Friday, October 30, 2009

Top Ten Fridays

I am accustomed to CNN simply slapping its logo on Democratic press releases, but this is one of the worst articles I have ever read. Tami Luhbi should be embarrassed. Ten things wrong with it.

1. The title is "Stimulus creates 650,000 jobs". That isn't even what the White House is claiming, and...

2. Even if it were claiming it, its methodology is sufficiently opaque that it is ridiculous to title your piece after the claim. Even the other MSM organizations ran with the headline White House: 650,000 Jobs Under Stimulus, or some such

3. The chart on the right doesn't make any sense until you read the paragraph above it, at which point, you can sort of see how it visually represents the paragraph above, but, then, what's the use of the chart?

4. The author fails to interview a single objective source. Seriously, a Senior Editor for CNN Money doesn't have a business leader or Econ Prof in her Rolodex?

5. Tami reports: "The state received awards of over $2 billion but spent only 11% of these funds, or $229,200." 11% of $2 billion is $229,200,000, not $229,200.

6. Apparently, CNN Money staff writer David Goldman contributed to this report. I guess it takes multiple journalists to be this hacky.

7. "Two weeks ago, the government provided an early glimpse of the challenges of transparency when it reported that 30,383 jobs had created by stimulus-funded federal contracts given directly to companies." Should read "...had been created by.

8. This sentence doesn't seem to be in English: Among recipients' biggest hurdles are accounting for part-time or short-term jobs created, for people working on multiple stimulus projects and for positions saved recovery act funding.

9. "The job numbers are at best going to be a rough outline of how the recovery act is impacting the economy," said Craig Jennings' senior policy analyst at OMB Watch, a government watchdog group. Does this mean they interviewed an anonymous senior policy analyst who works for Mr. Jennings? This could be an html error.

10. At the article's conclusion, we read this: Do you have a job because of the $787 billion stimulus package? We want to hear from people whose jobs have been created or saved by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Please e-mail your stories to and you could be part of an upcoming article.

Great. Even the proles get a chance to thank Barack Obama.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Open Letter to Blockbuster Video

Dear Sir or Sirs,

I am writing to inform you of my disappointment with your in-store selection of DVDs. On Tuesday night, I attempted to rent King Ralph, considered to be one of the most influential films of all time.

At first, I assumed that this incendiary commentary on class structure and social norms would be located in the 'Classics' section, or at least 'Drama'. After over an hour of searching, I decided to ask your associate to locate the film. I was dismayed to discover that the film is filed under 'Comedy', alongside such trifles as Turner and Hooch and Some Like it Hot.

To add insult to injury, even though the film was listed as in-stock, it was not on the shelves. I endeavored to wait by the dropoff slot until the film was returned, but was advised that such activity would be fruitless and, apparently, illegal. Consumed by rage, picked up one of your giant pre-packaged pickles and flung it across the store (note: I am enclosing $1.48 to cover the cost of the pickle, plus tax. I can't remember if it was $1.29 or $1.39. If the former, please remit ten cents to my account. Thanks.)

Resigned to my fate, I finally settled on my fallback. I watch it pretty much every day.



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Throwing Caution to the Wind

You know what? Screw it, I'm renting King Ralph.

What, you haven't heard of it? It's a film about the pressures of royalty, like The Queen, but subtly different. King Ralph is John Goodman's most important work.

I wish John Goodman and Helen Mirren would finally collaborate on something.

I particularly enjoy this scene, in which the king is served a royal meal consisting of chicken, carrots and boiled potatoes. Clearly, a lot of research went into the presentation of a royal meal.

Note the taut dialogue and pitch-perfect accents:

See? I never understand why you won't watch King Ralph with me. I can't believe I voted for you for president. Jerk.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am Swine Flu


You thought you could ignore me, and I'd go away? Like I'm Arrested Development?

Dude, I'm not a pop culture reference, I'm a plague. Check this out. Watch this. Watch how I roll.


I consulted with a fashion expert. Now I have a "look". Swine is fiiiiiine, baby.

Hey, SARS. Imma lechoo finish, but the Spanish Flu was the greatest pandemic of all time... That's a Kanye West joke. What, you think that's a "bit obvious"?


Oops, I seem to have sneezed blood all over Freckles. Whose a bit obvious now? Freckles is all swined up. What, you're crying? Freckles having Swine flu makes you sad? Awwww, was all that hand washing a complete and utter waste of time?

From now on you will laugh at my jokes. Who names their baby Freckles, anyway?

While you're busy laughing at my caustic humor, bring me some spaghetti. I freaking dig that stuff, man. Don't give me that look. You wanna ride shotgun on the Swine express? That's right...

Okay, that is clearly no spaghetti, but rather a pamphlet from the World Health Organization. I don't see what...

Oh. Really? Swine flu isn't carried by pigs? They hardly ever even contract the disease. I'm gonna need to see some evidence.

Oh, yeah, that's pretty compelling. No, I recognize that name. He's a pretty well respected researcher. Um...

I just wanted to apolog...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bono Loves Everyone More Than You

I am tired of Bono. I am experiencing Bono-fatigue, brought about by years of mediocre albums and sanctimony.

Suffices to say, I have no patience for this.

A FEW years ago, I accepted a Golden Globe award by barking out an expletive.

Yeah, that was weird. What happened there?

One imagines President Obama did the same when he heard about his Nobel, and not out of excitement.

I don't for one second imagine Obama did the same thing. My guess is he had Rahm Emanuel ask his Communications team to craft a speech. In fact, I'm 100% that's what he did. That said, the reason Bono cursed at the Golden Globes was out of delight at having won... A Golden Globe? Bono. Rock star of the universe and savior of Africa. Delighted. Golden Globe.

When Mr. Obama takes the stage at Oslo City Hall this December, he won’t be the first sitting president to receive the peace prize,

He will share the award with Woodrow !@#$ing Wilson. Read up on that guy. Not. Peaceful.

but he might be the most controversial.

Yassir Arafat was the most controversial. Thanks for playing, Bono.

There’s a sense in some quarters of these not-so-United States that Norway, Europe and the World haven’t a clue about the real President Obama;

Quite the contrary. Those of us who reside in "some quarters" think Norway has him pegged.

instead, they fixate on a fantasy version of the president, a projection of what they hope and wish he is, and what they wish America to be.

I wish he were John McCain, personally.

Well, I happen to be European, and I can project with the best of them.

Then how do you explain Zooropa?

So here’s why I think the virtual Obama is the real Obama, and why I think the man might deserve the hype. It starts with a quotation from a speech he gave at the United Nations last month:

You think he deserves the hype because he makes a good speech. Find me a person who does not think Obama's hype is related to his speech-making.

“We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.”

Compared to those other lousy presidents who announced their plans to increase poverty.

They’re not my words, they’re your president’s.

Gathered that from the quotation marks, but thanks for the clarification, Bono.

If they’re not familiar, it’s because they didn’t make many headlines.

The press really hasn't covered Barack Obama much at all, really. I honestly hadn't heard of the guy until, like, June of this year.

But for me, these 36 words are why I believe Mr. Obama could well be a force for peace and prosperity — if the words signal action.

