There’s Gambling Going On In This Establishment…

I’m not “Minnesota Nice”.

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

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

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

And my impression is proven correct.

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

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

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

Sounds hunky-dory! 

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

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

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

Priorities

MNSure is a disaster that’s going to cost us hundreds of millions of dollars – much more, in fact, that most of the state’s natural disasters.  .

Behind the happy talk, the state’s economy is showing signs of slowing

Our major cities’ minority achievement gaps are worse than those in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Detroit.  Indeed, we are worse than the proverbial “cold Omaha”. 

So what’s been the top news of the week among the left and media (pardon the redundancy)?

Some ill-advised tweets about Robin Williams by the MNGOP’s deputy.

Follow-up question:  What is it that bothered the left/media about Mr. Fields’ tweets?  Was it the politicization of a tragedy?  Or was it that someone would tweet something grossly inappropriate? 

Because I’m sure nobody on the left would politicize a tragedy or tweet something stupid.

I’m sure we’ll hear back on that.

Swirling About The Drain

I hate to indulge in schadenfreud. 

But I’m only human.

Arbitron numbers are in for the Fargo-Moorhead area – and the two big lib-talk hosts at KFGO (which is sort of the WCCO of the Fargo metro area) are sucking fumes.

Joel Heitkamp is off sharply, according to Rob Port

But even more sweet?  Mike McFeely – the sportscaster turned incompetent liberal talking head – is sucking pond water. 

Conservative talk thrives in liberal bastions like the Twin Cities, Chicago and LA – as a contrarian Jeremiah, and a rallying point for the areas beleaguered conservatives.  You’d think, orthagonally, that liberal talk would work for the same reasons in relatively conservative places like Fargo (although Fargo is the most liberal major city in North Dakota). 

I guess not.

Breaking Some Eggs

I had a great pleasure of meeting seven or eight of my closest friends at the River Oasis Café in Stillwater Saturday morning.

We talked about the cafe last week; they aroused the ire of the entire Minnesota Left – few of whom would ever seem to have been at the River Oasis – by putting their “minimum wage fee” on their receipts:

20140811-065434-24874747.jpg

First things first: It’s a classic American diner – like Mickey’s on West Seventh, or Keys, and not a whole lot of others out there anymore. The food was excellent.

I had the pleasure of talking with Craig Beemer, the owner, on my show on Saturday afternoon (and his wife on Saturday morning). And we learned a couple of things about the place, and the “controversy”.

Money:  One of the left’s main whining points about the public “minimum wage fee” is that it’s “disrespectful to the employees”.  

Of course, it’s a stupid point.  Unlike most restaurants, the Beemers already pay the back of the house staff – the line cooks, dishwashers and the like – better than minimum wage, and (according to Beemer) very competitively with the similar places in Stillwater.  That’s the kind of “respect” I actually cared about when I was a low-wage employee.

The only people making minimum wage are the waitstaff – and when you add on tips, they’re making closer to $25 an hour, often more, and the minimum wage is not an issue. 

Except for the Beemers, for whom the wage hike was a $10,000/year hit on the bottom line.   Remember – restaurants across the river in Wisconsin have a minimum wage of $3-and-change per hour.

Because they have a tip credit.

Power:  Which is what Governor Dayton’s sons asked for earlier this summer.  Andrew and Eric Dayton, owners of “The Bachelor Farmer”, a chi-chi restaurant in Minneapolis, complained to Dadders because the new, higher minimum wage hike was harshing their fiscal mellow.  They asked for…

…a tip credit.

Bonus Explanation For Leftybloggers, none of whom apparently have ever worked for tips:  you don’t work for minimum wage.  Even when there’s a “tip credit” in effect and your “wage” is $3-and-change/hour, like in most surrounding states, you’re still making more.  How much more?  If you work at a crummy place with lousy food, maybe not enough more.  If you work at Manny’s Steakhouse and tend to tables  that rack up $400-$1000 for a meal, you can make well into six digits.  In between?  It’s a complex set of dependencies; waiting skill, clientele, season, even the weather. 

But for all the crap that Tom Emmer took for his “waitstaff making over $100,000″ “gaffe” four years ago, you might be amazed at the number of waitstaff that take home solid middle-class “living wages”; $50,000, $75,000 and more. 

