MPR: Pounding That Wedge For All It’s Worth

For the record, I’m a fan of MPR’s Bob Collins – if for no other reason than few people write about aviation issues as well as he does (and there are other reasons).

Which is not to say that I agree with him all the time.  We’ve had our disagreements

The Minority Case:  And this Collins blog post is one of them; it quotes a story from Tim Pugmire about an incoming state representative John Heintzeman of Nisswa, who scored a big upset win earlier this month.   Pugmire quoted Heintzeman as saying:

“People of faith need to be able to know that they can practice their faith in the way, in the tradition that their family has over many, many years, without being afraid of somehow violating the law,”

 Collins follows:

“Rural values” and “traditional values” are fairly vague terms, which are often left to the rest of us — city slickers — to figure out what they define exactly. They often are intertwined with religion or “faith,” as Heintzeman said.

 And that usually leads to the obvious question: whose religion and whose faith?

For the benefit of the audience that Collins is writing to – the Volvo-with-a-reproduction-”Wellstone”-sticker driving, free-range-alpaca wearing, straight-ticket-DFL-voting Macalester alumni set that is the “must win” demographic for MPR, I’ll explain it.

It’s about Islam. 

It’s so the young Somali woman working at the Midway WalMart need not worry about feeling racist, faith-ist repercussions when she politely asks an infidel like yours truly to please move the pork chops across the scanner, since her observance of her faith doesn’t allow her to handle them. 

Oh, it probably also covers cases like the photographers and bakers and florists who, for religious reasons not a lot different than the young Somali, tried to beg off participating in gay weddings, even trying in some cases to refer the “customers” to gay-wedding-friendly competition, leading to test cases (since that was what the “customers” were looking for in the first place).   And, yes, sometimes those concerns aren’t purely individual in scope.

It could even – hard as this may be to believe – cover religious freedom for people whose beliefs are more in line with the MPR audiences’

Really, it’s about protecting the minority from the majority – which is supposed to be what a representative republic (as opposed to a democracy) does. 

In other words – everyone’s religion and faith.  Or even their complete lack of either. 

Rights are rights. 

Oh, there’s more to it than that.  There’s a wedge to be pounded:

Pick Your Herbicide:  Perhaps you’ve heard the story; a GOP district chair in Big Stone County, whose day job is was working at a Hardware Hank, did a no-no; he said really stupid things about Muslims.  Of course, this is red vegan meat for the DFL establishment – at least in part because it’s more fun for them than some other stories that wecouldbe talking about. 

Collins finds a greater significance in it, though (emphasis added):

In Big Stone County, the chairman of the Republican Party is defining those values, at least for his neck of the woods.

Jack Whitley posted this yesterday on his Facebook page.

Let’s make this clear: a guy who was elected chairman of the GOP in the fifth-smallest county in Minnesota, a county with fewer registered voters than MPR has assistant producers, is “defining” “rural values”?

Would that be in the same way that Paris Hilton or Plukey Duke “define” “urban values?”

No?

Naturally, everyone from Ken Martin to CAIR jumped on the statement… 

“It’s very disturbing to see a Republican Party leader engage in outright bigotry and hate,” the Council for American-Islamic Relations said in a statement calling on Republicans to disavow Whitley’s values. “Without a clear rejection of these inaccurate and intolerant remarks, the party’s silence will appear to be agreement.”…

 …““How such a violently bigoted person can hold a position of leadership in the Minnesota Republican Party is confounding and absolutely unacceptable,” DFL Chair Ken Martin said in a statement which called on Downey to demand Whitley quit his party position.

…using it to impugn all Republicans and, as Collins seems to be flirting with, the whole idea of “rural” values themselves.

Naturally (as Collins notes), MNGOP chair Keith Downey did condemn the statements.  Some of Ken Martin’s oompa-loompas have wondered publicly and in the media why Downey doesn’t just fire Mr. Whitley; perhaps that’d work in the DFL, but chairs of GOP house, senate or county districts are elected by their members, and need to be removed by them (as readers of this blog have learned over the years).

But this isn’t about inside-the-GOP party mechanics:

Too-Free Association:  In 2008, Barack Obama referred to Americans with “rural” values as bitter, gun-clinging Jeebus freaks.   The Obama coalition relied on creating a big, sharp, thick wedge between “mainstream” America – in the stereotypes, the part that is white and mainstream-Christian and straight and usually male – and anyone else. 

And the Minnesota DFL is no better; Minnesota’s political map is the results of decades of wedging city vs. suburbs, metro vs. outstate, white vs. black, and in the case of MPR, us vs. them.

And there sure could be more wedges:  if the Minnesota media ever held the DFL to account for, say, Keith Ellison (who openly supports Hamas, whose charter calls for the extermination of Jews), or Phyllis Kahn (who bent party rules, and party dogma about election fraud, to the breaking point in keeping a Muslim insurgency from ousting her at her district convention) I’m sure that could create some wedges, too. 

But nobody wants those wedges, apparently.

I Am Just A Caveman:  I’m still trying to figure out what Mr. Heintzeman’s statement – about protecting freedom of religious conscience from majority coercion, which is a right most people support unless it transgresses Big Gay – has to do with Mr. Whitley’s outburst. 

And I imagine I will be for some time.

A Campaign Ad, Courtesy MPR

So I was listening to Minnesota Public Radio news yesterday as I was driving home from some errands.

The newscaster introduced a story, saying that politicians were jumping into their final days of their campaigns around Minnesota. She then threw to a story by MPR’s Brett McNealy.

It starts with a bit of the day of the campaigning life of Keith Ellison, extreme ultraliberal and darling of the Kenwood brie and chablis set, hoofing it about North Minneapolis, doing his last minute get out the vote efforts.

And it ended there, too.

No word from the Doug Daggett campaign – Ellisons opponent. No word from Margaret Martin, a Republican running in North Minneapolis (and longtime friend of this blog). 

Any word from anyone but Keith Ellison?

Nope. Just a little radio kissyface for Keith Ellison, with a plaintive reminder mixed in the Republicans are expected to do well.

I wonder – does this piece have to be counted as a campaign contribution?

Things You’ll Never See Or Hear On The Twin Cities Mainstream Media

Governor Dayton is, by all accounts, a decent enough person.

My next-door neighbor, coincidentally, is a decent enough person too.  She’s also got terrible eyesight as she approaches her eighties, and doesn’t belong behind the wheel, by her own admission.  Nice lady; no car.

One need not attack Governor Dayton’s personality to note that something’s just a tad…off.  In 2005, he shut down his Senate office after an unattributed terror threat, leaving Washington to be run by just the other 534 other Congresspeople, prompting left-slanted Time to call him the worst Senator in America.

He left the Senate in 2006, amid rumors he’d had an alcoholic relapse.

It took the DFL and Alita Messinger four years to rehabilitate him.   They managed this with a complete blackout on any facts about Governor Dayton’s health or mental state.  I pointed it out during the 2010 campaign; the Strib wrote precisely one piece about Dayton’s mental health – a piece by Rachel Stassen-Berger and reliable DFL shill Baird Helgeson.

That appeared in December of 2009.  Roughly 10 months before most Minnesota voters started caring about the governor race; the very definition of “punching the ticket early”.

And today?  Almost five years after that single, solitary report about the Governor’s state of health?

John Gilmore at Minnesota Conservatives has covered this issue more than most:

Dayton hasn’t released his medical records so we don’t know for sure which medications he is being administered. It defies firsthand experience and common sense, however, to pretend that he is not frequently heavily medicated in public.

Can anyone imagine an engaged Mark Dayton on a full time basis, in public view most of the day for a solid week? Of course not. He’s carefully handled to appear for only limited amounts of time in public. Even then, most people cringe out of compassion given his performance…

Media know how impaired Dayton has become but don’t particularly care: they’re on the same team and none of them would do anything to harm the progressive agenda. If a republican governor, however, were this manifestly troubled, Minnesota media would cloak themselves in the phony “the public has a right to know” rubric and have at it.

The Minnesota media that herniated itself to get to a story about Rod Grams’s son (of whom Grams had not had custody in some time), to a long litany of would-be (but never-were) scandals about Norm Coleman, about Tom Emmer’s 20 year old driving records, about…anything with the  eternally teflon-coated Tim Pawlenty, can’t be bothered to cover actual news about a sitting governor with a past that would make any potential employer sit up and go “er…let’s talk about…”

It’s campaign ad fodder, of course:

And then there’s this – a compendium of Mark Dayton video appearances.  And tell me – is this someone who’s “leading the polls by nine points”, or whatever, by grace of his merits as a leader?

Or listen to this speech – the infamous speech at the Humphrey Institute in September, 2012; the one whose video the Humphrey Institute had the balls to claim it couldn’t release because “videotape is too expensive”, and whose video no TV station will release.  Read John Gilmore’s account for the mental visuals whose literal visuals the powers that be don’t think you, Citizen, need to see.

And then ask yourself not just “should this man be governor”.

Ask yourself “is our media incompetent, or in the bag”.

Or both, of course.

Profile In Courage

The DFL Legislature raises business taxes.  Governor Dayton scuttled away from his party.

