Friday, October 31, 2008

Let the Soil and/or Water Debates Begin

Our endorsements for Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor have generated quite a buzz in the soil and water community.   Including this email from one of the candidates in Ramsey County:

Read your endorsements for conservation district supervisor candidates and reasons for such on your blog.  I'm David Bogue, Candidate for district 2 and I wanted to clarify a couple of things for you. 

My comment that water quality is our most urgent resource issue requires a bit more clarification.  Water versus soil needn't be a worry for you.  The things we do for water quality involve soil resources in a good way.  If we merely focus on soil resources, however, we can exclude water quality.  I earned far too many credits in soil science to turn my back on soil.  I love the stuff.  God bless soil!  But one of the biggest parts of water quality is keeping soil where it belongs!

You mentioned that I'm anti roof and anti parking lot.  That's not entirely true.  What I'm stating is that as we increase impervious surfaces, we increase runoff.  By utilizing different building techniques, design features, and when we install landscape features to manage storm water, we decrease the impact of impervious surfaces.  Hey, free water is a good thing and storm water can be collected and used again on site. 

Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you regarding resource issues.

All the best,
David Bogue
Candidate for Ramsey Conservation District Supervisor for District 2

Thanks for that email David.  It does clarify things and tends to placate some of our more rabidly pro-soil concerns.  Plus any time God is invoked in a political campaign, we like it.   This information will be submitted to our official endorsement provider, Sisyphus, to see if he wishes to alter his decision in District 2.  

Reminder to any other candidates in these races, Fraters Libertas is your forum for the substantive debate on all soil and water issues.  Send me your opinion pieces and they shall be printed, in full and unedited.  

UPDATE:  Bill writes in to let us know he was researching the candidacy of Richard Klatte for Hennepin County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor, and made this discovery:

If you go to his Web site, he apparently isn't aware of what he actually signed up for.

Freeze Dirtbag!

In case some of you (JB Doubtless) were skeptical about the impact that a deservedly obscure blog in Minnesota could have on a judicial election in Los Angeles consider this e-mail from Jack:

I proudly voted for Michael J. O'Gara for L.A. Superior Court Judge in Office 94, in an act of nearly random chance.

Here's how you vote for judges in L.A. If the choice is between:

C. Edward Mack - Criminal Trial Attorney (interpretation: SLIMY DIRTBAG TRIAL LAWYER)


Michael J. O'Gara - Criminal Prosecutor (interpretation: BARE-KNUCKLED IRISH BRAWLER WHO PUTS DIRTBAGS BEHIND BARS)

It's easy to put the black dot on #64. Mr. Mack may be a fine feller. But he chose his occupation poorly. That occupation listing is all the
political advertising he's gonna get this election cycle, and it's a loser.

If I ever run for judge, I will list as my occupation "tenacious dirtbag stalker" or some such. It's got a nice ring to it don't ya think?

Chalk one up for the good guys.

If Only It Were So

One thing that nevers fails to amuse is when Democrats criticize President Bush for doing things that conservatives wish he actually had. In today's WSJ, James Freeman looks at the myth--oft cited by Barack Obama to explain the financial crisis--of the Bush Administration as cowboys of deregulation:

The combination of Mr. Bush's enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley and Mr. Spitzer's Wall Street prosecutions contributed to America's significant market-share loss of initial public offerings -- and the U.S. is yet to return to pre-Bush levels. While government reduced the profit-making potential in Wall Street's traditional bread-and-butter business, it was simultaneously encouraging investment in the housing sector. Neither activity constituted deregulation.

Perhaps Mr. Obama is looking beyond the financial markets and taking a broad view of the economy in concluding that Mr. Bush was a deregulator. If so, it's hard to find evidence to support this conclusion.

Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute tracks regulation across the entire federal government. He reports that the Bush administration set an all-time record in 2004, when it published more than 75,000 pages of proposed and enacted rules in the Federal Register.

Leftists might assume that many of these rules were actually watering down earlier standards -- but where's the evidence of declining compliance costs? Lafayette College economist Mark Crain estimates more than $1.1 trillion in federal regulatory costs for 2004, up an inflation-adjusted 16% from 2000. Overall agency enforcement budgets have increased each year since 2004.

A recent report, "Regulatory Agency Spending Reaches New Height," from Washington University's Weidenbaum Center puts Mr. Bush's regulatory activity in historical context. Co-authors Veronique de Rugy and Melinda Warren say that when it comes to spending on regulatory agencies, our current president is almost in a class by himself, with an increase of almost 68% during his two terms. In constant dollars the Bush regulatory budget increases vastly exceed those of predecessors Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon and, yes, Lyndon Johnson.

Looking at regulatory spending in percentage terms, Mr. Bush's staggering 2003 increase of more than 24% was the largest in the last 50 years. If Mr. Obama considers this a record of deregulation -- and if current polls hold -- America's economy could be in for a very long four years.

UPDATE-- Tom e-mails:

This morning while watching Joe Scarborough and the Six Liberals on MSDNC, they played a clip of Rachel Madnow interviewing The One. She asked why he hasn't exposed conservatism's failure on the campaign trail and put a stake through the heart of it, etc. The One smiled and said his campaign is about bigger things than finger pointing, etc. While watching this drivel I remember listening to the re-broadcast of the Laura Ingraham Show last evening on 100.3. She was interviewing Newt Gingrich and when she brought up the idea that Liberals are ripping Conservatism based on eight years of George W. Bush, Speaker Newt stopped her short and asks her, "What Conservatism has there been in the last eight years?" He then gives a list of GWB's and a Republican congress' failures to be conservative. That is the shame of the past eight years. GW Bush and Republicans in Congress failed to lead and just acted like Democrats.

PS: Any chance of getting Sisyphus to review the Soil and Water Commissioner races here in Sherburne County? Or are your reviews merely for your urban hipster doofus base?

PPS: Happy Halloween. I'm guessing you already have the stroller outfitted with a cup/bottle holder for making the rounds with the little ones? It's better when they get a bit older and can stay out longer. As the recently passed Mr. Leinenkugel used to say--my favorite beer is a free one.

I believe that Sisyphus is still recovering from the grueling task of preparing his soil and water endorsements for the metro area. Perhaps he can summon the energy to help inform the voters of Sherburne County in what are easily the most important soil and water conservation elections of our lifetimes.

Strolling the kids around the neighborhood on Halloween while swilling a couple of bottles of beer doesn't strike me as responsible parenting. A flask is a much better and more discrete option.

UPDATE II-- Sisyphus has already answered the call:

I checked Sherburne County--everyone is running unopposed.

No one should run unopposed. Heck, even dictators usually find some chump to run against them when they receive 99.6% of the vote. Which means the good people of Sherburne County have a duty to write in someone in each of these positions.

In fact, voters everywhere should use the write in option in unopposed races. Our official Fraters Libertas endorsed candidate for every unopposed election in 2008 is:


Our radio co-host has tried to claim that his past would proclude him from seeking any future political positions. But if this year has taught us anything it's that the electorate doesn't care about the past. We all know that John was a campus radical back in the day, but I doubt if his past assocations can hold a candle (or fire bomb) to Obama's. And John may have used harsh language and acted in an intemperate manner once or twice, but he can't touch Al Franken's history of profanity, pornography, and public outbursts. John Hinderaker: the right man to write in.

Help Wanted: Evil Genius

If John McCain fails in his bid for the White House, one of the many reasons may be his lack of a master campaign strategist. Although Democrats sometimes exaggerated the impact and influence of Karl Rove, there's no doubt that he was one of the keys that helped Bush prevail in two close contests. His understanding of the ground game, strategic vision, and organization were second to none in the world of politics.

Now even Rove may not have been able to overcome all the headwinds that the McCain campaign has had to struggle against this year. But when you compare the message discipline and get out the vote efforts of the two Bush campaigns with the current McCain effort, you find the latter lacking.

It also doesn't help that the Democrats have finally found someone with a Rove-like political acumen in David Axelrod. He's done a brilliant job so far packaging the promise of Obama (because really what else is there?) in a carefully choreographed manner that has kept the campaign on focus and on message.

If the McCain was going to have any hope of beating Obama, Axelrod, and the Democratic tide this year he needed to have someone with Rove's political genius guiding his campaign. Unfortunately, such bright lights are few and far between.

