The Canadians

As the world slides into what looks to be a continuation of a decade-long war against terror, I saw this on Facebook yesterday.

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It’s a reference, of course, to Canada’s War Memorial, which most Americans don’t know much about; it’s their “Tomb of the Unknowns”, and has the same signficance to Canada’s history:

And I got to thinking.

Americans have long given Canada a hard time for its extra “u”s, its occasional passive-aggressiveness, its (to Americans) bizarre parliamentary system, and its tut-tutting about all the things about life in the Lower 48 they just don’t get. 

And some of that criticism, over the past 40 years – especially from American conservatives – related to perceptions of Canada’s foreign policy, especially as regards defense.  To be fair, Canada’s fractioius parliament has given it leaders who did, in fact, qualify as “pacifists”; anyone with the last name “Trudeau”, which is to Canada what “Kennedy” is in the US, in terms of political influence and political orientation, would make Paul Wellstone look like Sean Hannity.  Like one of its ancestral parents, France, Canada has a fairly strong sense of “national interest”, and they are pretty consistent in operating with it (or the ruling party’s interpretation of it). 

But since it achieved independence from the UK not all that much more than a century ago, Canada has not only been there with the US (and UK) when the chips were down, but in many cases punched well above its weight. 

In World War I, 620,000 Canadians served in the military – out of a population that was right around eight million in 1914. 

Soldiers of a Canadian “Scottish” regiment, clad in kilts and tams, in the trenches, July, 1916.

 In scale, that would be like the United States mobilizing over 24 million people to the colors, today.  And of them, 67,000 were killed and around 250,000 wounded; that’s a casualty rate of just shy of 40%.  The Canadian Corps at Ypres was the first target for chemical warfare, when the Germans launched chlorine gas at the Canadian lines; the Canadians, in turn, invented the world’s first gas masks, on the fly, by peeing on handkerchiefs and tying them over their faces (better ones followed soon). 

In World War II, 1.1 million Canadians out of a population of less than 12 million were in uniform at some point or another. 45,000 died, 54,000 were wounded, as Canadians fought on every front in the war, in Canadian units as well as in British and other Commonwealth units. 

Canadian paratroopers, World War 2

According to some military historians, Canada, torn between its British traditions and political ties, and the influence and industrial power of its American neighbors, adopted the best of both systems; the Canadian military picked and chose the best of British and American equipment, and organized its Army using a British-derived Regimental system, in which troops served in units with histories stretching back (via the UK) hundreds of years, a system unfamiliar in the US outside the Marine Corps.  Beyond that?  The Canadians imposed conscription – a draft – but stipulated that only volunteers would serve overseas.  As a result, Canadian Army units frequently exhibited a degree of cohesion, motivation and skill in battle well above that of their neighboring American and British units, full of draftees that in many cases very much wanted to be somewhere else (although they, too, won the war). 

And they needed it; Canadians were in the thick of the war. 

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada – in which Corporal Cirillo was serving when he was shot on Wednesday – training for D-Day.

 The abortive raid on Dieppe in 1942 was largely a Canadian operation, and the casualties from the disaster were largely Canadian.  On D-Day, the fighting at Juno Beach – the Canadian landing zone – was only surpassed by the carnage at Omaha Beach for ferocity. 

Canadian troops debarking at Juno Beach on D-Day. The fighting among the houses in the town along the beach was hand-to-hand; after Omaha, Juno was the hardest-fought invasion beach.

 And the Canadian Army had one of the toughest, least-famous vital battles of the war, the bloody, ugly, largely clearing of Walcheren Island in the Netherlands, which opened up the supply routes that enabled the Allies to carry out the final offensive into Germany. 

Canadians fought in Korea, and manned the West German garrison during the Cold War, with equal distinction.

A Canadian “Leopard” tank, in Germany during the eighties. It’s parked next to an early American M-1 “Abrans”

And today?  Most of Europe’s militaries fell into drastic decline after the fall of the Berlin Wall; Germany’s once-well-regarded Bundeswehr,12 lean, mean combat divisions in 1987, now fields two divisions of troops largely boy scouts with guns with guns, famously overweight and undertrained; the Luftwaffe, once one of Europe’s premiere air forces, couldn’t even fly a transport plane full of Ebola supplies to Africa without a breakdown.  Most other contintental NATO nations, save the Poles, have followed suit; their militaries are shadows of their Cold War-era selves.

Not so Canada; it’s kept things up pretty well, not only in terms of numbers but training; it’s capable of going into action on just about the same footing as the US, UK, Australian and New Zealand militaries – the best in the western, free world. 

Canadian grunts in Afganistan

Anyway – say what you will, but when I bag on the Canadians, I stick with the extra “u” in color and rumor and honor, and maybe the whole hockey thing.

And my thoughts, like those of most Yanks, are with you all this week.