The DFL legislature’s idea for plundering taxpayers to pay for Zygi Wilf’s real estate improvements – “E-pulltabs” – raised roughly 1/1000% as much money as it was supposed to.  Governor Dayton huffed and puffed and blamed it all on other people. 

The DFL raised the minimum wage, without adding a tip credit for restaurant workers who frequently make many times more than a “living wage” from tips.  Governor Dayton quietly tossed the idea partly under the bus when his sons pointed out it was hurting their restaurant. 

When people started talking about legalizing marijuana, Governor Dayton was for it before against it before he was for it before he was whatever he is today. 

Dayton favored releasing sex offenders, before he opposed it, before…oh, hell, I don’t know.

And Dayton took great pride in MNSure before he washed his hands of it.

Oh yeah – and although the administration he largely appointed and which reports to him was busted trying to jockey MNSure’s premium rates, Governor Dayton apparently pleads complete ignorance

It’d be great if someone in the Minnesota media would press the Governor on this – but of course, he isn’t talking with the press this week.  Not that anyone in the press would ask him if he were talking to the press. 

The GOP has been railing – correctly – on Dayton’s competence. 

The competence of MInnesota’s press may be the bigger issue.

Evidence In The Affirmative

Last week, we reported that a KSTP/Survey USA poll shows Stewart Mills leading Rick Nolan by eight points.

As we’ve noted for years and years, polls are deeply imperfect (sorry, Nate Silver), and there’s only one poll that matters, and it’s coming up two weeks from tomorrow.

But if there were any evidence needed that Rick Nolan is nervous about his prospects, it’s yesterday’s interview with Esme Murphy on WCCO

…which he spent sniveling like a four-year-old who didn’t get ice cream about outside money’s effect on politics.

Apparently he’s feeling cut out of the DCCC’s flood of Franken money…

(Courtesty @JohnHockey on Twitter)

Our Incoherent Newspaper Of Record

On “Up and At ‘Em”, on the lesser talk station this morning, Ben Kruse said (I’ll paraphrase) if you left out the parts about Governor Dayton, this past weekend’s endorsement of the incumbent governor actually reads a little like an endorsement of Jeff Johnson. 

And Ben had a point:

Johnson, 47, is gubernatorial material…Voters who want a state government that’s leaner and more trusting of the marketplace to solve public problems can opt for Johnson without concern that he is unprepared, excessively doctrinaire or temperamentally ill-suited to the office….Unlike Dayton, Johnson is unfettered to Education Minnesota, the teachers’ union.

[Remember the emphasized bit.  I'll be making a return appearance]

 He’s eager to pursue changes in teacher licensure and tenure rules that might strengthen the state’s teaching corps — versions of which Dayton vetoed…Johnson is also more open to changing the state’s tax code in ways that would better align Minnesota competitively with other states, by broadening the sales tax to more consumer purchases while reducing its rate.

All of that’s true.  

But they went with Governor Messinger Mark Dayton anyway. 

Minnesota is back where it belongs. It has resumed its strong position among Midwestern states in employment, incomes, educational attainment and quality of life. Gov. Mark Dayton can’t take sole credit for the rebound from recession — nor does this modest leader make that claim. But the DFLer’s stewardship since 2011 has made a positive contribution to recovery, and his aims for a second term would continue that course.

That is, of course, the narrative that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has spent millions to establish in this state.

The truth, of course, is that most of the “positive contributions” happened in the first two years of Messinger’s Dayton’s term.  Since the DFL took unfettered control of state government, unemployment has dropped mostly due to people taking crummy jobs or leaving the workforce. 

But we digress.

Like An Ink-Stained Nadia Comaneci:  I originally entitled this piece “Our Senile Newspaper of Record” – but I changed my mind; it takes some mental chops to do the logical gymnastics the Strib goes through to get to painting Dayton’s term as a positive and Dayton as a capable leader:

State government stability is itself a competitive asset, one Minnesotans should not want to jeopardize again.

What the hell does that even mean?

The answer:  whatever the narrator wants it to mean.  

For example, the Strib would have you believe that before Mark Dayton, Minnesota was a cold Bolivia, apparently:

Dayton deserves credit for the fiscal stability that has returned on his watch. His push to correct the oversized income tax cuts enacted in 1999 and 2000 was important to that change, as was the discipline to enlarge the state’s reserves and repay more than $2 billion owed to school districts.

Dayton “paid back” the shift entirely because he delayed the GOP’s attempt to “pay it back” until the DFL could claim credit

The Special Interest Drinking Game:  Now – with a reminder from Jack and Ben’s show this morning – let’s read this next graf and go back to the Strib’s muted praise for Johnson:

The state’s stronger balance sheet leads a long list of first-term accomplishments justifying Dayton’s re-election. Also there: All-day kindergarten. Beefed-up funding for preschool for needy families. Same-sex marriage. Human services funding reform, saving Minnesota taxpayers an estimated $1 billion a year. A higher minimum wage. An end to a decade of disinvestment in higher education. Support for the Rochester infrastructure that’s crucial to Mayo Clinic expansion. A renewed partnership with local governments, slowing the increase in property taxes. Alternative teacher licensure and teacher performance evaluation.

If this were a drinking game – “Special Interest Shots”, where you took a drink every time the paper mentioned a bit of DFL special interest pork – you’d be dead of alcohol poisoning now. 

Making History Out Of Nothing At All:  Now – Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange is a disaster.  Perhaps you’ve heard.  It was in all the papers – for a while, anyway. 

Heeeere’s whitewash!

Dayton’s credits also include extending the benefits of health insurance to more than 250,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans, by embracing the federal Affordable Care Act.

This is simply false.

92% of Minnesotans were insured before MNSure - and every single Minnesotan that was involuntarily uninsured before 2012 could have been covered through one existing program or another. 

The “250,000 previously uninsured” are insured today – at exquisite cost to the taxpayer – are there mostly because the law says they have to be. 

Not because Mark Dayton did such a helluvva job.   

I’ll give the Strib points for consistency.  While their praise for his first term was a checklist of special interest sops, their outlook for the second term is…:

The second-term agenda Dayton outlines befits him. It’s substantial but not slick, and focused on jobs. He wants state government to be an ally of Minnesota’s high-tech industries by better meeting their need for highly skilled workers, and of the health care and medical technology industries by shoring up the University of Minnesota Medical School. He wants a literacy push to boost chances that children read proficiently by grade three, and he seeks more funding for early ed.

He also wants clean energy and robust infrastructure investments, including expansion of light-rail transit, to continue.

…more of the same. 

Alliance?  What Alliance?:  Finally?  The Strib editorial team apparently did their internships writing for Fidel Castro (emphasis added):

Dayton, 67, is making his sixth and what he says will be his last bid for statewide office. After a lifetime of public service, he’s a well-known quantity who is offering Minnesota something rare — a governorship unbound by calculations about how to win the next election.

Dayton’s governorship has never been bound by anything but the fact that he is controlled, no less than a marionette, puppet or organ-grinder monkey – by the special interests that floated his candidacy and call, via the “Alliance for a Better MN”, all the shots in his office. 

 We expect that will look a lot like what Minnesotans saw in Dayton’s first term. If it does, this state will be well served.

If Dayton is re-elected, Minnesota will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE:  Fixed the link to the Strib piece.

For Whom The Shill Polls

As part of a campaign to portray his election inevitable, because the economy is juuuuust hunky dory, Governor Messinger Dayton and his praetorian guard, the Twin Cities media, is pushing hard the notion that unemployment is down. 

Jeff Johnson rightly responds that underemployment – people working for less than they’re qualified for, because they’re taking any job they can get – is endemic and growing - a claim supported by the fact that tax revenues have not only fallen short of forecasts every month since the DFL budget took hold, but that the revenues are falling farther and farther behind. 

The media, especially the Strib, is in full cover mode, doing its best to downplay the underemployment statistics while cheerleading the top-line unemployment figures.

The interesting part?  The Strib itself, in the form of Lori Sturdevant – hardly a GOP sympathizer – last spring

So which is it, Strib?  A huge problem, or no problem at all (until December)?

Go ahead.  Tell me the media isn’t actively working to get Governor Messinger Flint-Smith Dayton re-elected.

Doug Grow, Narrative Policeman

Surgeons do surgery.

Baseball players?  They play baseball.

And Doug Grow?

For four decades and change, generations of Minnesota voters know that Doug Grow is synonymous for flogging and fluffing the DFL narrative.

Yesterday’s MinnPost piece on the Severson press conference (which I wrote about yesterday) is one for the record books.

The DFL and media (ptr) narrative this year, by the way, is “DFL Victory is Inevitable”; keep that in mind as you read Grow’s description of the presser:

Finding the current election cycle a little boring?

The DFL sure hopes to keep it that way!

Unexpected:  Doug Grow leads off with one of those “too good to fact-check” claims:

As it turned out, the back-to-back pressers were actually back to back to back. First Severson. Then Martin. Then Severson again.

