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.

The Copycat Factory

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“Hey you, watching this news channel.  That’s not your picture, is it?  They’re not saying Your name or discussing Your Facebook video, are they?   They’re ignoring you.   Acting like you don’t matter. Not giving you the respect you deserve.   They’re like those snotty girls at school who sneer at you when you’re just trying to be nice.  Or those jocks shoving you in the hallway.

It doesn’t have to be like this.  You can get noticed.   You can get Even.  We will give you a million dollars of free publicity for every one of them you shoot at school.  It’d be easy.  It’d be Satisfying.

The more you shoot, the brighter your star will shine.  We can make you Somebody.   We can make you Famous.  We’re CNN.  We make the news.”

When a person already is hearing voices, and then the media gives a 24-7 assist to the Devil on the Left Shoulder, well, I’m no psychiatrist but I gotta wonder . . . .

Joe Doakes

I’m not going to say that the news industry knows and banks on the fact that creating copycat murderers is like storing seed corn for them.

But it would make sense, if you were deeply cynical and worried about your own survival, wouldn’t it?

Deal With The Devil

One the one hand, the MinnPost is running sponsored news again.

And yet again, the subject is guns, and the sponsor is the Joyce Foundation, which is (aside from Michael Bloomberg) the biggest funder of anti-gun groups in the United States.  Before Bloomberg bought the local rights for “Protect MN” and “Moms Want Action”, they were the major funder of gun control groups in Minnesota.

And part of that funding went toward buying favorable media, mostly in the form of risibly bald-faced propaganda.

Of course, Joyce has taken a whack at funding respectable journalism as well.

Investigative reporter Mike Cronin has embarked on a Joyce-sponsored multi-part series on the gun culture.  And like not a few previous such efforts, it starts out as a “gorillas in the mist”-style exploration into what is clearly for Cronin a foreign culture, as he takes his Carry Permit training class from Andrew Rothman (a long-time friend of this blog, president of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, and the guy who, if I had a carry permit, would have  taught me my carry permit class two hypothetical years ago).  Which is as good an intro as there is to the “gun culture” as a newbie can have.

Cronin is going through the class, intends to get his permit, and to purchase a gun as part of his investigation into the “gun culture>

And by all accounts, it’s a fair account, so far, although you be the judge.

No doubt Cronin will be looking at the “other side” of the debate; I’ll be watching.

It’ll be interesting to see what Joyce is paying for, this season.

Rangers: They Hate You. They Really Really Hate You.

Why were the DFL’s array of sock-puppets out in such force writing about the GOP convention?

To draw attention away from their own, up in Duluth.

First came reports that the DFL were denying media credentials to reporters from newspapers that had criticized Dayton.

Which is one way of silencing dissent.

Another way to silence dissent?  Agree not to talk about the inconvenient truth – that the DFL is intensely split on  mining.

That’s what the DFL did at their convention in Duluth over the weekend; looked at the upcoming bloodletting between their ultra-liberal, metro-area base – which is as dogmatic a pack of environmentalists as you will find in Democrat politics – and the Iron Range.

The Range, of course, is Minnesota’s red-headed economic stepchild; an area of the state whose economy has been draggy since the demise of the US steel industry forty years ago.

Of course, there is an immense wealth of minerals under the ground in Northern Minnesota, putting thousands of underemployed miners back to work, and creating jobs for many, many thousands more in the many areas that support mining – everything from mine equipment maintenance to truck driving to convenience stores catering to people going to and from work.

But currently – thanks to DFL-authored environmental rules and business regulations – it is literally better business to load ore-rich rock into trains and ship it to North Dakota than to build a processing plant in Minnesota.

So while the DFL had only one significant endorsement battle – to pick a Secretary of State candidate – the battle lines were in fact forming to duke out the battle between blue-collar Rangers and the businesses what want to hire them on the one side, and plutocrat Metro-area environmentalists (including Alita Messinger, who bankrolls Minnesota’s environmentalist messaging as completely as she controls the DFL’s).

And the DFL responded the same way Brave Sir Robin did:

In the end, activists on both sides came to the microphones to urge hundreds of feisty dele­gates to delay the vote indefinitely, a remarkable showing for a party that has seen conventions erupt into damaging fights with political scars that can last decades.

“I think people on both sides understand that we can have respectful differences, but we need to make sure we don’t do anything that is going to take away from our candidates’ ability to win this fall,” said Ken Martin, DFL Party chairman. “So there was a lot of discipline here. People understand the ramifications of the issue.”

Well, we certainly hope they do.

Because those ramifications were:

  • To shut everyone up so that…
  • …the same pack of Metro-DFL hamsters that have been working to keep Rangers unemployed and on the dole can get re-elected in what should be a tough year for them.

In other words, “Just two more years, Rangers, and we’ll think about it.  Or four.  Or eight.  We’ll get back to you…”

And hopefully it’ll get tougher for the DFL.  Stewart Mills has a genuine shot at sending Rick Nolan packing over this very issue.  More than that?

Think about it, Iron Range.  This isn’t your grandfather’s DFL.  The DFL is controlled by Metro-area poshes who haven’t dug for anything but grad-school grants in their lives.  They hate your guns and hunting and outdoor life.  They hate your largely pro-life beliefs.  And above all, they hate what you and the generations before you try to do for a living.  You, Ranger, are to the Metro DFL what the black or Latino family, or women, are; reliable votes in exchange for cheap lip service.

Money – jobs, in this case – talks.

