Endorsiosity

Derek “Chief” Brigham, at Freedom Dogs, has been tallying up blogger “leanings for Republican Governor candidate endorsement.”  He has some interesting observations. Definitely worth a look.

Derek puts my own opinion into the (surprisingly) rare “Uncommitted” tally, but he doesn’t seem sure about it. So just to clear things up… Make that a definite uncommitted opinion. I hope whomever wins the endorsement makes a fine candidate in the general, and an even finer governor thereafter. But I’m too cynical to get caught up in all the primary hoopla this time around.

The Wedge That Wasn’t And Will Never Be

One potential headache for the MNGOP this fall has evaporated.

The possibility that Col. Joe Repya – war hero and longtime grassroots GOP leader – would run for governor as an “Independence” Party spoiler, soaking five or so percent of the votes away from a MNGOP candidate, might have been a problem come November.

No more; Repya is bailing out of the race:

“It has become clear to me that, much like the DFL and the GOP parties in this state, the (Independence Party of Minnesota) fails to stand by its own rules and principles. At issue, the (party’s) decision to essentially nullify the state convention endorsement process,” Repya said. “This action, in my opinion, severely damages the IPM’s chances of truly becoming a viable and strong third party option….Their action will further erode and (tarnish) the IPM brand while relegating it to a permanent position of political “spoiler.”"

Well, no.  The “Independence Party”‘s big problem is that it was a “party” based around one celebrity candidate – Jesse Ventura – who got elected governor during a fit of collective silliness in a sillier time.  The rest of the party, afflicted with a grave case of self-importance, has soldiered on ever since, clinging to the faint fringes of relevance and – based on its ability to barely eke out 5% in one of the 2006 constitutional officer races – existence as a major party.

Repya’s candidacy had the chance to be a little more; Repya has a long history not only as a grass roots organizer, but as an organizer whose roots predate, and share a lot of personalities, with Minnesota’s large and successful Tea Party.  He was well-placed – within the context of the IP’s traditional ineptitude – to take advantage of the Tea Party, withy a message that could very well have peeled a few of them away.  And the media knew this, which was why Repya’s IP bid got so much media play; he was a disaffected Republican who left the party in a whirl of publicity last year, prompting media that had always looked at him (and all conservatives) as something just a little less than human to suddenly christen him “the voice of disaffected Republicans?”, someone that the MNGOP rank and file needed to pay strict attention to; they were setting him up, much like a Mike Huckabee, to be a spoiler against the GOP.

Anyway – here’s hoping that this is the year the “Independence” party finally fails to get 5%, and finally gets shuffled off the stage and back to minor party land.  And good riddance.

Tea Party Organizers: Checklist Item

All of you who are busy organizing tea parties out there?  I know you’re busy, so here’s a quick note.

You and I both cringe at some of the signs and posters that show up at tea parties.  And we all know that any political movement will draw a fringe; hell, even the Red Guards had people that embarassed the other Red Guards.

But the next time there’s a Tea Party, there should be a concerted effort to take pictures of the people with the most embarassing posters.

Because there’s a pretty decent chance that they’re working for the other guys.

Thanks. See you in April.

Around The MOB: Is That All You’ve Got?

I’ll cop to it; even though I co-founded the MOB, there are plenty of MOB blogs that I didn’t even know existed, much less read them regularly.

One of them is Is That All You’ve Got?, a blog written by a “public health nerd” from Saint Paul’s Selby/Dale neighborhood with the nom de plume “Shyest Violet”.

Fire-breathing conservative politics?  Not that I can see (somebody tell this shrieking ninny).  A few bits and pieces about Obamacare and MNCare here and there…

…and an awful lot of wry wit, updated pretty regularly.  It sort of reminds me of a slightly-public-health-tinged Casual Sundays with Mr. Curry (TREBEK: “References to less-well-known blogs to define even less-well-known blogs?” BERG: “What is the most inside trivia game of all time?” TREBEK “Correct, and you have the board”).

No, really.  As a Saint Paul guy who goes up and down University a lot, I loved this bit here – a plea to “Big Daddy’s Saturday Barbecue”, a University-avenue barbecue joint that was open on Saturdays, and isn’t open at all at the moment (because, if I recall correctly, its building was torn down):

Please come back soon.  [Shyestviolet's apparent sig.other and regular blog character] J and I are going into withdrawal.  Yes, Costello’s is nice as a temporary substitute, and we really enjoy wings during happy hour, but now that Lost is back on TV, we’d really like a solid takeout option, and YOU’RE NOT HERE.  Where are you?  Why have you left us?  Will you come back soon?  Look at how much we love you.  Please come back.  I don’t want to go to Rooster’s.  I don’t want to go to Hickory Hut.  I don’t want to go to JJ’s.  I WANT TO GO TO BIG DADDY’S.  I’m almost out of my last jar of Big Daddy’s barbecue sauce, and can’t be responsible for my actions once we have to resort to some processed crapgarbage off of the bottom shelf at Target. If you want to talk about your temporary location strategy, you can find me wallowing in my misery at Lee & Dee’s.  You know, that place that ISN’T BIG DADDY’S.

And now I’m hungry.

Anyway – make Is That All You’ve Got a stop on your MOB Tour!

Dear Libs: Stay Classy

It’s become a media meme in recent years; grassroots conservative activists are crude, inarticulate, ignorant and prone to outbursts of anger.

Reality shows quite the opposite, of course; from the SEIU thugs beating the guy at the Carnahan Town Hall into the hospital to the whinging infants who threw bricks and bleach during the Saint Paul Republican National Convention, the left has the genuinely checkered record.

Sad to say, today’s Franken rally in Minneapolis was no exception.

Early in the rally, a guy carrying a “Teamster for Conservatism” stood at the entrance to the parking lot at the rally site (the Labor Temple, in northeast Minneapolis).  I never did get his name.