They do not. End this op-ed.

The millennium goals, for those of you who don’t know, are a persistent nag of a noble, global compact.

Insofar as they were crafted to conform to a press release.

They’re a set of commitments we all made nine years ago whose goal is to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Barack Obama wasn’t there in 2000, but he’s there now. Indeed he’s gone further — all the way, in fact. Halve it, he says, then end it.

Not only that, but let's harvest the energy spent ending poverty into fossil fuels. There. I have an even better idea. Write an op-ed about me.

Many have spoken about the need for a rebranding of America.

Obama included.

Rebrand, restart, reboot.

Good verbs, Bono. Work it. Make it. Harder. Faster. Stronger.

In my view these 36 words, alongside the administration’s approach to fighting nuclear proliferation and climate change, improving relations in the Middle East and, by the way, creating jobs and providing health care at home, are rebranding in action.

Agreed. This administration is nothing if not a clever marketing campaign.

These new steps — and those 36 words — remind the world that America is not just a country but an idea, a great idea about opportunity for all and responsibility to your fellow man.

No, they don't. Nobody is reminded of this.

But I will venture to say that in the farthest corners of the globe, the president’s words are more than a pop song people want to hear on the radio. They are lifelines.

I would venture to say that they are utterly meaningless. If you were starving, would you care at all whether Barack Obama were exploiting your suffering for international acclaim? No, you would not.

In dangerous, clangorous times, the idea of America rings like a bell (see King, M. L., Jr., and Dylan, Bob).

This is a clangorous sentence, Bono.

It hits a high note and sustains it without wearing on your nerves. (If only we all could.)

Even more clangorous, Bono.

The world senses that America, with renewed global support, might be better placed to defeat this axis of extremism with a new model of foreign policy.

The world doesn't exactly have a great track record, w/r/t, sensing. Remember that Stalin guy? World had a good feeling about him. Oops.

It is a strangely unsettling feeling to realize that the largest Navy, the fastest Air Force, the fittest strike force, cannot fully protect us from the ghost that is terrorism ....

That's why we keep nukes.

Asymmetry is the key word from Kabul to Gaza .... Might is not right.

Even more clangorous, Bono.

I think back to a phone call I got a couple of years ago from Gen. James Jones. At the time, he was retiring from the top job at NATO; the idea of a President Obama was a wild flight of the imagination.

Who ever thought we would again have a charismatic, smooth-talking president who failed to live up to his words? Stuff of dreams. Obama.

General Jones was curious about the work many of us were doing in economic development,

Bono is using this exchange as an opportunity to talk about himself. Moving on...

Remember, this was a moment when America couldn’t get its cigarette lighted in polite European nations like Norway;

I'll go on the record as not giving a damn what the Norwegians think of America. Minnesota is full of Norwegians. They are the most disloyal, weak-kneed, equivocal people I have ever encountered. Just ask the Minnesota Vikings.

Stability = security + development.

Fair enough.

Enter Barack Obama.

He entered, like, five paragraphs ago. You can't use this rhetorical device now.

If that last line still seems like a joke to you ... it may not for long.


Mr. Obama has put together a team of people who believe in this equation.

Don Rumsfield was a devotee of the now-debunked Stability/security = (Infrastructure)-squared equation.

From a development perspective, you couldn’t dream up a better dream team to pursue peace in this way, to rebrand America.

Security = (Peace*Branding)/Dreams

The president said that he considered the peace prize a call to action. And in the fight against extreme poverty, it’s action, not intentions, that counts.

Unless you are awarding Nobel Prizes.

That stirring sentence he uttered last month will ring hollow

Disingenuously agreed.

unless he returns to next year’s United Nations summit meeting with a meaningful, inclusive plan,

To which, no matter what he says, he will earn praise from Norway and Bono.

one that gets results for the billion or more people living on less than $1 a day. Difficult. Very difficult. But doable.

Especially when the goal is so nebulously defined as "gets results". It is not only doable, but inevitable that there will be results. That's why they call them results.

What the president promised was a “global plan,” not an American plan.

He's a global president, not an American president. He should go lead Egypt.

The same is true on all the other issues that the Nobel committee cited, from nuclear disarmament to climate change — none of these things will yield to unilateral approaches.

It will take lots and lots of buzzwords to solve our world's problems.

The president has set himself, and the rest of us, no small task.

Barack Obama is NOT in charge of my task list.

That’s why America shouldn’t turn up its national nose at popularity contests.

Wait, what? We should embrace popularity contests because Barack Obama has given us a task? What is the cause and effect relationship, there?

In the same week that Mr. Obama won the Nobel, the United States was ranked as the most admired country in the world, leapfrogging from seventh to the top of the Nation Brands Index survey — the biggest jump any country has ever made.

Which is why Americans should turn their noses up at popularity contests.

Like the Nobel, this can be written off as meaningless ...

When in reality it is dangerous and sad.

a measure of Mr. Obama’s celebrity (and we know what people think of celebrities).

Do we know what people think of celebrities? I'm not sure I agree with Bono as to how I regard celebrities. I certainly wouldn't give them a semi-regular editorial space in my newspaper.

But an America that’s tired of being the world’s policeman, and is too pinched to be the world’s philanthropist, could still be the world’s partner. And you can’t do that without being, well, loved.

Counterpoint: WW2.

Here come the letters to the editor, but let me just say it: Americans are like singers

No we are not.

— we just a little bit, kind of like to be loved.

No. Most Americans do not care if they are loved. That's why we are not loved. Our president, however, is quite like a singer.

The British want to be admired;


the Russians, feared;


the French, envied.

Is this the projecting to which Bono was referring earlier? I think he just envies the French. I do not, nor do I want the French to love me. I want them to obey.

(The Irish, we just want to be listened to.)


But the idea of America, from the very start, was supposed to be contagious enough to sweep up and enthrall the world.

No it wasn't. The idea of America was to reject the world, with it's kingdoms and fiefdoms and dictators. The world is made up of idiots, to whom we are superior. Our government didn't give us the freedom of speech. We insist upon it (much to the dismay of the world").

As a consequence, we don't have the world's fiefdoms and kingdoms, and we have the military might to bring them down.

Our earliest leaders weren't popular, and they certainly weren't lovely. They were bold, ugly, violent men. Nobody would have awarded George Washington a peace prize, and he would have mucked it had they done so. If "the world" didn't like our freedom, it had two choices: Deal with it or die.

Barack Obama is an anomaly, a product of the Internet generation whose stock and trade are charisma and marketing. The world showers him with acclaim at the precise moment when our citizens are beginning to see through him.

And it is. The world wants to believe in America again because the world needs to believe in America again. We need your ideas — your idea — at a time when the rest of the world is running out of them.

The world never had ideas to begin with, and I doubt it ever will. Bono certainly doesn't. I have no interest in re-branding to conform to his tastes.

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Monday Musings - Now With Grass Fed Beef

I'm tired. You might be too. Let's muse.

