Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is Chris Kunze Now "Toast", Politically Speaking?

"Anonymous" wrote in and asked if I thought Chris Kunze had any political future at all after his very public election eve betrayal of the school levy, his colleagues on the School Board, and the local public schools.

Anonymous--you must be kidding. Does he have a future? His political future is brighter than ever! This creepy behavior has just turned Kunze into the next rising Republican star in this district! Assholes everywhere in Stillwater will love this guy! "Finished?" Are you kidding me? He's riding a rocket of anal popularity right now--and if he follows up the right way he may ride that rocket right into the State House!

You see, what you guys who read this blog tend to forget is--most of the people we talk to and associate with--are sane, decent people. Most of them are, for the most part, ethical people. They're unlikely to stab you in the back--take advantage of your good nature.

But there are a lot of other people we wouldn't want to have lunch with. They're angry, thwarted selfish people. Some of them are just plain kooks when it comes to the issue of taxation. They have all kinds of kooky arguments and worldviews and schemes and stuff, and they're flattered by the talk radio Republicans.

There's a LOT of those people, right here in Stillwater! That's why the St. Croix Valley is represented by four anti-tax legislators in St. Paul--remember? It is a tremendous mistake for you guys to think that the number of selfish, kooky people is small--just because you and I tend to exclude those people from our social circles. On the contrary--the number of selfish and kooky people is quite large--and they're politically active, too! You must remember that reality, if you want to talk realistically about local politics. The selfish silly bastard vote is probably smaller than "the decent folks who care about the schools" vote--but the selfish silly bastard vote is very active, votes at every given opportunity, and is backed by the conservative media and the present government in St. Paul! You bet Kunze has a future!

What his critics don't seem to realize yet is that what Kunze has done will RAISE his reputation in the eyes of local selfish kooks. His betrayal of his school board colleagues is a sign of CHARACTER in the bizarro world of no-new-taxes morality.

Thole, on the other hand, has LOST credibility with local conservative anti-tax nuts. When he started pushing this levy, he went from local conservative hero to goat. And I bet he's a bit stunned by that. He probably can't believe that his sincere word on how necessary this levy is, is no longer good enough for local conservatives.

George Thole, Republican standard bearer on the School Board, distrusted and marginalized by the local right! Shoved aside as local hero on fiscal restraint in school spending, by his back-stabbling little political wannabe vice-chairman! I bet that's galling to Thole, to suddenly find himself pegged firmly a "big public spender" in comparison to his former protege.

Yes, Kunze has a future! It doesn't matter that he lied and he was caught--how many times has Bachmann been caught publicly in a lie, and she's in the State Senate and ahead in the GOP race for congress! Some of you guys don't get it--the conservative GOP LIKES people who lie, so long as they're ostensibly more anti-tax than anyone else.

I'll bet people are already writing in to the papers in support of Kunze! You have to accept this about a large number of the conservative voters, so I'll say it again: they LIKE a person who does the betraying/lying thing; what Kunze did. And they DESPISE a conservative who votes for necessary public spending as a matter of principle--like Thole.

The sad part is: Thole really thought that his reputation for fiscal prudence, his deserved reputation as a conservative--was going to be enough to convince other local conservatives that this levy really was necessary. Instead he finds himself--at his advanced age--getting in other conservative's faces, week after week, to defend both the levy and his integrity.

I hate the guy's personality, but I admire his stamina and his stand on this particular issue. I hope the levy passes and that Thole then kicks Kunze's ass publicly on election day. But YES--Kunze has a future in politics, if he sticks to the stringent conservative code of ethics that he just followed in betraying the School Board and the families who send their kids to our public schools.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Kunze: Yup--He's The Crack in the Conservative Bloc

So Kunze DID write that letter!

I had a pussy-foot around in the previous post, because 1) this is a satirical blog, and I wouldn't print a factual statement here unless I had real live attribution, and 2) I just didn't believe the guy would sink that low.

But he did sink that low! The Gazette did an excellent piece today blowing the lid off the Kunze betrayal, and publishing the complete text of his open letter.

The New Jersey word "douchebag" springs to mind and is "le mot juste", I believe. Not because Kunze opposes the levy. It's fine for Kunze to openly oppose the levy; that's his privilege. But Kunze agreed to a "white ballot" indicating that there was unanimous support by the entire board for the levy, and Kunze knows that the official norms that guide the members of the School Board require him to support a Board decision once it has been taken.

