Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nothing Else Matters

An article in today's Wall Street Journal on the unexpectedly close battle in Minnesota's Eighth District titled Neophyte Puts Veteran on the Defensive shows Mr. Oberstar still in the early stages of the grief that may come his way on Tuesday:

Rep. Jim Oberstar, an 18-term Democrat from Minnesota's Iron Range, has won every one of his congressional races by at least 25 points.

But just days before the election in this decidedly anti-establishment year, Mr. Oberstar, 76 years old, finds himself uncharacteristically on the defensive.

He lost the endorsement of the Duluth News Tribune, the largest newspaper in his district. He faced boos and shouts at a debate with his opponent this month. He even felt compelled to run the first attack ad of his long career.

"He's gotten imperious," said Ken McKenna, a resident of Duluth and former supporter of Mr. Oberstar. "He thinks he's so powerful it doesn't matter anymore what he did or didn't do back home. Well, it matters."

That's one of the best summaries of Oberstar's career that I've yet seen. And it does not bode will for the incumbent when former supporters of his are voicing it and praising his opponent Chip Cravaack:

Mr. McKenna, the former Oberstar supporter, agreed. "He seems like a sensible fellow and he's opposed to big spending," said the 74-year-old retired energy-industry worker.

Calling a politician a "sensible fellow" is a ringing endorsement in the Eighth District. Yet Oberstar seems unwilling or unable to acknowledge the perilous position he appears to be in:

Mr. Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is not backing off his support of the health-care law. In a telephone interview, he called it "well received throughout my district."

Which explains the laughter and boos from the audience when Oberstar touted Obamacare at a recent debate. Sounds like he needs to get out a bit more.

He is also campaigning on the Obama administration's "cash for clunkers" program, which he said enabled auto dealers across the U.S. to clear nearly 700,000 cars from inventories. That, he said, lifted the mining industry in the Iron Range, leading to jobs in the steel mills and ports.

"It's a circle that has fed on itself and it has produced a fairly stable outlook," he said. Unemployment in Iron Range mining communities has dropped to below 10% from 18% two years ago.

Mr. Oberstar has also criticized Mr. Cravaack for touting Malaysia's streamlined business culture as a model for the U.S. His attack ad slams Malaysia's weak regulations for bringing about deforestation and a poor environment for workers.

"Things are good," Mr. Oberstar said of the election. "The only real difference this year is that there is a little more energy among the really hard-core conservatives."

Remain calm. All is well. Nothing to see here except a "little more energy" from that small group of "really hard-core conservatives." The SS Oberstar is steaming toward inevitable victory and the voters of the Eighth District overwhelming love their glorious Congressional leader.

Oberstar's attitude is a mixture of denial and unbridled arrogance. You might even call it "imperious."

I'm still skeptical that Oberstar will go down on Tuesday. But if there's one race that would signal the extent of the conservative resurgence and the desire among voters for a drastic change to the status quo, it's the one in Minnesota's Eighth District. If the GOP wave does indeed swamp Oberstar, one of the sweeter aspects of his defeat will be that he will never have known what hit him.

Soil and Water Sample Ballots

For our full endorsements:
2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Ramsey County
2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Hennepin County
2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Anoka County
2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Washington County
2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Scott County
2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Dakota County

Judicial Sample Ballot

Click to enlarge

For our full endorsements:
Moose. Rocko. Help The People Find Their Judge

Northern Alliance Radio Network

Tune in today at 11AM for a very special episode of The Northern Alliance Radio Network. John continues his quest to "find himself" while travelling the backroads of America, clinging to his gun and religion. While Brian gallantly tries to put the pieces together from the shattered remains of once was called "The First Team".

In non-Lifetime movie of the week parlance, John remains out on assignment, but the show goes on. And a loaded program it will be. A candidate blitz spectactular in this last show before the elections on Tuesday. Scheduled to appear so far:

11:00 - Teresa Collett, candidate in CD4
11:15 - Erik Paulsen, Congressman from CD3
11:30 - State Auditor candidate Pat Anderson

11:45 - Secretary of State Candidate Dan Severson
12:00 - Attorney General candidate Chris Barden
12:30 - King Banaian, candidate in MN House district 15B

More invites are out, so some surprises may be in store as well. Mitch and Ed continue the fun with another blitz of candidates, including Tom Emmer between 1-3PM.

Plus Loon of the Week and This Week in Gatekeeping. And perhaps a discussion of the Top 11 Explanations for Mark Dayton's Facial Gestures.

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, October 29, 2010

Jesus, Caesar, Peter, and Paul Walk Into A Bar...

Quite the brouhaha this week on the local political scene over a mailer sent out by a DFL candidate that many thought displayed an anti-Catholic or at least anti-Christian bias. The story has attracted a great deal of media attention since it first broke both locally and nationally.

There's a lot of interesting angles to this story. To me, the most offensive part of it was not the actual depiction of a religious figure (one that most people would assume was a priest) wearing a button that read "Ignore The Poor." It's that fact that the Left continues to conflate the Christian duty to help the least and the lost with expanded government programs, more spending, and higher taxes. Even beyond the irony that people who are often hostile to Christianity seem to have no problem when it comes to using it to advance their political goals is the gross distortion of the Christian teachings on charity.

It may be hard for some to believe given my Catholic faith, but I have actually read the Bible, in particular the New Testament. And I don't recall coming across too many passages where Jesus calls on Caesar to use the confiscatory power of the Roman government to take from Peter to give to Paul. Christ's teachings on charity and our obligation to the poor are focused on what we are supposed to do, not what we are supposed to use the force of government to make others do.

Yet the Left persists in misinterpreting--either out of ignorance or deceit--what the Bible says about helping the poor. This article called 8 Biblical Verses That Leftists Have Gotten Completely Wrong has a few choice examples. While the DFL hit piece may be one of the more blatant and outrageous examples, it's just the latest in a long line of the Left's disingenuous efforts to equate bigger government with Christian service to the poor.

2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Ramsey County

The Ramsey County Soil and Water races have long been the most partisan in the Twin Cities. Both the Green Party and the DFL have endorsed candidates for the district 1 and district 4 seats.

Ramsey County District 1 (Incumbent Karen Eckman is not running for reelection)
Three candidates are vying for the district 1 seat, Janelle Anderson, Vaios Eleftheriou, and Paige Wein.

Janelle Anderson
Janelle Anderson is the DFL endorsed candidate for the district 1 seat. She is a Civil Engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

We can see her appeal to the DFL in this quote from her MASWCD questionnaire:
“We must start in our neighborhoods, educating our neighbors on the importance of keeping our water sources clean and not polluting our soils with chemicals and over-fertilizing our lawns.”

I have news for you Ms. Anderson; all matter can be considered a “chemical”. Soil itself is a chemical. You would be against polluting soil with … soil? No wonder you received the DFL endorsement, you seem to want to use the bully pulpit of the soil and water conservation board to hector into unattractive lawns.

Vaios Eleftheriou
Vaios Eleftheriou is an electrician who is endorsed by the Green Party.

Normally we applaud brevity in candidates, but Mr. Eleftheriou answers the five questions in his MASWCD questionnaire with a grand total of five sentences (and one sentence fragment). He has a website sponsored by the Green Party, but it contains no more information than the questionnaire. Clearly he is down playing his radical green agenda. Barrack Obama may have gotten away with hiding his agenda, but if Fraters Libertas has anything to say about it, Mr. Eleftheriou will not.