Which isn’t bad for a trade that requires no education, licensing or anything but talent and hard work.

Which may be what bothers liberals about all of this.

“If Ifs, Ands And Buts Were Candy And Nuts, We’d All Have A Wonderful Unbedankfest”:  Here’s another note for ignorant leftybloggers; a “tip credit” acknowledges the fact that for a good waiter at a good establishment with a good clientele, the minimum wage is the fringe of their income; the owner can apply some of the waitstaff’s tips to the wage, in effect. 

“I think tipping is just wrong”, whined a massive clot of liberals last week, “and I think we should do away with it; it’s unfair.  They should all just be paid”, they say, reflecting the “progressive” desire to oversimplify the free market (and working for tips is the ultimate meritocracy). 

Of course, it’s been tried.  Not a few restaurants have tried to abolish tipping – paying their waitstaff more, and jacking up the prices accordingly, to a brief flurry of adoring media attention. 

Then they quietly vanish.  And a few years later, the cycle repeats. 

“It’s So Tacky!”:  Tackier than jamming down a minimum wage increase with the barest possible minimum of debate, and then reconsidering when the governor’s kids get into a jam? 

“Why don’t they publicize all the costs that hit their bottom line?”:   Because if they use too much electricity, they can unscrew the lightbulbs in the bathrooms.  If the price of tomatoes goes up, they can use fewer of them in their recipes.  If Ecolab cleaning products are too expensive, they can switch to Servicemaster.   In other words – as with everything in the free market (including restaurant choices), they, the consumer, can say “no” and pick a better option. 

But they can’t switch states.  Tempting as it is for many businesspeople.  Government is the one thing you can’t say “no” to, without having men in uniforms with guns busting down your door eventually. 

And the hypocrisy of a “progressive” movement that twisted itself into knots to try to legitimize the “Occupy” movement turning around and attacking an actual working business for using its right to free speech is enough to put me off my breakfast, were it less delicious.  

“What are you going to do, Berg?  Hang out there all the time?”:  It’s not really about me.  But when in Stillwater – a place I may get to annually – sure why not? 

The “point” they’re shooting for is that conservatives won’t be going there forever, and the liberals among the Oasis’ clientele will stay gone. 

I’m going to guess that most of the people doing the “protesting” have never been there, and would never have gone - and if they did, they were, like most liberals, lousy tippers anyway. 

Anyway - kudos to the Beemers.  And thanks for a fantastic breakfast, a great discussion, and for fighting a battle that a lot more people need to fight.

Saturday Breakfast

Earlier this week, Sally Jo Sorenson of Bluestem Prairie unleashed the nagging, hectoring, joyless scolding hordes of the Minnesota left on the River Oasis Cafe in Stillwater for daring to protest against the DFL’s minimum wage hike jamdown by informing their diners how the price hike was affecting their meal price.

The comments on Sorenson’s piece were the same sort of uniformed ad-hominem that the mindless cattle of Minnesota specialize in, in their bovine way.  And given that most of them  are idlers with more time on their hands than brain cells to burn, we can only assume that they’ve taken other actions against the River Oasis. 

Because protest is a good thing, unless it’s the DFL that’s being protested against. 

Anyway – any establishment that’s got the seeds to tell the emperor they have no clothes deserves the thanks of the people who really make this state work, the taxpayers for whom the DFL has such oozing pustulent contempt.

So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m gonna run out there (here’s the map link) for breakfast Saturday morning. 

And if you’re a Minnesota taxpayer, businessperson or citizen who thinks that real people speaking truth to stupid power is a good thing, I’ll invite you to join me.  For breakfast. 

(Separate checks, by the way).

If it’s just me, that’s fine.  But feel free to come on out.  Drop me a comment if you get a moment, just so I know whether to expect company.

That Joyous Moment…

…when liberals actually realize they have to pay for the “progressive” legislation they demanded.

A cafe in Stillwater tacked on a “Minimum Wage Fee” to their bills, to show their customers – this being Stillwater, mostly DFLers – what their “generosity” with other peoples’ bottom lines was costing everyone. 

