What Happens In Nevada Used To Stay In Nevada

 31 years ago last winter, a shootout between US Marshals and neo-Nazi tax protesters brought an avalanche of federal law-enforcement to rural North Dakota. 

Even then, long before the rampant militarization of federal law enforcement, the feds stomped about the place like an occupying army:

The police – and, as I recall, a North Dakota National Guard armored personnel carrier – had surrounded the farmhouse. A dog darted from an outbuilding; a policeman shot the dog dead. The gunshot sparked more gunfire, and before long the farmhouse was completely riddled with bullet holes. Finally, the police moved in…

…to discover the farmhouse empty.

Now, there was a “happy” ending; the manhunt ended with Gordon Kahl and an associate dead, and his family and accomplices serving long jail terms. 

But I’ve wondered over the years – what if that manhunt would have happened at a time when everyone had the ability to publish, and broadcast video, in real time? 

Ditto controversial federal law enforcement actions like Waco? 

I ask because the alternative media played a vital role in last week’s Nevada range war:

In another era, Bundy would likely have been quietly run out of business and – literally – lost the farm. Now, thanks to his own efforts in reaching out and the participation of media watchers around the nation, along with volunteers who showed up to help, he and his family may actually get a fair hearing and a chance to keep what they have worked so long and so hard for. But, as I said above, this one will be developing for some time to come if I’m right.

If nothing else?  Today, if the government wants to do things in the night and fog, it has to stay in the dark and fog to do it. 

Which may be good news, or it may be bad…

Paging Alanis Morrisette

An Obamacare call center will not offer benefits.

From the National Review’s Eliana Johnson at NRO.  She’s the daughter of Powerline’s Scott Johnson, and is rapidly becoming one of the best conservative journalists out there.

——–

CORRECTION:  It’s not the Obamacare federal call center.  It’s a state center. 

It’s still like rain on your wedding day and such, but still.

Applied Power

Mess with the Second Amendment, and your bottom line is gonna bleed red:

A massive boycott sparked by the NRA and other gun-rights groups outraged that the nation’s largest outdoors show banned the exhibition of assault weapons has caused the show’s organizers to abruptly cancel the week-long event in Harrisburg, Pa.

The successful boycott was the biggest demonstration of support by the outdoors industry and outdoorsmen yet against gun control efforts being pushed in Washington and in several states.

It’s also a sign that the Administration’s attempt to drive a wedge between “sportsmen” and defense shooters is failing.

The show is the biggest in the nation and features several outdoors groups, hundreds of exhibitors and the most popular TV hunting show stars. It draws thousands from the Washington-Baltimore area. As the assault rifle ban became known, exhibitors, sponsors and the TV stars withdrew by the dozens.

The NRA is a huge sponsor of the show and pulled out Tuesday after Reed moved to ban assault rifles like Bushmasters and AR-15s at the show. A Bushmaster was used in the Newtown, Conn., shootings, according Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance, and Reed said it was bowing to concerns about the gun in banning it from the show.

Real Americans know that guns are inanimate objects.

The rest of the right could learn a lesson or two from the Second Amendment movement; fire the Beltway consultants and do what’s right, for starters.

Future Shock

One of the reasons the Democrats and media are working so hard to drive a wedge between the “establishment” GOP and the Tea Party is that the Tea Party wins elections and, more importantly, represents the real future of the GOP.

 Haley, a little-known state senator before being elected governor, would never have had a chance at becoming governor against the state’s good ol’ boy network of statewide officeholders. Scott would have been a long shot in his Republican primary against none other than Strom Thurmond’s youngest son. Marco Rubio, now the hyped 2016 presidential favorite, would have stepped aside to see now-Democrat Charlie Crist become the next senator, depriving the party of one of its most talented stars. Ted Cruz, the other Hispanic Republican in the Senate, would have never chanced a seemingly futile bid against Texas’s 67-year-old lieutenant governor, seen as a lock to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison.

But all those upset victories–all of which at the time seemed shocking–took place because of the conservative grassroots’ strong sentiment for outsiders who campaigned on their principles, and not over their past political or family connections. Even a decade ago, party officials would have been more successful in pushing these outsider candidates aside, persuading them to wait their turn. (In Rubio’s case, it almost worked.) Now, in an era where grassroots politicking is as easy as ever thanks to the proliferation of social media, more control is in the hands of voters. And contrary to the ugly stereotypes of conservative activists being right-wing to the point of racist, it’s been the tea party movement that’s been behind the political success of most prominent minority Republican officeholders.

That, of course, is not the current left and media (ptr) narrative about the Tea Party.  The media, and its rhetorical camp followers in the Leftyblogosphere Stupid Caucus, have been banging the “Teh Tea Partie is teh ignerent racisst” drum for close to four years now.

And in that time, the GOP overtook the Democrats in the number of elected minorities at the state level.

This is potentially good news, in the long term.

If the GOP deserves to keep it going.

Looking at Boehner’s performance this year, I’m seeing an obstacle or two.

A Small Victory

This blog doesn’t really have a mission, per se.  For ten and a half years now, it’s been more or less my stream of consciousness, mostly but by no means all political.

But if I had to pick a mission, it’d most likely be “convince people to verify the media on everything.  I shrink from saying “distrust the media” in as many words, but I’m somewhere close to that.

And it’s just a little gratifying to see the American people are starting to get that message, at least in re this year’s presidential polling:

 A plurality of Americans and more than seven in 10 Republicans say pollsters are intentionally skewing results to benefit President Obama, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

Some 42 percent of voters surveyed by Daily Kos and SEIU believe pollsters were manipulating their sample sizes to benefit the incumbent president, while 40 percent do not. An additional 18 percent said they were not sure. That’s evidence that Republican claims that Democrats and minority voters are being oversampled in national polls could be resonating — and potentially undermining the momentum of the president’s early lead.