Paige Wein
Not only is Paige Wein unencumbered by left-wing endorsements for the supposedly non-partisan position of Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor, but she also has the most impressive soil and water credentials.

Ms. Wein has a degree in biology (with environmental science option) summa cum laude. She is also the permit coordinator for the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District (not to be confused with the Ramsey County Soil and Water Conservation District).

Ms. Wein is an up-and-comer in the soil and water community and clearly the best choice for Ramsey County. Fraters Libertas endorses Paige Wein for Ramsey County District 1 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Ramsey County District 4 (Incumbent Carrie Wasley)
Incumbent Carrie Wasley is being challenged by Gary Carlson, Mark A. Roosevelt, and Robert “Bob” Simonet.

Carrie J. Wasley
Incumbent Carrie Wasley is endorsed by the DFL. Ms. Wasley has the look of yet another big government DFL soil and water conservation district supervisor. Frankly, that’s all we need to know.

Gary Carlson

Gary Carlson is a pharmacist and is endorsed by the Green Party. He shares a web-site with fellow Green Party endorsee, Vaios Eleftheriou here. The web-site is sparse to say the least. Soil and water candidates generally did a poor job promoting their campaigns on the internet. Future candidates would be well advised to emulate the campaign website of Scott County candidate, Ryan Love.

Mark A. Roosevelt
Mark A. Roosevelt was the Republican candidate for State Representative, district 66B, in 2008. He was shellacked 78% to 21% by Alice Hausman. Now he has set his sights on the soil and water conservation board.

Fraters Libertas generally frowns on candidates who lose elections for other offices and then come “slumming” to soil and water. Especially if they, like Mr. Roosevelt do not even bother to fill out their MASWCD questionnaire.

Robert J. “Bob” Simonet
According to his MASWCD questionnaire, Bob Simonet has: “Extensive environmental science background, including: undergraduate and graduate degrees, field studies, published research and applied work experience.”

Mr. Simonet appears to be the small-government candidate in this race:
“Voluntary compliance by landowners is the ideal. Court ordered compliance (i.e. Eminent Domain) is the direct opposite. Often the difference between the two is education and dialog. While regulations exist for the common good of all, they should be put into effect only as a last resort.”

We also like that Mr. Simonet goes by “Bob” and not the stuffier “Robert”. Fraters Libertas endorses Robert J. “Bob” Simonet for Ramsey County District 4 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

That rounds out our Soil and Water endorsements for 2010. Later this weekend we will post our Soil and Water sample ballot. You can print it out and bring it to the polls to ensure that you don’t throw away your precious soil and water vote.

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXVI)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the spirited folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you find a sanctuary of wine, whiskey, and beer.

As if this week's wind, snow, and cold weren't enough to remind you, winter is once again on the march. The first beers of winter started showing up on store shelves this week and as the are among my favorites, I can't wait to begin my seasonal indulgence.

This week however, we're going to stave off the lash of winter just a little bit longer and turn our attention to a style of beer more often associated with the languid days of summer. From Munich, Germany our beer of the week is Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier, which bills itself as "refreshingly different beer from Bavaria."

Green bottle. Light metallic tan label features image of a well-satisfied monk knocking back another stein.

Style: Hefeweizen

Alcohol by Volume: 5.0%

COLOR (0-2): Gold & nicely clouded. 2

AROMA (0-2): Wheat and banana. 2

HEAD (0-2): Bright white, good volume & lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Strong flavors of malty wheat and banana with notes of citrus and a little spice. Medium bodied with good carbonation. Dry finish, a bit creamy, and extremely drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Follows through nicely. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Hefeweizens are my favorite summer beer and Franziskaner rates right up there with the best of them. It has loads of wheaty, fruity (but not overly so) flavor and is dang refreshing. A great choice for a beer to enjoy in the warm summer sun. Also a good way to keep thoughts of the winds of winter out of mind just a little bit longer. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Party Like It's 1994?

Dave from the West Side e-mails:

Are you aware of any election night get-togethers or events for conservatives in the Mpls/St. Paul area? With a barn-burner election like this, it could be fun.

Well, there's always the Republican Party election night bash. This year's soiree will be held at the Sheraton Bloomington and the joint promises to be jumping as the wave of Republican victories begins to come in. That's the only official event that I'm aware of at this point although I'm sure there will plenty of celebrating at various watering holes and homes across the Twin Cities and the country for that matter on the night of November 2nd.

The Return of Ralphie

Breaking News: Everybody's favorite bobble head mascot whose looks are disturbingly similar to a well-known nationally syndicated talk radio shock jock is back. That's right folks, our Ralphie has returned.

Now technically speaking he's not the same Ralphie who was doll-napped some years ago by radical Presbyterians. This version is Ralphie 2.0, better, stronger, and faster than the original. Just as there was more than one Lassie (sorry to break it to you this way Atomizer), there is (and will be) more than one Ralphie. But having more than one collie assume the role of Lassie didn't prevent the namesake from becoming America's national dog, so having multiple versions will not diminish the natural appeal of Ralphie.

Unfortunately, like his predecessors, the new Ralphie has problems keeping his glasses intact. The journey from the laboratory in the hinterlands of California where he was created to his new home in Minnesota was not without incident and when Ralphie emerged from his comfortable Styrofoam packing, his glassed were already smashed. A rough ride? An icicle? Or perhaps our hero one again neglected to follow the oft offered advice and did indeed shoot his eye out.

In any event, his body and soul are still intact. Here's a shot of him relaxing with a tall beverage. (Note the shattered glasses)

And this time, he is not alone. Making the perilous journey along with bobble head Ralphie, was his good buddy Deep Space Ralphie. He's a leaner, meaner model of the Ralphie line and he's prepared to boldly go where no Ralphie has gone before. We recently caught up with him hanging out with his partner in crime, the Generalissimo:

What does the future hold for our dynamic duo of dolls? Only time will tell, although I wouldn't be surprised if a trip to the theater was on tap. Welcome back Ralphie.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Dakota County

There are three seats up for grabs on the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation board. Four candidates each are vying for the district 1 and district 2 seats, while incumbent Kevin Chamberlain is running unopposed in district 3.

Dakota County District 1 (Incumbent Scott A. Holm)
Diane Blake
About all we know about Diane Blake is what we can discern from her twitter account. Unfortunately, she has only four updates – the most recent announcing her filing for this office.

In twitter, she follows the Republican candidate for State Senate in district 57, Karin Housley, who is a favorite of our own Brian “Saint Paul” Ward. But, she also follows Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, who is not a favorite of our own Brian “Saint Paul” Ward.

Scott A. Holm (Incumbent)
District 1 incumbent Scott A. Holm is apparently not satisfied serving on the soil and water board. In 2008, he ran for Dakota County commissioner, getting trounced 79%-20% by an AFSCME endorsed candidate, Thomas Egan. There is no telling how much that pathetic showing is now costing Dakota County tax payers.

The good news for Mr. Holm is that he is unlikely to run into the AFSCME buzz saw in the soil and water race …

John Ross
Uh oh, never mind that. Challenger John Ross is claiming to be endorsed by AFSCME. Everyone knows that Fraters Libertas and AFSCME do not endorse the same candidates and Mr. Ross has apparently made his choice.

Thomas A. Willenbring
Is a financial consultant and sound engineer. He is also Treasurer of GOP Senate District 57. Mr. Willenbring”s Facebook friends include Craig Westover, Laura Brod, Pat Anderson, and other conservatives.