Last week, Sojourners responded to seemingly conflicting accusations regarding their abortion stance from AlterNet and First Things, of which Ryan Roderick Beiler wrote:

However, I’ve always had a tremendous desire to introduce our critics on the left to our critics on the right. I would love to be a fly on the wall as they debate which one of them is wrong about our position on hot button issues, of which abortion is the easiest example:

His dream came true, as Adele Stan from AlterNet commented on Keith Pavlischek's response to Ryan. The mutual conclusion was that either could be wrong, since Jim Wallis is guilty of employing an intellectual falsehood and obfuscating his stance on the issue.


Setting aside the question of whether Anita Dunn was joking when she said she adheres to the political philosophies of Mao Tse Tung, what kind of communications professional thinks it's a good idea to make this joke in front of schoolchildren?


That said, the White House is putting Anita front and center in their battle with Fox News. Declaring war on a television station is such a colossally bad idea, that I have to think this is simply going to be the pretense for firing her. She isn't good at her job, and anyone who shouts "Mao" in a crowded classroom is going to be a political liability in the future.

I smell a Saturday evening firing some time in November. She goes, or Lenny Gibbs does.


One day after lamenting burger hype in the Twin Cities, I became it's latest victim. Burger Jones, whose holding company arguably initiated the summer burger craze with its customary PR blitz, simply doesn't make a good burger.

Short on flavor, wimpy bun, inconsistent patty size, no sear. You name it. For $10 ($14 if you include fries), I expect a masterpiece. This is not that.


Congratulations to Peter, who has officially made the transition from irono-culture maven to blubbering baby-lover... Witness the transformation:

There I was, holding a copy of Alan Jackson’s Let it Be Christmas in a busy department store in October, weeping openly. This is no joke.

Oh yes it is. The big black man will be along to confiscate your Miller High Life shortly. He'll stop on his way to Burger Jones.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Top Ten Fridays: Annoying Food Trends

Recently, Esquire named it's 12 most annoying food trends. As a blogger, I am permitted to steal ideas without consequence, so I will. Many of the "trends" don't particularly apply here in Minnesota (if a bar doesn't have a sign, that usually just means someone stole it, or that most of the patronage doesn't ever leave, thus negating the need).

So here are my top ten obnoxious Twin Cities trends:

10. Soft openings

In the Internet age, there is no such thing as a soft open. Launches are tough enough without adding another hurdle of lacking preparation. If you don't have your act together (liquor licensing, remodeling, wait-staff), don't open. Otherwise, that buzz you're building is purely negative, and you're wasting your customers's time and money.

9. Burger hysteria

With 22,563 new burger restaurants in the Twin Cities, and 1,428,960 (estimate) slated to open in 2010, the Twin Cities is becoming a burger mecca for some reason. The reaction to this has either been unbridled enthusiasm or outrage. Stupid and annoying. I don't want to debate the merits of Five Guys Burgers vs. Sonic Burgers. Neither am I interested in hemming and hawing about how burgers are really just lips and anuses crushed into a patty.

There are several great burgers (h/t Victory 44, Vincent, and Blue Door), and they are well-worth eating, whether Fatburger opens 39 locations here or not.

8. Beets

I like a good beet salad, but since when did it become mandatory that they be included on at least two items on every menu? Seriously, find me an upscale restaurant that doesn't have beets on the menu. Worse, a lot of chefs manage to screw 'em up. Beets are the new seared scallops.

That said, if a fast food chain centered on beets were to open, that would be amazing.

7. Upscale bars with lousy tap selections.

Not going to name names, but if you are going to have the words "pub", "alehouse" or "brewery" in your name, you should offer a unique and excellent selection of beers. Throwing a Surly in with your assortment of Miller, Leinies and Summit does not qualify.

6. Employees who don't know directions.

I don't expect every hostess who picks up the phone to know how to direct me to their restaurant from, say, Chaska. But if I'm six blocks away? Lots of restaurants are popping up in non-traditional locations, so knowing where your restaurant is located is just good business.

5. Happy hour shenanigans.

With the economy on the downswing, we're seeing more happy hour specials. That means more happy hour related BS. If you're going to advertise it, live up to it, and make clear what it is. Keep your website updated, and be consistent.

4. Prix Fixe shenanigans.

I seldom complain about portion sizes, because it is not a restaurants job to make sure I'm stuffed. But some restaurants are using fixed course options to sneak in some pretty scandalously tiny stuff. If you're offering a tasting menu, call it that. If you're offering three courses, then provide three courses, not a niblet of each.

3. Valet parking at low to mid-price non-Downtown restaurants.

This is just stupid.

2. Crappy bread and hard butter.

This is not a new trend, but it has certainly gotten old. Here's a good rule of thumb w/r/t bread. If you have to heat it up, you probably shouldn't be serving it to your customers. And what, exactly, does the act of smashing an icy cube of butter against a wimpy piece of hot bread do to enhance one's dining experience?

1. Farm fresh, rather than well cooked.

Look, I appreciate great sourcing, and we have some great local resources for meat and dairy in this state. I absolutely want Berkshire pork to do well. But it's a disservice to their quality product when it is present in phoned-in or inconsistent dishes. I would rather eat a dish made from Sysco food products by an outstanding chef than a banal preparation of something that was killed five hours ago.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Those Who Can't Do, Write. Those Who Can't Write, Write About Sports.

Rush Limbaugh tried to help buy the failing St. Louis Rams. Bryan Burwell doesn't like that one bit. Why? Rush Limbaugh is raaaaaaaacist. How racist? So racist, he has to make up quotes and attribute them to Rush, just to get at how racist Rush is.

This is drivel
. Let's shred it.

Rush Limbaugh wants to own the St. Louis Rams. Well, good for him. His money is green and plentiful and his politics are conservative, which means he'll pretty much fit right in with the rest of the gang within the NFL ownership's corridors of power.

Um, nice thesis statement, Bry.

They probably don't care about his politics.

Why would they? How could that possibly be relevant to the question of whether one should own a football team?

With a wink and a smile, they will surely welcome him to their club, because ultimately all they care about is whether or not his check will bounce, and we all know that's highly unlikely.

Football being a business, that is what matters, yes. When Bryan sells his house, is he more interested in whether the new owner can pay, or whether the new owner might be a Republican?

They will all look the other way when it comes to Limbaugh — forgetting his polarizing racial politics, conveniently ignoring (perhaps even quietly agreeing with) all the mean-spirited divisive bile that comes along with his ample financial clout — just like many of you surely will, too.

Largely because I don't give one whit who owns my football team, unless that person's last name is Ford.

They will look the other way because of his wealth and influence.

And because it is completely and utterly fine for a Republican to own a football team.

You will look the other way because to some of you, he is your politically incorrect hero, and the rest might be willing to ignore all of that just as long as he can put enough money on the table to help keep your football team in St. Louis.

And because his politics have absolutely NOTHING to do with running a football team.

I don't have that luxury.

Being a hack and all.

"Look, let me put it to you this way: The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

And then Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, and Donte Stallworth totally proved him wrong.

Those are Limbaugh's words. So are these:

"I mean, let's face it, we didn't have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: Slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back. I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark."

I know how those words play out in Idiot America. They are embraced as gospel.

Bryan is an idiot, and embraced this quote as gospel.

