Freedom Hangs By A Thicker Thread

I’ve written a lot this past week about the Dems’ push to re-instate the “Fairness Doctrine”.  

Let’s be clear about one thing:  the push to re-instate the Doctrine is based on a huge, cynical lie that the left is repeating, true to Goebbels, over and over.  Dick Durbin, for example (I’ve added emphasis):

Dick Durbin — the Senate’s Majority whip — came out four-square in favor of the Fairness Doctrine today, declaring in The Hill — a newspaper for Capitol Hill: “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine” It’s the clearest statement yet from a member of the congressional leadership that there will be a real fight over the issue.

Oddly, Durbin explained his position with an appeal to old-time values: “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

And there – in the bold type – is the lie.  Americans hear both sides of the story.  Every story.  All the time.  The metaphorical marketplace of ideas in the broadcast, cable, and (since the early ’90′s) online media over the past 20 years has been a lot like a literal marketplace in, say, Warsaw Poland.  In 1986, it had pretty much what the government said it could have.  Today, both are jammed with a dizzying assortment of stuff, of widely varying quality – and the consumer has almost infinite choice.

Rush Limbaugh is absolutely correct about one thing; before 1987, the “Fairness Doctrine” didn’t explicitly stifle free speech; it merely made it too complicated for the vast majority of radio and TV stations to attempt.  When I started in talk radio in 1985, even the mighty KSTP-AM broadcast only a thin film of “controversial” content, sticking mostly to the usual pre-1987 miasma of sportstalk, recipes, relationship talk, author interviews, counseling, and “stuff going on around the community”.  Talk was a fringe format, the province of the very old, the housebound, and the shift-worker who was bored with music radio.  AM radio was on the brink of extinction. 

Today, the consumer is bombarded with opinion of every stripe, from all corners.  Newspapers, magazines and broadcast TV and radio have been joined by cable and internet TV, satellite and streamed radio, home-made video and pod streaming, blogs in text or audio or video – which have forced the traditional media to adjust to keep up. 

Senator Durbin:  How does the average American not have access to “both sides of the story”?

Congressman Mike Pence is sponsoring an effort to legally bar the FCC – which administers the “Fairness Doctrine” – from regulating poltical content.  Ed Morrissey, my radio colleague, liveblogged the debate on the amendment, about which he reported:

Pence says it represents an “existential threat” to the conservative movement, and believes that the aim isn’t for “fairness” but for the silencing of conservatives. The problem is that the threat is that government retains this ability, either by legislation or executive order. We have to very aggressively explain that the high legal and administrative costs of the FD would simply choose not to carry any political talk radio at all.

Pence points out that the FCC actually has the authority on its own to reinstate the FD, without any action from Congress or the Presidency. They have chosen not to do so, but if the FCC wants to, they could reinstate it tomorrow. The judiciary may have a say in this eventually, but Pence’s bill would strip the FCC of that ability altogether. That doesn’t mean that Congress can’t pass future legislation to do it, but it would have to do so openly.

Do us a favor; call your Congressional representative.  Tell them to support the Pence amendment on the Fairness Doctrine..

Liberals, remember – when they came for conservative alternative media, you need to speak up, or when “they” come for liberal media, there’ll be nobody left to speak for you.

Continue reading

Anonymous Sources, Part II – Say What?

This is Part II of a three part series.  Part I appeared this past Wednesday.

———- 

Remember the Society for Professional Journalists’ “Code of Ethics”? 

It says reporters should:

— Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

While the Minnesota Monitor’s self-published code of ethics is largely cribbed nearly verbatim from the SPJ’s code, they curiously edit this commandment:

* Never misrepresent events in an attempt to oversimplify or take events out of context.

Let’s look into this.

———-

On Wednesday, I noted that when pressed by Michael Brodkorb in the Monitor thread comment section, Fecke responded by changing two words – adding the word “reportedly” to quotes by Minnesota GOP chairman Ron Carey and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (DFL).   As I noted at the end of Wednesday’s installment, it’s almost a piddling thing – a class E misdemeanor among blogging ethics violations (and yes, I’m highly  and ironically aware the term “blogging ethics” is not unanalogous to “Bolivian jurisprudence” or “JB Doubtless’ subtle shades of metaphor”).  It’s hardly the stuff that scuppers a journalistic endeavor’s credibility. 

By itself.

We’ll come back to that.

———-

In the comment thread on Monday’s post at Minnesota Monitor, Michael Brodkorb asked:

Jeff:You have a direct quote from the Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey in your post:

“…GOP chair Ron Carey saying there is a ’90 percent probability’ of a change…”

Did you interview Chairman Carey?  Did he give you the “90 percent probability” quote?

Fecke responded (with emphasis added by me):

 I’m not going to clarify every word in every story I write for you.  Maybe I did interview Ron Carey…and maybe I got the information from wire sources…and maybe there’s another option you haven’t thought of.  Regardless, I’m not going to get sucked in to what’s clearly a case of you hyperanalyzing every word I write to see if you can find some reason that what I wrote is technically inaccurate, whether or not a reasonable person would find it so.

Now, let’s hold on right there.

“Maybe” one interviews someone, and “maybe” one gets the quote elsewhere?  Would, as Jeff alludes, a “reasonable person” find that to be a mere technicality?

No.  Indeed, the sources a journalist, or “journalist”, uses are critical to establishing the reader/viewer’s sense of the story’s credibility.  Being able to point to a source with reasonable knowledge of the details of a story is a key part of reporting.  Remember – a reporter (as opposed to a columnist) is as a general rule not supposed to be the story, or be part of the story; they are supposed to relate the story to the reader.

Part of the job is relating facts, quotes and information - with which the reader is probably unfamiliar – to the reader in a way that tells the story clearly and credibly.   One does this by telling the reader the source of the assertions in one’s story.  When the reader knows the source of something – a fact, a quote, an assertion – the can gauge the credibility of the reporter’s story-telling accordingly.  “The Senator told me in a one-on-one interview…”, “I read on a bathroom wall that…”, “according to an Associated Press report of the event…”, “…a number of left-leaning blogs report…”, and “highly-placed sources within the company and familiar with its accounting procedures”  are all ways of sourcing a quote in ways that tell a reader how much credence to lend the quotes.

 It’s one of the reasons journalists are supposed to shy away from anonymous sources (the Society of Professional Journalists and the Minnesota Monitor’s codes of ethics enshrine this principle); without knowledge of who the sources are and the baggage, grinding-axes and backstory they bring, the reader can’t get a complete picture of the story. 

Read the original piece Jeff posted before making the corrections – adding the word “reportedly” twice.   I’m going to pull out a few pieces – some quotes from Fecke’s original piece.

Jeff clearly understands the idea of sourcing; he clearly lists the source of one quote:

Leslie Sandberg, communications director for the Mike Ciresi campaign, issued a statement to Minnesota Monitor saying, “We’re going to abide by the endorsement, and our campaign looks forward to having many supporters show up whether the caucuses are held in February or March.”

See how it works?  Sandberg – Mike Hatch’s former flak – sent the Monitor a statement.  Simple, clear, and establishes the credibility of the information Fecke has just presented. 

