Why I Missed the Patriot Forum Tonight

I am so pissed — at no one in particular, but I’m still pissed.
As I blogged earlier, my wife and I planned on going to the Patriot Forum, a dinner and discussion with Hugh Hewitt, an event I have been looking forward to attending for over a month. I got stuck in a meeting at work and couldn’t escape until 4:45, although I made it home in a half-hour, something of a record for this time of year. I had originally planned to leave the house about that time, but I got ready as quickly as I could and started to head out the door. I asked the First Mate to check with the hotel to see if they had valet parking, for which I would gladly pay a small fortune on a -15-degree night. (There are other reasons, which will come into play later.) The hotel confirmed that valet parking was available. It was about 5:40, five minutes before cocktails but almost an hour until dinner.
The problems started immediately after that.
First, as we were throwing on our dressy coats, I saw that the jacket of the brand-new outfit my wife bought for the occasion still had the EAS tag on it from the store. I tried for five minutes to remove that ^&%*&% tag to no avail. She left the jacket at home while I not-so-silently cursed the sales clerks at Macy’s. We went out the door and into the car, where I had to get cash for the aforementioned valet. After that, we set out for Saint Paul, and I figured it would take me about a half-hour to get to the hotel. No sweat; we’d arrive just as dinner would be served.
We drove into Saint Paul — not reknowned for its user-friendly layout — and promptly got diverted from our route, thanks to a combination of the Ice Palace and a Minnesota Wild hockey game that came as a surprise to me. After negotiating our way back from the river (and not really having a clue where I was going at that point), we finally rolled up in front of the hotel — to see several large signs informing us that VALET PARKING WAS FOR OVERNIGHT GUESTS ONLY. Oh, yeah, and their lot was full, too. Welcome to the Saint Paul Hotel, and go screw yourself.
By now it was 6:30. Dinner was being served, and Hugh would begin speaking in an hour. However, I could not find a parking space close by. In fact, I could not move for over 15 minutes, as three different buses decided to turn left from the right-hand lane at the other end of the street, keeping a whole line of cars backed up. After I finally made my way past that knot — for all I know, there’s still two buses sticking halfway out into that intersection — I found parking four blocks away from the hotel.
Here’s where the rest of the problems start. To begin with, the First Mate was dressed for valet parking; it was -15, and the wind chill had to be -30 or below, and she wasn’t going to do very well walking four blocks in that weather in her very elegant but thin outfit. Next, because of chronic health issues, she can’t walk for long distances even in the best of weather. Third, because of her diabetes, she can’t afford to skip a meal, and since it was now 7 pm, I wasn’t even sure we’d get there before Hugh began speaking. We had almost certainly missed dinner, and there was no place to stop on the way there and no time to do it anyway. (I’m Type II and shouldn’t skip either, but sometimes I do.) Finally, even if she managed to survive the walk to the hotel, she certainly wouldn’t make the walk back, just to get into a subzero car which might finally warm up when we pulled into our garage.
So, muttering curses under my breath, we left the parking lot and went home. Which is why I’m pissed. I’m sitting here with my computer on my lap instead of sitting in an elegant ballroom at the hotel, listening to Hugh speak and meeting my Northern Alliance brethren, as well as DC from Brainstorming and a number of other people. Sorry, everyone.
Worst of all, my wife is upstairs, convinced that I’m pissed at her, when it has nothing to do with her. I gave her a hug and told her that I wasn’t mad at her; I was just mad and she needed to let me be mad for a while. (If anything, I’m pissed at the hotel — if they had told me that there wasn’t any valet service except for overnight guests, I would have called a cab.) She doesn’t believe me and still thinks she ruined the evening for me. But now that I’ve managed to get this out of my system, I’m going to go back upstairs, make a joke, eat something, and try to be a bit more jolly the rest of the night.
But you all know … I’m still pissed.

