The ongoing squabble over access to the floor for media – partsian alternative media as well as the traditional kind – has been an ongoing battle at the State Capitol for a few years now.

The rhubarb flared up again as the session started earlier month, as left-leaning group-blog “The Uptake” was denied “floor credentials”.

Now, “floor credentials” aren’t the beginning and end of capitol journalism.  David Brauer notes:

While credentials aren’t needed for Capitol press conferences, floor passes are about access. Conversations are only permitted before or after a day’s session, but the immediacy of interviews before lawmakers scatter is as valuable, as is the candor that occasionally results before marching orders are received.

It’s not the be-all of reportage: Senate Sgt-at-Arms Sven Lindquist says press seats on the cramped floor are frequently unoccupied, except during big votes. Still, it’s a tool for the journalistic toolbox.

And it’s a tool that pretty much everyone wants – just in case.  Including The Uptake.

Now, the power to grant credentials, as Brauer notes, used to be a non-partisan activity:

Sgt-at-arms Lindquist says the power to review and grant credentials used to be handled by himself and Senate Secretary Patrick Flahaven. But in recent years, Lindquist says the power moved “elsewhere” — to the majority leader’s office, which is, by definition, partisan.

It’s obviously an issue needing some resolution.  Which is where this piece starts.

Earlier this month, a source close to the GOP’s caucus leadership told me that, while (as Brauer notes) the rules don’t bar “partisan” media, the decision was made to deny credentials to all partisan media, pending the development of a policy.

A few weeks ago, Michael Brodkorb – who handles communications for the majority GOP caucus in the Minnesota Senate, in addition to being the deputy chair of the Minnesota GOP – called me to ask if I’d be interested in working with a group of DFL and GOP staffers, as well as MinnPost writer David Brauer, on coming up with a more or less comprehensive policy on granting floor credentials.

Every state has a different solution to the issue – ranging from free access to the floor to credentialed media in Rhode Island and Montana (and credentials are pretty much given for the asking) to Illinois, which requires a vote of the applicable chamber to allow the  media to take pictures, much less get on the floor.

The goal – near as I can tell so far – is to come up with a transparent policy that’ll give fair access to the Senate floor to media organizations, while coming up with some sort of balance between the establishment media’s vocational need for access and the alt-media’s right to a place at the proverbial table.

I’m honored to have been asked.  My goal is to try to help this group come up with a policy that fairly and transparently gives all media a fair, clear means to cover our Senate, for the good of the entire electorate.

I’ll keep you all posted.  Because even if I didn’t, Brauer certainly would.

The 2010 Shootie Awards!

It’s time once again for a tradition unlike any other; the 2010 edition of the Twin Cities’ foremost blog award ceremony – the Shooties!

Every year for the Shooties, we honor the worst – and occasionally the best – of Minnesota blogging. And this year is no exception – only more so!

So without any further ado, let’s move on to the awards!  We’ll kick things off with…:

The Dan Rather “Fake Is Accurate!” Award For Journalistic Ethics: This award goes to Erin Maye, “Intern” at “The Uptake”, a left-“leaning” video “news” blog.  While being busted mangling context on a number of stories, Ms. Maye – a “Peace Studies” student – tweeted “I’m Editing.  I feel important because I can make people say things they may not have said.  Muhahaha”.  Prediction:  She will run Gawker Media by 2012.

The Tiger Beat Celebrity Saturation Award:   This year’s TBCSA, given for the year’s best example of “news” coverage that combined slavering saturation with excellence in contextual laxity, goes to the Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey and his ongoing obsession with Bradlee Dean, ultra-mega-super-di-duper fundamentalist evangelist and talk radio host (whose program, “Sons of Liberty”, follows mine at AM1280 every Saturday).  Birkey wrote about Dean no less thatn 23 times in the past year.  But the coverage wasn’t just of a level of saturation that made Larry Jacobs sit up and go “er, wait, he’s overquoted”.  It took vast liberties with context and attribution:

  • Birkey wrote in high dudgeon that Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer would “appear in Dean’s documentary”, My War, without bothering to learn that the “appearances” were from shots of news clippings (or without thinking his audience needed to know).
  • Birkey claimed that Emmer gave “financial support” to Dean’s ministry, without disclosing that the “Support” was the purchase of a $250 table at a non-political teen outreach dinner – long before Emmer was a candidate.
  • Birkey claimed that Dean said Moslem nations had more integrity than Christian ones because they executed gays. It was a lie.

And more.

The “Dump Bachmann” Award For Unintended Consequences:  Campaigning in the GOP-leaning Sixth District, Tarryl Clark wrote a piece…

on the Daily Kos.

No better way to paint one as a “reasonable centrist” than writing for “Democratic Underground Lite”.

It probably helped take an eight point race and make it a twelve-pointer.

The Joe McCarthy Trophy For Resurrecting The Letter And Spirit of Joe McCarthy: This one – given for bringing McCarthyism back from the dead – goes to Minneesota “Progressive” Project’s Joe Bodell for his January plea to least think about treating Tea Party sympathies and speaking out against The One and other forms of dissent as “sedition“.  I guess dissent isn’t patriotic anymore!

The Abe Gibron Trophy: After years of humiliating itself by running a smug, ill-informed, badly-written, phoned-in, rote, and talking-points-driven column by Nick Coleman, the Strib changed things up, giving the gig to Jon Tevlin, who turned the column into a smug, ill-informed, badly-written, phoned-in, rote, and talking-points-driven column.

The Jeff Fecke “The Male Client Is Obviously Guilty” Award For Egregious Misandry: This year’s winner is Rachel Nygaard, who took the facts of Rep. Tom Hackbarth’s arrest (he and his carry-permitted handgun were picked up by the Saint Paul Police, inadvertently parked by the Saint Paul office of Infanticide Mart, where he admitted his was having a bit of a clingy snit over a woman’s excuse for begging off on a date; a sign the guy needs to get a grip, not a crime.  So far.  There was no evidence that Hackbarth acted in any way upon that snit, by the way, other than by driving to Saint Paul which is, by the way, also not a crime).  Nygaaard extrapolated this into a Lifetime Movie, with a slavering man beating down a woman’s door and shooting her in a fit of testosterone-induced rage, potentially.