Two more quotes:

Jess McIntosh, communications director for the Franken campaign, was equally positive. “While we can’t believe that no one has come up with a better name than `Super-Duper Tuesday,’ we’re glad Minnesotans may be able to be a part of it. And we’re excited about increased participation in the caucuses.” …The Bob Olson campaign did not immediately have an official statement, but campaign manager Eric Mitchell said that the move was “good for Minnesotans,” and that it would hopefully increase participation in the caucuses.

So how did Jeff hear from Jess McIntosh and/or Eric Mitchell?  A statement?  An interview?  A drunken confession after hours at the Lexington?

Well, no matter. 

The next quote is from Minnesota GOP chairman Ron Carey:

While the state has not officially moved the caucus date, both DFL and Minnesota GOP leaders have indicated support for the switch, with GOP chair Ron Carey saying there is a “90 percent probability” of a change, and the DFL already giving preliminary approval to the plan.

“Ron Carey saying”. 

What would a reader – that putative “reasonable person” that Fecke alluded to above – assume was the source of that quote?  “Say[ing]” implies a “verbal statement” – arguably insinuating that the reporter got this quote directly from Ron Carey, via an interview, a phone conversation, an email – some direct communication.

I contacted Ron Carey’s office on Wednesday afternoon.  “To the best of my knowledge, Ron has never talked with [Jeff] Fecke about the caucuses”, said Mark Drake, Carey’s press contact.  Furthermore, according to Drake this quotation was not part of any statement issued by anyone in Carey’s office.

Which was, of course, what Michael Brodkorb told Fecke in the original Monitor article’s comment thread:

I called the Republican Party of Minnesota this morning and spoke with the Party’s communications director, Mark Drake.  I asked Mr. Drake if Chairman Carey did an interview with Minnesota Monitor yesterday.  He replied that Chairman Carey did not do an interview with Minnesota Monitor, nor was an interview requested.

If you didn’t interview Chairman Carey, how did you get the quote for your story?  According to numerous attendees at yesterday’s meeting of representatives of the major political parties and Secretary Ritchie, you nor a representative of Minnesota Monitor were present at the meeting.

Fecke responded:

I’ve added one word, twice.

As we noted Wednesday, that word was “reportedly”.  It changed the quote to “…with GOP chair Ron Carey reportedly saying there is a “90 percent probability” of a change…”.  The change was made without telling the readers.

What it meant was that while Fecke’s original story was very vague about the actual source of Carey’s quote, the revision was clearer; Fecke had gotten the quote from some indirect source. 

Are one’s sources direct, or are they indirect?  It can make a difference in the sort of credibility a reader assigns to a reporter’s writing. 

It’s not an academic distinction.  Compare and contrast:

  1. “Billy said Annie is a poopyhead”
  2. “Billy reportedly said Annie is a poopyhead”

One is direct, authoritative, to-the-chase, and implies that one has gotten the information – the quote – “straight from the horse’s mouth”.  The other adds a level of plausible deniability, as if to say “I don’t know for sure, but this is what I’ve heard…”. 

The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics enjoins a reporter (emphasis added) to “Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.”

So if Carey’s quote didn’t come from a face-to-face interview, and it didn’t come from a statement, where did the statement come from?

Or, as Fecke’s un-acknowledged correction put it, what is the quote’s “reported” source?  As this is published, an email to Fecke asking for clarification remains unanswered.

———-

Before we move on to Monday’s installment, let’s look at another quote.  It was in a May 17 piece by Fecke, quoting Senator Norm Coleman’s lambasting of Attorney General Gonzalez.  The quote:

“’I don’t have confidence in Gonzales,’ Coleman said, adding, ‘I would hope that the attorney general understands that the department is suffering right now, and he does the right thing, and that is allows the president to provide new leadership.’”

“Coleman said”.  Not “Coleman reportedly said”.  Not “Coleman said in a statement supplied to the Monitor”, or “Coleman related to an acquaintance during a drunken night of hold-em and Ten Years After videos”.  “Coleman said”.  Said to whom?  If one is a journalist, the implication is “to me”, unless you say otherwise.  (I’ve taken a screen shot, as of Wednesday, June 27 at 5PM, showing the quote in its original form). 

Did Fecke interview Senator Coleman?  A reliable source tells me the  Senator’s quote occurred during a telephone press conference, and that no Monitor staff were present at press conference conference at all.

Just to confirm, I emailed Robin Marty, the Monitor’s managing editor.  She had not been involved in setting up any interviews with the Senator.  As this is published, an email to Fecke asking for clarification remains unanswered.   

“Coleman said”.  To whom?  When?

We’ll discuss that in the next installment, Part III, Monday morning.

He Was Just As Sloshed as Schlegel

Jon Bruning is mounting a primary challenge to Chuck “The Suckup” Hagel in Nebraska.

Scott Johnson has a campaign slogan that all of us Philospophy 352 grads can get behind:

Those familiar with the Dialectic may understand that this particular Hagel requires an antithesis so that the Republican Party can achieve synthesis. In this case, Jon Bruning is the necessary antithesis. Support Jon Bruning!

Nebraska Republicans will need wider cars for the bumper stickers, of course.

Get Up Every Morning At The Sound Of The Bell

Ironically, for the first time in my adult, working life (except for during a run of lousy temp jobs back in the early nineties), I’m using Metro Transit to get to and from work – or I was, before I started biking.  It’s…OK.  It takes twice as long as driving, even in the congested urban core between Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  But, since my company pays half the cost of my “all you can ride” card, it costs about 1/3 as much to take the bus as it would to drive and park for a month.  I know a deal when I see one.  And sitting on the bus isn’t that bad, when I remember something to listen to (I get motion sick if I try to read too much, damn the luck) or find a cool game to play on my cell phone, and the late-thirtysomething childless couple that sits across from me doesn’t drive me absolutely over the edge talking about their endless remodeling job. 

No, the bus is just fine – and since my tax dollars are already paying for it, whether I like it or not, why not use it?

The thing I find most galling about transit advocates isn’t the zeal with which they approach the subject, with their blog posts about bus routes from Inver Grove to Minneaoplis and smug “car-free” sloganeering.  No, it’s the zeal with which they expect the rest of us  to order our lives around those big white buses and that one yellow train.

Tracy from Anti-Strib apparently feels the same.  He reponds to a commenter who sniffed about his choice to live (in the city) far from his clients (usually in the ‘burbs):

the decision where to work is often made by things like downsizing, layoffs and new opportunities. It also takes two incomes today and most of us don’t work at the same company as our spouse. In today’s economy, it’s not possible to know where you will be working 5, 10 and 20 years from today. People know this and pick a home in an area that they like, usually with good schools. They can’t always live near where they work and often don’t want to if they could.

One of my rationales for settling in the Midway was that it was pretty central; I could get to where the work was, without having to try to guess where it was going to move.   

Then there are people like me that consult. Should I move every time I get a new client? How about the people that have to leave work and visit clients? The idea that you can live near work and don’t need a car is a pure myth for many people including salesmen, consultants, tradesmen and most parents (Trying getting to school to get a sick kid on LRT!)

