I’m Still Here, He’s All Gone

Sometime next week, this blog will hit its 13th anniversary.

I’ve told the story, of course, many times; when I started this blog, I was inspired by reading Andrew Sullivan’s site. Along with James Lileks, it was Sullivan that I went to to see how this new form of writing was supposed to be done. Back when bloggers kept track of these things, I called him my “blogfather”.

But after 15 years, Sullivan is hanging it up:

Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.

The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

i’ve gotten some of the same urges, myself; not burn out – although that certainly happens, from time to time. Working through that has been a zen like exercise in self discipline, on the occasions – roughly every two years – when it happens.

But the urge to do things smaller, slower, older and more deliberate is certainly there.

When Making Your Weekend Plans

This weekend Brad Carlson and I will be doing what we always do on the last weekend in January – we’ll be out on the ice at Medicine Lake for “Holes for Heroes”, a veterans’ ice-fishing benefit.

And we’ll have some guests!:

  • We’ll be talking with Jason Quick of Concerned Veterans for America
  • We’ll have Miss Minnesota, Savanna Cole, talking about her upcoming charity curling match to benefit epilepsy
  • And finally, we’ll have Ben Kruse.

Hope you can tune in – or better yet, join us out on the ice!  It’s gonna be beautiful (and the ice is officially supposed to be much more than thick enough).

The News Isn’t Nearly Bad Enough

Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva is giving her state of the district address later this morning, down at the SPPS’ Stalinesque fortress headquarters at 360 Colborne Street.

As the PiPress notes, most of Silva’s goals remain unmet.  It looks pretty bad, but for one little bit of silver lining – or so the PiPress (or perhaps the SPPS’ press release) would have you believe:

By 2014, she said, her overhaul of the school district would lift student proficiency on math and reading tests to 75 percent; four-year graduation rates would climb to 75 percent; and by signing up a greater share of the city’s students, enrollment would jump by 3,500 to 5,000 students.

Four years later, only the graduation goal has come close to fruition — up 8 points to 73.3 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, enrollment is up just 64 students, and math and reading scores have fallen further behind Minneapolis and the rest of Minnesota.

And that’s not all:

  • 42% of St. Paul  3-8 graders hit the state’s math targets in last year’s standardized tests – down a point in the past year.   The figure statewide jumped from 58 to 63 percent; even benighted Minneapolis’ scores, somehow, leapt from 37 percent to 45 percent.
  • Reading proficiency for same sample was 38% in Saint Paul last year – versus 42 percent in Minneapolis and 59 percent in the parts of the state that vote GOP.

But notwithstanding the fact that Saint Paul’s students are performing worse and worse on every other test, at least the graduation rate – up from 65 to 73%.  So that’s good news, and a vindication for Silva – right?

Well, no. As we discussed last year, graduation rates throughout Minnesota jumped last year.  They did it immediately after the DFL-dominated legislature removed graduation testing requirements.  If a student puts in 12-ish years without formally dropping out, trying to stab a teacher or saying anything Republican, they’re pretty much going to get a diploma and a handshake.  And while I can not prove that the correlation leads to a causation, the complete lack of evidence that anything else is improving in the SPPS seems to be evidence in the affirmative.

But notwithstanding the fact that she did nothing that couldn’t be attributed to “political pennies from heaven”, she’s in line to get a raise, to over $200K, plus the kind of perks that’d make a corporate CEO blush.

So I’ll tell you what, SPPS; if you want, I’ll take a run at it.  Pay me the relative bargain rate of $160K.  I’ll make a bunch of promises that I (likely) can’t possibly keep.  At the end of the contract, you’ll have gotten precisely the same results – for a 20% discount!

There’s A Reason They Called Bobby Heenan “The Brain”

Over the last year, former Gov. Jesse Ventura went to court against the estate of the late Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, claiming – successfully, in court – that Kyle’s statements about him defamed him in the eyes of veterans. Especially SEALs, of which Ventura is a former member.

And then Ventura, rose to fame pretending to throw people around a ring, said (emphasis added)?:

A hero must be honorable, must have honor. And you can’t have honor if you’re a liar. There is no honor in lying,” Ventura told The Associated Press from his winter home in Baja California, Mexico. He also noted that the movie isn’t playing there.

