Friday, August 30, 2013


Here we go again! We’re takin’ the show on the road again! Getting’ our feet wet again! All for the ol’ WMD...  I’ll get serious. War rides upon the wind again!
by Charlie Leck

I want to believe Secretary of State John Kerry. I think I do believe him. He is an honest and honorable man. However, I believed Colin Powell as well. And, I remember the night that the planes flew over Bagdad, raining down terror and destruction, and began our horrible war against Iraq. In the coming months the air cleared and certainties became less certain and then less and less certain; and finally they became not only uncertain but untrue. Colin Powell did not lie. He is too good a man to do that. He was fed erroneous and misleading information, however.

It has turned out, in the eyes and minds of most reasonable people, that our invasion of Iraq was one of the most serious foreign policy mistakes ever made by our nation.

It now seems certain that America will take military action against Syria. The promise is that it will be very limited. We claim that it will be supported by our allies. Yet, the British parliament has denied permission for Prime Minister David Cameron to get involved. France is cool. Germany is silent. Russian is angry!

You are watching the news as intensely as I. There is no need for me to get analytical here. I write only to express my trepidations and fears.

Isn’t there some way to pressure the leaders of the government of Syria that would not require military actions? Must there always be violence? Why doesn’t the United Nations function more successfully? Must there always be madness? Why aren’t we involving the Nonviolent Peaceforce?

Secretary of State Kerry gave clear reasons for our coming attack. The Syrian government crossed a red line that had been drawn for it by our president. It was clear that Kerry was telling us that we, as a government, cannot let that happen. If we let it happen here, then we would be forced to let it happen anywhere.

Oh, my! The madness of it all!

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

All Must Listen!

President Obama’s speech at the 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King Jr’s brilliant oration during the historic march on Washington should be heard by every American – by red and blue and everything in between or outside of those colors of the political spectrum.
by Charlie Leck

We are an enormously strong and wealthy nation. We have the potential to make dreams come true – even the big, big dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr.. We’ve made progress. We’ve made some enormous gains, but the dream still lingers, waiting for real fulfillment.

Our president knew, as he rose to speak at the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington and one of the greatest speeches of all time, that he should not attempt to match the King. There could be no matching that speech. So the president went quietly through a speech that praised those who made their way to Washington fifty years ago and lauded what they began then. However, he pointed out that the march is not over, the journey is not complete and the goals have not been reached. There is still a ways to go.

But in this great, proud and wealthy nation, he said, it is possible to accomplish all that King dreamed of – if we really want to, and if men and women can open their hearts to King’s spirit and guidance.

In case you didn’t hear it, here’s how the President so powerfully concluded his words…

“America, I know the road will be long, but I know we can get there. Yes, we will stumble, but I know we'll get back up. That's how a movement happens. That's how history bends. That's how, when somebody is faint of heart, somebody else brings them along and says, come on, we're marching.
“There's a reason why so many who marched that day and in the days to come were young, for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is. They dared to dream different and to imagine something better. And I am convinced that same imagination, the same hunger of purpose serves in this generation.
“We might not face the same dangers as 1963, but the fierce urgency of now remains. We may never duplicate the swelling crowds and dazzling processions of that day so long ago, no one can match King's brilliance, but the same flames that lit the heart of all who are willing to take a first step for justice, I know that flame remains.
“That tireless teacher who gets to class early and stays late and dips into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child is her charge -- she's marching. That successful businessman who doesn't have to, but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con, who's down on his luck -- he's marching.
“The mother who pours her love into her daughter so that she grows up with the confidence to walk through the same doors as anybody's son -- she's marching. The father who realizes the most important job he'll ever have is raising his boy right, even if he didn't have a father, especially if he didn't have a father at home -- he's marching. The battle-scarred veterans who devote themselves not only to helping their fellow warriors stand again and walk again and run again, but to keep serving their country when they come home -- they are marching. Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day, that change does not come from Washington but to Washington, that change has always been built on our willingness, we, the people, to take on the mantle of citizenship -- you are marching.
“And that's the lesson of our past, that's the promise of tomorrow, that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. And when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace, and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the true meaning of our creed as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

It was a remarkable and wonderful day – a grand celebration – and it brought back so many memories of the time.

