If Whiling Away A Drizzly Saturday…

…why not tune in the Northern Alliance Radio Network?  We’re America’s first grass-roots talk frachise, and we’re starting our second decade of crushing all rational opposition and mocking the rest!

I’m on from 1-3PM tomorrow.  I’ll be interviewing Abdimalik Askar, GOP candidate to replace Phyllis Kahn in the Minnesota House.  We’ll be talking about him, his campaign, his district, and his ideas.  Hope you can tune in!

Sunday from 1-3 is Brad Carlson’s edition.  He’ll be talking with (soon-to-be-published) author and long-time NARN friend Katie Kieffer about her new book, GOP activist Jeff Kolb, and of course Miss Minneapolis, Julia Schliesing

We’re on AM1280, and you can call in at 651-28/9-4488, or via Twitter at the hashtag #narn. 

Hope you can make it!

She’ll Never Do Lunch In Berkeley Again.

I’ve always tried to understand people from “across the aisle”.

Part of it was the fact that I was a liberal for a while.  It’s easy for me not to see libs as “evil”; I wasn’t evil, I was just naive.

And over the years I’ve found that getting to know people who think differently, outside the context of politics, can be useful, especially for people whose primary interaction is via some sort of social media.  Social media – and the whole online user experience – tends to reduce inhibitions and focus emotion – which is a lousy combination for civil discussion.  And over the decade or so of doing MOB parties, I’ve met a lot of people who disagree with me – but spent enough time talking about anything but politics that it was easier to start treating each other like human beings rather than collections of caricatures.

(I said a lot.  Not all of them.  There are some Twin Cities leftybloggers who are not redeemable, and not worth knowing or understanding, because they are depraved and of no value.  But I’m not naming names).

And it cuts both ways.  Liberal  commentator and strategist Sally Kohn spent some time, er, commentating at Fox News, and learned that conservatives are, in fact, human.

My time at Fox News was marked by meeting and working with some of the kindest, smartest, and most talented people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in life. As I said in my TED talk, Sean Hannity is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet – and even now that I’ve parted ways with Fox, he remains a good friend and mentor.

For a radical progressive who once harbored negative stereotypes about folks on the right, it was a turning point for me to meet people such as Mr. Hannity, Karl Rove, Monica Crowley, Sarah Palin, and so many others, and see that – though we certainly disagree profoundly on political issues – they’re personable and kind and human. Just like me.

It’s strange to suggest that a seemingly simple realization such as that is in fact a profound revelation, but in our hyperpartisan era, when we often vilify the other side as being less-than-human, it is.

I’m going to be watching for the waves of hatred that this piece generates.

Because it will.

Their Masters Voice

Sunday liquor sales.

All of the states bordering Minnesota have it. Most of the people of Minnesota want it. The ones that don’t, really don’t care about the issue all that much.

And for alcohol retailers in border cities, it’s a significant economic issue.

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Not when the Teamsters get involved:

Even though the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) possesses a majority in the state House and state Senate, it does not retain complete free will in terms of policy adjustments (but who does?); the Teamsters lobby (like many unions) has an uncanny ability to get elected officials of the DFL variety to acquiesce to their views.
This past week Ed Reynoso, the Teamster’s Union political director, pulled a few strings with DFL leaders to stop the sale of growlers (a practice becoming popular in the taprooms of microbreweries around the state) on Sunday. He did this because an unnamed liquor distribution company, which employs some of his members, claims it would reopen contracts due to the legal changes made by the law.

Acouple of phone calls from a couple of unions to a couple of DF hours, and it looks like Sunday liquor sales are toast for the next year or two.

It’s the Minnesota way.

The S Word, Part II: Our Fathers’ House

Years ago, a bunch of people I’ll call The Original Bloggers wrote:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Or at least impel them to think about it.  I mean, we’re just thinking, here…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–

Let’s talk about Liberty.  The NSA is snooping on your phone calls.  The IRS is selectively sandbagging the First Amendment.   The federal and state governments are attacking the First Amendment (FEC regulations, sueing businesses that don’t recognize gay marriage on First Amendment freedom of religion grounds, placing gag orders on politicized investigations). You don’t even have the freedom to pick a healthcare plan that works for you anymore.  Your Fourth Amendment rights are out the window if someone tells the cops you might have traffic-sized lots of pot in your house; your property can be forfeited even if you’re never convicted.  The Tenth Amendment is effectively a dead issue; the Feds can claim absolutely anything is their jurisdiction ever since FDR turned the Commerce Clause into the dominant statement in the Constitution.

They’ve even started walking over the Third Amendment, for crying out loud.

So then what?

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Let’s emphasize; just powers.  By consent of the governed.

The powers that the US Government is exercising are – to say the least – flirting with unjust.

Says me.

…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

If you’re a blue-stater, you no doubt believe that Red America is engaged in a war against Choice.  We want to impound your Lady Parts, or something.   The Tea Party wants to force you into a national church.