Great points, all of them.  I’ve been a consultant for most of the last 14 years.  I’ve changed jobs as many as 3-4 times a year – I’ve even worked simultaneously for companies that were miles apart (in one case, Farmington and Minneapolis.  Try busing that spread!).  There was no way to make transit work under any circumstances.

Only government employees have the luxury of working in the same building for 30 or 40 years. The rest of us know that we will be changing jobs at least 3 or 4 times. We make rational housing choices based on many things, not just the location of the employer du jour.

Which is hard to explain, since so many lefties work in long-term, unionized jobs where the main imperative is to never change.

It’s hard to explain.

“Think” Tank

Matt Entenza has launched a new lefty think tank, “MN2020“. 

 Minnesota 2020 was established in June 2007 as a nonpartisan progressive think tank focused on the issues that matter.  We focus on good ideas for education, health care, economic development, and transportation.

No word on whether “MN2020″ is actually a serial number from a back-dated UHC stock certificate or not.

Anonymous Sources, Part I – Bad Manners

This is Part I of a three-part series. 

———-

The other day, I went to the Society for Professional Journalists website. 

No, not just out of idle curiosity.  But we’ll get to that a bit later.

The SPJ has a page devoted to its ethics code.  The whole thing is worth a read; you can learn a lot about the core of the craft, as well as the things that real journalists are taught to strive for as they do their jobs.  I was one of them, once; I did radio and freelance print news, way back when.  I wasn’t very successful – I’m not doing it now! – but a couple of editors said I was good, or at least not bad, at it.   

A couple of the items from the code caught my attention.  I’m going to add emphasis here and there.  You’ll see why, eventually:

— Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.

Hm

Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.

Never plagiarize.

There’s also an entire section entitled “Be Accountable”, which notes that “Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other”, and tells them to:

— Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.

And finally, there’s this last bit here; journalists should…:

— Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.

So I guess today I’m going to be a journalist.

———-

Local center-right bloggers have been piling on Minnesota Monitor since before the last election.  The piliing-on stems, mainly, from a couple of things:  the Monitor’s funding (from the “Center for Independent Media”, a DC-based non-profit that started life sharing offices with George Soros’ “Media Matters For America” attack-PR firm), and its staff (a group of leftybloggers with long track records of ideological snarkblogging). 

The Monitor – which calls its’ staff “Citizen Journalist Fellows” rather than “guys in their mom’s basement who blog in their pajamas” and pays them a stipend for blogging on schedule and to purported journalistic standards – has attempted to class up the joint a couple of different ways:

  • by publishing a “Code of Ethics” of its very own.  This code reads almost identically to the SPJ’s code – and indeed the code itself notes “The New Journalist Code of Ethics was inspired by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.”
  • Hiring an actual journalist, Eric Black.  Black needs no introduction to readers of this blog; he’s a guy with over three decades of experience in the field, and comes to the Monitor with warehouses full of credibility and gravitas. He is no Cucking Stool.

So it’s established; while the Monitor’s tone is explicitly “progressive”, they are slathering the veneer of journalism over the operation. 

Fair enough.  Let’s run with that. 

We’ll come back to that, too.

———-

Bloggers, of course, have no published code of ethics.  But among reputable bloggers – or bloggers who strive to be reputable – there are at least a few generally-accepted standards.  Plagiarism, of course, is very bad form, and can be punished mercilessly (anyone remember “The Agonist?”).  Another one – prominently label any corrections that are germane to the fundamental facts of a story – ties in closely with one of the articles in the SPJ and the Minnesota Monitor’s codes of conduct: the injunction to “Admit mistakes and correct them promptly”.  It’s why whenever a good blogger changes a fundamental fact in their story, they’ll put something at the bottom of the posting.  For example…:

“UPDATE:  Commenter BillVanNassouwe points out that Councilman Royce was convicted of shoplifting, not high treason.  I’ve changed the story above.  Sorry about the bobble”. 

It’s just good blogging manners, along with that whole “journalistic ethics” thing.

Oh, and one other thing; if you pull a quote from an online source, you link to it.  If you don’t, it is – at the very least - a gaffe.

———-

On Monday, the Monitor ran this story on its front page, under Jeff Fecke’s byline…

…well, no.  That’s not exactly what happened.  Let’s construct a timeline.

  1. On Monday, the Monitor ran this story under Fecke’s byline.  It is reproduced verbatim below the fold in this posting; a PDF file made from the screen capture is available for those who want to check the veracity of my copy/paste job for themselves.
  2. Michael Brodkorb – my friend, Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague, and Minnesota Democrats Exposed blogger – noticed a couple of things (which will be explained later).  He took the screen shot of the story.
  3. Brodkorb then left a comment in the story’s thread at the Monitor questioning the sourcing of a few of the statements in Fecke’s article.  He asked Fecke “Did you interview Chairman Carey?  Did he give you the “90 percent probability” quote?”
  4. Fecke respondedtwice – and then edited the piece…
  5. …which was re-published in this form.  About this time, the story fell off the blog’s front page. 

Note that at no time did the posting explictly say “some facts in this story were changed”.  No update notice was posted.  The casual reader  might never know any part of the story’s content had changed. 

And what happened?

———-

Fecke changed three words. 

  • In the second paragraph, he removed a word: “Leslie Sandberg, communications director for the Mike Ciresi campaign, issued a statement to Minnesota Monitor saying, “We’re going to abide by the endorsement, and our campaign looks forward to having many supporters show up whether the caucuses are held in February or March”.  OK – good edit, removing a colloquialism that any editor would have insisted be cut. 
  • In paragraph six, he added a word (flagged in blue): ”GOP leaders have indicated support for the switch, with GOP chair Ron Carey reportedly saying there is a “90 percent probability” of a change”
  • And in paragraph seven, the same basic change: ” Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, has said his office will facilitate a change, reportedly saying, “We’re here to be helpful to the parties if the parties want to move in that direction.”

“Three friggin’ words, Berg?  This is a scandal?  Criminy”.

Of course it’s not a scandal.  Nobody’s that anal-retentive, right?  Adding two lousy words is hardly a journalistic faux-pas; it barely qualifies as a blogging flub. 

Of course, it would have been a better thing had Fecke noted in his post that these corrections, piddling as they seem, had been made.  But it’s no big deal, right?

Right.

Until you dig behind the corrections.

We’ll get to that in our next installment, Part II, on Friday.

Continue reading

Ask Not For Whom The Gavel Tolls

Years ago, when the drive for “hate crime” legislation first started taking off, I noticed the rising confluence of speech codes, radical “diversity”-mongering and nascent hate-speech codes, and said “one of the logical consequences of this could be classifying Christianity – or at least the “wrong” kind of Christianity - as a hate crime”. 

The audience – mostly liberals, mostly smug about it – scoffed.  “Poor white WASP, complaining about oppression”, responded the middle-class white anglo-saxons of indeterminate religious interest.

As George Will points out, I was, of course, right:

Marriage is the foundation of the natural family and sustains family values. That sentence is inflammatory, perhaps even a hate crime.

At least it is in Oakland, Calif. That city’s government says those words, italicized here, constitute something akin to hate speech and can be proscribed from the government’s open e-mail system and employee bulletin board.

