You Could See It Coming. . .

. . . right up 38th Street:

For the second time in less than a week, Minneapolis city crews worked to reopen the area around 38th Street and Chicago Avenue to traffic and activists have returned makeshift barriers to the area.

Minneapolis city crews, at around 4:50 a.m. Tuesday, were removing items from George Floyd Square in an attempt to reopen the intersection to traffic.

Once crews were done removing items, they left the area.

Later Tuesday, a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew reported activists had returned makeshift barriers to the streets near the intersection.

Our friends in Minneapolis have turned fecklessness into an art form.

Seriously, what’s the point? Either you clear the intersection and ensure it doesn’t get blocked again, or you admit you are too weak to run your city and let the local warlords run the show. This is a stupid game. 

 

Green Ideas And Word Salads

Do you remember Kate Knuth? When we last heard from her, she was cashing checks as a resilience officer for the city of Minneapolis. It didn’t end well:

Knuth, an environmental educator and former DFL legislator, spent her first months in the job interviewing people and conducting a survey, but had not delivered any finished work product before she resigned.

So what happened? Tell me if you can figure out what happened:

Mychal Vlatkovich, a spokesman for Mayor Jacob Frey, said they’ve begun looking for a replacement and hope to hire someone by the end of March who will focus on the mayor’s goals. He said the mayor’s office did not ask Knuth to step down, but declined to answer whether she was allowed to continue in the position and referred further questions to Knuth and former City Coordinator Spencer Cronk, who is now the city manager of Austin, Texas.

Go ask the guy who moved to Texas. We aren’t sayin’ nothin’.

As you might imagine, this unceremonious departure didn’t sit well with Knuth, who has been rent-seeking for the better part of her career. And unsurprisingly, after her tussle with the tousled mayor, she’s looking for revenge:

Frey’s contentious relationship with the city’s elected representatives, among other issues, got Knuth thinking in January about running for mayor. “Especially in the last year, especially in the last six weeks, there has been an absence” on the part of Frey, she said. “I also haven’t seen as strong of an interest in the basic running of the city that I would like to see from my mayor.”

In theory, revenge is a better motive for running than monomaniacal incoherence, which is what usually delivers the goods around City Hall. But is Knuth coherent? Let’s check out her Jack Handey imitation:

“The thing that I bring is this really strong commitment to moving through the work of structural transformative change, particularly when it comes to public safety, particularly when it comes to climate change,” she said. “Pairing that with [my] experience in, and just liking working within, big public institutions and working with them and through them to make sure they’re serving what we deserve as a city is potentially really powerful and I think something people in this city would really value.”

Dude. But there’s more. Oh my yes, there’s more:

Climate change intersects with progressive economic policies for Knuth. “I think one of the best resilience strategies we could accomplish is if every family had $500 in the bank,” she said. “Whether it’s a car breaking down or the power going out and losing some food, they’re better able to handle that. Does that sound like a climate policy? No, but if climate change increases risks in the most vulnerable [communities] now or even more vulnerable [communities in the future], decreasing vulnerability overall is super important in terms of dealing with climate change.”

That’s just super.

Will Knuth have a chance? Given the puzzle palace structure of elections in Minneapolis, it’s entirely possible. Frey has been weighed and found wanting, but the current competition has Mos Eisley Cantina written all over it, a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Coming on like a amalgam of Marianne Williamson and Rachel Carson may just work. 

 

Memorial Day

The image I’ve posted is an American cemetery in France, near Verdun. These graves are for soldiers killed in World War I. There are nearly 15,000 graves at the site. Over 53,000 Americans died in combat in World War I and 116,000 Americans in total died as a result of the war. My grandfather fought in World War I and was able to survive the carnage and come home. He was one of the lucky ones. And because he was lucky, so am I.

My grandfather died in 1959, before I was born. I never did get a chance to know him, or to thank him for his service. He did get 40 more years, time enough to marry and raise a family that included my father. I don’t doubt that each of these crosses represents a man who would have loved to have 40 more years to live, to do the things my grandfather was able to do.

We remember those who gave their all on this day precisely because of the enormity of the sacrifice they made. Every one of these crosses represents a human life that was cut short, a dream unrealized. We owe these individuals our gratitude in ways that we cannot adequately express.

