Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Terrorists or criminals?

In the previous post, I observed that the Obama administration views the war on terror as something less than a war. To them, it's a simple matter of law enforcement. It's almost like the President was trying to make that point for me when he came out Monday and said:

"Here's what we know so far: On Christmas Day, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit. As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, setting off a fire."

"Allegedly?" Does anyone, anywhere, doubt that was what happened? Obama then went on to refer to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab four times as a "suspect," as though he had just been pulled over for possible drunken driving or something.

This is the language of law enforcement. When an American citizen is observed doing something that might be illegal, that person is a "suspect," and they are only "alleged" to have done something until it is proven in a court of law. The words represent basic constitutional rights of Americans.

Citizens of other countries, who train in terrorist camps and try to commit mass murder on an airplane, and NOT entitled to these rights, no matter how many crybaby ACLU lawyers come out of the woodwork.

Instead of treating Abdulmutallab as an enemy combatant, and taking him to a military base for interrogation, we are treating him like a suspected burglar, or some such thing. According to today's Washington Post:

"Abdulmutallab remains in a Detroit area prison and, after initial debriefings by the FBI, has restricted his cooperation since securing a defense attorney, according to federal officials. Authorities are holding out hope that he will change his mind and cooperate with the probe, the officials said."

Isn't that beautiful? We've made sure he has an attorney, and now we are "holding out hope" that he might decide to talk. Think about the message that sends to all of the other would-be bombers training in al-Qaeda camps: "Don't worry, you'll either blow yourself up and go to paradise, or you'll get a nice warm jail cell and a lawyer, and at your trial you'll be able to tell the whole world about the greatness of Allah and the need for jihad. And don't worry about ending up in some detainee camp like Guantanamo, because Obama already promised to close that up."

Until this administration decides we are at war, not just policing the neighborhood, more and more American lives will be at risk.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The system worked?

I just saw video of Janet Napolitano saying what may be the dumbest thing I've ever heard from a public official.

Napolitano heads the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration. As we now know, on Christmas Day Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to board a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit and tried to blow up the plane with a bomb he smuggled on board. A couple hundred lives were saved when the bomb malfunctioned.

In just the first 48 hours since the incident, we've learned that Abdulmutallab:

-- Was already on a terrorist watch list;
-- Was thought by his family to have "gone over the edge" of radical Islam, and his father went so far as to contact the U.S. Embassy and warn them about his son;
-- Had been spending time in Yemen, an al-Qaeda hotbed;
-- Was able to apply for, and get, a U.S. visa;
-- Smuggled his bomb through security;
-- And failed in his plot only because of the poor quality of the bomb.

Despite this incredible list of breakdowns and failures, Napolitano went on CNN Sunday and proclaimed "the system worked." See the clip HERE.

The Obama administration view seems to be this: None of our tools - terrorist watchlists, airport inspections, etc. - can prevent someone from smuggling a bomb onto an airplane. We know that's their view, because that's what happened, and Napolitano said "the system worked." So apparently the only difference between the system working, and the system NOT working, is whether or not the bomb really goes off, the plane crashes and people die.

This reflects the Obama Administration viewpoint that fighting terrorism is really a law enforcement matter. When things happen - like Major Hasan shooting up Ft. Hood after spending months trading emails with a terrorism advocate - you simply bag the bodies and prosecute those responsible.

I liked it better in the 88 months after 9/11, when the Bush administration decided that we would focus on preventing attacks, rather than reacting to them. They monitored terrorist conversations, they sent special forces to kill terrorist leaders, they set up a terrific detainee system at Guantanamo Bay to hold enemy combatants, and they established military tribunals to deal with those combatants. They forced countries with lax banking laws to stop hiding terrorist funding channels. And in those seven-plus years after 9/11, we had no successful terrorist attacks on the country.

Of course, Obama and his people called this "shredding the Constitution" and "abandoning our values," because they wanted to score cheap political points. And as soon as Obama was elected, he announced he would shut down Guantanamo, and he has since decided to give confessed mass murderers like Khalid Sheik Muhammad a civilian trial in New York City.

And now, in less than a year after Obama taking office with this new "sophisticated" approach to fighting what Napolitano likes to call "man-made disasters" - rather than terrorism - we have had the Ft. Hood massacre, and a fellow with a bomb in a plane over Detroit.