Republicans too busy to attend…
The Republican Party claims to be committed to winning bigger among minority groups in the future, yet, according to a report in the Washington Post, none of the invited Republican dignitaries could make the big celebration on the Mall yesterday. Though many were invited they declined because they were busy with other things or they were ill. Oh, my!

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Bachmann Tattle-Tale

A book about some of the naughty things Michele Bachmann is supposed to have done during her brief and failed presidential bid has hit the market.
by Charlie Leck

I just thought you ought to know about this e-book that outlines the nasty infighting going on among these evangelicals. I’m not recommending you buy it. I certainly won’t. However, if you have a Kindle book reader and an Amazon account, you can get it on-line.

It’s called Bachmannistan! Now, isn’t that a clever title. It’s written by the rightly reverend Peter Waldron with help from attorney John Gilmore.

Just remember that I told you Ms. Bachmann was a has-been long before she officially was. I could write a book!

Just picture this scene described in the book: On the advice of her psychologist husband, Ms. Bachmann is standing before a mirror saying, “I am the President of the United States!” I understand it is one of the more exciting sections in the book. Frightening, but exciting!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If You Spend Yourselves in Behalf of the Hungry

     An old penny postcard shows our church (Plymouth Congregational Church)
      as it looked many years ago.

I found myself both touched and deeply interested in the scripture reading at my church on Sunday. I carried the words about with me for most of the day (that is, in my mind), thinking about them. I continue to think about them this morning.
by Charlie Leck

After church on Sunday – a hot and sunny day here in Minnesota – I asked my wife to walk with me the block to the Starbucks, where I wanted to get a latté. She spotted a drugstore across the street and told me to go ahead and she’d meet me after making a couple of purchases. Outside the coffee shop a fellow was trying to bum people up for some coin. He looked hungry and I still had the morning sermon and scripture ringing in my ears. I gave him a fiver even though our church suggests not doing that and giving instead (under the heading “Give Real Change Instead of Spare Change”) to more significant programs for the homeless.

Scripture ring in my ears...
Even if you are not a regular reader of scripture, it does make sense to, once-in-a-while, allow one’s self to be challenged by these ancient words. It happens to me on occasion. It certainly did this Sunday when the pastor read the following words from Isaiah (58) so very beautifully…

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
    and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

I am deeply concerned about the amount of hunger we have in America. It doesn’t seem right to me that a country so advanced, prosperous and capable should have hungry people in such abundance. Then, there is the greater world in which there is still more hunger. It seems so basic that we should be certain that no one is hungry – no one in the entire world. We solve such massive and highly technical problems. Why can we not solve this one?

Food shelves in your community (perhaps in your neighborhood or at your church) need you to support them. These programs have had a staggering few years of hard work.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Ladies on the Bridge

Wamm! Years ago, driving home from work, I would see them on the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge. They carried their protest signs with them – hoisting them for the drivers and passengers of cars to see. They shouted out to us their feelings about the madness of the war we had now involved ourselves in – the one in Iraq. I wanted to stop and chat with them, to encourage them, but it wasn’t a wise place to pull one’s car over. On Saturday I met one of the ladies at the farmers market on Lake Street.
by Charlie Leck

I read in this morning's Washington Post that the U.S. naval ships are proceeding toward Syria. It's become apparent, political and military sources say, that Syrian government leaders have used gas as a weapon against the protesters. It's like the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. We are told, with no uncertainty, that it's happening.

The women say that their emphasis now is on the drones.

“They’re illegal,” the women protest, “and too expensive as well.”

They have kind eyes and welcoming smiles. They’re patient and they seem so caring as well (they’re mothers, after all). Nevertheless, they’re mad as hell.

“Of those killed by the drones, only two percent are actually leaders of terrorist groups!”

I nod and make a donation to their work – to their organization.

“Do something! Take a stand!”

I nod, listening with sympathy.

“General James Cartwright, retired from the United States Marines, says that drones are costing America the moral high ground.”

They talk about President Obama – the president I love and admire so deeply.

“This president has ordered three times more drone strikes than George W did! Drone strikes fuel the insurgency and create hatred around the world for our nation.”

Specks of perspiration break out at my neck line. I can feel the dripping. It’s a very warm and humid morning, but it isn’t the weather that causes the dripping sweat. It’s the hard, cold truth.