Dean Flounders, Pulls Back Advertising

In what looks suspiciously like capitulation, the Howard Dean campaign has suddenly canceled its advertising in the seven battleground states voting next week on the Democratic nomination for President:

Howard Dean will not air ads in any of the seven states holding elections next week, officials said Thursday, a risky strategy that puts him at a distinct disadvantage with high-spending rivals for the Democratic nomination. With his money and momentum depleted, Dean decided to save his ad money for the Feb. 7 elections in Michigan and Washington state and, 10 days later, the primary in Wisconsin, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One of the stories on Joe Trippi’s departure published yesterday reported on strategic differences between trippi and Roy Neel, who took his place. If surrendering on Tuesday is part of the strategic realignment of this campaign, why did Trippi need to leave? I assume that Trippi saw this strategy as the acknowledgement of Dean’s faltering appeal that it is, and Trippi knows that the image of a candidate backpedaling and downsizing holds little attraction to people concerned about electability. Kerry already held an edge among Democrats for whom electability against George Bush was the main motivation for their vote in New Hampshire, and with the turmoil in the Dean camp the past two weeks, it’s sure to be more of an issue now.
Howard Dean looks increasingly incompetent as a national candidate. If he doesn’t compete for next Tuesday’s primaries, he will drop further off the radar screen and allow John Edwards to grab the momentum for second place. In two weeks, Howard Dean will be finished as a credible contender.

Limited Blogging Today

I will not be doing too much blogging today, as the First Mate and I will be attending the Patriot Forum tonight in St. Paul, featuring Hugh Hewitt as guest speaker. Hugh and Duane will be visiting us just in time to see the physical proof of Al Gore’s theory of global warming; as I write this, it is 15 degrees below zero. (I’m actually surprised the former Vice President isn’t speaking in the Twin Cities this week to continue his “Bitter Cold of Global Warming” series of lectures. We could use the hot air.) We’ll be dining with our fellow bloggers of the Northern Alliance, such as the gang at Fraters Libertas, Mitch Berg at Shot In The Dark, Big Trunk at Power Line, and many more. If you are a listener of Hugh’s show, James Lileks will be guest-hosting live from our own Patriot station here in town, so be sure to stay tuned.
To get us all into the mood, make sure you get a chance to read Hugh’s latest column in the Daily Standard on John Kerry. Only Hugh could tie the Boer War, McCarthyism, and the UN together coherently and apply it to the primaries. In discussing John Kerry’s vote against the 1991 action to eject Iraq from Kuwait with full UN blessing, Hugh notes:

But a singular focus on the war is a lesson from 1900 that the White House has no doubt already absorbed. A vote for the Democrats isn’t a vote for the Baathists, but it surely is a vote for the United Nations. A solid majority of Americans aren’t going to support a side which believes that legitimacy resides only in recurring consents from the Security Council and recoils from the use of force even when the Security Council is onboard.
John Kerry voted against the Gulf War in 1991. Had Kerry had his way, Saddam would now be a member of the nuclear club, and the WMDs he had in ’91 would have doubled and tripled in scope and lethality. Kerry was absolutely, positively, and enormously wrong about the most important vote of his public life. His judgment was flawed then and remains flawed now. A vote for Kerry is a vote for the Security Council, except in 1991 when that Council wanted war.

Make sure you read the whole thing, and then listen to Lileks tonight. We’ll be at the St. Paul Hotel, if we haven’t frozen to the road on the way there.

What Happened To The Left?

Dissent Magazine published an excellent essay on the moral abdication of the Left in the fight against fascism. It’s written by a Leftist who is dismayed by his sudden isolation:

“And yet,” I insisted, “if good-hearted people like you would only open your left-wing eyes, you would see clearly enough that the Baath Party is very nearly a classic fascist movement, and so is the radical Islamist movement, in a somewhat different fashion-two strands of a single impulse, which happens to be Europe’s fascist and totalitarian legacy to the modern Muslim world. If only people like you would wake up, you would see that war against the radical Islamist and Baathist movements, in Afghanistan exactly as in Iraq, is war against fascism.” I grew still more heated.
“What a tragedy that you don’t see this! It’s a tragedy for the Afghanis and the Iraqis, who need more help than they are receiving. A tragedy for the genuine liberals all over the Muslim world! A tragedy for the American soldiers, the British, the Poles and every one else who has gone to Iraq lately, the nongovernmental organization volunteers and the occupying forces from abroad, who have to struggle on bitterly against the worst kind of nihilists, and have been getting damn little support or even moral solidarity from people who describe themselves as antifascists in the world’s richest and fattest neighborhoods.”

