Paul From Minneapolis

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


For those irritated at my descriptions of Ted yesterday (and I don't know that there are any): there's yet another update to the post.


I wonder sometimes if it says anything about liberalism that its main iconic family can be fairly charged with starting our major Viet Nam involvement, attempting to assassinate foreign leaders (using Mob ties), and sharing sexmates with said Mob ties. Among other things.

Because the first two in that list are iconic in themselves: Viet Nam and covert acts against foreign leaders are both way high up on the America's Sins list. And Kennedys are neck-deep in them.

A willingness to focus on myth and words rather than reality and actions? A tendency to believe that words and the right feel are really what matter?

They'd probably point out similar inconsistencies in conservative heroes.

I do still maintain that RFK's assassination was a low point in recent American history, though. And as can be overlooked, it was also our first direct run-in with Islamic terror's basic message of "Pay attention to meeee!"

On the way home from Rochester last Thursday

I took more snapshots, too; of geese, for example. Maybe I'll post those someday soon.
(This is the first in what may become The Windshield Series.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

I Can't Find Any Good Photos From Night of the Living Dead

Which means I can't really do a post I was musing about concerning Howard Dean's approach to fundraising and organizing the base, as described and defended here by the great and powerful Kos himself.

For some reason I first saw that post in what's called "Ted Kennedy's Diary." It's still there, down from the top now.

Interesting spot. I see a bunch of stuff not written by Ted Kennedy, on a quick check. Exclusively. So I don't get the "Ted Kennedy's Diary" nomenclature. Are these items Ted Kennedy likes? Things it seems he might like? When he himself writes in his Diary, is it all material that needs to be deleted immediately?

Update: I first entered that dizzying Kos world today via an article by Ted himself, concerning Alito. That link does not direct one to Ted Kennedy's Diary. However it does include a link to the aforementioned Ted Kennedy's Diary which seems, now that I examine more carefully, simply to be the regular old front page of The Daily Kos, with Kennedy's name incorporated into the link.

I think of Ted Kennedy as existing in a heartbroken, why-can't-I-drink-again fog. I assume his staff leads him around like an aging once-grand Neapolitan Mastiff; I assume his staff consists of Kos-folk. Maybe they get to tell him he has a Diary and he thinks it's cool.

Update 2: Or I'm missing how it all works. Is there a grand revolution developing and I'm a square? Do I know something's happening here and I don't know what it is, do I Mister Me? That'd sure suck. Especially if I'm a pathetic, out-of-it losersaurus as compared to Ted Kennedy. Ouch!

Update 3: I refer to TK as existing in a "heartbroken, why-can't-I-drink-again fog." I've received no complaints but I got to considering.

When I say "heartbroken," I don't mean simply because he can't drink, although that's by no means excluded. I mean heartbroken for all the reasons one could muster when looking back at his life. Some empathy is due - of course. Really weird parents, for one thing. How many of us have - as one of our last memories of a lucid father - watching his withered elderly hands as they grope a bare-chested hooker at one more Rose-free Hyannis Port gathering?

(I'll have to find the cite for that.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Today's CNN Poll

Do you believe that Saddam Hussein can get a fair trial in Iraq?

Yes – 44% - 30306
No – 56% - 38007

Okay then, we definitely need to change the venue. To escape undue American influence, yes, and to find a jury pool untainted by damaging pre-trial publicity. Fair's fair after all.

It is Taboo

In the ‘no WMDs’ reality, the new gospel says Hussein didn’t have as much control as we thought. The regime was built on such fraud and fear and decay that his own scientists were lying back to him. And you know, it makes sense. Except maybe it’s bullshit. When it comes to Gospel truths on Iraq, we’ve had several of them go away and disappear over the years.

With that in mind, here’s an Iraqi Air Force general saying the WMDs got sent to Syria in a quite organized fashion. (via Right Wing Nut House)

Things we know for sure: It’s completely a possibility. There’s probably no way to know, and we’ll very likely never know. And, it’s considered bad form even to bring up in polite company.

I think. Is that me projecting? Yet it feels like it'd be naughty to offer it to the circles I frequent. How dare I conjecture so wildly that maybe W wasn't wrong, is not a liar, that sort of thing. At long last have I no shame. But I’d say – off the top of my head – there’s a chance in three at the very least that’s exactly what happened.

And that's the way it is.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


When I was a young boy, during the madness for secret agents that swept the nation in the wake of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", for a couple years Christmas catalogs featured "attache cases." With real hidden cameras! I really wanted one. My plan, I explained, was to hang out at the bank uptown during my summers and wait for a robber, point my briefcase at him and get his picture. He would never suspect!

