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Thursday, January 30, 2003
Axis of Deliciousness

The Onion again, this time with a fearsome new enemy.

Stark Raving Mad

An interesting article about Senate File 22, which includes, among other things, the rebirth of the RAVE act!

Jesus, don't we have more important things to deal with? And can we please find some quote of Daschle's praising Lenin so we can get him out of there?

SOTU Prediction Checkback

Well, the State of the Union is "strong." Yep, got that one.

As for my other predictions? Well, Bush did mention soi-disant partial birth abortion, but moved on so quickly it barely counts. He emphasized the "average" tax savings of $1,100--never mind the actual definition of average. He gave specifics on Iraq, but none that we hadn't heard before. And he didn't even mention affirmative action.

As for the rest of the speech? The health care part was laughable. I'm not a single payer fan, but what was GDub even talking about here? Puh-lease. The AIDS spending is nice--and very morally defensible, even in the teeth of a deficit. But I thought the era of big government was over.

We aren't going to Mars--at least, not yet. But we are going to fund fuel cell technology. The fuel cell is a helluvan idea if it can be put into practice--the concern about the danger of hydrogen is overblown, and it would give us some energy independence.

As for Iraq--we just haven't been given a good reason yet. I'm not opposed to this war--it's hard to argue there isn't a legal, even a moral reason to go. But before we commit to the largest military operation since Vietnam, we need to be damn sure that we're doing the right thing--and that means we need the President to lay his cards on the table. I'm starting to worry that there aren't any cards at all, other than the "material breach" thing. And I just am not sure that it's enough to send our troops in.

All in all, a very workmanlike SOTU. Some pundits loved it, some hated it, I thought it was sort of lukewarm. Not too good, not too bad, just blah. At this time in our nation's history, I hoped our President could rise above blah.

CORRECTION: Mitch Berg points out that Gulf War I had a deployment about half again what's projected for Gulf War II. I apologize for the error--though my point still stands.

Innocent until proven....

Peter Townshend has something to back up his claim that he was looking at child porn for research, not for gratification. He sent emails last summer regarding sites he'd found to the Internet Watch Foundation, which monitors child porn in Britain. The IWF had previously denied the existence of the emails, but has since located them and forwarded them to Townshend's attorneys.

Of course, this isn't proof that Townshend did nothing wrong--but it is another hint that his actions were innocent.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003
KaZaA Strikes Back

KaZaA, the official internet file-sharing program of the Blog of the Moderate Left, filed a counterclaim in its ongoing legal dispute with the Recording Industry Association of America. The counterclaim, according to Sharman Networks Ltd. (KaZaA's parent company), asserts that studios, "...when they act in concert, have monopoly power in the distribution of recorded music." Similar claims were made about the movie industry.

The counterclaim, while enjoyable, has no chance at winning. It's probably just more gamesmanship from Sharman, which is currently incorporated in Vanatu, and operates out of Australia. As I've said before, the RIAA is legally correct about file sharing. The problem for the RIAA has been and continues to be the simple fact that there is no way for them to stop file sharing without draconian measures. Had they hopped on board with Napster four years ago, the story would be different. Their loss.

Only in Madison

You've gotta love it.

SOTU Prediction

Well, the State of the Union address is tonight, that traditional speech required of the President...well, not so much required as suggested, well....

Anyhoo, the SOTU happens every year because no President in his/her right mind would pass up the chance for national media exposure, although I have a sneaking suspicion the SOTU may finish behind "American Idol" in the ratings.

So what will GDub talk about, and what won't he? Well, here are my predictions:

Will Hear

1. We will hear a defense of the new Bush "stimulus plan," including how a family of four making $43,242.28 a year will actually be paid $2,000 under the plan.

2. We will hear that Iraq is bad, mmkay.

3. We will hear that the State of the Union is "strong", "resolved", or "united."

4. We will hear about affirmative action, and how it needs to be modified.

Will Not Hear

1. Much about the divident tax cut. Or about any tax cuts for anyone who makes more than $43,242.28 a year.

2. Any tangible evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. (This doesn't mean they don't, of course).

3. Anything at all about abortion, gay rights, or anything specific on affirmative action.

4. That the State of the Union is "better than", "stronger than", or "more united than ever."

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, January 23, 2003
Polls, Polls, Polls

Instapundit references a poll that says over half of all voters believe taxes--all taxes, Federal, State, what have you--should be less than twenty percent of total income. The referent, Edward Boyd, puts the actual tax rate at 39%. That would seem at odds with my earlier post, noting that half of Americans think they are taxed "about right."