 It’s within government, of course:

Some African American Christian women working for Oakland’s government organized the Good News Employee Association (GNEA), which they announced with a flier describing their group as “a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family Values.”

The flier was distributed after other employees’ groups, including those advocating gay rights, had advertised their political views and activities on the city’s e-mail system and bulletin board. When the GNEA asked for equal opportunity to communicate by that system and that board, it was denied. Furthermore, the flier they posted was taken down and destroyed by city officials, who declared it “homophobic” and disruptive.

The city government said the flier was “determined” to promote harassment based on sexual orientation. The city warned that the flier and communications like it could result in disciplinary action “up to and including termination.”

Effectively, the city has proscribed any speech that even one person might say questioned the gay rights agenda and therefore created what that person felt was a “hostile” environment. 

This, even though gay rights advocates used the city’s communication system to advertise “Happy Coming Out Day.” Yet the terms “natural family,” “marriage” and “family values” are considered intolerably inflammatory.

In other words, “protected classes” are official protected from any sort of offense at all.

The flier supposedly violated the city regulation prohibiting “discrimination and/or harassment based on sexual orientation.” The only cited disruption was one lesbian’s complaint that the flier made her feel “targeted” and “excluded.” So anyone has the power to be a censor just by saying someone’s speech has hurt his or her feelings.

Unless the speech is “progressive.”

The GNEA should look at the bright side; pretty soon, they’ll be able to drown their sorrows in a moslem foot bath. 

Shots Fired

i’ve been following the story of the Treptow case – where a legal permit-holder shot an undercover cop who was allegedly behaving very aggressively, and finally allegedly pulled a gun on the man’s wife – since the beginning.

Joel Rosenberg’s been following it even more closely. Unaccountably, I missed his analysis of the release – the almost-complete release – of the relevant 911 transcripts, which he posted last Friday (actual transcripts here). 

Joel’s analysis (with some emphases added by me):

Some other items of interest, and/or comment:

  • Officer Friendly — see p. 6 — either didn’t notice or didn’t think to mention that there were two kids in the car
  • He identifies a “white male” and a “white female.”  [Remember this: the office notes no children.  It'll be important later.] That’s not redacted.
  • Any identification of Officer Friendly’s race, age, size and demeanor is redacted. 
  • One caller– see p. 4 — says he saw Officer Friendly pull a gun.  What’s not clear from the transcript is how long between that and when the officer got shot. 
  • That’s kind of important.  If you believe Officer Friendly’s story, he drew in response to Treptow pulling a gun on him — I guess he’d claim that retreat was neither practical nor safe.  Surely, if that was the case, he would likely immediately have shot the fellow who he thought was trying to kill him — after all, if you believe him, he didn’t draw the gun to further intimidate a guy….  A second or so gap in that narrative, and Officer Friendly’s story becomes less plausible, even without the other witnesses. His explanation — given that — then becomes that he didn’t shoot because he was afraid of hitting the kids that he didn’t see, the wife that he did, or that he froze under stress, and that he just left that out while he was talking on tape on 911.  Not impossible, but likely a hard sell. 
  • Occam’s Razor is a guide, and just a guide, but you have to assume a lot less complexity to read it as Officer Friendly drew his gun to intimidate Treptow, and didn’t switch gears into a killing mode quickly enough when Treptow, thinking that he and his wife were about to be shot — not being able to read Officer Friendy’s mind, but just see his unambiguous actions — drew and fired in self-defense.)
  • Same caller heard “arguing before.”
  • Officer Friendly, under stress, doesn’t have the plate number of Treptow’s Rendezvous SUV.  That’s understandable; he’s just been shot.  But, more significantly, he doesn’t refer to a previous 911 call in which he called in the plate number on this supposedly road-raging driver.  Could it be because he never made that call

Why was all mention of the officer’s demeanor redacted?  I’m smelling a Police union lawyer involved.  Understandable, of course, but curious.

I’ll continue to follow this.

Big Plans

I got an email the other day.  It’s from a group claiming to be anarchists, claiming to be planning to disrupt the Republican National Convention next year. 

“Highlights”:

!!BEAT THE REPUBLICANS TO THE PUNCH!!

In case you haven’t heard, the stage is already being set for the republicans visit in 2008. August 31st through September 3rd of 2007  (that’s Labor day weekend for all of you making big BBQ plans) will be the twin-cities pReNC. We want you to come, have fun, learn, plan, and share with us. You can get to know our cities, see all the great stuff we  have going on, and take part in planning for the main event in 2008.

Don’t wait for the pReNC, however. Start thinking about what you want to see NOW and come with ideas to work with. We are putting up ride and housing boards soon. They will be linked off our website with a lot of other good stuff at www.nornc.org.

It’d almost be interesting to sign up to house some of these people.  Lotta good info there.

Below is an agenda. We have a weekend of events planned, but we still want you to teach a workshop or organize an event. We have some ideas of the
sort of things we want, but if you have something special please let us know and we will do what we can to make it happen. Some of our ideas include: Un-arresting/ Street tactics, Gas masks, Medic training, Self defense training, Protest 101, Know your rights, DIY riot gear, Squatting basics, Urban gardens, etc. We will also set aside space for guerrilla workshops during the weekend.

!!THIS TIME THE REVOLUTION’S GETTING AN EARLY START!!

And y’all know how I love it when Muffy and Joshua start talking “revolution”. 

Seriously; the Saint Paul City Council – dominated as it is by far-left DFLers who romanticize the Sixties and its so-called protest culture – passed a resolution welcoming protesters to the RNC.  Now, of course they’re referring to the legal ones.  But while the police departments from both cities have made noises about dealing with the loonies who are likely to accompany the legitimate protesters, neither City Council has resolved to explicitly condemn and “un-welcome” those planning to disrupt either the convention or the rest of the city’s daily life.

Which isn’t to say that at least some of their hearts aren’t in the right place; at least one St. Paul City Council member has voiced disdain for the “anarchists” in a non-official capacity. 

So why not make it official?  Why not stand on the side of an orderly practice of the democratic process? 

Here is some of what we have planned so far:

FRIDAY AUGUST 31ST

12:00am to 5:00pm at the Jack pine Community Center
Pick up a “welcoming guide” with the weekends plans. There will be snacks
and nice people. Stop by when you get into town so we can get an idea
of numbers and you can have updated information. We will also be giving
radical bike tours throughout the afternoon.

I might just take that afternoon off.  A “radical bike tour” sounds like fun. 

4:30
at Loring Park
A pre-Critical Mass discussion on de-arresting. We don’t want anyone in jail
for this super fun weekend so let’s figure out how to look out for each other.

This, I want to attend.

As well as this:

9:00pm and on
EVERYWHERE
Night games!

Hm.

And finally:

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 3RD

10:00am starting location TBA

Intelligence/info gathering march through St. Paul. NO CHANTS ALLOWED.
March through St. Paul and gather information, take measurements, check
drain covers etc.

Drain covers?

Someone wanna ‘splain me that one? 

RNC Welcoming Committee

Come visit in September 2008!

http://www.rncwelcomingcommittee.org

http://www.nornc.org

The Strib got the email too.

