It’s The 2013 Shootie Awards!

It’s New Years Day, and as such it’s time for a tradition unlike most others – the Seventh Annual Shootie Awards, “honoring” the “best” in Minnesota blogging, talk radio, and social and alt-media in the same way D-Con Mouse Pellets honor the best in rodent culture.

The Nick Coleman/Brian Lambert Memorial Award For Broadcast Excellence: With the virtual demise of the Twin Cities’ liberal “AM950”, you’d think we’d be going begging for a recipient for this traditional honor.

Not so.

This year, the award goes to Minnesota Public Radio’s Keri Miller.

Don’t get us wrong; Miller is not a thud-witted radio pretender like Coleman was, nor a chuckling Uptown caricature like Lambert.  Miller has a multitude of approaches; one minute – say, when interviewing any Republican or conservative – she’s acerbic and aggressive, badgering and hectoring and interrupting to the point it’d be fairer to say she “occasionally allows her conservative guests to interrupt her interruptions” (Mike Wallace’s ghost reportedly wanders the miles of halls at MPR urging Miller to “dial back the cranky, toots”).  The next minute – when a DFL politician, dependent or employee is on the air, usually – she’ll sound as if she may be giving the guest a back massage.  The real show of Miller’s expertise?  As Bill Glahn notes, she’ll even do both during the course of the same interview!

So fear not.  The legacy of Brian Lambert, Nick Coleman and Andrew Colton lives on.  Whoever Andrew Colton was.

The Larry Jacobs “Most Overquoted Person in the Twin Cities Media” Award:  This award – which has also gone to Professor David Schultz of Hamline University, a relentless liberal who seems to be regarded as the only knowledgeable source on Minnesota conservatives – is rarely a huge surprise.

But let’s give a nod to tradition; the award this year goes to none other than Larry Jacobs himself, especially in honor of his NYTimes piece declaring Minnesota the winner over WIsconsin in the blue vs. red economic battle, even though Minnesota’s experiment with spendthrift liberal government hadn’t really taken effect yet.

The John Najarian Memorial Award for Surgically-Precise Sarcasm:  This award goes to this blog’s good friend John Gilmore at his blog Minnesota Conservatives, who satirized with a brilliantly straightened face the ideal of reading Twin Cities liberal bloggers in a piece which, tart tongue notwithstanding, is an essential read, even down to its ingeniously snarky title “On It:  Reading Minnesota’s Liberal Blogosphere“.  The mark of Gilmore’s pithy genius?  He mixes in some sincere, legitimate, deserved compliments; to the excellent if equally snarky Tony Petrangelo, and the City Pages’ Aaron Rupar (Gilmore says he has ” a large measure of personal style that’s impossible to pick up in any journalism class”, which is true; while Rupar punches his ticket as a DFL water-carrier, we must give credit where due; Rupar isn’t the onanistic panty-sniffer his colleague Kevin Hoffman is) and Sally Jo Sorenson, who can be annoyingly juvenile but is a capable reporter with – improbably – a sense of integrity).

But then comes the payoff – “compliments” that, to those who’ve followed Minnesota’s liberal ‘sphere for any time at all, are just howlers; Eric Austin has “an admixture of deadliness and humor” (only his logic is funny; his “deadliness” is against those who can’t fight back).  And attorney Gilmore must be paying some intra-professional respect to Steve “Spotty” Timmer, calling him an essential read notwithstanding Timmer’s very dubious grasp (or misleading explanation) of the law.

But the true mark of Gilmore’s genius?  In a piece ostensibly urging people to read liberal blogs, he directs people to read Minnesota Progressive Project, which is a little like introducing people to French cuisine with a tastefully-arranged Merde au Vin Flambé   – a cunning double-cross if there ever were one.

Anyway – bravo, John!  Oscar Wilde applauds from the great beyond!

The George Santayana Memorial “He Who’s Forgotten History Is Condemned To Be A Liberal Academic” Award: This year, it goes not to an academic,per se, but to a blogger.

Sally Jo Sorenson – who, I take pains to note, is one of those rare Minnesota liberal bloggers who doesn’t seem to deserve police surveillance – is a perfectly fine writer.  But one might assume that she skipped a few history classes to concentrate on the Poli Sci, if  you catch my drift, not that I have a “drift” or anything.

The “Minnesota Nice” Award:  Minnesotans are an accomodating bunch.  If one of us needs some help, someone will no doubt be there to pitch in (see also:  Rep. Martens, above).

And so last year when Governor Messinger Dayton announced his budget, it was a natural assumption that Carrie Lucking – Executive Directrix of “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota” – would be there to tweet about the picayune details found deep inside the Governor’s big, thick budget.

Notwithstanding the fact that the details were buried deeeeeeeeep inside a budget that had supposedly been available to the public for precisely 13 minutes when Lucking wrote the tweet.

Some cynical wags said it had to be because Lucking had to have gotten a copy from Bob Hume, a senior staffer for Governor Messinger Dayton and, rumor and innuendo and a rogue Strib article had it, either Lucking’s boyfriend or spouse.

Me?  I think Hume and Dayton got their copies from Lucking, after Messinger dictated it.

Anyway – all that cooperation?  It’s just nice.

The “The Media, The Media, The Media’s On Fire! We Don’t Need No Water, Let That Liberal Institution Burn!” Award: This one goes to the entire mainstream-media “Fact-Checking” racket, which seems to have morphed more into a “Democrat Ministry of Truth” than it even started out.

The Just Remember, Libruls are Teh Smrt Award: I’ve noted it before; the Democrats should have been able to impose some kind of gun control law this past session.  They controlled the legislature, and they have a governor who does whatever his ex-wife tells him to do.  They couldn’t have asked for a more favorable situation – other than the whole “Minnesota is closely divided between the GOP and DFL” bit.

But the DFL House Metrocrat caucus’s gun-grab brain trust – Representatives Paymar and Hausman – not only introduced a raft of draconian assaults on the Bill of Rights (all of them crudely copied-and-pasted from other state’s bills) guaranteed to inflame the peasants.

Alice Hausman, introducing a resolution declaring Steven Colbert funny

Best of all?  When it came time for Hausman (who represents Saint Paul’s House District 66A in the same way Prince Charles of Wales “represents” the Welsh) to introduce one of her gun-grab bills to the House Judiciary Committee, Hausman was nowhere to be found.  So Chairman Paymar, likely in violation of House rules, allowed Martens – a registered lobbyist – to do Representative Hausman’s job, reading the bill into consideration.

Rep. (apparently) Heather Martens (DFL 66A) exploiting the victim of an earlier tragedy

Rumor has it the DFL will just let Alida Messinger, Michael Bloomberg and George Soros sit on the house floor and cast their votes for them in 2014.

The Cicero/Demosthenes/Socrates Award For Excellence In The Advancement Of Keen-Eyed Rhetoric:  The gun control movement in Minnesota hired Richard Carlbom, PR-chitect of the Gay Marriage law, to help them try to jam down anti-rights legislation in the next session.

One of the reasons was the comedic ineptitude of the Minnesota gun movement’s current leadership.