So many of us oppose America’s stupid, irrelevant and purposeless wars! We haven’t the courage to march on the bridge, however. We haven’t the guts to chat with the women at the farmers market.

The ladies on the bridge are lovely and kind. They love America as much as anyone, and probably more than most. I admire them immensely. I need to support them. (I feel compelled!) The women on the bridge have it nailed. They have it right. I’d like to say they don’t – that they don’t understand the realities of a difficult, dangerous and tough world – but they do! They’ve nailed it.

I just filled out their membership form and attached a $59 check to it. I hope they keep walking. People sometimes yell hateful things at them. It must be difficult for them to retain their composure and to keep smiling kindly.

You can visit the WAMM web site at: and I think you should. Theirs is a 501(c)3 organization and your contribution to them will be deductible. They deserve our support and our encouragement.

These nice ladies on the bridge – you’ve gotta love ‘em.

“WAMM’s purpose is to dismantle systems of militarism, economic exploitation and global oppression!”

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

KFAN Sleaze

The sports-talk radio station up here in Minnesota is KFAN (100.3 here where we listen). The station has a small network around Minnesota and in eastern North Dakota. After years of listening to the talkers on that station, I happened to visit its web site the other day; and that visit left me shaking my head and wondering what the hell all that sleaze was about.
by Charlie Leck

You go to a sports-talk web site and you expect to find lots of stuff about sports – baseball, football, hockey and basketball. I was surprised to find KFAN’s web site full of women’s bosoms and butts. I happened to leave the web site up on the computer while I went to fill my coffee cup. My wife walked by it and shouted out to me: “What are you looking at on the computer? These porn sites are supposed to be dangerous places to go!”

I came back to the computer and began looking at the monitor from her point of view. There was a story about the upcoming Vikings’ pre-season game against San Francisco. And a story by Dan Barreiro about “stroller terrorists” was the pages lead. But, to the right was a small photo of a couple of binkini-clad young woman (I guess they were volleyball players) but the photo’s attention was on their hips and asses. Immediately down the page was an article and photos of “Claudia Romani in a pink top and black bikini…”

If I was a woman sports fan I’d be furious. What the hell! I took a look at the photographs. Oh my goodness. Such junk belongs elsewhere on the World Wide Web.

Here’s a bunch of other photo spreads of buxom, barely covered women (“stories” they call the pages at KFAN)…

“PHOTOS: Miss Butt Brazil model Andressa Urach sizzles in new magazine spread…”
“PHOTOS: Nabilla Benattia shows off her curves and can’t stop adjusting her revealing bikini top on a beach in LA”
“PHOTOS: Charisma Carpenter shows off her amazing bikini body.”

What the hell is this all about? Why doesn’t the self-righteous Dan Barreiro go off on one of his rants about this kind of stuff being on his network’s web page? That instead of worrying about “Stroller Terrorists at Their Worst!” Come on, you self-righteous slug, speak up about this bit of childish, immature bit of crap at your radio station. What are you doing putting up with fecal matter like this? You, with the splendid wife and wonderful young daughter!

“Does it get any worse than this?” That’s the question Barreiro asks as he shows off a photograph of a tandem children’s stroller at the State Fair, with a large American flag attached to it – essentially, two children’s wagon attached, one behind the other.

it does, Mr. Barreiro. It gets much worse! Just take a look at your own employer’s web site and you’ll see how much worse it can get. If you want to talk about “classless” and “tacky” and “poor taste,” your web site takes the prize for the scummiest of all the radio stations. What do all these photographs, which are designed to be sexually stimulating to men, have to do with what your job is at KFAN? How could you associate yourself with such cheapness?

Because of the way one of your fellow employees at the station, Paul Allen, always talks to and about women, I can see his relationship to such first-stage porn, but not you. This stuff makes a lot of your commentary and criticism pretty toothless. This stuff may be fitting for your tasteless early morning show, but it shouldn’t be part of what you do.

“If your business is trying to reach men,” KFAN tells potential advertisers, “you’ve come to the right place. KFAN speaks to more than 170,000 men each week.”

And, I might add, to teenage boys fascinated with professional sports and sports figures. What’s the message these photographs of barely clad women gives off?

The message from my wife?
"Get that stuff off our computer monitor!"