Sally Jo Sorenson – one of the handful (literally – maybe five, no more than ten) liberal bloggers in Minnesota who don’t belong under police surveillance – just doesn’t like those peasants getting uppity:

The restaurant industry had tried–but failed–to make the case to the Minnesota legislature for a “tip credit” system under which wait staff could be paid less than the new minimum wage. New legislation raised the state’s minimum wage to $8.00/hr on August 1, with new raises for workers until the wage is $9.50/hr in August 2016.

Accurized:  The restaurant industry’s case had no more chance of being heard in a legislature dominated by a DFL that owed their union benefactors big bucks than Ice Cube has of getting applauded at a Ted Nugent concert.  The minimum wage was going to pass, no matter what. 

And once the DFL has spoken, to the left (via Sally Jo Sorenson), people should just shut up and forget all that “free speech” and “protest” crap. 

The cafe in question should oughtta be careful, of course; next, it’ll be the IRS. 

Reading the smug, PC commenters (as if Sorenson deigns to print any other kind) is just precious.

I’d like to find out what the cafe is, so I can grab breakfast there this weekend and thank them for forcing the Minnesota left to marinade in its own cowardly hypocrisy.

The Host I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up

Back in the eighties, the first time I worked in Twin Cities radio, you could always tell when a station needed a publicity boost.   There’d be an “incident” – a disk jockey would “say” something “objectionable”, or “insult” a “guest”, or some other shenanigan on the air, which would “lead” to a “suspension”, which would get all sorts of coverage from “news” people. 

For example, back in the late eighties, “Cadillac Jack” at KDWB “insulted” British pop tart Kim Wilde on the air, and was “suspended” for a week. The Strib, the City Pages and the Twin Cities Reader all slurped up the “story” like puppies racing toward spilled hot dogs. 

Of course, the “incident” was about as real as a pro wrestling match; it was a PR stunt coinciding with a jock’s planned vacation.  In radio, then as much or more than now, if you actually screwed up for real you got unceremoniously fired, very very off the air. The number of  such “incidents” that actually happen, spontaneously, in major-market radio is microscopic.  How microsopic?  The “real” incidents are practically legends in the radio business. 

“Blaze” of “Glory”:  Jason Lewis “quit” his afternoon-drive show on Genesis Communications (heard locally on AM1130 KTCN) yesterday.  A monologue ended with a vow to “go Galt” and stop “feeding the Beast” – after which he stomped out of the studio.  His producer vamped for a bit, and then, luckily, longtime Twin Cities talkradio journeyman Dan Conry just happened to be available to finish out the last half of Lewis’ show. 

So I can be forgiven for having an eighties flashback, can’t I?

I don’t know much – I’ll be talking with people I know in the business over the weekend – but if I were a betting man (and I’m not) I’d bank on the following:

  • Lewis’ departure from his Genesis deal had been coming for a while
  • The “I’m going Galt!” departure was a PR stunt.  For what?  For his “Galt.io” website (if Lewis had jammed any more Galt references into his “departure”, laws of physics would have been violated)?  For his next venture, whatever it is? 

It’s savvy marketing, and it’s classic radio – the kind of thing the pasty-faced computer-programmers who dominate the industry today have forgotten how to do. 

Lewis, in his day – his first hitch in Twin Cities radio, at KSTP back in the nineties through the early 2000s – was one of the fathers of modern Minnesota conservatism.  There’s no overstating how vital he was in putting grassroots libertarian-conservatism on the Minnesota agenda during those years; had there been no Jason Lewis, conservatism would likely have remained a backroom aberration in the MNGOP for much longer than it did; the “moderate vs. conservative” battle would have stayed mired in the eighties for another decade or more.  The Tea Party in Minnesota built on a basis of activism that Jason, more than any single person, established. 

His first hitch?  That was some heady stuff. 

Changes:  Lewis’ second stint – his return to KTCN and then Genesis, since the mid-late 2000s – was a little more subdued. 

Lewis was different in his second go-around; the ebullient crusader for truth and justice was replaced by a hectoring professor who was always the smartest guy in the room and who made damn sure you knew it.  He became less a party guy (although talk of him running for Senate kept circulating every election cycle) and more of an ideological libertarian-conservative.

And that’s not a criticism; it’s a perfectly valid character for a talk radio personality (see also Mark Levin), and not necessarily a bad idea in a talk market that had filled up with crusading everymen – including yours truly – since his first debut in the nineties.   Although part of me thinks his second go-around would have been better with Joe Hanson producing him; Joe could cut anyone’s unnecessary pretensions off at the knees

The industry has changed a lot over the past 20 years, of course; the days of drive-time talk show hosts, even on small networks like Lewis’ 40-odd stations on Genesis, drawing low-to-mid six figure salaries were coming to a close (damn the luck). 

