a big "if"), they should be able to force a Game Seven back in Carolina and then it's anybody's Cup for the taking.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's Getting Better All The Time

Last week, I jetted down to Chihuahua, Mexico for a quick three day visit. I've been traveling to the dry, sandy place often since 1998 and the changes that have taken place in the Northern Mexican city over the years are dramatic.

(A quick aside: why is it that the Northern areas of countries are typically more industrious than their Southern counterparts? Some examples that come quickly to mind are the United States, Italy, Mexico, and even Vietnam. For Mexico, the proximity to the US border is a huge factor and in some cases climate may explain part of it, but it's a pattern that usually defies an easy explanation.)

In the on-going (and now seemingly never-ending) debate on immigration, we hear a lot that the endemic corruption, poverty, and lack of economic progress in Mexico is the root cause of illegal immigration to the United States. And, to a large extent, that probably is an accurate analysis. However, we should not ignore the fact that while Mexico has miles to go, there are areas within the country that are moving forward.

An educated, property-owning, product-consuming middle-class is emerging in Chihuahua and it's rapidly changing the look of the city. So much so that there's a story going around (possibly apocryphal) of a coyote dropping a load of desperate campesinos off in the booming part of the city and telling them that they had at last arrived in the promised land of America. Because the surroundings were thick with Home Depots, KFCs, Applebee's, Wal-marts, Honda dealerships, etc., it took the poor would-be border crossers some time before they realized that they had been duped and were still in Mexico.

Americans are a notoriously impatient lot and sometimes I think we have unrealistic expectations of our neighbors to the South. The United States should not have to serve as a crutch that keeps Mexico from taking the sometimes painful steps it needs to heal its limping economy. And we should not hesitate to push the Mexican government to undertake the reforms necessary for such healing to occur. But we also should not dismiss the entire country as an incurable basket case either.

In Chihuahua at least, things are getting better. Slowly but surely.

Only You Can Set You Free

You've read the book. You've watched the movie. Your kids have sung the school song. You've ridden on the bus. You've admired the seed art. You've been trained at the camp. You've shed tears at the memorial. You've kept the signs in your yard and the bumper stickers on your car years after they've become irrelevant.

So what do you do for an encore?

How about an uplifting evening at the theater?

A stirring and insightful portrait of Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife Sheila. This new play is filled with the passion, politics and surprises of one of Minnesota's most out-spoken and controversial politicians.

There really is no end to this, is there? What's next? Wellstone! the musical? Wellstone! the opera? Wellstone! the interpretive dance? Wellstone! the Saturday morning children's cartoon?

UPDATE-- Katie e-mails to say that the play is the thing:

Last year we had a contest with another couple to see who could find the biggest piece of crap masquerading as art, (my pick was "anything at the Walker") and then we'd all go see it. Wellstone! won hands was in previews at the history center. Of course at the end of the day, no one was willing to plunk down 20 bones for it!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Happy Fathers Day

Dad jailed after allegedly giving beer to child:

Forty-five-year-old Brett Morse of Dayton, Minnesota is jailed on charges of child neglect and child endangerment.

Morse is accused of getting drunk and passing out while babysitting his two-year old boy and four-year old girl. Police say he has also given his boy beer and left his four-year-old girl home alone.

Chandler says when police arrived they had a hard time waking Morse--who was sleeping naked on his bed with one child while the other had the run of the home. Earlier in the day he allegedly left one child alone for a while.

In the criminal complaint against Morse, he is quoted as telling authorities that on the day in question he drank eighteen beers and had given some to his two-year-old boy and did leave his four-year-old alone. Morse reportedly told investigators on other occasions he had given his kids beer when they became fussy.

UPDATE-- Mike e-mails to point out this we may only be getting half the truth:

I think I mentioned this to you a long time ago but my wife is a nurse and she has informed me that when you go in for a physical and the doctor asks how much you drink, they automatically multiply your answer X 2.

So the guy who gave his kids beer admits to 18 brewskis. I'm guessing his answer is half his actual consumption. I just wonder if he lied by half about how much he gave his kids.

Atomizer drinks what, about a fifth of Saffire per day?

