I Ignore Most Endorsements…

…but then, some are more interesting than others:

“O God, humiliate Bush and his party, O Lord of the Worlds, degrade and defy him,” Abu Yahya al-Libi said at the end of sermon marking the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, in a video posted on the Internet.

Libi, a top al Qaeda commander believed to be living in Afghanistan or Pakistan, called for God’s wrath to be brought against Bush equating him with past tyrants in history.

The remarks were the first from a leading al Qaeda figure referring, albeit indirectly, to the U.S. elections. Muslim clerics often end sermons by calling on God to guide and support Muslims and help defeat their enemies.

But…why?

…militant postings on al Qaeda-linked websites typically discuss Obama in terms of his race, or his religion and foreign policy. Some forecast a racial crisis dividing the United States if he wins. Others say his planned phased withdrawal from Iraq would be a boon to al Qaeda’s affiliate and give it a base for Middle East expansion.

What?  No…but…no, not really.  Would it?

We Will All Pay

Obama has been touting the absurdly transparent notion that 95% of Americans will receive a tax cut under his “plan”.

As long as you make less than $250,000 $200,000 $150,000 $100,000 $50,000 and aren’t a corporation, you’ll be “safe.”

But businesses and employers are too smart for that; you will pay. We all will.

An increased tax burden will become a cost of doing business. A cost that will be passed through and ultimately borne by consumers via higher prices on goods and services that soon they won’t be able to afford any way because so many will have lost their jobs; rendered by the cutbacks (already in progress by the way) necessitated under an Obamanomics regime.

Does Obama really believe that the rich got that way by taking losses or swallowing costs?  When the price of gas or copper or labor or insurance or anything else increases, businesses and the people who own them have two choices: they can lose money or they can raise prices and pass the cost along to their customers.  What do you believe they will do?  If you need a moment to figure this out, you are probably a hardcore Democrat and you can stop reading now.

Anyone else, conservative, moderate, or apathetic, knows the answer: businesses cannot lose money.  They will pass along any increased taxes in the form of price increases.  The taxes they pay, you pay — eventually.  The only difference is that unlike the hated 5 percent of Americans that Obama openly brags of punishing with new taxes, you will not get a bill from the government declaring your new taxes.  You’ll just pay more for milk and gas and credit and clothes and iPods and everything else you buy.  At the end of the month, you will have less money and not know why.  Doubtless, Democrats will tell you to blame the rich for that too.

I heard someone (It wasn’t a wealthy person or a business owner – I can tell you that) say this week “No one believes that the rich will stop making money just because they have to pay higher taxes.”

I agree. The wealthy, business owners, the employers in America won’t stop trying to create wealth. To them, a bad day running their own business is better than a good day working for someone else. It’s their nature. They will innovate and do it with with less. Less employees – the very people that Obama professes to be the messiah champion of. Suckers.

The effect of liberal policies is reflected in the current (or should I say latest) crisis in our domestic automotive industry. Workers “served” so well over the years by their Unions will soon be losing their jobs as GM and Chrysler merge – Chrysler will disappear, only after closing half it’s manufacturing plants. Tens of thousands are about to lose their jobs.

Permanently.

Earlier this week we published a Battle Royale between General Motors and Chrysler in order to determine in a fun way which vehicles from each automaker that compete directly in the marketplace would survive if the two merged. Out of 12 matchups, GM vehicles won eight and Chrysler four. A new report by consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP largely confirms that our experiment was spot on. The report says that if a GM/Chrysler merger happens, only the Dodge Ram, Chrysler and Dodge minivans and a few Jeep models will survive.

…Chrysler’s model lineup across all three brands would largely be wiped out if a merger with GM happens, as well as the plants that build those models and the workers who do the building.

America’s auto unions have “spread the wealth” too, forcing employers to pay an artificially high price for labor, in turn bringing on the demise of the domestic auto makers because they simply can’t compete with higher-quality product produced by people that are willing to work harder for less money. In the end, it is no consolation that the American has had it so much better when his foreign counterpart still has his job.

Try as you may to manipulate our economy with “wealth spreading”, the market will ultimately determine the value of products, services and wages. Liberals decry the evil of outsourcing when it is their very policies that incent American corporations to seek it.

Employers are already running scared and their employees know it – hence the drop in spending and growth. We have one quarter of decline already in hand. One more, and we officially have a recession. And Obama hasn’t even taken the helm yet.

Obama’s economic plans will not “save” anyone. Raising taxes will simply be throwing sand in the gears of our economy and everyone will suffer for it. Exactly the wrong idea at exactly the wrong time.

I am less concerned for Obama’s now obvious ambitions and ideologies, and a liberal Congress doing his bidding. I’m more concerned that if Obama is installed, it will be exactly the other way around. There is a greater chance Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi will see their plans manifest in policy than Obama’s “redistributive change.”

Admittedly John McCain hasn’t been the most charismatic media darling like his smooth-talking Marxist opponent but he represents the closest thing we have to a savior in a time we are about to need one. We need someone that will stands up to a democratic congress to bring some semblance of balance.

