Thursday, May 31, 2007

Accuracy In Media?

One of the first lessons that every cub reporter has drilled into their heads of mush is to at least get the names right. It's one of the cornerstones of journalism. If you can't trust someone to get the names right, can you trust anything they write?

Yesterday, self-proclaimed "journalist" Jeff Fecke commented on a Power Line post on the Duke lacrosse team at his Blog of the Moderate Left and managed to make a mockery of naming names.

He begins with:

So the Blogger Formerly Known as St. Paul...

[McLaughlin voice]


[/McLaughlin voice]

The Power Line post that Fecke is referencing was penned by one Paul Mirengoff. To my knowledge he has never gone by the nickname St. Paul and something tells me that wouldn't be his religious moniker of choice. In the past, he did blog under the pseudonym "Deacon."

A few paragraphs later Fecke stumbles again:

Johnson comes back to the argument...

Johnson? He must mean Scott Johnson, who also posts at Power Line. Fecke goes on to incorrectly identify Johnson as the author four more times in his post.

Now, I'm not a "journalist" like Jeff pretends to be, but I've noticed that if you look carefully at the bottom of every Power Line post you'll see the words "Posted by" followed by the name of the guy who wrote the post. Just a hint to help Jeff's future endeavors in "journalism."

UPDATE: After a comment from our own JB Doubtless, Fecke has corrected his errors. Apparently, it was all just an "accident" you see. With classic buck passing like that, maybe he does have a future in journalism after all. Kate Parry better watch her back.

UPDATE II-- Ted e-mails:


I see you've discovered the rich source of material that is Jeff Fecke. Please note the hillarious response he provided to your colleague, Fred, who commented on the post you mentioned on SCSU Scholars today:

Sorry--in typing things up, I accidentally id'd him as St. Paul instead of Deacon. I've made the correction. I mean, I can understand why you guys wouldn't want to be identified with Powerline.

It never fails to amuse me that this Woman's History major / shipping and receiving clerk thinks he has anywhere near the intellectual heft or gravity of two international law firm partners and a bank senior vice president.

Why would anyone want to be associated with Powerline?

Indeed, why would anyone want to be associated with that lying, disingenuous turd Fecke?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Alone Again, Naturally?

We tend to watch a lot of the HGTV in our whoose. Shows about dumb Canadians trying to sell their house next to the railroad tracks for example, are quite enjoyable.

One trend though that I have had aboot enough of happens on the show House Hunters. This show depicts someone (sometimes a couple, more about that in a minute) who is looking for a new abode. They are given three choices, we see those choices and then at the end they tell us which one they went with. Oh, the drama!

Of course with anything on TV, this show seems to have it's own little agendas to push. Besides the obvious point of having homosexuals as the "couple" about every other show they also like to focus on lonely single women with dogs who seem to think they have the world by the short and curlies and lookout, once they get their house in order their lives are going to improve greatly!

It's sad really. The women are often average-looking and many don't even seem to realize that chances are, this is it. This little condo is it for you. You're 40 years old and average looking with a fairly typical urban, left-wing, feminist world view. Dudes aren't exactly beating down the oak door to get at ya!

But they go on and on about "entertaining" and how incredibly important it is that they have room for "entertaining." How often do people do this entertaining business anyway? Once every few months?

For the most part your life will consist of coming home to a cold and empty house. Oh sure, the dumb dog will be there. But that is mighty thin consolation for a human being that God built to interact with other human beings in a very close and personal context every single day. You're trying to defeat the system basically.

So what's my point, to mock these Elanor Rigbies of the world and look down upon them? No. My point is to say that the fact that SO MANY of these creatures are featured on this program leads me to believe that there is an agenda at work to normalize this type of sad existence and say to the culture "SEE, I'M HAPPY! OKAY? I DON'T NEED A MAN OR CHILDREN! I HAVE GRANITE COUNTERTOPS AND A DOG!"

Who are you trying to convince anyhow I have to wonder.

The Elder adds:


No Alternative

The recent emergence of global warming as the threat du jour has lead a lot of well-meaning people to clamor for the need for alternative sources of energy. In principle, developing such alternatives to our largely petroleum-based energy system of today is a laudable goal for the United States to pursue for economic, environmental, and national security reasons.

But it should be recognized that there also exists a rather large group of not-so-well meaning people who have seized upon the fears of global warming to advance their goal of ending (or at least severely limiting) the way we produce energy today and replacing it with nothing.

In today's Wall Street Journal Shikah Dalmia looks at environmental dam busters (sub req):

Large hydro dams supply about 20% of California's power (and 10% of America's). If they are destroyed, California won't just have to find some other way to fulfill its energy needs. It will have to do so while reducing its carbon footprint to meet the ambitious CO2 emission-reduction targets that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has set. Mr. Schwarzenegger has committed the Golden State to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 -- a more stringent requirement than even in the Kyoto Protocol.

The effect this might have on California's erratic and overpriced energy supply has businesses running scared. Mike Naumes, owner of Naumes Inc., a fruit packing and processing business, last year moved his juice concentrate plant from Marysville, Calif., to Washington state and cut his energy bill in half. With hydropower under attack, he is considering shrinking his farming operations in the Golden State as well. "We can't pay exorbitant energy prices and stay competitive with overseas businesses," he says.

Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club's deputy executive director and a longtime proponent of such a mandate, refuses to even acknowledge that there is any conflict in closing hydro dams while fighting global warming. All California needs to do to square these twin objectives, he maintains, is become more energy efficient while embracing alternative fuels. "We don't need to accept a Faustian bargain with hydropower to cut emissions," he says.

The problem is that you can't replace something with nothing. And as much as certain environmentalists like to throw out platitudes about "alternative fuels" when you get down to the nuts and bolts of that matter, there is really no alternative acceptable to them:

As for alternative fuels, they are still far from economically viable. Gilbert Metcalf, an economist at Tufts University, has calculated that wind energy costs 6.64 cents per kWh and biomass 5.95 kWh -- compared to 4.37 cents for clean coal. Robert Bradley Jr., president of the Institute for Energy Research, puts these costs even higher. "Although technological advances have lowered alternative fuel prices in recent years, these fuels still by and large cost twice as much as conventional fossil fuels," he says.

But suppose these differentials disappeared. Would the Sierra Club and its eco-warriors actually embrace the fuels that Mr. Hamilton advocates? Not if their track record is any indication. Indeed, environmental groups have a history of opposing just about every energy source.

Their opposition to nuclear energy is well known. Wind power? Two years ago the Center for Biological Diversity sued California's Altamont Pass Wind Farm for obstructing and shredding migrating birds. ("Cuisinarts of the sky" is what many greens call wind farms.) Solar? Worldwatch Institute's Christopher Flavin has been decidedly lukewarm about solar farms because they involve placing acres of mirrors in pristine desert habitat. The Sierra Club and Wilderness Society once testified before Congress to keep California's Mojave Desert -- one of the prime solar sites in the country -- off limits to all development. Geothermal energy? They are unlikely to get enviro blessings, because some of the best sites are located on protected federal lands.

There are many good reasons to transition from our current dependence on fossil fuels for energy. But only when we have viable, efficient, and reliable alternatives available to fill the gap. No alternative is not an alternative.

Greatly Exaggerated

The rumors swirling around that JB Doubtless has checked into rehab after a wild Memorial Day weekend are not true. His recent absence from this production is due to exhaustion and he's presently resting and recuperating at an undisclosed location.

Because this is a medical matter, it is our hope that the press will appreciate the seriousness of the situation and respect the privacy of JB as well as the other patients receiving treatment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Yesterday, we attended a Memorial Day event in a park in the city that we presently call home. It's become an annual outing for us and I'm happy to say that turnout this year was quite good. The event is organized by a local American Legion post, Boy Scouts helped pass out programs, a community band supplied the music, and local politicians were on hand to briefly share their thoughts on the day. A thoroughly civic community affair.

And one thoroughly devoid of politics. It was refreshing to join with one's fellow citizens in honoring the sacrifices of those who have made our freedoms possible in a completely non-partisan, patriotic manner. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens, and Libertarians joined together to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the Star Spangled Banner, and applaud the veterans on hand, who stood as the songs of their respective services were played by the band.

Whatever differences we might have were for the moment put aside and our collective attention was focused on our shared duty to recognize our debt to those who had given so much for our freedom. It was an all-too-brief reminder that no matter how darkly divided the country may seem at times, we share a heritage, a flag, and a belief in liberty that unites us as Americans. We need more days like yesterday.



A steak sandwich and...a steak sandwich

During my formative years, I can recall seeing the movie "Fletch" in the theater when it was released in 1985. I enjoyed it at the time and continued to find it amusing during repeated viewings in college and young adulthood. It probably would have been listed among my favorite comedies of all time.

Then a few years back, I was watching it yet again and noticed how poorly it had held up over time. I realized that the lines themselves were not all that funny and that it was my familiarity with them rather than any real comic appeal that had fueled my fond thoughts of the movie. It's always disappointing when something that you once enjoyed is finally revealed as wanting, but I didn't put any further thought into it.