Bagman’s Groove

Value propositions:

The Ukrainian energy company that was paying President Biden’s son Hunter $1 million a year cut his monthly compensation in half two months after his father ceased to be vice president.

From May 2014, Burisma Holdings Ltd. was paying Hunter $83,333 a month to sit on its board, invoices on his abandoned laptop show.

But in an email on March 19, 2017, Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi asked Hunter to sign a new director’s agreement and informed him “the only thing that was amended is the compensation rate.”

The board member’s access to the White House had been amended a bit, too, and it’s difficult to imagine Hunter’s, ahem, skill set was particularly valuable to a Ukranian energy company when his dad was a private citizen. There’s more:

Documents on the laptop also show that Hunter invited [Burisma executive Vadym] Pozharskyi to meet then-vice president Biden at a dinner in Washington DC in April, 2015.

That would be the laptop that dare not speak its name about seven months ago. While we’re not sure what was on the menu at that dinner, there were just desserts:

In December 2015, Biden flew to Kiev and strong-armed the Ukrainian government into firing its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma at the time, including seizing four large houses and a Rolls-Royce Phantom belonging to the company’s owner Mykola Zlochevsky.

And there was more:

Three months later, Shokin was forced out of office, and nine months later, all legal proceedings against Burisma were dropped. Joe Biden has said in the past that Shokin wasn’t doing enough to crack down on corruption and that the push had nothing to do with Hunter’s position.

And the future Leader of the Free World said this:

In a 2018 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, VPBiden bragged that he had threatened to withhold $1 billion in US loan guarantees for Ukraine unless Shokin was sacked.

“I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired,” he said.

Correlation is not causation, but son of a bitch, it sure has an aroma.

This Ain’t No Foolin’ Around

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance/I’m getting used to it now.

That wasn’t off in the distance. It was the scene at 38th and Chicago yesterday, also known as George Floyd Square. Sure, it was the middle of the day, but it’s always a good time to bust a few caps, right? This news report was, ahem, deadpan:

The Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd died was disrupted by gunfire Tuesday, just hours before it was to be the site of a family-friendly street festival marking the anniversary of his death at the hands of police.

Nothing quite says family-friendly street festival like random gunfire. But fortunately, a bona fide journalist was on the scene:

Journalist Philip Crowther, who was shooting live video from 38th and Chicago, reported hearing as many as 30 gunshots about a block east of the intersection. Crowther said a storefront window appeared to have been broken by a gunshot.

“Very quickly things got back to normal,” Crowther said. “People here who spend a significant amount of time, the organizers, were running around asking, ‘Does anyone need a medic?’ It seems like there are no injuries.”

Mr. Crowther? There’s nothing normal about any of this. But hey, we appreciate the narrative!

New York Bookstores And Suburban Gas Stations

We’re a week past the lifting of the mask mandates. But as Miranda Devine notes in the New York Post, confusion reigns:

This is how confused New Yorkers are about masks. At Barnes & Noble Wednesday, no mask was required to browse the bookshelves, but on the other side of Union Square, the Strand bookstore had mandated masks for all shoppers. Practically everyone inside both stores was wearing a mask, anyway, despite CDC advice that you don’t need one, indoors or outdoors, if you’re vaccinated against COVID-19.

Considering that more than half of Manhattan has been fully vaccinated, something is very wrong with the way we are processing risk. The trust between public health experts and the public is broken and now no one knows what to believe.

Why is that? Devine has a culprit:

We can blame one man above anyone for this parlous state of ­affairs: Saint Anthony Fauci, the coronavirus czar once hailed as the most trusted man in America for his leadership through the pandemic. He has flip-flopped on every piece of advice, never admits doubt and tells lies with ­brazen indifference.

True, Fauci is a dissembler for sure. But the weirdness must be just in places like Manhattan, right? But what are we seeing here in Minnesota? 

Mitch shared a few examples yesterday. Here is what I’ve seen: I get a cup of coffee every morning at a gas station near my home. While I live in Ramsey County, I am not a St. Paul resident and there is no mask mandate for our community. The mask requirement signs are all taken down. But based on what I’ve observed, just about everyone who enters the station, at least in the morning rush, is wearing a mask. I started watching this behavior midweek. In the two days I observed, I saw about 25 people enter the store. Almost all of them were still wearing masks. The only guys who consistently didn’t wear a mask going into the store were the guys delivering milk. And, um, me.