…and hope…that things don’t get a whole lot worse…for a whole lot of people.

Fearless Predictions – Take 2

It was about three months ago that I took my Smy first whack at my biennial “Fearless Predictions” for this election. 

In the original, I note my bona fides as a prognosticator:  I got closer to nailing the 2004 presidential election than anyone I know; I was two days off on Saddam Hussein’s execution; while I had a number of flubs in 2006, I got the ones that mattered – Pawlenty by a hair, Bachmann by eight – in style. 

This year?  It’s gonna be a tough one – but maybe not that bad.  Although the conventional wisdom says this is gonna be a rough year for Republicans – I previously predicted the Dems would suffer a moral defeat if they came out with any less than 350 seats in the House – there is evidence that Congressional Dems’ fecklessness on the war, the economy and, well, everything might be costing them

Here in Minnesota, the DFL candidates have run ugly, nasty, amoral races that deserve to be turned out into the street; in a year like this, that’s unlikely. 

So without further ado, let’s get down to it.:

US Senate:  Norm Coleman endured a lefty/media (pardon the redundancy) smear campaign of biblical proportions.  In a less-fraught year, I think it would have been an 8-10 point race; Franken doesn’t even have the DFL base behind him.  I think Coleman will win by two or three.

First District: Tim Walz will win going away – but if Obama wins, and governs the way he’s promised, Walz is either going to have to manufacture a genuine centrist facade, or face a serious problem in 2010.  The First District just isn’t that crazy.

Second District:  I’ll hold to my July prediction almost verbatim:  John Kline will beat Steve Sarvi by at least ten points.  Maybe more.

Third District: I think Paulsen’s going to pull this one off, but it’ll be tight.  Maybe two points.  The DFL has run a snarlingly adolescent campaign in this district; I suspect they realize that talk that the Third Distict is “turning blue” was overstated.  Again, if Obama wins and Paulson carries it off, Paulsen will take 2010 by at least 12 points against anyone the DFL throws against him – presuming he resists the urge to RINO out on us.

Fourth District:  Ed Matthews is as solid a candidate as the GOP has thrown into this DFL near-sinecure, ever.   He’s sharp.  He’s articulate.  He shredded Betty McCollum, perhaps the emptiest suit in our delegation, at their debate.  Seriously – if it’d been a boxing match, the referee would have stopped it in two rounds.  But it’s the Fourth, where the DFL could nominate a set of wind-up chattering teeth and count on 50% of the votes.  So far.  I think McCollum is going to carry this one off – but I think there are chinks forming in the DFL’s sense of invincibility in this district.  We’ll be talking about that in the future on this blog.  I hope Ed Matthews stays in politics; he can be a contender.

Fifth District:  Like Matthews, Barb Davis-White is as credible a candidate as the GOP has fielded in this district in recent memory.  A black conservative Christian, Davis-White should make some decent headway – and probably could have done better, had the GOP managed to get her funding within two orders of magnitude of that of the incompetent Keith Ellison.  I suspect Ellison will win - but Barb Davis-White and people like her need to stay at this.  If Obama wins the White House, 2010 is going to be another 1994 – and people like Davis-White and Matthews will benefit.

Sixth District: Michele Bachmann, the biggest lightning rod for the left’s mania and delusion anywhere in the Congress, has endured the nastiest assaults of any candidate I can think of.  Everything Sarah Palin has faced in the past two months – the sclerotic selective sexism of the feminist movement, the misogyny of the left – Michele Bachmann has been dealing with for over a decade.  The left just doesn’t like uppity women!  I think Michele will tip Elwin “E-Tink” Tinklenburg - former useless head of MNDoT and shameless ghoul - by four.

Seventh District: Collin Peterson will win.  Fifteen, twenty, thirty points?  Let’s not kid ourselves.

Eighth District:  Jim Oberstar will slouch onward, the Robert Byrd Strom Thurmond (or maybe just the Quentin Burdick) of the Northland, borne forth on a wave of entitlement swag and an avalanche of yummy pork.  He will be America’s first undead congressman.

And finally…

…well, no.  I never thought I’d say this a week ago, but the presidential race is, again, too fluid.  The momentum in this race has changed more than in a pee-wee hockey game.  Maybe this weekend the picture will be clearer.

And maybe not…

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part CVI

It was Sunday, October 31, 1988.

Mark, Bill and I were in the basement of a house on Dupont Avenue, in the “Wedge” neighborhood in South Minneapolis.

And it was the time of my life.

After Bill called me in September, the three of us – Mark, Bill and I - got back together and started playing again. It worked out very well, actually – all of us worked nights (Bill and Mark were short-order cooks, and I, of course, was in the bars).

One day in early October, we heard that a couple of musicians who lived around the corner had built a recording studio in their basement. Mark and Bill’s sister’s boyfriend’s band, in fact, had just recorded an album there. The price – $15/hour for an 8-track recording studio – was right…

…assuming we planned everything out perfectly.