A Friday Trifle

I’m just happy I was able to recognize most, but by no means all, of the singers and other musicians, in this BBC Music promo vid…:

…of one of my favorite songs in pop music history.

Joe Persell: Context Goes Both Ways

The big DFL strategy in this election, so far, seems to be to scare to death the voters who they haven’t bored to death.

There was a debate on Wednesday in Bemidji.  Since a couple of districts – 2A and 5A – are in play in the Bemidji area, candidate from both were apparently in the ring.

The topic turned to gun control:

In response to a question on gun control, [HD2A GOP challenger Dave] Hancock said shooting incidents usually occur in places where guns are banned.

“If we look we look at the areas where tragedy has occurred with guns, they are usually in gun-free zone(s),” he said. “Where you have people armed and carrying concealed weaponry, the criminal in use of a gun thinks twice.”

That’s pretty much the fact.  Hancock got it right.  No surprise there.

Here’s where it gets interesting – and when I say “interesting”, I mean “A DFLer starts saying things that misinform the uninformed”.  The DFL’s Joe Persell responded to the question; I’m going to add emphasis:

Persell disagreed, saying carrying weapons can exacerbate tense situations.

“Folks that are out there carrying, playing cop … I don’t think we want them to be doing that,” he said. “There’s more instances of people being killed because they are carrying, and they think somebody said something nasty, and they felt threatened, and so they shot them.”

Really, Rep. Persell?

I wanted to ask Rep. Persell to name one example of either of a Minnesotan…:

  • being killed because they were “playing cop”
  • killing someone who “said something nasty” to them.

Conversation:  I sent Rep. Persell an email asking for clarification.  He contacted me, saying he’d been taken out of context in the Bemidji Pioneer.  We wound up having a conversation last night.   I pointed out that there has never been such a case involving a legal post 2003 carry permit holder in the state of Minnesota (although there were a few incidents with pre-2003 permits – the ones issued by sheriffs).

Rep. Persell told me that the conversation referred to the Second Amendment as a general, nationwide issue, and that he was referring to cases like those of Michael Dunn, the Florida man who shot a teenager over, the court case said, “loud music”.

Those cases certainly grab the headlines – the media, being left-of-center and largely anti-gun, makes sure they do.

But even those lavishly-publicized incidents are exceedingly rare.  I ran the numbers, nationwide, a few years ago; in a typical year, a carry permittee is two orders of magnitude less likely to commit any kind of crime than the general public.

So while Persell wasn’t “lying”, per se, he was focusing attention on a type of incident that is exceedingly rare in real life.   While his original quote in the Bemidji Pioneer may have been out of context, the context of his remark is misleading and inflammatory.

The problem with guns, statistically, nationwide, isn’t a guy with a carry permit killing someone unjustifiably.  It’s the thousands of criminals without permits who kill people without regard to the law at all.

Hope that word gets out…

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Instrumentation

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Social Security is going up 1.7% next year, a small cost-of-living increase because there’s no inflation. At least, not officially. Not since the government changed the way it calculates inflation.
Here’s a chart showing the inflation rate would be around 6% if we still used the old way of measuring it, from when Reagan and Clinton were in office. That feels more like the decrease in purchasing power I’ve experienced at the supermarket.

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joe doakes

I believe it was during the early Clinton era that “Discouraged workers” and other ultra long-term unemployed were dropped from the “U1″ number – the top-line unemployment figure the media runs with.

Which is the only way the unemployment rate is below 6% nationwide, and at 4.5% in Minnesota.

The moral of the story? All statistics are just as good as the formula the statistician used to generate them.

“It’d Be A Shame If Your Insurance Company Were To..Break, Or Something”

The reason Preferred One – provider with all of the least-expensive plans in the MNSure exchange – left the exchange last month, giving most of its subscribers a 60+% increase in rates to keep a MNSure plan, was that they were basically strong-armed into providing the unsustainable low rates to begin with:

Sometime after the insurer PreferredOne submitted its proposed rates for the first year of the MNsure exchange, state regulators asked the company to consider lowering the numbers.

Ultimately, the insurer responded with “a total rate decrease of 37 percent”, according to a July 2013 letter from an outside actuary to the company.  Those final rates were the lowest in the Twin Cities – and across the country, in many cases – and helped PreferredOne to grab nearly 60 percent of the MNsure business.

 

Now, those subscribers face an average premium increase of 63 percent if they stay with PreferredOne — a yo-yo scenario that health policy experts say points to the challenge in setting prices under the federal health law. The big swing also suggests that the low prices were out of step with the reality of the business.

 

“This was the first year of a new market, so no one knew what they were bidding on,” , said Gary Claxton, a vice president with the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation. “That means it was hard to create the rates, and it was hard to review them.”