I’m not saying there aren’t journalists, and even organizations, that try to do a good, detached (not “objective” – that’s a myth), fair and clear job of reporting the news.

I am saying that at the highest levels in this extremely hierarchical industry, the publishers and editors and executive producers for the major newspapers, broadcasts, cablecasts and public media, the adage “power corrupts” is as true as anywhere else.  There is power in the mainstream media – and for many in the higher ranks of the business, the urge to use that power to make sure American politics redounds to their advantage has got to be irresistible.

And I’m suggesting that this year’s polls, and the ever-more-leftward revealed bent of the media’s “fact check” industry, is evidence that they’re resisting the urge less and less.

And, maybe, people are starting to realize this.

Gross Receipts

It’s been a couple of years since this blog has run a “bleg” – asking for donations to defray some of the (minimal) cost of running the blog, and grab a few bucks for the (not minimal) time spent writing what you read here.

Fact is, I don’t need it that much.  Business is, oddly, pretty good.  Maybe next year.

But I would like you to take a moment to think about popping a few bucks in Gary Gross’ tip jar.

Gary writes Let Freedom Ring, and does some of the top-notchiest reporting there is, anywhere.  He does for Central Minnesota what I wish blogging and talk radio paid well enough for me to do in the Metro; he is the backbone of Central Minnesota’s regional conservative alternative media.

Unlike most of the regular leftybloggers, he does a ton of work; one of very few bloggers in the state more prolific than I am.  Unlike virtually all of the more prolific leftybloggers, he doesn’t have George Soros or Alida Messinger paying his bills.

Now, Gary’s in a rough financial situation.  The details aren’t that important, and I don’t even know many of them to be honest, but we’re not talking malfeasance, here; Gary is no MIchael Lohan or Charlie Sheen.

But he’s having to stretch things pretty far to keep his blog in production.

So if you can possibly spare a few bucks, this’ll be my bleg for the year; drop ‘em by Gary’s Paypal donation page.

Toward A Better Conversation

If you’re not on Twitter, this article likely won’t make a lot of sense.  Don’t worry about it.

If you are on Twitter, the main means of making sense of the torrent of commentary is the “Hashtag”.  It’s a little code with a “#” sign in front of it; by having Twitter search for hashtags you’re interested in, you can watch conversations and subjects that actually interest you.  For example, the Northern Alliance Radio Netwrok’s hashtag is “#narn“.  The Star Tribune started a hashtag called “#Stribpol“.for discussing politics.

The Twin Cities’ conservative alternative media – the mass of pro-liberty bloggers, weekend talk show hosts, tweeps and their followers whose networking has made it among the most potent alt-media scenes in the country – needs its own hashtag.  Much of the Twin Cities conservative alt-media’s conversation takes place either in fairly smallish hashtags aimed at niche markets – #narn, #LateDebate – or in the big scrums like #stribpol and #tptalmanac, which are overrun with stalkers, creeps, and the liberal bobbleheads and chanting-point bots.

And I think we need a clearer channel, as it were.

And so I propose the #TCinMN hashtag: “Top Conservatives In Minnesota” (or “Twitter Conservatives in Minnesota”, it doesn’t matter).  There were a number of good suggestions – #MNCon and #MNLiberty.  But MNCon is too prankable, and MNLiberty is a lot of typing.

I’m going to throw it out there and see what happens.  If you’re a tweep, though, by all means sound off – here or there.

UPDATE:  Another that works, and is shorter, is #MNTC – “Minnesota’s Top Conservatives” or “Minnesota Twitter Conservatives”.

UPDATE 2:  And it’s #MNTC!

Ten Years Of Power

I never actually knew the official anniversary – but I’m happy to send my congratulations to my good friends John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson at Power Line, who celebrated their megablog’s tenth anniversary over the weekend.

You may recall that my blog celebrated its tenth last February; of the Twin Cities’ huge mass of conservative political blogs, it’s Power Line, Ed Morrissey, Lileks, King Banaian of the late SCSU Scholars and the Fraters who’ve been in it since the very beginning.   And sometimes it’s hard to remember, in those pre-MOB days, what a solitary thing blogging was.

For those of you who notice how omnipresent blogs are today, it’s almost funny reading this piece from Brian Ward, back around election time in 2002, when all of us, Brian and Chad at the Fraters and Scott, John and Paul at Power Line were not only brand new, we hadn’t the faintest idea each other existed:

 A month ago I didn’t know of any quality blogs devoted to the local scene, which made me think that perhaps a niche existed that was crying out to be filled. But since then, I’ve become aware of both Power Line and Mitch Berg and they’re both outstanding in exactly this type of coverage (and they consistently link to local media nuggets before I do!) It makes me think that maybe I can dial back my own political coverage and commentary and concentrate more on my real interests. That would be college women’s volleyball scores, my continuing search for the perfect Hungarian Ghoulash recipe, and celebrating the poetry of Leonard Nimoy. Now that’s a niche that needs filling.

It’d be almost a year before I’d meet Brian and King face to face for a drink at Sweeney’s on Dale, and fourteen months before the fateful meeting that led eventually to the forming of the Northern Alliance Radio Network” – and all that’s happened since.   And in those ten years, John, Scott, Paul and company have built one of the most estimable presences in the conservative alt-media, topped with the rhetorical pelts of Dan Rather and not a few lesser lefty lights.

Anyway, happy anniversary, guys!

Play Misty For Me, Part IV: Promises Carved In Sand

In an episode of Hill Street Blues (or maybe NYPD Blue, but I think it was Hill Street, on account of the fact that I watched Hill Street addictively, and maybe saw one episode of NYPD Blue), Dennis Frantz’ character (either Sergeant Buntz on HSB, or Sergeant Butt on NYPDB) and his new partner, a young Asian fellow (who, I’m told, was named “Rodriquez”, which seems odd for a character that I recall being Asian) just out of detective school, are cornered and kidnapped by a psychotic killer.

