Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Movie Review: The Kung Fu Kid

Ok, you probably think the name of the movie that I'm reviewing is "The Karate Kid," and technically you would be right. However in the movie, Will Smith's kid refers to his moves as "Kung Fu," and the contest that he enters is a Kung Fu contest. Further, the Mr. Miagi character claims that this type of fighting is not Karate.

So I'm going to call the film "The Kung Fu Kid" whether you like it or not. For those of you who want to cut to the chase, I didn't like this movie and give it a triple bogey rating. For those who want to learn more, here's the plot. Proceed with caution, as the rest of this post is filled with spoilers.

The film starts as Will Smith’s kid moves to China with his mom. Will is away making a different (and probably better) film, so it's just Jada Pinket Smith and Will's kid. Unfortunately, Jada Pinket Smith who got ugly.

They move into a building in Bejing where Mr. Miagi is the maintenance man who goes by the name of Mr. Han (not to be confused with this classic character from 1980's cinema) . Mr. Miagi is a mean old guy who only cares about his restoring his classic 1970's era American car (I liked him better when he was Clint Eastwood).

Will Smith's kid thinks he can score with a hot Chinese girl because he’s Will Smith’s kid. This really upsets one of the Chinese boys at his school. It turns out the upset boy is the best Kun Fu fighter of all the 35 million people who live in Bejing.

Arrogantly, Will Smith's kid picks a fight with the local boy on a playground and then gets into trouble confronting him again at school. Eventually, Will Smith's kid throws a bucket of what looks to be urine and feces on his rival and a bunch of other Chinese boys in what might be considered by some to be a racially motivated attack. The Chinese kids chase him and eventually catch him and beat him up.

Mr. Miagi breaks up the fight and then beats up the Chinese kids. Afterward, Miagi & Will Smith’s kid go to meet the local kids at their Kung Fu studio and the situation is settled by agreement to settle the score at an upcoming Kung Fu contest.

Miagi agrees to train Will Smith’s kid. Training consists exclusively of Will Smith's kid putting on, taking off, then hanging up his jacket over and over again. After a few weeks of this, we learn that all the Kung Fu moves you need to know in order to become a master are encompassed in the action of hanging up your jacket.

Will Smith’s kid hits us over the head with the realization that Mr. Miagi's character is a rip off of Yoda from the Star Wars series, then they recreate the scene from Rocky where he runs up the stairs. To further make the movie derivative of more creative ventures, Will Smith’s kid and the hot local girl then recreate the opening credits of Friends by dancing in a fountain.

In an attempt to be completely stereotypical the Chinese girl playes a dance video game. Playing with the young Mr. Smith makes her late for an important violin audition, which Smith disrupts by behaving inappropriately. The chick’s dad gets upset and makes her break up with Will Smith’s kid.

A depressed Will Smith's kid meets an even more depressed Mr. Miagi, who is drunk and smashes his car with a baseball bat; it turned out his wife and kid were killed in a car crash years ago and he just realized that he was at fault. Quickly, they get over it and continue training and eventually go to the Kung Fu tournament.

The tournament for local 12-year olds features a Jumbotron and fighting to the traditional Chinese music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the semifinals, one of the bad kids is disqualified for breaking Will Smith’s kid’s leg. The doctor says Will Smith's kid can’t continue. Because it’s an event for 12-year olds, the professional physician has no power to prevent a significantly injured child from fighting and Will Smith's kid fights his nemesis, the toughest kid in China, with a broken leg. Only Mr. Miagi has performed some witchcraft, so the boy's leg is no longer broken.

Shockingly, after a hard fought battle, Will Smith’s kid wins. I know I didn’t see that coming.

To me, there were a couple of really disappointing aspects of this movie. First of all, the original version featured a much more likely wimpy kid. Let's face it, Ralph Maccio is more convincing as a wimp likely to get his ass kicked than the son of America's most bankable action hero.

Secondly, there was no cameo from Maccio. With the passing of Pat Morita in 2005, we would have demanded a cameo from Maccio. Finally, Jackie Chan was not convincing as an actor; I watched Pat Morita, I was a fan of his and you sir are no Pat Morita.

2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Hennepin County

When the Fraters Libertas Soil and Water Conservation Endorsement Board meets to consider the candidates, we ask ourselves: WWRRE, or Who Would Ronald Reagan Endorse. We know that the Gipper was a big fan of soil and water who also understood that sometimes the Soil and Water Conservations Supervisor who supervised best, supervised least.

We jump in with both feet, considering the two fiercely contested Hennepin County races.

Hennepin County:
Hennepin County District 2 (appointed supervisor Brian Wachutka is not running for election)
Four candidates are vying for District 2 Supervisor, Amber Collett, Lora Jones, Greg T. Kryzer and Scott Tracy.

Amber Collett
Whatever you do, don’t vote for Amber Collett. She may have the same last name as the Republican candidate in the fourth CD, Teresa Collett, but the similarities end there. Amber Collett is an activist whose resume includes stints with MPIRG and Green Corps. She is currently a Communications Associate at Transit for Livable Communities.

Her claim to fame
is convincing Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to fund the TapMPLS project. TapMPLS spent about $180,000 trying to convince people to drink Minneapolis tap water instead of bottled water. The story received national attention when Drudge linked a Channel 9 story on the project.

Here is a photo of Amber Collett with R. T. Rybak celebrating the wasting of 180 grand.

Sorry Amber Collett, you’ll have to pry the bottled water out of our cold dead hands. No endorsement for you, Amber Collett.

Amber Collett’s campaign website is here and she is on twitter here.

The City Pages article defending the money spent on TapMPLS contains the following paragraph:
The funds for the TapMPLS project, totaling $180,000, were approved back in 2006 and were included in the 2007 budget. The money came directly from the Water Fund, a purse filled by user fees, with an annual operating budget of $40 million. All the hubbub was over a slice of pie that represents about .04 percent of the budget.

Actually, $180,000 is .45 per cent of $40 million; City Pages’ stated .04 percent is off by an order of magnitude. I’m sure they still consider this a trivial percentage, but waste half of a percent here and waste half of a percent there and pretty soon you’re wasting a real slice of the budget.

Lora Jones

Lora Jones failed to submit her MASWCD questionnaire, so we don’t know much about her. However, there is a lefty-winger, Lora Jones, who occasionally likes to mix it up with our good friend Swifty in the MinnPost comments.

Here is an excerpt from one of their exchanges in the comments to this MinnPost article:

(#5) On July 22, 2010, Lora Jones says:
I'd be very interested in where you're getting those numbers Swifty. There's sure no proof of an increase on the ground. Larger classes, school closings and teacher layoffs is what I see. Oh, that's right, TPaw did start that boondoggle of QComp -- which increases funding for a minority of schools and adds an extra layer of (gasp!) bureaucracy --

Bottom line, for a man who refused to calculate inflation into any of his budgeting, it's impossible for me to believe he increased anything in "real" dollars. Show me

(#6) On July 22, 2010, Lora Jones says:
Oh, Swift and all the other cons, its Democratic party not Democrat.

(#8) On July 22, 2010, Thomas Swift says:
"According to Minnesota Management and Budget, in real dollars schools received about $6 billion in state aid in fiscal year 2003. Since then, the number has slowly risen to the current figure of $6.9 billion."

Not only is Lora Jones effortlessly pwn3d by Swifty, she is offended by the use of “Democrat Party” while hypocritically referring to conservatives by a term that could more legitimately be considered offensive.

I suppose there is a chance that the commenter “Lora Jones” is not the Lora Jones running for Soil and Water Supervisor, but do you really want to take that chance? We don’t either. No endorsement for you, Lora Jones.

Greg T. Kryzer

Greg T. Kryzer also failed to submit an MASWCD questionnaire. There is a lawyer practicing in White Bear Lake named Greg Kryzer, but I could find nothing on his soil and/or water credentials. No endorsement for you, Greg T. Kryzer.

Scott Tracy

Thank you, Scott Tracy for filling out your an MASWCD questionnaire. Scott Tracy is a former Scott County Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor who works for an environmental engineering firm.

