Ricardo Lopez: Middle School Reporter

Ricardo Lopez writes for “MN Reformer”, which is a website in the tradition of the old “MN Monitor” – basically a propaganda site funded by progressive plutocrats with deep pockets,

Further proof that not only the Democratic party, but its pet media (and the Reformer is nothing but a paid PR lapdog for Ken Marti) can assume that their audience isn’t an especially critical bunch of thinkers.

Because, say what you will about Miller’s letter, logically or epidemiologically, but other than choosing the word “Exchange” over the more apposite “Exposure”, he got the mechanics of how we currently know Covid is spread pretty right.

It took Lopez’s apparently eighth-grade sense of discernment to read “sexual transmission” into a choice of words that, otherwise, got things basically correct.

But in a world where Samantha Bee is among the left’s top journalists, it doesn’t not make sense that someone like Lopez would do…well, this.

My Checklist

My “Black Friday” checklist:Wednesday before Thanksgiving:

  1. Make sure I’ve got groceries and essentials sufficient to get through ’til Monday. Check.
  2. Anticipate the places I need to go for the next three days, and map out routes avoiding major malls, Targets, Walmarts and commercial districts. Check.
  3. Switch on NPR and start counting all the “celebrities” and “newscasters” referring to this next four weeks as the most miserable, dysfunctional time of the year, full of family one hates because of their politics and the onerous nature of having to engage in forced civility while celebrating gratitude and humility while apparently feeling neither. Make sure I have a fresh set of legal pads, since it gets worse every year. Check.
  4. Silently ponder, for yet another year, converting to Russian Orthodox Christianity, at least in part to put Christmas off til January 6 and get some awesome savings on presents in the week between Christmas and New Years. Check.

OK. I’m good to go.

Happy Day After Thanksgiving, everyone!

Out Come The Long Knives

What Tom Bakk and Dave Tomassoni did this week in Minnesota, it seems Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is doing, more or less, in the US Senate.

And progs aren’t happy about it:

While he would certainly never acknowledge it, Joe Manchin just took it upon himself to go on national television, and had the brilliant idea to singlehandedly throw away any reason someone in the state of Georgia would have to vote for a Democrat in order for them to take the Senate. If he has already positioned himself as someone more interested in catering to the right as opposed to the left, and it’s all but guaranteed he will act as a barrier to any meaningful legislation whatsoever that Democrats could pass, does he not understand he just essentially told people that nothing was going to get done if Democrats control the Senate? Does he not realize he essentially just told voters to go ahead and make the Democrats the majority, while at the same time telling them there was actually no reason to do so considering he has made himself the barrier to anything their base wants to see done?

However the George Senate runoffs turn out, Joe Manchin is going to be one of the most powerful people in the United State for the next two years, at least.

Follow The Absence Of Money

A friend of the blog emails:

St Paul City Councilmember Mitra Jalali says that capitalism crushed a local alternative weekly.

I’m scratching my head at this because the print and online versions were free. So, if they couldn’t survive by giving away whatever they had, how did capitalism crush them? One would think something free would “crush” something more expensive. That’s usually what is said of Walmart- they offer things so cheaply that the small businesses can’t compete. In this case, what is the issue? Free publications can’t compete with more expensive subscription news? Or is it actually can’t compete with better sources online that are also free? Is that capitalism? I guess maybe it is because we here in the USA do have lots of choice and are also free to start another weekly in City Pages place. So, if that choice and opportunity bothers Mitra Jalali, just what alternative does she want for us? 

I suspect councilwoman Jalali – who was “Mitra Jalali-Nelson” until having a hint of Scandinavian became a negative in Metro DFL politics – knows this.

I suspect she, like all DFL pols, knows her voters don’t think about it all that hard, and that nobody in the media is ever going to make an issue of it.

Pining For The Hipster Fjords

I do “get” nostalgia.

My first radio station – KEYJ, which became KQDJ during my senior year of high school – was one of the formative experiences of my life. 

