Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Separated At Birth

Controversial “journalist” Julian Assange and controversial “comedian” Bill Maher.

The Regular Guy Look

The most amazing things about America are the little truths. I'm not talking about freedom of speech or religion, I consider those large truths. Everyone sees and appreciates the large truths. However, the small truths are not universally appreciated. I'd argue that small truths are often cast in a negative light by many who yearn for change.

One example of a small truth is that most Americans are overweight and a significant percentage are obese. The media likes to spin this as a negative. Yet in much of the world, decent nutrition is difficult to come by. Obesity is a byproduct of an economic system in which even the poorest of the poor have easy access to food.

My favorite small truth is the fact that in America, there is a large industry devoted to battling constipation. Try this experiment the next time you are home sick during a weekday: watch two hours of network television and count the commercials touting laxatives, stool softeners and prunes. I dare say that you will see a handful. Meanwhile in many areas of the world, dysentery is a larger problem. Keeping regular is a burden for affluent Americans, but it isn't one we share with our third world brothers.

Another little truth is that Americans are wasteful. They say that the Native Americans used every bit of the buffalo, it was sacred to them. That's because they were poor, they couldn't afford to waste anything. Today's Americans, even the poorest, can afford to trash items that still have value, or waste resources on the unnecessary. To tie it all together, I offer the newest ad for prunes. Sunsweet now advertises packages of individually wrapped prunes, despite the fact that a normal serving of prunes is between four and eight pieces. That packaging arrangement offers Americans a chance to toss a little extra in the garbage on the way to their morning grumpy.

CSPAN Killed the Talk Radio Star

There is a ton of excellent, and free, audio content on the Web and I've found that my time spent listening to podcasts or streaming now exceeds time spent listening to radio. Maybe not exactly a watershed moment in the history of media, but for a lifetime listener and raving fan of radio, not an entirely inconsequential piece of anecdotal evidence.

The advantages of the podcast format are many. They include convenience (listen anytime you want, anywhere), microcasting (listen to only what you want), variety (availability to access more than the programming gatekeepers at the radio stations can provide), and avoidance of annoyance (heavy rotation of boring/poorly conceived/poorly produced commercials). Even if, all things being equal, I'd prefer to listen to a given radio personality at the moment, these other factors create a decisive tipping point toward the podcast medium. And if that radio personality doesn't offer a *free* podcast option, they tend to become an afterthought entirely. To my radio heroes NOT offering free podcasts, I offer this plea to find a different way than subscriptions to monetize your online product, before it's too late!

The web based radio competition just got steeper. I recently noticed a major expansion of content on the CSPAN web site. It combines the output of all 3 of their TV stations and CSPAN radio. You can get LIVE streams or past content from the huge video library. Further, each video is accompanied by a complete and searchable transcript of the audio. It's every blogger's Fisking dream come true!

Recent content I've listed to that competes favorably with any talk radio programming available.

Norm Coleman on the Future of the Republican Party

Sen. Tom Coburn on the new Congress and the Tea Party movement

P.J. O'Rourke on his new book "Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards"

Victor Davis Hanson on Leadership in WWII

CNN correspondent John Allen on The Future of the Catholic Church

(Contrasting this detailed, well-informed analysis with the superficial, puerile hatchet job on the Catholic Church recently appearing in the Star Tribune shows that CSPAN can as easily replace newspaper editorials as much as radio programs.)

The archives are available for searching based on name or topic. Not sure how far they go back, it doesn't appear that it's to the inception of CSPAN. For example, my search results for early 80s era Paul Laxalt floor speeches is decidedly wanting. But there's still a ton of interesting material available. CSPAN regularly features not only politicians, but also authors, economists, social scientists, and bloggers. If they appeared on CSPAN at some point in recent years, odds are they're in there.

For example, the many appearances of economic historian Niall Ferguson.

Or shock jock Hugh Hewitt.

Or even your favorite local bloggers. I see the Power Line presentation on their role in the Dan Rather expose from 2004 is available. I believe this is also my only appearance on CSPAN. Every time they go to the second camera shot, down stage left, you can just barely make me out, seated at a table, downing my buffet dinner and nodding my head in robotic agreement. Great stuff.

Lost Boys

There was a piece a while back at the Daily Beast on the trend for American parents to “feminize” the names given to baby boys. Most of the names mentioned in the article are not in and of themselves all that bad. However, the motivation behind these parents’ decision to choose less masculine, more “gender neutral” names for their boys is disturbing.

Their choice: Maxfield. “We liked it that the name carried no image of masculinity, that it would free him from all preconceptions and let people see him as unique,” Richmond said.

“All those preconceptions” about what? Being a boy?

“With the new masculinity, wanting men to be involved fathers, to have close friendships, to really be compassionate, are all things my husband and I thought about when we gave our son his name,” said Katherine Woods-Morse, who works for a foundation in Portland, Oregon, and whose now 12-year-old son is named Paxton.

Woods-Morse chose names for her children--she also has a daughter named Torin--before she knew their genders, an effort to counteract stereotyping. “We very specifically wanted to not put a lot of gender role pressure on our children with their names, though we also didn’t want to embarrass them by going with something too feminine for a boy or too masculine for a girl.

Again, what is this “gender role pressure” that she speaks of? To act like a boy or a girl? Which by the way is what their nature inclines them to do.

For some parents, it’s not about redefining gender roles so much as redefining the next generation. “I was a child of the ’70s, my parents were children of the ’40s, and I’m trying to teach my sons you don’t have to be so traditional, to reflect more of a global culture, to open them up to different family structures and different orientations,” said Deb Levy, a New Jersey graphic designer and mother of Jacob, 10, Asher, 6, and Zane, 4.

In choosing names for her boys, Levy said, “I wanted to imbue my sons with feminist values, but you’ve also got to pack them off to school every day. You can spend all this time thinking about a name, but then they’re going to become who they’re going to be anyway.”

Open question: is it in any way a good idea to “imbue” boys with “feminist values” (whatever the heck that means) in the first place? I think not. Teaching them quaint notions like respecting, honoring, and defending women ought to be enough. By the way, for the last forty odd years or so the public schools have been trying to seed these same feminist values in boys. Ask a twenty-something single woman how that’s worked out for them.

One might argue that parents who name their sons Calum Stuart, the choice of doula and lactation consultant Virginia Wadsworth Middlemiss, also may be more likely to raise those sons in ways that are consistent with the name’s meaning of “gentle chief” (as Middlemiss says she has): attending the Unitarian Church, not playing with guns, embracing modern and open opinions and attitudes.

One can only hope that little Calum grows up to convert to the Orthodox Church, own several firearms, and embrace conservative political values (which I would imagine are the opposite of the “modern and open opinions” that his mother holds). C’mon Karma.

“Among my generation of parents, our nontraditional boys’ names--vaguely androgynous, nonmacho, or just plain unique--reflect our own desire to raise sons who will be as comfortable pushing dolls in strollers as pushing trucks,” said Deborah Siegel, Ph.D., author of Sisterhood, Interrupted and founding partner of SheWrites, whose 1-year-old son is named Teo. “But what I wonder is this: Will a boy by a different name really be that much more sweet?"

Let’s pray to God not. The generation of boys now being raised in America will face no end of challenges as the men of tomorrow. The threat posed by Islamic extremists will likely still be with us. As will the threat to American economic and innovative leadership from countries such as China, India, and Brazil. The mettle of these future men of America will no doubt be put to the test. Giving this generation of boys kindler, gentler, softer names doesn’t seem to be the way to forge the strength they will need.

(For the record, all of my boys have boys names: one a Revolutionary War hero, one a Biblical prophet, and one oft associated with Anglo-Saxon nobility even today.)

Sisyphus Adds: That article has to be a parody. I expected to see a quote like this: “I know I won’t be able to be around much to help encourage my son to explore his feminine side, so I chose to give him a name that will not put a lot of gender role pressure on him. That is why I named him Sue.”

Monday, November 29, 2010

This Recount Stinks

From the Pioneer Press, an update on the MN Gubernatorial recount in Ramsey County:

Emmer campaign representatives challenged at least two ballots that contained the same names in multiple races or odd writings -- in the write-in space.

One challenged ballot included a write-in vote for "Who farted?"

Advice to the Emmer camp, I'd stand clear of this one. If voter intent has to be inferred, that sounds like a Dayton vote.

Either that, or this was an attempt to vote for legendary actor Curtis Armstrong. If so, this voter should be ashamed of himself. Next time, make it easier on everyone and simply write in the name "Booger".

District 15B to Legislature: King Me!

Breaking news out of St. Cloud, the new state representative from District 15B is ....... (royal fanfare), King Banaian. The recount is done and for once, it seems, a Democrat wasn't able to find the extra votes needed to win.