Frater Libertas endorses Scott Tracy for Hennepin County District 4 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Hennepin County District 4 (Incumbent Stephen Jenkins is not running for re-election)
Four candidates are vying to be the district 4 supervisor, Alex Farrell, Stephen E. Wells, David Rickert, and Richard Strong.

Alex Farrell
The mysterious Alex Farrell seems to be living off the grid. He has filled out neither his MASWCD questionnaire nor his Star Tribune candidate profile. All we know about him is that he lists his address as Edina. No endorsement for you, cake eater.

Stephen E.Wells

Stephen E. Wells is another one who has not filled out any of his questionnaires and is no doubt hoping to coast to victory on the strength of having a cool name. Maybe if his name were Reagan Churchill Coolidge. But, no endorsement for you, Stephen E. Wells.

David Rickert

David Rickert has not only filled out his MASWCD questionnaire, but he has a campaign website. David Rickert has extensive soil and water experience and is employed by the Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District. He also “assists Carver, Dakota, and Rice SWCD's with projects when needed.”
David Rickert is already involved with four SWCDs and now he wants to add a fifth? What is going on here? Is David Rickert attempting to build some kind of soil and water empire? Perhaps we’re being a little too paranoid, but just to be safe, no endorsement for you, David Rickert.

Richard Strong

Richard Strong is a Senior Research Fellow at the University Of Minnesota College Of Design’s Center for Sustainable Building Research. Normally we wouldn’t endorse anyone who works somewhere with “sustainable” in its name, but we fear David Rickert’s mounting soil and water power.

On the plus side, Richard Strong is an Architect (a real Architect, not some computer programmer who calls himself a Software Architect to impress the ladies).

Frater Libertas endorses Richard Strong for Hennepin County District 4 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Stay tuned for endorsements in the other metro counties, assuming we get around to it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

To Know God

At the First Thoughts blog, Joe Carter has details on a rather depressing survey that shows that far too many Americans are Religiously Illiterate:

Some other distressing findings from the survey:

Fifty-three percent of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation.

I wonder how many Lutherans missed that question? (I suspect about 53 percent.)

Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.

Really, Catholics? Really? So forty-five percent of you think about communion the same way we Southern Baptists do? (By the way, I suspect at least 53 percent of Lutherans knew the answer to that question. You won’t find too many Lutheran who can't argue about the Real Presence.)

You can take the U.S. Religious Knowledge Quiz based on the survey yourself. The fifteen questions don't exactly require a deep theological understanding and it's a little shocking that so many Americans were unable to answer them. You can understand why people might not have much knowledge of religions other than their own, but to not understand the basic tenets and history of your own faith is inexcusable.

Write One on the Gipper

Here's a contest that may be of interest:

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota is proud to unveil this new contest, A Legacy of Leadership: The Ronald Reagan High School Essay Contest. This essay contest offers Minnesota high school students the opportunity to win a $5,000, $1,000, or $500 scholarship.

Why Ronald Reagan? Since his death in 2004, scholars and political figures from across the political and ideological spectrums have recognized the historic achievements of Reagan, an unapologetic champion of freedom. Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz said Reagan’s influence on world events is too important to overlook: “[Reagan’s] impact on the world and country, whether you like it or not, was so important that to ignore him is to ignore an entirety of American politics.” A Legacy of Leadership: The Ronald Reagan High School Essay Contest will become an annual event designed to engage, educate and better inform Minnesota students about the former president’s leadership and its transformational power.

The question this year is "What was President Ronald Reagan's most important public policy achievement?", and the deadline for submitting essays is January 5, 2011. One entry from each Minnesota high school will be selected to move on to the final round of judging where the winners of the grand prize scholarships will be determined. All participants in the final round of judging will be invited to attend the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota's Spring Awards Banquet where the grand prize winners will be announced.

A complete list of rules and guidelines regarding eligibility is posted here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

The mailroom here at Fraters Libertas World HQ has been deluged in the last few days with a flood of inquiries asking when we will publish our official endorsements for the hotly contested 2010 Soil and Water Conservation District races. Our mailroom intern has barely been able to keep up with the volume and risks becoming completely swamped unless we respond to the public's demand. (By the way Atomizer, after you're done with today's mail run, we need you to sanitize Saint Paul's executive washroom ASAP. He may love Thai food, but the feeling's definitely not mutual.)

Since Sisyphus knows more about the local Soil and Water Conservation races than anyone outside of Michael Barone, we'll leave the formal Fraters Libertas endorsements to him. However, I will boldly break with tradition and personally endorse Ryan Love for Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor in District 4. You have to like a guy with the campaign slogan of "We need Love in our government" and more importantly, Mr. Love has retweeted a couple of my Twitter nuggets. He may have been a bearded Marxist in a previous life, but anyone willing to show me a little love on Twitter deserves my support (you had your chance Representative Winkler).

All this renewed interest in Soil and Water Conservation Districts naturally leads to questions.

What the hell is a SWCD anyway?

SWCDs are local units of government that manage and direct natural resource management programs at the local level. Districts work in both urban and rural settings, with landowners and with other units of government, to carry out a program for the conservation, use, and development of soil, water, and related resources.

One crucial niche districts fill is that of providing soil and water conservation services to owners of private lands. Privately owned lands make up 78 percent of the land surface in Minnesota. Managing these private lands, whether agriculture, forest, lakes, or urban, is key to Minnesota's quality of life.

Minnesotans trust SWCDs to provide needed technology, funding and educational services because they are established in each community, governed by local leaders and focused on conservation of local soil and water resources.

Sure. Were it not for the 450 SWCD supervisors, Minnesota would be one giant dust bowl. Which incidentally, is how the whole started in the first place:

The first SWCD in Minnesota - the Burns-Homer-Pleasant district, later renamed the Winona SWCD--was created in 1938 in response to the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. Also known as the "dirty thirties," intensive farming during a time of drought allowed high winds to erode the landscape and carry clouds of dust from the Great Plains all the way to Washington, D.C. Districts were subsequently developed across the country to encourage landowners to alter their farming techniques in order to more wisely use our soil and water resources. Over the years, soil and water conservation districts expanded their focuses beyond agriculture to also provide assistance in forested, lakes and urban areas of their communities. Districts have also expanded their base of clientele to include not only private landowners, but also other units of government such as counties, cities, townships and watershed districts.

A government program that started during the New Deal that expanded its scope and scale since then? How unique.

I also wonder what's so special about soil and water. Other than being indispensible ingredients for making mud that is. Why don't we have air conservation districts? Isn't the air we breathe important enough to warrant electing a government official to oversee? Who's going to make sure that the air is being spread around equitably?

Sure there's the EPA, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Health, and a myarid of local government groups and organizations that in some way or another already are busy ensuring the quality of our air, but is it really enough? Is it ever?

SISYPHUS ADDS: The endorsements are coming! The exhaustive googling that goes into generating the Fraters Libertas SWCD Supervisor endorsements takes considerable time. However, the Hennepin County endorsements (with a bonus This Week in Gatekeeping!) should be ready in the next few days, with more counties to follow.

Something Not Rotten in Denmark

Where in the world is Mark Steyn? Those, like me, missing his regular contributions to National Review Online and the Hugh Hewitt show maybe asking that question. The answer, at least of late, is Denmark.

He received an award from the Danish Free Press Association. Which turns out to have nothing to do with speaking the truth to pastries. It's an award about the right to free speech and free political debate. From Europeans of all people. I did not see that coming.

Those who assume all Danes are as dreary, and politically-correct as Garrision Keillor may be surprised to hear the gales of laughter as Steyn gives 'em hell and brings down the house with his more stinging satirical barbs against Islamic extremism and intolerance. Is there hope in Europe?

Audio here, Steyn is in rare form, great stuff.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sacha Baron Cohen, Call Your Agent

The big news in Congress last week was the testimony of comedian Stephen Colbert before a subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives.

This is an outrage. It is typical of the ineptitude of the Democrat controlled Congress that they would invite an idiotic hack like Colbert to testify, while denying America the brilliance that is: Sacha Baron Cohen.