Iron Rangers should know what walks.

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.

Can Anyone Imagine…

…how the media would treat a Republican lawmaker who’d accomplished less in 14 years than Betty McCollum?

“Empty Suit”?  ”Waste of a Chair?”  I mean, just think of all the things they said about Rod Grams, who accomplished more in eight years than Saint Paul Wellstone did in 12.

But it’s Betty McCollum whose toenails the Strib’s Allison Sherry has been given the job to paint.  And so McCollum’s decades of indolence are described thus:

McCollum, an understated lawmaker who got her political start on the North St. Paul City Council,

She’s “understated”.

Hm.

After 14 years in office, her signature accomplishment?  Attacking National Guards advertisements at NASCAR events that cost less per year than building a block and a half of the Central Corridor train line and money pit that she tirelessly championed.  Less than an eighth of the money she helped dragoon the government into spending on the Union Depot.  Less than the proverbial fart in the wind compared with the Obamacare debacle she saddled us with (but can’t defend to save her life, without lying)?

Understated.

If a Democrat pushed someone off the High Bridge to their death, the media would describe the victim as “damp”.

Sack Of Garbage

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Excellent job of capturing what the DFL thinks about Ambassador Stevens’ dead body being dragged through the streets of Benghazi as a result of the failure of Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama’s Middle East policy.

Courtesy Star Tribune

Joe Doakes

Two points:

  • Editorial cartoonists trend left – but I’m at a loss to think of a major-market editorial cartoonist who is a more baldfaced Democrat lapdog than Steve Sack.
  • This city is full of crappy cartoonists.
  • I think this qualifies as a Berg’s Seventh Law citation.

Obama Scandalrama: Just Part Of The Pack

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

You don’t need to see our appointment logs to check VA wait times; we’ve carefully checked our records and confirmed we were right all along.   So that’s settled.

 

This is the level of investigative journalism that meets the standards of the MSM.  The VA said they don’t have secret lists, so they don’t.  Because if the VA had secret stuff they would say so.  You know, like secret surveillance of citizens, secret monitoring of phone calls of world leaders and Joe the Plumber.  Secret targeting of undesirable political opposition by the IRS, the INS, the EPA, the Dept of the Interior, etc.

 

If they had a secret, the responsible people in the government would fess up at once, without doubt.  Since they haven’t, there’s nothing to see here: move along.

Takes me back to the days when Obama ordered the oceans closed.  Yeah, remember, what, a year ago, he closed the ocean off Florida to punish the voters for the shut-down?  He does so much outrageous, blatantly illegal and stupid crap that you forgot about that one, didn’t you?

 

This is what Fernandez means by “dense pack.”  Obama has so many scandals occurring so quickly that we never get a chance to investigate one before it’s old news and we must move on to the next.  Thus, no scandal ever sticks to him.

It’s the equivalent of a lawyer answering a discovery motion by dumping triplicate copies of every piece of paper in their client’s office on the petitioner, in hopes that anything incriminating gets lost in the blizzard of paper.

Zzzzzzzzzz

Word has it that Fast Eddie Schultz – the single liberal talk show host in the business who understood anything about doing radio – is calling in the dogs and whizzing on the fire.

(Yes, I know – Stephanie Miller. But her only good idea is copying Laura Ingraham’s show in every single particular; otherwise, she’s just another shrill Taylor Marsh clone).

On the one hand, Schultz was literally the only liberal in talk radio who understood anything about doing radio, as opposed to standup comedy, essay writing or speaking to a roomful of people. They’re very, very different things.

On the other hand? Schultz may be the only host in talk radio who is actually as dumb as the left thinks conservative talk hosts are.

So adios, Fast Eddie. It’s one step further on the journey to forgetting you ever existed.

Drinking Symptomatically

I used to make a concerted effort to read Minnesota liberal blogs.  But it’s been a long time.

Part of it is that most of the good ones – and there were good ones – have moved on.  There are a few left that are worth reading, but I can count them on one hand hand have and have a couple fingers’ worth of change.

I’ve said for years that the biggest problem liberals communicating with non-believers – for the precious few that want to – is that very few of them have ever learned how to actually debate.  Oh, most of them may start out a “debate” with a round of factoids lifted from “Think” “Progress” or “Kos”.  But let those “arguments” be challenged, and the next round, almost without fail, will be either a logical fallacy – a strawman, a tu-quoque, an ad-hominem, a red herring – or it’ll be a personal attack.

And as Jeff Kolb found when he attended “Drinking Liberally” last week, that’s if you’re lucky:

I shook a few hands and only got one “fuck you,” and figured that ain’t too bad, so I sat back down to watch the show which had just kicked off.

While I’ve rarely encountered that level of hostiity, I won’t say I expect a whole lot better.    And that’s fine – anyone who needs to react to dissent, or a dissenter, that way deserves pity, not anger.

Kolb:

I tweeted at one point that I had the feeling some of the people in the room had never actually spoken to a real-life Republican. One guy asked me at the end of the night if Republicans cared about free speech. After I answered in the affirmative, and used the example of the recent Condoleezza Rice event to illustrate the point, he replied that we only care about free speech “if it wears a suit.” The only response I could muster to this was a blank stare.

And in a way, it’s hard to know how it could be much different:  Minnesota liberals come up through a K-12 system that indoctrinates kids to think the left is the baseline.  They mostly go through a university system that actively crushes dissent from “progressivism”.  They largely work in institutions – government, academia, big corporations – that can ignore dissent or minimize it at their pleasure.