And if you’re a red-stater, you know that the apparatus of government, from the IRS scandal to Secretary Napolitano’s McCarthyistic “Enemies Lists” made up of pro-lifers, tax protesters and Second Amendment activists, are the stocking feet that warn of the jackboot aimed at your throat.

Decision Point:Here’s the key to the whole thing.  It may be the most important part of the Declaration of Independence.  Read it twice.

 Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So do the “abuses and usurpations” rise to the level of “evincing a design” that invokes our “right and duty” to reboot the American experiment the government America hires to defend the borders and plow the streets?

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

Usurpations: Time has rendered some of the listed injuries and usurpations obsolete – but others still ring true, to people on both sides of the aisle.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

Any Second Amendment supporter that’s ever played “find the roaming hearing” at the Capitol in Saint Paul knows how this works.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners

If you’re a Blue American, you may feel this way.

If you’re a Red American, you might think He has done the opposite; refused to prevent the population of the states by the un-naturalized.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

Homeland Security, anyone?

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

I’d say the current militarization of the police and Federal law enforcement, and the ritual abuse of property forfeiture laws, certainly qualifies.

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

And giving the police and prosecutors immense power, especially at the federal level, to make jury trials mere formalities.

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

Lefties; testify!

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

That’s not an especially absurd way to describe the gutting of the Tenth Amendment and the ballooning of the Commerce Clause.

Distant, Arrogant, Unresponsive:  So no matter what part of our society you’re from, there’s something to complain about.  And if the Presidency and Congress change hands, the left will no doubt return to their complaints apace.

But they all sound basically the same.  Our society is hobbled by the tyranny of people who just aren’t like us.

If you’re a Blue American, you no doubt wonder how much better a nation this would be if it weren’t held back by all those god-bothering, bitter, gun-clinging fat white Jeebus freaks that clog fly-over-land.  Indeed, the left fantasizes about it – from Paul Krugman’s dissociative fantasies disguised as NYTimes columns, to Seth McFarland’s “What if Algore had won?” episode of Family Guy.

And if you’re a Red American, you no doubt see the nation you love being turned from a representative democracy into an bureaucratic oligarchy; morphing from a “free association of equals” into a hierarchical, top-down society run by, for, and in the image of a self-appointed caste of brahmin elites that care nothing for society outside the Beltway or between the Hudson and the Sierra Madre, but need to control it anyway.

So – why are we still together?

More next Tuesday.

Satirically Speaking

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

. Governor Mark Dayton (DFL- Minnesota) astounded his critics today by amending his legislative proposal to include $100,000,000 of new bonding authority for the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority. “for too long, Republicans have said the Democrats won’t put their money where their mouth is. That ends today” said governor dayton. “starting immediately, every state County School District and city employee must reside within 3 blocks of the light rail line. This will demonstrate our commitment to light rail and show the public that everyone in the government has the public best interest at heart. I, myself, am moving to an apartment at University Avenue and Western Avenue, so I can ride the light rail to the capital to work. This new bonding Authority will give the government money to subsidize employees mortgages so they can relocate closer to the right location. I encourage all Metro DFL representatives to do the same.”

That’ll happen when the Democrats in Congress sign up for Obamacare.

Front Runner?

Scott Walker.

He’s conservative.

He’s got a killer track record.

He’s got killer approval ratings, and has them in a state perhaps even more purple than Minnesota, notwithstanding (or – ahem – because of) his tough, conservative stances on vital issues. 

He’s withstood four years of the most scabrous liberal and media (ptr) campaigns in the history of American politics (not directed at a woman or minority conservative, anyway), and come out stronger than ever

Revealingly, Walker fares well in an electorate that does not seem particularly conservative and that, if anything, appears to be slightly to the left of American voters in general. Among those surveyed in the WPR/St. Norbert’s poll, 48 percent had a favorable view of President Obama; 50 percent had an unfavorable view. Obama generally fares worse than that in national polling. In addition, Wisconsin’s liberal Senator Tammy Baldwin had a positive rating — 44 percent approve; 33 percent disapprove.

In this context, Walker’s popularity is particularly striking. 59 percent approve of his performance, while only 39 percent disapprove.

And despite the left and media’s (ptr) attempt to sand-bag his accomplishments (for instance, the left’s meme claiming Minnesota is “doing better” than Wisconsin, which depends entirely on ignoring the structural differences between manufacturing-heavy Wisconsin and service-heavy Minnesota, or Wisconsin’s commanding lead over MN in climate for new businesses), he’s got his own constituents basically on board - especially amazing considering the manufactured rancor of his first 18 months in office:

 Walker’s approval numbers basically track the right direction/wrong direction numbers for his State. 57 percent said that Wisconsin is moving in the right direction, while 38 percent said its moving in the wrong direction. By contrast only 32 percent believe the United States is moving in the right direction. 63 percent think we’re moving the other way.