Unlike Colbert, who has only a single lame character, Sacha Baron Cohen has no fewer than three. In a single day, Cohen could testify before three different congressional subcommittees in three different characters. Finally, C-SPAN would become must-see-TV!

Ali G
Testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Children’s Health, the rapper from the mean streets of London’s West End would testify on the possible adverse effects on children of the heavy metal in his bling. But the real reason Ali G is testifying before this subcommittee: Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar. The dream team union of Ali G and the funniest member of the United States Senate is guaranteed comedy platinum! After discussing Ali’s bling, they could banter back and forth on Twilight.

Then after a quick wardrobe change, Borat would dash across the Capitol to testify before the House Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. Borat would swear under oath that Kazakhstan is in Africa and threaten to denounce the subcommittee as racist unless it arranged a visit by Bono. Through a hilarious series of misunderstandings, Congresswoman Mary Bono would be sent to visit Botswana.

Finally, Bruno would testify before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Personnel in favor of ending “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Senator Al Franken, in character as Stuart Smalley, would … er, do whatever bit it was that Stuart Smalley did. Probably not very funny, but after Klobuchar, you rapidly run out of humor options in the United States Senate.

Northern Alliance Radio Network

The Northern Alliance Radio Network goes LIVE this morning at 11 AM. John Hinderaker is out on assignment. Attemmpting to fill his enormous shoes will be award winning blogger The Nihilist in Golf Pants. Lots to talk about this week, including the flight of the Obama economic team, the Pledge to the nation by the GOP House candidates, developments in the MN gubernatorial race, and the latest election polling news.

In the first hour we'll be joined by special guest, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. He's often the lone voice of sanity on that powerful governmental board and proprietor of the Hennepin County Taxpayer Watchdog web site. He'll fill us in on the latest developments there as well as discussing his Golden Fire Hydrant Award for this month.

It all starts at 11AM (central). Following us at 1 PM, Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey with NARN 2.
The Northern Alliance Radio Network is heard locally on AM1280 the Patriot. And streaming LIVE worldwide at the web site. Call in and join the action at 651-289-4488. Don't you dare miss it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'll Take Manhatten

I see our fine local blogging community is doing the fact checking our local media will not do. No, I'm not talking about opening up legally sealed divorce records and expunged records or scouring the FaceBook pages of candidates' children for incriminating dirt. When it comes to Republican candidates, they have inexhaustible resources for these kind of stories.

Instead, I'm talking about basic background checks of a guy who has been a public figure and elected candidate for decades in Minnesota. Any time an election comes up, Mark Dayton touts his experience as a "public school teacher in New York City for 2 years." He uses this as a hedge against the impression of him a millionaire trust fund baby who is out of touch with the real America. For example, this from the bio page of his 2010 Gubernatorial campaign web site:

After college, I taught 9th grade general science for two years in a New York City public school. It was the toughest job I’ve ever had!

However, according to Luke Hellier, those two years turned out to be 89 days working as a substitute teacher then about half a school year as a full teacher before he resigned mid-term. I suppose this product of Blake and Yale deserves some credit for doing any time among us unwashed public school types. But "it was the toughest 89 days and change I ever had!" doesn't excactly have the impact.

Yet that's not the biggest finding of the documents uncovered regarding Mark Dayton's employment by the NYC school system. Look closely at his form letter resignation declaration, in the spot reserved for the "Borough" location of his school, written in (presumably) his own hand is: "Manhatten".

Not Brookland. Not Statin Island. He worked in Manhatten.

I know this pales in comparison to the overwhelming idiocy of spelling "potatoe". But I expect more from a private school graduate.

Stop Betty, Bam-ba-lam

Is anybody else as sick of Betty White as I am? I get it. She's old and when she says vaguely sexual things it makes people cringe, but enough already. PLEASE!!!

The Elder Concurs: I had the same thought last night when I saw her in the season premier of "Community" and in a trailer for a new movie. Since that Super Bowl ad, she's been anywhere and everywhere. Using her in the "old woman saying inappropriate things or being put into inappropriate positions" trope is now completely played out.

Just A Bit Outside

If I may be so bold, I'd like to add a thought to Saint Paul's excellent post on supporting Christine O'Donnell. As annoying as it was when Republican Party hacks told us that we must support mushy moderate candidates like Arlen Specter or Charlie Crist just because they had an "R" next to their name, it's now equally annoying to have Tea Party hacks telling us that we must support fatally flawed candidates like O'Donnell just because she's the "true conservative."

If I lived in Delaware (shudder), would I vote for O'Donnell instead of the Bearded Marxist (great idea for a Halloween costume)? Of course. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to pretend that there aren't very real and serious concerns about her qualifications for higher office. Just because the Democrats have elected a number of lightweights and clowns to the United States Senate does not justify conservatives lowering our standards as well.

And leave the ideological groupthink and purity purges to the Left. Those of us who refuse to put on the blinders and pull the O'Donnell bandwagon aren't traitors to the conservative cause or closet RINOs. We're just calling 'em like we see 'em.

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXI)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the willkommen volk at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits vho have vays of helping you enjoy the best of vhiskey, vine, and beer. Today Germany, tomorrow the world!

Because I was otherwise disposed last week, I was unable to complete my appointed rounds and so there was no Beer of the Week. To make up for this inexcusable interruption of service, this week we will feature two beers.

Oktoberfest 2010 officially kicked off last Saturday with the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer in Munich. This year will be special as it is the 200th anniversary of the world famous festival :

The original "Oktoberfest" occurred in Munich, on October 12, 1810. For the public commemoration of their marriage that took place five days before, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (namesake of the Theresienwiese festival grounds) organized a great horse race. The event was so successful that it was decided to renew it in 1811.

There are six Bavarian breweries which provide the fuel for the Oktoberfest fires:

- Augustiner

- Paulaner

- Spaten-Franziskaner

- Löwenbräu

- Hacker-Pschorr

- Hofbräu

Two of these Munich breweries and their Oktoberfest offerings are the beers of the week.

We begin with Spaten Brewery's Oktoberfest.

Green bottle. Label has darker blue border framing lighter blue background and features Oktoberfest horses and wagon full of beer and the distinctive Spaten logo.

Beer Style: Oktoberfest Marzen

Alcohol by Volume: 5.9%

COLOR (0-2): Clear and copper brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Mostly malty with a touch of hops. 2

HEAD (0-2): Off-white color with good lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Caramel malt flavors with some spicy hops. Not as malty sweet as other Oktoberfests there are aspects of the taste that remind me of Beck's. Light-bodied and very drinkable. 2

AFTERTASTE (0-2): The follow through has a metallic quality. 1

OVERALL (0-6): An easy beer to drink, but a tough one to get much flavor out of. Pretty underwhelming for an Oktoberfest compared to other similar offerings that are available. The aftertaste isn't strong, but the metallic taste is slightly off-putting. Given the choice between this and other Oktoberfest options, the choice is clear. 2

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 11

We continue with Paulaner's offering.

Brown bottle. Tan label with Paulaner logo and depiction of legions of strong Wiesn waitresses marching abreast carrying huge tankards of beer.

Beer Style: Oktoberfest Marzen

Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%

COLOR (0-2): Clear and brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Bready and malty. 1

HEAD (0-2): Off-white, good volume and decent lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Mostly caramel malt flavor with a small dose of floral hops. Not overly sweet and nicely rounded. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with a dry finish. Light-to-medium bodied and drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): The more subtle maltiness lingers nicely. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Lives up to its reputation as one of the standard bearers of the Oktoberfest style. It won't knock your lederhosen off, but it's a great choice for a crisp fall day in Munich or in Minneapolis. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14

If you can't make it to Munich this year, but still need your Oktoberfest fix you should consider hitting St. Therese's Oktoberfest! this Saturday from 3pm-11pm in Deephaven, Minnesota. The scale will be much smaller of course, but there will still be plenty of food, beer, and music (polka and Boogie Wonderland). The owner/operator of Glen Lake Wine and Spirits and his lovely frau will be working the beer tent for a while and then working over the dance floor the rest of the night. Stop by and say hi.

