U of M Threat

Three major U of M buildings closing early today due to a threat of a shooting - or so they say:

The university says Thursday that it’s closing the Carlson School of Management, Hanson Hall and the Hubert H. Humphrey Center.

All classes and activities beginning at or after 3:45 p.m. Thursday are canceled. The buildings will close at 4:30 p.m.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness says officials are erring on side of caution. Police are investigating the threat.

Clearly this is in error.  The U of M is a gun-free zone.  It’s state law!

Clearly, no illegal shooting can happen.

Much Ado

Swine Flu – subject of the media’s panic du jour – might not be as dangerous as the usual strains of flu that bounce around the country every winter:

As the World Health Organization raised its infectious disease alert level Wednesday and health officials confirmed the first death linked to swine flu inside U.S. borders, scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza — at least in its current form — isn’t shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.

The H1N1 outbreak (the government is trying to downplay the “Swine” moniker, and “Rosie O’Donnell Flu” hasn’t taken off yet) has killed somewhere between 20 (says the WHO, yesterday) and 100-odd people, mostly in Mexico.  This is compared to the 200,000 people hospitalized and 36,000 a year who die of flu-related causes, according to the CDC.  In other words, in the week that the world has been panicking about this outbreak, 250 people (on average) died of all the other mundane flus, without a single headline.

Not to downplay the potential this flu has to mess things up, and certainly not to downplay the tragedy suffered by the families of those who’ve died in this outbreak.

Retail Question

Anyone know if there’s a flag store in the Twin Cities?

I finally mounted a flagpole holder on  my porch.  I have the Stars and Stripes, of course, ready for all flag-waving occasions; I also have the Saint Andrews Cross, which inaugurated the flagpole on Tartan Day, earlier this month. 

So I need a Norwegian flag in time for Syttende Mai, and there are only 17 shopping days left until Norway’s Independence Day.

Any tips?

Pushing Hose Up A Hill

Mitch “The Other Mitch” Pearlstein writing in the MinnPost:

Then there’s an old but still important George McGovern op-ed. Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 1992, the South Dakota Democrat talked about how he had bought an inn in Connecticut four years earlier, but which had gone bankrupt in the interim. “In retrospect,” he acknowledged, “I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business, especially during a recession of the kind that hit New England just as I was acquiring the inn’s 43-year leasehold.”Even more candidly and impressively, he wrote, “I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and more understanding presidential contender.”

Pearlstein notes that Minnesota wants to raise income taxes on “the rich” to between 9 and 9.25%.

Now, remember – most small businesses, including the ones that put so many Minnesotans into “the rich” category the DFL so wants to mug – are Subchapter S corporations.  If you’re a small but successful business – a consultant, a freelance software architect, run a small but successful store, any kind of small business that is unlikely to ever “go public” and sell stock – you are probably an “S Corp”.  Which means you pay your “corporate” taxes on your personal tax return.  Which makes you “rich”, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, while still being “kinda in between” in the real world.

Minnesota wants to make life about 25% harder for those people – in a state whose taxes already verge on confiscatory:

I’m not unmindful of how difficult it is to balance a biennial budget that’s almost $5 billion out of whack. But I’m more mindful and admiring all the time of what it takes to run a successful business and how dependent we are on the men and women who do so here — as opposed to the overwhelming majority of other states with lower tax burdens. (Note: The personal income taxes of many business owners are based on their companies’ revenues.)

So two impertinently pertinent questions:

Do these proposals sound as if they were designed by people who truly know what it takes to conceive, create, and run a business?

Even more to the point, do these plans sound like promising ways of encouraging entrepreneurial people to set up shop in Minnesota and then stick around?

Both of them are rhetorical questions.  The DFL’s big stakeholders – the big public employee and teachers unions – are run by people who’ve never had the faintest shred of entrepreneurial interest; indeed, many of them (like my guest on last Saturday’s NARN show, union organizer Alan Maki) actively detest entrepreneurs.

We have government of, by and for big institutions in Minnesota today.

Largesse

It’s hard to find solid attribution for the quote “Democracy can only survive until the people discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury”.  PJ O’Rourke in Parliament of Whores attributed it to De Tocqueville, if memory serves…

…but it really doesn’t matter.  Whomever said it – or even if it was entirely manufactured by the Libertarian Party back in the seventies, for that matter – the old, utterly true saying is getting a whole new chapter, nationwide and according to the new Minnesota Poll, amongst ourselves.

