31 July 2005

One More from the 'Vette Show

Still Plays With Cars.

Today I went to a car show put on by Classic Corvettes of Minnesota. It was at one of the tin horn casinos that litter Minnesota. As with every show, you can tell who gets the point of Corvettes:

And those who do not:

You think the above car had some modifications, you should have seen the Mrs.

One More from the Lighning Run.

If You Can Read This, Janklow Hasn't Hit Me Yet.

The title of this post was taken from the best t-shirt I saw Saturday during the Lightning Run. It's in reference to, of course, the most arrogant, cowardly and irresponsible maggot to ever hold political office and then kill a person. Oh, wait . . .

Anyway, even though I don't ride large American iron, I thought it might be a good thing to try: Raise some money toward diabetes research, ride with real riders, milk a summer day, etc. It was a hot one, especially since I'm a jacket/helmet/gloves kind of guy.

It was also an interesting mental exercise. Part of the event is a parade of about 15-20 miles that cuts through lots of St. Paul's east side. The entire route was police-escorted, and all traffic was stopped for something like 1,500 motorcycles. This stuff will go right to your head; heaven and Earth stopping for you, ignoring all traffic controls, throngs of folks smiling and waving from lawn chairs . . . there should be no wonder where corruption comes from.

The run ends at Holman Field, at a empty hanger. Rock and roll, chow, cold beverages, a chassis dyno, all sortsa fun. When I rode home, I had to remember to mind the other traffic, for it no longer parted in anticipation of my presence.

27 July 2005

Revolt of the Plebes

The Star Tribune has never met a tax dollar it didn't like:

In its July 27 editorial on the estate tax ("Estate tax / A levy worth keeping"), the Star Tribune states, "If the Senate wants Washington to forgo billions of dollars in estate tax revenue, it must either raise taxes on the other 99 percent of Americans or shift an even higher debt load onto the next generation of taxpayers."I don't find it at all surprising that the Star Tribune fails to see a third option: Spend less money.

F. Michael Miller, Buffalo, MN.

The Star Tribune should stick to reporting news instead of trying to promote unjustified taxation. The perspective is that the estate tax, however unfair, is OK because it falls on only about 1 percent of the populace. That does not make it right. With that absurd reasoning we might as well justify mistreating motorcyclists because there are so few of them. Reasons like loss of revenue and budget deficits, however noble, are shallow excuses for imposing a death tax on a legacy that was acquired through hard work and paid for all along the way with after-tax dollars. Where is the logic or fairness in punishing one who has saved too much and blown too little?

Jim Hazzard, Minnetonka, MN.

The greatest threat this nation faces going forward is governments' insatiable appetite for our tax money. They need more every year to fund all the things they keep inventing, and there is no mechanism to keep it in check. Show me a nation or state that has ever taxed its way into prosperity.

Look Who Isn't Talking.

Theo Van Gogh's mother:
"What is so regrettable after this trial is that Theo has been murdered by such a loser, such an incoherent person. Murder or manslaughter is always a terrible thing, but to be killed by such a figure makes it especially hard"
On this story, Hollywood's continuing silence is deafening, and it's cowardace and hypocracy grow exponentially.

A Desperate Man Struggling To Survive.

An Ethiopian man with 11 wives and 77 children is urging people not to follow his example and is giving advice on family planning and contraception. "I want my children to be farmers but I have no land, I want them to go to school but I have no money," he says.

However, he blames Ethiopia's government for not doing more to help him look after all his children.

Any wonder why the Third World stays that way?

26 July 2005

Yet Another Thing Wrong With Bush.

He's so dang . . . fit:
Bush can bench-press 185 pounds five times, and, before a recent knee injury, he ran 3 miles at a 6-minute, 45-second pace. That's better than I could manage when I played two sports in high school. And I wasn't holding the most powerful office on Earth. Which is sort of my point: Does the leader of the free world need to attain that level of physical achievement?
This is so fantastically petty that I'm not even sure how best to harpoon it. I'm not sure which is sadder; Chait's obsession with the president's schedule, or the Minneapolis Star Tribune bending over so far backward to print anything and everything critical of Bush. Children name-calling on a playground, with apologies to children.

As with anything, put the shoe on the other foot: What if Bush was an overweight junk food nut who jogged half a block merely for a photo op; Chait and the Strib would be all over his cheese for that, too.