Read the whole essay. (via Crossing the Rubicon2)

Arts Funding Increase? Why?

The New York Times reported yesterday that President Bush will request a substantial increase in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts:

President Bush will seek a big increase in the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest single source of support for the arts in the United States, administration officials said on Wednesday. The proposal is part of a turnaround for the agency, which was once fighting for its life, attacked by some Republicans as a threat to the nation’s moral standards.

I don’t think it’s a threat to the nation’s moral standards; daytime soap operas present more of a threat than art-house displays of Robert Mapplethorpe’s rear end ever could. It’s a nonproductive waste of money and it’s completely unnecessary. Artists sell their wares in a free market here in the US. Artists who can’t make a living out of it on their own should hardly be supported by government grants to go on being unproductive. Not only that, but the NEA is expected to supply patronage without discernment — funding is demanded for all sorts of projects of questionable taste, such as the notorious pictures of bullwhips protruding from Mapplethorpe’s ass. It’s the first patronage system in history where the patron is held hostage to the artist.
One side benefit of being the NEA, I suppose, is that you can get really talented writers to produce works of fiction to support your organization, such as:

Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a New York Democrat who is co-chairwoman of the Congressional Arts Caucus, said she was delighted to learn of Mr. Bush’s proposal. “There’s nothing in the world that helps economic development more than arts programs,” Ms. Slaughter said.

Yes, it was that all-important art industry that pulled a great nation from the Great Depression. And it was lucky, too, that it came along when it did. Why, if the great engine of the arts hadn’t been around, we’d never have been able to bomb the Nazis with primitive sculptures and Cubist watercolors. Memo to Ms. Slaughter from planet Earth: There’s nothing in the world that helps economic development than free-market capital. And the NEA eats up too much of that as it is.

BlogMadness, Round 1: Movin’ On Up!

The voting is over for Round 1 in the BlogMadness tourney, and Captain’s Quarters is moving onto the next round, thanks to all of you who voted for me. My “epic” poem, The Midnight Blog-Court, topped d-42’s entry on pornography. California Yankee also won in my bracket.
Next up, round 2, where voting starts tonight at 11PM EST. I’m up against some pretty stiff competition this time: a grandmother writing about her grandchild’s birth and difficult first few days (an excellent post, really). Hope you’ll all continue to participate!

The French Exodus

French Jews no longer have confidence in France to protect them, and immigration to Israel has almost tripled:

Growing anti-Semitism in France has prompted a big rise in the number of French Jews emigrating to Israel. Figures released in Israel yesterday showed that 2,380 moved last year and 2,556 the year before. In the 1990s only about 800 French Jews emigrated to Israel each year.

One suspects that this presents a bit of a mixed bag to the Muslims responsible for attacks on Jews in France. On one hand, forcing Jews to leave must delight them, but I doubt they’re happy to see them go to Israel. What exactly is driving France’s Jews out of Europe?

Natan Sharansky, an Israeli minister, said on Sunday: “Last year the number of anti-Semitic incidents in France doubled and 47 per cent of all anti-Semitic attacks in western Europe occurred there.” … He said that between 2002 and 2003 anti-Semitic incidents around the world fell from 1,979 to 983; in France they rose from 77 to 141.

In other words, while anti-Semitic acts declined by 50% worldwide, they almost doubled in France. In 2002, France accounted for 3.9% of all anti-Semitic acts, while in 2003 France accounted for 14.3%, making them a contender for the title.
France passed their anti-scarf legislation today, but perhaps instead of focusing on how people dress, the French government should pay more attention to how they act. Until they do, no one can blame French Jews for emigrating to a country that affords its citizens religious freedom and a sense that each of them matter.

