Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Future of Halloween

Pumpkin carving simulation completed.

Any kids planning to beg at my house for free candy tonight are advised to send me an email instead and I'll have a virtual candy attachment back to them within 24 hours.

Best Halloween Joke in History

A seasonal favorite, from the archives of Fraters Libertas ...

How do hillbillies celebrate Halloween?

They pump kin.

The enduring charm of that joke stems from its universal quality. The denigration of "hillbillies" represents the joke in its classic form. But since the apex of anti-hillbilly consciousness in the 1950's (marked by the satirically withering Beverly Hillbillies television program and the sardonic Ma and Pa Kettle franchise) the "hillbilly" has subsided in our nation's pantheon of disdainful ridicule.

But in the grand tradition of American pluralism, you can use that joke to attack the niche lifestyle group, ethnicity, national origin, or pack of juvenille droogs of your chosing. It works for anyone for whom you wish to allege has improper levels of intimacy with their direct relations. And doesn't that describe everyone's enemies? For example:

How do people who attempt to stifle dissent by stealing political yard signs celebrate Halloween?

They pump kin.

Ah yes, it works beautifully every time and it never fails to bring smiles to bigots, xenophobes, and closed minded chauvinists of all ages. And today, Halloween, is the day to use it for its maximum effect.

Have fun kids and Happy Halloween from Fraters Libertas.

Quoth The Elder, "Furthermore"

It's a great time for beer lovers in the Upper Midwest. Not only can we read about Minnesota's glorious brewing past in the new book Land of Amber Waters, but we can enjoy the present with great local beers from Summit, Surly, and Flat Earth among others.

But we shouldn't limit our taste buds to Minnesota brews only. The Badger State is brewing up more than cheese, brats, serial killers, and inebriated Packer fans these days. Recently, I've had the pleasure of enjoying a couple of excellent examples of Wisconsin beer at its finest.

Rush River Brewing Co. just started selling their beer in bottles and it's now available at a selected liquor stores here in the Twin Cities. I've mentioned their Unforgiven Amber Ale before, but I'll say it again: this is indisputably the best red I've ever quaffed. So much flavor, so much taste. They also make a Bubblejack IPA that is a rich, hoppy dream.

A couple of weeks ago, I was offered a sample of Furthermore Beer at a local liquor store. The salesman explained that their Three Feet Deep Stout was made with peat just like it the ol' country (Ireland). Peaty? Why that sounds like one of the more common characteristics of Scotch. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Thankfully, probably not. But if you were you would realize what a killer combination a glass of Three Feet Deep Stout and a healthy draught of Single Malt Scotch make. A sip of this, a sip of that. Heaven on earth baby.

These beers and a couple of more have been added to the Beer Ratings Page, which now features ratings of well over three-hundred brews from around the globe. The Recommended Reads and the Chihuahua Orphanage Page have also been recently updated.

Last but not least, a rare wine pick. Believe it or not, I actually discovered this particular wine on a Northwest flight this summer. Yes, not everything about flying is negative. It took a while to find it around here, but it was worth the hunt.

Memsie Red from the Water Wheel Vineyard is an Aussie blend that goes for about fifteen bones a bottle. I'm not a wine snob like JB Doubtless by any means, but I know what tastes good and this a fine little wine.

A Nice Run By Any Measure

We moved into our house last March. Two days ago I did my first batch of laundry.

The Elder Jibes: This should once and for all destroy the facade that JB has attempted to build as Wal-Mart shoppin', Applebee's eatin', country music listenin' Joe Six Pack. It turns out that he actually has been living in a comfortable cocoon of privilege and affluence which was only recently punctured when a series of ICE raids in Rochester stripped him of most of his domestic staff (I believe that his pool boy Miguel has taken refuge in JB's expansive wine cellar). Up to this point, laundry has been one of the many jobs that Americans of JB's elite status simply won't do.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Free To Booze

If you want a leader whose motto is "Drink early and often" you need to vote early and often for Atomizer for MOB Mayor. He's exactly the type of Mayor the MOB deserves.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked if we had buried a statute of Saint Joseph in our yard to facilitate the sale of our home. I joked that we'd start sacrificing chickens if it would help us find a buyer. In today's Wall Street Journal, Sara Schaefer Munoz reports that more and more desperate sellers are turning to Saint Joseph for divine intervention (free for all!):

Cari Luna is Jewish by heritage and Buddhist by religion. She meditates regularly. Yet when she and her husband put their Brooklyn, N.Y., house on the market this year and offers kept falling through, Ms. Luna turned to an unlikely source for help: St. Joseph.

The Catholic saint has long been believed to help with home-related matters. And according to lore now spreading on the Internet and among desperate home-sellers, burying St. Joseph in the yard of a home for sale promises a prompt bid. After Ms. Luna and her husband held five open houses, even baking cookies for one of them, she ordered a St. Joseph "real estate kit" online and buried the three-inch white statue in her yard.

"I wasn't sure if it would be disrespectful for me, a Jewish Buddhist, to co-opt this saint for my real-estate purposes," says Ms. Luna, a writer. She figured, "Well, could it hurt?"

With the worst housing market in recent years, St. Joseph is enjoying a flurry of attention. Some vendors of religious supplies say St. Joseph statues are flying off the shelves as an increasing number of skeptics and non-Catholics look for some saintly intervention to help them sell their houses.

Some Realtors, too, swear by the practice. Ardell DellaLoggia, a Seattle-area Realtor, buried a statue beneath the "For Sale" sign on a property that she thought was overpriced. She didn't tell the owner until after it had sold. "He was an atheist," she explains. "But he thanked me."

Woah, back it up, back it up. Beep, beep, beep. Non-Catholics and even atheists are getting help selling their homes from Saint Joseph? As a Catholic, I'm offended that people would cheapen and profane our religious traditions in such a way. As a Catholic trying to sell his home, I'm outraged that Saint Joseph is doing solids for people outside the Church. Whatever happened to taking care of your own first? Say it ain't so Saint Joe.

Theologians say there's no official doctrine that calls for the statue's interment. The practice may have stemmed from medieval rites of land possession, in which conquerors claimed land by planting a cross or banner, says Jaime Lara, associate professor of Christian Art and Architecture at Yale Divinity School. Mr. Lara also suggests that the tradition may have gotten mixed up at some point with folklore surrounding St. Anthony. St. Anthony, known as a matchmaker, would often be held ransom, upside-down, until he found a husband for someone's daughter, he says.

Some clergy aren't sure how St. Joseph would feel about his replica ending up on its head in the dirt, and suggest displaying it somewhere in the house instead.

"I think it's much more respectful than burying the poor guy," says Msgr. Andrew Connell, the archdiocesan director of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Boston. Some retailers, such as Mr. Weigang, owner of, also encourage buyers to put the statues in the house.

"We don't advocate burying," he says. "Some of those statues are quite beautiful."

Note to self: pick up Saint Joseph statue today. Don't bury it. Await redemption.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sapphire In Every Martini

After exhaustive deliberation and debate, the Fraters Libertas editorial board has officially endorsed Atomizer for MOB Mayor. Atomizer recused himself from the decision of course, but even then the final outcome was in some doubt. It took all of our powers of persuasion to convince JB that Atomizer was actually the right man at the right time.

We encourage our readers to support Atomizer's bid in every way possible. Vote early and enough. Slash the tires of his opponents vehicles. Run Ponzi schemes to secure campaign contributions. Whatever it takes. After all, this is the most important vote that you can cast the week of October 29th, 2007. At least until The Next Great American Band airs on Friday.

The Real Triumph Of Reason

Vox Day--who has his own book "The Irrational Atheist" coming out soon--has a must-read interview with Dinesh D'Souza on the release of D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity. A sample:

When you point out that atheist leaders have killed several orders of magnitude more human beings than Christian leaders, the usual rebuttal is that the atheists didn't commit their murders "in the name of atheism". What is your response to that?

This is Richard Dawkins and it clearly shows what happens when you let a biologist out of the lab. It shows a gross ignorance of history. Communism was an explicitly atheist ideology. Marx was very eager to establish a new Man and a new society liberated from the shackles of traditional religion and traditional morality. Marx called religion "the opiate of the people" and he very much wanted to see religion removed from the face of the Earth, and he predicted it would be in the Communist utopia. Every Communist regime targeted religion, closed the churches, persecuted the priests, harassed the believers. This was no accident. So, for Dawkins to say that this wasn't being done in the name of atheism just defies rational belief. It's hard for me to believe an intelligent individual would even try to say that.

Vox also provides a link to the recent D'Souza-Hitchens Debate, where by most reliable accounts (and JB Doubtless), D'Souza batted the aggressive atheist around like a cat toying with a helpless mouse. Hitchens is no slouch when it comes to verbal sparring, but it sounds like he met his match with D'Souza's well-reasoned arguments.

And All The Banners Waving

Twin peaks: Sox are champs:

DENVER -- A scintillating seven-game winning streak that began in Cleveland with the season on the brink of elimination ended Sunday night with the Red Sox mobbing each other in the thin air of Coors Field of all places, culminating in a World Series championship that didn't take even close to 86 years this time around.

By sweeping the Rockies with a 4-3 victory in Game 4, the Red Sox are champions of Major League Baseball for the second time in four seasons, once again doing it by giving their National League opponent the broom treatment. It was the seventh -- there goes that number again -- time the Red Sox have won the World Series.

