Memorial Day

Steam Valve at TvM notes something I’ve posted before on Memorial day:

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

It is, of course, Memorial Day – the day when Americans pay homage to those who’ve died defending this country.

Along with remembering the sacrifice, though we need to remember the results of the sacrifices of so many of our nation’s heroes; our independence; the credibility of our independence; expansion, of course; the sanctity of the union and of human freedom;

the viability of freedom against industrial fascism;

the viability of the free world itself.

But what of the 4,000+ Americans who’ve died in our current war? There are those who insist their sacrifice is in vain – who would make that view our national policy, which would, indeed, be a national nightmare.

And yet, John Hinderaker shows us, that is not the case. The world before 9/11 was a dangerous place:

1988
February: Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Higgens, Chief of the U.N. Truce Force, was kidnapped and murdered by Hezbollah.

December: Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York was blown up over Scotland, killing 270 people, including 35 from Syracuse University and a number of American military personnel.

1991
November: American University in Beirut bombed.

1993
January: A Pakistani terrorist opened fire outside CIA headquarters, killing two agents and wounding three.

February: World Trade Center bombed, killing six and injuring more than 1,000.

1995
January: Operation Bojinka, Osama bin Laden’s plan to blow up 12 airliners over the Pacific Ocean, discovered.

November: Five Americans killed in attack on a U.S. Army office in Saudi Arabia.

1996
June: Truck bomb at Khobar Towers kills 19 American servicemen and injures 240.

June: Terrorist opens fire at top of Empire State Building, killing one.

1997
February: Palestinian opens fire at top of Empire State Building, killing one and wounding more than a dozen.

November: Terrorists murder four American oil company employees in Pakistan.

1998
January: U.S. Embassy in Peru bombed.

August: Simultaneous bomb attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed more than 300 people and injured over 5,000.

1999
October: Egypt Air flight 990 crashed off the coast of Massachusetts, killing 100 Americans among the more than 200 on board; the pilot yelled “Allahu Akbar!” as he steered the airplane into the ocean.

2000
October: A suicide boat exploded next to the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39.

2001
September: Terrorists with four hijacked airplanes kill around 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

December: Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber,” tries to blow up a transatlantic flight, but is stopped by passengers.

And since then?

The September 11 attack was a propaganda triumph for al Qaeda, celebrated by a dismaying number of Muslims around the world. Everyone expected that it would draw more Muslims to bin Laden’s cause and that more such attacks would follow.

In fact, though, what happened was quite different: the pace of successful jihadist attacks against the United States slowed, decelerated further after the onset of the Iraq war, and has now dwindled to essentially zero. Here is the record:

2002
October: Diplomat Laurence Foley murdered in Jordan, in an operation planned, directed and financed by Zarqawi in Iraq, perhaps with the complicity of Saddam’s government.

2003
May: Suicide bombers killed 10 Americans, and killed and wounded many others, at housing compounds for westerners in Saudi Arabia.

October: More bombings of United States housing compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killed 26 and injured 160.

2004
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2005
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2006
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2007
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2008
So far, there have been no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

When you remember what the world looked like on September 12 – rumors of more attacks, the US embarking on an invasion of a nation that had played a disproportionate role in gutting the USSR, visions of a big chunk of the world dancing in the streets at the sight of the towers falling – it seems incredible that we’ve gotten to this point.

And we didn’t get here by prostrating ourselves in front of our enemies, or via diplomacy for that matter.

So this Memorial Day, remember those who’ve sacrificed everything for this country.

Then, and now.

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We Hardly Need To Use Our Ears

Today on a Memorial Day edition of the Northern Alliance Radio Network:

  • Volume I “The First Team” – Chad, John and Brian will do their thing from 11-1.
  • Volume II “The Headliner”Ed and I will be on from 1-3.
  • Volume III, “The Final Word”King joins Michael from 3-5.

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of sanity. On the air at AM1280 in the Metro, or streaming at AM1280′s Website, or via podcast at Townhall.

And don’t forget the David Strom Show, with David Strom and Margaret Martin, from 9-11!

Bureaucrats Gone Wild!

It was almost a quarter of a century ago when an overzealous (in retrospect) county attorney, Kathleen Morris, offered an arrested sex offender a deal if he started naming names, and ended up indicting dozens people in Jordan Minnesota – a small farm town that’s since become an exurb, southwest of Minneapolis – in what turned out to be a Crucible-like witchhunt on the basis of a jailhouse snitch and testimony from children that turned out to be conjured up from imagination.

Lives and reputations were destroyed.  Lawyers made millions.  Antonin Scalia cited the case in Maryland Vs. Craig as an example of how vital the sixth amendment right to question ones’ accuser is in protecting the innocent – in the Jordan case, protecting them from overzealous prosecutors and dubious investigative techniques.

You’d think the bureaucracy would learn.

Well, no.  You would not, if you knew how government works.  A state appeals court has overturned the seizure of the children from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints compound:

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin said the state failed to show the youngsters were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court action.

It was not clear when the children — now scattered in foster homes across the state — might be returned to their parents. The ruling gave a lower-court judge 10 days to release the youngsters from custody, but the state could appeal to the Texas Supreme Court and block that.

The decision in one of the biggest child-custody cases in U.S. history was a humiliating defeat for the state Child Protective Services agency. It was hailed as vindication by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who claimed they were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Now if the FCLS broke any laws – and some of the allegations look pretty seriously – then let’s look forward to some serious consequences.

Child-protection officials argued that five girls at the ranch had become pregnant at 15 and 16 and that the sect pushed underage girls into marriage and sex with older men and groomed boys to enter into such unions when they grew up.

But we have due process for a reason:

But the appeals court said the state acted too hastily in sweeping up all the children and taking them away on an emergency basis without going to court first.