(ed. note:for those who are unaware, Bryan is now in hot water for having cited a left-wing screwball book, which, in turn, attributed the above quote to Limbaugh... Alas, Limbaugh never said this.)

But inside the locker rooms of the NFL, where the overwhelming majority of the players are descendants of slaves, Limbaugh's ignorant ramblings resonate with entirely different emotions.

That's because idiots like Bryan get paid to foment racial dissent with misinformation. The solution is to cease paying idiots like Bryan.

Remember the failed experiment with the ESPN NFL pregame show?

He said that Donovan McNabb was overrated on account of his being a black quarterback. It was then fomented by the race dissenters for weeks. It was also arguably true.

Remember the seething anger and pained expression on the face of ESPN analyst Tom Jackson

This I do not remember, since I could not possibly care less whether or not ESPN analyst Tom Jackson seethed or not.

Remember the uncomfortable backtracking that had to be done when Limbaugh spouted off on his predictable anti-affirmative action screed and took McNabb down into the cesspool with him?

Note to Bryan... Minority share owners in football teams are not called upon to provide football analysis on the air. Also, McNabb didn't go into any cesspool. He's still in the NFL. He's totally fine.

This isn't about conservative politics.

It's about deigning to express them in public.

He would fit right in with the rest of the exclusive boys club of ultra-wealthy, ultra-conservative white men who rule the ownership suites of most professional sports leagues.

So, does Bryan have a point, or was this article just an excuse to reproduce that phony slavery quote?

And yes, that is exactly what it is, no matter how many of his blindly loyal supporters want to put the "politically incorrect" party dress on it.

How about a "completely fabricated by a left-wing lunatic" tuxedo?

"The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."

That's just really weird, moreso than racist. Seriously, the dude has been on the radio for, what, 10,000 hours? This is the best you can come up with?

If Goodell has issues with the embarrassing antics of some of his players, what will he do when Limbaugh inevitably crosses the line of good conduct?

If he thought electrocuting dogs, paying off the family of the man one ran over while drunk and high, and shooting one's self in the leg was embarrassing, just wait until Rush Limbaugh weirdly insinuates something about the NAACP.

Did you notice that I didn't say "if"?

Actually, you did say "if". It's the first word in the sentence above.

I didn't say "if" because anyone who is even marginally familiar with Limbaugh's act knows it's only a matter of time before he says something that is at the very least embarrassing but will most likely top out at downright hateful.

And if he doesn't, you'll just make it up.

Dancing with Limbaugh is like dancing with a snake. Eventually, the snake will bite you. That's his nature.

That's a very hacky analogy, Bryan.

You just might want to consider this while everyone is conveniently forgetting (or perhaps even quietly agreeing with) all the polarizing racial politics that comes along with Limbaugh:

Bryan has been doing this throughout the whole piece, the thing where he parenthetically asserts that the people of St. Louis are secretly racist. Have we reached the point where we can just parenthetically assert one's racism, by the by? Can we yadda, yadda racism? Apparently so.

In this modern age of the NFL, where free agents have the right to pick where they play, how many will turn their nose up at the Rams once they get a whiff of Limbaugh's "Bloods vs. Crips" sensibilities?

Not a single one. Here's what NFL players don't do: Turn down multi-million dollar contracts because they don't want to work for a Republican. This has never, ever happened, in any professional sport. Ever.

Here's a question for Bryan. How many potential owners (sports or otherwise) are going to want to invest in a town where the journalists run with false information?

Bryan may or may not know this, but St. Louis is generally regarded as a hellhole. Reason: it's a hellhole. The St. Louis Rams are worse than the Detroit Lions. Rush Limbaugh and his conservative buddies, racists (parenthetically or otherwise) that they are , are putting up a LOT of money in an attempt to keep a football team there.

The alternative is to move the team, in which case your talentless, hacky, unaccountable ass gets fired. Say what you will about Rush Limbaugh. At least the man can do his job.

That talentless thugs like Bryan Burwell won the battle here should give us pause. Apparently, there is now a political litmus test for investing in a community. We should think twice about that.

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It Ain't Easy, Being Sleazy

Sojourners is an organization that unilaterally supports the agenda of the Democratic party. No reasonable person doubts this, but their acrobatic prevarications to the contrary are amusing to read.

No more so than when they actually catch someone who isn't paying attention, and actually takes the pseudo-centrist bait. In particular, they are often the victim of left wing critics who have not (and seldom do) any research.

The organization pretends to bemoan such criticism, knowing full well that their conceit relies upon it. This is how Jim Wallis gets (handsomely) paid.

His toady, Ryan Roderick Beiler, explains:

Every now and then someone to our right or left posts an article excoriating Sojourners or Jim Wallis for not being _____ enough,

Actually, Ryan, they just disagree with you on the issues. That is allowed, and even encouraged, in some circles. Also, a thesis statement really shouldn't feature blanks.

infuriated that we still claim to be _____ even though we’re really just _____.

Non-partisan. Partisan.

You may want to play along with this Mad Libs game at home.

Just did. That was very clever, the Mad Libs thing.

The comments on this blog often do,

Until the commenters are banned, if they are conservative.

filling in those blanks with terms like “conservative,” “liberal,” “evangelical,” “progressive,” “pro-life,” “pro-abortion,” “anti-abortion,” “pro-gay,” “anti-gay,” “radical socialist,” “closet conservative,” “Obama shill,” and “White House hijacker”

Well, the blog itself claims to be progressive... As to Obama shill, I'll say this. Would a forthright Obama shill, for example that poor retarded fellow who is forced to conduct press conferences on Obama's behalf, find any complaint with anything written in Sojourners magazine, or on the Sojourners blog?

respectively, depending on whether it’s the right or left wing that’s doing the flapping.

"Flapping" is a good word to use to discredit the arguments of those who disagree with you, without having to actually engage their viewpoint, which Sojourners never does, and of which Ryan is incapable.

While we don’t shy away from honest debate,

"Honest debate" is hyperlinked to a three year old exchange with Ralph Reed, conducted more than three years ago. Ralph. Reed. Three years ago.

we generally prefer not to respond to attacks that are unfair, inaccurate, or ad hominem.

Or respond to any criticism at all.

However, I’ve always had a tremendous desire to introduce our critics on the left to our critics on the right.

I think this is defining downward the concept of "tremendous desire", no?

I would love to be a fly on the wall as they debate which one of them is wrong about our position on hot button issues,

Alternately, you could spend more time articulating your position on those issues.

of which abortion is the easiest example: “He’s anti-choice!” “He’s certainly not pro-life!”

Let me explain what Ryan is doing here. He is using the presence of a debate about Sojourners' stand on an issue to imply that Sojo has not taken a stand. Misunderstandings aside, this question has a correct answer: Sojourners is a pro-choice organization, which simply chooses not to shed light on that fact, lest it be forthright, and lose delusional donors in the process.

Of course, they might just find common ground — that they both don’t like Sojourners or Jim Wallis.

Poor Jim Wallis. The people he criticizes don't like him, and neither do the people he pretends to criticize.