It might just be time to start organizing the counterprotests.

I Want To Ride My Bicycle – Business Day 3

Rode in to work again today.

I’ll confess – I was incredibly sore on Friday.  I made it without throwing a knee or a ventricle, but since I haven’t done a lot of biking in the last five years or so, I was feeling it Friday night – especially since I went out for another ride in the evening.  Owwww.

Sunday, Monday and yesterday were better, of course – much better.  And the ride in takes almost exactly the same time as the bus.

I figure there’s going to be another week of searing pain.  But it’ll be worth it in the long run.  I hope.

How To Argue With Liberals

To:  Senator Inhofe

From: Mitch Berg

Re: Deaths of a thousand cuts.

Senator Inhofe,

Not that it matters, but when you say…:

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma says he doesn’t need an eye exam or a hearing aid and that he clearly remembers hearing Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Hillary Clinton of New York talk about the need for a “legislative fix” to curb conservative talk radio.

…I believe you without reservation.  It’s totally in character for both of them – Senator Boxer, who since Mark Dayton left office is the dumbest person in the Senate and needs to have all opposition silence by government fiat, and Senator Clinton, at whose thought the body of Niccolo Macchiavelli cringes in horror. 

But little things like this…:

But Inhofe now says the conversation he overheard took place three years ago, not “the other day,” as he told KFI talk radio host John Ziegler on Thursday night.

…will kill you. Because while any reasonable person can understand that for most people “the other day” is a midwestern synonym for “past tense”, you’re dealing with liberals, lawyers and the media, here. 

And so to them, now, it’s not about whether you heard the Senators plotting to muzzle talk radio.  No…:

Boxer early Friday said the Oklahoma senator “needs new glasses or he needs to have his hearing checked” if he thinks he heard her and Clinton having a conversation about talk radio.

After Inhofe clarified his remarks, Boxer’s spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, added:

“Perhaps he should have his memory checked too. I don’t know anyone who thinks three years ago was ‘the other day.’”

…now, the only issue the media will care about, to the extent that they care at all (given that talk radio is the competition) will be your “flub”.  Never mind that both Boxer and Clinton are actively working to tie the First Amendment to a pool table and sodomize it…:

“I’ve been telling this story for three years and told this story 100 times,” the Oklahoma Republican told FOXNews.com. “I have it memorized … I tell it the same way every time because it gets a very good reaction.”

…because to them, and the peabrains who listen to them, the exact timing of the story will be the story. 

Remember; it’s like arguing with a moderately bright but spoiled nine-year-old; “Yesterday you said we’d have ice cream someday soon, and the other day you said “soon means like a day”, so you have to get ice cream now”.

Don’t let this happen again.

That is all.

Thanks, Gilligan

The Strib gives a hearty “attaboy” to the North Minneapolis residents that fingered Charez Jones’ alleged killers:

Let us pause to praise those who gave information about the recent North Side murder of 14-year-old Charez Jones. Their actions led to several arrests just days after the high school student was killed on June 9. And their quick responses are fine examples of how a community can come together to combat violent crime.When neighbors step up and speak up, it sends just the right message to criminals: You will not be tolerated here. That’s among the best ways to counter the “Don’t Snitch” fear campaign of the criminals.

That, as far as it goes, is true.  It’s good when the law-abiding people of the neighborhood can stand up and point out problems to the authorites.

But it’s bad when the fact that they do it at all is notable. 

Those who think they “shouldn’t get involved” ought to know that law enforcement is at its best when the community cooperates. Rarely are cops around to actually witness a crime; they are called in after the fact. That’s why they rely so heavily on the eyes and ears of the community to help solve crimes. Community policing and involvement works.

But only if the people really believe it’s in their best interests to cooperate.

Minneapolis and Hennepin County have spent the last forty years building a “catch and release” system for criminals, welcoming new criminals (and the poor on which they prey first and most) and effectively ceding Phillips and huge swathes of the North Side to the gangs.

It’s been coming home to roost for a long time:

Community organizations and police are worried that things could get particularly difficult this summer because there is evidence that at least eight gangs or wannabe gangs are fighting over drug turf on the North Side. That means residents must be especially observant during these warm summer months and report what they see.

Like most highly challenged inner-city neighborhoods, the North Side is largely populated by good people who keep up their homes and care about their neighbors. They want nothing more than to get rid of the bad actors who use their streets for gunplay, drug dealing and other illegal acts.

And then…what? 

If you call the (overstretched) Minneapolis Police Department, and if they manage to make an arrest, it goes to the County Attorney, who…

…does what?

To make that happen, more neighbors must band together to support the kind of actions that led to the recent arrests. A “Protect our people and community” campaign must be stronger and more sustainable than criminal efforts to scare good people into silence.

And the only way you’ll get that is by revoking the DFL’s hereditary one-party rule over Minneapolis.

Forced Balance

All this talk of “balancing” talk radio by bringing the government in to “make things fair” brings up an idea.

What this country needs is political balance across the board.  The “red states vs. blue states” split is tearing the nation apart.  When half of the nation’s votes and 90% of the land are populated by self-reliant, hard-working people who create most of the nation’s actual wealth, and the other half (and 10% of the land) are people who get wealthy by jiggering numbers and skimming from the work of the rest of the country, we’re headed for disaster.  Moreover, the nation would benefit if Red and Blue could live together, rather than segregated; the ideological cross-pollination would make a better nation, in the long run. 

So I advocate forcibly relocating people from New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and the rest of “Blue America” to live in the interior, and moving people from the “Red States” to replace them.  52% of the “Blue States” will be populated by red staters, and 48% of the “Red States” will be occupied by former blue staters.

Anyone who resists will face the full weight of federal law enforcement.

And the results would be…?

Probably pretty dismal, right?

Bringing in government to re-engineer society is pretty much always a bad idea, whether it’s “Urban Renewal”, clearing the Plains of Indians, banning alcohol (or, as we’ve seen in our inner cities, drugs), the “Fairness Doctrine”…

…or mandatory school busing.  Katherine Kersten writes about the decades of fallout after yet another attempt at (voluntary) integration falls flat:

The Inter- District Downtown School in Minneapolis and the FAIR School in Crystal opened their doors with much fanfare in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Their sponsor is the West Metro Education Program, a consortium of the Minneapolis school district and 10 suburban districts. WMEP created the schools at a cost of more than $26 million to be showcases of racial balance, achieved voluntarily.

Last week, we learned that they are no such thing.

Today, InterDistrict students are 70 percent minority’ and the FAIR School is nearly 70 percent white. Their racial composition is little different from that of the districts in which they are located. The InterDistrict School actually qualifies as “racially isolated” under state desegregation rules.

For those of you too young to remember – and I am, although I do remember parts of the debate, because I was a really weird kid who remembers a lot of news from the late sixties and early seventies – the theory was that forced busing would improve things by sending the poor to wealthier districts, and by giving the kids from the wealthier districts an exposure to life outside the privileged classes. 

Kersten:

 As a result, many Minneapolis students began spending extra hours every week on the bus to get to schools far from home. Brothers and sisters were often assigned to widely separated schools, and parents struggled to attend conferences and get involved in school life.