 Here’s the deal:  as Representative Zerwas pointed out on a morning radio show today, Preferred One is keenly aware that the MNSure board – a political board, composed (per statute) of absolutely no people from the  healthcare or health insurance industries – can decide who does and doesn’t get to participate in the exchange. 

Which gives them a lot of power when, for example, they tell a company like Preferred One  to kick the tires on an unsustainable rate structure. 

 

 

Calibrated

Back in 2006, they told us that electronic voting machines were going to be an easy, non-transparent way to hijack elections. 

And they were right:

Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote Monday at the Schaumburg Public Library.

“I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent,” Moynihan said. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

The conservative website Illinois Review reported that “While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race.

There’s a simple answer, of course:

 “This was a calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine,” Scalzitti said. “When Mr. Moynihan used the touch-screen, it improperly assigned his votes due to improper calibration.”

“I’m not robbing this bank, officer; I’m just doing a bad job of calibrating the safe”.

“That’s not a crack pipe under my seat, officer; its a poorly-calibrated CPAP mask”. 

“Those weren’t dead people voting; just poorly-calibrated living people”. 

I’m not going to say the Democrats are a criminal syndicate.  I’m just wondering how they’d have to behave any differently to be one…

“The Most Dictatorial President We’ve Ever Had”

Watch this video starring Ted Nugent, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage, in which President Obama is called…well, exactly that.

UPDATE:  I lied.  It’s not Nugent, Hannity and Savage.  It’s Nat Hentoff, liberal civil libertarian and godfather of the ACLU.  He’s a liberal – but he has been committed enough to actual civil liberty over the decades that he’s even pissed liberals off at him…

A Simple Request…

…for everyone in the mainstream media, alternative media, and talk radio – even conservative talk radio:

Unless you work at a Red Wing outlet store and are changing your shelving, could you never, Ever, EVER use the term “Boots on the Ground” again?  It’s gone so far beyond cliché, light leaving “cliché” right now won’t reach us until our great-grandchildren are getting AARP cards.

“Troops in the field” actually works.

Thank you all in advance for seeing to this.

That is all.

Despicable Steve

It hasn’t been a good campaign for DFL Secretary of State candidate Steve Simon. 

For starters, he barely got over 40% in the primary - against a perennial candidate and a nobody.  Which might not have been a showstopper for the DFL machine to overcome, except that they were up against Dan Severson, who has statewide name recognition from a 2010 SOS run and a Senate bid (that came up short in the convention in 2012). 

Then, last week, the polls showed that Severson was ahead of Simon; he was the only GOP statewide candidate to lead in the polls at that time.  

At the very least – given the polling that, we are told, shows Mark Dayton supposedly cruising to victory – it’s a sign that the DFL/Big Money Democrat onslaught has a chink in the armor. 

At the most?  It shows that the DFL’s “We’re Inevitable!” vibe may not be entirely factual. 

Severson’s press conference last week - in which he showed smoking guns tying the SOS office to a policy of tossing veterans’ votes, and Rep. Simon’s signature on legislation that exempted the military from absentee voter reforms – went badly for Simon, and worse for the DFL’s Ken Martin, who tried and failed to take a chunk out of Severson in a comical morning of duelling press conferences. 

Simon is apparently desperate; he’s now telling his base that Severson proposes “forcing rape victims to pay for rape kits”. 

It’s BS, of course.  Not just the usual, comical, inept BS the DFL tosses around at this point in campaigns, all juvenile photoshopped heads and racist japes

No.  This is a sleazy, toxic, intentional, cowardly lie.  Severson responds (and I’ll add emphasis):

I moved it forward with the understanding that the bill would propose sharing the cost of all expenses associated with sexual assault between the counties of the victim and the perpetrator.

I specifically killed the bill before it EVER got a hearing because of the language specific to victims having to pay for anything.

In a just world, whatever DFL messaging genius that came up with this attack would get some sense groin-kicked into him.

As it stands?  Since a lie will make it around the world before the truth has finished checking Facebook in the morning, it’s back to the long, slow slog of telling people the one central truth of Minnesota politics.

If a DFLer says it, it’s a lie. 

If a DFLer who’s losing says it, it’s probably defamation.

Trulbert! Part XVIII – In The Thick Of The Dawn

 - 04:45AM, November 1, 2015 – The Hendrickson Residence, Minneapolis, MN

Paul Hendrickson was exhausted to his core.  But he couldn’t sleep.

They’d taken a while to get everyone settled into the cozy, tidy bungalow; Traian and Stefan both flopped on the couch, their heads at either end; Nicolau and  Dave Os curled up on easy chairs in the family room.  Jessica Hardman and Hana Codriciu shared the guest room; Dan-Marius slept on the hallway floor outside the guest room door, wrapped in a borrowed blanket. 