If the GOP has a brain…

…well, Jeb who?

What Happens In Nevada Used To Stay In Nevada

 31 years ago last winter, a shootout between US Marshals and neo-Nazi tax protesters brought an avalanche of federal law-enforcement to rural North Dakota. 

Even then, long before the rampant militarization of federal law enforcement, the feds stomped about the place like an occupying army:

The police – and, as I recall, a North Dakota National Guard armored personnel carrier – had surrounded the farmhouse. A dog darted from an outbuilding; a policeman shot the dog dead. The gunshot sparked more gunfire, and before long the farmhouse was completely riddled with bullet holes. Finally, the police moved in…

…to discover the farmhouse empty.

Now, there was a “happy” ending; the manhunt ended with Gordon Kahl and an associate dead, and his family and accomplices serving long jail terms. 

But I’ve wondered over the years – what if that manhunt would have happened at a time when everyone had the ability to publish, and broadcast video, in real time? 

Ditto controversial federal law enforcement actions like Waco? 

I ask because the alternative media played a vital role in last week’s Nevada range war:

In another era, Bundy would likely have been quietly run out of business and – literally – lost the farm. Now, thanks to his own efforts in reaching out and the participation of media watchers around the nation, along with volunteers who showed up to help, he and his family may actually get a fair hearing and a chance to keep what they have worked so long and so hard for. But, as I said above, this one will be developing for some time to come if I’m right.

If nothing else?  Today, if the government wants to do things in the night and fog, it has to stay in the dark and fog to do it. 

Which may be good news, or it may be bad…

Identifying The Enemy

It’s about time the Feds got busy stomping out the scourge of people exercising their First and Second Amendment rights!:

Author Brandon Turbeville says he was approached by an individual who works in a Columbia, South Carolina gun shop to relate the story of how an FBI agent entered the store on Monday, showed his credentials, before proceeding to ask a series of stunning questions.

Telling the gun store worker he was tasked with visiting all the firearms outlets in the local area to check on “suspicious purchases” for counterterrorism purposes, the agent then began discussing what in actual fact were “completely normal transactions,” such as, “paying with cash, purchasing long guns, and other similarly innocuous behavior.”

The FBI agent then reportedly made a shocking remark that almost seems too chilling to believe.

“If you see some Middle Eastern guy come in, you don’t have to be so worried about that. What we’re really looking for are people talking about being sovereign such as sovereign citizens or people talking about big government,” the agent reportedly stated.

On the one hand, it’s just Infowars.  So I’d normally assume at least some, er, “embellishment”. 

On the other hand, it’s not one bit out of line with DHS Secretary Napolitano’s agenda this past five years

I call it 50-50.

Religious Holiday

It’s time we observe the “progressive” movement’s foremost religious holiday, Tax Day!

It’s more than just the day the commoner pays obeisance to the debt we all owe Government.  No - Tax Day is a ritualized sacrifice of the fruit of our labor, combined with the symbolic gesture of giving control of one’s livelihood and destiny to (what the left believes is) something bigger and better than mere people.  Something that, though we and our aspirations may die, lives on, bigger and better than the sum of its parts.

So happy Tax Day, “progressives”!

The S Word, Part I: We’re Just Not That Into Each Other Anymore

It’s said that America is the most polarized it’s been in history.

It’s not true, of course; the stretch from the 1890s into the Depression features some very stark social battle lines.  The 1828 election was kinda contentious.  And you might recall we fought a Civil War once upon a time.  Ken Burns even did a documentary about it.

In the past, we’ve fought – usually more or less civilly – amongst ourselves over a lot of things.  Slavery was a big one.  Approaches to federalism – and yep, that question usually manifested itself in re slavery, for the first fourscore and seven years of our nation’s existence – were a common squabbling point.  I suspect it was the topic of the year for the Debate team from 1777 to 1864.

And from the end of the Civil War until the Depression, the gulf between the Haves and the Have Nots was big.  Much bigger than it is today, even after five years of Obama exacerbating it for the benefit of his plutocrat pals.  No, seriously – no contest.

Of course, the different parts of this country have differed in the past – so much so that two of them spent four years fighting the bloodiest war in American history.  The contention?  Federalism, economic rivalries, whatever – they all tied back to slavery, one way or the other.

And in each of those conflicts – once the noxious legacy of slavery was extinguished – there was a general agreement; underneath it all, we were undertaking a valid national experiment.

As in “national”, meaning “everyone in the nation”. 

I wonder, sometimes.

Continue reading

15-40

I’ve never had much patience for sci-fi buffs.  Maybe it was the sci-fi buffs I spent my time around – I don’t know – but their (stereotypically) prickly anal-retentiveness over their genre always rubbed me the wrong way. 