UPDATE-- A day late, but still great minds and whatnot:

But the job of a campaign is to put their candidate in a position to win with the electorate as it's possible to understand it, not with some hypothetical electorate that might emerge to save you from the fate that all the indicators predicted. Rove succeeded at that task; the McCain campaign appears to have failed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Soil and Water Endorsements: Ramsey County

Following up yesterday's Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor endorsements for Hennepin county, we now continue with Sisyphus's wisdom on what you should do in the voting booths in Ramsey County.


Ramsey County District 2 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor

David Bogue seems to have soil and water credentials, but, based on this statement:

"Water quality is our most urgent resource issue."

we fear that he may be too pro-water at the expense of soil. We are also alarmed at his anti-roof and anti-parking lot views:

"Recharge of our aquifers is decreasing because of increased impervious surfaces from development, such as roofs and parking lots."

We here at Fraters Libertas are in favor of recharging our aquifers, but we are unwilling to give up our parking lots and especially our roofs in order to do so.

(NOTE: Our non-endorsement of Mr. Bogue, has nothing to do with the fact that Grace Kelly of MN Blue (which is an anti-Republican blog; note the anti-Norm Coleman ads) endorsed him. Her endorsement is based only on the fact that Mr. Bogue has a blog (with an Atomizer-esque two posts over three months) and she couldn't find anything about the other two candidates online. Advanced methods research tip to Grace Kelly: both of the major daily newspapers in the Twin Cities have something called online voter guides.)

Nick Quade was a Ron Paul delegate to the state convention.

We previously noted Hennepin County District 5 candidate Karl Hansen's contribution to the Paul campaign. What is it with Ron Paul supporters and the soil and water conservation races? Let me check my pocket U.S. Constitution .... nope, nothing about soil and water conservation. Well, I guess the revolution has to start somewhere.

Tom Tuft is an attorney and a Hockey Coach with the Como Area Hockey Association. While we are concerned that he is a lawyer (and that he seems to think that the board needs a lawyer) we are encouraged by his hockey background (a game played on frozen water) and his succinct answers to the survey questions. We especially like that he left blank the question about what accomplishments the voters can expect from him. Finally a candidate who doesn't make promises he can't keep.

We feel that Mr. Tuft is in step with his district, will grow into a fine Soil and Water Supervisor, and we endorse Tom Tuft for Ramsey County District 5 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Ramsey County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor

The Ramsey County District 3 contest is known for being controversial and vigorously contested. This year is certainly no exception.

As you may recall, this is the seat that led to the most embarrassing incident in the history of Fraters Libertas Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor endorsements. For the first and only time, we had to rescind our endorsement.

Four years ago we endorsed Jill Elizabeth Wilkinson over the DFL endorsed candidate, Marjorie Ebensteiner. After making our endorsement, the Star Tribune reported that Ms. Wilkinson had admitted embezzling money from the Libertarian Party (Star Tribune link no longer available). Alas, our endorsement withdrawal came too late and Wilkinson coasted to a 30,000 vote victory over the DFL endorsed candidate.

Not only did Jill Elizabeth Wilkinson survive the embezzlement charges and complete her term, now she is running for re-election. Sorry, Ms. Wilkinson, no Fraters Libertas endorsement this time. We are not Democrats who are willing to look the other way on financial shenanigans just because a candidate can win elections.

Unfortunately, the choices don't get much better.

This is the only Soil and Water Conservation race in the entire state with a candidate endorsed by a major party. Mara Magnuson Humphrey has secured the DFL endorsement. What we have here is a rare example of the Democrats learning from their past mistakes. Four years ago they endorsed someone named Marjorie Ebensteiner, whose name is similar to then MN GOP Chairman Ron Eibensteiner. Voters in heavily DFL Ramsey County decided they would rather have an accused embezzler than someone who might be related to a Republican.

However, this year the Democrats were so desperate to find a candidate with a traditional DFL name that they didn't care about her background. You see, Mara Magnuson Humphrey is .... a REGISTERED LOBBYIST!

And no, she does not lobby on behalf of the Red Cross or Puppies and Kittens, no she is a lobbyist for the FINANCIAL INDUSTRY!

We here at Fraters Libertas are fair-minded folks, so we concede that Ms. Humphrey is probably not 100% responsible for our current financial crisis. But we are unwilling to risk a similar meltdown in our soil and water. We would almost rather have Jimmy Carter on the board than a DFL financial industry lobbyist.

Also running is former Maplewood City Manager and unsuccessful Republican candidate for the State House in 2002, Greg Copeland. The fact that Mr. Copeland is a Republican is a plus, but not the fact that he lost in a landslide (71% to 28%). We are generally skeptical of candidates who lose in other contests and then try to finally win an election by running for Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor. Are they running because they care about Soil and Water or are they running because they want to win an election, any election? We'd like to think the best about these candidates, but we just have no way of knowing for sure. Also raising concerns is Mr. Copeland's tumultuous stint as Maplewood City Manager.

Finally, we strongly object to Mr. Copeland's pledge to:

"Provide for cable television broadcast of District Board Meetings on public access stations."

Our first reaction to recent Hamline grad candidate Paul Sawyer is, at least he didn't go to Macalester. But, after examining him further, he might as well have. While Mr. Sawyer lost out on the official DFL endorsement, he was endorsed by two DFL State Representatives (Alice Hausman and Sheldon Johnson) with a combined 2008 Tax Payer's League rating of zero.

If that wasn't enough, Mr. Sawyer hasn't learned the counter-productivity of harshly negative campaigning. He has directly and viciously attacked the incumbent's attendance record and has taken a more subtle swipe at his DFL endorsed opponent. On the contributions page of his campaign website, he has pledged not only to accept no campaign contributions from PACs or corporations (take that Big Soil! take that Big Water!), but also to accept nothing from .... lobbyists.

Lobbyists, we are left to presume, like Mara Magnuson Humphrey.

Sorry Mr. Sawyer, but that kind of negative campaigning has no place in Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor races.

Unfortunately, that leaves us no candidates we are comfortable endorsing. Sorry residents of Ramsey District 3, we can offer you no guidance. Except maybe to convince Rahn V. Workcuff to move to the district and run for supervisor in 2012.


Stay tuned to Fraters Libertas for any breaking news on the Soil and Water Conservation Superviser election front. Rest assured, whatever might occur -- embezzlement, indictment, floods, cave-ins, slow erosion -- Sisyphus will be there.

Also remember to tune in election night for his Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor election LIVE BLOG right here on Fraters Libertas. It will begin promptly at 4:30 PM until approximately 6:30 AM the next morning. (Warning to the affiliates, he will be going over this time if any margin of victory is less than the level of litigation.) See you all then!

L.A. Law

Since we're been talking a lot about local judicial elections of late, Rick asks for us to expand our scope:

Could you please endorse my friend Mike O'Gara for Los Angeles superior court judge in Office 94?

Mike shares with you the privilege of having had me on his hockey team. Mike and I were actually d-linemates for many years and I can vouch for his tenacious ability to deliver a full-body check in a non-checking league and getting the ref to put the other guy in the bin.

I also see this as getting me at least one 'get out of jail free' card if not for me then for my 2 1/2 year old.

Even though he's Irish, Mike is a great guy and deserves to win this.

A ringing endorsment indeed. Anyone who's ever had the misfortune of having to be on the ice with Rick understands a great deal about injustice.

Even though this likely violates some sort silly campaign finance reform law (and the Mann Act), we officially endorse Michael O'Gara for LA Superior Court Judge in Office 94. Hopefully, it's not too late to have the ACORN branch office in LA send us some absentee ballots.

Stuck In The Middle Kingdom With You

Matt e-mails from China:

You know you are in China when:

You are standing on top of a mountain waiting for the gondola at 15000 feet and the person down from you feels the need to light up a "schmeg." Or, at any other public venue for that matter.

You stand in line and try to be respectfully only to have people shove their way in front of you.

The person (he or she) in front of you hawks a loogy up on to the floor (guess it is not SARS because of the color).

You reflexively gag upon entering the public rest room, only to be followed by a moment of cold sweat as you forgot if you brought tissue paper with you and hope not to breath through the nose a the feeling would soon induce nausea. (4 walls, just 4 walls)

Watch the confused look on the local's face as he receives no response because the person you are with has no clue as to what the person is saying even though she has an asian face. (Maybe if he spoke louder?)

Yes, the civilized world.

Ah yes, the smoking, the shoving, the spitting, and the smells. No trip to China would be complete without them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Soil and Water Endorsements: Hennepin County

We are happy to report that the Fraters Libertas expert soil and water conservation supervision analyst, Sisyphus, has completed his arduous investigation. His little miner's helmet and scuba suit have been returned to us (thus getting back his complete deposit - less charges for some excessive scuffing). His calculations and formulas have been checked and double checked (thanks to the Atomizer for removing his shoes and socks for the occasion). His manuscript has been fact checked and edited. At least to normal Star Tribune standards (as such we cannot actually confirm or deny any of the facts therein).