Congrats to the Red Sox. They clearly were the better team. Their relatively easy sweep also shows just how much of an aberration last year's Series was. The American League--like the AFC and the Western Conferences in the NHL and NBA--has a disproportionate edge in talent and is much stronger top to bottom than the National League.

Thanks to the Rockies for embarking on their unlikely postseason run. It was a fun ride while it lasted.

UPDATE-- Tim from Colorado e-mails:

Congrats to the Red Sox. I will now have to avoid ESPN's Sportscenter for the next week or so because they are such homers for the Boston and New York teams. For the next week to ten days, we will now be over-exposed to the drama of whether or not A-Rod will go to the Red Sox.

To borrow a bit from football coach John McKay, the Rockies didn't pitch well but they made up for it by not hitting. As much as they won't admit it, the eight day layoff was too long and it took the edge off the Rockies bats. I'm not sure what the excuse is for the Rockies pitching; it completely disappeared after doing so well down the stretch and through the NLCS. With the exception of Aaron Cook's performance last night, no Rockies starter went longer than 4 innings in the World Series.

However, we are not as disappointed as some may think. The Rockies are a young team, they made an unprecedented run to get into the playoffs, and this experience will help them next season. Remember the name Ian Stewart; he is a solid player coming up through the Rockies farm system and he will probably be teaming up with Troy Tulowitzki at second base next year.

Pitchers and catchers report in four short months.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Make It Twelve Out Of Thirteen

Kangas Stands Tall as Gophers Hold Off Buckeyes:

Minnesota freshman goaltender Alex Kangas had a memorable first career start and the Gophers withstood a furious third period rally to defeat Ohio State 2-1 on Friday at Mariucci Arena.

Kangas had 32 saves and stopped 21 shots in the third period, including several miraculous saves in the final three minutes as the Buckeyes outshot the Gophers 22-3 in the final period. However, Minnesota's two-goal lead entering the third period was enough as the Gophers improved to 4-2 overall and posted their first home sweep since Nov. 18-19 of last season against Wisconsin. Ohio State dropped its fourth straight and fell to 2-4 overall.

The Buckeyes, who have lost 12 of 13 all-time meetings with Minnesota, had four shots in about a 30-second span late in the third period. Ohio State had another shot that was headed in the goal, but stopped by a Gophers' defender. The scramble came shortly after Minnesota killed off Ohio State's only third period power play.

The big kid looked good between the pipes, but the Gophers overall lackluster offense--especially the lousy power play--is still a concern.

Northern Alliance Radio Network

In the midst of this beautiful October day, don't forget to spend sometime quality time indoors (ideally in your basement, in your undershorts) listening Northern Alliance Radio Network, at AM1280 The Patriot. It all begins at 11 AM and runs all the way 5PM.

The highlight of The First Team's broadcast promises to be the 12 noon appearance of auteur Even Coyne Maloney. (Dream achieved - using the word "auteur" in regard to a movie director, just like the City Pages). He is the director of Indoctrinate U, now holding an exclusive one week engagement at the Oak Street Cinema in Minneapolis. This film explores the stifling, hostile, relentlessly liberal environment of the modern American college campus. And its been getting rave reviews, at least from those not already stifling, hostile and relentlessly liberal. The education establishment may not appreciate this movie, but those paying their salaries through ever increasing tuition costs and government subsidies will.

Listen to the director LIVE at noon. Call with questons, comments, horror stories at 651-289-4488.

If you're not able to catch it on the radio, listen to the live streaming at the Patriot web site. Or the podcasts, archived on Power Line and at Town Hall (featuring all the Northern Alliance programs).

BTW, the Patriot has a terrific new web site. It's a comprehensive platform for all the national Salem Talk Network hosts and Town Hall conservative commentators. A one stop shop for links to breaking news, audio archives, columns, and blog posts.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Meanwhile, In The Only College Sport That Really Matters...

Gophers Rebound for 3-1 Win Over Ohio State:

A dominant first period sparked the Minnesota men's hockey team to a 3-1 non-conference victory over Ohio State on Thursday at Mariucci Arena.

The Gophers scored a pair of goals and outshot the Buckeyes 16-2 in the opening period, holding Ohio State without a shot on goal for nearly the first 16 minutes of the game. Minnesota's win overcame a pair of losses in its conference-opening series last week at Colorado College and improved the Gophers to 11-1 all-time against Ohio State and 3-2 for the season.

Who own the Buckeyes? Owns, owns.

Fair Weather In Boston

David Harsanyi has some serious concerns about Rudy Giuliani's credibility:

Well, now I have serious doubts about Rudy Giuliani. How anyone can trust him with grand issues of our time when he can't even get simple baseball fan guidelines right? We've all heard about Hillary's "I've always been a Yankee fan" nonsense. It's frequently repeated because it tells us something deeper about her character. How you conduct yourself as a sports fan tells us plenty about you. And this tells us that Giuliani is clueless or a depraved panderer--or worse: not a real Yankees fan.

"I'm rooting for the Red Sox," Giuliani, owner of four Yank World Series rings, declared during a campaign event in a Boston restaurant, prompting thunderous applause.

"I'm an American League fan, and I go with the American League team--maybe with exception of the Mets," he said. "Maybe that would be the one time I wouldn't, because I'm loyal to New York."

This is indeed troubling. A real Vikings fan cannot root for the Packers. A real Gopher hockey fan cannot root for the Badgers (I know because I tried a couple of years ago when they were in the NCAA title game. As much as I wanted the WCHA to win another national championship, watching Wisconsin do it made me sick to my stomach.) And a real Yankee fan cannot--under any circumstances--every root for the Red Sox. Shameless pandering at its worst.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Memories Smolder

Lest you think Atomizer exaggerates the obsession that state Democrats have with the legacy of Paul Wellstone, let me take you a on a quick stroll through some local lefty blogs on the fifth anniversary of his death:

Corner House Comments:

I remember the day clearly as I was working and a coworker came up to me and asked if I had heard that the Senator's plane had crashed. I couldn't believe it and I did not want to believe it. I could think of nothing else the rest of the day and as soon as I punched out I raced to my car to turn on the radio. The news announcer confirmed what I didn't want to hear. Senator Wellstone had been killed in an airplane crash. It was a long tearful drive home. Our lives would change forever.

Bluestem Prairie:

We were working on a state senate campaign in the Northfield area in 2002 and that cold and deadly day hit the small college town with a punch to the heart. It looks to be a sunny autumn day today. Oh sun, where were you then?

From the comments at MNpublius:

All I was interested in, five years ago today, was trying to console my 16 year old daughter. Us old farts having been through this too many times weren't able to express our feelings completely. Why is it, John, Martin, Robert, now Paul? I'm not a conspiracy advocate but, damn, doesn't it seem like there's a trend here? It's much more difficult to kill the idea then the man. Paul's conscience live's on in people like my daughter who, when they stopped crying, became iron. No compromise, no giving in. What's right is right, what's evil is evil. My daughter is hell on wheels now because of Wellstone.

As JB pointed out, if you charted this--1963, twice in 1968 and then 2002--it doesn't exactly look like much of a trend.

Across the Great Divide provides a hymn for the day:

As a recording, "Eveleth" could've used revising and polishing after the fact, and the vocal track should've been recut. But I wanted to preserve the pulsing roughness, the tension between knowing/not knowing. This was a gulp of emotion, of trying not to dwell on what couldn't be changed and looking for what could.

As I wrote in a bar five years ago, the fire was still burning in TV footage from that obscure, lonely swamp.

A fire's still burning.

And last but not least, Eric Black--formerly a political reporter for the Star Tribune--explains how he finally decided to drop the veil of objectivity when Paul Wellstone Spoke to Me from the Grave:

I don't want to overdramatize. This was just one of many moments that led to my decision to drop out of mainstream journalism. And, after all those years of writing in the disembodied voice of a reporter, it still embarrasses me to write something this personal.

But by the time I got Kahn's email, I had moved into open rebellion against the model of so-called objective journalism. The memory of that lame piece, written at such a crucial time, seemed an abdication of responsibility. That, combined with my repressed admiration for Wellstone as a guy that at least stood up for his beliefs, felt like a message from Paul. The message was:

Seek the truth. Share the closest approximation of it that you can assemble. Stand up as bravely as you can for your convictions. When the end comes, don't be full of regrets for things you should have said.

Or biases you should have even more clearly revealed.

I think the more important message is, why put off until tomorrow, what you can take care of today?

But won't we all parade around and sing our songs

Beckett, bats come out blazing vs. Rockies in Game 1:

BOSTON -- Two days, it turns out, was the perfect amount of time for the Red Sox to recharge and reload for the showcase known as the World Series.

In fact, the Sox looked like relentless world beaters on that stage in Wednesday night's Game 1, putting on a hitting and pitching clinic in a 13-1 romp over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.

Eight days, on the other hand -- which is how long the Rockies had to wait around for their first appearance in the World Series -- looked like way more than they wanted or needed.

Ouch. The best thing about last night's game was that it was over early, so there was no need to stay up late to know the outcome. This is the first bump in the postseason road for the Rockies and how they respond tonight will say a lot about how long the series will go.