On the minus side, he does not seem to have much soil or water experience and lists Avatar among his favorite movies, twice.

In the hopes that he will grow in office, Fraters Libertas endorses Thomas A. Willenbring for Dakota County District 1 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Dakota County District 3 (Incumbent Kevin Chamberlain)
Kevin Chamberlain (Incumbent)
We couldn’t find out much about this Kevin Chamberlain (our google search was overwhelmed by some actor with the same name). Since he’s running unopposed, we’ll go ahead and endorse Kevin Chamberlain for Dakota County District 3 Soil and Water Supervisor.

Dakota County District 2 Special Election
Doug (Tip) Tipka
Little could be found out about Doug (Tip) Tipka besides the fact that he didn’t bother to fill out his MASWCD or Star Tribune questionnaires and his nickname is “Tip”. This reminds us of Tip O’Neill, so we can’t endorse him.

Dan Kuykendall
We also could not find out much about Dan Kuykendall. What is wrong with you people? If you are going to go to the trouble of paying the $20 dollar fee and filing for office, at least fill out the damn MASWCD questionnaire. It wouldn’t kill you to do something interesting that shows up in one of the first pages of a google search, either. All we know about Dan Kuykendall is that he has the same name as a Tennessee Congressman who died in 2008. Democracy needs information, Dan Kuykendall, Tip Tipka, and all you other stealth soil and water candidates. It is hard enough finding information on soil and water races, so how about a little help, here.

Anthony Nelson
Kudos to Anthony Nelson for filling out his MASWCD questionnaire! He is a printer and friend of the Mississippi river. One of the strengths that Mr. Nelson brings to the board is: “A willingness to be available for any meetings or whatever is needed of me at any time.” Hmm, maybe we’re not missing out on all that much when candidates don’t fill out their questionnaires.

Jason Swenson

Jason Swenson was appointed to the soil and water board after the sudden death of the previous supervisor. Mr. Swenson is a Civil Engineer who is employed by Scott County as a Water Resources Engineer. While Mr. Swenson has more water than soil experience (all too common on many boards) we believe that he deserves election. Fraters Libertas endorses Jason Swenson for Dakota County District 2 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moose. Rocko. Help The People Find Their Judge

(Why yes, I have used a variation of this title in a similar post before the 2008 elections.)

In most years, one of the most difficult choices facing voters on election day is which candidates they should pull the lever for in the various judicial races. We're fortunate to have Sisyphus providing guidance for us when it comes to the all important Soil and Water Conservation District contests, but finding a similar voice of wisdom on the judicial side is not as easy.

Glancing at the this year's sample ballot for my precinct, I was surprised by how few judicial positions are even being contested. There's a whole page and a half of such positions listed, but only FOUR offer voters a choice (unless you consider writing in your pet, favorite cartoon character, or Atomizer as a legitimate option in exercising your franchise).

What's also surprising is that in three of the races, that choice is rather clear cut.

We begin with Associate Justice-Supreme Court 6 where former Viking Alan Page faces off against Tim Tinglestad. Based on name recognition alone, Page will likely prevail, but it's pretty clear that Tim Tingelstad is the best candidate:

I am committed to preserving the people's constitutional right to choose their judges through meaningful, contested, non-partisan judicial elections. I believe that justice is served when judges fear God and love the people, and as a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, I will be impartial to the parties, while partial to the original intent of the Constitution.

In the Associate Justice-Supreme Court 2 contest we have Helen Meyer going against Greg Wersal. Wersal has fought the battle for judicial reform and direct election of judges for years while Meyer was endorsed by the Star Tribune. 'Nuf said.

Court of Appeals 14 features Larry Stauber versus Dan Griffith. Stauber seems like a decent guy although having the banner endorsement on your web page come from your daughter doesn't exactly help make the sale. But Griffith is candidate who promises to help restore the role of judges what was originally intended and he deserves your vote.

Page, Meyer, and Stauber are also all incumbents and all endorsed by the MN Progressive Project. As I mentioned earlier, the choices are clear.

However, there is one race that remains muddied. In Court of Appeals 13 we have Randolph W. Peterson battling Roxann Klugman. Peterson is the incumbent and has a beard, but other than that I can't find much about him. There's also scant information available on Klugman other than that she's from Afton. Not a lot to help a voter make an informed decision. Usually in these situations, my instinct would be to vote against the incumbent (and the guy with a beard), but perhaps someone out there can offer up a compelling reason to support either candidate.

UPDATE-- Luke e-mails to reveal a skeleton hanging in the closet of one Randolph W. Peterson:

Randolph W. Peterson is a former legislator for the DFL. Probably don't want him.

Indeed we do not want a man carrying those scarlet letters. Unless it is shortly revealed that Roxann Klugman was a member of the CPUSA or a witch, she will win our endorsement by default. To quote Homer Simpson, "Default? Woo hoo! The two sweetest words in the English language: de-fault!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stand and Deliver

Interesting nugget in a WSJ review of a new biography of Eisenhower's chief of staff duing WWII, Walter Bedell Smith (sub req):

In addition to all his operational duties, Smith was also left to handle the press, and political and diplomatic relations, acting as Eisenhower's "primary shock-absorber." The politically naïve Eisenhower had suddenly discovered the pitfalls of supreme command, especially when it involved the latent civil war of French politics. His decision to make use of Admiral François Darlan, the head of the Vichy French navy, to defuse opposition to the Allied landings in North Africa produced a storm of condemnation in the U.S. and Britain, especially as Vichy's anti-Jewish laws were left in place. Eisenhower complained to an old friend of his role as supreme commander: "I am a cross between a one-time soldier, a pseudo-statesman, a jack-legged politician and a crooked diplomat." These first trials, and especially the failures in the advance on Tunisia, did not constitute Eisenhower's finest hour. He was close to a breakdown by January 1943, and his weak performance briefing the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the Casablanca conference—Roosevelt thought him "jittery"—nearly led to his resignation. He confided to Patton that he thought "his thread [was] about to be cut." But the British did not insist on his removal, and with Smith's steady advice Eisenhower weathered the storm.

Ike's career was nearly cut short because of poor presentation skills? Think about that next time you're putting your PowerPoint deck (yes, I hate that term too) together.

2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Scott County

The Scott County soil and water races have drawn a lot of attention (for soil and water races). The incumbents are running for re-election and facing one challenger in both district 4 and district 5. Our own Chad the Elder has already endorsed district 4 challenger Ryan Love. Will Fraters Libertas as whole also endorse Mr. Love or will there be a Fraters soil and water schism? You will know by the end of this post. But before we get to that race, let’s consider the district 5 contest.

Scott County District 5 (Incumbent Jim Schwingler)
Gary Hartmann
Challenger Gary Hartmann works for rock mining company, Bryan Rock Products. In his MASWCD questionnaire, Mr. Hartmann touts his experience: “I have familiarity with county wide terrain, lakes, rivers, creeks and water quality.” No doubt that is true, but his experience is from a rock perspective, not soil and water. It is true that over time, water working over rock can produce soil, but that is more of a long term prospect. A farmer, who uses soil and water more directly would be a better choice.