That is not why we purchased a digital camera now. Not in the slightest. This morning, I was just cruising looking for more Art. I drove past a park in Richfield, hard up against Highway 62, the Crosstown. There's a lake there, and a path, and I'd always been curious. It seems so quaint and hopeful, with the freeway and the landing path and all.

See that guy on the left-hand side of the pier?

That's a video camera he's pointing skyward. I'm sure it was nothing. Seriously. Jet-watching is a Richfield hobby. But just for a second, my 9-year-old heroic tendencies well up inside me...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I Wrote This Over At Althouse part of this string, but hey, it's not too bad.

(Like Robert Benchley said, it is possible for a man to accomplish almost anythng as long it is not the thing he is supposed to be doing at any given moment. That's how I've been using comments at other blogs, like my self-proclaimed triumph over Jazon Zenglere at the TNR blog, referred to here.) (This technique of actually getting something done will last only so long as my stubborn inner self doesn't realize what's going on, so: shhh.)

Ann's topic is William Blum, the author of "Rogue State," the book about the U.S.A. that Osama recommended late last week, and how he's reacted to that endorsement:"I'm not repulsed and I am not going to pretend I am."


I think it's a step toward clarity in our politics.

He firmly believes eveything he writes in the book. He firmly believes a man like Osama bin Laden embodies an understandable reaction to our depravities. (I'm slightly speculating with that second one.) For him to repudiate bin Laden utterly would be to say: "Whatever our past depravities, they do not come close to having us deserve what bin Laden says we deserve."

And he doesn't believe that to be so goddamn obviously the case.

I've thought for some time the left's problem is an inability to really own up to and openly talk about the implications of their own beliefs. Yet openly investigating and talking abour depravities is probably something we should do.

For one thing, it would tell us some things about ourselves that we should know, and tell people who don't really know the details of the mistakes we've made and the patterns we sometimes fall into.

And confronting these issues direcly will slowly tug interpretation of these events away from the monopoly domain of the intellectual left, and will gradually build the number of people who understand it is more than possible to be aware of these depravities and still suspect that OBL's recommended treatment is, well, too harsh. And should be repudiated. More than repudiated: actually, wow, resisted with enthusiasm.

I know the author is a morally unbound fool; most commenters here know that; too much of the country suspects it but doesn't have a strong answer for the banshees who agree with him.

Bring it on.

(I added 'with him' at the end and corrected a couple spelling errors.)

Everyone's on the lake flying kites today

It's an attraction of some sort.

I don't think it has any anti-war connotations. (Big puppets around here do rather often; I wonder if big kites get coopted the sameway.)

This one was actually just a big odd bird or sky-creature that happened by and left pretty quickly:

No one really noticed though; they were all pointing at their amazing kites.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The ACLU accomplishes the nearly impossible

Yesterday and again today, at Salon, the ad they force on a potential reader (you know, some guy who by dint of existing and owning a computer is equipped with a limitless supply of equally interesting, free, no-hassle options) is sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union.

I think I've figured out how to save and link to it, here. It may die after today, though, in which case... well, I'll deal with it. (Note: It's dead. Keep reading.)

The message of the ad is to force the liberal readers of Salon, who may never have thought of it before, to realize that W is a liar, and should be impeached. The ad does this by first supplying us with a lie by Richard Nixon, concerning Watergate; and then what they call a lie by W, concerning the NSA issue.

Of course there could be debate about W's statement.

But you'd think, wouldn't you, that the ACLU - our go-to juggernaut on all things civil liberties - would be able to dig through their files on Nixon and Watergate and come up with a statement that was in fact an undeniable lie?

I think they managed to avoid that. I think they picked out the one statement by Nixon on the whole affair that was actually true. (Note: It's a statement that he didn't know about the break-in beforehand, and he didn't, unless I'm wrong and I don't think I am.)

Am I missing what they're up to here? Or should I hesitate before sending them my gigantic check (that being the actual point of the ad, of course).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I have learned something

Most women don't like looking at big photos of urinals. I guess that shouldn't be surprising to me. But they shy away. When prompted to "enlarge" an already large photo, of a urinal that is, many do not.

Men seem more at ease with the topic. I've been encouraged to go with even more photos of urinals, if possible. Would it be viable to have an entire site of wry urinal-based humor? Of course it would. We are entering a new world of pure freedom because of the internet, says the formidable John Perry Barlow, who is evidently out of jail. (If in fact he was ever in jail; see the link over there on the right under "These are okay.")

Whatever's the case, I'm glad to see John Perry Barlow back in the game. Hadn't seen him in a while. He used to be a very occasional Grateful Dead lyricist, see. A good friend of Bob Weir. A hippie cowboy sort then; a globe-trotting visionary (I take it) now. Still a stoner. Freak freely, my friend.