The good news is that bats can go cold just as fast they get hot. The Red Sox have been hitting lights out for the last four games, which means they're due for a slump. And tonight the Rockies will be facing a well-past his prime Schilling rather than the dominating Beckett. That dude is one mean SOB. Exactly the kind of intimidating attitude you want from your staff ace.

No time to get off the 'wagon now.

If You Don't Expect Too Much From Me, You Might Not Be Let Down

It was five years ago today when a plane carrying Senator Paul Wellstone crashed into a Northeastern Minnesota forest killing all aboard. Minnesota Democrats have spent every waking hour since trying to reanimate him.

Case in point...this piece from today's Minneapolis Star Tribune (registration required, but strongly discouraged) attempts to illustrate how "Wellstone's legacy remains vibrant five years after his death":
The names of Paul and Sheila Wellstone have been attached to buildings, awards and legislation.

No fewer than three schools, three community centers, two affordable housing developments, two gardens and a hospital now carry the name Wellstone.

Awards in their names are granted by the Campaign for America's Future, Freedom Network USA, the American Public Health Association and Families USA.
That's all very nice and well and good. People love to put Paul's name on lots and lots of buildings and awards and gardens and things ...but where, exactly, is evidence of Senator Wellstone's actual legacy?

The very next paragraph locates it for us:
And years after Wellstone introduced a bill in Congress that would grant parity for mental health in health insurance, legislation toward that end and bearing his name remains pending in Congress.
Paul Wellstone has been dead for five years and a piece of legislation bearing his name still holds the high honor of being considered "pending in Congress". Kind of reminds me of every piece of legislation he put his name on when he was alive.

Now that's a legacy to be proud of.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mark Your Calendars

Much to my surprise, I didn't miss it this year. Yet. The only Halloween special that ever mattered hasn't aired yet. But it will, next Tuesday, October 30, 7 PM Central on ABC.

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

For those of you unfamiliar with this 1966 classic, I'll let Linus set the stage:

The Great Pumpkin always picks the most sincere pumpkin patch to rise out of. He's just gotta pick this pumpkin patch. He's just gotta! Look around. You can see that there's not a sign of hypocrisy anywhere. Nothing but sincerity reaching out as far as the eye can see.

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I believe this could be his year.

Always seem to be wondrin' why theres nothin' goin' down here

Stephen J. Rose looks at The Myth of Middle-Class Job Loss in today's WSJ (sub req):

It is certainly true that many jobs in manufacturing clothing, steel, metal products and automobiles have gone overseas. Plant closures not only devastate the workers who are displaced, but they have also undermined the vitality of whole communities in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, to name just a few places. But while such communities are a clear sign of the decline in some sectors of the economy, there has been strong employment growth in many other sectors. In research just published by the Progressive Policy Institute, I show that incomes and employment have grown by substantial amounts in every state (even in the so-called Rust Belt) since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993.

In fact, there is no convincing, data-driven proof that trade has led to any overall job loss during the last 30 years. To the contrary, the economy has grown at a slow but steady rate (a few brief recessions notwithstanding) with trade and employment rising in tandem.

Before you dismiss Rose's rosey-eyed views as neo-capitalist apologetics for free markets and trade, consider his cred:

Mr. Rose is senior economic fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, where he recently authored a report titled "The Truth About Middle Class Jobs." He has worked both for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress and as an adviser to former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

He goes on to look at who has gained the most in middle-class employment:

Nevertheless, there has clearly been a sharp increase in female middle-class employment. As recently as 1979, 61% of female workers were in jobs that paid less than $25,000, and only 3% earned more than $50,000 a year. By contrast, more than 36% of new jobs that opened since 1979 for women pay more than $50,000 and only 17% pay less than $25,000.

Critics who bemoan the trajectory of the American economy over the past three decades somehow find it convenient to overlook or play down this historic improvement in the employment status and income levels of women. While women still lag in pay compared to men of similar educational attainment, the extraordinary rise in women's income since 1979 is a fact at odds with the notion of an overall decline in the American middle class.

And who lost:

For men, the change in employment since 1979 has not been quite as clear-cut, or as positive. There has been a tremendous growth in the number of men in high-paying jobs: In 1979, just 10% of male workers earned above $75,000, while fully 34% of new jobs since 1979 have paid this amount or more.

However, there was also growth in the share of male workers earning less than $25,000 a year, from 23% in 1979 to 36% by 2005. This rise of low-paying jobs hit less-educated men particularly hard. For those with just a high school diploma, 87% of the new jobs paid $25,000 or less.

Here's the bottom line: For three-quarters of the workforce (women and the top half of male earners), economic growth translated into earnings gains. But for male workers in the bottom half of the earnings distribution, the decline of unionized manufacturing employment has led to the drying up of some middle-class jobs for those with no post-secondary education.

Rose goes on to say that increasing unionization and the minimum wage would help improve the situation for middle-class men with no college degree. However, he neglects to mention the impact that immigration (legal & illegal) has had on this group.

Lawyers, engineers, corporate managers, and other white collar workers probably enjoy a net benefit from immigration (especially the illegal kind) in lower costs for goods and services. It's the "working man" that has paid the price in stagnate wages and no amount of increased unionization or minimum wage is going to change that until something is done to stop the largely unfettered stream that continually refills the pool of cheap immigrant labor.

Unfortunately, our current political leaders seem more concerned with limiting trade (not the cause of the problem!) than immigration.

Blue Chippers

From a review of Good News, Bad News: ­Evangelization, Conversion, and the Crisis of Faith by C. John McCloskey III and ­Russell Shaw in the November FIRST THINGS (sub req):

"Have you ever thought of becoming a Catholic?" That is the question more of us should be posing. Or so argue C. John McCloskey and Russell Shaw in their new book. McCloskey, a Wall Street analyst turned Roman Catholic priest (of Opus Dei), and Shaw, a Catholic journalist and former communications director for the U.S. bishops' conference, propose a plan for Catholic renewal based on the personal apostolate of the lay faithful. Drawing from his experience as Washington's "convert maker"--notably credited with the conversions of Bernard Nathanson, Sam Brownback, Lawrence Kudlow, Laura Ingraham, Alfred Regnery, and Robert Novak--McCloskey peppers the book with the first-person written conversion accounts of those he's led into the Church. The result is a how-to guide for a Catholic apostolate--a word, the authors fear, that many Catholics don't know.

Not a bad recruiting class, eh? I wonder if McCloskey would be as effective in bringing wayward sheep back to the Church as he is at landing new talent.


Microsoft and the USO are sponsoring awards that recognize individuals on the home front who have gone above and beyond in their work to support the troops:

Microsoft Corporation, in partnership with the United Service Organizations (USO), is recognizing the contributions of the military community - the friends, family, and other individuals who help brighten the lives of U.S. troops throughout the world - with the creation of the first annual Above and Beyond Awards.

The Above and Beyond Awards is our way of publicly honoring and thanking the outstanding commitment, exceptional service, sacrifice and achievements of individuals who have shown extraordinary dedication in brightening the lives of our troops over the past year.

They have selected a series of finalists for each award and the voting has begun. While all these individuals deserve our gratitude and honor, there are few who we would like to give our official endorsement to.

For the Effort Award, Patti Patton-Bader from Pasadena, CA:

When Patti's son Brandon was deployed to Iraq, she began sending daily care packages to him. Soon she was recruiting friends and family to send packages to the troops, which eventually led to her start a nonprofit, "Soldiers' Angels," in 2003. Since then, the group's 100,000 members have sent tens of thousands of care packages and hundreds of thousands of letters to make sure no soldier is forgotten while serving.

And for the Medical Attention Award, Walter Fricke from St. Louis Park, MN (gotta have the local angle):

A helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, Walter Fricke founded the Veteran's Airlift Command to provide free air transportation for wounded and recovering troops and veterans with their families through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots. Walt himself spent six months in a hospital 700 miles from his hometown. He realized, "my healing began in earnest when my family was able to gather the resources to make a trip to visit me." Since its founding, VAC has made 177,162 trips to reunite troops with their loved ones.

Vote early. Vote often. Vote here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

War Stories

A couple of veteran related items.


The Military Salute Project of Woodbury, MN is sponsoring the 2008 Minnesota Veterans Literary Initiative to encourage Minnesotans who served in the Global War On Terror to record and preserve their stories. Submissions will be accepted via e-mail from residents of Minnesota who have been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the GWOT Expeditionary or Service Medals, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, or the Iraq Campaign Medal for service on or after September 11, 2001. Submissions will also be accepted from immediate family members (spouse, parents, siblings and children 18 years of age or older), including the immediate family members of Minnesotans who were posthumously awarded one or more of the decorations.

And Keegan's Seventh Annual Salute to the Military:

Keegan's Pub will once again salute our military and military veterans over the Veteran's Day weekend. Friday through Sunday, November 9th, 10th, and 11th, active duty personnel and veterans will receive their first drink free and S.O.S. will be on the menu all day each day.

Flags from each of the services will be displayed in the pub. If you know a veteran or a member of our armed forces be sure to invite them for this annual event.

We would encourage local vets to participate in both efforts if at all possible. Especially Keegan's Salute to the Military. Any time you can pry a free drink out of Terry Keegan's tightly clenched claw is a reason enough for celebration.