And while Representative Heather Martens has earned plenty of brickbats for her tone-deaf, unintentionally comic performances over the past decade or so (and a Shootie award or two, including this year, which see), the breakout performer was Jane Kay of “Moms Want Action”.  It’s a safe bet that a big part of what will no doubt be the gun-grab movement’s push toward calming, “reasonable” talk about “responsible” laws and “sane” approaches is to try to counter the Jane Kay’s legacy as a purple-faced hate-clogged caricature who, notwithstanding a slopped-on coat of feminist sloganeering, managed to simultaneously make her message cheaply sexist (while utterly un-sexy) and self-marginalizing at the same time.

If Richard Carlbom spends his first three months doing damage control, Kay is part of the reason.  And for that, she earns the award, and earns it well!

The Walter Duranty Award:  Among Minnesota’s “Libertarian” “movement” – which coalesced around the Ron Paul campaign in 2012 to seize a disproportionate control of the MNGOP – were quite a few one-time, there-and-gone “activists”, a gratifying number of very sharp people who did a good job in bringing solid, needed libertarian politics to the MNGOP, and – at the very core – a group of smirking, preening, frat-boy-esque self-styled “Anarcho-Libertarians” who really were only there to pee in all the peasants’ Wheaties and then slap themselves on the back and laugh at the complaints.

Now, if the question is “is our government too powerful” and “do we need to limit the power of government over the individual”, I’m with you.  Government is too big.  We need to carve much of it out and toss it away.

But just as the “peace” movement 30 years ago wasn’t about “nuclear weapons” but “US nuclear weapons”, the Liberty Fratboys rose as one to applaud Edward Snowden’s assault on big intrusive government (qualified yay)…

…as Snowden applauded Vladimir Putin’s human rights record.

The “Every Junior High Impressed-With-Himself Chess-Club Prig” Award For Intellectual Rigor:  After a long absence from this award, it almost feels like old home week, as we award this to a man who was once a candidate for a Shootie Lifetime Achievement award.  That’s right – Nick Coleman, gone from the Shooties for years, is back, and he shows that he’s still at the peak of his game, where “his game” means “autoerotic and homoerotic japes delivered with all the grace of a Danish jazz band”, and “peak” means “same crap, different year”.  This piece – which laces Coleman’s usual oeuvre of erection jokes with a long train of outright fabrications – was almost a return to the Nick Coleman of his Strib Columnists’ Row glory days, except including the fact that nobody with an IQ above plant life read it.  And for that, we salute Coleman.  It’s not like we give these things away.

Well, actually, we do.  But what I mean is…

…well, anyway, congrats!

The Nancy Pelosi “You Won’t Know What It Means Til You Do It!” Award For Wishful Planning:  MNSure.  Duh.

The Claudius Caesar Award For Excellence In Praetorian Guardsmanship:  This is always a hotly-contested award – and getting moreso every year, as the “objective” media slides ever-more into the bag for the left.

This year it was a tight, tight race, nearly a coin toss.  Both of the contenders in the final two exemplify the trend of “objective” “mainstream” media allowing (left-leaning and/or pro-big-state, pardon the redundancy) groups to underwrite “journalism” and “news coverage”.

At the end of the day, we decided to give the runner-up spot to Minnesota Public Radio News – a news organization that has not just any arm of government, but MNSure, perhaps the most controversial executive-branch project in the state this past year, as a sponsor for Keri Miller’s Morning Circuit – an MPR News production.   A casual reader might note that this is a conflict according to the Society of Professional Journalists’ “Code of Ethics” (while the pros know, of course, that the SPJ code is nothing but a framework by which journalists evade all accountability).

The prize, however, goes to the MinnPost, whose coverage of Second Amendment issues this past year, while posited as “journalism”, was delivered with five-figure annual grant from the “Joyce Foundation” – which, the MinnPost never bothered to tell the reader, also sponsors most of America’s major gun-control groups, as well as “Take Action Minnesota”.  So not only was there a never-explicitly-stated imperative for the MinnPost to slant its coverage – but the coverage itself was shoddy and risible, ranging from historically myopic to ludicrously badly-reported to just-plain-false and propagandistic, devolving eventually into an extended rhetorical tongue-bath for Minnesota’s incompetent gun -grab movement.

The capstone of the whole year?  Accompanying one of the MinnPost’s pieces (citing a long-obscure and generally-debunked theory that the Second Amendment was instituted to defend slavery), the site decided to use this as an symbol for Second Amendment support:

Yep. Confederate soldiers. Because that’s what all of you law-abiding gun owners are – to the Joyce-Foundation-supported MinnPost.

In a just world, a news organization with integrity would apologize, not only for the post-hoc slander, but for its misleading, slanted and, frankly, bought-off “journalism”.

The world, of course, is not a just one.  Does the MinnPost have integrity?

Oh, it’s a new year, full of promise, isn’t it?

The Charles Townsend Award – In 1765, British parliamentarian Charles Townsend, in noting the Colonies’ protests against the Stamp Act, said:

“And now will these Americans, Children planted by our Care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a Degree of Strength & Opulence, and protected by our Arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under?”

Townsend’s statements sum up the arrogance of the professional bureaucrat, the institutional utopian, the Masters of the Universe who believe they were sent here to keep us peasants from crapping in our beds.

And for the first time in the history of the Shooties, the Townsend award goes not to a stupid statement by a politician, but a photo that gloriously sums up Minnesota under DFL rule in 2013:

Governors Zygi Wilf and Mark Messinger Dayton

Yes, it’s Zygi Wilf in a paroxysm of glee over all those taxpayer dollars he’s going to be marinating his tush in – but it could just as easily be Javi Morillo, or Elliot Seid, or Greta Bergstrom or Carrie Lucking, roiling in glee and amazed that they’ve been able to put one over on the rubes, as our “Governor” wonders what this thing on a long stick is and hopes Alida doesn’t take away his driving privileges.

You have to give them the money to know what the money is!  Or something!

Or we’ll lose the Vikings!

Anyway – as long as there’s a New Years in Minnesota, there’s a Shooties.  See you next year!

(Here are the previous Shootie winners, going back to 2006)

Open Letter To The MinnPost Editorial Team

To:  Joel Kramer (CEO/Editor), Roger Buoen and Susan Albright (Co-Managing Editors) Don Effenberger (News Editor)
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  They Get What They Pay For

Esteemed Editors:

I was never much of a reporter.  I could always do the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of a story just fine, and earned a living at it, off and on.  But it was never really my thing.

But I do remember, when I worked in the business, that the fastest way to get a reporter, producer or editor up on their back legs was to suggest that journalism partner with business or government to do the job.  They would say – with righteousness rivaling any Baptist minister or Trappist monk – that Journalism’s mission was to be a check and balance on government, business, anyone with power.    To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.   Any whiff of filthy lucre was to be kept on the other side of the thick wall and locked door that separated the Sales department from the newsroom. 

Media analysts – I’m thinking Garfield and Gladstone’s “On The Media” on NPR, and the whole Romanesko borg – go through gyrations worthy of a Talmud symposium sifting through the ethics of mixing journalism and money. 