After two decades of busing, however, black students’ test scores did not improve as expected. (No surprise there: data from the National Assessment for Educational Progress from 1975 to 1988 — when black students across the country made significant academic gains — showed black students in majority black schools doing as well or better than those of blacks in majority white schools.)

But mandatory busing did have one devastating unintended consequence: White, middle-class families began streaming out of the city. When the suit that launched busing was filed in 1971, the Minneapolis district was 14.5 percent minority. In 1985, it was 40 percent. In 1994, it was 62 percent minority and today it’s 72 percent.

The effects?

Minneapolis is still paying the costs of two decades of forced busing. Busing increased the concentration of poverty in the inner city, undermined community institutions that could otherwise have provided vital stability in poor children’s lives and weakened district schools.

Today, it is black students who are leaving Minneapolis district schools. Some are choosing to attend suburban schools through Choice Is Yours program, the outcome of a 2000 legal settlement. Many more are flooding to charter schools. Ironically, students at Minneapolis charter schools are more likely to be poor and minority than those at district schools.

The teacher’s union’s legislature’s response?  Shut down charters, and cram the kids back into the public schools for their own good.  But I digress.

In 2004, black Minnesota students had the fourth-lowest graduation rate in the nation, according to a recent Education Week study. Imagine the progress we could have made on this and other fronts if — instead of devoting endless hours to racial balance study groups and endless millions to busing — we had focused on learning how the best schools are succeeding with the children who face the greatest obstacles.

The lesson we need to take away from this:  when government tries to enact social change anywhere below “broad sweeping concept”-level, it’s always a disaster. 

Corporal Charles W. Lindberg

I’m sad to see that Charles W. Lindberg has passed away.

Lindberg was the last surviving member of the group of Marines that raised the original flag on Iwo Jima.

Lowery's most widely circulated picture of the first flag raising. This picture is usually captioned as: 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier with Platoon Sergeant Ernest I. Thomas, Jr. (both seated), PFC  James Michels (in foreground with rifle), Sergeant Henry O. Hansen (standing, wearing soft cap), Corporal Charles W. Lindberg (standing, extreme right), on Mount Suribachi at the first flag raising. However, PFC Raymond Jacobs disputes these identifications, asserting that it should be: Pfc James Robeson (lower left corner), Lt. Harold Schrier (sitting behind my legs), Pfc Raymond Jacobs (carrying radio), Sgt. Henry Hansen (cloth cap), unknown (lower hand on pole), Sgt Ernest Thomas (back to camera), Phm2c John Bradley (helmet above Thomas), Pfc James Michels (with carbine), Cpl Charles Lindberg (above Michels).

That’s him, standing on the far right. 

Here he is back then:

Lindberg with his flame thrower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s a more recent shot:

OBIT LINDBERG

Lindberg was born and raised in Linton, North Dakota.  After the war, he became an electrician and settled in the Twin Cities.

Back in the mid-sixties, he wrote a book about his experiences; it must have been self-published or run off at some small college press, because it was written in the style you’d expect of a farm boy-become-electrician, unvarnished and unpolished and very, very direct.  My high school library had a dog-eared copy, which I read several times.  I’m sure the book is lost to publishing history, but if you can find it it’s well worth a read.  In it, he relates his story and that of the patrol, and began his decades-long job of telling people that there was a first flag-raising, before the one immortalized by photographer Joe Rosenthal. 

“Two of our men found this big, long pipe there,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2003. “We tied the flag to it, took it to the highest spot we could find and we raised it.

“Down below, the troops started to cheer, the ship’s whistles went off, it was just something that you would never forget,” he said. “It didn’t last too long, because the enemy started coming out of the caves.”

The moment was captured by Sgt. Lou Lowery, a photographer from the Corps’ Leatherneck magazine. It was the first time a foreign flag flew on Japanese soil, according to the book “Flags of Our Fathers,” by James Bradley with Ron Powers. Bradley’s father, Navy Corpsman John Bradley, was one of the men in the famous photo of the second flag-raising.

Three of the men in the first raising never saw their photos. They were among the 5,931 Marines killed on the island.

Rest in peace, Corporal Lindberg.

Biased, Unbalanced, and Fact-Challenged

Rentablogger Jeff Fecke yet again bobbles his “facts”. 

In the midst of an exceedingly obtuse whack at Governor Pawlenty, Fecke – who may be the most fact-challenged “journalist” in Minnesota today – writes about Luke Hellier.  Hellier is a conservative Republican whom Pawlenty has nominated for one of the student spots on the MNSCU Board of Trustees.

Fecke:

Now, I don’t think anyone would begrudge Pawlenty picking a highly qualified conservative over a highly qualified liberal.  Pawlenty is, in fact, a Republican.  But it takes a certain Cheney-like genius to pass over a highly qualified Republican for an unqualified conservative zealot, and that’s exactly what Pawlenty appears ready to do.  Pawlenty is evidently planning to bypass the MSUSA-endorsed candidates for Luke Hellier, who has not, to date, set foot in a MnSCU classroom.  He has, however, served as political director for Michele Bachmann and interned with Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

What Fecke doesn’t deem fit to tell the readership is that the MNSCU Students Association endorsement is neither a requirement nor, for that matter, mentioned in the Open Appointment process.  King Banaian – an SCSU professor who interviewed Hellier and Adam Weigold, another candidate for the board on NARN III last weekend – relates:

Using the Open Appointments process meant he filled out a form. He reports that last week, he was interviewed for the position. Nothing on that form indicated to him that he should speak to MSUSA for screening, nor did anyone from the governor’s office when they interviewed him.

As to the part that the leftybloggers are hopping up and down and cackling like poo-flinging monkeys about – that Hellier supposedly “isn’t a student” – King actually went to the trouble of reading the Minnesota Statute:

 when the statute says (136F.02) that “Three members must be students who are enrolled at least half time in a degree, diploma, or certificate program or have graduated from an institution governed by the board within one year of the date of appointment.” (emphasis added), it clearly contemplates the applicant pool to include a student entering school. Nobody disputes this. And this would appear to be the case: The entering student would be a graduate student coming to a MnSCU school. We do not offer doctorates (yet) and master’s programs typically take two years. So it’s most likely that if grad students are contemplated to join the board, they would most likely join it at the very beginning of their enrollment in a program. Without the provision I italicized, it is unlikely that graduate students could gain the 4-year student seat on the MnSCU board.

Yet the system by which MSUSA announces the process it uses is exclusionary to those who would enter a program a few months after the announcement of a vacancy. It puts candidates like Luke at a disadvantage to insiders within MSUSA and the seven campus student governments.

If you think that’s fair — that there should be preference for current over incoming students, even if the incoming student has experience in student government from a non-MnSCU school — you’re welcome to argue that point. Please indicate how you read that into current Minnesota statute.

Those, of course, are the parts that the leftyblogs – especially Fecke and his “editors” at MNMon – don’t see fit to tell their readers; Hellier’s application is within the letter and spriit of the law, and that the MNSCU Student Association’s endorsement is really meaningless.

Why is MNMon afraid of the truth?