I hope the next chapter in Jason’s media life is a good, rewarding one.  I can’t imagine him “retiring” (or anyone else, these days, for that matter). 

I remember during Jason’s time at KSTP, during my own long break from talk radio (1987 to 2004), listening to Lewis doing his thing as I drove home from work or tootled around town in a car full of kids doing my errands, pondering what life’d have been like had I stayed in radio, and thinking “that’s the host I always wanted to be when I grew up”. 

And in my little one-day-a-week talk radio hobby, I guess that’s what I’ve been shooting for for the last ten years.   To be a little like Jason.

Not exactly like Jason, of course.  I make a lousy professor.  But to be seen as someone who knows what he’s talking about, and who wants to convince the unconvinced, and wants to take my – our – political beliefs to the street and change things?  That’s what I wanted.  It’s what I shoot for. 

And so I wish Jason all the best, and hope I haven’t heard the last of him.

Junk Science, Junkier “Journalism”

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

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

Continue reading

A Watchdog That Only Barks At Mailmen

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

They completely missed the real scandal, which is President Obama’s imperial disregard for the law, but at least this is a step in the right direction. Sorry about the annoying survey pop-up, no wonder nobody reads that newspaper.

Gun-running to Mexico and refusing to enforce the borders don’t bother the editors. Closing the ocean is no problem. Targeting Americans for drone strikes is fine. But sneak a peek at a journalist’s email and they turn on you like savages.

Better late than never.

Joe Doakes

it’s hard to come up with even a short list of things that’ve disgusted me about this administration, and about this country during this administration, but on the very short list would have to be the fact that the media only act like watchdogs when the media, itself, is affected.

There needs to be in accounting for that, someday.

Rose Colored Glasses

You can’t escape it on Twitter or in the Media – the DFL and its various spokespeople, and the media (pardon the redundancy) crowing about Minnesota’s job numbers.

Because raising taxes creates jobs, dammit!

Except, as Bill Glahn notes, the numbers just don’t add up.

The state and its minions have been crowing that the state gained 8.500 jobs in June, and a total of 10,700 jobs so far this year.

Doing the arithmetic, that total means Minnesota gained 8,500 jobs in June, but a mere 2,200 jobs in the five months of January through May, combined.

And it the numbers get more interestinger:

 Each month DEED also reports on the jobs created in the previous 12 months, for a rolling look at the number of jobs created for a year-long period. For the 12 months ending June 2014, DEED reports Minnesota created almost 53,800 jobs. That figure would mean that we’d created 43,100 jobs in the six month of July through December 2013, but a mere 10,700 jobs in the most recent six months. Rather than suggesting an economic boom, those numbers indicate a real weakness in our state’s economy.

Bad, politically-driven reporting from the state?  Casual illiterate reporting from the media? 

Glahn’s not done:

 But consider this anomaly:
 
Reporting
 
Jobs Gained
 
Month
Month
YTD
Last 12 Mo.
June
8,500
10,700
53,779
May
10,300
45,617
April
(4,200)
41,934
March
2,600
41,582
February
(100)
44,714
January
600
52,160
Total
17,700
 
 
 
Adding together the number of jobs created each month in 2014, as reported by DEED, produces a total of 17,700 jobs for the year so far. So that means that sometime during the last few months, 7,000 jobs have vanished from the official state rolls.

“Unexpectedly” vanished, of course.

Glahn predicts the state’s rosy “8,500″ number for June will be gradually revised out of existence.

To be replaced – this is my prediction – by more inflated, misleading predictions intended to lull the incurious.

And the news consumers they report to.

Compare And Contrast

A Conservative media outlet (blogger, talk host, writer, etc):  Sees a story about a two-bit Democrat candidate whom even fellow Democrats shun at the polls making an over the top depraved statement.  He briefly considers posting it as a sign that it’s truly Democrats who are waging a “war on women” – but notes that the guy is so fringe that even most Democrats refudiate the guy.   Decides that writing about the guy would give him just a little more unjustified publicity, opts to do his little bit to return the creep to obscurity by ignoring the story.