“Even if one views the FLDS belief system as creating a danger of sexual abuse by grooming boys to be perpetrators of sexual abuse and raising girls to be victims of sexual abuse … there is no evidence that this danger is ‘immediate’ or ‘urgent’,” the court said.

“Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may someday have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal.”

The court said the state failed to show that any more than five of the teenage girls were being sexually abused, and offered no evidence of sexual or physical abuse against the other children. Half the youngsters taken from the ranch were 5 or younger. Only a few dozen are teenage girls

 Of course, the stories of child protective services’ officers jumping into cases too zealously – and there are many – are balanced by the stories of CPS officials not working fast enough. 

Perfect

Got to spend a rare evening at Keegans last night (even rarer – it was the second week in a row, something I haven’t managed in years).  It was that rarest possible thing in Minnesota – a perfect evening; warm enough to sit on the patio, cool enough to be comfortable, warm enough for beer.
Not so rare – my team (Guy from Freedom Dogs, John from Policy Guy, and a fourth on whom I’m blocking right now) won.  Oh, OK – it was a three way tie on one of the easiest trivia nights I can remember, but at the end of the day, I got the drink ticket, dagnabbit.

Got to meet Barb Davis White, who’s running for Congress in CD5, as well as Keith Downey, who is working on unseating RINO Ron Erhard.

Also got a long-overdue meeting with Master of None, from Jack of All Trades.

The usual crew was there, naturally – the Stroms, most of the Dogs, Night Writer and the Night Family, Ben from Hammerschwing,  Barry from (garbled), and not a few others.

Hot Gear Friday: The M1 Garand

It’s Memorial Day Weekend – so today, I’m highlighting the “hot gear” most familiar to “the greatest generation”.

It’s the M1 Garand, America’s standard infantry rifle from the mid-thirties until the late fifties.

A rugged, solid, deceptively compact rifle in .30-06, with a simple gas action, it was the rifle the US military carried in World War II and Korea; indeed, the first men to use it in combat were the North Dakota National Guardsmen of the 164th Infantry Regiment on Guadalcanal about whom I wrote last year for Memorial Day; fighting at the Matanikau River and Bloody Nose Ridge in 1942 (the Marines, being far down the supply chain as they were, still carried World War I-vintage M1903 Springfields, of which more in a later installment).

I’ve shot a few Garands – indeed, I’ve come || <---this close to buying Garands a couple of times.  They’re sweet, accurate rifles; the only problems are the peep sights, which I can’t stand,  and the top-loading, eight-shot, “all-or-nothing” block clip magazine.

The rifle was such a solid, reliable concept that when the world started changing to high-capacity magazines in the late ’50s, the Army simply rechambered it for the shorter .308 Winchester round, tacked on a 20-round box magazine, made a few mechanical changes (including “selective fire”, the ability to fire in full automatic, like a machine gun), and called it the M14 – which still serves today, and is reportedly especially favored in the desert for its long range, accuracy and hitting power compared to the relatively lightweight M16/M4.

And since it’s Memorial Day, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight some more gear; the M1911A1 pistol…:

…which was designed almost 100 years ago during America’s last insurgency against a seemingly-intractable Moslem insurgency, in the Philippines.  Designed to knock a charging, drug-crazed attacker down with no questions asked using a big, bulbous .45 round that was designed for relatively minimal efficiency (so as to leave its kinetic energy in the first thing it hit), it’s mechanically simple but metaphorically rich; “everyone speaks Colt”, it’s said, since the sound of that big metal slide racking a round is reportedly usually enough to scare burglars into the next zip code.  It’s on my agenda for one of these next tax refunds – along with a nice jacket.

And no Hot Gear “Greatest Generation” edition would be complete without the red-headed stepchildred of the bunch – the Browning Automatic Rifle…:

…which was what they’d call a “squad automatic weapon” today – designed to put a hail of lead over your target so they’d keep their heads down so the guys with the Garands could close in and lob grenades at them. I’ve never shot a BAR, although I met a guy at a re-enactor show who owned one, and took it apart for me.  It was big, heavy, and used a sliding-block bolt that wasn’t at all unfamiliar to me, shooting my Ljungman at the time.  My overriding impression – having been on a brief jag of learning about machine-tooling metal at the time – was “this receiver is one big beautiful piece of metal”.  Which was true, although in wartime not necessarily a good thing.

Quite the opposite of today’s final Hot Gear submission, the M3 Grease Gun:

Designed in the middle of World War II to be cheap, simple and easy to manufacture, it was almost entirely built of stampings; only the barrel and bolt were actually machined.  So bone-simple was it that it didn’t even have a cocking handle;  you stuck your finger in the ejection port into a hole in the bolt and hauled it directly back yourself.  I’d read about this for years, of course; but when I actually got a chance to shoot an M3 back in 2000, it actually wasn’t as weird as I’d thought it would be.  And – for the record – there are few things as cool as firing something on full-automatic; (I fired ten shots.  In three bursts.  Booyah).

So – thanks, veterans!

The Revolution Will Not Drink Schaeffer – Yet

Just a reminder – Barb Davis White is going to be at Keegans tonight, just in time for the 8PM Trivia round.

Barring any last-minute catastrophes, I’m going to be there – and whether you’re a blogger or not, I hope you can make it down to meet her. 

A journey of a thousand miles – which is truly what winning the Fifth District is – begins with a single step.  Make sure you take that step with a large, raucous group of friends and a pint of Smithwick’s!

Rose Colored Blinders

Like most Americans, I like to think I’d vote for the right person for President. Indeed, the record is incontrovertible; in every single election since I turned 18, I have, without exception, in retrospect picked the best candidate.

The factors I use to choose my candidates for President (indeed, for every office) are the ones I wrote here, and they always will be.