As I said when he announced his candidacy in March, King is one of the sharpest minds in terms of economics and politics that I've ever met. And how can you not like a politician who ran using this theme:

"Let me go to St. Paul," Banaian said, "and tell them: The ATM is closed. You have taken enough."

Heh, I still love that. The new GOP leadership should arrange to have King announce that immediately before they gavel in the first session (or ring the bell or blow the fog horn or whatever it is they do).

King may be the only candidate in St. Paul who I'm 100% certain will protect the taxpayer's interests in all of his voting decisions. It's a great day for Minnesota. And an even greater day for Macedonia and Egypt. (Jokes!)

In all seriousness, Congratulations to King. A deserving candidate and great guy, looking forward to four two years of wise and benevolent rule.

Watch What We Say, Not What We Say

I always love perusing the reader comments posted after articles on the Minneapolis Star Tribune website. Granted, most of them are poorly reasoned rants and unsubstantiated claims but that's what makes them so entertaining and, frankly, not too different from posts by yours truly on this wonderful website.

This is certainly the case for the multitude of comments recently posted in response to a piece by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger on the Star Tribune political blog "Hot Dish Politics" about the Emmer-Dayton gubernatorial recount that began today.

A few of my favorites follow:
Emmer should concede and save the taxpayers money. Sure he is "legally" entitled to the recount, but since statistically he cannot overcome the almost 9,000 vote deficit, he should save the taxpayers money and concede. He has the legal right to do so -- and be a hero!
posted by ginny6
The real "nazi" stuff is the republican party trying to make faith in our voting system non-existent. There have not been any real significant proven voter fraud in this state for the last 50 years. Spending a ton of money chasing ghosts is not a fiscally responsible thing to do. Why is it so shocking for everyone to accept that liberals win elections in a very liberal state?
posted by misterw

I just get (sic) this whole situation!? From what I have read, MN has a better chance of getting hit by an asteroid this month than Emmer does winning this election! But the Republican Party wants to fight this and at what cost?! I say that when the election recount is said and done, add up the costs involved and bill it to the Republican Party. As a taxpayer, I don't want any of my tax dollars going toward this fiasco!
posted by jackpinenomo
This is the general tone of the over 200 comments to this story. However, lest you think that EVERYONE reading the Star Tribune has the same opinion of the Minnesota recount system, there are these comments for a little balance:
...that the election process is followed correctly and every vote is counted correctly. The election is the foundation of democracy. If it means a recount, then so be it.
posted by mspshadow
This is an election, not a poker game! The law is there so that when the difference is this close, a recount must take place in order to display all the results to the public. All paper ballots will be handcounted to ensure that (a) all votes are indeed counted (b) the process is transparent, public, and fair. This means that the person who takes office, whoever that is, will not only be the one who received the most votes, but also be the legitimate candidate in the eyes of the public. The recount is to make sure the public can trust the system and not worry about baseless rumors spread by disgruntled partisans.
posted by gioia
Love it or not, a recount is a chance to ensure the system is working and to fix any glitches. One way or the other we'll know who we Minnesotans truly voted into office. I send my thanks to all our military veterans who served our country and protected my freedom and right to vote. I thank the Secretary of State's Office for their hard work
posted by ihatethisregistry

Wait a minute...those last three comments were to a different Star Tribune piece written in November of 2008 regarding the Coleman-Franken recount. An election, as you no doubt can recall, that had Coleman leading on election night and Franken winning after a long and painful recount.

What a difference two years makes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Are You Smarter Than An Economist?

The "Week in Ideas" secion of yesterday's WSJ had an interesting tidbit:

Economists are more likely than average citizens to view trading with other nations as a win-win scenario, to prize the efficiency of markets and to see recessions as cyclical downturns rather than systemic collapses. Some research has found that the more education people have, the closer they move to this economist's-eye view of the world. A new study suggests that, even more than education, intelligence itself leads citizens to "think like economists."

The researchers wanted to tease out the independent effects of intelligence and education. They made use of the National Opinion Research Center's massive General Social Survey, which includes demographic data, queries about economic attitudes and (for half the respondents) a short vocabulary quiz, which the authors treat as a workable (if not ideal) test of intelligence.

The authors found that intelligence supplanted education as the primary predictor of whether one took an economist's typical point of view. Education moved into second place, followed by party identification (Republican) and recent growth in income. The correlation between the views of intelligent people and professional economists offers "another reason to accept the 'economists are right, the public is wrong' interpretation" of differences in opinion, these economists argue.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Flashback: Chad Gets The Blog 'N Sync

I'm often asked why the name of this blog is "Fraters Libertas." Here's the story as I understand it.

Nearly a decade ago, Chad & his brother JB were active in the fledgeling blogosphere. One issue they had to resolve was what to name the blog. The brothers were big fans of Justin Timberlake, and his band 'N Sync had just released the following video for their 2000 hit "Bye Bye Bye."

At about the fifteen second mark of the video, you can see the Latin word "Libertas" painted on the front of the boys stage. Our intrepid bloggers added the Latin word for brothers and now you know the rest of the story.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

That Enduring Liberty

An excerpt from one of the two editorials on Thanksgiving that the Wall Street Journal has published annually since 1961:

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere—in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXX)

A special Thanksgiving edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the hospitable folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you find everything you need in the way wine, whiskey, and beer to make your feast one to truly be thankful for.

One thing that I'm always thankful for is that Bell's Brewery continues to produce some of America's best craft brew. Including our beer of the week, Bell's Best Brown Ale:

A smooth, toasty brown ale, Best Brown Ale is a mainstay in our fall & winter lineup. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops.

Brown bottle. Off-white label with purple trim features a rendering of a wise country owl perched on a fence post with a seasonal background.

Style: Brown Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%

COLOR (0-2): Dark supple brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Malty with caramel and nutty tones. 2

HEAD (0-2): Light tan color. Good volume. 2

TASTE (0-5): Malty, not overly sweet with flavors of roasted barley, coffee, caramel, and nuts. Light on the hops with just a hint of bitterness. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, medium-bodied, and quite drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Dry and a bit thin. 1

OVERALL (0-6): A nice little brown ale. None of its qualities are especially noteworthy, but it's flavors are well balanced and they come together nicely. Bell's releases their Best Brown Ale as a Fall/Winter seasonal and it's a good fit for this time of year. You're probably going to want to enjoy a hoppier beer with your turkey tomorrow. However, this would make a good choice for your post-feast drinking as you unbutton your pants, settle into that easy chair, enjoy a spot of football, and reflect on how much there truly is to be thankful for. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 15

Gobble, gobble.

The Murkowski Effect

The moderate candidate in the Republican primary could scarcely believe the results – the candidate had been rejected by the extremist Republican electorate in favor of a tea party backed standard bearer. The rejected candidate mulled over the options and came to the somewhat surprising conclusion that the general election could still be won. It was too late to get on the ballot, but a write-in campaign could be launched.

A successful write-in campaign in a state-wide election is almost unheard of, but our intrepid candidate had faith that when the entire electorate looked more closely at the Republican tea party extremist, they would be willing to expend the extra effort to write-in the more moderate candidate.

I am not just describing Alaskan Senate candidate Lisa Murkowski, I am describing the Minnesota Gubernatorial ticket of Ole Savior and Todd “Elvis” Anderson.

Although Ole and Elvis finished fourth in the Republican primary, they were apparently optimistic enough about their chances that they registered with the Secretary of State’s office as official write-in candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor. Now that the State Canvassing Board has met, we can see just how close they came to knocking Horner out of third place. The final vote tally for Ole Savior and Todd “Elvis” Anderson: 1 vote.

Alas, that is not enough for them to be included in the mandatory recount. More alarmingly, at least one of the two candidates did not even bother to vote for themselves. In fact, neither of them likely voted for themselves. Their one vote came from Olmsted County; based on their campaign filings, Savior and Elvis appear to live in Hennepin County.

There is one person in Olmsted County (could it be our own JB Doubtless?) who is more loyal to the Ole-Elvis ticket than Ole and Elvis themselves.

In addition to running for Lt. Governor, Todd “Elvis” Anderson is an ETA (Elvis Tribute Artist). He can be booked through his campaign website: http://www.toddelvis.com/.

Hopefully he is more dedicated to Elvis than he was to his run for Lt. Governor.

The Nihilist chimes in: As a fellow Elvis impersonator, I can vouch for Todd Anderson's bona fides as an Elvis impersonator. On his web site, he is pictured in four different Elvis outfits: the classic white jumpsuit, a red jumpsuit, an all-leather outfit, and the 1950's era long sport coat with bowling shirt.