Scandal: Catholics Being Catholics

A revealing look at the mindset of those making the decisions in our local media. For the second week in a row, Catholics promoting the beliefs of Catholicism in a Catholic Church is breaking news!

Last week, from the City Pages, the shocking tale of a church trying to expand despite the fact it features homilies with remonstrations against divorce!

This week, from the Star Tribune, the scandalous story of Catholic Churches not allowing their facilities to be used to promote the gay lifestyle!

What's next with these extremists? Banning abortions from being performed in Church basements? Preventing condoms from being distributed to the kids at Sunday School? Then what, death camps? I'm glad our local journalists are keeping a very close eye on these people.

Incidentally, I have a hot tip for our diligent newshounds. According to anonymous sources, there's a Catholic Church in Eagan that would object to the Holy Water font being used as a Muslim foot bath. Discrimination! Hate mongers! I look forward to the special section devoted to this disturbing story on Sunday.

UPDATE: A laughing Paul from Plymouth writes in with this observation:

I clicked on your link to the Strib article and laughed out loud at this gem from "activist" Michael Bayly:

"This understanding of church as an exclusive country club with a set of rules that everyone's got to follow -- I don't think that's reflective of the type of community that Jesus was all about," he said.

Talk about laugh-out-loud funny. This guy crams a lot of idiocy into few words. Most obvious is that the church shouldn't follow a "set of rules". Anyone ever hear of the 10 commandments? I believe a few fringe religions actually respect them.

I'm also glad to see that "country club" elitism now can be extrapolated to include any group that sets rules for conduct. That makes it a much more useful term to bludgeon with than when it just meant rich people.

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone

Like seventeen of my fellow Americans, I tuned in to Versus last night to catch a bit of the Canadians-Bruins hockey game. And lo' and behold, who was playing between the pipes for the Bruins but former Wild netminder Manny Fernandez. It wasn't Manny's night as Les Habitants put six past him and crushed the B's 6-1. But seeing Fernandez backstopping for Boston made me realize just how strong the Boston-Minnesota sports connection has become.

Twins fans have long followed the success of David Ortiz at Boston with a mixture of envy and bitterness at what might have been. Since joining the BoSox in 2003, Ortiz has clubbed 208 homers, driven in 642 runs, helped them win a World Series in 2004, and get back to the Fall Classic again this year.

Meanwhile, in the same five-year span, Twins designated hitters have hit twelve home runs, driven in thirty-two, and led to team to three first round playoff exits. Okay, I'm making those DH stats up, but the reality isn't much better.

Now, in addition to having to watch Ortiz warm the hearts of the Boston faithful with his powerful bat, Minnesota fans must also helplessly look on as ex-Viking Randy Moss lights up the NFL (again), this time wearing a Patriots jersey. Watching Moss effortlessly haul in long touchdown passes evokes memories of '98, made even more painful when compared to this year's anemic Viking aerial attack.

That's two game-changing players who once played here helping make Beantown the current center of the sports universe. You ready for a third? Don't look now, but just a little over a week from today, the new-look Celtics--featuring Kevin Garnett--begin their NBA season. If KG blows up in Boston and leads the Celts on a deep playoff run, it will be another bitter pill for Minnesota sports fans to swallow.

The only solace at this point is that the Wild are doing just fine without Manny. Bringing the Cup to Minnesota would do a lot to ease our Beantown envy.

The Whole World Is Jumping

Tobin from Indonesia e-mails to join the Rockies 'wagon:

Ok, ok, I'll finally climb on. I'm not sure why, but it took until their opponent was the Red Sox for me to actually cheer for Colorado. Of course, had their opponent been the Yankees, that would have done it too.

Hope the rest hasn't cooled them off - the last thing this sports world needs right now is Boston winning the World Series.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pumpkin Brau

Tim e-mails with a link:

Some guy brews beer in a pumpkin

'Nuf said.

The Pursuit Of Happiness?

The Cynical Vikings Guys issues his Declaration of Football Independence:

When in the Course of a football season it becomes necessary for one fan to dissolve the fanatical bands which have connected him with an NFL team, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that he should declare the causes which impel him to the separation.

Tough to argue with his reasons for ending the Madness of Coach Childress.

There's lots of room for you on the bandwagon

While some would expect us to take this opportunity to kick diehard Indians fans when they are down, we are actually going to refrain from our usual schadenfreude and observe a period of quiet solemnity to allow them to cope with their staggering loss. As Minnesota sports fans, we're all too familiar with the agony of defeat ourselves and understand the need to grieve before the healing (and mocking) can begin.

We would also like to extend a hand to the suffering followers of the Tribe to climb aboard the Rockies bandwagon. A few, opportunistic carpetbaggers already have, but there's plenty of room still available for genuine sports fans to join this year's true team of destiny.

McCarved in Stone

Tim McCarver is a boob.

Last night after the Indians third base coach disgraced himself by not waving Kenny "Rogers" Lofton home, he said about three times "In a situation like that, the coach needs to make a very fast decision. He needs to make the decision right away and go with that."

In other words, he was trying to explain why on earth the fool didn't send Lofton home when his team was down a run, with one out, on the road in the SEVENTH GAME OF THE ALCS!

At the time we had not seen the replay yet.

So then they show the replay and it's clear the idiot coach originally waved Lofton home, then changed his mind when the ball was still 15 feet from one of the worst-fielding left fielders in the league, Manny Ramirez.

So the coach DID make a quick decision, then changed that decision. McCarver's point was just mindless drivel that didn't have anything to do with the play he had just seen with his own eyes.

Two other points about last night's game:

1. Casey Blake seemed like he gave up after the Lofton play. He was the next batter and promptly hit into a double play. Then he made an error on a fairly routine grounder. Then he collided with Jonny (man, that spelling is annoying) Peraulta on a fly ball that should have been caught and turned into a double.

It reminds me what our Grandpa used to say about the Elder:

That boy has a lot of quit in him.

B. Joe Buck and McCarver harped on and on and on about the Lofton play, even though the Red Sox had taken a three run lead an inning later. Had Lofton scored, the score would have been 5-3, instead of 5-2. But that didn't stop the constant camera shots of Lofton and the third base coach as if it were the deciding play of the game. The deciding play was the homer that put the Sox up and kept them there.

Btw, Lofton got hosed in this game pretty bad. You have to feel somewhat sorry for him. First he gets thrown out by Manny trying to stretch a double when he was clearly safe, then the third base coach holds him at third when he could have scored with ease. He's 40 and probably done playing ball. Hard way to go out.

So, to recap, Tim McCarver is a boob.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Nanny In Charge Of The State?

Strange Days at 10 Downing - (sub req):

With a title reeking heavily of the feel-good, and a veritable sitcom of an opening episode that delivers same, "The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard" (beginning Sunday, 9-10 p.m. EDT on PBS; check local listings) looks far from promising -- a look not to be trusted, as it turns out. Nor is there in this five-part "Masterpiece Theatre" drama, about a supermarket manager from West Yorkshire who becomes prime minister, much that's amazing about its improbable heroine.

There is, at most, something odd about writer Sally Wainwright's decision to model Mrs. Pritchard on a character by now rather well worn -- the feminist superwoman, late 1970s model -- and there are speeches to match. To hear Ros Pritchard (Jane Horrocks), mother, wife and head of staff at the Greengages Superstore, declaim on all the ways in which men are inferior to women and incompetent to run the world -- women are more reasonable, truthful, peaceful, don't need to be right all the time, etc, etc. -- is to feel the decades roll away. In somewhat the same way time seemed to stop during last month's Emmy Awards -- no work of fantasy -- when Sally Field declared, in her acceptance speech, that " ...if the mothers ruled the world there would be no [expletive] wars in the first place." Ros Pritchard wouldn't, to be sure, be caught dead using profanity of this sort, at least prior to her rise to power, though by the time she's established as PM, and busy pushing bills in the interest of goodness and truth, her husband has to caution her to please stop using the F word in front of the children.

Thanks God it's only a television series. Seriously, can you imagine anything more frightening than a mother in power "pushing bills in the interest of goodness and truth"? At least with President Hillary we'll be getting a woman far more interested in the naked pursuit of power than trying to apply maternal instincts to the political arena. Yes, that is far less dangerous.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Taking It To The Streets

Be sure to tune in tomorrow on the First Team of the Northern Alliance Radio Network as we seek to confirm the rumors that John Hinderaker missed last week's show because he was attacked by a group of left-wing thugs seeking to silence and intimidate him. It seems to be the only plausible explanation for his absence.

We'll also be joined by David Bellevia at noon to discuss his book, House to House:

"Like St. Mihiel, Normandy, Inchon, and Khe Sanh before it, Fallujah is one of the most horrific and hard-fought battles in U.S. history. SSG David Bellavia's riveting, poignant, and at times even humorous firsthand account vividly emphasizes why this battle must never be forgotten. And why, because of the breathtaking courage of Bellavia and his fellow troops, it was won." - Andrew Carroll, editor of War Letters and Behind the Lines

The real story of the battle Fallujah and many other topics will be explored tomorrow. Tune in locally on AM1280 WWTC or listen live on the Internet stream from anywhere and everywhere. After listening to the First Team from 11am to 1pm, be sure to stick around for Mitch and Ed from 1pm-3pm and the Final Word with Michael and King from 3pm-5pm.