She’s correct, you know; and you ought to listen to her. She’s no prude! She’s a woman of the world, but she’s got taste and she knows about appropriateness!

KFAN is cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap! The station has really gotten down into the gutter! Advertisers should take notice. You may want to reach men, but is this the way you want to do it?

And, I want to ask:
Why have the Vikings associated themselves with this kind of classless behavior? And, I’ll ask the same about our National Hockey League team, the Wild, also! And the University of Minnesota! Why?

Sunday Sermon!
It would be a good topic for one of your Sunday sermons, Mr. Barreiro! Let’s hear what you’ve got to say about these babes instead of over-sized strollers. And preserve the sermon so your daughter can read it one day.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Sensible Thoughts on Egypt

One of my readers was a bit unhinged about my recent blog on Egypt. His criticism in a long email was worthy and reasonable, his manners were not. I will agree with him that my blog was highly idealistic and probably “pie-in-the-sky” thinking. Here’s better, more substantive thinking on Egypt and what’s going on there.
by Charlie Leck

Three recent columns in the NY Times give us a clearer understand of what’s going on in Egypt and how U.S. policy in intertwined with those developments. They take no political position and all three give us a better look at some very relevant facts. These articles will make us all much more conversant on current events in Egypt.

Steven Simon, writing in the NY Times, has some sensible thoughts on Egypt that are worth reading. Simon is the executive at the International Institute of Strategic Studies – United States. He also served for a time as the senior direct for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. Simon writes very clearly in this column and his lucid writing makes my simple ideas seem rather muddled.

Just as pressure from Presidents Clinton and Bush didn’t succeed in bringing about domestic change, the alleged leverage supplied by American assistance failed to compel Mr. Morsi to heed Mr. Obama’s repeated warnings to adopt a more inclusive approach to governing a deeply divided Egypt in the past year.” [Steven Simon]

Then there is a remarkable column by Eric Schmitt (
Cairo Military Firmly Hooked to U.S. Lifeline) in the same newspaper (a day later) that explains the remarkably close relationship between America and the Egyptian military. Our aid has enabled Egypt to equip itself with extremely efficient weapons.

“…a close look at the details of American military aid to Egypt shows why the relatively modest $1.3 billion may give the United States more leverage over the Egyptian military than it may seem, although still not as much as it wants.”
[Eric Schmitt, NY Times]

The pro and con question that Schmitt raises has to do with whether it would do any good to suspend military aide to Egypt. The question is one of both morality and general sensibility.

And finally,
There is another extraordinary column in the New York Times by award-winning columnist, Thomas Friedman (
Close to the Edge). Be sure to read this one. In it he shows us how very close to the edge of a dangerous cliff the Egyptian military is strategizing right now. Feinstein expresses some clear and wise advice for General Sisi, the current military leader in Egypt. The General should seriously consider this advice.

If the Egypt question is one of interest to you, these three columns will be very helpful.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bring Peace to Egypt

Trying to understand Egypt from an American point of view is almost impossible to do. Both cultural and religious prejudices and preconceptions get in our way. Yet we must apply what we know of our own history to find peace for others.
by Charlie Leck

What is going on in Egypt? Why hasn’t America more forcefully intervened? (I’m asking! I’m not saying we should!) Why did Morsi get thrown from office? What’s behind the Muslim Brotherhood (which supported Morsi)?

Further, what happens if a conservative style of Muslim leadership is established as political norm in Egypt? What happens if Egypt becomes a hot-bed of anti-American terrorism?

Why hasn’t America suspended the enormous amount of foreign aid payments it makes to Egypt (most of which goes to the military)?

What happens if America is seen as supportive of the side that loses in this battle for the control of Egypt?…

These are just the beginning (freshman level) questions!

In the face of all the questions, there looms another haunting and odious one. It is: Who shall feed the people?

As EuroNews put it earlier this year (read entire article here)…

“Who will feed the Egyptians, a nation whose population is forecast to grow until 2030 at a break-neck pace of one million people a year? Who will provide jobs for the growing pool of young people of working age in the coming decades? Can the Egyptian state provide them with economic opportunities or at the least sufficient basic goods? Will foreign investment pour in, to make the most of the tremendous opportunities of an expanding, mostly urban market? If left unanswered, these overwhelming issues and their explosive potential can become long term threats to the very future of Egypt.
“The most populous country of the Middle East and the third most populous on the African continent (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), Egypt’s fertility rate is currently 2.9 children per woman and is expected to remain above the replacement ratio of 2.1 for at least the next two decades. As a result, the United Nations projects the Egyptian population to exceed 100 million by 2030. Euromonitor forecasts it will reach 105 million by 2030.”