And so the plot was hatched. We figured that among us we could pool maybe $200 to put into recording…something. That boiled down to about 12-14 hours of recording time. In that time, we figured we’d need to…:

  • put down basic tracks – the three of us doing the rhythm guitar, bass and drum parts
  • dub lead and background vocals and any extra instruments.
  • Finally, “mix down” from eight-track recording tapes to two-track stereo “masters” to be put onto vinyl or cassette or whatever we ended up doing.

We talked with one of the owners – “Ron” (who was the lead singer of an anarchic, Red-Hot-Chili-Peppers meets Grateful Dead band, the “F**king S**t Biscuits”), and booked three of the slowest nights of the recording week and, as it happens, the recording year – nights when the studio’d be happy to get any revenue at all – Wednesday and Thursday (I took a couple nights off from the bar), and tonight.

Wednesday night, we booked six hours to bang out basic tracks. We settled on five songs: four of mine (“Fourth of July”, “Long Gray Wire”, “Great Northern Avenue” and “Five Bucks and a Transfer”) and one of Mark’s (“Black Window”).

How tight were we? In three hours, we had ‘em all done, and managed to put down the lead vocals for a song or two.

Thursday night, it was overdub time. Four hours (which Ron, being a good mensch, let us stretch to five and a half.  I think he was having fun). Mark and I finished the lead vocals pretty quickly, and then it was on to overdubbing. I put down the lead guitars on all of the songs – I managed all of them in one or two takes, except “Fourth of July”, which involved switching guitars and playing one slide-guitar solo between a couple of verses. Then, an organ part on “Fourth of July” (two takes and out, and it sounded great!), and a completely-extemporized piano part on “Long Gray Wire” that sounded a little like Ian Hunter if he’d had a stroke. Next, Bill and I knocked out the background vocals for “Great Northern”, which took a take and a half – we’d been doing the song for almost two years. With the last hour or so, Mark and I noodled around with percussion parts for “Window”, which had morphed from a straight-up minor-key rocker into a psychedelic escape and evasion drill; a bucket of broken glass and me talking through a set of headphones to sound like a police radio completed the effect.

And tonight? The mixdown.

Whether through artistic perfectionism or sheer boredom, Ron wound up throwing in two hours for free, on top of the six we’d booked (and could afford).

And damn, it sounded good. We left the studio around 3AM, and walked around the corner to the band house, lugging our gear about a block, very happy with the results.

Hope, as they say, springs eternal.

———-

Well, hope for my career as a rock star did not spring eternal.  Indeed, my career as a Minneapolis Underground Rocker was very near an end, although I wouldn’t know that for a while.  But Mirror Image Studios seems to be pretty much eternal, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.   I found their website a while ago, and Ron still runs the place, in the same house it was in 20 years ago. They list the band, as well as me. No, I didn’t do a solo album – but I did record there on my own. A lot.

But that comes later in the story.

It’s fun reading the list of some of the people who’ve recorded there, before and since – lots of names that had faded into the recesses of my memory get yanked out and slapped awake:

  • Babes in Toyland – a friend of mine dated Lori Barbero before they became famous – back when a chick named Courtney played in the band.
  • The Fuckin Shitbiscuits – ibid. Famous for shows more anarchic than the Replacements – and done entirely straight. Ron didn’t even drink beer, as I recall.
  • Neomort – I had a roommate who knew these guys.
  • Ingrid Chavez – When she first moved to Minneapolis, she worked at a coffee shop with a friend of mine. We talked. She mentioned she had a demo tape. I hit on her. We had a good laugh. Two months later, she was better known as Prince’s girlfriend.
  • Strange Friends, Perfect Strangers, – in later attempts at starting a band, Bill and Mark and I played with a bunch of these guys.
  • Lisa Wray – I saw her opening for GB Leighton, I think, on one of my first dates after my divorce.
  • Dumpster Juice – I know some of these guys, but I can’t remember how.
  • Tina and the B-sides – one of the great losses the Cities’ music community ever suffered.
  • The Blue Up – The band that was the beginning of the end of the Twin Cities’ punk scene.
  • Mofos – hosts of a zillion great nights at the Uptown.
  • The Flaming Ohs – I jammed with Bob, their drummer, many times. Last I heard of him, he was running worst “open stage” night in the history of music, at the late, unlamented Fernando’s.
  • Rifle Sport – the first band I ever saw performing when I moved to the Cities.
  • Powermad – I met a bunch of them at a party with a speed-metal-singer roommate of mine.
  • Tequila Mockingbird – never saw ‘em, but I always loved the name.
  • Jeff Walker – he sat in on guitar during the last gig I ever played on a stage with a band in the Twin Cities – with “The Supreme Soviet of Love”, in 1996 at the Turf Club. Amazing guitar player.
  • Boiled in Lead – one of the greats bands in Twin Cities music history.
  • John Fenner/Mubla Buggs – Friends of friends. Like Phish for people who aren’t as serious and straightlaced.
  • Paul Metsa – the GB Leighton of the eighties.
  • Duck Kicking Vulture – perhaps the scariest night I spent in a bar in my life, at the First Avenue in 1986.
  • Mitch Berg – Who?
  • John Q Public – That’d be us.  We changed our name to Joe Public soon – but I’m getting ahead of things.
  • Run Westy Run – I never knew how much I hated The Doors until I went to about ten Westies gigs. But their first single, “Dizzy Road”, is one of my favorite records ever to come out of the Twin Cities.
  • Dezzy Dickerson – speaking of your Prince connections…
  • Destroy All Monsters, The Sluts, Beat the Clock, The Neitzches, Halo of Flies, Glennrustles, Spam Grievance, That Darn Kat, Swingin Teens, Farm Accident, Bone Club, The Sizzling Eggheads – all had about eight seconds of Twin Cities Reader-induced fame. I knew some of them, but didn’t make a big deal about it.
  • Cheap Dates – as above, but really bad.
  • Cows – Incredibly depressing noise-thrash band; like Sonic Youth on meth.  But great guys.