In trying to square this circle, I thought perhaps this is the "how much foreign aid does the U.S. give" fallacy--that is, people don't actually know the numbers, so they make up one that sounds good. But thankfully, Atrios rides to my aid.

Yep, it looks like the most people pay in taxes is 19% of their income. (And that's people making over $116,666 a year.) Indeed, in the five tax brackets, people pay between 14-19%, with the second-highest rates coming from the poorest group (18%). So there's no squaring required. People think their taxes are about right because, well, they're about what people think they should be. Indeed, the one thing the numbers bear out is that the middle class is getting a slight break thanks to the rich and the poor.

So that's that. And I reiterate, if half of Americans think they're getting taxed about right, things are going to be ominous for the tax-cutters in the GOP.

Hello, I Must Be Going....

Before I even had the opportunity to comment on the stupidity of the appointment of Jerry Thacker to Presidential Advisory Commision on HIV, the guy up and quits. But why? I mean, it's not as if he called AIDS "the Gay Plague." Oh, he did? Oh well, it's not as if he refered to gay people as practicing a "deathstyle." Oh, he did that too?

The humor in this whole thing is Ari Fleischer's quote. "The views that he holds are far, far removed from what the president believes. The president has a total opposite view. ... The president's view is that people with AIDS need to be treated with care, compassion."

Uh, that's great Ari. Did you figure that out just now? I mean, this guy was a White House appointee. Did you guys just forget to run the background check?

Let's be honest. The Bush Administration was trying to slip a fanatical right-wing Bob Jones U. grad onto this commission, hoping it would slip under the radar with the general public--and show up on the radar of the usual suspects. Don't try to spin this, folks. You got caught with your pants down. Ironic, that.


Atrios has the scoop. In a nutshell, in GDub's most recent "please, please, please pass my tax cut" speech, delivered in a warehouse, phony boxes stamped "Made in the USA" were brought in as a backdrop. The real boxes--inconveniently marked "Made in China"--were moved off to the side, their nation of origin covered by masking tape. Hardly the worst thing anyone's done, but a little bit more obfuscation from the Bush Adminsitration.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Glenn Reynolds makes fascinating point about Congress' ablility to regulate abortion over at his MSNBC site. In a nutshell, he says Congress can only regulate abortion by stretching the commerce clause beyond its limits--and that the anti-federalist GOP should know better. That they don't suggests they either don't care about limitations on federal power at all, or worse, that they only care about it when it's expedient.

Is Norm Coleman (1997 ver.) Back?

I've been pretty critical of the Junior Senator from the Great State of Minnesota, so it behooves me to recognize the guy when he does something right. Norm Coleman has joined with a group of moderate senators to craft an alternative to the Bush tax cut. The money quote: "Without stronger justification, certainly the dividend piece of this package is problematic. The administration has to make a stronger case, has to do a better job, or else it will be very difficult getting this package through the Senate."

Now, I firmly believe that Norm's primary interest is Norm. Always has been, always will be. That said, having lived in Saint Paul from 1997 to 2002, I can tell you that Norm can be an effective leader. The "Norm saved Saint Paul" thing got a bit out of control, but there's no denying that in 1992, you could've shot a cannon through downtown Saint Paul at 6 PM and not hit anyone. Today, there's at least a few things to do, and a few people around.

Norm made a catastrophic political mistake in 1998 when he embraced the Allen Quist wing of the Republican party. His sharp veer to the right--when he had been a former Democrat, for God's sake--destroyed his support among people like me, moderates who would've been very happy to have a Gov. Coleman. (Indeed, until the GOP convention in '98, I counted myself as a solid Coleman supporter. Within a month, I was voting for Ventura.) For all of this, I do believe that at heart, Norm is a moderate. This is a hopeful sign that maybe, just maybe, he's returning to his moderate roots. That would be good for the country, and would make me feel a bit better about the results of the '02 election.

You Are Dumb.

The Onion has another typically marvelous piece about the sadness of being rational.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Let's hope it lasts.

We couldn't be lucky enough that this yahoo will stay on his hunger strike 'til he dies, could we?

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Are we going to Mars? Well, maybe. While this would certainly be a "big government program", it would be nice to see the government do something so freakin' audacious. Count me in as a supporter.