The two detectives are sitting, disarmed and helpless, in chairs facing the killer.

The killer looks at the two men, brandishing the most evil-looking short-barreled shotgun I’ve ever seen.

The killer demands “You don’t wanna die?  Beg!”

Buntz warns his partner “Don’t do it.  As long as you stand up to him, he’s not gonna kill you.  He’s a gutless little worm who gets off on having power over better men”, or something to that effect.

“SHUT UP” yells the killer.  ”Beg!”

The newbie looks at Frantz/Buntz/Butt, and then at the shotgun.  And he breaks down, starts to cry, and begs fervently for his life, as Frantz’s face goes white.

There’s a shotgun blast.   You might guess how it turned out, in that Frantz’s character survived the length of both shows (although his showbiz career didn’t).

The lesson?  Don’t be Dennis Frantz’ partner in a Steven Bochco crime drama.

Also don’t give bullies what they want.

———-

Two weeks ago, after an episodewhere U of M professor Bill Gleason accused “The Late Debate”‘s Jack Tomczak of “stalking” him (by showing up in a public building where he publicly announced he’d be, carrying a baby and a stroller), Dr. Gleason filed a complaint with the FCC.

Gleason – a world-class researcher known for his frenetic publication schedule, beaver-like work ethic and outsized stature in the scientific community – said that he’d withdraw the complaint if Tomczak issued an apology on Twitter, on the air, and in writing.  Gleason was to approve the apology.

Tomczak issued the apology a little over two weeks ago.

Apparently because the apology wasn’t delivered with the right degree of self-abasement, and notwithstanding the very high likelihood that the FCC complaint will be rebuffed without much in the way of comment, Hope 95.9′s management suspended Tomczak last week.  That’s why I was on the air guest-hosting last night.

The episode illustrates three things.

Hope 95.9′s management is incredibly naive.  Like Frantz’ partner, they figured that if they caved in to a bully – moreover, a bully with a paper-thin, flimsy case – with enough verve, everything would get better.

Predictably, Dr. Gleason will apparently not confirm that he’s mailed any sort of rescission letter to the FCC.

Maybe it’s because there’s no “rescind” button on the FCC’s online public complaint form.

Or maybe it’s because Gleason has no intention of rescinding his complaint.

And – above and beyond all that – maybe it doesn’t matter.  Because…

The FCC Doens’t Adjudicate Personal Complaints.  It’s in the business – among other things – of regulating the public airwaves, including ensuring broadcasters follow the rules that go along with having a broadcast licence.

Say, hypothetically, that you hear a morning DJ say one of the Seven Deadly Words.  You file a complaint with the FCC, saying your sensibilities were offended.  The FCC’s machinery grinds into action…

…about the time you get an apology from the DJ, who has converted to strict evangelism and is repenting of his ways.

Satisfied, you write the FCC asking to rescind your complaint.

What will the FCC say?

“That’s nice”, likely, but “we’re not here to enforce your ever-changing sensibilities; we’re here to make sure that radio stations follow the rules”.  The Seven Deadly Words were said – ergo rules were broken.  The FCC, legally, jurisdictionally and procedurally cares not one institutional jot about your feelings, then or now; merely that rules about the use of the public airwaves were broken.  You were good enough to report it to them, and for that the FCC thanks you.  Contribute to the station’s legal defense fund, or don’t return the FCC’s call when it asks for more info, it it helps your conscience – but your job, from the FCC’s perspective, ended when you clicked the “OK” button on the complaint form.

Gleason’s offer to “rescind” his complaint is equally meaningless, even if he does send the letter.  The FCC doesn’t enforce rules about not hurting peoples’ feelings; they regulate how stations use their licenses.

That is it.

And either Gleason doesn’t know that, and is being ignorant, or he does, and is being a narcissist.

Barring the overreaction of some naive management, there isn’t a teapot small enough to hold this tempest.  At least not as far as the FCC is concerned.

I’d bank on it.

Back On The Night Shift

Tonight, I’ll be sitting in for Jack Tomczak on The Late Debate, on the 95.9 in metro Anoka/Ramsey.  TLD is the second-best franchise in Twin Cities conservative alternative media (and hence the second-best franchise in the Twin Cities media) behind the NARN (who else?) and I’m happy to pitch in.

Tonight, we’ll be talking about the foolishness of caving into the demands of a mentally ill troll, because their “promises” for relenting are carved in sand, notwithstanding the fact that his FCC complaint is a fraud and a sham that I predict will get politely ignored, and the very fact that he thinks he can rescind the complaint is itself an indication of his bad faith and abuse of the system, since the FCC rules on offenses against the public airwaves, not on individuals’ ruffled feathers  with Ron Paul supporter Corey Sax about this past month and its impact on the Republican Party of Minnesota.

And in the second hour, we’ll have a True North round table, with a group of writers from True North joining me to talk about the state of the state, the party, conservatism, and our publication.

That’s on The Late Debate - the best way there is to tide over the time between NARN broadcasts!

Play Misty For Me, Part I: Dead Error

Everyone who’s ever worked in radio, especially talk radio, over the past 35 years has had three major pop-culture touchstones.

From the classic “WKRP in Cincinnati”, a young radio guy learns that Loni Anderson truly is unattainable – and that for every Gary Sandy, there are dozens of Herb Tarleks and Less Nessmans.  Nessmen.  Whatever.  And that turkeys can’t fly (see:  AM950).

More seriously?  From Play Misty For Me starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, you learn that interacting with your audience can be a mighty dicey proposition.

(And of course, from Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio you learn that you’re only as safe as your least stable audience member.  Apropos not much).

I’m writing this purely as an aside.  Just for information’s sake.

Honest.