Teamster4conservatism_web

He was standing on the curb next to the driveway.  One of the attendees in a Toyota apparently saw him, yelled something, and gunned his engine, forcing the protester to get out of the way.  The driver parked in the parking lot and went into the rally – but the protester and a couple of witnesses got the license number and called the police.  When the rally ended, the Minneapolis Police – who’d been waiting around the event – pulled him over.  Nobody was hurt, and there were no charges to place, but the cops did give the little fella a good talking to, and then made him shake hands with the protester.

As I noted in my previous post on the subject, there weren’t many pro-Obama counterprotesters.  They were pretty standard-issue stuff; not very articulate, not very well-informed, and pretty harmless.

This guy was both of the above – but he brought an element of stupid to the proceedings that livened things up for all of us.  We noticed him when he stood on one of the corners across from the Temple, bellowing “Teabaggers!  Teabaggersj!” over and over again.

marquardt_spine_web

That’s a spine.  With a couple of putative testicles, ready for “Teabagging”, which the protester (whose name we got, but which I’ll keep offline) had helpfully affixed. (Because we have all been assured that when lefties yell about “Teabaggers”, they’re referring to the people who sent bags of Lipton to Congress.  Of course).

As I noted in my previous post (“It’s Fun Being Outside The Alamo For A Change“), not only is it fun outnumbering the other guys out on the streets for the first time I can remember – but I hate to think what it’s like for the lefties being stuck inside the Alamo with some of these whackdoodles.

It’s Fun Being Outside The Alamo For A Change

The truism about conservatives throughout my cognitive life is that we just don’t do protests.We have day jobs and families, for the most part; standing around waving signs rarely rises to the level of “something we’re interested in”.

I remember throwing counterdemonstrations at antiwar rallies that drew 15 people against 3,000 neocoms.  I did another to counterprotest a big pre-RNC warmup rally in Saint Paul in September of ’07 that drew maybe 50 people against 600 or so of the other guys.  And while 15 against 3,000 is a fair fight, I was never interested in being fair.

But the Obama Administration changed all that.  Last April 15, 600,000 workadaddy, hugammommy conservatives turned out to protest government spending.  More still turned out at subsequent rallies – and, hardest to believe of all, thousands went to congressional Town Hall meetings to show powers that currently be that not everyone is enamored of the Hope and Change we’re being presented.

In other words, there’s been a huge change in the way conservatives see public activism.

But even that observation didn’t prepare me for what I saw today. I attended a protest outide an Al Franken pep rally for Obamacare in Minneapolis today.

I parked a few blocks up Central, and walked toward the Temple; seeing a crowd gathered at Central and Uni, I steeled myself to walk a gauntlet of “Public Option Now”-chanting, preprinted-placard-holding Obamacare supporters.

And I practically fainted when I saw the assembled crowd; close to thirty anti-Obamacare people, holding homemade signs.  They were in a jovial mood.

There were perhaps three Obamacare supporters.  One was a very articulate guy and fellow User Interaction designer – yes, we talked a little shop – who stated a coherent case with not a few protesters on his way in and out of the meeting.

Another – a tallish fellow who looked like an extra from “The Crazies”, scuttled about with a big sign that said “Yes, there are Death Panels; they’re called Insurance Companies”.  I asked him “So that means Sarah Palin wasn’t lying or crazy?”, I asked him (this is basically the same thing I wrote last spring);  His eyes wobbled a bit, and he scampered away.  His idea of an argument seemed to be “you people are the minority!”.  Over and over.  And over.  Again.

And there was one more.  (Article about him to come shortly).

It was a pretty low-key time, until the rally let out.  A few hundred Obama supporters, clutching pre-printed placard that they no doubt had spent the last hour waving on cue, milled out across the sidewalk.  For the most part, they navigated the jovial, happy gauntlet of protesters without incident.  (Again, one big exception coming shortly).

But a few of them?  You could tell how bitterly they detested seeing dissent; their eyes burned with a thud-witted hatred that said, without speaking, “you were all supposed to go away after the election”.

I’d try to recap most of the arguments – but for the most part, they were ripped straight from the preceding pep rally, and made my eyes glaze over.  People say conservative talk radio is dumb!  (Actually, there’s another blog post in there, somewhere).

All in all, it was a lot of fun!  Hope we can see you at the next one!

Nancy from Freedom Dogs was there, too.

They Really Think We’re Getting Out Of Control

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism from 9AM-3PM.

  • Volume I “The First Team” -  Brian and John or some combination thereof kick off from 11-1.
  • Volume II “The Headliner” - Huge show today; Rep. Michele Bachmann will be joining us in the 1PM hour, and then  Ed will be calling in from CPAC. and I are up from 1-3.
  • The King Banaian Show! – King is on from 9-11 on AM1570, Business Radio for the Twin Cities!  We’re broadening the franchise; two stations, now!

(All times Central)

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of sanity. You have so many options:

  • AM1280 in the Metro
  • streaming at AM1280’s Website,
  • On Twitter (the Volume 2 show will use hashtag #narn2)
  • UStream video and chat (at HotAir.com or at UStream).
  • Podcast at Townhall, usually by Monday
  • Good ol’ telephone – 651-289-4488!
  • And make sure you fan us on Facebook!

Join us!

Something Mitch Would Never Do

I sometimes wonder if Mitch realized what kind of co-blogger he was getting when he added me to SITD. My own late and unlamented blog was a bit all-over-the-place, veering from politics to pop culture to media fisking to wine & food. I’m pretty sure he was okay with all of that.

But then there was the less… usual… stuff. Like the time I faked my own death and came back as a gigantic mutant godzilla-like creature. Or the time I appointed a cute puppy as my ombudsman to deflect scandalous political fallout for an entirely made up political office. Not really sure Mitch intended that stuff to make the ol’ SITD transition. As of yet, I’ve not pushed the envelope to find out.

