Saturday, November 26, 2016

HWX: Turkeys on Broadway

It’s a special Thanksgiving season broadcast of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe, the Nihilist in Golfpants convening to give thanks for our many blessings. Topic discussions include:
* Holiday day time drinking suggestions, featuring the Brutal Mimosa and the Ramos Gin Fizz.
* Our personal histories of being subjected to on stage liberal polemics.
* Our responses to Ricochet members comments from the last HWX episode, including a special statement to our critics.
* Exclusive excerpts of the musical Hamilton. Just what is the fuss all about? We’ll find out, with the musical’s thrilling depictions of the debate over the National Bank and the feud that led to the duel between Hamilton and Aaron Burr.
* Exclusive preview of next season’s Broadway smash, Trump! The Musical!

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  Hope you enjoy.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Been There, Got Through That

Excerpt from And the Fair Land a WSJ editorial that has appeared annually on the day before Thanksgiving 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.

Timely as always.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2020 Vision

Making news this week is Keith Ellison’s bid to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Fresh off of their party’s latest electoral route, many Democrats are asking how they can reconnect with the priorities of the average, middle class American voter located in the wide open spaces outside the urban cores.

The answer? Keith Ellison, a man who’s spent his entire career in a one-party urban core district where his election is guaranteed and he doesn’t have worry about connecting to anyone outside the most extreme of his own side.

The Democratic party has a fever, and the only prescription is more liberalism.

Doubling down in the face of a bad trend is the wager of a true believer. It’s the same bet that the British Labor party has placed, after unexpected losses in 2015, by choosing Jeremy Corbyn to lead them. And it’s the bet the Democrats almost placed already by flirting with a Bernie Sanders nomination.

I suppose it could work. If it does work for Ellison, with say, big gains in the House and Senate in 2018 (or with continued losses and a quadrupling down by Democrats on liberalism), perhaps DNC chairman isn’t his last stop? In 2020, the Democrats will be looking for someone to rebuild the Obama coalition? Why not Keith Ellison?

If that does happen, you can say you hear it here first. But not in this vintage 2016 blogpost. Instead, it was 7 years ago in this space, an Ellison candidacy in 2020 was foretold. In fact, up until now, it was the only blog post residing under the label 2020 Election.

From the March 18, 2009 post, Ready for Some Real Change?, a an interview Ellison for a Voice of America (Urdu) documentary series, Muslims' America:


VOA: Is there any possibility that I might be talking to the future first Muslim-American President of the United States, keeping in view that 2020 is not that far away
ELLISON: Only God knows that. But let me just say this, I love the job I'm doing and I believe that my goal is to be the best representative of the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota I can possibly be. And that's all I'm worried about right now.
VOA: And that means that you might run? 
ELLISON: It means that I'm not making any plans to run. I'm just trying to keep my eye on the ball. Like, do they play cricket there in Pakistan? 
VOA: They love cricket. 
ELLISON: Well, see, if you're going to try and hit that ball with the bat, you've got to watch that ball, right? You don't want to look past the ball, you want to look at the ball, right? So I'm just keeping my eye on the ball. 
VOA: I'll take that as a 'yes'.  
ELLISON: (laughter) 

Speaking of laughter, Ellison might not be the only Minnesotan hitting the campaign trail in 2020. According to The Hill, the top 10 potential Democratic candidates for President include:

 Amy Klobuchar 
One of Clinton’s more vocal congressional supporters, the Minnesota senator’s name is a regular in future presidential speculation too. Like President Obama, she’s a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and has spearheaded work to curb sexual assault in the military along with Gillibrand and others. She’s very popular in her home state and has a background in law enforcement as a county prosecutor. Along with Gillibrand and Warren, Klobuchar, 56, is part of the group of women who could attempt to succeed where Clinton fell short in breaking the presidency’s glass ceiling.
Al Franken
A less common pick, the former Saturday Night Live cast member could be an interesting foil to the reality show superstar turned President Elect. Franken, 65, has sought to ditch the “funny man” reputation since he arrived in the Senate, but has started to open up a bit more recently as he stumped for Clinton and bashed Trump. Some are buying into the early speculation, with the “Draft Al Franken 2020” super-PAC registered on Wednesday. 

Then after one of these three are elected, maybe we Minnesotans can finally focus on getting the Vikings to win a Super Bowl.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

HWX: Election Audio Bits Special

The grueling death march of this election season comes to an end today.  It’s time to look forward to the new day tomorrow, and the grueling death march of the next President’s administration.