“Gender” and “Race” are not two of them. I will vote for a black handicapped lesbian conservative over a white male liberal weenie, early and often, every time.

Now, as it happens, most female politicians are Democrats – DFL in Minnesota – and ergo unacceptable. Not because they have ovaries, but because their politics weaken the nation, the economy, the culture and the family.

I suspect Lori “DFL Flak” Sturdevant will read that and find a sexist under the rock. To Lori, writing on behalf of the masses of “feminists” who want a woman, any woman, in office, gender is the subject.

(Provided the woman is suitably left of center):

Aviva Breen, the former director of the Legislature’s Commission on the Economic Status of Women, grimaced when asked about the presidential race. Her expression better matched the reality of Clinton’s situation than did the candidate’s own bravado after winning the meaningless West Virginia primary the night before.    

“This was our chance to vote for a woman for president,” Breen sighed, sounding resigned to the nomination of Barack Obama by the Democratic Party. Clinton “was the only one from our generation to come so far. … There’s no one else in the wings.”

And why do you suppose that is?

Why is it that after a generation of female pundits exhorting (liberal) women to run for office (as liberals), we are down to one female contender – and she’s just a legacy, to boot?

Why, oh why?

The answer is closer than you think:

Moments later, as if in response, trumpets sounded the “Rocky” fanfare, and the annual event’s traditional march began.

Into the cavernous hall processed female elected officials, each of them the recipient of campaign cash from the organization formerly called the Minnesota Women’s Campaign Fund.

It was an impressive assembly — both the several score elected officials on the stage and the 750 supporters who cheered their arrival. Perhaps more notable, however, were some conspicuous absences. Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Tarryl Clark and several chairs of key legislative committees couldn’t come to Minneapolis that noon. They were embroiled in negotiations in and around the governor’s office at the Capitol.

In other words, they were right where the feminists who founded womenwinning 26 years ago always hoped elected women would be — in the thick of the making of state government’s biggest decisions.

Sturdevant is a fossil from the age when there were two parties in Minnesota – DFL and DFL-Lite – so we can forgive her the omission; that last bit should have read “they were right where the feminists who founded womenwinning 26 years ago always hoped elected women would be — carrying water for the nannystate.

There are are, and have been, scads of highly capable female politicians, of course; in Minnesota…:

  • Joan Growe – “moderate”, to be sure, but a highly capable politician
  • Carol Molnau – partisan bickering about MNDoT aside, a highly accomplished political fixer in her own right, who’s held up her end of a Pawlenty Administration that has been like the 101st Airborne at Bastogne; holding out against incredible odds, giving much worse than it gets.
  • Pat Pariseau – one of the best trench-fighters in the Minnesota Senate. Indeed, many of the GOP’s notables in the Senate are women. 
  • Of course, Michele Bachmann, after a disproportionally-successful career in the Minnesota Senate, went on to win by the biggest margin of any winning Republican during the slaughter of ’06, and will likely do even better this year – against a full court media press.

Nationally?  Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Condi Rice got farther on the basis of their accomplishments than any other women in American history.  Alaska governor Sarah Palin is on the fast track to bigger things; in ’12 or ’16, she is a solid contender to be on the top of the ticket.  And while Christine Todd Whitman is far from a conservative’s darling, she wasn’t chopped liver, either.  There are more, of course.

Of course, womenwinning doesn’t want to think about any of them.  They’re conservative.  And so even though each of those women has a better story to tell the young women and girls of America than virtually anyone in the womenwinning camp, to them (and to Lori Sturdevant) they don’t exist. 

Indeed, I’ll stand by my prediction from 2002; the first female president of the United States will be a conservative Republican. 

Gender parity is still a long way off at the Capitol. The state has yet to elect its first female governor. But the 2007-08 Legislature is 34.8 percent female. That’s a respectable fifth-highest such percentage in the country.

If gender-based bean-counting (and strict adherence to the DFL’s audaciously-hopeful statism) is the biggest measure…

I’m not be obtuse in saying that, by the way.  Note Sturdevant’s next bit:

With swelling female ranks came more female clout. That’s particularly evident in the House, where a woman has the top job and women head 12 committees.

So what is “female clout”?

I’ve noticed this from any number of female DFL pols, including my own state legislative reps, Alice “the Phantom” Hausman and Ellen “womynandtheirchildren” Anderson; the notion that females are a unified, monolithic bloc with female issues and a female agenda.

Of course, when pressed to name a “female” issue other than abortion – which is far from monolithically decided, even among women?  During the ’04 campaign, polls showed that while the pro-”choice” position dominated among unmarried women and women with no children (the core of the liberal feminist vote), among married women with children it was a decided minority position.

So – are women a “special interest group” based simply on their gender?

Is this a good thing?

If so – should men start voting based on gender issues?

A Night At The Museum

I haven’t had much to say about Ted Kennedy because, honestly, everyone with anything to say has already said it and better.

Except, of course, for the fact that I’m praying for Mr. Kennedy, and hope he recovers and lives many more years.  Life is much more important than politics.

First Ringer has the best compendium of Kennedy’s career I’ve yet read:

From his choices in policies to his choices in politics, Teddy has remained the well-groomed rebel, the slightly mainstreamed radical.  But Kennedy’s flair for risk did not serve him as well as it did his brother.  Clutching a bare 38% of the primary vote and slightly over 1,100 delegates, Kennedy carried on a quixotic floor fight culminating in his convention address that may well have signaled the beginning of the second phase of Kennedy’s political career.  [He defined] himself as the champion of the “New Deal” and “Great Society” liberal Democrats…

Ted Kennedy, even when I was a kid, seemed to be the figure in which paleoliberalism showed its age – where the sixties started fraying into the seventies and spun off the rails in the eighties.

