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.



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.


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!


[Name redacted]

Shortly later came the following:


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.


[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…:


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.

A Change Will Do Ya Good

I’d like to take a moment to talk a little more about the Senate Media Credentialing rules discussion from yesterday.

First – thanks to the working group, who did the vast majority of the work.  The group included (as noted elsewhere) David Brauer of the MinnPost, Michael Brodkorb (the Executive Assistant to the Majority Caucus, Rules Committee Executive Director Cullen Sheehan, Minority caucus communications director Beau Berentson and Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Sven Lindquist.

Now, here’s the important take-away; if the full Senate passes the change (it’s supposed to come up on the floor on Thursday), the Minnesota Senate will have the most transparent, open and non-partisan media process of any state government body in the United States.   Literally – there are a few legislatures that are in the same ballpark (Montana springs to mind) but there are none better.

And for that, I have to give my kudos to Michael Brodkorb – who in addition to being a mover and shaker in the MNGOP and the Majority caucus is a former blogging powerhouse, my former Northern Alliance colleague, and my friend.  He was the driving force behind the working group, which in effect makes him the prime mover behind the reforms.  The reforms themselves do nothing to benefit the MNGOP majority for which he works; as such, they could be fairly termed “statesmanlike” of the governing majority (and yes, it is a fact that the DFL members of the Rules committee supported the changes as well).  A good idea is a good idea, no partisan label needed.

Which made it interesting to flip through the comments in David Brauer’s original post on the proposal and the working group.  Brodkorb derangement syndrome is a real, serious issue among Minnesota’s comment-section keyboard warriors.

Brodkorb isn’t the only target, naturally;  Mark Gisleson, who to my knowledge has ever had a positive affect on anything, ever, wrote:

Don’t do it. If you do, you’re acknowledging that you are the equivalent of Mitch Berg, and that’s a libelous assertion because Mitch is a partisan blogger and radio host who will never cut a liberal an even break, whereas your work is objective, and not driven by liberal politics.

Gisleson is, to be tactful, raving and utterly un-based in fact; I was there to make sure the entire alternative media, left, right and utterly unaligned, could get access and be treated as “journalists” and reporters, with the same rights (and responsibilities) as the “real” ones.  I was there every bit as much to represent the likes of left-wing media like “The Uptake” and Minnesota “Progressive” Project as I was for True North and Minnesota Democrats Exposed and, for that matter, Shot In The Dark.

Not to push a “conservative” agenda. Period.  And Brauer, although he was added as “the token lefty”, was equally party-blind in his approach to the proceedings.

(And lefties should be a lot more careful about terms like “libel”; if being associated with me defames David Brauer, it would only be among people who are so deranged with partisan paranoia that the other key part of a libel charge, “damage to the victim’s reputation”, is pretty much a moot, if not negated, point.  Just my opinion, of course).

But enough of that.  The real message is that, if the Senate passes the bill (and from what I hear, even the DFLers who’ve been asked have approved), then the mission, to provide a better, more open, non-partisan means of access to our lawmakers to the New,  Alternative media – left, right or none of the above – and eliminate the old system that subjected the new media to the partisan whims of the sitting majority – is accomplished.

And that’s all that really matters.

Access, Part II

It was April 28, 2003.  I sat in the public gallery of the Minnesota State Senate, with a legal pad (this back when WiFi was kinda rare, much less Air Cards), scrawling madly on a legal pad, writing down the salient points of the debate going on below – the final debate on the (intial) passing of the Minnesota Personal Protection Act.

As I sat there, I knew three things as clearly as I could see Ellen Anderson theatrically donning a flak jacket:

  1. After 16 years of reading, study and activism, I knew more about this issue than most of the legislators on the floor, and any of the Capitol Press contingent – the Pat Kesslers and Laura McCollums and even Bill Salisburys – in the building.
  2. Had I been able to do what reporters were able to – go out on the floor after the close of debate, to interview the likes of Wes Skoglund and Ellen Anderson and Linda Berglin – I could have gone a long way toward presenting the public a much better, clearer, more complete accounting of the issue than they got from the mainstream media – which, to be fair, had come a long way, at least in terms of fairness, in the previous seven years.
  3. I would not get that chance – because I was not “the media”.  I was just a mere peasant with a blog.  And that just didn’t count, back then.