The runner up?  Fecke himself!  After getting this award named after him for his performance in the Duke Lacrosse case, where Fecke was prominent among “feminists” who tried, convicted, castrated and executed three college guys who, it turned out, were falsely accused of rape and railroaded by an unethical prosecutor and a media that looked at the case – a black “victim”, a bunch of smug, rich white boy “perps”, and saw dollar signs.

Well, he’s baaaack with the whole “I, Jury” bit, in re Julian Assange’s very curious “sexual assault” accusations.  (UPDATE: The American Petard exchange reports that petard prices are skyrocketing; those petards are getting hoisted and blown up so fast, production can’t keep up with capacity anymore).

The Yarmagh The Destroyer Award For Rolling A “9” For “Charisma”, Even With An Elivsh Sorcerer Character: A twofer for Joe Bodell, who learned that “cleric” is actually the singular for clergy, rather than a smear against Muslims by the big, bad conservative media. Well, we hope he learned it, anyway.

The Robin Marty Award For Calm, Dispassionate Fact-Checking: Andy Birkey is a repeat winner, here, for his piece impugning the Tea Party for a “threatening message to the local AFSCME office from a regional Tea Party leader” that happened to be neither threatening nor from anyone that anybody in the regional Tea Party leadership had ever heard of, at all (not that Birkey ever bothered to check, much less report that).

The National Concussion Association Poster Child For Blogging While Suffering From A Crippling Brain Injury: Barbara O’Brien from Mahablog.  (UPDATE:  I’m sorry – O’Brien doesn’t suffer from a brain injurty.  She’s just blood-curdlingly stupid).

The Walter Duranty Award: Ezra “The Constitution Is Haaard” Klein and Matt Yglesias, who proved themselves almost as stupid as O’Brien.

The Baghdad Bob Award: This clear winner this year goes to the “Humphrey Institute’s” Professor Larry Jacobs. While the Star-Tribune’s “Minnesota Poll” remained a joke (the virtual-tie Governor race was portrayed as a seven point blowout, but only by telling Minnesota that Democrats were a quarter more likely to vote – in the most GOP year in recent history), the Humphrey Institute poll released just before the election showed it as a twelve-point massacre.  A post-election analysis showed that the Humphrey’s polling over-sampled DFL-heavy areas, but didn’t weight for that oversample the way every credible poll does.  The Twin Cities media may try to offer a defense against the charge that Jacobs, and they, are trying to foment a “bandwagon effect” with the front-page play these polls get in all the regional media – but they haven’t offered it yet.

The runner-up for this award, though, goes to the entire Twin Cities media, into whose coverage of the governor’s race the Humphrey and Strib polls neatly fit.  Their performance – all of them, every one – in this past election was nothing short of shameful.  Faced with a DFL candidate who had embarassed the state in the US Senate, and had multiple run-ins with alcoholism and crippling depression in the past five years, and whose (entirely smear-oriented) campaign was financed by a shady, utterly unexamined consortium of unions and the Dayton Family (including Dayton himself), and whose chemical and mental health state remained utterly examined (barring a perfunctory Rachel Stassen-Berger puff piece run long before the non-wonk voter even knew there was a governor race coming up), the Twin Cities media gamboled and cavorted about with stories of Tom Emmer’s ancient drinking-and-driving convictions, a malaprop about waiter tips (which was not even inaccurate), and whether the post-Citizens United end of the ban on corporate donations (that weren’t from unions or trust fund babies) would end democracy as we knew it.  It was the year that it became perfectly clear that they see their mission to be to comfort the DFL and afflict the MNGOP.

And Finally, The Charles Townsend Award, the keystone award of these entire festivities.  Charles Townsend was a British Parliamentarian in the 1770’s, whose response to the growing “Tea Party” in the colonies…

“And now will these Americans, Children planted by our Care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a Degree of Strength & Opulence, and protected by our Arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under?”

…was worthy of Larry Pogemiller or Nick Coleman.

This year’s award goes to Governor-Elect Dayton (and, really, by extension every single person who supported him).  The Dayton budget plan was built on a lie, and – quite simply – can not succeed, even notwithstanding the fact that it’s dead on arrival at the GOP Legislature.  Support for Dayton is support for the idea that we, The People, are serfs whose labors exist to support government first.  Then our families.

So for the first time, about 43% of Minnesota wins the award!


And we’ll see you next year!  Because Goddess knows there’ll be material!

Logic For Leftybloggers: A Remedial Course

I started reading a couple of Minnesota liberal blogs yesterday, with an aim toward perhaps addressing some of their arguments as the session gets underway…

…and I stopped.  It just got too depressing.

Minnesota liberal bloggers – many, many of them – have real serious trouble with simple logic; with the rhetorical equivalent of subject-verb agreement.

About a year ago, I started a series of posts called “Logic for Leftybloggers”; it was, as I sketched it out, a 25 part bit on some of the basics of logic – little things like “why a tu quoque argument (which makes up about 40% of leftyblog posts) makes you sound like you need more fiber in your diet” or “how ridicule isni’t technically evidence” or “when your argument includes more red herrings than the entire Norwegian fishing fleet, you’re really only convincing fellow ijjits”.

But I shelved it, largely because searching through the backlog for the examples was, again, just too damn depressing.

Still, my little bout (or perhaps “spasm”) of reading leftyblogs has made me think; maybe that’ll be my New Years’ gift to discourse; dust off the series and post it during the coming year.  At the very best, it’ll improve the level of discussion at least some.   At worst?  Someone’s body may physically reject its own brain; I’d hate to have that on my conscience, but I am a giver.

I gotta think about this a bit.

The Great Brown North

For the past six or seven years (I’ve honestly lost count) we’ve been running the “Minnesota Organization of Bloggers”, the first blogging social organization in Minnesota, and still both the only non-partisan and the only genuinely fun one.