But sometime around 2000, it changed from a local middle-of-the-road station to a “computer in a closet” station relaying ESPN Sportsradio and the occasional high school sports event.  They moved the studio from above the drugstore on mainstreet to a nondescript suite in a strip mall downwind from a Walmart.  I don’t drop by to visit, because it’s not the station it was when I was 16.  It’s not a radio station anyone in 1980 would have recognized at all. 

The past is a keen, formative memory.  The present is a 10 year old PC passing along people jabbering about the NBA.   

If it disappeared tomorrow, the memory would remain.  The present wouldn’t be lamented at all. 


The CIty Pages – which was the last survivor of an endless stream of “alternative” weekly tabloids (Twin Cities Reader, Nightbeat, Cake, Buzz, and no doubt others) that used to sit in bins outside record stores, co-ops and cafes all over town – has closed, effective whoah, that was fast:

“Since City Pages revenue is 100% driven by advertisers and events—and those investments have dropped precipitously—there’s no reasonable financial scenario that would enable us to continue operations in the face of this pandemic,” Star Tribune Chief Revenue Office Paul Kasbohm said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we foresee no meaningful recovery of these sectors or their advertising investments in the near future, leaving us no other options than to close City Pages.”

City Pages will stop publishing in print and online immediately, according to a news release. The last print edition of City Pages will be distributed this week.
The closure eliminates all City Pages positions.

I come not to praise the City Pages, but to bury it. But fairness demands a little clarity.

The City Pages were the last survivor of what used to be a bumper crop of freebie tabloids that popped up in bins outside restaurants, co-ops, record stores and bars. There were a bunch – Nightbeat in the eighties, Twin Cities Reader in the eighties and nineties, joined by Cake and Buzz and a few others in the nineties. The field winnowed down to just the City Pages by about 2000.

In the eighties, it was where writers like David Brauer, Brian Lambert and James Lileks got their starts – indeed, it was where Lileks gave me my first legit-media plug, 33 years ago.

And for a few years, in the ’90s and early 2000s, City Pages did some great journalism. They did more, better long-form and investigative reporting than the Strib or PiPress, at their best, under editor Steve “Don’t even think about singing ‘Oh Sherry’ around me” Perry. It was biased to the left to a fault. But beneath all that, the reporting was otherwise generally solid. And Perry could go off the reservation; in about 1997, Perry was the first journo in the Twin Cities to write that the swelling push for carry permit reform in Minnesota hadn’t brought blood to the streets of a couple dozen other states, wasn’t going to bring it to Minnesota, either.

When Perry left in 2005-ish (to return as editor of the Soros-funded attack-PR site Minnesota Monitor, which became the Minnesota Independent, and distinguished itself in journalistic glory under neither guise), the City Pages slid and slid hard. For most of the past 10-15 years, the paper’s “journalism” has been at best risible hackery, or incompetent hackery, self-parodying hackery, or sloppy gurgitations of DFL chanting points or, when female conservative politicians were involved, creepy panty-sniffing.

If the City Pages had been its 1998 self, its collapse would have been something to mourn, maybe, for some reason other than the nostalgia local establishment journos have been venting about.

But the City Pages of the 21st Century has been not a shadow, but a mockery, of anything of real value that it may once have been.

Blue Fragility: Open Letter To Jonathan Chait

To: Johnathan “Chaitful” Chait
From: Mitch Berg – Red State Sleeper Agent
Re: This Little “Eliminationist Hatred” Problem You Have

Mr. Chait

We go way back, of course – and not in a good way. You have a bit of a history of being a horrible excuse for a human being. But you are a gift that keeps giving, for people like me, so for that I thank you, even if backhandedly.

This past week, you wrote an article in “New York Magazine” claiming that the Republican response to Covid is, in your terms, a “Death Cult”.

I won’t pullquote anything – the article is long, and never really improves over the title.

But I have two questions.

First, some background – here’s the listed Covid fatalities/million as of last Friday:

  • NY (D): 1,684
  • NJ (D): 1,790
  • US average: 474
  • FL (R): 319
  • MN (DFL): 291
  • TX (R): 241
  • ND (R): 135

So I’ve got two questions for you, Mr. Chait:

  1. Did you ever refer to Cuomo (or the governors of NJ/CT/MA) as running a “death cult?” I’ll confess, I’m an infrequent reader of yours. I only read you (or John Fugelsang) when you step on your d**k spectacularly – but I’d hate to be unfair.
  2. I wager you a shiny new quarter that as of November 3, 2020, TX and FL will be below half NY’s fatalities per million. Any action on that bet?