Now, Reihan Salam explains Why Chevy Chase's Fletch is so abominably bad at Slate:

As a movie, Fletch is all but unwatchably bad. But as a cultural artifact, it is invaluable. Reagan had just been re-elected by a landslide when the film hit theaters in 1985, and Fletch reflects, in a strange and roundabout way, an era of wrenching liberal despair. While the enlightened bourgeoisie and their scruffy spawn were no longer running the country, they could at least laugh along with Chevy Chase as he poked fun at Reagan's America—the nouveau riche, the pig-headed cops, the Mormons.

Sometimes I think people go too far by trying to bring politics into everything, but a lot of what Salam notes about "Fletch" hits home:

Watching Fletch again, I experienced the shock of recognition: The film perfectly captures the rise of the ironically detached hipster sensibility. Chevy Chase, then at the height of both his career and comedic powers, plays an investigative reporter named Irwin Fletcher. Throughout the movie, he dons a seemingly endless series of "comical" disguises in the haphazard pursuit of a big scoop on the Los Angeles drug trade. And yet he always radiates the same genial contempt. Fletch is handsome, self-confident, and he certainly sounds affable. Listen closely, though, and you'll find that his pleasant demeanor masks the condescending jackass within.

It was a forerunner to much of what passes for comedy these days: smartass makes audience laugh and feel SMART themselves by making fun of people too uncool to "get it." All "Borat" did was take this formula for yucks to a more extreme level.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Vets For Freedom

A Memorial Day message from Pete Hegseth, executive director of Vets For Freedom:

This Memorial Day weekend, Americans across this great country will join together in remembering those soldiers who gave their lives in defense of freedom. From the blood-soaked beaches of France to the bombed-out back-alleys of Fallujah, the American G.I. has fought - and died - opposing that which is evil and oppressive, and defending all things decent and free.

Memorial Day is not about partisan politics or divergent ideologies; it's about remembering the fallen on the battlefield and passing their collective story to the next generation. These stories, and the men that bear them, are the backbone of this American experiment and must never be forgotten. The minute, excuse me - the second - we believe our freedoms "inevitable and immutable," we have ceased to live in history, and have soured the soldier's sacrifice. He died in the mud, so we could enjoy this holiday. Today, and every day, only a deep appreciation for our freedom - purchased on the battlefield - will suffice.

It is with abiding reverence for America's fallen heroes - and belief in our mission ahead - that I assume the position of Executive Director of Vets for Freedom. We hope to honor the fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan by redoubling our efforts in pursuit of the mission they died for. Led by Al Qaeda, radical Islamists - waging a global insurgency - have declared war on America and now seem poised to declare victory in Iraq. We cannot allow this to happen! Thankfully, we have a new General in Baghdad, with more troops and a new strategy, and reports are promising. But General Petraeus and our soldiers must be given the time necessary to implement the new strategy. That is where Vets for Freedom comes in.

Under the excellent leadership of Wade Zirkle, Vets for Freedom has been a strong and consistent voice for veterans who believe in the need for success in Iraq and Afghanistan. With Wade still on board, I hope to build on this foundation and amplify the Vets for Freedom message. To this end, we have adopted a succinct mission statement: mobilizing veterans to communicate America's strategic objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The "is the surge working?" debate is coming in September, and Vets for Freedom intends to ensure the pro-mission, pro-surge message is included. Through television, radio, print, and a major yet-to-be-announced event, Vets for Freedom will ensure the voice of the vast "silent majority" of pro-mission troops is heard. However, one thing stands in our way: money. Running an organization takes substantial resources, and Vets for Freedom needs your help. Please, before you head out for the weekend, consider a generous donation. We need it!

I'm eager to get started and look forward to the challenges ahead. But more importantly, today - and every day - I'm proud to have known men that we remember this weekend. Men who, without their sacrifice at the altar of freedom, would have shared this day with us, but instead, live forever as heroes.

God bless this great country,

You can make a donation here.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day by C W Johnson:

We walked among the crosses

Where our fallen soldiers lay.

And listened to the bugle

As TAPS began to play.

The Chaplin led a prayer

We stood with heads bowed low.

And I thought of fallen comrades

I had known so long ago.

They came from every city

Across this fertile land.

That we might live in freedom.

They lie here 'neath the sand.

I felt a little guilty

My sacrifice was small.

I only lost a little time

But these men lost their all.

Now the services are over

For this Memorial Day.

To the names upon these crosses

I just want to say,

Thanks for what you've given

No one could ask for more.

May you rest with God in heaven

From now through evermore.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

First Name Basis?

Yesterday, I received a First Edition Rudy bumper sticker in the mail. Unsolicited, I should add.

The design isn't too bad, but I wonder if Rudy Giuliani has really earned the first-name-only public recognition usually reserved for music stars and super models. It's pretty unusual in politics to drop the last name, particularly at this point in the campaign.

The only other candidate embracing the "first name is enough" philosophy is Hillary Clinton, who has legitimate reason to believe that her last name is not necessary and also has cause to differentiate (and maybe even distance) herself from her married moniker.

Rudy? I'm not so sure.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

You Talk Too Much

Last night I caught part of "An Hour With Al Gore" on the Charlie Rose show (video of the entire interview is available). This was the latest incarnation of Gore: confident, hip, laid-back, cool. He was wearing a trendy brown outfit and sporting fashionable cowboy boots. If it wasn't for his jowly--badly in need of several tucks--face, you might have thought him a Hollywood actor promoting his latest movie instead of a former vice president promoting his latest book, "The Assault On Reason."

From what Gore said during the interview, I understand the book to be his call for a return to reason to politics. Apparently the root cause of the current troubles facing the country is that the public is largely uninformed about the key issues of the day. Rather than reporting facts, the media is more interested in entertainment and fluff, giving people would they want, rather than the facts that would help them understand the "truth." And if anyone is brave enough to question the prevailing wisdom being dished out, they are immediately shouted down and "punished," which serves to intimidate others who might have spoken out.

That all of this was coming from a man who hobnobs with the likes of Laurie David, Sheryl Crow, and Leonardo DiCaprio (I'm the king of the fluff!) and has unilaterally declared the debate over global warming "over," struck me as as a touch ironic. I also found it interesting that during the entire portion of the interview that I caught, the topic of global warming never came up, giving credence to the notion that he is still considering jumping into the 2008 race.

While his image has changed since 2000, at the end of the day, he's still the same Al Gore, seemingly incapable of answering a simple question without veering down several different alleys of thought, loosely related to the original question. By the time he stops talking, you forget what the point of the question even was. He also shares with John Kerry the annoying habit of interrupting his own answers in mid-thought with "Let me give you an example..."

Rose hypothetically asked Gore "Say it's 2008 and you're just been elected president," (the crowd dutifully applauded) "What are top five things that you do to turn the country around and return reason to public life?"

It was an excellent question and I looked forward to getting further insight as to where Gore's real priorities lie. Twenty minutes (or maybe it just felt like twenty minutes) and three follow up questions later and Gore had yet to name even ONE action that he would take if he running the country, to say nothing of five as Rose had requested. I wanted to scream "Stop blathering and answer the question!" and had flashbacks to the 2000 campaign when Gore oft displayed the same tendency to talk and talk and talk without ever really saying anything.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Talkin' Bout My Generation

A story in today's Wall Street Journal reports that on average men in their thirties aren't bring home the same bacon that their fathers' did (sub req):

American men in their 30s today are worse off than their fathers' generation, a reversal from just a decade ago, when sons generally were better off than their fathers, a new study finds.

The study, the first in a series on economic mobility undertaken by several prominent think tanks, also says the typical American family's income has lagged far behind productivity growth since 2000, a departure from most of the post-World War II period.

The findings suggest "the up escalator that has historically ensured that each generation would do better than the last may not be working very well," says the study, which is scheduled for release today. The study was written principally by John Morton of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which is leading the series, called the Economic Mobility Project, and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution. Other participating think tanks are the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute and the Urban Institute.

In 2004, the median income for a man in his 30s, a good predictor of his lifetime earnings, was $35,010, the study says, 12% less than for men in their 30s in 1974 -- their fathers' generation -- adjusted for inflation. A decade ago, median income for men in their 30s was $32,901, 5% higher than 30 years earlier.

Theories abound as to why this has taken place:

Ms. Sawhill said she isn't sure why men's wages have stagnated. "It seems there's been some slowdown in economic growth, it's possible that the movement of women into the labor force has affected male earnings, and it's possible that men are not working as hard as they used to."

I'm not one of those of hyper-sensitive "mens rights" freaks who like to embrace male victimhood at the drop of a hat, but I can't imagine any story about women's wages incuding a possible explanation that "maybe women are just not working as hard as they used to." I suppose that once a generation of men is given the label "slackers" when they first enter adulthood, it's easy to speculate that one of the reasons they're falling behind previous generations in their thirties is lack of effort.

