Unfortunately you're going to have to be a member to post here.

Wish it was different, but this way it might stay more interesting.

These are excerpts from Kersten commentary.

Katherine can be found here at the Star Tribune:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

KK's take on Sex Week at Yale


Today, I wouldn't trade places with an 18-year-old guy for a million bucks.

It's a wonder our sons don't end up in the loony bin, given the schizophrenic messages we bombard them with.

The latest "you've-got-to-be-kidding" example to cross my desk involved frat-boy antics at Yale University -- home to lots of folks who pride themselves on being among our nation's best and brightest.

A few months ago, it seems, a group of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity pledges marched onto Yale's campus and chanted crude slogans "making light of" rape and necrophilia, according to the Yale alumni magazine. ("No means yes, yes means anal" -- you get the idea.)

A "storm of controversy" erupted. Yale administrators expressed shock and outrage.

"We will confront hateful speech when it has been uttered," vowed President Richard Levin and Dean Mary Miller, according to the magazine. "No member of our community should engage in such demeaning behavior."

The Yale Women's Center went ballistic, of course, and "students, administrators, and alumni all wrestled with how to respond to a public display that many found offensive."

An online alumni petition condemning the chants drew nearly 2,000 signatures. Predictably, the frat boys -- denounced on all sides -- apologized for their crude behavior.

OK, OK, the Yale critics are right. Young gentlemen should not conduct themselves this way. But wait, what else is happening on campus?

Well, there's Yale's biennial "Sex Week" -- a nine-day, student-sponsored event timed to coincide with Valentine's Day and blessed by university bigwigs. Last year, a Sex Week headliner was porn megastar Sasha Grey.

Grey's claim to fame is her insatiable appetite for being sexually brutalized. Among porn performers, she stands out for "her take-no-prisoners attitude toward the hardest of hard-core sex scenes and consensual degradation," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sex Week's ostensible purpose is to help Yalies navigate "sex, love and relationships," according to the Yale Daily News. No chocolates or roses, though. Sex Week celebrates pornography. (Love, relationships, porn -- hey, what's the difference?)

Last year, the program featured porn stars and/or producers at 11 events, and included demonstrations on everything from sadomasochistic and oral sex techniques to the finer points of erotic genital piercing.

Female Yale students get into the act, too. They strut down a catwalk in a "Fetish Fashion Show," modeling lingerie that evokes such "role-play themes" as "boss and secretary."

But Sasha Grey may capture the event's spirit best. Her numerous adult video awards include "Best Anal Sex Scene" and "Best Oral Sex Scene" for a scene with four men.

Grey's predilection for violence is longstanding. According to Los Angeles magazine, in her first X-rated film --shortly after she turned 18 -- she turned to her partner and said, "Punch me in the stomach."

Grey feels "completed" by sexual degradation -- being "smacked, slapped, yanked, and sodomized," she told the magazine. She likes "peeing, spit, vomit," and at the time of the interview was scheduled to fly to San Francisco, where her vagina would be electrocuted on film.

"I have a high threshold for pain," she said. "I love the energy, the passion, the enthusiasm in being degraded."

Her favorite scenes? "The best ... are when the men want to slap you around a little bit, when they want to pull your hair, when they want to smack your," um, derriere. "They're getting what they want, and I'm getting what I asked for. I guess I've just been blessed."

Who can blame Yale guys for being confused?

Let's get this straight. Yale big wigs invite young men -- buzzed by testosterone -- to experience and celebrate the outer edges of male sexual prurience. They invite them to ogle female fellow students in garters and leather bustiers as they slink down the catwalk in the university dining hall.

But when the guys take the invitation seriously, an outraged chorus denounces them for "demeaning" and "hateful speech."

It's just another example of the blind spot so many our "best and brightest" exhibit. Too often, folks with strings of graduate degrees think they can reshape the world and human beings to their own specifications.

They act as if human beings are infinitely malleable -- as if there is no "floor to the universe." They think they can encourage young people to view sex as a sport, and are shocked when the dark side comes out.

So Yale is crazy.