And so I never really understood the whole “Firefly” thing – especially the show’s fans’ anger over the show’s (I gathered from listening to the tribe talking) sudden cancellation.   But working in technology as I do, I heard a lot of complaints.

No.  A lot.

Never could figure out what the fuss was about.

Then, last year, I finally fired up Netflix Streaming.  And Firefly – a “space western” produced by Joss Whedon – was one of the options.

So I started watching. 

And about ten days later, after getting to the end of episode 14, I started looking for the next epi. 

And looking.

And looking.

And remembering the growls and howls of my co-worker fanboys and fangirls.

And then I got angry.  And then just sad and disappointed at the waste of so much…potential. 

And I stayed a little of both.

Until today

UPDATE:  Or not. 

I guess it’s karma; for all the times I’ve yanked others’ chains, it’s probably fitting that I not only fell for a April Fools joke, but one that’s been around for a few years. 

OK.  The universe is at balance. 

For now.

(Play that joke on me again, and you’ll be awake, facing me, and armed…)

On A Rattlesnake Light Rail ‘cross The Hiawatha Desert

SCENE:  It’s 1985.  Mitch BERG – just out of college, hair waving in the breeze  and his elbow resting on the sill of his open driver’s side window - barrels down North Dakota Highway 200 at 85 miles per hour in his 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo.  Over the deafening racket of his small-block 350 engine (whose muffler fell off some time earlier, to BERG’s penurious horror but aesthetic delight) a boom box with a cigarette-lighter adaptor blasts  a cassette of John Mellencamp’s Scarecrow.   The Monte Carlo, covered in rust to the point where the driver’s side door panel flaps in the slipstream, wobbles and loudly grinds during BERG’s rare applications of brake.  But it’s a beautiful summer day in east-central North Dakota. 

BERG, dressed in a plain white v-neck T-shirt, an army-surplus dungaree shirt  and black straight-leg jeans, has a filterless Chesterfield dangling from his lip.  The coal on the end of the cigarette glows as BERG draws in a puff – and then almost instantly blows it out into the slipstream, studiously avoiding any inhalation.   In the back of the car are three guitar cases, a Fender amplifier, and two duffel bags full of clothes.

Suddenly, he notices a blueish smoke cloud in the distance.  He squints, tosses the half-smoked cigarette out onto the roadway, and shuts off the cassette. 

Gradually, he makes out the shape of a 1979 Subaru wagon.  It is parked outside the access road to a Minuteman missile silo, which sits about 200 yards north of the two-lane highway, encircled in chain link fence and razor wire.  A lone figure climbs out of the Subaru.   As BERG slows to a stop by the Subaru, we recognize a much-younger Avery LIBRELLE.  LIBRELLE’s car is festooned with anti-nuclear bumper stickers; the cargo area and back seat are crammed with signs demanding an immediate nuclear freeze, and declaring you can’t hug children with nuclear arms.  The Subaru, idling, continues to belch blue smoke. 

BERG pulls into the access road and brakes the Chevy to a stop by LIBRELLE’s car in a squall of metallic grinding, indicating the rotors and shoes direly need repair and replacement.   He turns off the engine, and the prairie is silent, but for the wind. 

BERG:  Hey – what’s up?  Something wrong with your car?

LIBRELLE:  Er…no?

BERG:  Well, it looks like you’ve had a bit of a fire. 

LIBRELLE:  What makes you say that? 

BERG:  Um…the smoke cloud?  It looks like a grass fire cominig across the prairie.  And it smells like burning oil… 

LIBRELLE:  Huh.  Haven’t seen anything.  And I think Subarus come from the factory like that.  Everyone in Minneapolis has ‘em. 

BERG:  Huh.  OK – well, it looked like you needed some help…

LIBRELLE: Oh, I do!  I do!  I need people to carry these signs (points to stack of hundreds of Nuclear Freeze signs in the back of car) to protest the US Military’s race to armageddon, and demand that we allow the peaceful leadership of the Soviet Union to co-exist with the peace-loving people of the earth!  Which is all they want!

BERG:  And you came up here from Minneapolis…

LIBRELLE:  …looking for people to protest with me.

BERG:  And how’s that going for you?

LIBRELLE: Not great, so far. 

BERG:  Huh.  Well, people around here have a lot on their minds.  There’s  farm crisis going on, and most of the locals are trying to hang on and survive.  And most of ‘em pretty much support the Air Force, anyway…

LIBRELLE:  So I’m finding out.  But you’ll help (LIBRELLE grabs a sign hopefully)

BERG:  No, no, sorry – I just thought you were, y’know, on fire or something.  I’m actually moving to the Twin Cities. 

LIBRELLE:  Oh, yeah?  Why?