For some reason the online version of the story doesn't include a relevant paragraph from Bill Beach of the Heritage Foundation who suggests that increased immigration--with immigrants initially earning less and the resulting larger pool of workers holding down wages overall--could also be a factor in the decline in average earnings for thirty-something men. Seems like a much better explanation than us slacking on the job.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Late Opener For Duck Season

There are a multitude of reasons that the NHL's television ratings are hovering slightly below Tommy Thompson's Q Score these days. It certainly doesn't help that the Stanley Cup playoff games are being televised by a "network" whose usual programming features heavy doses of rodeo and kickboxing and is located in the wasteland channels on most cable systems, sandwiched between "The Hallmark Channel" and "FitTV."

I also wonder how much the recent Stanley Cup Final matchups have hurt ratings. With Anaheim surviving a late onslaught by the Wings Tuesday night, this year's Finals will feature the Ducks facing off against the Ottawa Senators. While hardcore hockey wonks like JB Doubtless and Learned Foot will no doubt appreciate the intriguing nuances of the matchup, I imagine most casual hockey fans won't exactly be captivated by it.

This year's pairing comes on top of these recent Finals:

2006 Carolina Hurricanes versus Edmonton Oilers

2004 Tampa Bay Lightning versus Calgary Flames

2003 New Jersey Devils versus Anaheim Mighty Ducks

2002 Carolina Hurricanes versus Detroit Red Wings

Looking at the list, you only find one "Original Six" team. Half the Finalists are fairly recent expansion teams or, in the case of Carolina, a team that had relocated and has yet to really establish any kind of history or tradition. While having Calgary, Edmonton, and now Ottawa is great for Canada, you really have to go back to 2001 when Colorado (with Raymond Borque) faced New Jersey to find a Finals that had any real compelling storyline or teams that would attract TV viewers in the United States.

So far this year, the Stanley Cup (or the Stanley Strap as JB prefers to call it) playoffs have been a bit of a letdown, which hasn't helped ratings either. Although there have been a few great individual games, there haven't been a lot of overtimes and, with only one series going to seven games, we have been left with a decided lack of drama.

When they finally get around to dropping the puck again (nice scheduling there NHL) on Monday night, I hope to see this change and would love to see seven hard-fought, close contests in the Finals. With Ottawa hoisting the Cup at the end of course. It's bad enough that the Lightning and Hurricanes have recently had their names engraved on the hallowed trophy. If the team with the gayest (in the playground sense of the word) name in all of sport--Mighty (cringe) Ducks--wins the Cup, Lord Stanley will be spinning in his grave.

Something's Got To Give?

Since I've spent most of my reading life in the Twin Cities, my exposure to the workings of local daily newspapers has been somewhat limited. The Star, The Tribune, The Star Tribune, and The St. Paul Pioneer Press are about the extent of it.

So I'm not sure how unusual the current situation at the Strib regarding Rachel Paulose, the US attorney for Minnesota, really is. In my own experiences, I can't recall anything quite like it.

On the one hand, you have Nick Coleman--local conservative bloggers' favorite punching bag--devoting no less than FOUR of his Star Tribune columns to largely baseless attacks against Paulose. On the other, you have his soon-to-be-only fellow Metro columnist Katherine Kersten writing today on The real Rachel Paulose:

By now, you must have heard of Rachel Paulose, the United States attorney for Minnesota. Critics suggest that she's barely qualified to be an assistant prosecutor in Podunk. And at 34, she's still wet-behind-the ears.

On top of that, detractors charge, Paulose is a partisan hack and a Bible-thumping evangelical Christian. They suspect that Karl Rove, that malevolent puppeteer, is pulling the strings to ensure that she dances to a militant Republican tune. How did someone so unsuitable become U.S. attorney? She didn't. Because that's not who Rachel Paulose is.

Now Kersten doesn't directly mention Coleman in her column, but he's been leading the charge against Paulose in the local media. Some of the words that Coleman has directly used or inferred to describe Paulose in his four columns on her:

"unqualified" "not ready for prime time" "archconservative" "fervent Christian" "callow" "ideological" "incapable" "partisan loyalist" "inexperienced" "incompetent"

Clearly Kersten's column in intended as a sharp rebuke to Coleman, even if it doesn't call him out by name. Coleman and Kersten have mixed it up before, but never in such an obvious manner. Again, my experience in this area is limited, but I wonder how common is it for a paper to have two columnists (on the same beat no less) essentially going at each other with hammer and tongs over a sensitive, highly charged political matter like this? I can't recall anything similar occurring in the pages of our local newspapers before.

Mind you, I'm not complaining about this. It's refreshing to have a voice like Kersten's counter the BS that Coleman has been spreading and in the pages of the same paper no less. I can only imagine what Coleman's reaction was to today's column (heh, heh). From what I've heard, Nick's not exactly the most even-tempered, easy-going guy in town.

However, I wonder how long the paper's powers that be are going to let this little interacine war of words play out. If they were smart (insert joke here), they'd let it go for a while. Nothing like a little conflict to attract attention and sell papers ("Coleman-Kersten battle continues, read all about it!"). They could run online polls on who has the upper hand, let readers chime in with e-mails and letters, and maybe even schedule a live debate between the two scribes.

But given the standard newspaper industry response, they'll probably ban both of them from writing further on the matter and schedule a meeting with a conflict facilitator so Coleman and Kersten can work out their issues and become better team players.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's A Beautiful Day For A Ballgame...Let's Play Two!

After spending the better part of the last five weeks in Kansas City I was finally able to attend a ballgame at Kauffman Stadium last night and, I must say, it was an absolute joy watching Major League Baseball outdoors again (as opposed to being forced to watch it in this monstrosity for my entire adult life).

It was also an absolute joy watching an MLB game in person without having any real vested interest in the outcome. Granted, it was easy enough to pick a team to root for with the hometown Royals playing the team leading my Minnesota Twins in the AL Central by a full eight games, but simply cheering a team on is vastly different from reflexively being compelled to begin a Tourette's-like stream of obscenities every time a member of my team hits a lazy ground ball to second with two outs and the bases loaded.

It happens more often than you would think, but when it happened last night with KC slugger Mike Sweeney at the plate in the seventh inning I said "Meh. It happens" rather than "You no good piece of sh--!!! Pull that g-da--ed bat out of your a-- once in a while and get a freaking run across!!" (I've said it before...just ask the lovely and ever so patient Atomizerette.)

Needless to say, my blood pressure after last night's game was refreshingly low. Baseball under the stars with no chance of ending up in the emergency room. Let's play two, indeed.

Who Put Their Politics in My Sports?

Vox Day seconds my motion from yesterday that politics be stricken from the sports pages.

BTW, Simmons' jab yesterday wasn't a first offense for Former Pioneer Press sportswriter Jim Caple now writes for the ESPN website. In his recent memorial to David Halberstam, he let the mask fall off completely, revealing the seething, annoying liberal he is in his off hours:

Halberstam was an exceptional and relentless journalist -- had more reporters been as questioning early in the Iraq War as Halberstam was in Vietnam, we might not be in our current quagmire.

Yes, the "Bush Lied" premise being trotted out at ESPN. Questions of Halberstam's veracity and "Iraq as quagmire" aside, this belief that a bunch of self-righteous reporters could have changed the fate of nations and the course of world events, if only they'd been even more agenda driven and hostile to Republicans, is laughable. Though it's not uncommon in the circles of the delusional, self-reverential political press. Up until now, I didn't consider ESPN among those circles.

Caple goes on:

Journalism, already under attack from the government, is much the lesser with Halberstam's passing Monday morning in an auto accident.

A little conspiracy mongering to go with your propaganda? You get the sense Caple is yearning to write about these "important" issues, instead of wasting his big brain on mere sports. Unfortunately, mere sports is why most people visit Maybe Mother Jones or The Nation could add a sports section, he could get a job there instead, and everyone would be happy.

And Doggone It, I'm Rich Enough

A story in today's Strib reports that Senate candidate Al Franken may not exactly identify with Minnesota's Joe Six Packs and Sally House Coats when it comes to pocketbook issues:

Al Franken, a comedian and best-selling author before launching his Senate campaign this year, is worth between $4.3 million and $9.9 million, according to a financial disclosure form he filed with the Senate.

I'm guessing the variation in his net worth is determined by the daily closing price of Halliburton stock.

Franken, a Democrat who hopes to challenge Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman next year, also listed a salary of just over $1 million last year from his corporation, Alan Franken Inc. That corporation is the business entity that provides Franken's services (such as speaking engagements and his stint on Air America Radio), and then pays Franken a salary at the end of the year after commissions, taxes and other fees are paid, said his campaign spokesman, Andy Barr.

I wonder how that breaks down on a per joke basis. How about per funny joke?

You know the thing that the Senate really needs is more millionaires. Who will stand up and represent the big guy?

Even on the low end, that would easily eclipse Coleman, a Republican who listed only an IRA rollover valued at $564,000 in his assets. Coleman's report voluntarily provided the exact market value.

So can we now expect to see the jackasses in tuxedos, with top hats and monocles (the caricature of the typical rich guy you know) who showed up to protest Republican candidates start following Franken around this year? Don't hold your breath.

It's interesting that the Republicans are labeled as the "party of the rich," but time and time again the candidates you hear about with the big ching are Democrats. One of the other contenders for the right to face Coleman in '08 is Mike Ceresi, who, even after dropping a cool FIVE MIL in 2000 trying to get the DFL Senate nomination, still has millions in tobacco settlement money to burn. The man who beat him out that year and wasted six years in the Senate was the uber-rich Mark Dayton, who's threatening to run for governor in 2010.