Now, theMinnPosttalks a big game about journalism.  And you’ve certainly staffed your site with a lot of people with long pedigrees in the regional news business.  And Brian Lambert. 

But I’ve noticed on one issue that your site gets a fair chunk of money from from the Joyce Foundation.  The Joyce Foundation also bankrolls most of the major gun control organizations in the United States, including Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts and “Protect Minnesota“. 

And along with this financial link, the MinnPost’s coverage of Second Amendment issues has gotten more and more slanted, and not a little bit risible in the bargain:

  • Doug Grow has positively fawned over Heather Martens and Jane Kay (of “Moms Want Action”, another astroturf anti-gun group that gets money from the same pool of liberals with deep pockets that bankrolls Protect MN and, I suspect, the MinnPost); his coverage has been less “journalism” and more “holding a rhetorical slumber party”.  His piece on Rep. Hillstrom’s counter to the Paymar/Hausman gun grab bills – one of which Martens, a lobbyist, read into the record, a bizarre flouting of House rules – was so devoid of fact I concluded it could only have been written in advance. 
  • I’ve got nothing but respect for Eric Black as a journalist – but his coverage of Second Amendment issues and their Constitutional history this past year has been a fount of inspiration for us on this blog

The MinnPost gets big bucks from Joyce, and starts a wave of anti-Second-Amendment (I’ll be charitable) cheerleading.  Coincidence?

Which leads us to this week, and Susan Perry’s piece on an academic “study” on gun violence.  It was a puff piece about a junk study

…and it was sponsored – as noted in the story’s headline – by UCare.  An arm of the government of the State of Minnesota.  Now, leave aside that that government is currently controlled by the extreme metrocrat wing of the DFL party.  Here’s the question:  if journalism is supposed to hold government accountable, should be finacially beholden to government?

Or does that only count when it’s not a DFL sacred cow being promoted?

Because when your “journalism” is being done at the behest of issue-oriented non-profits and the government you’re theoritically supposed to hold accountable, isn’t it really just public relations?  Or campaign media?


Mitch Berg
Uppity Peasant

Nick Coleman: Same As It Ever Was

Anyone remember this classic?

So, how is it that nakedly partisan bloggers who make things up left and right are gaining street cred while the mainstream media, which spend a lot of time criticizing themselves, are under attack?

Or this one?

“Bloggers don’t know about anything that happened before they sat down to share their every thought with the moon. Like graffiti artists, they tag the public square.”

If you’ve been blogging in Minnesota any time at all, you know these quotes.

They’re from Nick Coleman, in his classic column “Blogged Down In Web Fantasy”, from 2004, in which he declared his sloppy brand of war on the Twin Cities bloggers (“Buh-LAW-gurs”, as he memorably pronounced the word on his unlamented radio show) that were starting to chip away at the sand castle he and his fellow “ink stained wretches” lived in.  The Strib removed the column from their website years ago, but its legacy lives on, in local blogger and national journalism circles.   In it, Coleman claimed that card-carrying journalists like himself were better than bloggers because they’d spent years covering the news, as opposed to bloggers, who merely work for decades and raise families and pay taxes and stuff.   Journalists know the rules and operate with accountability, he said (amid a column attacking someone he never did actually name, which was a dodge of accountability and against the rules for “journalists”).

This was when Nick Coleman was riding high – when he had a three-times-a-week column at the Strib for well into six figures, and a morning show at the local leftytalk station…

…where he indulged a curious predilection for crudely sexualizing people who dared to disagree with him (Go ahead – count the gay jokes in the link.  Only liberals on a liberal station can get away with that much homophobia).

Well, in The Boss’ immortal words, we’re still here and he’s all gone.  From the Strib and AM950 (which I’m told is still on the air, not that anyone cares), at least.  I’m not indulging in schadenfreud, here; I don’t believe in Karma, but what goes around comes around. 

But old journos never die – they just get jobs with left-leaning non-profits.

And they start blogs.   In which they do…

…well, pretty much exactly what Nick Coleman warned us about nine years ago.

The State He’s In – Nick popped up on the radar again.  After a stint writing propaganda for a think tank in Saint Cloud, a couple of college classes (in which a fellow student noted he described himself as a “recovering journalist”) and I-really-honestly-don’t-care-what-else, Coleman resurfaced as the “Executive Editor” of “The Uptake”, a videoblog financed by liberals with deep pockets; think a slightly-downmarket MinnPost with more video and less Brian Lambert.

There, he roams the same halls he used to roam.  And he gets positive reinforcement from other lefties:

That’s Coleman, in the jaunty racing cap. With (from L) Doug Grow (from the Joyce Foundation-supported MinnPost), Jane Kay, some minion, and Rep. Heather Martens (DFL-66A).

And he’s got a blog.  And he still knows stuff…

…about crudely sexualizing his opponents with all the grace of an eighth-grade locker room bully.

As to getting a story right, as opposed to just making things up?  Not so much.

Exhibit A:  The piece he wrote about the open carry activists canceling their get-together at “Open Streets” (we wrote about it this morning).

Remember:  He’s A Professional – I’ll add red emphasis to the frequent, dork-fingered sexualizations just to show how very, very juvenile the old duffer is.  Go ahead.  Scan it. 

The gun-slinging flashers who threatened to bring their guns to town and parade them around openly in Minneapolis and St. Paul have put their warm guns back in their happy pockets and backed down, running away at the first signs of gun-control Mommas and urban bicycling activists.

As someone said on my Facebook page: “Buncha candy asses!”

To be fair, “someone on my Facebook page” is no worse a level of sourcing than Coleman ever did during his “official columnist” career. 

And as we discussed this morning, the story had nothing – bupkesto do with “gun control Mommas and bike activists”.  Neither of them ever turned up in the decision.  Second Amendment human rights activists mix it up with the usual “gun control mommas” constantly, and win the debate – emphasis on the term “debate” – every single time.  Because the law, the Constitution, the facts and morality itself are on our side.

There are two absolute, incontrovertible facts to keep in mind:

  • It’s the threats, Stupid:  MN-RKBA – Minnesotans for the Right to Keep And Bear Arms – cancelled their Open Carry gathering entirely due to the threats of violence.  Legal firearms carriers know it’s best to avoid danger.  That’s what they did.  Period.  There was no more to it. 
  • Coleman is lying: He’s trying to help his buddies in the gun-grab movement (see the cozy little group hug photo above) squeedge a victory out of a year where they couldn’t exploit a mass-shooting into a political win at an all-liberal Minnesota state Capitol.  This is the closest they’ve come to one; Coleman is trying, in his ham-fisted way, not to waste the crisis. 

Let me re-emphasize this:  Coleman, and the dim bulb Jane Kay and habitual liar Rep. Heather Martens, are doing the end-zone happy dance over the non-news non-occurrence of a non-event.   

That’s it.  That’s their “victory”, the only one they had, even in a state run entirely by liberals.  For now.

That’s just pathetic.