Ventura also dismissed the movie as propaganda because it conveys the false idea that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 attacks. “It’s as authentic as ‘Dirty Harry,’” he said, referring to fictional movie series starring Clint Eastwood, the director of “American Sniper”

or perhaps it’s as authentic as professional wrestling.

So Ventura just spent $1 million trying to rebuild his reputation among veterans – and then he says this?

Who’s he going to sue now?

They’re Just Too Smart

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

My Android cell phone makes a noise when I plug it into the charger, kind of a “boink-boink” sound. I plugged it in at work, a few minutes ago. Worked fine, then started making that noise. Quit now. Never does it at home.

I suspect power fluctuations in this building. I bet every time somebody starts a microwave down the hall, my cell phone senses the power drop and thinks it’s been unplugged, then immediately senses the power rebound and thinks it’s been plugged back in. boink-boink. Boink-boink.

I mentioned to a buddy who is a Master Electrician. He says:

“More likely power factor issues. The power factor is screwed up by all the fluorescent lights and computers. Those are shifting the power so that voltage sine is out of phase with the amperage sign. That’s the power factor. AC electricity flows in a sine wave, if all is well. When a coil load or capacitor load is introduced the impedance and/or reactance will shift the power out of phase with itself. One shifts the voltage forward, one shifts the amperage forward. As they get out of phase the amperage has to go up to compensate for the loss of actual power because the voltage times amperage of the power as it is actually used is not the same as the multiple of each measured separately. Yes the voltage measured is 120 and amperage measured is 10, but they don’t reach those points simultaneously. As a function of simultaneous use when voltage is 120 amperage is only 9.7 and when it reaches 10.3 the voltage is already sliding back down to 116.5. Your phone and charger may be sensing that.”

Not power fluctuation, power factor. Well, that’s me told, then.

Joe Doakes

one of the scariest days of my life – in a completely unrelated story – when I was when I have an electrician over to my house to look at a circuit that was acting funny. He took it apart, and said “you’re lucky to be alive”.

Good thing I didn’t have a self on the plug into it!

Trulbert! – Part XXVI: Darkness Before The Damned

 - 6AM, November 6, 2015 – The Hendrickson Residence, South Minneapolis, MN

“OK”, said Hendrickson, trying to sound more confident than he really felt.  ”So everyone’s got their job to do.  Me, Traian, Miss Hardman and Mr. Fleen The White will go to the Broadmans to learn about catering.  Charlie, Dan-Marius and Stefan will go looking for those crazy Scottish Presbyterians, wherever they are.  And Dave…”

He turned to Os.

“What is it you’re doing again?”

“I’m going to go find other anarcho-capitalists to convince them of the individual utility of joining in the struggle”.

“Right.  That.  We meet back here tonight and go over the final plan.  Everyone set?”

Everyone nodded – all of them also trying to look more self-assured than they felt.

Except for Dan-Marius Codriciu.  He felt pretty self-assured, to be honest. Continue reading

A Farewell To Demigogues

Charles C.W. Cooke, like a lot of conservatives, is pretty much over Sarah Palin.  While the attacks on her from the left were almost entirely the sort of caustic sexism that accompanies the toxic racism that they dish out to apostates in “their” demographic groups, it’s fair to say that Palin hasn’t developed much as a politician beyond, as Cooke says, the leader of a cult following.

You can read the article for the Palin-related stuff.  Because for my money, that’s not the real payoff of this piece.

The real value is its swipe at what’s become, among conservatives and libertarians, the beginnings of a very non-conservative trend (and even if you’re a Big-L libertarian who eschews the “C” word, it’s also un-Libertarian); the subscription to political personality cults, which…:

…is deeply unconservative, too. The Right will likely never agree on how best it should move forward, but we might at least unite against the belief that there exist superheroes who are able to save the country from itself; against the idea that any one person can be the official standard bearer of a whole ideological or demographic group; and against the presumption that conservatism will gain anything much at all from the promotion and advancement of its most erratic champions.