Paul and Lynn Hendrickson lay, flopped on their bedspread, still wearing the clothes they’d worn all day. 

“How are you, hon?” Paul asked his wife.

“Oh, I don’t know”, she started, sounding exhausted.  “The world is going crazy.  There are people with machine guns in the streets.  I have a house full of armed Romanians.  One of my daughters is a cold-eyed sniper, and the other does a Dennis Miller impression that sounds more like Dennis Leary.  My husband just got blown up and shot at twice”.

“Four times”.

“Four times.  My husband got shot at four times”. 

She yawned, as Paul wrapped his arms around her.  She laid her head on his bicep. 

“All and all, it’s sucked”, she murmured. 

“Sleep tight” Paul whispered.  “Tomorrow is another day”. 

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Prayers, Eh?

Word arrives to us that there’s been a shooting at the Canadian War Memorial, with more shooting apparently inside the Canadian parliament building. 

We are reminded that two days ago, one Canadian soldier was killed and another injured when they were run down by a car in Quebec.  The driver, according to Canadian news sources, had “Jihadist sympathies”.

UPDATE:  Here’s the CBC’s live blog:

UPDATE 2:  From the blog, a CBC reporter tweets:

2 men with long hair and scarves ran off after man wearing ceremonial guard uniform shot at War Monument this morning. #ottnews

UPDATE 3:  Highly unconfirmed reports from Twitter say one shooter is dead.

UPDATE 4: CVT news is rpoerting another shooting on Parliament hill.  This is unconfirmed. 

UPDATE 5:  Reports say “several dozen”, perhaps “30 to 50″, shots were fired in the Parliament after the shooting of the Canadian soldier at the War Memorial.   As of a minute ago, it’s still an active shooter situation.

UPDATE 6:  Following situation on Twitter.  The Ottawa Police don’t have any better luck with perimeters than CTU does on “24″; the perimeter for an apparently second (or more) gunman/men has been widened.  Photos of police searching cars on bridges around Ottawa.

UPDATE 7:  Reports say one shooter is on the roof of a building about a block from Parliament.

UPDATE 8:  A reporter shot this video from inside Parliament as the police found one shooter.

All that marble – the echo alone is a weapon…

I can’t imagine the training it’d take to make one run toward that noise.

UPDATE 9: The shooter in parliament was apparenetly shot by the Sergeant at Arms, a Mr. Kevin Vickers.

UPDATE 10:  The NYTimes reported that the Canadian soldier shot at the War Memorial had died.  This is disputed by Canadian sources.  I’ll bank on the Times being wrong, as always in these situations.

UPDATE 11:  The CBC is naming the shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. 

Clearly a Parté Québécois terrorist.

Scrimmage

Over the weekend, I heard NPR intoning with worried voice that ISIS was working on getting some captured Syrian jet fighters operational.

This, the worried NPR reporters told us, would be a worrisome development in the developing war in the Levant. 

A Syrian Air Force MIG-21. 

And I thought “well, maybe to NPR reporters.  But I have a hunch I know one crowd who’d just loooooooove it if ISIS were to cough up a plane or two”:

“I’d sell my first born to engage all three… by myself,” one highly experienced U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot joked. Another Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilot said, “Send me in, coach! There’s no way they get those airborne!”

A Syrian MIG-23.  During the skirmishes with Israel over the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in 1981, several Syrian Mig-23 pilots ejected from their planes the moment they saw that Israeli F-4s’ air-to-air radar had locked onto them. 

Western, non-Israeli fighter pilots haven’t had any air-to-air combat since the first Gulf War, 20-odd years ago – and even that was rare.   The Iraqi air force largely buried itself in the sand (not making that up) or flew to…Syria and Iran in 2003. 

The ISIS “air force” apparently has two MIG-21s – infamous dogfighters in Vietnam, which led to the design of the F-16, forty years ago - and a single MIG-23, a Cold-War-era mainstay of the Soviet air force. 

Both were designed in an era where either planes were fighters, or bombers – not both:

“We’re not talking about aircraft that are extremely effective at delivering ordinance both in terms of equipment and training,” said one U.S. Air Force official. “It’s simply not worth it beyond an easily discreditable propaganda ploy.”

The MiG-21 does not carry a huge amount of weaponry and was originally designed to fight other aircraft. Meanwhile, the MiG-23 is a much bigger and more complex jet that requires a professional pilot to operate properly.

Oh, make no mistake – they both require professional pilots.  If not to fly them, then to survive in combat long enough to say they were in combat. 

There are a fighter pilot or two among the regular commentariat here at SITD.  I’ll invite their feedback…

For The Peasants

During the Soviet era, while Soviet “citizens” crowded onto dilapidated streetcars and rattletrap buses, and waited in endless lines for food, shoes, or pretty much all of life’s essentials, and dreamed about getting their own apartment, maybe, and daydreamed about owning one of the Soviet-era cars that were both biodegradable and cost several years’ salary to buy, the Communist Party nomenklatura were whisked about in private cars, shopped in fully-stocked shops that catered to party members only, and had houses in the city and on the lake.