On the national level, you have the likes of John Kerry and John "Two Americas" Edwards who recently completed construction on a mansion that you can see from space and charges public universities 50K to deliver speeches on poverty (apparently without irony!). Funny that the media never sees fit to ask one of these wealthy plutocrats how much a loaf of bread costs these days.

Brown Bags And B.S.

Every morning my company's Today's Events e-mail message hits my inbox. Most mornings I give it nothing more than a cursory glance before dropping it right into the recycle bin. The other day, however, something disturbing caught my eye. Next month's Lunch Movie, offered for the entire staff's enjoyment, will be An Inconvenient Truth.

Leaving aside the very, very, very thin thread of relevance this film has to my profession I felt that showing such a nakedly politically motivated movie in the workplace to be...well...rather nakedly politically motivated and, therefore, quite inappropriate in this setting.

So, feeling inspired by the Elder's brave reactionary stand earlier this year I fired off a quick e-mail to the Today's Events editor:
I think in the interest of putting another side of the global warming issue out there that the documentary film "The Great Global Warming Swindle" should also be offered as a lunch movie. Who can I contact to see if this is a possibility?
The response I got today was more than I expected but it was also quite dismissive without being outright rude. I'm reluctant to publish the entire thing as the person who wrote it could probably have me fired before the day is out (and I happen to be really enjoying my current job) but the gist of it was "We'll talk it over and get back to you".

I'll keep you all posted as to when TGGWS is given its day in the sun, so to speak. I'm not holding my breath and I advise you against doing so as well. That is, unless the smog out there becomes too much to handle, of course.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Opinions are Like Lame Sports Writers, Everybody's Got One

If it's one thing I hate, it's sports guys popping off about politics. I read sports as a refuge from the constant conservative beat down that is the front page and most MSM political reporting. Plus sports guys typically don't know squat about anything besides sports. They're idiots, only feeling the need to talk about politics because they're bored with a job that typically takes them about 1 hour per day to finish up. And finally, they're always Democrats!

The most painful recent example of this phenomenon, from the highly entertaining and formerly respected Bill Simmons at ESPN previewing tonight's NBA Lottery Determination show.

Comments: Nobody deserves a stroke of lottery fortune less than Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale, the NBA's version of Bush/Rumsfield for 8-10 years. Of course, nobody deserves a stroke of lottery fortune more than KG, one of the few superstars with too much pride to ever bail on a sinking ship. Either that, or they're blackmailing him with a sex tape so he'll stay. But wouldn't it be nice to see KG play the David Robinson to Oden's Tim Duncan for the next 5-6 years? Hence, 10 points for "overdue good karma."

A media guy from Boston, I should have guessed as much. But if I want to get lame second guessing on complex issues of war and foreign policy, I'll read the Star Tribune editorial page. Bad Karma Simmons, may all the Celtics ping pong balls get stuck in the hopper tonight and they end up drafting Spencer Tollackson.

UPDATE: BTW, most egregious abuse of a religious belief by an NBA team ever, the T'Wolves sending guard Randy Foye to be their draft representative, toting some holy water from Lourdes in hopes of improving their position above No.7. What, the Shroud of Turin wasn't available as a rally towel?

UPDATE: The Wolves stay at 7th position! Take that Catholic tradition mockers!

UPDATE: The Celtics FALL 3 positions to number 5, out of the Durant/Oden jackpot! Take that Simmons! It will be a pleasure to read his suffering for at least another half decade of Celtic futility. My work here is done.

The Elder Adds: Perhaps next year the Wolves can have their draft representative wear the magic underwear for better luck.

This isn't a time for tepid or half-hearted believers

A speech from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver on religious tolerance and the common good that he delivered to Catholic students is now posted at

But the problem is that much of American culture right now is built on an adolescent fiction. The fiction is that life is all about you as an individual-your ideas, your appetites, and your needs. Believe me: It isn't. The main interest big companies have in your wants and mine is how to turn them into a profit. Part of being an adult is the ability to separate marketing from reality; hype from fact. The fact is, the world is a big and complicated place. It doesn't care about your appetites. It has too many of its own needs, and it won't leave you alone.

God made you for a purpose. The world needs the gifts he gave you. Adulthood brings power. Power brings responsibility. And the meaning of your life will hinge on a simple, basic choice. Will you engage the world with your heart and brains and faith, and work to make it a better place-not just for yourself and the people you love but also for people you don't even know whose survival depends on your service to the common good? Or will you wrap yourself in a blanket of noise and toys and consumer junk, and stay a child?

God gave you a free will. How you use that gift is your choice—but it's a choice you won't be able to avoid. And that choice has consequences.

Read the whole thing.

I Wonder Whatever Happened To...

It's not everyday that you open the hallowed editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and find a column on the undervaluation of the Chinese yuan (sub req) penned by an old childhood chum:

Put it this way: In a counter-factual world where over the past decade China allowed the yuan to float against the dollar, the U.S. would still have run a large and growing trade deficit with China. The real economic forces of comparative advantage that drive trade flows operate regardless of which nominal prices central banks choose to fix.

This week the U.S. government hosts Chinese officials for the second round of the Strategic Economic Dialogue. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi have framed the SED as a forum to address complex policy issues associated with the links between our two countries. In China, further capital-market reform is needed to support economic growth via better risk management and capital allocation throughout all sectors of the economy. Here at home, the large aggregate gains the U.S. has realized from freer trade and investment with China have also generated hardship, too. Many American workers, firms and communities have been hurt, not helped, by Chinese competition.

Issues like these are legitimate and real. But focusing on the dollar-yuan peg is a misplaced and counterproductive way to address them. Instead, let China continue to conduct its sovereign monetary policy and let the SED continue to engage the real challenges. Stop fixating on the fix.

Couldn't have said it better myself Matt. Going all the way back to grade school, he still is one of the smartest people I've ever met.

Now I wonder what happened to that kid who wore bread bags in his boots?

By the way, since my posting today seems to be all WSJ editorial pages all the time, be sure to check out Bob Kerrey's call for Democrats to wake up and face the reality of Iraq (free for all):

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically, "yes."

This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified -- though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.

Rush To Judgment

Mark Moyar, author of the excellent book Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, writes in today's Wall Street Journl on the dangers of tossing around the "Worst in History'" label (sub req):

It was an unprecedented comment from an ex-president, someone who isn't a disinterested observer. Mr. Carter may be trying to spare his own administration the "worst in history" label, which it fully deserves.

As president, Mr. Carter managed to alienate nearly every major country in the world and did so without asserting American power in ways that might justify that alienation. No other president has crammed as many foreign policy debacles into a four-year period. The Sandinista takeover of Nicaragua and the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis are but two examples of many. Near the end of his term, it should be remembered, Mr. Carter's approval rating fell to 21%, the lowest in the history of polling.

Of course, the reason Mr. Carter, and others, rank President Bush at the bottom is the Iraq war. Mr. Carter himself did not get the country into a war during his presidency, likely because he lacked the fortitude. If we want a useful comparison with presidents who did get us into a difficult war, we need look no further than the two men who put the United States into its last protracted conflict, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Kennedy commands much admiration among the literati, in part because his Vietnam decisions have been misunderstood. Four-and-a half decades after Kennedy dramatically deepened America's commitment to South Vietnam, we are just now learning critical facts about his actions. This alone might cause us to beware of sweeping pronouncements about a president and his place in history while he is still in office.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Mentor Or The Mentee?

Last Friday, Bill Bennett's Morning In America radio show was a "best of." There's nothing more annoying than a radio show that thinks so little of its listeners that it simply recycles old material when the host wants a day off (by the way, tune in to a very special "best of" NARN broadcast this weekend).

Anyway, at one point during the show Bill took a call from an eleven-year-old kid from Duluth, Minnesota. The kid had obviously called previously and Bill recognized him immediately. After a little chit-chat, Bill asked if the boy still subscribed to the Claremont Review of Books. Yes, at age eleven he was already a loyal reader of the heavy-weight publication.

The child is obviously off to a great start. But how to ensure that he stays on the right track? He needs someone to take him under his wing, offer advice, and to guide him on his political path. He needs a mentor.

But who could take on such an important role in this youngster's life, I thought?

Then it hit me like a Ryan Getzlaf slapshot. Our own JB Doubtless has often talked about his own special relationship with the Claremont Review of Books. Who better to mentor this kid to the top?

The first order of business for JB's new protégé will no doubt be learning everything he can about risk management.

Getting Bite With Mitt

After Saturday's radio show, Saint Paul and I were discussing the prospects for the aught-eight race. With the usual caveat that it's still early, we both have reluctantly concluded that given the most recent developments in the campaign--McCain kicking the final leg out from under the Republican base with his full-fledged support for the immigration bill and Giuliani seemingly unable to talk his way out of the moral issues box--and barring a late entry from Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich (be still our hearts) or an unforeseen meltdown, it's all but certain that Mitt Romney will win the GOP nomination.