And worst of all, Kunze's timing decision--writing to the papers to make his opposition to the levy public NOW, with the vote looming. That's the stab in the back. Let 'em all go out on a limb to support an expensive levy, my colleagues on the board, the school superintendant, ha ha--when they're all the way out on that limb, I , Chris Kunze--WILL SAW IT OFF!

Kunze could have made his public stand months ago--he says he's opposed this particular levy all along; why wait til now to diss it publicly? It's a matter of trying to torpedo the levy at the very last minute--thus shoring up his popularity with the "we're already spending too much on the public schools" conservatives in town.

Why would Kunze want to do that? I will guess. There are a lot of these local "screw the public schools" activists to the right of conservative School Board Chairman George Thole. In my view, Kunze has always been trying to position himself to be the next Michele Bachmann or Matt Dean or something--a "no new taxes/cut spending" loon. For example, I think that Kunze may have been "the brains" behind the Board's incredibly unpopular (and stupid) decision to end free school bus transportation in the district a while back. (The reason I think that is because I pulled an article mentioning the idea of charging for school bus transportation off Kunze's web site. I still have it.)

The hell with the consequences for the kids and their families; that kind of thinking appeals to other "no new taxes/cut spending loons." And there's plenty of those around here--that's why all four of the elected officials representing the St. Croix valley in St. Paul are Republicans.

Thus I conclude: Kunze is thinking about his political future. He will lose his loon base of support if he goes along quietly with a pricy new levy (forced on the district by GOP cuts directed from St. Paul.) Kunze obviously doesn't care about what Board members and public education supporters think of him; he's hoping that his last minute public betrayal of the board and this last-minute attempt to torpedo the levy will make him a hero with local conservatives.

One thing we do know--his decision to make his opposition to the levy public, at this critical moment, was not motivated by principle. A person with principle would have stood up to Thole and the other board members and refused to go along with the unanimous vote/white ballot measure back in June. Then a person with principle would have spent the last four months loudly announcing their opposition to the present levy and tried to fight for a levy they believed in.

But Kunze didn't do that. Instead--waaaay back in June, Kunze motioned for the white ballot, and the appearance of unanimity.

So we know it's not principle that's moving him. My guess is that it's good old fashioned narcissism and careerism, which kicked in after conservatives explained to him that they'd never vote for him again if he "went along quietly" with this levy.

It turns out that Thole has been yelling at the wrong citizens. "I thought we were on the same team," said Thole, but it turns out that Kunze is on his own team--a team of one, where it's not about the schools, the taxpayers, the families and their kids. It's not even about keeping taxes low; if it was Kunze would have been openly opposing the levy all along.

Nope, it's not about any of that stuff--it's aaallll about Chris Kunze, and what's good for Chris Kunze. People should know that about this elected official. We shall watch his future political career with great interest.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kunze: The Crack In The Conservative Bloc?

This just in:

I have received a very distressing communication which indicates that District 834 School Board Vice Chair is about to announce his official opposition to the new $15 million school levy.

Let me say at the outset that I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this communication. The document is undated and unprovenanced. It may well be an elaborate practical joke at the expense of Mr. Kunze and his colleagues on the Board. I expect that he will comment to local papers about its authenticity next week.

But I will print here an excerpt from what purports to be an open letter written by Mr. Kunze. Here are the first two paragraphs:

"There has been some confusion about my stance on the upcoming levy questions. To clear this confusion up, in no uncertain terms, I do not support the levy questions as they stand.

I have made some mistakes in regards to the upcoming levy question for ISD 834. I have never supported to levy in its current form and agreed to “put on a good face” because I was in the minority. For this I am sorry. I have failed those constituents that have supported me over the last three years. There are certain members of the community that have harassed me about my support of this levy. I guess I owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me make my decision to come clean."

Did Kunze write this? If he did, his open opposition represents a major blow to school funding here in the District. It's going to be especially embarrassing for the remaining members of the conservative bloc on the School Board, Chairman George Thole and Secretary "Choc" Junker. For quite a while now, Thole has been pitching the levy to the public as being unanimously supported by the members of the board.

Thus it's a little late in the day for Kunze to declare his open opposition to the levy, after the issues have been formulated and as they are about to be sent to the public for a vote. If he really did write this letter, he is presenting himself to the public as a man who stabbed his fellow board members in the back after they've been fighting for this levy for weeks. The author of the letter doesn't even claim to have "changed his mind" about the opposing the present levy. Instead, he claims that he was keeping his opposition secret in order to "put a good face" on the whole thing.