As we did four years ago, we will concentrate only on the contested Hennepin and Ramsey County races. These counties contain most of the dirt and water in the metro area anyway, and all of the good stuff, if you know what I'm saying. (I don't, email me with clarification if you do).

Hennepin County endorsements appear today, Ramsey tomorrow. 

Without further ado, here is our man Sisyphus:


It is now endorsement season -- that time of year when newspapers and former Governors let us know who they think we should vote for.  However, they tend to endorse only in races like President, Senate, Congress, and the State Legislature, races for which we already have plenty of information, while leaving us without their guidance in the Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor races.  Unlike the Main Stream Drive By Media, Fraters Libertas believes that Soil and Water are important, nay indispensable, to our children's future.   That is why we take the time to research those vying to supervise their conservation.

Hennepin County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor

Running for the hotly contested Hennepin County District 3 seat are Ben Torell, James Wisker, Rahn V. Workcuff, and Richard A. Klatte.

In the Star Tribune's voter guide, Richard A. Klatte lists one of his most important issues as:

"Making big oil companies pay for cleaning the air, water, and soil they've destroyed."

Unfortunately for Mr. Klatte, but fortunately for good sense, the Hennepin County Soil and Water Conservation District doesn't have the power to take down big oil.  We recommend a run for Governor on the Green Party ticket. 

Wait a minute .... he did run in the 2002 Green party primary for Governor!  And was trounced by Ken Petel 86% to 14%.  Just think about that.  He lost an election to Ken Petel -- and it was a landslide.  We don't endorse Green Party rejects here.

Rahn V. Workcuff doesn't list taking on big oil as his most important issue. Instead, his big issue is opposition to gay marriage: 

"I strongly agree that a marriage should be only between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of same sex marriages."  

Mr. Workcuff's candidacy is no doubt an attempt to prevent another possible run by gay marriage/gay divorce attorney Jonathan Burris in the fifth district.  Mr. Burris ran four years ago (he is not running this year) and did not receive our endorsement because we did not see how his "gay divorce" credentials had anything to do with soil and water.  While Mr. Workcuff comes off as a curmudgeon who would liven up the meetings, we still believe that soil and water conservation districts should stay out of the gay marriage debate.  Mr. Workcuff should consider running for state legislature. 

Wait a minute .... he did run for the state legislature!   Against Margaret Anderson Kelliher on the Independence Party ticket in 2000, alas, getting only 6% of the vote.  We don't endorse people who can't get at least 7% of the vote against DFL machine party hacks.    

James Wisker is the only candidate in district 3 with extensive soil and water experience; he is Program Manager for the Regulatory Department at Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. However, in his MASWCD questionnaire he uses words like, "stakeholder driven," "public/private partnerships," and "proactive."  We cannot in good conscience endorse such a buzzword machine.

We are encouraged that Ben Torell is a Firearm Safety Instructor and a Snowmobile/ATV Safety Instructor.  While Mr. Torell does not have a lot of direct Soil and Water conservation experience, we are confident that he will grow into an effective soil and water conservation supervisor.  

Fraters Libertas endorses Ben Torell for Hennepin County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Hennepin County District 5 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor

Running in Hennepin County District 5 are Jeffrey A. Beck and Karl Hanson.

We hope that Hennepin County voters are bright enough to realize that Jeffrey A. Beck is not the legendary guitarist (whose name is actually Geoffrey).  The Jeff Beck running for district 5 soil and water conservation supervisor is the kind of guy who doesn't use capital letters in his Star Tribune voter's guide essay and refers to himself in the third person in his MASWCD questionnaire.  Needless to say, we cannot endorse him.

Karl Hanson may well have written the perfect answer to the "most important issue" question:

"Preserving the public waterways and soil for future generations while allowing private property owners to use their lands with absolutely minimal government interference. Conservation of taxpayer resources must also be a priority."  

But warning sirens go off when we take a look at his political contributions, $2,300 to Ron Paul and *gasp* $300 to Dennis Kucinich.  Do we really want a soil and water conservation supervisor who donated money to Dennis Kucinich? 

No, but we really can't endorse that other guy.

So, we reluctantly endorse Karl Hanson for Hennepin County District 5 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor and hope he lives up to his essay, not his Kucinich contribution.


If only Barack Obama had been vetted as well by the media as Sisphysus did with Rahn V. Workcuff, this country wouldn't be in such a predicament.

Tune in tomorrow for the dirt (and water) on Ramsey County.

Moose! Rocko! Help The Elder Find His Judges

In six-plus years of blogging, I've never failed to be impressed by the quality of the e-mails received from our readers (the constant text messages from Atomizer are another matter entirely). The recent search for more information on the local judicial races only serves to reinforce this feeling.

This e-mail from Doctor Karen is a great example:

Here is some general information. First, here is a superbly written op-ed from the Strib a few days ago that really explains how bad the judge selection process is and how corruptly full of political patronage it is as well as how dangerous it is to having honest and free judicial elections, and how patronizing the legal community can be. It explains perfectly why the incumbent label is very suspect for judges. Secondly, although not great, because it doesn't contain list of specific decisions, this voter guide at Minnesota Lawyer does contain candidate answers to a set of the same questions, so one can get some idea of their temperament and philosophy for the contested races. There are profiles in other voter guides, such as the Pioneer Pressand Star Tribune.

Now, here are my comments as an individual citizen with extensive experience in conservative policy research and advocacy, not on behalf of any group with which I am associated, on individual races:

* Supreme Court-
Tinglestad vs. Anderson - I am supporting Magistrate Tinglestad, because of my knowledge that Justice Anderson authored the Doe vs. Gomez decision that mandates taxpayer funding of abortion, a decision that I find both constitutionally and morally abhorrent, and because I have met Magistrate Tinglestad and am impressed with his personal integrity and fidelity to principle.

Hedlund vs. Gildea - I am supporting Judge Hedlund over Justice Gildea because of my friendship with her and my personal knowledge of her high levels of integrity and fidelity to principle, for her long record of judicial experience trying every kind of case, especially criminal, for public safety and fiscal responsibility reasons, and because Justice Gildea has skipped almost every opportunity for a head to head debate or forum where the public could ask questions in order to make an informed decision, numbering about 15 since primary season.

Here are some opportunities for the public to hear at least from Judge Hedlund before the election. Justice Gildea will be on the Gary Eichton show, but MPR will control the questions:

October 29 5:00-7:00 P.M. Hennepin County Government Center Lower Auditorium 300 S. 6th St. MPLS
A forum provided by Voting for Judges

November 1 5:00- 7:00 P.M. KTLK 100.3 FM Radio with Sue Jeffers

* Court of Appeals -
Griffith vs Stonebruner - I am supporting Mr. Griffith because of the recommendation of people that I respect with similar conservative philosophy to mine both in and out of the legal profession, I have heard him interviewed on the radio and was impressed, and because of the whole issue of appointment vs election of judges.

* District Courts - Because of the reasons cited above about the appointment/election issue and recommendations from people within and without the legal profession that I respect, I will be supporting the challengers in every contested election. I do not have information about the judges in uncontested races.

Hennepin County
Piper vs Ranum - This is an open seat. I will be supporting David Piper because of my knowledge and direct observation of former DFL Senator Jane Ranum's extremely liberal voting record and because of the Democrats' intent to use the courts to redistribute wealth among other heinous, freedom squashing uses.

Whew. That's a lot of information to digest. Having now heard good arguments for both candidates, consider me officially torn in the race between Hedlund and Gildea.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Day The Earth Stood Still

Today, I received an e-mail from Al Gore on behalf of In the midst of his plea for Obama volunteers was this gem:

But the stakes this year are too great for any of us to sit it out. We're facing two wars and an economic meltdown. The climate crisis, in particular, is worsening more quickly than predicted and without strong leadership from the next president, we could face consequences right out of a science fiction movie.

No one knows science fiction movies like Al Gore.

UPDATE-- At the Ranting Room, Bruce wonders which sci-fi movies Gore had in mind:

Perhaps so, but the all-important and thus far unasked question is: which science fiction movie? Silent Running? Soylent Green? Lord of the Flies? Godzilla vs The Smog Monster?

Personally, my money is on The Manchurian Candidate.

Who Are You To Judge?