It's also all but certain that regardless of the Democrat facing him, he will suffer a staggering general election defeat to rival the thrashing that Goldwater received in '64.

SP ADDS: This recent speech by Guiliani, in front of the NY GOP, is an absolute knock-out. On economics, national defense, and ability to call out his ideological opponents for their faults, he's a Republican dream candidate. If only those pesky moral issues weren't hanging around his neck. Should these be a deal breaker for Republicans voting for him in a primary? Only if you think morality and our national soul mean anything. And BTW, it's not that he's a sinner and has advocated immorality in the past that's the problem. It's the fact that he appears to be so comfortable with his choices and entirely unrepentent.

SP RETRACTS: That link isn't for the right speech! You'll have to trust me on the genius of his remakrs until I can find the video evidence.

Degrees Of Success

In Friday's Wall Street Journal we learn that James Taranto is another among many who have enjoyed success without a sheepskin:

By all accounts Marilee Jones did an excellent job as dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But she was forced to resign last month after it emerged that she had falsely claimed to hold three degrees when she first came to work at MIT 28 years earlier. In fact, she held only an undergraduate degree from an obscure Catholic college.

I feel her pain, for school never agreed with me. I repeatedly found myself in conflict with teachers and professors. I left high school after my sophomore year; and although I spent several years in college, I never bothered to graduate. In my 20s I considered a career in law, but I decided to stick with journalism in large part because the thought of spending three more years in school repelled me.

By no means am I against getting a college education and, mostly because of workplace requirements, I encourage all the youngsters I know to at least get a bachelors degree. You really have a hard time getting anywhere in corporate America without one.

But I find the emphasis that many of the elites (from both sides of the ideological spectrum by the way) still place on where people went to school a bit annoying. Arguments are often given greater weight and credibility if the person putting them forward graduated from one of "top tier" schools instead of being judged on their merits.

There is no doubt that someone who graduates from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, or Dartmouth (did you know the Power Line guys went there?) has attained a certain level of intelligence. But that doesn't mean they can think. Or write. Or effectively present an argument.

Sure I've met plenty of people from these schools who can do all of the aforementioned. But I've also meet many who couldn't think their way out of a paper bag.

At the same time, many of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate people I know either graduated from one of second, third, or fourth tier schools (like the vast majority of us) or didn't graduate at all. The notion that what someone did or didn't do when they were in their early-twenties should by the basis for how you judge them now is shallow and short-sighted.

Blinding Us With Science?

Scientist might join race for Senate:

Dr. Peter Agre, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist at Duke University, said Friday he's considering a run for U.S. Senate in his native state of Minnesota, where he would join an eclectic Democratic field that already includes a comedian and a trial lawyer.

In a telephone interview, Agre conceded he faces long odds.

"If you talk about a dark horse, I'm the jet-black Shetland pony that's four miles behind everybody," he said. "But this is a marathon, this is not a sprint. I've talked to many people who have assured me this will be really tough. I've been willing to try things in the past that are really tough. By and large, I've done a pretty good job."


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Worst Column Ever?

Dorothy Rabinowitz writes regularly on televison in the Wall Street Journal. Not a bad gig if you can get it, eh? She also purports to be a fan of America's favorite animated family "The Simpsons" and has written about the show in the past.

In Friday's edition of the august paper, she penned a piece noting the airing of The 400th Simpsons episode (sub req) which calls into question both her claim of being a Simpsons fan and her very credibility to comment on television.

In the 400th episode of "The Simpsons" (Sunday, 8:30 to 9 p.m. EDT on Fox), Marge's older sisters, Selma and Patty, make a brief appearance, as do a host of other "Simpsons" characters. The magnificently hostile crones now live, we see, in a deadly looking set of high-rise towers, the Spinster City Apartments, the sight of which sets off, in a viewer's mind, a chain of questions -- just where in Springfield would this housing project be, and how did the sisters get here? Bizarre queries, no doubt, given that "The Simpsons" is a fictional enterprise whose animators can, and do, throw anything they please into Springfield, including the huge python who shows up Sunday. This creature, soon reduced to hopeless reptilian neediness, is Bart's replacement pet for his dog, Santa, temporarily deranged.

His dog "Santa"? C'mon, anyone with the least bit of familiarity with the show knows that Bart's dog is named "Santa's Little Helper" not "Santa." While some of you may accuse me of quibbling on this matter, I believe that it speaks volumes. "Santa's Little Helper" and "Santa" are world's apart in meaning and significance, especially to true fans of the show. An entire episode explained how the family came to acquire the dog and where his name comes from (he was a greyhound "racing" at the dog track).

But even worse than this obvious error is Rabinowitz's judgement of the show:

There is no point trying to figure out how good the series still is. The Simpsons have been with us too long -- a family likely to live in our hearts longer than the Sopranos, possibly because none of them are going to get whacked, because Bart and Homer and Marge and Lisa are always who they've been, because the sun never sets on Springfield and its people. Wonderful indeed.

No, not wonderful indeed. At least not anymore. Seasons Two through Six can accurately be described as "wonderful" and some of the funniest television ever. But there have now been more bad Simpsons episodes than good ones. The show hasn't been watchable in years and to pretend otherwise leads me to question whether Rabinowitz is able to recognize good television at all.

By the way, of the roughly one thousand words that comprise Rabinowitz's column, all but 300 are dedicated to describing what happens in various Simpsons episodes. Like I said, not a bad gig.

UPDATE-- Tom e-mails to add:

The thing I miss the most about the old days was the background sight gags that you could pick up only if you paid close attention (and I don't mean what Bart was writing on the black board each week). A few months ago, I think you noted that the show jumped the shark for you about 3-4 years ago. It jumped the shark for me yesterday when Neal Justin in the Strib praised it in a front page of the Source section. What is it with TV critics and this show? It is all fawning coverage and not questioning a premise that after 18 years is showing some wear. I guess that it will take Ted McGinley guest voicing an Evil Knievel like character that is jumping Lake Springfield spot to get others to the same point.

The funny thing is that I had friends who thought the show went downhill after Season Five. I still think it was solid through Season Six and then started declining, although now an episode from Season Eight is gold compared with the most recent offerings.

I don't know why these critics can't see that and when they continue to insist "it's as funny as ever" they lose all credibility with me.

Tom's right about some of the subtle background stuff in the early years. It was genius. It really pains me to have to rip the show now because I loved what they did in the golden years. They should have hung it up long ago and let us live off our memories (and reruns).

I have a lot of respect for Seinfeld having the ability to recognize when it was over. The last year of "Seinfeld" wasn't as good as the rest, but it wasn't a pale imitation of life either. The Simpsons has been a walking corpse for some time now.

Lifting The Rug In St. Paul

One of the few recent bright spots for local Republicans was the election of a number of Republican candidates to the Highland District Council in St. Paul. These district councils are sort of sub-city councils and have served as a springboard for ideas and individuals to influence and guide the city's decision-making at the highest levels.

It's the type of "whoever shows up" politics that Republicans typically have not been good at in the past. The Democrats have long realized that these entry level political positions--school boards, planning councils, charter commissions--are a great place to start your climb up the rungs of political power, while the GOP has usually focussed their attention higher up the ladder.

So seeing some local Republicans decide to get in the single A game and start building up their farm team was a welcome development.

It also demonstrates the inherent dangers of letting one party exercise absolute control of any level of government for a significant period of time. Council finds its finances in chaos:

Newly elected officers at the Highland District Council in St. Paul say the neighborhood group owes thousands of dollars in back taxes and penalties and that its finances are in serious disarray.

President Bill Poulos sent a letter to the group's board members Thursday saying the Minnesota Department of Revenue recently seized $1,568 in unpaid payroll taxes and that a conversation with IRS officials this week revealed the group owes more than $33,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties dating back to 1998.

"We have serious financial difficulties," Poulos said. "This is what we know we owe. We don't know what we don't know. We suspect it's considerably more than this."

Poulos was elected board president two weeks ago in a Republican takeover of the council that highlighted increasing partisanship in neighborhood groups. Gayle Summers, the council's lone full-time staffer and one of the city's longest-serving community organizers, resigned last week.

As one of the city's 19 district councils, the group is funded in part by taxpayer dollars.

In addition to the taxes and penalties, Poulos said IRS officials have no record of tax returns for the nonprofit organization from 2001 to 2005.

Summers could not be reached for comment. Her husband, Thomas Summers, said she was not home and could not be reached Thursday night.

I would have to imagine that this isn't the only district council in St. Paul that's been playing a little fast and loose with its finances. Future Republican candidates in other district council races may want to borrow this gem for their stump speeches:

"I'm afraid I'm gonna lift up the rug and I'm goin' to see so much stuff uh-nder thar. . . . You know, what is it about us always havin' to clean up after people? . . . But this is not just going to be pickin' up socks off the floor. This is going to be cleanin' up the government."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Appeal For Courage

We've been talking with Sgt. Dave Thul of the Minnesota National Guard from Iraq today on the NARN. He's one of the co-founders of the Appeal For Courage:

As an American currently serving my nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to fully support our mission in Iraq and halt any calls for retreat. I also respectfully urge my political leaders to actively oppose media efforts which embolden my enemy while demoralizing American support at home. The War in Iraq is a necessary and just effort to bring freedom to the Middle East and protect America from further attack.