Thanks.

By the way – at the risk of sounding uncharitable, there are times that I think you are God’s karmic gift to me for never teasing the short-bus kids in elementary school. For this, I thank Him, and urge you to keep up the, uh, work, karmically speaking.

That is all.

Side Note: I’m making this the The George W. Bush Corollary To Berg’s Seventh Law – All of a Republican’s sins, imaginary or (for sake of argument) real, will be forgotten once the Republican can no longer hold office. 

There Are Millions Of Reasons…

… why I will never donate a single penny to Minnesota Public radio, even though I listen to them (primarily news and classical music) constantly.

Two of them, for starters, are:

  • Keri Miller
  • WNYC’s “On The Media”.

But a few more million of them are right here; as Minnesota Public radio lays off much of what used to be a pretty good news room, their executive staff still keep getting paid, well, like this:

To add insult to injury, MPR’s national production group, “American Public Media”, is canceling “Live from Here with Chris Thile” – the excellent show that grew from the ruins of “Prairie Home Companion”, and one of the few original production non-news shows worth listening to.

MPR hastens to point out that their C-suite is taking a 30% pay cut. Which sounds like a big deal, until you realize that a whole lot of private sector CEOs are cutting their pay to $1 for the duration.

Items For The “Cancel” Agenda

SCENE: Mitch BERG is walking out of the local Korean joint with a container of Galbi. As he’s committing to going out the door, MyLyssa SILBERMAN, reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, covering the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats.

SILBERMAN: Mister Berg.

BERG: Er, hi, Ms. Silberman. What’s new?

SILBERMAN: Not much time for small talk. I’m doing a story about cancel culture.

BERG: You mean, about how the titans of the progressive media, the Guardian, have their roots in laissez faire policies regarding slavery and the future of the American union during the civil war?

SILBERMAN: No, no. I’m looking for examples in the world of politics.

BERG: You mean like the town in Alabama whose entire base of wealth was built on the products of slavery, but posits itself as a bastion of “progressive” thought today.

SILBERMAN: Alabama?

BERG: Yuuup.

SILBERMAN: Go ahead. I’m listening.

BERG: This town in Alabama built its entire civic wealth between 1815 and 1865 on textiles – an industry based on slave-produced cotton – and tobacco, which was…

SILBERMAN: …raised by slaves. Yes. Yes. Keep going.

BERG: And they voted for the Democrat, pro-slavery candidates for President, in 1860 and 1864.

SILBERMAN: I already hate them.

BERG: And then, when the Civil War was well underway, they undertook a pogrom against not only blacks – whom they blamed for the war, and for the economic hardships the war brought them – but against whites that supported abolition, destroying their businesses in an epic riot.

SILBERMAN: Perfect. Probably fundamentalist Christianists to boot. These people need canceling.

BERG: I’ll say.

SILBERMAN: What town in Alabama?

BERG: It was…wait, did I say Alabama?

SILBERMAN: You did.

BERG: My bad. It was New York City. Your hometown, if I recall.

SILBERMAN: (Stands, stunned).

BERG: You’ve been canceled.

SILBERMAN: (Jaw flaps, but no sound comes out)

BERG: Try the dok buk uhm. It’s divine. (BERG walks out)

And SCENE

Democracy Dies In Conspiracy

Conservatives, especially conservatives who are “out” critics of the mainstream media, get routinely accused of “hating” journalism. The late Nick Coleman was particularly, er, “acerbic” in his criticism of those who had the gall to criticize the news/industrial complex, claiming in one bout of hysteria that bloggers “wanted to kill the Strib”.

While we correctly savaged the Strib, and especially Coleman, on issue after issue, it was still baked wind. Self-government, small-“D” democracy, needs a functional, and above all trustworthy, media (among many other institutions) to survive.