BERG:  Well, I just graduated with a BA in English, and I want to be a writer and a musician, and there’s no much opportunity for that here.  In fact, there’s not much opportunity at all around here.  Job market’s kinda slow even for diesel mechanics and custom combiners, to say nothing of tortured starving would-be artists.  So I’m going to move to Minneapolis to try my luck at…well, writing, or technical writing, or music, or something.  Anything, really.  I have no idea what I’m gonna do.   I just know that unless they, I dunno, strike oil or something… (both BERG and LIBRELLE chuckle at the absurdity) …it’s never gonna happen here for me.  This place is never gonna be an economic powerhouse.

LIBRELLE:  But you can live the ideal life out here!  Be a hunter-gatherer!  Be in touch with the land! 

BERG: Er, no.  Looking for…

LIBRELLE:  The train!

BERG:  Huh?

LIBRELLE:  They’re going to build a light rail train down Hiawatha Avenue from downtown to the Airport!   They tore down all the buildings along Hiawatha Avenue twenty years ago to make way for it, and it’s going to get built any day now!

BERG:  Er, OK (starting to fidget)

LIBRELLE:  You’re a creative who’s moving to Minneaoplis because of the train!

BERG:  Um, what now?

LIBRELLE:  Mass transit!  It’s what draws creatives to the city!  

BERG:  Er, no.  That’s what I have a car for.  No, I’m moving there for opportunity – a chance at doing some things that really only occur in major cities.  I mean – huh?  Moving somewhere because there’s  a train?  Thats just weird

LIBRELLE:  Lalalalalalalalalalalalala!   The Met Council has spoken!  LALALALALALA!  (LIBRELLE grabs a Nuclear Freeze sign and hands it to BERG)

(BERG takes the sign, throws it into the front seat of his car, and starts the engine, which roars in unmuffled glory).

LIBRELLE (Starts to picket the missile silo)  No More Nukes!  No More Nukes!

BERG:  (Yelling over the din from his engine).  Hey, you know there aren’t actually any people in that silo, right?   That’s just where the missile is.   The people are in the command silo, which is somewhere else…

LIBRELLE: (Yelling back over the din):  Yes, I know there’s a feeble line of reasoning for fissile weapons.  A feeble line they don’t believe themselves…

BERG (Yelling):  No, er…yeah.  Yeah, that’s it. 

(BERG steps on the gas.  The Monte Carlo accelerates, as BERG turns the cassette deck back on). 

(And SCENE)

Lines Must Be Drawn

To:  The Powers That Be
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  The Future Of Our Civilization

Dear Powers,

Since I, myself, don’t much care if they legalize marijuana – and believe it would actually solve some social problems, beyond its medicinal purposes – the idea of a pot vending machine doesn’t especially faze me.

However, any marijuana legalization, to succeed, must include a provision allowing anyone using the term “Budtender” to refer to Chiba be killed with flaming grease.

That is all.

Compare And Contrast

Governor Messinger Dayton signed an increase in the state’s minimum wage today. 

What Governor Messinger Dayton Said:  “People who work hard should be paid enough to achieve the American Dream”. 

What Governor Messinger Dayton Actually Meant:  “I have now found a way to force the private sector to buy votes for the DFL”. 

Personal note:  One of my kids is working for more than the current minimum wage, but less than the new one.  I hope it’s the children of the sitting DFL legislators who lose their jobs when the wage rises, and not my kid. 

But I’m going to guess there’s not much chance of that.

Idle Musical Thoughts

I mentioned this on the show over the weekend – this past Saturday was the 60th anniversary of the recording of “rock around the clock”, by Bill Haley and the Comets. That song’s appearance on the Billboard top 40 later on in the year is generally considered the beginning of the “rock ‘n roll era” – and, more significantly, the beginning of “youth culture”, the existence of a separate culture for adolescents in this country, something that never really existed before.

Having a nice round number like 60 makes it very easy to play the mental game is played for years regarding music history; seeing what side of pop music history’s “halfway point” different milestones fall on.

The halfway point in pop music history, as of last Saturday, was April 12, 1984.

What that means is “Hungry like the Wolf” by Duran Duran, “I Ran” by Flock of seagulls, “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits, “Message in a Bottle” by the Police, Thriller by Michael Jackson, and Bruce Springsteen’s first six studio albums – up through Nebraska (and in about six weeks, Born in the USA) are all closer to the beginning of rock ‘n roll history than to the present day.

You can also break rock and roll history up into thirds; 1974 and 1994.  That means “Baby Blue” by Badfinger, “Imagine” by John Lennon, the entire golden age of Motown and Stax, Who’s NextDark Side of the Moon, and most of the Rolling Stones’ best stuff is twice as far from the present day as it was from “Rock Around The Clock”.

Or maybe into quarters?  1969, 1984 and 1999 are the cutoffs.  That means Woodstock, Tommy, most of the Beatles’ catalog…pretty much everything “Sixties” is three times from the present day as it was from the beginning of the era.