Mean Immigration Bills Suck

When the immigration deal was first announced earlier this week, I assumed that the reaction from many conservative quarters--that Senate Republicans had sold them out--was well-warranted. But upon further review of the details of the bill, I'm not so sure if this "we're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" self-rightous indignation is realy an appropriate reaction.

For while the bill is certainly flawed in many respects, and questions about some of its provisions remain unanswered, it's not as bad as a lot of conservative commentators are hyping it as. More bones were thrown the conservative way that has been acknowledged and it should be noted that pro-illegal immigration groups are squaking almost as loudly as conservatives who cry amnesty.

From yesterday's Wall Street Journal (sub req):

That idea already has drawn howls from immigrant groups, who say a point system would favor educated Europeans over Hispanics and Asians. "It's mean," says Karen Narasaki, president of the Asian American Justice Center, a Washington advocacy group. She adds that immigrants depend on family members to help them adjust to the U.S. and staff the small businesses such as fruit stands and motels that many of them open.

Business groups are also wary. Employers who already are desperate for low-skilled workers might not be able to get enough of them under a point system that gives weight to college degrees, they say. "Are only rocket scientists going to get in?" asks Laura Reiff of the Essential Workers Immigration Coalition, which represents service industries.

Those employers might have to look to the guest-worker program. The bill proposes that 400,000 workers a year be admitted on two-year Y visas and matched with employers who have proved they can't find workers in the U.S.

Guest workers could renew their visas twice, but would have to leave for a year each time. Anyone who didn't leave when the visa expired would be barred permanently from re-entering the U.S. Immigrant groups were quick to denounce those provisions. " "Come here and work, but we don't really want you to be one of us." That is not a recipe for a healthy society," said Cecilia Muñoz of the National Council of La Raza, an Hispanic advocacy group.

Any bill that gets this kind of reaction from racial interest groups like La Raza and businesses only interested in getting as large and as cheap a pool of labor as possible can't be all that bad.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Armed Forces Day

Tomorrow is Armed Forces Day. It's a good time to honor the men and women serving in our military, recognize their sacrifices, and try look for ways to support them.

On the Northern Alliance Radio Network Volume One (11am-1pm), we will be speaking with Staff Sergeant David Thul live from Iraq. Sgt. Thul is a member of the Minnesota National Guard and one of the organizers of the Appeal For Courage:

As an American currently serving my nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to fully support our mission in Iraq and halt any calls for retreat. I also respectfully urge my political leaders to actively oppose media efforts which embolden my enemy while demoralizing American support at home. The War in Iraq is a necessary and just effort to bring freedom to the Middle East and protect America from further attack.

He was also the behind an effort to build up reading material for the troops in Iraq, which was detailed at Power Line here and here. And he had an opinion piece that appeared in the Star Tribune in March and was also covered by Power Line:

There can be no compromises in Iraq, no negotiated peace. The enemy here is radical Islam, whether in the sectarian violence in Baghdad that seeks to draw all of the Middle East into open war, or the terrorists of Al-Qaida here in the Anbar province who are looking for a new home base since we kicked them out of Afghanistan. If we pull out before the job is done, we will face not only the same chaos and genocide that we saw after pulling out of Vietnam, but we will leave Iraq in a power vacuum with greedy and ambitious neighbors on all sides.

I've now been deployed 2½ years of the 3½ years since my daughter was born. I would love nothing more than to be at home sharing in her young life and enjoying a Minnesota summer. But I want to come home with honor, knowing that I have helped to make the world she will live in a little safer.

We'll be discussing all of this and much more with Sgt. Thul tomorrow beginning around 11:15am. Scott Johnson from Power Line refers to Thul as the "pride of Minnesota" and those words seem especially apt on a day when we honor the armed forces. You can listen to the show locally on AM1280 The Patriot or live on the internet stream. If you'd like to ask Sgt. Thul a question or thank him for his service, give us a call at 651-289-4488.

Can't Hardly Wait

Bobby from LA e-mails on the Dodgers all-you-can-eat outfield section:

I just wanted to also mention the best benefit of the stadium's right-field pavilion all-you-can-eat extravaganza: No waiting.

I was skeptical at first, laughed the whole thing off, but I tried and I'm here to tell you, I'm sold.

On a normal sell-out night, you'd wait at least an inning and half, maybe two, waiting in line.

Now in that pavilion? A matter of seconds.

Walk up, they hand you food, you walk away.

It's brilliant in its simplicity...

UPDATE-- Mark from Lake Elmo adds:

I know one baseball fan who would have appreciated the Dodger's all-you-can-eat right field extravaganza. Tony Savino, son of my childhood friends, Cooch and John, once ate 18 hot dogs at Yankee Stadium. Two an inning. At 75 cent a piece, that's $13.50 in 1970-something dollars. I think tickets were like $6 back then (lower-level reserved in Yankee Stadium are now $150). It'd be interested to see if Cooch and John -- who now both live in L.A. -- could repeat their dad's feat. Of course, it'd be better if they did it eating Nathan's hot dogs, in Brooklyn, where the Dodgers belong.

The Dodgers were once in Brooklyn? Who'd have thunk it?

Praise The Lord And Pass The Bottle

At the evangelical outpost, Joe Carter asks What Would Jesus Drink?:

The "weaker brother" argument is often used as a justification for self-imposed (and institutionally mandated) teetotalism. And for good reason. It is scriptural admonition that must be prayerfully considered in regards to an issue like this in which personal conduct can have an impact on others. I myself am sympathetic to that argument and truly wish that I could be convinced that it provided the definitive answer. But no matter how much I want to accept that line of reasoning, I'm stymied by the obvious question: Why did Jesus not refrain from drinking alcohol if it is an obvious "stumbling block" to our "weaker brothers"?

There is no disputing the fact that alcohol abuse is, as my SBC brethren point out, the cause of much "physical, mental, and emotional damage." No doubt that was as true in 1st century Palestine as it is in 21st century America. So why didn’t Jesus say that we should avoid alcohol? If nothing else, why did he not refrain from drinking alcohol himself in order to set an example?

These types of questions have important implications that go far beyond the concerns about drinking beer or wine. Where does Christian liberty end and institutional authority over matters of conscience begin? Obviously there are times when we need to delineate such boundaries. But we should be cautious about where we mark those lines -- especially when they would put Jesus on the wrong side.

Thank God I'm Catholic and therefore untroubled by such questions.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ain't Gonna Subsidize Maggie's Farm No More

Bruce Gardner on Farm Bill on National Review Online:

Congressional Democrats came to power in November on a platform of fiscal responsibility. An important test of their seriousness comes this spring as Capitol Hill considers reauthorizing the farm bill. A series of new research papers overwhelmingly show that our 70-year experiment of government micromanaging the agriculture industry has failed and it is time for Congress to plow them under.

The programs grew out of the Depression, when agriculture was a threatened, yet fundamental, sector of our economy. Since then, taxpayers have spent over $1.2 trillion on this effort and now spend over $18 billion per year in supports and subsidies.

And yet, whether the goals have been to maintain farm numbers and make small-scale family farms profitable, ensure price and production support, or improve the stability of commodity markets, the federal farm program has badly missed the mark.

For starters, despite generous handouts, the number of American farms has plummeted from 6 million in the mid-1930s to 2 million today.

Meanwhile, when it comes to price and production support, subsidies often amount to money for nothing. Iowa State economist Bruce Babcock recently found that if the average $7 billion a year in subsidies for corn, wheat, and soybeans had been eliminated in 1998, production and prices of those three crops would have been within 1 percent of what they were.

GOP candidates for the presidency in aught-eight looking to distinguish themselves from the herd and build their conservative cred should come out strong for ending all farm subsidies within the next five years. These subsidies are expensive, anti-free trade, and end up benefiting corporations more than the mythical family farmer.

Oh, but you can't risk losing the vote from the farm states. Really? How many votes are we talking about anyway? Farmers continue to be a smaller and smaller segment of the overall population. And whatever votes you lost from farmers and their allies would be more than made up for by voters impressed by your having the courage of your convictions to say "no mas" to the farm lobby. It's time for one of the candidates to stand up and have their "Mister McDonald" moment. They would earn my respect, admiration, and just possibly my vote.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The True American Pastime

How could you make the game of baseball even more uniquely American?

Put on an all-you-can-eat buffet at the ballpark, as the Wall Street Journal reports the Dodgers have already done (sub req):

The Los Angeles Dodgers are rolling out a new marketing experiment: They're betting that several thousand of their fans will stomach steep price increases for some of the worst seats in the stadium, in return for being able to eat all the hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos and soda they can handle. Tickets range from $20 to $40 apiece, depending on the allure of the match-up and whether they are bought by groups or individuals.