This is almost as bad as the Washington Post's fasion critic slaying John Roberts' wife and children for how the dressed on a very important day for the judge.

25 July 2005

Not 100% Justifiable Homocide.

But not entirely without merit either.

Vardan Kushnir, notorious for sending spam to each and every citizen of Russia who appeared to have an e-mail, was found dead in his Moscow apartment on Sunday, Interfax reported Monday. He died after suffering repeated blows to the head.

Sorta funny use of the English language; it's probably a software-based translation.

How Do People KNOW This Stuff?

Thank God for the physical sciences:
The rock likely exploded off the surface of the red planet during an asteroid impact about 11 million years ago, NASA said. After speeding through space for an unknown period, it eventually burned through Earth's atmosphere and landed in Antarctica, where it has remained until now as a time capsule full of information about Mars.

Heavy Breathing.

This is still among the the most alluring set of cuves anywhere on Earth.

Bush and Blair Did Not Invent al-Qaeda.

From the Times of London:

Afroze admitted that he and seven al-Qaeda operatives planned to hijack aircraft (on September 11th, 2001) at Heathrow and fly them into the two London landmarks. The suicide squad included men from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Afroze said.
Ed Morrisy has an excellent review of recent history intended for those folks that tend to give terrorists way too much intellectual credit by believing that they understand the first thing about causal politics and the motivations of nations. Here's the punch line, but read it all:

The targeting of India shows quite clearly (as does its attempt to strike Australia) that the analysis of American causality as the origin of the 9/11 attacks and the London bombings clearly do not make sense. If anything, India's targeting shows that AQ doesn't just dream of an Arabian peninsula under its tyrannical control, but an Asian and African continent ruled by a new Caliphate. That has nothing to do with American interest in the Middle East, but rather an old dream of world conquest that has haunted the consciousnesses of lunatics for centuries.
It's not about Western foreign policy as much as forcing the whole world to follow their orders. Our old pal Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed said it just last week:
Bakri said he would like Britain to become an Islamic state but feared he would be deported before his dream was realized. "I would like to see the Islamic flag fly, not only over number 10 Downing Street, but over the whole world," he said.

Bakri, a 46-year-old father of six, was born in Syria and lived in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. When the Saudi government expelled him in 1985 he came to London . . . He split from the group in 1996 and set up al Muhajiroun, which won notoriety in 2001 for celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon which killed nearly 3,000 people.
Somehow, the Islamic freaks are never contnet to live in the Islamic paradises of Syria and Saudi Arabia. Huh, must be something to do with the freedom and liberties offered in such tyrannys as England and the United States.

Naturally, the US mainstream media is nowhere to be found on this story.

22 July 2005

Wither Further Canada.

Miss Canada becomes Miss Universe, then does not get to be Miss Universe in Canada. Once again, the avoidance of hurt feelings goes right to the front of the line.

Bowing to the local law, the 23 year old blue-eyed brunette was made to remove her Miss Universe sash, though not without complaint. "I definitely don't think that the Miss Universe title is any kind of stereotype or sexual stereotype," said Russian-born Glebova, a graduate of the University of Toronto.

Admit That the Waters Around You Have Grown.

I know lots of people for whom the Patriot Act is the biggest boogeyman out there, now that we got rid of Gingrich, that is. And Lott. And Ashcroft, etc (Jeez, once we get rid of Rove, it'll be puppies and kittens up the whazoo). Perhaps out of hope and simplicity, and maybe stupidity, I just don't fear it the Patriot Act. This is because I have not seen its abuse.

When Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was looking at importing pharmaceuticals from Canada, he was challenged, as he should have been, by the specter of lesser standards of drug testing and regulation in Canada, the idea being we don't want to import medicines that are harmful or ineffective. Pawlenty's dismissive reply was "Show me the dead Canadians."

Well, show me the locked-up Americans. Look, nobody outflanks me on individual liberty and limited government. I don't want the feds, the state, or the do-gooder freaks Minneapolis City Council listening to my phone calls or checking my orders from online book sellers. The biggest reason is not because increased governmental law-enforcement capabilites is going to (insert ACLU talking point here), but because it's a waste time.