Now, that’s been a lot of fun.  I’ve met a lot of really great bloggers – conservatives, liberals (we don’t bite!), non-political, and every other kind you can imagine – and just plain really great people.

One thing we have not met is “nearly enough out-state Minnesota bloggers”.

It’s not for lack of some effort.  Back in 2005 or 2006 the MOB did a party at the Granite City in Saint Cloud where, I’m told, I sat at a laptop and set up the original incarnation of Gary Gross’ “Let Freedom Ring” blog, which has since become one of the essential conservative blogs in Minnesota.

But I’ll cop to it; the MOB is run by metro-area guys, and it’s mostly a metro-area group.

Aaron Brown at Minnesota Brown (Aside:  I am so glad that he beat Ryan Rhodes and Learned Foot to that title), reprinted at MinnPost, notes the same thing:

I’m biased, but it’s important for people outside the population centers of this country to get involved on the internet and demand attention for issues important to our communities. So much of the internet is similar people of similar opinions and lifestyles talking to each other.

I notice that less among conservative bloggers – but there is a definite “major city” bulge in the blogging demographic.  Perhaps it’s because in smaller towns, you think that on the off-chance anyone is interested in your opinion (that’s the small-town North Dakota guy talking, there), you run into them every day anyway, so why actually write and publish it?  I dunno, it’s a theory.

Even perhaps the ultimate small-market politics blog – Rob Port’s excellent Say Anything, which focuses on North Dakota politics – is a major-city blog, by NoDak standards; Rob’s in Minot, which is to North Dakota as Rochester is to Minnesota.

But I’m with Brown on this next bit:

Whether it’s a good liberal blog [sic] like Bluestem Prairie or a conservative one like Small City Mayor, a Range-based creative outlet like Mesabi Misadventures or a niche blog like my friend C.O.’s Alaska-based What’s in the Shop, it’s important that people know that there’s a world outside of the 494/694 box where life is different, some would say better.

OK, I would say better. But that’s just me.

It is important.  And I’ll just point out that my never-ending quest to find more non-metro bloggers continues as well.

If you’re a reader anywhere, but especially in outstate MN, and you have a blog (or have an urge to get into the game), let me know.

Quote Of The Day

Speed Gibson on the deflation of the Vikings and, incidentally, The Dome:

[L]et’s hire some of Al Franken’s recount lawyers to charge the Vikings with breaking the [Collapsodome’s] lease for not living up to expectations.

When the Legislature reconvenes, I picture someone like Jason Lewis leading a procession to Mall of America Field as it’s now called, proclaiming: “Mr. Dayton, tear down this Dome!”

I could think of another host who could be persuaded.

He’s also show up at Winter Park to help ’em pack the morning after Zygi Wilf threatens to move the team to Los Angeles if they don’t ge ta stadium.

Help Wanted

I participated in a conference call with Chip Cravaack and his campaign yesterday; it was where he officially released the news that his internal polling shows him in a statistical tie with 17-term representative Jim Oberstar.

And Cravaack quipped that while he’s trying to run a local campaign with local activists, he noted that all of the bloggers on the call – Ed Morrissey (CD2), Derek Brigham (CD3), Gary Gross (CD6) and I (CD4) were from outside the district.

And I thought – wow.  Could it be there are no conservative bloggers in the Eighth District?

If so, that needs to change.

If you are a conservative blogger up in the Eighth District, and you’ve been covering the Oberstar/Cravaack race, drop me a line, either in the comments or on my email address.

And if you’ ve ever wanted to start a conservative blog up there in Duluth or Two Harbors or Virginia, there’s no time like the present.  Go to, and take two minutes to set up your blog, and devote twenty minutes a day to writing something about politics in the Eighth District, and when you’ve got a week or two and half a dozen articles in, let me know; the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers and True North will set you off in style.

Perhaps you can become that alt-media elite.  (There are more than a few leftybloggers up there.  You should do juuuust fine).

My Ends Justify My Means

The other day “Spotty” from Lucky Drool read my piece pointing out his “logical inconsistency” last week.  His face blanched, and then went beet-red.  He jumped to his feet,  swept the dishes off the table into a heap on the ground, walked outdoors and howled at the moon like a wolf with heartburn, stomped his feet, fell to the sidewalk and beat the ground with his fists, all the while loudly but un-fluently cursing his miserable fate.  He got up and walked with an ape-like slouch into his house, looking for sharp objects (which, fortunately, Aaron “I’m not Landry” Klemz had removed), smashed some bottles on the floor, and bellowed incoherently at the top of his lungs until he passed out.  The paramedics gave him oxygen and suggested he change his underwear.

No, I don’t know he did any of this.  But I figured since virtually every leftyblogger in town states “disagreement” has some sort of angry outburst – “Joe Tucci had a meltdown over…” or “Tracy Eberly got his undies in a knot over…” or…:

Mitch Berg got the vapors.

…or some other variant on “so and so is a poopyhead”.

There must be something to it.  Maybe it’s a leftyblogger’s idea of fun?

I’m not feeling it.  Maybe it takes practice.

Oh, “Spot”‘s point?  Er…

…I dunno.  Being a leftyblogger, it’s some variation on “my ends justify my means”, but it gets hard to tell after a while…

Oh, yeah!   He was reacting to – er, “having a whining melted-down cow over” – my piece from last week:

Mitch’s lament is that I made people look foolish at the Tea Party rally at the Minnesota Capitol on April 15, 2010

There was no lamentation.  Merely reporting.  “Spot” was claiming GOP trackers were rude and intimidated people.  I pointed out that if that was “intimidation” – a 98 pound girl with a flipcam who didn’t even fit into the same frame as Dayton – then DFL voters are indeed pansies, and if the security people and the spectators I spoke with at the Tea Party are correct, Spot’s probably not the one to be complaining.

It’s really that simple.

Quit sobbing, Spot.  That gnashing is going to hurt your teeth. And f9r crying out loud, blow your effing nose.