High-end seating areas in sports venues have long offered all-you-can-eat food as part of the package. But the Dodgers are at the vanguard of a new trend -- letting hoi polloi in on the buffet. Dodgers executives say a handful of other teams across pro sports have already contacted them about copying the concept, including the Philadelphia-based owners of the National Basketball Association's 76ers and the National Hockey League's Flyers. While teams such as the NHL's Florida Panthers and baseball's St. Louis Cardinals have tried this with cheaper seats -- at the Cardinals' Busch Stadium, inclusive packages even include beer -- these tickets still cost $60 or more.

The Dodgers have a strong attendance record -- they were second in the majors in each of the previous three seasons and also rank second so far this year (the Yankees are first), according to Major League Baseball. But the right-field pavilion, which can hold 3,000 people, often sat empty in past seasons, opening only if the left-field seats sold out or for large groups. The seats were priced accordingly, going for between $6 and $8 in 2006. But this year, the pavilion, now called the "ampm All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion" (after its sponsor, the ampm convenience stores of BP PLC's BP America unit) has sold out eight of the Dodgers' first 18 home games.

Note to the Twins: you announce a similar program today and Saint Paul will have bought season tickets by tomorrow at the latest.

Of course, there's always some nosey do-gooder around to try to rain on the parade:

While Dodger fans seem to be gobbling up the new ticket package, those worried about Americans' expanding waistlines aren't too happy about it. The Dodgers estimate that the average fan in the right-field pavilion consumes about 2½ hot dogs, one bag of peanuts or popcorn, and one plate of nachos a game. (The team doesn't keep averages on drinks because they are self-serve.)

"Before, you had to pay a premium to get the bad food," says Jim Marks, senior vice president and director of the health group Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a foundation that gives money to improve health and health care. "Now, you get the bad food at a discount, and to get the discount you've really got to gorge yourself."

If you serve it (and especially if you give it away for "free"), they will come (and eat like pigs). What a country.

The Goalie Is Pulled

Pawlenty Signs Minnesota Smoking Ban:

Take that cigarette outside. Minnesota will outlaw smoking in bars, restaurants and other establishments starting October First.

Governor Pawlenty signed the statewide smoking ban into law this morning outside an Eagan restaurant. Pawlenty says ten years from now people will look back at the law and say, "Of course."

The governor was surrounded by dozens of supporters of the smoking ban as he signed the bill into law on the patio of the Granite City Food and Brewery in Eagan.

Sieve! Sieve Sieve!

Hey Pawlenty, you're not a black hole...

Pride Prejudiced

Mark Yost visits Jamestown and finds something missing (WSJ sub req):

On May 13, 1607, 104 English men and boys waded ashore here. They then proceeded to decimate a native population that had lived in utter equanimity prior to their arrival, and would eventually import a slave-labor force to rape the continent of its natural resources, all for the ugly motivation of profit.

At least that's the central theme of the exhibits marking the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. There's no denying that those elements are part of the Jamestown story. But Jamestown contributed much more. It gave us three of our most important founding principles: private-property rights, representative government and civilian control of the military. Jamestown also was a strictly for-profit venture. Its eventual success laid the foundation for our capitalist, entrepreneurial culture, a development that cannot be understated.

"It was, in many ways, the most important colony," Jamestown historian and author Jim Horn told me during my visit.

Unfortunately, capitalism and the rule of law are given but a polite nod here. The overarching storyline is that Jamestown brought together three peoples from three different continents -- the English, the Native Americans and the Africans -- into a new multicultural society and all that it entails.

Why take pride in your history when it's much easier and morse satisfying to wallow in guilt?

Mr. Yost does find some interesting artifacts:

Young grad students can be seen sifting dirt and documenting artifacts. There's also an archaearium, a small museum built over the site of the last active statehouse here (1660-98). It features the usual artifacts, such as musket balls, pottery and pipes, as well as some unusual items. There's a combination toothpick and earwax scooper, as well as the Spatula Mundani, a long metal rod with a flat scooper at one end and a sharp probe at the other. It was created by Jamestown surgeon John Woodall to treat "severe constipation," a disease that "killeth many."

I would imagine the mere mention of using the Spatula Mundani probably cleared up the problem in most cases. No thanks Doc, I'm feeling better already. Mind if I borrow your newspaper?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How To Take It Off-Line

Excellent advice on daily social interaction from Vox Day:

I try to avoid bringing up political subjects very often - I've learned that most people aren't capable of a friendly discussion on such matters, let alone an interesting one - and I usually try to offer the person an easy way out after making it clear that I disagree with them if they happen to bring one up.

What Les is missing, I think, is the fact that it is the mere fact of his disagreement with people that is intolerable to them. They don't care that you can back up your opinion, they only care that you're not backing up theirs! Most people really aren't interested in anything that requires abstract thought, they have no idea why they think what they think and they're merely looking for something to provide post-facto rationalization for their emotionally derived positions.

So leave them alone. You're not the truth police and unless you're being directly questioned, there's no onus on you to straighten out their quirks. I basically look at it like a language issue, I speak Normal Retard when I'm with normal people in the same way I speak Italian with an Italian-speaker. And I'm perfectly content to do it, I had an interesting conversation with a weightlifter about the pros and cons of hammer curls with and without a twist halfway through just yesterday.

Everybody is an expert on something that interests them, if you want to get along with people, the trick is to let them pick the subject and just roll with it. You can learn something from everyone; stop trying to argue with the idiots, start learning whatever there is to be gleaned from them instead and you'll find that they like you a lot better.

These words of wisdom come in especially handy with coworkers and relatives.

Live-Blogging The GOP Debate

- Does Mitt Romney's hair look that way when he wakes up in the morning? I bet it does.

- Who dresses John McCain anyway? Good laughs with drunken sailors.

- Mike Huckabee's got some huge ears. How long did he have that Edwards line in the bag?

- Rudy looks better with the glasses on.

- Sam Brownback looks like the guy at the office who just doesn't quite fit in no matter how hard he tries.

- Tommy Thompson's hair doesn't match his face. For the love of God, loosen up man! Think about moving your hands once in a while.

- My wife thinks Ron Paul looks too mean to be president.

Hey isn't there an NHL playoff game starting now? Later.

Can I Buy A Little Love?

A front-page story in today's Wall Street Journal details how networks are trying to buy positive buzz with "Blogola":

TV critics have called "The New Adventures of Old Christine" one of the decade's funniest comedies.

(Sound of screeching as brakes are applied)

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold it right there. One of the decade's funniest comedies??? Are we talking the same show here?

I've watched several episodes of said sitcom and, even though I have a warm spot in my heart for Julia Louis-Dreyfus from her days on "Seinfeld" (and feel a certain amount of sympathy for anyone married to Brad Hall), it is at best mildly amusing. Overall, it features far more misses than hits and is most definitely not must see TV. Okay, back to the article.

But when CBS recently wanted to create buzz for the show, critics weren't the targets of the publicity campaign.

Neither were newspaper feature writers, whom a publicist for the show's star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, declared weren't "worth her time."

The so-called "mommy bloggers" were another matter. Warner Bros., the studio that produces the show for CBS, identified 12 blogs about motherhood, a key theme in "Old Christine," and invited the writers to spend the day on the set. The bloggers got free DVDs, watched a rehearsal and made videos with Ms. Louis-Dreyfus and other cast members to post on their sites. "It was totally rad," says Yvonne Marie, the publisher of a Web log called Joy Unexpected.

Who says you can't buy love? Trying to tap into the burgeoning power of blogs as promotional tools and fed up with the jaded attitudes of professional critics and TV feature writers, studios and networks are flooding bloggers with free stuff in hopes the flattered recipients will reward them with positive coverage. Flowing into the trough is everything from fancy gym bags and toasters to video iPods and free trips. Some networks -- in the spotlight this week as they unveil their fall schedules to advertisers -- have even borrowed a term from the technology industry to describe the strategy: blogola.

I like the sound of that.

Until the 1980s, when news outlets started devoting more space to business coverage and reporters began peering more intently behind Hollywood's curtain, many mainstream writers were showered with gifts. The result was usually fawning coverage. Networks would like nothing more than to re-create that system with blogs.

Now, I REALLY like ths sound of that. Where do we sign up?

Mainstream news outlets now have strict rules governing to what extent their palms can be greased. Presents valued at more than $25 are typically banned, and that includes travel. But most blogs, many less than five years old, don't have such rules.

I guess we here at Frater Libertas are a notable exception in the policy-free 'sphere for we have one iron clad rule for all freebies:

Take whatever you want as long as The Elder gets his cut.

By the way, did I tell you what a great show CBS's "The New Adventures of Old Christine" is? Easily one of the funniest comedies of the decade.


Bumper Sticker Of The Day

Spotted on France Ave and 494 with a green background and white letters:

"If You Agree With Al Gore, Should You Really Be Driving Right Now?

Par For The Course

The recent changes at the Strib--now under the stewardship of one Par Ridder--have some folks wishfully thinking that perhaps better days lie ahead for the newspaper, especially its editorial pages. However, according to people familiar with Ridder's stint at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, it seems unlikely if he has the instincts and acumen necessary to turn things around.

One of the areas that the Pioneer Press had long prided itself on was its coverage of the Capitol. They owned the statehouse, which made sense since it was in their backyard. But when Ridder arrived, he decided that St. Paul wasn't really much of a political town. No, readers didn't care about what happened at the Capitol, they were much more interested in the latest "buzz" out of Woodbury.