I own one Elvis jumpsuit (a beautiful classic white including a cape) and have rented jumpsuits on other occasions. I can assure our readers that there is a significant financial commitment to procure such a jumpsuit, not to mention a leather jacket and pant combination. I'd say Todd Anderson likely laid out well over $1000 for his wardrobe. Rental is out of the question, as his calendar suggests that he performs several times per month.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whose God Is Being Gored

An avowed atheist pens a daring tract that calls out everything that is wrong with the religion that he was raised on. In response, he is thrown in jail, allowed no legal counsel, and threatened with life imprisonment or being burned alive. Surely the Western secularists who thrill in speaking truth to religious power are rallying to this man's side. Why at this very moment, I imagine that Bill Maher and his ilk are hatching plans to free the detained dissenter from catacombs beneath the Vatican where the Pope's sinister minions are surely holding him.

Oh, wait just a minute. As Bret Stephens explains in today's WSJ, in this case the narrative does not fit the standard "speaking truth to religious power" template :

So what is the core of the problem? Consider the predicament faced by a Palestinian named Walid Husayin from the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Mr. Husayin, 26, is suspected of being the blogger known as Waleed al-Husseini and author of an essay, posted on the Proud Atheist Web site (proud-a.blogspot.com), titled "Why I Left Islam."

The pseudonymous Husseini makes no bones about his opposition to religions generally, which he says "compete with each other in terms of stupidity." But nothing seems to exercise his indignation more than the religion he used to call his own. Islam, he writes, is "an authoritarian religion that does not respect the individual's freedom of choice, which is easily noticeable from its barbaric verdicts such as stoning the adulterous, pushing homosexuals off a cliff and killing the apostates for daring to express a different viewpoint."

And that's just Husseini getting started. The essay proceeds by way of a series of questions, such as "Is Islam a religion of tolerance?" Answer: "The sacred texts of Islam also encourage blatant war and conquest of new territories." What about equality? "Islam has legitimized slavery, reinforced the gap between social classes and allowed stealing from the infidels." Women's rights? "I have a mother, a sister and a lover and I cannot stand for them to be humiliated and stigmatized in this bone-chilling way." The prophet? "A sex maniac" who "was no different than barbaric thugs who slaughtered, robbed and raped women." And so on.

This being the Arab world, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Husayin has spent the past 24 days in detention, that he has been forbidden from receiving visitors or speaking to a lawyer, that he faces a potential life sentence, and that people in Qalqilya have called for him to be burned alive.

Don't expect to see any of the public denunciations, protests, boycotts, or any other activity that would take place if a critic of Christianity was even verbally reprimanded--to say nothing of being jailed and threatened with death--for attacking the Church. No, for this is about Islam and the Palestinians whom the secular Left can only see as victims not oppressors. Nothing to see here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Starting Over

I completely concur with Vox Day's feelings about Childress getting fired:

I never thought I'd say this, but thank you Green Bay! I have no confidence in Frazier, but I actively disliked Childress from the moment his hiring was announced. I don't even think Andy Reid is a good head coach - he's a great quarterbacks coach, to be sure - so hiring someone who worked under Reid and didn't even call the plays as his offensive coordinator seemed totally inexplicable. The success the Vikings have had was the result of Rick Spielman's work in bringing in good players; literally anyone could have achieved decent results with the talent he brought in.

I too could not abide Childress from the beginning to the ignominious end. And yes, this included last year up to and especially including the NFC Championship game. I think Childress does deserve a measure of credit for working with Spielman and the Wilf's to identify and acquire the talent that the Vikings have been able to field during his tenure. But when it came to managing players or managing games, Childress was in the bottom half of NFL coaches.

Even though they came tantalizingly close last year, the Vikings were never going to win a Super Bowl with him as the head coach (yeah, yeah I know). Even before it began, I figured this was going to be a lost season for the Vikings. With their current team makeup, it's Super Bowl or bust and if you're going to bust anyway, you might as well do it early and spectacularly. This way they can clean house with the coach, start figuring out who will be part of the team's future, and maybe even end up with a decent draft pick.

While I wish Leslie Frazier all the luck in the world and am willing to give him a shot to permanently take over the team, I really hope the Vikings don't circle the wagons and rally behind the new coach. There is no saving this season any more. Bench Favre (and other aging veterans who won't be back next year). Rest Rice to ensure his hip is completely healed. Play the young guys to see if they've got what it takes to hang at this level. But whatever you do, DON'T go on a meaningless and futile run to close the season. Lose hard, lose close, lose with dignity. Just lose baby.

California Dreaming

As I sit here late in the evening while all you hard working Minnesotans are sleeping and dreaming of how you are Happy to Pay for a Better Minnesota, I grind m,y teeth over the weak comparison of Minnesota politics to California.

We have a California blogger (Zombietime) based in San Francisco (I believe) who routinely attends and photographs protests and other bizarre events in San Francisco. I won't link to the specifics, but suffice to say I can guarantee that you'll see nothing as disgusting and reprehensible as you can see in the glorious City by the Bay. I bring this up because while 'Fricso' (the locals HATE that)will issue permits and allow the most disgusting debauchery you can imagine (and, trust me, more than you can imagine), this fine city voted to ban Happy Meals and bottled water.

To summarize. Oral sex in public with a government permit? Perfectly fine. Happy Meals and bottled water? Not so much.

The Elder Moons For Rebuttal: You're a pastie-faced guy who loves hockey and is even willing to admit to being a Vikings fan. So why not just get it over with and move to Minnesota already? Our state is not likely the first choice for most refugees fleeing the collapse of California, but you'd fit right in here.

Living in My Own California . . . NOT

In an exercise of self pity, the headmaster here tries to garner some sympathy by comparing his local neighborhood political plight with that of the Great State of California.


In 1986, the voters of California tossed out three Supreme Court Justices, including Governor Moonbeams choice for Chief Justice, because of their knee-jerk absolutist opposition to the death penalty. (If you wonder why Charles Manson is still alive, thank Rose Bird. And Jerry Brown.)

Maybe more importantly, Jerry Brown opposed Proposition 13, the ballot initiative limiting property tax increases that passed with overwhelming support of the voters.

Yet here we are, years later, and California just elected Jerry effing Brown as Governor and re-elected Babs Boxer to the Senate. On purpose.

So while you folks in Minnesota occasionally get the giggles and elect Jesse Ventura and Al Franken, there really is no comparison to an electorate that willingly give the keys to the car to Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer.

It's over here. Last person out, please turn out the lights.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Countdown begins . . .

Do the Minnesota Vikings fire Childress before they announce their move to Los Angeles . . .

. . . or before the Gophers get a new football coach?

(and if you think the Vikings will get a new taxpayer funded stadium, well, you should put down the bong)

Monday Update: HA! Fraters gets results!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Northern Alliance Radio Network

The Northern Alliance Radio Network goes LIVE at 11AM (central). John Hinderaker, stringing together a second show in a row, and me breaking down all the news fit to broadcast.

Topics of discussion may include new TSA screening procedures, a subject that may be a point of disagreement among your amiable hosts. You wouldn't think a couple of liberty loving conservatives like ourselves would lock horns over this, but check out some of the recent commentary on Power Line. From Paul Mirengoff:

But most of the bitching I hear tends not to focus with clarity on the extent to which profiling or use of the machine advances the goal of preventing terrorist attacks. It focuses instead on the fact that the complaining party simply doesn't like what is being done to him or her. That's not surprising given the grievance oriented state of our society, but it's not reassuring either.

And from John Hinderaker himself:

Granted, I am not an attractive woman and therefore am less sensitive to the privacy issues involved in full body scanning. But if I thought the scanners made a meaningful contribution to our security by spotting explosives that don't show up in a metal detector, I would be OK with the technology even though my wife and daughters are very much in the attractive female category. Whether the scanners work or not is unclear, and has not been the focus of most of the current controversy. As for the pat-downs, they befall travelers who set off a metal detector or refuse the scanner. It has probably been several years, and hundreds of flights, since I have been patted down. If things have gotten materially worse over the last few weeks, I will have more to say in the future. But for now I am not seeing a big problem.

Breathtaking insouciance by two renown lawyers and Constitutional rights buffs, if not experts. We'll pick John's brain about this. Then I'll invite in my special guests, two surly, burly TSA agents, who'll strap on the rubber gloves and give him the full body cavity search he seems to be begging for in order to make up his mind.

After those fun and games, at noon, we get serious with a real guest and his sobering topic, the ascendancy of Al Franken to the United States Senate. It's local author Jay Weiner and his book "This Is Not Florida". I got through the brisk 250 pages this week and it's a terrific read. All you wanted to know about the 2008 recount contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken, and more.

Later Loon of the Week and This Week in Gatekeeping. Should be quite a show.

The NARN First Team starts at 11AM (central). Following us at 1 PM, Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey with NARN 2, the Headlighter edition.

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, November 19, 2010

Wesley Snipes Can't Jump (Bail)

A lot of liberals might be surprised that I'm thrilled that Wesley Snipes will be going to prison for tax evasion.

He was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty in April 2008 on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal income tax returns.