Listen to Napolitano tell us that "the system worked" and then ask yourself how safe you feel with this administration running the country.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A little Christmas story

During the early years of the Wild, a fellow named Wes Walz was among my favorite players. Wes had exceptional speed, and an even more exceptional work ethic that allowed Coach Jacques Lemaire to ask Walz to be responsible for lining up against the other team's best scorer. Walz was a terrific defensive-minded forward, who also had enough skill to score 82 goals between 2000 and 2008.

Walz is now an assistant coach for Tampa Bay, and the St. Petersburg Times ran a great story about the Walz family Christmas that you can read here. It just reinforces the view I always had of Walz as a straight-shooting, stand-up kind of guy. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blast from the past

A few posts ago I blogged about the afternoon I had Al Gore in the back seat of my old 1970 Mustang convertible. Now, courtesy of buddy Keith Jacobson, comes an actual photograph of the vehicle. Here I am, styling big-time in 1987. The mismatched hubcaps are an especially nice touch.

Keith also sent along this photo of the two of us in March, 1983. The "Cattle Congress" was the name of the old hockey arena in Waterloo, Iowa, where we would go every March for a tournament with our Rochester team and beat up on Iowijans. It was a rickety old arena that smelled badly from the cattle auctions they held in it every summer. Perhaps some day I'll blog about "The Greatest Iowa Face-Off Story Ever Told." In the meantime, I'll apologize for the hair, and I'm sure Keith would like to apologize for the beard and the Ronald McDonald bib. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

To Marty, the Alexanders, Dickman, Winky and all the others: Thanks for making me the greatest goalie ever to perform in the State of Iowa (as far as anyone knows.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Worst. President. Ever.

No, not Obama, who has a ways to go to surpass the ineptitude of peanut-boy himself, Jimmy Carter.

The 39th president is near the bottom of most historian's presidential rankings, and with good reason. His mistakes are too long to list here, and I'm only bringing him up because he got himself in the news again, in a way that serves to make people even more cynical about politicians.

Carter - as president, and even more so once he left office - has been an enemy of Israel. Historian Douglas Brinkley has written about Carter's love for the terrorist Yasir Arafat, and the way Carter rushed to the Middle East in the 1990s in an effort to smooth things over between Arafat and Saudi Arabia. Again, I don't have time to go through all of Carter's shortcomings, but National Review's Jay Nordlinger once wrote an outstanding piece about Carter that you can read here.

So what got ol' Jimmy back in the news? Well, turns out he now feels bad about his shabby treatment of Israel (the only democracy in the Middle East) and wants to apologize.

"We must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel," Carter said in a message to Israel. "As I would have noted at Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het (a plea for forgiveness) for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so."

Now comes the cynical part. Why would Carter - after 30-plus years of opposing Israel's interests - feel the need to apologize? Feelings of guilt? A change of perspective? A desire to simply do the right thing?

No, no and no.

It turns out that Carter's grandson is now running for Congress, in a district with a large Jewish population. So in order to help the boy, Jimmy's decided it's now time to set aside his lifelong dislike of Israel and try to make nice.

Just when I thought my opinion of Carter couldn't get any lower, he manages to drain a little more water from the tub.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Try to have a little class, eh?

The travails of auto mogul Denny Hecker have been well-documented in the media, and even though I know a bit about the auto business, I don't have any real insights into why his business empire collapsed, nor do I know him personally beyond a couple of cursory introductions at various functions.

In addition to the failures of his business, Hecker has been in the news because of his bankruptcy filing, and the messy divorce proceedings between Hecker and his wife Tamitha. The two were granted a divorce Thursday, and here was the quote Denny gave to the Star-Tribune:

"I am just tickled pink to untie the rope from the anchor."

I know divorces can be ugly - even those between 57-year-old millionaires and 42-year-old bleached blondes - but isn't the mother of two of your children entitled to something a little classier than that? Like maybe saying "No comment" for once in your life?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Put "Cap" and "Trade" get "Crap"

Imagine for a moment that you are a farmer, and on your nice plot of land you grow potatoes. Every year you grow 10,000 pounds of potatoes, sell them on the open market and make enough of a profit to keep you in business another year.

Across the road from you is another potato farmer, on a similar piece of land, but he's kind of a lazy guy. He scatters a few seeds around, doesn't fertilize, lets the weeds grow, and each year his crop fails.