Only Fools Rush In

The Wall Street Journal editorializes on the real shame of Haditha (free for all!):

At Haditha, did the Marines act reasonably and appropriately based on their training? They were in a hostile combat situation where deadly force was authorized against suspected triggermen for the IED, and were ordered to assault a suspected insurgent hideout. In retrospect, the men in the car had no weapons or explosives; in retrospect, the people in the house were not insurgents. No one knew at the time.

Innocents were killed at Haditha, as they inevitably are in all wars--though that does not excuse or justify wrongdoing. Yet neither was Haditha the atrocity or "massacre" that many assumed--though errors in judgment may well have been committed. And while some violent crimes have been visited on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, overall the highly disciplined U.S. military has conducted itself in an exemplary fashion. When there have been aberrations, the services have typically held themselves accountable.

The same cannot be said of the political and media classes. Many, including Members of Congress, were looking for another moral bonfire to discredit the cause in Iraq, and they found a pretext in Haditha. The critics rushed to judgment; facts and evidence were discarded to fit the antiwar template.

Most despicably, they created and stoked a political atmosphere that exposes American soldiers in the line of duty, risking and often losing their lives, to criminal liability for the chaos of war. This is the deepest shame of Haditha, and the one for which apologies ought to be made.

Apologies which we will no doubt wait in vain for.

When fact is fiction and TV reality

Remember the good old days when MTV actually you know...played music videos? A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila on MTV:

Are you ready for the ultimate battle of the sexes? Well, you better be 'cause there's about to be an all-out war over cyber hottie Tila Tequila!

Although Tila has racked up more than 2 million MySpace friends, she still hasn't found "the one," and she's ready to do anything to find him -- or her! This self-proclaimed "bisexual freak" has had her heart broken by men and women, and she's tired of being alone. With our help, she's inviting 16 luscious lesbians and 16 sexy straight guys over to her place for A Shot of Love With Tila Tequila. Yes, it's time for Tila to unfurl her freak flag and find true love.

I've often wondered what the boundaries would be for reality television. What is pushing it too far? Apparently, there are no boundaries or they've now been stretched to the point of being meaningless.

A lot of reality shows use sex to hook viewers. It has increasingly become the focus on programs like MTV's "The Real World." But at least they still tried to hold on to the pretense that it was about something more.

"A Shot At Love" is nothing other than thinly disguised soft-core porn. When we saw a promo, my wife speculated on the number of men who be...uh..."finding self-pleasure" while watching. I'm surprised that Kleenex and Lubriderm aren't the primary sponsors.

Another line has been crossed with nary a peep of complaint. When Dr. Anthony Esolen joined us on the radio show last week, he explained that taking in our mass entertainment culture is like living next to a sewage treatment plant; after a while you don't even notice the smell anymore. "A Shot At Love" is just a little more crap on top of the fetid heap.

I shudder to think what the future of reality television holds.

Lord Love...A Dog?

What else can you say about this other than pathetic?

A "growed" woman cannot work or function because a dog was taken from a friend of hers.

She is apparently bed-ridden, so filled with canangst (coined!) that she can't even function normally (define your terms!).

We are at the point where dogs are as important to some extremely disordered people as babies. Kind of a sign that there are serious problems in our culture, no?

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Ellen DeGeneres' talk show was put on hold for a day because of her emotionally wrenching dog-adoption drama.

"It's been a long week and a tough week and we decided to take a long weekend and be back on Tuesday," said Laura Mandel, a spokeswoman for Telepictures Productions, which produces "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

DeGeneres was scheduled Thursday to tape shows to air Friday and Monday. Instead, the tapings were canceled and reruns featuring Jessica Alba and Queen Latifah will air on those days. A new show is planned Tuesday.

The battle over Iggy, a Brussels Griffon terrier mix, pitted DeGeneres against an animal rescue agency and, at one point, had her in tears on her show. The agency's owners complained of receiving death threats over the dispute.
DeGeneres adopted the dog, then gave it to her hairstylist's family after the dog, despite training, couldn't get along with the comedian's cats, her publicist has said.

Marina Batkis and Vanessa Chekroun, owners of the nonprofit Mutts and Moms agency, claimed that DeGeneres violated the adoption agreement by not informing them that she was giving the dog away and removed Iggy from the hairstylist's home Sunday.
DeGeneres pleaded for Iggy's return to the hairstylist on Tuesday's show. She said her hairdresser's daughters, ages 11 and 12, were heartbroken when the dog was taken away.

But Mutts and Moms' owners were adamant about their decision, and a spokesman for Batkis said she wouldn't be "bullied around by the Ellen DeGenereses of the world."
At a taping of the show Wednesday, DeGeneres told the audience she wouldn't talk about the matter again unless Iggy was returned to her hairdresser.

In a similar vein, I was listening to Jason Lewis last night and during the news segment at 5:30 Jeff Manasshol (heheheh) told us that two deer were found murdered on the side of a road in northern Minnesota. He read the news piece as if they were people that were found.

I wonder how many abortions took place yesterday in Minnesota alone...

Can you imagine if the media provided that information on a daily basis like they do with the soliders killed in Iraq? Would the constant drumbeat of death news do anything to change minds?

Anchorette: It was another bloody day today in Minnesota with increasing violence targeted at innocent children who have no say in the matter. We begin our team coverage in Minneapolis where Julie Adams is at the Planned Parenthood in Uptown, Julie?

Julie: It was indeed a bloody day here with 19 children already aborted today and the clinic doesn't close for another 3 hours. This is the bloodiest single day in Minnesota since abortion was made legal in 1973. It now brings the total number of babies aborted in this long, drawn out and some say unnecessary conflict to 48,987,231 babies.

Back to you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The News from Four Months Ago, Today

Breaking news from the Associated Press, on a certain unorthdox contributor to the political campaign of comedian Al Franken:

Liberal Al Franken is good enough and smart enough to win some of conservative Ben Stein's money -- and doggone it, Stein likes him.

Stein, an actor, writer, economist and former Nixon speechwriter, has contributed $2,000 to Franken's U.S. Senate campaign. The two men have known each other for about 30 years.

As a former "Saturday Night Live" star, Franken has received scores of contributions from people in the entertainment industry, but Stein's donation doesn't fit into the GOP's talking points about liberal Hollywood elites bankrolling Franken's campaign.

Glad someone finally woke up the boys at the most powerful news syndication service in the world to this story. Of course, the cognitive elite comprising the readership of Fraters LIbertas already knew this, when I broke the story on June 12:

Ben Stein - $1,000. Legendary Ferris Beuhler actor, game show host, and brilliant conservative. Former speech writer for Richard Nixon and columnist for the American Spectator and Yahoo Finance, among other outlets. One of the finest writers around on politics, economics, and culture, as demonstrated in this listing. In particular, he's one the most articulate and persuasive speakers advocating the pro-life stance in the country.

And he's giving money to Al Bleeping Franken? A guy who's never found a liberal position on abortion he didn't like (as shown by the $5,000 contribution he also received from something called Washington Women for Choice.) How in the world can Ben Stein be supporting Al Franken?

Then I went the further step of getting the first comment from Ben Stein on the subject. And I didn't burden the readers with unfunny references to Stuart Smalley. Members of the Academy, please remember this come Pulitzer time.

Not in My Back Yard

This week's award for outstanding achievement in the field of extreme emotional hyberbole is:

"It was as if I had given my baby up for adoption and found out it had been murdered by its new parents," she says. "I was sick."

This from a woman who is relating her reaction when found out she sold her house to an organization that was planning to do some things of which she vehemently disapproved. Given her metaphor, you might guess it was an abortion clinic or something. No, ironically, it's a Catholic Church.

Not just any Catholic Church, but the finest one in the west metro, Holy Family in St. Louis Park. Because of the efforts of the priests there and the olde tyme Catholic values they are endorsing, the Sunday masses are packed, the school is exceeding capacity (at a per pupil cost about half what the public schools spend), and more and more souls are no doubt on the way to be saved. They need more room and are looking to buy out some adjoining properties, by offering the owners prices well above market rate. The bastards!

The preceding sentence, an emotional response in concert with the tone of this City Pages article on the subject. In fact, the editorial decision to run this article is the runner up for outstanding acheivement in hyperbole. Not sure what the point of it is. Something about how Catholic Churches shouldn't try to expand. Maybe market research shows this topic resonates with their core readership demographics.

I did get a kick out of their reports from disgruntled "former parishioners" of what really goes on during a homily at Holy Family. Such nefarious things as the importance of Catholics marrying Catholics and not getting divorced. It seems the priests at Holy Family have the unmitigated gall to advocate Catholic teaching in this Catholic Church. Shut 'em down!

Sorry, lapsed into City Pages mindset again.

It looks like the stand off will continue, with the Church wanting the room for expansion and some homeowners holding out at even 60K above the market price. Of course, everyone has their price. Maybe those savvy dissidents around the Church think there is more largesse to be had from a parish with the popular appeal, and resulting financial support, of Holy Family.

But if their faith in constricting this Church is stronger than their financial judgment, Holy Family may have no choice but to rely on the wisdom of people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens. Yes, the Kelo decision, legitmizing the forced transfer of property from one private party to another. They would have to get the city on board, that whole "for the purposes of economic development" thing would have to worked out, as well as the yowls of protest about separation of church and state. But once those sticky wickets are traversed, Holy Family might as well take the whole block and the two adjoining ones as well. It appears business will be booming there for quite some time.