It’s a lifelong path of least intellectual resistance.  Who could expect a cogent argument?  It’s the dissenters who have to develop the intellectual muscles you get from swimming against the tide.

And yes – it suspect it cuts both ways.   I’d imagine conservatives in Utah can be pretty smug and blinkered; I’d imagine liberals in eastern Montana have to either bring an A game or shut up.

Of Convenience, Part II

First things first.  I’ve got nothing against Hannah Nicollet.  If you go by what little she’s said in public about her political beliefs – she supported Ron Paul in 2012 – I probably agree with her 90-odd percent of the time.  Indeed, now that she’s been endorsed to run for Governor, my biggest dream is that she selects a Lieutenant Governor candidate named Lyndale, Hennepin, Franklin or Lake. 

So no – nothing against Hannah Nicollet.

IndyParty Gubernatorial candidate Hannah Nicollet

But I do have something against the Independence Party.

The party – which started as the Minnesota unit of Ross Perot’s “Reform Party”, and gained major party status with Minnesota’s great collective self-prank, the election of Jesse Ventura, and has held onto it by the skin of its teeth ever since – has been the traditional refuge of people who like their government big, but “good”.  Moderate Democrats like Tim Penny, liberal Republicans like Tom Horner, and lots of well-meaning moderates who like thinking big thoughts and playing responsibly with the gears and levers of government have flocked to the IP, if only briefly. 

It’s always been the party of the moderate wonk class. 

I – like most actual libertarians – have very little in common with the moderate wonk class. 

And since 2002, the party has been accused of existing primarily as a spoiler.  In the 2002 governor’s race, there’s a legitimate case to be made that the presence of former moderate Democrat Tim Penny siphoned center-left votes away from Roger Moe.  There’s an even better case to be made that left-of-center-left education policy wonk Peter Hutchinson may have cinched Tim Pawlenty’s razor-thin re-election over Mike Hatch in 2006.

Of course, the strongest case of all is that Tom Horner slurped up the traditional “Indepedent Republican” voter, all nostalgic for Arne Carlson and Dave Durenberger and pre-conversion Judi Dutcher, just enough to tip the scales for Governor Messinger Dayton.

And now, in 2014, when the headlines are jiggling with tales of fractiousness between the Ron Paul faction (not to mention the Tea Party) and the “establishment” of the GOP, into the midst of a race against a vulnerable DFL governor, comes Hannah Nicollet - who makes libertarian-sounding noises, and is being marketed directly at the “Ron Paul” libertarian faction in the GOP. 

Do I believe there’s some Democrat monkey-wrenching money from the likes of the unions or Alita Messinger involved?  Absolutely.  I can’t prove it, but I wouldn’t be in the least  surprised if it comes out at some point.  There’s a precedent for it.  It worked. 

But that’s not really the point of this post.  Not yet.

No – I’d actually like to ask (or have someone ask) Ms. Nicollet what she, personally and as a candidate being marketed to Libertarian Republicans, thinks of these bits and pieces of the “Independence Party of Minnesota” platform.

From the “Elections” section, the IP platform says…:

We support Instant Runoff Voting or another runoff process that allows us to vote our conscience and ensure that winners are supported by a majority.

So does Ms. Nicollet support a voting process that leaves ballots uncounted and, worse still for a “Ron Paul supporter”, makes the vote-counting process utterly opaque to regular voters? 

Or this:

We support partial public funding of elections to reduce candidate dependence on fundraising, thereby making politicians more independent and responsible to voters.

So the “Ron Paul supporter” would force taxpayers to pay for elections with the implicit threat of violence? 

We support the establishment of an independent nonpartisan commission to implement legislative redistricting.

Hiding more of government in more committee rooms promotes “liberty” exactly how?

And here’s the big kahuna:

Resolved that the IP support an amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution stipulating that candidates for public office can only receive financial donations from eligible voters who reside within the jurisdiction of the office they seek.

This violates the First Amendment in so many ways it’s hard to count them all.  Minneapolis gun owners and Benton county pro-marijuana activists would be cut off from campaigning with support from groups from out of district?  (While any government or trade union can filter money anywhere they want via any variety of subterfuges)? 

Not only does this not support liberty, it is actively hostile to it. 

In the “Prosperity and Quality of Life” section, the IP says…:

We are dedicated to fiscal responsibility and insist that our tax dollars be spent with restraint and care, but our goal is also for a bright future, and so we are committed to: supporting economic growth, excellence in education, access for all to quality and affordable health care, investing in an efficient transportation infrastructure, protecting the environment, and providing efficient energy resources.

The IP, in other words, sees a vital role for government in economic intervention, education, healthcare, transit, environmentalism and green energy. 

Which was a big part of of the “don’t”s section on any Libertarian policy checklist. 

Along the same vein, under the “Supporting Economic Growth” section:

An important role of government should be to support commerce and invite corporate investment in the state by assuring reasonable taxes, a well-educated and productive workforce, good transportation infrastructure, and an excellent health care system.

OK, that one is open to interpretation; hypothetically, that could be interpreted as “by getting out of the free market’s way”. 

Anyone wanna place bets on that? 

Or this one here:

We believe that many rural economies are challenged by a lack of access to the highest quality telecommunications, technology and transportation. We support policies that will allow rural businesses to compete effectively in the global economy and we also support government initiatives to assure that affordable and state-of-the-art internet connections are readily available to all citizens.

