Boomed

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I’m considered a “Boomer” because my birth date is before the arbitrary cut-off in 1964; but by the time I reached each new stage in life, the older Boomers already had been there and ravaged it, like locusts.  I was about 5 years too late for everything, which makes me feel less like a Boomer and more like one of the next generation.

Like this kid feels.

What’s it do to a nation when you believe your generation has no future, that the people before you squandered it?

Joe Doakes

I’m probably in the same boat as Joe.  The arbitrary date cutoff is wrong, of course; “Baby Boomers” are the children of people who came home from the war and started having kids.  As my parents were 9 and 5 on VJ day, that just wasn’t the case.  And if I were a Baby Boomer, perhaps I’d remember more about the Beatles than hearing they’d broken up on the radio.

Anyway – what does it do for a nation, believing that the previous generation squandered your future?  Good question.  I’m looking at Millennials – say, at Evergreen State – and wondering if they’re going to squander my legacy.

Call For Mr. Hobbs

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If IQ exists (which SJWs debate but serious researchers do not), then the Theory of Evolution through Survival of the Fittest would suggest that average IQ was higher in the past.  It must have been – only the people clever enough to survive, lived long enough to reproduce.

Nowadays, with endless help groups and support networks and government programs, people who would have starved to death in the past are now surviving and breeding, as are their children.  The inevitable result must be a general lowering of IQ.  It’s not your imagination – people really are getting dumber every year.

Imagine that a new Black Death or Spanish Flu kills off 70% of the world’s population.  Would the survivors be smart enough to rebuild?  Or would our civilization disappear, to be discovered centuries from now as stone ruins deep in some jungle where St. Paul used to be?

Joe Doakes

In a semi-related matter, I’ve had a piece in my “drafts” folder for a few months now about how The Walking Dead is the most conservative thing Hollywood has produced in a generation.

I may have to finish it.

Alas, Babylon

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There’s a reason the United States considers cyber warfare to be a weapon of mass destruction, same as nuclear weapons: because of the massive damage it can cause to modern civilization.

Mitch wrote recently about a grid-down scenario from EMP attack.  How about grid-down event caused by ramsomware?  How secure are the computers that serve the national electrical grid?

If the Twin Cities were without power to scan groceries, to accept debit cards, to pump gas, to run air conditioners and elevators, to listen to the news or surf the web or communicate on cell phones . . . how long would it be before hooligans started breaking windows and homeowners started loading shotguns to protect their families?

You do have a shotgun, don’t you?  And several weeks of food and water?  A medical kit.  Propane or charcoal for the grill.

Joe Doakes

My plan is to become a warlord.

Changing Times

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Where did Americans get the assumption that if I work in the same office with other people, they’re automatically bosom buddies entitled to know everything about my life, and entitled to regale me with humorous anecdotes about every detail of their lives?

If I wanted to know about your kid’s Cub Scout dinner last night, I would have asked.  If I wanted you to know the details of my weekend, I would have told you.

Am I a curmudgeon, or is everybody else a gasbag?  Or both?

I asked a friend who said: “Yes, you are a curmudgeon.  The other people are being sociable.  They are assuming (apparently incorrectly) that you are socially engaged with those around you.  It’s a social contract.  When trapped in an elevator or mine shaft or cube farm for 8 hours, you talk a little.  You work in a government bureaucracy, so your social contract requires even more talking, plus loafing, web surfing, coffee drinking and paper shuffling.  There are other rules the social contract.  You are not required to engage in certain topics, for example.  Although that’s where the problems tend to arise these days since under the new and improved version of the social construct you are expected to be diverse, agreeing with the Liberal mantra at every opportunity in your own unique way.  That’s something you’re no good at; hence, the curmudgeon label.  You should work from home making millions in your spare time, I see ads for those jobs every day.”

I suppose he’s right.  Only 13 years until I can retire.

Joe Doakes

I’ve become very thankful that I get to  work from home.

Watch This

You’d do well to read this entire article by Kevin Williamson – about the real source of human achievement.

Hint: its not politics, or politicians:

Politics thrives on convincing us that things are worse than they are, telling us that we must live in fear of violence and misery if we do not elevate the members of a very special caste of people who do very little resembling real work. The contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton is not only unworthy of us as Americans — it is unworthy of us as a species. We contain within us greatness and the seeds of greatness, and the belief that the affairs of this free, dynamic, prosperous, good, unprecedented republic of 319 million souls rests on the choice between Enfeebled Psychotic Miscreant A and Enfeebled Psychotic Miscreant B is a superstition, one that we should leave behind.