Jim Schwingler
What do you know, incumbent Jim Schwingler is a farmer in addition to being Secretary/Treasurer of the Scott county soil and water board. We are aware of no secretarial or financial scandals on the board, so Fraters Libertas endorses Jim Schwingler for Scott County District 5 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Scott County District 4 (Incumbent James Fitzsimmons)
James Fitzsimmons (Incumbent)
There is a James Fitzsimmons in the Twin Cities area who takes his kids to anti-war rallies and posts derogatory comments about Fox News on Facebook, but we are pretty sure that this is a different James Fitzsimmons than the incumbent Soil and Water Conservation District 5 supervisor. But, we could find precious little on the supervisor James Fitzsimmons, who did not fill out his MASCWD questionnaire.

Ryan Love
In all my years of studying soil and water conservation races, no one has waged a more serious campaign than Ryan Love. While his opponent did not even bother to fill out his MASWCD questionnaire, Mr. Love has in addition to the questionnaire, a campaign website, and twitter feed. He has also sought and received endorsements from State Senator Claire Robling (R), State Representative Mike Beard (R), and our own Chad the Elder (R).

Mr. Love, unlike many of the soil and water candidates we’ve come across, is skeptical of regulation: “Additional government regulations should be the last resort to nearly any problem.” About the only negative we can see on Mr. Love is his groan inducing slogan, “We need Love in our government”.

Despite the slogan, Fraters Libertas officially endorses Ryan Love for Scott County District 4 Soil and Water Supervisor.

A Thousand Words

Okay, you're going to try to defeat a fairly popular incumbent county sheriff through a write in campaign with little name recognition yourself. In order to win, you're going to have to do everything right. Every little detail is going to have to perfect. There's no room for error, nothing to chance. Understood?

To start with we'll need a picture that shows your competence and strength to voters that we can use for campaign materials. It's going to have to be a killer shot that really extenuates your best features. What have you got?

Um...okay..well, we've got some work to do here...

Re-elect Rich Stanek for Hennepin County Sheriff.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Northern Alliance Radio Network

The Northern Alliance Radio Network is back broadcasting LIVE today at 11 AM. John Hinderaker is out, taking an disturbingly common and gratuitous break today. But attempting to fill his enormous shoes will be my good friend and valued colleague, award winning journalist, The Nihilist in Golf Pants.

Lots to talk about today, on the short list of topics are the REAL reasons for John Hinderaker's absence, MEA weekend, the firing of Juan Williams and the wretched state of "public" broadcasting. Also on the docket, lots of election chatter, with a focus on the Oberstar-Cravaack race up in CD8 and the MN Gubernatorial race.

Special guest today in the second hour will be GOP endorsed candidate for Governor Tom Emmer. We'll catch up with him while he's on the election trail, and get his thoughts on the latest developments in the race and all the HOT issues.

Plus Loon of the Week and This Week in Gatekeeping. Should be a fresh and exciting 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.

Goliath Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Since 2001, the New York Yankees have lost playoff series or the World Series to the following teams:

Arizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Florida Marlins
Los Angeles Angels (2x)
Texas Rangers

During that same time, the Minnesota Twins have lost four playoff series against the Yankees, winning two games and losing twelve (including nine in a row).

The notion that the Twins are some small market David hopelessly overmatched against the powerful Yankee Goliath is still spouted by apologists for the local team. The reality is that the Yankees have been very beatable over the last decade as evidenced by the number of teams that have had playoff success against them. The fact that the Twins have not says far more about their own failings than it does about the supposed invincibility of their foe.

Atomizer Sez:
I'm still way too angry to comment on the local team's inability to play like men. More later.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXV)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the shiny hoppy people at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can find the right wine, whiskey, or beer at the right price.

Those of us who have made the conversion to the craft beer faith often look back with a mixture of wonder and horror at the low quality, tasteless brews we once consumed. And the prices we paid for the swill we swilled. It was not uncommon to only have shell out five or six bones for a case of Hauenstein, Schaefer, or Pfeiffer. Keystone Light might have been all of a buck more. When the main objective of your beer drinking is to get as drunk as possible for the lowest possible cost, taste took a back seat especially since a beer's particular flavor (or lack thereof) wasn't really much of a factor after your thirteenth or fourteenth.

But those days of reckless disregard for taste (to say nothing of health) are now long behind me. I'm happy to pay more for a better beer and at times considerably more. Like other consumer choices, the value that one places on the worth of beer is relative. Is there really a purse worth $1000? Not in my universe, but many women would beg to differ. Is there really a bottle of wine worth $200? For an oenophile, most definitely yes. The same goes for high end beer.

This point was astutely made by the Dan--owner/operator of Glen Lake Wine & Spirits--the other day when I stopped by to pick up a four-pack of Surly Brewing Wet. The latest (and freshest) release from Minnesota's premier craft brewer is not for the bargain beer shopper. But as Dan explained, for the true beer lover it's well worth every penny.

Can has usual sharp Surly graphic look with bright green hop wallpaper serving as the background.

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by Volume: 7.5%

COLOR (0-2): Golden brown, slightly cloudy. 2

AROMA (0-2): Fresh citrus and heavy hops. 2

HEAD (0-2): White and bubbly. Good volume and lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Awesome wallop of hops off the bat with grapefruit and strong bitterness. Bursting with flavors that are very fresh and crisp. Medium bodied and quite drinkable considering the higher alcohol content. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Bitter staying power. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Surly Wet is available for a very limited time and isn't a beer that you can horde. Get it where you can now and drink it fast (which shouldn't be a problem). When it comes to hoppy goodness, I'd put this on a par with Surly's Abrasive Ale and a notch above Surly's Furious. The fresh hops really provide a unique and delicious flavor experience. Is it really worth the price? If you love heavenly hops, hell yeah. 6

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 18

All Hail the King

Our friend King Banaian continues his campaign for the MN House of Representatives up in District 15B. No polling information is avaiable on how the race is stacking up. Given the political atmosphere of 2010, a fiscal guardian like King should be leading. And if the quality of argumentation present on King's and his opponent's web sites is indicative of who should win, it's no contest.

For example, the siren song from DFL'er Carol Lewis for House:

I am running because I have a lot of ideas that I believe can add to the discussion in Saint Paul to resolve the most pressing issues of the day. I intend to push as hard as I can for a just solution to the huge budget deficit facing the Legislature next session. The current budget fix is not just, because it balances the budget on the backs of our children.

I am running because of my grandchildren and all of the grandchildren in this district. They are our future and they deserve a great education. Our grandchildren deserve a state that has its finances under control. I want our grandchildren to develop a love of nature. Nature that we secured for them.

Versus King Banaian's analysis:

We have a spending problem in this state. The key issue in our campaign is not how to solve a budget deficit but should be posed as how big should our government be? I favor spending no more than $33 billion in the next biennium, which is an increase of more than $2 billion from the previous biennium. The previous Legislature, however, imagines us to have a budget of $39 billion, a rise of more than 25%. This is unsustainable. We do not need to raise taxes to fund the budget size I imagine.

But King, what about the children!

Despite his heartless disregard of the next generation, I'm glad to see his home town newspaper, the one that just endorsed Taxin' Taryl Clark, also saw fit to endorse the King Banaian candidacy. Excerpts:

Republican King Banaian and DFLer Carol Lewis are vying to replace the retiring Larry Haws.

Banaian, a well-known St. Cloud State University economist and political blogger, will make the better legislator, especially if puts his economics education and expertise first and his blogging second — or lower.

Thanks Mom. But let me join the SC Times in hoping this PhD in economics who chairs a collegiate academic department in economics and who has devoted his entire professional life to economics, puts economics before blogging if he's in the legislature. We can't be sure he will, but we're willing to risk it.