Then one year the government comes along and announces that they believe there are too many potatoes on the market, and they find it necessary to "cap" the number of potatoes being produced. They will give each farmer a permit to produce 5,000 pounds of potatoes, but if the farmer wants, he can sell his permit to another grower.

So the lazy neighbor comes over one day and offers to sell you his permit for a few thousand dollars. Since you need to continue producing 10,000 pounds of potatoes to stay profitable, you buy the permit. Of course, you now have to recover the cost of buying the permit, so you raise the price of potatoes to cover that cost.

Net result: There is no increase in the number of potatoes being produced, the cost of potatoes to consumers has risen and a chunk of your wealth is now in the hands of the non-producing neighbor. The only person who wins in this scenario is the non-producing neighbor, who now gets something for nothing.

Now, replace "you" with "Developed countries," replace "neighbor" with "underdeveloped countries," and replace "potatoes" with "energy," and you will understand what the underdeveloped countries of the world are trying to accomplish at the "climate summit" in Copenhagen.

Third-world countries - mostly African dictatorships - are using the make-believe threat of "global warming" to try and guilt the developed countries into agreeing to a cap-and-trade scheme that will give each country permissible amount of carbon emissions (the "cap"), which would then force developed countries to buy the permits from poorer countries (the "trade") in order for the larger countries to maintain their energy output and continue to grow their economies.

Of course the underdeveloped countries remain underdeveloped, in large part, because they are reluctant to embrace concepts like democracy and free enterprise, which would put them on the path to growth, prosperity and peace. It's more fun to run a dictatorship, oppress the people and then come up with ways to get bigger, more successful countries to transfer some of their wealth to you.

This same "cap and trade" concept is behind the bill passed earlier this year in the U.S. House of Representatives, except it applies to businesses in the United States. The government would auction off carbon emission permits, which could then be traded among various industries. So if you are Xcel Energy, for example, you might have to buy a permit from another company in order to continue to produce energy for your customers. Of course, the only way to recoup the permit cost is to raise rates on your customers. There won't be any fewer carbon emissions, you'll just end up with a higher utility bill each month.

Fortunately the proposal is so stupid, the Senate hasn't even considered it. But when you hear "cap and trade," it's time to guard your wallet, because the only thing these schemes are designed to do is separate you from your money.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why I love Sarah Palin

A week ago tonight I was contemplating getting up really early on Monday morning, say, about 4 a.m., and traveling to Mall of America so I could stand in line and wait to get my copy of Going Rogue signed by Sarah Palin. Eventually I decided that was a little too early, and the lines would likely be too long, and I decided not to go.

As it turned out, it was a pretty orderly process, more books were signed than were expected, and I wish I would have gone, although I expect I'll have other opportunities in the future to get the book signed.

I'm a big fan though, and I've read a good chunk of the book already. I was at the Republican National Convention in 2008 when she spoke, and the atmosphere in the Xcel Energy Center was absolutely electric that night. I can say that it was like having a rock star in the building, because I have been in that building many times with actual rock stars, like Paul McCartney, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Elton John, and others, and there has never been an atmosphere like that night. Everyone wanted to see this relatively unknown Governor of Alaska, and she didn't disappoint. She gave a knockout speech and had the crowd - and much of the nation -in the palm of her hand.

Since that night, my appreciation of her has only grown, for two reasons:

1) She destroyed liberal feminism. Ever since high school, I've had to listen to my liberal friends talk about: a) The importance of electing more women to office, and b) How feminism was all about "expanding opportunities" and "respecting choices." I was sympathetic to both points of view. From an electoral standpoint, a gender that is more than 50% of the population maybe SHOULD have 50% of elective offices. And if a woman happens to have an aptitude for anything in particular - math, science, engineering, whatever - there's no reason she should be denied an opportunity to pursue those interests because of gender stereotyping.

Given that philosophy, Palin should have been a feminist's dream. Here is a bright, talented woman who had won high political office and was seeking an even higher office. Early in her career she broke into a male-dominated field - television sportscasting - and she could hold her own hunting moose and racing snowmobiles, two other areas usually left to the men. Juggling a challenging family and a rising career, Palin should be considered the very embodiment of female empowerment.

But no! Turns out that ever liberal feminist I know immediately - and I mean within 72 hours of Palin being introduced - already hated her. Turns out that some of the choices Palin made in her life weren't the choices liberal feminists would make. Like being pro-life. Like choosing to give birth to a Down syndrome child. Like supporting the military. Like believing in American exceptionalism.