It remains more than a little tempting to ravage Kennedy, who in the preceeding 28 years after that address personified every liberal stereotype in the eyes of both conservative critics and skeptical independents.  Sometimes a parody onto himself, Kennedy would bluster his way on to the national stage for every issue of note, spout the need for some massive government intervention, take a hard but blunt strike at Republican opponents of the measure and then retreat to Kennebunkport.  Often lacking title in the Democratic ranks yet still given deference by pols and the media alike, Kennedy seemed more like a member of the “Patres Conscripti” of the Roman Senate - old men selected by the Roman powers that be, unencumbered by such concerns as elections.  Given that Kennedy’s only received less than 60% twice in his Senate career (in 1962 and 1994), the description seems somewhat apt.

Perhaps.

I see him more like the British parliamentarians of the 1820′s; elected, but yet sitting in secure sinecures for life, loyal to factions that politically defined them.

Anyway – best wishes to Senator Kennedy.

Guests

To: Ron Paul supporters

From: Mitch Berg – former Big-L Libertarian, now Republican

Re: Welcome to Saint Paul

Ronulans,

Welcome to Saint Paul – my city. I hope you have a good time here.

Now, as I’ve written in this space in the past, I’m not among the ones crying “foul” that you are coming to our caucuses and conventions and making “us” – the “insiders” who’ve been working within the party apparatus for years – work to defend the status quo, because I used to be one of the “outsiders”, too. And I’ve been frustrated dealing with what I thought was a hide-bound, old-boys-and-girls club. And being in Saint Paul, south of County Road C, I do feel like an insurgent in my own party sometimes.

So I’ve defended you (even as I’ve argued with, let me be frank, some of you more nutbar friends; the people who came to caucuses with sheaves of resolutions about the North American Highway and GATT and so on), because I thought it was good for the party.

Provided, of course, that you were sincere about being fundamentally interested in being in and working with the GOP, even to change it – as opposed to seeing it as a vehicle to forward a personality cult.

So stories like this perk my ears up:

“I have a busload of Ron Paul supporters on the way to Minneapolis-Saint Paul for the National Convention, along with an expanding army of volunteers from more than 1500 locations coast to coast. We are resolved to make these next few months count. We look forward to the list of speakers. We will converge on Minnesota regardless of whether you invite Dr. Paul, but we would prefer to stay in hotels and attend the convention as members of the Republican Party rather than stay at the YMCA and protest outside as disaffected ex-Republicans. The choice is yours.”

Look; you’ve infiltrated the party. You’ve gotten elected to delegate slots – perhaps not enough to pick the nominee, or to drive the Convention Committee’s decisions on which speakers to invite, but you have arrived.

Your choices are these:

  1. Prove it’s not a flash-in-the-pan personality cult: Find more candidates that believe as you (and to some extent “we”) do, especially down-ticket. Stay involved; get more delegates elected for more races. Remain a factor in the party, and extend your influence. The biggest problem “third parties” have is that they are made up of purists; people who are impatient to see their “perfect” solution right now. That’s not how politics works; it took Ronald Reagan (and his supporters) two tries! You have to show everyone – not just the GOP – that you are serious about reforming politics over the long term, which in politics means the long term.
  2. Prove it is a flash-in-the-pan personality cult: Find out that Rep. Paul isn’t speaking, walk out in a huff, and stomp around the streets bitching about the party that, after one election cycle, isn’t carrying you (who are, after all, a minority of delegates) to the podium on its shoulders.

So what’s it going to be – influential faction, or petulant personality cult?

That is all.

Pardon My Derisive Chuckle

Molly Priesmeyer in the Minnesoros Monitor today:

What if Hillary Clinton said, ‘I don’t want your racist votes?’  In CNN exit polls conducting last night in Kentucky, about 21 percent of voters said race played a factor in their decision. Nine out of 10 of those voted for Clinton, according to the exit polls….David Gergen discusses the data…and  begs an important question: “What if Hillary Clinton were to say, ‘If you want to vote against him because he’s black, I don’t want your vote?’”…now would be a time to address the fact that, if anything, the contentious campaigns have served to make obvious the country’s long-suffering ills caused by racism and sexism.

Wow.  Molly Priesmeyer opposes racism…

…after she wallowed in it!   Ms. Priesmeyer in the City Pages, 2005:

Is it really white in here, or is it just me?…En route to the Power Line/Center of the American Experiment Dan Rather retirement party, I rode in an elevator filled with white men in suits…These were received with hale-fellow-well-met white-guy laughter that abruptly stopped when the elevator doors opened to reveal a group of young black men in Roc-A-Wear gear who were apparently not attending the same event. Then the elevator doors closed and took the bunch of us back to 1952 for an event that felt like a dinner at a segregated country club in the days when Perry Como ruled the airwaves…That’s not exactly correct: Inside, I spotted a total of three non-caucasians, and one of them was hunched behind a television camera recording the event for history’s sake.

Wow.  What if all three candidates said “we don’t want your racist votes?”   

Today’s Earworm

I finally drove the “Five Dolla Foot Long” song out of my head with this one here, “Brown Eyed Son” by a pre-”weren’t they that band from the Claritin ad?” Katrina and the Waves.

Indeed, if I have a crusade (after getting conservatives elected, exposing the madness of the anarchists coming to the Twin Cities this fall, throwing the 2009 Patriot Picnic on the ruins of the AM950 studio, druming all six of the “override six” from political life, getting “Phantom Menace” expunged from history and turning Saint Paul red), it’s getting the world to realize that the Waves were much, much more than a one-hit wonder.

Even though they had, y’know, one hit.

(And, in retrospect, I cribbed that opening Kim Rew guitar riff for one of my songs, 20-odd years ago.  Imitation and flattery and all that, donchaknow).

We Need A Hero!