Insert The Usual Boilerplate – Coleman lays out the scenario.  Sort of:

The story started Monday when a gun-owners group used its Facebook page to invite members to attend the first of this summer’s “Open Streets” events this coming Sunday in South Minneapolis. Although “attend” doesn’t quite cover it: The gun owners specifically were encouraged to bring their weapons and to flash them in public, carrying them openly for the benefit of all those in attendance at “Open Streets,” an ongoing series of good-humored street fairs promoting bicycling and pedestrian rights.

And – Coleman omits – the various virtues of neighborliness.  Second Amendment supporters have been doing events like this for years, most notably our “Open Carry Picnics” a few years back at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, where dozens of regular Minnesotans would gather, eat, talk with their neighbors – many with their legal firearms in plain view. 

If you heard about them, it wasn’t in the news.  The only thing that ever happened was a good time.  In the couple such events I attended (sans visble firearm; that wouldn’t be my style, even if I did own a gun and have a carry permit), I remember one person – white, upper-middle-class, female, oozing “Carlton College” attitude from every manicured pore – running to the park police and demanding mass arrests, and being politely rebuffed because we were doing something legal, in a legal manner. 

He Doesn’t Know Stuff!  – Coleman:

This Sunday’s kickoff event is scheduled for a 20-block stretch of Lyndale Ave. South, one of the south side’s gun-plagued corridors.

And there’s the conceit the left keeps trying – and with the dimmer members of our media and political class, succeeding – at passing off; the idea that guns are the problem.  That there’s a “plague” of guns prowling Lyndale from the Twenties through the Fifties, randomly picking off innocent passersby and kids doing homework in their living rooms.

It’s untrue, of course; we have a plague of people who use guns to enforce their gangs’ rules, protect their (illegal) business’ turf from competition, take out revenge for various slights (in a manner our modern urban culture glorifies), with guns.

Not a one of them has a carry permit.  Not a one of them passed a background check, taken the training course, or bought their firearms legally. 

Maybe Coleman doesn’t know the distinction.  Or maybe he, like the anti-gun groups with whom his “Uptake” shares funders, really really wants the distinction to be blurred. 

If it’s the former, he’s wrong.  If it’s the latter, he’s lying. 


The Original Classist Gangsta – Coleman – the child of a highly prominent legislator, the stepchild of a prominent publisher – loves to try to pound the outlines of his childhood into the rough-and-tumble Irish-Catholic-In-America myth.  He’s spent a career trying to portray himself as a Studs Terkel “Everyman with a Typewriter” type street journo. 

It’s a crock, of course; the last we checked, Coleman lived in a tony part of Saint Paul, near Grand and Summit, a leafy neighborhood dotted with private colleges and tudor homes.  And more power to him!

But watch Coleman wrap himself in the “urban activist warrior” flag:

 For some reason, the promise/threat of suburban gun flashersbrandishing their weapons along the avenue did not have a reassuring effect on the benighted city dwellers who prefer fewer guns, not more, on their streets.

(“Hey!  We don’t vote on civil rights!” Remember that from the gay marriage debate?)

A quick look at the city’s “shot spotter” maps, in addition to showing an alarming number of recorded gun shots on the city’s North Side (dozens each week), shows that there have been a couple dozen shots fired on the streets in the Lyndale-Hennepin area in the past two months.

Yep.  Now – can Coleman show us that any of them were fired by law-abiding citizens, much less carry permittees?

Of course not. 

Now, it’s time for some classism!:

Imagine how reassured you would feel when hundreds of bearded guys from Andover and Elko show up in North Minneapolis or the Summit-University area of St Paul (“Open Streets” events will take place in both of those communities later this summer) with Bushmasters and Brownings slung over their shoulders or Glocks and Rugers hanging from their paunches.

Condescension for People Not Like Nick is the main color in Coleman’s palette.  That and junior-high pseudo-sexual japery.

It’s also part and parcel of the most cancerous trait of the Left; the battle isn’t ideas versus ideas, or even people vs. people.  The battle they fight is Classes against Classes.  And they define the classes. 

At the very least, it’s a mark of intellectual laziness.  At the worst, it’s a cancer that’s killed millions in the last 100 years.

But let’s run with the thought; what if hundreds of guys from Elko and Andover and Forest Lake – some bearded and paunchy, some elderly and flinty, some young and smokin’ hot, but every last one of them a carry permittee with the legal right to carry a firearm – did show up at the festivals?

What would happen?

The smart money says “Not a damn thing” – other than anti-gunners acting out on their paranoia. 

Thought Experiments for The Unthinking – But since Nick’s in a mood to play hypotheticals, let’s come out and play, shall we?

Here’s a neat mental exercise: Try to imagine hundreds of inner-city residents carrying weapons at the Andover Family Fun Fest, July 13. Just because they can.

Nick, if you’re reading this;  let’s do indeed!

I’ll take you up on your challenge!  Let’s you and I get “hundreds” of “inner city residents” (by which I assume you mean “black people”, as opposed to “family guys who live in Saint Paul’s Midway”, like me), with legal carry permits, just like you had, and just like I may hypothetically have – complete with objective proof that they are law-abiding citizens that the permit conveys – and trek out to Andover on July 13!

And let’s see what happens!

Just think, Nick:  you and me can watch the hijinx unfold!

What do you suppose is going to happen?

Nothing.  Nothing is going to happen.  Oh, some ninny may run to a cop, who’ll investigate, see the “inner city resident” is a regular schlemiel with a carry permit, and gently tell the complainant to relax.   Just like happens with legitimate carriers all over the state or, more usually, doesn’t happen. 

More likely?  The “inner city” – which I suppose does mean “black” or “Latino” or “H’mong”  in Coleman’s mind – carry permittee will tell us to get tied; they have a live to live.

And they’ll be right. 

But let’s do get the ball rolling on this, Mr. Coleman. 

Heres’s How You Tell A Hack With A “Journalist” Badge He Got From A Box Of Cracker Jacks – Next, Coleman drops any pretense of “journalism” that may have evaded extinction, and openly parrots his whiny pals in the gun-grabber movement; I added emphasis to the really demented stuff:

Openly carrying firearms inside the Minnesota Capitol this winter helped gun-law opponents shoot down gun-safety legislation.

Coleman is regurgitating Heather Martens’ delusion that the law-abiding carry permittees who had notified Capitol security of their intent to carry, and visibly wore their legal, permitted firearms into the hearings, were doing it to “intimidate” the legislators.

It’s bullshit, of course.  It was a demonstration of “civil obedience” – showing the legislators that the law-abiding gun owner isn’t the cartoon that ghouls like Jane Kay and Nick Coleman and the City Pages portray to their audiences.  We’re regular schlubs who work day jobs and raise kids, just like everyone else.  And we vote. 

And it worked. 

But Coleman isn’t going to let facts get in his way:

But the tactic backfired this time. Maybe you can intimidate people in the Capitol, but not in the cycling community. Bicyclists wee outraged and told the gunslingers to stay away.

They wavered. Then they cracked. Finally, they called off the whole thing when the Gun Control Mommas stood up to them.

Let me put this as bluntly as it needs to be put:  Coleman is lying.

The “Gun Control Mommas” – “Moms Want Action”, Jane Kay’s toxic little astroturf group with fewer members than “the Uptake” has paid staff – had nothing to do with the cancellation. 