And the conclusion?

Even the best of them do not represent the best of us. They can do some good, mainly by protecting property and the freedom to trade, organizing the occasional public good here and there, while otherwise staying out of the way. We — we human beings — cut global poverty in half in 30 years, built an ever-expanding electronic Library of Alexandria and have connected (so far) about half of the world’s population to it, all but eradicated polio, and saw the average life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa grow by 70 percent in 50 years. What’s next?

You could do worse than to read the whole thing.

Rights

I’m not going to talk politics, here. I’m going to talk morality and ethics.

First: as a general rule, it’s considered immoral to make someone accountable and responsible for something, but to withhold the rights needed to carry that responsibility out. It’d be wrong to say “raise this kid!” without giving someone the rights to, y’know, raise the kid.

Right?

Second: If someone said to you “I have the right not to be hit by a tornado”, you’d think they were nuts – right? Your rights don’t affect nature – do they?

Likewise, if someone said “I have a right not to get hurt while driving”, you’d likely respond “there is no “right” to be exempt from bad luck, equipment failure, or even human negligence – your own, or someone else’s”.

No – in both cases, you have the *responsibilty* to protect yourself, and especially your family, from these dangers that nature, technology and human nature throw at you. You listen to the sirens and haul the kids down to the basement; you check your tires, you make sure your kids are belted in, and yourself to boot; you watch for drivers who seem impaired or reckless, and drive defensively. You have the *right* to take action to meet your responsibility to *avoid* having human nature, mechanical nature, or Mother Nature harm you and yours.

So in this past week and a half, since the atrocity in Orlando, a lot of people have been arguing about the Second Amendment. One line I’ve heard a lot is “your Second Amendment right doesn’t trump my right not to get shot!”, usually from people who think they’re making a show-stopper point.

They’re half right; the Second Amendment trumps nothing. Literally. Because there *is* no “right not to get shot”. There is only a responsibility to try to deter, deflect or end threats to your community, to you, and your family.

Like Mother Nature, human nature is full of ugly surprises and perversions; people who want to take what’s not theirs (criminals), people who think that violence is a means to a political end (terrorists), some who think killing is their ticket to immortality (rampage killers) and, every so often, someone who thinks their will to power is more important than your life, liberty and happiness; none of them have the “right” to do any of it, but that doesn’t prevent them from doing it anyway.

Do you have a “right” not to be affected by the worst human nature has to offer? In an abstract sense, maybe – but discussions of “rights” with criminals, terrorists, madmen and tyrants are about as useful as discussions with tornados and flat tires.

You don’t have a “right” not to be affected by perversions of human nature, any more than you have a right not to be affected by tornados, earthquakes or blowouts. But you do have that responsibility.

To meet that responsibility, you have rights; the right to take actions that protect everyone; you don’t need a permit to check your tires, to take your kids to the basement when the sirens go off [1]…

…and the *right* to defend you and yours from the worst of human nature with a firearm (among many, many other options – from speech, peer pressure and dogs, to locked doors and motion lights, through restraining orders, police calls and the like). The Second Amendment doesn’t grant this right; our creator did, just like our rights to speak, worship, publish, and so on. To try to suppress that right – the right to uphold that responsibility to protect ones self, community and family – is as immoral as giving people any other responsibility without rights.

There is no more “right not to get shot” than there is a “right to shoot people” [2].

——

OK, I lied. There’s some politics in here too.

Some people who should know better have been given to stroking their chins and intoning “y’know, the 2nd Amendment exists and is a right – but we’ve rolled back other rights, like the right to own slaves”.

Sure – we’ve changed the Constitution. The 13th Amendment abolished the “right” to own other humans – an institution that was morally repugnant BECAUSE it stripped away the other human’s rights. Basic principle, here: one person’s rights can not infringe other peoples’ rights.

But abolishing the Second Amendment – or more likely, trying to ban a class of firearms – has less in common with the 13th Amendment than the 18th, which banned alcohol. Like Prohibition, the gun grabbers believe that if they just regulate what people can get their hands on, they can repeal human nature itself!

Prohibition made everything that it was trying to help, even worse, and had unintended consequences that were far worse than the original problem (all-time high crime rates, ballooning government spending, contempt for the law).

Naturally, this’ll be different.