(Nope. Still not seeing the fun.  Guess there was a reason I ignored Truck School so long).

Just The Facts

Just thought I’d kick back and remind you all that after two months spent feverishly debunking the many, many lies of “A Better Minnesota”, and pointing out what the regional mainstream media wouldn’t – that A4aBM is largely a front for Dayton family money – the word is finally getting out.

Last week Pat Kessler basically reached the same conclusions that I did over A4aBM’s funding.

And late last week, – a production of those conservative tools the Annenberg Foundation – basically agreed that you can tell Alliance for a Better Minnesota is lying when their lips are moving, in an article that excoriates the PAC for its mangling of the truth.

When you want actual facts, who ya gonna call first?

Oil From A Turnip

It was one of the Senate’s stranger friendships; Barry Goldwater and Paul Wellstone.  The two were at the opposite extremes of American politics, but they admired each others’ passion and commitment to their principles.  They became fairly close friends.  Wellstone even attended Goldwater’s funeral.

But that doesn’t mean that Wellstone was ever remotely tempted to vote as a fiscal conservative, or that Goldwater broke ranks with conservatives from his friendship.  Admiration only goes so far.

Even in notoriously liberal Minnesota, crowded as its Metro and Arrowhead areas are with invinicble DFL voters, this could be a rough year for the Democratics.

And it’s when times get tough that some people, at least, start reaching, hard, for plans.

Grace Kelly, noted 9/11 truther writing at Minnesota “Progressive” Project, believes she has the answer.  She notes that the “Goldwater/Wellstone” phenomenon means that people who are passionate about their principles often have more in common, politically, than mushy moderates who vote more on the basis of pragmatism or, as with so many moderates, last-second gut reaction. She even has a graphic:

So far, so good.

But then comes the unsupportable conclusion:

This model would suggest that persuading strong Republicans who hate Emmer politics,  would be a persuasion that would stick until the election and possibly even create more Democrats.

Well, that’s simple.  Because while many highly-committed conservatives will get along, at least socially, with many highly-committed liberals because of the same “birds of a feather” phenomenon that made friends of the likes of Goldwater and Wellstone, you will find very, very few “conservatives” who support outrageous tax hikes, featherbedding state employees’ unions, or out-of-control spending.

Break into the strong Republican social networks and wonderful other things would start happening because the opinions are held on false information and false logic.

That’s right.

Because nothing endears one to a social network into which one is trying to “break” like exuding the belief that “everything you believe is wrong” (especially given that history shows conservatism to be pretty much inevitably right about the things that really matter).

An outsider has a hard time changing the group, however an insider could really be impressive. So why are we leaving these groups alone again?

If I had to guess?  The DFL is leaving us alone because there is no huge reserve of conservative Republicans who disagree with Emmer’s politics, or who would do anything with any DFL policy (much less the far left ones) other than line their bird cages with ’em.

Hope that helps.

While We’re Traversing The MOB…

…I gotta cop to the fact that I’ve sorta let my leftyblog reading lapse a bit.

I mean, wouldn’t you?

But after one of my periodic sashays through the regional leftybloggery, I have to add that while he’s been wrong about pretty much every political question in eight years, I look forward to many more years of shaking my head and fisking a living, healthy Jeff Fecke, and wish him the best of luck in his treatment.

Around The MOB: Cake Eater Chronicles

Although it’s more or less dead and gone (unlike, thankfully, its author), I’m going to give a shout-out to Cake Eater Chronicles. The longtime MOB stalwart Cathy the Cakeeater was one of the most sparklingly original writers on the Twin Cities blog circuit.

And then, a few years back, she came down with ovarian cancer, which both led to some of the most gripping blog writing – writing, really – anywhere.

And, unfortunately, and indirectly to the end of the blog.

Oh, the spirit was sure willing:

Yes, that’s right: I made good on my threats to leave the state entirely, and am pleased to say that once I’ve registered to vote in my new homeland, I will be represented in the Senate by people who are not a. Stuart Smalley or b. Amy “I’m a publicity seeking whore” Klobuchar.  Their names rhyme with Fay Gaily Mutchison and Fawn Smornyn.

But it’s not always about spirit:

It’s somewhat of a longish story that I will endeavor to simplify: the chemo-induced nerve damage in zee hands and feet was deemed permanent in August, and since I have a weird desire to be productive in the winters (never mind to go out of doors on occasion) the husband and I, at the end of October, packed up our belongings and moved south to observe and record the wild ways of the Texas hippies of Austin.  After some interesting stops and starts along the way, we’re finally moved into our new place, the husband will be opening his new store tomorrow, and I can finally sit down and get some work done.  I’m more grateful than I can say because the husband decided to upend his business and to, essentially, start over so that I can be as pain-free as I can get.  He’s a good guy and I am not worthy of him.

Enh.  I’ve met ’em both.  They both deserve the best, and I think they got it.

This post, in particular is one that grabbed my attention – indeed, was where this “around the MOB” series started in the first place.  Breast Cancer has, apparently, the best PR agents in the world – because an alien coming to earth and reading indicators in our society might think that only breasts and lungs ever get the disease.

Cathy’s had enough of it too:

It’s the fifth of October, and I’ve officially had it with the color pink.

Pink, in case you’re an Eskimo and don’t have either a tee vee or the ability to whip down to the grocery store to purchase some seal steaks, is the color of Breast Cancer Awareness.  October is, officially, Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Yesterday, we tuned in to watch the Bears beat the snot out of Detroit, and what were the husband and I treated to?  Pink gloves on the big, badass players, pink ribbons on their helmets, pink towels on the sidelines, pink bills on ball caps, etc.  The other day, while in Austin, I was asked at the checkout line (mind you this was also on the 29th of September.  Not October 1st.) at the grocery store if I wanted to donate money to breast cancer research.  When I went to my usual coffee date at the local Bou with Mr. H. yesterday, the entire store looked like a Pepto Bismol addict had puked all over.  The employees asked me if I wanted to buy a pound of “Amy’s Blend,” part of the proceeds of which would go to breast cancer research, and then they asked me if I would like to donate a pound to a woman who was going through treatment.  I politely said, ‘no, thank you,’ and then walked away.  One of the employees, who has been there a while and knew me when I was bald, shot a very understanding glance in my direction and shrugged.