Like everyone says (but I actually mean), I expect results from my tax money. I'm very creeped out by the scope of federal spending for homeland security, but not because of the Big Brother element, but because I don't know what kind of effectiveness we're buying, and I'm not convinced were doing anything with what we learn. Close the border already. Arrest some felons. Crush the windpipe of a transit bomber. Give me something to work with.

Ol' Bill gets pretty near to the bottom of it all:

The Patriot Act is further bedeviled by the difficulty in amassing records that display its success. If you reduce the speed limit, in no time at all you can measure changes in the rate of accidents. How have the provisions of the Patriot Act affected the liberty of modern malefactors to work their odium upon us? The legislators have difficult responsibilities, and it is discouraging that there is so little hard evidence informing the public commentary.

Be a champion of civil liberties. May the wind be at your back. Just make damn sure you are also harpooning Clinton, Gore, Kerry and all the other freedoms frauds. If you don't, you may find your bile clouding your vision.

Auf Wiedersehen to Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Without those humongous pads, you are just another Olav Kolzig. Well, it seems the two line pass is out, a new Instigator Rule is in, and The League is coming back.

Anderson Hollow Cove

Every now and then, the people who fly between coasts look out the plane window, and actually acknowledge that there might be life down there.
Other bodies of water in the country can claim similar gatherings - Lake Havasu on the Nevada-Arizona border, for example - but connoisseurs of such revels say that Party Cove is the biggest and the best. Three thousand boats at a time may have crowded into Party Cove during the July Fourth weekend, according to an estimate by the state water patrol.
As a non-coastal American, I extend my welcome to the New York Times. Check in on us every now and then.

21 July 2005

The Wrong Man or Woman For The Court.

You know that whether Bush nominated John Ashcroft, Dennis Kucinich, Sammy Sosa, Emeril Lagasse or Ernesto Guevara, there were thousands of press releases, filled with paragraph after paragraph of weeping and wailing, already staged in the feeder trays of the fax machines of single-issue PACs all over the lands. No matter the choice, it would be wrong, wrong, wrong.

Iowa Hawk helps fill in the blanks of some of those pre-made artilces of protest:
The Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment, and America needs to know whether __________ supports the GOP's secret plan of a Rush Limbaugh Jesus army of unwanted, unquestioning fetus zombies programmed to urinate on the Korans of Guantanamo detainees.
The whole thing is worthy of you time.

How do they know this, these clever people?

Norman Geras in The Guardian:

Ever on the lookout for damning causes, the root-causers never go for the most obvious of these. This is the cause, indeed, which shows, by its absence, why most critics of the Iraq war or of anything else don't murder people when they are angry. It is the fanatical, fundamentalist belief system which teaches hatred and justifies these acts of murder.

That cause somehow gets a free pass from the hunters-out of causes. There are apologists among us, and they have to be fought intellectually and politically. They do not help to strengthen the democratic culture and institutions whose benefits we all share. Because we believe in and value these, we have to contend with what such people say. But contend with is precisely it. We have to challenge their excuses without let-up.

As I write this, there are London train stations being evacuated, the windows of a bus have been blow out, and BBC's Five Live just had word that aremed police have made arrestes in Whitehall near #10 Downing Street. London police are rarely packing. Something's afoot, and it doesn't look good.

19 July 2005

Wither Minneapolis.

Powerline's Scott Johnson finds a smoking gun of sorts.

This year the situation in Minneapolis has continued to deteriorate in remarkable ways. Downtown sidewalks have become daytime hangouts for gang thugs. When
Minneapolis businesses desperately sought law enforcement assistance this past spring, they were told to hire private security guards for their customers. In April, a group of nine thugs--six of whom were known gang members--attacked a 15-year-old boy who was dragged from a Metro Transit bus, pummeled, and robbed before he escaped and sought help. (The assault was caught on a chilling videotape, courtesy of the camera installed on the bus.) The 15-year-old victim had boarded the bus at the intersection of 7th Street and the Nicollet Mall--the heart of the shopping area in downtown Minneapolis. Earlier this month the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that murders have increased 55 percent in Minneapolis over the same period last year.