———-

Speaking of radio, Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse, hosts of “The Late Debate“, which airs from 10PM to midnight Sunday through Thursday on a three-station cluster in Anoka and Saint Cloud, celebrated the one-year anniversary of their show last weekend.   It’s a conservative talk show that specializes in the six-way cattle-call panel discussions.  And, improbably (according to radio conventional wisdom), they make it work.  It’s a fun show.  Here’s hoping they celebrate many more.

And they celebrated their first year on the air with that greatest of radio traditions – a dust-up with a listener “filing an FCC complaint”.

And on the other side, you have Dr. William B. Gleason, a chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School.  Gleason is known far and wide for the frenetic pace and prolific output of his research work, the frequency and importance of his academic publications, his almost-suffocating work ethic, and the deep respect his fellow chemists have for him.  It would be fair to say that he’s a rising star among the U of M’s tenured professors – perhaps one of the most valuable professors at the U of M Medical School, a giant on whose shoulders other giants stand, and one of the U of M Med school’s genuine treasures.   [1]

And he doesn’t write a blog that bears a striking resemblance to one of those ransom notes pasted together from letters clipped out of magazines.  [1].

Now, when Doctor Gleason’s not keeping up his frenetic pace at research, he tweets a bit – under his name and another sock-puppet ID.  It is.  And his left-of-center politics occasionally lead him into conflict with conservatives.

That’s what happened last week on The Late Debate.

What happened?

Well, we’ll get back to that.

In the keen, razor-sharp analytical mind of Dr. William B. Gleason, the version of what happened resolved itself into a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission…

…which isn’t quite as big a deal as it used to be; you can do it yourself, online,  If you feel like AM1280 The Patriot is beaming microwaves into your house to try to control your brain, the FCC has a site to collect the complaint.

And here’s the one Gleason filed.

There are actually three radio stations involved.

They are 1150 and 1300 AM in St. Cloud as well as 95.9 FM in “North Metro”

The web address of the show in question is:

link to site – click here

Mr. Jack Tomczak harassed and threatened me prior to this show as is documented in the following post:

link to post – click her [sic]

Also available at this location is a clip of the objectionable material broadcast. Many of the things that Mr. Tomczak says are untrue as is evident from his twitter feed. Many of the things said are wrong and he had a responsibility to check them out before making these outrageous claims.

This is a public use of the air waves to make counter-factual statements for the purpose of harassing someone. This complaint falls within the FCCs purview of fairness.

I request an apology for this broadcast made by station owners as well as disciplinary action by them for Mr. Tomczak’s behavior.

I have been in contact with the management of the station(s) on which the Late Debate is broadcast. They have been thoroughly professional in handling this matter. Yesterday there were three lengthy telephone conversations as well as exchanges of email.

I have made suggestions about how to resolve this matter. My understanding is that Mr. Tomczak will be making an apology. I am hopeful that the matter can be rectified. If so, I will withdraw my complaint.

Lawyer friends – place your rhetorical and legal bets!

Now, one hesitates to get into an argument with a giant of science like Gleason, a man of such airtight, impeccable logic and cool, calculated reason (as exhibited here and here during his few dozen daily breaks from his grueling schedule as a world-class research academic).

But, improbable as it seems, Professor Gleason’s FCC complaint is a lot of ado about nothing.  And in the next installment of this series, at noon today, we’ll show exactly how,

But more importantly – and worse?  FM 95.9 would be wrong to “apologize” to Gleason because of it.

More at noon.

Continue reading

Less Than Zero

Redistricting didn’t treat Speed Gibson kindly:

It just occurred to me that with my home being redistricted from CD 3 (Paulsen) to CD 5 (Ellison) I now have no representation whatever in Washington DC. My Representative, both Senators, and my President are all hard Lefties, none with any record of generating serious thought.

The jury is out on my new State Senator (Eaton) who replaced the late Linda Scheid, who could think. My State Representative (Hillstrom) went hard Left in 2007…Mike Opat is my County Commissioner and Official Bagman of Target Field…[my] School Board (281) comprises seven Democrats, all committed to living in the past whether they know it or not.

My only bright spots are my Mayor and City Council. Two are new, so again, the jury is out. All are Democrats, but the three veterans think Brooklyn Center first, DFL second. Partly it just proves again why local decision-making works best. Partly these happen to be three great incumbents. But it’s also that as a mature first ring suburb with limited resources, we just can’t afford the flights of fancy that celestial suburbs and core cities think they can afford.

Well, he’s got that.

Me?  I think I’ve reached less than zero representation at any level.  I share Speed’s opinion of The One, Stuart and A-Klo.  In the House, I’ve got Betty McCollum, who is even dumber than Ellison.  What’s the difference between Betty McCollum and a  pile of mulch?  The mulch doesn’t have Nancy Pelosi pullilng its strings.

In the State House?  I didn’t think it could get worse than Mary Jo McGuire (who just replaced Ellen Anderson) and Alice Hausman.  I was wrong; I am now “represented” by the loathsome Sandy Pappas and Rhea Moran, whose mouth is connected to a microphone in Javier Morillo and Elliot Seid’s offices.

Ramsey County?  I’m juuuuuust across the street from the utterly defensible Janice Rettman’s district.  Which means I’m in Toni Carter’s district.  And she’s utterly not defensible.

For Mayor?  Chris Coleman, who’s like a teenager who keeps coming up to you saying “I know you gave me money to buy lunch, but I spent it on Pokemon cards, and I’m still hungry”, and Russ Stark, who yells “Off What?” when Cathy Lantry says “Jump!”.

If I were starting a blog today, I’d call it “Midway Samizdat”.

And It’s The Top Of The Ninth

I woke up this morning and realized I hadn’t written anything about the big anniversary yesterday.  So I’ll do it today.

March 6 was the eighth anniversary of the first-ever broadcast of the Northern Alliance Radio Network.