Anyway – you don’t, ever, get more freedom by taking other peoples’ freedom away.

[1] although don’t give the Saint Paul DFL any ideas

[2] other than in self-defense, naturally

Our Fetishistic Elites

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals say Second Amendment advocates are compensating for small genitals [and let’s not forget the more recent, almost-as-dumb “ammosexual” – Ed.]; they call members of the Taxed Enough Already Party by the name for a deviant homosexual sex act; and now gasp that the intramural insult “cuckservative” refers to three-way-inter-racial porn (it doesn’t, it’s a combination of “cuckold” and “conservative” and means nominal conservatives that stick by the Republican Party even though the party elite constantly cheats on them).

Everything Liberals say about their political opponents is grounded in sexual fetishes.  And yet, if I were to suggest that gay marriage activists are queer, I’d be excoriated for unacceptable and demeaning incivility.

If Liberals didn’t have double standards, they’d have none at all.  I guess that’s what makes them better than me – they have twice as many standards!

Joe Doakes

Liberal Privilege is never really having to make sense.

A Modest Question 3: More Of The Shifting Dream

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The reason for exploring all this American Dream stuff is the poor performance of Black students on achievement tests.  Are the tests measuring the right things?

The modern White American Dream seems to be clean, indoor, meaningful work that pays well enough for an apartment with high-speed WiFi and a Light Rail Pass, such as sitting in a cubicle at a non-profit, saving the whales.  For that, students need basic arithmetic, reading, writing and not much more, certainly not college level expertise.  Any American who shares that dream – Asian, Hispanic, Black, Native American, Muslim, Jewish, or refugee – needs the same skills.  Any high school should be capable of teaching what they need to know and our traditional achievement math and reading tests should be capable of measuring it.

What about people who don’t share that Dream, who reject it?  Those people don’t do well in those White Dream schools because the skills being taught aren’t relevant to their futures.  Those students become a stereotype (which doesn’t fit every rebel but fits enough to have a grain of truth or the stereotype wouldn’t be useful) of Black Male Troublemakers, disrupting the school, fighting with others, preventing everyone else from learning.

So what is those rebels’ dream?  What skills would they prefer to learn, to succeed at their Dream?

If the Young Black Man Dream was as silly as the hateful racists claim – free sex, free stuff, free time – then the required skills would not be the same level of math and reading skills required for the White American Dream. Instead, young Black men would need verbal skills to convince fat White chicks to bed them and to hand over their welfare checks.  They would need to speak English poorly enough to get along with their peers but well enough to convince probation officers that they were doing nothing wrong when the police arrested them.  They would need pattern recognition skills to decipher gang colors and tattoos to avoid trouble.  They would need enough arithmetic to make change from selling drugs and buying bullets.  Yes, I’m intentionally being absurd to illustrate the point:  all students want to learn things they think will be helpful in their future lives as they imagine them.  The question is: how do Black male students imagine their future lives?

So back to education: if you are a young Black man and the school isn’t teaching skills relevant to your Dream – whatever Dream that is – then naturally you’re be bored stiff in class after about 8th grade.  You’ve learned all the useful knowledge the school has to offer – the rest isn’t relevant to your Dream.  Bored, restless, disciplined, disrespectful, fighting . . . and doing poorly on tests: do we have a discipline problem, or a Dream problem?

Should we accommodate the Dream?  Or try to change it?

Joe Doakes

It’s way past time to change the terms by which we define “the dream”.

A Modest Question 2: The Ever-Shifting Dream

Joe Doakes emails:

“The American Dream” has changed several times.

Used to be, laborers living in filthy tenements in New York or Chicago dreamed of traveling West where they could bust the sod, build a home, and make a new life for their families.

Used to be, GI’s in foxholes dreamed of finding a nice girl to settle down with and a job in a factory to afford a bungalow on a quarter-acre lot.

Used to be, parents worked overtime to send their kids to college to be doctors and lawyers, so they wouldn’t have to work with their hands and could afford a McMansion in Eagan plus a lake cabin Up North.

For young Americans nowadays, The American Dream might consist of an college degree in Sociology to get a job working in a cubicle for a non-profit so you can live in a converted warehouse and ride Light Rail.

Notice what they have in common?  They’re all White dreams.  Black people living in pre-Civil War days had entirely different dreams of freedom.  Black GIs came home to segregated dreams.  And since the 1970’s, Black families have fragmented and crime in Black neighborhoods has skyrocketed.