No Cheering from the Press Box

My good friends and valued colleagues at Dan Cleary's blog and comment section took umbrage earlier this week over the NARN First Team's treatment of Christine O'Donnell last Saturday.

With Friends Like John Hinderaker and Brian Ward, Christine O'Donnell Doesn't Need Enemies

Listen to the 14:20 - 41:40 segment of Saturday's First Team Hour 1 of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, as Powerline's John Hinderaker, and my Twitter buddy and Fraters Libertas blogger Brian Ward utterly trash the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell.

Keep reminding yourself that these guys say they want O'Donnell to win.

Really? That's not what it sounds like to me.

Not when they spend nearly 30 minutes casting aspersions on her character, qualifications, and personal financial struggles - while barely mentioning her opponent a.k.a. Harry Reid's 'pet' a.k.a. 'The Bearded Marxist' a.k.a. Chris Coons.

Castle lost, boys. Get over it. My suggestion would be to get behind Christine O'Donnell (donate here) and stop undermining her campaign with nothingburgers from 11 years ago or whatever else Bill Maher says he has up his sleeve.

That's what we have Keith Olbermann for.

Despite my rock-ribbed bona fides, I don't mind being criticized as being insufficiently conservative. If I ever run for high office and get introduced at a debate by Rick Kupchella as "having no one on your right, you're the extreme right of the right!" (as he did to Tom Emmer last week), I can refute him by pointing to Dan Cleary and his ideological ilk (Augusto Pinochet, Genghis Kahn, Jabba the Hut, etc.).

While I appreciate the cover he's providing me, I must object to the assumption behind this criticism. That I have some obligation to be a friend of O'Donnell or to get behind her campaign. While that may be true for a party activist or operative, that is not the case for a guy on a radio show . Especially a radio show with lousy ratings and limited signal reach. I'm not trying to influence election outcomes or do public relations for anything the party (Republican or Tea) decides to do. I have the benefit of getting to be honest about these issues and to call them as I see them. In lieu of getting actual benefits for radio commentary (or pay or bathroom privileges), it's all I got and I'm holding on to my editorial independence like grim death.

So, substantively, what's my problem with Christine O'Donnell? In two words, Al Franken. Or Jesse Ventura. Or Maxine Watters. Or Cynthia McKinney. Or many others who I have spent too many nights watching on CSPAN presiding over important hearings or committee meetings or press conferences, when in normal circumstances they wouldn't be trusted to responsibly order the post-session catering.

Yes, I know they are citizen-statesmen and the only qualifications for office are age and citizenship status and the people voted them in. All true, that's democracy for ya!

However, it is sobering to consider that, despite the whims of a plurality of the voters, on qualifications alone these individuals wouldn't be considered for a senior staff position for a high government official. They wouldn't be qualified to hold any of the positions which they are asked to confirm (judges, cabinet members, military leaders, executive bureaucrats). They wouldn't be qualified to work in important positions for the industries and government departments for which they will sit on oversight committees. They will be faced with issues of war, national security, macroeconomics, the disposition of trillions of dollars in funding, and they have no demonstrated record of being capable of dealing with any of it. But they talk a good game.

Unfortunately there are a lot of elected officials in powerful positions who fall into this category. But that isn't a reason to unreservedly cheerlead for another one, like Christine O'Donnell. For a US Senator, with all the power and responsibility that goes with it, I want something better than what she brings to the table. A career as an issue advocacy professional and wanna-be kid TV pundit, as John Podhoretz put it in his insightful analysis at Commentary Magazine. He identifies another problem as well, her potential to do damage to the causes which attract her ardent supporters:

She was of particular value because she was young, pretty, and a raging extremist of the right. And, clearly, she was thrilled to be on TV. That's why Bill Maher had her on his show Politically Incorrect so often, both on Comedy Central and when it migrated to ABC (as a late-night competitor to cable news). She could hold down the conservative chair and, to be blunt, say embarrassing, stupid, and excessive things that would discredit the very cause she was supposed to be there to represent.

But there would be no Christine O'Donnell without the mainstream media, and it will be to their precincts she will in all likelihood decamp in the wake of her sudden fame, turning the ideas she claims to embody into a dismissible caricature, just as she did in her youth. The same, by the way, will be true if she wins; she will be the first new senator liberal reporters turn to for a quote on something controversial, in hopes that she will step in it. The problem is not the ideas, or the Tea Party. The problem is O'Donnell and her path to the spotlight.

My criticisms last week were similar, if not as articulately summarized. She emerged from a noble movement, but she's a lousy candidate. Paraphrasing my political hero Michael Dukakis (jokes!), I don’t question her ideology, I question her competence. But is that a truth that cannot be said? If I think her background doesn't qualify her to be an effective member of the US Senate, what is the approved speech code?

Now, to complicate matters and introduce liberal amounts of moral ambiguity into the conversation, that doesn't mean I wouldn't vote for her!

Elections are a choice, not a referendum. Is an unqualified conservative community organizer superior to a self-described bearded Marxist who'll gleefully endorse 100% of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi agenda. One hell of a choice you gave us there Delaware primary voters. But the answer is obviously 'yes'.

Was an unqualified conservative community organizer superior to a moderate Republican who happened to have been elected to statewide offices repeatedly, including twice as Governor and who still enjoys large public support within the state? Well, perhaps. Contemplating Castle's eager participation in the dynamics that have led this country to the brink of financial disaster, it would have been hard to pull the lever for him. Honestly, I don't know who I'd vote for if Castle and O'Donnell were my only choices. I just know I'd be holding my nose with one hand.

In summary, there is a difference between saying O'Donnell may be the preferred option in a narrow field of election choices and that she is a great candidate to whom criticisms can not be applied and who we must all get behind. It's the difference between being an honest observer and a cheerleader. And I no longer have the legs for the latter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Built To Last

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the Arizona Biltmore while in Phoenix for business meetings:

Known throughout the world as the "Jewel of the Desert," the Arizona Biltmore provides a restful oasis of 39 acres covered with lush gardens, glistening swimming pools, and Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced architecture. Set in the heart of Phoenix, the Arizona Biltmore has been a favorite of celebrities and U.S. presidents throughout its colorful history.

The Biltmore is indeed an oasis and an architectural gem, especially if you enjoy the Art Deco period and Mr. Wright's designs. Although he was only a "consulting architect" when the Biltmore was built in 1929, his influence is obvious and everywhere.

The Wright "look" was also evident on the interior rooms from the chairs in the lobby to the light fixtures in the ballroom and bar that bear the renowned art school dropout's name.

As is the case on most business trips, I had scant time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and many ammenities the Biltmore had to offer. The only exception was Friday morning. After delivering a twenty-minute main stage presentation to a crowd of around three-hundred (and, if I do say so myself, nailing it), I really had no pressing obligations until my mid-afternoon flight home.

So I had a chance to take a dip in the aptly named Paradise Pool and get a bit of lounging about in. Alas, it was not nearly enough time to truly appreciate the splendors of relaxation that could be taken in, but that small taste did help me understand the Biltmore's appeal as a sanctuary to chill in the heat of the desert.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

And I'm Gonna Get Me Some

You'll have to excuse us being a little more giddy than usual today. Late last night, the Minnesota Twins wrapped up the 2010 AL Central Division title (sooner than expected) and we're still savoring the moment. Atomizer is furiously working on his long awaited "Ode to Gardy," in which he finally lays bare his soul and expresses his long-restrained love and admiration for the man who now appears to be a shoe-in for Manager of the Year.

We also need to thank the others who made this division title possible for the Twins. Beginning with the taxpayers of Hennepin County who--while having had no say in the matter--are footing the bill for Target Field. All you other free-loading Minnesota counties owe us big time and believe me, we will not let you forget it.

Then there's the Chicago White Sox. For a while it looked like this could be yet another Central Division race that went down to the wire. We truly appreciate the way the Sox laid down the last couple of weeks and removed all doubt about who would win the division. It's important to know when to quit and we thank the White Sox for their prudence in this matter.