In the beginning, the idea was a simple trade;  AM1280 would get the promotional mojo that came from associating with a bunch of the leading bloggers in a conservative blog scene that, then as now, was the biggest and best in the US.  We’d get time to do a show.  Everyone would win.

And everyone did win.  I have no less fun doing the show today than I did on Day One.  In fact, it may be more fun – because those first two years made for some weird, if fun, radio.

The first two years, the show basically involved hourly relays from among the crowd of bloggers involved – and it was a crowd.  Ed, King Banaian, John HInderaker, Scott Johnson, Chad the Elder, Brian “Saint Paul” Ward and (at the very beginning) JB Doubtless and Atomizer all tramped in and out of the studio, along with the occasional guest, with me usually directing traffic making sure only one person talked at a time and (often as not) introducing them so the audience would know which of the mass of voices was which.  It’s not a kind of show you hear often on talk radio.  There’s a reason for that.

So those first two years, I was probably more of a traffic cop than a talk show host.  I like being a host a lot more.

It was two years later we split into two, and then three, shows.  People left (John, Scott, Chad, Brian), people joined (Brad Carlson) and joined and left (Michael Brodkorb), but we’re still at three shows on two stations on two weekend days.

It’s also a whack upside the head to note that in my first go-around in radio, I probably had actual jobs for eight of the 13 years; in other words, half of my “radio career” has been spent doing the NARN.

And I gotta say, it’s been the good half!

So as we kick off Year Nine of the NARN, I’d like to thank everyone involved.  General Manager Ron Stone, like John Hunt before him, continues to let us use his valuable air time.  Lee MIchaels, like Nick Novak and Patrick Campion before him, is a great, supportive program director.  Tommy Huynh, like Matt Reynolds and Irina Malanina and the late great Joe Hanson before, keeps making us sound good.

And of course Ed, King and Brad, like John, Scott, Chad, Brian, Michael and even JB and Atomizer before them, continue to help make the NARN the most fun I’ve ever had on the radio, and remain among my best friends off the air, and help make the show one of the highlights of the week.

I joke that “the worst day on the air is better than the best day off the air”.  It’s not really true – or at least, I feel sorry for anyone for whom it is true.  But week-in, week out, for the past 416 weeks and probably close to 400 broadcasts now, doing the NARN has been one of the highlights of my week.

And for way, way more of you than anyone would have figured eight years ago, it’s at least a stop on your weekend listening, too.  And for that I’m profoundly grateful.

Sex, Drugs, And The Austrian School

Elspeth Reeve at the Atlantic – not necessarily a Breitbart-friendly mag - t on the late conservative alt-media impresario:

To understand Andrew Breitbart’s legacy, you first need to understand what he set out to do. If you happened to encounter him in Los Angeles during the middle of the last decade, when he was transitioning from Matt Drudge’s anonymous No. 2 to building his own web empire, he would happily tell you, in a long, not easy to follow monologue, about the terrible creeping forces of “cultural Marxism.” (To get a taste, here he is talking on the subject at the University of Redlands last September.) As he saw the world, there was still a grand battle raging between capitalism and communism, and the left — the heirs to the Frankfurt School as he constantly reminded people — had manage to twist the entire culture against capitalism. “The left is smart enough to understand that the way to change a political system is through its cultural systems,” he told The New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead in 2010. “So you look at the conservative movement — working the levers of power, creating think tanks, and trying to get people elected in different places — while the left is taking over Hollywood, the music industry, the churches.”

His project was to take that cultural space back for free market conservatives. ƒTo make his brand of economic freedom cool.

“Cool” – with its hipster-turned-marketing overtones – is the wrong term.  Breitbart wanted the forces of freedom – libertarian-conservatives, free-marketeers, dissenters from the big government norm – to stop scoffing at the culture war, and start fighting and winning it.

Greg “Redeye” Gutfeld, writing last summer at Breitbart’s BigHollywood, called Tea Party conservatism the “new punk rock”, a joyous boiling down of whatever you need to boil down – rock and roll or conservative principle – to its very basics; shrink government and Keith Emerson organ solos; free markets and fewer 20 minute drum solos; three-minute songs and cut taxes; build independence, cut dependence.

And like Joe Strummer, David Johannson and Johnny Rotten, Breitbart had his squibs; anyone who’s breaking new ground (or exhuming old ground) will.  Combat Rock and Buster Poindexter and the ’78 US Tour and some of James O’Keefe’s stretchier pieces were all diversions and footnotes to much, much bigger achievements; in Breitbart’s case, the first large, coherent conservative alt-media attempt to engage in popular culture.

The opening lines of his CPAC speech are a brand of conservativism you’re unlikely to see at the Republican National Convention. They sound like rock song lyrics: “Everything has changed, everything has changed in the last few years, conservatives used to take it and we’re not taking it anymore.” He sounded like angry kids railing against oppressive suburban culture. But he also acknowledged that he didn’t quite fit in with the conservative movement and a party that shows no signs of edging closer to his right-wing punk aesthetic.”Two hundred of us went out to the Occupy people to stand toe-to-toe with them to say, ‘We are here and we are not going to take your [artful hand gesture].’ I didn’t say it, I’m on TV right now, I’m a respectful conservative and my mom is watching.”

And it’s that - confronting the poisonous and hateful, calling out the totalitarian, while still engaging in the larger culture that we all, ideally, share – is the great lesson of Breitbart.

And it’s one of the reasons I always loved all his efforts.  Like his former boss Matt Drudge, he didn’t come to the alt-media with a pedigree of working within the journalistic system.  He came not to suck up to the liberal establishment in Hollywood, Journalism, education, “public service” and so many other areas of our culture; he came to criticize, satirize, mock and chasten it.

Which is, of course, why all of us unwashed peasants in the conservative blogosphere got into the game.