Neither did Coleman’s mythical “cycling community” (Note, Nick:  I’m part of the “cycling community”.  There was no memo). 

Coleman is making things up.  He’s taking correlations (a memo from the impotent Jane Kay, facebook proclamations from wannabe “biking community” spokesbots) and making up a causation.

He’s lying. 

The Gun Flashers ran for cover. By Thursday, the skedaddling gunsters canceled their Gun Wiggle, blaming the liberal media, bicycle punks and the “intolerance” of the mamas who opposed the plan they had clearly hoped would get them some media time and notoriety. Their plan worked, but not the way they hoped. The guns blew up in their faces.

It’s the closest the gun-grabber “movement” – really a collection of astroturf checkbook advocacy groups – have come to a victory in recent years.  And they’re jumping up and down like toddlers that just made a good pants. 

Candy asses.

 That’s big talk, coming from Nick Coleman, a nakedly (ew) partisan blogger who as we’ve shown makes things up left and right to gain “street cred”; a man who knows nothing about anything he wasn’t told by other people in his vanishingly tiny social circle, but who sat down to share his every thought with the moon. Like a grafitti artist holding a spray paint can between his knees, he’s tagging the public square, and doing it very, very badly. 

A man who’ll never answer for any of his lies and distortions because he’s never had to; he’s used and abused the “journalist/columnist’s” factual “get out of jail free” card while enjoying the protection of the Big Institutional Media system his entire career, and who now – let’s be honest – gets paid to parrot the lies he’s told to parrot. 

Same as he ever was.  Just much, much smaller.

UPDATE:  I didn’t even catch all of Coleman’s lies.  Attorney David Gross – one of the legal workhorses of the Second Amendment movement in Minnesota – left a comment which points out even more perfidy. 

One of many quotes worth reading (hence you should read the whole thing):

…Coleman was lying some more, as I read the published material, when he claimed that the Open Streets sponsors were against what Shelley had planned. I guess he can’t help himself from not letting the facts get in his way.
“Priem said Open Street organizers will not ask the gun owners not to attend. ‘Everyone is welcome at Open Streets,’ she said.”

Keep ’em coming.

I Wonder If Eric Black And Brian Lambert Know This?

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails to elaborate on the subject of this piece, assailing the MinnPost’s Eric Black’s participation in the resurrection of the long-forgotten “Second Amendment Was Written To Protect Slavery!” meme:

I forgot about this when I wrote to debunk Carl Bogus’ law review article.  Bogus relies for some of his historical evidence about firearms use on Michael Bellesiles, saying:

“Most militiamen were not even good shots.[168] We think of men as having grown up with guns in colonial America.[169] We assume they were sharpshooters by necessity. Did not men have to become proficient with muskets to protect themselves from ruffians and Indians or to hunt to put food on the table? Contrary to myth, the answer, in the main, is no. In reality, few Americans owned guns.[170] When Michael A. Bellesiles reviewed more than a thousand probate records from frontier areas of northern New England and western Pennsylvania for the years 1765 to 1790, he found that although the records were so detailed that they listed items as small as broken cups, only fourteen percent of the household inventories included firearms and [Page 342] fifty-three percent of those guns were listed as not working.[171] In addition, few Americans hunted. Bellesiles writes: “From the time of the earliest colonial settlements, frontier families had relied on Indians or professional hunters for wild game, and the colonial assemblies regulated all forms of hunting, as did Britain’s Parliament.”[172]

You remember Michael Bellesiles?  He supposedly studied probate records and found practically nobody owned guns in those days, so he wrote a book called “Arming America” saying the scarcity of private firearms ownership proved the Founding Fathers could not have intended the Second Amendment to refer to private firearms ownership, but must have intended it to refer to government militias.

James Lindgren at Northwestern University writes on The Volokh Conspiracy to remember his work taking Bellesiles down.   And I know you remember how Bellesiles claimed to have lost his research notes in a flood.

No serious historian believes Bellesiles today.   And to the extent Bellesiles is the foundation for Bogus, no serious legal scholar should believe Bogus, either.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

Reading Bogus’ original article, most of the citations are to, well, himself.  But listing Bellesisles is about on par with listing Milli Vanilli.

Brian Lambert may now respond with a dismissive, name-calling bit of snark before going back to metaphorically painting Mark Dayton’s toenails.

It Passes For Critique

Brian Lambert took umbrage to Joe Doakes’ and my dissection of Eric Black’s anti-gun piece last week in the MinnPost, which cited a justifiably obscure theory by Dr. Carl Bogus.

Look out! It’s gun owners! At least, according to the MinnPost. I can just see the “job” interviews at the MinnPost; “do you now, or have you ever, supported an originalist interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, or ever blasphemed against the Commerce Clause?” Behold the liberal alt-media.

And Lambert took after that dissection with the keen analytical mind and the rapier logic I’ve associated with Lambo for the 26 years I’ve known him:

At the conservative consortium blog True North, Mitch Berg goes after our Eric Black on the issue of … “gun grabbin’ ”: [lengthy quote from my piece removed] The sweat stains are showing among our gun-fondling friends.



Must be that “reporter badge” doing the talking.

Er, “talkin'”.

The 2nd Amendment movement is winning this one.

RIP Karl Bremer

Karl Bremer passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer yesterday.

Bremer, the co-author of “The Madness of Michele Bachmann: A Broad-Minded Survey of a Small-Minded Candidate,” died Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 15, at his house in Stillwater Township, from complications related to pancreatic cancer. He was 60.

Bremer was a tenacious muckraker, an award-winning blogger and an avid photographer. His blog — Ripple in Stillwater — was named Best Local Blog by City Pages in 2012. He also received several Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists awards for best use of public records.

I’d never speak ill of the dead.  Bremer had his friends and family.  I’m sorry for everyone’s loss.

But looking at all the references to Bremer as a “journalist”, I have to ask – is Brian Lambert going to ask to see his “badge?“, retroactively?

The 2012 Shootie Awards!

It’s New Years Day, and as such it’s time for a tradition unlike most others – the Seventh Annual Shootie Awards, “honoring” the “best” in Minnesota blogging in the same way D-Con Mouse Pellets honor the best in rodent culture.

The Nick Coleman/Brian Lambert Memorial Award For Broadcast Excellence: There wasn’t much to report on this year, since I’m not even sure KTNF – the Twin Cities’ former “Air America” affiliate – is on the air anymore (although it still has a website, so I guess it still exists, more or less).  At least, not in the Twin Cities.

But the Shooties are everywhere, including Fargo.  And it didn’t escape my notice that among the many Minnesota lefties babbling about MN Representative Mary Franson was KFGO (Fargo) sportscaster-turned-leftyblog-“talk show host” Mike McFeely.  After repeating some slanders that were debunked even by some of Minnesota’s less-depraved liberal bloggers long ago, McFeely got roundly  slapped down by his management (who must be getting tired of slapping the hapless McFeely, whose ratings  reportedly badly lag the rest of KFGO’s WCCO-like happy-talk lineup).