But at the risk of fanning the flames, I want to make at least one virtual introduction as an example: Adele Stan of Mother Jones, meet Keith Pavlischek of First Things:

From Stan’s “White House Religion Adviser Trying to Hijack Health Care For Anti-Choice Cause“:

Adele Stan accuses Jim Wallis of being opposed to legal abortion. Jim Wallis favors legal abortion. So Adele Stan is mistaken, though it's hard to blame him for being so since this Wallis has been so utterly dishonest about the issue. Which, given that rendering opaque the Sojo opinion on abortion is sort of the organization's bread and butter, I'm not sure if Ryan really wants to be "fanning the flames" here.

From Pavlischek’s “Back to Zero Cheers for Jim Wallis”:

Ryan ellipses and parentheses' Pavlischek to death, as follows:

[Wallis] has become little more than a flack for the Obama administration … Wallis has never really been serious on abortion … Wallis said that the abortion issue should not “doom the chances” of healthcare legislation … Back to zero cheers for Jim Wallis.

What Pavlischek actually said was that Wallis had earned one cheer for at least opposing the inclusion of abortion coverage in the health care reform bill, but that he lost that cheer for later arguing the inclusion of such language ought not to condemn the bill.

Also, since Wallis is so keen on "honest debate", I challenge him to debate one of the editors of "First Things". I mean, why be a fly on the wall when you can have a comfy chair at the table? No? Rather stick to panel shows and Ralph Reed? Okay, then.

So which is it? Are we hijacking Obama’s health-reform policy with our radical anti-abortion agenda?


Or are we uncritical lackeys of the Obama Administration that don’t really care about abortion?


Do we really get zero cheers? And multiple jeers?

Sounds fair.

Of course, this brings to mind the old joke that being a bridge builder means you get walked on from both sides.

Of course, in this case, all parties wind up in the Mississippi.

And though being beaten up by both sides doesn’t necessarily make you the happy medium,

Especially when there is nothing happy or medium about you.

there is something deeply gratifying about having the attacks of one set of critics offset by the arguments of their ideological counterparts.

Ryan and I have differing ideas as to what constitutes gratification. What is gratifying about being fundamentally misunderstood as to how you approach important issues? Expedient, surely, especially in this economy, but gratifying?

I suppose that’s the price for taking nuanced, common ground positions in a world of fundamentalists on both the left and the right.

No. It's what you get for being full of crap. You stink, no matter who's doing the smelling.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eugene Robinson Still Gets a Paycheck

And I love it. This week, we've got Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck in the first paragraph. This will be a particularly empty exercise.

Somebody explain this to me:

Happy to do so.

The president of the United States wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and Rush Limbaugh joins with the Taliban in bitterly denouncing the award?

Geologists join with the Taliban in researching caves. This cheap rhetorical device isn't even phrased as a question, but I'll answer it, cause it's got a question mark. Rush opposes the award because he doesn't think Obama deserves it. The Taliban opposes it because it is batshit insane. Insane people are right once in a while. Didn't Eugene see Revolutionary Road?

Glenn Beck has a conniption fit and demands that the president not accept what may be the world's most prestigious honor?

It is precisely because the honor is prestigious that Obama should have declined it, was the argument. If he had won the George McGovern award for advancement and character, nobody would care.

The Republican National Committee issues a statement sarcastically mocking our nation's leader -- elected, you will recall, by a healthy majority -- as unworthy of such recognition?

Not sure what Eugene's question is here. Is he saying it's wrong to mock a president who is elected by a healthy majority? Cause, well, pot meet kettle, Washington Post. Or is he saying that simply being elected qualifies one for the Nobel freaking Peace Prize? To which, commentary implied by the inclusion of the word "freaking".

Why, oh why, do conservatives hate America so?

Because one of its leading papers allows asinine nonsense like this to be written.

OK, I know, it's just some conservatives who've been exhibiting what they, in a different context, surely would describe as "Hanoi Jane" behavior.

Hanoi Jane went to our enemies, disseminated their talking points, accused our prisoners of war of being hypocrites and liars, and... Why am I dignifying this idiocy with a response?

Others who haven't taken leave of their political senses...

Given the above, I'm not sure Eugene ought to be the arbiter of what constitutes political sense.

-- and are familiar with the concept of manners -- responded to President Obama's unexpected award with equanimity and even grace. Sen. John McCain, for example, offered his good-natured congratulations.

Sen. John McCain always offers his good-natured congratulations. Have you ever noticed that? Also, he would have had the good sense to turn down this award, not that he would have received it.

Some of Obama's most strident critics, however, just can't give it a rest. They use words like "farce" and "travesty," as if there were always universal agreement on the worthiness of the Nobel peace laureate.

If there was universal agreement as to what constitutes a farce, there would be no need to argue that something is a farce. The purpose of editorializing is precisely not to speak to universal agreement.

Does anyone remember the controversy over Henry Kissinger or Yasser Arafat or F.W. de Klerk?

So, Eugene is arguing that the award is a farce after all.

The problem for the addlebrained Obama-rejectionists is that the president, as far as they are concerned, couldn't possibly do anything right, and thus is unworthy of any conceivable recognition.

No, the "addlebrained" argument is that he has done nothing to advance peace, and has not laid out a roadmap for peace, and has in fact made moves that will ensure war.

If Obama ended all hunger in the world, they'd accuse him of promoting obesity.

Thanks for the hypothetical.

If he solved global warming, they'd complain it was getting chilly.

Actually, Obama already solved global warming, and it is getting chilly.

If he got Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Netanyahu to join him around the campfire in a chorus of "Kumbaya," the rejectionists would claim that his singing was out of tune.

No, we'd complain that Obama thinks bringing leaders around the campfire to sing "Kumbaya" is going to solve long-standing religious land disputes. The event itself would literally be beyong parody, so Glenn Beck would simply show the footage, and then stare into the camera and shrug. That is how that would go, Eugene.

More interesting, but no less goofy, is the recommendation -- by otherwise sane commentators -- that Obama should decline the award. This is ridiculous.

Wait. Haven't we just spent the last several paragraphs talking about this recommendation? He referred to it in his opening paragraph. What were we just talking about? This is bad writing.

If the award just represented the political views of a handful of left-leaning, self-satisfied Norwegian Eurocrats, as some critics have charged, then it wouldn't matter whether Obama won it or not.

Fair enough. But it means much more.

But of course it means much more.


The Nobel Peace Prize, irrespective of the idiosyncratic process that selects its winner, is universally recognized as a stamp of the world's approval.

Thanks for the clarification, Eugene.

For an American president to reject such a token of approval would be absurdly counterproductive.

Why? Because Eugene says so, I guess.

Obama has shifted U.S. foreign policy away from George W. Bush's cowboy ethos toward a multilateral approach.

Just ask Poland... Wait, on second thought, ask France. What? France isn't on board? How is that poss... Alright, I'll throw out a random country. Czech Republic. No? So who is with him on this? Gordon Brown? But he's not going to be in power much... Oy, vey.

He envisions, and has begun to implement, a different kind of U.S. leadership that I believe is more likely to succeed in an interconnected, multipolar world. That this shift is being noticed and recognized is to Obama's credit -- and to our country's.