All of these things were utterly unacceptable to the left. And in those same 72 hours, I realized that the feminists had been lying to me for 40 years. They didn't care about electing women, they only cared about electing liberals. Gender was just a tool to hide behind, and to use for leverage. There are no "sisters" in feminism, there are only fellow liberals, who are required to march in line and follow orders from the feminist elites.

When I realized that a "feminist" could love Ted Kennedy - a misogynist, serial abuser of women - and despise Sarah Palin, I realized the feminist ideology had nothing to do with benefitting women, and that the ideology was dead.

(Fun thing to do: Next time someone starts ranting about how unfair the world is to women, just say, "You must have been really disappointed that Sarah Palin didn't win." Shuts them up like a mute.)

2) I love the fact that she makes liberals NUTS. She drives them absolutely crazy. Any sense of fairness or decency goes right out the window when they discuss Palin. They'll call her names, spread vicious lies, tell barbaric jokes about her children, cut-and-paste her face on pornographic pictures. Nothing is too low for a Palin-hater.

There are a million hateful quotes out there, but one of my personal favorites is this one, from someone named Wendy Doniger, a religion professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, who wrote for the Washington Post that "Her (Palin's) greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman." Imagine that coming from someone whose job is to instruct
future teachers of Christianity.

(Here are Palin and Doniger. You can decide for yourself which one is really a woman.)

Criticize Hillary Clinton's position on the Middle East, and the lefties will call you a sexist, fascist, woman-hating, neanderthal pig and maybe charge you with a hate crime. But say that Palin looks like a "slutty flight attendant" and you're simply "talking about the issues."

Palin has turned large portions of the political left into absolute moonbats, simply by being herself. And I love it when the left goes nuts like this, because when they get this way, they do really stupid things.

George W. Bush did the same thing to them. They hated him - just absolutely HATED him - so much that they were willing to do whatever they could to defeat him. And when they lost twice to him, their hatred made them so nuts that they ran out and grabbed a naive, inexperienced, not-too-bright guy to be their presidential nominee, simply because they could leverage his skin color into the election win they so desperately wanted.

Their hatred of Bush led them to Obama, and Obama is going to set them back 20 years, just like Jimmy Carter did.

Will Sarah Palin ever be president? I doubt it, for a variety of reasons, but she doesn't have to be president to have performed a valuable service to the nation. The thousands and thousands of people that are turning out for her book signings are evidence that there is a great untapped reserve of political energy in this country that will be the scourge of liberals for the next generation, and we'll have Palin to thank for it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Al Gore and I chat about global warming

Since the climate alarmists are gathering in Copenhagen - many arriving via private jets, which really cuts down on "carbon footprints" - to flap their gums about supposed "global warming," it seemed a good time to share my up-close-and-personal experience with the fledgling climate change movement, way back in 1990.

In 1988, a year or so after I had become Press Secretary to Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, Rudy got interested in the then-relatively unknown subject of man-made global warming. For a fellow who grew up just outside of New York City, Rudy always had a pretty keen interest in environmental issues, in part because he made his fortune selling lumber (he founded Plywood Minnesota - now called Home Valu - a chain of home improvement stores) which helped him realize the importance of responsible resource management.

That summer President Reagan appointed Rudy as a congressional representative to the United Nations, and so for a six-month period we would occasionally hop the shuttle up to New York, where Rudy would speak at the UN on various topics. He decided he wanted to speak on global warming, and addressed the UN on that subject that summer.

As one of the people in charge of helping shape Rudy's image, I have to admit that I loved the topic, but for very cynical reasons. First of all, it helped shore up Rudy's environmental credibility, which was important to voters in Minnesota. Secondly, no one was really sure it was a problem - and there was no way to prove that it was. Finally, if it was a problem, it was waaaaay off in the distance, and we wouldn't have to step on anyone's toes to deal with it. From a PR standpoint, it was ideal: A vague problem with no concrete solution that allowed Rudy to highlight his legitimate environmental interests without ticking off anyone important.

(Let me emphasize that that was MY position on the issue, not Rudy's. He was the statesman; I was the cynical political hack. At the time he genuinely believed there was a threat, although he has since moved 180 degrees on the issue and has become a big supporter of the Hudson Institute's debunking of the global warming scare. For more on the Hudson Institute's important work, click here.)