He does worry about the abundance of "really cheesy porn" on the internet and perhaps urinals would fit that category. Still I wonder: when he refers to really cheesy porn, is he claiming that internet porn specifically is overwhelmingly really cheesy, in marked contrast to more subtle forms that came previously? Or is he assuring us that all porn is really cheesy - we should have no doubt whatsoever that this is how John Perry Barlow feels about the matter?

So either he's firmly and clearheadedly opposed to any porn, unafraid to declare all of it really cheesy; or he's an opinionated and disappointed porn afficionado. (Writing can be so tricky.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

We bought a digital camera

It's fun!

I don't know how those will look on other people's computers. I have a monitor that accentuates the dark side of things, so I brightened the originals with the Canon software that came with the camera.

I stopped in a bar to borrow one of the rooms they have there, and was impressed with the high set of morals I found.

(Click to enlarge.)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What's the matter with me?

I ain’t got much to say. Except I do. Only I’ve been saying it other places, other comment strings. I admit: against stiff advice from confidantes who say it is bad for me and a waste of time, I keep trying to talk directly with “the left.” Like a fool for his dope or a drunkard his wine, a man will have lust for the lure of the mine, evidently.

Still, I salute all the commenters I’ve encountered at a New Republic blog called "The Plank." I linked to it below, specifically to Jason Zengerle’s initial skeptical response to Stephen Haye’s recent volley on Hussein and terrorism, and the discussion following.

It’s not a bad string, actually. It ended up featuring me and an agreeable guy disagreeing. We succeeded at talking. It was win-win! And perhaps even excellent.

(You have to hit the comments link to see all the comments, but that makes the original post disappear. So I’m sending you to the original post first, where they confusingly include the final three comments; then if you want to read all 42 comments (and you do) you have to hit the comments link. Got it? Watches synchronized? Go.)

Then a little later Zengerle wrote another post, and it was as if he wasn’t even listening, and that got me going again. Maybe a little aggressively, in fact that also was true of the first one; but his tone got to me.

This one ended up being mostly a back and forth with him. The theme was context: the context of "how to think about various sorts of terrorist connections Hussein had."

An exchange from the first string:

A brief response to paulchap: I'm not retreating on the Hussein-terrorist connection question. There clearly were connections. (Me: !!) The question is, were those connections significant enough to go to war over? The whole point of Hayes's crusade is to prove that they were. I don't think he's proven that.

Me (after reflection):
Hayes' point is not to insist that the terrorist connections were themselves sufficient for war. His point is to deny the left-side catechism that these connections were trivial, laughable, deserving of no place in a case for war. And to my thinking, what you concede is enough to accomplish that.

We returned to that in the second string. I tugged him closer to me than vice-versa. Is that too aggressive to claim that? I guess it’s just the beast in me.

I sent the first string to Hayes via his editors to see what he thought. I’ll take his silence as “it’s perfect.” (I’m kidding, he wrote back and as usual with these conservative-type guys, he’s friendly as can be.)

I’m not saying I tossed a no-no or anything.

Update: Someday soon I'll organize some thoughts I notice droppping out of my head and puddling around my feet concerning why this seems such a central topic to me. Zengerle and others try to call it trivial, at least my approach to it. In this case, Howard Johnson is wrong. (I hope.)

Update 2: I believe now you don't need to be a subscriber to read The Plank. Could be wrong about that.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Could someone please tell me not to worry about this?

Oh, thank you, Victor Davis Hanson, thank you so bloody much:

"Experts warn that we are not talking about a Clintonian one-day cruise-missile hit, or even something akin to General Zinni’s 1998 extended Operation Desert Fox campaign. Rather, the challenges call for something far more sustained and comprehensive — perhaps a week or two of bombing at every imaginable facility, many of them hidden in suburbs or populated areas. Commando raids might need to augment air sorties, especially for mountain redoubts deep in solid rock...

"Politically, the administration would have to vie with CNN’s daily live feeds of collateral damage that might entail killed Iranian girls and boys, maimed innocents, and street-side reporters who thrust microphones into stretchers of civilian dead. The Europeans’ and American Left’s slurs of empire and hegemony would only grow...."

Hm. Well, still, once we bite the bullet and take care of this little situation, then everything can return to normal, and we can all enjoy the coming summer - I'm planning on all kinds of fishing on the St. Croix! - and gradually the natural serenity that still defines American existence will -

"Economically, we should factor in the real possibility that Iranian oil might be off the global market, and prepare — we have been here before with the Iranian embargo of 1979 — for colossal gasoline price hikes. This should also be a reminder that Ahmadinejad, Saddam, Hugo Chavez, and an ascendant and increasingly undemocratic Putin all had in common both petrodollar largess and desperate Western, Chinese, and Indian importers willing to overlook almost anything to slake their thirst. Unless we develop an energy policy that collapses the global oil price, for the next half-century expect every few years something far creepier than the Saudi Royals and Col. Moammar Gadhafi to threaten the world order..."