But the attitudes cultivated -- and legitimated -- there play out all around us. We surround our sons with juiced-up sex -- on TV, in the movies, on the Internet, even in supermarket checkout lanes. Then we tell them to be on their best behavior. At college, they get "date rape" training. On the job, they get "sexual harassment" training.

No wonder our young men are increasingly confused"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

KK implies conservatives do no wrong


One week ago, a 22-year-old loner named Jared Loughner gunned down six people and wounded 14 more at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' "meet-and-greet" in Tucson.

Before the victims' blood was dry, the chattering classes and many in the news media had placed Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and the Tea Party in the dock -- accusing them, in essence, of being accomplices to this heinous mass murder.

The charges ranged from allegations that Palin had "targeted" Giffords on a preelection map to claims that Arizona had encouraged Loughner's rampage by enforcing immigration laws.

The claims came to this: Conservatives had created a rhetorical "climate of hate" that somehow induced this madman's rampage.

It wasn't just MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and other inflammatory left-wing commentators who advanced this accusation, which was unsupported by a shred of evidence.

It was pillars of the media establishment, including the New York Times and CNN, whose speculations were dutifully repeated by regional media outlets.

Unfortunately for the theory's purveyors, it quickly became clear that Loughner is both apolitical and mentally deranged.

Apparently, he's a fan of both Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler, fears mind control through "grammar," and terrified his classmates before being kicked out of college. Psychologically, he appears to resemble the Virginia Tech shooter or workplace mass murderers, not a politically motivated assassin.

Yet I've seen no apologies from the Times or the liberal establishment for the slanders they so glibly leveled against their conservative adversaries. In fact, one of this tragedy's most instructive aspects is what it has revealed about our chattering classes.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner pointed this out the day after the shootings. He contrasted the liberal establishment's rush to judgment in Tucson with its cautionary reaction to the slaying of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

Within hours of that crime, it was known that the suspect, Nidal Hasan, had written Internet postings lauding Muslim suicide bombings and had reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he fired.

Yet media and political figures repeatedly urged Americans not to "jump to conclusions" that Hasan's attack had any connection to Islam. Their reaction to mass murder, it seems, is closely tied to the identity of its perpetrators and victims.

In pushing its "right-wing climate of fear" narrative, the mainstream media turned a blind eye to the left's rhetorical excesses. No need to mention that left-wing blogger Markos Moulitsas had "bulls-eyed" Giffords in 2008 because she wasn't sufficiently liberal. No need to repeat President Obama's 2008 remark about Republicans: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." There was silence about the left's "Bush hatred"; about "Bush lied, people died"; about a Toronto film award for a movie envisioning the president's assassination. Where the left was concerned, instead of admonishing about a "climate of hate," liberal pundits assured us that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

Most ironically, the liberal establishment used the Tucson shootings to issue sanctimonious calls for "civility" while simultaneously accusing their ideological opponents of complicity in murder. It's hard to imagine a graver slander.

What explains this?

I suspect our opinionmaking elite was tempted by what appeared an opportunity to put conservatives on the defensive after liberals' humiliating defeat at the polls in November.

The shootings seemed to offer a chance to raise Obama in the polls, to hobble Republicans' campaign to repeal Obamacare and to control political content on the airwaves.

More fundamentally, I suggest, the reaction flows from something deeper -- from the very DNA of "progressivism." It's the tendency to ascribe the worst of intentions and motives to those who disagree with liberal views.

One of liberalism's fundamental tenets is the assumption (rarely articulated) that human beings -- when led by the best and brightest -- have the capacity to shape the world to their liking.

If the world remains imperfect, in this view, it's not because a perfect society is beyond us -- as conservatism and the American founders have held. It's because someone is standing in the way -- someone who doesn't "care," or who has evil intentions.

From this perspective, people who disagree with liberal positions are not just mistaken, they are wicked.

This explains the liberal tendency to view those who disagree as motivated by animus or "hate" -- as racist, sexist or homophobic. We see a reflexive insistence on a "climate of hate," not only with regard to the Tucson murders, but also with opposition to illegal immigration and attempts to redefine marriage.