But if there’s one thing Mitch knew darned well he’d be getting when he signed me on to post over here its…
Continue reading

Playing Above Their Weight

Background:  Totalitarians always have a yin to play against an unruly yang.  The Roman emperors had a Praetorian Guard to protect them from the Army, just in case.  When the Red Army got to powerful and influential, Stalin sicced the KGB on their leadership; when the KGB in turn got big enough to threaten him, he turned the Army and the Party on them, killing its leadership.  Likewise, Hitler had the SS – which pledged loyalty to him at the Party directly – to serve as an insurance policy against the Wehrmacht, whose Prussian Junker leadership was loyal to the German state, drawing Hitler’s distrust; the SS “Blackshirts” themselves were a response to what Hitler saw as the excessive power in the hands of the SA (“Brownshirts”), whom he formed the SS to counter and, eventually, dismantle.  Saddam Hussein had multiple levels of backups; against the Army, he had the Republican Guards – again, smaller but better trained and better-equipped – and beyond that, a smaller, even more elite group of guards in case the Republican Guard got uppity.

Iran has had the same arrangement for most of the past thirty years.  The Iranian Army – once by far the largest in the Middle East, and by far the best-equipped in the Moslem world – was cut town to size after the Revolution, and especially after the Iran-Iraq War, as the mullahs established an “elite”, or at least intensely-loyal, “Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps” (IRGC).  The IRGC were the foot soldiers and muscle of the Revolution, and developed over time into an entire parallel military, serving the mullahs directly in parallel to the regular (and now cash-starved) regular Iranian military, which is a faint shadow of its shah-era self.

According to Time, that development has continued; the IRGC has taken over Iranian policy:

On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally got around to acknowledging what a lot of people have known since Iran’s contested election last June — there’s been a military takeover in that country, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) grabbing every important lever of power. As Clinton put it during a televised town-hall meeting, “The Supreme Leader, the President [and] the parliament is being supplanted, and Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship.”

No doubt one reason it took Clinton so long to admit that the mullahs have been forced to cede power to the IRGC, Iran’s élite military force, is that Washington hates to be the bearer of bad news, especially news that moves us closer to war.

Especially when the Administration’s campaign-era pledge was that to deal with the mullahs, all you needed was love.

Since its birth in 1979, the IRGC has been the hardest of the hard core of Ayatullah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. It thrives in confrontation with the U.S. and Israel, and does even better when Iran is at war. The IRGC looks at the 1982-2000 war in Lebanon as its most glorious moment, when its proxy Hizballah forced the West and Israel out of Lebanon. It left Hizballah with the enviable reputation of being the only force in the Middle East to have beaten both the West and Israel. Not to mention that Hizballah is now the de facto government in Lebanon. No wonder the IRGC would like an encore in the West Bank and Gaza, where it has been arming militants for more than a decade.

There’s method to what we in the West could consider the Madness:

It may make us feel better to label the IRGC as a terrorist organization, but it’s more instructive to look at things from the IRGC’s perspective. It truly believes that its brand of asymmetrical warfare can defeat a modern, well-equipped force in a limited war. It did so in Lebanon, and given the right circumstances, it would do so in other parts of the Middle East. But the real point is that in a limited war with the U.S. and Israel, the IRGC could predominate, or at least wear us down to the point that we would decide it’s better to settle.

And as western thinkers have known for centuries – nothing takes the pressure off a dictator like a perennial state of war:

With inflation and unemployment running at 30% in Iran, continuing demonstrations in the country and shaky oil markets, the Obama Administration should be considering the distinct possibility that the IRGC may welcome an open conflict with the U.S. (and Israel), its coup d’état solidified.

All by way of saying; it’s possible we’re not re-living the Carter years in nearly every coneptual particular.  I’m just not seeing it.

The Shell Game

The biggest scam in Minnesota politics?  The intertwined three-card-monte game the DFL plays with state Local Government Aid (LGA), county and city taxes, and city budgets.

LGA, for those who weren’t paying attention, was instituted in the sixties and seventies to transfer wealth around Minnesota.  Back then, it ensured outstate towns and school districts got enough money from the economically-thriving Twin Cities to support more spending.  Today, it allows the metro governments – Minneapolis and Saint Paul – to launder their spending through the state, and get the parts of the state that are able to pay their own way to subsidize it.

It’s a very handy political tool.  It allows city governments to spend like crack whores with stolen gold cards, of course, and hide the spending under a mountain of state money.  And for the savvy mayor, paying for essential services with LGA while paying for things like Human Rights offices and $50,000 water fountains gives one incredible political leverage; using the money the city actually controls to pay off special-interest constituencies (neighborhood coalitions, toney arts organizations, unions) with the sure thing money, and using the state money – which is out of the mayors’ control to some extent – as a bludgeon to keep the peasants voters in line.

I noted this during the last budget cycle in Saint Paul, when Mayor Coleman’s annual trifecta of announcements  – “taxes are rising”, “we’re laying off firemen” and “damn you, Tim Pawlenty” – have become a tradition as revered as the Winter Carnival.

http://looktruenorth.com/limited-government/local-control/11344-walter-scott-hudson.html

Walter Scott Hudson – at True North and at his blog, Fightin’ Words – isn’t fooled, either:

Employees of the City of Minneapolis were advised Tuesday of the “extremely damaging” effect Governor Tim Pawlenty’s proposal to solve a $1.2-billion budget deficit could have on “core services.” Pawlenty’s plan would “take another $29 million out of Minneapolis’ 2010 budget,” an e-mail from Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson stated. On top of $21 million in previous aid cuts, the governor’s proposal would “represent a 56% cut in the Local Government Aid that Minneapolis was supposed to receive from the State in 2010.”

The text of the e-mail seems intent to incite the passions of city employees, and direct those passions toward St. Paul. This came as members of the public employee union AFSCME, a member organization of the AFL-CIO, gathered at the capitol to rally for a budget which “promotes job growth and preserves funds for local governments and state welfare programs.” Pressure is on state legislators to reject the governor’s proposal and keep cities and counties on the dole.

Read the whole thing.