Minnesotans oppose new taxes – on themselves.  They do support more for that amorphous “The Rich” that seems to have all the money:

When it comes to a broader increase — income tax hikes for most Minnesotans — nearly 60 percent said that would be unacceptable.Half of the poll respondents said they think the state should use a combination of unspecified tax increases and spending cuts to help erase the state’s $4.6 billion deficit, while another 40 percent said the balancing should be achieved primarily through spending cuts alone. Only 4 percent favored squaring the books primarily with tax increases.

Most respondents favored tax increases on “The Rich” rather than “Me”, according to the poll results.

Given that the MNPoll routinely grossly oversamples DFLers – the party built on Robbing From “The Rich” And Giving To Government – this makes perfect sense; in the DFL’s world, there’s always someone else with money to take.

Let’s see how many leftybloggers try to use this “poll” has justification for a spending orgy, shall we?

“With Da Niews, I Am Rajiv Brahmaputra”

According to David Brauer, the Twin Cities’ Clear Channel stations are outsourcing their news.

Not to Bangalore, Manila or Mumbai, funny as that would be.  But almost as good:

Not that anyone listens to the local Clear Channel radio family (KFAN, K102, KOOL 108, KDWB, Cities 97) for the newscasts, but amid budget-slashing, the Denver Post reports the Mile High City’s KOA-AM “will now provide news for four other markets: Colorado Springs/Pueblo, Ft. Collins, Minneapolis and Ft. Smith, Arkansas.”

The biggest impact might be felt at conservative talk station KTLK, where host-newscaster chatter has at time produced some interesting exchanges. I can’t wait to hear some Colorado drone get Little Rock, Red Rocks and Rocori mixed up. Talk about your Rocky Mountain oy-sters!

Har.

Well, good for Denver, anyway.  KOA – the WCCO of Denver – has always had a commitment to doing commercial radio news; if they have a niche that’ll keep some jobs open, good for them. Expect more of this sort of thing.

More interesting, perhaps?  Brauer calls KTLK “conservative”.  Now, when KTLK-FM went on the air, it steered aggressively down the middle; it had drunk the post-’04 Koolaid that “conservative talk is dead”, so other than Limbaugh and Hannity the station steered well clear of the “conservative” label.

But with Chris Baker, Limbaugh, Hannity, Jason Lewis and Glenn Beck anchoring the station these days, it’d seem the consultants were wrong again. Which should shock nobody that’s ever worked in radio, but it’s nice to see the market put a bullet in that meme’s head once and for all.

Insert Miracle Here

Gary Gross notes that the polls are starting to relent a little for the GOP nationally. He quotes a Rasmussen Poll:

For just the second time in more than five years of daily or weekly tracking, Republicans now lead Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% would vote for their district’s Republican candidate while 38% would choose the Democrat. Thirty-one percent (31%) of conservative Democrats said they would vote for their district’s Republican candidate.

Gross:

I don’t doubt that that last sentence is giving Democratic strategists gray hair. Though there’s no doubt that we’ll see fluctuations between now and Election Day 2010, there’s also no doubt that the Democrats have misread the electorate. The Democrats’ misreading the election results has helped put the GOP in better shape than we’ve been in a long time.

Yes, but there’s an asterisk there.  We’ll come back to that.

I credit the change in the generic ballot to three things: President Obama’s radical agenda, President Obama’s arrogance and the House Republicans’ principled stand against Obama’s radical agenda. Obama’s radical agenda has given conservatives something to fight against while the House Republicans’ principled stance against that agenda is giving conservatives something to fight for.

Obama’s agenda is a factor.  Congress adds the arrogance and the agenda, one that I think is going to turn out to be a drag on Obama.  And the House GOP’s battle has been a blessing.

But so far all that gives us is something to campaign against.  Until the GOP has something to campaign for - a positive message – the good news cup is only half full.

On the positive side – it can’t be that hard to craft a positive message when the executive branch is so amateurish and naive (Obama’s tongue-kiss of Hugo Chavez did not play well in middle America) and Congress is so gigantistic and arrogant.

On the negative side: I don’t know that we have anything close to a standard-bearer for that message yet.

Only seventeen months ’til the next elections!

Just So You Know…

…where our new ruling class (by acclamation!) stands:

Madeline Albright: “Islam is maybe the most democratic religion because there is nobody between you and God. So I do not think that is something that can be used as reason not to have Muslim democracies.

Albright – Jewish, as I recall, not that it matters – must have missed that whole “Protestant Reformation” bit.