The Tucson tragedy rips the veil away from the opinionmaking class, and from much of the mainstream media. In an unguarded moment, they revealed that ideology trumps facts in their quest for power. They put their biases on display for all to see."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

KK promotes theocracy


What should we laud or lament in the year just ended? Where should we turn our attention in 2011? One troubling trend, I suggest, dwarfs all others in importance. It's the shrinking influence and declining prestige of religion in our nation today.

Increasingly, Americans see religion as a private matter with little to contribute to public debate -- even on issues with moral dimensions, such as marriage and family, abortion and euthanasia. In the crusade to banish faith from public life, judges order county courthouses to be stripped of plaques listing the Ten Commandments, and activists attack Christian hospitals that decline to perform abortions.

Our growing distaste for religion springs, in part, from our modern hatred of constraints on our behavior, and from our equating freedom with living exactly as we please. Judeo-Christianity presents an obstacle here. It holds that there are universal moral truths -- accessible to reason -- that should shape our conduct, and that create obligations to others that require sacrifices we might prefer not to make.

In recent decades, the rise of psychology -- which is replacing religion as a vehicle for understanding what it means to be human -- has greatly facilitated our cherished project of throwing off moral constraints. Almost 50 years ago, psychologist Philip Rieff spelled out the implications in his seminal book, "The Triumph of the Therapeutic."

Rieff wrote that our society's model for the organization of personality -- our paragon, or character ideal -- has undergone a radical shift. The Christian model of man, he explained, dominant for 1,500 years, has been increasingly replaced by "psychological man" as our society's primary character type. The "soul" has been replaced by the "self."

Why does this matter? Traditional Christianity, Rieff observed, made great moral demands on believers. Its goal was salvation; consequently, it exhorted believers to "die to self," repent of sin, and cultivate virtue, self-discipline and humility.

Psychological man, however, rejects the idea of sin and the very possibility of truth. He aspires to nothing higher than "feeling good about himself," and sees nothing more at stake in life than what Rieff calls "a manipulable sense of well-being." While Christian man strives for virtue, says Rieff, psychological man seeks only health, safety and material well-being. While Christian man works to control his impulses, psychological man rushes to release them.

As psychology edges out religion in American life, the language of good and evil is disappearing. As the "self" replaces the "soul," we no longer place priority on cultivating virtue, or see it as possible or even desirable.

The consequences for our personal lives are evident everywhere -- from our crumbling families to our voracious consumerism and our shallow and juvenile popular culture. Increasingly, we aspire to nothing nobler than a big-ticket "entertainment center" in the living room or a Lexus in the garage.

But the growing influence of the psychological model of man also has serious, long-term implications for the health of American democracy. That's because it undercuts a principle at the heart of our nation's founding -- the idea that there is a profound connection between virtue and self-government.

America's founders understood this connection well. They knew that democracy is more than a political arrangement -- it's also a moral and spiritual enterprise. (This is one reason self-government has been so rare in world history.) To flourish, a democracy requires men and women who are not just conglomerations of desires, but virtuous citizens -- honest, courageous, self-controlled and public-spirited.

A society that takes "psychological man" as its character ideal does not foster citizens of this kind, for honesty, generosity and self-restraint don't come naturally to human beings. These traits are difficult to acquire, and require suppression or rechanneling of baser human instincts. Only a society with a moral system based on claims of transcendent truth can help its citizens overcome their selfish tendencies, and successfully cultivate virtue.

James Madison, one of American democracy's greatest architects, explained the connection between virtue and freedom this way: "Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea."

Today, we Americans take our democracy for granted. But our founders warned that our system of self-government is an experiment, and is not guaranteed to succeed. If we allow the "ordered liberty" they envisioned to degenerate to license -- as our embrace of the psychological model of man makes likely -- our experiment may fail.