I think I’ll stop this train of thought at the next station…

Your Higher Ed Tax Dollar Hard At Work

“Students” at the University of Minnesota rioted twice over the weekend; once when (I suspect) the sale of someone’s soul resulted in a literal last-second victory over the UND Sioux…

…and another on Saturday after the GoGos’ defeat at the hands of, I dunno, the Idaho School of Business for all I care.

And so I scoured the web looking for video of the riots that no doubt broke out in Grand Forks after UND’s loss.

But, in what I suspect is a cover-up, I could find none.

Weird.

Everyone’s Protected!

Well, we now have a statewide “bullying law”.   Mazel Tov.

Of course, we had a bullying law before.  As noted in this Channel 5 interview with lawyer Christa Groshek,. it was 37 words long, and basically required school districts to have a bullying policy.   Now, it’s 14 pages long.

Everyone Can Be A Victim!:  The law specifies so many different “protected” classes that it’s really not specific at all; in addition to affectional orientation, religion, affectional orientation, race, affectional orientation, gender and affectional orientation, the bill “protects” people from bullying based on academic status, marital status, socioeconomic status, and…

…appearance?

Where was this law when I was a greasy-haired, acne-ridden, athletically-inept 14 year old?  Oh, the fellow students – and not a few teachers – whose lives I could have ruined!

Intent Is In The Eye Of The Beholder:  And it seems to do for “bullying” what sexual harassment laws did for sexual harassment; define “bullying” as “anything that makes anyone upset in any way.

And yes, I know bullying happens, and sometimes it’s incredibly serious, and in extreme circumstances kids kill themselves over it.

But combine this with the law’s anonymous notification provisions – which are necessary in some cases, obviously, but are an open invitation to abuse as well – with the fact that parental recourse is limited to the point of absurdity, and if you know anything about how public schools work these days, the “unintended consequences” will swerve quickly into absurdity.

Or litigation.  Which, given the support the DFL gets from trial lawyers, can not in the least bit be an “unintended” consequence.

Make-Work:  Along those lines; the previous bullying law left the mechanics of the policy to the individual districts.

The new law?  It creates three levels of state bureaucracy above the districts to deal with “bullying”:

A Task Force, a Council and a “Center”.

I asked a gay activist on Twitter – who was clearly happy about the bill being signed into law, although he clearly understood little but Big Gay’s chanting points about the bill or its consequences – why he supported the new law.  ”Because we now have one policy for the whole state” was his main answer.

Liberals never realize – this is a bug, not a feature.

The further you remove policy from its implementation, the worse your policy will get.  It’s true of healthcare, taxes – and in few areas more than education.  It’s why charter schools (as a general model) are succeeding while the larger, urban and centralized-rural public systems are failing.

Parents Last:  Another problem – and this may be the big one – is that if you’re a parent concerned about an accusation against your child, your rights are pretty much nonexistant.

Now, let’s be realistic; your rights are pretty much nonexistent in the public system, especially in the major urban districts, today; as I found out in my own Kafkaesque struggle with Saint Paul’s idiot administration, your “rights” as a parent are pretty much written to fit around the convenience and protection of the sitting Administration.  If you think your child has been wrongly accused, or even just want to find out facts about this episode that is going on your child’s permanent record beyond “your child has been accused, convicted and sentenced; have a nice day”, the “process” is a passive-aggressive, sisyphean ordeal that pretty much requires you be a freaking amateur lawyer.  Or, naturally, hire a professional one.

On the Upside:  On the other hand, I can think of one upside to the new law; it’s excellent preparation for today’s modern university experience; it trains students to check their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse door (or before interacting in any way with anyone that might go through that door with them); it’s excellent training for dealing with today’s speech codes.

So there’s that.

The Clinker, As Always:  As I’ve noted in this space before, bullying has tended to go up after these laws are passed.  Now, chalk it up to more-thorough reporting if you’d like – but anyone who expects a statewide policy and bureaucracy to “solve bullying” is in for a major disappointment.

Because setting policy – whether in a 37 word statement or a 14 page bill – is the easy part.  Any idiot can do it, and the DFL majority proved it.

But here’s the bad news.  Ask yourself this; who’s going to be carrying out the policy?

School Administrators.

And while many school administrators mean well (and I’m talking about all of you out there that are friends of mine,  whom I jointly and severally except from the following statement), a disturbing number of them are idiots, or worse.

Bureaucratic “policy” is, at its worst, an excuse for the not-bright, the stupid, the corrupt and the depraved to shrug their shoulders at things that would make any human with a living soul and any common sense leap to their feet in horror.  Anti-violence “policy” routinely sweeps up the non-violent.  Anti-sexual harassment policy, enforced by idiots, has results like this.   “Zero Tolerance for Weapons” “policy” gives us this, and – on a more personal level, this (Part One and Part Two), in the hands of “administrators” who are, notwithstanding their PhDs are too stupid, in a just world, to hold any job at all.  Even something as benign as a “pedagogical model” can be turned into an instrument of, dare I say, bullying - of students and their parents – by teachers and administrators who are focused on “policy” rather than “children”.