And by “”trustworthy”, we mean “can be trusted to report the news, truthfully, regardless of its own institutional and individual political opinions.

In Europe, the media are pretty honest about their political points of view, on an editorial level; the Times of London and the Frankfurter Allgemeine are center-right; Guardian and Die Zeit and Le Monde are all various degrees of left. You know the slant before you pick up the paper. You can account for it.

American media has built a myth of objectivity, or at least of being a so-called “neutral voice”, around itself; Minnesota Public Radio news even made “No Rant, No Slant” their motto for a while, and it’s not much different than the mythology American media built for itself over the past hundred years or so. In my freshman year journalism class,

And it’s never really been true. Some journos do in fact do their best to separate their personal views, of course – I’ve got nothing but respect for the best of them.

Many journalists also do their best, but inevitably reflect the fact that their entire frame of reference is left-of-center. Their education, their workplace, their social circle, are an ecosystem where some variety of The Left is the old, current and future Normal. When they confront a different point of view, they can seem a little like Jane Goodall venturing out among the gorillas.

And when things are chugging along like normal, who cares, right?

The New Abnormal . But then something pops up that threatens the order, and not in a good way. What then?

The media has been rightly seen as slanted to the left for close to fifty years. With the rise of talk radio and alternative news 30 years ago, you could sense that the “elite” media were starting to give up on the pretense of balance and detachment. The notion of the “neutral voice” has been

But with the election of President Trump, the floodgates got dynamited.

The “neutral voice”, isn’t.

“Oh, Mitch – you and your hyperbole”.

No. Not at all.

The Gatekeepers Speak: “On the Media” is a production of WNYC Radio in New York. It’s a public station, one of the flagship station in the National Public Radio chain. Like a lot of NPR productions, sometimes it’s excellent. Sometimes the smug rolls off it like fog off a loch.

And sometimes, it accomplishes its mission – which in the case of “On the Media”, is to serve as the exposed id of the “elite” media in this country.

With that in mind: this show was broadcast on December 1, 2016 – probably as fast as could be put together on NPR timelines. It had four segments:

  1. The first gazed navel-ly about “how the media should cover President Trump“. Because conveying the facts and letting the audience make up their own mind was presumably not good enough anymore.
  2. How talking about Trump “Normalizes” him – unless the media changes the rules when discussing him. This featured reprentatives, not from The Nation and Slate.com or Buzzfeed or Samantha Bee. No, they were from the NYTimes and Washington Post. That led to another segment…
  3. How the language itself needs to be understood, and harnessed.
  4. And, lest the foregoing was too oblique for the casual listener, a segment linking the (as yet unstarted) Trump administration to Putin’s variety of autocracy, and laying out the imperative for the media to use it’s power to prevent “Normalizing” the president-elect.

And the media’s behavior in the three and a half years since has mapped to that template, as the media has grasped at every possible straw to try to “take down” the President.

We didn’t even need to get this leaked to us, like ‘Journo-list’ – although I suspect I may have been the only conservative listening to that groaningly pompous program, and I suspect that’s WNYC’s assumption as well.

TL:dr – At least some of the people at the apex of the “layers and layers of gatekeepers” have abolished the old rules of journalism, publicly but yet internally, as re Donald Trump.

The “elite” media’s entire coverage of Trump over the past four years, on every issue, has followed the template that’s suggested, sub rosa, in the four On the Media pieces above.

Will the rules change back when Trump leaves office? Of course not – the media had the same general attitude toward Republicans, conservatives and the issues of the right for a generation before 2016.

But the institutional imperative to use the media’s power toward political and social ends? That’s not going to end.

Distrust, but verify. And then, almost inevitably, if some smidgeon of partisan politics is involved, distrust some more.

Breeding A Nation Of Ninnies

This tweet from Time – kids, ask your parents…

…explains a lot about how Greta Thunberg became their “Person of the Year”.

Among many other things.

The Babylon Bee may actually be giving the big media too much credit.