Margaret answers my call for more information on judges who appeared on The David Strom Show:

We interviewed Haeg and Gildea 2 weeks ago on our show. The podcast is up at Townhall. [shamless plug #1] Gildea impressed us with her knowledge and cool Scandinavian temperament. People who care about property rights should be aware of her opinion in the Wensmenn case which is a good backstop to Kelo-type takings of people's property by cities and government entities by eminent domain. IMHO, that alone is a good reason to support her. I have nothing against Hedlund and I think some social conservatives support her. Hedlund is a Hennepin Co. district court judge but the Supreme Court requires broader experience and knowledge of the law and I think Gildea's resume fits better.

The Haeg interview was interesting. He was a judicial referee, which is more than a mediator and less than a district court judge but the post was downsized and he got laid off. He worked under Swenson (i.e. Swenson was his boss). We were kind of wondering about the personal dymamic there and Haeg dropped a bombshell on air that Swenson was sued by some court worker for hostile work environment and workplace discrimination. It was settled for $75,000, needless to say without admissions by either party. Rick Morgan, who is a highly regarded attorney in town was sitting in with us that day to share his expertise and noted that it wasn't a particularly judicial thing to do to drop bombs like that and argued that it spoke to the temperament issue. I wasn't as put off by it, but then, I'm not a lawyer and tend to see things in more political terms. Haeg got a good hearing on the show as to his diverse background (he's held a number of different kinds of jobs) and grew up on the Northside of Minneapolis and Robbinsdale. Anybody who wants to know more about the guy should listen to the show.
[shamless plug #2] Swenson's a sitting judge and has rave reviews from his peers. Haeg is the challenger so he probably has a higher bar to cross.

I said don't worry judge, It won't happen next time

A few thoughts from readers on voting for judges:

I am a retired cop, once I heard a judge brag about his popularity because he had over 90% of the vote.
My rule of thumb, never vote for anybody unopposed, it just boosts their ego. It also pares down the list.

That certainly works when there is no choice. Roger the Younger e-mails to point out that the Minnesota Family Institute has a voters guide for the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. The guide is somewhat helpful as it provides the views of non-incumbents Dan Griffith (MN Court of Appeals 16) and Tim Tingelstad (MN Supreme Court). Unfortunately, it doesn't help much with the views of their opponents. And it doesn't have any information on the other Supreme Court contest between Deborah Hedlund and Lori Skjervien Gildea.

Roger included input he received from friends on these races as well:

Deborah Hedlund went to India with me two years ago as part of a legal team. She visited with the legal professionals in India to make contacts with them through the Gospel Association of India. She also spoke at the GAI evangelistic meetings and at Christian, secular, and Hindu Universities as a Christian judge from the United States speaking to various issues.

Sounds pretty good. But there there's this:

The Minnesota Citizens Concerned For Life mailing we just received endorses Tim Tinglestad and Lori Skjervien Gildea and that's one reason to give them your vote.

And indeed it does.

More on local races from Roger's network:

In Hennepin County, Judge #53 is open, and the choices are David Piper and Jane Ranum (Democratic Senator for many years) (Vote David).

In Hennepin County, Judge #9 is also contested: Incumbent Philip Bush or Eugene Link. I don't know enough about either yet.

In the 10th District, my friend John Dehen is running against incumbent Robert Varco.

From the Minnesota Lawyer Judicial Elections 2008 site, I also see that Hennepin County Judge #58 is contested between Thomas F. Haeg and James T. Swenson. Any help with that race would be appreciated.

For purely informational purposes, the law-talking guy site is very helpful. You can easily find which judicial district you'll be voting in and who is running. Who to vote for is where the difficulty lies.

Monday, October 27, 2008

When Ads Attack

Dan Cleary in Tennessee is a regular Northern Alliance Radio Network listener. He recently received an attack mail piece against a local Republican candidate, entitled: Tom Dubois Funded By Gas Gouging!

He reminds all campaigns of the necessity to have a quick turn around time from idea generation to execution on those advertising brainstorms:

I suppose too that with gas now below $2 a gallon in some locations, there is now a reverse-gouging of sorts taking place in order to round up votes for Republicans just before the election, right? Of course.

Dan also notes that this message isn't exactly original. It's been done, and to much better/worse effect:

I'd say this flyer is just about the most hilariously dumb invocation of "Big Oil" in a political ad that I've ever seen. Well, maybe not. Check out this ad put out by Al Franken, the Democratic challenger to Republican Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate seat.

This Franken ad was spoofed to perfection by the crew at the First Team of the Northern Alliance Radio Network on AM 1280 The Patriot in Minnesota, when they called out their colleague "King Banaian" for buying his brandy overseas with the help of ... Big Oil. Shame on you, Mr. Banaian!


Speaking of ads, last week I decried the presence of scurrilous attack ads during the World Series broadcast:

During the last commercial break I get smacked in the face with back-to-back negative ads pissing on Michele Bachmann and Norm Coleman.

I was speaking metaphorically, of course. It turns out, if I had been l watching the attack ads in Kansas, it would have been a literal description. Check out this charmer from US Senate challenger Jim Slattery (D):

Despite this appeal to our better angels, according to Real Clear Politics, Slattery is still down 20 points in the polls to Senator Pat Roberts.

It this holds, predicted headline for the Kansas papers on Nov. 5: ROBERTS TROUNCES WIZ KID

Mister, We Don't Need A Man Like Herbert Hoover Again

Just in case the weather, the likely results of the election, or the imminent end of the baseball season hasn't got you down, Arthur Laffer's piece in today's WSJ called The Age of Prosperity Is Over should be able to cloud up even the most cock-eyed of optimist's (like Atomizer) outlook:

There are many more examples, but none hold a candle to what's happening right now. Twenty-five years down the line, what this administration and Congress have done will be viewed in much the same light as what Herbert Hoover did in the years 1929 through 1932. Whenever people make decisions when they are panicked, the consequences are rarely pretty. We are now witnessing the end of prosperity.

Meh. The whole "prosperity" thing was always overrated anyway.

For Shame

Vox Day calls out the mainstream media enablers among his readers:

Few regulars here still do, but if you are one of the few who still subscribe to a daily newspaper, watch the evening news networks, or read mainstream magazines like Time and People, you should be ashamed of yourself. Because it's people like you who give these outmoded organizations the power to influence the less intelligent and the maleducated.

He makes a key point that isn't given enough attention. Deciding to cancel your subscription to media outlets like the Star Tribune is about more than just a personal statement about your distaste for what they do. It's about your money not being used to contribute to the intellectual delinquency of others.

Judgment Day?

While we've all probably heard more about the candidates than we ever really wanted to know, two recent e-mails point to a dearth on information on certain races.

First Jim from Woodbury asked:


I have about 20 judges to vote for in Wash Cty. How can I research these clowns? I have to do absentee ballot.

Then, Drake from Minnetonka also sought assistance:

I believe I heard this interview on your show. An interview of a Minnesota Judge who sounded intelligent and fair. Would you send me the name of this judge so I can vote for her, please? Also, will you be posting a list of decent judges (i.e.- strict constructionist) to vote for in Minnesota? Also, County Commissioners would also be helpful. There is so much darkness, around these two types of candidates and so little light.

Actually I believe the show that Drake is referring to was the David Strom show, which precedes the NARN First Team on Saturdays. I can't recall the name of the judge who was interviewed either. Perhaps David or more likely Margaret can help out.

To the broader question of which judges to vote for, I'm also not going to be of much help. If anyone has or wants to put a list of good judges together who will be on the ballot in the metro area, I'd be more than happy to post it here. Drop me a line at:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Era of Bipartisanship Is Over

This week "Mr. Aviation" dropped out of the clouds briefly to visit with the voters who live in the district in which he runs for office and to deliver a vision of the future:

To move "the people's agenda," Democrats need to gain the White House and a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate, says U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District.

Yeah! It's about time we stop catering to the dictates of the plant and mineral worlds and get back to the agenda for people. Bushes are the real terrorists!

Actually, in Oberstar's inimitable style, he's looking forward to the day when there is no check on the liberal agenda for the Federal government. They get to do what they want whenever they want it, with no opposition. That's when progress gets made. I'm sure Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez would agree.

In fact, Oberstar doesn't think unfettered one party rule for the Federal government is enough. He's got his eyes on our state government too:

He said change will come to enact the people's agenda with electing Barack Obama as president and Al Franken to the U.S. Senate, and also solidify a federal-state partnership by electing DFLer John Persell to the House 4A state seat. That's needed, he said, to achieve a veto-proof majority over Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Calls for control of the executive branch and fillibuster proof and veto proof majorities in the legislatures, where does it end? Here's hoping that under the new regime Chairman Oberstar will still allow us at least a few seats on the county Soil and Water Commissions.