In the words of theologian George Weigel, "Freedom must be tethered to truth and ordered to goodness if freedom is not to become its own undoing."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

KK Tells us why her church is cool


Tonight at St. Agnes Catholic Church in St. Paul, 60 singers will assemble in the choir loft for midnight mass. Violinists, oboists and trumpeters -- many from the Minnesota Orchestra -- will tune their instruments.

Then, as Christmas arrives at the stroke of midnight, the glorious strains of Mozart's monumental Coronation Mass will rise in the baroque splendor of this onion-domed, gilt-and-marble church in Frogtown, as bells peal in the frosty air.

Worshipers and visitors will have to pinch themselves to remember they're in Minnesota, and not in a cathedral in Vienna or Munich.

A chance to hear the Coronation Mass -- among the grandest music ever written -- would seem a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to many Minnesotans.

In fact, the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale performs classical-era masses of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and others at St. Agnes at 10 a.m. almost every Sunday from October until June.

Though the music is magnificent in the concert hall, says director Robert Peterson, it's different and more meaningful in the context of the Latin mass. There, it's performed to give glory to God -- just as its composers intended it to be.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would surely be astounded to learn that, in 2010, St. Paul, Minn., is one of the last places on earth where music lovers can still experience his music this way.

"A handful of European churches perform these masses in a worship service on rare occasion," says Peterson. "But we do 30 of them a year."

"If music is supposed to lift up your soul, to give you a glimpse of heaven, this music will do that," says parishioner Keith Kostuch, who was incredulous to discover St. Agnes' cultural treasure when his family moved here recently.

"When the chorale, the organ and the orchestra power in on some of the numbers, it's chilling -- you just get goosebumps. I've seen visitors weep. They're moved and enthralled -- overwhelmed, really."

The chorale's singers, all talented amateurs, range from a gifted high school student to a senior medical doctor. Some members actually moved to the Twin Cities to join, says Peterson. The vocal soloists and instrumentalists are top-rank professionals.

Peterson became the chorale's director in 2005, when its founder, the Rev. Richard Schuler, retired. Schuler was a distinguished organist and musicologist, as well as St. Agnes' longtime pastor.

He launched the chorale in 1974, after he and the church choir returned from a European singing tour determined to reproduce the orchestra-accompanied Latin masses they had heard in famous churches there.

Peterson, who conducted choirs at Edina High School and Macalester College for decades, was bowled over when he first heard the Chorale in 1999.

"I was used to having three months to rehearse my choirs to perform a work of this scope. I couldn't imagine preparing a major work in one week, then putting down my baton to get ready for another the next week, and so on for 30 Sundays."

St. Agnes is the perfect setting for what one chorale fan calls "the greatest hits of Western civilization."

The church building, begun in 1909, was lovingly constructed by Austro-Hungarian immigrants who came to work on the railroad and lived in Frogtown, close to the tracks.

They modeled the church on Kloster Schlaegel, a monastery near Aigen, Austria. It's filled with old-world beauty and craftsmanship: a gorgeous marble altar, Tyrolean statues, and Stations of the Cross in German.

The experience of perfectly harmonized art, architecture and music can transport visitors.

"It's like taking your music history textbook and opening it about the years 1750 to 1800 -- the height of the classical era," explains Peterson.

"Everything is integrated. There's Latin in the choir loft and on the altar, and reverent rituals that have been part of the church for centuries: candles, bells, incense, vestments and altar servers, and the ninth-century Gregorian chant of the 'Schola Cantorum' which sings the 'proper,' or parts of the mass that change daily.

"It all comes together to help people appreciate this great mystery," Peterson concludes.

Both Catholics and non-Catholics can appreciate the results. The chorale includes Catholic and non-Catholic members, and the church has greeters who help people unfamiliar with the Latin liturgy to feel at home.

No work provokes more emotion than the great "Mass in E Minor" by Heinrich von Herzogenberg. This huge work, composed in 1894, was once presumed lost, but a complete score turned up in the mid-1990s.

Performed by more than 100 musicians, the music almost lifts listeners out of their pews. The chorale is the first to perform it in North America.

"People today have a real thirst for the transcendent," says the Rev. John Ubel, St. Agnes' current pastor. "I believe the way in which we celebrate the Eucharist here speaks to that."