At any rate – it seems Islam is  used for exactly that reason – there is exactly one stable Moslem democracy (Turkey), two deeply flawed democracies with huge numbers of Moslems (India and Indonesia), and a few more that show signs of promise (Senegal and, to an extent, Mali).

The return to prominence of Madeline Albright, who under Clinton (eww) was the worst Secretary of State since Warren Christopher, a woman who’s always treated American Exceptionalism as an inconvenient hurdle, is one of the great tragedies of Obama’s win.

Minnesota

Minnesota reports its first “probable” case of Swine Flu:

Doug Schmitz, mayor of the town about 60 miles northwest of Minneapolis, said details on the case remain sketchy.”From people I’ve talked to no one seems really alarmed, though that could change once we get details,” Schmitz said. “At this point, everyone’s staying calm.”

Well, that’d be a good idea.

Let’s hope the regional media – which wets its pants over thunderstorm warnings – can do the same.

As Epidemics Go…

…Swine Flu is not the big kahuna.  It’s fairly preventable and treatable; it spreads through media that the average person can, with a little conscientious thought, cut down on.

Still, it’s serious now:

“I can confirm the very sad news out of Texas that a child has died of the H1N1 virus,” the CDC’s Dr. Richard Besser said.”As a parent and a pediatrician, my heart goes out to the family.”

He said the child was about 2 years old.

Six of the 64 confirmed swine flu cases in the United States have been reported in Texas, according to the CDC.

Of course, it’s been serious in Mexico for quite some time; the deaths there are no less real (although to the American media, which judging by the Today show is already switching into full-blown panic mode, a life north of the Rio Grande is definitely more newsworthy than one on the other side).

At any rate – stay informed, and don’t sneeze on me.

Under The Influence

The Saint Paul School Board is considering changing Webster Magnet to “Barack And Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary School”.

Leaders at Webster Magnet School say they want their name change to reflect the school’s renewed focus on teaching students about community service.

One name being considered is the “Barack and Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary School.” The other option is to call it “Webster Service Learning Elementary.”

The process involves a public voting process.  According to an email forward to me from Superintendant Carstarphen:

Thank you for your email concerns to Director Conlon on April 21 regarding the proposed Webster name change.  As with previous school name change proposals, we ensure there is a process for all people to have a voice in this process.  Anyone who lives in Saint Paul will be able to vote on April 30, 7:00 a.m. -  7:00 p.m. at the school.  Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) Community Relations department has worked on a notice giving all the details regarding the voting process and location which the Pioneer Press has agreed to publish.

If you live in Saint Paul, and believe that Wellstone, Ventura and Franken were embarassment enough for this state, show on up at Webster during the window tomorrow.

I’ll be there, of course.  If you’re there, and see anything – er – interesting, email me.

Specter

When I was writing my “What the hell is wrong with the MNGOP?” series, a conundrum appeared.

A party – especially a party built around multiple principles, rather than getting swag for constituents – needs to embrace many different variations on the same message.

But…

That same party needs to have a coherent message.

My position: the party needs, on the one hand, to find the things that everyone agrees on.  And by “everyone”, I mean of course the overwhelming majority.  I suggested (at a Minnesota state party level) Security, Education and Prosperity; I can’t imagine a Republican who wouldn’t support these.  The idea would be that everyone – tax hawks, pro-lifers, even moderates – could bury their differences publicly for the greater good of the party.  Make no mistake – there is value to having more “R” votes than “D”, even if not all of them are purists for whatever ones’ pet cause is.  If you’re a pro-lifer, having a mushy-”choice” Republican is better than having a Dem in the Senate when it’s time to confirm Supreme Court justices, for example.  There is a time for being a purist; one of the things, problem or blessing depending on your point of view, with the two-party system is that purism is less important than numbers, even from the purist’s view.

If we lived in a parliamentary system – where everyone can strike out and start a party if they don’t feel their current party reflects their beliefs – it’d be different.  Sort of.  With enough votes in an area, almost anyone get a seat in a Parliament.  Of course, if you have one seat in Parliament, you have to join with other parties to actually affect policy, which means exactly the same compromises that one makes within one of the two major parties we have today.
The complement to “vast majority” is the “infinitesimal minority”.  And while I’m the kind of person who’d much rather win that minority over to the majority – especially when the message is something this state and nation need – at some point there will inevitably be some people who realize the party’s not for them.