Accordingly, he reassigned many of the Capitol reporters to suburban beats. Forget about St. Paul, we need to find out what's going on Stillwater seemed to be Ridder's view. He even went so far as to pass on items that his wife had discussed with her bridge group as possible story ideas. No offense to bridge fans out there, but stories that seem interesting at the bridge table don't necessarily appeal to a wider audience.

One of the keys to running a successful businesses is understanding what your core is and making sure that you're the best at it. Ridder clearly didn't understand that the Capitol was core to the Pioneer Press. Instead, he went chasing suburban stories that were probably already being adequately covered by local community papers and had little reach to the broader readership that the paper was after anyway. Not exact;y a display of the sort of news judgment that bodes well for the success of his tenure at the Strib.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Keep Blood Between Brothers

Our eldest son continues to struggle adjusting to the reality that he's no longer the absolute center of our universe. He's actually doing pretty well considering the magnitude of the change that's just shaken his little world. My wife read that the sudden appearance in the household of a younger sibling has a comparable effect on a child to that that her husband's ex-girlfriend moving in would have on a wife. Ouch.

In some ways you do have to sympathize with the little guy. He probably looks at his younger brother and wonders what all the hype is about. After all, his sibling is boring and pretty much helpless. He can't communicate at all and is physically uncoordinated. And he spends most of his day suckling at the teat and wallowing in his own filth.

As an elder sibling myself, I can relate to my son's confusion. In fact, thirty-seven years later, I'm still wondering.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Blowin' In The Wind?

After watching a few minutes of a pretty bad movie on the Sci-Fi channel tonight, I realized that there's a possible repercussion of the disappearance of newspapers that hasn't been considered so far:

What's going to be littering the streets in the opening scence of post-apocolyptic movies if newspapers are gone? Seriously, nearly ever movie of this genre opens with a shot of deserted streets with a few burned out cars, overturned trash cans, and discarded newspapers everywhere. For some reason I just don't think showing a couple of abandoned laptops will have the same effect.

Mac Daddy

In addition to the arrival of our second son, our family has undergone what in some ways is an even more dramatic and life-changing transformation. After years of using Windows-based computers, we recently purchased a Mac Book.

Yeah, we wanted to ditch the staid image of the glasses-clad, business suit wearing, uptight loser who uses a PC and join the hip, cool, arty Apple crowd. You know, those rebellious Apple users like John Hinderaker?

Actually we went with a Mac laptop because it seems better suited for the type of things that we primarily intend to it use for; photos, video editing, music, watching barnyard animal porn, etc. The integration of the photo, video, and music tools was a major selling point. And part of it was just change for the sake of change. We wanted to see if the Mac really lived up to the hype.

At this point, it's still far too early for a final verdict on the matter. When you haven't used a Mac for many years, it takes a while to figure out how to efficiently get around. It's not as if it's a drastic change from using Windows, but as Jules would say, "It's the little differences." You're so used to doing things in a proscribed manner, taking your visual cues from certain places, and clicking in particular areas that you don't even think about until you're presented with an alternative. The close, minimize, and expand buttons are on the left instead of the right? Crazy.

It will no doubt take some time before we're really able to make use of the features available and decide whether the bang justifies the extra buck. However, some of the benefits of the Mac were apparent literally right out of the box. Most obvious is the aesthetic appeal; clean, smooth, and sleek. It looks great and feels right too. The keyboard is slightly different from what I'm used to, but I like the spacing and touch of the keys.

One thing that Apple has nailed is packaging. From the IPod to the MacBook, they know how to wrap up a pretty package. It was also a pleasant experience to open the box and find the laptop, a couple of components, a few CDs, and a manual. You often get so much crap with the electronics you buy these days that you don't even know what to do with half of it. No such issues with the Mac.

It couldn't have been more than five minutes from the opening of the box to the the first surfing of the 'net either, an experience I've never had with any Windows products. Not set up required. You gotta like that.

Am I ready to convert and join the Apple apostles? Hardly. I still will be using Windows in my work and we will continue use a PC at home as well. But I am much more open to an ecumenical outreach.

I Am A Rock, I Am An Island

Tom e-mails on parental chatter and flying alone:

If I had a blog, my post responding to the subject posts would be titled "I Am A Rock, I Am An Island". I'm beginning to think that Laura Billings had a point that today's blogger is a loner writing withering social commentary dressed in his underpants, from the comfort of his basement.

I wouldn't disagree that conversations at the play park are at best forced, but I usually found them a good source of local news such as neighborhood real estate trends, going values for babysitters (value = rate / quality) and the micro-local police blotter. Think of it this way, if anyone in your neighborhood watched the channel 5 news, you would be a celebrity. Small talk on a plane can be enjoyable - if it's an attractive member of the opposite sex. I'm sure decorum and Atomizer's spouse checking in on his blogpostings put the kibosh on him mentioning this in his post. Otherwise, some pleasant chat can make the flight go by much faster.

By the way, is the airline concerned that someone with Atomizer's legendary affinity for spirits (especially after a couple of hours spent in an airport bar on an expense account) is also the person responsible for punching out and guiding his fellow passengers to safety? Perhaps a breathalyzer installed in the seatback in front of the exit row will weed out those not able to perform the instructions given them by the flight crew - like Atomizer.

Unfortunately Tom, life is not a "Seinfeld" episode and most of us don't end up sitting next to a model in first class asking for "more of everything!". I'm with Atomizer on this one, stick with a book.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Talking With Heroes


Talk Show Program


LIVE: From Woodbury, Minnesota

Hosted By:

Woodbury Lutheran Church

7380 Afton Road Woodbury, Minnesota

May 20, 2007

5:30pm-7:30pm (CST)

Talking with Heroes programs are not about politics. We are about helping, honoring, supporting, and providing information for our men and women in the military and their families, and about giving our military personnel men an opportunity to share their mostly untold stories about helping the Iraqi and Afghan people. We believe that we the American people have a right to hear these positive stories and our military personnel have a right to have their stories heard by all Americans.

The Parent Trap

Being a parent is a wonderful experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. However, there is one area of parenting that I've come to despise: parental small talk.

Whenever you're with your childrens in a public area, you're always in danger of falling into the trap. One minute you're happily pushing your urchin in swing without a care in the world. The next another parent has sidled up next to you and out of the blue asks, "How old is he?"

"Uh...nineteen months," you reply. Now you're in the quagmire of forced conversation. You don't really want to, but you feel obliged to ask about their little pride and joy:

"And how how old is he/she?"

It becomes really awkward from this point out. You really have nothing in common with this person other than the fact that you've both figured out how to successfully breed. I imagine moms are much better at this sort of this things than dads because they have more experience at it. I simply have no desire to "talk kids" with some complete stranger.

It's even worse when they open the exchange by paying your child a compliment:

"Wow, he's really a cute little guy."

What do you do now? For some reason it seems incumbent upon you to respond in kind, even though sometimes you want to be completely honest and say:

"Thanks and you have a lovely little troll there yourself."

But you don't. We're trying to have a civilization here, right? So you offer some insincere compliment of your own to even the score.

"Thanks, he/she is a little cutie too."

Then, you're again you're left with the same question of "where do we go from here?" and maybe more importantly "WHY?".

There's no reason for these painful social encounters. Just because I see you at the park/mall/store/whatever and our kids are in near proximity physically and age-wise doesn't mean that we need to communicate in any manner other than a shared glance, a knowing smile, and acknowledging nod of the head. Anything more is just going down a road that has no happy destination.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Final Quirk

I think James Lileks is one of the finest writers in the country, but I never read his Star Tribune column The Quirk. It was too short and topics too domesticized to make it a destination site. The Star Tribune's unremitting, shrill partisan bent long ago chased me away from delving into its pages and randomly stumbling on it. So I kind of forgot about it.

Today was his final installment of the Quirk and I get the sense I might have been missing something the past few years.

I love this place, and I always wanted to be a Star Tribune humorist. It's a narrow goal, like wanting to be the President's barber -- great objective, but not exactly a career bursting with openings. But I set my mind to it; I had a plan, and after years of patient work I perfected my set of Uncle Al Sicherman facial protheses. They found out. But they admired my pluck. Charges were dropped. Years later, I was hired, and I've been honored to converse with you here ever since.

It's not like I'm entering a witness-protection program. Everything you liked about the Quirk can be found at, where I write a famously interminable daily column called the Bleat. But newspapers are special, I know. Nothing will take the place of this.

Just in case you're curious: My Quirk allotment was always 300 words. It was always a point of professional pride to hit 300 words on the nose. Hmm: almost there. Very well, then:

Child says hello. And from me: Goodbye. And thanks!

How can the people who nixed him not feel lousy after that? That's the kind of revenge only a talented writer can pull off. Reassign me, will you? Prepare to experience melancholy regret!

A class act all the way too. Contrast that with editorial page deputy editor Jim Boyd's pathetic lashing out with his final breaths and you see what character is. If only Boyd would have been limited to 300 daily words on shopping at Target and Lileks could have ran the editorial page, that might have been a paper worth reading. Ah, what might have been.