Government intervention in the telecom industry is, at the very least, a matter of picking winners and losers (anathema to the liberty-minded), and a big boondoggle waiting to happen. 

Not to mention the nanny-statish subsidies inherent in this…

We believe in funding the research, development, and promotion of new value-added products and processes using Minnesota farm products.

Next, we move to “Education”:

We support government funding, standards and incentives that also reward advanced achievement, improving the education of our “average” students, and realizing the full potential of all students..

So not only is the IP – the banner under which “Libertarian” Hannah Nicollet is campaigning – a full supporter of the current, one-size-fits-all, nanny-state factory education model, but it supports starting the indoctrination bright and early:

We believe early childhood programs will generate excellent returns on investment by reducing future, more expensive educational needs and developing better-educated and more productive citizens.

Even the GOP “Establishment” is smarter than that. 

Onward to “Transportation”:

We support further development of a fully integrated, multimodal transportation system that could include automobiles, light and high speed rail, personal rapid transit (PRT), and High Occupancy Vehicle, high-speed bus lanes.

Even given the context of a state that has not only embraced but french-kissed Big Government for the past seventy years, Transportation policy may be the issue where Minnesota has gone to third base with complete nannystatism.  The Met Council has near-dictatorial authority over local jurisdictions, and is, and has been, run by a bipartisan assortment of people utterly friendly to the idea of using transportation to take “urban planning” out of the hands of the market and give it to the bureaucrat. 

And the IP – Hannah Nicollet’s party – enshrines this noxious statist ideal in its platform. 

In the “Environment” section, the platform is vague enough…

We support strong enforcement of environmental protection laws.

…to mean anything to anyone; it covers everything from preventing oil spills to stifling mining in perpetuity. 

What would “Doctor Paul” think?

And finally – the “Liberty, Justice and Security” section of the IndyParty platform says…

…well, stuff about legalizing pot (whatever), separation of church and state (natch) and…

…nothing.

Silence on government’s recent attacks on the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments. 

Why?

Because while constitutional Libertarians live and breathe these issues, they’re issues on which the IndyParty as a vested interest in strategic silence. 

So the question is, Ms. Hannah Nicollet (or anyone who deighns to answer for her, the endorsed candidate of a major Minnesota political party), how does she square her endorsing party’s positions on these platform issues with her erstwhile Libertarian beliefs, and with the fact that she is being marketed to Libertarians? 

And to you Libertarian-leaning GOP (and Libertarian) voters at whom Ms. Nicollet is currently targeted; you folks gotta admit, you’re long on talk about “principles”.  So do your “principles” tell you that having a “libertarian” candidate marketed to you by a rankly statist party might be ever-so-slightly…

…cynical?  Unprincipled? 

Calculated?

More to come.

Continue reading

The Gnawing

Conservative bloggers and talk radio have been warning about this for a solid decade now.

Obama telegraphed his intentions re the First Amendment long before he was elected – at least in re dissent.

And it’s still out there:

“I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of conservative publishers,” warned Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman in an interview.

“The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications,” he added…Goodman said that protecting conservative media, especially those on the internet, “matters to me because I see the future going to the democratization of media largely through the internet. They can compete with the big boys now, and I have seen storm clouds that the second you start to regulate them, there is at least the possibility or indeed proclivity for selective enforcement, so we need to keep the media free and the internet free.”

As the conservative alt-media warned you in 2007, Obama and the libs currently in charge in DC want to sic the Federal Elections Commission on political media - which in a practical sense means “conservative media”, since the liberal media is the mainstream one.

All media has long benefited from an exemption from FEC rules, thereby allowing outlets to pick favorites in elections and promote them without any limits or disclosure requirements like political action committees.

But Goodman cited several examples where the FEC has considered regulating conservative media, including Sean Hannity’s radio show and Citizens United’s movie division. Those efforts to lift the media exemption died in split votes at the politically evenly divided board, often with Democrats seeking regulation.

And as Obama’s presidency grinds down, expect a lot more of this.

(Via Ace)

Many

Gregg Steinhafel resigned earlier this week as CEO at Target corporation.

Many observers – many!  – thought that was only a matter of time before the Minnesota-based retail giant melted down because their grocery sections carried, and continue to carry, no tabouli mix.

Did a complete lack of tabouli at Target groceries seal Gregg Steinhafel’s corporate doom? Some communities think so. Why does Gregg Steinhafel hate tabouli lovers?

You can scour the grocery section of any Target store, anywhere in the country, and find not a single box of tabouli mix.  On Steinhafel’s watch, the chain not only gave away the entire bulgur/vegetable salad market, but told the nation’s millions of tabouli lovers that Target hated them and watned them to die.

Many observers – many, many, many of them – believe this was the turning point in Steinhafel’s doomed regime.

Gregg Steinhafel – the executive who came up one box of tabouli short at the end of the day.

Continue reading

Instrumentation

Via MPR’s Bob Collins, shocking news; most journalists don’t call themselves Republicans:

The research, from two professors at Indiana University, contains mostly “duh” conclusions. Journalists think journalism is going in the wrong direction, newsrooms are shrinking, there aren’t many minority journalists, journalists are most likely to be college graduates, men make more than women, and journalists aren’t very satisfied with their jobs.

The Post’s Chris Cillizza headlines that fewer journalists are Republicans now. Just 7 percent acknowledge that.

You knew it, right? Those Democrats in trench coats.