What are you to make of a person who does something like that to his allies and colleagues on the school board and to the teachers and kids in the district? According to this letter, rather than take an open position against that would have led to debate, Kunze has been deliberately concealing his opposition to it for months--and he waits until two weeks before the polls to make that opposition known to the public, via the press? Does a person like that inspire your trust?

A person who pretends to go along, but throws a monkey wrench into the works at the last critical moment, announcing that he never believed in the project anyway.

I hope for Mr. Kunze's sake that he didn't write this letter. It doesn't reflect well on his "character."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stillwater: Watch Out For Rheinberger Possibility

Beloved people of Stillwater: I forgot to mention something in my last post about the upcoming changes on the School Board.

In “the Gazette column that got me fired” a year ago, I floated another of my little theories: the possibility that if conservative board members Hoffman and Junker retired before their terms were up, local Stillwater politician John Rheinberger might be appointed to replace one of them.

Why is that important? Mr. Rheinberger is absolutely choking for some political office. Nominally a Democrat, he has his own idiosyncratic ideas about the proper role of government (my favorite example was his attempt to persuade the people of Stillwater to sell off their public library as an unwarranted and fiscally dangerous tax burden.)

I mentioned the possibility that Mr. Rheinberger might be appointed (without election) to the School Board for several reasons. First, he is a friend of School Board Chair George Thole. Second, though he is technically a Democrat Rheinberger is a fiscal conservative; that would appeal to the conservatives on the board if they want to keep their voting bloc intact. Rheinberger would almost certainly vote with the school board members who back the GOP’s tax policy in St. Paul.

Third: as I say, he’s absolutely choking for some public office to keep his political profile above water. Appointment to the school board (without an election) would suit him just fine, because Rheinberger just can’t seem to win elections any more. His last two efforts—a school board run and a mayoral bid—were unsuccessful, despite the fact that Rheinberger campaigned hard. He even went to the expense and trouble of printing his own “newspapers”—political advertising included in the “real newspapers” that seemed designed to look as if independent publications were endorsing his candidacy.

Those efforts failed, but they indicate how badly Mr. Rheinberger wants to remain a player in Stillwater politics. If he can get on to the school board as an unelected replacement for a retiring conservative, so much the better—it would position him as an incumbent when the next school board election rolls around.

And his demonstrated belief in narrowing the definition of “necessary public expenditures” would make him a welcome addition to the conservative “bloc of four” that supports conservative tax policy in St. Paul—the tax policy that resulted in cuts to Local Government Aid by the state and made the new $15 million dollar school levy necessary.

Ms. Hoffman has announced her retirement. Today's Gazette included a letter to the editor from School Board Secretary "Choc" Junker. In the letter Mr. Junker acknowledges the fact that he has recently suffered a heart attack that almost took him to "the next finest place than being in Stillwater." He added that he doesn't know how much time he has left, but hopes it's enough "to see you and me pass the levy."

I hope Junker's got a hell of a lot more time than that, and I hope the levy gets passed, too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stillwater: Speak the Truth to Power--And They Will Kick Your Ass Off the Paper

A year ago, I printed a column in the Stillwater Gazette that got me fired from Minnesota’s oldest daily newspaper.

That column was a satirical piece about an upcoming school board election here in Stillwater. It was a very important election, as it turned out. The School District is now facing the fact that they have to beg the public for a $15 million tax levy just to keep operating.

In that piece, I dropped the following “bombshells”:

One: That there was a four-three voting split on the School Board, and that the majority of four was a conservative block. A fictional character in my satirical piece identified the conservatives on the board as Thole, Junker, Kunze and Hoffman.

Two: That there was a rumor going around town that school board members Choc Junker and Nancy Hoffman might retire from the board after the election was over—and, if this was done in clever manner, it would allow the conservative majority on the school board to appoint conservative successors to Junker and Hoffman: local voters would not be consulted. This strategy would allow conservative members of the school board to maintain the four-three split.

There was a mild uproar because I printed these two rumors in a satirical piece. Some people were outraged that I had identified them as “conservatives” on a supposedly non-partisan, small town school board. School board member Hoffman wrote in to the paper denying that she had any intention of retiring. Another school board member came down to the Gazette in person to deny the retirement rumor. My editor got pressure from the paper’s publisher, from members of the School Board, and from various local political types—fire Bill Prendergast.