And as the Met Council works overtime to shove Twin Citians into high-density developments and high-density public transit run by high-density public employees, it stands to reason that some things never change.

Undercover

 Yesterday, Gabby Giffords came to town. 

You’d only know it from the media, naturally.  When “Everytown” scheduled Rep. Giffords’ appearance, they made a point to keep the location secret, and to only invite media that could be trusted to report the event exactly the way Michael Bloomberg was paying for it to be reported. 

GOCRA sent out a press release:

Gun control advocate Gabrielle Giffords will [met] secretly [yesterday] with politicians, inviting only the press, while excluding the public, especially any dissenting voices.

The press event was announced to news outlets only [yesterday] morning. This is a common tactic from gun control groups, which enjoy lavish funding but little popular support.

Now, I get it; Bloomberg and “Everytown” want to control the media environment around Rep. Giffords.  They want absolute control over how Giffords is presented, so that her message isn’t diluted by any inconvenient dissent.  It’s standard PR optics. 

It’s the point where optics meets reality that is always a problem for the Orcs:

“When an event is announced in advance, gun rights supporters outnumber gun controllers, 20 to one,” according to Professor Joseph E. Olson, who founded GOCRA 25 years ago. He pointed to gun control hearings in 2013 and 2014, where Second Amendment supporters in maroon shirts flooded the state capitol. “Our legislature is not for sale. Why is Gabby trying to buy it?”

Well, clearly part of  our legislature is for sale. 

GOCRA President Andrew Rothman agreed. “Gun control in Minnesota has always been driven by out-of-state interests,” he said. “For years, it was the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation that funded gun control efforts in Minnesota. More recently, New York City’s billionaire former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has bankrolled gun control lobbyists. Follow the money.”

I’m just into my third decade of observing the irony of the fact that the Democrat party is, and has always been, about waving the bloody shirt of class warfare – and yet on the gun issue, it is they who have always been on the side of the patricians, against the unruly plebeians. 

And those plebeians must be kept out of the public eye at all costs.

Meet The New Huckster, Same As The Old Huckster

During last week’s gubernatorial debate in Duluth, Governor Dayton referred to the Iron Range has having been victimized by “hucksters” with hare-brained economic development schemes to try to compensate for the crash of the mining industry.

Yesterday on their show blog, Jack and Ben (who, notwithstanding working for the lesser talk station, have been on fire this past week or so) discovered something important; exactly who one of the key “hucksters” was:

The smoking gun is a January 1986 document titled “Housing and Community Development Briefs” authored by the Minnesota Department of Energy and Economic Development and several other organizations. According to the document: “The Department of Energy and Economic Development recently approved [a direct, fixed-interest rate, fixed asset new/expanding business loan].” The publication then lists several businesses that were recipients of the loans, including Lakewood Industries [the company that built the chopstick factory]. It states, “Lakewood Industries, a startup company expected to create 76 jobs in the next two years, received final approval for a $250,000 loan.”

Now, Dayton was Minnesota Department of Energy and Economic Development commissioner from 1978-79, and again from 1983-86.  In other words, his fingerprints are all over the infamous Chopstick Factory. 

Now, $250,000 might not seem like all that much compared to the $5 million in total financing, including $3 million from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRB).

But the story doesn’t end there (emphasis added):

So let’s look at the IRRRB. The Director of Economic Development of the IRRRB during the chopstick factory fiasco was Mark Phillips. Mark Phillips was intimately involved in the details of the chopstick project, according to a statement he provided in a Chicago Tribune article from June 5, 1998: “They [the Japanese] wanted real white wood with no stain to it. We have a good species here, real white wood that veneers well.” And a December 8, 1986 Associate Press article shows that Mark Phillips was keenly aware of the financing the IRRRB had provided to the project.

So what happened to Mark Phillips? In 2011, Mark Dayton appointed him Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Once a boondoggler, always a boondoggler; Phillips was a prominent supporter of public funding for both the Vikings stadium and the Saint Paul Saints ballpark in Saint Paul. 

As to Governor Messinger Dayton?

Why Worry?

When I discussed same-sex marriage with its proponents before last year, I pointed out that this would, inevitably, lead to the squashing of the First Amendment rights of those who don’t believe in it.

“Pshaw”, they said, although not using that exact word.  ”It’s written into the law; the state can’t come into the church and force people in church to perform a same-sex wedding in a church”.

Which is mighty big of the state, and all, except for people of faith, it’s what happens outside of church that matters.