Anyway.

Dems To Proles: “Know Thy Station, Knaves!”

Step out of line, and the man’ll take you away

Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, disclosed today that computer inquiries on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher were not restricted to a child-support system.

The agency also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes, she wrote.

Jones-Kelley made the revelations in a letter to Ohio Senate President Bill M. Harris, R-Ashland, who demanded answers on why state officials checked out Wurzelbacher.

Harris called the multiple records checks “questionable” and said he awaits more answers. “It’s kind of like Big Brother is looking in your pocket,” he said.

Proles in an Obama-led America must know their place; do not question your betters!

Criminy, Wurzelbacher; didn’t you know Lord Obama was on the Harvard Law Review?  How dare you question him!

Making Politics Just A Tad More Civil Each Day

Aaron Landry – who is Al Franken’s pet blogger at MNPublius, tweets:

Just posted my 250th post…I hate Norm Coleman just a little bit more each time.

Didn’t James Madison say the same exact thing about John Quincy Adams?  Yeah, I’m proud to be an American. 

(Closed Circuit to Zack, Matt and the other MNPublius founder:  Do you guys have any idea how including Aaron Landry on your blog has cheapened your brand?  I have to wonder – did someone from the Franken campaign videotape the three of you picking a Mobster’s wife’s purse or something?  I can’t figure out any other rationale for this particular personnel move.  Just curious). 

(Via the other MB)

Sick of Anonybloggers

“Spot” and “Mr. Spooge” from Cucky Spoon have, alone among Twin Cities’ leftybloggers, come up with an original idea!

In this post, (I’ll put the link there out of general principle – but don’t go there; it doesn”t deserve any traffic from anyone not addled by lead poisoning) ”they” write about the Talk The Vote rally the other night…

…and insert a pic of the Nazis’ Nuremberg Rally!

Never seen that one before!

At any rate, I’ve had enough of gutless anonymous bloggers.  Below the fold, I shall reveal Mr. Spooge and his dogs’ identities:

Continue reading

You Might Be Anti-American!

In the wake of the flap the agenda media and the Sorosphere manufactured over Rep. Michele Bachmann’s statements a few weeks ago on Tinglyball with Chris Matthews, I wondered – is it possible to question other peoples’ motivations anymore?

I’m convinced – having not only read the accounts and seen the video of Rep. Bachmann’s appearance, but having talked with Rep. Bachmann about the subject – that Rep. Bachmann meant “people who don’t have the nation’s best interests at heart”, and “people who love America exactly as it isn’t and has never been”, when she said “anti-American”.  And when she said the media should be exposing this, she meant “doing its job, and giving people some means of critically examining candidates’ views”, rather than “witchhunting”. 

Not that facts or context matter, of course.

Are there “anti-Americans” out there?  In the sense that there are people who want America extinguished from the planet?  Probably none in public life that matter, Jeremiah Wright and his invocation of the Sixth Commandment notwithstanding.

But can someone’s commitment to “American” ideals – the things that our founding fathers enshrined, things like “one person, one vote” and “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, “the rule of law”, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – be criticized?

One of the most popular posts that’s ever appeared on this blog came out four and a half years ago, during a previous spate of demands that nobody question anyone’s motivation (“Don’t you dare question my patriotism!”).  Entitled “You Might Not Be An American If…“, it kinda summed up how I feel about Bachmann’s statement and, yes, the targets:

If You Believe: that America has problems – huge problems – then dissent is American.
But If You Believe: …that America’s problems make it an inherently rotten concept, then maybe you should think about whether you’re living in the right place. 

If You Believe: …that America’s projection of power around the world is immoral – then dissent is American.
But If You Believe: …that any projection of American power is inherely unjust because it’s America, then maybe you should be living in, say, Sweden? Just an idea.

If You Believe: …that capitalism is wrong because its inequalities are inherely unjust, then dissent is American.
But If You Believe: …that the free market is inherently, irrevocably evil, perhaps China would be a better fit? Just suggesting…

If You Believe: …that invading Iraq was wrong, then dissent is American.
But If You Believe: …that our temporary administration of Iraq is worse than Hussein’s 30 year reighn of horrors, then perhaps you should rot in hell we need to have an attitude adjustment.