And I'm Free....Free fallin'

According to Drudge, George Bush's approval rating has plummeted to 53% in the latest CNN/Time poll. That's down off of a high of 90%, and down from 59% earlier this week. Does anyone still think this guy is invulnerable? He's looking more and more like his dad with each passing day--a great wartime President with no clue about the country he actually governs.

Joe Millionaire: The Decline of Western Civilization?

The New Republic has a typically alarmist column about "Joe Millionaire", the latest in "reality" fare from FOX. The basic argument goes like this: "Joe Millionaire" is just a show that casts women in the worst possible light--as backbiting, golddigging shrews. And it promises a wicked comeuppance when the women find out their Prince Charming is making minimum wage.

To which I say: well, yeah. I mean, we're not exactly telling tales out of school when we say that some--some--women are more interested in a guy's bank account than what kind of person he is. Just as some men are more interested in a woman's physical beauty than her personality. And a show that plays off this is--how can I say this--entertaining? Yes, that's the word. Entertaining.

Come on. There's a wonderful element of schadenfreude when you see random woman #42 saying "I've always wanted to be a fairy princess in a candy castle." It's funny. Does it play to negative stereotypes? Of course it does! But that's the fun of it.

"Joe Millionaire" is hardly edifying. It says nothing significant about any sort of relationship here in the real world. It's just entertainment. And anyone who takes it more seriously than that needs to turn back to "The West Wing"--a show I enjoy, FWIW--and let the rest of us watch our schlock TV.

Friday, January 17, 2003
Affirmative Action: One Random White Guy's Take

Oky doky, we know that the President basically came out against affirmative action, at least as it pertains to college. This has been the genesis of much hand-wringing on the left and meaningless bravado on the right. So what the heck is going on?

Well, let's look at what's up. When affirmative action was created in the 1960s, it was to redress clear and present government-created barriers to freedom. The system up until the '60s was rigged, to put it mildly, against non-whites and women, and this was statutory. Affirmative action was meant to fix these egregious errors, and to give minority and female groups the opportunity to rise, despite the many hurdles that had been placed in front of them by their own government. It was not only not a bad thing, it was the only just thing that could be done.

So the years went on, and affirmative action became a centerpiece of the civil rights movement. It seemed sensible enough; an entire class of people--well over half the nation--was being denied basic rights because of race or gender. And so we made allowances. If someone had a lower level of education, or scored lower on a test, well, how do you adjust for the negative effects of institutional discrimination? There's no other way than to adjust requirements accordingly.

As a short-term solution, affirmative action worked splendidly. It moved millions of people into better jobs and a better future. It solved the short-term problem of righting the institutional wrongs of Jim Crow, and moved a generation of short-changed people into better careers. At the same time, it moved people into better schools, with better opportunity awaiting them.

As with most good ideas, however, affirmative action began to fray as the years wore on. As we grew one, then two generations removed from Jim Crow, the raison d'etre of affirmative action could be called into question: absent a recent history of institutional discrimination, did it make sense to favor a class of people?

Affirmative action proponents would point to real bigotry that still existed in society as a reason to keep affirmative action alive. And there was little denying that racists and misogynists still flourished in society. But the law of the land had been altered to deny the racists and misogynists the upper hand. The government was hostile to companies and organizations that were discriminatory.

And yet, as all government policies do, affirmative action continued, on into the present day.

Now, I sound from my writing more hostile to affirmative action than I am. I have a "mend it, don't end it" philosophy of affirmative action. But it's more class-based than race- or gender-based. Does anyone think a caucasian mountain person from the poorest parts of West Virginia has an advantage over the African-American child of a Doctor from Atlanta? Of course not. But the system today behaves as if that is absolutely true.

Does racism and sexism exist? Most certainly. But there's only so much a government can do to change that. The American government, despite what some will say, has done a herculean job of cleaning itself up in the past fifty years. The laws on the books today are clear, concise, and for the most part, gender- and race-neutral. Where neutrality does not exist the laws unfailingly support previously disadvantaged groups.

And therein lies the problem. At some point, if you are going to have laws that support one group over another--even in the case of groups disadvantadged for generations--you are going to have a sense of unfairness developing.

I am a believer in personal responsibility. When racism and sexism occur, steps must be taken to stop it. But the time has passed for an institutional policy supporting one race over another--no matter the race, no matter the reason. Indeed, if after forty years, affirmative action has not ended these problems, it's time to start looking for a new policy that will.

War! Huh. Good god y'alll. What is it good for? Well, that's the interesting philosophical point....