Snipes made a boatload of money in his career, yet took a principled stand against paying his federal taxes. He claims that the federal government doesn't have constitutional power to impose the income tax, so he didn't file.

This is a great opportunity to point out that this stand makes Snipes a nutcase and not a conservative hero. Conservatives and virtually all tea partiers believe that the federal government has the power to levy an income tax on the populous. We also hold the belief that the federal government is sloppy, wasteful, and exercises authority far too often. Essentially, we think that the government squanders our money.

However, very few of us are like Wesley Snipes. We pay our taxes. We grumble and complain about it, but that is our right as Americans. We don't respect some jerk who thinks that he doesn't have to follow the law of the land.

Wesley Snipes would have been better off working for political change to reduce government spending, and ultimately his tax rates. He could have done some good. Instead, he took a crazy approach and will soon be handed over to the US Marshals.

One Man's Junk...

The controversy over the TSA's scan and grope procedures has lead to some interesting developments.

First, is the unlikely alliance in opposition to the TSA from groups usually on opposing sides of most issues. Consider this e-mail that I received today:

First it was taking off our shoes. Then it was no liquids. Now, the TSA has instituted airport security procedures that completely cross the line.

New body scanners that amount to an electronic strip search. Extensive pat-downs of passengers' genitals and breasts. A search one mother described as a "sexual assault."

We need to make it clear to the TSA that security can't be used as an excuse to violate Americans' privacy, especially when it's clear that a determined terrorist could get around the existing procedures--and less invasive security alternatives exist.

Sounds like something a Ron Paul supporting libertarian group might send out, right? Try MoveOn.org. President Obama's 2008 campaign promise is being fulfilled: he is uniting the country after all.

The other development of note is the now widespread use of the word "junk" to refer to male genitalia. In the past, use of the term in that manner was rarely heard as part of the public discourse. Now, it's everywhere. Today on Twitter, I noticed that such diverse sources as Mike Nelson and Craig Westover both employed it. If only Learned Foot was still blogging...

It's in the mainstream media as well. The title of Charles Krauthammer's Washington Post column is Don't touch my junk. Count the references in this Eric Felten column in today's Wall Street Journal:

He was talking about John Tyner, the young man from Oceanside, Calif., who surreptitiously recorded his run-in with the TSA and posted it online. Mr. Tyner chose not to subject himself to radiation from the X-ray machine and was taken aside for a "standard pat-down." The TSA agent explained to him how the "groin check" part of the pat-down would be executed. It was then that Mr. Tyner "accosted" the poor TSA agent by saying the immortal words, "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." For shame, all of you who cheered. For shame.

Shame on those of you who have bought the "Don't Touch My Junk" T-shirts that entrepreneurs made available this week. Shame too on the Tea Party types who mocked the inviolable authority of the TSA by replacing the Gadsden Flag's "Don't Tread On Me" with Mr. Tyner's impertinent slogan. And treble shame on the blogger Iowahawk who demeaned not only the TSA but Frank Sinatra by recasting "Come Fly With Me" as "Comply With Me." (The lyric "Once I get you up there" became "Once I get all up there.") You should all be aware that the TSA is not amused.

"If you touch my junk..." may have garnered all the attention, but it is not the most important thing on Mr. Tyner's recording. A TSA supervisor told him that if he was uncomfortable, he could be escorted out "and you don't have to fly today." Mr. Tyner asked how "sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying." After a bit of back and forth, the TSA supervisor played the trump card: "By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights."

Public discussion of junk touching has reached new heights.

One of our readers--Bob from Inver Grove Heights--has even worked it into song:

Hello, Chad. I guess I’m not yet quite as resigned to the latest airport “security” tomfoolery as you are. Before I submit like a sheep, I made up this little cri de coeur on my way to work this morning (to be sung to the tune of “Don’t Fence Me In”):

I’ll put my change in the pan, take your wand and do a scan,

But don’t touch my junk.

I’ll leave my liquids behind, stand forever in your line,

But don’t touch my junk.

Take my shoes, take my belt, take my watch and keys,

Hassle me about my metal hips and knees,

Be a bureaucratic jerk, but I ask you please,

Don’t touch my junk.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we wish safe travels to everyone flying the increasingly surly skies. May you arrive at your destination safely and may your junk not be touched.

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXIX)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the thoughtful folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits whose still waters run deep when it comes to wine, whiskey, and beer.

Stillwater, Minnesota:

On July 29 and September 29, 1837, treaties were signed between the US government and the local Ojibwa and Dakota nations that allowed settlement in the St. Croix Valley. The town was founded by settlers drawn by the area's then-abundant lumber and river traffic, making it one of Minnesota's oldest towns, predating Minneapolis by several years. Stillwater was officially incorporated as a city March 4, 1854 (the same day as St. Paul).

Stillwater is often referred to as the birthplace of Minnesota. In 1848, a territorial convention that began the process of establishing Minnesota as a state was held in Stillwater at the corner of Myrtle and Main Streets. Minnesota officially became a territory in 1849 and became a state in 1858.

As more evidence of Stillwater's importance at the time, the convention selected three leading Minnesota cities as locations for three important public institutions: Minneapolis got the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul became the capital, and Stillwater was chosen as the site of the territory's first prison. The Minnesota Territorial Prison was opened in 1853.

Lumbering was the predominant industry in the St. Croix River Valley in the second half of the 19th century, and for many years logs were sent down the St. Croix, collected at the St. Croix Boom Site two miles upstream of Stillwater, and processed in Stillwater's many sawmills. Steamboats were used most widely from 1860–1890, and a few are still used for entertainment purposes today.

On October 18, 1921 Charles P. Strite invented the bread-toaster in Stillwater. By 1926, the Toastmaster Company began to market the first household toaster using a redesigned version of Strite's toaster.

Today, Stillwater is best known as the home of our own Brian "Saint Paul" Ward, despite the fact that he refuses to adapt his moniker to his current residency. Which actually might be for the best as a possible future move would then require a change to Brian "Arcola" Ward.

Another Stillwater institution that's following close on the heels of Brian's fame (infamy?) is the Lift Bridge Beer Company. Their Chestnut Hill seasonal selection is our beer of the week:

A wonderfully big nut brown ale crafted with roasty toasty malts balanced with Yakima hops and just enough alcohol to keep you warm on a fall afternoon.

Brown bottle. Classic design with the label featuring rich, dark shades of tan, brown, and black and a picture of a barber shop from some point in Stillwater's illustrious past.

STYLE: Nut Brown Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%

COLOR (0-2): Rich brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Caramel, nuts, and roasted malt. 2

HEAD (0-2): Light tan color, not a lot of volume, but laces nicely. 2

TASTE (0-5): Like the aroma, there are delicious flavors of caramel, nuts, and roasted malt. There's also a healthy dollop of bitter and subtle touches of spice and cocoa. Very well balanced. Medium body, creamy mouthful, and decently drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Dry finish with a rich follow through. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Chestnut Hill does the Stillwater neighborhood whose name it bears proud. It's not exactly what you would expect from a nut brown ale, but the differences are all for the best. It's a great looking beer with full flavors to match. One of my favorites so far from Lift Bridge. Although they tout its abilities to keep you warm on a fall afternoon, I believe it's got enough punch for a cold winter evening as well. Such transitional beers certainly come in handy this time of year. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Don't Worry, This'll Only Hurt A Lot!

As a somewhat frequent traveler, I'm having a hard time getting too worked up about the latest TSA efforts to scan and grope us in the interests of aviation safety. Some of this may stem from the fact that I've spent time in places where it is routine to get patted down before entering a shopping mall. My apathy may also be partially explained because I long ago abandoning any pretense of being allowed to maintain any dignity while traveling by air. After years of being herded like animals, treated like children, and subject to inane, ineffective, and often incomprehensible rules and regulations, it's a wonder that every regular American air traveler hasn't already been beaten into a state of resigned submission by this point. Most of us now hang our heads low as we shuffle through the security line like a broken Cool Hand Luke, "Taking it off, boss?"

My biggest concern with the TSA's new hands-on see-through approach is that it will make the current snail-like security process even longer. If I could just walk quickly through a giant scanner without having to go through the shoes-off, laptop-out, pockets-empty, liquids-bagged and then put everything back together again security shuffle, I wouldn't care if my private parts were flashed on the big screen in Times Square. Propriety for time is a trade off that I'd be willing to make, especially since we already sacrifice far too much of both when traveling today.

It's also interesting to observe how much outrage this particular example of government intrusion has generated. If the most egregious violation that the federal government was visiting upon its citizens was a pat down at the airport, this country would be in pretty damn good shape. Is the violation of your body by the TSA really worse than the violation by the IRS (and other taxing authorities) of your wallet (or your home, your car, etc)? The reason that people are so ticked off by the TSA's scan and grab is that it's such an obvious and visible instance of the government taking something away from you (privacy in this case).