Rudy's interest in the issue caught the attention of the junior senator from Tennessee, one Albert Gore. And in early 1990, a relatively new group called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held one of its first meetings in Washington D.C. To add a little credibility, they decided to round up some senators to be listed as "hosts" for the event. Gore jumped to the head of the line, and easily signed up a couple other Democrats (I forget who, but I think Bill Bradley was one of them), but he needed a Republican to create the appearance of balance, and he approached Rudy, who agreed to be a host.

And so, for three days, Rudy went down to the J.W. Marriott on Pennsylvania Ave. for the conference, and listened to the doomsayers talk about all of the evils that were about to fall upon the world if we didn't stop eating meat, driving cars, etc., etc. By the third day, I think Rudy was beginning to understand that this group wasn't interested in real science, it was just a bunch of environmental wackos who were shoving all of their socialist, Walden Pond dreams into a vessel called "global warming."

Whenever a senator had to go to a meeting away from Capitol Hill, it was normal procedure to have a staff person drive them there and pick them up. Washington is crowded, there's limited parking, and it was just a more efficient way of doing things. For staffers, it was a chance to have some "face time" with the senator, and I often had the duty of driving and picking up Rudy for a couple of reasons. First, I could bring along any work that I wanted him to review, and he could make his comments while I was driving.

Secondly, Rudy had a perverse sort of affinity for my car, which was a badly beat-up 1970 Mustang convertible. Dents, scratches, faded paint, ratty interior...this car had it all. Rudy liked to ride in it because, in his words, "Anyone who sees this car knows that Republicans aren't all rich fat cats." A little Jewish humor at my expense.

On the final day of the conference, I drove down to the Marriott to pick up Rudy. My car, as usual, was a mess. On a normal day, the back seat would have my golf clubs, my dirty softball pants and gear, a pile of empty fast-food wrappers, maybe a change of clothes or two and who knows what else. It didn't really matter, because seldom did anyone ever ride in the back seat because it was so tiny. And if someone did, it was probably some intern who would just shove the mess to one side and make room. Suffice it to say that Rudy was used to it.

I rolled down Pennsylvania Ave. and pulled up in front of the Marriott, and there was Rudy, standing next to Al Gore. Rudy opened the door and said, "Al's ride hasn't shown up, could we take him back with us?"

"Not a problem," I said, "But he'll have to make a little room."

So Rudy flipped the front seat forward, making way for Al to climb into the back seat. I'll never forget the look on his face as he peered into the tiny, cramped seat and realized he was going to have to sit on what was basically a pile of dirty laundry, sporting goods and trash.

I reached back and started frantically pulling the pile over to one side, trying to create some space, while Al was trying to stretch his 6-foot-1 frame into the car, slide behind the front seat and find a perch amidst the rubble.

He finally got in. Rudy climbed in front and right away said to Al, "I'll move this seat up and give you some room."

To which I answered, "I'm sorry, the seat is stuck in that position."

"That's okay," Al said, with his knees almost up to his chin. "Where's the seat belt?"

Again, I had to apologize. "There aren't any. But don't worry, I'm a careful driver."

Al didn't look too reassured, and he seemed even less so when I pulled a quick u-turn across Pennsylvania Ave. to get us headed back up to the Capitol.

"So, how was the conference?" I asked.

"It was excellent," Al said. "You know, Rudy, we should look at co-sponsoring a bill on some of this."

As I said, I was already pretty cynical about the whole idea, but I wanted to be polite, so I said something like, "Yeah, things could be a lot different a few hundred years from now."

Al didn't like that at all, and said something along the lines of "Oh, no, the problem is right now. We have to stop this now before it's too late."

Which led to a kind of uncomfortable silence. As I said, Rudy was beginning to have his doubts, and I was only paying attention because of the potential political benefits, so I decided on a quick change of subject.

"Senator, I'd really like to get down to see that University of Tennessee football stadium sometime. It must be great to hear all those people sing 'Rocky Top.' "

Which got Al off of the subject of global warming, and on to the subject of the University of Tennessee, which occupied the couple of minutes it took to drive back to the Capitol. Rudy got out, flipped the seat up and extended a hand to help lift Al out of his tiny, filthy compartment. "Thanks for the lift," Al said, and I answered, "Anytime, Senator."