At four years’ remove, I might add a few:

If You Believe: …that racism still exists, and that people (or even just White People) inflict it on others, then dissent is American.
But If You Believe: …that all of America (or just White America) makes its every decision based purely on racism (unless they vote for Barack Obama), then you might be Anti-American.

If You Believe: …the Constitution is a “living document”, then dissent is hunky-dory.
But If You Believe: …that the Constitution is itself a corrupt, vile document that never did anyone any good, then perhaps you should find a different society to live in, just on basic principle.

Wanna swat at Bachmann’s statement?  You gotta bring more game than most of her critics seem to be able to manage.

From The Playbook

The Democrat playbook:  Project, project, project.

For example, to draw attention away from the ACORN voter registration scandal, find and relentlessly hammer on any GOP-leaning irregularity you can find.

To cover your own candidates’ wierd past assocations, harp for weeks on Todd Palin’s attendance at a couple of Alaska Independence Party meetings.

To block coverage of real violence, vandalism and intimidation of McCain volunteers and other Republicans, focus on a sad, sick girl in Pittsburgh and her hoax.

Your candidates are all millionaires who’ve never held real-world jobs and get their clothes from Brooks Brothers by the bale?  Burn days of news coverage on Sarah Palin’s tanning bed and RNC-supplied loaner wardrobe.

And for goodness sake, if your Veep candidate is a loose cannon who needs to be hidden from public view, call in your markers with the entertainment industry to carry out a noxiously-sexist, misogynistic campaign against Sarah Palin.

Duly noted, folks.

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part CV

It was Saturday, October 29, 1988. 

I’d taken a well-deserved night or two off from the bars the previous week to record the demo tape with Bill and Mark.  But now it was back to work. 

My employer, the sleazy DJ service, was putting me in a new bar tonight. 

The sleazy DJ service’s “office staff” – Scott, really – could be pretty awful with directions back in those pre-Mapquest days.  It didn’t help that I was pretty ignorant about the ‘burbs – what road went where, how everything was laid out.  In three years of getting around the Twin Cities, I joked that every single time I tried to find something in the suburbs, I muffed it on the first try.  It wasn’t far from the truth; whenever I had to find something in the far ‘burbs, I usually allotted an extra hour or two, since I almost inevitably needed to call for help or ask for directions somewhere

But this one was easy, said Scott.  Go north on 35W to County Road H.  Go west on H – the only option you have.  “Look for the signs on your left”, he said, and if that failed “you’ll see the big naked Mermaid”. 

It was the fabled Mermaid Lounge, Supper Club, Lanes and Night Club, in Mounds view.

I parked out front, and walked in the front door.  It looked pretty mild-mannered; mostly middle-aged folks sitting around drinking Schmidt, munching on popcorn and burgers and watching sports on the overhead TVs.

It looked very, very tame.  Like, the tamest place I’d been in…well, ever. 

I looked around for the DJ booth.  Nothing.

I walked up to the bar and flagged down the bartender, a short, stocky woman with dusty blond hair.  “Where’s the DJ booth?”

“Oh, that’s downstairs”, she said in an accent straight out of “Fargo”, pointing over toward a staircase that led down. 

I walked through the bar and down the stairs.  The smell of stale cigarette smoke reached out like the tentacles of the Hydra, beating me over the head and shoulders.  I walked into the basement, the “Mermaid Nightclub”.  Lit by a hundred flashing tubes of neon – overheads, beer lamps, whatever – it was dark, dank, smoky, and throbbed with a dismal energy I hadn’t felt in any of the many other dismal, reeking bars I’d worked in the previous…

year?  Yeah.  Almost a year.  Damn.

It was a huge room, with three bars – two little satellite bars at the ends; and a big one in the middle.  The near end of the room was given over to nearly-empty tables; the far end, to pool tables, which seemed very, very busy.  I walked to the main bar, where a couple of bartenders – a stocky, muscular guy with curly sandy hair, and a gorgeous woman with peroxide hair – were stocking up for the evening. 

The guy – Larry – walked me over to the DJ booth…

…that would be, I had no way of knowing at the time, my home away from home for the next two and a half years.

Barney Frank’s Wiener

Barney Frank has been the recent target of conservative attacks and of course the McCain campaign of late because he represents the absolute worst in congress today. Unapologetic liberalism: tax and spend; weaken our military by cutting funding.

Thing is, Barney is trying to turn the tables, and appear the victim; play the minority card; as if anyone cares what he does with his wiener.

“I’m flattered by this,” said Frank, who is gay. “But I don’t think I’m the single most important member of the House after Nancy Pelosi. There are also a lot of straight white men who are committee chairmen.”

McCain’s chief speechwriter, Mark Salter, shook his head when asked to respond. “We’re bringing him up for his quotes,” said Salter. “We’re prejudiced against wasteful spenders and tax hikers.”

Barney, you’re not dangerous to America because you’re Gay. Who the hell cares. You’re dangerous to America because you are morally corrupt. The two aren’t mutually inclusive.

If A Plane Full Of Terrorists…

…had crashed into the green room at Orchestra Hall last night, it could have had a sweeping effect on Minnesota conservatism.