Okay, here's the smoking gun. I was hoping they wouldn't find it--I think we were all hoping that somehow, Saddam got rid of this stuff--but it's now clear he didn't. We'll see if he disclosed this. I rather suspect he didn't. Be that as it may, here's the green light on war with Iraq.

This isn't a happy day. But it was an inevitable day. If we're going to fight, let's fight to win. And let's get this idiot out of power once and for all.

A Palace Coup?

The Saudis are reportedly seeking diplomatic support to foster a coup d'etat again Saddam. Well, more power to 'em. My thoughts are as follows:

1. If the Saudis can pull this off, great. It would be a nice way to get rid of the problem, that being Saddam. But then again, are we really going to make Iraq a nation of beauty and light just by getting rid of Saddam? He's the leader, but he's not Superman. There are other people carrying out his wishes. Think they're all swell, save Saddam? I doubt it.

2. Don't'cha think the coup might go better if we keep it a big secret? I mean, do ya think Saddam just might be tempted to up the security level a bit? Just a thought.

3. This sounds great, but remember who's running it. The Saudis. The Saudis. Oh, sure, they're our bestest buddies--I saw the commercials--but still, I'd have a little more faith if this wasn't the same country that gave us a majority of the 9/11 terrorists.

4. And finally, even if these other questions are answered: does the Administration care? Would Bush really be content to see Saddam out of power and living in exile in Indonesia? Something tells me he wouldn't. Something tells me he wants this war, he needs this war--and that's why he isn't going out of his way to support this plan.

Thursday, January 16, 2003
Extinct Extinct bobinct bananafanafofinct....

I'm not sure it you're going to come across worse news than the imminent extinction of the banana. I hope not, anyhow.

MPAAT Rides Again

The Minnesota Partnership for Action Againt Tobacco has screwed up again. The problem? A recent ad that shows a woman dying of lung cancer, singing "Hush Little Baby" to her infant child. The commercial is well done and heartbreaking. The problem? It's not real. The "dying mom" is an actress.

The ever-sane Bill Hillsman notes in a KARE-TV story that "I think that's perpetrating a fraud I think it was intentionally shot to look like these drunk driving commercials that use real home video."

MPAAT (slogan: "ignoring our state-mandated mission in favor of our own political goals since 1999"), formed with money won from the tobacco settlement, has gotten in trouble before. Its most notable error was crusading for restaurant smoking bans in violation of its own charter. But this state-sponsored wing of the Nanny State movement may have a full-fledged public relations disaster on their hands. The public hates being duped.

Sometimes it's satire, and sometime's it's just a little too close to the truth

The Onion is dead on as usual with their article on Bush's respone to North Korea. The response? Let's invade Iraq.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Writing for the Daily Kos, Billmon has an excellent analysis of the latest Bush numbers. This definitely isn't the trend that GDub would like to see--and it presages bad things for Bush 43. Far and away the biggest number in here is the "will you vote for" number. Bush has only 34% saying they definitely will vote for him--versus 32% that definitely won't. That's an astoundingly bad number for a supposedly popular president, and gives the Dems a glimmer of hope--assuming they find a credible candidate.

To me, the most startling number is this: by a bare majority (50%-47%), people say the amount of federal income tax they are paying is "about right" rather than "too high". (1% said "too low", but they're insane.) That's an eighteen percent drop since 2001--and may be bad news for the tax-cutting GOP. If Americans are starting to feel like their tax burden is pretty fair, then they aren't going to see a need to keep cutting until it starts hurting the government. And that spells bad news for the Republican "economic policy"--such as it is.


Mitch Berg has an excellent take on the fallibility of the death penalty, and his own feelings on either side of the issue.

I've always been neutral/negative on the death penalty. I don't think it's a particularly effective punishment; if it were, Texas would have no crime rate at all. Then again, I didn't shed any tears for Tim McVeigh, and won't for those who committed heinous acts and pay the ulimate price. And I think the death penalty is the only just penalty for treason--for reasons I am unsure of.

Like Mitch, I'm very torn on the death penalty. The emotion of revenge certainly comes into play--if someone killed my wife or child, death would be the least I would want for the killer--but the legal system is supposed to be about justice, not revenge. The possibility of executing innocents, so famously documented now in Illinois, makes me concerned. And while I believe about 90% of police officers are good, honest people who simply wish to make the worth a better place, I believe 10% are power-mad fools. And I fear that about 80% of prosecutors have the mistaken impression that their job is to convict criminals, rather than to do justice--how else to explain the prosecutors who in the face of overwhelming evidence refuse to exonerate defendants?