Unbeknownst to each other, Republican secretary of state candidate Dan Severson had scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference, while DFL party chair Ken Martin had scheduled his own 11 a.m. newser to talk about the secretary of state race. In the same room.

As it turned out, the back-to-back pressers were actually back to back to back. First Severson. Then Martin. Then Severson again.

It’s about as “unbeknownst” and unpredictable as, say, the MinnPost hiring a staff full of DFL shills.

Sources in the Severson campaign tell me that Severson had the conference room – where both pressers were held – booked from 10AM ’til noon.  When the DFL got wind of the presser, they swooped in and got the 11AM booking.

Initially, Severson had planned to devote his news event to the subject of voter participation among members of the military. Among other things, Severson contends that President Barack Obama’s administration, current secretary of state Mark Ritchie and DFL secretary of state candidate Rep. Steve Simon have all participated in efforts to suppress voting by members of the military.

And this, as I described yesterday, he did.  Mark Richie’s office sent county election officials a “how to” on finding ways to reject military absentee ballots; it’s there, in black and white.  The media was given a copy at the press conference – as they were given a copy of the absentee ballot reform bill co-authored by Simon that specifically exempted the military (who vote overwhelmingly conservative) from the reforms.

Amazingly enough, outside of the ofay mockery in the piece’s title (“Fraud! Suppression! Aspersions! Dueling press conferences wake up a sleepy secretary of state race”), the actual facts Severson brought up, the paper trail he presented supporting both Severson’s key allegations, never got mentioned.

“My Opponent Has Been Caught Masticating!”:  After Severson’s presser – whose actual subject you’d never know from reading Grow’s piece – Ken Martin took the stage.

I’ll say it again; “Ken Martin took the stage”.  We’ll come back to that.

But at 11 a.m., Severson moved to the back of the room in the state office building in St. Paul as the DFL’s Martin moved to the front…Martin said that at a Tea Party event in June, Severson claimed that Sen. Al Franken had won his 2008 election as a result of voter fraud. At that same meeting, Martin said, Severson claimed the DFL had re-captured control of the Legislature also because of fraudulent votes.

“The last thing we need is a conspiracy theorist as secretary of state,’’ Martin said. “I call on [GOP gubernatorial candidate] Jeff Johnson and [Republican Party Chair] Keith Downey to refute Severson’s unfounded and irresponsible allegations. I question Severson’s ability to be secretary of state when he makes dangerous allegations of crimes that don’t exist.’’

It was cheap theatrics.   And Severson answered them with the kind of burst of full metal rhetorical jacket that I wish a lot more Republicans were throwing back at the Media-Progressive Complex this year:

“I’m not casting aspersions,’’ Severson said. “I’m saying let’s solve the problem.’’

Now that’s a novel approach.

Cast This:  Of course, mentioning the problem is the problem, to the DFL and the media that works for it:  

But suggesting that DFLers win races because they cheat sounds a bit like an aspersion…But Severson said it’s not just his observations at campaign rallies that cause him to have doubts about the integrity of the system. He cited the “study” of an organization called Minnesota Majority that claimed there were more than 6,000 fraudulent voters in the 2008 Senate race in which, after a recount, Al Franken defeated incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman by just over 300 votes…Martin pointed out that in the recounts of the Coleman-Franken race and the Tom Emmer-Mark Dayton race of 2010, both parties “spent millions of dollars” as ballots across the state were recounted.

“Not a single instance of voter fraud was found,’’ Martin said.

Martin is lying, and Grow is just fine with that.

Doug Explains It All:  Anyway – charge met countercharge.  But here’s the interesting part; Grow elects to speculate:

Did Severson schedule his as a desperate bid to tie himself to the military and to inflame those in his GOP base convinced DFLers only win because they cheat?

The base is pretty inflamed already.

No – here’s the interesting part.  Here’s the part that undercuts Grow’s entire, snarky, dismissive premise:

Did Martin schedule his because the DFL is concerned that Simon needs to raise the profile of a down-ticket race?

Did who schedule it?

Steve Simon?

No.  Ken Martin, chair of the DFL.

Not Steve Simon, SOS candidate.

In fact, Steve Simon wasn’t present for the press conference.  About his own race. 

Martinized: Ken Martin did the whole thing.  Steve Simon was nowhere to be found.

Ken Martin, State DFL Chair, apparently feels the need to intervene directly in what is, in a normal election cycle, a boring, humdrum race that tracks, or sometimes lags, the top of the ticket.

Why would he do that?

I can think of a couple of reasons, by no means mutually exclusive:

  • Martin knows where Richie buried the bodies.  Corruption is as rampant in the SOS office as the GOP claims, and they need to do their best to keep a lid on the pot.
  • It’s Not A Humdrum, Sleepy Race At All:  I’ve heard two rumors from well-placed sources; first, that GOP internal polling shows Severson ahead.  Second, that Martin’s behavior in the past week shows that the DFL knows it.
  • That Air Of Inevitability?  Check It:  If Severson’s race is defying the “DFL is Inevitable” narrative, maybe other races are, too?  And if word gets out that the GOP has in fact defied the DFL’s “inevitable” victory, all electoral hell could break loose next month for the DFL.

Where was Steve Simon?

Why is Ken Martin intervening personally in this race, rather than sending some 22 year old communications minion, the way he normally would for the SOS race?

Stay tuned.

Crocodile Airtime

Tom Scheck notes that this year’s gubernatorial race isn’t a “visionary” contest:

The race stands in mark contrast to the contest four years ago, when two bold candidates for governor – Dayton and Republican nominee Tom Emmer – offered vastly different choices for Minnesota voters.

Um, yeah.

And what does the Minnesota media do when a conservative Republican offers a vision – a real, stark choice – and offers it with uncompromising gusto?

They sniff and label him “extreme” and basically help the DFL do its branding work.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

The Star/Tribune is covering what appears to be an escalating war between a number of Minneapolis street gangs.  Yesterday’s piece, bylined Libor Jany, breaks things down

…well, almost.  I’ll add emphasis:

The three people shot Tuesday were believed to have had some involvement in the Soundbar shooting, community leaders said.

But those were only the most recent.

Others include:

• Eulalio Gonzalez-Sanchez, 36, of Minneapolis, was gunned down about 6:25 a.m. Sunday at the corner of 22nd Avenue NE. and 7th Street as he walked home from the bus stop. No one has been arrested in the case.

Earl Lee Malone, 18, of Edina, was fatally shot and left in front of a house on the 2600 block of Knox Avenue about 11 p.m. Saturday. Police later arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the shooting, but it’s unclear when charges will be brought.

• Jemario Langston, 17, of Minneapolis, was shot and killed Sept. 16 by assailants who chased him to his aunt’s house. After hearing gunshots, the aunt opened her back door to find his sprawled body. No one has been arrested.

The Bogus Boys have been locked in a long-simmering struggle with several other South Side gangs, including the Bloods, “10s” and “20s,” said Ferome Brown, an activist who attended Tuesday’s meeting and works to steer young people away from gangs.

Many of the gang members he works with, Brown says, grew up in the same neighborhoods.

That’s a good run-down of a neighborhood in crisis…

…but wait.  See the empasized stuff?  Earl Malone?   We talked about him earlier today.   He was shot in self-defense.   The media knows this – as in this WCCO-TV piece filed a day earlier than the Strib’s piece.

Now, it’s entirely possible that the carjacking that Mr. Malone apparently attempted may have been gang-related.   

But lumping a self-defense shooting – one in which a community member defended themselves against an immediate threat to their life and health – is not the same as gang bangers carrying on an endless blood feud.  It’s just not.

Does the Strib know the difference?

They Know What Matters

Twin Cities’ media all atwitter over over a candidate – GOP, naturally – allegedly hanky-pankying with a realtor.

It’s NEWS, dammit!

Unlike Governor Dayton’s mental health, Rep. Ryan Winkler’s racism, Senator Sandy Pappas’ support for terrorists, Rep. Phyllis Kahn’s attempts at voter suppression (no, not in DFL terms, the real one), the extremely cozy relationship between Governor Dayton and his ex-wife’s attack-PR firm, to say nothing of complicated stuff like the effect DFL tax and wage policy is having on business and jobs around Minnesota.

Nothing to see there.  Move along, peasants.

Their Master’s Voice

The latest poll numbers must be scaring the DFL; the Strib has officially switched into full-time shill mode.

In a paper full of “reporters” whose prime directive seems to be “fawn on the DFL”, Ricardo Lopez seems to be aiming for Columnist’s Row with yesterday’s paeon to the wonders of the Minnesota economy:

With business on the upswing and a state unemployment rate that’s among the lowest in the nation, Republicans lack a key issue voters often gravitate to during election season.

Four years ago, when the unemployment rate topped 7 percent and the state faced a projected $6.2 billion deficit, then-gubernatorial candidates Republican Tom Emmer and DFLer Mark Dayton presented voters with starkly different plans to stem the hemorrhaging of jobs and balance the state budget.

Since Dayton took office, the economic picture has brightened considerably. Minnesota employers have added more than 150,000 jobs, helping the state recover all the jobs lost during the recession. The real estate market has rebounded, and state finances are also strong. The most recent report available showed a projected state budget surplus of more than $1.2 billion, generated in part by the higher tax rates Dayton pushed through in 2013.