But he wasn’t done.  He poked his nose into the District 8A race in an op-ed in a local paper that was just a little too clever in its selectiveness about facts to be really termed “incompetent” or “illiterate” – but left you with the same feeling when you were done.

It was a little like…a sportscaster trying to write about things other than grownups chasing balls around fields.

And not since Frank DeFord has that ever been pretty.

The J. Wellington Wimpy “I Will Gladly Pay You Never For Your Vote Today” Award:  This award goes to Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk.  After benefitting mightily from a campaign against the “Marriage Amendment” with a counter-campaign asking Minnesotans why gay couples should be treated as second class citizens, why people who love each other should be discriminated against, and why we should mistreat people who share the same goals we all do about our families and kids, Bakk answered the question; “because it might hurt the DFL in the coming session, that’s why“.

It’s been explained that Bakk is counting on one level of court or another to strike down Minnesota’s gay marriage ban.

Now there’s a profile in courage for you.

The George Santayana Memorial “He Who’s Forgotten History Is Condemned To Be A Liberal Academic” Award:  It’s not strictly Minnesota – but Amitai Etzioni brought back one of the great punch lines in the history of the American gun control debate last month.

In the seventies, at the crest of the gun control tide, one of the big gun grabber organizations – I want to say it was the “National Coalition to Ban Handguns”, which I believe morphed over the years into the “Violence Policy Center” – gave out “Gun Free Home” signs to people who wanted to put their support for gun control on their front door.

Didn’t last long, of course – homes with the signs had a burglary rate at least an order of magnitude higher than their neighbors.  The signs disappeared faster than the campaign.

And Mr. Etzioni proved Dennis Prager’s dictum that “it takes an elite university education to be this stupid” by suggesting gun-grabbing families give it another try.

The “Minnesota Nice” Award:  The Minnesota left spent a year and a half convincing Minnesotans that love, not dogma, was the answer.

And what love they preached:

Seen at an anti-Marriage-Amendment gathering at the State Fair.  Courtesy Andy Parrish.

It passed without a peep from the Twin Cities media, who were apparently still spent from their years of trolling Tea Party rallies for any hint of deviance.

It could happen to anyone, I guess.

The “The Media, The Media, The Media’s On Fire! We Don’t Need No Water, Let That Liberal Institution Burn!” Award: goes not so much to “Politifiact”, but to the final positive conclusion reached this past year that Politifact is less concerned with “fact” than with fluffing the left’s narrative, and is of no more value than “The Daily Kos” for finding “facts”.

The Dennis Prager “It Takes A University Education To Be This Stupid” Award:  This award is always a brutal slugfest among many – indeed, an entire academy – full of contenders.  But the clear winner was Jeff Kolnick, from Southwest Minnesota State University, for this gale of unsupported illogical logorrhea that the Strib favored as an op-ed, and that would have been returned to any freshman comp student as poorly argued and unsupported.

The Just Remember, Libruls are Teh Smrt Award: Awarded, this year, to Steve Timmer’s copy-editor, whoever it is.

The Elvis Costello “Shut Up Or Get Cut Up” Award:  No contest this year.  It goes ot U of M Professor William B. Gleason.

While spending this past year exercising his beaver-like work ethic in his demanding job as a chemistry professor at the U (as opposed to writing thousands and thousands of tweets about the subjects of some impotent outrage on U of M time – no, perish the thought), Gleason filed a specious FCC complaint against Jack Tomczak of The Late Debate – at the time, heard on a little potboiler of a station in the north suburbs.  Tomczak, taking his infant daughter with him, went to the U of M to try to see Gleason hard at work curing cancer and stuff, and recounted the expedition on the air.  Gleason filed his meritless complaint.  The station’s management showed why they’re managing an obscure gospel station, and folded like a cheap end table, and whacked the show…

…which moved over, eventually, to a full-time slot on AM1130, with a paycheck and an audience.

(Gleason also filed a “harassment restraining order” against Tomczak, in court – but failed to show up for the hearing.  Clearly, this was because of his grueling research schedule.  Not, good heavens no, because he’s a narcissistic bully who runs like a scared bunny rabbit, like all bullies,  when he’s stood up to.  Perish the thought).

The Benito Mussolini “The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend” Award:  In a related incident, this goes to MinnPost’s Brian Lambert, for uncritically (as in, “like a trained bobblehead”) siding with Gleason in the above episode – because Tomczak was a former Michele Bachmann aide, and thus beyond the local lefty snark-based media’s self-imposed pale.

The Cicero/Demosthenes/Socrates Award For Excellence In The Advancement Of Keen-Eyed Rhetoric:  This goes to the entire Twin Cities left, the apotheosis of whose entire argument over this past year (outside of those paid for by Alida Messinger) was the handful of glitter thrown at their enemy du jour.

The Jordan Daycare Providers’ Association Award For Excellence In Airtight, Unreasoning Groupthink:  This one was too hard to choose; it had to go to Just About The Entire Minnesota Sorosphere for their disgraceful conduct in re Rep Franson’s comments about the state and dependence culture.  After a video in which she said dependance treated people like animals – as in, pets or livestock, dependent on a benevolent master – the local left translated it (context be damned) into “The Poor Are Animals!”, and sat back and giggled.

Franson laughed last, of course (as noted waaay above).

The “Every Junior High Impressed-With-Himself Chess-Club Prig” Award For Intellectual Rigor:  This dolt, who argued (in, what else, the Strib ) that liberals are right and conservatives are wrong because, well, liberals are right and conservatives are wrong.

The Blog Neologism Of The Year:  This one goes to Mr. Dilettante, for “Helga Braid Nation“, describing the mass of Minnesota voters whose primary argument for subsidizing Zygi Wilf’s real estate investment with your money and mind was that they dressed like stylized Vikings.

Yeah, that was about all there was to it.

The Nancy Pelosi “You Won’t Know What It Means Til You Do It!” Award For Wishful Planning:  This one is shared between Governor Dayton, Ted Mondale, and “Helga Braid Nation”, for pinning much of the funding for the stadium subsidy on a form of gambling whose receipts have been dropping for decades, that doesn’t really jibe with how Minnesotans gamble, and whose machines can’t get state approval, leaving even more of the subsidy in the lap of the Minnesota taxpayer than before.

The Claudius Caesar Award For Excellence In Praetorian Guardsmanship:  This is another shared award, between the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute and the entire Twin Cities media, who conspired to keep video of a particularly dissociative, rambling, downright bizarre Mark Dayton speech hidden from the public.

And finally, the capstone of all the awards in this annual event…:

The Charles Townsend Award – In 1765, British parliamentarian Charles Townsend, in noting the Colonies’ protests against the Stamp Act, said:

“And now will these Americans, Children planted by our Care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a Degree of Strength & Opulence, and protected by our Arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under?”

And this year’s winner is Jim Schowalter, head of MMB, who – at a meeting of business leaders at an outstate company shortly after Barack Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” jape, basically said…

…the same thingthat Minnesota business exists because of Minnesota government, so we should all shut up and be happy to pay for a better Minnesota or there will be consequences.

That’s it for this year!  But have no fear; every year provides a bounty of material for which I give daily thanks.