It matters not if your superhero is Palin, Ron Paul, Ben Carson, or any other candidate who’ll “fix it all” through, apparently, the strength of his or her personality and the purity of their principles.

Not only is that not the way government works, it’s not supposed to be the way representative republics work.

Settled Science

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

One year ago . . . the End of Snow.  One year later . . . Woist Blizzahd Evah!

Well, worst in our lifetimes, which is all that matters, right?

It’s possible weather runs in cycles, but the cycles last so long that humans don’t recognize them.  “It hasn’t snowed this hard in 50 years” may be perfectly true and yet perfectly normal . . . if snowfall runs in 100 year cycles.

The reason Global Warming Alarmists have to fudge their data and shift from tree rings to temperature readings to make their models work, is because we don’t have reliable data from a long-enough time period to draw honest conclusions or propose sensible solutions.

It’s like checking the thermometer at 7:00 am and again 8:00, lowering the 7:00 am temperature to account for not being fully awake when you took that reading, then drawing a line on a graph and predicting the world will be aflame before midnight unless we all stop drinking hot coffee.   If temperatures are cyclical, rising and falling with the sun, then you don’t have enough data to support your prediction – whether or not you fudge the data – and your proposed cure won’t solve anything.

Joe Doakes

What part of “settled” are people missing, doggonnit?

Humanity’s Scar

Today his “Holocaust Remembrance Day”, and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz/Birkenau/Monowitz extermination camp.

It wasn’t the first camp liberated; the Russians had liberated Majdanek, arguably the second deadliest of the camps, the previous summer.   And they’d made their discovery public.  But Soviet propaganda even then had a history of being marginally more heavy-handed than the Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s; surely, people figured, the Russians were slandering, understandably enough, the people who’d raped the Motherland so brutally.

And the news about Auschwitz got the same reception.  It wasn’t until the Western Allies started liberating camps in the late winter and early spring (soon to come on this blog) that the story started to get some traction in the west.

There was one filmmaker at Auschwitz, Alexandr Vorontzov, a Soviet cameraman attached to the 100th “Lviv” Infantry Division, of the 1st Ukrainian Front, present at the liberation, 70 years ago today.  He spent a few weeks on the scene, documenting not only the liberation and the gruesome discoveries, but also

The most sobering thing, on this anniversary, is that so few remember what happened – and so many seem amenable to trying it again.

I’ve run across a few Holocaust deniers over the years; I interviewed Ernst Zündel, a Canadian resident who made quite the cottage industry out of denial in the eighties, in my old KSTP show.  And I’ve shredded not a few on Facebook over the years. High on my bucket list is a desire to meet one in person, and pound them until the convusions stop.

Rhetorically speaking, of course.

This is why, by the way, I’m a Second Amendment activist.

Surprise, Surprise

Who predicted this?

Oh, yeah – all the good guys.

Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.

“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.”

As you were.

“The Greatest American Battle of the War”

The cold had taken its toil – on American and German alike.

The remnants of the U.S. Third Army, the majority of which had, under the leadership of Gen. George S. Patton, moved to relieve the surrounded men of the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, were now exhausted.  Furious German counterattacks from Unternehmen Nordwind (Operation North Wind) had bloodied both sides.  On January 25th, 1945, more than a month after launching the largest offensive of the Western Front through the Ardennes, the Wehrmacht had not only stopped punching, but were back on the front they started from.

The “Battle of the Bulge” – the largest single battle of the war in the West was over – at the staggering cost of perhaps as many as 108,000 American casualties.

The German Advance: few expected the Germans to attack, and even fewer thought it would come from the Ardennes

By the winter of 1944, distance, not determination, was the only factor keeping the Allies from delivering the final blow to the Nazi regime. Continue reading

Hope

Generally, I keep my powder dry as we ramp up to big endorsement challenges.  And this year might be as good a year as any to keep mum.

But I’m not.  Among a small short-list of GOP candidates I’d like to see running for the Presidency – Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, maybe Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio – the top of my list is Scott Walker.  I’m a Walker guy, and I have been since he survived his recall.

The biggest concern people have had so far about Walker is that “he’s not charismatic enough” – yet another thing that has made me long for the days before television screwed up American politics.

