A Simple Request…

…for everyone in the mainstream media, alternative media, and talk radio – even conservative talk radio:

Unless you work at a Red Wing outlet store and are changing your shelving, could you never, Ever, EVER use the term “Boots on the Ground” again?  It’s gone so far beyond cliché, light leaving “cliché” right now won’t reach us until our great-grandchildren are getting AARP cards.

“Troops in the field” actually works.

Thank you all in advance for seeing to this.

That is all.

Curry The Gray Died; Curry The White Rises

Blogs were The Big Thing ten years ago.  Over the past 5-8 years, a lot of people who were into blogging, got out of blogging.  The ones that are left are the ones that either found a way to make a living at it (close-up shot of Mitch Berg’s impassive face) or who just love writing (Berg waves hand). 

Of course, most of them passed unlamented.  But some real gems have disappeared over the years – given the number of excellent bloggers that the Twin Cities produced, the ratio of wheat to chaff was higher than one might expect.  Other excellent local bloggers have slowed way down, or confined their writing to fits and starts.

Earlier in the summer, I checked out Casual Sundays with Mr. Curry, the longtime project of “MLP” – and was dismayed to see it was gone. 

I chalked it up to the inevitable attrition of the medium.  But I’d always loved CSWMC; like a lot of blogs, I made a point of catching up on it every few weeks because, doggone it, I liked it.  And I filed it away as yet another broken blog heart.

But I spoke too soon.  MLP advises us that rumors of Casual Sundays with Mr. Curry’s demise are greatly overstated.  And while it’s a cliche, it actually is bigger and better than ever. 

And I am, in fact, so so happy.

Don’t Forget…

Tonight is the release party for Katie Kieffer’s first book, Let Me Be Clear.  The party is from 6-8:30 pm. at Casper’s Cherokee in Eagan (just off Cliff at Nichols).

You can still invite yourself to the party, right here.

Sue Jeffers and Ed Morrissey, along with some other local celebs, will be there. So, for that matter, will I!

Hope you can make it!

And if you want to make it a sweep?  Mary Franson is having a fundraiser at Paddy McGovern’s, on West 7th in Saint Paul by the Xcel Center from 5-7PM. I’ll try to make it by McGovern’s on my way to Casper’s. Hope you can too.

When Making Plans For Wednesday

Don’t forget – the release party for Katie Kieffer’s first book, Let Me Be Clear, is coming up this coming Wednesday, June 4th from 6-8:30 pm. at Casper’s Cherokee in Eagan (just off Cliff at Nichols).

And I know Katie would love to meet her fans - or make a bunch of new ones.  So  RSVP here

Sue Jeffers and Ed Morrissey, along with some other local celebs, will be there.  So, for that matter, will I! 

Come on down!

Actually, make it a two-fer; Mary Franson is having a fundraiser at Paddy McGovern’s, on West 7th in Saint Paul by the Xcel Center from 5-7PM.  I’m gonna try to make it by McGovern’s on my way to Casper’s.  Hope you can too. 

Maybe some of us can caravan!

Weekend Plans

I’ll be live-blogging (or live-tweeting) the Minnesota GOP Convention tonight.  Or maybe just bar-hopping.  Not really sure.

Tomorrow Brad Carlson and I will be broadcasting live from the Convention in Rochester.  Tune in from 1-3 – which, if the race takes three ballots or less, might even be when the winner is determined!

In Blog-Related News

Two new blogs to report:

No Longer I Who Live“, by John Stewart – who presided over “Night Writer” for a long time.  John was recently diagnosed with a serious illness – but the blog doesn’t take the usual approach to the subject.

And “Nooj” is in the process of slowly launching “Bar Chords” – about the law, rock and roll, and…well, we’ll see.

Of course, some of my favorite “old” blogs keep chugging away; Bill Glahn (perhaps the only investigative reporter working in Minnesota today), Mr. D, Katie Kieffer, MLP and of course the Fraters are still writing regularly – sometimes very regularly.

Not To Dig Too Hard For Analysis…

…but I noticed an interesting pattern in the voting in the Shot In The Dark straw poll yesterday.

Scott Walker jumped out to a sharp lead, early in the morning, closely followed by Ted Cruz 

Then – along about noon or so – Rand Paul put on a surge, at one point tying Cruz for second place.   This surge ended in the wee hours of this morning.