But here comes the whammy you just knew was coming:

And now, the rest of the story. They’re less likely to be Democrats, too, the study says:

Compared with 2002, the percentage of full-time U.S. journalists who claim to be Democrats has dropped 8 percentage points in 2013 to about 28 percent, moving this figure closer to the overall population percentage of 30 percent, according to a December 12-15, 2013, ABC News/Washington Post national poll of 1,005 adults. This is the lowest percentage of journalists saying they are Democrats since 1971.

MPR included a graphic.

But I’m going to suggest that the study buries the truth in plain sight.

Party affiliation is just one symptom of political belief – and it is an indicator that one can turn on and off and change and re-cast at will.  I could call myself a Democrat – a “Sam Nunn Democrat”, what the heck – if I wanted to.

But it wouldn’t explain much about me, or how I cover the news around me.  Not accurately, anyway.

But I’d suspect giving journalists a survey like this would be a lot more illuminating:

“For each of the following, assign a number from 1-5, where 1 = “disagree strongly”, 5 = “agree strongly”, and 3 = “I’m ambivalent.

1. I believe that “progressive” ideas are usually wrong, and that new ideas should prove themselves before being adopted.

2. Life begins at conception.

3. Education should be localized, if not privatized.

4. Social security should move into the private equity market.

5. The Second Amendment is a right of the people, and does not refer primarily to the police or military.

6. Marriage is primarily about having and raising children.

7. The Federal Government is too powerful; more power should be devolved down to the states, counties, municipalities, and to The People.

8. The nation has need for Natioanal Heath Insurance; Obamacare is a fiasco and should be repealed as quickly and completely as possible.

9. Any government function that can be performed by three or more people in your local Yellow Pages should be eliminated from the public payroll.

10. The state has no business subsidizing businesses (including public media).

Note that none of those ten questions ask anyone’s party affiliation – but they measure the the extent to which someone believes in the free market or statism.

And while the number of “Democrats” may have shrunk (they outnumber Republicans in the media 4:1), I’m going to guess the number of people with scores in the twenties on my test outnumber those with scores in the forties by a solid 5:1.

ADDITION:  A comment below reminded me – while a large number of journalists refer to themselves as “independents” and always have, surveys (especially the seminalLATimessurveys in the eighties and nineties) showed the vast majority of journos who call themselves “independent” but vote Democrat is almost as large as the proportion of stated Democrats versus Republicans. 

Affiliation isn’t the issue; belief, underlying belief and expressed bias are.

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.

The Hypocrisy Record Books

1988:  Carl Rowan, the WaPo columnist with a long record of vicious attacks on the idea of civilian gun ownership, shoots at a teenager who was in his swimming pool.

2012:  Barack Obama, while claiming the GOP is fighting a “War on Women”, pays his female employees much less than his male staff.

2013:  DFL rep Ryan “Eddie Haskell” Winkler, who routinely attacks the integrity of his opponents on issues of race, calls accomplished jurist Clarence Thomas “Uncle Tom”.

2014:  Media Matters, a George Soros-funded attack-PR firm which has spent years railing against “Right to Work” laws nationwide, brings in the big guns as SEIU tries to unionize MM4A’s underpaid drudge-workers:

Media Matters has retained a law firm whose focus is representing management in labor disputes. It’s forcing its employees into a secret-ballot election, which is the kind of vote card-check proponents like the good folks at Media Matters decry whenever Republicans insist it’s important to maintain.

But the year is still young!

The Bias Pageant (Vote Early And Often!)

The weekend saw not just one, but two bits of epic anti-2nd-Amendment bias in the Strib.  And not in the columns, mind you – it was in the “news”.

Contestant Number One:  Matt McKinney:  McKinney, whose coverage of the Darin Evanovich shooting in 2011 we spent so much time assailing back in the day.  Last week, he wrote about the Byron Smith trial in Little Falls.  Smith is accused of ambushing two youngsters who were breaking into his home.  Again.  The two -Haile Kifer, 18 and Nick Brady, 17 – were apparently not visiting Mr. Smith’s home for the first time.

How many times?

McKinney (with emphasis added):

The Little Falls homeowner had suffered a few break-ins in his home and his adjacent property in the fall of 2012, but didn’t go to the sheriff’s office until after an Oct. 27 break-in, when a shotgun and rifle, as well as other items were stolen from his home.

“A few break-ins” may have been a half-dozen or more.

How many break-ins is a person supposed to cheerfully endure?

To be fair to McKinney, it appears to this non-lawyer that Byron Smith broke one of the absolute rules of self-defense.  While he was not a willing participant, he had no “duty to retreat” in the home, and he may well have had a reasonable fear of being killed or maimed, the idea that he may have shot one or more of the burglars after they were down and no longer a threat may have been the one mistake he made.

On the other hand?  The Strib ran the story on a Saturday.  When the jurors weren’t sequestered, and could read McKinney’s heart-rending elegies to the victims.  Er, burglars.  Why would they do that?

And the County is charging him with first-degree murder – as if he’d been specifically planning to kill the two.

Why, it almost seems like the Strib has a desired verdict.

No – that’d be crazy talk.

The Second Contestant:  Baird Helgeson:   The Strib’s Helgeson wrote last week about the Schoen-Latz bill to take guns away from domestic abusers.

It’s not so much that the issue doesn’t warrant attention – domestic abuse is ugly and prone to violence.  Most people – even shooters – support some provisions to disarm people who are legitimately suspected of domestic abuse, with due process.