It certainly wasn't a monumental moment at the time. Al was just the junior senator from Tennessee, only in office about three years, but soon he was ready to hit the big time. Just over two years later, Bill Clinton would tap him as a running mate, and suddenly the guy from my back seat was Vice-President of the United States. Then he published Earth in the Balance, and pretty soon he was the world's biggest global warming scold.

After losing the 2000 election, he figured out how to get rich off of environmental doomsaying and flies around the world in a private jet so he could tell people how to reduce their "carbon footprint."

The world is quickly catching on to the junk science and beginning to see that "global warming" is little more than a fraud and a hoax, as evidenced by the recently released e-mails from a British university, in which the "scientists" talk about manipulating and suppressing climate data that didn't fit their pre-supposed notions, and how they can't explain why the world hasn't been warming up at all for the past decade or so.

A while ago I mentioned that afternoon to Rudy, and said, "If I had known Al was going to become such a nut, I wouldn't have given him a ride back from the conference."

Ruefully, Rudy said, "Al took that conference very seriously."Link
What still strikes me about that day was the absolute certainty Al had about the problem. That was almost 20 years ago, and today there is no proven science that demonstrates the problem even exists, but in 1990 Al was already prepared to sacrifice the global economy and sentence millions of third world people into permanent poverty on the basis of junk science. I still find that a little frightening. (See the November 19 blog post here to learn more about my thoughts on Al.)

As for the Mustang, it didn't last much longer. I junked it, replaced it with a beat-up Volkswagen Cabriolet, and by the time that car was finished, two senators and a governor had ridden in it. The Smithsonian has not asked for permission to display either vehicle.

(UPDATE: A picture of the Mustang in question has been unearthed. See it here.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

When did WCCO radio become irrelevant?

The Wild played at home Tuesday night, and one of the things I like to do on the drive home after the game is listen to Coach Richards' post-game press conference on WCCO radio.

The good ol' 8-3-0 has been around my entire life, of course, and there was a time when it was one of the premier radio stations in the country. A "clear channel" station, its nighttime signal could be picked up over wide swaths of the nation, and it had a well-earned reputation as a great source for breaking news. When something big happened, there used to be a sort of automatic reflex to turn to 'CCO and find out what was going on.

On the drive home I listened to Richards, then listened to the post-game chatter between Wild studio guy Kevin Falness and 'CCO nighttime "personality" Dark Star. After the hockey talk ended - about 10:30 - I would normally have switched the channel or plugged in my MP3, but right about then I reached Hastings.

What I saw was a sea of police lights. Cop cars were blocking Hwy. 61, forcing us over to the side streets. TV trucks were parked all over, and clearly something big had happened. After a few blocks on the side streets, I cut back to Hwy. 61, and went only two blocks before finding another big area blocked off by police cars.

Having no idea what had happened, I decided to leave the radio tuned to 'CCO, where I assumed I'd get the story. Instead, I got about 20 minutes of Dark Star chatting with some buddy of his who apparently owns a restaurant where Dark Star likes to eat. They chatted about the economy, the President's laughable speech on Afghanistan and a couple other things. Dark Star's buddy had no real insights to offer, but then, he's not a news guy, he's just Dark Star's buddy.

I put up with the gibberish because the top of the hour was coming up, which generally means the CBS network news break, then local news. 11:00 p.m. came, we went to CBS, and at 11:05 we went to local news. Nothing about Hastings. Whatever event had happened that was big enough to close chunks of U.S. Hwy 61, bring out dozens of police cars and attract TV news trucks wasn't a big enough deal to mention on WCCO Radio.

So I thought, well, either it wasn't that big a deal, or it just happened in the last 15 minutes and 'CCO hasn't had time to get someone on the story. Wrong on both counts.

Turns out that police had a felony arrest warrant for a guy, who was suspected of stealing a truck, and when they tried to stop him, he started ramming into squad cars. Police started shooting, and when they were done the suspect was hauled away in an ambulance and bystanders said there were more than 20 bullet holes in the car.

And all of this happened between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m., more than two hours before I drove through Hastings. But, again, it didn't merit a mention on WCCO radio news.

If the news-gathering capability of this once-great station has fallen that far, there's pretty much no reason for it to exist except to bring us the fabulous Wild hockey broadcasts of Bob Kurtz and Tom Reid, along with Coach Richards' press conferences. The other 280 or so days of the year they may as well shut it down. Which is kind of sad.