At one point, I was sitting with Senator Coleman, Governor Pawlenty, Representative Bachmann, candidates Erik Paulsen (who will be a guest on the NARN this weekend), Barb Davis-White and Ed Matthews, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager and James Lileks, talking about the campaign locally and nationwide.

Not sure if anyone from the Strib covered “Talk The Vote” – Salem Radio’s cavalcade of stars touring battleground states nationwide to whip up conservative support – but if they had, they’d have found plenty of conservative support, er, whipped up.  Bear in mind, the Patriot’s been pleasantly surprised by turnout at these events before; the “Patriot Picnic” in 2004 drew hundreds more than we’d planned on, and our fabled Final Debate Party in 2004 attracted 700 to the Minneapolis Hilton – not bad, considering we’d had 100 RSVPs and it was a night every bit as cold and miserable as last Sunday was. 

Bear in mind also that this even was announced perhaps ten days ago, to an audience that largely has businesses and jobs and families and responsibilities.  The Patriot’s promotions department had figured maybe we’d fill up the floor level seats.

We filled every seat in the place; the floor and all three tiers of balconies.  There were people standing in the halls and the lobby, the last I checked.  And the crowd?

No lack of energy there.  Sorry, Sorosphere; after weeks of declaring the election already won, it’s just not sinking in with all of us plumbers and hockey moms.  Suffice to say that even if Mac loses, 2010 is going to make 1994 look like a Camp Wellstone sing-along.

The speakers?  Look – there are not three people anywhere in talk radio that can work a friendly room like Hugh, Michael and Dennis.  Especially Prager; you’d never know it from his fairly laid-back radio show, but in front of a room, the guy is like a nuclear reactor with the regulator rods pulled out; he gets the crowd stoked, and as the crowd’s energy picks up, so does his; I’ve never seen him speak from any kind of notes at all, so the whole world is his speech, and eventually he covers the whole world, getting more and more animated as he goes, stopping just short of pounding his shoe on the lectern.  An amazing performance, even allowing for the tactical flub of attacking Sweden at a stop in Minneapolis.

Me?  I’m feeling a lot better about this next week, and the next two years. 

It’s A Theory…

So why is the media so very, very in the bag for The One?

Theories, as they say, are like, um, toes.  Everyone has one.

But Michael Malone – a career journalist and columnist – has a theory of his own.

It’s the editors (managing editors, executive producers, etc), and it’s about self-preservation (I’ve added some emphasis):

Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power … only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe — and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway — all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself — an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country …

Self-preservation has driven people do do stranger things…

Read the whole thing, by the way.

Foul Sea Change

I’ve tried to mentally block out the notion of an Obamessiah presidency.  While I’ve vowed to respect the office if not the person (and, more accurately, the person’s policies; I have little indication that Obama’s not a good, if dull, human being who is the beneficiary of a dicey economy and a scandalously in-the-bag media), I strongly suspect that Obama, whatever his merits as an individual, a father and a human being, will be the worst president of my adult lifetime. 

Gary Miller?  He’s even less sanguine:

In a universe where reason prevailed, the 11th hour bombshell that the presumptive president-elect openly expressed contempt for the American Founding and admiration for Marxist dogma would be met with a 50-state rejection. 

It appears, however, that we do not live in such a universe…With 3-4 vacancies looming on SCOTUS, it is clear that President Obama will use the opportunity to nominate justices for whom “redistributing wealth” is part of the job description.

One of the most glaring differences between Left and Right is that conservatives share a distrust of tinkering with the wheels and levers of government (and those who enjoy the tinkering too much); liberals revel in it, and see it as the highest expression of political art.

And that – combined with an interventionist agenda (“share the wealth!”), the complete lack of vetting, and a personality cult-like following – is going to be a problem in all the ways Gary noted, if Obama wins.

There Was A Congressperson

Once upon a time, Minnesota had a congressional delegation member who was one of the most incredibly polarizing figures in state history. 

This person – who came to politics relatively late in life – never minced words, campaigning from the heart with a platform based on solidly, articulately-held beliefs.  The Congressperson was an activist before getting into politics, and even then had been a polarizing figure, who had either rabid supporters or fervid enemies.  Nothing changed on the campaign trail…

…or, for that matter, in Washington, where the Congressperson got into an awkward scene with President Bush that made the detractors titter with glee.  The Congressperson was not afraid to be on the “wrong” side of issues – indeed, to buck the tide in voting on the basis of beliefs that, for the Congressperson, trumped politics.

Which drew admirers – on both sides of the aisle, at least from fellow legislators who respected commitment to principle.  Naturally, it also drew detractors – people who detested commitment to principles who were not their own.  The Congressperson was a lighting rod for media figures who found boundless “red meat” in the Congressperson’s tendency to put the heart on the sleeve.

These beliefs and principles were sure and steady enough to prevent excessive insecurity even when the Congressperson, shooting from the hip, would say things that’d draw ridicule from enemies (and the odd groan from more politically-sensitive, less issue-and-principle-driven supporters).  The tendency to shoot from the hip – to put principle first and political expediency somewhere down the list – was a headache to orthodox politicians, and material on the hoof for the detractors.