Then, early in the AM, Walker got another surge. 

Not saying this says anything about relative demographics.  But some people might.

Post-Shakeout Reading

The Twin Cities’ conservative blog scene has been at it for over a decade now. 

And it was inevitable; from its high point in the mid-oughts, where there were dozens and dozens of bloggers scratching away at all corners of Minnesota’s body politic – from international megablogs like Power Line and Ed Morrissey’s Captain’s Quarters and then Hot Air, all the way down to a maze of smaller niche blogs that live on in memory and the Internet’s wayback machine – time has taken its toll - in both the tempus fugit sense of the term as well as the time it takes people with jobs, families, hobbies and lives to actually write something of any value. 

And so outside of Hot Air and Power Line - neither of which have ever been primarily Minnesota blogs – and Lileks, who covers everything in the universe, sometimes simultaneously – the “thousands lights” of Minnesota local blogging have shrunk to a fairly manageable number.   Some – like the great Sheila Kihne – have taken their talents out into the corporeal world of activism (with a little Twitter to keep people up to date).  Others – the essential Gary Miller, long of Truth Vs. The Machine, has moved is oeuvre to Facebook as his politics have moved toward the libertarian. 

(It’s odd that the solid Big-L libertarians never really developed any serious bloggers in Minnesota.  My observation; most of them don’t seem to believe they need to convince anyone outside the club, and many of them are pretty terrible at it.  Opportunity missed, in my book). 

But many of them are still at it – putting out superior material monthly, weekly, or even more often.  And they’re worth visiting a lot more than you likely do. 

And as one of the ones that has been getting consistently, surprisingly high traffic for better than a decade now, I feel a little remiss in that I haven’t always spread as much attention around as I should have. 

I’m going to try in my tardy way to fix that today. 

Of course, my NARN colleague Brad Carlson has been cranking away pretty non–stop for a long, long time now. 

And Mister Dilletante is still writing superior stuff, on the average more than daily, which is how often you should be visiting The Neighborhood. 

Brad and D are pretty eclectic – music, religion, politics, home and family life, Wisconsin high-school football (or maybe basketball – given the scores D writes about, it’s kinda hard to tell) – which is in fact one of the things I like about the better Minnesota proto-conservative blogs; in contrast to Minnesota’s little collection of herniated-sounding, self-righteous, self-referential, usually shrieky leftyblogs, most of the the conservative-blog holdouts have more than one topic.  In some cases, many, many of them.

Along those lines – Joe Deal’s Red Squirrel Report is all over the map.   And Ryan Rhodes has  been writing longer than me, and has covered a dizzy range of subjects, from politics to intestinal chemical warfare to the trials and travails of owning a small business to, a few years back, the gut-shot heartbreak and slow, miraculous inspiration of the story of his preemie twins. 

If Ryan Rhodes contributes no more than this meme to western cultural life, his life will have been well lived. But there’s so much more at his blog.

And while family and career have slowed down the writing at Fraters to more of a weekly thing, they still cover the waterfront. 

As does one of my favorite low-key reading pleasures, Mary Louise Pivec’s wonderful Casual Sundays with Mr. Curry.  What can I say?  Casual and low-key?  Yep.  And always worth the visit.  I’m always happy I clicked over. 

I’ll never mix up Casual Sundays with Minnesota Hockey Mom - who usually writes about hockey, and, well,  being a mom, but has branched out all over the place – but I read it as regularly as I can as well. 

Of course, there are bloggers who cover shorter stretches of the waterfront with a more focused passion.  Katie Kieffer has slowed down to roughly weekly  on her “business for  young adults” blog, as she works on a very different writing project – but she still sounds off, and is always a delightful read.    Gary Gross has been at the business of covering Central Minnesota politics for almost nine years now at Let Freedom Ring, and his biggest days are (I have this on very good authority) just in front of him.  As in, over the next few weeks.  Seriously – stay tuned.  And Tea Party stalwart Walter Hudson is an essential read at Fightin’ Words.

Of course, John Gilmore at Minnesota Conservatives  is sort of a rhetorical daisy-cutter; he’s had his occasional ready-fire-aim moment, along with his home runs with bases loaded.  Which will his next post be?  It’s always fun to wait and see. 