All this makes me question the death penalty. I don't believe it should be eliminated--for some, it is the only just penalty. But it should be rare, and it should be used with extreme care--and lots and lots of judicial review.

As for Ryan's actions in Illinois: when a system is as broken as the Illinois system is, he had no choice but to do what he did. Good for him for doing it. Now let's hope someone takes a good, hard look at the Chicago police department.

If I wanted a Republican, I'd vote for George Bush

So Bob Lieberman!--ahem--Joe Lieberman is running for President as a conservative. He's on the right on social issues and religion, and hoping that will get him past GDub. Sorry, Joe, but those issues are why we moderate suburban Democratic leaners lean your way in the first place. If Joe Lieberman is the nominee, my choice is easy: George Bush gets my vote. They're both wrong on social issues, but Bush is slightly less wrong on economics. Lieberman may pull some Nascar moderates, but he's not going to win the South in the general. Better to find an economic moderate, socially tolerant candidate who can win in the suburbs. But that's what the Dems have needed for years.

Thursday, January 09, 2003
Off to help with--well, more mature people.

I'm off the next four days to volunteer for the Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government program. 1500 eighth-through-twelfth-graders running a simulation of government at Minnesota's capitol. This will be my eleventh year helping out with students who haven't yet learned the cynicism that I have. It will be fun.

My next post will be Monday. See you then.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Say it ain't so, Dick!

Whaaat? Dick Armey is going to be a lobbyist? No. Can't be. Why, I swore that he was going to be a tireless, unpaid defender of the people. Huh. Who'd'a thunk that Dick Armey would sell out and become a corporate shill? Other than, you know, everyone to the left of Trent Lott.

Edwards Climbing--all the way to 9%

John Edwards has pulled into a tie for second in the generic nationwide poll, according to Zogby. Lieberman is first, at 11%, and Kerrey is tied with Edwards for the second spot at 9%. Hardly a mandate for anyone--it's looking like the "seven dwarves" all over again, complete with Gary Hart and Dick Gephardt. If somebody says we all know the road to Hell is paved with bad--I mean good--intentions, I'm leaving.

MADD about you

My day for links to The Agitator. A good analysis of MADD's bogus 17K a year death rate from drunken driving puts that number closer to 3500--or, as he notes, less than the rate of accidental poisoning. (Also, for 2001, roughly equal to dying in a terrorist attack). In light of the recent police-state tactics in the fight against the overwhelming evil of drunk driving, and the racheting down of the legal limit (.1! No, .08! No, .06! No, .04!), it calls into question why we can't just declare this war won and move on.

Hit Big Music Where It Hurts

The Agitator reports that there's free money to be had if you bought any kind of pre-recorded music between 1995 and 2000. And you did. Check the link to find out how you can get in on the class-action settlement.

By the way: so the major labels conspired to keep prices artificially high, then they have the gall to complain when people decide to stop buying music and start trading it instead? Do these execs ever look in the mirror and realize that they--not evil punk kids--spawned the era of P2P? Of course they don't. That would require self-awareness.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003
I'm not running for President either--for the same reason

So Tom Daschle isn't running for President? Gosh, why? And don't tell me you think you can do more in the Senate. Puh-lease. Tom Daschle took a good, hard look and realized there was no way he would win after his dismal shepherding of the Dems in the last mid-terms. So thanks for playing, Tom, and don't let the door hit ya.

Monday, January 06, 2003
Goodbye, Farewell, and Hoo-yah

Today marks the end of the Ventura Era in Minnesota, not that most Minnesotans care. Jesse long ago outlived his welcome, as he worked tirelessly to promote himself and fight with the media. Folks in the other 49 states will likely tune in to Ventura's rumored MSNBC show, but Minnesotans have had their fill of Gov. Turnbuckle.

But today, as Gov. Lunkhead leaves office, I am inclined to be charitable. Today I want to look back on why electing Jesse Ventura in 1998 was the only sane thing the citizens of Minnesota could do--and why, despite everything he pulled, the state is better off for his win.

In 1998, the DFL nominated Hubert H. Humphrey III for Governor. The Attorney General was an inveterate nanny-stater and son of the former Vice President, fresh off making Minnesota the first state to settle a tobacco lawsuit. In many ways, Skip Humphrey personified liberalism. Virtually every question led to a program he was going to create. His answers were rote, his candidacy based more on a sense of entitlement to higher things than anything else.