It also made politics interesting for the casual observer.

Our Clairvoyant Overlords

Last weekend, JRoosh greeted the news of the NTSB’s draft report on the 35W Bridge collapse appropriately, noting that – at least in the context of the chorus of recrimination that the likes of E-Tink and Alice “The Phantom” Hausman and Margaret Kelliher and Nick Coleman dumped on him – the Governor was exonerated.

When Jeff Rosenberg at The Daily Liberal noted that Sporty the Dog from Clicking Stool had “taken Roosh to task” over his piece, naturally, I had to check it out.

As with most leftybloggers attempts to discuss history, engineering and other more-or-less empirical subjects, it was a big mistake.

Leftybloggers, like the political and media leaders whose shrieking points so many of them so unthinkingly ape, aren’t big on getting context right.  Sporty tries to frame the issue in the form of a doctor’s visit, and concludes:

The article in the Strib that J refers to is in the paper today. The headline? I-35W bridge was doomed from the start. It was a design defect!

We are, of course, all doomed from the start. But that doesn’t means we don’t get physicals, submit to humiliating examinations, and pay the medical profession to try to keep us healthy.

In the case of the bridge, the Pawlenty administration also fingered the whopper, got the test results, and opted for the cosmetic solution.

Except that there was no “doctor’s visit” saying that the bridge, as in Sporty’s example, was terminally ill.  To run with the (bad, misplaced) metaphor, there were merely checkups, telling the bridge, like a lot of 40-year-olds, that it was crumbling around the edges a bit; that the wear and tear of daily stress was taking its toll.  The bridge at 40 was doing better than some other bridges – MNDoT rated the Cayuga and Lafayette bridges, among others in the metro, much worse as of July 31, 2007, much more likely to die younger than the 35W bridge.  Not that it was especially more terminally ill than any other bridge of its age. 

The fact is, nobody knew 40 years ago – or two years ago, for that matter – that the bridge was suffering from anything much worse than…being a 40 year old bridge.  Yes, there were concerns – rusty gussets, suspect piers, etc.  But the thing that killed it – mistakes in engineering calculations?  That was a bolt from the blue – an undetected aneurism or clot or stroke that could have been found, maybe, given one of two things:

  • A degree of dedication to checking and re-checking design assumptions, calculations and material specs from every potentially suspect bridge in the state (read:  every bridge in the state), aggressively trying to predict the unpredictable.
  • Clairvoyance.

Going back and checking over all of those designs, all of their engineering and data – especially those made in the era before all of these things were done electronically - would be analogous to spending every morning for months at a time at the doctor’s office, getting prodded and poked and having latex-clad fingers shoved hither and yon by a staff of doctors dedicated to eradicating every possible “what if” in your physiology – and it’d be about as proportionally expensive.

As far as clairvoyance goes – if government could manage that, would our mortgage system be in the mess it’s in today?

To have done something about the 35W bridge’s problems, there would have had to have been a huge effort to go back and re-examine the design of every element of the construction of these bridges; the calculations behind the design of each structural member (hundreds or thousands for each structure), their material specs and various rates of deterioration – all of which, by the way, requires a LOT of reconstructive research, since the original calculations and material specs may or may not be available.  It’d be the equivalent of having a squad of doctors trying to rule out every possible malady you could have.

Think your HMO would cover that?

This hideously expensive process, by the way, would take a LOT of money away from every political body’s main goal in transportation spending; building monuments to the perspicacity of the politicans authorizing the spending. Building trains sends tingles up DFLers legs; lane miles do the same for Republicans. Watching hordes of engineers poring over moldy blueprints and Material Data sheets is no monument to anyone.  It’s just maintenance.

The conclusion?  Well, other than “never pay attention to leftybloggers when they try to talk history, science, engineering, or…well, really, anything”, I guess it’s this…

…well, no.  That kinda covered it.

One Big Homegenous Family

On the odd Saturday night, I can be found sitting in on Marty Owings’ show, “Radio Free Nation, on BlogTalkRadio.  One of the occasional callers is a fellow from Detroit - also a BlogTalkRadio host - who usually hits two talking (or, more accurately, bellowing and slurring) points:

  1. “I favor unity.  Americans need to be united!  I want to lead Americans to unity!”
  2. “I’m not using any Republican ideas.  Republican ideas are all bool-shee-yut”.

In other words, “let’s have unity; everyone agree with me”. 

I was reminded of the caller when I read this bit – an interview with French lefty philosophe Bernard-Henri Lévy - last week. 

It’s a reminder of the big reason I bailed out on the left over 20 years ago – because so much of what The Left believes is just so utterly awful.

Lévy

Why Obama should be chosen, in my opinion: No. 1, because it would mean really the end — and the complete victory of the battle begun in the ’60s. No. 2, because it will mean the end of a new American evil, which is the dividing, the Balkanization of American society. This is another counter-effect of a great idea, which was tolerance. You so much tolerate that you tolerate the American society to be in separate bubbles having their own peculiarities, and so on.