(BTW, our crack Soil and Water Commission Election journalist has been commissioned to reprise his award winning series from a few years ago. Here's also hoping those endorsements will be ready sometime before Nov. 4.)

I suppose Oberstar's excitement over the idea of political hegemony is understandable. Undoubtedly, many Republicans greedily rubbed their hands together over the notion back in the heady days of 1994 - 2002. Of course, Republicans never got as close to this dream as the Dems appear to be now. And the ascent of an ideology whose roots are based on NOT controlling the lives of individuals isn't really much of a mortal threat to the opposition, so the stakes weren't as high.

But, the high horse critique by the Democrats and media at the time was that the Republicans need to put aside their personal ambitions, and their platforms, in order to work with the opposition. Take into account what the minority believes and work that into the framework of any new laws that may be enacted. This theme is actually still alive, showing up most recently in the Star Tribune's endorsement of Norm Coleman. It seems any time a Republican gets elected, his main priority must be working for the interests of people who didn't vote for him:

Coleman didn't begin his Senate service as an agent of bipartisanship. But that's the note on which he wound up his six-year term and which he has sounded repeatedly in his reelection campaign. We like the trend we've seen and believe Coleman is capable of taking it further.

Taking it further? Maybe he can take it all the way and announce he's a Democrat again.

Not sure why we would need "a bipartisan" Republican in a Senate that already has a Democrat fillibuster proof majority. Maybe they're looking for Norm to help the Democrats override all the expected vetoes by that well-known barrier to liberal progress President Obama.

If bipartisanship is truly a trait the Star Tribune prizes in our elected leaders, I'll look for that demand in their endorsements of Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, Elwyn Tinklenberg, Ashwin Madea, and, Mr. Aviation himself. In fact, Oberstar's obvious contempt for the notion and plans to exploit unipartisanship for all it's worth should result in the Star Tribune endorsing his opponent, whoever he is.


A couple of e-mails on my post on The Country That Votes Together. First from Bill:

I liked your post today on actually voting on election day. A friend of mine once said we should be able to vote over the Internet. Not to mention all the shenanigans that could happen with that, I told him it shouldn't be that big of a deal for a citizen to make it to their polling place in person and cast a vote.

Your post reminded me of 1992 and my roommate. I got home from work, grabbed a beer (it was dark out), and walked the four or five blocks to the polling place. A short while after I got home, my roommate got home from work. He asked me if I had voted, I said yes. Darn, he said, I'm walking over there now and I was thinking how great it would be if we grabbed a couple of beers and walked over there together.

He was a conservative, so both sides could have reached across the aisle in this endeavor.

(and I'm not advocating voting while under the influence ...)

This also is another reason to make Election Day a national holiday. As this this story in the WSJ (sub req) makes clear, it's already starting to shape up as a national party:

Expecting a record number of voters to hit the streets on Election Day and energy to run high all that week, some observers are anticipating more than a boost to the democratic process -- they smell a marketing opportunity. Gap is courting all constituents with $15 "Vote for _____" T-shirts, available through Nov. 4. The next day, the New York Comedy Festival is kicking things off with a "We Have a Winner" event, focusing on political comedy. And bars around the country are hosting parties to capitalize on what could be a long night of group TV-watching, capped with celebration for some, dejection for others, and perhaps drinks for all.

"Election day has almost become a national equivalent to the Super Bowl -- everyone is involved in this competition," says Ron Simon, curator of radio and television at the Paley Center for Media.

Jack also weighs in from California:

I live within the city limits of Los Angeles (your prayers are most welcome). The population of this socialist utopia is roughly 3.8 million. For this election, like most recent elections, I must vote by mail. This is not an option. I MUST vote by mail. Two reasons are given why this is the case:

1) No one volunteered to set up a polling place in my precinct.
2) There are less than 250 registered voters in my precinct.

Either option is kind of depressing. Usually there's some old geezer in your neighborhood who will set up a polling booth in his garage. But the thought that there are less than 250 registered voters in my precinct signifies a level of apathy that is truly frightening.

Jack also e-mailed on the California connection to the financial crisis:

California would be paradise if it weren't for the idiots running it. I'm so glad that Michelle Obama, at the age of 40 something, is finally proud of her country. I've been in California ten years and I'm embarrassed to say I live here. If I ever put in a flagpole, I'd run up the Indiana state flag before I ran up the California Republic. I could go on about California. But I moved here from Lake County, Indiana, where ACORN appears to be winning the "who can have the most dead people and cartoon characters vote" sweepstakes. When you move from one corrupt cesspool to another, you barely notice the difference. At least in Indiana you could buy an acre of land for less than a million dollars. And I could buy a gun and a thousand rounds of ammo at Fetla's and walk out the door with it the same day. I miss that.

Wow, Minnesota's state flag is really ugly. From 20 feet it looks like a Rorschach test. I see there are 19 stars on the ring around the seal. Indiana also has 19 stars on it's flag. I don't get it. Ahh, ok, Minnesota's 19 stars represent Minnesota as the 19th state AFTER the original 13 colonies. What?? You're the 32nd state. Put 32 stars, stripes, deer antlers, whiskey bottles, or some such on your flag. Please!

Back to the mortgage mess. Out here, we have been bombarded, dare I say assaulted, with advertisements for the last 5-7 years to "refinance, pull cash out, refinance, pull cash out, refinance, pull cash out." I refinanced once, back in '02 I think. But I have resisted since. Now I think I'm the only one in my neighborhood who isn't upside down.

Greg from Philadelphia asks about the election prospects in Minnesota:

I live in suburban Philadelphia and try to listen to the first 2 hours of NARN whenever I have access to a streaming computer on Saturdays. Your show is full of good insights.

I called this Saturday and once earlier in the spring. The call on Saturday went really well. One of you jokingly asked me if I was one of John "Mad" Murtha's infamous PA racists.

How are things going politcally in MN? I'm distressed by how things are going nationally and with Norm Coleman and Michelle Bachmann in MN. I had heard of her travails with Chris matthews and the bad fallout. Last night my friend saw her on FNC, and called me to say that we needed to contribute. Despite the shaky economic times ahead, he and I made small contributions to her campaign. I also matched that small one with another small one to Norm C. I know Mark Levin has taken up her cause, and this morning Bill Bennett was going all out for her. He has 3 million listeners. If only 1/3 of them would give $10...

Do you think both will prevail? The thought of Al Franken in the Senate is nightmarish.

Indeed it is. At this point, it's still to hard to call that race. The polls are all over the place and I'm afraid that Senator Franken is not as far fetched an idea as it once seemed.

It is encouraging to hear that people outside of Minnesota are rallying to Bachmann. Her race too is much closer than expected and it will likely be very close. Every dollar counts and helps.

Robert on how long the conservatives time in the wilderness will last:

Good morning. I read your latest post with interest:

"Conservatives may very well be headed into the political wilderness after this year's election. But the wandering may not necessarily be as long and the journey back to relevance not as painful as some now fear."

I agree; things can cycle around pretty quickly in Amerivcan politics. That's the good news. The bad news is that, throughout my lifetime, every time the Republicans regain a foothold the tide of the left is just a little bit more irreversible and there's just a little bit less they can do to turn it around. The analogy isn't so much a pendulum as a ratchet: they push the country leftward, we hold it where it is. That's why, try as I might, it's hard for me to be very upbeat about the coming election. If Obama gets the presidency with Democratic majorities in Congress, I honestly think we could hit a tipping point in America's history. If they create an America where the majority of voters pay no or minimal tax, where most are dependent on government pensions and health care, where judges recognize no real constitutional constraints, where political speech in the mass media is federally regulated, where our schools remain a government monopoly, where our access to realistic sources of energy is severely limited, and where our military is neglected, it's hard for me to see any road back to a truly free society.

Believe me, I hate to be a Cassandra, but neither can I be Pollyanna. I'm well aware that you can't let your fears, even realistic ones, become dispiriting--I have done my bit for John McCain, wish him the best and will definitely vote for him. But I'm also a realist, and sense that the tipping point between the possibility of a free society and a European-style socialism/fascism is very near, if it hasn't already tipped.

I can understand Robert's fears, but I hold out hope for a conservative comeback. While the record is far from perfect the reality is that the Reagan Revolution has made a difference and not all that was achieved has been surrendered (welfare reform for example took place under Clinton). The key will be to make sure that Obama is a more of Carter than a FDR.