A Liberal media outlet – say, “Think” Progress, gets a story about an obscure GOP candidate who’s running third in the primary for a city council seat in Brackwater Alabama saying “AIDS is God’s revenge on gays”.  Within 12 hours, every liberal media outlet from MSNBC all the way down to Dim Tim Sweeney’s twitter feed, and thence further to AM950, bleats “PROMINENT REPUBLICAN SAYS GOD HATES F**S!”.

Snipers In The Mist

The Chicago Police discovered a “sniper nest” atop a public parking garage near a Chicago college:

Officials say they found a high-powered semi-automatic rifle about a block from the campus of Kennedy King college, near 64th and Lowe last Thursday. Officers say the nest was found on top of a garage across from a soccer field on campus.

Snipers.  Deadly, cold-eyed marksmen…

A US Marine sniper. With his rifle. With a long, match-grade barrel, to use the most of the high-powered round’s power to give the bullet the highest velocity and straightest flight path possible.

…with weapons that can reach out hundreds of yards – sometime over a mile – to put a bullet precisely into a human head.

At the scene, officers recovered a fully loaded Mac-10.

(SCREAAAAAAAATCH)

A MAC-10?

A MAC-10

The MAC10 is a civilianized version of the MAC-10 submachine gun – an ultra-short-barreled weapon designed to “Spray and Pray”; fire 20 shots a second at point-blank range.  But being civilianized, it doesn’t ”spray” – it’s semi-automatic.   It has a four-inch barrel – the same as a modestly-respectable handgun.  But it’s not even as accurate as a modest-quality handgun (and even a high-quality target handgun is useless beyond about 30-50 yards).  The MAC’s  “sights” are a v-notch cut in a piece of steel.  It’s got a trigger pull like an old Mattel cap gun.   And it fires pistol ammunition, meaning by definition it is not “high-powered”.

It is a glorified, heavy, badly-balanced, expensive handgun, with an effective, aimed range of about 30 feet.  Not “a block and a soccer field and change”.

Kennedy King officials say they have notified students. Although, it does not appear that anyone on campus was ever in any danger.

Indeed.

I know that the NRA and other Second Amendment groups offer classes to journalists about how not to sound stupid when talking about firearms.  Someone might want to send the TV station behind this story a gift certificate.

Hell: Freezing?

The Star/Tribune Editorial Board, perhaps shockingly, called for a special prosecutor in the IRS Scandal:

That’s a necessary step, and the request should be expediently heeded by the Obama administration. Although there are two investigations underway in the Republican-controlled House, a nonpartisan review by an investigator with bipartisan respect and technological expertise is sorely needed. The public needs reassurance that the nation’s tax-collection agency is run with integrity and that anyone who may have abused its formidable authority has been held accountable.

So far, so good.

But then we swerve into the weeds:

The decision on whether to appoint a special prosecutor, officially called a special counsel, lies with the Department of Justice.

That’s long for Eric Holder.  The guy who’s been stonewalling several other investigations of Obama administration corruption, Fast and Furious chief among them.

IRS officials have insisted that the lost e-mails were just an unfortunate computer meltdown and that the extra scrutiny of groups with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their names was a regrettable mistake. If this is trumped-up, as Democrats often and sometimes accurately deride other House investigations, there’s nothing to fear by appointing a special prosecutor to put this long-simmering scandal to bed.

Or – as Holder will do – whitewash it. 

Still – while the Strib’s editorial board exhibits its inner pollyanna about the DOJ’s inner gestalt, at least it’s heart is in the right place, kind of:

It’s foolish to think this is going to blow over — or that it should. A May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration unequivocally concluded that the agency used “inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions.’’…a thorough reading of the report underscores that conservative groups were targeted.

The real question is:  can we, The People, trust an Obama Administration appointee to police his boss? 

There was a time we could count on the media to ensure someone like Holder’s behavior would be above board. 

Perhaps we need a special investigator into that

Flexible

SCENE:  The newsroom at the Star/Tribune.

Laird TORKELSON, political reporter, is sitting at his desk.  An ash tray overflows on his desk as TORKELSON, wearing a porkpie hat with a “Press” pass stuck into the hat band and a rumpled dress shirt pecks away at an IBM Selectric.