Is there a health benefit to still wearing a mask, especially if you’re vaccinated? Or is it theater? Back to Devine:

It was just on Tuesday that Fauci admitted it was not science but theater that kept him wearing a mask — even double masking — despite being fully vaccinated for ­almost five months.

“I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals,” he told “Good Morning America.” “But being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low.”

So it is. But even then, he squirted out more octopus ink:

“I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not,” Fauci told Axios. “It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.”

And Devine isn’t having it:

Fauci at this point is being deliberately confusing. He is feeding the mental disorder of vaccinated Karens who cling to their masks. He needs to tell them the truth and stick to it.

I agree. And don’t expect Governor Walz to help straighten things out.

 

 

 

Ko-Ko Kamala And The Kalorama Kommissar

They never would be missed:

Vice President Kamala Harris keeps a list of reporters and other political types who might be racist, according to a profile published in the Atlantic on Monday.

“The vice president and her team tend to dismiss reporters. Trying to get her to take a few questions after events is treated as an act of impish aggression,” writes Edward-Isaac Dovere. “And Harris herself tracks political players and reporters whom she thinks don’t fully understand her or appreciate her life experience.”

In important ways, the less said about Harris’s life experiences, the better. But while most may not consider her an old school politician, her little list is straight outta 1885:

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found
I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!

List keeping is kind of a thing for our current leadership and their mentors. Consider this exchange from a previous administration:

“Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother,” Obama told [Oregon Congressman] DeFazio during a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus, according to members afterward.

I don’t doubt it for a second. Nor should you.

 

Who Needs A Highway, An Airport Or A Jet. . .

. . . when you can’t buy a gallon of gas?

Drivers along parts of the East Coast piled into gas stations on Tuesday, resulting in long lines and shortages as motorists reacted to what could be a weeklong shutdown of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline because of a cyberattack.

Colonial Pipeline Co., operator of a 5,500-mile conduit for gasoline, diesel and refined products, said Monday it hoped to substantially restore service by the end of the week. It shut the pipeline late last week after a ransomware attack that U.S. officials have linked to a criminal gang known as DarkSide.

We haven’t seen gas lines too often in recent years. I remember those gas lines in the 70s. OPEC was at the height of its powers and while the cartel didn’t conduct ransomware attacks per se, the effect was about the same. It happened the first time in late ’73 and into ’74, right as Watergate was starting to gain traction, and then again in 1979, when many of my friends were getting their driver’s licenses. We were eager to start cruising the main drag, but gas was hard to find at times, limiting our early forays into car culture and adulthood.

In the middle of that summer (July 15, to be precise) Jimmy Carter gave his infamous “malaise” speech. While the chattering classes were supportive, Carter’s hangdog expression and mien sent an unmistakable message of weakness, which other players noticed. Weak politicians don’t prosper, so Carter blew up his career that evening.

A few days earlier, a Chicago disc jockey Steve Dahl had blown up a large box of disco records at Comiskey Park, starting a melee that tore up the field and causing the White Sox to forfeit the second game of a scheduled doubleheader. About a month later, members of the provisional IRA assassinated Lord Mountbatten, detonating a bomb on his boat while he was out sailing with members of his family. One way or another, it seemed like things were about to blow in that summer of ’79.

We’re more than forty years on. Tensions have been high lately, but it’s been calm since the jury came back against Derek Chauvin. It’s likely our current gas shortage will be temporary and may not directly affect the Upper Midwest at all. History does not necessarily repeat, but it’s easy to sense weakness in our leaders at all levels of government. Some have already noticed. Joe Biden was on the scene in 1979, so I’d like to believe he was paying attention. Summer’s coming. I hope it doesn’t blow.

 

V-K Day

Mr. Mask Mandate, he dead:

Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday he’ll sign an order Friday ending Minnesota’s statewide mask-wearing mandate following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance allowing fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks.

Calling it a great day for Minnesota, the governor continued to plead with unvaccinated Minnesotans to get their shots to hold back the spread of COVID-19.

“So those peacetime emergencies are done and the business mitigations are coming to an end. I want to be clear it’s not the end of the pandemic, but it is the end of the pandemic for a lot of vaccinated folks,” he told reporters.