“There’s no question it would be easier for me as a challenger if everything appeared to be in shambles, that’s clear. But it’s not.” said Jeff Johnson, the Republican nominee hoping to unseat Dayton this fall. “I actually rise to that challenge of sharing a message that aspires to something much better than we have right now.”

Except that as we’ve pointed out, the economy is only “good” when you cherrypick the numbers pretty carefully

  • State Revenues are falling shorter and shorter of forecasts every month.  The deficit – which the GOP Legislature, not Governor Dayton, erased – is going to be back by the end of the current budget cycle. 
  • Underworked:  While the state unemployment rate looks good at 4.5%, the share of working Minnesotans that are underemployed is shockingly high - well behind not only both Dakotas, but Iowa as well – and wage growth has stalled (while government spending has not). 

But it’s the cherrypicking, not checking and balancing, that the people of Minnesota are going to get from the media. 

Expect a “Minnesota Poll” showing Dayton 80 points ahead sometime soon, here. 

 

There’s Gambling Going On In This Establishment…

I’m not “Minnesota Nice”.

Partly it’s because I’m not from Minnesota.  I’m “North Dakota Dour and Taciturn”.   Minnesota is a South Beach conga line dance compared to North Dakota. 

And when I hear “Minnesota Nice”, what I think is “Minnesota Passive-Aggressive”. 

Bill Salisbury – one of the deans of Minnesota political reporting – and Don Davis, who fills the same bill with the Forum News Service, noted over the weekend that the ”Governor race could be ‘Minnesota nice’”. 

And my impression is proven correct.

That, and my belief that too many journos either think Minnesotans are stupid, or are actively trying to make them that way, as in this featurette on our two major gubernatorial candidates.

You can read the whole thing – but here’s the part that got my attention:

The Hennepin County commissioner and former legislator from Plymouth [endorsed GOP candidate Jeff Johnson] is an affable guy who shuns angry attacks on political opponents. That description also fits Dayton.

Sounds hunky-dory! 

Except that Governor Dayton doesn’t have to attack anyone.  He’s got his boss’s ex-wife’s group, “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota”, to do that for him. 

You know – the group that ran the epic, toxic sleaze campaign against Tom Emmer in 2010; the one that called Jeff Johnson “evil” over Christmas last year. 

The Democrats could run Shirley Temple against a Republican Beaver Cleaver; we’d soon hear see a commercial with Eddie Haskell complaining that Beaver bullied him as a child.

Junk Science, Junkier “Journalism”

In recent years, this blog has made great sport of criticizing the MinnPost‘s coverage of Second Amendment issues, noting that much of their coverage has been both anti-gun and comically poor, and pointing out they are sponsored by the Joyce Foundation, which actively sponsors many anti-gun groups (including Protect MN here in Minnesota, and the national-scoped “Violence Policy Center”, or “VPC”). 

On the other hand, Joyce has sponsored the work of reporter Mike Cronin, who is three parts into a series on America’s gun culture (check out his installments so far on his introduction to shooting, attending a permit training class with Andrew Rothman, and his conversations with violence victims).   The series, thus far, is genuinely fair and balanced; I’ve talked with Cronin, and he seems interested in keeping it that way.  That’s all to the good. 

Continue reading

PRSure

I work in the software business. 

And among people who work in the business, the word was going around well over a year ago; “MNSure” was going to be a Bulgarian Goat Rodeo.  At the very least.

The word was more than right; in fact, according to Deloitte Consulting, it sailed past Bulgarian Goat Rodeo, and is more of a Hungarian Cluster Cuddle

This is the point of the blog post where I’d find one or more excerpts from the report that summed up what a complete FUBAR the whole project has been. 

But there is just too much in the report.   If I quoted everything damning in Deloitte’s report, I’d be driving a tank over the “Fair Use” laws. 

So I urge you to read it. 

(Remembring, of course, that Deloitte was one of the firms that was beaten out by “Maximus”, the firm that actually “built” MNSure.  Now, a smart state government IT operation would have engaged Deloitte as a disinterested third party to serve as a reviewer on the condition that they not bid for re-development work, to avoid conflict of interest.  I don’t actually know if the state was that smart.  Any bets?)

But in any case, read it.  And then take a look at the Strib’s piece on the subject, which carries nothing but the Messinger Dayton administration’s spin on the top-level issues.

Lucking: “So Stupid You’re Not Acting Stupid…”

Carrie Lucking may be the second most powerful person in Minnesota.

She’s the “Executive Director” of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” – meaning that when Alida Messinger says “jump”, Lucking tells “Governor” Dayton how high, and off what, he’s to leap. 

She is, in effect, the real “Lieutenant Governor” of Minnesota.

But beyond that, she is in charge of ABM’s endless campaign to disinform (or as they used to say, “lie to”) the people of Minnesota – or, more accurately, to the low-information voters that are the DFL’s most important constituency. 

And she unleashed a howler yesterday:

State Senator Dave Thompson portrays himself as an unabashed conservative: a vocal, passionate defender of liberty at all costs.

Given this image, it’s notable that the former conservative talk radio host hasn’t published a blog or posted his legislative newsletter online since 2013. Whatever happened in 2013 that would make Thompson go mum in 2014? Hmmmm….

Could it be politics?

Well, duh.  Of course it’s politics. Specifically, the politics of making yourself “opposition-researcher proof”.  If you’re considering running for office, you take down your blog; you stop Tweeting; you hide your Facebook page.  All of your messaging goes through your campaign; it’s all vetted, measured and slept on before it’s put out in front of the public and the media, to avoid ”ready-fire-aim” moments like Judi Dutcher’s “Ethanol” flub, or any of Michele Bachmann’s history of PR botches – because the media is always looking for a good political flub, and ABM will be there to make sure the media don’t miss any such flubs. 

Or even non-flubs. 

So when Lucking breathlessly purrs…:

Thompson announced his campaign for Governor in the summer of 2013, a few months after he stopped publishing his From the Senate Floor blog and Senate newsletter

Thompson has gone mum

online.

Posting snafu? New legislative aide who forgot to put the newsletter online?

…she’s being disingenuous.  She knows as well as anyone that every candidate, GOP or DFL - at least every smart one – locks down their commentary when they’re getting ready to go on the trail. 

One thing is certain, though. Dave Thompson the radio host sure had a lot more to say than Dave Thompson the politician running for Governor.

Well, duh. 

Now, Carrie Lucking is a terrible writer and a breathless apparatchik – but she knows her audience; people who don’t know any better.  People who don’t have the time, inclination, or resources to check the story behind the “stories” ABM shovels to them.  People who only follow politics for the day, or days, or week or two before elections, people who make up their minds about elections over gut reactions and visceral responses to chanting points and sound bites, as well as the self-lobotomized droogs that wouldn’t know how not to vote DFL. 

Behind everyone who doesn’t really know the facts and doesn’t want to or know how to find them out for themselves, is a potential DFL voter. 

But that’s what Lucking gets paid to write.

The real question; will Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib, or Tom Scheck at MPR, ever point out to the less-informed in the audience what a facile bit of rhetoric this is?  Will MPR’s “Poligraph” give this statement the “Oh, Hell No” it deserves?   Will anyone in the Minnesota mainstream media ever tackle the Alliance’s endless, cynical campaign of disinformation, not to mention probe their deeply incestuous relationship with the Governor’s office and the DFL?

Place your bets.

The Great Crisis

First, some history.

Untangled:  Back in 2010, when the DFL last controlled the Legislature, the media credentialling system was a shambles.  The Senate Rules specifically listed the media outlets that had permanent credentials – the major metro newspapers, the state’s various TV and major radio stations, MPR, the Legal Ledger and a few others.  You could count them on your fingers and toes, if I recall correctly (and I may well not).  However, any Senator could vouch for any “reporter” they wanted, and give them essentially a “day pass” to get into the gallery, the press room, and onto the floor (at a table reserved for the media between gavels, and out on the floor proper outside the session).

It was never much of an issue until the mid-2000s, with the growth of an alternative media.  Suddenly, new media – blogs, talk radio, and video and audio streams – began demanding a place covering the Legislature.  Being part-timers and hobbyists, most of us only needed credentials on a situational basis – but others, flush with activist budgets, had the time and manpower to make it a full-time “job”.

In 2010, the DFL made a hash of things; they credentialed “The Uptake”, a stridently progressive video-blog, but denied a day pass to Saint Cloud conservative talk host Dan Ochsner.

After the legislature flipped in 2010, the 2011 session began with tat following tit, with the GOP initially getting payback and ejecting the Uptake from the Senate.

Michael Brodkorb, brand-new in his job as Senate GOP Comms czar, took matters into his own hands.  While Michael’s a polarizing figure even inside conservative circles these days (and someone I still consider a friend), he undertook a really superlative project; give the Minnesota Senate the best, most open, transparent media credentialling process in the United States.  Period.