It’s just as conservatives have always said; once our cities get dependent on welfare for more than a generation or two, it’s very hard to get off it.

But with the national economy continuing its Obama swan dive and the state and national moods swinging strongly againt NeoCarterism, I have a hunch the Twin Mayors are in for a rude awakening.  If not this session, then soon.

Time Machine

Conservatives and Republicans have observed – sometimes jokingly, often not – that Barack Obama shows every sign of becoming the next Jimmy Carter.

What would it take to complete the impression?

Why, stagflation, of course; the unholy union of price inflation (due to rampant spending and the crushing constriction of credit due to out-of-control federal deficits) and high unempoyment.

Is it baaaaack?:

The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance unexpectedly surged last week, while producer prices increased sharply in January, raising potential hurdles for the economic recovery.

Unemployment up.  Economy stagnant.  Inflation ratcheting up.  Iran throwing its weight around.

I feel like I’m 16 again.

Around The MOB: Garden of Eden

One of the things that less-well-informed leftybloggers (see also: most leftybloggers, many of the most-quoted leftybloggers) like to chant is that “the MOB is a conservative group”.

It’s untrue, of course. Some lean left; some don’t really get political.

One of those is Garden of Eden – which is currently on the MOBRoll as “I’m Free Now” (and needs an update…). Gabrielle Eden runs it, and has been writing pretty prolifically since 2007. Kudos!

And the first thing that jumped to mind when I read GoE was “Daily Affirmations” – but that sounds too stuffy. There’s stuff about religion, family, gardening (!), cats – all the usual non-political blog fodder. But it’s good stuff. I feel better reading it.

As it happens, Ms. Eden didn’t write this piece – but it cracked me up anyway. It’s a collection of church bulletin bloopers, and I’m sure it’s been around the Internet a dozen times, but it’s new to me, and it made me laugh. Don’t judge me.

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p, li { white-space: pre-wrap; }

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

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The sermon this morning: ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus.’

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Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale.. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

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Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.

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Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.

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Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

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For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

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Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

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Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

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A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

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At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice

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Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

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Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

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Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

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The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

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Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.

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The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

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This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

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Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.

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The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

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Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

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The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM.. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

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Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

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The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday:

“I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours”.

“Garden of Eden”. Read it when touring the MOB (via “I’m Free Now”).

An Acheing In My Heart Legs

It’s a strange time of year in Minnesota, weather-wise.  There’s enough sun high enough in the sky  to warm things up pretty well during the mid-day.  But there’s enough snow cover to reflect all that sunlight back into space, so nights still get pretty chilly – and it’s still a bit brisk when we get ready for work in the morning.

So for the next ten days or so we’ll be having highs pushing 30 during the day, but lows in the single-digits to barely over ten.

Which means that in the afternoon, I’m overwhelmed with the desire to start biking – and get bludgeoned in the morning by the idea that it’s probably be a really dumb idea for the time being.

That, and the roads in Saint Paul are atrocious this year.  The city got behind the eight ball from the beginning; the Christmas ice/snow storm left most of the side streets as rutted and filling-jarring as andean goat paths.

Anyway.  Soon.  The goal for the year is to be back on the road by mid-March, to make up for the lousy biking last year, when a family commitment left me driving around the metro every morning all summer.  While I did manage to bike a bit from September through November, and even squoze in a ride in early December, I never really got a rhythm going.  The other goal?  Get somewhere close to my 100-mile-a-week pace from 2008.

As soon as these freakin’ mornings warm up.

(NOTE:  While this blog’s policy is to generally leave comments alone, all anti-biking comments will be mutilated for my own febrile amusement.  There will be no further warnings).

Nuclear On The Concept

Andrew Coulson at Cato writes about his appearance on John Stossel’s special on problems with public education:

Tomorrow night at 8:00pm, Fox Business News will air a John Stossel special on the failures of state-run schooling and the merits of parental choice and competition in education. I make an appearance, as do Jeanne Allen and James Tooley.

Now, here’s the part that grabbed my attention:

News of the show is already making the rounds, and over at DemocraticUnderground.com, one poster is very upset about it, writing:

When will these TRAITORS stop trying to ruin this country?

HOW can AMERICANS be AGAINST public education?

Stossel is throwing out every right-wing argument possible in his namby pamby singsong way while he “interviews” a “panel” of people (who I suspect are plants) saying things like preschool is a waste of money and why invest in an already-failing system….

I hate Stossel and I hate all of those who think the way he does.

Now, the DU poster’s rhetoric is (what a shock) a little lot over the top.  But it’s not a whole lot different from the “if you’re not with the current public education system, exactly as it is (except a lot more money) then you’re against the children!” meme from the likes of MN2020, which ends up being something like “school choice is fine, unless it questions the current teachers union, adminstrative establishment and educational academy in any way, in which case it’s the same as sending six year olds directly to a homeless shelter”.

Coulson gets this:

What this poster–and many good people on the American left–have yet to grasp is that critics of state monopoly schooling are NOT against public education. On the contrary, it is our commitment to the ideals of public education that compels us to pursue them by the most effective means possible, and to abandon the system that has proven itself, over many many generations, incapable of fulfilling them.

Or to paraphrase that great sage Linda Richman; “What if public education doesn’t educate the public?  Discuss amongst yourselves”.

I’m getting farklemt.

56 Or 5 To Four

Again – Republicans prefer to win this nation back at the polls.

But Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) is giving the Tics a scare:

A bleeding ulcer is behind the hospitalization of longtime New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, an aide said Tuesday.

Chief of staff Dan Katz said that no discharge date is set, but that he expects the 86-year-old Democrat to be released soon.

The senator was taken to a hospital Monday after becoming lightheaded and falling at his Cliffside Park home. He later underwent a successful endoscopy procedure, spokesman Caley Gray said.

Lautenberg was expected “to make a full recovery and will be back to work soon,” Gray said.

I send my best wishes for Senator Lautenberg’s health.