Which leads me to propose a change to the way that taxes are currently collected. For years, conservatives have suggested that the IRS stop withholding taxes from paychecks and instead that every taxpayer be made to write out an annual check to the government. This way, they would truly realize how much money the government was taking from them and appreciate how painful it was to have to surrender it. I say we go a step beyond that and mandate that the IRS has to personally collect taxes from every single American by visiting their homes and physically taking it from them. These collectors would be dressed similar to the king's goons who shook down Hagar the Horrible.

While this might lead to increased costs (muscle doesn't come cheap) and inefficiencies for the IRS, the impact that this would have on the attitudes of American taxpayers and their willingness to continue to be happy to pay more a better _______ would be dramatic. If you think people are mad about government agents going through their pockets at the airport just imagine what the reaction would be if these agents were picking their pockets and cleaning out their drawers at home.

Is Florida, Is Not Florida

Coming up on the Northern Alliance Radio Network this Saturday, an interview with Jay Weiner, author of "This Is Not Florida", an exhaustive account of the 2008 Minnesota Senate election race, recount, and lawsuit that ultimately installed Al Franken into the world's greatest deliberative body.

It was the longest (8 months) and most expensive ($20 million) recount in American history and memories of process still linger in or haunt (depending on your political orientation) the minds of politically aware Minnesotans to this day. Weiner does an impressive job in documenting the details on every twist and turn in the road that led from an announced 700+ vote lead for Norm Coleman on election night to a 400+ vote victory by Franken months later. All you wanted to know about the legal wrangling and the TSA-like cavity search for voter intent on each and every ballot that could be dug up is available in this book. Plus great insights into the motivations and intriguing personalities of the main players on both sides.

We'll be talking to Jay Weiner at noon on Saturday and he'll be able to dispel some myths and raise some new questions about what went down in the great recount of 2008. To get a jump on the discussion, check out his terrific presentation on the book broadcast on CSPAN last week.

Dancing to a Different Drummer

At the First Thought blog, David Mills notes the usual reaction from the usual suspects to the election of Timothy Dolan as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Predictably, secular commentators and dissenting Catholics are not happy that the Catholic bishops elected Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, their next president. The Catholic League reports, for example:

NPR is worried that Archbishop Dolan is “overtly conservative,” and Tim Rutten of theLos Angeles Times is fretting about his “confrontational approach.” Dissident Catholics are upset as well: New Ways Ministry says the vote “sends an ominous message”; Call to Action also sees his election as “ominous”; Sr. Maureen Fiedler says “we now have our very own Catholic version of the ‘Tea Party’ movement”; DignityUSA concludes that Dolan’s election means the hierarchy is “out of step” with Catholics. Similarly, the Human Rights Campaign, a gay secular group, says the vote means the hierarchy is “out of step.” Not to be outdone, the website of the Tucson Citizen accused Dolan of evincing an “arrogant” attitude in winning (it is true that he was caught smiling).
“Ominous,” “sends an [ominous or ominous-sounding adjective here] message,” “out of step” — readers familiar with the stock of dissenters’ cliches will have been expecting all this. The crowd that produces such things are either worried or outraged, and they have chosen this time to be worried, probably because, as George Neumayr writes, “Dolan—though he sees himself walking in the footsteps of John O’Connor—is far from a confrontational conservative… [I]t is more accurate to say that the moderate won and the liberal lost.” So we get the deeply furrowed brows and not the raised voice and fist.

The election was, Neumayr writes, and I hope he’s right about this, a defeat for the “Bernardin Left” and the “seamless garment” crowd, and of “Bernardin’s dream of the USCCB as a Vatican-resistant body of progressive political opinions.” The idea of the “seamless garment” functioned much less as a consistent political position and more as a way of submerging the defense of life in a vague and undifferentiated liberalism, which seems to have closely allied to an equally vague and undifferentiated liberalism in theology.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Goodnight and Good Luck

WCCO-TV Anchorman Don Shelby is retiring soon and was the subject of near hagiographic tributes in both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press this weekend. I think it's fair to say we'll not see his like again. Thanks to the communications revolution blowing up the entrenched media oligopoly, news consumers now have hundreds of options for information at 10PM. The era of the local TV anchorman getting a 40 share and becoming an enduring, wise, benevolent father figure by default for an entire community is mercifully over.

Shelby took on this role with glee and, as the articles testify, his arrogance became legendary among those in the business. Chad the Elder took note of this leaking into his broadcasts as well, from a post on the TV coverage of the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007:

The man's self-importance knows no limits and it was on display for all to see this evening. At a time when the news coverage should have focused solely on rescue and recovery efforts, Shelby almost immediately launched into discussions about the possible causes of the collapse and where blame could be assigned. He was obviously getting all his information on bridge structures and engineering from other sources, but he rarely if ever mentioned them, giving the viewer the impression that HE DON SHELBY knew all about such matters and was able and willing to start drawing conclusions while the rubble was still settling. It was a disgusting display of arrogance with an almost total absence of wisdom.

Shelby's comments on why he's retiring reflect this same pattern:

He says he decided to leave the station when his contract ended this year because he felt it was time to give up his post, not because he was pushed out.

"I have determined that I can be of no further help to WCCO," he said. "My kind of journalism is passé — the long-form, investigative pieces that hold the powerful accountable."

A self-serving kick to the teeth of his employer on the way out the door. Is that anyway to treat the people who paid him millions over his career?

More to the point, the idea that he was regularly grilling the "powerful" from behind his desk and teleprompter is laughable. I suppose 30 years ago when he started he may have been holding powerful people's feet to the fire.

These days, the man who became known as "DFL Don" is more likely to be holding powerful people like Minneapols Mayor RT Rybak not accountable, but sweetly in his arms while laughing and performing at a fundraiser for a liberal news web site.

As I said previously, we'll not see the likes of a Don Shelby again in this town. And that's a good thing.

I'm Living In My Own California

We are all no doubt familiar with the old adage that "all politics is local." So while the election results were generally encouraging for Republicans at a national level and pretty decent at the state level (taking both the State House and Senate while losing the governorship), it's rather disappointing for me to consider how things shook out locally. In what was in most respects an excellent year for the GOP, 2010 was not a banner election for Republicans in my particular neck of the woods.

Starting with the Fifth Congressional District, where Democrat Keith Ellison reelected with 67.69% of the vote.

In the state Senate District 44, Democrat Ron Latz was reelected with 65.10% of the vote.

In my state House district, Democrat Ryan Winkler was reelected with 64.64% of the vote.

This again in a Republican year and against some of the best candidates the GOP has fielded of late in these races.

Taking it down even further to my neighborhood and its surrounding area, here are the percentage of vote totals that these Democrats received at the precinct level:

Ellison 57.5%

Latz 62.51%

Winkler 61.4%

Here's how Democrats in state wide races fared in my precinct:

Dayton 53.84%

Ritchie 61.09%

Otto 59.24%

Swanson 63.24%

Voters in our precinct did give Fraters Libertas endorsed candidate Richard Strong 27.84% of the vote in the race for Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor District 4 (the most for any of the candidates), but that still wasn't enough to put him over the top.

In summary, in a year featuring strong voter discontent with Democrats and a desire to "throw the bums out," two out of three of my neighbors who voted pulled the lever for Democrats which in most races meant "keeping the bums in." So at a certain level, I can sympathize with conservatives in California who were left scratching their heads after the election and asking, "Why not us?". I am living Minnesota, but feeling California.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jeff Johnson for Governor

We haven't even concluded the 2010 Minnesota Gubernatorial race yet, so it may be presumptuous to be looking ahead to the next one in . . . 2014. (Ack! First time I've put together what seems to be that impossibly distant point in time and the duration of a Mark Dayton administration.) But every time I read something from Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, I can't help thinking about what might be.

His latest editorial in the Star Tribune shows that combination of common sense and easy communication style that I have to believe would resonate across the state, especially during a time of economic distress. Excerpt:

Despite what one might frequently hear, most of us who consider ourselves fiscal conservatives don't have an interest in dismantling government. Hennepin County, for example, does many important and necessary things -- and does them well.

But it frustrates me to no end to have a combination of high taxes (which we have) and numerous spending programs that are questionable, silly or -- in some cases -- insane (which we have), and then hear elected officials cry poverty when it comes to basic functions of government.

Let me give you an example from just this week:

We heard a compelling argument on the county board that funding for certain health services for the mentally ill has been cut too deeply this year. And, of course, some opined that it is indicative of a county government that has cut "to the bone" and largely the fault of conservatives who are not even willing to fund the basics.

That's frustrating to hear when we in Hennepin County refuse to place a moratorium on library art spending or when we provide free, non-emergency health care to illegal immigrants or spend millions each year on "transit-oriented development" or add $14 million to the cost of a bridge to make it look more artistic or allocate $700,000 for landscaping at the county garbage burner. And on and on...