But each Sunday's performance costs several thousand dollars. The chorale is primarily supported by donations to its nonprofit, and may die unless new donors are found.

Tonight, the chorale will give its only real concert of the year. At 11:15, before midnight mass, it will perform traditional carols you'd likely hear in a church in Bavaria.

"When I conduct the chorale, I feel a real connection with God," says Peterson. "When I finish the last 'Dona Nobis Pacem,' I feel a sense of peace and completeness. The music helps me to pray in a different way. I hope it's the same for others, and that they are brought closer to God by this great music."

"As Monsignor Schuler always said, 'To sing in church is to pray twice.'"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

KK tells us what's wrong with marriage ..


The growing "marriage gap" is one of our nation's most important and troubling trends. For Americans with college degrees (30 percent of the population), marriage -- our bedrock social institution -- is stable and getting stronger. But for the moderately educated (the 58 percent with a high school but not a college diploma), it's in precipitous decline. In fact, the family life of America's once-great middle class is quickly becoming almost as fragile as that of our poorest citizens -- the 12 percent who are high school dropouts.

The disturbing details are in a new study -- "When Marriage Disappears: The Retreat from Marriage in Middle America" -- by the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values. The conclusion is stark: "The United States is devolving into a separate-and-unequal family regime, where the highly educated and affluent enjoy strong and stable households and everyone else is consigned to increasingly unstable, unhappy, and unworkable ones."

Only 11 percent of college-educated Americans now divorce or separate in the first ten years of marriage, while 37 percent of their high school-educated peers do. Sixty-nine percent of highly educated married adults report a "very happy" marriage, while only 57 percent of the moderately educated and 52 percent of the least educated say the same. The gap on non-marital child-bearing is jaw-dropping: Only 6 percent of college-educated mothers' babies are born out-of-wedlock, while it's 44 percent for moderately educated mothers and 54 percent for high school dropouts. In the 1980s, those figures were 2 percent, 13 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

What explains this?

Americans of all backgrounds still agree on the value of marriage -- roughly 75 percent say "being married" is very important to them. But the meaning of marriage has changed dramatically in the last 40 years, according to the authors. A new model has greatly raised the bar, both emotional and financial, on what it takes to get and stay married.

In the past, our society adhered to the "institutional" model of marriage. This model seeks to "integrate sex, parenthood, economic cooperation, and emotional intimacy" into the sort of "good-enough" marriage that our grandparents expected -- and which most of us can still attain. Today, however, that model is being displaced by a yuppie-style "soul mate" model, which sees marriage primarily as a "couple-centered vehicle for personal growth, emotional intimacy, and shared consumption that depends for its survival" on happiness and constant self-fulfillment.

Many college-educated Americans are well-equipped to achieve a soul-mate-type marriage. They generally plan their lives using what the report calls the "success sequence:" a focus first on education and work, then on marriage, followed by child-bearing. This requires developing such virtues as delay of gratification and hard work. It also minimizes such stresses as out-of-wedlock birth, and maximizes financial resources that can be used for self-fulfillment.

But a "soul mate" marriage is beyond the reach of a growing number of moderately educated and poor adults. Today, these Americans tend to have more sexual partners, substance abuse, infidelity and unplanned pregnancies than do their college-educated peers, according to the report. Men in particular tend to embrace a "live-for-the-moment" ethic, and to have "long periods of idleness." This is hardly a recipe for marital success.

Moderately educated Americans are also disengaging from institutions of work and civil society to a much greater degree than are those with college degrees. In the last 40 years, high school-educated men have become significantly more likely than college-educated men to experience bouts of unemployment, the report says. At the same time, the moderately educated are abandoning churches, Lions Clubs and VFW groups that supported their grandparents' "institutional" marriages, and that teach "the habits of the heart" that sustain strong marriages.

Americans increasingly see marriage not as the gateway to adulthood but as a "capstone" that "signals couples have arrived, both financially and emotionally," according to the report.