And so, as it happens, do the Tics:

Any health decline for the Senate’s second-oldest member would be a serious concern for the party, because Republicans won control of the governor’s office in November. If Lautenberg were unable to finish his term, Gov. Chris Christie would appoint an interim successor. That could give a Republican candidate the added advantage of incumbency at a time the GOP already enjoys a favorable political environment.

Naturally, Jersey Democrats – whom mobsters shun socially as being “not ethical enough” – have been trying to make sure the rule of law comes in a close second to “the rule of the Democratic Party”:

New Jersey Democrats tried, but failed, to advance legislation to take the interim appointment power away from Christie. The legislation was introduced during the lame duck session with Lautenberg in mind.

And there are rumors – albeit contested ones – that Barbara Mikulski may yet announce a retirement.

Just saying.

Yes, They Do

Sales of “Dubya” memorabilia are spiking…:

Demand for the items spiked after a billboard featuring the ex-commander in chief appeared alongside a rural Minnesota highway last week, stirring up buzz.

CafePress spokeswoman Jenna Martin said sales of Bush-related products virtually disappeared after Obama replaced him.

But last week, she said, 10 of the firm’s top-selling 100 designs were “Miss Me Yet?” items, moving to the tune of up to 500 orders a day.

…as sales of Obama items (not to mention Obama-themed stores and Obama radio stations) crater:

“There were no Obama-themed designs on the list – Bush has stolen the political spotlight, just like Sarah Palin did the week before when she re-surfaced with crib notes written in her palm,” she said.

I’m not saying we need to imbue this factoid with any significance at all.

But if it means those wretched “Obama Tells Mothers To Go Back To School” and “Obama Backs Insurance Regulation” get pulled one of these days, I think we can all agree it’s for the greater good.

Connect The Dots!

Salem Communications – which owns both Townhall.com, America’s leading online conservative clearinghouse and Salem Radio, which in turns owns the radio station on which my radio program airs – has apparently purchased leading conservative site Hot Air, owned by Michelle Malkin and which employs my radio colleague Ed Morrissey, and its million daily pageviews.

Someone notify the media! The barbarians are at the gates!

Protocols Of The Elders Of Times Square

Freedom can be confusing.

We’ll come back to that.

I’ve told this story many, many times.  I think it’s still illustrative.  Back in the nineties and early naughties, you could predict a few things about GOP gatherings.

  • At precinct caucuses, you could be assured that there would be an avalanche of pro-life/anti-stem cell/anti-gay-marriage resolutions.  In the former two cases, they would be largely redundant with what was already in the platform.  No matter; they had to be debated and voted up or down, one at a time.
  • At legislative district (“BPOU”, in the MNGOP’s curious parlance) conventions, there’d be two big clusters of people in the room.  To stage right, there’d be a group of pro-lifers.  To stage left, there’d be everyone else.  And if one was running for a district office, one could expect a series of questions about one’s commitment to life.  “Are you pro-life?”  “How pro-life are you?”  “Please describe exactly how pro-life you are?”  “If your pro-life-ness were a mountain, which mountain would it be – Denali, K-2 or the Matterhorn?”

And pro-lifers weren’t the only single-issue voters.  During the nineties, after the nadir of the Clinton crime bill and Alan Spears’ various attempts to ratchet up gun control in Minnesota, the shooters came out.  And it could lead to comical results; pro-lifers would occasionally express revulsion at rolling back gun controls, while some of the shooters were visibly bored at the pro-life talk.  They came for their issues, and their issues alone.

That was then.

Now, we have the Tea Parties.  And while the left and media (pardon, as always, the redundancy) likes to try to portray the Tea Parties like Nick Coleman once referred to “peasants beating on the observatory door” with pitchforks and torches, they are actually a whole lot more complex – John Kerry’s word was “nuanced” than that.  You see a lot of people at these rallies who, two years ago, didn’t care about politics, who a year into the Obama administration have taken it upon themselves to educate themselves.

And there are many roads to education; there are as many stories at the Tea Parties are there are participants.  Some reacquainted themselves with Reagan.  Many others in Minnesota arrived via (Minnesota-based syndicated talk show host) Jason Lewis’ long-running Tax Rallies, and Lewis’ heady introduction to the Federalists and Limited Government; Lewis, with his MA in Political Science, gives a pretty compete education in Federalist history.  Others come via other media figures – Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt – to a new appreciation iof what limited government means, and how far off from that ideal we currently are.  Another contingent were brought to politics by the Ron Paul campaign.  And you can find others who filtered into the movement from immigration reform, pro-life and other groups, including a few from groups that we can tactfully call “the fringe”.

All of them – the good, the weird and the rhetorically ugly – come together for one reason; they want to put government back in its place.

Which, compared with the anything-goes, single-issue-bound GOP of 2000 and 2004, is pretty exciting stuff.

And as with anything that excites conservatives, the left and media (pardon, as always, the redundancy) must spin it as some sort of potential depravity or another.

Commenter “Master Of None” drew my attention to NYTimes piece on the Tea Party movement yesterday.   I read it.

At first read, it was almost encouraging; it seemed at first blush to pay some service to the most important facet of the Tea Parties; that represents a wave of self-education, an “awakening” if you will, on the part of an awful lot of people.   It almost seemed like the NYTimes might start portraying Tea Partiers as people; actual individuals with their own motivations, each as unique as they are.

I said almost.

The Tea Party movement has become a platform for conservative populist discontent, a force in Republican politics for revival, as it was in the Massachusetts Senate election, or for division. But it is also about the profound private transformation of people like Mrs. Stout, people who not long ago were not especially interested in politics, yet now say they are bracing for tyranny.

I chewed on that last clause for a bit.  A phrase like “bracing for tyranny” has two different meanings in our society.  To a big chunk of “Red” America, it means “being aware that unlimited government can not end well”, with a twist of “so let’s not let it get out of control” on top.

But to an NPR-listening, Times-reading, down-the-nose-at-the-hoi-polloi-looking putative “elite”, it’s a code phrase, for something the “fearful, Jebus-clinging, John Birch-reading gun freaks” do.