Again, the award was decided within days of his becoming president.

The peace prize comes as Obama is in the midst reviewing war strategy in Afghanistan. Some advocates for sending additional troops are complaining -- and some advocates of a pullout are hoping -- that the award may somehow limit the president's options.

Which would be a great reason for him to reject the award.

But the prize is nothing more than an acknowledgment of what Obama has been saying and doing thus far.

Then why does disagreeing with its award put one in league with the Taliban? Aren't you really saying you don't approve of what the President has done thus far?

He hardly needs to be reminded of his philosophy of international relations -- or that he once called Afghanistan a "war of necessity."

Because he's making it up as he goes along.

What I really don't understand is the view that somehow there's a tremendous downside for Obama in the award. It raises expectations, these commentators say -- as if expectations of any American president, and especially this one, were not already sky high.

Quick aside. Does Eugene really not understand this view? How is that possible? At a moment in which the American people are realizing the emperor has no clothes, the Nobel committee just sent him a bowtie. You can agree or disagree with that interpretation of the narrative, but to not understand it?

Obama has taken on the rescue of the U.S. financial system and the long-term restructuring of the economy.

And that's going swimmingly, isn't it?

He has launched historic initiatives to revolutionize health care, energy policy and the way we educate our children.

Extending the school year counts as a revolution?

He said flatly during the campaign that he wants to be remembered as a transformational president.

The only reasonable response is McCain's: Congratulations.

The only reasonable response to someone wanting to do something is: Congratulations? That's America for you.

Nothing, not even the Nobel Peace Prize, can set the bar any higher for President Obama than he's already set it for himself.

The only reasonable response to this bit of fawning is mine: Puke.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Musings - First Snow Edition

As Minnesotans resume their muted grumbling, let's roll.

The BBC alerts us
to something Minnesotans are already experiencing first hand. The Earth isn't really warming.

The fact that the Earth has been cooling since 1998 has been acknowledged by green scientists for some time, so this is hardly revelatory. What is revelatory is the proclamation by one of the IPCC (Al Gore's fan club, or vice versa) scientists predicts continued cooling for the next 10-20 years.

In spite of this, we are to place our unwavering faith in the "settled science", even as the science continues to update it's "projections" post facto. Not buying it. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you're not, gonna, you're not gonna fool me again.

I'll go ahead and move myself back into the global warming skeptic column.


After Oslo awarded Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, commentators on both sides of the aisle proposed he decline the award. To have done so would have been humble, appropriate and (consequently) politically savvy. Of course, Obama accepted the award.

You know who would have turned it down? John McCain, that's who. But I think a Clinton (Bill or Hillary) might have as well.

Which brings me to this. As Obama's policies continue to falter, he is going to need keen political instincts to keep him and his party afloat. I flatly do not think he has any such instincts at his disposal. His ken is unkeen, you could say, which is good, for Americans, if not for Oslo.


If you are looking for an affordable date spot, you can scarcely do better than the Tanpopo Noodle Shop. The simple, elegant decor matches a simple, elegant offering. The Agedashi tofu appetizer and mushroom soba ($12.50 for the pair) were standouts. It earns a strong recommendation from me.


I'd write more, but I have to spend more time under blankets. Viva la small business!

Friday, October 09, 2009

New Obama Flavor!

New Obama Flavor!

Unearned glory!

Feel the uselessness of hope! Obama has you now!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Declaration of Co-dependence

Jim Wallis has crafted a "faith declaration" for health-care. How convenient that he has done so moments after the structure of the Democratic plan has been introduced. Let's roll...

Over the course of the health-care debate, voices of faith have been raised about the moral values at stake beneath the policy discussions.

Which is relevant for no particular reason.

From the Bill of Rights to the abolition of slavery, from women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement, those who have raised the question of values have often changed our country for the better. Change can be scary in uncertain times, but it always comes when a nation chooses hope over fear.

The Bill of Rights is a document borne of a variety of fears. Fear of abuse of power. Fear of established religion. Fear of censorship. The thing talks about armed militias for crying out loud. The Bill of Rights is a fear-based document, and an awesome one.

Unfortunately, God sent Moses down from the mountain with only the Ten Commandments,

I think everyone can pretty much agree that God blew this one.

There is no one “right” religious position on how health care should be provided.

This is the sort of sentence that is always followed with a qualifer.

But I believe


there are some fundamental moral and biblical principles on which to evaluate any final legislative agreement, principles on which many people of faith — even politically diverse people — might agree.

Liberals and Democrats alike agree with Wallis.

After the heat of the summer’s confrontations over health care, it’s time for a cooler fall debate.

Nothing cools off a debate like framing a discussion around the ten commandments.

It’s time for a re-set of the health-care debate,

A debate is not a Nintendo, Jim.

and a return to some basic principles could help.

It will not help.

1. Health, not sickness, is the will of God.

Just ask Job.

We can see this from the story in Genesis of the garden, where sickness was never found, and from the vision in Revelation of a city in which death will be no more.

If our goal is to end sickness, one trillion dollars would be much better spent providing safe drinking water to third world nations.

The gospel stories of Jesus healing people, of restoring them to physical wholeness and full participation in their community, always signaled God’s presence.

Full participation in their community? Christ's followers were beaten and killed!

United we stand, divided we fall.

This explains everything. Thanks Jim.

The division between those who can afford adequate coverage and those who cannot is a threat to our unity, to the health of our neighbors, and to our nation.

When I didn't have health insurance, I was in total disunity with people.

Our moral and religious standards say no one should be left out of a system simply because of not being able to afford good health.

Which moral and religious standard would that be? The one that cannot be found in those wholly inadequate commandments?

Patients not profits.

This is nowhere in the Bible.

No one should be discriminated against in their health care because they are sick. Our faith mandates that we give extra consideration and help to those who are sick,

These two statements are contradictory.

but every time an insurance company denies coverage for “pre-existing conditions,” excluded ailments, or confusing fine print, their profits go up.

As people of faith, we do not know the way the insurance industry works. Since I, apparently, am not a person of faith, I will explain this to those who are. It is in an insurance company's best interests to provide care for AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE. Those with pre-existing conditions represent the best opportunities for profits, insofar as the risks associated with their premiums can be calculated.

Also, asking the government to reduce "confusing fine print" is like asking a whale to juggle.

Every doctor I know decided to pursue medicine to help people.

And for the money. They make lots and lots of money, doctors, and they like it.

Life and liberty must both be protected.

Unless you're an unborn child; in which case, bugger off.

The health-care system should protect the sanctity and dignity of life in accordance with existing law and the current rules,

Really, this is what our religion teaches? That life should be protected, but only within the existing law and current rules? This is Christ's teaching on life? Really?

and the prohibition on federal funding of abortions should be consistently and diligently applied to any legislation.

Or not. Wallis isn't going to get hung up on this issue because he doesn't care, because he thinks abortion should be legal.

Evidence suggests that supporting low-income and pregnant women with adequate health care increases the number of women who chose to carry their child to term — if we reform health care in the right way, we can reduce abortions in the U.S.

There is no evidence that suggests this. Wallis is making it up.