And the big new event has been Bill Glahn’s blog, perhaps the most essential new political blog in Minnesota since Sheila Kihne was killing giants, 3-4 years ago.  His entire series on following the trail of money among Minnesota’s liberal political “non-profits” is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what’s wrong with Minnesota politics today – and stuff I’d say Minnesota’s mainstream media doesn’t have the balls to write about, except the problem is more a matter of “financial independence from big lefty money” than “courage”. 

Anyway – if you’ve been feeling the need to broaden your horizons, your assignment is clear.

UPDATE:  I knew I’d forget one.  Andy Aplikowski has been doing superior analysis at Residual Forces for roughly forever, and I can’t believe I neglected him when I first wrote this.  My apologies.

Some Might Call It “A Bugout”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Great column explaining how Obama is “reviewing” his First Term promises for the Middle East, now that’s it’s all going to pot.  Best lines:

 

“They might describe it as “review” of foreign policy, it is actually a shutdown process; the act of shooting all the remaining sheep in the corral prior to boarding up the ranch and putting up the “for sale” sign.”

 

And this gem later, describing how the perverse financial incentives in Obama-care create a death spiral for private insurance companies:

 

“ . . . [T]he president is basically busing high risk applicants into a lower risk pool. Those who can, will flee the neighborhood. That will leave only those who have nowhere else to go stuck in it,  making Obamacare the health insurance equivalent of Detroit.”

 

Man, I wish I could write like that.

 

Joe Doakes

Richard Fernandez has always been one of the greats. He should be a daily read for everyone who has that nagging feeling they’re not getting the whole, unvarnished story…

My Submission For The DSM-6

To: American Psychiatric Assocation (APA)
From: Mitch Berg, uppity peasant
Re: Cyberphrenia

To whom it may concern,

Please accept the following submission for the sixth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-6), whenever you release it:

Cyberphrenia: a personality disorder which presents with a complete dissociation between the subject’s “online” and offline personalities.

This usually (but not uniformly) manifests as a subject developing an “online” personality that manifests as negative ideation ranging from mild impulse-control and conduct disorders to symptoms resembling full-blown sociopathy or narcissistic personality disorder.

Keep me posted.

That is all.

Open Letter To Badge-Carrying Journos

To: “Badge-Carrying” Journalists
From: Mitch Berg, uppity peasant
Re:  Here’s My F***ing Badge

Two whom it may etc etc,

Over the past 11 years or so, not a few journos have asked “citizen journalists” to show you their “journalist badges”.

I haven’t eaten Cracker Jacks in years, so I don’t even know how I’d get one.

But as a blogger, here’s my “badge”:  In the SCOTUS case of Lovell v. Griffin (1938), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court:

“The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest. The press in its connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.”

Given that we uppity bloggers are the ones that actually “defend liberty”, I think that settles that.

That is all.

Just Like Old Times

How long has it been since I, or any Twin Cities conservative blogger, lit up a Nick Coleman column?

Seems like forever. 

Fisking Nick “I Know Stuff” Coleman used to be to Twin Cities blogging what bread was a a meal; a staple.  But since Nick’s exit from the Strib, he’s been pretty much out of sight.

No more. 

Tune in at noon.

Bearish On The Bird

Is Doug Kass right about the stock market?

Who knows?  I mean, given the almost-unanimous pollyannaism that’s broken out in the parts of the financial media that get quoted on the MSM, I’d suspect contrarians are right just based on knee-jerk hunchism. 

But when it comes to Twitter, I think he’s got a point; Kass is giving up on the popular social media site:

“Unfortunately, there are many haters in the social blogosphere, who, perhaps because of their own issues, drown out the many good people who want a value-added investment experience by learning more and enjoying a healthy dialogue in real time.”

Twitter has become dominated by people whoarewhat Laura Billings warned bloggers were a decade ago; a combination of raving loners and paid human (give or take) copy-and-paste-bots who clog all discussion with ranting or recirculated drivel. 

“Unfortunately, there are many haters in the social blogosphere, who, perhaps because of their own issues, drown out the many good people who want a value-added investment experience by learning more and enjoying a healthy dialogue in real time.”