A push-button desk phone rings.  Then rings again.  Finally, TORKELSON picks up the phone.

TORKELSON:  Newsroom.  Torkelson.

(Carrie LUCKING from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is on the line.  We hear her through the earpiece)

LUCKING:  Hey, Laird.  We’ve got some work to do here…

TORKELSON:  Hey, Ms. Lucking – I’m kinda busy covering…

LUCKING:  Bla bla bla.  Did I ask for your biography?  Now listen up.

(TORKELSON goes silent)

LUCKING:  Four years ago, the Strib did a good job of preventing outstate DFLers from flaking away from the Governor on Second Amendment issues by spinning Mark Dayton as a gun owner.

TORKELSON:  That wasn’t me, but OK…

LUCKING:  This time, we want to try to get libertarians inside the GOP to flake away from the Republicans.

TORKELSON:  Right – we did that earlier this month, with the “Governor Dayton is a Libertarian” meme.

LUCKING:  Right.  But now the polling is showing the governor in trouble.  So we need you to do a little more for us.

TORKELSON:  (pulling a notebook from his desk drawer, grabbing a pen).  OK, shoot.

LUCKING:  Governor Dayton is a black single mother.

TORKELSON:  (starts writing) A black… (stops writing) single mother?

LUCKING:   Yep.

TORKELSON:   But that’s completely implausible.

LUCKING:   (Bursts out in a dry, mirthless chuckle).  And “Dayton is a Libertarian” was plausible?  Look, I can get you a quote.  (LUCKING shouts, presumably across office) Larry!  Laird needs a quote!

(TORKELSON, puzzled, waits patiently)

VOICE:  Hello, Laird?  This is Larry JACOBS

TORKELSON:   Oh, hi, Larry.  You were visiting Carrie’s office?

JACOBS:  No.

TORKELSON:   Oh – um, OK.  So about this “Dayton is a black single mother” thing, what can you say on the record?

JACOBS (sounding like he’s reading off a cue card):   We can’t prove he’s not a black single mother.  It’s plausible.

TORKELSON:  Er…OK.  Thanks, Doctor Jacobs…

(LUCKING takes the phone)

LUCKING:  So we can run with that?

TORKELSON:  Well, assuming my editor clears space for it…

LUCKING:  Already talked to him!  Front page, baby!

TORKELSON:   Huh.  OK.  I should have it done by five.

LUCKING:  Make it three.  Thanks.  (Phone clicks dead)

(TORKELSON leans back in his chair, as camera pulls back to a wide shot, showing him in an endless, orderly procession of desks, as the sound of electric typewriters becomes more and more intense.

Expertise

With the news that the “Center for American ‘Progress’” invited Christina Hendricks to speak at a summit about the plight of single working mothers (one of which she is not, but she plays one, sort of, onMad Men), a mere 20 years after non-biochemist Meryl Streep was invited to Capitol Hill to lecture Congress about the perils of Alar (a pesticide) on apples, it might be good to give Big Left some other noted experts:

We should invite:

 Expert  To Speak On:
 Aaron Paul  Youth Crime and Drug Abuse
Tom Hanks  Wilderness and Open Ocean Survival
Larry Hagman  Middle Eastern Mythology
Tom Hanks  Counterterrorism
Ron Perlman  Organized Crime in the Rural Southwest
Tom Hanks  Small Unit Tactics
Mary Lynn Rajskub  Cyberterrorism
 James Caviezel  Theology of the New Testament
 Ron Perlman  Countersniper Tactics
 Zach Braff  Non-Surgical Interventions for Ischemic Bowel Syndrome
 Justin Timberlake  Preservation of Appendages after Traumatic Amputation
Steven Colbert The Intellectual Roots of Conservatism

Any others?

Doakes Sunday: Transsubstantiation

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The headline is the story.  Priest killed with colleague’s gun.  Guns go off by themselves, you see, which is why owning a gun is bad.  It will get you killed when it goes off by itself. 

No mention in the headline of the homeless, mentally ill ex-convict who robbed and beat the priests before taking the gun and killing one of them.  Yes, the facts are in the story, but the eye-grabbing headline, the part half the population reads but no further, that’s where the media’s ingrained bias shows. 

Joe Doakes

The homeless guy who animated a firearm must be a miracle worker…

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”.