Which, increasingly, they – especially adminstrators – are.

Just saying – with today’s generation of toxic administrators, it’s smart to expect the unintended.

This law “solves” a problem that can’t be solved (beyond the extent to which previous law already did), by giving even more power to people who should have much, much less than they already do, from a bureacracy that makes sure they mis-use it with gusto!

Huckperbole

The goverment is too powerful.  Individual freedom has been eroding for decades, and is frankly in a terrible state today.

And I do very sincerely believe we must watch out for slippery slopes – which most assuredly exist – when guarding the freedoms we have (and, ideally, bringing them back to where they belong).

And as Goldwater pointed out, “extremism in pursuit of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue”.

But let’s not get carried away, mkay?

It’s Raining NARN

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism, as the Twin Cities media’s sole source of honesty!

  • I’m in the studio today from 1-3.
  • Don’t forget the King Banaian Radio Show, on AM1570 “The Businessman” from 9-11AM this morning!
  • Tomorrow,  Brad Carlson is on “The Closer”!

(All times Central)

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

Join us!

 
 
 
 
 
 

Rethinking The Seventies: Fleetwood Mac

In the seventies, back before Michael Jackson, Prince and Bruce Springsteen completely rebooted the sales charts, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac was the ultimate, inescapable soundtrack of the last half of the decade.

And as such, being the hipper-than-thou, too-literally-cool-for-school wanna-be rock’nroll animal, I hated it.

Hated the nasal yawping of Stevie Nicks.  Hated Christine McVie’s banal cooing, and Mick Fleetwood’s shaggy dissipation and calculated (or coke-ulated) English off-beatness.  Hated especially Lindsay Buckingham’s “Look at how avant-garde I am, while selling 13 million copies!”, and John McVie’s…well, no.  I always liked John McVie.

It was a few years later – when Nicks basically adopted the Heartbreakers as her backup band for her first couple of solo albums – that I started to think maybe they deserved a chance.  But it was just a start.  And I didn’t follow up on it…

…until about 2009.  When I saw a Fleetwood Mac concert on TV.  And they were…pretty good musicians.  And they did a…

…well, pretty fair live show.

And I did a little digging.

Less Than The Sum Of History:   Fleetwood Mac’s history, for those who pay attention, reads a little like Spinal Tap:  the band has actually gone through four major line-ups, and innumerable minor changes to boot.    And while I knew about all of them when I was an obnoxious teenager, I never really paid much attention until recently.

Fleetwood and McVie started in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – the band that also launched Eric Clapton, former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, “Cream” bassist Jack Bruce and original Journey drummer Aynsley Dunbar, among dozens of others – during the British blues craze of the mid-sixties, when a generation of young Brits looted and pillaged the American blues tradition.  Also starting with Mayall were guitarists Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green.  Spencer, Green, McVie and Fleetwood started “Fleetwood Mac” in 1967 (McVie’s girlfriend, keyboardist Christine Perfect, left blues-rock band “Chickenshack” and joined the band after an album or so, and married McVie in 1969).

I did say blues, right?

That’s Spencer, an over-emoting Kirwan and Green, from about 1969.

Green and Spencer then went on to have a couple of classic seventies-style drug-induced meltdowns, leading the band to reform with a dizzying array of other musicians – including this line-up with singer-guitarist Bob Weston and American singer-guitarist Bob Welch, which yielded some progressive-y blues…:

…and some scandal (Weston banged Mick Fleetwood’s wife Patti Boyd, who would also be the fulcrum of the long feud between George Harrison and Eric Clapton)…

…leading Fleetwood to fire Weston, Welch to leave for a brief solo career, and the rapidly-divorcing McVies and Fleetwood to settle on a new front line, the American duo (and also-splitting-up couple) of Nicks and Buckingham.

Which was the band’s definitive line-up, the one that gave us Fleetwood Mac and Rumours and superstardom and excess…

…but we’ll come back to that. Here’s one of their big singles, “Go Your Own Way”

…and “Second Hand News”…

…and the big kahuna, “Don’t Stop”…:

On the “con” side, it was the ultimate manifestation of ’70′s California pop music; the first cousin of everything the Eagles, Jackson Browne and all the other west-coast pop artists I trained myself to detest were doing.

On the “pro” side? They were very good at it. Fastidious musicianship (even from a band that built sand castles out of cocaine); a style that got more unique over and music done as a craft rather than a nihilistic “art” form…

…that I had pretty much adopted as my thing at the time.

The song that started me thinking that there was something worth listening to? “The Chain”:

Suddenly, the notion that I’d grown up with – that Fleetwood Mac was a soulless, bloodless, hits-in-their-sleep Brill Building pop corporation – was self-serving, short-sighted, solipsistic and just plain dumb; it’s a great song.