All of it makes me wonder if anyone cares if I, as an ovarian cancer survivor, live or die because I didn’t get the trendy cancer.

The “good” news is, if you want to catch up with the whole oeuvre, there’s a finite amount.

Anyway – all the best, Cathy, and thanks for a great run!

It’s the fifth of October, and I’ve officially had it with the color pink.

Pink, in case you’re an Eskimo and don’t have either a tee vee or the ability to whip down to the grocery store to purchase some seal steaks, is the color of Breast Cancer Awareness.  October is, officially, Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Yesterday, we tuned in to watch the Bears beat the snot out of Detroit, and what were the husband and I treated to?  Pink gloves on the big, badass players, pink ribbons on their helmets, pink towels on the sidelines, pink bills on ball caps, etc.  The other day, while in Austin, I was asked at the checkout line (mind you this was also on the 29th of September.  Not October 1st.) at the grocery store if I wanted to donate money to breast cancer research.  When I went to my usual coffee date at the local Bou with Mr. H. yesterday, the entire store looked like a Pepto Bismol addict had puked all over.  The employees asked me if I wanted to buy a pound of “Amy’s Blend,” part of the proceeds of which would go to breast cancer research, and then they asked me if I would like to donate a pound to a woman who was going through treatment.  I politely said, ‘no, thank you,’ and then walked away.  One of the employees, who has been there a while and knew me when I was bald, shot a very understanding glance in my direction and shrugged.

All of it makes me wonder if anyone cares if I, as an ovarian cancer survivor, live or die because I didn’t get the trendy cancer.

2009 Shootie Awards

And now, it’s time for the highlight of the Shot In The Dark season; the fourth annual Shootie Awards for 2009.

With these awards, we hail some of the lowlights of the year in the Twin Cities blogosphere.  We hope you enjoy the awards as much as we disliked reading the crap that won ’em…

The Dan Rather Fake But Inaccurate Award: The Minnesota Progressive Project – the descendant of MNBlue – has cut a wide swath in the local alt-media, where “Cut a Wide Swath” means “let a lot of incredibly dim dolts write a lot of really stupid crap”.

Among the worst this past year was last March’s “big scoop”, where MPP “journalist” “Jimmy Olson” “discovered” (from a friend that, he assured the MPP’s audience, had “written a book about Clear Channel!”) that Townhall was “paying” AM1280 to air the Northern Alliance Radio Network.  His “investigation” showed that, yes indeed, the station would rent airtime to people, although nothing whatever to do with his allegations.

Olson” turned out to be one Fred Gates, a congenital crank; his “source” was a local internet-radio host who was somewhat nonplussed that Gates had completely mugged the context of his original remarks.  Along the way, I discovered that Gates had actively marketed untrue aspects of his story to MPP founder Joe Bodell, and that Bodell bought into the lies without question.

The Nick Coleman “Look At Me, I’m An Engineer” Award For Jumping To The Wrong, Politically-Motivated Conclusion: We have a tie this year!

Last summer, after part-time teacher and census-taker Bill Sparkman was found hanging from a tree deep in the heart of Kentucky’s meth-lab country, local leftybloggers leapt into action instantly.

  • City Pages generic angst-filled hYpStR Matt Hoffman went all “Burn Notice” on us before the police had even adjourned to the donut shoppe:  “Now a census worker has been found in what appears to be an anti-government lynching. Does Bachmann own some responsibility?”
  • Dusty “The Michael Brodkorb Of Snark” Trice delivered a verdict before they’d actually cut Sparkman’s body down: “I’m going to say it again because sadly I feel it bears repeating. I strongly believe that the inflammatory rhetoric Rep. Michele Bachmann thinks passes for policy debate is going to end in violence.

Just like Coleman’s engineering verdict about the I35W Bridge Collapse (David Strom and Tim Pawlenty blew it up to kill granny!), both were comically wrong.  And worse, nobody ever answered the question – after all that defamation of Bachmann and all other conservatives, maybe it was the climate of hatred the left created that pushed Sparkman over the edge?

The Les Nessman Buckeye Newshawk Trophy: That’s gotta go to Aaron Landry of MNPublius, who gave himself a promotion from “Adenoidal Pet-Blogger for Al Franken” to “Senior Corresopndent” in an interview with some unsuspecting Brit rag.

MNPublius is, lest we forget, a blog.

Perhaps Landry could get promoted to Tijuana Bureau Chief next?

The Rochelle Olson “All The News That’s Fit To Painfully Wrench Out Of Context” Award For Suspiciously Selective Reportage: This award – a Twin Cities media staple – goes to John Fitzgerald of the liberal think tank MN2020.  In a hit piece report issued last June and seemingly custom-made for Teachers Union publication, Fitzgerald demanded the closure of Minnesota’s charter schools…

…over a series of accounting bobbles that are maddeningly mundane, completely common, and if regarded as capital offenses would result in the closure of virtually every small non-profit and smaller unit of government in the state.

The “Minnesota Monitor” Memorial Memory Hole Rotorooter Award: Goes to MN2020 again – for quietly tiptoeing away from the above demands by quietly ignoring the fact that they’d ever happened.

The Nick Coleman “I Know Stuff” Award For Showing One Doesn’t Know Enough Stuff: In a stunning upset, this award goes to Nick Coleman, who “left” the Star/Tribune as a putative “cost-cutting measure” to go to work for a “think tank”, but still seems to contribute columns to the “Strib” as often as many other “columnists” – who two months after the MN2020 report went down with all hands, published a column basically regurgitating every single talking point from the think tank’s hit piece, seemingly editing them only to throw in a few of his trademark leaden snarks.  And that’s it!