Time for a companion book to James Surowiecki’s huge hit of about eight years ago;The Idiocy Of Crowds.

Hard To Believe This Slipped Past

Joe Doakes from Como Park writes:

From the March 19, 2013 Pioneer Press article on Democrats’ e-bingo gamble,

“As of late February, budget planners were forecasting about $1.8 million in tax revenue from charitable gambling in fiscal year 2013 for use on the stadium. Estimates last fall had been about $15 million higher, Massman said.”

Democrats planned to bring in $15 million to pay for the Vikings stadium, but we’re bringing in less than $2 million? What a blunder!

Who could have foreseen it?

Joe Doakes

Como Park

Oh, don’t be silly.  Blogs don’t cover news.

The Fix Is In

The Fix’s Chris Cilizza’s annual poll of the best political blogs by state has given this blog a bit of a jolt of levity over the years – 2009 and 2011, anyway.  And the latest list is out.

I know, the suspense was killing you.

This years’, however, seems to be less a paroxysm of lefty fanboy turnout than previous years.  Cilizza’s list:

Well, I’m happy and thankful for the recognition for True North.  It helps make up for the fact that TN’s staff – especially Nancy LaRoche and Derek Brigham – put in a lot of hard work for not a whole lot of payback.

One can’t begrudge Eric Ostermeier his position, of course.  And the poll seems to recognize, as many of us do, that Sally Jo Sorenson of BSP is one of few Minnesota leftybloggers who doesn’t seem to need either police surveillance or court-ordered medication.

Berg’s Seventh Law In Action, Part MMMCCXIX

Republican “xeroxes” a bill:  Leftymedia chants indignantly.

Democrat not only copies and pastes a bill from a special interest group, but allows that special interest’s registered lobbyist to sit in in the role of a legislator to introduce and read the bill into the record?

{crickets}

Berg’s Seventh Law may be the single most prescient thing I’ve ever written.

Let’s Try This Again

To:  Dog Gone, Chanting Point Congruency Analyst, “Penigma”
From:  M Berg, overly patient guy
Re:  ”Crap Legislation”

Ms. Gone,

Last  legislative session, in the wake of Governor Messinger Dayton  vetoing the “Stand Your Ground” Bill – which had just been passed by a bipartisan majority of legislators – you insisted volubly that the bill was “crap legislation”.

When asked repeatedly to please elaborate with details as to exactly how the bill – which, I remind you, was passed with a convincing bipartisan majority, and was largely identical to similar laws that have been roundly successful nationwide – was “crap”, you begged off due to time commitments.

Fair enough.

But you’ve not only found time since then to…

So enough equivocating, dodging, and smoke-screening.  Why, exactly, was Cornish’s bill “crap?”  Please be specific; attempt to submit actual facts that logically connect to a thesis, so we can debate the issue. 

I don’t think you can.  I think you were reciting the chanting points the left put out on the subject – which I have spent years patiently, laboriously, factually and completely debunking on this blog, and will no doubt do again after 2014 – and you don’t really understand the issue.  In fact, if I were a gambling man, I’d bet serious bank on it.

But by all means go to it!

That is all!

Meet The Two-Stage Snowblower Of Logic And Analysis

Last week, I addressed a Dave Mindeman post about the DFL whose highlight was Mindeman saying, essentially, “the beatings will continue until morale improves, and you’ll like it!”.

Well, no – his idea was the business has nothing to fear from DFL hegemony in the state.  We can debate that – indeed, we will – but in fact the bulk of my critique had more to do with his claim that business does better when Democrats are in charge. It’s just not true.

Mindeman responded last week with a post entitled, presumably with no irony intended, “Answering Mitch Berg with a Blizzard of Facts“.

The “unintended irony” bit is because most of the flakes in his “blizzard” that aren’t utterly irrelevant or non-sequiturs reinforce my point, and undercut his and, more importantly, the DFL’s and the lefty establishment’s (for whom Mindeman is a reliable crier).

Example:  He pointed out the liberal meme that “the economy does better when Democrats are in the White House”.  I responded that while that is “true”, it’s also dependent on macroeconomic context that goes way beyond the sitting President’s party.  Here – check that part out for yourself:

So when Mindeman writes…:

1. According to McGraw-Hill’s S&P Capital IQ, the S&P 500 has rallied an average of 12.1% per year since 1901 when Democrats occupy the White House, compared with just 5.1% for the GOP.