Egypt is a dangerous and explosive place. Our president has moved gingerly in examining America’s responsibilities in this situation. He seems to creep toward some kind of solution and he keeps back an even greater distance from any kind of military involvement. As well he should!

Egypt could make Iraq and Afghanistan look likes child’s play. There is no easy or quick solution.

If ever the United Nations was needed to wrestle with the solution to a problem, this is the time.

Wouldn’t you know!
A mere two weeks ago, U.S. Senator John McCain was off to Egypt to seek a solution to the problem. A few weeks before that he was off to Syria and returned to America with a message for the President: “Use our military and get involved!” One expects he’ll come home with the same message again. This is a tired and worn-out game plan. It didn’t work anywhere where we have tried it in the last 5 decades. The solutions to these problems are not military solutions. A peoples’ yearning for freedom – for hope – for food – for basic human rights – must come through other sources. War will only further destroy their hopes and leave them more impoverished than they are now.

All that being said, Egypt is a grand possibility for Democracy – if only, by the grace of God, religion and all the vices it brings along with it could be kept out of it. The sad, sad reality is that, in fact, religions probably cannot be separated from the solution.

America does have a well-stated and sensible goal in the mean time. It is to “get power out of the hands of the military rulers and back into the hands of politicians…” [The Atlantic Wire, 5 August 2013]

Does America have leverage?
America gives (out-right gifts) over one billion dollars a year to Egypt in foreign aid. It has not cut off that aid to Egypt even though it, technically, probably should because of the recent military coup (which we refuse to recognize as such). We should therefore have some standing upon the soapbox of international opinion. Aren’t there some things we could ask of the Egyptian military rulers in this current situation in return for our military aid?

In a moment of great idealism, I wrote the following blog yesterday and have today decided to include it here instead. As I read it now it seems to be only the innocent, simplistic dreaming of a mere child, but….  but maybe it is more…

Bring Peace to Egypt

I don’t think the President or Secretary of State or, more important, the Egyptian military will listen to me, but here’s what the Egyptian military ought to do… and right now!
by Charlie Leck

Enough Egyptian citizens have died – too many really! The fighting has gone on and on and it is time now for a real democracy to be granted to the people of that burdened nation. The military leadership should declare immediately that democracy will be instituted in the entire nation and, if peace would descend immediately upon the nation here is what they (the military) will do…

1.       Declare that Egypt is a democratic republic that shall be governed by and for the people.

2.       Assure the people that a new constitution shall be written for the nation – and it shall be written and approved by their own chosen representatives.

3.       Establish the dates for a constitutional convention and invite every region of the country to name representatives to the convention – the number of representatives from a region shall be determined by the population of the region. Such a date shall be approved by the United Nations only after it determines that peace and brotherhood has descended upon the nation to such a degree that a convention would be possible.

4.       The representatives to the constitutional convention shall be determined by an election that shall be organized, established and over-seen by the United Nations.

5.       The convention itself shall also be supervised by the United Nations, which shall also act as an advisor to the convention delegates.

6.       The constitutional convention shall determine by a vote of tw0-thirds of the delegates what form and format the Egyptian democracy shall take.

7.       The constitution should contain a broad bill of human rights that are now and henceforth granted to the people of Egypt.

8.      The convention shall elect temporary political leaders of the nation and those leaders will govern the nation until such time that the first elected officials can be installed and inaugurated

There are enough democratic republics in the world that the Egyptian constitutional convention would have models from which to choose as it begins to sculpt Egypt’s democracy.
 It is time to end the senseless and needless bloodshed and death. The people of Egypt are paying too dear a price.
 The United Nations still retains enough power and punch that it could rattle enough swords to convince the leaders of Egypt’s current military to make the moves toward an open and free democracy for the entire nation.
 This is why the United Nations was created. It is time to end the bluster. It is time to bring both peace and freely elected government to all of Egypt. Such a democracy cannot be a counterfeit. It must be real – and that means it must be of, by and for the people.
Someone, somewhere has got to begin thinker bigger. There is a world falling apart around us and these will not be the last of the nations to erupt into total violence.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Dan Barreiro is a Windbag