Dean On The Ropes

Governor Howard Dean’s sputtering campaign hit more bumps in the road today:

Democrat Howard Dean shook up his faltering bid for the White House on Wednesday, replacing his campaign manager with a longtime associate of former Vice President Al Gore [Roy Neel]. In a further sign of distress, the one-time front-runner implemented cost-cutting measures as he looked ahead to a series of costly primaries and caucuses, asking staff to defer their paychecks for two weeks.

Management changes and budget cuts do not indicate a campaign firing on all cylinders; it demonstrates the extent of the problem Dean now faces. With his opponents raising more cash and with seven states voting on Tuesday, Dean has to spend a ton of money and needs a steady hand at the rudder. I’m not sure why outgoing campaign manager Joe Trippi suddenly lost Dean’s confidence. Most of the problems Dean has he brought on himself, from his foolish notion that Saddam’s capture made the US “no safer” to his cranky rant against a retired Iowan and his manic third-place “acceptance” speech. Apparently, Trippi doesn’t know either:

One source said the former Vermont governor offered Trippi a spot on the payroll as a senior adviser — similar to the position Neel has held since Jan. 1 — but he decided to quit rather than accept the demotion.

Trippi’s hurt feelings are the least of Dean’s worries at the moment. Continued success in fundraising, regardless of whether it’s from large donors or small, depends on the perception that Dean has a strong chance of winning the nomination. A month ago, Dean was the only candidate in the race inspiring that confidence, but now Kerry has assumed that mantle. Donations will start to slow, if they haven’t already, leading to the suspension of pay for his campaign team. Donors aren’t the only ones losing confidence in Dean’s prospects:

One day after absorbing a double-digit defeat in New Hampshire at the hands of rival John Kerry, Dean publicly and privately expressed his determination to remain in the race. At the same time, in a conference call with members of Congress who have endorsed him, he was told bluntly that finishing second wasn’t good enough — that he had to show he could win a primary.
“He said he understood,” said one lawmaker who was involved in the call.
Dean’s campaign chairman Steve Grossman also said Wednesday that the candidate must win a presidential primary in the next two weeks to keep even his most loyal donor base — those giving modest amounts over the Web — contributing enough to make him financially competitive.

Translation: Dean must right his foundering campaign and win at least one of the primaries being held next Tuesday. Otherwise, what support he still enjoys will be looking for a way out.

BlogMadness Continues

Thanks to a boost from Hugh Hewitt, the Lord High Commissioner of the blogosphere, I’m ahead in the first round of the BlogMadness contest, 24-11, with 8 hours left to go. If you haven’t been by there yet, please visit the bracket and cast your vote.
Other CQ brethren need some attention as well:
California Yankee is down 9-6. Patterico’s Pontifications is behind 17-12 against terrific competition from The American Mind. King of Fools, Evangelical Outpost, and Wizbang are all ahead, but vote for them for insurance — standings can change fast!

Our Friends, The French

UPI and the UK Independent report that official Iraqi government documents show that Saddam Hussein engaged in a series of bribes of high-ranking European officials:

Documents from Saddam Hussein’s oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The oil ministry papers, described by the independent Baghdad newspaper al-Mada, are apparently authentic and will become the basis of an official investigation by the new Iraqi Governing Council, the Independent reported Wednesday.
“I think the list is true,” Naseer Chaderji, a governing council member, said. “I will demand an investigation. These people must be prosecuted.”

If true, these documents would explode the Presidential race. Democrats consistently attack Bush for “unilateralism” and, in John Kerry’s words, building an “illegitimate” coalition because the French opposed the US. Chirac even reversed course and stabbed Colin Powell in the back by reneging on an agreement to back us if we allowed a final effort at inspections. At the time, France certainly presented its opposition as a principled stand on behalf of peace, an arguable concept in and of itself while Saddam was filling mass graves with the bodies of his opponents. But if Chirac and/or his ministers were being paid off by Saddam, it yanks the “unilateral” rug right out from under the Democrats. No one in their right mind would expect the US to get a permission slip from a criminally corrupt ally who sold the US out for personal riches.
Get ready for some real fireworks if these documents are authenticated. The French may finally wake up from their long nanny-state slumber and discover that they’ve been betrayed by their keepers.