BTW, if you suspect that City Pages characterizations of the homilies at Holy Family might not be entirely objective, this link provides the real deal, unfiltered.

The Elder Amens: Speaking as someone who is now trying to sell a house literally just down the street from these maroons, their refusal to consider offers $60K over the appraised (good luck getting anywhere near that in today's market) value is pure insanity. I also wonder what angle the City Pages would have taken on this story if the religious institution that was seeking to expand was a mosque. I gotta hunch that the homeowners would not be portrayed as victims, but rather as narrow-minded bigots. Just a hunch.

Smoking Ban Implemented: Minorities Hardest Hit

The City Pages would like us to feel sorry for some of the unintended victims of the state's new smoking ban.

Here's one of them fancy hyper links so you can read it yourself:

Sounds strange, don't it? Why would a notoriously left wing paper want us to feel sorry for business owners?

Perhaps because business owners are getting hosed by this meddling in their commerce. Or because VFWs and other neighborhood bars may be shuttered due to this onerous legislation.

No, that doesn't fit any tidy lefty template. But when a minority group is involved, NOW we've got a story!

A centuries-old tradition in the Middle East--think corner bars with water pipes and backgammon instead of beer and darts--hookah bars have in recent years gained popularity in the Twin Cities and beyond, embraced by recent immigrants and college students alike. But thanks to Minnesota's smoking ban, which took effect October 1, they are in all likelihood a thing of the past here.

Correct me, but wasn't tipping pints and smoking also a centuries-old tradition in...America?

So why does it only rise to the level of an article when a minority group is involved?

Daniel Disrud, an environmental health specialist with Anoka County who has met recently with owners of hookah bars, says they have been put in an unfair position.

"The rules were changed on them," he says. "The ban affects how they are going to have to operate the most."

Ummm...the rules were changed on everyone across the board. All business owners. Some of whom I'm sure relied on smokers as much if not more than the hookah bars. Ever been to a Legion hall?

"It's so sad," Sakallah says. "They're killing our culture."

Again I'm not sure why non-American cultures seem to have more intrinsic worth and should be honored more, but that is the theme of the piece.

It's an argument that Mohamed Hassan, owner of Pyramids Cafe, has trouble understanding. Last Tuesday, one day after Minnesota's smoking ban went into effect, Hassan sat forlornly in the corner of his once-bustling Columbia Heights store. It was still early, but he'd already sent home one of his three waitresses. Soon, he says, he'll have to start laying them off.

Hassan, a thin man with deep-set, piercing eyes, bought the place less than a year ago for $100,000. To do so, he refinanced his house and took out a small-business loan.
"Forget my culture," he says. "The government gave me the loan for this business. How am I going to pay it back?"

Oh, I'm sure they will think of some way of letting you out of the deal. Now some poor schlub in Northeast Minneapolis who sadly happens to be from Polish stock? (shivers) I don't think he will be so lucky.

I Got Two Here

David Harsanyi writes on one of the silliest "crimes" still on the books in many places. Scalping:

In the end, I'm not sure why it's fair to allow monopolies to sell tickets and not individuals. Turning a profit on your investment doesn't sound like a crime to me. It sounds like America.

Amen. How much precious time and resources have law enforcement officials wasted over the years trying to stop two people from conducting a free market exchange for a legal product?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Strict Separation Of Church & Political Opinions I Don't Like

In Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Steven Malanga wrote (sub req) on the dangerous intermingling of religion and politics by radical extremists who aren't afraid to use the power of the pulpit in their theocratic efforts to undermine our democracy:

The AFL-CIO launched "Labor in the Pulpits," a program that encouraged churches and synagogues to invite union leaders to preach the virtues of organized labor and tout its political agenda. Nearly 1,000 congregations in 100 cities nationwide now take part annually. Mr. Sweeney himself has preached from the pulpit of Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral, urging congregants to join anti-globalization protests in the capital.

Under the auspices of Labor in the Pulpits, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian clerics have composed guidelines for union-friendly sermons and litanies, as well as inserts for church bulletins that promote union legislation. One insert asked congregants to pray for a federal minimum-wage hike and also -- if the prayers didn't work, presumably -- to contact their congressional representatives. Another urged congregants to lobby Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act -- controversial legislation that would let unions organize firms merely by getting workers to sign authorizing cards, rather than by conducting secret ballots, as is currently required.

The Chicago-based, union-supported Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) arranges for seminarians to spend the summer months working with union locals. Some 200 seminarians have helped unionize Mississippi poultry workers, aided the Service Employees International Union in organizing Georgia public-sector employees, and bolstered campaigns for living-wage legislation in California municipalities.

Whoops! That was the religious LEFT he was writing about. Sorry for the false alarm. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The Trouble With Rudy

The legendary William F. Buckley is not nearly as prolific or potent a writer as he used to be. Relatively speaking of course. He still does pretty good for a soon-to-be eighty-two-year-old fellow. And every once in a while, he still hits the nail square on its head as he does in this piece on Rudy Giuliani & Catholicism at National Review Online:

Ah, but that doesn't work. Because the kind of godlessness expressed by a failure to live a life of charity, sustained by faith and hope, is, unhappily, pretty unnoticeable. Everyone excepting the saints is, under such scrutiny, "un-Christian." But a failure to attend church on Sunday is, by Catholic standards, contumacious, an ostentatious rejection of a formal obligation. It is the equivalent of an observant Jew biting into a piece of pork. Penitence, if genuine, can minister to any infraction of the faith. But to violate systematically the Commandment that says, "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy," is systematically to reject one's faith.

There are other problems, in the matter of Mr. Giuliani. One's sense of things is that the religious communities are understanding in the matter of failed marriages (the divorce rate in the United States has been estimated at about fifty percent), but those who aspire to lead are quite reasonably examined more closely, and in the matter of Mr. Giuliani, there is the second and then the third wife, with ugly consequences involving children and living quarters.

Which is to say that a candidate holding out his affiliation with a religious body as a reason to presume harmonious values with other voters of the same faith has to prepare for a likelihood of resentment among coreligionists if he appears lax in the practice of his faith. Members of a club can be relaxed about the member who does not pay his dues. But there is the risk there of continued neglect gradually understood as disloyalty. The way things work in modern times, under modern pressures, more people's attention is attracted by defiance of a protocol than by inconsistent attention given to it. The guest who neglectfully fails to bow when the queen enters the room is not especially conspicuous, but becomes so if it crosses the mind of others that he is challenging the legitimacy of the sovereign, rather than merely to being absent-minded about protocols.

This is the root of my problems with Giuliani. The fact that he's personally pro-choice isn't as critical as his stated commitment to appoint the type of judges who would likely overturn Roe v Wade. That's really where the only power of the president to make a difference on abortion lies.

But the fact that he's a kinda, sorta, not-really most of time Catholic is troubling. A candidate's religious faith is never--with a few possible exceptions--going to be the primary force driving my voting decision. However, a candidate who takes such a wishy-washy approach and openly flaunts the values and conventions of his religion is someone that I will have a difficult time generating much enthusiasm for. Frankly, I think it would be easier for me to support Giuliani if he had left the Church entirely--for whatever silly, selfish, or serious reason--rather than his present path of nominally identifying himself as Catholic while willfully ignoring the precepts of the faith.

Wilder lower wolves

Daniel B. Botkin--president of the Center for the Study of the Environment and professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of "Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century"--pens a piece for today's Wall Street Journal on Global Warming Delusions gone wild (sub req):

The key point here is that living things respond to many factors in addition to temperature and rainfall. In most cases, however, climate-modeling-based forecasts look primarily at temperature alone, or temperature and precipitation only. You might ask, "Isn't this enough to forecast changes in the distribution of species?" Ask a mockingbird. The New York Times recently published an answer to a query about why mockingbirds were becoming common in Manhattan. The expert answer was: food -- an exotic plant species that mockingbirds like to eat had spread to New York City. It was this, not temperature or rainfall, the expert said, that caused the change in mockingbird geography.

You might think I must be one of those know-nothing naysayers who believes global warming is a liberal plot. On the contrary, I am a biologist and ecologist who has worked on global warming, and been concerned about its effects, since 1968. I've developed the computer model of forest growth that has been used widely to forecast possible effects of global warming on life -- I've used the model for that purpose myself, and to forecast likely effects on specific endangered species.

I'm not a naysayer. I'm a scientist who believes in the scientific method and in what facts tell us. I have worked for 40 years to try to improve our environment and improve human life as well. I believe we can do this only from a basis in reality, and that is not what I see happening now. Instead, like fashions that took hold in the past and are eloquently analyzed in the classic 19th century book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," the popular imagination today appears to have been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Some colleagues who share some of my doubts argue that the only way to get our society to change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe, and that therefore it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate. They tell me that my belief in open and honest assessment is naïve. "Wolves deceive their prey, don't they?" one said to me recently. Therefore, biologically, he said, we are justified in exaggerating to get society to change.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the debate over global warming, is the notion that THE SCIENCE (as John Kerry calls it) has all come down conclusively on one side and that anyone who remains skeptical of the coming catastrophe if we don't ACT NOW is merely a denier of reality or in the pay of Big Oil. The reality is that there are plenty of rational, thoughtful people who have looked at the THE SCIENCE and have concluded that the facts don't justify the doom saying and scaremongering. You won't see them winning awards from Norwegian politicians, hobnobbing with Hollywood stars, or being lauded by an adoring media. Their only solace will be being able to look back at some point in the future--after the global warming hysteria bubble bursts--with the satisfaction of knowing that they didn't buy the hype.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Number One Babe

We had a five minute discussion of this company during an all-day meeting with a couple of visitors from Europe at work today and no one laughed. No one. At least out loud.