In other words, it’s something foreign.  Un-American.  Worthy of fear and, inevitably, fear’s eldest child, hatred.

These people are part of a significant undercurrent within the Tea Party movement that has less in common with the Republican Party than with the Patriot movement, a brand of politics historically associated with libertarians, militia groups, anti-immigration advocates and those who argue for the abolition of the Federal Reserve.

“Militia groups”.  It’s another media code word; the unwashed, insane, depraved, usually racist undercurrent that Blue America sees hiding under every rock between the Hudson and the Sierra Madre.

Urged on by conservative commentators, waves of newly minted activists are turning to once-obscure books and Web sites and discovering a set of ideas long dismissed as the preserve of conspiracy theorists, interviews conducted across the country over several months show. In this view, Mr. Obama and many of his predecessors (including George W. Bush) have deliberately undermined the Constitution and free enterprise for the benefit of a shadowy international network of wealthy elites.

“Shadowy international networks”.

You see some of that at the Tea Parties.  Again, it’s the fringe; the people with the beards and camouflage and the huge potbellies and the pamphlets that gather around the fringe of  the Tea Party rallies, mixing uneasily with the vast majority; the people in dockers and polos, or work boots and embroidered shop jackets, who make up the vast majority of people at the Parties.  People like you and me and, someone tell the Times, your typical Times reader as well.

Oh, the Times gets parts right – enough to make the whole thing worth a read:

The Tea Party movement defies easy definition, largely because there is no single Tea Party.

Defiance of easy definition notwithstanding, the Times wants you to accept their facile definition anyway.

And those facile definitions are always based on fear of the great unwashed unknown:

At the grass-roots level, it consists of hundreds of autonomous Tea Party groups, widely varying in size and priorities, each influenced by the peculiarities of local history.

“Ah”, I thought.  “This could be good!”.   The rural west is a fascinating sociological hodgepodge; my own hometown in North Dakota jumbled college professors with their urbane, sometimes far-left beliefs, together with engineers (from a few local manufacturers) and business people (mostly fiscal conservatives) and agribusiness types (conservatives who loved farm subsidies)  to a few drastically-misplaced hippies, and always, always the farmers – including a few who’d been driven to radical populism by the hard times.

Who do you suppose the Times would be focusing on today?

In the inland Northwest, the Tea Party movement has been shaped by the growing popularity in eastern Washington of Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas, and by a legacy of anti-government activism in northern Idaho. Outside Sandpoint, federal agents laid siege to Randy Weaver’s compound on Ruby Ridge in 1992, resulting in the deaths of a marshal and Mr. Weaver’s wife and son. To the south, Richard Butler, leader of the Aryan Nations, preached white separatism from a compound near Coeur d’Alene until he was shut down.

Of all the “local peculiarities” to pick, what do you suppose the odds were?

The piece focuses, throughout, on the Tea Parties’ most paranoid lunatic fringe – almost as if to say “pay no attention to the populist awakening behind the curtain, Boston and New York and San Francisco!  They are unclean!  These are the bitter, gun-clinging Jesus freaks we warned you about!”

If they can’t beat the Tea Party on the facts, it’s logical that the next step will be fearmongering.

And They Should Bring Back Bolted-Down Desks, Too

Taking down MN2020 has become a higher-concept version of what fact-checking Nick Coleman used to be; a rhetorical gravy train for regional bloggers.

I was going to go after our old friend John Fitzgerald’s piece on the effect of state aid cuts on the Waseca school district; they switched from permanent plastic lunch trays to disposable styrofoam ones, cutting six dishwashing jobs in the school’s cafeterias.

Fortunately, Craig Westover beat me to it.

And it’s not pretty:

As a conservative I mourn the loss of the traditional plastic lunch tray, cast on the ash heap of history with the once-indispensible slide rule and the ubiquitous pink “While you were out …” phone pad. It’s always sad when great traditions, like having a class valedictorian, die. Don’t we all miss the songs of happy field hands harvesting crops in the dark of night before greedy farmers replaced migrant workers with mechanized equipment?

Indeed, that miserly attitude is precisely what is rearing its ugly head right in Waseca public schools, according to the ever-vigilant Fitzgerald.

Remember – according to John Fitzgerald, the main advantage of district schools is their “accountability”, via their elected boards.

So we finally get accountability – cost savings in tough times – and…what?

Sure, washing trays requires “personnel, chemicals, water, heat and electricity to run 100 loads a day. At the junior high, a three-sink system has replaced the electric dishwasher to hand wash pots, pans and miscellaneous utensils with a wash, rinse, sanitize procedure.”And OK, switching to #6 Styrofoam trays means no more paper boats or cups or wax paper sheets needed, making the total garbage output smaller. Even with throwing the trays away, there is one less sack of garbage each lunch at the junior high. But six people are going to lose their jobs.

Such drastic cuts – reducing expenses and cutting waste — would not be necessary, says Fitzgerald, had not state cut Waseca school funding by an inflation-adjusted 14 percent. Without those cuts, there’d be money in the budget for benevolent hiring. But noooo. Fiscal accountability has, in a district like Waseca, made cutting jobs to save $30,000 in the budget “a big deal.”

Of course, this isn’t for yuks:

OK, time to get serious, because a person losing his or her job is serious. But from Fitzgerald’s article it is clear that putting resources into the six specific jobs lost at Waseca was consuming more of society’s wealth than was being produced. Fitzgerald wants the moral high ground because he can point to six specific (probably low-income) people who lost their jobs, but the economic reality is because the school is providing the same lunch service at less cost more resources are available for more productive uses. Somewhere, albeit unseen, someone will have a job that otherwise might not exist. (Maybe even a diversity counselor.)

Producing more for less is always better for the overall economy. What Fitzgerald seems to be saying is it is too bad the Waseca schools weren’t flusher so they could continue to operate without having to worry about doing things more efficiently and effectively. It’s too bad the school district can’t do a little benevolent job creation at public expense. It’s too damn bad that wishes aren’t horses.