What is The American Dream for Black youth today?  What should the schools be teaching to help them achieve that dream?

Joe Doakes

More on this tomorrow.

A Pet Peeve

I was listening to a segment on MPR with Tom Weber, interviewing Bryan Strawser of the MN Gun Owners Political Action Committee about President Obama’s big gun speech.

chanting_points_200px

But one of the callers reminded me of a pet peeve that’s developed over the years of listening to gun control activists.  It was a woman from Sioux Falls, who said…

…well, we’ll come back to that.

But First:  If a thunderstorm springs up, do you have a right to take your family out for a walk without being hit by lightning?

Of course not.  You have…:

  • responsibility to not endanger your family
  • The free will to decide if you’re going to take a walk in the rain (and lightning, and maybe hail)
  • The means to avoid the rain, hail and lightning by staying inside.

But what if humans are involved?

Do you have a right to drive your kids to the mall and not get struck by another car?

No.   What you have is…

  • responsibility as a driver and as a parent to assess the risks inherent in driving your family in a car.  At 2PM on a Saturday afternoon, those are probably pretty low.  At bar closing time on Saint Patrick’s Day, probably less low.
  • moral imperative as a citizen and moral being not to endanger other people via your own behavior on the road.
  • An obligation to use all prudent means to keep your family, passengers and the rest of the driving public safe; wear seatbelts, put your small children in car seats, carry insurance, maintain your vehicle, drive defensively, prudently and without distractions.
  • You have legal recourse if someone breaks the law and violates the principles above, and damages your vehicle or harms you or your passengers.  Law enforcement may also have something to say about it.

You have a right to try to drive your kids to the mall.   It is your responsibility to see to it that you get there and back safely.

Anyway:  The woman from Sioux Falls referred to something I hear from a lot of less-informed people on the issue – most of whom, I suspect, are repeating a chanting point that neither they nor the person they heard it from understands all that well.

“My kids have a right not to get shot”.

No, ma’am.  They do not.

Nobody has a right to shoot them, it’s true (let’s assume “self-defense” is off the table).

But there is no “right not to get shot” .

You have…:

  • Moral imperatives to:
    • Not kill innocent people yourself
    • Avoid being in a position where “violent death” is a significant likelihood.  As much publicity as rampage and spree killings get, you are still vastly more likely to be a homicide statistic if you’re involved in a life of crime
    • Keep your children out of danger – whether it’s not hanging out among drug dealers, or being observant of the situation around you as you go about your law-abiding business.
  • common sense imperative to avoid places where lethal trouble might break out, and be observant about the situation around you.
  • responsibility to see to your own safety by whatever means you deem (as a responsible, law-abiding adult) necessary and your worldview finds acceptable.  That can mean anything from pure pacifism (being OK with giving up your stuff, and maybe your life, rather than resorting to violence) to avoidance, to prudent preparations for self-defense.   For some, that means developing the ability to deter or counterattack against violent attack.
  • responsibility to see to your family’s safety.   What does that mean?  Oh, boy, is that complicated.  Do your kids go to a school full of kids in black trench coats who listen to Slipknot?  You might wanna look into their environment.  Do your kids to go a school where the official response to the possibility (remote!) of a spree shooter is to hand out suspensions for talking about spree shooters?  You may need to have a talk with your principal, as fraught as that can be.  (I had a conversation with my kids’ principal after 9/11 – and it was depressing indeed).

Too picky about semantics?  Probably.

But even if there is a “right not to get shot”?   Like all other rights, it’s your responsibility to know how to practice it, and your imperative to protect it.  Because nobody is obliged to do it for you.

A Parable

(SCENE:  A small aircraft is flying over the prairie.  Inside the plane are:

  • Carpal POX:  a golf pro from Wayzata, and Vice Chair for Ideological Purity at the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian Party
  • Viktor VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE: a professional fraternity organizer, and Vice Chair for Education at the 5th CD Libertarian Party
  • Stephanie Marie ANNAN: Community Organizer for the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian party.
  • Mitch BERG:  Guy, travelling space-available
  • Buck SAVAGE: The pilot. 

Suddenly, the right engine bursts into flames.  The plane begins to vibrate and starts to swerve to the right)

SAVAGE:  Crap!  Everybody grab a parachute!  We’ve gotta bail out!

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Oh, dude! Is this like one of those jokes, where the Pope, Hitler and Kim Kardashian are in a plane and there’s only two parachutes? 