The media landscape has changed since 2003 – a lot.  And Minnesota has led the way; bloggers, especially conservatives, have blazed the trail for the rest of the alternative media, knocking down walls that had stood for generations between “media” and democracy.

But not in the Minnesota state capitol.

As of the beginning of this session, there were two ways to get media credentials to the Minnesota State Senate:

  • Be a reporter who worked for a short list of old-media outlets that were spelled out, word for word, in the Senate Rules; newspapers like the Strib and the PiPress; radio stations like WCCO and KSTP-AM, which hasn’t deployed a fulltime reporter to the Capitol since Cathy Wurzer worked there, back when I worked there, in 1986, and MPR.  The big TV stations.  And that was about it.
  • Get vouched in with the Sergeant at Arms by a Senator or caucus staffer.  These were usually “day passes” – short-term access to cover debates on hot-button issues.

It was both an anachronism – there is no mention of new media anywhere in the Senate rules – and a political football.  Things came to a head in the 2009-2010 session, as the DFL caucus gave credentials to “The Uptake” – a very liberal group videoblog – but denied them to Saint  Cloud conservative talk show host Dan Ochsner for being “partisan”.

The worm looked like it was turning this session; early on, the the Senate, now controlled by the MNGOP, denied credentials to all partisan news outlets, including the Uptake.

This was the road to madness – and, likely, litigation.

About this time a month ago, Senate GOP Caucus Communications director Michael Brodkorb – who is also the deputy chair of the MNGOP, a former blog star from his days running Minnesota Democrats Exposed, and incidentally my former “Northern Alliance Radio Network” colleague  – asked MinnPost’s David Brauer and I to participate in a working group to revamp the rules.  The goals were pretty simple; to…:

  • Remove the partisanship from the process of determining who was a “journalist” and, more germanely, which “journalists” got credentials.
  • Set up a fair, transparent, non-partisan process for apportioning these press credentials that both protected the interests of the legacy media (which have invested a lot of time and money in covering the Capitol over the years) with the imperative to legitimize and normalize access from the New Media.
  • Make the process fast, simple and inexpensive for the non-partisan Senate staffers – the Sergeant at Arms’ office, the Senate Information Office and the Department of Administration – to run, and to add no extra burden or, in these cost-conscious times, expense to the process of administering press credentials.

Brauer was there in his rather unique capacity as both a vet of the  mainstream media and a reporter for a site that is a little bit old and a little bit new-media.  Me?  Although I’ve worked in the MSM, I was there mostly to represent new and, I suspect, explicitly partisan media.

On both the left and the right.

Last week, the working group – Brodkorb, Brauer, Majority Caucus staffer Cullen Sheehan, minority-caucus staffer Beau Berentson, Sergeant-at-Arms Sven Lindquist and me – had its last meeting, and handed off our final recommendations.  The recommendations went through the (non-partisan) lawyers, past us for one more round of making sure the lawyers were saying what we thought we were saying, and, today, to the Senate Rules Committee where, if all goes according to plan, Brauer and I will be testifying later this afternoon.

Brauer on the results:

Here’s what would happen if Senators approve our recommendations:

The Sergeant-at-Arms — a nonpartisan staffer — would administer the credentialing process. Senators and partisan staff are expressly prohibited from intervening unless a journalist appeals his or her rejection. (More on that in a bit.)

Believe me, nobody — not the politicians, not the Capitol press corps — wants to define who is a journalist. However, because Senate space is limited, we decided on a fairly low bar: Applicants for a session-long credential must include three pieces in any format in the past year on “matters before the legislature.” That can include blog posts, video, etc.

The proposed rules state “any opinion in such pieces is immaterial” for credentialing. Does this mean more “ideological” journalists will get credentials? Almost certainly yes.

Count on it.  I’m going to make a note to file next year.

But the Minnesota and U.S. Constitutions don’t limit freedom of the press to perceived non-ideologues.

