January 22, 2004

*You Asked, Captain Ed Answers

Despite being a captain without a ship (or dinghy), Captain Ed has provided a fantastic interview for you.

He gets bonus points for mentioning Bayfield, Wisconsin (an area near and dear to me) as one of the best places he's been.

Go to the extended and enjoy this wonderful interview.

Why did you leave southern California?

Unemployment is a great motivator. I'm a call-center manager, and I needed to find a better fit for myself. I couldn't find any opportunities in Southern California and I'd spent some time in Minnesota previously and really liked it. I don't regret moving here a bit; it's a terrific place to live and we've made some wonderful new friends. We both miss our extended families, though. I'd move back if I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I wouldn't go out of my way to do so -- I'd have to make at least three times what I do now to afford it.

Why would you leave California for Minnesota? Winters. Hello.

Yeah, well, that first winter was a real eye-opener! I tell people that there are four weeks in the winter and four weeks in the summer I could live without, but the trade-off is experiencing four seasons a year, and the bluest skies you'll ever want. Just bundle up and you're okay, and it it's too cold, don't stay outside. It's not as big a deal as people imagine.

Jesse Ventura: circus act or effective governor?

Circus act. In the end, he alienated both ends of the political spectrum, bringing true bipartisanship to Minnesota: both parties hated his guts. They combined to override his veto on their budget, finishing him politically in his final year. But look, the plurality that elected Jesse didn't do so because he made a great leader -- they voted for him to send a message that they were fed up with the decades-long direction of Minnesota politics. In the next election, they ignored the independent candidates and swung further Republican.

Could Jesse have won another term if he ran?

There are people who still think he could have, but I don't. He was a nine-day wonder, and like I said, that veto override really, really made him look foolish. He's descending back into well-deserved obscurity. A commenter on my blog told me that he's still a good wrestling commentator, and I think that's where he will eventually stay.

Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" but everyone knows they have 11,842 lakes. Why would they undersell themselves like that?

Typical Midwestern reserve and humility ... If it was California, they'd call themselves "Land of Over 11,841 Super-Fabulous, Lo-Cal, Atkins-Friendly Lakes!" And then they'd charge you $50 to go see one of them.

Do they hand out boats with every house they sell up there?

No, but they do give you steaks when they replace your windshield. Seriously. You're right about Minnesotans being serious outdoors enthusiasts. Everyone up here has a boat or a snowmobile or a Jet-Ski ... well, everyone but me, anyway. Maybe I should start a tip jar to raise funds for a fishing dinghy.

Usted admira Jonathan Swift?

Si, yo admira Jonathan Swift mucho gusto. And that's the extent of my Spanish, I'm sorry to say. Swift was a brilliant writer and an even better satirist. I first read "A Modest Proposal" as a high-school freshman in English class. I read "Gulliver's Travels" shortly afterward, but it's been so long I need to reread it sometime soon. The tagline I use is a corruption of the final couplet in a little poem Swift wrote about poets which I think is even more applicable to the blogosphere (especially when I'm scrounging for blogroll links!). I admire people who honestly and articulately speak their minds, even -- and especially -- if their thoughts go against the doctrine of the day. To challenge the English to take responsibility for the poor state of the Irish people at that time certainly did not increase his popularity.

Why did you start your blog? What did you hope to accomplish?

When I was younger, I often debated politics and cultural issues with my friends, until I realized that I was either (a) boring them to death, or (b) pissing them off. I've kept a lid on it since then, using the local Letters to the Editor pages to vent when I needed. I'm also a bit of a frustrated writer, too, so being opinionated combines nicely with the urge to write in blogging. I'm not sure what I hope to accomplish (what a great question!); I'd like to advance public debate and change some minds, if I can. Expressing my opinions in such a public manner forces me to research my assumptions a bit more and listen more carefully to the opposing arguments, a great opportunity for personal growth if I can keep my mind open long enough to take advantage of it. Maybe, as one of my family members suggested to me, I'm showing off a bit, too ... I hope that's not it, but if it is, I'll live with it.

Have there been any particular bloggers who have helped or influenced you?

I'm not sure if I've been influenced to anywhere near the degree I've been helped. If I had to pick an influence, it would probably be Power Line. I've received a lot of assistance, advice, and promotion from a number of people in the blogosphere and still continue to do so -- Jennifer's giving me a great opportunity with this interview to introduce myself to new readers, for example, and I really appreciate it. Blogs like Power Line, QandO, Politburo Diktat, Evangelical Outpost -- all these have linked back to me with very supportive comments urging their readers to check me out. I got a huge boost from radio talk-show host and blogger Hugh Hewitt, too, and it just demonstrates the collegial atmosphere in most of the blogosphere, as well as the fact that Hugh is a terrific guy who goes out of his way to help people out. But the first person who went out of her way to give me a hand was Alicia at Twilight Cafe, who not only was the first to blogroll me and the first to comment on one of my posts, but also designed my logo as a gift to me. I'd go on -- there are plenty more -- but I don't want to abuse Jennifer's hospitality.

Do you prefer reading personal blogs or political blogs?

I like them both, as long as they're well-written and entertaining. I read more political blogs, though, because I only have so much time in a day and I want to keep up with the politics. The first blog I ever read was Asparagirl's, which is now defunct, and that was more personal than political. Much of what I write is political, but I will sometimes write on personal topics. Hopefully it doesn't bore anyone!

What inspires you?