Til next year!

A Cheap Piece Of Tin With A Partisan Stenographer Pinned To It

I was out at Target the other day when I ran into a familiar face pushing a shopping cart full of Reynolds Wrap through the grocery section.  It was Professor William G. Krieppi, Associate Professor of Rhetoric at Hennepin Technical College’s School of Geology.

It went something like this.


KRIEPPI:  (Seeing me) Hey, Merg!  Brian Lambert at the Minnpost sure pwn3ed you?

ME:  Hm.  I always wondered how one pronounced “Pwn3d”.  Otherwise – and I know I’ll regret asking you this – what are you talking about?

KRIEPPI: He called you out on your “citizen journalist” nonsense!  In the MinnPost!

ME:  Well, I’m glad to see they have such important stuff to cover.

KRIEPPI:  Check it out!

ME:  Jeez, it’s only Lambert.   I’ve got stuff I gotta do.

KRIEPPI:  You are clearly melting down.   Why do you hate children?

ME:  Oh, what the hell.   (Types quickly on IPhone) (sotto voce) If I say “That’s a fascinating point”, will you go away?  (Normal tone of voice) OK, here it is:

…you might want to reader conservative blogger Gary Gross’s take on [whatever Lambo was writing about]. It concludes with this semi-classic threat: “What this means is that Gov. Dayton’s words, Pat Kessler’s words and other biased media’s words didn’t have a hint of truth to them. It’s worth noting that ABM didn’t hesitate in using them in their statewide smear campaign against GOP candidates. It’s time for Mr. Sommerhauser and other reporters to blister Alida Messinger, Gov. Dayton and the Twin Cities media for telling the whoppers that they told. If he won’t, citizen journalists like Mitch Berg and myself will expose the DFL for the corrupt political party it is.” Hey, guys, can I see your “citizen journalist” badges?

KRIEPPI:  hahahahaahahahaaahaahahahahaahahaahahahaaahaaha (shallow breath) )hahahaahahaahahahaaahaahahahahaahahaahahahaaahaahahahahaaha!!!

ME:  OK…?

KRIEPPI:  So where’s your badge, Merg?

ME:  I don’t have one.  But then, I used to work as a reporter, and I didn’t have a “badge” back then, either.  Why don’t you ask Lambert to see his “badge”?

KRIEPPI:  He is teh real journalist!  What teh hcek is a “citizen journalist”?

ME:  (Groaning wearily) I don’t much care for the term “citizen journalist”, and I never have..  And for that matter, the term “Journalist”, either.  Establishment “journalists” wrap themselves in the term to try to give themselves a veneer of non-existant “objectivity”.  The problem is, left-leaning establishment journos from the NYTimes down to the MinnPost, along with the Administraiton, are trying to define the term such that only “people who get paid by institutional media outlets” qualify as “journalists”, which is cynical and stupid, but certainly self-serving.

KRIEPPI:  Quit equivocating!  He pwn3d you!  Maybe even pwn4d you!   He showed that you are nothing but a partisan hack!

ME:  Huh.  So let’s recap, here; you’re referring to the “objectivity” and/or “hackery” of a guy who writes utterly-unveiled opinion pieces for a glorified blog, and has appeared for years on the radio as an expressly, even stridently-partisan commentator…

KRIEPPI:   Yes!  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

ME: …who interrupted his “non-partisan” “media” career for a gig as then-Senator Mark Dayton’s press secretary?

KRIEPPI:  …Hahahahahahahahahaahhahahahaaaahahaaahaahah… (maniacal laughter slowly grinds to a halt).

ME:  Who’s spent most of his career as a DFL stenographer and snark-bot,  but who will nonetheless dance up and down and say “You’re not a real journalist” because it’s a whole lot easier than explaining why a group of plutocrats and unions have basically bought the governorship and legislature with his blog’s blessing.

KRIEPPI: (stands, blank-faced)

ME: Hey, have a great day, Professor!

(I walk away as KRIEPPI slowly opens a carton of Reynolds Wrap and starts to wrap it around his head)


Like I said, i don’t much care for the term “citizen journalist”.  Partly because it’s stilted and anachronistic, but mostly because In the modern sense of the term, it’s a little like saying “citizen carpenter”.  There’s no real barrier of entry to picking up a hammer and a saw – or a keyboard.

Oh, “professional” journos like to act like Journalism is a higher calling, like a secular monastic order.  Listen to Garfield and Gladstone doing “On The Media” on NPR sometime (somebody has to, right?); Krista Tippett’s “On Being” isn’t as pompous, solemn and brow-furrowed.   And it makes sense; “professional” journalists devote a lot of time to learning the craft, and years and decades practicing it – and usually spend their time covering city council meetings and interviewing high school athletes and boutique owners.  Of course they’ll try to give it some higher meaning!

But journalism is not a monastic calling.  It’s certainly not a profession.  It’s a craft, not much different than carpentry or CNC machining or cooking a good steak.   If I need a complicated metal part, I call a machinist.  If I want to know what happened in a city council meeting, or what was up with that car crash or house surrounded by police tape, and I’m not able or interested in asking the questions myself, I go to a “journalist”.  And if you want to know what’s really going on with charter schools, I go to someone who covers education because it’s their passion and interest and whose coverage of the issue engages me; it might be a reporter for an institutional media outlet, but it’ll more likely be Matt Abe and Speed Gibson, because they’re just plain better at it. 

Am I a reporter?  Not normally.  I do some reporting – I’ve eaten the rest of the media’s lunch on a few stories over the years, and I’ll do it again – but doing “reporting” right takes time. I have a day job, so I usually stick with analysis, or just plain opinion.  Sort of like a newspaper columnist, only without the salary.

So I don’t have a badge.  Either does Lambert.  He gets paid to snark and occasionally report.  I don’t.   He does it eight hours a day or so.  I do it for about 90 minutes.

Other than that, there’s not much difference, really.  Unless you start talking radio.

Pin that to your shirt.

He Don’t Need No Stinking Facts

Brian Lambert at the MinnPost reports on the story of…

…sorry.  I had quick chuckle there.  I’ll carry on.

Brian Lambert wrote a piece in the MinnPost about the flap with Jack Tomczak…

…sorry.  I got overcome with a gale of laughter.  OK.  Pull it together, Mitch.  Here we go.

Brian Lambert reported on…

…Oh, my sides hurt.  Holy cow.  I couldn’t carry on with a straight face.  Wow.

OK.  Let’s try this again.  Mark Dayton’s former communications chief Brian Lambert at the MinnPost does exactly what the MinnPost pays him to do; serve as the uncovered intellectual and political id of the rest of the in-the-bag-for-the-DFL publication, in this piece about the Tomczak / Gleason flap (about which you read actual facts last week on Shot In The Dark,

I posted an item recently about a former campaign operative for Tom Emmer and Michele Bachmann accused of stalking U of M professor Bill Gleason.

Not sure if Lambert noted that Tomczak was “accused” of “Stalking” by a dissociative narcissistic lunatic that tweets all day, every day, without cease, ever world-class researcher with the work-ethic of a beaver, honest.