It’s the end of many things, actually — most importantly, it’s the end of Karen Nation enforcement and forcing shopkeepers and restaurateurs into indentured scolding, at least on this particular issue. Walz’s Nurse Ratched, Jan Malcolm, admitted as much:

“When things are no longer a rule or a mandate, they think therefore that everything is safe,” she said, noting that Minnesota still has a relatively high level of COVID-19 spread. “People may translate this guidance meaning that the pandemic is over.”

Malcolm said if it were feasible to keep a mask mandate just for unvaccinated people, “I definitely would have liked to see that. I just think that it’s not practically enforceable at this stage.”

I’ll bet she would have liked that. But apparently there is a limit after all. Maybe you don’t need to laminate the ol’ vaccine card.

The economic and social toll of the lockdowns is incalculable — how many families were separated, how many graduations were canceled, how many businesses were shuttered, how many of our elderly were consigned to death in nursing homes without being able to say goodbye or even have a final hug? Meanwhile, we’ve had the joy of experiencing Walz and his coterie treat our fair state as a protectorate. Now, suddenly, we say Goodbye to All That. The signs will come off the doors as soon as tomorrow, but the reckoning is about to begin.

Try Some, Buy Some

Every desktop should have a link to The Devil’s Dictionary, the masterwork of Ambrose Bierce, who had his primary success in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Bierce’s cynical lexicography still rings true, a full century after he wandered into Mexico to meet his Maker circa 1914. To use one example, Bierce defines “adherent” as follows:

ADHERENT, n. A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get.

All politicians are on the lookout for adherents, especially a guy like Gavin Newsom, the upmarket Jacob Frey who is (a) governor of California and (b) facing a recall. Newsom is a man in a hurry, so he’s looking to get some adherents in bulk:

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a second round of $600 state stimulus checks on Monday to hasten California’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to expand the payments from low-income residents to also include middle-class families, and noting that doing so would ensure benefits for 2 out of 3 state residents.

The proposal to deliver $8 billion in new cash payments to millions of Californians is part of a $100-billion economic stimulus plan made possible in part by a budget that has swelled with a significant windfall of tax revenues, a surplus the governor put at $75.7 billion.

You might wonder where the money came from, but never mind that, because ol’ Gavin’s not done — he’s also rent seeking, er, offering rent assistance: 

Newsom also proposed $5 billion to double rental assistance to get 100% of back rent paid for those who have fallen behind, along with as much as $2 billion in direct payments to pay down utility bills, proposals that were supported by legislative leaders on Monday.

This is hilariously corrupt but hey, who doesn’t love a stimmy? And since California is famously a one-party state, no one is gonna stop Newsom from buying his way out of a recall. Recall elections in Minnesota are essentially impossible, so Tim Walz doesn’t need to do this sort of thing, but there’s little doubt he’d pull the same stunt were it required. I think it’s safe to assume all Dem officeholders who find themselves in trouble will make it rain next year.  

Use All Your Well-Learned Politesse

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m Mr. D, a man of wealth (ed: not actually true) and taste. I’ve been commenting here at Mitch’s place for many years, but I have also been blogging at Mr. Dilettante’s Neighborhood for over 15 years, so I know the blogging biz. Mitch has graciously asked me to be a contributor here and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Brief intro: my current day job is as a contractor with a large medical device company, although I have done many other things in my career. I’ve been married to Mrs. D for nearly 30 years (anniversary in September!) and I live in the northern suburbs. I have two adult children.

I am roughly a contemporary of Mitch. I grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Minnesota in 1992, after spending five years in Chicago. I am a Catholic boy and a product of Catholic education. Unfortunately, I came of age in the late 1970s, so much of my religious instruction was Vatican II mush. I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to understand my faith. I write about that sometimes. I love sports, so you will see some of that as well, although I’d rather not discuss the Packers right now, thank you. I am conservative to libertarian in my politics, so yeah, I’ll write about that, too. And I love music, especially rock and pre-90s r&b, so I’ll write about that. I’m also good for archaic cultural references, but I will keep the Shields & Yarnell jokes to a low roar.

Most of all, I will respect your intelligence. The first thing you learn in writing classes is this: know your audience. I’ve been part of this audience for a long time, so I know this much — smart people congregate here. The internet is chock full of shoddy reasoning and facile argumentation and you don’t have time for that. Neither do I. Shot in the Dark has always been a refuge from the second-rate. And so it shall remain. Glad to be here.