It’s the words “legitimate” and “due process” that are the clinkers.  Many – maybe most – domestic abuse charges brought during divorce proceedings are inflated or false, intended by angry spouses and sleazy divorce lawyers to try to skew the proceedings.   The accused – usually men – are often treated as guilty until proven innocent.  And even a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction is sufficient to disarm someone for decades, maybe life.

So most shooters agree – disarm the violent, but give people due process.

The responsible anti-gunners and the Minnesota 2nd Amendment community have been negotiating over a current bill for a while now, trying to make sure everyone’s concerns get addressed.

So look at the tone of Mr. Helgeson’s piece.  I’ll add emphasis for things like cheerleading and repeating Heather Martens’ chanting points under the guise of “news reporting”:

Minnesota could be on the verge of breakthrough changes in some of its gun laws.

“Breaking through…” against what?

Until now, no restriction on gun ownership has been too small to draw the fierce opposition of gun rights groups and their supporters.

“Small” to whom?  This blog spent a lot of time last year showing how big the “small” restrictions actually were.  That is, apparently, of no interest to Helgeson.

Just a year ago, a proposal for broader background checks for firearms purchases was crushed at the Capitol despite attempts to weaken the bill enough to get it approved.

“Crushed” sounds so…bad.  How about “defeated”?

This time, a rank-and-file police officer — who also happens to be a DFL House member from St. Paul Park — is leading the effort to take all firearms, including rifles, away from those who stalk or abuse their partners. His careful ­legislative campaign is winning surprising support.

Notice how Helgeson is framing the issue?  Gun rights supporters are tyrants, “crushing” and “weakening” legislation from the plucky, reasonable underdogs of the DFL!

The narrative is served!

He has a powerful partner — Republican Rep. Tony Cornish, a retired police officer and the Legislature’s most outspoken advocate of gun rights. He ­regularly carries a handgun into the ­Capitol.

Presumably as “the Darth Vader March” plays in the background.   That plucky Dan Schoen!

The bill, which has run a gantlet of House committees, faces its most serious test Monday, when the full House is scheduled to vote on final passage.

Now, if I were a reporter exercising my personal biases, I’d say the bill “slithered through a series of House committees where members, weary of defending bad gun bills from well-informed citizens, gave it a solid working-over”.

But good bills “run gauntlets”.

Here’s the interesting part – and perhaps the part the Minnesota anti-civil-rights lobby would prefer Helgeson not have written:

The proposal would put Minnesota at the leading edge of a larger national movement that, after meeting with defeat on more ambitious proposals, is aiming at narrow niche victories in areas with broad public ­support, such as preventing domestic homicides.

Leading the way to “Victory” against the big bad shooters!

That is, of course, Michael Bloomberg’s current strategery – to kill the Second Amendment with a million cuts. 

I wonder if Helgeson would be so excited about laws that tossed biased “journalists” out of the trade?  Probably not – he (and I) would likely turn into civil libertarian absolutists.

Narrative alert!

The bipartisan nature of the measure has drawn the attention of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, a devoted gun owner who has been leery of tightening Minnesotans’ right to own firearms.

The left trots that out whenever Dayton needs to appear “moderate”.  He’s a “devoted gun owner” – but not one of the icky bad ones!

“It’s not perfect, but it’s getting there,” said Rob Doar, a lobbyist for the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, which has dropped its objection to Schoen’s bill. “We agree with making sure the guns get out of the house,” so long as there is ample due process.

There is some question as to how accurately Helgeson related Doar’s quotes.  I’ll be talking with Rob about this soon enough.

Studies show that half of all domestic abuse homicides in Minnesota over the past three years involved a firearm.

“I absolutely believe without a doubt that lives will be saved by this,” said St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing, whose office handles about 1,000 domestic violence cases a year.

All likely true.  But they’re significant for what they set up:

The gun culture of this country is so disturbing,” said Marree Seitz, whose daughter Carolyn was shot and killed by her husband several days after filing for divorce in 1996. “So much of the domestic abuse is so flammable, where the littlest thing can set the person off,” she said. “The accessibility of the weapons makes it such a natural thing.”

It’s as if Helgeson thinks he’s writing a buddy movie – the unlikely good/liberal cop bad/conservative cop taking unlikely sides against “the gun culture”, personified by all those unwashed gun maniacs that swarm the Capitol “crushing” and “weakening” their precious gun laws.

And yet they try soooo hard!

Legislators were still working on the proposal late in the week, ensuring that gun advocates could approve the changes.

The measure puts opponents in the difficult and politically dicey position of defending gun ownership rights for domestic abusers and stalkers.

Right!  And in case any of you missed it, Baird Helgeson was there to say it’s so!

The measure has strong support from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the country’s largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization.

Not to be confused with “gun control group”.  Good heavens, no.

The group was founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has poured millions of dollars of his personal fortune into the cause.Just this month, Bloomberg pledged an additional $50 million to try to match the NRA’s formidable membership base, lobbying force and campaign organization.

That’s good ol’ Bloomie; just another plucky billionaire underdog, fighting against those millions of regular middle-American nuts!

“Clearly, we ran into a buzz saw last year,” said Paymar, who runs a nonprofit organization aimed at reducing domestic abuse. “The environment was toxic at the time.”

Regular citizens turning out and making their opinions crystal clear = “toxic”.

Good to know.

Now It’s Time To Vote!:  Who wins the first ever “Strib Bias Pageant?”