News From Anfield

Liverpool are back in action. They dispatched TNS 6-0 on aggregate in the very first round of the uniquely modified Champions League tournament:
Liverpool did not originally qualify for this year's tournament because it failed to finish among the top four in England's Premier League. After Liverpool won the Champions League final, UEFA said the club could defend the title but would have to start play in the first qualifying round, meaning it must play six games to reach the 32-team field for the first round.
Surprising to me, they are very close to landing Peter Crouch from Southampton, and are arrgesively shopping Milan Baros. I always thought Baros was Benitez' kind of player, but his numbers were poor for a striker, and with Cisse and Moritentes coming back to run with Crouch, Baros is clearly 4th, which is one too many.

New season, new faces, new away kit . . . Go you Reds!

UPDATE: The rich get richer - Chelsea sign Shaun Wright-Phillips from Manchester City.

18 July 2005

Who Won the Election?

Just in case you were wondering about the benign intentions of those who blow up trains:
ABC (the Madrid newspaper, not the American or Australian TV network) reports further (also in Spanish) and reminds a very telling detail: when he was brought before a judge after the first 72 hours in isolation (permitted by Spanish anti-terror legislation), the first thing asked by Jamal Zougam, another of the key suspects of March 11, was: "Who won the election?".

16 July 2005

One More From Henderson, Minnesota.

About 20 minutes after this photo was taken, these seven were joined by about 50 more. Seems Henderson is a destination. It was a hot day to be on a big twin.

UberCar hides in the background.

Get Thee Outa the City.

There's a scene in the movie "Pleasantville" where a character who gets zapped back in time to Everything's Nifty-Eisenhower America finds herself in a high-school classroom. The lesson is geography, and it seems, according to the map, that the world ends at the edge of town, a few blocks off Main Street. "What's after that?" asks the time traveller. Everyone laughs, for they've never ventured beyond the end of the sidewalk themselves. So to avoid turning black and white ourselves, we pointed the 337 southwest and headed for the Minnesota River Valley.

First stop was Henderson, where my maternal grandfather was born going on 85 years ago. We had lunch at the Brass Top, and then split a ginormous ice cream cone across the street. Henderson is a pretty place along the river. With it's prime long behind it, the town has decided not to go quietly, and is revamping the buildings on Main Street by stripping off all the hideousness of the 60's and 70's, and refinishing and tuckpointing the original brick. It's stuff like this that will renew a guy's hope in the positive action of involved citizenry and pragmatic government.

We rolled on through the Bohemian Rivirea; a chain of little towns founded by German and Czech immigrants between 1870 and 1910: Belle Plain, Gaylord, New Ulm, Nicollet, St. Peter, New Prague, etc. Tall green corn, little agricultural cooperatives, and water towers out of science fiction movies. We were wondering where all the people were (it was 95 degrees on the prairie), and then we realized, dummy us, that there just aren't that many people out there; not like we're accustomed to as city folk.

Get outa town, you urban jaded. Get away from the tarmac and tour the green spaces. There's more to life than franchise lunch.

Hope For Canada Yet.

General Rick Hillier, Chief of Canadain Defense, certainly gets it:

Last week's terrorist attacks in London underscore the need for Canada and its allies to take the fight to the enemy in failed states where "murderous scumbags" have room to thrive, says Canada's top soldier. Terrorists must not be allowed to feed on the instability of countries like Afghanistan lest that instability be allowed to "come home to roost here," Gen. Rick Hillier said Thursday. "The London attack actually tells us once more: we can't let up."


"There are those who might say that by doing that we make ourselves a target in Canada here for terrorists. I would come at it this way. . . . We need to take a stand."


"We're not going to let those radical murderers and killers rob from others and certainly we're not going to let them rob from Canada," said Hillier, appointed chief of defence staff earlier this year.


As a member of the G8, and as a highly rated Western society that values rights and individual freedoms, Canada already represents "the exact opposite of what people like Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and those others want."


"These are detestable murderers and scumbags," Hillier said. "They detest our freedoms, they detest our society, they detest our liberties."

I wonder how long before there are calls for Hiller's resignation, given the need for speech to never offend anyone in Canada.

13 July 2005

Watching the Dinosaurs Sink into the Tar Pit

NBC's Terry Moran fisked by James Taranto.

UPDATE: My bad; Moran works for ABC. Who can tell these TV people apart without a scorecard?

Hope You're Still Chasing the Bad Guys

Good night, Tyson:
St. Paul police officer Nick Kellum and Tyson, his police dog, were chasing a man wanted in connection with an armed robbery and domestic assault when the 3-year-old German shepherd became short of breath and collapsed last week.