2. Gross domestic product has increased 4.2% each year since 1949 when Democrats run the executive branch, versus 2.6% under Republicans.

3. S&P 500 GAAP earnings per share climbed a median of 10.5% per year since 1936 during Democratic administrations, besting an 8.9% median advance under Republicans, S&P said.

Again, as I pointed out, there was more to it than just the “D” or the “R” attached to the guy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The “Blizzard of Fact” completely dodges the important part – all that inconvenient context.  It merely piles data together to repeat a flawed thesis.

(And data from before 1933 is both irrelevant – the economy was fundamentally different before The New Deal – and a bit of a red herring, since there really was only one Democrat president between 1901 and 1933, the loathsome Woodrow Wilson, whose economy “benefitted” from massive wartime deficit spending).

Mindeman seems to have learned “fact checking” from the “Dog Gone” liberal obedience school: Google some figures, print ‘em, and huff derisively at the fools one must suffer.  To be fair, it’s all one needs among leftybloggers.

But Dave’s not at the 331 Club anymore.  He goes on:

And just in case Mr. Berg wants to highlight Obama’s tenure….

A. Corporate profits have surged an average of 51.8% under Obama, the best out of any stretch of party control since 1933, S&P said.

Sounds good, right?

Except it’s not because business is banging along on eight cylinders.  It’s because businesses are sitting on their cash.  They’re laying off workers, and outsourcing jobs.  They are not investing in new plants, new products and new hires.

Mindeman’s factoid seems to support his thesis – but if you look at the context behind the figure, you find it supports mine.

B. The S&P 500 has also climbed an average of 12.3% each year since Obama’s inauguration, far outpacing the 3.3% mean return for his predecessor.

Asked and answered.  Businesses are sitting on cash. As noted over and over by pundits on both sides of the aisle, they took the bailout money and put it into CDs.  They’re outsourcing.  They’re getting leaner, and buckling in for a rough ride.  They are not expanding; they are sitting tight, tightening payrolls, paring back expenses, blowing out inventory.

That translates into booming profits – but not because business is healthy, thriving and growing.  Or has Mr. Mindeman not noticed the unemployment rate?

And just in case you question my sources… they all come from Fox Business News…an analysis from September 4, 2012.

Well, that’s great.

Unfortunately, they do nothing to change the fact that Mindeman’s thesis – that economies do better, historically, under Democrats than Republicans, is only true on the  most superficial level possible – a correlation between numbers and dates that ignores causation.  And, notwithstanding the unearned condescension…:

But facts never settle anything for conservatives.

…still ignores it.

Note to Dave Mindeman; your “blizzard” did nothing to address any of the historical or macroeconomic context behind the numbers; the fact that from 1945 to 1970, we were the world’s only functional export economy; the fact that some of the greatest shocks to the economy happened to occur during GOP administrations – the 1953 and 1958 Recessions, the Oil Embargo, Reagan’s sweating out of stagflation, the transition after the Cold War, the Dotbomb and 9/11 recession, the Subprime Mortgage collapse, none of which (except the 1982 constriction) had anything to do with Republican policy, or indeed, presidential politics of any stripe.

It was less a “blizzard” than a drizzle of non-sequiturs; a rhetorical version of yelling “pay no attention to the history behind that curtain!”.

And saying “conservatives aren’t convinced by facts” is a cozy bit of name-calling – but the fact (!) is, facts without analysis and context are just…well, snow.

———-

I don’t mean to be too hard on Mindeman.  He’s one of the small cadre of Twin Cities’ leftybloggers that doesn’t deserve to be under police surveillance.  Leaving the pro forma  condescension aside, the guy actually tries to debate.  Kudos to him.