But before that, it’s time to look backward, at some of our favorite moments from this campaign.  We proudly present, The HWX 2016 election audio bits collection:

Outside Looking In

This is the second straight presidential election in which I will be following the results from outside the country (and the morning after rather than the night of). It’s a bit of strange experience to be on the outside looking in. Based on conversations with taxi drivers and coworkers over the last few days the whole world will be watching too.

So what will we see?

Skipping right to the big event this is how I think the electoral college will look like once the dust has settled.

Click the map to create your own at

With the possible exception of Utah, it’s not much different from what most polls and pundits are predicting. While the race has had more than its share of ups and downs for both candidates the underlying Democratic advantage in the electoral college should be enough to propel Hillary to the promised land.

The one caveat is that if there is ever a year where the loser’s lament that the “polls are all wrong” could indeed prove to be correct it’s 2016. We all have learned by now that this year anything is possible (even though still not probable).

In the Senate, the GOP will narrowly maintain control. They will lose seats in the House, but still retain their majority.

Finally, every candidate I voted for in my senate district, house district, school board, and judicial races will lose. That’s a lock in any year no matter how unpredictable it might otherwise be.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Rand Paul Endorses Jason Lewis

For all the disillusioned voters lamenting the absence of any acceptable candidates to vote for tomorrow, we present to you an interview with a guy who could have been a major party nominee, Sen. Rand Paul.

This is the isolated interview, from his appearance on HWX last month.  Sen. Paul discusses what happened in the Republican primaries and emphasizes that much good can still be done by voting now.  First and foremost, in Minnesota CD-2, that would be voting for Jason Lewis. for whom Rand Paul give his enthusiastic endorsement.


Someone (Anyone) Else

This is by my reckoning the worst presidential election in US history. And it features the two worst presidential candidates ever.

One is a corrupt, soulless creature with not a bone of authenticity in her body. The other is a venal, arrogant lout with the emotional maturity of a ten-year-old boy. Both are pathological liars who have so little affinity for the truth that they no longer even attempt to disguise their mendaciousness.

Neither has any real core convictions or political principles other than the advancement of their own personal interests. Despite what they say on the campaign trail, neither really cares about the good of the country or about the lives, liberty, and happiness of their fellow Americans. They don’t pursue the presidency to serve the people, but to wield the power.

Neither candidates deserves to president and neither has earned your vote. So vote for someone else.

Vote for Evan McMullin. Vote for Gary Johnson. Vote for Jill Stein. Vote for that pot legalization guy (no, not Gary Johnson the other pot guy). Hell, write in SMOD if you are so inclined. Just vote for someone other than either of the clowns the two parties have given us.

Sadly, one of them will be our next president. While we have to accept that reality, we don’t have to like it. Or endorse it.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

HWX: Election Frauds

It’s a special pre-election edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe, the Nihilist in Golf Pants.   Issues discussed include:

*  A review of this past week’s focus on Ricochet from NPR’s “This American Life”.  Also, the return of This Week in Gate Keeping featuring, coincidentally, NPR and This American Life and their observations of James Lileks’s voting preferences. 

*  A (quick) analysis of Evan McMullin’s chances of eking this one out.   Plus exclusive audio of the new Evan McMullin-Mindy Finn campaign ad soon to be blanketing the airwaves.

*  “In the Bubble” with Marc Maron.  On a recent episode of his WTF podcast he gave his opinion of those who might be considering voting for Donald Trump.  We straighten him out on exactly why perfectly rational and sophisticated voters would do just that.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  Hope you enjoy.

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

On the Outs

Thomas Frank nails one of the mostly underappreciated aspects of the Podesta e-mails that have been released in a piece that appeared on October 31st called Forget the FBI cache; the Podesta emails show how America is run:

This genre of Podesta email, in which people try to arrange jobs for themselves or their kids, points us toward the most fundamental thing we know about the people at the top of this class: their loyalty to one another and the way it overrides everything else. Of course Hillary Clinton staffed her state department with investment bankers and then did speaking engagements for investment banks as soon as she was done at the state department. Of course she appears to think that any kind of bank reform should “come from the industry itself”. And of course no elite bankers were ever prosecuted by the Obama administration. Read these emails and you understand, with a start, that the people at the top tier of American life all know each other. They are all engaged in promoting one another’s careers, constantly.

Everything blurs into everything else in this world. The state department, the banks, Silicon Valley, the nonprofits, the “Global CEO Advisory Firm” that appears to have solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation. Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed. They break every boundary.