The Reynolds Aluminum Company Lifetime Achievement Award: This is a joint award – to “Legendary Investigative Reporter” Seymour Hersh, who at a seminar at the U of M attended by a cadre of slavering media fanboys and former Vice President Walter Mondale, secretively “dropped a bomb” about a covert US military organization, “Joint Special Operations Command”, carrying out assassinations around the world, acting as Dick Cheney’s private military (according to evidence in his book that was going to come out soon, honest – right after he provides the evidence for his three year old claim that US Special Forces were preparing the ground for an invasion of Iran)…

…and the roomful of slavering media fanboys, none of whom could apparently be bothered to Google “Joint Special Operations Command” and learn that it’s existed since 1980, and was established by Walter Mondale’s old boss, Jimmy Carter.

We’ll be waiting on Hersh’s book.  Oh, my, yes we will.

And finally, the highlight of every year…:

The Charles Townsend Award – In 1765, British parliamentarian Charles Townsend, in noting the Colonies’ protests against the Stamp Act, said:

“And now will these Americans, Children planted by our Care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a Degree of Strength & Opulence, and protected by our Arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under?”

After two years of endless panjandrum from the Democrats about “infrastructure”, they finally got full control of everyone’s piggybanks.

And spent the “infrastructure” money on pretty much everything but fixing infrastructure!


And that’ll do it for the 2009 Shootie Awards!

2010 is another whole year; we’ll be watching!

Around The MOB: BikeBubba’s Bits

Our next stop is BikeBubba’s Bits, produced by Robert Perry.  Bubba is also a regular commenter on Shot In The Dark, so I’ll have to restrain my effusion.

Bubba offers one of the things the Twin Cities’ blogosphere is rich with; a perspective on the issues that you don’t see everywhere.

On the practical history of the real-world application of the Geneva Convention:

The author’s poignant example is of his father’s unit finding that 100 American POWs had been massacred by the SS, and the response was to not take prisoners for the next two weeks–in other words, to kill those who tried to surrender. It sounds brutal, and it was–until you realize that had they not done this, what would the fate of further American POWs have been?

In the same way, what message was sent to genocidal maniacs when an Army unit opened fire on SS guards at Dachau? Violation of the Geneva Convention? Absolutely. Reminder that barbaric cruelty to the defenseless will be returned to the offender? Priceless.

Oh, yeah.  And he’s a biker.  Which does, in fact, make him a better conservative than most.

And, oddly, he must have some pretty righteous traffic; he’s about 13th on my referrers list, behind the likes of Hot Air, Powerline, Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt.  The next “smallest” blog higher on the list is Fraters Libertas.  Bubba’s doing something right!

Support your local MOB blog!

Around The MOB: Because I Said So (12/29)

Chris Meirose is the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Waseca. He writes Because I Said So – a blog that’s been appearing consistently for almost five years.

And he’s all over the place; family life, computers, daily life at his church, politics – the same dog’s breakfast of topics that makes the most interesting blogs for me.

I liked this piece last month, about the value of spiritual upbringing for children:

With all of the time, money and effort that parents and churches invest in the spiritual growth of children, we find ourselves often wondering if there is really any statistical connection between childhood faith and adult religious commitment. A recent study by the Barna Group provides new insights into the age-old question.

The survey asked adults to think back on their upbringing and to describe the frequency of their involvement in Sunday school or religious training. The researchers then compared these responses to the current level of faith activity of these adults.

Read the whole thing – and of course, check back with Mr. Meirose often.

Around The MOB: Bear Creek Ledger

We’ve had a few MOB blogs leave Minnesota.  As long as they carry on blogging, I don’t think any of us have a problem with that.

Bear Creek Ledger was always an unrepentant Christian conservative blog when they were here; now that they’ve moved to Tennessee, they’re no less trenchant.  Here, they assail the leftism-of-convenience of way too much of American Catholicism:

Funny how NOW it’s acceptable to use Christian religious symbolism.

From the WaPo – Baby Jesus, poster child for the 2010 Census?

The poster was based on a story in Luke’s gospel that says Joseph and pregnant Mary journeyed from Galilee to Bethlehem to take part in a census decreed by Roman Emperor Augustus. There is no other record of that particular census ever taking place, but the story explains why Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem, the city of David.

The poster was created by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (not by the Census Bureau), which sent it to more than 7,000 churches to inform Hispanics about the census and encourage them to participate, regardless of their legal status. Some find it comforting.

I’m sure the Catholic Church will go whole hog for this campaign since they’re nothing more than whores for illegal aliens, especially those who come from any Latin country. The Catholic Church and the Vatican has bought into ’social justice’ and wealth transfers.

Bear Creek Ledger – conservatism, unfiltered.

So click in and and support your local MOB blog – even if they’re not local.

Around The MOB: For Personal Responsibility

There was a time when blogging was a little like Twittering is today; indeed, in the days before Twitter, many blogs were a medium for people to publish quick jottings to an audience.

Some of us shifted to the longer and longer form post over time (MITCH’S AUDIENCE: “No kidding?”); others stayed with the original idea.

Some still do.  Alan Anderson has been doing “For Personal Responsibility” for the past four years; a long series of piquant, focused personal jottings.


President Lyndon Johnson’s administration was known for his War on Poverty. President Obama’s will be known for his War on Prosperity.

I’m speaking, of course, about Obama’s effort to engineer a massive redistribution of wealth in America, using all the coercive powers of government now under Democrat control.

Make no mistake about it: Obama does not believe in individual upward mobility. He would penalize it, tax it, regulate it, inveigh against it, and disincentivize it.

Economical.  To the point.  No messing around.

“For Personal Responsibility” is like a political commonplace book for someone who thinks about the subject a lot.  And since I agree with Mr. Anderson, near as I can tell, on most everything, that’s a very good thing.

Stop by, say “hi”, and support your local MOB bloggers.  Please.

Nominations Are Open

This year, for the Fourth Annual Shootie Awards – the annual award for the worst and (occasionally) best in Twin Cities blogging, I’m doing something different.