And we wonder why the government-run public education system has become a money pit?

More on this later this week.

Free Market

“An area in the Healthcare debate where Republicans and Democrats agree!”, NPR’s “Marketplace Money” trumpeted last night.

Only in the most trivial possible way, I’m gonna guess“, I thought, turning the radio up.

Am I ever wrong about these things?

Naturally, the Democrats favor a form of “competition” that has all the “competition” regulated out; essentially, the Tic version of the idea looks more like “privately-administered socialized healthcare”, only marginally less noxious than Obamacare itself.

The Republican plan would allow insurance companies to sell across state lines, more or less the say car, boat and motorcycle insurance works today.

Naturally, it’s sparking debate; conservatives welcome competition…:

Proponents of the idea say that the tangle of state regulation drives up costs, particularly in states with heavy mandates, and that a quick and easy way to reduce prices would be to allow people in states where insurance is expensive, like New York or Massachusetts, to buy policies in low-cost states like Minnesota.

Mr. Shadegg, who sponsored legislation to allow insurance sales across state lines in 2005 and has championed the idea ever since, likes to illustrate the lack of competition by pointing to how different the market is for automobile insurance.

“If you turn on the television station at night,” he said, “you see Allstate and Geico and Progressive and State Farm pounding each other’s heads in. ‘Drop your policy and come get a policy from us, and we’ll do two things — we’ll save you money and give you better service.’ You never see that kind of advertisement for you and I to go out and buy health insurance.”

But Mr. Shadegg adamantly opposes the Democrats’ take on the idea. He dislikes their requirement that states pass laws to create health care “compacts,” and he rejects the Democrats’ efforts to impose tight new federal regulations on insurers. Replacing many knots of state rules with a big knot of federal rules would defeat the purpose, he said.

Democrats: “But if you allow people to choose their own insurance, some of them will choose insurance that costs less and has fewer regulations!”.

No, really:

President Obama and leading Democrats, however, warn that without new regulations, private insurance companies would race to set up shop in states with lax regulation, minimal benefits requirements and the fewest consumer protections.

The nerve of those peasants – picking out the insurance they need and can afford, rather than insurance that’s larded up with all sorts of costly mandated coverage that just might not apply to them.

“If you go to full interstate shopping, you are going to need some consumer protection,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, a supporter of the idea. Still, Mr. Wyden said he believed that compromise with Republicans is possible. “There is a lot to work with here,” he said.

In addition to bringing better, less expensive insurance to more people (even left-leaning “All Things Considered” noted that while Minnesotans might not see much benefit because our insurance is already relatively cheap, over half of the people in New York and New Jersey could find better insurance cheaper under this plan.

Presuming they can do with fewer benefits and less regulation, anyway…

Around The MOB: Heavy-Handed Politics

In my trip around the MOB, I’ve been amazed at the number of bloggers I’ve found who’ve been plugging away for years that aren’t on my personal blog radar.

I mean, I do, pinky swear, try to read as many blogs as I can.  Honest.  But there’s only so many hours in a day, and it seems like there are fewer now than there were a few years ago.  And I have to hope they’re on someone’s radar, because they’re not only good, but they’re diligent; they’ve been cranking out material for…

…well, in the case of today’s stop, h Heavy Handed Politics, almost six years.  Which is pretty formidable, if you think about it.

Sometimes it’s not just what a blog says; it’s what it exposes you to.  I’ve been looking for some great writers’ pithy quote on the asininity of “bipartisanship” for its own sake for years; HHP found it for me, in this piece by David Mastio in the WashTimes (I’ll add emphasis):

Bipartisanship may be the single most destructive force in Washington. Today, it is on the lips of the president, congressional leaders and commentators alike. They say we need a new tone in Washington. We need to work together on health care reform. We need a bipartisan commission to solve our deficit problem.

No. We. Don’t. Bipartisanship saps faith in politics and government. It protects the most stupid and counterproductive federal policies. It erodes ethics. It unites America’s ruling class against the ruled. And, inevitably, it leads to the growth of government power.

And for that quote, alone – one to which I’ll be paying homage for years – I owe HHP a debt of gratitude for the rest of my blogging and talk-show-hosting life.

So check out Heavy Handed Politics.  Who knows what you’ll stumble across?

Come On Down And Meet The Wedge

Noted in advance; the left isn’t stupid.  Keep that in mind as we go through this.

The Tea Parties are an odd phenomenon in American politics; they’re a mass movement that more or less defies conventional party labels. 

When I spoke at the September 17 “Constitution Day” rally at the Minnesota State Capitol  last fall, I asked people to raise their hands if the word I mentioned described them.  I asked for Republicans to raise their hands (a little over half); Libertarians (10-ish percent); DFLers (a smattering, maybe 20 people, whom I urged to not feel bashful); Ron Paul supporters (a good 20%); people who’d rather pound a nail into their forehead than vote for Ron Paul (a giggly 20% or so); people who were sick of all the parties (maybe 30%).

The point – then, as now – was that the Tea Party movement, amorphous and leaderless as it was and remains, wasn’t a phenomenon tied to particular political party.  It was more in line with the GOP’s traditional limited-government emphasis, but for many Tea Partiers the burden is on the GOP to prove that it’s repented of its free-spending ways from 2000 through 2008.

Long story short; the GOP has to earn the votes of an awful lot of Tea Partiers.

Kenneth Vogel in Politico notes the challenge Republicans face with tea partiers:

Across the country, conservative tea party activists — many new to politics and unaffiliated with, if not averse to, the Republican Party — are increasingly finding themselves the target of intense GOP courting headed into the critical 2010 midterm elections.

Republican National Committee Michael Steele’s plans on meeting Tuesday with about 50 tea party leaders. The California GOP chairman recently trained tea partiers on political organizing and is planning a party-sponsored rally. The South Carolina GOP has a resource-sharing agreement with tea party groups. The North Dakota party chairman hosted a tea party-GOP rally Friday and is urging fellow state chairs to do the same.