SAVAGE:  No, there’s five.  Hurry up and put one on…

ANNAN:  …or what?  The (makes scare quotes in the air) “plane” will “crash” and “kill” us “all”?  How do we know this? 

BERG:  Um, yeah – I’ll take a ‘chute.  Thanks. 

POX:  Wait – I think there’s a third option.  Or maybe several third options. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  That means like third through maybe millionth options, you douche!

POX:  Let’s think about this.  Who’s to say there’s any absolutes, here? 

BERG:  (Frantically donning parachute) I’d say “the plane is crashing” is pretty absolute.

ANNAN:  That’s assuming the parachutes work.  I’ve read that they don’t always work.  Sometimes they actually cause accidents. 

SAVAGE:  Look, ma’am, pretty soon the fire in the engine is going to melt the wing spar, and the wing is going to fall off and the plane will go into an uncontrollable spin, and the centrifugal force will pin you to the wall of the plane so hard you won’t be able to move. 

ANNAN:  Oh, don’t even get me started on the melting point of steel. 

BERG:  The wing spar is aluminum, isn’t it, Mr. Savage? 

SAVAGE:  Yeah…

POX:  Look, the point is that this is a fine time to brainstorm for more, better options than the ones our authority figure – no disrespect intended…

SAVAGE:  (Handle on the hatch handle) None taken.

POX:  …tells us.  Because the biggest problem with the human mind is that we allow authority figures to shackle our imagines, and the bounds of logic to dictate the parameters of the possible.  What other options are there besides “flaming death” and “parachute?”

BERG:  “Dying while engaging in navel-gazing magical thinking?”

POX:  Not quite in the spirit intended, but there are no bad ideas here…

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Dude, I reject the premise that there’s any difference between the two.  Choosing one or the other merely perpetuates a binary system.  I’m not going to pick either one. 

SAVAGE:  Well, yeah – you will pick one.  Or more to the point, it’ll pick you. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Don’t tase me, bro. 

POX:  Benghazi!  Benghazi!

(ANNAN and VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE giggle)

ANNAN:  I’m done talking with people who think in terms of “life” or “death” as absolutes. 

BERG:  Well, that’s a perfectly fine metaphysical and theological point, but crashing in the plane sort of moots the discussion. 

ANNAN:  That does it.  I’m shunning you. 

POX:  OK.  Fourth option; we concentrate real hard and levitate the plane?  Again, no bad ideas, here.  Any more? 

BERG:  So I pull this ring here? 

SAVAGE:  After we’re out of the plane. 

POX:  Some people just can’t be cured. 

ANNAN:  There is no difference between the disease and the cure. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  I’m totally posting this to Facebook. 

(BERG and SAVAGE jump, count to three, and pull the rip cords, as the plane, engine ablaze, sails into the distance). 

ANNAN (in the distance):  Bunch of ‘chutists.

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE and POX:  ‘Chutists!  ‘Chutists! 

(And SCENE)

Whose Time Has Come

It was fifty years ago today that Ronald Reagan gave one of the most important speeches in American history, and perhaps the most important speech in the history of American conservatism:  A Time For Choosing.

And it’s more vital now than it was, even then.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well, I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: man’s old, old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism

Here it is, in its entirety.

It’s impossible to overstate this speech’s importance.  It was the opening salvo in the rebirth of conservatism.  It took a decade for its aftereffects to be  known; George Will wrote in 1984 that it won the Presidency for Goldwater – it just took 16 years to count the votes.

And it’s a hot, blazing rebuke for the mental midgets to claim the GOP has “become more extreme” lately.  Listen to the whole thing.  There is nothing the Tea Party stands behind that wasn’t stated in this speech.

It also destroys the even dimmer claim that “Reagan was too moderate for today’s GOP”.  If only today’s GOP – outside the Tea Party, anyway – had the balls to live up to the standards in this speech.   

In retrospect, Reagan’s presidency – and it may be fairly said that this speech was the beginning of Reagan’s political career – bought this nation a few decades before the extended populist spending orgy that took off in the sixties finally brings this nation to its heels. 

Is there still time to change things?

Perhaps.  But this is the real time for choosing. 

HG

Footloose

Photoshop out the football and you’ve pretty much recreated Chris Kluwe’s latest press conference

The most famous (or is it infamous?) punter in modern history tries to pin the Minnesota Vikings against their end zone.

Well, in his defense, he no longer has a job to be so focused on.