And, I am sorry to say, the editor caved and fired me only days after the piece appeared. Despite the fact that she had herself approved the column in advance of printing. The only reason she gave to me in writing for my termination was that she felt that readers were not interested in my satire any more. On the contrary—I believe the reason that she fired me was that too many readers were interested in what I was writing about the school board.

There was a mild public outcry for a couple of weeks about the decision to drop me, and also a little “dancing on my journalistic grave” from people who should know better.

And now it is a year later. What about those two theories, the ones I was fired for printing?

One: It was admitted last week that the non-partisan school board is not non-partisan at all. School Board Chairman George Thole announced (at a public meeting on the levy) that four of the seven school board members were indeed “Republicans.” I submit that many readers first learned about that from me, a year ago, and not from Thole, this year.

Two: What about the rumor that Junker and Hoffman would retire after the election? (Which was, by the way, identified as nothing more than a rumor in the column.) A couple of weeks ago, I learned that school board member David “Choc” Junker had had a heart attack. He may be suffering from other serious health problems, too. We have no way of knowing because when I put questions about his health to his colleagues on the School Board and to a member of his family who is also in public life—they simply refused to answer. I think the fact that they will not make information about Junker’s health public is very damning, but we can all draw our own conclusions. Junker has not yet retired and questions about his health remain.

And I have just learned that school board member Nancy Hoffman has indeed retired from the School Board, before her term is up.

There was another theory in my column: that the successors to Hoffman and Junker on the School Board would be appointed, not elected by the voters. We shall see.

So what is the lesson here? Print the articles about cute kittens or what you did at school last week on the editorial page, and you may enjoy a long and happy career as a Gazette columnist.

Print your best guesses on what’s going to happen in local politics--and the Gazette may shit-can you under pressure from local power junkies. Even if the editor signed off on your column and approved it prior to publication!

Speak the truth to power--and you will get your ass kicked, if your editor and publisher are not willing to stand up to the people they are supposed to be covering.

This is especially true if the predictions for which you were fired begin to come true, almost a year to the day later.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

State: Hey--That's Not "Minnesota Nice"!

This just in, from the Associated Press:

Minn. principal who shot kittens resigns

2 hours, 29 minutes ago

INDUS, Minn. - A school principal has resigned and could face felony firearm charges after he shot and killed two orphaned kittens on school property last month.

Wade Pilloud, who resigned as principal of the K-12 Indus school, 40 miles west of International Falls, said he shot the kittens to spare them from starving to death after their mother was killed in an animal trap.

Pilloud said the shooting, which occurred on school grounds, endangered no one.

"I have bred cats, and I currently own two myself," he wrote Friday in an e-mail to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I am not a cat hater. I did not want the animals to suffer."


The incident happened Sept. 21, and several students still on the grounds for after-school activities heard the shots.

The district put Pilloud on administrative leave after the incident. Flynn said Pilloud agreed to an undisclosed settlement and resigned.

It doesn't say what kind of gun he used. Twelve-gauge? .22? AK-47? (Article doesn't say how many shots the kids heard; it could have been two short bursts.)

This guy doesn't live in the 6th district. But if he did, how do you think he would vote in the next election? Wetterling, or Bachmann?

I think this guy could go either way.

The "he'd vote for Wetterling" argument: He was a prinicipal at a public school, and everyone knows Bachmann hates public schools. I think it's a public school, from what I could gather from their web page. (They're serving grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch this coming Monday--but Tuesday, it's a chicken drumstick and potato rounds!) Anyway--Bachmann's taking more than fifty grand from an organization that is pledged to ending all public funding for public schools in the United States. This guy would understand that if Bachmann gets elected--his job's eliminated; he's shot his last kitten.

The "he'd vote for Bachmann" argument: He's an elementary school principal who keeps a gun in his office in case of kittens. Say no more; Bachmann's voting record shows she a big fan of guns. The NRA is very hot for her.