Andrew Breitbart – 1969-2012

Andrew Breitbart passed away this morning in Los Angeles.

Larry Solov at BigJourno writes:

We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior.

Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.

Breitbart gave the conservative alternative media something it needed; a full-time, tireless, fearless crusader, a rebel without a pause.

Liberals hated him, because he and his group of fellow media Visigoths played their game, only better; BigJourno and Big Hollylwood were like the Huffington Post, only not vapid and obsequious to their subjects. Andrew and his protegees did John Stewart and Steven Cobert one better; news, sometimes straight, sometimes satirical, but without the miasma of self-satisfaction in which the lefty shows marinade themselves.

I only met Breitbart once, at a party at Lileks’ place during Right Online last summer:

Lileks, Chad The Elder, Breitbart, Margaret Martin, David Strom, Laura Hemler, Laura's friend Cindy Olson, and the Giant Swede, last summer.

My biggest impression, other than the fact that he’d been pretty much mobbed, with admirers and, er, detractors during the entire event (he was the star of both Right Online and the sad, dyspeptic ”Nutroots Nation”, also in town that weekend) was that, as much as he was into, as big a counter-media-culture empire as he’d built, as potent an instrument as he controlled, the greatest adventure of his life was raising his son, whom he very visibly couldn’t wait to get home to see, and whose fourth birthday party was going to be the real highlight of the week.

And it’s for his family I pray, and to them I send my sympathy and condolences.

For the rest of us?

Solov quotes Breitbart in the foward to his latest book:

Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.

Breitbart discovered – on a grand scale – what a lot of us bloggers did almost a decade ago; that showing up, that deciding to make a difference, could be the beginning of something great.   For many of us, it has been.  And here’s hoping his example creates a thousand more like him.

Solov:

Andrew is at rest, yet the happy warrior lives on, in each of us.

And that’s the key.  To be a warrior – but a happy one.  A gentleman.  A full, completely realized, multifaceted human being, not a frothing acidic polibot.

He’ll be much missed.  But he’s created thousands of memorials, and God willing there’ll be ten thousand more today and tomorrow.

Gotta Watch That CC: Line

The following email was received by DFL Legislative staffers and legislators early last week.

And, via an accident on the sender side, pretty much everyone else in Minnesota Politics.

Members & Staff,

As we prepare for the start of the 2012 session, I wanted to update you all on a few items:

First, thanks to all of our members – too many to mention here – who helped with our Caucus fundraising efforts in 2011. As a result of your hard work and the hard work of our staff, we are in an incredibly strong financial position heading into the elections in November. You’ll hear more about that at our Caucus meeting.

Speaking of that meeting, we will be caucusing at 10 AM on Monday, January 23rd, at a to-be-determined location in St. Paul. The annual pre-session event begins at 3 PM with a VIP reception followed by the general reception at 4 PM. We’d love to have as many members there as possible, and have invited our candidates as well. Frank Hornstein and Marion Greene have also invited members and staff to gather at [address redacted out of basic decency.  Would "Cucking Stool" redact an address?  Pfftt - Ed], after the event. Please RSVP to Marion ([Email redacted]) or Frank ([Email redacted]) if you plan to go.

As you know from Paul’s personnel update email earlier this week, we are making some staffing changes that affect both our official and political operations. Today was Zach Rodvold’s last day in his current capacity with the Caucus. Beginning on Monday, January 16th he will be assuming the role of Campaign Director and will be working from our offices at the DFL. On Tuesday, January 17th [redacted] will return from maternity leave and will be stepping into the role of Director of Caucus and Legislative Services, the job held by Zach until today. Please welcome them both into their new roles.

Here’s the funny part:

In addition, Jaime Makepeace, who has been the Deputy Finance Director for the Caucus, will be moving into the role of Director of Candidate Services. This is a position created to respond to some of the criticism we heard coming out of the last election that some candidates – and some members – didn’t feel like they had a point of contact on the staff if their races weren’t targeted. She’s been working closely with Erin Murphy in our candidate recruitment efforts already and so this will be a smooth transition for her. Please also welcome her into her new role.

Sort of a human border collie?

Finally, a word about redistricting. As you all know, the precinct caucuses will be on Tuesday, February 7th, yet the new lines won’t be released by the courts until the 21st. This will undoubtedly create some difficulties for our candidates and potentially some of our members in going through the endorsement process. Because the new districts lines are unknown, however, and because there are potential scenarios where members may be paired together, the Caucus cannot provide constituent or voter information to anyone outside of your current districts. We will work with the party and with the DNC to ensure that, once the new map is released, members will have access (through the VAN) to the voters within their new lines as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about that or anything else, feel free to contact Paul or me any time.

Thanks, and have a great weekend. I look forward to seeing you all on the 23rd!

Sincerely,

[Name redacted]

Shortly later came the following:

Hi-

Due to technical difficulties with our e-mail database you recently received an e-mail that was intended for House DFL Caucus members and staff. While there are no state secrets included, given the confidential nature of the content we would appreciate if you did not share the e-mail!

Thanks for your understanding and I’m sorry for any inconvenience.

Best,

[Another different redacted person]

Nah, I think I’ll circulate it.  Thanks anyway.

The Later Debate

Why, yes – I did spend a bit of time talking redistricting over the weekend, now that you mention it.

On the NARN, it was my pleasure to interview MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton and his deputy, Michael Brodkorb (punctuated by a surprise appearance by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker; I’ll be posting the podcast link as soon as I find it) about the redistricting process and all the outside money the left is pouring into Minnesota to try to skew the process in their favor.

And then, last night, I drove out to Ramsey to appear on “The Late Debate” with Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse.  I was on a panel with Gary Gross of Let Freedom Ring, Mike Dean of “Common Cause Minnesota”, and Kent Kaiser, who is part of Draw The Line Minnesota’s (DTL-MN) “Citizens’ Commission”.  In the interest of accuracy, I’ll note that in my piece last week, I lumped Kaiser in with the Commission’s liberal hypermajority, because I personally didn’t know any better; Kaiser is of course well-known in GOP circles as one of the good guys; I regret the error…

…especially since he was the unquestionable star of last night’s debate.