With that in mind, he enlisted left-leaning journo David Brauer, a few capitol comms staffers (including Senate DFL comms guy Beau Berendson and, briefly, then-House-DFL communications person Carrie Lucking, in her last gig before becoming Alita Messinger’s propaganda minister) and yours truly to craft a new Senate media credentialling rule.

I chronicled the process leading to the new news credentialing policy, from conception to passage into the Senate’s permanent rules, in a series of blog posts.

One of the rules was as follows (and it reads this way in the Senate’s permanent rules today):

Organizations owned or controlled by registered lobbyists, political parties or other party organizations (defined as organizations registered with the Campaign Finance Board or the Federal Election Commission) shall not be granted credentials.

It seemed pretty clear at the time.  In fact, it still does.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t controversy.

The Point Being:  the issuance of press credentials, and the (limited) access they give you to Senators on the floor, is non-partisan.  Utterly, utterly non-partisan.

So when the Strib’s  Baird Helgeson notes in a story about a credentialing tempest in a Senate teapot that…:

Republicans have questioned Senate press credentials for the left-leaning Uptake, while Democrats are critical of press credentials for conservative blogger Mitch Berg.

…that everyone – the Republicans questioning Uptake, the “Democrats” who bagged on me [1] , and I suspect Helgeson himself – misses the point.

Anyone can get credentials – provided they aren’t “owned or controlled by registered lobbyists, political parties or other party organizations”.

Credentials are issued by the non-partisan Sergeant At Arms – the eternal Sven Lindquist, who’s been there close to thirty years, through every possible combination of political power.

Seems simple, huh?

Muddied:  Shawn Towle is a Saint Paul would-be pundit.  For years, he ran the website/protoblog Checks and Balances.

More recently, he’s “famous” for reportedly having tweeted a link to an anonymous photo of a former Minnesota legisator – a female conservative, naturally – in her underwear, apparently while doing a little galavanting, as they used to say.  Did Towle publish the photo?  Let’s assume it fell out of the sky and hit him on the head, for all I care.  Either way, the episode was one of the more disturbing bits of “gotcha” “journalism” I’ve seen, part of a wave of (and I say this with all due respect to Towle as a journalist) prurient panty-sniffing from Twin Cites left-leaning alt-media, thinly disguised as diligent reporting (about the private and semi-private lives of female conservatives and, it seems, nothing more).

But that was last year,  We have a new controversy.

Helgeson  notes that Towle has been paid nearly $40,000 in the past few years by the DFL, including money just before the current session:

DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk’s “failure to disclose political payments he made to a member of the credentialed press is dishonest and damages the integrity of the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said Monday. “How can the public trust what’s going on at the Capitol if the reporters are being paid by the politicians?”

There are really two points here:

  • Why does the DFL feel the need to pay Towle – who, according to sources in the Capitol, apparently shows up at GOP Senators’ press conferences acting like a Reagan-era Sam Donaldson?  They don’t have enough mainstream media to do the job for free?
  • I’m not sure that this story affects the public trust in the Senate – there are bigger reasons, like a $90 million office building and three years worth of lies about property taxes to do that.  But one might certainly wonder what Shawn Towle’s angle is.

Helgeson:

Hann is demanding that Bakk have Towle’s press credentials revoked. The press passes allow journalists to get on the Senate floor during debates, but they do not grant any special access to members.

It’s a little more complicated than that – it allows access to the press gallery, to press office handouts and info and – when space is available – to a small table on the floor (limit: 6) during the debates, with precedence given to the permanent press corps members that rent space in the basement.

But it’s not much more complicated than that.

An Aside:  Helgeson’s piece has this curious interjection:

Despite Hann’s insistence, Bakk had no role in getting Towle his press credentials.

Helgeson is talking for Bakk?   I mean – according to whom did Bakk had no relationship with Towle’s credentials?

Of course, it’s irrelevant, or should be.  You don’t need connections to get press credentials anymore.  That was one of the goals of the rules we passed in 2011!

And while Bakk needn’t have had any more role in Towle getting his credentials than in me getting mine, Bakk most certainly knew and had plenty to do with the fact that…:

  • The Senate paid Towle
  • The arrangement broke the Senate rules.

Dwelling in the Irrelevant:  Helgeson:

Towle said he actually got his Senate credentials when the Republicans controlled the body and Hann was an assistant leader.

Around that time, Towle was also on the payroll of the Republican Party of Minnesota’s payroll. The state GOP paid Towle a combined $15,000 in 2010 and 2011, records show.

Towle, in many forums (including in a phone conversation with me, over the winter when this story first came out) keeps repeating that he’s been paid by both sides.  The DFL is leaning on the same point:

DFL Senate Caucus Communications Director Amos Briggs points out that Towle has “been credentialed under DFL and GOP majorities, although you will notice that the credentialing authority named in the rule is nonpartisan.”

All of it is true – and it’s irrelevant.

When Towle was first credentialed, up through the beginning of the 2011 session, there were no formal rules against paid lobbyists or affiliates of lobbying organizations or parties being credentialed.  That restriction began in 2011, well into the session.

The partisanship – or even the bipartisanship – of Towle’s contract employment isn’t the issue.  It’s the fact that under the post-2011 Senate rules, he’s getting paid by any political organization.  Period.

And some observers get this.  The City Pages’ Aaron Rupar spoke with the Senate’s sergeant at arms, Sven Lindquist – the non-partisan staffer whose office is in charge of issuing press credentials.  Lindquist notes…:

“In the case of Towle, if he is working for one or both political parties — and I would have no knowledge of that — the rule does state that he should be responsible [and let us know about] any change in his reporting status,” Lindquist said. “What I’m hearing now about this, it will have to be looked at further… we’ve never had to go down this path before.”

Lindquist said the one significant thing a Capitol credential allows reporters to do is to “have access to the Senate chamber, and with God as my witness I’ve never had [Towle] attempt to gain access to the Senate floor, and he’s been credentialed since perhaps ’99 or 2000.”

During most of which time, up to 2011, partisan affiliation wasn’t an issue – or, rather, it was as much an issue as the party controlling the Senate wanted to make it.

So To Sum Up:  Does Shawn Towle get paid by the DFL?  So it seems.  Hey, a guy’s gotta earn a living.

But the problem is in Tom Bakk’s office.  Bakk either thinks “rules” are for mere mortals, or he isn’t in control of what his staff is doing.

I’m dying to find out which.

[1] I’d like to challenge Mr. Helgeson to show me a single Republican since 2011 who’s given a rat’s ass about The Uptake.  As to Democrats and yours truly?  The only Democrat I’m aware of who’s whined about my credentials was Mark Gisleson, one of the DFL’s intellectual thought leaders and former blogger and current “where are they now”-fodder.

Nope, No Media Bias At All

The DFL controls both chambers of the legislature, as well as the Governor’s office.

They passed four billion dollars in total tax hikes last session, for a net two billion dollars in increases, without a single Republican vote.

But now the DFL needs GOP support to change tax policy? 

That’s what this piece – “GOP senators refuse to be rushed on sweeping tax-relief measure” – would have you believe.

No, really:

Dayton and DFL leaders have rushed to pass the measure to ensure the largest number of Minnesotans can take advantage of more than $50 million in retroactive tax relief by April 15. Senate DFLers used a rare procedure to try to speed passage by a day, but Republicans in the minority used their limited muscle to delay the vote until Friday.

Earlier in the week, Dayton chastised Senate DFLers for not passing the measure swiftly enough. On Thursday, Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, joined together to direct their wrath at Republicans.

Look – this bill was never intended as anything but an election-year bandaid for the DFL – allowing them to say “We cut taxes! (to some favored classes of Minnesotans, for a total of a tiny fraction of the tax hike we unilaterally jammed down two years ago)” in an election year when the MNSure flop and the 2013 tax and spend and gun grab orgy looks certain to cost the DFL dearly. 

Baird Helgeson is, in short, carrying the DFL’s narrative water:

“There is no good reason for Senate Republicans to block the bill’s passage,” Dayton said. If Republican legislators force any further delays, “they will be solely responsible for denying income tax cuts to thousands of Minnesotans.”

The measure is nearly certain to pass Friday because Republicans are out of options to block it.

Ahem:  the DFL doesn’t need one single Republican vote to pass the “tax cuts”.  Not One. 

Why is Baird Helgeson and the Strib carrying the DFL’s water? 

Will Rachel Stassen-Berger, Tom Scheck and Bill Salisbury catch the Strib on this fairly egregious bit of journalistic partisan narrative-fluffing?

The Media/Non-Profit Racket

In past months, I’ve showed you how not only big-media-alum group-blog MinnPost, but “No Rant, No Slant” Minnesota Public Radio are on the take from the Joyce Foundation – which funds “Protect MN”, the anti-rights group run by Rep. Heather Martens.  I speculated that it might be the reason that MPR has been so incurious about Martens’ astroturf group, and why the MinnPost - with all its pretenses to legitimate journalism – spent the past year giving Martens a public tongue bath.

I asked – does this involvement go any higher in the Twin Cities’ “progressive” political world?