So I’ve actually listened to some Fleetwood Mac over the past few years. Not gonna shell out $200 for the concert…

UPDATE:  as you can see from the comments, the “stub” version of this article – and the entire series – has been floating around my drafts folder, and occasional accidental publications, for four and a half years. 

But I’m finally getting it written!

The “Gender Gap”, Explained

Example 1:  Take two electrical engineers;  both 32 years old, both in the industry at the same firm since graduating from the same college with the same BA BS in EEE.  One – not naming names here – has worked at the company the entire ten years.  The other – again, not naming names – has taken about a year of parental leave, and also spent about a year working part-time while their kids were little.    So between an engineer with ten years’ experience and one with in effect 8.5 years’ experience, who, all other things being equal should get paid more?

Example 2: Take two 25 year olds.  One became an oilfield worker – a field involving a lot of brutally hard work, dominated by men, and with perennial shortage of workers with immense demand (especially in North Dakota), driving up wages.  One went into social work – a field involving significant work, sometimes a state license, dominated by women, and a perennial glut of workers, driving down wages.  With all other things equal, who should get paid more?

Example 3: Take two accountants – one male, one female.  They have identical qualifications, identical experience, identical job reviews.  Who do you think makes more?  Statistically, the difference is within the realm of statistical noise, nationwide. 

Example 4:  Take a low-income couple. He works as a security guard, doing his best to pick up 50 hours a week to make ends meet.  To avoid having to pay daycare, she stays at home with the kids and is counting the days til their youngest is at kindergarten so she can get a temp office job, or a part-time job at Target.  This one’s a no-brainer, right? 

Example 5:  A female business analyst with ten years’ experience is working with a male business analyst working his first job.  Who makes more? 

Example 6: A brother and a sister – fraternal twins – graduate from high school.  He goes into car mechanics.  She goes into daycare.   

Now – compare the “men” in the above examples with the “Women”. In aggregate, the guys make about 50% more than the women.

Is it because the men in the five examples are benefitting from sexism?  Or because of the…:

  • Career choices each of them made:  Men are more likely to go into technical fields, highly-physically-demanding jobs that pay a premium, dangerous jobs that pay a premium, or to work while their spouses take time off or stay home. 
  • Life choices each of them made:  Women have babies.  That’s the way biology made the species – so sue us.  No, that’s a figure of speech.  But women are more likely to take time off from work to do it.  Should men be penalized for working while women are, well, not?   

This last cuts both ways, by the way; when my kids were little, I made a conscious choice to seek out jobs that offered flexibility in hours and schedules, so I could spend more time with them.  This pretty inevitably led to contracting, which gave me flexibility and decent money – but cut down the chances for linear, corporate “career advancement”.  Am I lagging behind other people in my “age cohort” in that career?  Probably not – I switched careers – but if I were still a technical writer, those years that I spent focusing on other things would probably have had me lagging.  (Technical writing, by the way, is a field where women make more than men, on average.  Why?  Because they’ve been doing it longer, and they dominate the field, and they tend to go into it for a career, as opposed to men (like me) who see it as a stepping-stone to elsewhere.  Not because female tech writers are sexists.  Although some are.  Oh, the stories I could tell  But won’t.  Because most tech writer stories are really really boring. 

Of course, the whole “gender wage gap” isn’t so much about facts as about waving a bloody shirt to try to shore up Democrat numbers in a year that’s looking very bad for them, and to draw attention away from the fact that this past five years have been little better for women, economically, than for African-Americans.

Hot Gear Friday: The M1928/M1 Thompson

It’s high time I reprised “Hot Gear Friday” – the feature wherein I write about…well, hot gear.

As a general rule, the “gear” is either musical instruments or firearms.  Johnny Roosh used to do other stuff – razors, motorcycles, the like – but i’m more narrowly focused.  Also, guns and music gear are about the only hot gear I ever deal with.

The other rule was, the “hot gear” I feature was stuff I’d actually used, played, fired, or even been in the same room as.  Which narrows things waaaa-aaaaaay-hey down.  I’ve led a fairly boring life, in terms of toys I’ve gotten to play with.

But things have been moving slowly forward in recent months.  And so it’s time to exhume the feature, at least until I run out of hot gear to write about.

Continue reading

Prioritization

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Damn that Fernandez, he always says things so much better than I could.

This time, it’s about why Obama isn’t stopping Putin. Best paragraph:

“One of the most ironic things about the Obama presidency is that Yes We Can hasn’t even been replaced by No We Won’t. It has shriveled to No We Can’t.”

A President who doesn’t have the guts to take on the Sierra Club isn’t going to make an ex-KGB man quake in his boots. Or even a chinless ophthalmologist. If everybody knows you’re not willing to use the stick, there’s no point is speaking at all.

Joe Doakes

Well, to be fair, the citizens require so much supervision that it’s hard to spare much effort for overseas “enemies”.