The marriage gap is bad news for all. Young people without married parents are at risk for a host of social pathologies. Single mothers are more likely to live in poverty, while single men risk detachment from their children and from what the report calls the "civilizing power" of marriage.

If marriage becomes "a luxury good," in the report's words, consequences will be severe. This fundamental social institution "has long served the American experiment in democracy as an engine of the American Dream, a seedbed of virtue for children, and one of the few sources of social solidarity in a nation that otherwise prizes individual liberty.""

Sunday, December 5, 2010

KK Tells us what liberty and freedom really are


In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed a constitutional right to abortion in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. A heated national debate about the court's conclusion followed. But fewer Americans -- on both sides of the abortion divide -- took issue with the court's now-famous articulation of the meaning of liberty.

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life," wrote a three-justice plurality. Liberty, in other words, is first and foremost about personal autonomy. What's important is not so much the way we live and the ends we pursue, but the fact that these reflect our free choice, and authentically express "who we are."

Today, the idea of freedom as self-fulfillment is pervasive in American society. If you ask almost any parent what he or she wants most for a child, you'll hear it confirmed: "I just want her to be happy."

But though it may now seem self-evidently correct, this view of liberty is in fact of recent vintage. Its advent in American political life can be pinpointed to a particular leader -- no, not President Obama or his immediate predecessors. We have to go back to 1912, and Woodrow Wilson.

Lawyer and author Joshua D. Hawley tells the story in an essay entitled "America's Epicurean Liberalism" in the journal National Affairs. Hawley named what he calls America's "reigning creed" after Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher who taught that individual happiness is the goal of living, and that pleasure is the measure of happiness.

According to Hawley, "epicurean liberalism" came to the fore in 1912 -- the peak of the Progressive era, and the year when Woodrow Wilson successfully battled Theodore Roosevelt for the White House. Wilson believed that the American Founders' vision of democracy was outdated and had to be changed.

In the Founders' view, liberty meant being free from the arbitrary rule of others, so one could rule himself and order his own life to gain the fruits of his labor. But individual freedom was only possible, the Founders believed, in a political regime of ordered liberty, with the rule of law, checks and balances on power, and a widely shared vision of the common good. A free government of this kind requires citizens of a certain character -- self-reliant, self-disciplined and public-spirited.

Wilson rejected the Founders' idea of liberty, which he believed was based on the out-moded agrarian ideal of the yeoman farmer. In an urban, industrial age, he believed, the threat to individual freedom came from the impersonal forces of big business and big government.

In redefining freedom for the modern age, Wilson took a cue from the rise of psychology: The individual must decide for himself what the good life is, he said. Liberty was no longer to be conceived of as the freedom to govern yourself and all your passions, but the freedom to discover and develop yourself and follow your passions. Self-fulfillment became a right -- the highest right -- and the role of government became to encourage individual flourishing by removing constraints on individual choices.

Wilson's idea of liberty spread rapidly, well beyond politics. Hawley traces it through philosopher John Dewey and Franklin D. Roosevelt to the present day -- culminating in the Supreme Court's "mystery of human life" statement.

But in 2010, it's clear that Wilson's "progressive" vision -- with individual choice as the measure of freedom -- has brought both serious social dysfunction and much personal unhappiness. When we behave as if our own pleasure is the highest good, we ignore the fact that our personal choices have consequences for the larger society, and thus for the conditions in which our freedom is grounded. The consequences of "following our bliss" range from the breakdown of the family to social ills such as drug abuse and pornography to malfeasance on Wall Street. As civil society erodes, a large and increasingly intrusive government picks up the pieces.

If the trajectory of epicurean liberalism continues, our democracy will be undermined. But there is an alternative way to think about freedom, and it could yet win the day. Hawley calls it freedom conceived, not as "self-development," but as "self-determination."

Self-determination requires, first and foremost, that citizens think -- not only of their own desires -- but of their obligations to one another. It requires "not just freedom from coercion for the individual," but "personal discipline, planning and hard work from the individual," says Hawley. Only by exercising these virtues can a citizen begin to control his own life, and thus be fit to help rule the community.