I asked, and Bill Glahn answered – ten months ago.  Joyce is a huge financial backer of “Take Action MN”, a non-profit that verges on being a political party in its own right, a descendent of “Progressive Minnesota”, which had its own unseemly connections with “non-partisan” institutions.

Glahn:

The Joyce Foundation of Chicago, Illinois, was founded by Iowa lumber heiress Beatrice Joyce Kean.  This $760 million foundation has been involved with TakeAction since near the beginning of the Minnesota non-profit’s existence.  Joyce’s 2006 Annual Report (p. 25) shows a grant of $350,000 to be paid out to TakeAction over two years, “To develop and promote a political reform agenda focused on campaign finance, judicial, and voting rights reforms.”
Joyce’s 2009 IRS Form 990 reveals that the $350,000 grant to the 501(c)(3) TakeAction Minnesota Education Fund was renewed in 2008 for two additional years, “for ongoing efforts to reform and strengthen democracy in Minnesota.”[12]
Joyce’s 2011 IRS Form 990 reveals that, yet again, the $350,000 grant to the TakeAction Education Fund was renewed in 2010 for two additional years, “For advancing a political reform agenda that encompasses election administration, voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting, and judicial independence.”[13]

The Joyce Foundation’s website indicates that the TakeAction Education Fund received an additional $150,000 in 2012 for one year, “For advancing a democracy reform agenda using legislation, community organizing, movement building, coalition work, and unexpected alliances.”
Unexpected alliances?  In any event, the seven-year total of grants from the Joyce Foundation to TakeAction equals $1,200,000.

So let’s break this down:  The Joyce Foundation heavily sponsors “Progressive” non-profits, including “Take Action MN”, “Protect MN”, and (I strongly suspect) “Common Cause MN”.

And they pour money into at least two “non-profit” Minnesota media outlets that have pretensions to respectability; Minnesota Public Radio and the MinnPost.

I’ve sought comment from both organizations in the past, without success.  I’ll try again.

All of this carefully obfuscated money going to support “campaign finance…reforms” is one thing.

Going to buy friendly media coverage?

And finding willing takers, in an industry whose “code of ethics” tells journalists who avoid financial entanglements in their “journalism?”

Pulling The Strings

Bill Glahn has been doing the work the Twin Cities media hasn’t won’t in covering the big, unseen unreported-on force in Minnesota politics:  Take Action Minnesota.

Even among people who know that TAM exists, I think few know exactly what they’re into, and how the organization works:

Charity Status—whether legal or not, I object to TakeAction’s abuse of its tax-exempt non-profit charity status. Unlike the traditional political party—whose role the group is increasingly displacing —TakeAction can accept tax-deductible contributions from anonymous donors. Despite my best efforts at discovery, we really do not know who contributes the millions of dollars that fund TakeAction’s operations.

Quasi-Party Status—although TakeAction operates much like a political party—recruiting and financing candidates, conducting campaigns, and getting out the vote—it does not have to abide by the same laws on transparency and accountability. It acts as a closed political machine—answering to its (unknown) donors, but not to voters and taxpayers in the same way that the Democrats and Republicans must answer.

They also sit among a warren of offices for similar “progressive” “non-profits” – “ProtectMN”, “Wellstone Action” and others – in the Griggs Building, in the St. Paul Midway.  This isn’t just a happy accident, or entirely the product of the Griggs’ very low rent.  The network shares much more than just an address; phone banks, lists, staff, know-how.

You should read Glahn’s entire series on the subject:

My latest “Who Is TakeAction?” Series:

·         Part 1—Political philosophy
·         Part 2—TakeAction takes over city politics
·         Part 3—All the cool kids went to this year’s Progressive Prom

My original TakeAction Minnesota Series:

  • Part 1–Intro and the 2010 election for Minnesota Governor
  • Part 2–Follow the Money, as it spins around inside the TakeAction network
  • Part 3–Tracking down the money to its sources
  • Part 3A—More donor names and dollar amounts
  • Part 4–The lobby machine
  • Part 5–The 2012 referendum on Voter ID
  • Part 6–Updating Part 5 with final 2012 money figures
  • Part 7–TakeAction Goes to Washington

The entire series is excellent.

Although Glahn also observes:

[S]imply from a journalistic viewpoint, the rise of TakeAction as a political force is a major story—one that has received almost no coverage from Minnesota’s legacy media. In contrast, oceans of ink have been spilled over the Tea Party and its relationship to the Republican Party. There is a man-bites-dog story waiting for an enterprising reporter to pick it up.

This is not an accident.  It’s a case of Berg’s Seventh Law in action.

And most of the Twin Cities media shares TAM’s mission, whether they admit it or not (and whether their friendly coverage/non-coverage is being purchased by some of the same donors or not).

The Voice Of The DFL, And A Brilliant Plan

The “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” – the attack-PR drones financed by Alida Messinger and a group of plutocrats with deep pockets to make toxic, sleazy attacks on their opposition – stepped in it last night, to the point that even the Twin Cities mainstream media had to report it (with emphasis added):

The DFL-supporting Alliance for a Better Minnesota took its mockery of a Republican candidate a step too far, it admitted on Thursday.

In a Halloween-themed blog post, it suggested that Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson should dress as Patrick Bateman, a serial killer in American Psycho, because he is “seemingly nice but actually pretty evil inside.”

Carrie Lucking tried to bury the evidence – but the Internet sees and knows all:

Leaving aside the obvious question – what should Alida Messinger and Carrie Lucking dress as? – it appears as if the smooth-running messaging machine at ABM is trying to break in some new amateurs.

But have no fear.  Lucking explains it all (again, emphasis added):

Carrie Lucking, the group’s executive director, said within 10 minutes being alerted to the post they took the image down, removed the reference to Bateman and changed what it said about Johnson.

Instead of calling Johnson evil, the site says that he is “seemingly nice in public, but actually the policies he supports are pretty evil. It also appended an apology to its post. 

Ah.  Disagreement is “evil”.  That’s much better.

How very Alinsky.

“The original image and text for Jeff Johnson was removed and the costume changed because it was an inappropriate reference to a fictional character. We apologize for this error. It will not happen again,” the web site said.

Yes it will – because every time ABM writes about Republicans, they’re writing about “fictional characters”.  Alinskyite “framing” is all about turning real people and real ideas into characters and catch phrases that have little or nothing to do with reality.  ”Tom Emmer is angry”.  ”Jeff Johnson is evil”.  ”King Banaian is Arab”.  Little bits of mental chaff that ABM is hoping – indeed, paying big bucks to prove – will stick in the minds of people who don’t think that hard about politics come election time.

It’s dishonest.  It’s also how the Democrats do politics.

But I Promised A Brilliant Plan, Didn’t I?:  Watch ABM’s coverage this past couple of days.  Their flailing at Johnson was only the tip of the iceberg; I wrote earlier today about their calling Julianne Ortmann a “Genie”, with video of a blonde, jiggly Barbara Eden helpfully added in case you thought Lucking was referring to the “Djinn” of Arab mythology.

The election is a year away, and the attacks are already…

…unhinged.

And it occurs to me – maybe that’s a good barometer for the GOP races?  Whichever candidate is drawing the most unhinged, scabrous “coverage” from ABM can be presumed to be in the lead?

A look at ABM’s front page this morning shows two weak-gruel attacks on Jeff Johnson.

That’s probably good news for the Johnson campaign.

The challenge for the Thompson campaign is obvious.

Because Racism

Earlier this week, the Joyce Foundation collected another installment on its payment for the MinnPost’s PR services in pursuit of disarming the American people – in this case, a “Community Voices” column by by Rebecca Lowen and Doug Rossinow, who are listed as “history professors at Metro State”.

Those who fail to learn from history, it’s fair to say, teach history at Metro State.

And if this reflects the current state of the victim-disarmament movement, it’d seem their strategy has shifted to “ad homina” and “making things up”.

Continue reading

Rant And Slant

A few weeks ago, I pointed out that not only does the MinnPost appear to be selling news to the highest bidder (or, more accurately, biggest contributor), but that MPR News appears to have done the same.

The Usual Bona Fides:  Let me give you my usual disclaimer; I’ve always – or at least for the last ten years or so – believed that MPR News made a fairly credible effort at appearing, from an institutional level, to be fairly balanced and to keep its individual staffers’ biases firewalled away pretty well.   I know some people at MPR News, and I believe they operate with a level of integrity (although some of them also believe they’re above criticism by the hoi polloi; after I asked questions about MPR News’ “Poligraph” segment’s oddly incurious coverage of the Betty McCollum/Tony Hernandez debates, I got an email from a senior MPR News exec to Catherine Richert advising her “not to engage with that guy”.  He’d fumble-fingered and sent it to me, too).

All that aside, I’ve always believed MPR News – the news department, as opposed to NPR, or non-news programming, like Garrison Keillor – does an adequate job of compartmentalizing bias.

Or I did, until fairly recently.

The Shakedown We Pay For:  As noted above, I wonder why MPR News is covering Second Amendment issues under the direct sponsorship of the Joyce Foundation, the nation’s largest funder of gun-grabber organizations.