Chris Kluwe may possess a number of less-than-desirable qualities, but the former punter’s media savvy remains arguably his strongest suit.  Since leveling accusations against the Minnesota Vikings, in particular special teams coach Mike Priefer, of fostering an atmosphere of homosexual hatred which led to his firing by “two cowards and a bigot,” Kluwe has remained relatively quiet.  Perhaps partially motivated by a press corps seemingly less willing to believe him, or realizing that his legal strategy depended upon him dragging many of his former teammates into the mix, Kluwe and his representation had said little about the Vikings’ independent investigation in the past seven months.

That changed Tuesday as Kluwe charged that the Vikings’ investigation has concluded and that the lack of public disclosure over the findings proved Kluwe’s allegations of bigotry:

The onetime punter said Tuesday the team is “reneging on a promise” to release a copy of its completed investigation of alleged anti-gay sentiments expressed by special teams coach Mike Priefer during the 2012 season.

Kluwe and his attorney, Clayton Halunen, announced at a morning news conference that they will file suit against the Vikings alleging discrimination on the grounds of religion, human rights, defamation and “torturous interference for contractual relations.”

The move is self-aggrandizing and potentially premature (the Vikings said the independent investigatory group would provide a report this week).  Had the press conference included accusations of the team of being “lustful c**kmonsters,” it would have been vintage Kluwe.

It was also a somewhat smart public relations ploy.  Now, whenever Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P release their findings, Kluwe can claim his pressure forced the team to do so.  And Kluwe’s willingness to forgo a lawsuit for a monetary settlement that goes towards an LGBT cause also assists both the Vikings, in helping the issue go away faster, and Kluwe himself as even old media allies questioned the punter’s motivations (the KFAN Morning Show, who often gave Kluwe free-rein to voice his opinions on all matter of subjects, openly wondered if he was making a money grab this morning).

But “somewhat smart” isn’t the same as “smart.”  Kluwe’s strategy only truly works if the independent investigation proves some or all of Kluwe’s anecdotes, in particular his claim that Mike Priefer suggested moving gay people to an island and hitting it with a nuclear bomb.  Not unlike the current Jesse Ventura defamation suit, Kluwe’s case ultimately comes down to a “he said/he said” legal battle.  Even if Kluwe is 100% accurate in quoting Vikings’ staff, he would still have to prove a correlation between comments like Priefer’s and his cutting in 2013.  The Vikings can respond about Kluwe’s declining skills and (for the position) high salary – reasons that even Kluwe cited…when cut last summer by the Oakland Raiders.

The outcome of the investigation – or any following legal action – may be pointless.  Kluwe’s defenders will continue to insist the end of his career was due to his gay rights activism, and not his next-to-last finish for punts inside the 20-yard line while making $1.45 million.  Kluwe’s detractors will continue to be maligned as being bothered by his politics rather than his penchant for vulgar name-calling to anyone who doesn’t share his views (on gay rights or other subjects).

Other than attorneys or an LGBT charity, it’s hard pressed to see who benefits from this continued fight.

To Those Who Say “You Can’t Legislate Morality”…

…and keeping in mind that I’m speaking in general, not necessarily about the “gay marriage” thing (and further keeping in mind that I barely believe in straight marriage as it’s currently done, much less the gay variety), let’s try a little thought experiment.

The next time someone offends you, carry out an honor killing (whatever your ethnic background, it’s probably been part of your culture at some point in the near or distant past).

See how very much we do legislate morality.  And pretty damn successfully.

Honor killing is an integral part of many cultures’ version of “morality” even today (and most cultures, if you go back far enough).   Ours, recently (as in “within the past 100 years” in some parts of the country) decided it’s not any more.  And they legislated it.

Ditto owning slaves, or having multiple spouses – although there’s no logical reason we won’t have the latter back within a generation.

That slogan “you can’t legislature morality” has always bugged me.

Bad Lieutenant

Can you fog a mirror? Then you too can be a lieutenant governor!

As Yvonne Prettner Solon bids farewell to the office of Lieutenant Governor, should Minnesota do so as well?

When it comes to political shockwaves, the announcement that Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon would not seek a second-term as Mark Dayton’s running-mate barely constitutes a ripple in the political waters.  And why not?  Over the past four years, Prettner Solon joined a long and undistinguished list of Minnesota lieutenant governors who served their time largely under the radar of the media and electorate.  Even Prettner Solon’s own webpage touts her “actions” as a small collection of out-of-state/out-of-country travels, with a dash of in-state touring on behalf of federal initiatives (helpfully spelling as a typo as well).