Arlen Specter was a “60% Republican”.  He may have been part of the “infinitesimal minority”, but he was certainly a drag on the party as a whole.  And given the immense power his seniority gave him, his many “40%” moments over the years hurt the GOP badly.  He was a “Sturdevant Republican” of the lowest order; the only kind of Republican the mainstream media “like”, the one that votes like a Democrat.  I’d like to say that Specter is being intellectually honest with his switch…

…but of course it’s not true.  It’s naked careerism; the Pennsylvania GOP is moving to the right (moderates defected to Obama during the past election), and his prospects in the primary were bad enough even before that, having barely beaten Toomey in the ’04 primary.  Pennsylvania law won’t allow him to run as an Indy like Joe Lieberman did in Connecticut.  And so he bailed – to keep himself in office.

I’m not going to say “good riddance” to Specter; Republicans have to get better at finessing, rather than bashing, differences within the party, if we’re going to recover from this past two elections.

But it’s probably a good thing in the long run.  In the next four years, Obama is going to take a lot of the luster off the Democrat brand.  Of course, we’ll need the GOP to come around with a message to have the vacuum filled when the opportunity presents itself.

And it’s fairly clear that that message is going to have to be pushed up in the party.

Good.  That’s what we’re here for.

Adios, Specter.  I wont’ say “good riddance” – but you won’t be missed.

Connect The Dirty Dots

Specter’s flip is contemporaneous with another bit of news, says Mr. D @ TvM:

He’s already decided to give you a present: ALBUQUERQUE — In a dramatic move yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew the air quality permit it issued last summer for the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant, which is slated to be built on the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region just southwest of Farmington, New Mexico.The action drew praise from critics of the plant and blistering commentary from its proponents.

So do you suppose that the EPA is going to be providing any support for new coal-fired plants? Or are they just picking on Native Americans? And if memory serves, don’t they mine a whole lot of coal in Pennsylvania? That should help the ol’ reelection campaign.

The whole thing is about Specter’s naked self-interest and political career.

Will They Offer Him 72-Month Financing?

Chrysler takes Denny Hecker down a half billion.

The financial services arm of automotive giant Chrysler won a $476.9 million judgment against embattled car dealer Denny Hecker in the latest blow to his crumbling auto dealership empire.

Well, at least he has the mortgage and real estate businesses to fall back on. I’m sure they’re doing swell.

He’s A Brick

Ever notice how you’re not seeing as much public opinion polling about the President these days?  Especially in the MSM?

There’s a reason for that

According to Gallup’s April survey, Americans have a lower approval of Mr. Obama at this point than all but one president since Gallup began tracking this in 1969. The only new president less popular was Bill Clinton, who got off to a notoriously bad start after trying to force homosexuals on the military and a federal raid in Waco, Texas, that killed 86. Mr. Obama’s current approval rating of 56 percent is only one tick higher than the 55-percent approval Mr. Clinton had during those crises.

Given the traction of the tea party movement (and the gracelessness of the leftymedia’s response on the President’s behalf to the growing popular dissent), let’s remember what happened in 1994 (with a GOP that could focus on a message and sell it to people, naturally).

As the attached chart shows, five presidents rated higher than Mr. Obama after 100 days in office. Ronald Reagan topped the charts in April 1981 with 67 percent approval. Following the Gipper, in order of popularity, were: Jimmy Carter with 63 percent in 1977; George W. Bush with 62 percent in 2001; Richard Nixon with 61 percent in 1969; and George H.W. Bush with 58 percent in 1989.

Of course, you won’t see much about this in the MSM; they’ve got an investment to protect:

USA Today’s front page touted the April poll results as positive, with the headline: “Public thinks highly of Obama.” The current cover of Newsweek magazine ponders “The Secret of His [Mr. Obama's] Success.”

The tail is flakking for the dog.

 

Tone Deaf

Sending jets over an apparently still-hinky-about-lowflying-airplanes Manhattan?

Tone deaf.

An administration official says a presidential Boeing 747 and a fighter jet flew low near ground zero in New York City Monday because the White House Military Office wanted to update its file photo of the president’s plane near the Statue of Liberty.

Sending the most expensive to build-and-run jet in the world (and a military escort plane,itself not cheap) out for what amounts to a flying Glamor Shot…:

This official said the White House Military Office told the Federal Aviation Administration that it periodically updates file photos of Air Force One near national landmarks, like the statute in New York harbor and the Grand Canyon.

…in the middle of an economic downturn?

Tone duh-f.

I mean, the Sorosphere has all sortsof Photoshop “geniuses”, right?