I’m not going to try to reconstruct the whole thing from memory – you can check out their podcast at their site, and Gary Gross did an excellent rundown of the proceedings over atLFR.

I’ll recap this bit, though; I walked in there with two main points:  I walked out with four:

Who’s Politicized?:  As Kaiser noted, the GOP legislative majority’s proposal follows the letter of the law, and the spirit of the last several judicial decisions, pretty closely.  The DFL’s map was…well, nonexistant.  They never drew one up.

It was Governor Dayton’s veto that was, as Kaiser noted, exceptionally politically capricious.

And this entire process recaps a pattern we started seeing during the 2008 election, and rose to a crescendo in last year’s gubernatorial race; the DFL isn’t so much a political party as it is a political holding company, outsourcing its actual policy and boots-on-the-ground work to its “strategic partners” – the unions, and the array of astroturf pressure groups like “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, “Take Action Minnesota”, MPIRG, and “Draw The Line”.

Outside Money: Behind all of Draw The Line and Common Cause’s noble chatter about getting people involved – nay, getting them interested - in the redistricting process, the fact remains that a raft of “progressive” organizations are doing their level best to try to jimmy the redistricting in their favor, in a census period in which GOP-leaning districts exploded and DFL-districts continued withering.  The demographics aren’t a state phenomenon – and either is the left’s effort; “Draw The Line” is a regional, not state, entity, focusing on trying to attenuate (at least) the gains the GOP should get from pure demographics.  More below.

Competition: One of DTL-MN’s priorities – because it’s one of the priorities of its supporting groups (Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the MN Council of Non-Profits and Take Action MN), is “competitive elections”.  On a policy level, this goal – making sure that politicians are accountable to electoral pressure from their voters – is laudable enough.

It’s at the implementation level that it either breaks down or shows its ideological stripes, depending on your point of view.  Minnesota is a divided state – but not evenly or consistently divided.

Let’s look at the example of a hypothetical state of about five million people, which is closely divided on a statewide basis – but where the division stacks up as follows:

  • An urban core – three, really – of about a million people that votes about 70/30 Democrat.
  • An outer-suburban and exurban ring that votes, in a good year, maybe 52-55 percent GOP.  Let’s assume a huge year, and say it’s 55-45 GOP.
  • The rest of the state – about half the population – which, to arrive at the sort of dead-even split that the last three statewide elections have shown, would be divided about 52-48 in favor of the GOP.

Of course it’s not hypothetical at all.  Minnesota is exactly that; a couple of big blue boils, the Twin Cities and Duluth, two Congressional and 20 legislative districts that routinely deliver 70+% to the DFL, surrounded by an exurban ring that, in a blowout year, might go 55-45 GOP (only two GOP-owned legislative districts topped 70% GOP, as opposed to 20 for the DFL), and an outstate that tips a little bit GOP, but is close enough to send Tim Walz and Collin Peterson to Congress.

So to make Minnesota “competitive” across the board, the legislative map would have to look like a couple of bicycle wheels, with spokes radiating out from the Marshall-Lake Bridge (and Canal Park in Duluth) all the way out to the state’s borders; the Congressional map would look like a big Key Lime (mmm, Key Lime) pie.

That is, of course, not acceptable practice.  New boundaries must, as much as possible, preserve existing community boundaries.

The answer, of course, is that Common Cause want the Republican parts of Minnesota to be competitive, and to leave the DFL-dominated Twin Cities and Duluth, and their 20 districts, pretty much alone.

“When did you stop beating your minorities?”: As Gary noted at LFR last week, there is a noxious little bon mot tucked away in the DTL-MN’s site:  ”Historically, redistricting has been done out of the public eye, without meaningful public input, and used to dilute the voting power of communities of color“.

The next sentence helpfully adds “Minnesota has a reputation for fair and clean government, but we believe we can do better“.

So if Minnesota has a “reputation for fair and clean government”, why mention trait that was a part of redistricting in Mississippi and Illinois and Alabama?  Because any thinking person knows that it’s immaterial to Minnesota’s history, right?

Of course; but the quote wasn’t included for the benefit of the thinking and literate audience; it was included to provide an inflammatory, polarizing soundbite for the ignorant – TV reporters and Strib columnists, for example – to latch onto.  Otherwise, if it has nothing to do with Minnesota’s history, why include it at all?

———-

That said, it was a fun time, and a generally good debate.  Up to the end, anyway.

I have been duking it out with Mike Dean of Common Cause for quite some time, mostly on Twitter.  I have been inviting him on the Northern Alliance to discuss Common Cause’s agenda and funding for a little over a year now; like many Twitter arguments, it’s been curt and acerbic.

And I’ll cop to the fact that I’ve had a bad attitude about Common Cause.  While they are disingenuous about being “non-partisan”, that’s fine; it’s a free country, you can say anything you want.  Hell, I can call myself “non-partisan” – but, of course, I don’t. More importantly, most of my impressions of Common Cause were formed in the early-mid 2000′s, when they agitated for a lot of really noxious policies, especially campaign finance reform speech rationing.

In person, Dean’s a heckuvva nice guy.  And he held his own pretty well, and stayed on his point, for the first 118 minutes of the show,. One of the points on which he stayed was an idea on which we all agreed at the beginning of the show; that we all wanted people to get more literate about and involved in the redistricting process, across the political board.

And so with that in mind, I reiterated my invitation to Dean to appear on the Northern Alliance one of these next weekends.

He turned it down – and then kept going.  ”What do we gain from it?”  he asked, noting that in my blog’s coverage of Common Cause I (paraphrasing him closely ) published “fairy tales” and “made things up”.