It's that kind of clear-eyed analysis for the voters that could save not only Hennepin County, not only Minnesota, but that other malfunctioning enterprise, the United States of America!

All right, let's get him into the Governor's mansion first before we focus on the White House.

If you'd like to read more about Jeff Johnson, bookmark his web site, the Tax Payer's Watchdog.

Vice Is Virtue

Sarah Palin's new reality series "Sarah Palin's Alaska" drew a huge audience last night:

Sarah Palin's new TV show drew a bumper audience of almost five million people in its debut Sunday night, marking the largest viewership ever for a program launch on cable channel TLC, according to figures released on Monday.

"Sarah Palin's Alaska" -- an eight-episode series that is part travel show and part an inside look at the family life of the controversial Tea Party favorite -- was watched by 4.96 million people, most of them over 35 years-old, Nielsen data showed.

I didn't plan on watching this program, but stumbled across it while surfing last night and came away impressed. The real star of the show turned out to be the one getting second billing in the title, Alaska. Love or hate Sarah Palin, it's hard not to be captivated by a well-produced, beautifully shot program featuring Denali National Park in HD plasma wide screen glory for an hour.

Whatever the reason, getting 5 million viewers is an accomplishment. I understand it's not only a record audience for a new TLC channel program, but also an all-time record for a basic cable program featuring the name of a losing Vice Presidential candidate in its title. Believe it or not, "Joseph Lieberman's Connecticut" on Current TV completely bombed a few years ago. And don't even bring up The Travel Channel's controversial experiment with "Estes Kefauver's Tennessee" back in the mid-90's.

I think the lesson to be learned is that while losing Vice Presidential candidates mabe be a natural ratings magnet, merely casting them as hosts of a travelogue of their states is not necessarily the right thing to do. You've got to play to their strengths. And you've got to put something in the title that leaps off the on-screen TV guide and grabs viewers by the short hairs. Yes, for Sarah Palin, "Alaska" works just fine. For other losing Vice Presidential candidates, these other attributes would be far more likely to yield basic cable success.

-- John Edwards's Hair Care Tips

-- Joe Lieberman's ... (ed. note, there is absolutely nothing associated with the name Joe Lieberman that would attract a TV audience)

-- Jack Kemp's End Zone Action

-- Dan Quayle's Twice Baked Potatoe Recipes

-- Lloyd Bentsen's Other Things That Are No Jack Kennedy

-- Geraldine Ferraro at the Jersey Shore

-- Walter Mondale's Continuing Search for the Beef

-- Bob Dole's Banana Bonanza

Admit it, each and everyone one of these would stop you in your channel surfing tracks.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Love (not) on the Rocks

Timberwolves forward Kevin Love scored 31 points and pulled down 31 rebounds Friday night against the New York Knicks. This was the first time a player scored 30 points and had 30 rebounds in an NBA game since Moses Malone did it in 1982.

The feat was made sweeter by the player’s last name: Love. This gave headline writers the opportunity to indulge in creative punning.

The Star Tribune gets romantic: Love blooms with 31 points, 31 rebounds in win over Knicks

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press channels Zeppelin: Whole lotta Love

The New York Daily News: T-Wolves show Knicks tough Love

The New York Post is too bitter to come up with a pun: Love’s 30-30 night sinks woeful Knicks

And of course, the New York Times is above such things: Knick Collapse Under Weight of a 21-Point Lead

Northern Alliance Radio Network

The Northern Alliance Radio Network is back in full effect this morning, LIVE at 11AM (central). John Hinderaker has returned from his month in the wilderness, and is promising lots of fresh insights, analysis, and tips on how to fasion a long bow out of elk horn and buffalo sinew.

Topics of discussion to include updates in the on-going MN Gubernatorial election. At 11:30 we welcome MN Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton as a guest to discuss, in particular his motivation in pursuing this in the face of a ~9,000 vote deficit. Is there stil hope for Tom Emmer in the Governor's mansion? We'll find out.

Also, discussion of the Federal Debt Comission recomendations, extension of the Bush era tax cuts, raising of the debt ceiling. Later Loon of the Week and This Week in Gatekeeping. Should be quite a show.

The NARN First Team starts at 11AM (central). Following us at 1 PM, Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey with NARN 2, the Headlighter edition.

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, November 12, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXVIII)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the solid folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help keep you see clearly when making your selection of wine, whiskey, and beer.

Delirium tremens:

Delirium tremens (also referred to as The D.T.'s) is an acute episode of delirium that is usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol, first described in 1813.

The D.T.'s have a rich cultural history especially when they involve its victims seeing pink elephants:

"Seeing pink elephants" is a euphemism for drunken hallucination, caused by alcoholic hallucinosis or delirium tremens. The first recorded use of the term is by Jack London in 1913, who describes one sort of alcoholic in the autobiographical John Barleycorn as "the man whom we all know, stupid, unimaginative, whose brain is bitten numbly by numb maggots; who walks generously with wide-spread, tentative legs, falls frequently in the gutter, and who sees, in the extremity of his ecstasy, blue mice and pink elephants. He is the type that gives rise to the jokes in the funny papers." London may have derived his metaphor from the 1890s saying "being followed by pink giraffes".

In Action Comics #7 (December 1938), in a story in which Superman lifts an elephant over his head while performing at the circus, a drunk in the crowd exclaims, "I don't mind seeing pink elephants, but (-hic-) this is too much!"

A reference to pink elephants occurs in the 1941 Disney animated film Dumbo. Dumbo, having taken a drink of water from a bucket spiked with champagne, begins to hallucinate singing and dancing "Pink Elephants on Parade".

A Disney character getting drunk and hallucinating? Those were the days. It reminds me of a classic Warner Brothers cartoon from 1947 called A Pest in the House. Daffy Duck is in his prime during this period and he plays a bellhop who carries out a series of gags which prevent a surly guest from sleeping which brings much consternation (and physical pain) to the hotel's manager Elmer Fudd. This is my favorite bit:

Daffy opens a window which releases a loud gail which frightens the man to the ceiling, and when the man comes down, closes it and retuns to his sleep, and Daffy leaves the room, a drunken man in the other room sings "How Dry I Am". Just when he was going to beat the drunk, Daffy says that he'll "muzzle that inebriated canary", only for the naive duck to get drunk and sing along.

"Muzzle that inebriated canary," is a killer line and one that we might have to employ when Atomizer starts getting out of hand at this year's Fraters Inc. Christmas party.

Today, the Huyghe Brewery Melle, Belgium continues the pink elephant tradition with their Delirium Tremens beer:

Delirium Tremens was launched on 26 December 1989. The beer uses three different yeasts and is packaged in a bottle that is painted to resemble cologne ceramics. The label exemplifies different phases of the production of "Delirium Tremens" and that the "Pink Elephant" was up and ready to conquer the world.

In 1992, the "Confrerie van de Roze Olifant" (Brotherhood of the Pink Elephant) was founded to promote Delirium Tremens and other beers of Melle.

Sounds like a heck of a lot more fun than the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." When does the movie come out?

Although it is commonly thought that sufferers hallucinate pink elephants, which may explain its use on the beer's label, the most common animals seen in delirium tremens hallucinations are cats, dogs, and snakes.

Those are rather pedestrian creatures when it comes hallucinations. I can see why they went with the much more interesting pink elephant instead. Let's take a closer at our beer of the week.

Delirium Tremens comes in a 25.4 ounce glass bottle made to look ceramic with a cork wrapped in blue foil. Blue label with pink elephants, strutting alligators, and something that looks like a snake dragon. Or maybe I'm just hallucinating.

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 8.5%

COLOR (0-2): Golden brown and a wee bit cloudy. 2

AROMA (0-2): Yeast, tangy fruit, candied sugar and spices. 2

HEAD (0-2): Lots of volume, thick and foamy. Bright white color. 2

TASTE (0-5): Similar to the aroma with malt and yeast mixing nicely with strong fruity and sweet flavors. Some spiciness and a little bitter hopiness at the finish. Very carbonated and crisp. Medium-bodied with a smooth mouthfeel. You don't really pick up the alcohol that much and it's surprisingly drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Tart yet pleasant. 2

OVERALL (0-6): In 1998, Delirium Tremens was named the Best Beer in the World at the World Beer Championships in Chicago. I must respectfully disagree with that designation. DT is an excellent beer and if you're into Belgian Ales, this is one not to miss. It’s got a ton of interesting and well-balanced flavors while remaining remarkably drinkable. But if ever faced with the stark prospect of choosing the last beer I ever get to drink, there are a number of others I would go with before Delirium Tremens. I do love those pink elephants though. 5

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 17

Separated at Birth?

Rumored to make a million dollars as year as a talk radio host Eduardo "Piolin" Sotelleo and...

...rumored to make six million a year (???) as a radio producer Gary Dell'Abate?