Of course, the stories of photographers, bakers and florists who’ve been hauled into court by bitchy gays looking for test cases, looking to flog people into submission using public accomodation law, are all over the place.

A town in Idaho is taking the next step; attacking not only a minister’s freedom of conscience and religion, but threatening his literal physical freedom, for not bowing to the beast:

The Idaho case involves Donald and Evelyn Knapp, both ordained ministers, who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel. Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.

The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.

On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

My prediction:  within the decade, there will be litigation that seeks to place churches under “public accomodation” laws.

Evidence In The Affirmative

Last week, we reported that a KSTP/Survey USA poll shows Stewart Mills leading Rick Nolan by eight points.

As we’ve noted for years and years, polls are deeply imperfect (sorry, Nate Silver), and there’s only one poll that matters, and it’s coming up two weeks from tomorrow.

But if there were any evidence needed that Rick Nolan is nervous about his prospects, it’s yesterday’s interview with Esme Murphy on WCCO

…which he spent sniveling like a four-year-old who didn’t get ice cream about outside money’s effect on politics.

Apparently he’s feeling cut out of the DCCC’s flood of Franken money…

(Courtesty @JohnHockey on Twitter)

Our Incoherent Newspaper Of Record

On “Up and At ‘Em”, on the lesser talk station this morning, Ben Kruse said (I’ll paraphrase) if you left out the parts about Governor Dayton, this past weekend’s endorsement of the incumbent governor actually reads a little like an endorsement of Jeff Johnson. 

And Ben had a point:

Johnson, 47, is gubernatorial material…Voters who want a state government that’s leaner and more trusting of the marketplace to solve public problems can opt for Johnson without concern that he is unprepared, excessively doctrinaire or temperamentally ill-suited to the office….Unlike Dayton, Johnson is unfettered to Education Minnesota, the teachers’ union.

[Remember the emphasized bit.  I'll be making a return appearance]

 He’s eager to pursue changes in teacher licensure and tenure rules that might strengthen the state’s teaching corps — versions of which Dayton vetoed…Johnson is also more open to changing the state’s tax code in ways that would better align Minnesota competitively with other states, by broadening the sales tax to more consumer purchases while reducing its rate.

All of that’s true.  

But they went with Governor Messinger Mark Dayton anyway. 

Minnesota is back where it belongs. It has resumed its strong position among Midwestern states in employment, incomes, educational attainment and quality of life. Gov. Mark Dayton can’t take sole credit for the rebound from recession — nor does this modest leader make that claim. But the DFLer’s stewardship since 2011 has made a positive contribution to recovery, and his aims for a second term would continue that course.

That is, of course, the narrative that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has spent millions to establish in this state.

The truth, of course, is that most of the “positive contributions” happened in the first two years of Messinger’s Dayton’s term.  Since the DFL took unfettered control of state government, unemployment has dropped mostly due to people taking crummy jobs or leaving the workforce. 

But we digress.

Like An Ink-Stained Nadia Comaneci:  I originally entitled this piece “Our Senile Newspaper of Record” – but I changed my mind; it takes some mental chops to do the logical gymnastics the Strib goes through to get to painting Dayton’s term as a positive and Dayton as a capable leader:

State government stability is itself a competitive asset, one Minnesotans should not want to jeopardize again.

What the hell does that even mean?

The answer:  whatever the narrator wants it to mean.  

For example, the Strib would have you believe that before Mark Dayton, Minnesota was a cold Bolivia, apparently:

Dayton deserves credit for the fiscal stability that has returned on his watch. His push to correct the oversized income tax cuts enacted in 1999 and 2000 was important to that change, as was the discipline to enlarge the state’s reserves and repay more than $2 billion owed to school districts.

Dayton “paid back” the shift entirely because he delayed the GOP’s attempt to “pay it back” until the DFL could claim credit

The Special Interest Drinking Game:  Now – with a reminder from Jack and Ben’s show this morning – let’s read this next graf and go back to the Strib’s muted praise for Johnson:

The state’s stronger balance sheet leads a long list of first-term accomplishments justifying Dayton’s re-election. Also there: All-day kindergarten. Beefed-up funding for preschool for needy families. Same-sex marriage. Human services funding reform, saving Minnesota taxpayers an estimated $1 billion a year. A higher minimum wage. An end to a decade of disinvestment in higher education. Support for the Rochester infrastructure that’s crucial to Mayo Clinic expansion. A renewed partnership with local governments, slowing the increase in property taxes. Alternative teacher licensure and teacher performance evaluation.

If this were a drinking game – “Special Interest Shots”, where you took a drink every time the paper mentioned a bit of DFL special interest pork – you’d be dead of alcohol poisoning now. 

Making History Out Of Nothing At All:  Now – Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange is a disaster.  Perhaps you’ve heard.  It was in all the papers – for a while, anyway. 

Heeeere’s whitewash!