And To Think Conservatives Believe Big Media Writes Stories About Conservative / Republican People And Events Long Beforehand, Because They’re All Writing To A Narrative

Jessica Kwong, progressive stenographer at former magazine “Newsweek”, on Donald Trump’s thanksgiving:

“it was written before knowing about the president’s surprise visit to Afghanistan-an honest mistake”

In other words, pre-written.

The Big Media aren’t “the enemy of the people”. They’re worse; after assuming the mantle of “guardian of democracy” (which, we are told, without their ministrations would “die in darkness”), they are doing something very, very different. They’re worse than an enemy; they are betraying a trust – however misbegotten.

They are swindling the people.

UPDATE: And apparently the once-mighty Newsweek can be shamed into decency; Kwong has been fired.

I’m sure she’ll be off the beach soon.

Freedom Is Dangerous

“Liberals”, 2004: “Question authority! Free speech is *the* most essential right!”

“Progressives”, 2019: “Free speech is too dangerous for people without tin ‘journalist’ badges to be using”


In the old Soviet Union, citizens used to joke that when a shortage of butter was anticipated, the state media would start running stories on how *bad* butter was for you.

I couldn’t help but think about this over the weekend. And not *just* because our media is resembling the old Soviet media more and more, either.

Following on the NYTimes’ op-ed on free speech being too “dangerous” for mere proles, NPR’s “On the Media” – which is to the big media what a fawning mall cop is to your local blue-and-white – took up the same refrain, giving Marantz a full hour to reiterate his claim (and in so doing giving a whole new spin on “physician, heal thyself”).

Oh, they wrap it in a dirty-sounding word, “absolutism” – but like the NYTimes piece…

…it’s all a rationalization for turning speech over to the “professionals”, to whittle that right (or “right”) down to a size that proles can handle.

And we’re seeing a *lot* of this lately; how checks and balances are just tooooo haaaaard, and the Bill of Rights is just tooooo complex for the herd to deal with.

Makes me think of Soviet Radio. Apropos nothing.

Just saying, Democrats – I liked y’all better 15 years ago.

A Thousand Times “Yep”

While driving about yesterday during the mid-day, I caught a piece on MPR – basically a recycled “Documentary” podcast on “Education” looking at the tension between free speech and “inclusion” at the U of M, viewed in the context of a squabble over a panel on the Washington Avenue bridge in 2016, where Campus Republicans wrote “build the wall”, spawning the usual suspects’ usual performances about the need to make free speech not nearly so free.

I sat, mostly dumbfounded, as a series of academics, consultants and activists responded to the notion of the importance (to say nothing of sanctity ,and vitality to a democracy) of free speech with an ever-increasing series of “Yabbuts”.

There were too many chilling moments to pick just one pullquote; I’d read or listen to the whole thing, if you’re in the mood to feel immense forboding.

But this part here caught my attention; I’ve added some emphasis:

Over the course of [Rebecca Ropers, a vice provost for faculty and academic affairs at the University of Minnesota]’s career, she has witnessed an increasing ability for people that are marginalized on campus to articulate what is going on in their lives, but she doesn’t see administrators and other students showing a commensurate ability to hear and acknowledge those experiences. She said that the university now knows more about managing diversity and free speech, but school officials don’t always implement what they know.
“If administrators and faculty could have students’ backs and continue to articulate the importance of free speech, while also saying, ‘Yeah, and I really find that reprehensible,” I think maybe that’s a good strategy for academic leaders to take at this point,” Ropers said.

“Acknowledgment”. It’s the “bring me a rock” of modern sociology; the “acknowledgment” sought is never, ever the kind offered; there’s always a bigger, better, different form that’s really demanded, although it’s up to the acknowledgor to figure that out.

If the modern academy – at least, outside most engineering and hard science departments – expends energy in anything other than endless self-flagellation over the current view of identity politics, what is it?

Although I’ll clarify – it’s not so much self-flagellation; call it flagellation of some “other” on the part of the upper-middle-class academics and activists doing the flagellation, who are never called upon for any meaningful sacrifices as a result.

Cultural Nausea

I want to make a video, fisking John Oliver’s moronic piece claiming Australia’s gun laws “debunk” the “American gun ownership myth”. Spoiler: the only parts that are wrong are the parts where Oliver is moving his lips.