Small World

I was reading an article in today's Wall Street Journal about an Army Captain by the name of Phillp Carter who was working to improve the Iraqi justice system in Baqubah (subscription required).

Capt. Carter, a 30-year-old military police soldier who is a lawyer in civilian life, could demand Mr. Abboud's release and the Iraqis would likely comply. But he doesn't. Instead he prods judges and prosecutors in this province an hour's drive from Baghdad to uphold Iraqi law and set Mr. Abboud free on their own.

"I have faith because of your work," Mr. Abboud told Capt. Carter in late May, when the temperature had risen above 100 degrees and the stench in the prison, crammed to four times its legal capacity, was almost unbearable. "My fate is in your hands."

Why a U.S. Army captain took on the case of a convicted murderer speaks volumes about how the American strategy has changed in Iraq in the past six months, as the U.S. tries to turn control back to the Iraqis. It also shows how painful and halting progress in Iraq can be.

Capt. Carter hopes to use the case to make a larger point: that the Iraqi judicial system, dominated by personal and sectarian grudges, needs to follow its own rules. "It appeared like the perfect test case, because it would show that the result should be dictated by Iraqi law and not by the whim of any individual," he says.

It wasn't until I was further into the story that I realized it was that Phillip Carter:

Capt. Carter came to Baqubah in November via an unusual route. After dropping out of high school in Santa Monica, Calif., he earned a graduation-equivalency degree and attended community college. He did well enough to get into the University of California, Los Angeles and, after graduating, became an Army officer.

He spent four years with the military police, leaving the Army to attend UCLA law school, where he graduated in 2004. Last fall, he was practicing at a big law firm in Los Angeles. During that time, he had an Internet blog and wrote occasional opinion pieces in U.S. magazines criticizing the U.S. decision not to follow the Geneva Conventions at its prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Yes, it's Phil Carter from Intel Dump, one of the regular stopping places in my early days of blog reading. It's good to know that we have guys like Phil trying to help the Iraqis establish the rule of law. It's also good to know that Intel Dump is still in business. Best of luck to Captain Carter.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Unfair, Irrational, Arbitrary and Capricious

Henry e-mails to point out this no-holds barred letter from Charles E Kupchella, Ph.D., the President of the University of North Dakota, to the NCAA regarding the Sioux nickname and logo. He isn't backing down one iota and nails the NCAA with several well-aimed shots.

We are concerned that even if we were to cave in and change our name, you might subsequently hold us hostage until the great State of North Dakota changes all of its state highway signs which now depict a silhouette of an Indian. You might, some say, insist that the Indian logos on the doors of all of our (marked) Highway Patrol cars be removed.

How far does the NCAA think its jurisdiction goes? Does it extend into history? Do you really expect us to airbrush all of the references to Sioux off the jerseys of our many national championship teams--on the many photographs and championship banners lining the walls of our sports venues?

And get this: even if we were to stop using the nickname we have used with pride for nearly eighty years, and decided to forgo any nickname--since they may all be at some future risk--and simply be known as the University of North Dakota and used the University's seal or even the State Seal, we would still apparently be in violation of your policy. "Dakota" is what some of the Sioux actually call themselves. Our University Seal and the State Seal have images of American Indians on them.


Perhaps the most amazing thing is that through all of this--except for stirring things up--you have accomplished nothing. Your stand against Indian nicknames and logos--a stand that seem to start out against all references to races and national origin--fizzled before it started when you left out Irish, Celtics, Vandals, and a host of other names. Then, for highly convoluted, hypocritical, and in some instances mysterious reasons, you exempted the Aztecs and other American Indian nicknames at the outset and, following that, you exempted the use of Chippewa, the Utes, the Choctaws, the Catawbas, and the Seminoles, leaving the NCAA position on even American Indian nicknames about as solid as room-temperature Jell-O. All of this was, and remains, highly arbitrary and capricious.

Kupchella's letter is long, but well worth a read. He's threatening to take the NCAA to court over this matter and, although in general I don't applaud litigation over such seemingly trivial issues, in this case it seems very much in order. Go Sioux.

Catching The Next Wave? - Noted Microsoft Blogger Scoble To Join a Podcasting Start-Up(sup req):

Robert Scoble, a Microsoft Corp. employee who became one of the best-known corporate bloggers, is leaving the software giant to take a job at a podcasting start-up.