While we’re troubled an economist would rule out raising taxes, Banaian does offer a few new ideas, such as reviewing older legislative measures to see if they should be retained or removed. He also supports zero-based budgeting, and overall he clearly has a firmer grasp on the state budget.

While we're troubled a newspaper doesn't realize it is not required to favor raising taxes in order to be considered an economist, the SC Times does offer a correct assessment that an economics professor may have a firmer grasp on the state budget than a DFL party functionary like his opponent Carol Lewis.

Speaking of Lewis, the reasons the SC Times can't get behind her:

Lewis seems to lean more toward raising revenues than making cuts that could truly reform state government. She also cites her two terms on the St. Cloud school board as proof she can lead a public body through difficult times. While we agree those were tough times, we don’t agree with her assessment she was a leader in helping the district emerge from those challenges.

Leans!? A DFL endorsed candidate "leans" toward raising revenues more than making cuts? I'd say she leans toward tax increases like the Pope leans more toward Catholicism than Zoroastrianism. Like Atomizer leans more toward drinking gin than prune juice. Like Mark Dayton leans more toward prozac than ….. I better stop right there, before this irresponsible blogging costs me any future endorsement from the St. Cloud Times.

When both the main stream press and the blogging community get behind the same candidate, you know something's right. With his intellect, economics expertise, and winning personality, King could be a star in the legislature. But he's in a college-oriented district in which it will be difficult for any Republican candidate to win. Even at this late date, any support could be the key to putting him over the top. Donate here to Banaian for House.

Bark and Bite

Following up on the yesterday's thoughts about the lessons we should heed from the current troubles in France about the dangers of a country's public sector becoming a dominant political force comes news that the when it comes to the 2010 election, the Public-Employees Union Is Now Campaign's Big Spender (WSJ-sub req);

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections, thanks to an 11th-hour effort to boost Democrats that has vaulted the public-sector union ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and a flock of new Republican groups in campaign spending.

The 1.6 million-member AFSCME is spending a total of $87.5 million on the elections after tapping into a $16 million emergency account to help fortify the Democrats' hold on Congress. Last week, AFSCME dug deeper, taking out a $2 million loan to fund its push. The group is spending money on television advertisements, phone calls, campaign mailings and other political efforts, helped by a Supreme Court decision that loosened restrictions on campaign spending.

"We're the big dog," said Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME's political operations. "But we don't like to brag."

You better believe that if the dog gets its way in November, it will make sure its food dish is always full.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paris Is Burning

Guy Sorman--my favorite French intellectual (oh admit it, you have one too)--writes in today's WSJ on France's Perpetual Revolution:

The rationale behind this reform—an aging population—can be understood by all the French. Longer life expectancy and slow economic growth offer no other choice to save the public pension funds from bankruptcy. Why then such a violent reaction from the street?

The leftist unions that have started the strikes represent the public sector, a quarter of the active population. For them, any change in the pension-fund regulations is but a first breach in the welfare state. The French left sees how the Scandinavian, German and British governments are cutting spending in the name of sound finance and stronger growth.

The French unions fear that France will follow. Since they represent the public sector, they are not that interested in reviving the market economy. Moreover, the welfare state is perceived by the French left as a historical conquest on the road to socialism, which remains the ultimate goal. Knowing who the unions represent allows us to understand their choice for violence over negotiations: France is not a northern European, pragmatic country.

America is not on the verge of becoming another France any more than we're on the verge of becoming another Greece as some have claimed. But the attempts at modest pension reforms in France and the violent responses they have elicited are a warning and a useful reminder to Americans about how difficult it is to even slightly roll back the scope and scale of government once its in place.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't Tease The Animals

As unfair as it may seem for some punk kid to be able to taunt you in your workplace without having to fear or face any consequences, Rypien has got to know better and act smarter in this situation. This is the NATIONAL Hockey League man.

It brings to mind a time back in the glory days of the North Stars when JB Doubtless and I--in prime smart-arsed early teen form--were able to goad one of the Blackhawks (Darryl Sutter?) into swinging his stick at us after we directed a few choice words at him as he left the ice at Met Center.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Church's Appeal Becoming More Selective?

Big news over the weekend about the announcement from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis detailing church closures, consolidations, and mergers (sadly no acquisitions this time around). This news has generated a great deal of buzz among local Catholics both in regards for what it means for our particular parishes and the future of the archdiocese as a whole.

While it's easy to look upon the news as just the latest confirmation on the decline of the Catholic Church in America, I prefer to take a more optimistic view of the release of the Strategic Plan (you might call me a pews half-full sort of guy). While it might be comforting to imagine that the church could continue to maintain its local operations in the same way it has in the past, the reality is that as things change (especially demographics) the church must not change with them. The mission of the Catholic Church has not changed. That mission continues the two-thousand plus year tradition of teaching the Truth, but that tradition is not tied to physical properties. While individual church buildings may come or go, the Catholic Church itself and its community of believers will continue to fulfill its core mission.

And the changes that will take place as part of the Archdiocese's Strategic Plan will allow the local Catholic Church to become a stronger and more committed faith community. The current organizational structure of the Archdiocese had become untenable. Some local churches were holdovers from the days of the ethnic segregation driven by immigration. Long ago, there was a Polish church, a German church, an Italian church, an Irish church, a Liechtenstenian church all in relative proximity. Those days are well behind us and while the church still has strong immigrant communities they are now more likely to be Hispanic, African, or Southeast Asian. The demographic distribution of the Archdiocese has also changed over the years. In the years following World War II, most of the population growth was concentrated in the core cities or Minneapolis and St. Paul and the inner ring suburbs. Now, the areas that are growing are the farther flung exurbs. The church needs to be where the people are and they aren't where they were fifty years ago.

Then there's the money. According to what our padre passed on to us last Sunday, over a quarter of the parishes in the archdiocese are in arrears financially. Many of those that are behind are so to a significant extent. Running up debt and incurring costs that you have no ability to pay is not sustainable. Parishes that didn't have their financial houses in order were straining the bank for the entire archdiocese. The church cannot ignore fiscal realities any more than can a business or government agency (heh, heh). This means that that parishioners need to support their church when the hat is passed and that parishes need to be financially sound with their money. These expectations have not always been clearly staked out in the past and ensuring that they are met will be crucial to the future of the archdiocese.

If all this sounds like the kind of strategic planning a company might engage in, it's because the archdiocese finds itself in a situation which many businesses also face: how to best serve a shifting customer base with limited resources while leveraging your core competencies. The fact that the archdiocese has recognized these resource limitations--money, number of priests, etc.--and gone through a thorough and well-thought out process to address them while still fulfilling its critical mission is commendable (imagine if government--at any level--went through a similar exercise). It gives me hope for a future Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis that may be smaller in terms of number of buildings, but will be stronger in spirit and faith.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXIV)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the cultured folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who will tumble for ya as they help you explore the wide world of wine, whiskey, and beer.

Let's jump right to our beer of the week, Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale:

As the nights grow cool, the leaves on the valley oaks begin to turn and fall. In honor of this yearly dance, we bring you Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale and invite you to enjoy the show. We use malt within days of roasting at the peak of its flavor to give Tumbler a gracefully smooth malt character. So pour a glass, and grab a window seat to watch as the leaves come tumbling down.