To:  Al Franken, Senate Candidate

From:  Mitch Berg, common schmuck

Re:  Profile in Courage

Mr. Franken,

It has to look bad now; your tax problems are becoming a pop-culture punch line to the point where even some of the people who drank your kool-aid are trying to toss you under the bus.

This has to be the dark night of your political soul.

But I urge you, Al – fight the tide!  Take those who are trying to throw you under the bus, and body slam them like you did that senior citizen who was heckling Howard Dean.  Rhetorically, I mean.

Let’s face it, Al – you were “swiftboated” [*]!

Because if you depart the race, what is the DFL left with?  A dozey addlepated pseudoprofessor from a “peace studies” “program” (St. Thomas adopted the program because it didn’t fit National American University’s standards of academic rigor), and yet another lawyer.  Norm Coleman’s a lawyer, for crying out loud; they’re practically kissing cousins!

So you have to stay in this campaign, Al.  You have to!  Because…er, you owe it to the children!  Only you have what New York needs.

Minnesota. Only you have what Minnesota needs.  Sorry.

Anyway – stay the course, Al! The Strib’s hard at work gundecking all that “tax” folderol, anyway – you can ride this out, with a little help from your friends at 425 Portland (occupant moved, no forwarding address)

You can do it, Al!

That is all.

[*] “swift-boat-ing, v. To tell inflammatory, incriminating stories about Democrats that happen to be documentably completely true.

Unintended NeoConsequences

Invading Iraq – so says the opposition – caused thousands of marginalized, angry Moslems to flock to Iraq to join Al Queda.

Where we killed them, mauled them, demoralized them, and killed them some more, to the point where they are a tiny fraction of what they were.

A prolific jihadist sympathizer has posted an ‘explosive’ study on one of the main jihadist websites in which he laments the dire situation that the mujaheddin find themselves in Iraq by citing the steep drop in the number of insurgent operations conducted by the various jihadist groups, most notably Al-Qaeda’s 94 percent decline in operational ability over the last 12 months when only a year and half ago Al-Qaeda accounted for 60 percent of all jihadist activity!

Read, naturally, the whole thing.

(Via Powerline)

Obama’s Malaise Moment

As I’ve written about in the past, there were many things that pushed me to the right, from the dozey McGovern-style liberalism (at least in terms of domestic policy) I believed in when I was in my late teens and early twenties, to voting for Reagan in ’84. Books (Modern Times, The Gulag, Crime and Punishment, Republican Party Reptile), events (the Iran hostage crisis, the Soviet chicanery over the SALT talks), personalities (the amazing Reagan versus the comical Carter, the room-temperature Mondale, the loathsome Gary Hart)…

…but the key log in the logjam was Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech, in which a fiftysomething who’d been rewarded far out of proportion to his talent personally (so it seemed to me at the time) told me that I, a fifteen-year-old kid in the middle of nowhere, that I was going to inherit a much crappier American than he’d gotten, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

And that bothered me; even though I didn’t really expect a whole lot at that time, being told to just go and suck it bothered me enough that my adolescent certainty about liberalism started to crack around the edges (although I chalked most of it up to Carter, not the movement itself, initially).

Of course, “The sky is falling” is a key mantra of liberalism – and Obama isn’t just the leader…he’s a client!

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said.

“That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen,” he added.

Now, on the one hand I get the context here – he’s reacting to criticisms from India’s prime minister about American environmentalists and politicians demanding concessions on growth from their growing economy (and yet still highly impoverished society).

And yet behind it there’s still the sense of liberal guilt, that the US doesn’t really deserve its success; that the people who didn’t feel proud of America until Barack Obama became a candidate really do believe that the only thing holding back the still-socialistic economy, ossified social structure and corrupt government of India is American imperialism.  That they dont’ know that while the US does use much of the world’s power, its productivity per unit of power used is vastly higher than most of the world, and our pollution per unit of productivity is lower.
Oh, there’s some real context as well:

Pitching his message to Oregon’s environmentally-conscious voters, Obama called on the United States to “lead by example” on global warming, and develop new technologies at home which could be exported to developing countries.

Leaving aside Obama’s usual audacious vagueness (what “new technologies”?  Are you going to develop them by decree?  Or perhaps buck your own nutroots and embrace nuclear power?), it shows a stifling ignorance of the real issue; the only way to solve the problems of pollution and third-world economic stagnance is growth, not shrinkage.

Just as it was for the last cataclysmic problem India faced – forty years ago, when the likes of Paul Ehrlich predicted that overpopulation and famine would soon render India a wasteland.  Liberal politicians of the day suggested we needed to “triage” India and the other nations threatened with overpopulation – and, like the global warming crisis today, highly-publicized scientists were absolutely certain, and wrote libraries full of peer-reviewed papers proving that the world was doomed unless government took decisive action to limit population – although it was already too late.
Fortunately, the Indians “followed our example”, and embraced economic growth – which, inevitably, curbs population growth.  The only thing “triaged” was Paul Ehrlich, who went on to make a series of other absurd comments that were largely obsoleted by more economic growth.

So the examples that we need to set for the third world are:

  1. Pelt Paul Erhlich with rocks and garbage
  2. Respond to the ecological crises (real or manufactured) the best way there is – via the free market.
  3. Send Barack Obama back to Illinois.

Let’s get on it!

Smothering, Dismembering and Burying the Lede

At the very end of a piece in the Minnesoros Monitor yesterday, Molly “Is It White Here, Or Is It Just Me” Priesmeyer asked:

Oh, what can it all mean!? What can it all mean!?

If I were her editor, I might have asked that myself.

Let’s start at the top; Priesmeyer seems to be covering the “What insignificant websites are saying about s**t that doesn’t matter” beat for the mSM. She asks:

On Friday, an Etsy.com seller added this handcrafted button (pictured) to her collection of items for sale. It features Mr. Monopoly, or Rich Uncle Pennybags, the easily loathed super-rich fellow who giveth and taketh away in the board game of capitalism. The button made little sense on Friday.