Mr. Scoble will become a vice president for media development at PodTech.Network Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif., company that produces and distributes podcasts -- audio programs available on the Web that can be downloaded to computers or personal music players, such as iPods. Many podcasts are now evolving to include video, and Mr. Scoble, 41 years old, said he will be working on new video shows at PodTech as well as other offerings.

Mr. Scoble's job title at Microsoft was technical evangelist, a role that typically involves promoting a company's products to other companies. But his widely read blog -- called "Scobleizer" -- broke new ground by sometimes criticizing Microsoft's products, a tactic that helped build the company's credibility as Web logs evolved into a news medium and a tool for corporate public relations.

All Signs Point To "Yes!"

Normally I detest the various annoying quizzes, lists, and tagging questions that infest the 'sphere like cockroaches. But when the Da Commissar puts a Tokarev Tula at your back and orders you to charge, you go over the top.

Yesterday, Hugh issued his diktat:

ConservaGlobe draws me into a blogosphere game of tag obliging me to

1. Answer the question.
2. Link back to the person who tagged you.
3. Tag three of your friends in the blogosphere.

The question:

"[W]hat sitcom character would you like to grow up to be?" to other bloggers. (Note: I am over the age of eighteen, so I am rephrasing to question to "what sitcom character would you like to be?")

I pass the torch to Peeps, Nihilist, and Jeff Goldstein. (Though I know Peeps wants to be Ted Baxter and Nihilist Murray.)

You know actually the life of Ted Baxter wouldn't be half-bad. Although if Hugh thinks that he could even begin to fill the shoes of Lou Grant, he's delusional. That bottle in Mr. Grant's desk ain't Rose Zinfandel.

My choice is simple (you might even say simple-minded). David Puddy from "Seinfeld." Puddy is the complete package. A handsome stud who's good with his hands (just don't call him a "grease monkey) and paints his face to support the team at hockey games (you gotta let them know you're out there). And a Christian to boot (although his eternal destination is somewhat in doubt). Classic.

Now for the dreaded tagging bit:

Jordan from Blog on a Stick (that chick is whacked)

King from SCSUScholars (also known as Vegetable Lasagna)

and Jim from Thinking Right ('cause it takes a real man to admit to having Ziggy bed sheets)


Czeched Out?

The first game for Team USA in the 2006 World Cup is underway and the underdog American squad is already down one-nil. You can follow all the "action" here. I guess the rumors that Paul Mirengoff was going to live blog the game were greatly exaggerated.

UPDATE: The Czechs strike again and now lead two-nil. In soccer, that usually amounts to an insurmountable lead.

UPDATE II: It's halftime and I can only imagine the sort of crappy Euro-tainment show that's on display. Odds are that it involves horrible music and people in garish animal costumes with creepy smiles.

UPDATE III: Sisyphus bravely attempted to live blog the game, but only lasted thirty-seven minutes before he collapsed on the floor. He was given an injection of hockey STAT and is reported to be in stable condition. After further treatment (watching tonight's Stanley Cup Game Four), he's expected to make a complete recovery.

UPDATE IV: Goooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllll! The Czechs score again and are now blowing out the Americans three-nil. That's like getting beat 73-0 in real football. But the Americans do have a 56%-44% edge in ball possession. Are there moral victories in the World Cup?

UPDATE V: Mercifully, the game ends without further scoring. In many countries, such a crushing defeat would be regarded as a national disgrace and would be met with mourning, riots, and death threats against the players, coaches, and water boys. In the United States, the reaction of the average American can be best summarized in one word:


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Getting Tough With Iran

Mexico 3 Iran 1:

NUREMBERG, Germany, June 11--Symbolism rarely trumps soccer at the World Cup, but it came close today, as Iran played its first game of the tournament in this northern Bavarian city--a politically isolated country playing in a place that echoes darkly with history.

The score, a 3-1 defeat by a masterly Mexico, did little to relieve Iran's fraught role at this World Cup.