My family inspires me. I have a terrific family, and if I don't write more about them, it's because their stories are their own to tell, and I'd find it a bit presumptious to lay it all out on the Internet without their participation. My faith inspires me, too, but it's more of a comfort than an inspiration. Tough challenges inspire me. I've been learning Irish Gaelic for the past three years, just because I love Irish culture and because the language is pretty obscure. Fortunately, there's a significant group of Irish speakers in the Twin Cities, and they're great people.

Is being a grandparent better than being a parent?

You bet!! The responsibility is less and the enjoyment increases with age, I think. When you're the parent, you constantly second-guess yourself and stress out over the child's development. When you're the grandparent, you have the luxury of focusing on the fun of being with the child. (And of course, it doesn't hurt to have the cutest & brightest little girl in the world as a granddaughter ...)

What advice, if any, did you give your son when he got married?

Not to let family members get in between the two of them, and that's not to say that either family has a problem with that, it's just a common issue. They have to make their own decisions. It doesn't mean we can't give advice -- when asked -- but they need to rely on each other foremost. Except, of course, when I speak, because I'm always right.

M&Ms: plain or peanut?

LOL!! Well, I'm a Type II diabetic now, so unfortunately neither. Before, I'd lean towards plain, and green. When I grew up, green M&Ms were supposedly teen-age Viagra (as if we needed it back then!). I was more of a Butterfinger or Reese's Peanut Butter Cup guy.

What is the best place you've ever visited?

Ireland. What a beautiful country! We visited there in the summer of 2001, before 9/11, and we had a blast. We skipped the tour and I drove us around instead, so we got the chance to see most of what we wanted in a two-week time frame. I'd love to go back and spend more time there, going through places I missed the first time around.

In the US, I'd be hard-pressed to pick one place over another. I really enjoyed a week we took at Bayfield/Madeline Island, WI. Extremely relaxing and beautiful views.

What is the worst place you've ever visited?

Tijuana, Mexico, although in fairness I only went once when I was 11 years old, and my grandmother had her wallet stolen during the trip. I've never wanted to go back.

What is a Ponzi scheme?

A Ponzi scheme is a confidence game where cash is given up through a pyramid-shaped organization with the promise that attracting new members will bring you cash in the same way. Of course, you can't create wealth in this manner; it's a zero-sum game, and the suckers lose large amounts of money. In the late 70s, a wave of "Pyramid Parties" were staged in California that blatantly implemented these Ponzi schemes as social events, if you can believe it. (The allure of something for nothing may be the most powerful human force in the universe.) I've often referred to Social Security and various social programs as Ponzi schemes because they only work when there are more people at the bottom end of the pyramid paying in than there are at the top receiving benefits. As Western populations skew older, the economic fallacies become apparent and the money runs out -- leaving the suckers at the bottom wondering where their money went.

Howard Dean is an asshat. He won't get the votes of a lot of moderate Democrats. Why would prominent Democratic leaders endorse him?

First, I gotta admit, I love the term "asshat". I learned that one from the blogosphere, and it works sooooo well. It fits Howard Dean to a T. Don't get me wrong; there are plenty of Democrats and liberals who are passionate but responsible and want only the best for the country, within the parameters of their own belief system. I just disagree on the solutions as well as the philosophy. However, there are poseurs as well, and Dean's track record strongly suggests he falls into the latter category. Now that he laid an egg in Iowa, he may not get those moderate votes in the primaries. If Dean is the nominee in November, he will get most of them in the general election, but not enough of them to win more than about 10 states. The post-Watergate era is probably too polarized to count on a large number of crossover voters even when the nominee is unpalatable. I'd say Bush beats Dean in November 55-43 in a popular vote, and 3-1 in the Electoral College.

I've asked myself why prominent Democrats coughed up endorsements so early on, and I think it was because Dean looked so inevitable that they felt the need to establish themselves with Dean in preparation for his term of office, if elected. There are plenty of Cabinet positions available, and ambassadorships, and so on. Al Gore wanted to be the chairman of the DNC, I think, or perhaps an important diplomatic posting -- maybe the UK or UN. Don't forget that Dean raised an incredible amount of money and created the strongest national organization by far during this campaign. Unfortunately, all those endorsements haven't helped, and in Al Gore's case, it probably hurt.

Is there any way Bush can lose 2004?

Sure -- re-election is not a foregone conclusion. He's vulnerable in a few areas. He started the year off by irritating his base with his immigration plan, which I support in concept (I haven't seen a lot of detail yet). If he keeps doing that, he may get more of the center but he runs the risk of sending his base home on Election Night. The economy could sour before November, although that's very unlikely at this point.

In order for there to be a strong challenge, the Democrats will need to mount a serious candidate, and none of the current crop looks promising, except maybe Edwards. Dean, Clark, and Kerry have switched positions so often that regardless of which Bush faces, there will be a long string of commercials reminding people of the flip-flops. I think they would have done better with Lieberman, but for some reason he was abandoned by everyone early on. I'm surprised Diane Feinstein didn't run, to be honest. I wouldn't have voted for her, but she's more serious than most of these people. If she gets on the bottom of the ticket, she might get some serious centrist votes.

I think the biggest way Bush could lose is to take re-election for granted, and from what I'm seeing, that's not going to be a mistake that either Bush or Rove intends to commit.

Thanks -- this was a blast!!

Posted by Jennifer at January 22, 2004 12:08 AM


Great interview!

Posted by: Ted at January 22, 2004 07:11 AM