Or, um, today…?

This “Etsy.com” is, what – a political aggregator? A center of thought for people in the know about the Tics’ deeply-undemocratic delegate system?

(Searches casually). No, it’s sort of an “Ebay” for handmade tschotschkes.

To quote the sage, “Oh, what can it all mean!? What can it all mean!?”, indeed.

Why would a super delegate be associated with Rich Uncle Pennybags?

(Insert “George Soros” joke here)

Then yesterday came word from Huffington Post that Haim Saban, the super-billionaire entertainment mogul and one of Hillary Clinton’s top financial supporters, offered $1 million to the Young Democrats of America if the org’s two uncommitted super delegates were to pledge support for Clinton…Suddenly, the image of Sir Pennybags in a free fall makes sense. Try, try, try as he might, he just can’t seem to pay everyone off.

Uh. Huh.

I’m not sure if this is good news (the left is wasting money publishing this sort of thing) or bad (the left has enough money to waste publishing this sort of thing).

Pay No Attention To The Imam Behind The Curtain

David “Media Ueber Alles” Brauer read the State Department of Education’s report on Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy, and sees NO-tink, NO-think!:

The bottom line, to me, is that Kersten’s overarching concern — illegal Islamic education — is largely unfounded. TIZA’s problems come down to one 30-minute Friday break and changing after-school busing.

Things worth fixing? Definitely. A massively overblown controversy? Definitely.

Scott Johnson at Powerline begs to differ.

Yesterday the department issued its findings in the investigation prompted by Kersten’s columns. The Star Tribune reports on the findings in “State orders charter school to correct 2 areas tied to Islam.” The findings vindicate Kersten’s reportage, ordering the school to reform its practices concerning its weekly Friday prayer service and its extension of the school day. The department found that both of these practices crossed the line. (The department also found that the school’s Monday-Thursday prayer services were student-led and therefore permissible. The department does not understand applicable constitutional law in this area.)

Beyond that?

The department discussed the “after-school” Muslim Studies program run by the Muslim American Society/Minnesota, the state chapter of the national offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAS/Minnesota owns the building in which TIZA operates, runs a mosque in the building, and provides religious instruction at the end of the day. The department asserts that the Muslim Studies program is fee-based and voluntary. Zaman purports to be unable to provide statistics concerning enrollment in the Muslim Studies program. Zaman is not only the TIZA principal, however, he is also an officer of MAS/Minnesota. Who is kidding whom? The Minnesota Department of Education’s investigation is of the kind perfected by Inspector Clouseau.

So is Scott being overpunctilious?  Is David Brauer ingenuously taking the word of a state agency at face value (as long as it’s not Carol Molnau’s MNDoT)?  We’ll see.

Now, I don’t personally have a problem with this; I think that religious groups should  be able to start charter schools – subject to state law.  Is the Department of Education following applicable law?  I’m no lawyer – and either is David Brauer.

But Scott is…

Brauer, however, hasn’t written about this bit here yet…:

KSTP Eyewitness News sent a reporter and crew out to TIZA to get a reaction to the Minnesota Department of Education findings from Zaman. KSTP reports that its crew crew was attacked by Zaman and another school official. Its cameraman was injured while wrestling with Zaman and his sidekick over the camera. In the video of the KSTP report, Zaman goes right for the cameraman’s camera. Where is Clouseau’s servant Kato when you need him? And what is it that Zaman does not want Minnesotans to see?

We called Greiling a thug when the Star Tribune posted her letter to the editor calling on the Star Tribune to fire her. In Greiling’s case, the use of the term was metaphorical. Zaman is the real deal.

So it would seem.

Theory In Trouble

When there’s a groundswell of opinion favoring a hypothesis, it’s important for the genuine empiricist to take a step back and try to separate wishful thinking, emotion and politics from actual empirical fact.

I’m talking, of course, about my theory from the past two seasons of Top Chef and Project Runway [*] – that the “final three” will always be:

  • The hyper-talented super-arrogant jerk
  • The cute chick
  • The very talented gay guy

…and occasionally the “Comic Relief” guy.  The past two seasons of both shows followed this formula pretty much to a “T”.

So this season of Top Chef is vexing.  It’s been tough predicting from the very beginning, partly because…

  • …there were so many arrogant jerks, along with…
  • …relatively few conventionally “cute chicks”; where last year we had the Top Model-caliber Camille and eventual finalist Casey (plus Lea), this season is…well, unconventional…
  • …Not so many  talented guys who scream “gay gay gay gay”, but a bumper crop of lesbians.

As far as “cute chicks” go, Valerie seemed a contender – but she tanked in episode two.  I’d figured Nikki and Zoi were possible contenders by a stretchy definition of “cute chick”, but they couldn’t stretch their cheffing far enough; both are toast (albeit impeccably seasoned toast).  Antonia seems to be the last potential candidate standing in this category – although we’re not getting a lot of poolside, out-of-competition-hours shots this season.

As to the gay guy slot – my money says Bravo’s gonna switch it up with a gay girl; Lisa seems to have some of that mojo (although she’s just a tad too prickly; we’ll see).

The jerk slot seemed to be the tough one; it always seemed to be a fight between Dale and Andrew.  But with Andrew gone, Dale just doesn’t seem to be either talented enough or enough of an ass to make the cut.

So I’m flummoxed, at least as far as my theory goes.

But what the heck; I think the final three, at this point, are going to be

  1. Dale.  Gotta have the jerk, or the competition just isn’t personal enough.
  2. Antonia.  Or Stephanie.  Steph’s won two elimination challenges (to Antonia’s 1), but Antonia seems to have the big mo, plus having her in the top three would salvage my theory.
  3. Richard, who seems to be the hyper-talented guy (and is my pick to win it all; he just seems to be too talented to ignore).