After a scrappy first half, the Iranians seemed to lose their composure, allowing Mexico to score back-to-back goals late in the second half. For the tens of thousands of sombrero-waving Mexico fans who outnumbered Iran's cheering section, it was an afternoon to yell Bravo--as in Omar Bravo, the forward who scored two of Mexico's three goals.

I have to admit that I took no small pleasure in watching the Red, White, and Green clean up on Iran today. Viva Mexico!

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports on the struggles of a group on the fringes of American society:

Adam Chilenski has endured the put-downs for more than a decade. The 26-year-old health-care attendant in Columbus, Ohio, says friends still chide him about his favorite pastime. His dad thinks it's "a little peculiar." This week, Mr. Chilenski even made up a fake doctor's appointment so he could leave work early and join others who share his passion. "I told my boss I had to get my foot checked for an ingrown toenail," he says.

Mr. Chilenski is not a Trekkie, or a comic-book geek. He's an American soccer fan.

And he probably gets less respect than either of the aforementioned bizarre subcultures.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

What A Country!

As I type this, I'm sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport listening, via the 'net, to my compadres interview Michael Yon on the Northern Alliance Radio Network. Somewhere Yakov Smirnoff is smiling.

Lots of colorfully attired World Cup fans (especially the Brazilians) and lots of soldiers passing through DFW today.

Today on the Northern Alliance Radio Network

Join us today on the NARN, starting at 11 AM with me from this fine Internet site and John Hinderaker from Power Line discussing all the news that's fit to rehash. But with the fresh perspective of hindsight and relentless second guessing. Ah yes, the advantages of end of the week broadcasting.

The war in Iraq will no doubt be prominently featured with the recent elimination of murdering thug Zarqawi and recent allegations of Marine misconduct in Hadditha. Lending his highly qualified perspective to this will be Michael Yon, who's joining us at 11:30. He's a former Green Beret and occasional blogger imbed with the United States Army. Perhaps most famous for Gates of Fire, his account of a firefight in Mosul, and this photograph capturing the spirit of US military service and sacrifice on the battlefields of Iraq, Michael continues his journalistic work at his web site.

At noon we'll turn to the world of cinema and be joined by Washington Post film critic Stephen Hunter. He'll give his erudite thoughts on all the summer blockblusters and busts and tell us what we have to look forward to in the months to come.

Following that Mitch Berg, King Banaian, Captain Ed Morrisey from 1 - 3 PM.

It all starts at 11 AM central on AM1280 the Patriot, streaming on the web here. And this is a listener friendly format, anyone wanting to sound off can call 651-289-4488. Don't you dare miss it!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Grim Satisfaction

Steven, a man who knows of what he speaks, e-mails to share his feelings on the news of Zarqawi's demise.

Here's an excerpt from my book that explains exactly how I feel about our killing of Zarqawi:

Death from Above

We're at work. We're standing, eyes glued to one of the screens on the wall above us. Different images flicker elsewhere on the wall, but the one we're interested is grainy black and white video, transmitted live. We're watching because an indicator on the screen says the operator has designated a target. A moment later we get the word - a weapon has been released. Someone is about to die.

This scene has repeated itself many times over the last few days. It's one of few experiences that I've found is not diminished by repetition.

Am I remorseful? Do I feel for the men who, in a matter of seconds, will cease to exist? The place in my heart that would be occupied by remorse is scarred by images of a hostage slaughter house. The part of my mind that might harbor compassion is imagining a makeshift video studio, where Al Jazeera cameramen drank tea to the sounds of innocents' life blood gurgling in their windpipes.

The people we watch die are blissfully unaware. What are they discussing on that street corner? What is he thinking as he drives that car? Do they, for the split second before impact, wonder at the sound of wind, rushing over the stubby wings of the warhead? Even if they do - even if they hear the missile, homing inexorably from a vehicle so far away they never saw it, their brief shock is nothing to me. The searing flash, the concussion that separates their body from their soul bothers me not a bit. It is merciful.

It is not the weeks or months-long separation from friends and family, being held like livestock for a bargain that will never be struck. It is not the desperate sickness that invades the heart, knowing you will never see your family again. It is not the terror of knowing your captors consider you most valuable when your head is severed, dangling from their bloody fist in a television commercial for evil. It is not the grinding by of countless hours of loneliness and fear.