Oh, stop it.

Here's what I keep returning to: the Star-Tribune, Newspaper of the Twin Cities, recently published an editorial in which the normally quite avoidant writers stated that Iran "cannot be allowed" to have a nuclear weapon.

Obviously, I'm not insanely predicting that these same editors will be actually willing to back that up once it comes time to deal with it. It'll be a lot easier to pretend that the "international community" will prevent the thing that "cannot" occur. Or would have, had the demented W not gone all cave troll on the situation.

But if their still-hypothetical resolve actually does represent something we nearly all agree to: Hanson's Hell will be our choice, right?

So far, I am not overly fond of this young century. Can we have a mulligan?

In the interests of posting...

...let me just point out that the Twins' pitchers and catchers show up in Ft. Myers just 36 days from today.

I think I'll spend this weekend perfecting my knuckle ball - well, learning how to throw it and then perfecting it - and head down and see if I can catch on. I mean come on, there is the grand tradition of really old, really out of shape knuckle ball artists, right? I'm two-thirds of the way there already!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

“Pawlenty, Twins talking stadium.”

That’s the main headline at the Strib site right now.

The ongoing struggle to build a news Twins park to replace the hapless Metrodome is of course a local story. I may try to do more of those. (Tim Pawlenty is our governor, for those who don’t know. He has Presidential dreams, a fact which enters into this tale.)

The underlying tension is that plenty of politicians want it to happen, but no one wants to take the responsibility to “step to the plate” and say: “Look, I know any new tax would fail in any referendum, and I don’t care. I believe it should happen anyway. So no vote, fuckers. We're gonna ram through a funding plan, and you'll take and like it.”

If Tim's looking for a moral justification for such a path, here’s one:

There aren’t two bodies of opinion, there are three. There’s the left demagogy that says “no corporate welfare, baseball is sick and should fix itself first.” There’s the right demagogy that says “no new taxes, especially since baseball is sick and should fix itself first.”

To me, those are distinct groups. Thus a vote on any supporting tax would have no chance because the third group, the reasonable center (that’s me) would be demagoged by two ends, rather than just one, which is more typical. It's like facing two spit-ballers simultaneously.

So if Pawlenty says screw it, let’s do it, he can say he’s siding with one of three groups, meaning naturally his view represents only a plurality. What he’s not doing, clearly, is forcing through a minority view against the wishes of an outraged majority.

Get it? What could possibly go wrong with that explanation?

Maybe I’ll describe the reasonable center in more detail at some point. As usual, it has to do with reality, and in this case with the “baseball is sick” premise, which is what joins the strains of idealists on the ends.

Update: New headline: "Twin stadium deal elusive; 'Dynamics have to change.'"

"Nothing was decided today at all," said Jerry Bell, a team spokesman.... Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said that while the meeting was cordial, both the county and the Twins are wary of pushing ahead with another stadium plan, given opposition at the Legislature. But, he added, "We would like to do something that eventually results in a new ballpark."

The key to this, of course, is the word "eventually."

I have nothing to add on Alito

Update: Ann Althouse does, though. She's good on this lawyer stuff, it's her strength. Specifically, analyzing conservative reasoning honestly.

It's such a bracing enterprise, letting yourself entertain such thoughts. It's like a mental "'Llllectric Shave!!!"

(I'd provide a link for that last reference but evidently the Williams 'Lectric Shave company has forsworn the web. The only references are in customer reviews of various electric shavers, leading me to think the substance is still manufactured and sold; some people also like it for other purposes.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm Not Gone

I'm sitting in the corner of the dark tavern now, nearly invisible in my earthen green cloak, my long legs crossed in front of me, a thin stream of smoke rising to the ceiling from the pipe I smoke pensively.... I've been gone, and now I'm back, from where no one knows and no one cares to ask. "Longshanks," some call me. "Strider," say others, and my friends are few.

Yeah, okay. Anyway, seems to me there are two major stories right now: actually, one major and one super major.

The pretty big one is the resurgence of stories regarding "The Connection:" the connection, that is, between Hussein and international Islamic terrorism. Stephen Hayes and others at The Weekly Standard have been dogged on it, and they seem to be on to something. Here's the first volley, from late last week; and here's an update today.

For anyone with a subscription to The New Republic, here's Jason Zengerle's skeptical response, followed by a discussion string invaded enthusiastically by a fellow evidently called Paul.

The super big story is Iran. Here's a discussion that'll have you shaking.