Scattergunnig The Random

Almost 8 PM and still 90 degrees. Summertime bliss. This a week to keep mentally squirreled away, so that one may tap back into it during our 8 months of winter. Here's a bunch of unrelated stuff:

The relationship I have with my current love is being tested by an Italian hottie.

I just got this the other day. Yes, it's the entire "Dark Side of the Moon" album redone as Reagge. It works pretty well.

Why can't this idiot just take his medicine an go away. God, the arrogance on some folks is so unbearable.

China has 170 cities with a population over 1,000,000.

He's got a new wife, gets to live where he wants, does exactly what he wants professionally, and takes home bags of cash. Why did he turn out to be so bitter?

Minnesotans are such rubes. Message to all of you: Get a life. Chickie pooh is 19. What could she possibly have to offer?

Let's play hockey! I like to think I have convictions, and could put up a strong front, but who am I kidding? I'll be running back into the NHL's open arms.

Once I finish with Vince and John, I'll be looking for a bio on Maggie.

This still ain't blowed up in a while.

I don't know why I always confuse Soul Coughing with G. Love & Special Sauce, considering how much more I prefer the latter.

Why must people mess with perfection?

12 July 2005

"If I Ever Get Free, I Would Do it Again.''

Know thy enemy.
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -— The man on trial in the slaying of filmmaker Theo van Gogh admitted his guilt in court today, declaring he acted out of religious conviction and would do it again if given the chance. Mohammed Bouyeri also turned to Van Gogh's mother, Anneke, in court and told her: "I don't feel your pain.'' Bouyeri, 27, faces life imprisonment in the Nov. 2 killing of Van Gogh, who was found shot and stabbed. He has not mounted a defense. "I did it out of conviction,'' Bouyeri said. "If I ever get free, I would do it again.''
Read the whole thing.

Lest ye think this be a freakishly isolated situation, click here.

UPDATE: More here.

Funny, Funny Canada.

They try so hard to be a real country:

COQUITLAM, British Columbia - A handful of people in Canada got a sneak peak of the latest Harry Potter book, but a British Columbia Supreme Court judge ordered them to keep it a secret.

The book was sold to 14 people who snagged a copy of J.K. Rowlings' much anticipated "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," when it landed on shelves last Thursday at a local grocery store. The book, officially set for release this coming Saturday, has been shrouded in secrecy and its debut has been highly orchestrated to enable everyone — readers, reviewers, even publishers — to crack it open all at once. It's the sixth in Rowling's seven-book fantasy series on the young wizard.

But the store slipped up and sold 14 copies before realizing its mistake. "It was an inadvertent error on behalf of one of our staff," said Geoff Wilson, a spokesman for the Real Canadian Superstore. He said the books were quickly removed.

Justice Kristi Gill last Saturday ordered customers not to talk about the book, copy it, sell it or even read it before it is officially released at 12:01 a.m. July 16. The order also compels them to return the novel to the publisher, Raincoast Book Distribution Ltd., until the official release.

Due process is a such a confusing thing for the small-minded. This is not a prior restraint issue. This is Harry (bleeping) Potter. Yo, hosers, call us when you get that whole 'legal system' thing figured out.

09 July 2005

We're Not Afraid of Islamo-Fascists.

I submitted this one on July 9th. Check out the site.

UPDATE: You can find mine on page 130.

08 July 2005

Clean Up Thine Own Back Yard.

Thomas Friedman in the Old Gray Lady

Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way - by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.

And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.

Muslim society must decide, starting today, if it wants to work and play well with others. If it chooses to bomb and terrorize the rest of the world, becaues that rest of the world is not Muslim enough for them, then, alas, there can be but one outcome.

I'm also advocating Friedman's new book, and I'm far from alone.

07 July 2005

Campaign Slogan du Jour.

In a July 5 commentary, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak tried to talk his way out of his administration's disastrous record on serious crime. While admitting a "recent spike in violent crime," he talked of "implementing plans, "deploying resources, "building new partnerships" and establishing a "Downtown Safety Zone initiative" -- all fine words.

Unfortunately, the fact is we are in far greater danger today in Minneapolis than we were before Rybak. In 2004, reported homicides were up nearly 23 percent. So far in 2005, reported homicides are already up 55 percent!