However, publications “owned or controlled” by lobbyists, political parties and party organizations “shall not be granted credentials.” Lobbyists are currently barred from the Senate floor.

The entire proposal, post-counsel, is here.

Credentialing, by the way, means…:

  • You can get in line for one of the six seats on the Senate floor (stage-left from the podium), or ten seats reserved for media in the Gallery. Four of the floor seats are reserved for the “mainstream” media that rents space in the Capitol basement; the other two are “first-come, first served” seats for any other credentialed media.  Four of the ten gallery seats are reserved for TV cameras from the lessees downstairs, if they show up.
  • You can get material – agendas, roll-call votes and so on – from the Senate Information Office.
  • After the final gavel, you can go on the floor to interview Senators – provided that you follow the decorum rules and the Senate’s unwritten dress code (.  This is one thing that media people can do that the general public can not.

The most important part of these changes?   There is no partisan input into who is a “journalist”, or who is granted credentials.  The entire process is run by non-partisan staff, working to standards that leave the process open to pretty much anyone who wants to cover the Senate and who can make a fairly minimal commitment – writing three articles, not being a lobbyist or a party employee, following the decorum rules – to just about the lowest-possible barrier of entry to the term “journalist”.  You’ll need to apply for your session pass thirty days before the session kicks off.

And unlike the current system, there is recourse if you’re denied.  Brauer notes:

The Sergeant’s office has 14 days to review an application. That means if you want to cover opening day, get your application in by mid-December. It also means you can’t just drop in on the Capitol and declare yourself a journalist. (There’s a separate provision for day passes.)

If the Sergeant’s office rejects an application, the reasons must be spelled out in writing. One legal advisor strongly suggested having an appeals process. Therefore, the matter would go to the Senate Rules committee, which must issue a decision within 14 days.

This does bring politicians into the mix. The concept is that the Senate is the final arbiter of its rules (short of the courts, where applicants can always turn). Could Senators bum-rush an applicant they didn’t like? It’s possible. But unlike the current process, the debate would occur in public and be governed by their rules, which again, forbid consideration of opinion.

The upshot:  bloggers, talk-radio hosts, videobloggers, and traditional news media will be considered journalists, for purposes of getting credentials, if the Rules Committee and then the Senate passes the proposal.  Partisanship will not be either a disqualifier or a factor in apportioning access.

Having a good alarm clock, however, will.

I think it’s a fair trade.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, Wait!

Hasn’t the Twin Cities media – especially the “alternative”, liberal version – been barbering for years about how Rep. Michele Bachmann just doesn’t do “mainstream” media?

Why, yes – they have

But – did I hear Michele Bachmann doing an extended interview with Cathy Wurzer on MPR’s Morning Edition this morning?

Why, yes I did!

Someone tell Andy Birkey!

No, don’t.  Rather, tell Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, all of whom I’ve invited onto the Northern Alliance Radio Network in the past two years, none of whom have so much as responded.  (In the interest of completeness, note that Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak appeared, as did “Growth and Justice” majordomo Dane Smith.  We had a great time talking with both of ’em, because – shibboleths about conservative talk radio aside – Ed Morrissey and I will put our cross-aisle interviews up against anything in the commercial or public media today in terms of civility and fairness (while allowing that we are, in fact, conservative).

So whatdya say, Reps Ellison and McCollum?  How about it, Senators Franken and Klobuchar? 

For that matter, we’ve had an invite out to Common Cause Minnesota for six weeks now – submitted on this blog, via email, via a voice mail message, and on Twitter.  Not a word.

How about Denise Cardinal of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”?  Perhaps she could come on the show and discuss the Dayton-family-finance slime campaign she orchestrated?

For that matter, howzabout we get an invite to Mark Dayton?  I’ve heard Tom Emmer do a center-left show; d’ya suppose Dayton’s got the gumption to go across the aisle…

…like Representative Bachmann did?

Help Wanted

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

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

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

If so, that needs to change.

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

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

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

Kaus & Effect

Blogging hits the ballot in California.