But there is ground for hope that worries about Walker’s charisma may be exaggerated.

Rosy

As the media relentlessly chants about “economic recovery”, at least one article (from the AP) notes that those “new jobs” aren’t really doing much for the lower-middle-class – people who may be doing OK on the surface, but are only a missed paycheck or two away from depending on someone else.

And it’s worth noting that every previous sharp recession – like 1982 – had a correspondingly sharp rebound; within two years of the bottom of that recession, the economy was adding 500,000 jobs a month.

The 2007 recession was, along with the Great Depression, part of a tiny, exclusive club; sharp corrections that didn’t bounce back fast – as in, almost like an inverted bell curve.  And what did they have in common?

Govenment efforts to “help”.

Europe’s Misbegotten Cousin

Greece appears to be on the brink of electing a far-left government which is promising its voters and end to the “austerity” that the incumbent center-right (by Greek standards; it’d still be to the left of the DFL) government imposed after the Greek economy, driven by decades of suffocating goverment spending that drove the government into crippling debt, crashed.

Greece currently has nearly 30% unemployment; it’s nearly 50% among younger people. And it was rescued from “worse” only by a massive bailout from the parts of Europe that work – mainly center-right Germany.

And now, their response seems to be to tell the Germans “screw you, give us more money”.

Here’s the piece from NPR’s “Marketplace”:

Listen to the Greek government “economic advisor”, Janos Milios (at around 4:42 on the audio):

Europe is a continent of democracy.  When the people of one country decide to change course, change policy, this is something that has to be respected by all parties”.

Respected?  If they’re paying their own bills and not surviving by pilfering the the wallets of the responsible countries, maybe.

This pretty much embodied the old criticism of democracy; “it can only survive until 51% of the people discover they can live off the other 49%”.

But the worst, most noxious quote is yet to come.  Among the left’s most bilious conceits is that society is a “family” – with, naturally, government serving as a gender-neutral parent to keep all the unruly kids in line.

That was the line taken by Dimitrius Papadimitriotis, an Athens psychiatrist (at around  3:30):

We believe it has to be shared among our European partners.  Being part of the “European Family” means taking care of each other, being there for each other.  And this is what “family” is all about.

Government – least of all extranational associations of governments – is not a “family”.

And if it were, then it’d be time to take the snotty spendthrift teenager to the garage and have a word with her about nagging mom and dad to pay off her credit card debts.

If I were a German taxpayer, I’d be demanding my government cut the Greeks off completely.

A Linguistic Proposal

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Homophobia started as urban slang for men who were afraid to look gay. “I can’t wear a purple necktie, I’ll look as if I’m gay.” That’s what homophobia meant.

Then it transformed into men who beat up gays to show they weren’t secretly attracted to them. ” I can prove I’m not secretly gay because I enjoy kicking gay men’s asses.” That’s what homophobia meant next.

Now homophobia is used to mean anybody who less than fully enthusiastic about any whim that strikes the GLBT movement. That’s what homophobia means now.

I’m not afraid of my clothing looking gay. I haven’t been in a fight since 5th grade. But I am tired of GLBT being shoved in my face to assuage 2% of the population’s narcissism.

I propose a new word, one that doesn’t translate as “fear” but “tired of hearing about it.” I propose homolassus, pronounced by adding Ho to Molasses.

Joe Doakes

We’ll run it past the OED…

Western Civilization’s Finest Hour

It was fifty years ago today that Winston Churchill died.

There’s a strong case to be made that Churchill was the greatest person of the past 100 years; that without him, Western Civilization might be a very different thing today.

He was a great political thinker, a great statesman, and – especially in the darkest hours of World War 2 in Europe – one of the most epochal leaders of all time.

And one of the great orators; I’m as unemotional a person as you’ll ever meet, but it’s hard not to feel something stirring at Churchill’s greatest speech, his “Dunkirk” speech:

He rallied a people whose backs were worse than “up against the wall” – and a civilization that’d just taken a massive beating after one of the bleakest quarter-centuries in history.

…Until The NARN, In All Its Power And Might, Steps Forward To The Rescue

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!

Today on the show:

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!