I figured Spike for the “comic relief” role, but after last episode, I can see him getting ejected, too.
[*] And probably Shear Genius, Workout, Step It Up And Dance, Make Me A Supermodel and for all I know Ice Road Truckers, but I never watch any of them.

Bring Back The Goons!

My little-known evil twin Jed writes:

When Mitch and I were kids, our teachers used to tell us – threatening the President, even as a  joke, was a bad idea; the Secret Service was always watching for these things.  Our fourth grade teacher, Miss Walburn, told us the story about the kid who’d written a joking threat to President Nixon, and gotten a visit from the Secret Service.   

Last Sunday I watched Family Guy.  It was the episode where Stewie takes over the world, and Lois sets out to kill him.

The “climactic” scene is a battle between the two in the Oval Office.  In one scene, Lois, firing a Minigun a la Jesse Ventura in Predator, chases Stewie with a stream of bullets along a wall of presidential portraits, leaving a stream of bullet holes in the pics of the last seven or eight presidents, as the “camera” “pans” along.

Then the shot stops when we get to George W. Bush’s portrait, with two or three holes in it.  Lois stops, pauses, and fires a long burst that obliterates the portrait. 

Now, while I am second only to Mitch in my support for real freedom of speech, isn’t this sort of scene covered by some kind of law?  Couldn’t the Secret Service grab Seth McFarlane just for a little?  Maybe rough him up for a while?  Knock out a few teeth with a tire iron or something?

I mean, remembering the vapors the media got over even the most trivial “threat” against Clinton, and the conspiracy-mongering they do and the “climates of hate” they find – nothing?

Just a question for your readers, Mitch.

There’s a reason we call him my “evil twin”, of course. I don’t necessarily endorse everything Jed says. 

Teflon?

A current of change is sweeping Minnesota.  Upset with the status quo, choked with rage (stoked by a media that is in the bag for the DFL), surfing a wave of audacious hopefulness, Minnesotans want Tim Pawlenty chased from offices with pitchforks and torches…

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll found that 54 percent of adults in the state approve of the Republican Pawlenty’s job performance

Er…ooops?

His approval rating remains above the 50-percent level, which is considered the danger threshold for a politician. And it’s in the same general range where Minnesotans have graded Pawlenty since he began his first term in 2003.

It also remains above the 45-and-small-change range, which was what he won on the “three-way” election of 2006 (where the “Independence” party soaked up a thin film of mostly-DFL votes).

But it represents a dip from the fall, when 59 percent of Minnesotans approved of his job performance.

Which was after the bridge collapse – a time when most people rally around their leaders, and where Pawlenty did by any rational measure an excellent job.

Separating The Trivia Wheat From the Trivia Chaff

Via Centrisity, I note that a celebrated footnote in “progressive rock” has passed away; John Rutsey, original drummer for “Rush”, is dead at age 55:

Rutsey was famous for playing on Rush’s 1974 debut album, including the song “In The Mood,” before deciding to leave the group due to health concerns. Rutsey suffered from diabetes and was unable to go on extended tours with the group.

Rutsey was sort of the Pete Best of the “progressive” rock scene; Rush replaced him with Neal Peart – the famously-technocratic drummer who is to percussionists what Dungeons and Dragons is to weekend recreation – on the brink of their big leap to fame as the leading Heinlein/Ayn Rand/Tolkein-based rock band of its era.

Or any era, I guess.

Footnote:  My first “real” band – which included a reasonably-frequent commenter on this site – played “Working Man”, the best song from that first album (shaddap about “Finding My Way”), as defined by a guy who has never been a big fan of the genre, but knows great musicians when he sees them… 

Anyway – condolences to the Rutsey family.

Finally

Years ago, my copy of Galore – Kirsty MacColl’s greatest hits collection – got munged.  It is, naturally, long out of print.  Which would ordinarily be no problem; most of her songs have popped up on one anthology or another.

With one notable exception.

So for those years – first on Napster, then Youtube, and finally ITunes – I’ve been searching the world for a copy of “Caroline”, a glorious little one-off single she did in the early nineties that may be just about the perfect two minute pop song.

And I’ve found nothing.

Well, til late last night.

Book Report

This stuff is crack for an English major; Ed sends me a reference to this new book, “Ten Books that Screwed Up the Western World“.

My opinion? There are quite a few hits – and a few misses:

Machiavelli’s The Prince was the inspiration for a long list of tyrannies (Stalin had it on his nightstand)

Yabbut, the book is an inspiration for a lot of things, including not a few prescient CEOs as well. There are lessons to learn about every corner of life in The Prince.

Call it 0 for 1 so far.

How Descartes’ Discourse on Method “proved” God’s existence only by making Him a creation of our own ego

How Hobbes’ Leviathan led to the belief that we have a “right” to whatever we want

Of course, without both of them we’d scarcely recognize modern “big-L” Liberalism.

Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men, which some have called the worst book ever written, planted the seeds of the French Revolution, the sexual revolution and family dissolution

Never read it. More’s the pity. I’ll have to check it out.

  • How John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, in making morality only a strictly private and practical thing, led only to a society addicted to ever more intense, barbaric, and self-destructive pleasures
  • I tried to read it in college – but figured it’d do the greatest good to the most people if I just skimmed.

  • How Darwin’s The Descent of Man proves he intended “survival of the fittest” to be applied to human society
  • Another one I got maybe twenty pages into.

    How Lenin’s The State and Revolution provided the blueprint for the barbarous communist governments of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and Cambodia

    Much of the barbarity came from the fact that Lenin’s writing would embarass a typical blog commenter, as I recall.