On Tuesday, voters in the Golden State will chose nominees for the state’s U.S. Senate general election.  And while most of the media oxygen for the race (already fighting for air against the uber-expensive GOP gubernatorial primary) has been sucked up by the Republican electoral 3-way, Democrats must thin their herd as well.  Only two Democrats are saying “no ma’am” to another term for incumbent Barbara Boxer: a disheveled, quixotic blogger and a vainglorious Hollywood “producer” whose campaign seems to be an excuse to post pictures of him with famous people.

Guess which of the three scored a profile by the New York Times:

No, this is not your typical Senate campaign command center; but then again, [Mickey] Kaus is not your typical Senate hopeful. His lair speaks more to his career of the last 10 years — prolific blogger and professional curmudgeon — than the one he’s currently aspiring to. As the one-man show behind Kausfiles on Slate, Mr. Kaus was one of the first political bloggers, after a print career that included stops at publications like Newsweek and Harper’s…

“If you’d asked me is he ever going to run for Senate, I’d say, ‘Are you crazy?’ ” says Michael Kinsley, editor at large of The Atlantic Wire and a longtime friend. “He seems like a classic blogger — someone who is happier in front of his computer than he is out kissing babies.”

But Mr. Kaus has thrown himself into his quixotic campaign with surprising earnestness, undeterred by his prospects (grim) and general diagnosis (insane). He is the first person to admit that he has absolutely no chance of becoming California’s next Senator, but contends that this is not really the point. He says he is running as a protest candidate in order to draw attention to his pet issues.

California has often been viewed as political laboratory – from recall elections and an ever-expanding list of constitutional propositions – even if most of their creations have taken on a Frankensteinesque quality in recent decades.  So it might as well be that the strengthes and limitations of the first fully blog-based candidate be demonstrated on a West Coast ballot.

Much like the blog, Kaus Files, that launched him into prominence within the punditry, Mickey Kaus’ candidacy has been rife with political paradoxes.  Instead of focusing on areas where he agrees with the Democratic base, Kaus is solidly running to Boxer’s right on unions and immigration.  Attacked as a closet Republican, Kaus invokes Paul Wellstone is his campaign’s sole TV advertisement.  Treating his campaign as a Dave Barry/Gore Vidal joke candidacy one minute, the next Kaus is writing serious political manifestos.

Yet it’s hard to escape the feeling that had Kaus taken himself – or his campaign – more seriously, his spoiler candidacy might have done more than simply garner a few memorable press clippings for his scrapebook. 

If the mood of the electorate is hostile across the country, California voters appear ready to find the nearest Bastille.  Every single major party candidate has their approval/disapproval numbers upside-down, including Boxer at 37/46 – and that’s relatively healthy compared to most of the other statewide candidates.  And whether California Democrats wish to acknowledge it or not, Kaus’ pet issues of unions and immigration are two big parts of the mosaic of problems that have painted the state forever in the red.

When even the LA Times refuses to endorse the incumbent, you know the political climate has turned stormy.  But the limitations of Kaus’ own personality precluded him turning the non-endorsement to his advantage.  Or as the paper put it: “But we can’t endorse him, because he gives no indication that he would step up to the job and away from his Democratic-gadfly persona.”

Blogging has certainly give Kaus an leg-up otherwise undeserved by his campaign.  What other forum would allow a candidate with a $36,000 budget, no visible support and with such blunt honesty about his chances that he was deined a speaking slot at the Democratic convention, as much media fanfare as Kaus has enjoyed?

But persuading an electorate is world’s away from simply unleasing opinions into the ether of the internet. Even recognized as one of the Founding Fathers of internet journalism and blogging, the height of Kaus’ popularity was 40,000 unique visitors each day – a tremendous audience in blog terms but a pittance in political value.

“The Kaus blog speaks to a very smart and important influential niche, but it’s still just a niche,” says the conservative blogger Jonah Goldberg, who has supported Mr. Kaus’s campaign in the National Review Online. “The universe of bloggers is a hell of a lot smaller than a lot of bloggers like to think.”