Rybak says people don't need to worry about getting shot in Minneapolis unless they are "involved in high-risk lifestyles." As Nick Coleman suggested, tell that to the 13-year-old who was wounded while sleeping in his south Minneapolis home. Or talk to the north Minneapolis resident whose home was hit by bullets while his family was watching TV in their living room.

Perhaps Rybak's campaign slogan should be "Lots of talk, few results."

Lawrence D. Gibson, Minneapolis.

05 July 2005

Reaping What is Sown at the Ballot Box.

Congratulations, America, here is your House Minority Leader at a press conference on 30 June 2005 (emphasis mine):

Q. What was your reaction to (Kelo v. New Haven), and what do you think about legislation to, in the minds of opponents at least, remedy or changing it?

Ms. Pelosi. As a Member of Congress, and actually all of us and anyone who holds a public office in our country, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Very central to that in that Constitution is the separation of powers. I believe that whatever you think about a particular decision of the Supreme Court, and I certainly have been in disagreement with them on many occasions, it is not appropriate for the Congress to say we're going to withhold funds for the Court because we don't like a decision.

Q. Not on the Court, withhold funds from the eminent domain purchases that wouldn't involve public use. I apologize if I framed the question poorly. It wouldn't be withholding federal funds from the Court, but withhold Federal funds from eminent domain type purchases that are not just involved in public good.

Ms. Pelosi. Again, without focusing on the actual decision, just to say that when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court. This is in violation of the respect for separation of church -- powers in our Constitution, church and state as well. Sometimes the Republicans have a problem with that as well. But forgive my digression. So the answer to your question is, I would oppose any legislation that says we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court no matter how opposed I am to that decision. And I'm not saying that I'm opposed to this decision, I'm just saying in general.

Q. Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?

Ms. Pelosi. It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It's an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.

Q. Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?

Ms. Pelosi. The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.
What a blithering fool. Where are the millions that swear W. is an idiot on this one?

Nancy Pelosi misunderstood the issue twice in this exchange alone. The issue has never been about withholding funding from the Supreme Court. Glad to see her so firmly on board with the federal power structure; wouldn't want to have any opinion of our own, not from a legislator. What an embarrassment.

One more from Afton.

Happy 229th to these United States

Another beautiful day in Afton. I can't imagine being elsewhere on Independence Day.

The parade goes south on County 21 from city hall to River Road, turns around, and comes back; sort of a 2-for-1 deal. I'm not sure where this quirk came from. Maybe it was a logistical issue, maybe it was to give a break to the spines of those waving from convertibles.

Driving home from a late dinner with friends, a few things came to mind as I reflected on a long, relaxing day:

The political rhetoric employed and cowardly cover run for by those that want a Constitutional ban on flag burning is pretty sad, no matter what allegedly-sincere reason you give. This country is not The Flag. This country is a set of principles and ideas that are merely represented by (among other things) the flag. The flag is a symbol, and a glorious one at that. The problem is that in elevating a symbol to such revered legal status puts us far too close to other societies for which failure to post and respect symbols brought the wrath of the state.

In a few months, a longtime friend of mine will go to Iraq as part of the Minnesota Army National Guard. He's the first person I personally know to be deployed. I hope to be able to forward some of his observations and tales on this site as communication permits I'll be thinking about him every day, and always examining our nation's role in Iraq, and on this planet as the 21st century plows ahead. God speed, Major.

I spent some time at a backyard cookout talking to a great American about the important things in life. He spoke of the joys of attending a predominantly African-American church on Sundays. He spoke about the variety of ethnicity he and his wife encounter in splitting time between Minnesota and Florida. He spoke of working in corporate America in the 50's and 60's and being able to help assimilate people from around the world into a Caucasian, Scandinavian, male, suit-and-tie workplace. He also spoke of looking out the window of his boyhood home in Holland to see Jews filing past with tiny suitcases, no of whom would know freedom again. All these things have in common liberty; the free exercise thereof, the necessity of it's vigorous protection, and the horrors of its loss.

The following quote is from Richard Feynman. Think about it when you see your fellow citizens, especially those who tightly hold elected office, hoist their petty trivialities to center stage, and then do what you can to right the ship of public policy:
No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.