Finally, we should not overlook another team that's been pivotal to the Twin's prosperity, not just this season but over the course of the last ten years. For the Twins would not have enjoyed the success they have over the previous decade--six AL Central titles--were it not for the Kansas City Royals.

Consider that during that time--and through last night's game--the Twins have amassed an overall record of 885 wins and 725 losses for a winning percentage of .550. Not bad at all. But that pales by comparison when you consider the Twins record against the Royals during that same time: 117 wins and 66 loses for a .639 winning percentage. In fact, over the last ten seasons the Twins winning percentage against the Royals was higher than their overall winning percentage in every year except one (2003 was the outlier).

While this year's race will not end up being that close, in previous years the Twins mastery of the Royals has helped make the difference in them winning the Central Division. Much as the Vikings have long-feasted on the Detroit Lions to pad their divisional record, the Twins have found the Royals to be easy plucking. This year the Twins are already 12-3 against the Royals with three games left next week in Kansas City. Hard to imagine a more friendly city to visit from the Twins perspective. Thanks Kansas City.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And Eat It Too

A piece in yesterday's WSJ on how Republicans Are Gaining Ground Among Independents contained this priceless nugget:

More generally, independents made clear in the survey what they want candidates to do: Decrease the size and scope of government, cut spending and taxes, balance the budget, reduce the federal debt, reduce the power of special interests and unions, repeal and replace the health-care legislation, and decrease partisanship.

That's it? What about asking them to cure cancer and secure world peace while you're at it?

The survey also showed that independents believe they aren't getting any of this from the current representatives in Washington.

Really? Maybe they would get all their needs met from their representatives in Candyland.

What's really striking about this list of wants is the last item: decrease partisanship. Considering that the party currently in power is diametrically opposed to each and every one of the previous wants in the list, I'd love to ask one of these survey respondents how exactly politicians should accomplish these goals while becoming LESS partisan?

Politics is all about partisanship. The only thing that held the line against the Democrats' agenda of further expansion of government and encroachment on personal freedom was a for-the-most-part unified Republican opposition. That was partisanship in action. Had the Republicans been less partisan, we would have had more of exactly the type of things that these independents are now saying they oppose.

Partisanship is not part of the problem with the Democrats' overreach. It's the answer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

In Through The Out Door

I've been having Derbyshire-esque feelings of "We are doomed" dread as of late.

It's not due to an encroaching federal government, terrorism or even Bret Favre's season. It's because people seriously do not know how to walk through doors.

I work in a busy office building. There are people constantly in and out all day long as you might expect from a 12 story building. There are two large glass doors that people use to enter and exit the building.

I would say 80% of the time I am going through the door there is some issue with someone who does not know how to properly walk through. There are collisions, endless excuse me's, people almost getting hit by doors...

The biggest reason for the problems is not using the right hand side at all times.
When someone goes to the left, it causes the person on the other side to have to switch sides or stop, then when another person who is using the door properly comes along there is a long jam. The problem is compounded because all it takes is one fool to go on the wrong side and that door stays open, then the next people who come along take the path of least resistance by going through the already open door instead of opening the right hand side door and the chaos is on.

The other major problem is people don't square themselves up to the door and let it fully open before they try to go through. So when someone is opening the door from the other side, they risk hitting the person with the door who is on the wrong side trying to slip through the first crack of the opening.

In a normal door scenario there should be an even flow of people in and out of the building. There shouldn't be people stopping at the doors to get out of someone's way or waiting because opening the door will hit the person who is on the wrong side.

The door situation in our building could be a metaphor for modern thinking. You start with a perfectly good model of going through doors: everyone stays on the right hand side and waits until the door is completely open before going through. Then someone comes along and says "I will save myself 5 seconds by slipping through the barely open door" and "Who says I have to stay to the right?" What was once a simple, orderly procedure has now become a nuisance. This plays out every day I'm sure in office buildings around the country. Look for it when you leave for lunch today.

And if this is happening with doors, it scares me to think of the myriad other more important areas where this kind of chaos is playing out.

Mal Is Bad

After receiving a couple of different reports regarding a malware warning with the MOB blogroll code (thanks Mark and Rod), it was clear that something was wrong. Further investigation has revealed that this is a problem with Blogrolling itself (the service that hosts the MOB blogroll) and they have no plans to correct it. In fact, they recommend that any blogs enountering this issue remove the code. We've done so here at Fraters and any other blogs out there who use the MOB blogroll code should do the same.

Blogrolling is also not going to be maintained at all much longer so even without this issue, we would have to find a new place to park the MOB roll. If anyone has any suggestions, we'd be happy to entertain them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Northern Alliance Radio Network

The Northern Alliance Radio Network is back LIVE this morning starting at 11 AM. John Hinderaker and I in studio breaking down all HOT topics of the week. And all the hot topics seem to be election related this week: The controversy over the Christine O'Donnell election in Delaware and what it means for the future of the GOP, positive developments in the MN gubernatorial election, and more.

At noon we're joined by special guest Scott Rasmussen. Founder and President of Rasmussen Reports, he's one of the pre-eminent pollsters in the country. He's got his finger on the pulse of the nation, politically-speaking, and he's got a terrific new book on the tea party movement, Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System. Should be a fascinating discussion on what is shaping up to be the story of 2010, and according to Scott Rasmussen, the new normal in American politics.

Remember, the fun starts at 11AM (central). Following us at 1 PM, Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey with NARN 2.

The Northern Alliance Radio Network is heard locally on AM1280 the Patriot. And streaming LIVE worldwide at the web site. Call in and join the action at 651-289-4488. Don't you dare miss it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Another Alias Found

You flew the friendly skies with him as Mr. Aviation.

You heard his barbarous yawp sound across the bike paths of America as The Voice of Bicyclists.

Now, Rep. Jim Oberstar is back and he's acquired yet another transportation-related nickname. Hold off on those paternity tests, the results are in! Headlines from Portland, Oregon:

Father of 'Safe Routes', Congressman Jim Oberstar, visits a local school

Quite a pattern being established with these fanciful nicknames attesting to Oberstar's achievements. Although, in a lifetime of living in the state Oberstar has represented for over three decades (while not necessarily living here), I've never heard of any of these clunky, alleged nicknames. How do these independent reporters keep coming up with them? Either we're dealing with the Woodwards and Bernsteins of nickname investigative reporting or someone with an interest in turning these press reports into public relations pieces for the Chairman of the Transportation Committee is slipping them these sobriquets.

Speaking of which, in case you're wondering, here's how Father of Safe Routes earned this honorific:

Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), the man whose vision back in 1998 led to the national Safe Routes to Schools program, paid a visit to Beach Elementary School yesterday. Oberstar is a 35-year member of Congress who represents Northeastern Minnesota. After seeding several pilot programs in 1998, he helped pass federal legislation for Safe Routes to School to the tune of over $600 million.

A $600 million program to convince kids to start walking to school. And they're reporting it as a triumph rather than an indictable offense.

In case anyone in MN CD-8 is interested in putting a stop to this use of the public treasury, running against the Father of Safe Routes is a terrific candidate, Chip Cravaack. His campaign message below indicates his election would end the days of $600 million walk to school programs.

Dear Patriots,

I am not a politician. My entrance into this race, if nothing else, was unexpected. After retiring from the Navy and as a commercial airline pilot, I planned to spend my time with my wife and two young sons. Running for Congress was the last thing on my mind.

Then I watched Congress ignore and abandon the Constitution. Unemployment continued to rise as Congress is adding billions of dollars to the national debt that will become the burden of future generations. I knew it was time for me to stand up, and now I ask you to do so with me.

The consequences of inaction are clear: if our country continues on its current path, we will not be giving our children and grandchildren the same freedoms, the same opportunities, or the same country that our parents and grandparents gave us. The choice before us is not what kind of America we will have in the next two, or even four, years, but what kind of America we will have in the next forty.

It is with great humility that I ask for the opportunity to earn your trust, confidence, and support. Now is time to call on all of our friends to join us. Whether we are Republican, Independent or Democrat we must take back Congress from entrenched Washington politicians, take back our country, and return to Constitutional principles so that our children and grandchildren can also grow up in the freest and most prosperous nation in history. Together, we will.