While religious people don’t all agree on all the issues of abortion, we should agree that those differences must not be allowed to derail the crucial need for comprehensive health-care reform.

Why should we agree on this? On what basis? Where do we find this in scripture? Also, how can you derail a need?

For the next generation, health-care reform should be based on firm financial foundations.

But again, let's not let this distinction derail the crucial needs.

Health care is a vital and wise investment for the future of our families and society.

Health care isn't an investment. It is something in which we invest. The degree to which we invest in it is the core of THE ENTIRE DEBATE.

But the way we pay for it should be fair and equitable and seek to lessen the burden on succeeding generations — both in bringing everyone into the system and by bringing the costs of health care under control over time.

Just like government has done with schools. Or Medicare. Or the military. Or pork spending. Or...

Our religious traditions suggest that social justice and fiscal responsibility must not be pitted against each other,

This is why I vote Republican, people.

— let’s take the best of who we are,

We're all demagogues, right?

The misinformation, falsehoods, and outright lies that have been circulating obscure the moral and religious core of this debate: that millions of people are suffering in an inequitable and inefficient health-care system, and that too many powerful people are profiting from that broken system in defiance of the common good.

Whereas nobody will profit from a government run system. We can be certain that, once we have a federal health care system for all, there won't even be a need for lobbyists. This is a reasonable opinion.

Perhaps the faith community could help model a more civil debate and find the sensible moral center that will help the country find the best solutions to the health of the nation.

Sojourners bans conservatives from posting on it's blog. Which, I guess that's one way to keep the debate civil.

Here's a wager. No matter what bill the Democrats draft, Wallis will find that it squares precisely with his new commandments.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Eugene Robinson Says Shut Up

Democrats have always been a voice of reason when it comes to Afghanistan. Even if political bickering has clouded judgment on Iraq, they have always been...

Oh, wow....

Generals Need to Shut Up and Salute

Maybe Eugene Robinson means that ironically. As though he's saying "look, Obama may not like what he's saying, but what is the alternative. Don't kill the messenger, eh?"

That, or he's about to embarrass himself again. Again, I take these as I go. I see the name, I see the headline, and I make assumptions.

How to proceed in Afghanistan will be among the most difficult and fateful decisions that President Obama ever makes. But he's the one who has to decide, not his generals.

So, not ironic, I take it. That's cool...

The men with the stars on their shoulders -- and I say this with enormous respect for their patriotism and service -- need to shut up and salute.

To which they respond, with no respect whatsoever intended to Robinson's profession, that he can perform the vulgar and anatomically impossible unto his person.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, is entitled to his opinion about the best way forward.

Absolutely, considering he is, you know, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

But he has no business conducting a public campaign to build support for his preferred option, which is to send tens of thousands more troops into a country once called the "graveyard of empires."

The person who called it that (Milton Bearden) agrees with McChrystal that we will need more troops if we wish to continue to fight the Taliban. Hundreds of thousands of them. He said so in public.

McChrystal's view -- that a strategy employing fewer resources, in pursuit of more limited goals, would be "short-sighted" --

...gels with everything Democrats said between the years of 2003 and 2008.

is something the White House needs to hear.

So what, precisely, is your problem, Eugene?

He is, after all, the man Obama put in charge in Afghanistan,

Thesis: Gen. McChrystal should shut up about Afghanistan.

Supporting Argument A: He is in charge of Afghanistan.

Supporting Argument B: The White House should hear what he has to say about Afghanistan.

and it would be absurd not to take his analysis of the situation into account.

So why not make it public? What is the harm?

But McChrystal is out of line in trying to sell his position publicly, as he did last week in a speech in London.

With the approval of the White House.

National security adviser James L. Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, was right to lay down the law. Jones said Sunday on CNN that "Ideally, it's better for military advice to come up through the chain of command." I believe that's Pentagon-speak for: "Put a sock in it, Stan."

No. That's paid-shill speak for "I'm punting on the question of whether his claims are meritorious".

McChrystal's statements have come at a pivotal moment when the White House is engaged in a fundamental review of Afghanistan policy.

Which is White House speak for "you know, it's been eight months, maybe we should check in on Afghanistan".

Some officials, including Vice President Biden, have argued for a minimalist approach in terms of goals and resources.

So a retired marine and Joe Biden should speak out about this issue, but Gen. McChrystal should not offer White House approved commentary in London? Is this the argument?

Obama has called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" but now must face the implications of an open-ended escalation.

The last portion of this sentence isn't really English. Moving on.

McChrystal, in his public advocacy for more troops, seemed to be trying to limit Obama's options.

Yeah. Now Obama can't cut back troop levels and pretend we are advancing the mission. Gen. McChrystal has taken the bold-faced lie option off the table. What a jerk.

But what we want to achieve in Afghanistan is a political question,

To which McChrystal has not posited an answer, short of "what we don't want to achieve is sending our troops into a buzzsaw."

and we don't pay our generals to do politics.

But, rather, to make decisions about how to conduct military affairs, as Gen. McChrystal has done.

For the record, this would be my position even if McChrystal were arguing for an immediate pullout

He wouldn't have written an op-ed about it, but he totally would have held that position.

-- or even if George W. Bush, rather than Obama, were the president whose authority was being undermined.

See above.

In October 2006,

Here's where Robinson wastes word count to defend himself against a charge of hypocrisy.

when the chief of staff of the British army said publicly that Britain should pull out of Iraq because the presence of foreign troops was fueling the insurgency -- a view I wholeheartedly shared -- I argued that he ought to be fired.

Gen. Dannatt (to whom Robinson refers) is a religious conservative who sees triumph over Muslim oppressors as a function of faith conversion. Liberals like Robinson don't like him for that reason. And, really, he has to cite an example of commentary on British foreign policy in order to demonstrate his consistency?

In a confidential report to the president -- leaked two weeks ago to Bob Woodward of The Washington Post --

Very problematic, but also not McChrystal's fault. Also, Robinson only began caring about leaks in January of this year, before which they were fine and dandy.

McChrystal argued for a counterinsurgency strategy that would basically involve protecting the people of Afghanistan from the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and thus winning the population's hearts and minds. To do this would require lots more than the 62,000 U.S. troops now in the country. So, logically, McChrystal wants more forces -- and wants them soon.

And so he said so. Again, does any reasonable person have a problem with this?

But it would be a dereliction of duty for the president not to consider alternatives.

Which he is free to do, being president and all. What he is not free to do is pretend he's protecting Afghani citizens from the Taliban while scaling down troop levels.

It seems to me that there's a glaring contradiction in McChrystal's analysis.

Above, he describes it as "logical". Robinson then gives us the whole "more troops = more resistance" spiel that liberals love to give based on their Wikipedia research on the Middle East.

Yet carrying out McChrystal's plan will require substantially more U.S. troops -- reports say that the general wants as many as 40,000, which would make the U.S. "footprint" roughly as large as that of the Soviet military during the failed occupation of the 1980s.

Which failed because the United States put it's "footprint" on the Soviet's "asses".

One alternative would be to focus narrowly on eliminating the possibility that al-Qaeda could ever again use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks on the United States or its allies. But that would mean tolerating and even negotiating with the odious Taliban, which is resurgent.