Style: Brown Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%

COLOR (0-2): Rich brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Roast malt, a little faint. 1

HEAD (0-2): Off white color. Good volume and lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Toasted malt nicely offset with tangy hops. Flavors of nuts, cocoa, and caramel are noticeable. Medium-bodied with a smooth, slightly creamy mouthfeel. Hearty, but decently drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Pleasantly bittersweet follow through. 2

OVERALL (0-6): More robust than most autumn offerings, Tumbler Brown Ale is an excellent choice for a crisp fall day, but also serves as a good transition beer as fall invariably turns to winter. This is a fall beer that can still be enjoyed well past the point where the last leaf has fallen and the first chills of winter are upon us. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 15

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Early & Often

Today, I received the following e-mail invitation from my good pals at

You're Invited:

"Eat, Call, Win!" Party on Saturday

Host: Jeremy, MoveOn member

Where: (in Minneapolis)

When: Saturday, Oct. 16, at 3:00 PM

What: Inspired by the best-selling book and movie Eat, Pray, Love, we're holding an "Eat, Call, Win!" party on Saturday in Minneapolis. We'll get together with other local progressives, eat some great desserts, hear from Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, and call other MoveOn members in congressional districts with close races to sign them up to volunteer--so we can win this election and stop the Republican takeover!

I forwarded said e-mail to my fellow Fraters wondering just how sackless a man would have be to attend this particular get together (please check your manhood at the door). Sisyphus responded with this zinger:

They changed Eat, Pray, Love to Eat, Call, Win -- but they should have changed it to Pray, Pray, Pray.

There are no atheists in progressive political circles these days.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Connect the Dots!

Ever since the Power Line guys rose to national prominence with their debunking of Dan Rather and the fraudulent 60 Minutes story on President Bush's military record, the local liberal media fixtures have been taking pot shots at them. One of the consistent, and more amusing, angles is their implication that Power Line has nefarious ties to secret, right wing funding sources.

Of course, the charge is entirely ad hominem. It appeals to prejudice rather than reason. And it has nothing to do with veracity of their facts or the quality of the arguments Power Line is putting forward. It boils down to "they get money from [fill in the liberal bogeyman du jour], so they must be ignored!" Even if they were receiving, gasp, money for practicing journalism, it is a logical fallacy to dismiss their arguments on this basis alone.

The humor aspect kicks in with the targeting of Power Line, of all people, for this baseless smear. They are perhaps the only three bloggers around who wouldn't even be tempted by a few pieces of filthy lucre to secretly blog for someone else's agenda. I'm not saying any local bloggers would actually take this deal, and I'm not aware of anyone who ever has. But the average nefarious right wing sugar daddy couldn't even interest Power Line, because hecouldn't afford them!

The Power Line contributors are very successful in their high paying professions. They're not looking to cash in on blogging in any way. Plus, as is the way with successful people, they've already found a way to cash in on blogging. In their spare time they have created a product that is in great demand. They run a site with tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands?) of regular readers. Advertisers obviously want to access this audience and lots of them pay good money to do so. Enterprising media hacks who wonder what the real story behind Power Line is need only look at those flashing and up-popping messages for products and services that accompany their site.

Way back in 2005, John Hinderaker addressed the issue of local media making false allegations of their financial ties to right wing think tanks. As he stated then, the direction of funds between the two goes in the opposite direction.

Flash forward five years. A local liberal media outlet reports on stories about TCF Bank suing the federal government over controversial new regulations. They note that Power Line shares the concern about the regulations. Then wonders what's the REAL reason they might write about such a thing:

Quite remarkably, the Power Line boys, with their very close ties to [TCF CEO Bill Cooper], are completely on board with this suit.

Should we also assume Mr. Cooper provides no financial support to Power Line?


In the comments section, former local blogger Peter Swanson (from the lamentably discontinued Swan Blog) chimes in with the appropriate response:

Uh, Bill Cooper does not support Powerline, as Powerline makes money through advertising. I think it is safe to say that they have more readers than MinnPost, without having to pay PiPress/Strib/City Pages alumni. They don't need "generous donors" like you do.

Ha! It's all true. Minnpost survives on the very thing they are demonizing Power Line over, the financial support of wealthy donors. For what ever reason, most of whom seem to be liberal foundations, think tanks, and activists. Check out their disclosure document for details.
Noteworthy individuals handing over filthy support to Minnpost, for who knows what purpose, include Mark Dayton, Walter & Joan Mondale, RT Rybak, and Matt Entenza.

Let the demonizing, and petard hoisting, begin!

My guess is that if MinnPost had to survive on advertising revenue alone, they'd be out of business before the end of the year. In other words, if they had to survive on creating a product that the marketplace demands, they couldn't exist. On the other hand, Power Line gets more readers and more revenue than them in their spare time. No wonder why the local liberal media feels driven to demonize them.

Bush Lied! Pixels Died!

It's a fact, after Vietnam, the anti-war left has proclaimed that any military action involving the United States will devolve into a quagmire.

Meanwhile, the video game industry moved on from the simple video games of the 1990's and developed live action role playing games around recent military engagements. So it isn't a surprise to see this kind of review from panning Electronic Arts' new Medal of Honor:

With serious stability and performance issues on console, level design that tends more toward turkey shoot than firefight, and a story and characters that stumble in their attempts at relevance and pathos, Medal of Honor walks into a quagmire it never really escapes from.

The next generation of gamers will be dispatched on their mission by a smirking chimp-like simpleton daring them to join with us or be against us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

She Turned Him Into A Newt

There is a lot of discussion as pundits try to read the tea leaves to determine the margin of Republican victory in the upcoming election. One leading indicator tells me that it will be an unprecedented Republican wipe-out. That indicator is the fact that President Obama will spent time this Friday in Delaware campaigning for the Democratic Senatorial candidate and "bearded Marxist," Chris Coons.

According to polls in this difficult year for Democrats, Coons leads O'Donnell by sixteen to nineteen percentage points. With only three weeks left in the race, facing a flawed Republican, Coons doesn't look to need any help. Since many Democrats do need help, why is Obama visiting Coons?

I have a theory. With Democratic Party candidates distancing themselves from Obama in the face of a Republican landslide, the administration has moved on to damage control. The President is carefully targeting the few races where a Democratic win looks likely. That way, in the smoldering ruins of the 2010 election, he will be able to claim that the Democrats lost because they ran away from him. He will point to winning candidates like Chris Coons who "embraced" his support as evidence.

It's the strategy of someone who expects to get his ass kicked.

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 Soil and Water Endorsements: Washington County

In most Minnesota counties, the soil and water conservation supervisors are from and represent a specific district, but the entire county votes for all district supervisors. The one exception is Washington County where only those living in a district vote for the supervisor in that district. No, Washington County does not make up for the lack of quantity of races with quality. Only district 3 features a contested race.

Washington County District 1 (Incumbent Gary Baumann)
Gary H. Baumann
Gary H. Baumann defeated three other candidates in 2002 to win his seat on the soil and water conservation board. He ran unopposed in 2006 and is once again unopposed this year.

Since no one has seen fit to run against him for two elections now, Fraters Libertas endorses Gary H. Baumann for Washington County District 1 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Washington County District 5 (Incumbent Tom Meyer is not seeking reelection)
The only candidate vying to replace district 5 supervisor Tom Meyer is Dan Unger. Mr. Unger has not filled out his MASWCD questionnaire and we could find little information about him. Fraters Libertas offer no guidance on the Washington County District 5 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor race.

Washington County District 3 (Incumbent Rosemary Wallace)
Incumbent Rosemary Wallace is running for reelection and is being challenged by John Rheinberger.