Compare And Contrast

In the State of the Union, President Obama poo-poohed the jobs that would be created by the Keystone XL pipeline as “temporary construction jobs”.

Yet six years ago, his “economic recovery plan” relied on “shovel ready” “infrastructure” jobs that were also “temporary construction jobs” (except for the “permanent government management” jobs, which would go as patronage to members of the political class, natch).

And at the speech, the President asked “Why not have thirty times as many…” of what?  Temporary construction jobs working on “infrastructure” (along with thousands more patronage gigs administering the mess).

Bubble Talk

I’ve made these two points before, somewhere in the blog’s past 13 or so years – maybe several times.  But I think there’s a fresh-ish point here, so bear with me.

Background: Two of the luckiest breaks of my life were:

  1. In 1980, at the beginning of my senior year of high school, a couple of slickie boys who’d been working in major market radio bought out my first radio station, KEYJ.  They changed the format, ramped up the “slick”, and fired most of the locals (including me).  The lesson?  Loyalty to one’s employer is a sucker bet.
  2. Later, I went to college at an obscure little school in the middle of North Dakota.  My mom worked as a secretary in the nursing department, so I got a huuuuuge tuition break, and I graduated debt-free.  But in those days, nobody but nobody came to Jamestown College to recruit graduates (other than the Air Force, and all they were interested in was nursing majors).  You were on your own.  The lesson:  You’re only as marketable as you make yourself; relying on your “credentials” is a sucker’s bet, too.

Stemming From Misinformation:  We’ve talked a lot about the Higher Ed Bubble in this space over the years; decades of government and government-backed student lending has built up an immense system of higher education institutions that crank out a huge surplus of people with degrees that “aren’t needed” in our society, or for whom at least the markets are very tight; because of the “borrow now, pay later” policies that the government and Big Education have been pushing, these students are not only coming into the workforce with degrees that “didn’t train them” for a career that was viable, much less one that could pay off all that debt.

Now, I’m not sure if there was ever a time when an anthropology or music or history or theatre or Norwegian major could graduate from college and look forward to getting snapped up purely for the skills they learned in college; engineers and nurses and computer programmers, yes, but not English majors (outside the Education track, anyway – and that’s getting dicier too).  I’m not sure if it was the crowd I hung out with, or the place I went to school, or the time I went there, but I don’t recall any non-teaching-track writing or art  or English or theater performance majors getting out of school and expecting a job as an writer or artist or actor; they – we – either…:

  • Hunkered down for a rather straitened near-term life against the hope of finding a niche that paid the bills (and I do have friends who’ve done this)
  • Adapted, and used the marketable meta-skills they’d picked up in college and/or their early work careers to find a career in another field, possibly completely unrelated) (that’d be me), or…
  • Toiled away at their chosen major field with no expectation of making a living at it.

That was then; kids graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt in those fields is now.

False Optimism:  The answers, we’re told, are to either focus kids toward:

  • Vocational and technical fields – everything from tool and die manufacturing to personal care.
  • “STEM” – science, technology, engineering and math.

For the former?  I couldn’t agree more.  There is a big chunk of American academia that takes students “settling” for a vo-ed or technical career as a defeat.  It’s just not true – or shouldn’t be.

As to STEM as a panacaea?  It’s a bit of a racket; business is pushing STEM even as wages are stagnant and industry imports “labor” from overseas as fast as they can find it.  Industry is pushing people into STEM to drive down the cost of labor, and it’s working.

Still, there are quite a few jobs in the field, and a kid who’s so inclined can get a decent start in life that way, if they’re so inclined.

What’s Missing Here:  But let’s go back to the two big lessons I learned up front in this post.

Loyalty to one’s employer – in the sense that people who spent 35 years working at the same job and retired with a company or union pension used to feel it – is a thing of the past.  So why do people think that spending ones career tied to a field of study one (usually) chose in ones teens and twenties should have a longer shelf life?

Because one’s working life is more likely than ever to involve adapting, changing, re-learning and starting over than to involve doing the same thing for forty-odd years.

And that’s the part that modern education – high school, liberal arts, STEM or technical – always, always seems to get wrong.  The supreme skill in life is not building a circuit or writing a term paper or analyzing historical political campaigns; it’s knowing how to adapt to the many changes life throws at you, no matter what you major in.