Dayton’s credits also include extending the benefits of health insurance to more than 250,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans, by embracing the federal Affordable Care Act.

This is simply false.

92% of Minnesotans were insured before MNSure - and every single Minnesotan that was involuntarily uninsured before 2012 could have been covered through one existing program or another. 

The “250,000 previously uninsured” are insured today – at exquisite cost to the taxpayer – are there mostly because the law says they have to be. 

Not because Mark Dayton did such a helluvva job.   

I’ll give the Strib points for consistency.  While their praise for his first term was a checklist of special interest sops, their outlook for the second term is…:

The second-term agenda Dayton outlines befits him. It’s substantial but not slick, and focused on jobs. He wants state government to be an ally of Minnesota’s high-tech industries by better meeting their need for highly skilled workers, and of the health care and medical technology industries by shoring up the University of Minnesota Medical School. He wants a literacy push to boost chances that children read proficiently by grade three, and he seeks more funding for early ed.

He also wants clean energy and robust infrastructure investments, including expansion of light-rail transit, to continue.

…more of the same. 

Alliance?  What Alliance?:  Finally?  The Strib editorial team apparently did their internships writing for Fidel Castro (emphasis added):

Dayton, 67, is making his sixth and what he says will be his last bid for statewide office. After a lifetime of public service, he’s a well-known quantity who is offering Minnesota something rare — a governorship unbound by calculations about how to win the next election.

Dayton’s governorship has never been bound by anything but the fact that he is controlled, no less than a marionette, puppet or organ-grinder monkey – by the special interests that floated his candidacy and call, via the “Alliance for a Better MN”, all the shots in his office. 

 We expect that will look a lot like what Minnesotans saw in Dayton’s first term. If it does, this state will be well served.

If Dayton is re-elected, Minnesota will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE:  Fixed the link to the Strib piece.

Hamline Debate Highlights

I watched and live-tweeted yesterday’s gubernatorial debate from Hamline University, which was telecast on Fox9.

For starters, it wasn’t the worst debate format I’ve ever seen.  Fox 9′s crew of hairdos (I have long since stopped paying attention to Twin Cities anchor teams) largely stayed out of the way of the three reporters – Rachel Stassen-Berger, Tom Scheck and Bill Salisbury – who did most of the questioning.  And most of the questions – the ones that didn’t get into personal lifestyle issues (do we really care if either candidate ever smoked pot?), anyway – were pretty good. 

Oh, yeah – Johnson shredded Dayton.   I know, I’m partisan – but I’m pretty clinical about public speaking.  Johnson is cool, calm, collected, an on top of his facts.  Dayton – as Johnson quipped, at one point – pretty much ran through his ex-wife’s chanting points. 

The three highlights, in my book?

Number 3: The Aisle:  When asked if they were capable of working across the aisle, Dayton’s response amounted to “I could – if it weren’t for that stupid opposition!”.  It’s the GOP’s fault he can’t work across party lines!

Number 2: Pot Calling The Kettle A Pot:  At one point, in one of his few spontaneous moments of the debate, Dayton scolded Johnson about a perceived (and false) inconsistency in his record, ending it by telling Johnson to “pick a side and stick with it”.  I laughed so hard, I nearly soiled myself. 

That’s Governor Dayton; the guy who’se argued both sides of medical marijuana, the minimum wage hike and tip credits, the Vikings stadium subdidy, Gift, B2B, gas and Warehouse taxes, cigarette taxes, fixing MNSure, sex-offender releases, expanded notification of mental health issues to the NICS database (the list of people who can’t legally buy guns), and even on the availability of his daily calendar.  

Number 1: That Definition Of Insanity:  Questioned by the panel and Johnson about the MNSure debacle, Dayton let slip that he thought the real solution was single-payer healthcare.

That’s right – when the government makes a collossal botch of centralizing most of healthcare, let’s let them centralize it all!

The one thing the DFL was able to salvage from the debate was an “oops” from Johnson; asked to define “middle class” in terms of a dollar threshold, after Dayton waffled and proved he didn’t have a clue, Johnson said “I haven’t a clue”. 

Of course, there is no hard-and-fast dollar figure as to where the “middle class” begins and ends; it’s more a matter of circumstances; the middle class are those who don’t live off of investments and spare Renoirs,oroff of charity and subsidies.

Parkas In The Third Circle

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The Star Tribune runs an astonishingly even-handed report on politicians’ finger-pointing over Ebola funding.
The conclusion: they’re equally to blame. Which isn’t true, but is a far cry from Star Tribune’s reflex to blame Republicans.
The article points out CDC funding in 2010 was $6.8 billion, 2011 was $6.9 billion and then President Obama proposed to reduce it to $6.6. Yes, the President slashed $300,000 out of CDC funding. And Congress went along. So they’re all to blame.
What the article does not address is HOW the CDC pisses away that $6.6 billion. And that’s totally under the control of Democrats.