All My Rowdy Friends

Mark Yost--fresh from issuing a fatwa against the Mall of America--writes about the boorish behavior of football fans in today's Wall Street Journal (free for all!):

The other reason is tailgating. While television cooking shows tend to focus on the food, walk through most NFL stadium parking lots and the clear focus is on alcohol. And lots of it.

"The Twins fans come in and have one or two beers," said Marty Neumann, manager of The Little Wagon, a sports bar near Minneapolis's Metrodome. "The Vikings fans come in and have 10."

Hey, I know that dude. Although in the interest of accuracy, I believe the last name should be "Newton."

Surprisingly enough, Yost doesn't mention Packer fans in his story. A couple of them have sobered enough to drop me e-mails though.

Jack starts the crack back:

I enjoy your site. I'm a Packer fan. I'll try not to be too obnoxious.

First of all, isn't Longwell great? He's a genius as well. Kicks outdoors for the Pack for 9 years and then moves into a dome. He'll still be kicking when I retire. He'll win you 10 games easily.

Peterson is impressive, no doubt. He's gonna be a pain in the Packers butt for several years to come. But you almost lost that game. Geez! You're gonna have to put more on the field than him or he's just gonna be another Barry Sanders running in a backfield with Eric Hipple or Scott Mitchell. You should worry more about your front office trading Adrian to Dallas (couldn't resist). We've already beaten you guys once this year and we beat another team (SD) with a decent running back (LT).

Yes, the Packers LOST to the Bears. It was embarrassing. We played a miserable second half. But did you think we were going to go 16-0? These things happen. If you're 5-1 you can dismiss it. If you're 2-3 then maybe you're sharpening the razor blade.

You are correct. The Packers need a running game...........just as soon as we play someone that can stop our passing game, which hasn't happened yet. It's not how I would draw it up. But I can't argue with the results.

At this point I really can't tell you why we drafted Justin Harrell. I'm sure he'll be useful someday. But right now, we're so deep on the defensive line, he's lucky if we even activate him on game day. That Jones kid we took in the 3rd round scored a touchdown against the Vikings. He's working out really well.

Thanks, I am enjoying our 5-1 start. Fluky? Maybe. But the alternative is losing and losing sucks. Yes, we have an aging football legend at quarterback who will require the construction of an additional wing at the hall of fame in Canton when he eventually retires. I'll take him over the last 10 Vikings quarterbacks combined. He's so great they're going to retire his Falcons jersey. And I've got Aaron Rodgers sitting on the bench just waiting for his chance. We're not even carrying a third quarterback right now.

See you November 11th. You'll likely win that game because neither team ever sweeps the season series.

Actually the Packers did win both games against the Vikings last year, which gave the Vikings the opportunity to draft Peterson.

Wright from Minneapolis also checks in:

Adrian Peterson certainly had a good game against Chicago, and he looks like the real deal. That could be bad news for Packer (and Chicago and Detroit fans) but let's keep a little perspective. He's played how many games now? I recall when Herschel Walker had a great debut against the Pack, and was hailed as the 2nd coming personified. How did that work out for you?

I always enjoy a Packer win (and a Vikings loss) but I don't get too up or down either way like I used to. I figure those guys don't care what kind of week I had - I'm not going to lose any sleep over theirs. I have enough stuff that's within my control to worry about. But one thing I learned a long time ago was not to hang my hat on predictions of how well my heroes were going to perform on the field (or how poorly their opponents were.) A fine wine can turn suddenly into a fine whine, and it doesn't taste too good, especially when it's mixed with all those black feathers.

Gotta like the crow eating reference. But mentioning Walker was really a low blow. He then turns to politics:

PS I am in agreement with your assessment of the political landscape in your post ' MN OB IN '08'. Wish it weren't so, but I don't recall going into an election with this much dread before. All ain't lost, but it sure doesn't look good. I blame Trent Lott, Ted Stevens, Don Young, et al and their slobbery porky ways for absolutely turning off the conservative base. I think the difference between conservatives and liberals is the conservatives generally hold their representatives to something of a standard. For dems, it's any means necessary.

Just win baby.

Keeping It Real

Steve from St. Paul e-mails:

I couldn't agree more with your post regarding the GOP prospects for '08 in Minnesota. The glass is definately half empty, and I'm not just saying that because I live in St. Paul, and everyone I've voted for in my 41 years has lost. (except for Norm Coleman, who I voted for as Mayor when he was a DFLer.) There is one wild card in the mix though. If the inevitable protests at the Republican Convention are serious and violent, it could piss off enough people to tip the state Red in the presidential race, and guarantee Coleman's senate seat. However, I don't see (or want) that happening. The anarkids are generally more bark than bite.

By the way, one person who could benefit from your hard, cold realism is your radio partner John Hinderaker. As much as I enjoy his brilliant blogging, he really was a pollyanna about Mark Kennedy, among other races in 2006.

We'll do our best to dampen John's unbridled enthusiasm this time around.

UPDATE-- Jeff e-mails with hope:

I don't totally disagree with your post re MN being out of play for the GOP presidential candidate in '08 (at least right now).

However, if past election results are any indication, if the GOP candidate does not keep the race somewhat close here in '08, the odds of us holding on to Coleman, Bachmann, Kline and Ramstad's seat -- and picking up state House seats -- go down dramatically.

What happens at the top of the ticket has a huge impact down the ballot.

In 2002, Coleman carried the state over Mondale by about 2 percent. Down the ballot, the GOP won the governor's race, the secretary of state race and the state auditors race, and also picked up a congressional seat, a number of state Senate seats and 13 state House seats.

In 2004, Kerry carried the state by about 3.5 percent. Down the ballot, the DFL picked up 13 state House seats.

In 2006, Klobuchar beat Kennedy by 20 percent. Down the ballot, the DFL knocked off an incumbent GOP congressman, secretary of state and state auditor, and picked up a number of state senate seats and 19 state House seats. The only bright spot was Pawlenty hanging on as governor (barely).

For the sake of other important races, lets hope things change nationally and MN is another battleground state in '08.

Unfortunately, Jeff is correct about the drag that the top of the ballot will have on all MN GOP candidates in '08. But it's better to acknowledge that now and seek ways to overcome it rather than pretending it doesn't exist.

Monday, October 15, 2007

By The Book?

The poll results show that most of you are not thrilled with the idea of equipping the Iraqi military with M-16 assault rifles. It's interesting to note that's exactly the sort of thing that the military's official counterinsurgency manual recommends against as well (page 193):

A-43. By mid-tour, U.S. forces should be working closely with local forces, training or supporting them and building an indigenous security capability. The natural tendency is to create forces in a U.S. image. This is a mistake. Instead, local HN [host nation] forces need to mirror the enemy's capabilities and seek to supplant the insurgent's role. This does not mean they should be irregular in the sense of being brutal or outside proper control. Rather, they should move, equip, and organize like insurgents but have access to U.S. support and
be under the firm control of their parent societies. Combined with a mobilized populace and trusted networks, these characteristics allow HN forces to separate the insurgents from the population.

MN OB IN '08

For a while now I've been holding my tongue as I continue to read and hear talk about how Minnesota is "in play" in the 2008 presidential election. However, it's time to stop being polite...and start getting real.

Republicans in this state and elsewhere need to wake up and smell the roses (Moses). Not only is Minnesota not "in play" in '08 as far as the presidency goes, it's possible--although probably not likely--that we could have an all-Democratic slate representing us in Washington after the 2008 elections.

You think an all-blue delegation is impossible? If you don't believe that Coleman is vulnerable, you just aren't paying attention. And if you don't think the Dems are going to throw everything they can at Michele Bachmann in the Sixth, you're dreaming. With Ramstad's retirement and John Kline apparently having to face a real candidate for a change (how real is still TBD), it's not outside the realm of possibility to imagine that the MN GOP could lose Coleman's Senate seat and all three House races.

Again, I don't think it's likely that Kline will be knocked out, but the Third District is very much up in the air and Bachmann is going to have to weather a ferocious media and money onslaught to hold on to her seat. Meanwhile, the prospects of picking off any of the current Democratic holds does not look good. Earlier, I would have thought that Tim Walz might be vulnerable, but unless something changes dramatically, he looks like he'll be returning to Washington.

The reality is that 2008 is going to be another tough year for Republicans in Minnesota. And it's going to be even worse at the top of the ticket.

In 2004, John Kerry beat George Bush by just over three percentage points in Minnesota. Heading into that election, there were high hopes among the GOP faithful that it would be the year when Minnesota could finally be counted in the Republican electoral college tally. Looking back now, 2004 looks like the high water mark for the GOP tide. 2006 showed the tenuous nature of whatever inroads Republicans had made with Minnesota voters and I believe we'll see the trend toward blue continue in 2008.