My Jokes Usually Become Reality

On the show 24 this few seasons, I’ve noticed (along with a few million other fans) that Cisco Systems must have paid huge money to the producer to have not only the government, but the terrorists, using their “NetMeeting” virtual conferencing system (in a very, very slicked-up Hollywood version utterly unfamiliar to those of us who’ve been using the more mundane versions for the past several years).

And then I noticed – everyone on the show uses Heckler and Koch firearms; Jack Bauer dropped his SIG 226 and switched to a USP back during Season Three; the various redshirts “tactical” guys all carry MP5s; this past several seasons have seen Jack, his friends and his enemies blasting at each other with G36, MP5, MP7, PSG1 and the HK416; indeed, the slick black HK pieces seem to have displaced pretty much everything else on the show.

And they’re popping up on other shows as well.  And I joked “H’nK must be paying great money for product placement!

And when I joke about something like that, it seems to turn up as reality as often as not:

The German gun maker Heckler & Koch (H&K) intensifies a marketing strategy of product placement in movies and TV-series, a feature of the British TV-station Channel4 has found: “You can’t advertise guns on TV, so what do you do?” According to that report the Oberndorf based company has increased its efforts to convince armourers in Hollywood of its newest models. Already in 2004, the then spokeswoman of H&K, Andrea Franke, confirmed to the Greenpeace magazine that the U.S. subsidiary of H&K closely cooperated with the movie makers.

I’ve heard from friends that Hollywood’s “armorer” community – the prop-wranglers that handle firearms for movie shoots (which are usually done in places like California, New York and Vancouver, places with institutionalized government paranoia about guns) are among the most eagerly-awaited guests.

While there is no secret that the owner of the German pistol producer Carl Walther travels himself to the movie sets of each James-Bond-sequel to hand over the PPK or lately the new P99 for 007, it is not known whether H&K’s owners Andreas Heeschen and Keith Ralston, who are both part of British High-Society anyway, do likewise. However, it is noteworthy that Bond defeats his adversary in “Casino Royal” (2006) with the submachine gun HK UMP which is used by many special police units in the US. The poster for the new film “Quantum of Solace”, which is due to be released in November 2008, shows Bond’s silhouette with H&K’s MP5 submachine gun (http://movierls.info/?p=9). And the expert on war cinema Peter Bürger points to the fact that Bond’s opponent in “Die Another Day” (2002) uses an XM29, which H&K had developed for the US-Army.

Of course this piece was written by someone from the pants-wetting set (emphasis added):

Also, in the successful TV series “24″, which has evidently inspired some US soldiers to torture, agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and his colleagues use some current H&K weapons, the assault rifles G36 and HK416 [and the USP, UMP, MP7, MP5 and PSG1.  Amateur].

This is the first I’ve seen Jack Bauer -a  fictional character – replace Karl Rove and Dick Cheney in that claim.  Fact-check time; the only real life torture the show has ever inspired was a desire on the part of fans to waterboard the writing staff after Day Six; the urge was communicated clearly enough that 24 seems to have done the improbable – having jumped the shark in Season 6, it feels like it’s actually jumped back this year.

Rep. Ellison arrested during Darfur protest

I’m not aware that any conservatives are howling at Rep. Keith Ellison for getting arrested yesterday.

I mean, sure – you’re one of the 500-odd most powerful elected people in the world; you’re in Washington in large part due to the efforts of a sychophantic mainstream media; you do  have some avenues to be heard on the issue.

On the other, it’s his First Amendment right, and I don’t disagree with him on the proximate issue.  The resolution is worth a little discussion (and that discussion needs to include Ellison’s coreligionists in Sudan, who are carrying out the genocide in the first place), but again, I don’t disagree with the motivation.

It was an apparently unprecedented act by a member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation and somewhat out of character for Ellison, a Democrat who has generally avoided controversy since he arrived in Congress, attracting international attention as its first Muslim member.Minnesota Republican Party officials, while saying they respect Ellison’s advocacy against genocide in Darfur, criticized his decision to get arrested as a “publicity stunt unbecoming of the office he holds.”

Also, any time that Ellison spends in jail is time that he’s not in the Capitol.

Perhaps we need to start this as a fad in Congress.

I’ll Have My People Look Into This Swine Flu Thing

…as soon as I get back to the office…and find them…and appoint them…oh, and once they’re confirmed.

The Obama administration declared a “public health emergency” Sunday to confront the swine flu — but is heading into its first medical outbreak without a secretary of Health and Human Services or appointees in any of the department’s 19 key posts.

President Barack Obama has not yet chosen a surgeon general or the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, how’s the golf game, Barack?