The Republicans endorsed the popular mayor of Saint Paul, Norm Coleman, two years removed from his party switch. Coleman was viewed as a moderate before the GOP convention, but his hard right turn left everyone wondering what Norm believed. The man who had appointed a transgendered Deputy Mayor was calling for a rollback of civil rights for gays? It seemed like Norm was willing to sell out his principles for votes--that Norm was most in favor of Norm.

Into the fray walked the former James Janos, now Jesse Ventura. The former mayor of Brooklyn Park, a blue-collar suburb of Minneapolis, Jesse was laboring as a mid-day talk show host on KFAN. The former wrestler was recruited by two-time Senate candidate Dean Barkley to jump into the race. The IP hoped for at least 5%, the threshold that divides major parties from minor parties. Ventura, with his minor celebrity and talk show fans seemed a safe bet to keep the Reform party a major party for at least another two years.

As the summer moved to autumn, the major parties made some stunningly bad decisions. Roger Moe, the Majority Leader of the Senate and Humphrey's Lieutenant Governor pick, convinced the campaign to make Humphrey's appearance in the debates contingent on Ventura's, in the belief that Jesse would siphon conservative votes from Coleman. Coleman agreed, while proclaiming a vote for Jesse to be a wasted vote.

If there was ever an argument for allowing third party candidates into debates--or against, if you're a DFL or GOP partisan--it is Jesse Ventura. He shined. When Humphrey would blather about his new program to do this, and Coleman would mumble about the need to cut that, Ventura would bravely say he thought both guys were idiots. When asked in a debate in northern Minnesota a question about the IRRRB--an organization that is supposed to rehabilitate the Iron Range--Ventura admitted he'd never heard of it. He was applauded.

Jesse Ventura said what was on his mind. If that meant he was advocating legalizing marijuana or prostitution, well, he believed it. He said it.

It was remarkable.

The other candidates never took him seriously. They defered to him--secretly hoping if they were nice to him, his voters would swing their way. Even when his numbers climbed from single digits to the twenties, he was ignored.

And then, Election Day.

The early returns showed Ventura running a very, very strong third. Within an hour, he was polling second. By nine o'clock, he was in first--and climbing. He held on through the night, winning perhapst the biggest electoral upset in Minnesota history. When he stood up and proclaimed "We shocked the world," he was telling the truth.

Jesse the Governor never again reached those heights.

Nobody realized just how petulant the former wrestler could be. He was prone to tantrums, calling the media jackals when they wrote something less than glowing. He famously took off his headset, rather than listen to a caller on a phone-in show that he disagreed with.

And there were the book deals, and the XFL announcing gig, and the wrestling match, and...well, it was avarice, pure and simple. Given the chance, Jesse lined his pockets. And it was disgusting.

But along the way, Jesse had a few good ideas--most recently, in the 2002 legislative session. Facing a growing budget deficit, Ventura proposed a bold plan of tax hikes and spending cuts to stave off fiscal disaster. Republican Tim Pawlenty, the House Majority Leader, and Democrat Roger Moe, the Senate Majority Leader, both candidates for Governor, struck a deal that avoided any unpleasantries until after the election. With the DFL and GOP on the same side, the legislature rammed the bill through--creating the four billion dollar train wreck that Tim Pawlenty inherited.

There were other highlights. Ventura's judical appointments were excellent, his transportation program bold. He brought a much-needed excitement to Minnesota politics, one that Skip Humphrey and Norm Coleman could not have.

Of course, his promise in the fall of 1998 was so much more. There was a sense that we, the people of Minnesota, could succeed in retaking our government. It was misplaced--but only because of our faith in Ventura, the man.

Jesse Ventura's '98 campaign taught us that saying what you think matters. That refusing to spin helps. That avoiding the political game can let you win the game. It is a lesson all-too-quickly forgotten by the major parties. After all, the Democrats turned right around and endorsed Roger Moe for Governor. But the lesson is right, no matter Jesse's failings.

So thanks, Jesse, for teaching us that lesson. You shocked the world. Now please, go away for a while, and let the state of Minnesota learn to appreciate you again.

Validation, thy name is Glenn Reynolds

My very first link from InstaPundit! Okay, it's to The Political State Report, not here, but still, I'm verklempt.

Thursday, January 02, 2003
It's Alive!

The Political State Report is up and running. Note Minnesota's D/I columnist. (Hint: he looks a lot like me.)