Joe Doakes

You Have No Thought Of Answers, Only Questions To Be Filled

It was thirty years ago today that Steeltown by Big Country was released. 

Of course, people who were of music-listening age in 1984 might, might, remember Big Country for its single real American hit, “In A Big Country”, from their debut album The Crossing.   The follow-up passed with nary a whisper, but for maybe a few days’ worth of airplay for the one US single. 

On the other side of the pond, it was another story, of course; Big Country was a major headliner in Europe, especially Scotland, for the rest of the decade; they were one of the Rolling Stones go to opening acts for most of the decade, which ain’t haggis.

But except for a brief flash of FM airplay, Steeltown came and went, and marked Big Country’s demise in the US market (except for a brief return to college and album radio in the early nineties with The Buffalo Skinners, which, again, was mostly for the big fans).

It’s a shame – because if anything, Steeltownwas a better record than the hit The Crossing; harder-edged, it started somewhere and went somewhere. 

Of course, being a Scottish pop-culture production from the middle Thatcher era, it started on the political left and stayed there.  It should be unsurprising that Steeltown was a stridently anti-Thatcher/Reagan/conservatism record.  The opening cut, “Flame of the West”, was a pretty by-the-numbers swat at Reagan; the title cut, a burly poison pen note about the decline of the (newly-privatized) British steel industry; the medley “Where the Rose is Sown/Come Back to Me”, a post-Falklands war broadside at militarism and jingoism and, in the second half, the lot of the discarded disabled veteran (both presented and reduced, of course, through First World War-vintage imagery) . 

I’ve wondered over the years; maybe I latched onto the album as hard as I did because I was clinging to the idealistic, overheated post-adolescent liberalism I’d always believed in. 

Or maybe because the music was just so damn good.

In retrospect, it was mostly the music. 

Here’s the title cut – a live version from the height of the band’s era. 

The video’s got the inevitable hagiographic imagery of classical British labor – lots of jump cuts to footage of Brit steel mills from the golden age of British industry. 

But the part to focus on?  The music – Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson’s interleaving guitars over bassist Tony Butler and Mark Brzezicki’s pounding martial beat – interacting with the crowd of pogoing Scots with mad and drunken abandon, all piles up into a musical attack that makes Metallica sound and feel like Hannah Montana.

Of course, I love “Tall Ships Go”…

…as a showcase what the band had done with their flavor of celtic-flavored guitar technique since The Crossing. 

But the album’s real highlights are “Where The Rose Is Sown” /”Come Back To Me”…

…which are both wonderful examples of songwriting and production, even in the live performances above; nuanced-yet-bombastic, powerfully evocative backgrounds with heart-stopping highlights.

But all those are just words. I’ll explain it like this; the first time I heard the little guitar figure at the end of each choruses in “Rose”, I just stood there, jaw dropping, heart palpitating, one of those musical moments that stays with you a lifetime, if you’re lucky.

The other? “Just a Shadow” :

…which for my money is one of the best ballad of the decade – not only for the guitar work (people thought Adamson and Watson were playing synths, like most every other Brit band of the era) and, as always, Adamson and Butler’s vocal interplay (they were perhaps the best vocal duo of the decade)…

…but for the song itself. 

The highs may not be quite as high as that first blast of discovery on The Crossing , with its “In A Big Country” and “Harvest Home” and Close Action”, but the effect is more consistent, less shrill, more complete. 

In a just world, it would have been a hit.

Lord, I’ve Seen Fire, And I’ve Seen NARN

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – is on the air! I will be on from 1-3PM today!

I’ll be talking with:

  • Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Hannah Nicollet.
  • Secretary of State candidate Dan Severson about his press conference this past week, and the military voting system

Don’t forget – King Banaian is on from 9-11AM on AM1570, and Brad Carlson has “The Closer” edition of the NARN Sundays from 1-3PM.

So tune in the Northern Alliance! You have so many options:

Join us!

Three Shockers

Three new polls indicate that the “good year for the GOP’ might not stop at the Saint Croix:

The first two are, of course, internal polls.  It’s possible they’re self-serving – although generally the parties are paying good money for the internal polls, and want them to be accurate.  They are, of course, intended to start a “bandwagon effect”, convincing voters who are inclined to be friendly that their support can be rewarded, and likely opponents to stay home and avoid the futility. 

Sort of like the DFL, ABM and mainstream media (ptr) have been doing to make DFL wins feel inevitable. 

Three weeks ’til the election?  This is huge. 

Also – with the Democrats pulling their money out of Kentucky and Colorado, look for Al Franken to get a wad of cash, as Democrats around the country start to realize Senator Smalley is a lot more vulnerable than the local media let on.