But here are some bonus questions:

If business does so well under liberal Democrat rule, then…:

  • Why is Paul Krugman’s wet-dream state California floating toward the surface, its belly slowly rotating toward the sky, with a private sector that is leaving the state as fast as moving trucks can be secured?
  • Ditto Illinois, which seems, more than any other, to be the state the MN DFL most idolizes?  It’s taxes are among the country’s highest, and its debt is out of control, and it is collapsing bit by bit.
  • Indeed, why are 9 of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment not only run by GOP governors, but have fundamentally GOP cultures – while most of the worst performers are Democrat (or southern Republican, which have plenty of other problems that have little to do with politics)?
  • You say unemployment isn’t the sole arbiter of economic heath?  OK – how about business climate?  Eight of Forbes’ top ten states for business climate are Republican (and mostly the ones with the low unemployment).  Eight of the bottom 10 are run by Democrats (Alaska is mostly Federal property and a hard place to do business; Mississippi is a basket case no matter who runs it).
  • But if you’ve read my blog, you know that states are rarely purely culturally and politically Democrat.  Like the rest of the nation, even “blue” states are mostly like Minnesota – Democrat-clogged urban cores surrounded by red.   OK – every one of Manpower’s 10 Worst Cities to Find a Job” is Democrat, as are all of 24/7 Wall Street’s Worst-Run Cities in America.  Detroit, Newark, Chicago, Camden, Los Angeles, the District of Columbia, Cleveland, Toledo, Philadelphia, Sacramento – all have for generations been Democrat sinecures; all are collapsing, all are miserable business environments – entirely due to generations of Democrat policies.

Mindeman concludes, more or less, by saying he believes business will benefit from DFL control.  It’s a faith-based statement.  And that’s fine; one can cheerlead one’s team as much as they want.

But judged against actual evidence viewed in meaningful, complete context, it’s pretty clear that’s all that it is.

Nope. No blizzard here.  No need to even button your jacket.

 

Every Single Day Of My Blogging Life

SCENE:  MITCH is walking down Constitution Avenue, near the state capitol.  It’s a bright, bright, sunshiny day.  Detached-looking figures wander, aimlessly and slightly out of focus, in the distance.

(Aaron ROSTON, DFL activist, pro-bullying-activist and blogger from Fungus Flats, MN, is standing in the middle of the sidewalk).

MITCH (stepping around ROSTON):  Excuse me.

ROSTON (with supercharged sarcasm):  Oh, yeah, right.  You’re so excused.

MITCH:  Huh?

ROSTON:  Oh, right.  I just  bet you don’t understand me.

MITCH:  O…K…

(Walks onward)

Professor William G. KRIEPPI staggers into the frame as MITCH walks down the street.

MITCH: Hey, Professor.

(KRIEPPI abruptly lurches off the street, walks into a light pole, and falls, insensible, onto the grass, unconscious).

MITCH:  Damn.  Hey… (turns to passing figure, who turns out to be Dark MAYTON, billionaire playboy political consultant), er, can you help this guy?

MAYTON:  The moon is made of olives and I am pulsating.

MITCH (watches as MAYTON walks down the sidewalk.  KRIEPPI snores loudly on the grass).  What a very strange place.

ROSTON:  Oh, yeah. So strange…

MITCH:  Good lord, you’re a wierd little person.

(MITCH walks toward the Capitol,  He is presently accosted by a shadowy figure – that of PLARF BINGNERT, chief project manager in the Rhetorical Engineering department at  the Alliance for a Better Minnesota).

BINGNERT:  Mister Berg, why do you do these curious dialogues?  It’s almost as if you are trying to say something.

MITCH:  Well, usually, yes – but I feel as if this one has gotten out of control.  It’s like…

BINGNERT: WOOOOT WOOOOOOOOT WOOOOOOOT WOOOOOOOOP WOOOP WOOOOP WOOOOOP!

MITCH (sotto voce): What the hell?

ROSTON (in distance, walking in tight circle):  Oh, yeah – Mr. Family Values, using swears.  That’s so “family”. 

(BINGNERT wanders aimlessly away).  Po di po di po di po!

(MITCH wanders to the base of the capitol steps, sits on the base of the plinth of one of the statues of the Heroes of Minnesota Social Democracy).  

(Inge “Lucky” CARROLL, narrative-buffer for “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, dressed in Lederhosen and Doc Martens boots, rappels down from a bright orange helicopter). 

CARROLL (yelling shrilly through a megaphone):  HEY!  The GOP wants to sell your children!

MITCH:  No, they don’t. 