But the One Big Boundary remains. Yes, it’s all supposed to be a meritocracy. But if you aren’t part of this happy, prosperous in-group – if you don’t have John Podesta’s email address – you’re out.

This is not a partisan matter. Frank is a progressive populist and the author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?" and more recently "Listen, Liberal." He's coming at this from the left, but many on the right share the same sentiments which explains, at least in part, the rise of Donald Trump.

There is a belief that whatever political positions the people in this top tier hold are less important than their shared aspirations for their careers and the careers of their children. And the Podesta e-mails provide plenty of validation for that belief.

Much was made of Colin Powell's e-mails and the comments he made about both Hillary and Trump, especially the note about Bill still "dicking bimbos at home." However, there other Powell e-mails which reveal much about how what these folks really care about:

Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris. I told you about the gig I lost at a University because she so overcharged them they came under heat and couldn't any fees for awhile. I should send her a bill.

So yeah, Hillary screws stuff up and that's bad for the country and all, but what really pissed me off is when she messed with my lucrative speaking racket.

Another golden Powell nugget:

I told her staff three times not to try that gambit. I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampston's party to get their attention.

Again you get the picture of the new power elite hobnobbing in the Hampton's and trying to advance each other's interests. Finally, Powell was so outraged that he had to risk breaking social decorum with his "mini tantrum" (which I'm sure he promptly apologized for afterward). A true man of the people and noble public servant he.

Yet another interesting connection in the Powell e-mails is that he serves on the corporate board for Salesforce and among the e-mails released were ones detailing the company's highly confidential acquisition plans. Being part of such boards is another way that those at the top take care of each other and provide an opportunity to wet their beaks in yet another revenue stream. It's another one of those nice gigs if you can get it that often isn't based on what you know, but who.

I do find it a bit ironic that Trump is now viewed as the answer to trying to break this cross promoting nexus between government officials, business leaders, and other power brokers as he was as deeply ingrained as anyone.

But many Americans apparently feel you need someone from the inside to change things for those on the outside. I don't think it matters who wins next week. These connections are far too powerful to give sway easily and Trump will find it much easier to make accommodation than make real change. And we already know that Hillary will continue with business as usual with her circle of influence. The rest of us will remain on the outside looking in.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Meet Power Line, “Enough Said” Style

Scott Johnson at Power Line continues his lonely quest to hold power accountable with his latest stories on Ilhan Omar.  She’s about to be elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, she’s been credibly accused of engaging in improprieties, and no one in the establishment media seems very interested in following it to a definitive conclusion. 

To be fair, it hasn’t been a complete blackout.  The KMSP-TV program “Enough Said” addressed it a couple of weeks ago.  This show features sports broadcasting personalities Dan Barreiro and Justin Gaard leaving their typical area of expertise to comment on politics and public affairs.  Here’s a snippet of what they had to say about the Ilhan Omar case:

I think there was more than enough said on that topic.

To repeat, the Omar campaign’s reaction to allegations seemed suspiciously defensive.   But a lot of that was due to the nature of the those doing the alleging, who was, to quote Gaard:

… the original blogger or website that started to ask questions, very right wing, very explosive (Power Line, Power Line blog), possibly racist from time to time.

So, this whole thing is really Power Line’s fault. 

Given that their racism is alleged to be only sporadic, the boys at Power Line may find this characterization to be refreshing, compared to how liberals typically view them.  Of course, anyone who is actually familiar with the work of Scott Johnson and the other Power Line contributors know them to be paragons of integrity.  The racism allegation is exceeded in absurdity only by calling the typically academic and wry tone at Power Line “very explosive”. 

The theme of associating racism with those asking questions of this soon-to-be state legislator is continued by Barreiro later in this segment (full video here):

That’s not the same thing as saying every person who comes here from Somalia should go back.  The sad reality is, that’s where some people take this.

Now that would be very explosive and possibly racist, from time to time.  Are they alleging Power Line said that?  If not, then who?  Is there a single documented example of this “reality” coming from anyone?  Apparently “Enough Said” feels the racism generalization alone is sufficient, because they didn’t provide any.

This episode gives some insight into the reason why Scott Johnson’s efforts on this issue have been so lonely.  Because of political correctness, credible allegations of an aspiring public official’s misconduct cannot even be discussed without those doing the questioning being accused of racism.  Enough said, indeed.

More disturbing, now that I see the level of accuracy and insight provided on this story, how am I supposed to trust Barreiro and Gaard’s analysis of the performance of the Vikings’ secondary or the Timberwolves new defensive package?