It's unusual to see that kind of money linked with that size of teeth outside of John Elway or Tori Spelling.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Divided Loyalties

Caught this nugget in a piece by Keven Myers regarding a Cambridge Union debate about whether Israel is a rogue state:

Gabriel's co-sponsor of the motion, Lauren Booth, was clearly caught unawares by his brilliant definition of rogue. This convert to Islam divides her loyalties ecumenically between Shia and Sunni mosques in London, which makes her the Islamic equivalent of a Free Presbyterian-Roman Catholic.

Sounds an awful lot like the religious practices of a certain silver-haired, nationally-syndicated, talk radio shock jock, doesn't it?

By the way, Myers' entire article on the debate is well worth reading.

The Next Best Thing To Being There

Cody e-mails with a video he put together for one veteran in particular that helps honor all of them. You'll likely recognize the music that it's set to:

Honor Air is an effort to charter flights to the National Mall bringing war veterans to see the memorials. Even though he served during WWII, my Grandfather who is 94 chose not to go because he didn't want to take the seat of a veteran who saw combat. Part of the reason I produced this piece was to bring the monuments to him.

Perception is Reality

Long-time friend of Fraters Gary Larson has a timely review of James S. Robbins book "This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive" in today's Washington Times:

Conventional wisdom holds that Tet was the turning point in public perception of this war, as its purposefulness to our geopolitical interests was called into question. That might well be so, but a public presumption that Tet was a triumph for the enemy is mightily challenged in "This Time We Win," a groundbreaking new book by James S. Robbins.

Mr. Robbins, editorial writer on foreign affairs at The Washington Times, painstakingly retraces the bloody clashes and their aftermath, shredding the notion that the offensive was a victory, other than Pyrrhic, for the VC and its allies, the regulars in PAVN (the People's Army of [North] Vietnam). Using the enemy's postwar documents, Mr. Robbins maintains that Tet weakened it to the point of near collapse, severely wounding the insurgents' infrastructure.

That is not how it was portrayed in American media.

In reality, Tet was a desperate push to foment revolt among the South Vietnamese to kick out those American "lackeys," Mr. Robbins asserts. Ironically, that failed strategy became a rallying point for anti-war sentiment on the U.S. home front. Tet rekindled enemy hopes for a crack in American resolve, leading to the United States' abandoning its "imperialistic aims" and South Vietnamese allies.

The coverage of the Tet offensive and its aftermath is a great example of the media's tendency to distort reality to fit a particular narrative and for reporters and journalists to see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

Blood of the Martyrs

News from Baghdad yesterday that a series of roadside bombs in predominately Christian neighbors killed five people. This on top of the October 31st attack on a church that killed sixty-eight provides fresh evidence that Iraqi Christians are being targeted because of their faith. As Father Raymond J. De Souza notes in a piece called His wrath upon their heads, the whole world doesn't exactly appear to be watching:

May we now speak of the Muslims who want to kill us?

Isn't that way out of line? Surely Islam is a religion of peace, from which we have a lot to learn?

Let's then dispense with the disclaimers: Christians and Muslims have often lived together in peace. Only a minority of Muslims are homicidal fanatics. Terrorism is a corruption of Islam. Fine.

But let us speak frankly of those Islamic jihadists who wish to kill Christians because they are not Muslims. On Oct. 31 in Baghdad, an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group stormed into the cathedral of the Syriac Catholic Church, Our Lady of Salvation, during the evening Mass. They immediately killed the priest offering the Holy Mass--three priests in all were murdered. They began shooting and held the congregation hostage while security forces surrounded the church. When the police stormed the church, the jihadists began killing those inside; some of them set off suicide bombs on their belts. Dozens of Catholics were killed.

The blood of Abel, the first innocent to be killed, cried out to heaven. The blood of these latest Iraqi martyrs screams out to heaven and Earth. Does the world want to listen?

"Christians are slaughtered in Iraq, in their homes and churches, and the so-called 'free' world is watching in complete indifference, interested only in responding in a way that is politically correct and economically opportune, but in reality is hypocritical," said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan after these latest killings.

"There are a few churches and Christian institutions left in Baghdad, not so great a number that it is not unreasonable for them to be protected, security-wise," he continued, noting that the security being provided by the government is "far less than what we have hoped for and requested."

By now the killing of Christians by jihadists has become a regular feature of the landscape in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Yet a massacre in a church, during the Holy Mass, surely would provoke a thunderous reaction?

"We condemn in the strongest terms those who would conduct such a cowardly, vicious and senseless attack on innocent civilians in a place of worship," said the boilerplate statement from Lawrence Cannon, Canada's foreign minister. No mention of who "those" attackers might be. The Rotary Club? Salvation Army?

A previously unknown kook in Florida (a state which seems to produce more than its fair share by the way) announces his intention to burn the Koran and it's wall-to-wall media coverage for days on end. Christians in Iraq are blatantly targeted and slaughtered by Islamic extremists in a church during a religious service and the media's reaction is a collective, "Meh."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bunker Mentality

James Lileks in the current edition of National Review on Tax and Beg Radio (sub req):

I know people who work in public radio, and they’re good journalists. But I grit my teeth when I go to the local station for interviews or shows. I’ve spent time in private radio, where the dank ugly studios lack only leaking barrels of water with Civil Defense markings. The local public-radio stations are like the bridge of the Enterprise. Here, put on these silk-sheathed headphones, cushioned with our special mixture of ambergris. Grapes? Peeled or pre-peeled?

If the Congress defunds NPR, then Ernst Stavro Soros, sitting in his underwater lair stroking a white Persian, can foot the bill for the rest. Or Bill can foot the bill. (Gates, that is.) Or they can run ads, and the audience can suffer the way the AM talk-radio audience suffers, listening to another exhortation to buy gold before the currency gets into a contest with Zimbabwe’s for the greatest number of zeros. If we can’t stop paying however many pennies to public radio, then we can’t push away any piglet from the teat. A hard-working Congress could pass this by 9:02 a.m. on Day One. Unless Amtrak abolition took a minute more than scheduled.

I believe I have a passing familiarity with one of those studios that James so aptly describes.

Meanwhile, in the same issue and on the same topic Rob Long has penned this killer metaphor (sub req):

From the smug, deluded bunker of NPR, Fox News is a big, greasy, angry, hate-filled state fair, where right-wing nuttery is passed along like deep-fried Twinkies to an obese and ignorant public.

Using imaginary from the state fair to perfectly capture how NPR feels about Fox? Beautiful. I gotta believe that Mr. Lileks might be just the slightest bit jealous that it was Mr. Long who came up with that one.

The Last Title?

From the Star Tribune, an update on the fate of the man they used to call "Representative" Jim Oberstar:

President Obama did not let Rep. Jim Oberstar's 35-years in Congress pass without comment - or without prompting rampant speculation about his future.

An aide to the Iron Range DFLer, known as "Mr. Transportation" in Washington, said the president called at breakfast Wednesday morning as Oberstar was digesting the news of his first loss in 19 elections.

In my long history of chronicling the self-promoting titles that Mr. Oberstar and his staff have created and convinced compliant reporters and colleagues to refer to him as, that's the first time I've heard of "Mr. Transportation".

We know of Mr. Aviation. We know of The Voice of Bicyclists in the Nation. We know of the Father of Safe Routes. We know of the Sultan of Spandex Tights. (Although I'm the only one who calls him that last one).

But "Mr. Transportation"!? That is a significant upgrade from the niche (and crevice) areas of influence he previously seized for himself. In fact, that's the whole enchilada. The ultimate in locomotion related titles. There's nowhere to go from Mr. Transportation!

Or is there?

Staffers who were gathered with Oberstar at the Duluth Holiday Inn heard Oberstar tell Obama, "Mr. President, I want you to know that while my service in Congress has ended, my commitment to public service has not, and I’m ready to assist your administration in any way."

To which, the president reportedly replied, "Let's let the dust settle and talk again."

The Star Tribune reporter took this to mean that perhaps Oberstar would be offered the position of Secretary of Transportation in the near future. This seems plausible. The turn over rate for cabinet secretaries in any administration is high and the current TranSec is an undistinguished Republican, originally brought in for the appearance of bi-partisanship when the Obama administration still cared about such things. The circumstances of Oberstar getting thrown out by his constituents after 36 years in Congress provide additional motivation. In my opinion, his highly conspicuous vote for ObamaCare, in opposition to his long-promoted "pro-life" stance, cost him this race. Since Oberstar was there when Obama needed him, a little quid pro quo might be in play here.

Maybe Oberstar's final title will be Secretary of Transportation. Which would actually be a positive development for the country, since he'll merely be in a position of executing a budget of untold hundreds of billions every year instead of setting it with an eye on massive increases year after year.