Bill Glahn covers some of the same ground in a piece about MPR’s “Daily Current” show, hosted by the bias-sodden Keri Miller.  The “Daily Current”, a look at their website notes, is a production of MPR News.

The hour was hosted by MPR’s Kerri Miller. Panelists included Denise Cardinal, the founder of Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM), Ben Golnik, a political consultant, and Kathryn Pearson, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota.

Cardinal is, of course, a major liberal mover and shaker and, as Glahn points out and I reported endlessly in 2010, architect of Alida Messinger’s epic, toxic sleaze campaign in 2010, which bought Mark Dayton barely enough votes to win.  Golnik is a fixture in MN GOP politics.  Pearson is Larry Jacobs’ understudy and contender for his title of “most over-quoted person in the Twin Cities media”.

 Let’s turn to MPR’s Kerri Miller for a moment.  As the show’s host and moderator, her chief means of controlling the narrative are by asking questions and controlling the show’s flow…As for flow, by my count, Miller interrupts the Republican Golnik at total of thirteen 13 times.  During one 56-second stretch alone [08:26 to 09:22] MPR’s Miller interrupts Golnik seven times to challenge his facts.

Not only do such constant interruptions throw off a guest’s rhythm, they telegraph to the audience that the “neutral” host believes the guest to be untrustworthy or evasive.

On the rare occasions Miller speaks during Cardinal’s or Pearson’s time, she never interrupts and stops the flow.  Rather, Miller will say a word or two to clarify or to reinforce a point—never to challenge or dispute—as can be heard at the 17:47 mark with Cardinal and the 25:52 mark with Pearson.

I urge you to try to find the recordings of Miller’s performance in the 2010 Governor’s race.  I listened to both interviews, and wrote about ‘em back then.   Her interview of Tom Emmer was harsh, acerbic, combative, laced with hostile interruptions.

Which is fine – journalists should ask questions, right?

But in contrast, her conversation with Mark Dayton was chummy, clubby, a rhetorical warm fuzzy blanket with camomile tea.  It sounded like they may have been painting each others’ toenails.

Miller hasn’t changed much.

Conflict Of Interest:  But here’s the part I wanted to draw your attention to; I’ll add emphasis:

The host’s interruptions of the token conservative are not just to challenge facts or opinion.  On two occasions, MPR’s Miller interrupts Republican Golnik to defend Democrat Governor Dayton—on the Vikings Stadium [30:22] and on MPR News’ sponsorMNsure [32:15].

Her defense of the Democrat Dayton during that latter exchange reveals volumes about the host and the outlet.  While the disastrous debut of Obamacare was makinginternational news, and the problems with the local MNsure rollout again on the front pages, Miller dismisses the problems with her corporate sponsor as mere “glitches.

Her defense of our liberal Governor is so over the top that she has to catch herself at one point [32:42 mark] with the walk back “not to speak for the Governor here,” played to laughter from the panelists.

That Miller is a shill for the DFL is not up for question by anyone paying attention.

That MPR News is taking money to produce the news is one thing; all commercial news operations have to work to create the impression there’s a high, thick wall between the money and news sides of their operations.

That MPR News is not only having its news coverage directly sponsored by advocacy groups, but is having its non-news, opinion programming – Miller’s show – sponsored by the government that MPR News is supposed to be covering?

How is this not merely a conflict of interest, but an undercutting of the integrity of a news operation that has always publicly wrapped itself in the flag of journalistic ethics (whatever they are?)

Tom Scheck?  Mike Mulcahy?  Rupa Chinoy?  Bob Collins?  Anyone?

Anyone?

The Strib: Keeping The Boogeyman Alive

The Strib ran an editorial from the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch over the weekend, entitled “A senator, scrutinizing ALEC? How dare he.”.

The headline sounds like it was written by Eric Pusey.  The rest of the editorial isn’t much better.  And the fact that the Strib runs it – ergo folds it under their own editorial umbrella – is something we need to highlight. 

The “Senator” involved is Dick Durbin – the guy who wants to bring back the “Fairness Doctrine”, among his many other atrocities. 

And it shows the Democrats, and the Strib’s, hypocrisy on many levels.  Pardon, as always, the redundancy.

Selective Indignation – Yet Again.  The “scrutiny of ALEC”, as we’ve noted in the past, is itself intensely hypocritical – but we’ll come back to that.

On Aug. 6, Durbin sent a letter to about 300 current or former corporate members of ALEC to ask a couple of simple questions. The assistant minority leader wanted to know whether the organization or corporation was still a supporter of ALEC and whether they backed “stand your ground” laws (“For Minnesota think tank, ALEC haters’ witch hunt hits home,” Aug. 14).

Now, just think for a moment what’d happen if, say, Mitch McConnell sent letters to companies asking if they supported Planned Parenthood? 

Think about it for a minute. 

The Strib editorial board would lose bowel control from the sheer anger.  Keri Miller would devote a week of her “Daily Buzz” or whatever they’re calling “Mid-Morning” these days.  It’d be one of those “Chilling Effects on Democracy” that seems to accompany any conservative activity in the minds of the media, only worse. 

Dance, Boogeyman!  Dance! – And why is Durbin so concerned about ALEC? 

In September, Durbin plans to convene a subcommittee hearing to study ["Stand Your Ground"] laws in light of the Florida verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Inasmuch as ALEC’s support was critical to Florida’s 2005 decision to pass the nation’s first stand-your-ground law, it seems reasonable to ask ALEC’s members and funders whether the Trayvon Martin case changed their minds.

The bad publicity ALEC received after an unarmed Martin was shot dead by Zimmerman led many corporations to withdraw their support for ALEC.

I’m not sure – and I can’t find the data at the moment – but I’m going to say this is likely BS; I doubt they lost any significant revenue, at least not for long  Maybe I’ll find out more soon. 

But what Durbin is doing is trying to is…:

ALEC and the groups are right to tell Durbin to stick his request from whence he got his “Fairness Doctrine” proposal. 

Proof That the Strib knows DFL Voters are Incurious Lemmings Who Are Content To Let Others Do Their Thinking For them – The Pospatch, via the Strib, does the “Wizard of Oz” schtik for the low-information NPR-listening voter:

The group creates cookie-cutter legislation with the primary goal of enriching the corporate bottom line.

As opposed to the National Education Association, or the Teamsters or SEIU or AFSCME, which create cookie-cutter legislation to enrich their leadership.  Or the “Violence Policy Center”, which creates cookie-cutter gun grab legisaltion for state legislators – like the bills Representatives Paymar, Martens and Hausman wasted four months introducing in this past session, all of which were to one degree or another copied and pasted from laws in New York and California.  Or the Joyce Foundation, which not only supports gun control groups like the VPC and “Protect Minnesota” (which provide cookie-cutter legislation on Second Amendment issues to ignorami like the Metrocrat Caucus) but also partisan media outlets masquerading as “objective” media, like the MinnPost, to carry Joyce’s proxies’ water in the public information sphere. 

“They May Be An Untransparent Hack Pressure Group, But They’re Our Untransparent  Hack Pressure Group!”   – This next part is comedy gold, provided you have the capacity to laugh at the bald-faced  disingenuity of the media.  I’ll be adding emphasis:   

This is what makes this war of words so interesting. The real purpose of ALEC is to allow corporations and wealthy benefactors to avoid state ethics disclosure laws. As the nonprofit group Common Cause has meticulously noted in its complaint to the Internal Revenue Service, ALEC pretends it’s a nonprofit charity when really it’s a highly sophisticated lobbying organization that allows corporations to launder their donations without showing taxpayers which lawmakers they are buying and selling.

As opposed to “Common Cause”, which – in deep contrast – pretends it’s a nonprofit charity when in fact it is a highly sophisticated lobbying organization that allows liberal plutocrats and “progressive” advocates and groups to launder their donations without showing taxpayers which lawmakers they are buying and selling. 

That’s how the corporations want it, and that has nothing to do with freedom of speech or other constitutional protections. It’s deceit, plain and simple, and it has a negative effect on the legislative process.

Catch that?  The media – it’s the Pospatch, officially, but this editorial is no less cookie-cutter than a Lori Sturdevant article or an AFSCME-sponsored bill, let alone the ALEC bills it yaps about – is leaning on the purported “deceit” of “ALEC”, which acts, in every way, exactly like every group like it anywhere in American politics, but has been selected as the boogeyman by the Big Left, to draw media attention away from groups like…

…Common Cause, for one, which actually is everything that this editorial claims ALEC is, with comprehensive dishonesty about its own motivations thrown in for good meaure.     

“Corporate America has the right to express its opinion,” Durbin said in an interview. “The difference here is this is a secret operation and they’ve become a major political force.”

Unlike those plucky outsiders at Media Matters.  Or the Joyce Foundation.  Or AFSCME.

Or the “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota”. 

The sooner the Strib goes out of business, the sooner Minnesota has a chance – slight though it may be – of learning the truth about what’s going on around them.

For the real story, go here and read this.

Sturdevant And “Battered State Syndrome”

Lori Sturdevant has a mission.