Finally, Rick heps us to a story on a father figure we can all aspire to:

Diesel fuel was on heavy discount at a rural Wisconsin convenience store — just 59 cents a gallon.

That is, until the owner discovered he had left off the other $3 while changing the price in his computer.

Mohinder Singh estimates 50 to 75 customers took advantage of the mistake at his Lyons Shell Plaza last weekend, costing him more than $4,000.

He says he changed the price about noon Saturday, and it stayed at 59 cents until he arrived at 7 a.m. Sunday and saw a warning light indicating the diesel tank had only 200 gallons left.

Eighteen-year-old Jordan Koster knew something was wrong when he filled his pickup's 30-gallon tank for only $10. He told his father, and his father advised him to make things right.

The teen stopped Monday and paid the full amount.

As Rick said, that's my kind of dad.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Circle The Wagons

With less than two weeks to go before the election, it's time for Republicans to move to the triage stage. We know there are going to be a lot of losses, now we need to figure out which patients are too far gone and which ones can still be saved.

Foremost among the latter category here in Minnesota is 6th District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. After her remarks last week on "Hardball" and the way the local media (in particular the Star Tribune) have distorted them, she's now in a virtual tie with Elwyn Tinklenberg.

Money has been pouring into Tinklenberg's coffers from liberals across the country. If we want to keep one of the true conservative voices in Congress, we need to help Bachmann down the stretch. Even if you don't live in her district (I don't) or even in Minnesota, I would encourage you to go to her website and make a campaign donation (I did this morning). Or sign up to volunteer.

Time are resources are scarce. They should be marshaled where they can make a difference. It's going to be a tough election for the GOP no matter what. If the Democrats get Michele Bachmann's scalp, it will make it even more painful.

Barbershop Poll

Yesterday, I ambled my way over to a barbershop near work that I've frequented for some time now. I didn't recognize the particular barber assigned to me. He said that he thought he had trimmed my mane in the past.

By his looks, he was an aging boomer who had seen some rough times and was probably familiar with the inside of a jail cell. Tattoos were visible coming up both sides of his neck, although I couldn't determine what they were meant to signify. Neck tats do demonstrate a certain level of commitment. Not exactly sure to what...

After a bit of banter about the weather and the World Series, we reached a conversational deadlock. Not that I minded. It's nice to just sit back and relax while getting your hair cut. I've actually come close to falling asleep when being looked after by tight-lipped yet deft-handed barbers.

Unfortunately, he felt like the stalemate had to be broken. And so he jumped right to the third rail of polite society by asking,

"So, do you know who you're going to vote for yet?"

Now normally I am not shy about sharing my rather partisan political views. I don't like to discuss politics in certain settings--the workplace or with inlaws for example--but when asked directly I usually respond in the same manner. But something about the position I was in and something about the fact that person asking the question had ready access to razors, scissors, and all other sort of sharp, pointy-edged instruments gave me pause.

"Yeah....I think I have," I offered without further elaboration. I then tried to steer the topic to safer waters by explaining that I would be glad when the whole thing was over with and we didn't have to see any more ads on television. Campaign ad fatigue is truely a bipartisan feeling.

That worked for a while as we discussed the recent vandalism of several politician's homes and who might be behind it in a non-partisan manner. I was relieved to note that the haircut was almost over and thought I would escape without incident when he exclaimed,

"Boy that Michele Bachmann is a real crazy woman."

Now I was torn. Part of me wanted to come back with a full-throated defense of Congresswoman Bachmann and the disgusting way the local media has distorted her appearance on "Hardball" last week. Part of me recalled in vivid detail the barbershop scene opening of Eastern Promises. Discretion being the better part of valor, I responded in as neutral a way as I could:

"I don't think she's going to be appearing on any national TV shows anytime soon."

We then talked about the surge in campaign contributions for Tinklenberg after her comments made national news. Again, I stuck to a "just the facts" approach and avoided even the appearance of having an opinion one way or another. There are no partisans in the barber chair.

A short while later, the barber and I parted ways on cordial terms. I had received a decent haircut, but the uncomfortable intrusion of politics soured the experience. I know that traditionally barbershops have been a place for lively conversations of all sorts, including political. But one of the reasons that I have patronized this particular shop was that they bill themselves as "sports barbers." The walls are covered with pictures of athletes and jerseys. The multiple televisions are always tuned to ESPN and the talk almost always centers around sports. That was part of the appeal of the place. It was an oasis from the worries of the real world. It's getting harder and harder to find such a refuge these days.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spin Cycle?

Coming of age during the Reagan administration gave me the misguided believe that having a truly conservative president was the norm. I accepted the reality that George H.W. Bush didn't quite measure up to Reagan's standard and learned to live with it. In 1992, I thought that Clinton's victory was an anomaly and that it was only a matter of time before another conservative in Reagan's mold was returned to the White House. When George W. Bush was elected in 2000, I hoped that he would be that next true conservative president. Whether he ever held truly conservative convictions overall is now debatable. What is not debatable is that despite some areas of success (taxes, judges, the war), his administration--particularly after 9/11--abandoned too many conservative principals to legitimately retain the label.

Now, I think we may be destined to see conservative presidents come around only at the end of a rather long cycle. Not as rare as an appearance by Halley's Comet, more like the length of time between playoff appearances by the Brewers. Here is what I think this cycle might look like:

1960-1968 Eight years of Democratic rule under Kennedy/Johnson

1968-1976 Eight years of Republican rule under the not very conservative presidents Nixon and Ford

1976-1980 The unpopularity of the Nixon administration and negative economic and international events lead the country to embrace change in the form of four years of Jimmy Carter

1980-1992 The four years of Carter are even worse paving the way for the real conservative Reagan and the less conservative Bush

1992-2000 The cycle begins again with eight years of Democratic rule under Clinton

2000-2008 Eight years of Republican rule under the not very conservative Bush

2008 The unpopularity of the Bush administration and negative economic events lead the country to embrace change in the form of four years of Barack Obama?

2012-? The four years of Obama are even worse paving the way for the real conservative ???

So what I'm saying is that you only get a truly conservative president every thirty-two years. In fairness to the Brewers, it was only twenty-six years between their most recent playoff appearances.

Obviously there are a lot of holes that can be punched in this cycle theory and trying to compare administrations and parties across decades is fraught with peril. I may also be simply engaging in wishful thinking to make it easier to swallow the coming Obama presidency. However, I believe that there are some interesting parallels to think about.

The biggest problem that I see in completing the cycle in 2012 is that there isn't an obvious Reaganesque conservative waiting in the wings. Unless the Governor of Louisiana continues his impressive run and expands his national profile dramatically in the next four years.

The other insight that comes from examining the previous political cycles is to realize how quickly fortunes can change. It was only six years from the nadir of Watergate to the election of Ronald Reagan. And think back to 2002 when the Republicans were ascendant and pundits were talking about a long-term GOP majority. That too was only six years ago.

Conservatives may very well be headed into the political wilderness after this year's election. But the wandering may not necessarily be as long and the journey back to relevance not as painful as some now fear.

Talk, Talk, We Like To Talk

Next Tuesday, three titans of talk radio will be in town to do what they do best; talk politics. Prager, Medved, and Hewitt: two heavyweight Jewish thinkers and a goy named Hugh.

They will gather to gab Tuesday, October 28th at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. You can get your FREE tickets and more details here:

We are just days away from the most important presidential election of our lifetime. [Assuming you were born after 2004] Join Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt and other special guests in a rare live joint-appearance as they discuss the critical issues that will be at stake in this election. This free event will include unfiltered comments from each talk host and an interactive question and answer session. The Talk The Vote event is free, but you need to RSVP so we can plan for our capacity. RSVP below or by phone at 651-289-4444.

Tuesday October 28th
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM (doors open at 7:00 PM)
Orchestra Hall
1111 Nicollet Mall
Downtown Minneapolis

It's a rare opportunity to see three of the most popular nationally syndicated talk radio hosts all on the same stage. An opportunity that may become even rarer if the Democrats have their way and the Fairness Doctrine is reimposed on the land under an Obama administration. Catch 'em while you can.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let Them Play

So I'm watching Game 1 of the World Series, the sacred American ritual of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. During the last commercial break I get smacked in the face with back-to-back negative ads pissing on Michele Bachmann and Norm Coleman. Ads which are particularly insulting to one's intelligence, even by negative ad standards. Paid for by outside agitators trying to manipulate who we Minnesotans and 6th CD denizens choose to represent us.