Semper Fi

If Saint Paul is looking for local entertainment options free of the taint of partisan politics, he should consider heading down to Keegan's Irish Pub in Nordeast Minneapolis:

The United States Marine Corps was born on November 10, 1775. This year we celebrate the 235th birthday of our Corps.

On Wednesday, November 10, 2010, all Marines, active, inactive and retired, are invited to share the occasion at Keegan's Pub.

Celebrate with lunch, dinner or simply a toast to the glorious history that is the United States Marine Corps.

While Saint Paul honors all those who served in the military--especially Marines--as much as the next guy, the real attraction for him would likely be this:

Every year we make a big deal of the Marine Corps Birthday at the pub. This year the party will be bigger and better than ever. The U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club is in town for a concert and a detachment of them is coming to the pub to sing The Marines Hymn in four part harmony. ETA 10 pm.

Naval Academy cadets gleefully belting out The Marines Hymn at Keegan's? Now that's an entertainment spectacle not to be missed. And don't forget that today through Sunday, all military vets and those on active duty get their first drink gratis courtesy of publican Terry Keegan. Talk about a reason for glee.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Not In My Back Air

This Thursday is Veteran's Day, a time when Americans pause to thank those who have served the country and remember the sacrifices they have made. It's a chance for Americans to express their support for the troops serving today and show our gratitude for all that they do to keep us free and safe.

Well, as long as they don't disturb our precious right to relax in the slightest. Air Force Flyover Plan Draws Flak (WSJ-sub req):

The U.S. Air Force thinks the rough-hewn peaks of southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico make excellent surrogates for the treacherous mountain ranges in global hotspots such as Afghanistan. Some local residents beg to differ.

In a bid to provide Special Operations pilots more realistic simulations of wartime missions, the Air Force has proposed a vast new tactical training zone that stretches across 94,000 square miles of rugged terrain. Starting next year, commanders want to send C-130 transport planes and CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft skimming across the region after dark at altitudes as low as 200 feet and speeds of up to 288 miles per hour. They envision three sorties a night.

The pilots would dart among the ridges and dip low over the rangeland, practicing the stealth needed for covert operations, said Col. Stephen Clark, wing commander at New Mexico's Cannon Air Force Base, which is pushing the proposal.

Pilots would be required to avoid cities in the zone, including Santa Fe and Taos in New Mexico and Aspen, Pueblo and Durango in Colorado. But communities and residents fighting the Air Force say that hundreds of low-altitude flights each year will spook cattle, scare children, rattle adobe buildings, create pollution and mar the tranquility they cherish.

So on the one hand you have an Air Force training plan that will better prepare pilots for conditions they will face in Afghanistan and likely save lives and on the other you have people who are unwilling to have their mellow harshed in any way. Air crews who put their lives on the line every day to protect and defend the country versus spoiled citizens who are outraged that they might ever have to sacrifice anything for anyone no matter how serious the cause. Geez, hard to decide who's in the right here.

Military officers say the fears are overblown. The Air Force already sends pilots zipping across the region, at times as low as 200 feet above the ground, though current regulations have the effect of limiting night sorties to a half-dozen well-surveyed routes, Col. Clark said.

Under the new proposal, pilots would be allowed to map their own routes through the tactical training zone, increasing the challenge and realism of the training, Col. Clark said. It would also tend to disperse the noise and disruption across a broader area. He said he doesn't anticipate that any one village or ranch would experience the aircraft overhead more than a couple times a month.

Col. Clark said the military has not measured noise levels of aircraft flyovers at 200 feet. For someone standing on the ground, aircraft at an altitude of 500 feet would create a sound exposure of 91 to 95 decibels, or "somewhere between a lawn mower and a chain saw," he said.

Having to put up with the sound of a lawn mower or chain saw for a brief period of time at most a couple of times a month knowing that the reason for the sound is to better train pilots for conditions they will face on the battlefield? No wonder these folks are so outraged.

Kathleen Dudley plans to throw herself into fighting the Air Force should commanders choose to move ahead. A writer in Mora, N.M., northeast of Santa Fe, Ms. Dudley said she and her husband were eating lunch on their deck recently when a military aircraft screamed overhead, flying so low "that we were looking into the eyeballs of a pilot bearing down on us."

"I was terrified," she said. "You don't hear or see them until they're upon you, and then it's like being in a war zone."

Yes, Ms. Dudley exactly like being in a war zone. Except ten seconds later the plane is gone and you and your husband are still sitting on your deck eating your precious lunch. Hope the PTSD isn't getting to you yet.

In fairness, there are some voices of reason among the citizenry on this matter:

"We always thank our servicemen and our veterans. We pray for their safety," said Chris Calvert, a former Air Force pilot who now serves on the Santa Fe City Council. "To then turn around and say, 'But we don't want to be inconvenienced in the least by your getting the training you need' is hypocritical."

Indeed it is.

Politics The Old Fashioned Way

Long-time reader Matthew e-mails with more on political messages and messengers:

I was reading some of your post today. I have long ago given up having any interest in what Peggy Noonan writes. I do not know the context of the "he was only an actor" comment nor the point Sara Palin was trying to convey. However, there does seem to be a bit of sarcasm intwined with it. Pres. Reagan's critics call him only an actor but he was greater than that for many of the things you point out. When reading about his life one learns the truth about what a prolific student he was. I learned that Pres. Reagan had a fear of flying and during his time as presenter at GE he took trains and cars to make his speeches at various plants around the county. This gave him time to think, plan, and read.

I recently finished the book "The Education of Ronald Reagan" by Thomas Evans and found it to be very educational and enlightening. I do not remember how I obtained this copy, but it must have been part of an Amazon book binge. While the main subject was Pres. Reagan, it seemed to me the back story held greater weight. It talked about the struggle of Labor and its leaders against the free market ideal. It talked struggle America had the intrusion of Socialist ideology into these struggles through the effective tactics of the labor leadership. Because in the beginning, Reagan thought himself to be a FDR Democrat. With his exposure to GE and the tutelage of Lemuel Boulware and his philosophy, he went on to became a conservative and a Goldwater supporter as shown in "the Speech." He learned the ability to go over the heads of opponents and speak directly to those in power. That was how he obtained his victories for SAG, over Congress and in defeating the USSR.

The following quote
[from Noonan's column] seems to be a cogent description of the current chief executive in the White House.

"Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can't just bully them, you can't just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade."

The Tea Party movement made great accomplishments this past election day and had some pointed setbacks. They will still face opposition from the party establishments and major news media outlets. The struggle has not ended but just begins. Continuing education of one's self and with others must be an ongoing event. With their calls for a return to more traditional constitutional government, they will need to turn from one of "seeming" rhetoric to expressed moments of knowledge. I think it would be most disturbing to those in power and in opposition to hear someone correctly quote the Federalist. Will we see signs Fed. 84, Par. 2, for example? Or quotes from other founding sources? There are those in opposition to the "unwashed" tea party movement that think that understanding the reasons for this country's Constitution are irrelevant. To introduce a strict understanding of the document is irrelevant, that the words of the past have little bearing on today's situations.

The condition of man has not changed over time, so I would reject that argument. Also, Raul Berger's book "The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights" argues that the Constitution has been perverted and/or misconstrued through this logic and endangers us to eventually eroding those freedoms we inherently enjoy. In particular, the Warren court was a major element along these road.

But I must make a cautionary note. The Founding Fathers were equally perplexed as to the true meaning of the Constitution and how it was to be implemented then as we see today. One example was the debate of Pres. Washington's Neutrality Declaration as in "The Pacificus-Helvidious Debates of 1793-94." But they discussed what were the limits of Federal power and the balance between the two major branches of government.

I hope those that call themselves Tea Partiers will go on to read more than contemporary political books such as Glen Beck, Jason Lewis, Mark Levin, Amity Schlaes, etc. but to reach into the Bibliographies and find the sources of these ideals from John Adams, Hamilton, Smith, von Mises, and a personal favorite, Benjamin Anderson's "Economics and the Public Welfare." For Ronald Reagan, it it not important to read the narrative of his life. It would be more important to read and understand what he obtained strength from. What caused him to think and believe in what he did. And why.

Ronald Reagan was who he was not just from being an actor and reciting lines. He was a man who educated himself with guiding of others. For us it is important to understand the message and to distinguish what the messenger says and what the word used mean. And it must be based on a solid foundation from which we can compare and examine. In times of great turmoil a messenger may come and distort and pervert meanings to serve malevolent purposes or create change that is undesirable for the long term health of the country. And so we may elect someone who is without depth and value. Or, we may have a message of great import, but loose it on the wind or tide of denial because it lacked the rudder of a good pilot to steer it home. I do not see a current crop of available messengers with a the right message appearing for the 2012 election at this time.

Unfortunately, neither do I. The key words however are "at this time." I still harbor hope that a candidate with the proper combination will emerge in time for the 2012 election.