CARROLL (still yelling):  The GOP wants to run Minnesota from Mississippi!

MITCH: That’s just bizarre.

CARROLL (still yelling): They want to feed your children assault rifles!

MITCH: That just makes no sense.

ROSTON (yelling from middle of lawn):  Oh, yeah – Democrats never make sense, do they, Merg?

MITCH (sotto voce):  If I say “that’s a fascinating point”, will you go away?

(CARROLL wanders into the distance, shouting random accusations into the bullhorn.  As she and her din recede into the distance, a man dressed in a large purple rabbit costume hops laboriously up the sidewalk and stops in front of MITCH). 

RABBIT:  Hi.  I’m Wyatt RINKLER.  You only do these fantasy dialogues because you are afraid.  And having a melt-down.  

MITCH:  Well, no.  

RINKLER:  I’m too stupid to understand what you just said. 

ROSTON (suddenly up close):  Oh, we’re all too stupid, says Merg.  

MITCH:  (shakes head, as if to shake off a sucker punch)  Beg pardon?

RINKLER:  Yarby yarby yarby.

(RINKLER hops away into the distance, disappears over the horizon).  (Yes, a hoppable horizon is unaccountably visible from the Capitol.  Go figure). 

MITCH (walks up steps to Capitol doors.  ROSTON follows at a distance, making sarcastic-sounding noises that never quite resolve into words).  

MITCH (looking out over city):  Wow.  It must have been the burrito.

(From the Capitol comes an ephemeral shape, that of Cat SCAT, factoid bookkeeper for Take Action MN).

MITCH:  Hey.  Nice day, huh?

SCAT:  I’ll check to see what Daily Kos says.

ROSTON (muted in the distance): Oh, yeah - so nice!

MITCH (past caring):  So does Kos confirm?

SCAT:  Can you confirm that this dialog actually happened?

MITCH:  I can confirm that it did not actually happen.  It’s entirely a figment of my imagination.

SCAT:  So it’s a lie!

MITCH:  No.  It’s fiction.  Fiction illustrates, via storytelling, symbolism, metaphor, satire, humor and other devices, things that non-fiction writing can’t.  

(Senator Tom BAKK and speaker of the House Paul THISSEN walk out Capitol doors)

SCAT:  So you admit it’s false?

ROSTON (on sidewalk, dousing self in strawberry milkshakes): Oh, Merg is never false!

(BAKK and THISSEN pick MITCH’s pocket, replace wallet with a “Happy To Pay For A Better Minnesota” leaflet)

MITCH (ignoring ROSTON):  Irrelevant.  It’s neither “True” nor “False”.  It’s fictional, so it’s made up – but it can show what I reasonably believe to be larger truths.  Or not.  Sometimes satire is parody, sometimes caricature.  Sometimes it’s just plain absurdist, with the perceived truths buried beneath a heaping pile of misdirection. Sometimes it’s just mockery.  

SCAT:  That’s just wrong.

MITCH:  Wrong?  You mean, like a liberal TV star pretending to be an over the top caricature of a conservative TV star to satirize conservatives and our alt-media? 

SCAT (looks at at “Crooks and Liars” on IPad, is silent)

MITCH:  Er…Steven Colbert?

SCAT (Dissolves into the ether)

ROSTON (yells at passing teenage girl): Hey!  My sister had capris like that – until my dad got a job!  Who does your hair – Stevie Wonder?

MITCH:  Wow.  Imagine if they’d lost the election.  

(Walks to parking lot.  Gives leaflet to attendant.  Drives off into sunset).

Just Like Old Times

Nick  Coleman – the same one that used to sneer down his patrician mainstream-media nose at all of us villein bloggers - is blogging up a storm these days. 

He Who Knows Stuff has some advice for A-Klo:

Amy Klobuchar has been working hard to win the endorsement of Republican car dealers, like the ones featured in her campaign ad at the end of this post. But she hasn’t done so well impressing Minnesota progressives who are wondering why the state’s Senior U.S. Senator hasn’t been an outspoken opponent of the two heavy-handed Republican-forced constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The car dealer ad is pure AKlo — a “She’s the Senator for All Minnesota!” ad about as sharp as mush in a bowl.