Hey Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee - bleep you! Your actions are anti-American and I question your patriotism.

Throw in Fox Sports too for that condemnation. The World Series broadcast should be a politics free zone, no matter how much money they can make off of the ad sales.

If you climb up on a mansion you too can swing like a star

Much of the finger pointing over the financial crisis involves Main Street, Wall Street, and the government. But another way to look at it is to see which states have been the main contributors to the root cause of the problem. Not surprisingly, California leads the way as a story in today's WSJ (sub req) makes clear:

Such dramas are repeated throughout California, where the U.S. housing market is arguably at its most troubled. Following years of big profits for bankers and home builders in this state, one-fifth of all outstanding U.S. mortgages by dollar value -- and a higher percentage of risky loans -- are written on homes here. Of the 25 metropolitan areas with the largest home-price declines in the past 12 months, 16 are in the state, according to, a real-estate research Web site.

Those woes weigh on the financial system. Though California represents about 12% of the nation's population, its homes account for 34% of the loans in a typical mortgage-backed security, according to Fitch Ratings. "California doesn't have a Wall Street problem. Wall Street has a California problem," says Christopher Thornberg, principal at Los-Angeles based Beacon Economics and member of the California Controller's Council of Economic Advisors.

Unfortunately, Wall Street's problem is now our problem. Which means America has a California problem.

The Country That Votes Together...

Lately I've received a couple of e-mails from a regular reader complimenting me for my curmudgeonly comments on various matters. And I do take that to heart as I've long dreamed of achieving curmudgeon status. Technically, I'm still a bit wet behind the ears to officially qualify, but with a little bit of luck and the proper attitude I will one day realize my dream of being that cranky old guy who loves to throw a wet blanket on irrational exuberance of any sort.

One item in the news that recently got my curmudgeon up was a story on early voting. It's likely that by the time election day rolls around this year (you know that one day when everyone used to vote?) nearly a third of all voters will have already cast their ballots. While I can understand that not everyone can make it to the polls on election day, we already have a remedy for that called the absentee ballot. Why do we need or want early voting?

In the olden days of yore, the idea that everyone would go and vote on the same day was part of what installed a sense of civic duty and unity. It didn't matter who you were or what you did. You all went down to the polls together on that first Tuesday in November and cast your ballots. Seeing your neighbors at the polls was part of the common experience and reinforced the concept that whatever our differences we were all Americans who together determined who would lead us.

Now in some states, people are voting two weeks before election day. In California, they have drive-in voting so you don't even have to get out of you car. Sure, it's convenient, but is that the primary driver of how we should conduct our elections? If so, then why don't we start the voting three weeks early? How about a month?

If it's really such a horrible burden for people to commit to going to the polls on ONE day to fulfill their civic duty, then let's do as some have suggested and make election day a national holiday. Parents could take their kids with them to vote, helping educate them on the process and providing a visible model to follow. There would be no excuses about work or long lines or weather or any of the other lame reasons people give for not voting. At least that way we would all be voting together. A quaint notion perhaps, but one that I think has merit.

Hush hush shut up now

If you missed last Saturday's NARN First Team interview with Brian C. Anderson--editor of City Journal--you can now listen to it commercial free here. We spent most of the interview discussing the looming return of the Fairness Doctrine and the irony that the same Leftists who cry censorship when people boycott the Dixie Chicks are ready, willing, and able to use the full force of the government to silence voices they disagree with (which of course is what the First Amendment is really intended to protect citizens from). All this and more is covered in Brian's concise book on media freedom:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sharing A Foxhole With The One

Remember back in August when the lefty blogosphere was all a twitter about a report that troops deployed abroad had donated six times more money to Obama than McCain? Despite the fact that the data was so statistically insignificant that it was impossible to draw conclusions from it, they crowed that this was surely proof that everyone--even members of the military--now realized how eight years of Republican rule had so damaged the country and were ready for the change that Obama promised.

Well, now we have a new perspective:

A poll by the Military Times newspaper group suggests that there is overwhelming support for John McCain among U.S. troops in every branch of the armed forces by a nearly 3-1 margin.

According to the poll, 68 percent of active-duty and retired servicemen and women support McCain, while 23 percent support Barack Obama. The numbers are nearly identical among officers and enlisted troops.

This wasn't a scientific poll so the figures shouldn't be taken as golden. However, they carry far more weight that the flimsy fundraising numbers from August.

U.S. troops also said in the poll that they prefer McCain to handle the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- 74 percent said McCain would perform better, while just 19 percent said Obama would.

Four years ago the Iraq War was the single most important issue on which the military voted. But the war now ranks third in importance to these voters. The most important issue among the respondents was character (42 percent), followed by the economy (25 percent) and the Iraq War (16 percent).

Character? Don't the men and women in the miltary know that character doesn't count anymore? Heck, we're not even supposed to talk about it lest we be accused of trying to distract from the really important issues or even worse of being a racist.

Meanwhile, another poll came out showing Obama leading McCain 16 to 1 among community organizers, so at least he's got that going for him.

State of the Sport

There's a on-line auction underway at work to raise money for the United Way. If you look at the current high bids for some of the tickets to local sporting events, it says a lot about the level of interest in the respective teams.

We start with two pairs of tickets to a Gopher football game against Northwestern. Current high bids are $25 and $35. A little low consider the Gophers are 6-1 (snicker) and ranked in the Top 25. Maybe people are waiting for the new stadium next year?

Next up, two pair of tickets to a Gopher hockey game against New Hampshire. Current high bids are $55 and $50. Well, this is the state of hockey after all.

Two pair of club level tickets to a Wild game against Phoenix. Current high bids $100 and $80. Not surprising considering the team's 4-0 and their overall popularity.

Four pair of tickets to the Vikings game against Houston. Current high bids are three at $40 and one at $75. I know the Texans aren't the most exciting team, but forty bones for two Vikes ducs? Purple Pride has become Purple Apathy.

Two pair of tickets to the Vikings game against the Packers. Current high bids are both $100. Carpetbagging Cheeseheads.

Finally, two pairs of tickets to a Timberwolves game against Dallas. Current high bids for TWO TICKETS to an NBA game? Against a good team? $21. Ouch.

He's Down With OPM

William McGurn casts a skeptical eye on Obama's tax plan in today's Wall Street Journal:

Not everyone is persuaded. Andrew Biggs is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Social Security Administration official who has written a great deal about Mr. Obama's plans on his blog ( He notes that to understand the unintended consequences, it helps to remember that while people at the bottom pay a higher percentage of their income in payroll taxes, they are accruing benefits in excess of what they pay in.

"It's interesting that Mr. Obama calls his plan 'Making Work Pay,'" says Mr. Biggs, "because the incentives are just the opposite. By expanding benefits for people whose benefits exceed their taxes, you're increasing their disincentive for work. And you're doing the same at the top of the income scale, where you are raising their taxes so you can distribute the revenue to others."

Even more interesting is what Mr. Obama's "tax cuts" do to Social Security financing. As Mr. Biggs notes, had Mr. Obama proposed to pay for payroll tax relief out of, well, payroll taxes, his plan would never have a chance in Congress. Most members would look at a plan that defunded a trust fund that seniors are counting on for their retirement as political suicide.

And that leads us to the heart of this problem. If the government is going to give tax cuts to 44% of American based on their Social Security taxes -- without actually refunding to them the money they are paying into Social Security -- Mr. Obama will have to get the funds elsewhere. And this is where "general revenues" turns out to be a more agreeable way of saying "Other People's Money."

Oh, as long as it's going to paid for by "other" people I guess there's no problem. As long as you're not one of them.

If there is a ray of hope--however slender--in how Obama would manage the economy, it's that one of his key advisors is former Fed Chair Paul Volcker. Volcker is a Democrat, but he is a proponent of a strong dollar and he demonstrated that he wasn't afraid to administer the tough monetary medicine the country needed to pull out of the stagflation slump of the late 70s. Let's hope that he continues to have Obama's ear.

UPDATE-- Larry Kudlow has more on Volcker at The Corner on National Review Online:

Of course, Volcker has a great reputation as a deficit-cutter and a strong-dollar man. What's more, as a long time financial advisor who was president of the New York Fed, undersecretary of the Treasury, and of course Fed chairman, Volcker's money knowledge would gain bipartisan support to solve the financial crisis, which will surely spill over into next year. Volcker would attract bipartisan support because of his superb reputation. He is not a supply-sider, nor did he agree with the Reagan tax cuts in the 1980s while he was Fed chairman. But he did work well with the Gipper. Reagan's supply-side tax cuts along with Volcker's tight money to slay inflation produced a strong economic recovery and proved all naysayers wrong.