The DFL – and the PR machine that includes bodies as inseparably-”diverse” as the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, the Joyce-Foundation-funded MinnPost and theStribeditorial board (which has close links to all three of the above) worked tirelessly to try to make Minnesota “Happy to Pay for a Better” state. 

The dim and querulous gave them the Legislature and Governor they dreamed about and paid for. 

But the parts of this state that actually produce the wealth that Our Better Government needs to siphon (and siphon, and siphon some more) are showing signs that they’ve had enough.  That the snapping sound that the fat, lazy, over-entitled riders upon the camel of state enterprise have been hearing is the sound of camel vertebrae giving up the ghost.

And Sturdevant’s apparent mission is to try to shame the camel for all that wobbling.

Our Innumerate Overlords – Sturdevant’s old club-mate Nick Coleman once famously declared that journos were better than bloggers because they “know stuff”, by dint of having written about “stuff” down the long, lonely, ink-smeared decades. 

Sturdevant, like Coleman, continuously show what a low bar “stuff” turns out to be, when it comes to the realities of business and economics:

The numbers always seemed screwy to me. If congressional action allowing all states to apply their sales taxes to online purchases would net Minnesota a cool $400 million a year, as the state Revenue Department keeps saying, why was the new “Amazon tax” only slated to bring in about $5 million per year?

Because – as anyone who followed the Vikings Stadium funding fiasco, or the course of any sort of cigarette or sin tax in history, can tell you – the figures that bureaucrats give when they’re trying to sell a tax are always higher than what you actually get.  Because people and companies modify their behavior, their purchasing, their lives if need be to try, try, try to keep more of their hard-earned income and profits. 

Oh, of course Sturdevant won’t report it that way:

The answer became obvious last week. Amazon unkindly cut off its Minnesota-based advertising affiliates with a bare two weeks’ notice to avoid collecting sales tax on Minnesota purchases starting July 1.

Right. 

And why would they do that?

Two possible reasons:

  1. Because acting as an unpaid tax collector, in addition to shaving money off their own top line, hits their bottom line as well; it involves building systems and hiring people to not only do the collecting, but to handle dealing with the inevitable squabbles over collections with the state governments involved.  As only a small minority of states tax revenues on online sales, it’s just not worth it.
  2. They’re big nasty ugly meanies.

Sturdevant wants the Strib’s readers – which is a synomym for “low information voters”, these days – to pick “2″.  Emphasis added:

The state’s tax collectors allowed that they were not surprised. They’d been expecting as much from Amazon, said Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans. It’s what the tax dodger, er, online retailer has done in at least seven other states. Hence the measly forecast for tax collections from online sellers with Minnesota affiliates.

And there you go; the left’s most noxious conceit; that productivty and its consequences – profit – belongs to government first and foremost; that trying to keep more of it for yourself, having done all the actual work to produce it and all, is a thoughtcrime. 

To avoid having to deal with the administrative and fiscal overburden, not to mention lending legitimacy to a tax that may well be unconstitutional, isn’t good business; it’s a moral offense.  Or so Sturdevant will keep chanting.

And chanting:

(The official name for the new sales tax provision is “affiliate nexis.” It’s not a new tax, but a new requirement that when an online seller has a Minnesota affiliate, the tax on its Minnesota sales must be collected by the seller at the time of purchase, rather than being reported and paid later by the consumer — as all consumers faithfully and fully do every year, right?)

Dunno, Lori.  Do you?

“Atlas!  Knock Off All That Damn Shrugging!” – Up next, an irony that provokes a chuckle every time I see it, which is every time Sturdevant writes about the relationship between government and the people who pay for it, which is every other column; she rails against choice – when it’s The People doing the chosing:

The Revenue Department had been urging enactment of the Amazon tax since DFLer Mark Dayton became governor, even though it was known to be tricky to forecast and fairly easy to dodge.

Truth be told, much the same can be said of most of the $1 billion or so in annual tax increases enacted by the 2013 Legislature.

And after thirty-odd years, Sturdevant still hasn’t figured it out; when you build a spending plan based on making other people - “the rich”, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, the “haves” – pay for your stuff, those other people might just get other ideas. 

Ms. Sturdevant?  Your Institutional Hypocrisy Is Showing – Sturdevant avers that there might be some PR issues with the DFL’s / Alida Messinger’s (pardon the redundancy) “Happy To Make Other People Pay For Our Minnesota” plan: 

For example, the howl that went up from the warehouse industry about a sales tax that will start applying next April to its business-to-business transactions was accompanied by credible threats that warehouses would move to Hudson, Wis.

Right.

Even before the session ended, tax planning seminars popped up offering to coach well-heeled Minnesotans about ducking the new 9.85 percent income tax rate…Then there’s the $1.60-per-pack boost in the cigarette tax [which] might be the easiest to dodge of all. Cigarette sellers just across the Minnesota state lines — and on Minnesota’s Native American lands — can prepare for land-office business after July 1, when Minnesota smokes will become the most expensive in the region…The kind that involves spending six months and a day in no-income-tax Florida? That’s evidently tolerated.

And yep.

Was there another tax “for a better Minnesota” that elicited a howl of protest from a Minnesota institution?  One that threatened to put a 5.5%-to-6.75+% ding in an industrly that’s already shrinking by several points a year? 

One that pays Sturdevant’s paycheck, maybe?

You’ll search Sturdevant’s column in vain for any sign that she’s called her bosses “tax evaders” for having acted in their own enlightened fiscal self-interest.  

Guess the Strib – whose editorial board and occasionally newsroom shilled tirelessly for DFL candidates – doesn’t want A Better Minnesota, unless someone else is paying for it either. 

Keep that in mind in the next section.

She’s Head-Slappingly Ignorant Of Economics And Business – But I’ll Bet She’s Got History Down Cold! – Sturdevant next wraps herself in the flag.

I don’t think she knows it’s the Soviet flag:

…I’ve observed that in the rest of Minnesota, tax avoidance within “perfectly legal” parameters is socially acceptable behavior — so much so that people brag about it to their friends. Those who engage in it count themselves as patriots, and by today’s lights, they may well be. But they don’t think like the fellows in 1776 who pledged to their new venture “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Further proof – were any needed – that the Strib not only caters to low-information voters; they’re trying to create more of them.

The American Revolution was about much more than taxes! It was about defining a new relationship between the Individual and Government – one where the Individual and the fruits of their labor had worth, merit and standing every bit as important as that of government’s; one where government was afree association of equals, not a petty noble demanding tribute of cringing vassals. 

And that whole “STOP FUSSING WITH YOUR SELF-INTEREST, KNAVE!” thing is something you yell at someone you want to have acting like a cringing vassal.

(Speaking of history, Sturdevant adds “In 1933, Farmer-Labor Gov. Floyd B. Olson [Oh, Lord, here we go again - Ed.] made Minnesota a tax outlier. He pushed through a Depression-shocked Legislature the state’s first income tax, one of the few in the country. It was based on ability to pay and dedicated to education, which was struggling just then”.  Does Sturdevant wonder why Minnesota continued to lag the national economy for the next thirty years, until the “Minnesota Miracle?”  No?)

This Batter Doesn’t Go On Fish – No, Sturdevant casts her lot with George III, and the generations of petty self-appointed nobles that have spent the past five decades trying to roll back the relationship our founders fought to create:

They don’t even think about taxes in the way that their parents and grandparents did, economist Stinson noted.

“People who lived through the Depression knew that bad things could happen to good people. They knew that government is necessary when that happens,” he said recently.

Cry us a river.

The state had the whole “help people when times are tough” thing licked by the mid-seventies.  Everything government could do that it should be doing was being paid for, with plenty left over, before Ronald Reagan took office. 

No, the current growth in Minnesota’s spending – and the DFL’s tax and spend orgy – has nothing to do cushioning good people from Bad Things.  

  • It’s about making sure government employee union members can retire at 55 – even if the rest of us have to work ’til we’re 70 to pay for it.
  • It’s about giving billions of dollars to billionaires, to pay for other peoples’ entertainment.
  • It’s about making the parts of this state that work hard, save their money, and pay their bills pay for the parts of this state that don’t. 
  • It’s about paying for an “education” system that educates less, abjectly fails vast swathes of our state society (although it mostly fails black and brown kids who don’t look like the editorial board’s kids, so that gets politely ignored), indoctrinates more, and more and more seems to act as a money-laundering mechanism for the teachers union and Big Administration.
  • It’s about paying chits back to the people who paid for the DFL takeover in Saint Paul. 
  • It’s about enabling the continuing abuse of the state’s productive class.  Battered Spouse Syndrome depends on the victim knuckling under not only to abuse, but to the emotional manipulation that make it possible and keep going on.

In a state where the media is arrogantly and completely in the bag for the Tax and Spend party, where the big institutions are all in bed with and get paid by the Taxers and the Spenders, where elections themselves look to any intelligent person to be rigged to keep the Taxers and Spenders in power, how else are those who actually produce supposed to register their opposition?

With our feet – figuratively, and sometimes literally.

Like any other battered spouse, the only way to end the abuse is for the victims to realize that they have to break it off, and keep it broken off, no matter how hard they berate, belittle and attack you. 

No means no, Lori.