Obama must stamp out “peculiarities”? 

The first time I read this, I thought perhaps it was an artifact of the translation from French to German (the piece originally appeared in Spiegel) and thence to English.

No such luck:

Obama as president will mean all these bubbles submitted to a real ideal of citizenship.

The “real ideal of citizenship?”

Lévy is part of the intelligentsia – which seems to be a union gig in France – but to me the “real ideals of citizenship” in America are:

  • To exist as part of a free association of equals – not a cog in a “unified” machine.
  • To pull like hell for what I believe until the election is over, and then support – at least as a matter of principle – the results, as a member of a representative Republic. 

Not, might  I point out, falling in mutely line behind an elected leader’s idea of “unity” just for the sake of stomping out Lévy’s “bubbles”.  Especially when that elected leader’s ideas are so patently awful.

And I think I was right to begin with; there is a loss in translation.  Not so much between languages, but between worldviews.  Lévy - and Obama – seems to believe that “unity”, a lack of “bubbles”, is a useful end in and of itself. 

Indeed, the more of the piece you read, the less it seems Lévy understands of America, or the small-l liberal ideals that this country has, in its better moments, always espoused:

And No. 3, you have another ideal in the America of today, which I call the competition of victims. Competition of memories. If you are in favor of the Jews, you cannot be in favor of the blacks. If you remember the suffering of slavery, you cannot remember too much the suffering of the Holocaust, and so on and so on. The human heart has not space enough for all the sufferings. This is what some people say. Obama says the contrary. It will mean the end of this stupid topic, which is competition of victimhood.

And to believe otherwise is apparently racist. 

Read the whole depressing thing.

Imagine

Chicago on track to be the murder capitol of the US:

Chicago is the Second City in nickname and the third in population, but when it comes to murder, the city has the dubious distinction of being second to no city in America.

As CBS 2′s Mike Puccinelli reports, the Chicago Sun-Times pointed out on Friday that Chicago has seen 426 homicides this year through Tuesday, compared with 417 in New York and 302 in Los Angeles.

At the end of 1998, Chicago made international headlines as the U.S. “murder capital” after surpassing New York’s homicide totals for the first time ever. Chicago shed that dubious distinction when murders plummeted over the last decade.

Per capita it’s even worse:

There are more than 8 million people in New York, compared to slightly under 3 million in Chicago. The population of Los Angeles exceeds that of Chicago by more than 800,000.

Whew.  Imagine how much worse it’d be if Chicago didn’t in effect ban gun ownership by law-abiding civilians!

Well, Blow Me Down

Being a conservative, I don’t generally much care about celebrities’ political leanings (and was embarassed by the slavish devotion to pop culture and the celebrity party circuit that seemed to preoccupy the local Sorosphere in the weeks leading up to the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul). 

But this bit on “right-leaning celebs”, along with a few “no, duhs”, had a few surprises. 

Of course, plenty were just plain obvious:  Chuck Norris, Richard Petty, Trace Adkins, Tom Clancy, Ahnold, Ben Stein, Tom Selleck and Elizabeth Hasselback? Pretty much public knowledge.

A few others made some waves, largely for the act of “coming out”:  John Voight, Angie Harmon and Stephen Baldwin.

A few, I gotta confess – and remember, I’m a conservative, so I really don’t pay that much attention to the subject – surprised me:  Bruce Willis, John Elway, Pat Sajak, Dennis Hopper, Rick Schroeder and Robert Duvall? 

And seeing the list, I’m starting to figure out why it took Susan Lucci so long to win that Daytime Emmy…

Still, if only Mike Ditka had managed to run against a young Barack Obama for the Senate; he’s have won with 95% of the vote, he’d be president today, per-capita income would have doubled, and Franklin Raines would be doing push-ups and wind-sprints in Leavenworth.

Seriously.

Go Sox

I’m shocked and saddened to see Dean Barnett has passed away, apparently due to complications from Cystic Fibrosis.  He was only 41.

A few years back, he wrote one of the better essays on Cystic Fibrosis – and his battle with the disease – that I’ve ever seen.  At the time, he’d just participated in a promising treatment:

But regardless, this treatment has given me time – time to spend with my wife and family and friends. Time to hit golf balls (usually sideways, but even that’s alright). Time to chase my dogs around the house. Time that frankly I didn’t expect to have. There could be no greater gift, and it’s a miracle in so many ways.

The miracle has its roots in my persistent father who got Joe O’Donnell involved in the fight against CF. It continues through the incredible courage shown by Joey O’Donnell, who fought CF with such bravery that he inspired his family to fight the disease long after Joey succumbed. And it finishes with Joe O’Donnell and the rest of the amazing O’Donnell family who have given so much of themselves in so many ways and to such great effect.

There are indeed heroes out there. And miracles, too.

His many friends and admirers are a living memorial, of course – one of the greatest legacies someone can leave. 

Words fail, other than to say Dean’s wit, courage and grace were inspirations.  Please pray for the Barnett family.