Who Wins This Week’s Strib Bias Pageant?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

 

 

Results will be announced tomorrow. Vote early and often!

Our Oblivious Media

Chicago TV reporter leaves the studio, and The Loop, long enough to absorb a little bit of life in Chicago’s Democrat-addled slum neighborhoods – and is amazed to see signs of a war zone, in a piece entitled with glorious cluelessness “Bulletproof Subways A Sign Of Violent Times?”: 

Just another day at Subway in Chicago

While out on an unrelated assignment, CBS 2 investigative reporter Dave Savini decided to stop by a South Side Subway sandwich shop for a meal.

Savini was struck by the fact that the counter of the store at 116th Street and South Halsted was encased in bullet-proof glass.

Such a sight would be common at crime magnets like gas stations or currency exchanges, but a Subway?

One wonders where these media hamsters have been the past 15 years. 

The first restaurant I saw bullet-proofing its employees’ work area was a White Castle on the 1/9 in Newark (hell yeah, I ordered) back in 2003.

More amazing, perhaps?  The KFC near Abbot Northwestern in south Minneapolis had a completely enclosed bullet-proof counter in 2005. 

No wonder the Chicago bloodbath has gotten so little media coverage; not only do the media lick Rahm Emanuel’s shoes clean, but none of them have the foggiest idea what goes on in their city.

Signs Of The Alpaca Lips

The sun rose, blue, in the south.

A v-shaped formation of pigs descended onto a lake near my office.

And MPR’s “Poligraph” actually out-and-out called Mark Dayton “misleading“:

It’s true that the legislature passed and Dayton signed $508 million in tax relief this session, and that the bill will benefit a wide swath of Minnesotans.

However, to say that these tax cuts are new is a bit of a stretch. Nearly half come from making sure Minnesota’s tax rules match federal tax rules. And in part, there won’t be a lapse in those tax benefits.

Another large part of the bill comes from repealing sales taxes that were put into law only a year ago, one of which hadn’t even kicked in yet.

Finally, it’s important to note that Dayton and the DFL legislature raised taxes last year, too, to the tune of $2.1 billion. That means Minnesotans will still be paying more than they used to, though some will be paying less.

Dayton’s claim leans toward misleading.

In the same sense that Michael Jackson “leaned toward” weird.

But let’s not split hairs.  It’s MPR, actually coming out and saying Dayton’s “tax cut” claim is BS.

Never thought I’d see it.

 

The Left’s War On The Western Intellect

One never needs to look far for a Berg’s Seventh Law violation.  But this one may be the big daddy of them all.

For all the left’s bargling about how smart they are and how stupid the teabagging wingnuts are, it’s the left that’s waging a war against the intellectual traditions that made the West a great, and – by world historical standards – free, prosperous and enlightened place.

The Late, Great Debate:  I did debate team for one year, and speech team for two in high school.  And with all due respect to the debaters in my social circle – including John Hinderaker, a national college debate champ – there was no question about it; debate team was the lesser set of skills.  The best “debaters” merely honed their ability to rattle off, auctioneer-style, factoids in a coherent-sounding case; oratorical style and even audible legibility didn’t make the cut as priorities.  Debaters tended to make lousy “forensics” speakers.

But debate teaches a vital skill – indeed, perhaps one of Western Civilization’s most vital skills; classical logic.  A good debater knows how to contruct a logical argument, quickly, steering clear of glaring logical fallacies which will, of course, cost them points with literate judges.

Or rather, they knew it.

John Hinderaker relates the story of the decline and fall of collegiate debate, where teams are now winning “debate” tournaments while ignoring the stated topic and swerving into their own personal polemics, often in “slam poetry” and hip-hop styles and, dumber still, declaring the idea of “logic” and “structure” to be racist:

The assertion that “the framework of collegiate debate has historically privileged straight, white, middle-class students” is puzzling. By “privileged,” the writer apparently means that these are the people who have been good at it. Historically, most college students have of course been white and middle-class, but so what?

“Collegiate debate” has turned into the MinnPost comment section!

I’m tempted to declare that the structure, rules and equipment of the NFL are ageist, classist and ableist, and play using only a shotgun and a hockey stick; why should those privileged with athletic talent and lack of years have all the fun and money?

Well, no – I won’t.  Because I’m not an idiot.

The underlying message from the academy (and hip hop forms notwithstanding, the end of collegiate debate is a battle between academic points of view, not tastes in music) is that logic and structure – the building blocks of western philosophy, “liberal” government, modern science, and indeed every Western intellectual tradition worth preserving – are matters of racist “privilege”.

Would we have had a small-”l” liberal government, ann Enlightenment, a Renaissance, math and science as we know it, a legal system remotely worth having, and any common intellectual tradition without classical logic?

Happy To Be An Intellectual Midget For A Better Minnesota!:  Of course, it’s more than just a national thing; the Minnesota Left has been doing its best to make politics and public life in Minnesota  dumber, coarser, nastier thing.

Bill Glahn dials this tendency in as remorselessly as a sniper:

As the 2014 election campaign heats up, a drearily familiar pattern is repeating itself. Flush with big dollars from out-of-state donors, Democrat-front group Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) is attacking Republican candidates under the theme Wrong for Minnesota…Back in the dim mists of time—when dinosaurs still trod upon the earth—I was taught that arguing against the person (ad hominem) rather than what the person was saying, defied the laws of logic.

When I was in debate in high school, and moreso when arguing points in college, leading with the ad hominem was a good way to have your thesis sent to the showers.