Prettner Solon’s (in)actions say less about her tenure than about the limitations of the office of lieutenant governor itself.

John Nance Garner’s infamous quote about the Vice-Presidency as “not worth a bucket of warm piss” (often sanitized as “warm spit”) might as well apply to Minnesota’s lieutenant governors.  With perhaps the exception of Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, who served as the commission of Transportation in the Pawlenty administration, Minnesota’s lieutenant governors have served almost no active role in policy direction or political leadership.

Indeed, the trend-lines for the state’s lieutenant governors have seemingly further minimized an insignificant position.  Whereas past lieutenant governors had gone on to serve in higher office, such as Rudy Perpich, Sandy Keith, Karl Rolvaag, C. Elmer Anderson and Edward Thye, the past several decades haven’t even seen lieutenant governors make a post-office political impact.  Joanne Benson, Joanell Dyrstad, and Marlene Johnson all made bids for higher office in the 1990s (Governor, U.S. Senate and St. Paul Mayor, respectfully) and lost – badly.  None of them even made to the general election.

All of this begs the question – does Minnesota require a Lieutenant Governor?

Seven states forgo the position, with two of those states, Tennessee and West Virginia, having the office of lieutenant governor be only an honorary title on the Speaker or President of the State Senate.  The line of succession, often the only value to the office, goes either to the Senate President or the Secretary of State.  In Minnesota, about the only other value to the office is as a gender counterweight to the top of the ticket.  Lou Wangberg was the last male lieutenant governor of the state – a fact useful only as trivia for political nerds.  Otherwise, every winning ticket (and most of the losing tickets) have had a female running-mate since 1982.

Closing the office of lieutenant governor won’t save Minnesota much.  The combined office budgets of the Governor and his lieutenant are only $3.3 million.  But if Minnesota could willingly end a constitutional office like State Treasurer, which had at least some active management in state affairs, then why not do the same for a office that has strayed far from any meaningful policy or political moorings?  Every candidate for governor claims they will reinvent the office of lieutenant governor with their selection.  Dayton himself promised that Prettner Solon would become a “strong partner” if elected.  If travelling to Canada and opening a Duluth office were parts of Dayton’s idea of partnership, he didn’t say in 2010.

Outside of the endorsement process for both parties, the role of lieutenant governor serves absolutely no purpose.  And in an era where it appears both parties are drifting away from placing much value on being the endorsed candidate for governor, whatever justifications remain for the office are quickly disappearing.

ADDENDUM: Even Prettner Solon seems to have expected more out of her office, if her comments at her press conference were accurate:

She has said she and the governor have a distant relationship. She said she anticipated being more involved in more policy initiatives as lieutenant governor, but she carved out a niche of her own working on initiatives for seniors and Minnesotans with disabilities.

Deleted Extras

Minnesota’s Film & Television Board faces a legislative re-write.

Like Hollywood, Minnesota’s relationship with the entertainment industry has seen a tumultuous career trajectory.  From being the ingenue of Midwestern locations in the 1990s, resulting in a bevy of films such as Fargo, Grumpy Old Men, The Mighty Ducks, to a discarded destination left in favor of Canada, Minnesota’s greatest entertainment legacy seemed to come more from the state’s exports (the Coen brothers; Diablo Cody) than production imports.

Left in Hollywood’s wake, two institutions survived – a small, but dedicated core of film and television technical professionals and the bureaucratic Minnesota Film and Television Board.  One group has created jobs; the other has lobbyists and now $10 million in tax incentives:

Six months after receiving a record $10 million to lure films to the state, the Minnesota Film & TV Board is under fire, with some legislators and industry insiders questioning whether it should exist at all.

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles’ concerns about the board have escalated to a point where he plans to seek a formal examination of it next month, when the legislative session begins. If the evaluation is unfavorable, funding for the program known as “Snowbate,” and even the board’s future, could be in jeopardy….

“In addition to an audit, an evaluation is really needed to address broad policy questions,” Nobles said. “Should the state be involved in supporting the film industry? If yes, what would be the most effective approach, and who should be in charge of that effort?”