Maybe he had a really bad day. The school super comes in and says, "Hey, Prinicipal Pilloud, one of them little SOBs set off another M-80 in the Boy's Room toilet again, and you gotta tell them girls not to flush them sanitary napkins or we're lookin' at new plumbin' for the whole durn' school and the state cut the budget for that, yuh know. And, oh, yeah, there's a couple a cute little kittens out back behind the parkin' lot out there, ya want me to put 'em in a cardboard box and take 'em up to the animal shelter, or--HEY! What are ya doin' with THAT? Hey, watch where your pointin' that, Principal, where are ya goin'--(BANG! BANG!) Oh, Jeez. Oh, Jeez. This one's still breathin', I could run 'er up to the vet, if ya--(BANG! BANG!) Oh, Jeez"

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Foley Affair: How Did The Story About The Cover Up Get Into The Media?

I was going through the press accounts of the Foley scandal tonight. Trying to figure out who is who, who said what to whom and when, and which ones gave all those campaign donations to our own GOP congressional candidate here in the 6th district of Minnesota, the lovely and talented paranoid pathological liar Michele Bachmann.

I’ve been trying to figure out what happened--how the stuff about the GOP leadership’s cover up got out to the press. And it turns out that Representative John Boehner talked to the Washington Post about the cover up, back in September! He actually got on the phone with the Post and told them that GOP leadership knew about Foley, months before the story broke!

I think it must have gone something like this:

(GOP House Majority Leader John Boehner hangs up the phone, smiling. He just got off the phone with the Washington Post, but he thinks he handled it pretty well. The smart-alecky Post reporter was asking all sort of questions about Foley flirting with some kid via email, but Boehner managed to “fob off” the reporter with some non-committal stuff, plus a background anecdote or two. If only everyone else in the Party was as good as he was with the reporters--this whole thing would blow over in a day or so.)

(Then Boehner gets a “feeling” in the pit of his stomach. Something was “wrong” about that phone call. The Washington Post reporter seemed cheery when he hung up—maybe a little too cheery. Boehner reviews the phone conversation in his mind—did he say anything to the reporter that he might regret, later? He didn’t disclose anything, not really, the reporter already knew that Foley had emailed that kid…Boehner can’t quite put his finger on it, he can’t quite say what felt wrong about that call, but—)

(Then it hits him.)

Boehner: (suddenly shouts) S—T!
Mrs. Boehner: John! What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!
Boehner: S—T! S—T! S—T! I just told the Washington Post that Denny Hastert and I had a conversation six months ago about Mark Foley sending that kid dirty emails!
Mrs. Boehner: John, stop running around the room! You’re scaring me!
Boehner: Get out! Get out of here! Leave me alone, got to think, got to think—
Mrs. Boehner: Call them back, if you’re so upset about it, John, call them back and tell them you were wrong, you misremembered it—
Boehner: Oh, that’s brilliant! That’s just brilliant! I “misremembered” it! That didn’t even work for Reagan! Get out!
(Mrs. Boehner runs out of the room.)
Boehner: Jesus Christ! What was I thinking! (mopping his forehead, cinching his bathrobe) Got to come up with something! Some kind of excuse…I’ll tell ‘em I was drunk when I told ‘em that…no, that won’t work…I’ll tell ‘em it was…pirates…space aliens…My God, my God, God in Heaven, help me, please… They’ll set the FBI on us! If you get me out of this one, Lord, I’ll fund a dance for lepers and the blind in the Capitol Rotunda, please, please, Jesus--
(This goes on for about an hour. Boehner still hasn’t thought of anything, he’s down on his knees counting rosary beads, when:)
(The phone rings, again.)
Hastert: Hi, John. Denny Hastert here.
Boehner: G-g-good evening, Mr. Speaker. I suppose you’re calling this late because—
Hastert: You’ll never guess who I just got off the phone with, John. Never in a million years, will you guess, who just called me, just now.
Boehner: The…uh…(mumbles, his voice kind of trailing off) The, uh…Washington Post?
Hastert: What’s that? The Washington Post, you say? Jiminy Crickets, John, you guessed it! You got it right, first guess! How’d you know that? You psychic, boy? You got psychics in your family?
Boehner: Well, uh—
Hastert: You’re an amazing man, John Boehner! Amazing! But you’ll never GUESS what they wanted to talk to me about. I know you can’t guess that.
Boehner: Denny—
Hastert: They called ME up to tell me that YOU told them that you and I had a conversation—six months ago! About how Mark Foley was emailing a kid out in Florida, coming on to him like he wanted to f—k that kid or something. The Washington Post reporter told me that YOU told the POST that you and I were talking about THAT—six months ago!
Boehner: Look. Denny--
Hastert: You know John—I gotta take a moment here and ask you something. I wasn’t always in politics. I was a wrestling coach. I came to this politics thing kind of late in life, compared to some of you guys.
Boehner: Yeah…
Hastert: So maybe I don’t have the “political instincts” that some of you more experienced guys have. You see--I would have thought that the fact that you and I—the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader--had a confidential conversation six months ago about how we knew that a Republican congressman was trying to f--k a male page—I would have thought that that was something that a politician would NOT want to disclose to the Washington Post. A month before a congressional election.
Boehner: (silence)
Hastert: Am I right about that, John? Or was this part of some larger, “grand strategy” of yours? Do have some kind of “hole card” you’re gonna play right now, to get us out this, to save the reputation of the conservative Republican leadership—a “magic hole card” that you couldn’t play, unless you first got on the phone and told the Washington Post that you and I knew this guy was trying to diddle pages six months ago?
Boehner: Jesus, Denny, I—
Hastert: Because if you’ve got a “magic hole card” that’s gonna get us out of this, and save our asses at election time this year—(shouts) NOW’S THE TIME TO PLAY IT, JOHN! RIGHT NOW! TONIGHT!
Boehner: Denny—
Boehner: But—