In addition to my own awards, I’ll be doing a Reader Participation award.  Sort of like Rolling Stone magazine’s annual “Best Of” edition, which has always been divided into “Readers” and “Critics” polls, I’ll be doing “Readers” and “Mitch/Roosh/Doug” awards this year.

So if you have nominations for best/worst Twin Cities blogging moments since last January 1, drop ’em in this comment section between now and December 28.

The Shooties – a tradition unlike many others!

Around The MOB: 270 Days In Afghanistan

Next stop in our tour around the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers – 270 Days in Afghanistan, a production by Captain Mark Martin, a Minnesotan whose subject matter should be pretty obvious from the title; it’s a story of a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The blog started last June – and from the beginning, has been a fascinating look at the life of a typical soldier going off to a modern war; the bureaucracy, the lingo, the mission.

I thought packing my kids for a vacation was a job; Cpt. Martin describes the job of packing up his company for nine months back in the Stone Age:

For those of you who have never been in the United States Armed Forces, and the Army in particular, there are plenty of anachronisms, acronyms, lingo, and generally huge explanations for what can be the simplest of things. I once saw a sign that read, “Ft. Lee, Virginia! Home of USALMC-G4LOGPACCOM!” That was Army-ese for “United States Army Logistics Management College – General Staff 4 Logistics Packaging Command”. These guys are the dudes that come up with how supplies should be routed around the world. Pretty impressive….I’ll give them that. But does their acronym really have to be that convoluted. Seriously?

Anyhoo….fast forward to this particular installment of my fantastic voyage. The Pre-Combat Check/Pre Combat Inspection. You see….the Army doesn’t walk out the door, get into the vehicle, and drive off into the fray. No no no….the Army has Checklists and Inspections! Mostly this is to keep unimaginative people like me from packing irrelevant minutiae. Things such as the latest installment of Homes and Gardens magazine have no place in the Army rucksack! I mean c’mon! There are STANDARDS dude!

So the PCC/PCI has been around for as long as the United States Army has been in business. Way back in the colonial days, Samuel Smith might have shown up with his musket on time and in the right place, but the battlefield was minutes from his house, right? These days we pack truckloads of stuff halfway around the world. Small wonder that we need to check and re-check what we plan on bringing to the fight.

Today was a day for PCCs/PCIs. Loadplans, vehicle setup, rucksack configuration, packing lists, ammo loads, pyrotechnic storage. You get the idea. Anything and everything a soldier would need to close with and destroy the enemy on the friendly highways and byways of Afghanistan. Besides…I have always found that the best way to get soldiers who have never been in combat more comfortable with the idea is to inundate them with preparation. That way, when it come time to actually pull the trigger, it is yet another thing that they have practiced. Soldiering is a dangerous business.

It’s not hard to catch up on the entire history of the blog; Cpt. Martin’s had some other priorities than writing this past seven months, so a few posts go a long way.  But it’s well worth the read.

Stop by, say “hi”, and by all means tell the Captain the MOB thanks him for his service.

As, indeed, I am right now.

Around The MOB: έχω ζωη!

Minnesota has long had one of the most fertile, bumptious, interesting, active blog scenes in the world.  Most of it is centered on the center-right blog scene; blogging is a medium that favors the underdogs.  

The Northern Alliance Radio Network founded the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers nearly six years ago, as a way of turning that new, fertile, enthusiastic bunch of writers into a social scene.  The MOB, as we called it from day one, has always been rigorously non-partisan; we have strenuously welcomed bloggers of all political stripes, and even bloggers who could care less about politics.  And we always will.  The MOB (Karl Bremer’s delusions aside) has no editorial input into any MOB blogs; our only agenda is to publicize MOB blogs, blogging in Minnesota and, twice a year or so, get together for a party.

That’s it.

It’s something I used to do pretty much yearly – but I’ve fallen gravely short in my duties as one of the MOB’s Capo Di Tutti Bloggi, and so it’s been nearly five years since I last took a trip Around The MOB to introduce you to the 100-odd blogs on the MOBRoll. 

So let’s fix that.  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a quick visit (not super long) with every currently-active blog on the MOB Blogroll. 


Which brings us to the top of the order, and the MOBRoll, and the only one so far to depart the Latin alphabet: έχω ζωη (“Echo Zoë”). 

Where most MOB blogs focus on politics, έχω ζωη has always been about faith.  Christianity, as it happens.  The blog has largely converted into a vehicle for a monthly podcast – which are, by the way, well worth listening to (as with this piece, on the nature of persecution).

But the writing is also wonderful – philosophical, tackling the nature of God and eternity with the aplomb many of us reserve for fisking Nick Coleman.  I loved this piece – on the “hateful” label so promiscuously appled to Christians – from last October:

I recently posted a Youtube video by comedian/magician Penn Jillette. Despite being an avowed atheist, and thoroughly rejecting the claims of Christianity, including what I’ve laid out here, he had the intellectual honesty to admit that it would be downright hateful of a Christian to believe what I’ve stated above, and do nothing to share it with others. I was a bit surprised by his understanding of the Good-will of the Christian he encountered.

On the other hand, Jillette is in a small, and shrinking, minority among the vocal unbelieving world. The more common response is much more antagonistic, if not violent. That of homosexuals is perhaps easiest to point to as exemplary. As a Christian, I don’t see homosexuality as any lesser or greater a sin than those which I am guilty of myself. However, it’s quite visible. I know of no other sin that has parades, festivals, or benefits to highlight it. In addition, opposition to it is painted as hatred. But is it really? If I firmly believe a sin (or in this case a lifestyle of sin) to be destructive, not only within this life, but in the next as well, is it really hatred to speak up about it?

It’s hard to believe that έχω ζωη has been cranking out uniformly excellent material, at least every time I’ve checked it, for over six years now.

Stop by, say Hi, give a read and a listen, and support your local MOB blog.