This is an extension of McChrystal's point.

Privately, Obama needs to hear McChrystal's advice. Publicly, he needs to hear one simple phrase from the general: "Yes, Mr. President."

Military generals are asked to testify. They are appointed, often on the basis of public pronouncements of their military philosophy. Is that how it should be?

Maybe not, but Eugene Robinson has added here a new wrinkle to the notion of military service. Generals are required to agree with him.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Musings - October Sky Edition

The skies are overcast, just like you. Let's muse.

I, for one, think Barack Obama did the right thing (in principle), by going to Copenhagen to help make Chicago's sales pitch before the Olympic committee. Anyone who favors limited federal government should be delighted to see the presidency exercising its ceremonial duties. It was nice to see Obama going to bat for America, even if it was the only sliver of land for which he has demonstrated any measure of enthusiasm.

Conservatives ought to be wary of embracing meta-narratives about the president. For starters, it makes for some strange bedfellows. Since when is the International Olympic Committee a recognized arbiter of what constitutes arrogance? Since when do we look to an organization that has awarded China and Berlin with Olympic games to divine judgment on our national character?


Having said that, I will take comfort in the fruition of one of my predictions, which is that the left will provide a series of embarrassments that would obliquely hinder the president's agenda, just as it did to Clinton. Indeed, it wasn't really health care that sank Congress in 1994.

It was midnight basketball, which made a punch line out of an otherwise reasonably well crafted crime bill. It was Hillary Clinton comparing homeschooling parents to child abusers. It was Jocelyn Elders, who everyone thought was a bit bats, insinuating that children should be taught to pleasure themselves. It was MTV, having given it's full-throated support to Bill Clinton descending into a pit of debauchery. It was the constant accusation of racism (as the term "politically correct" came into vogue).

Now we have ACORN grafting federal dollars in New Orleans so it can assist with the provisions for Ecuadorian prostitutes. Obama has made a punch line out of himself with the Olympics thing. Van Jones, who everyone thought was a bit bats, was revealed to be bats before he could say anything really stupid. Hollywood, having given it's full-throated support to Obama, goes out of way it's way to defend a child rapist. Everyone who doesn't support Obama is labeled a racist.

It's fun to watch, to be quite honest with you.


I notice that Minnesotans have decided to be sports fans this week. Good for you. It's must be fun to occasionally remember that professional sporting events take place in your city. Pop quiz, Vikings fans... Name two Vikings who aren't Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre or Jared Allen.


The SNL "takedown" of Barack Obama was a comedic disaster. First of all, Fred Arminson arbitrarily decided to cease emulating Obama's cadence, and then awkwardly reintroduced it. Second, and I think this is intentional, they missed the comedic focus. I have yet to hear anyone accuse Obama of failing to do anything. What is funny about Obama is his belief, bolstered by the slobbering of millions of fawning idiots, that he can do anything, and how that belief fails to square with reality.

They did the same thing with Biden, completely ignoring the fact that the dude is a space cadet who makes up stories in favor of ham-fisted shots at his hair plugs.

As one of the few people who credit SNL writers for being extraordinarily gifted, I refuse to believe that these wimpy wrist-slaps are the best it can do. Given that the show takes editorial advice from Obama donors, I call BS...


Cats! Buy 'em!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Pass the Ammuniton Indeed

Diana Butler Bass is angry. She is also Episcopalian. The mix of the two is generally idiotic in hilarious ways, and this is no exception.

This week, a friend sent me a link to a video from Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas titled “Taking the Hill.” I thought it might be a political video encouraging conservative Christians to go to Washington to lobby against health care or some such thing.

Because most conservative Christians actively lobby against health care, as a concept. Good assumption, Diana.

Actually, it was much worse. “Taking the Hill” is a bizarre call to evangelize depicting Christians as “soldiers” in a war for souls under their “real” commander-in-chief, Jesus.

Which, when you have Barack Obama, who needs Jesus? At any rate, Diana doesn't like this analogy so much as she probably did about 9 months ago...

It reveals almost pornographic-religious obsession with guns and violence that should be deeply disturbing for any faith community.

Why are pornographic and religious hyphenated together? Why is it necessary to throw the word "pornographic" in here at all?

The “Taking the Hill” campaign was launched last month at the seminary. According the September 17 edition of The Baptist Press, President Paige Patterson kicked off the project:

Note. DBB is an Episcopalian, not a Baptist.

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Dressed in camouflage and stationed as the gunner in a Chenowth Desert Fast Attack Vehicle, Paige Patterson stormed onto the chapel stage.

Okay, that's pretty stupid. Pornographic? No.

… Patterson lifted his Bible, pointing out that God has armed believers with His Word, along with prayer and proclamation.

So he was drawing an analogy. Not unheard of.

Then, reading 2 Corinthians 5, he urged believers to testify to the Gospel of Christ, reminding them of Paul’s motivation: the “terror of the Lord,” the righteous judge of all men and women, and the “love of Christ,” who died to save all who believe.

So, after the military nonsense, he preached the word. Seems reasonable.

… Lifting his left hand, Patterson saw that it was covered with blood — the blood of a woman who died without hearing the Gospel although she lived less than a mile from the seminary.

The military thing makes much more sense now, for anyone who is actually a Christian.

His right hand was covered with the blood of a man who took his own life because Patterson did not witness to him at God’s prompting.

I'm beginning to respect this bit of theater, actually.

I know that it is a free country, and that we have both religious freedom and certain rights to own guns.

But the hell with all that.

But when these two rights interweave — as they are doing — it is dangerous to both church and state.

So, DBB is comfortable in a country that either allows freedom of religion or the right to bear arms, but not both?

Any church that advances such a crusading and violent vision is far from its founder’s vision, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”

Except for the part where Jesus said he was a sword. I mean, I know Episcopalians aren't really into the whole pornographic-Bible thing, but since we're on the topic of, you know, the Bible.

And the state that fails to understand that people with guns who believe that God has armed them are dangerous isn’t serving the good of a peaceable society.

So, what do we conclude? That the state should take away guns, but only from those who believe in God? What's the plan of action in response to this display? Vote for Obama even harder next time?

Although weapons and religion may have been natural partners in the Middle Ages or on the American frontier, isn’t it time to recognize that we live in the twenty-first century?

Good point. We should also carry Bazookas. I know, that's not her point. Her point is that, for whatever reason, guns have somehow, through the trespass of time, become uncivil. I find this point banal, and so do most people. As such, she'll need to arm herself with a better argument.

Guns and grace don’t go together.

Bullshit. If I shoot a man who is attempting to rape a woman, I am applying God's grace to the woman. This is but one example, setting aside the whole issue of hunting animals, which says nothing of the question of grace.

Shouldn’t true religion — genuinely transformative faith — call God’s people away from violence and toward passionate peacemaking?

What does this have to do with the seminary thing? The pastor was arguing that we are in a war for people's souls. What does pornography have to do with this? What do gun rights have to do with this? What are the action steps here?

This is the sort of abysmal thinking that has brought the Episcopalian church to it's present state.