Nope.  Never.  In almost ten years, this blog has published things I don’t reasonably believe to be true only when I’m pretty clearly writing satire.  No exceptions.

Oh, I may err at times, and on a point or two I was in fact wrong; as Dean noted, the Joyce Foundation doesn’t get money from George Soros.  But I can concede that point, without changing the conclusion that actually matters; while Joyce (and Common Cause MN, which is supported by Joyce) may not get money from Soros or his various shell groups, its’ goals nationwide are indistinguishable from those of the Open Society Foundation, Media Matters, the Center for Independent Media or any of the other Soros joints; to slap a phony “non-partisan” sheen on a partisan pressure industry.

So at the end of the day – literally, at two minutes to midnight – it became clear what the real mission is.  It’s not to reach out to people of all political stripes.  It’s to reach out to those who don’t know what their stripes are, but who can be inveigled into exerting themselves to fight against a vague, sorta-racist boogeyman.

And so the battle will continue.

Thank to Ben Kruse and Jack Tomczak for the invite – and to AM1280 for letting me appear off of Salem turf for an evening.

Four Years Of Truth

Let’s take a trip back to early 2007.

While Minnesota’s conservative blog scene had been been dominating the local alternative media scene since the “Blog” became a household word, it was a series of scattershot phenomena – you had a bunch of huge megabloggers like Powerline and Ed Morrissey, and on the other hand a whoooole lot of people who tried blogging for a few weeks or months, maybe drew a little attention,and then got frustrated at the difficulty involved in actually getting read.

In the meantime, the Big Left blogs had two big advantages; a hive-like reader community that pretty much read what they were told to read, and liberals with deep pockets who were willing to pay bloggers to write the stuff.

We wondereed – what was the way forward?

It was in the summer of ’07 that Andy Aplikowski hatched the idea of a center-right conservative group blog, aggregating material from the full range of center-right bloggers in Minnesota.  He and Derek Brigham and Nancy LaRoche ran with the idea, along with Brian Mason, Matt Abe, Kevin Ecker, the Lady Logician and, eventually, me.

That idea became True North.

The idea?  Give regional center-right bloggers an outlet, and a soapbox, and if all went well, a megaphone – a way for they, their blogs, and especially their writing and reporting,to be seen by a wider audence than they could get all by themselves, an outlet that would be greater than the sum of all our individual parts.

And so it was four years ago today that True North launched.  Then as now, we were based on one simple set of principles – and the mission to get writers who supported those principles out and in front of the public.

Some leftybloggers didn’t know what to make of us. But we’ve had a blast.

Nobody’s ever made a dime from True North – I don’t think we’ve ever accepted advertising – but we’ve had an effect far beyond anything anyone could have expected.  Litlte birds tell me we’re daily reading at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle.  Beyond that?  One of our former contribs is in the Legislature (King Banaian, 15B); another, Michele Bachmann, is a presidential candidate.

It’s been a great four years – and the best is yet to come!

So thanks, Andy and Derek and Nancy, and Brian, Cindy, Kevin and Matt, and especially everyone that’s written for True North over the past four years!

The Fix Is In

Chris Cilizza has released his annual list of “Best State-Based Political Blogs” for 2011.  It’s a list for all fifty states.  Cilizza hastens to note that…:

The best political blogs list is entirely driven by Fix readers and commenters. Many of the blogs below are partisan and may use language and/or images that neither The Fix nor the Washington Post condones. To be clear, we are not endorsing the view of the blogs on the list. Instead we intend to serve as a gateway for interested political junkies to pick and choose your favorites.

So here are the lists for…:

Minnesota

So True North got on the list, against the MPR, Strib and Humphrey Institute house blogs, a Soros joint, The Dump (hey, give ‘em their due; they’ve always known how to get the media to pay disproportionate attention to them) and “Bluestem”, which gets points for being one of about three Minnesota leftyblogs that’s neither obviously clinically deranged, nor employed by the DFL/Soros/some “progressive” institution nor seemingly written by a press-release bot.

Hey, at least a conservative blog got on the list this year – in a state that’s spawned two of the most powerful blogs anywhere in the business, Powerline and Captain’s Quarters  (which got assimilated into Hot Air) and where the organic conservative blog scene True North digests every day is the biggest, most vibrant in the country.

Hm.  Makes sense now.

Anyway, congrats to all.

 

And The Winner Is…

Yid with Lid on the big winner of the Wiener kerfuffle – Andrew Breitbart:

After ten days of being vilified by left wing media reporters, those same reporters were tripping all over their underwear trying to ask him questions about the story they had doubted until today. Not only that, but at the behest of the same reporters who trashed him personally and his stories, Breitbart stood where Weiner was about to stand and demanded an apology from the slanderers in the press, and from Congressman Weiner himself.

Breitbart, like all of us in the center-right alt-media, knows that the gesture is just for show.

Andrew shouldn’t hold his breath waiting for their apology (and he knows that). You see, the progressive agenda-driven mainstream media looks at Andrew Breitbart and sees the devil himself.

Breitbart and his team of editors and contributors (of which I am one) are everything that the press hates. We find the facts that either they don’t find or they choose to ignore, and we reveal them to the public. As the guy whose name is on all the sites, along with being the content director and a reporter, Breitbart’s job is to publicly take the body slams directed at all the writers including himself.

Breitbart and his organizaation actually are what a lot of us in the center-right alt-media have been dreaming about for nigh on a decade now; a well-funded, motivated, conservative alt-media powerhouse that eats the bigs’ lunches consistently enough to cause the Big Media Machine serious problems.

Let’s face it, Breitbart’s “Big” sites not only shoot down the progressive media’s political idols, but they make the press seem incompetent for not reporting those stories themselves.

I’m already having fun with the 2012 cycle.