It’s All Coming Back To Me Now

Y’know, I have to confess – two weeks ago, when I ribbed the local “Minnesota Netroots Conference” – the last thing I’d have expected was that any of them would actually be reading me.  Partly because, I’ll be honest, my readership among local leftyboggers is pretty darn minimal, and partly because I don’t think a lot of them read outside their own little circle.

But a reader forwarded me this photo here, apparently taken from a local leftyblogger’s photostream:



On the one hand, I do feel just a little bit younger, fielding “attacks” that I first fielded in second grade – which was the first of the several times in my life I’ve been smarter than all of my critics.

And it is both a more flattering rendition of me than any recent photo, and also nicer than anything my family or friends have called me in twenty years.

But I have to apologize; when I said that the local leftyblog community didn’t have a better cartoonist than Ken Weiner, I see I was, again, mistaken.

We can all learn, I guess.

Cheers, local leftybloggers!

(I’m no handwriting analyst – but in my mind’s eye, that looks like I’d imagine Robin “Rew” Marty’s flip-sheet scrawl looks).

UPDATE:  Robin submitted a sample of her flipchart writing (or…did she?) and it didn’t appear to be the same author (or…was it?)

The Class Of ’04

Gary Gross’ Let Freedom Ring blog is celebrating a big anniversary today:

Today marks the fifth anniversary of me starting blogging. It’s understatement to say that it’s been a great experience. During those years, I’ve watched history being made, starting with the elections in Afghanistan, then Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (that’s how I first learned about King), followed by Iraq’s Purple Finger election on Jan. 31, 2005, immediately followed by the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon.

The Cedar Revolution was started when Syrian thugs assassinated Rafiq Harriri, the popular leader of Lebanon.

Over time, LFR evolved into a mostly political blog. Thanks to Final Word, I got interested in state level politics. On that front, the best is yet to come. There will be exciting news coming on that front soon.

Hopefully it involves video of Tarryl Clark taking wads of Jacksons from drug dealers.  But I won’t hold my breath.

I’ll just say that it’s about putting a common sense blueprint for winning in 2010.

OK, seriously now: Gary is one of the “Class of ’04” – one of the big crowd of excellent center-right blogs that started in 2004.  Gary has gone the extra step, though, parlaying LFR into a fairly influential source of info for Saint Cloud-area politics.  Gary, along with King, is one of the leading voices for principled conservatism in Saint Cloud and the Sixth District.

Happy Anniversary!

One Day At the MNPublius Offices

SCENE:  11AM in the editorial board room of Minnesota-based politics blog MNPublius.

ZACK: (sitting in an overstuffed leather chair, sipping from a snifter of brandy as SEAN walks into the conference room).  Hey, Sean.  How’s it going?

SEAN: (pouring a scotch as he takes a seat by the highly-polished oak table) – Hey, Zack.  Just looking at the resumes from all of Dusty Trice’s minions.  Now that he’s closed shop, they’re all looking for work.

ZACK:  Huh.  (takes a sip, as SEAN feeds a ream of  resumes into a nearby paper shredder).  Where’s Matt? 

ZACK:  He’s texted me.  He’s just coming in from the parking ramp.  He had to get the Prius fixed.

SEAN: Ah. 

(JEFF enters the room, takes seat)

ZACK:  So what’s new, gentlemen?

SEAN:  Well, I spent Friday trading emails with Paul Harris of the London Observer.  He’s doing a piece on female conservatives, and he heard we were the authorities on Michele Bachmann.

ZACK:  And he didn’t go to Dump Bachmann

SEAN:  He’s a Brit journalist, but he’s not insane.

ZACK: Excellent!  So did you send the new glossy talking point sheet?

SEAN: Yep, the one that calls ’em all crazy and dangrous.  Or dangerous and crazy.  I forget.  Anyway,  I had to break open a new box of them, but yes.  I did. 

MATT: (enters room, yelling over shoulder as he takes a seat) And Consuela?  Have all my calls and texts held.  And get me a double-skim goat chai, stat!

CONSUELA (from anteroom) Si, senor Matt!

MATT:  Hey, guys.

ZACK:  Hey, Matt.  And did you send the ugliest picture of Bachmann you could find?

SEAN:  Oh, yeah.  I had to dig deep, but I finally found one that almost was too bad to be an Avidor photoshop. 

JEFF (sotto voce to MATT): “Avidor?”

MATT: Ken Weiner.

ZACK:  And you gave him a phone interview?

SEAN:  Er, huh? 

ZACK:  A phone interview.  We always do phone inter…

SEAN: Right.  The phone interview, I know.  I thought Jeff was doing the interview?

JEFF:  Um, no – I thought Matt was doing it.

MATT:  Um, no, I was busy doing oppo research on “Ben” and “Mall Diva”.  Er, hang on – Zack, I thought you handled all foreign media…

ZACK:  Oh, crap.  That means…

CONSUELA:  (Enters room, carrying bundle of newspapers) I brought the newspapers, sirs.  (places them on table, backs from room).

ZACK: (leaps to feet, looking agitated, thrashes through pile of papers) Independent…Independent…Indep…AH!  Here it is!  (flips through paper as SEAN, JEFF and MATT gather behind him to read).

SEAN:  There it is!

MATT:  Oh, crap:

 “It is hard to think that people take her seriously. But on a national level it is happening. It scares me,” said Aaron Landry, a senior correspondent at, a Minnesota-based politics blog.

ZACK:  “Senior Correspondent?” 

MATT: {{Facepalm}}

SEAN:  Who the hell told him to call himself…

JEFF: Jeezus, Landry – you’re a blogger

MATT:  Good goddess; he’s Fecke’d us.

ZACK: (yells out the door) Consuela!  Get Cartman on the line!

SEAN:  (takes long drink, puts down glass, holds head in hands) Oh, man – we’re never gonna live this down.

(And scene).

That New Content Manager Smell

So I installed WordPress 2.8.5 yesterday.  That is to say, I upgraded from WordPress 2.0.4 – which, in blog content manager terms, is kinda like going from a ’59 Buick to a ’09 Corvette.

Which isn’t to say the actual content is going to change or anything.  Just saying.