I have served our country in the United States Navy and now I am ready to serve you in the United States Congress.


Captain Chip Cravaack
USNR - Retired

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fraters Libertas Reveals New Logo

The moment you have been waiting for has arrived! Fraters Libertas is proud to reveal our new earth-shattering logo*!

* The Fraters Libertas masthead and other graphics will remain unchanged because, frankly, Derek Brigham's graphics are way, way, better than this.

Hug, Huge, Fraters Libertas News Coming Soon

Later today, Fraters Libertas is going to release some huge news. Fraters Libertas fans will be thrilled and energized by this news. Our enemies will throw themselves into the dirt, wail in agony, rend off their garments, and punch themselves repeatedly in the face when they see this announcement.

I don't want to raise expectations to unrealisitic levels, but when you see the huge Fraters Libertas announcement, you will say "Wow, that is an even more exciting announcement than I dared hope!"

Stay Tuned.

You've gotta fight, for the right

There has been some consternation among Republicans on what Christine O'Donnell's victory in the Deleware primary means. It's not often that we see the likes of the boys at PowerLine disagreeing with Rush Limbaugh.

Essentially, the PowerLiner's argument (at least Scott & Paul's) comes down to the fact that O'Donnell is a flawed candidate, and because of that she endangers the chances of the Republicans taking control of the Senate in November. Had Castle won, he would have been a less reliable conservative vote, but he would have been more reliable than the Democrat who will likely defeat the controversial O'Donnell in the race.

I want to throw my two cents in on this subject, as it is one I have struggled with as long as I have been politically aware. Now, I am firm in my belief that the O'Donnell win is a good thing for conservatives.

A lot of Republicans are sick of the spending that the Republicans in congress were happy to escalate when they were in control because they thought that the only problem with runaway spending was when the money wasn't going to their special interests.

I'd gladly see a more fiscally conservative and ideologically pure Republican party fail to take the Senate in 2010. The alternative is more of the same politics that I've seen my entire life, which would mean that in the immediate aftermath of November a slight Republican majority or small minority would thwart any major initiatives from the Obama administration. In the long term Republicans would likely retake power and continue to waste taxpayers money as they did under Bush.

I have come to the opinion that we need a fundamental change in Congress and no sacred cows can be off the table: repealing Obamacare, changes to social security, corporate and farm subsidies, military funding, and all other large budget items. We aren't going to get that with the people the mainstream Republican party was pushing.

An O'Donnell primary victory tells the Republican establishment to stop playing the same old politics and to get serious about budget reform. Such a focus will bode well for America's future, whether or not the Republicans end up with 51 Senate seats in the next congress.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just The Facts

DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton presented his economic plan at a public meeting on Monday. Reviews from attendees include:

"Dayton offers facts and logic defending his tax plan"

"… if you value straight talk about what a candidate plans to do, based on facts and logic, DFL guv nominee Mark Dayton demonstrated again today at the Humphrey Institute that he is in a class by himself."

"… if there was an award for the most detailed and fact-based presentation by a candidate, Dayton would have won it"

What a speech for Dayton. He had the crowd enthralled, virtually eating out of his hand. Oh, the logic! The facts! The thrills going up legs! Dayton in 2010, Happy Days Are Here Again.

Not to turn the hose on the bandwagon prematurely, but these swooning endorsements weren’t exactly from a random selection of average voters. In fact, they were from, in order:

-- a headline writer for a liberal web site

-- an ex Star Tribune reporter

-- the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute

Not exactly a representative sample of the general electorate. If a Democrat candidate can't get breathless praise from the Mondale Chair at the Humphrey Institute, he's really in trouble. (By the way, I love that Mondale/Humphrey branding for an academic at a government run school. It's too subtle though. Maybe amp it up with a new title and announce he sits on the Wellstone Cushion of the Mondale Chair of the Humphrey Institute.)

Alas, the thrill of Dayton's speech has proven to be short lived. On Tuesday, while the amazing facts and logic of Mark Dayton were still triumphantly ringing in the ears of adoring partisans, the MN Department of Revenue rendered its judgment on the same presentation.

A state Department of Revenue analysis of DFLer Mark Dayton’s so-called "Tax the Rich" proposal to add tax brackets for high-income earners showed Tuesday that the gubernatorial candidate’s plan would raise roughly half of what he had hoped to get to help solve Minnesota’s $6 billion budget deficit.
Suggested topic for the next Mondale Chair led seminar at the Humphrey Institute: Can a logical and factual budget that comes up roughly 50% short of its designated goal be described as either logical or factual? Discuss!

Not to worry though, the Dayton campaign has a plan B:

Katharine Tinucci, a Dayton spokesperson, said the analysis showed "that more work is needed to identify additional sources of revenues" and said the campaign was "taking suggestions" on making cuts to erase the state budget deficit.

In other words, anybody out there got some facts and logic to spare for Mark Dayton?

Size Matters?

A couple of interesting nuggets from yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

The first concerns the willingness of more and more businesses to wade into politics and spend money to protect their interests:

"Businesses have traditionally had little appetite for political risk," the Chamber's Mr. Miller said before a rally with Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman at an Ohio plant that makes upholstery for planes and cars. This has been changed, he said, by concern that Democrats in Washington are pursuing policies that will hurt business. "That threat to their businesses has brought them to the fight," he said.

One of the key points that was mostly lost in the kerfuffle over Target donating money to a group that was supporting pro-business politicians was why they would risk alienating customers in such a manner. The answer is that Target, like many businesses throughout the country, is damn worried about the direction the country is headed and what that means for their bottom line.

Another article explained how businesses (big and small) are joining together to Fight Obama's Job Plans:

Democrats hope that the small-business loan package will highlight their commitment to "Main Street" businesses. Instead, small-business owners are mobilizing this week to oppose an obscure provision in the health-care law that would require them to file a 1099 tax report for every vendor transaction valued at $600 or more. The measure, intended to recover taxes on unreported income, would create "a tremendous paperwork compliance burden," the NFIB says. Democrats have voiced similar concerns.

The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on two measures that would scale back the reporting requirements. Both are expected to fail. On Wednesday, the Chamber of Commerce is bringing several hundred small-business owners to Capitol Hill to press lawmakers for the provision's repeal. It has sent protest letters to lawmakers signed by 3,000 business owners.

"Of all things in the health-care law, this is going to be a priority for the business community. It's not going away," said Bruce Josten, chief lobbyist at the Chamber.

Election-year efforts by the White House and Democratic lawmakers to tax multinationals to pay for small-business and other hiring initiatives have backfired, business leaders say. The Business Roundtable, which includes chiefs of U.S. multinationals, will release a study Tuesday slamming proposals that the group says ignore the interdependence of large and small businesses. The study advocates for policies that favor both large corporations and the small businesses that sell $3 billion a year in goods and services to them.

It's encouraging to see business interests resisting the efforts of Democrats to try to divide them into big (bad) and small (good) groups. The idea that you could impose punitive taxes on big businesses without having a negative impact on small businesses is ludicrous. Who supplies these big businesses anyway? Small businesses. And what is a big business really, but a small business that has enjoyed great success.

The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats need to come up with plans that are good for business writ large. There will be no true recovery for the US economy until the climate for business, all business improves.

Minnesota Voters Exposed

Even in the current political atmosphere, which is toxic for the Democrat brand, Exhibit A on why the DFL has hope in Minnesota:

Woman cited for indecent exposure at the Moorhead Walgreens

Moorhead Police say 37-year old Katherine Watson, who also uses the last name Engebretson, walked into the store around 6 last night wearing only a partial towel, thong, pasties on her breasts, and whipped cream on part of her buttocks.

Store employees say she walked in quietly off of Main Avenue and was waiting in line to buy some cans of shaving cream when police came in and escorted her outside. She was cited for indecent exposure.

“She said that she was just trying to make a statement, she wanted to draw attention to herself, which certainly she did and that she was a free thinker and that she didn't want people to conform to society's rules."