It is quick. It is better than they deserve. Far from regret, I am grimly satisfied at my role in this process.

Maybe it shocks you that I can appreciate beauty, love my family, and calmly contemplate killing men. It shouldn't. The understanding of good and evil and the willingness to act in the differentiation between them is fundamental to those more appealing characteristics.

I'm still me.

For Today, No "Ifs," "Ands," Or "Buts"

I've been watching CNN this morning do everything they can to throw a big soggy blanket over the news that Zarqawi has been dispatched with. Most of it involves some version of "Yes, Zarqawi is dead, but..."

Will this end the insurgency and the violence? Of course not. Is it a key turning point in the war? Possibly, but at this point I don't think anyone knows for sure.

What do know is that this guy was a sworn enemy of the United States and an evil SOB. Taking him out is good news and at least for one day, we should celebrate it thusly.

UPDATE: Video of the strike now available from CentCom.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Daddy/Boy Night Live Blogging

My baby mama is going out tonight for a movie so JB is taking care of the boy for the first time solo.

Btw, just for yuks sometime at work in mixed company, mention that you are going to babysit your kid at some point. Make sure you use the word babysit. Then wait for the responses from your gal co-workers. As far as I'm concerned, when his primary caregiver is not around, it's babysitting. Take it up with God if that sounds old fashioned to you or something.

6:37 Mommy has been gone for 3 minutes and he's already crying. I need a cocktail.

6:42 Ahhh...that's better. Perfect time for a G&T. Is there a bad time?

6:51 I changed him and gave him the nook. That oughta work...for about five minutes. What channel is the Cup on?

6:55 The nook is out. Now he's chomping on his hand. Whatever. Damn this is a good cocktail.

6:58 What else is on tonight? I've been watching the second season of Entourage on Charter In Demand and all the old Band of Brothers...but what else? Emeril? Look Who's Talking? Little House? What about the damn Military Channel? "Secrets of Archeaology"? I don't think so. And of the History Channel (come on something war related) Modern fuggin' Marvels?

7:03 Thank God for that ceiling fan. It keeps him entertained while I freshen up this cocktail.

7:09 The nook is going back in (is it possible for you to keep the thing in your mouth for more than 2 minutes a time boy?) These two month olds are fussy beasts!
Time to dial up an episode of Band of Brothers. What an amazing series of shows. Wow. This is the Bastogne episode. Compared to the men of the 506th, even a guy like me would be considered a wuss.

7:18 He's crying again. Damn. Might be time for the first bottle.

7:35 Yup, he needed the bottle. About ½. Couple good burps too. Mommy will be so proud. Blogger's down. POS.

7:37 Easy Company is taking it's first casualties of Bastogne. What a hell.

7:38 He's crying. Let's get the other half of that bottle in him and see what happens. Diaper time. He just loves getting' that diaper changed.

7:50 Maybe a little time under the mobile. Yes! He's diggin' it.

7:54 What's going on with the game? SOMEONE TELL ME A SCORE! Jeez, Mark Messier is STIFF on camera. Not his element.

8:06 I need food. And a beer. Do I have any of that sweet, sweet Hamms left in the beer fridge? Lord I hope I do.

8:08 Another bean burrito is necessary. I hope he holds out under the mobile while I choke this down.

8:10 You know, I like them fancy boo-teak beers as much as the next Elder (Anchor Steam Liberty Ale anyone?) but this Hamm's is just delicious.

8:11 "Not a lot of great opportunities this period". No crap. This game is pretty boring. I'm going back to the BOB. He's starting to fuss. Blogger is down again.

8:15 I'll tell you a little secret about the Elder. He's Jewish. No kidding. He converted a couple of years ago after a long heart-to-heart with Medved at Jasperwood but hasn't told our family. I promised to never tell, but I lie sometimes. He's not ashamed or anything, he just worries how the family will take it.

9:11 Lordy. Carolina is up by 5 goals. I just spent the better part of an hour putting the little crapper down. He took ANOTHER bottle and while I administered it, I sneezed. This sent him into a fit of howling that seemed to never end. What? What do you want? I chucked him over my shoulder for a little walk and that seemed to do the trick. He's snoozing away now and with any luck will continue to do so until Mommy returns.