So far, I've come across three arguments on why Minnesota could or should be in play in '08.

1. Pawlenty on the ticket as VP. While Governor Pawlenty is enjoying high approval ratings at the moment, I don't believe that his presence on the ticket would have enough impact to make the difference. No matter what the names are on either side on the presidential slate, I'd guess the Democratic candidate would start out enjoying at least an 8-10% lead in Minnesota. Having Pawlenty as VP could maybe shave four to five points off, but that's it. And the notion that Pawlenty could help bring Iowa and Wisconsin into the bag as well is baseless wishful thinking.

2. The 2008 GOP convention is in the Twin Cities. Again, the gap is far too large for whatever small boost hosting the convention would bring to make any real difference. A non-factor.

3. A Romney candidacy could put Minnesota in play. Done laughing yet? I had to throw that one in to lighten the mood.

The bottom line is that doesn't matter whether Pawlenty is on the ticket as VP, the convention is in the Twin Cities, or Romney is the candidate (hee, hee): Minnesota is going blue in aught eight and nothing the GOP can do is going to change that fact. The eventual Republican candidate would do well to avoid wasting precious time and resources here. Minnesota Republicans should focus their efforts on trying to save Norm Coleman, hold their three House seats, and maybe chip away at the DFL stranglehold in the State House of Representatives. Those are the boundaries that they should be playing within. Anything else should be considered out of bounds.

Wave Of The Future

Another great sports weekend, only slightly marred by the Indians extra-inning explosion. The Rockies continued their improbable run to the World Series. The Gopher hockey squad opened with a pair of victories in the Icebreaker tourney. The Wild beat down the hated Ducks to go to 5-0 on the young NHL season. And the Vikings escaped with a dramatic last second win over the Bears in a game that featured more big plays than the Purple were able to muster all of last season.

Speaking of last year, after the Vikings lost a meaningless late-season game to the Packers, I commented that I was actually happy about the outcome since it would improve the Vikings position in the draft. A few obnoxious Packer fans (talk about a superfluous adjective) responded that my reaction was just sour grapes. Well yesterday, those result of those "sour grapes" was a very fine wine:

A. Peterson 20 224 3 73

But hey, it's not like the Packers need a running back, do they?

D. Wynn 13 37 1 7
V. Morency 4 11 0 6
B. Favre 3 8 0 7

Okay, but at least the player the Packer drafted has been a difference maker, right? Heh, heh.

Enjoy your fluky 5-1 start and aging quarterback now Packer fans. Because in the very near future Purple is going to be the new black.

Yesiree Bob, could we have known?

Torrealba comes up big in big games:

DENVER -- There are few in the long history of baseball who have had the honor of hitting a game-winning homer in the postseason. Colorado's Yorvit Torrealba now owns that distinction, and he might be the only member of this select group to have gained this achievement at the end of an at-bat during which he literally laughed.

Having developed a close bond with Livan Hernandez while serving as his catcher in San Francisco, Torrealba has a good understanding of the crafty veteran's wide array of pitches. Yet, he admits he wasn't expecting the 58-mph curveball that made him laugh or the 82-mph fastball that created a sense of hysteria at Coors Field on Sunday night.

Fittingly, this just added to the unbelievable script being followed by the Rockies, who, thanks to the two-out, three-run sixth-inning homer Torrealba hit off Hernandez, claimed a 4-1 Game 3 win over the Diamondbacks and now find themselves just one win away from sweeping their way into the World Series.

It looked a little chilly at Coors Field last night, but when your team is one game away from reaching the 'Series, a little rain is nuthin'.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This Job Would Be Great If It Weren't For The F***ing Customers

In general, I'm very pessimistic about the chances of any Republican nominee winning the presidency in '08 and have almost come to accept the fact that Hillary will be our next CIC. But then there are days when I think JB may be right about her being unelectable after all.

Thursday night, I caught part of a Hillary campaign appearance in New Hampshire on C-SPAN. I can't recall ever seeing a politician who comes across as obviously insincere as she does. She has this Nixonion quality of not being comfortable in her own skin in public and not being able to hide it. It's really quite unsettling to watch.

Every politician has to do things they don't like to. The public appearances, repetitive speech giving, glad-handing, etc. can test the patience of the best of them. But I think that most of the them actually enjoy it at some level. Bill Clinton was a master at working a crowd and he fed off their adoration and attention. For all his public speaking foibles, Bush actually came across as very relaxed and engaged on the campaign trail. People who have met in small groups say that he's also quite good in those settings.

It's not a requirement that our presidents actually like people--although it certainly helps get votes--but you at least have to give the impression that you do. I think that deep down Hillary hates people. She hates having to pander to them, having to pretend she cares, or that she really wants to hear their opinion. If you watch her carefully, I think she can see this loathing just under the surface. It really makes you wonder what motivates her to go through something that's so obviously difficult and painful for her. It's disconcerting to imagine someone who wants power that badly.

Maybe most Americans won't notice or just don't care. But I have a hope (however slim) that voters will go with their gut feel and decide that that gal just ain't right for the job.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A magic kingdom, open-armed

Rockies looking like a team of destiny:

Friday night, the Rockies pulled out a 3-2, 11-inning victory in Game 2 of the NLCS at Chase Field. They have opened the series with back-to-back wins on the road, and now head home, to Coors Field, where the series resumes on Sunday night.

The Rockies have become the the ninth team since the LCS was expanded from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven to win the first two games of a series on the road. Each of the eight previous teams have advanced to the World Series. And only twice out of those eight times has the series extended past five games.

I believe that should now read "MillerCoors Field." No matter the name, it's clear that this bandwagon is on quite a roll.

No Time For Heroes?

In our pop culture driven society of Britney, Lindsay, and self-important reality television "stars," most Americans probably don't know the story of Michael Murphy:

Medal of Honor. The words alone are enough to strike reverential solemnity into any American's heart. The nation's highest recognition of battlefield gallantry and valor, awarded to but a very few of the best of the best who have served their country above and beyond the call of duty. Won now - posthumously, as most are - by a very brave Long Islander named Michael Murphy, who laid down his life in Afghanistan in June 2005, age 29.

Murphy, from Patchogue, was a proud member of the U.S. Navy's SEALs, one of the toughest outfits in the military, an elite force that only the best of the best ever manage to get into in the first place. He and three comrades were dropped into the Afghan mountains to chase down a Taliban warlord, but Taliban insurgents found them first.

In the ferocious shootout that followed, Lt. Murphy drew fire to himself so that his fellow SEALs might escape with their lives. Tragically, two of them didn't. The man who did survive returned to the world with the glowing testimonials to Murphy's courage that have resulted now, with full and ample cause, in the first Medal of Honor awarded for duty in Afghanistan.

"An iron-souled warrior," he called Murphy. A man who belongs now and forever to the nation's history and legacy.

Michael Murphy's courage and sacrifice were dramatically recounted by Marcus Luttrell--the only SEAL to survive the mission--in the book Lone Survivor:

With the recent deluge of Hollywood releases seemingly designed to show the American military (and indirectly America itself) at its worst, it's encouraging to learn that the story of Lone Survivor will be told on the big screen:

Universal is the "Lone Survivor" in the tug of war over Marcus Luttrell's life story. Peter Berg will adapt and direct the feature about a Navy Seal who led a team into Afghanistan on a mission to kill a Taliban leader but was the only one to survive.

Several producers were vying for the tome, published by Little, Brown in June after Luttrell exited the service. Attorney Alan U. Schwartz of Greenberg Traurig, who helped Luttrell find a publisher for his account, arranged for the former soldier to meet with potential writers and producers for the film version of his story.

Scott Johnson has more on Michael Murphy's story and the lack of attention it has received in the media in posts here and here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sneak Previews

The broad outlines of a movie about Iraq I'd like to see, from VDH:

... the American military, after four years of hard fighting in Iraq, is strained, its equipment wearing out. America's finest citizens, fighting for an idealistic cause that has still not been well explained to the American people, continue to be killed by horrific murderers.

Lost in all this confusion over Iraq is the fact that about 160,000 gifted American soldiers are trying to help rebuild an entire civilization socially, politically and economically -- and defeat killers in their midst who will murder far beyond Iraq if not stopped.

The movie about Iraq we'll be getting instead:

A Hollywood producer is developing a project based on a U.S. journalist's struggle to save the life of her interpreter in Iraq.

While on assignment in the war-torn country in 2003, McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Hannah Allam was accompanied by an interpreter, Ban Sarhan. When Iraqi insurgents discovered that Sarhan was working for a U.S. media company, they murdered her husband, 4-year-old daughter and mother-in-law.

Allam, unable to get assistance from the U.S. government to protect Sarhan and her infant son, set out on her own to smuggle the two out of the country, an endeavor that proved successful.

The project will be developed by TV producer Bonnie Garvin ("The Killing Yard"), who learned of the story from an article in Glamour magazine, and acquired the rights to Allam's story

If the tragic facts of that story are true, no doubt some dramatic possibilities are available. But, amid the continuing torrent of Hollywood movies with the narrow, destructive focus of Iraq as needless tragedy, do we really need another? Any chance in Hades this thing will find wide audience appeal or come close to making a profit? Questions like these never seem to dim the green light when it comes to a good anti-war picture these days.