Granted, she (probably) doesn't represent a majority of Minnesota public opinion. But there are at least 312 people in Highland Park alone who consider this woman a progressive thought leader who expanded their consciences about the false limitations of society's norms. And they all voted for Al Franken.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh, THAT Recovery

White House Biden's Summer of Recovery Meant Construction, Not Jobs:

Vice President Biden wasn't talking about jobs when called this the "summer of recovery." He was talking about construction projects.

That's the explanation top White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee gave when asked about the more than 280,000 jobs lost over the past three months.

"The vice president was talking about the summer of recovery in reference to the Recovery Act, that you would see the creation of a series of infrastructure and other projects ramping up over the summer," Goolsbee said on "Fox News Sunday." "And you did see that."

What, you people actually thought that economic recovery would mean jobs for YOU? No, no, no. Simple peasants. You were supposed to live (or in this case) work vicariously by watching others rebuild bridges and lay down new roads. That's what we meant by recovery.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Five for Fighting for Lunch

If you liked John Ondrasik's performance at the 2001 Concert for New York City (linked below), you'll probably love his FREE performance in St. Louis Park tomorrow afternoon. Courtesy of Cities 97:

Free Performance by Five for Fighting

John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting is Superman. He’s also Easy Tonight, 100 Years and Chances. He’s been a part of Cities 97 for more than a decade and he’s coming to say thanks for your support with a free lunchtime performance this New Music Monday, September 13th, at The Shops at West End in St. Louis Park. Come by for lunch and stay for his 12:30pm on-site Studio C performance featuring his new song Slice.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Northern Alliance Radio Network

The Northern Alliance Radio Network goes LIVE this morning at 11 AM. John Hinderaker and I return to the studio after a rare and well-deserved one week hiatus to breaking down all HOT topics of the week. On the agenda are 9/11 tributes, Koran burning (discussion, not execution, of) and the latest election news.

At 12:30 we're joined by one of the finest young reporters in Washington DC, James Hohmann of Politico. He's a Minnesota boy, now making his living in the corridors of power in the nation's capital. He'll bring us up to date on the latest machinations of Congress as we head towards the midterm election, and on the potential for an activist lame duck session.

It all starts at 11AM (central). Following us at 1 PM, Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey with NARN 2.

The Northern Alliance Radio Network is heard locally on AM1280 the Patriot. And streaming LIVE worldwide at the web site. Call in and join the action at 651-289-4488. Don't you dare miss it.

Thru the night with a light from above

Speaking of 9/11 Tributes, my wife and I have the attended the Linden Hills 911 Tribute at the Lake Harriet Band Shell a number of times in the nine years since the attacks and have always found the program moving and poignant:

Our 9th annual concert will take place on Saturday evening September 11th 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Lake Harriet Band Shell. Please join with us in an evening of music, flag waving and reflection as we honor the memory of those who lost their lives that day. We especially want to invite parents to bring their children. They will receive an American flag to wave as they march in the parade though the aisles. There will be a couple minutes of fireworks at the end.

Here's the musical lineup:

Fanfare for the Common Man--Aaron Copland

The Star-Spangled Banner

American Kalidiscope – Carol Barnett

Symphony no. 2, finale – Howard Hanson

Armed Forces Salute – arr. Lowden

Semper Fidelis – John Phillip Sousa

America the Beautiful – Samuel Ward/Katherine Lee Bates/arr. A. Luck

Selections from The Tender Land – Aaron Copland

Stomp your foot, Laurie's Song, The Promise of Living

Let me fly – Robert DeCormier

Hymn to the Fallen – John Williams

When the saints go marching in – Gospel hymn/arr. Rutter

God Bless America – Irving Berlin/Roy Ringwald

The entire event is infused with patriotism and is a reminder of the way the country came together in response to the 9/11 attacks. We should never forget the victims of 9/11. We should also never forget that despite all of our differences, when put to the test we can still unite as Americans.

Elevation, Baby

For my money, the two most poignant 9/11 tributes, delivered in the months immediately following the atrocity by Muslim terrorists in New York.

First, from the Concert for New York City, held October 20, 2001. In this tribute concert to the cops and firemen who sacrificed so much on 9/11, headlined by the likes of McCartney, Jagger, Richards, Bowie, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, etc., a young singer-songwriter who fortuitously had a hit record the previous summer about every day heroes, stole the show. John Ondrasik, aka Five For Fighting, with 'Superman (It's Not Easy)', the climax to the 5-hour TV broadcast, which he said during an interview on NARN last year, he delivered fighting back tears throughout. A note-perfect, soothing respite for an America in mourning:

And then the morning after. Five months past, on February 3, 2002, U2 performing at halftime of Superbowl 36 in New Orleans. Turning their 1987 ballad "Where the Street Have No Name" into a sublime tribute to the victims of 9/11. What a spectacle. The energy of the youthful, American crowd on the stadium floor. Bono racing around the stage. The names of the victims slowly crawling up the nylon screen to the sky, as if on their way to heaven. The band locked in and feeling every note. And finally, Bono miming a heart, then revealing the American flag under his jacket. It was a valentine to this besieged country from the these foreigners who happened to be the biggest band in the world. At this moment, it was clear that we're going to be all right. In fact, we cannot be stopped. In these increasingly uncertain times, something to be reminded of again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Not So Soft Racism of Michigan Football

Tomorrow, the University of Michigan plays Notre Dame in a highly anticipated football game. In 2004, Notre Dame came under scrutiny of the media, with accusations of institutional racism. The reason was that they had fired African American head football coach Tyrone Willingham after three poor years. His record of .583 was significantly under the school's historic average of .733, and he was dismissed. His contract was bought out according to the terms he had negotiated.

With his pride stung, Willingham met on air with ABC's John Saunders and insinuated that race may have been a factor in his dismissal. Many in the media, eager for a juicy story and unwilling to do any real work, discussed this aspect of Willingham's firing. Most missed a central question: if Notre Dame had really been racist, why did they make Willingham their head football coach in the first place? Why not just hire another white guy? Over 90% of Division 1 - BCS Division (college's highest division for football) at the time had white coaches, despite the fact that the ratio of black college football players was significantly higher.

A reasonable analysis concludes that Notre Dame evaluated Willingham on his merits when it came to hiring as well as firing. Willingham ended up at the University of Washington, where his 11-37 record confirmed the fact that he just wasn't a very good head coach. When he was dismissed from that post, no one cried racism.

If the lazy media wanted to look for institutional racism, I'd suggest they check out the a more objective statistic than the firings of specific coaches. They should look at the disparity in graduation rates between black and white players. Graduation rates for football players may be than the general student body of a school due to different admission standards. However, no such differences should exist within a football program. That is, they shouldn't exist unless one group of players were valued only for their football skills. If they are brought in as a commodity to be used up and then discarded, then a group of football players would have a lower rate than their peers.

According to this Stanford report from 2007, Michigan graduated 91% of their white football players. That's impressive. However, they only graduated 50% of their black players. That is disgraceful. I'd like to hear someone defend that statistic.

Oh Mama Care

Overhaul Not Expected to Change Health Spending (WSJ-sub req):

The health-care overhaul enacted last spring won't significantly change national health spending over the next decade compared with projections before the law was passed, according to government figures released Thursday.

The report by federal number-crunchers casts fresh doubt on Democrats' argument that the health-care law would curb the sharp increase in costs over the long term, the second setback this week for one of the party's biggest legislative achievements.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that insurance companies have proposed rate increases ranging from 1% to 9% nationwide that they attribute specifically to new health-law coverage mandates.

You mean that the Democrats' health care reform won't reduce health care spending AND our premiums are going to go UP? Noooo...Next thing you'll be telling me that we won't get to keep the same health care plans we have now. We do get to keep our plans still, right?

The fantasy world of Obamacare has even trickled down to the realm of child's play. Today, our eldest son (all of five), Mister-Doctor-Professor Nathaniel, saw my wife for a routine office visit. His bill? $100,000.

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXX)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the jolly folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can have the wine, whisky, and beer to help put the two step into your polka.