The problem is, watching John Oliver gives me a very unpleasant physical reaction. Watching him literally makes me ill.

It’s not just how he smugly mangles context and cherry picks factoids, and mugs for the trained seals in his audience; that was Jon Stewart’s schtick, too. But I can watch (and heckle and fisk) Stewart and enjoy doing it.

John Oliver could read a phone book, or “Goodnight Moon”, or even quotes from Margaret Thatcher and William F. Buckley, and I’d still feel my skin crawing, and start wanting to throw up.

I don’t even react like this to the useless Steven Colbert.

I literally get ill watching Oliver.

The only other thing like it? I get a headache watching Tim Burton movies. No kidding – I even got a headache watching one Burton movie even before I learned what it was and who directed it. It can be a Burton movie I love (“Nightmare before Christmas”) or hate (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), but it’s the same headache. Something about his style. I don’t know.

But even that reaction is nothing like the one I get from John Oliver.

No, I’m not exaggerating.

Does this happen to anyone else?

That Moment When…

….you see it in black and white:  Big Left’s “elites” really, really don’t understand the Constitution, federalism, checks and balances…representative republican government.

There are times the idea of complete national divorce – preferably peaceful – sounds almost dreamy.

Aborted In The First Trimester

Michelle Wolf’s really awful Netflix show canceled after three months:

The move comes just a couple of weeks after BET announced it was cancelling The Rundown with Robin Thede after its first season. That cuts the number of late-night-style shows hosted by women in half, with only TBS’ Samantha Bee and Hulu’s Sarah Silverman left standing.

And with a little luck, Bee’s wretched show will be dying from apathy before too long.

It’s not all good news: The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale also got tubed.

 

Nick Coleman: Still A Monkey

The other day, I linked to an excellent Strib piece about my friend Sarah Cade – a liberal, millennial, biracial, female “gun nut”.

It’s an interesting story, and one that has to be terrifying Big Left, inasmuch as millennials are more likely to be pro-gun than anti (even after a few months of  puffing up David “Boss” Hogg).

And who should sound off in his sclerotic, concussed manner than our old pal Nick “The Monkey” Coleman.

Coleman – former “big cheese”f and the only liberal columnist too dumb and expensive to be kept on at the Strib, ever – turned his rheumy, sheets-to-the-windy eye to the piece with the same even handed logic that made him every blogger’s favorite kick-toy from 2002 until…well, until he pretty much disappeared.

Well, thanks, Nick.  Your opinion is worth – well, pretty much the same as the last ten years worth of your career prospects, ever since you graduated from “Moronic Clown” to “Turbo Clown”.

Just Goes To Show You

A couple of Berg’s Law references, here:

Berg’s Eleventh Law of Inverse Viability: The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected.

And its corollary:

The McCain Corollary To Berg’s Eleventh Law: If that respected conservative ever develops a chance of getting elected, that “respect” will turn to blind unreasoning hatred overnight.

Both could be renamed “The Paulsen Principle”.

CD3 GOP representative Erik Paulsen has been cutting a decidedly moderate tack in his time in Congress, after replacing equally moderate representative (and fellow Jamestown ND native) Jim Ramstad.

It’s portrayed as common sense; the 3rd CD, says the conventional wisdom, is trending blue and is a very possible flip when and if Paulsen leaves office.

And so while Paulsen’s challengers have been unimpressive so far, he’s been moving inexorably to the center for years, trying to keep it that way.

But – for those who need it – here’s proof that there’s really no pleasing the leftymedia.

Word Choice

Rolling Stone, reeling from a decade of decay of the print publication biz and its own growing irrelevance, is on the market; Jann Wenner is looking for a buyer.

The NYTimes notes (emphasis added by me):

But the headwinds buffeting the publishing industry, and some costly strategic missteps, have steadily taken a financial toll on Rolling Stone, and a botched story three years ago about an unproven gang rape at the University of Virginia badly bruised the magazine’s journalistic reputation.

“Botched”.

“Unproven”.

The actual word is “false”.