(A Radio Review)
In my auto, I often enjoy listening to a little sports-radio, to see how Vikings training camp is going or to just be entertained by the bagpipes.
by Charlie Leck

windbag (wind-bag) from
1. informal. an empty, voluble, pretentious talker
2. the bag of a bagpipe
related word (from the World English Dictionary):
1.       slang   a voluble person who has little of interest to communicate
2.       the bag in a set of bagpipes, which provides a continuous flow of air to the pipes

I keep reminding myself to take Dan Barreiro with a grain of salt – to remember he is probably talking (most of the time) with a tongue planted firmly in his cheek. He’s a long-winded fellow who has the afternoon drive-time show on KFAN radio here in the Twin Cities. This is a sports-talk radio station with a bunch of fellows who blister the English language and bluff and bluster their way through their daily two or three hours on the air. I get a laugh or two out of listening to these guys on occasion, but I often wonder how anyone can tune them in on a constant and continuous basis.

The two gasiest talkers on the station, who can take a simple question they want to ask someone they’re interviewing and turn it into a full-blow Shakespearean-like soliloquy are Dan Barreiro and Paul Allen. Allen is also known, as he reminds us time and time again during each of his shows, as the "radio voice of the Vikings."

I’m often stunned by the length of some of Dan Barreiro’s questions (most times including two or three suggested answers that the person he’s interrogating might use in reply). They go on and on and on and the listener can almost imagine the poor fellow who is expected to answer the question forgetting just where it all began (anyhow). Before turning to radio, Barreiro was a first-class sports columnist here in our metropolitan region. I think he produced excellent stuff, however, and it must have been because he had an editor. He could often use an editor on the air too.

so-lil-0-quy [suh-lil-uh-kwee] from
1. An utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present (often used as a device in drama to disclose a character’s innermost thoughts)…
2. the act of talking while or as if alone
usage: soliloquy (from the World English Dictionary):
Soliloguy is sometimes wrongly used where monologue is meant. Both words refer to a long speech by one person, but a monologue can be addressed to other people, whereas in a soliloquy the speaker is always talking to himself…

I definitely mean to use the word soliloquy when referring to these two chowder-heads; for they often seem to be trying to entertain themselves rather than their listeners or the individuals they are interrogating …

And how they blister personal pronouns and get away with it…
It’s constant, how they rupture the language so many of us cherish – most especially personal pronouns!

“Well, David, you certainly know better than us!” (When it should be: “…better than we (do).”
“Doug, it was me who asked you that question the other day.” (When it should be: “…it was I who asked you…”)

It’s guys like Allen, so disruptive of usual grammar practices, who are responsible for making this kind of talk almost acceptable language in all circles – at least in American-English circles. To me it sounds terribly cheesy, easy and cheap coming from a guy who seems to pride himself on his grammar.

I know one thing about this Paul Allen fellow… and that is that I’m often embarrassed by the way he interviews women. My goodness, he’s nothing but an oaf and goofball. I’m shocked that he hasn’t been slapped again and again on the air for some of the things he says. It’s the kind of stuff that’s become common in very early morning radio, but Allen is allowing it to float into the heart of the day.

Mr. Allen is one of those guys (you can tell) who enjoys immensely the sound of his own voice. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to shout at him, through my automobile’s radio: “You pompous ass!” Right now he’s on this “honey” binge. He loves to call people (guys and gals) “honey.” I don’t get it and it sounds cheap silly. Allen thinks it’s cute, however, and that’s all it takes.

Now don’t get me wrong. Both of these guys are bright and smarter than hell. They know what their jobs are and they do them in such a way that their listeners will come back again and again. You know, it isn’t as if KFAN is Minnesota Public Radio. They know what the difference is and they know just who it is who butters their pumpernickel. I guess that is of the essence in commercial radio. The “rubes” (as they, themselves, call their listeners) will keep coming on back for more of the constantly repetitive tripe they put out over the airwaves. And, the final coup belongs to them in all ways because their ratings are exceedingly high and positive; and the advertisers love to spend their money on these two guys.