In the fall a drinking man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of beer. At least they do for Larry Bell, founder of Michigan's renowned Bell's Brewery. Bell describes fall as his favorite time to drink beer. While I'm more of a man for all seasons when it comes to the question of when consuming beer is most appropriate, I can appreciate Bell's insights on why the advent of autumn increases one's yearning for a brew enjoy the changing conditions with.

So we continue our look at the beers of fall with Bell's Octoberfest:

Crafted as a flavorful session beer, Bell's Octoberfest Beer is perfect for a week-long wedding celebration in Germany or the start of the Michigan autumn.

As with Bell's Lager Beer, Octoberfest spends a full six weeks maturing in the fermentation vessels. Unlike its cousin, Octoberfest trades in the assertive hop presence for a focus on a light caramel malt note, lending body without too much sweetness.

Brown bottle. Attention getting blaze orange label screams fall with a leafy background at the peak of its color transformation and a Germanic font. Beautiful design.

Beer Style: Oktoberfest Marzen

Alcohol by Volume: 5.5 %

COLOR (0-2): Golden brown and clear. 2

AROMA (0-2): Mostly malty. 1

HEAD (0-2): White with good volume and retention. 2

TASTE (0-5): Mostly caramel malt flavors. Not overly sweet and has more bitterness than most Oktoberfests. You can also slightly taste the heat which is surprising given the relatively low ABV. Smooth and somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Sharp finish, medium-bodied, and definitely drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Somewhat subdued with lingering malt flavor. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Oktoberfests are not one of my favorite styles of beer and the American varieties often go overboard with sweet malts. Bell's version however is a better rounded beer and while not overly complex has a nice balance of flavors. A solid fall offering. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 13

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Permanent Vacation

Just back from a week's vacation in Sedona, AZ. A beautiful city and beautiful people.

Obviously, a nice change of pace from hanging around the Fraters Libertas headquarters and crew.

One of the most beautiful buildings in Sedona is Red Rock High School. Located very near our posh resort location, we passed it daily heading into the city and its majesty and always drew pause. It was so grandiose, initially I thought it had to be a Fortune 500 corporate campus or MPR broadcasting facility. But no, it is a public high school, paid for with government money.

It's hard to begrudge the good people of Sedona such a facility, especially since they probably approved it via one referendum or another. If nothing but the finest money can buy is good enough for them, then let them eat cake!

I'm sure the students and staff are loving it, secure in the lap of tax payer approved, government provided luxury. Alas, it seems all is not well in paradise. Developments this week, as reported in the Red Rock News:

After a little more than two years on the job, Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent Mike Aylstock resigned his position earlier this week.

Aylstock had been the superintendent of the district since July 1, 2008, and his retirement ends a 19-year tenure as a school district superintendent in Arizona and a 34-year career in public education.

He reiterated this decision was made for his own well-being.

Three decades teaching and sacrificing for our children. And not looking back in anger. A refreshing change from the increasingly bitter demeanor of public employees. Fare the well, good and faithful public servant.

Those expecting a feel-good ending should stop reading now. Conservatives and other masochists know there is another shoe to drop.

It turns out there was one reason for stepping away. And it's looking you in the mirror, you heartless budget cutters:

In his letter to the Governing Board, Aylstock stated the negative aspects of the superintendent job have grown to the point that his well-being has been adversely affected.

Education budgets have changed so much it causes districts to make cuts not in the best interests of students, he said. Facing bright energetic new teachers and laying off new employees because of budget concerns were difficult to do.

Laying off teachers and making cuts due to the state’s budget concerns took a toll on Aylstock, [Governing Board President Bonnie Surber] said. “That was certainly what he talked about,” she said. “He has been an extremely good superintendent.”

That is a shame. Budget cuts not in the best interest of students. Resulting in the bright and energetic new employees getting canned. If only there was a way to fire the dull and tired old employees instead. Of course, we all know that is an absolute impossibility.

If the budget cuts result in the firing of prized teachers, it's obvious they've already eliminated the fat in Sedona and they're down to cutting the bone. Right?

Wrong, cue another shoe:

The solar project at the high school and the construction projects, Aylstock said, are two main accomplishments he helped lead during his time as superintendent.

"The Performing Arts Center will be so nice for the school district and the community," he said.

I'm sure it will be nice. It would also be nice to find out if the tax payers in Sedona consider this more important than the bright, energetic new teachers getting axed for lack of funding.

How many new teachers might have been saved? Details on the new Performing Arts Center:

On Oct. 9, the [Sedona Oak Creek School District] board agreed to fund the $10.5 million design of the center, although it had originally budgeted $7.1 million of bond money for the project. In November 2007, district residents passed a $73 million bond for school construction and renovations.

According to ARCADIS project manager, Dave Young, the district has $4.7 million left over in a line item in the bond for energy efficiency. The district can put $3.4 million of that toward the performing arts center without affecting other projects to reach the $10.5 million.

You've got to like the shell game of appropriating money for "energy efficiency" and getting a performing arts center. But 10.5 mil! Even with their Cadillac health care plans and retirement benefits, that ought to pay for at least a few more teachers.

I suppose we can't dwell on past spending decisions. Let’s focus on what the citizens will be getting for their hard earned money:

The performing arts center will go from a 262-seat auditorium to a 750-seat, two-tiered, state-of-the-art performance venue. The stage will be enlarged by about one-third and the set construction area is being expanded.

The area above the stage - the fly loft - will be increased from 30 feet to 65 feet, Young said. Plans call for new men's and women's dressing rooms, a makeup room and a green room with a shower.

A practice room will be built the same size as the proscenium opening - the area between the curtain and the orchestra - so full-scale practices can take place while the stage is being used.

Over twice the fly space from the old performing arts theater! Maleducated children seem to be a small price to pay for that.

Party Like It's 1999?

Coming off a disappointing finish to the previous season when a team from the South dashed their Super Bowl hopes in overtime in the NFC Championship game, Vikings fans look forward to opening the new season with a road rematch of that still-all-too-painful-to-think-about contest. It's a chance for a small measure of revenge and also the first step in what fans hope will finally be the completion of the long march to a Super Bowl victory and redemption. I speak of course of the Vikings versus the Saints tonight, right?

Try September 12th, 1999 when the Vikings went down to Georgia to open the season against the Falcons, the squad that upended their Super Bowl express in the NFC Championship game the season before. The 17-14 victory in that opener was little consolation to Vikings fans, especially when their team went on to bumble and stumble to a 10-6 finish in 1999. A wild-card playoff win over the Cowboys was followed by a 49-37 loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Rams in the divisional playoffs. A season that had started out with high hopes of taking care of the unfinished business from the year before ended in disappointment and frustration.

I fear the same sort of fate lies in store for the Vikings this year. One of the things that I still remember from that 1999 campaign was how the Vikings struggled in the pre-season, especially offensively, and how we were all told that it didn't matter because once the season started they would right the ship. Of course they never really did, even after replacing Randall Cunningham with Jeff George at quarterback after starting 2-4. I get the same vibe from this year's squad. Too much internal turmoil, too many injuries, and too many unanswered questions form a black pall that hangs over this team.

Throw in a very difficult schedule, a fragile starting quarterback, a still-not-ready-for-prime-time backup quarterback, and a coach whose incompetence is only matched by his ego and you have a football team that will be lucky to finish 10-6 this year. Even if they do make the playoffs, an early exit is almost guaranteed. Having said all that, I still believe the Vikings will find a way to beat the Saints tonight. Of course, the win will do nothing to ease the lingering pain from the NFC Championship loss, especially later this season when we realize that the window to the Super Bowl that was so wide open for the Vikings last year has now been slammed shut.

UPDATE: But what about this year's Super Bowl you ask? While the Vikings will not reach the big game in Dallas, their divisional rivals will. Yes, the roar WILL be restored and the Lions will make one of the biggest turnarounds in...

...Sorry. Had to try to inject a little humor here. In reality, it will be the Packers who represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. And when they get beat by the AFC Champion Ravens, it will make edition XLV my second favorite Super Bowl of all time.