Volcker will unfortunately agree with Obama that the top tax rate can be raised. Not good. But he's very good on tighter spending and King Dollar. And he does have vast knowledge of the intricacies of world credit markets.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wounds in the mirror waved

Lately, we've been hearing the refrain that "this is the most important election of our lifetimes" a lot. Usually it's delivered in a grave tone to signify the seriousness of the statement. Back in 2004, we heard the same oft-repeated warning and one wonders if there will ever again be an election that's not billed as the most important to date.

It also raises an interesting question: In hindsight, if the 2004 election were indeed so important, what would things look like if the result had been different? More specifically, would the political fortunes of the Republican Party be better or worse today if John F. Kerry had defeated George W. Bush in 2004?

While the most delusional of Democrats might argue the point, the truth is that you can't blame everything that has gone wrong in the last four years on Bush. How would John Kerry have dealt with Hurricane Katrina? Would he have be able to do anything to reform health care? It seems unlikely that his budgets would have been less generous than Bush's and extremely unlikely that he would have been able to do anything to prevent the financial crisis that we now face. He may not reached the depths of unpopularity that Bush has now sunk to, but I doubt--given the circumstances--that he would be wildly popular at this point either.

So it's worth taking a moment or two and wondering if perhaps the Republican Party (for the moment leaving aside the country) would have been better off today if Kerry had beaten Bush four years ago. Sure it's nothing but rank speculation but asking "what if?" can be a fun distraction and may also bring some perspective on how important the outcome of any individual election really is.

The poll on the top left of the page will be open until the end of the week.

Rays of Light?

The choice for which team to cheer for in the World Series should be an easy one. After all. the Rays are the Cinderella story of the 2008 season. They're a scrappy bunch of youngsters who came together to overcome their franchise's pathetic history and best the the big bad Yankees and defending world champion Red Sox to win the AL East. Then, they dispatched the White Sox with ease and, leading the ALCS 3 games to 1, were seven outs away from putting the Red Sox down. We all know what happened next. After the historic game five collapse and game six lose, many wondered how the less experienced Rays would hold up in the pressure cooker of a Game Seven to go to World Series. Quite well it turned out. Now, they try to complete the fantastic journey against the Phillies in the World Series. Who doesn't want to see the Rays realize their improbable dream?

Me for one. It's nothing against the players. They seem like a good group of guys who are having a blast proving that they're for real. And you have to respect the work of Joe Maddon and the organization, especially the way they hornswaggled the Twins to get Garza and Bartlett (but hey, we got Delmon "Never Seen A First Pitch I Didn't Like" Young). No, my problem is that I just don't feel that the city or the fans deserves to win the Series.

There have been too many of these "one hit wonder" towns of late that win a championship that they don't deserve, don't appreciate, and don't build anything on. In the NHL alone, we have the Ducks in 2007, Carolina in 2006, and Tampa Bay in 2004. Seeing the Stanley Cup paraded around in those towns just wasn't right. And it won't be right to see the World Series trophy in Tampa Bay this year either.

The playoff images of the bandwagon-jumping clowns at Tropicana Field holding up signs saying "We Love Our Rays" turns my stomach. You love your Rays, huh? Then why did your team--which won ninety-seven games--finish 12th out of fourteen American League teams in attendance this year? You don't deserve this team and you most definitely don't deserve a World Series championship. Go Phillies.

Separated At Birth?

Bill e-mails to suggest the following SAB:

If we slap a baseball cap on a younger Henry Kissinger and...

...Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


The chaos and tumult of the political campaign season can cause one to lose one's bearings and forget that not only are politics not everything, they're far from the most important things in life. So it's good on occasion to step back from the fray and remember what really matters.

Like the Wild being 3-0 and the Gophers opening their season with a 3-2 win over SCSU last night.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Music To Your Ears

Who can possibly stop the three-headed hydro of Pelosi, Reid, and Obama from dominating American political life? The talk radio trio of Hewitt-Prager-Medved is going to try by holding a series of events in key states to rally their base of listeners. And one of those get togethers is happening right here in the Twin Cities on Tuesday, October 28th at Orchestra Hall (yes JB, that Orchestra Hall). You can get your FREE tickets and more details here:

We are just days away from the most important presidential election of our lifetime. [Assuming you were born after 2004] Join Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt and other special guests in a rare live joint-appearance as they discuss the critical issues that will be at stake in this election. This free event will include unfiltered comments from each talk host and an interactive question and answer session. The Talk The Vote event is free, but you need to RSVP so we can plan for our capacity. RSVP below or by phone at 651-289-4444.

Tuesday October 28th
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM (doors open at 7:00 PM)
Orchestra Hall
1111 Nicollet Mall
Downtown Minneapolis

Hold That Fat Lady

John Hinderaker uses pop culture and baseball refs in this political analysis:

If this year's election were decided on looks and style, Obama would win in a landslide--it's hard to imagine John McCain on "Dancing With the Stars." But who knows: maybe this year's baseball playoffs are an omen. Television executives hoped for a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series almost as fervently as they hope for an Obama victory in November. But it wasn't meant to be; the power-hitting, lunch-bucket Philadelphia Phillies have already crushed Los Angeles, and the unglamorous (but very good) Tampa Bay Rays are about to finish off the Red Sox, whom they bested, too, in the regular season.

Let's hope that last night's baseball playoff between the Sox and Rays game was an omen for the election: it ain't over 'til it's over.

Change We Should Be Afraid Of

The WSJ warns of what could lie in store with Obama in the White House and a Democratic supermajority in the Senate:

If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.

Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on.

The nearby table shows the major bills that passed the House this year or last before being stopped by the Senate minority. Keep in mind that the most important power of the filibuster is to shape legislation, not merely to block it. The threat of 41 committed Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010.

The editorial goes on to list the areas likely to be impacted by this concentration of political power that is unprecedented in recent history. And it ain't pretty.

The editorial also reminds those glass is half full optimists like Saint Paul--who are clinging to the hope that an Obama-Biden administration won't be that much worse than what we saw under Clinton-Gore--that this isn't Bill Clinton's Democratic Party anymore:

It's always possible that events -- such as a recession -- would temper some of these ambitions. Republicans also feared the worst in 1993 when Democrats ran the entire government, but it didn't turn out that way. On the other hand, Bob Dole then had 43 GOP Senators to support a filibuster, and the entire Democratic Party has since moved sharply to the left. Mr. Obama's agenda is far more liberal than Bill Clinton's was in 1992, and the Southern Democrats who killed Al Gore's BTU tax and modified liberal ambitions are long gone.

In both 1933 and 1965, liberal majorities imposed vast expansions of government that have never been repealed, and the current financial panic may give today's left another pretext to return to those heydays of welfare-state liberalism. Americans voting for "change" should know they may get far more than they ever imagined.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

It Was A Nice Run

Denis Savard fired as Chicago Blackhawks coach:

Four games into his third season as the Hawks' coach and 25th as a member of the organization as a star player, assistant coach and its 36th head coach, Savard was fired Thursday after the team's 1-2-1 start. Joel Quenneville replaces him.

The dismissal came after a season in which the Hawks improved 17 points from the previous one and missed the Western Conference playoffs by three points.

As a player, Dennis Savard was a whirling dervish whose speed and nifty moves (especially the spin) drove North Star fans to fear and despise (just the hit the little bastard!) him back in the hey day of the Hawks-Stars rivalry. But we had to respect him as a player. I'll also never forget the image of him sitting in the room after a game where he skated his arse off contentedly pulling on a heater. Those were the days.

It sounds like he did a decent job as Hawks coach and probably deserved a better fate. Hopefully he'll land on his feet and get another shot behind the bench.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hush, Keep It Down Now

This Saturday at noon, the First Team of the Northern Alliance Radio Network will welcome Brian C. Anderson back to our friendly airwaves. Brian recently had an op/ed piece on The Coming Counterrevolution To Hush The Alternative Media

Conservative-friendly media better get ready. Should Barack Obama win the presidency and the Democrats control Congress, as now seems likely, they will launch a full-scale war to drive critics--especially on political talk radio--right out of legitimate public debate.

That hits close to home. Too close for comfort. We'll also discuss Brian's new book on media freedom:

Tune in this Saturday to AM1280 The Patriot to catch all six hours of the NARN from 11am-5pm. Take advantage of your opportunity to listen to live and local conservative talk radio now. You never know how much longer it's going to be around.