Rosemary Wallace
Despite being the incumbent, we could find little information on Rosemary Wallace. About all we know about her stint on the board is that she missed the March 10, 2010 and June 10, 2009 board meetings.

John Rheinberger
John Rheinberger is the only Washington County candidate who has filled out his MASWCD questionnaire to give us some idea of his views on soil and water.

Mr. Rheinberger is an attorney who has served on many local boards, including the Stillwater City Council. He has also visited 192 of the 195 countries in the world – all except Libya, Cuba, and Somalia

In his MASWCD questionnaire, Mr. Rheinberger gives as his motivation for running:
“I think that issues of “soil and water” are very important especially if you have ever had exposure to third world countries. I believe that they need more public attention.”

We have had less exposure to the third world, but we couldn’t agree more. Fraters Libertas endorses John Rheinberger for Washington County Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

NOTE: Our endorsement of Mr. Rheinberger is in no way related to the allegation by former Stillwater Gazette columnist, William Prendergast, that he was fired for writing anti-Rheinberger columns after Mr. Rheinberger’s sister wrote a letter to the Gazette’s editor threatening to file a complaint with the Minnesota News Council.

Although I certainly don’t want to get fired from Fraters Libertas (which would mean no more Jasperwood parties or Atomizer gin tasting soirees for me) my journalistic integrity does not allow such worries to in any way influence my soil and water endorsements.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Northern Alliance Radio Network

The Northern Alliance Radio Network is back in full effect this morning LIVE at 11 AM. John Hinderaker and I breaking down and sifting through all the news that's fit to broadcast for your listening convenience.

A couple of exciting guests today. First, at 11:30, the infamous Dr. No. Yes, the President of the Taxpayer's League of Minnesota, and James Bond villian, Phil Krinkie. In real life, he's a former state legislator and chairman of the House Tax Committee and he'll apply his expertise to the budget plans of our three gubernatorial candidates. And he'll discuss the Tax Payer Protection Pledge that all legislative candidates are being asked to sign. Are the people begging you for your vote this year on board? Check it out here.

Then at 12 noon, our old buddy King Banaian returns to the Salem broadcasting airwaves. He's on hiatus from the King Banaian Show. But it's an excused absence,, as he's running for the State House of Reprsenstative in District 15B. You can check out his impressive campaign platform and policy statements at his web site, King for House. We'll check in with King to see what he's learning on the campaign trail and get his thoughts on what needs to be done in the state to get our financial house in order.

Plus Loon of the Week and This Week in Gatekeeping. Should be a fun show.

The NARN First Team 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, October 08, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXIII)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the earthy folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you harvest a rich bounty of wine, whiskey, and beer.

Simpson's Episode 5F03 "Bart Star":

Homer: I'm feeling kinda low, Apu. Got any of that beer that has candy floating in it? Some know.

Apu: Such a product does not exist, sir. I think you must have dreamed it.

Homer: Oh. Then just give me a six pack and a couple of packets of Skittles.

Which is sort of what comes to mind when I think of pumpkin beer. But 'tis the season. And so all the way from Maine, the beer of the week is The Shipyard Brewery's Pumpkinhead Ale.

Brown bottle. Label has dark blue background with orange font and pumpkin-headed horseman. Great autumn/Halloween look.

Beer Style: Pumpkin Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 4.5%

COLOR (0-2): Light gold and clear. 1

AROMA (0-2): Clove with hints of pumpkin. 1

HEAD (0-2): White. Fades very quickly. 1

TASTE (0-5): Not much there and what is ain't too good. You can pick up slight pumpkin flavors, more spice, but overall very flat and weak in taste. Light-bodied, thin mouthfeel, and I suppose drinkable. 2

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Hollow and empty. 1

OVERALL (0-6): When I saw the festive seasonal label I hoped that this could be a good Halloween beer. Unfortunately, the contents inside don't even begin to live up to the package. It would have been unlikely that I would come across a pumpkin beer that I would love, but I'd settle for one that I could like. Give me a six pack of good beer and couple of pumpkins instead. 2

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 8

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mourning Another Twins Season

The Twins are all but eliminated from the playoffs and I have already finished passing through the Kübler-Ross model for the five stages of grief. As a Minnesota sports fan, I tend to go through the stages in the reverse order:
1. Acceptance – Of course the Twins lost, they always lose to the Yankees .
2. Depression – Why do I do this to myself? Why do I bother watching the Twins?
3. Bargaining – If I go to more games next year, maybe the Yankees won’t make the playoffs.
4. Anger – Those #%#(*&$ umps have to be paid off. I hope the Rangers kick Yankee ass.
5. Denial – Now that the Vikings have Moss, the Super Bowl is ours!

Ching For King (Redux)

Word out of Minnesota House District 15B is that things are looking pretty good for our friend King Banaian. The Banaian campaign is cautiously optimistic that they've laid the groundwork for victory in November. But with Election Day rapidly approaching, now is not the time to let up.

Like most campaigns, the Banaian express runs on volunteers and cash (along with copious amounts of Armenian brandy). If you can spare a Saturday afternoon up St. Cloud way, King could definitely use your help walking the district to get out the vote. If your schedule doesn't permit that, drop some change into King's jar (I did yesterday).

You can donate both your time and money at the King Banaian For House Home Page. Because you need him, Minnesota. Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like King.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Don't Cost Nuthin'

An easy way to help a deserving candidate who needs your support is to go to Right Klik: Ten Buck Fridays: Winner's Circle and vote for Joel Demos, who is running in Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District against Keith Ellison.

Too Much of A Good Thing?

It's hard to beat today it terms of hot topics on the local scene:

- Newt Gingrich was in town for a fundraiser.

- Randy Moss is coming back to town.

- And the Yankees are in town to open the ALDS tonight at Target Field.

And yet not one of the august cadre of bloggers here at Fraters Libertas saw fit to so much as post a peep on any of these developments? The only possible explanation is that we were all simply overwhelmed by the abundant opportunities, unable to decide which one to focus on, and so driven to paralysis and inaction. Yeah, that's the ticket.

SISYPHUS CHIMES IN: I have been busy researching the Washington County Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor races, but I do strongly endorse the return of Randy Moss. After all, I am not a Minneapolis traffic cop.

THE ELDER RESPONDS: I figure you were busy retrofitting your Favre jersey by adding an eight to reflect the return of Randy.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Gales of November Come Early?

At this point, I'm still chalking it up as "too good to be true," but when a sage such as Michael Barone is saying that the S.S. Oberstar may headed for rough waters you can't help but pay attention:

But we do keep seeing poll results from surprising districts that tend to support the Gallup results. Last week I pointed to a poll (from a pollster I don't know) showing an even race in North Carolina 7 between Republican Ilario Pantano and 14-year Democratic incumbent Mike McIntyre, who won his 2008 race, in which he had an active Republican opponent, with 69% of the vote. Now Ed Morrissey (WHO?) directs our attention to a poll by Public Opinion Strategies, a highly respected Republican firm, in Minnesota 8 showing 36-year incumbent James Oberstar leading Republican challenger Chip Cravaacke by only 45%-42%, within the margin of error.