But for tea partiers, who from the early days of their movement wanted to be heard and taken seriously, it’s a little bit of careful what you wish for.

Some have welcomed the attention, forging tentative alliances or at least opening channels of communication, usually to intense criticism from fellow tea partiers. But most have either proudly spurned Republican advances or approached their suitors apprehensively, keenly aware that while Republican resources and infrastructure could both boost the tea party movement to a new level of effectiveness, the GOP’s tainted brand could also jeopardize the independence that is part of their populist appeal.

In a sense, the Tea Parties are exactly what the GOP has needed for most of the past decade; a return to solid fiscal conservatism as a means of turning the nation around, while leaving social issues as a big black box to be decided by the individual. 

Of course, everyone knows social issues are the bedrock issue for another huge block of conservatives, the Evangelicans without whom, says conventional wisdom, the GOP faces a very uphill climb.

The ideal, for the GOP, is to follow the Reagan model; to make peace with those you agree with on the big issues – at this point, taxes and spending – and live and let live on the other issues.  The GOP, at a high level, seems to be learning this.

And this terrifies the left; the only thing that is holding the right back is its predilection for shooting itself in the foot over the real-but-overblown divide between fiscal and social conservatives.

The left knows this.  That’s why, in the immediate aftermath of the Massachusetts special election, you saw a wave of leftymedia/leftblog postings, starting with Media Matter and radiating out to their subjects, saying “ReThugLiCons just elected a pro-choicer!  They are teh Heppocreet!”

They know that if the various factions on the right can agree, at worst, to disagree on social issues, that we will be well-nigh unstoppable in 2010 and, if Obama/Reid/Pelosi stay their current course, possible 2012 as well. 

Which is why you can expect a constant drumbeat of media coverage of libertarian Tea Partiers who don’t care one iota, at least in terms of electoral politics, about abortion or gay marriage.  It’s a considered effort to drive a wedge between evangelicals and Tea Partiers.

There are two approaches the GOP needs to take to this. 

  • The Tea Party is a sign that the conservative movement has grown up and agreed to disagree.  The New Jersey Gubernatorial and Massachussets Senator elections showed that conservatism has learned how to prioritize, knowing that…
  • …a fiscal conservative tax-and-spending hawk who has a “nuanced” position on abortion is going to be a friendly representative for single-issue pro-life evangelicals than a Democrat who is wrong on taxes and is in the bag for NOW and Planned Parenthood.  Indeed, it just might be a sign of what is, for the left, the unthinkable; that Evangelicals are growing beyond single-issue voting.  And that’d be very bad news for the Dems.

And so look for the Dems to beat on this supposed, potential wedge for all they’re worth in the next eight months.  The best hope they have of turning back the Tea Party surge is by turning it against itself; by pitting fiscally-conservative Republicans against unaligned fiscal-conservatives over what is, for purposes of attacking the current orgy of spending, a side-issue.

Climate Of Hatred?

Remember this past sixteen years, when the left stretched mightily to try to tie virtually every crime to “right-wing extremism”, or even just plain ol’ Rush Limbaugh or Rep. Michele Bachmann?

How everything from the Oklahoma City Bombing to the Bill Sparkman “murder” were the fault of “extremist rhetoric” or mythical “climates of hatred” (Until debunked, anyway)?

Do you suppose this bit here

A family source said Bishop, a mother of four children – the youngest a third-grade boy – was a far-left political extremist who was “obsessed” with President Obama to the point of being off-putting.

…will draw a concerned squint from Katie Couric?

Which is not to say that I believe that Bishop’s political beliefs had anything to do with last week’s mass-murder. I don’t want to go down that path where anything anyone says or believes that’s one degree outside whatever “the center” is in this country gets tied to one form of extremism or another.

But I’ve wondered at times if the apocalyptic rhetoric of the far left hasn’t twisted a few weak minds out of spec.  I wondered even more when Janet Napolitano started putting workadaddy, hugamommy conservative groups onto watchlists – given the “end justifies the means” attitude of so many on the left, I wondered if some crazy somewhere wouldn’t use it to justify some kind of ghastliness or another for their own ends.  Great, ghoulish example; Bill Sparkmann – the part-time teacher who killed himself in Kentucky last summer, prompting local bloggers to blame the death on Michele Bachmann’s anti-census rhetoric – chose, as his last act on this earth, to draw a message on his chest to essentially frame conservatives for his death.

Big Sister Knows Who The Real Perps Are

A Camden, NJ cop on vacation with his developmentally-disabled son is told by TSA staff at the Philly airport to  remove the kid’s leg brace:

The Thomases were dumbfounded. “I told them he can’t walk without them on his own,” Bob Thomas said.

“He said, ‘He’ll need to take them off.’ ”

Ryan’s mother offered to walk him through the detector after they removed the braces, which are custom-made of metal and hardened plastic.

No, the screener replied. The boy had to walk on his own.

Leona Thomas said she was calm. Bob Thomas said he was starting to burn.

I was amazed to see that it worked.

They complied, and Leona went first, followed by Ryan, followed by Bob, so the boy wouldn’t be hurt if he fell. Ryan made it through.

By then, Bob Thomas was furious. He demanded to see a supervisor. The supervisor asked what was wrong.

This is normally the part of the story where TSA pulls the hapless traveller aside and throws him in jail.  Because everyone knows terrorists get angry at being told to jump through stupid hoops.

It helped that Mr. Thomas is a cop.

Thomas said he told the supervisor he was going to file a report, and at that point the man turned and walked away.

A Philadelphia police officer approached and asked what the problem was. Thomas said he identified himself and said he was a Camden officer. The Philadelphia officer suggested he calm down and enjoy his vacation.

Perhaps the 4-year-old boy was on a watch list of some kind? Having been born, he was obviously a pro-lifer and all…