Can that be taught?  Sure.  Not everyone can learn it, no more than I will ever be adept at calculus.

But it’s certainly more useful than 95% of what people are taught these days.

Hands Up: Don’t Spread Narratives Without Thinking

After a couple of months of investigation, the Justice Department – that would be Eric Holder’s Justice Department – has reached the same conclusion in on the Michael Brown case that the state grand jury did several months ago:

Let’s reiterate that. Eric Holder’s Justice Department has looked at the case and decided that the evidence indicates Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown.

This is actually not much of a surprise. When local prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision not to prosecute the officer, he strongly emphasized that federal investigators had access to the exact same evidence, which was his way of expressing confidence that they would reach the same conclusions. The Times report confirms this: “The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year.”

have you noticed we only get asked to have a “conversation about race” after an ugly, inflammatory event that jacks everyone’s emotions to 11?

The Scarlet Drawing

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Lot of talk from Liberals after the Charlie Hebdo killings about Free Speech doesn’t mean Without Consequences, it only means the government can’t punish you for saying it.

Private groups can still bring social pressure to cost you your job, your elected office.

And maybe your life, because you asked for it by drawing offensive cartoons.

When it comes to subjects dear to Liberals hearts like sluts, welfare and Muslims, Liberals claim to abhor social shunning because it has a chilling effect on Constitutionally protected freedoms but they don’t, really, abhor shunning; they just want to change who wears the scarlet letter.

Joe Doakes

In many ways, they are the new Puritans.

Nuclear Power In Newcastle

The last place to look for fearless, open, free-wheeling speech for its own sake is any university town.

See Northfield, Minnesota – home of a couple of tony private colleges – where publican Norman Butler of the pub “Contented Cow” has been doing something I wish a bar in the Twin Cities would do; hosting a series of discussions and debates over the winter.

Then things got sticky:

But when word got out that Butler invited conspiracy theorist Jim Fetzer to do a series of talks on historical events on which he holds controversial opinions, some customers revolted.

They say that Fetzer is an anti-Semite because he also denies aspects of the Holocaust. Several residents sent notes to Butler saying they would stop frequenting his pub unless he canceled the talks.

We’ve run into the whackdoodle Fetzer (and, in the comment section, his fan club) on this blog before.  He hasn’t changed:

[Fetzer's] “truths” include Fetzer’s belief that the Sandy Hook school shootings never really happened, that the 9/11 attacks were a “reality fraud” by the government conspiring with Israel and that the plane crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone was a possible assassination.

Fetzer’s posting of critics’ e-mails apparently caused one of his readers to send a threatening e-mail to one professor.

By Monday, Fetzer had agreed to change the events from speeches to debates, inviting people with expertise to rebut him. On his website, Fetzer said the community response “has shattered any lingering illusions I may have had about Northfield as an enlightened and intellectual environment.”.

If Fetzer believes any university town is a place for intellectual inquiry, it’s no wonder he denies the Holocaust and thinks 9/11 was an inside job.  He’ll buy anything.  

Kudos to Mr. Butler, anyway:

As of Tuesday, Butler was not backing down on the forums.

“I almost folded this morning,” he said. “I was down on my knees almost. But I got a second wind.”

Asked if he expected the backlash, the England native channeled British comedy troupe Monty Python: “Well, I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.”

And that was that – until the professors got into the rhubarb:

One of those who oppose Fetzer’s appearance is Gordon Marino, professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College.

He called the appearance “unbelievable.”

“Is this some free speech thing?” Marino wrote to Butler. “If so, why not some pro-slavery person as well?”

OK.  So why not?

I mean, it’d be a short, sharp debate, probably ending badly for the proponent – but why the hell not?

Isn’t free speech about meeting bad speech with more, better speech?

Goodness knows college kids can’t debate even easy subjects like the existence of slavery or the Holocaust these days without resorting to the left’s “debate” playbook, strawmen and ad-hominem.  Having some of them see how it’s done might be a better learning experience than they’d ever get at Saint Olaf or Carlton.