Brodkorb attacks Fecke’s other “point” – that Pawlenty “favors” Hellier in the first place:

One thing I don’t endorse is the misleading, dishonest, and downright nasty attacks Hellier has faced in the liberal blogosphere.  

For example:  

“A controversy regarding the appointment of a new student representative to the Board of Trustees for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is resulting in strong criticism of a candidate reportedly favored for consideration by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.” Source: Minnesota Monitor, June 22, 2007

Reported by who?  Who is reporting that Hellier is favored? Governor Pawlenty hasn’t announced his decision yet and I haven’t been able to find a direct or indirect quote where Governor Pawlenty said Hellier is his favored pick.  

I’ll repeat my question: Reported by who? Who is reporting that Hellier is the favorite as Minnesota Monitor reported. 

Is this just another rambling by one of the most inaccurate and sloppy bloggers in Minnesota, Jeff Fecke?  

One is bidden to wonder. 

I don’t go to MNMon for truth or accuracy, much.  My only real question is, what does Eric Black think about the people he shares a masthead with?

UPDATE:  For the same “coverage” you get on MNMon but with a depressing dose of undermedicated twitchiness, try Cucking Stool’s fevered recitation of the same talking points; same fact-challenged drivel, more self-adulatory incoherence.

In other words, just another day in the fever swamp.

Bogus Science

Gary Miller has the best introduction to Bogus Doug’s evisceration of Brian Lambert’s call for media censorship of the global warming debate:

Doug Williams demonstrates why he is duty-bound to never again take 6 months off from blogging by offering this extraordinary post on Brian Lambert’s global warming pronouncements.

In the span of just a few paragraphs, Doug demonstrates Lambert’s unfamiliarity with the scientific method. 

But don’t take Gary’s word for it.  Read Doug’s post.

A highlight:

Brian Lambert has written a screed a bit wordier, but no sillier about conservatives. But we shouldn’t mock. He’s in his terribly serious mode, you see. He’s trying to explain that he – failed media critic Brian Lambert – has figured out the high holy scientific truths journalists ought to respect.

The ethical challenge for journalists and journalism (as opposed to infotainment personalities in “the media”) is stark. It means accepting what the best available science has now concluded is fact about global warming — that it’s happening and human activity is an aggravating if not principal cause — and pulling the plug on spurious “debate” engendered by conservative ideologues, much like what credible news organizations have done with Holocaust-deniers and creationists.

Of course to anyone with a degree studying science as opposed to journalism it’s a grand load of hooey on it’s face. What exactly is a phrase like “accepting what the best available science has now concluded is fact about global warming” supposed to mean? Real science hasn’t “concluded” that any future predictions – about global warming or anything else – are “fact,” because that’s not how science works. And “pulling the plug on spurious ‘debate’” is about as blatant a rejection of the scientific method as one could propose.

Doug shows in tall block letters the scientific illiteracy which is so comical when coming from a cartoon like Lambert – but so dangerous from actual reporters:

It’s child’s play to find leading experts in climate science dissenting from the IPCC report. Yet that’s not something Lambert even finds relevant. Because “for journalists the debate phase has ended.” Science goes in story phases, don’t you know. It’s not really about the search for truth, it’s about framing the narrative. I don’t think he intended to be nearly so honest, but wow is that ever telling.

The other telling thing here is how Lambert has drifted into the position that journalists should trust the scientific pronouncements of political scientific bodies. I know he thinks this is a special and singular scientific issue unlike any other before or likely to come after. But that just illustrates his naivety. Especially in the modern age, scientific funding is driven to a large extent by crisis-mongering. If Lambert is suggesting – and it seems he is – that in the case of a crisis journalists must abandon their skepticism, he’s calling for journalists to become little more than government propagandists. And what could possibly go wrong there?

Read the whole thing.

And Gary was right, Doug; I hope you’re good and rested.  We’re gonna need you.

 

Ire Land

You can never keep everyone happy.  And when you do talk radio – even as an amateur weekend warrior – it’s usually best not to try to.

On the NARN, we don’t get a lot of chances to interview people with whom we disagree.  Partly because we just don’t do a lot of guests; partly because a lot of liberals don’t bother returning interview request calls from conservative talkers, much less actually appear on the shows.  There’s good reason for that, of course; the fact is, talk radio can be a rough room to work. 

One of the things people miss – especially people whose primary interest is news or politics – is that talk radio is an entertainment medium first, an informational/news medium second.  And throwing plates – picking fights with guests, generating heat and eschewing light – can be mighty entertaining (when it’s not completely tiresome).  The masters of the talk radio attack interview genre – the late Morton Downey Jr, Bob Grant, Tom Leykis and dozens of others – have mastered pushing guests’ buttons as well as those of the audience in the same way that Michael Savage has conquered pushing them in monologue.  It pays the bills.

It’s not how I’m wired.

Part of it is that I got my start as an actual reporter, at one point.  Another part is that I actually have a lot more fun talking with people than throwing plates at them. 

And finally – most important of all – people give you much better material when they’re not on the defensive.

In the past few months, I’ve taken a certain amount of flak for a couple of interviews with Ed and I on the NARN Volume II show – last October’s go-around with the Strib’s Rochelle Olson, and the June 16 chat with former Strib/current Minnesota Monitor reporter Eric Black.   One commenter on another blog called the Black interview a “love fest”, apparently hoping that I’d carry out a Daniel Pearl-style beheading live on the air. 

And what’d be the point of that?  Everyone knows we disagree on a lot of things – do people need to see how very very much I disagree for it to matter?  And frankly, I think you get a lot more interesting material out of people by talking to them, and letting them respond; the Olson interview in particular, if you were listening, exposed some ghastly breakdowns in the way media handles news.  I’m not sure any of that would have come out if I’d have yelled at Ms. Olson, and she’d have hung up and walked away.

In this country, we face a dual challenge: disagree, sometimes vehemently, while still living together under the same governmental roof.   It’s a challenge at which most of the world fails really, really dismally.  And to me, it’s a lot more interesting when conversations are actually two-way things. 

Wanna hear people throwing plates at each other?  Fair enough.  A lot of talk shows will do that for you.  Or start your own, if you’d like. 

Go for it.

Snivel Radio

Taylor Marsh addresses the Center for American Progress report in the same way that Hugh Hewitt addresses a new football season; with preconceptions firmly in place, and no perspective to lend any credence whatsoever – a shortcoming that is neither of their fault, per se, but still renders their commentary meaningless:

Boy did American Progress stir up a storm. Never has one report gotten so many wingnuts in a tizzy. It’s positively delicious.

Yeah, some of us get that way when half of our political system wants to sodomize the First Amendment.  Some of us even get upset when they come for Taylor Marsh’s freedom of speech.  Not that I’d expect reciprocation.

If your party is in free fall and your base is demoralized what do you do? That is, what do you do if you’re a Republican? You create an issue. Sew panic.

Sew panic.

With the needle of alarm, perhaps?

Perhaps Ms. Marsh means “sow” panic. 

I digress: 

Rev up that fear mongering machine! Never fear, Fox “News” is here. The trouble is that wingnut talk-radio has as much to fear from their own.

She mentions some Fox droid who lamented the likes of Trent Lott – as I, myself, did. 