The fate of the “Snowbate” and the Film Board itself seems to be a movie stuck on an infinite loop.  In the mid 2000s, and as recently as 2010, the necessity and/or effectiveness of the Film Board was constantly being called into question, as few films chose Minnesota as their location – even those scripted as taking place in the state.  Leatherheads, New in Town, Juno, Jennifer’s Body, Contagion and Young Adult all take place in Minnesota and with the modest exception of a few scenes of Young Adult, none shot a second of footage in the state.  Other films, like Homefront or Gran Torino were rewritten to reflect moving the location to outside Minnesota.

The Film Board has countered that they do create jobs, suggesting numbers as high as 338 full-time positions in return for $3.3 million in subsidies.  But film and television work, by its nature, is not “full-time” but merely temporary.  And considering the increasingly broad definitions of the Snowbate guidelines to include advertising campaigns and web-based content, it would appear that all the Snowbate is accomplishing is subsidizing temporary Minnesota-based work, not bringing in funds or employment from out of state.

Minnesota isn’t the only state that’s reexamining whether or not film tax credits actually bring in revenue.  Indeed, the trend-line seems to be going the other direction:

…It’s hard to get a good handle on the exact impact of an in-state movie production. In most places, the only reports on movie-production revenue and jobs come from the state film office–or the movie industry itself. Objective studies are relatively hard to come by. And even where independent studies of film incentives do exist, the data can easily be interpreted in myriad ways.

Take Massachusetts, which has offered a 25 percent film incentive since 2006 and already has attracted numerous big-name projects and stars, including Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mel Gibson. The Bay State is one of only a couple that require an annual, independent report on how the incentives are performing. When the most recent report was released by the Department of Revenue in July 2009, tax-incentive opponents said it unequivocally showed the credits weren’t working. According to the report, the state paid out $113 million in movie tax credits in 2008, while filming in the state generated $17.5 million in new tax revenue and created about 1,100 full-time-equivalent jobs for state residents.

Lost in the discussion is why so many films were attracted to Minnesota in the first place – the filmmakers were from here.  Mighty Ducks‘ director Mark Steven Johnson is a Hastings native.  Joe Somebody‘s writer John Scott Shepherd worked in the Twin Cities.  Thin Ice‘s director Jill Sprecher is a Wisconsin/Minnesota native.  And the list of below-the-line production people from Minnesota in Hollywood – the casting directors, the location scouts – is extensive.  Relatively few economic incentives were required (or even existed) in the 1990s to encourage filmmakers.  The same appears true today.  The limits of the Snowbate didn’t seem to stop the Coen brothers from shooting 2009’s A Serious Man in their hometown of St. Louis Park.

Minnesota isn’t going to win a contest of who can subsidize more Hollywood fare for little (or no) economic return.  And if even a navy-blue political state like Massachusetts can realize that film tax credits only result in a state being taken advantage of like a young actress on a casting couch, Minnesota might be able to come to a similar conclusion.

This Hard Land

Note to all you folks thinking of moving to North Dakota to start cashing in on the oil boom:  North Dakota is cold.  

There aren’t a lot of trees.  And outside of the eight or nine significant-sized cities (Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Devil’s Lake, Bismark/Mandan, Minot, Williston, Dickinson, and maybe Valley City), there just aren’t a whole lot of people. 

More below the jump, so the rest of the page can load…

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Memorial Day

On Veterans Day, you thank the servicemen  you can.

On Memorial Day, you remember the ones you can’t.

Today I’ll be doing what I do most Memorial Days – stopping by the memorial to the USS Swordfish, which I wrote about a few years ago – on my way about all the rest of the things the day brings.

Hope you have a good day, and that you all remember why we have the day off.

It Needs Occasional Reiteration

This was forwarded to me in an email chain the other day – one of those “please forward to your friends” kinds of things.

Now, I never, ever forward email.   I probably don’t even forward email that I should, sometimes.

But this, I figured, was worth forwarding to a lot more people than I could ever pick out of my email address book:

Holocaust denial isn’t exactly mainstream today – but since I first interviewed high-profile revisionist Ernst Zündel in 1987, it’s gotten a lot less outlandish, too.

And that’s bad; the worst evils are the ones that have become banal and commonplace.

I’ll Take A Moment…

…to send my best wishes and prayers to my friend and former NARN colleague Michael Brodkorb and his family.  Michael was critically injured in an accident last night.

And whatever your political point of view, I’d urge you to do the same.

Not much information is available.

UPDATE:  A demented ghoul tried to comment that I was “defending (alleged) drunk driving”.  No; for starters, it’s alleged.  Beyond that?  The time for hashing that out is after he’s recovered.

It’s been a big day for dementees on this blog.