I was taught in classical Greek rhetoric that a message that relied exclusively on raw emotion (pathos)—rather than reason (logos) or an appeal to values (ethos)—was considered the lowest form of communication.
Ad hominem and pathos are the only form of expressions ABM is capable of. The reason why ABM relies on these tactics is because they work. The object is not to engage in debate, but to end debate by surpressing voter turnout. ABM is not trying to convince you that you should vote for Democrats, they are trying to convince you that no Republican possesses the personal character worthy of your vote.

And it works.  A potential candidate for higher office talked with me about ABM’s efforts last year; this person wanted very much to run for an office that would be up for election this year, but couldn’t; while they have the political savvy, experience and record to do the job, ABM would make their personal life – things unrelated to politics, of course – a living hell.  And so a good candidate opted out of the race – leaving that bit more room for an inferior Democrat.

To add insult to injury?  The same media full of Lori Sturdevants and Keri Millers that snivel about the “vitriol” and “anger” in politics, are utterly silent about the Alliance’s crimes against logic:

Should a Republican whisper about the health of our current governor or the temperament of our junior senator, they are immediately shouted down by local media.

Either because of personal relationships or broad sympathy with the aims of ABM, these tactics are never questioned by local media. ABM’s increasingly fantastic and desperate claims against Republicans are never subjected to the “fact-check” apparatus.

And why is that?

Why has MPR, especially their “Fact-Check” operation, “Poligraph”, never systematically looked into ABM’s propaganda?  Catherine Richert?  Mike Mulcahy?  Tom Scheck? Anyone?

The Barricades Fall – A Little

The Twin Cities’ left is declaring a Code Red; Glen Taylor is buying the Strib

The Minnesota sports and business tycoon and former GOP state senator has picked up the shrivelling Gray Nag of Minnesota media properties - and has vowed to make some changes.

Some. 

Bear in mind, Taylor came from the old-school Minnesota GOP; relatively moderate, accustomed to working with the then-slightly-less-extreme DFL in a way that’s as obsolete as the personal computers from the 1980s, when that arrangement still held sway. 

But he’s talking changes; the MinnPost‘s Britt Robson (from the first installment of a two-part interview) talked with Taylor about his planned changes:

MP: The Star Tribune is regarded as a liberal newspaper, rightly or wrongly, and probably less so now than ten years ago. Will that change under you in any way shape or form?

GT: I think the answer is yes. But I think the answer is yes whether I buy it or don’t buy it. Everything changes, and some people are going to say, “Well it is, because you bought it, that it changed.”

I would say back to them, “No. You are going to have new hires. You are going to have new people. There are going to be changes in seniority. You have got to be responsible to your readership.” And I think it has already been changing, and I have been a longtime reader of the paper.

Will it change because of the ownership of Glen Taylor? Yeah. To say it won’t wouldn’t be accurate. But it isn’t like Glen Taylor is going to come in there on day one and say, “I’m going to fire people” and do all sorts of things. I am going to say — and I have already told them this — that first of all it has got to be fair and it has got to be accurate.

On the one hand, that – especially if manifested in the form of “reporting news that impacts the DFL with the same zeal as they do it to the GOP” – would be a huge start. 

On the other, I think Taylor is too sanguine about the evolutionary process in journalism.  The old, DFL-upsucking liberals like Nick Coleman are slowly fading away (and Lori Sturdevant has got to be eyeing that condo in Tampa, right?), but even they got their start at a time when American journalism paid more than feeble lip service to the ideals of impartiality and balance.

The Journalism academy today is far less idealistic than it was forty years ago.  New J-School grads are far more likely to start out as advocates from the word “go” than their elders, who oozed into the role over decades in a “progressive”-dominated state. 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes:  So what does the Strib  really need?

  1. An Editorial Staff that actually puts accuracy and completeness ahead of politics.  Today – when they’ll sit on video of Mark Dayton giving an embarassing speech, but race to press with even the most foetid allegations about Republicans – they do not.  This editorial staff needs to crack the whip on, if not “objectivity” (which I believe has always been a myth in the major media) at least detachment, balance and development of sources outside the current crop’s clubby Rolodex full of left-leaning contacts. 
  2. Accountability:  For the better part of a decade, the person filling the role of the ombudsman (“reader representative”) at the Strib has served entirely as the editorial board’s spinmeister/spinmistress.  Ombuds like Sue Perry were the journalistic equivalents of Baghdad Bob, asking who you trusted – your lying eyes, or the Strib’s spin on the mountain of evidence of the paper’s bias.   The Strib needs an ombud that revels in mixing it up with the paper’s status quo. 
  3. A Columnist’s Row With Real Diversity:  Liberals have spent the past half-decade or so whining about the hiring of Katherine Kersten.  The complaints took two forms; “why hire a conservative, the paper is already balanced/conservative”, and “she doesn’t know the journo’s secret handshake!”.  The first line of complaints was straight from Alice in Wonderland.  The second wasn’t so much delusional as, I think, a tacit admission that conservatives were right; the journos wanted someone filling the “house conservative” role who knew the secret journo handshake and would work for “the team” when in doubt.  Which is not to impugn Doug Tice, Kersten’s designated replacement, in any way – he’s a solid reporter, right of center by Strib standards, and a journo of great integrity, but hardly an iconoclast.   The Strib needs an iconoclast, someone who will hold the ancient, biased institution of the paper’s feet in the fire. 

What else will it take?