  • How Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was a kind of “spiritualized Darwinism” that accounts for his genocidal anti-Semitism
  • I read this one in English (as a history minor) and German (as a German minor). Either way, the overriding impression is that this stuff was that, far from “accounting for” his will to genocide, I got the impression it was way too far-out to have convinced people who weren’t already sorta disposed that way.

  • How the pansexual paradise described in Margaret Mead‘s Coming of Age in Samoa turned out to be a creation of her own sexual confusions and aspirations
  • Alfred Kinsey‘s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, in which every manner of sexual deviance is made to seem perfectly normal, was simply Kinsey himself writ large
  • Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was once again autobiography masquerading as science, in which Friedan’s attacks on the roles of “wife” and “mother” were defined by her own personality and personal conflicts
  • Never read any of ‘em. Tried to start Feminine Mystique once. Didn’t work.

    OK. With that out of the way – I’ve said it before; I may be the only person in the past sixty years to have converted to conservatism at the urging of my college English major advisor. Reading books like Solzhenitzyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Dostoyevskii’s Crime and Punishment, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov, Tolstoii’s War and Peace, Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, and others (including a healthy dose of P.J. O’Rourke) gave me a huge push from the 1980 me (who didn’t much care for Jimmy Carter, but feared Ronald Reagan) to the 1984 me (who voted for Reagan, but didn’t tell anyone, just to be safe).

    But there was an equal negative push as well; my sophomore year, I took a class in “Freud, Nietzsche and Marx”, an upper-division philosophy class taught by a guy who left the academy the next year to go work as a liberation theologian with the Sandinistas.

    And…yow. The most depressing class of my life. And it focused, among others, on…:

  • Why Sigmund Freud‘s The Future of an Illusion was itself a “projection” of Freud’s desire to discredit religion by the most salacious conjectures he could come up with.
  • How Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil issued the call to a world ruled solely by the “Will to Power”
  • Why Marx and EngelsCommunist Manifesto is one of the most malicious book ever written
  • Also Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, Nietsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra and Ecce Homo and Marx/Engels’ Das Kapital.

    And as I read all of them, I could feel any lingering fabian liberalism left in my consciousness being pummeled as crowds of rhetorical synapses cheered with joy.

    I could do a book by book review – but in fact, the past 24 years of my life are that review.

    The Primrose Path of Prophylactic Defeat

    Let’s establish in advance; I’m a conservative.  The state of the Republican Party today – spending enough to make the party of Tip O’Neal think they can ding us on fiscal responsibility, defending earmarks – bothers me.  It bothered me in 2000, when we few, we very few, we Forbes supporters ran up against the Dubya juggernaut.

    The only thing that bothers me more is the notion on the part of some conservatives that if “we” lose this election, it’ll be a good thing in the long run,

    Ken Taylor at Red State tackles this lunacy:

    Many Conservatives believe that allowing Democrats in the White House with a Democrat Congress will be such a disaster that the President will be a lame duck after only two years and the GOP under Conservative leadership will become the Majority in 2010 with a Conservative President to follow in 2012.

    Look – I was one of the first, I think, to compare Obama with Jimmy Carter, and we all know how that turned out.

    But one is a fool to put ones faith in parallels.  An Obama Presidency along with a Reid/Pelosi Congress would be a disaster, to be sure – but big government is addictive, and the addicts’ votes count just as much as ours do.   It took four years to expel Jimmy Carter – but the Carter years weren’t a self-contained event with an beginning, middle and end, independent of other context, Carter was in fact the last symptom of the disease of the New Deal/Fair Deal/Big Deal – forty years where government so ingrained itself into American culture that Republicans basically differed from Democrats only in cosmetics (and, to be fair, Demcrats were largely responsible and capable at defense, the Constitution and foreign policy, until 1972), a conversion so complete that it left classical conservatism so far in the wilderness it took a Ronald Reagan to move it back to center stage.

    There are no Reagans in the wings.   And the symptoms of that age live on; America’s cities still mainline huge government and untrammeled spending; the farm belt is structurally addicted to government intervention.

    With a Democrat President like Hillary or Obama and a Congress giving them their entire Socialist agenda, the damage that it will cause in even two years may not be able to be reversed. How many government programs once legislated and funded have ever dropped of the books ? NONE. Two years of total Democrat Socialist control will add massive programs and taxes that will be near impossible to reverse even with a Conservative President and Congress.

    And, almost worse than the programs themselves, the addiction that they cause.

    I’m afraid that conservatives who think the nation can try a four-year experiment with aversion therapy are, ironically, way too optimistic.

    After Sowing The Wind, Seek Shelter

    Now, bear in mind that if you look in the “politics” bookshelf for received wisdom, you are likely to be disappointed,  Most of what’s on the “politics” bookshelf is the equivalent of bad talk radio; button-pushing mixed with selective self-adulation.  I don’t take much of the genre all that seriously, even when I agree with the author.

    But Al Franken’s “Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell” was particularly galling, since the “lies” were, in many cases, disagreements, differences in interpreting things – the usual stuff that comes from “communicating about complex things with humans”.   By slapping the word “lies” on every disagreement, Franken set the already-sorry state of American communication back by decades.

    So yes, I’m happy to see RedState’s new piece, “Bearers of False Witness and the False Witnesses They Bear”, which I link via Brodkorb (and is in turn driven by Michael’s work on Franken’s tax records):

    You may think that’s an odd title for a blog post about comedian and Senate candidate Al Franken, but those are his words. In his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Franken attempts to paint anyone who disagrees with him as a liar or worse. Ironically enough, this book has put the failed radio host on a path of lies and deceit, due to his failure to pay for workers’ compensation while the book was being written and researched.

    Franken’s defense…ignorance. While this may apply to Franken in most cases, it is a hard sell in this instance. In order to believe Franken’s claims of ignorance on his corporate governance problems you must believe totally disregarding reality:

    Read the whole case.  Er, thing.