John McCormack has a good post in the Weekly Standard's blog on this. Oberstar was first elected in 1974, he is Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has brought public dollars to an economically chronically ailing district. He was reelected in 2008 with 68% of the vote. But this is also a district that, despite containing the Democratic strongholds of Duluth and much of the Iron Range (both in St. Louis County) that voted only 53% for John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008. However, at its southern end it includes Isanti and Chisago Counties, exurban counties in the Twin Cities metro area, which despite a Democratic heritage have trended away from Democrats in recent elections—toward Jesse Ventura in 1998 and toward Republicans between 2000 and 2008, when they both voted for John McCain.

Minnesota 8 has a certain historic resonance for Democrats. It was one of only two or three districts (I am away from my desk where I have my papers and sources on this) which in the Republican landslide year of 1946 switched from a Republican to a Democratic congressman. This was a move away from progressive and isolationist Republicans (like Alvin O'Konski in the adjoining then-10th District of Wisconsin) toward labor-backed Democrats (completed in the Wisconsin case by the victory of young Democrat David Obey over O'Konski when they were redistricted together in 1972). Only two Democrats have represented Minnesota 8 ever since, John Blatnik, first elected in 1946 and for whom Oberstar worked as a staffer, and since 1974 Oberstar; only one Democrat, David Obey, has represented what is now Wisconsin 7 since 1969. For Oberstar to have a serious challenge, much less to be in danger of defeat, is quite astonishing. If these numbers are right—and like all poll numbers they are subject to some degree of doubt—they tend to confirm the Gallup likely voter numbers.

As for Obey, he has chosen to retire this year at age 72, and Republican Sean Duffy is waging a serious campaign for the district. These are two American congressional districts that touch on Lake Superior, that huge and cold forboding body of water over which the great freighters filled with iron ore have sailed in the ice-free months, from Duluth to the steel factories in Gary, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo. In the third of these districts, Michigan 1, Republican Dan Benishek looks like the favorite to take the district being vacated by Democrat Bart Stupak.

If Oberstar actually does go down this election could indeed be the political storm of the century. Voters in the Eighth District have been represented by Democrats (two of them) for sixty-two years. It's high time for a change.

You Can't Legislate Biology

EU judge rules rates not based on sex :

BRUSSELS, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Insurance policy rates shouldn't be based on sex because statistics don't reflect an innate difference between men and women, an EU jurist ruled.

The ruling Thursday by Advocate General Juliane Kokott of the European Court of Justice provoked anger by insurers in the European Union who had provided life and health policies based on whether they were for men or women, EUobserver reported Friday.

"The advocate general takes the view that it is legally inappropriate to link insurance risks to a person's sex," Kokott said. "Differences between people, which can be linked merely statistically to their sex, must not lead to different treatment of male and female insured persons when insurance products are developed.

"The use of a person's sex as a kind of substitute criterion for other distinguishing features is incompatible with the equal treatment of men and women."

If current trends continue, I imagine that in twenty years time the concept of insurance as originally intended will pretty much disappear. Now that the EU seems to be on the verge of telling insurance companies that they can no longer consider a person's sex when considering insurance risks, it's just a matter of time before they move on to prohibit other similar forms of discrimination. You could easily substitute the following in the jurist's statement:

"Differences between people, which can be linked merely statistically to their age, must not lead to different treatment of old and young insured persons when insurance products are developed."

Even here in the United States, we've now told insurance companies that they are no longer allowed to discriminate against people with existing medical conditions. While these efforts at fairness and equality may sound good on the surface, they undermine the entire basis of how insurance operates:

The most complicated aspect of the insurance business is the underwriting of policies. Using a wide assortment of data, insurers predict the likelihood that a claim will be made against their policies and price products accordingly. To this end, insurers use actuarial science to quantify the risks they are willing to assume and the premium they will charge to assume them. Data is analyzed to fairly accurately project the rate of future claims based on a given risk. Actuarial science uses statistics and probability to analyze the risks associated with the range of perils covered, and these scientific principles are used to determine an insurer's overall exposure. Upon termination of a given policy, the amount of premium collected and the investment gains thereon minus the amount paid out in claims is the insurer's underwriting profit on that policy. Of course, from the insurer's perspective, some policies are "winners" (i.e., the insurer pays out less in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income) and some are "losers" (i.e., the insurer pays out more in claims and expenses than it receives in premiums and investment income); insurance companies essentially use actuarial science to attempt to underwrite enough "winning" policies to pay out on the "losers" while still maintaining profitability.

Once you limit the insurance companies' ability to use various criteria to access risk, you limit their ability to quantify that risk and charge appropriate premiums to cover said risk. If they are forced to treat all those they insure as equals they will have to raise premiums for those with lower risks. These premium increases will drive some of these people out of the pool resulting in hiring premiums for those who remain. Eventually, a tipping point will be reached where there won't be enough money coming in through premiums to cover the costs going out and the companies will leave the market.

One possible solution is for the government to force people to join these pools and stay in them (sound familiar?). The problem is that you're not really talking insurance anymore, but rather a government program where people are forced to pay in to subsidize benefits for others. Not unlike Social Security, which come to think of it, bills itself as an "insurance" program. Not in the way most of us would think of it, but in a way that we may become all too familiar with in the future.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Freedom of Speech, Temporarily Approved

Never let it be said that I can't say anything good about President Barack Obama.

Just one month before the election and there are ominous warnings of imminent terrorist attacks. What a relief it is to have Obama in charge!

To be clear, if anything actually happens, God forbid, I'm not expecting any extraordinary displays of leadership or strategic competence from the man. Nothing in his record indicates an aptitude for this. We'll be lucky if he performs as well as George W. Bush. Yet I'm glad he's there. Because now threats of terrorism can be accepted threats of terrorism and acted on appropriately.

Before the Age of Obama, you may recall, threats of terrorism had to have an asterisk next to them. Government officials and journalists routinely uestioned whether or not the reports were legitimate or the product of someone more sinister than terrorists.

For example, from October 2004, another time of terrorist threats before an election, the typical reaction from the Washington Post (excerpts):

Some Democrats are suspicious of the timing of the announcements, noting that warnings about an election-season threat came on April 19, when Bush was close to his low in the polls; on Aug. 1, right after the Democratic National Convention; and last week, as the president's post-National Republican Convention bounce ebbed.

In a statement last week, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned that it is possible for terrorism response plans created in the name of election security to discourage voting and "become a thinly veiled partisan tactic to tilt the elections."

You have to admire Democrats for their focus, they never take their eye off the real enemy.

This scurrilous accusation, Republicans playing games with national security to win elections, is not ancient history. These "concerns" were ginned up as recently as February of this year. Criticisms of the Democrats handling of terrorist prosecutions brought this alert from the New York Times:

An election is coming, so the Republicans are trying to scare Americans by making it appear as if the Democrats don’t care about catching or punishing terrorists.

It's nonsense, of course, but effective. The be-very-afraid approach helped former President George W. Bush ram laws through Congress that chipped away at Americans’ rights. He used it to get re-elected in 2004. Now the Republicans are playing the fear card for the fall elections.

Of course, this is another variation of the censorship through shaming tactic. Democrats attempting to declare the topic as out of bounds for discussion, especially during an election. This is another issue on which the Democrats are losing the argument. A majority of the American people generally see them as weaker in terms of handling terrorism and national security, so those issues cannot be allowed to be taken into consideration by voters.

As Lori Sturdevant decreed yesterday in the Star Tribune, gun rights, gay marriage, and abortion are sideshows and tired tangential issues, not worthy of discussion for the 2010 election. But, thanks to Barack Obama in office, it looks like we're able to threats of terrorism seriously. At least for now.