UPDATE: So much for the New York Times. Kaus was demolished, as expected, but surprisingly finished in 3rd – 55,000 votes behind Hollywoodd hanger-on Brian Quintana for 5.2%.

Connect The Dots!

Salem Communications – which owns both, America’s leading online conservative clearinghouse and Salem Radio, which in turns owns the radio station on which my radio program airs – has apparently purchased leading conservative site Hot Air, owned by Michelle Malkin and which employs my radio colleague Ed Morrissey, and its million daily pageviews.

Someone notify the media! The barbarians are at the gates!

Democrats: Criminalizing Dissent

Democrats Diane Feinstein and Dick “Turban” Durbin – who have long been the Dems’ official trial-balloon-floaters for assaults on free speech like the “Fairness Doctrine” – are proposing an amendment to a Senate bill (S.448) clarifying the press shield law.

And it’s aimed squarely at citizen journalists like you and I.  Via RWN, here’s the amendment text, with some emphases added:

AMENDMENTS intended to be proposed by Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. DURBIN )


In section 10(2)(A), strike clause (iii) and insert the following:

[a “journalist” is shielded if he/she] (iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity

(I) that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, 1or other means; and

(II) that—

(aa) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

(bb) operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;

(cc) operates a programming service; or

(dd) operates a news agency or wire service;

In other words, you need to be an employee of a news business.  All of us hobby hacks in our pajamas in our basements are out in the cold.

In section 10(2)(B), strike ‘‘and’’ at the end.

In section 10(2)(C), strike the period at the end and insert ‘‘; and’’.

In section 10(2), add at the end the following:

(D) does not include an individual who gathers or disseminates the protected information sought to be compelled anonymously or under a pseudonym.

This would seem to be aimed at the likes of James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles – provided they’re not employed by a Major News Outlet, of course.

Leaving aside the obvious indication that this is the Democrats’ way of circling their wagons around ACORN – this is a fascinating look into the authoritarianism of the Democrat party at work.

The conservative blogosphere is dominated by independents who cover their fields of expertise, whatever they are (this blog: music, financial planning, wine, tomatos and Minnesota politics) for the pure, unadulterated love of the game.  From Power Line (which covers all they survey) to Speed Gibson (who patrols the ramparts of northwest-suburban education), we mostly do it because we want to, money be damned. 

The left, on the other hand, has built up a network of “business” entities and non-profits, from the pseudo-newspaper-y “MNPost” to the not-very-covert propagandists at the “Center for Independent Media” (parent of the Minnesoros “Indepdendent”), at exquisite cost; one might now presume that this money was spent to get ahead of the legislative curve that the Feinstein/Durbin proposal represents, as a further attempt to shut down independent, non-government-vetted thought in this country.

This is Obama’s America.

Since Our Congress Won’t Do It

Something for all you conservatives (and people who care about free markets and being able to get decent health care in this country) on Twitter:

I’ve been @ messaging folks but hopefully you can give this some
traction: Suppose you tweet the following:

Please RT — select any number of pages from health care bill, read them, & post results at #crowdread

Nobody said it would be easy, of course:

I already have a (half-a**ed — I can’t read that s**t!) entry…

This would be one of those areas where conservatives’ domination of Twitter could be a very good thing.

I may do it on the blog, here, too.  Presuming I can make heads or tails of any of it.

Just A Reminder

I’ll be joining a few thousand of our closest friends at the Minnesota Tea Party in a few hours. 

It’ll be at the Minnesota Capitol Grounds, starting around 5PM.  I’ll be joining a list of other speakers – Constitutional lawyer Marjorie Holsten, Doug Dahl, KLTK personality Sue Jeffers, Free market majordomo and AM1280 host David Strom, Healthcare reform powerhouse Twilia Brase, Dennis Madden, Doug Malsom, and KTLK-FM host Chris Baker, along with Bradlee Dean from “You Can Run International” and AM1280’s “Sons of Liberty”.  KKMS’ Lee Michaels hosts.

Me?  I’ll be speaking bright and early; just like when I was playing guitar in the bars, I’m the opening act.

And it’s gonna be fun!  See you there!