She’s sharp enough to know that her popularity – sky-high though the polls show it to be – is the same kind that Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan used to have in North Dakota.  Klobuchar is smart enough (or advised by people smart enough to know) that Minnesota is a purple state, that Barack Obama’s going to have all the coattails of a string bikini, and that she needs to shut up and make nice with everyone and not stick her neck out for anything.

Especially to oppose one amendment that, win or lose, will pin a negative on her, and another one that’s going to win by 3:2 even if the GOP doesn’t smoke the DFL on turnout.

There’s not much there, there with Amy Klobuchar.  But she’s not that dumb.

Coleman:

 The question is: Do Hugely Popular Politicians Still Have an Obligation to Try to Make a Difference?

Heh.  Coleman apparently thought Klobuchar was Paul Wellstone,  Politicians measure “obligations” as closely as engineers measure bridge gussets (which, if memory serves, Nick’s got some trouble with.  And memory does indeed serve).

Part of me isn’t sure that Coleman meant this next passage exactly as it sounds.  Part of me – the part that reads phrases like “do popular politicians have an obligation to make a difference” – thinks he means it exactly as written.  And the third part of me really really hopes he meant it exactly as it sounds (emphasis added):

 And both, at this point, seem likely to pass, in part because there is confusion among many Democrats as to how they should vote.

Are Democrats really such lemmings, or does Nick Coleman really think that’s all they are?

(Note: Requests to speak to Klobuchar, as well as to officials of her campaign, received no response).

Hey! Just like all us regular bloggers!

Bluestem Prairie: All The News That’s Fit To Yank From Between The Lines

I’ve said it in the past, and I’ll say it again – Sally Jo Sorenson of the outstate-MN blog Bluestem Prairie is one of the Minnesota leftybloggers that doesn’t deserve to be under police surveillance.

But every once in a while, Sorenson – usually a capable reporter and observer – lets her inner snarkmeister romp and play a bit too much.

Sorenson jumped on a bit in my piece yesterday on the rhubarb between Rep. Mary Franson and some of her critics. Sorenson wrote:

We’ll get to what Franson actually said about feeding people on food stamps in a bit. But this passage is puzzling:

“the freshman conservative from Alexandria is most famous for the teapot-tempest that blew up last year about her video noting – from the perspective of someone who’d been there – that welfare treats people “like animals”.”

A reasonable reader would conclude upon reading “from the perspective of someone who’d been there” that Berg means that Mary Franson had at one time been on “welfare.”

But only if the “reasonable person” was hovering over the story looking for stray bits of chaff to yank out of context.  And yank.  And yank.

My line “from one who’s been there” was not implying that Franson had been on welfare.  It was a sloppy reference to a bit of Franson’s own bio that has popped up in many of her own statements on the issue.  .

And here’s where Sorenson’s thoroughness as a reporter saves the day for me – and sort of makes me wonder why she reached the conclusion she did; she obligingly includes one of Franson’s tellings of her own story, which helped form her views on welfare and dependency.  Sally Jo even provided the money quote:

It would have been very easy for me to get on to the system, enroll in all the various social programs, but I decided I wanted a better future for myself and for my future children, so I made up my mind that no matter what, I was going to succeed.

And that’s what happened, I succeeded. Obstacles came in my way and I pursued and I persevered. My successes didn’t come easy though but they were well worth it. I pray everyone in this state and in this country to have the same desire to succeed and be self-reliant.

There is pride in never letting yourself fall into the trap of dependence.

It was to this bit of Franson’s autobiography – which Rep. Franson has told a time or two over the past few years – that I was referring.

A “reasonable person” – the same one Sorenson conjured up when jumping to her conclusion – might think that, in fact, was what I was aiming for.  That would, in fact, be the truth.

I regret any confusion – although to be fair, I think the sloppiness of my statement was more than matched by the amount of gratuitous, unfounded assumption that Sorenson jammed into my mouth.

I also regret that Sally Jo Sorenson apparently felt the need to make such a very, very tenuous reach to try to dig up a rhetorical “gotcha”.  If I wrote a sloppy rhetorical check, Sorenson grabbed it out of the mail and tried to write a zero at the end of the amount.

While I left an editorial loose end, it was an unsupportable cheap shot.  We usually expect better.