Self-development "is a blind alley," Hawley concludes. "Whatever judges may say, none of us can define our own universe. And a public philosophy that fails to help us live well ... is not a means to liberty -- it is a delusion.""

Sunday, November 21, 2010

KK calls Democrats whiners


Since Nov. 2, we've heard lots of grumbling from Minnesota Democrats. In a year of unprecedented GOP gains across America, they're not satisfied that their candidates won every statewide office in our state (subject to a recount in the governor's race).

DFLers, it seems, are sore that they didn't win the Minnesota House and Senate as well -- completing their sweep. They don't seem to grasp that the tide that washed through the Minnesota Legislature was a nationwide phenomenon, as voters shouted "enough" to a Democrat-led glut of taxes, spending and deficits. Today, Republicans hold more legislative seats across the country than at any time since 1928.

DFLers should be counting their blessings. Instead, from their blinkered perspective, the GOP's capture of the Minnesota Legislature appears aberrant and dreadful. And they've found a bogeyman to blame: Minnesota businesses. Their gripe seems twofold. First, business, through independent groups like the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses, spent too much -- i.e., "bought and paid for" the Legislature. And, second, business groups unconscionably exploited voters with negative advertising.

We hear this so much that the reality comes as a surprise: Minnesota Democrats and their allies actually outspent Republicans and their allies in 2010 roughly 2 to 1, though final totals won't be known for some time.

The Senate DFL caucus raised four times more than the Senate GOP caucus, and the House DFL caucus raised two times more than its GOP counterpart. The DFL state party raised over three times more than the state GOP. Mark Dayton raised more than one and a half times what Tom Emmer did.

Business promoted a pro-jobs agenda of more streamlined government, lower taxes and more controlled spending. Voters resonated to this message in an age when capital is highly mobile, and you can work as easily from South Dakota, Mumbai or Beijing if you have Internet access and a smart phone.

Without business' involvement, Minnesota's electoral field would largely have been left to Democrats and their biggest donors: public employee unions such as Education Minnesota, AFSCME and SEIU, and Indian tribes with big-bucks casino interests.

All political contributions have an element of self-interest. But we all benefit from a healthy business climate. More jobs mean more prosperity, more families with good health insurance, more kids in our schools.

But the interests of public employee unions and tribes don't parallel voters' interests. These groups are monopolies, intent on electing legislators who will lock in their monopoly benefits. Unions donate huge sums to elect their own bosses, expecting them to increase benefits and hire more public employees to keep union donations flowing.

DFLers' second complaint is that business groups relied on below-the-belt negative advertising. This rings hollow. In 2010, the left threw the first and dirtiest mud ball.

On July 6, Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) -- an independent, DFL-allied group funded primarily by public unions and Dayton's family -- launched what was probably the earliest attack ad in Minnesota campaign history, targeting Tom Emmer more than a month before the DFL even had a gubernatorial candidate., a project of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Center, labeled the first ABM ad's claims about Emmer "false" and "pure nonsense." A second ad used a mother's grief about her son's death at the hands of a drunk driver to focus on Emmer's decades-old DWIs. You can be sure ABM didn't mention that its own favorite candidate -- Mark Dayton -- is a recovering alcoholic who has acknowledged temporarily returning to drink sometime after February 2005 while representing Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.

Thanks to ABM's early funding edge, its anti-Emmer ads ran 2,400 times before the Aug. 10 primary, while the one pro-Emmer ad that ran appeared just 330 times, according to the Campaign Media Analysis group.

Every ad that ABM ran -- with its $5 million-plus budget -- was negative. ABM's parent organization, ProgressNow, prides itself on taking negativity to new lows. Yet when Republicans use negative mailers that focus on DFL candidates' records, Democrats moan about our negative electoral climate.

If business "bought" Minnesota's new legislative majorities, does that mean the unions bought our Legislature in previous years? Democrats' outrage seems to betray a sense of entitlement to power. Instead of fuming, they might better reflect on whether such arrogance is one reason that voters around the country drummed them out of"