Next on our incoherent swing through the stream of Ms. Marsh’s consciousness, we get to a big of history.  She actually comes close:

When Reagan deregulated the airwaves and nixed The Fairness Doctrine, up came the rise of Rush.

Unfortunately, throughout the 1990s, Democrats remained clueless. I was talking to people about wingnut radio in the 1990s only to see their eyes glaze over.

Why do I suspect it had nothing to do with the subject?

No, I’m not snarking.  Well, not just snarking.  Because in her next line, Ms. Marsh shows that she’s been toking from the same bong of cluelessness that’s seemed to have driven all liberal talk radio in recent memory, save perhaps Fast Eddie Schultz and Stephanie “Like Laura Ingraham, but Liberal” Miller.  

 Most just wanted radio shows that drew listeners and raised ad revenue. Fine. All I wanted to do was provide a counterpoint. See eyes glaze over again.

“Oh, Christ.  Marsh is babbling about counterpoint again.  Doesn’t that woman understand that radio’s a business, not a hobby?” 

Profit is critical, absolute reality, but outright ownership of the airwaves is the public’s job and there are a lot of liberals in America, as well as independents who deserve to hear more than one point of view without having to pay satellite prices.

I’m a Veronica Mars fan.  Don’t I “deserve” to have my show un-cancelled?  Even though I was part of a cult following that didn’t make the show close to profitable for its network?

Marsh’s paragraph is so full of raw talking points, it’s hard to know where to start.  So let’s start at the top:

  1. Ownership of the airwaves hasn’t been “the public’s job” in the entire history of the medium.  Since the very beginning, the “airwaves” have been a trust, licensed to companies.  The Electromagnetic Spectrum is no more the public’s property than all seawater within 12 miles of the US coast is “government property”. 
  2. Are there a lot of liberals who “deserve” talk radio programming?  I’m sure there are.  And they find it – on NPR, and on middle-of-the-road talk stations like Minneapolis’ WCCO which, while it’s not a Guevara-T-Shirt-wearing, alpaca-clad, Volvo-driving Air America affiliate, certainly skews left of center vastly more than right.  And they found that - Air America - in America’s greatest liberal bastions, New York and Chicago and Portland and San Francisco and Minneapolis, on big, powerful, clear signals.  And they didn’t listen, in droves.  Even after their sole initial major-market success (in Portland, Oregon), the format, as well as the network sank like a rock. 

Back to Ms. Marsh:

When Republicans found out what radio could do their greed reached a peak. They used it on Clinton throughout the 1990s and it worked, with that success fueling more campaigns. They cemented Hillary Clinton’s persona as well. They’re doing it again with immigration, which is what has brought Trent Lott and others out.

The Fairness Doctrine is one issue, but the bottom line truly is regulation of the airwaves so one company and one political party doesn’t own them.

I can almost imagine Ms. Marsh saying the word; “companyandpoliticalparty”.  Like Clear Channel - which owns Rush Limbaugh – is an arm of the GOP.  Of course, Clear Channel si also the company that broadcasts the most ”progressive” talk among the majors (behind CBS as a percentage of airtime devoted to liberals – but Clear Channel is much bigger, and accounts for more hours of lefty broadcasting nationwide).  

As if Clear Channel were a Republican operation, and they wouldn’t drop Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh in less than a news cycle if liberal talk got better numbers, and hence more profit.

Ms Marsh repeats – without apparently understanding them – the CAP’s statistics on the comparitive number of hours of conservative vs. liberal talk, and accepts without question their conclusion that “it’s not the market – it’s the ownership”. 

And with that presumption of ownership collusion comes…

Karl Rove has used right-wing radio for years to pump up the EMOTION of right-wingers, because that’s what gets voters to the polls and right-wing radio listeners vote. The same tactics are continued on “Christian” broadcasting networks throughout the country. It is quite simply the most formidably dangerous weapon the Republicans have to wield against Democrats come election time. Local conservative hosts gain trust with listeners to great affect. It hurts Democrats at the polls.

But behind all that is the simple fact that conservative talk radio is powerful because people listen to it. 

Something has to give; something has to be done. The de-regulation of the airwaves was the single most destructive act aimed at the public interest to hit media since talk radio began.

Well, no – in her own words, Ms. Marsh showed that it was the single most destructive act aimed at liberal hegemony over the media.   

A media she is woefully ill-equipped to understand:

As a progressive radio host without a home, except on the web, I don’t expect to stay on the air if I can’t pay the bills.

 What a crock of crap.

Ms. Marsh; you’re on Blog TalkRadio.  Blog Talkradio is free.  Any moron can put a show on BTR (and so can some excellent, talented hosts, like my real-radio colleague Ed Morrissey). 

So don’t be yapping about paying the bills, since you clearly have no understanding of how real radio people do exactly that – and like your liberal-radio friends, the only answer you have is to run crying to government. 

Advertisers and ratings are crucial. But most progressives can’t even find a spot on terrestrial radio from which to launch a show and test it for enough cycles to get ratings. That’s just a fact.

 No, it’s just buncombe.

Air America has been “tested” for four years now.  By the time Rush, Sean, Hugh, Michael, Dennis and the rest of talkradio’s household names had been on for four years, they were all unqualified successes.  Air America peaked within a year of its debut, never made money (and arguably was never intended to), and is circling the drain faster every day.

Sort of like Ms. Marsh’s command of the facts on this issue:

So enter fear mongering. Shaking the radio base. Making them feel they’re going to lose Rush, Sean, et al. Are you kidding? They’re huge money makers and no station manager is going to get rid of them no matter what. 

 No, but that’s not what the Fairness Doctrine would do.  If a station broadcast Limbaugh and Hannity for six hours a day, they’d have to “balance” their schedule with six hours of “progressives” that nobody would listen to, replacing shows that have an audience with six hours of shows that never will.

On the corporate-owned stations of the Salem Network (for one of whom I do the Northern Alliance show on the weekends) which are all-conservative, 24/7, that’d mean a mandatory quota of 12 hours a day of “progressive”, ratings-killing, money-sapping, just-plain-lousy talk.

Raising the fear factor is just a tool to help them get the job done.

The word Ms. Marsh is looking for is “awareness”.

And looking.

And looking.

It’s a Good Thing…

…that red-staters have blue-state icons to teach them cultural literacy and sensitivity to the greater world around us:

Actress Cameron Diaz appears to have committed a major fashion crime in Peru.

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated Shrek films may have inadvertently offended Peruvians.

They suffered decades of violence from a Maoist guerrilla insurgency by touring there on Friday with a bag emblazoned with one of Mao Zedong’s favourite political slogans.

While she explored the Inca city of Machu Picchu high in Peru’s Andes, Diaz wore over her shoulder an olive green messenger bag emblazoned with a red star and the words ‘Serve the People’ printed in Chinese on the flap, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao’s most famous political slogan.

While the bags are marketed as trendy fashion accessories in some world capitals, the phrase has particular resonance in Peru.

The Maoist Shining Path insurgency took Peru to the edge of chaos in the 1980s and early 1990s with a campaign of massacres, assassinations and bombings.

Nearly 70,000 people were killed during the insurgency.

Ouch.