If they’re so bad, why do you keep listening?
I know that’s the question of the day. I even ask it of myself. Well, there are two very different explanations…

In the case of Paul Allen, it’s because he really does have a wonderful grasp on the news and events surrounding the Minnesota Vikings (and I am a Vikings rube). I get as excited as a young boy when the National Football League season rolls around. So, I tune into Allen’s show whenever I can – to get every last piece of information on the developments of the season at hand. (I’m listening to it now, as I write this blog!) Though it comes with his cheesy voice and a disruption of common English expression practices, I just grin and bear it.

In the case of Dan Barreiro, it’s just to catch one of his dramatic and simplistic rants every now and again. This week, Barreiro made a federal case out of the simple and cute little nomen or gognomen that Minnesotans like to use about themselves – Minnesota Nice. Barreiro’s performed rage at the use of the term was wildly extreme – even for him. He raged and raged (and ragged and ragged) about it for nearly an hour. All the while I wanted someone to calm him and assure him that most of us use the expression with our tongues firmly planted in our cheeks (as was the case in my blog a couple of days ago – Minnesota Nice meets Jersey Boys). I did, however, want to call Mr. Barreiro and tell him that his comments – about New Jersey types and Minnesota types not really being different – were wildly off the mark. I, as I’ve said here a number of times, was born in Jersey and grew up there and know of what I speak. Minnesota is abundantly different than Jersey (I didn’t say better, mind you; I said different!). A couple of weeks ago, I was back in Jersey for a few days. Once again I found it splendid, but, I assure you, extremely different than Minnesota in almost every way of which I can think.

Barreiro berated so many of his listeners for making broad assumptions about the character of Jersey people. His anger flared about such prejudices; yet he felt very free to say again and again that we all know (don’t we?) why billionaires are billionaires and they “all” play loose and free with the rules and the law to get there. How offended would be Bill Gates and Mayor Bloomberg!

Are Minnesotans better than Jersey guys? Of course not! Different – totally different – but not better or worse! Do we have as many thugs and bad guys (per capita) as they have in NJ? I haven’t the slightest idea but I think it would make an interesting case study. My bet would be that our bad guys are nicer than their bad guys?... Tongue in cheek! Tongue in cheek! See! See! Look! Tongue in cheek!

Here’s something I’d love to hear (see) Dan Barreiro do some day: Ask Glen Mason a question in no more than ten words and then immediately shut-up and let him answer? Sometimes I can hear the old coach laughing to himself as Barreiro puts a five minute long question together for him, proposing, at the same time, the variety of answers that might be available – as if the coach can’t make that decision for himself.

It’s Barreiro’s wonderful line-up of regular guests that makes his show succeed at such a high level. I find myself eager to listen to their participation in the show because I know it will be engaging, humorous and interesting -- from former Gopher football coach Glen Mason, hockey legend Lou Nanne, baseball writer Lavelle E. Neal, outspoken lawyer Ron Rosenbaum and political newsman Pat Kessler. These guys are all outstanding and their repartee with Barreiro is wonderful. And, Barreiro’s conversations with CNN correspondent Randy Kay are also interesting and entertaining. The star of the show is at his very best when these guests are doing the talking.

Many times, while growing aggravated as I listen to these two stars of KFAN Sports Radio, I just have to hit the old pre-set button on my dashboard so I can get myself back over to the civilized tone of Minnesota Public Radio.

Reviewing KFAN
There’s plenty of good and bad that could be reviewed at KFAN. Dan Cole (the Common Man) is another mysterious case who has gotten by with the same silly and stale stick for decades. Then take Meat Sauce – another character who grew up out of the ranks of intern – and you realize that sports-radio sometimes sinks to the lowest possible denominator to get its stars.

If you’re a sports nut, such as I, you’re going to find yourself turning KFAN on from time to time. I cringe my way through the absurd stuff just to get some decent updates on what’s happening with the Vikings. The one thing I won’t ever, ever, ever do, however, is listen to the station’s early morning show (6 to 9) because it’s total trash and inane silliness from beginning to end. I occasionally hear it when riding in a friend’s car and I wonder why he even lowers himself to listen to such trash.

Now that FOX is debuting its major TV sports show (Saturday morning… tomorrow) to compete with ESPN, you wonder if the increase in television sports will have an impact on this local radio show. Probably not!

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