There’s more, but it gets kind of loud, after that.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

God and The GOP: A Visit From Dr. James Dobson

My God, what day is it? What time is it? I’ve been working so hard on getting the word out on that nut Michele Bachmann that I haven’t even had time to make up a Mark Foley joke.

Yes I have. I made up a joke as soon as I read that Foley had checked into rehab:

“Well, it looks as if former Representative Foley is trying to turn over a new page…”

But I couldn’t post that here in the Stillwater Tribune, I simply haven’t had the time.

Last night, for example, I went to attend Dr. James Dobson’s “Stand For The Family” rally in St. Paul. Dr. Dobson, as you may know, is perhaps America’s most powerful conservative Christian political activist—the head of Focus On The Family, an Evangelical family values broadcast that claims to have over 220 million listeners worldwide.

Dobson may be the most powerful man in the Republican Party, even though he’s not actually in the Republican Party. He is a Republican “kingmaker” (the description of him that appears on the back of his official biography.) At a word from Dobson, the phone lines of congressmen and senators can be “melted down” by his army of right-wing Christian listeners—Republicans fear his frown as they claim to fear the Lord.

People who know me personally would have laughed loud and long if they had seen me in at the event—poor old liberal Bill Prendergast, undercover at a Focus On The Family rally, dressed up in his white linen sport jacket, singing along to Protestant hymns and Christian pop music lyrics projected on the screens. Giving standing ovations to Dr. James, applauding wildly when he expressed his support for George W. Bush, trying to distract the attention of those nearby so they wouldn’t notice the concealed video camera taping every speaker’s every word.

Turnout must have seemed disappointing to Dobson. A man who claims to have 220 million supporters worldwide had to be dismayed by the fact that he couldn’t fill an auditorium in Minnesota, Billy Graham’s old stomping grounds.

And the atmosphere in the room was a little eerie. The taped music they played before the show sounded like the Kenny G version of “Deutschland Uber Alles.” Then the live band started, doing genuinely stirring versions of the National Anthem, America The Beautiful, etc. After that, the main event—the featured speakers were Tony Perkins (the guy who bought David Duke’s KKK mailing list to further his political campaign), Gary Bauer (accused of adultery by his 2000 presidential campaign staff) and the Mighty Dobster himself.

A highlight was Dobson’s brief discussion of the Foley scandal. Dobson denounced Foley’s behavior, shocking those in the room who may have expected him to express support for it. That was worth the price of the ticket right there, but there was more:

Dobson said he had just spoken personally to House Speaker “Denny” Hastert and that Hastert had assured him that steps had been taken to protect Congressional pages—that the pages were housed in a separate facility away from the Congressmen, and guarded by security personnel twenty four hours a day! Dr. Dobson seemed to think a lot of that solution.

Now them’s family values, I thought, and practical, too. Rather than immediately expel Republican congressmen who make sexual overtures to young pages—lock the pages up, so the GOP congressmen can’t get at ‘em! (So far no congressman have been shot while trying to "enter the perimeter.")

It's working! And it's a grand solution--the pages are kept safe and at the same time they learn something about the political priorities and trustworthiness of the GOP—the party of family values.