(Note to self: I do have to write a post about what “stalking” is, and perhaps give a few examples from the local blogging community to illustrate it.  Hint:  I don’t think it means going, one time, to a public building, but what do I know?)

Y’see, the problem with Lambert is that he seems to consider “lefty narrative” a better “source” than “crap he hears in passing”…

…although he uses plenty of that too:

Gleason filed an FCC complaint against Jack Tomczak, the former aide. After some negotiating, the local “Tea Party Radio Network” station that carried Tomczak’s show agreed that Tomczak would read an apology on the air.

Er, yeah.

FM95.9 isn’t the “Tea Party Radio Network”.  It’s a little Christian station that plays old-time gospel music when it’s not running Jack and Ben.  The “Tea Party Radio Network” is a network in the same sense as the “Northern Alliance Radio Network” is; a wry little reference to the fact that we both do our shows on a shoestring.  Sort of like AM950, without all the self-righteousness.

As Gleason posts on his blog, Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant…

Bla bla bla.

If you want to know what one of those old-fashioned ransom notes made by cutting letters out of magazine articles would look like if put online the work of a world-class researcher with the work ethic of a dozen beavers looks like, read Sunshine. 

The situation prompted Andy Aplikowski at the conservative blog Residual Forces to post: “Due to a thuggish left of liberal professor’s intolerant tactics, the station that Late Debate with Jack and Ben is on has suspended Jack. It is time to get the best local talk show on a real station. Please contact Clear Channel and get them on air.”

We did in fact cover that here, as well, over the weekend.

But it’s next that Lambert really screws the pooch:

Then, in turn, Ken Avidor at the liberal site Dump Bachmann writes: “…A Twitter cabal comprising of Bachmann fans Sheila Kihne and former St. Paul School Board candidate Tom “Swiftee” Swift is apparently attempting a reprisal by contacting University officials to complain about Professor Gleason.”

No, Brian,

Swiftee’s been pursuing Gleason, all right.  I’ll save the details for later.

But that’s been going on for months.  As in, since last November.  It predated the Tomczak flap by almost six months, and will likely be going on for many more.

And by the way, it allegedly involved a real case of stalking; not a guy walking into a public building, announced and in the full light of day.  Swift’s case involves serious allegations of extremely inappropriate abuses of power.  The kind of thing that might wind up actually getting into newspapers with real reporters, who report on stories with facts and stuff, while Brian Lambert is busy requoting the likes of “Dump Bachmann” with a straight face.

For the record?  A Magic Eight Ball is always a better source than Ken “Avidor” Weiner – or anyone that uses him for a source.  A coin toss, dog entrails or picking random letters out of a bowl of Alpha-Bits is better yet.

And since the subject is “stalking”, maybe we should do a quick post one of these days to remind people what real “stalking” is, and who actually practices it, locally?

But that’s all in the future.  The question now is: will Brian Lambert have the integrity it takes to straighten out his facts on the Swift / Gleason story?

Democrats: Continuing To Elevate The Dialog

A Maine state Democrat legislator urges Dick Cheney’s execution:

Rep. Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston)…used his Twitter account to express his view that former Vice President Dick Cheney should be executed…Kruger made the statement through his Twitter account this past summer, saying, “Cheney deserves same final end he gave Saddam. Hope there are cell cams,” a reference to technology that would allow Kruger to watch the proposed execution of the former Vice President of the United States.

But at least there were no crosshairs involved.  And he didn’t mention the word “reloading”.  So it must be OK.

The funny part?  Kruger is the chair of the Maine Legislature’s “Moderate Caucus”:

This comment has led some to question the validity of Kruger’s moderate credentials.

Lori Sturdevant and Brian Lambert will vouch for him.


Long-time Strib publisher John Cowles passed away over the weekend at 92.

Brian Lambert at the MinnPost carries the lengthy list of paeans to Cowles and his regional media legacy, which includes ponying up money to help found the MinnPost.

Of course, if you follow politics in Minnesota, Cowles’ legacy is inescapable; he ran the Star Tribune, from an institutional perspective, as a prime mover for the Strib’s own interests – Cowles was a key lobbyist for putting the original Metrodome downtown, and was a vital player in the “Downtown Brotherhood” that has has such a disproportionate impact on state politics these past forty years – and for the DFL.

The Strib didn’t become a cheerleader for the left on Cowles’ watch – although one could make a case that that cheerleading became more institutionalized and ingrained in the paper’s culture (the results of the Strib’s “Minnesota Poll” started swerving into left-leaning fantasy land in the eighties, after Cowles merged the Star and the Tribune).   And Cowles’ personal and financial support for the DFL and the the left was a matter of record.   In the Twin Cities mainstream media, support for the center-left is so institutionalized that it’s considered “balance” and the norm; Cowles and his generation of business and news staff did as much as anyone to make it that way.

Which is not to belittle his accomplishments – giving the Strib a legacy worth squandering, creating a media and business-political powerhouse notable enough that its decay and retrenchment over the past 15 years would be of national note.  Far from it.  Cowles, along with the seniors of the Hubbard clan, was a throwback to the long-lost golden age of Minnesota media.

My condolences to Cowles’ friends and family.

14,000-Odd Posts

2612 weekdays of waking up at 5:30AM and writing til 7-ish.

520 weeks of following the Minnesota news cycle.

Two Presidential, three Gubernatorial, three Senate and 32 Congressional contests, plus five complete legislative election cycles and 11 Legislative sessions.  One wrestler ushered out of office; one Senatorial plane crash and two electoral train wrecks covered.  The decline of two major cities chronicled (keep checking back, that story’s not done).  One complete conversion, from conservative public school supporter to implacable enemy and charter school zealot.

A national convention, three major state conventions.

A couple of dozen Instalanches, and heaven knows how many Hot Air-alanches.

Two desktop and three laptop computers gone through, along with three blogging platforms and counting.

Hundreds of Nick Coleman, Lori Sturdevant and Brian Lambert columns and “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” memes disposed of.

Dozens of leftyblogger attacks met, trashed, humiliated and, in more than a few cases, out-lived.  One Soros publication outlasted.

Decades?  One.  So far.  Working on number two.

This one kinda snuck up on me; Shot In The Dark turns ten years old today.  And when I say “snuck up on me”, I mean, yeah – I knew after last year’s “ninth anniversary” that there would likely (God willing) be a tenth.  But I woke up this morning and it kinda smacked me upside the head.

I’ve told the story a bunch of times – including every year on this anniversary; I started this blog in 2002, at a time when, after fifteen years out of talk radio, with two kids and working at a failing dotcom, I was keenly feeling the absence of an outlet for my inner pundit.  I read an article in Time about the “New Breed of Conservative Intellectuals”, featuring – ahem – Andrew Sullivan.  The piece mentioned Sullivan’s main outlet – his “blog”.  There was a little sidebar piece on “What Is A Blog”, which led me to “”.  At home from work that night, I started the original Shot In The Dark.  And other than a week off at the end of 2003, and a few odd days off here and there, I think I’ve had something up every weekday, and most weekends, since then.  At the time, I plugged it on a couple of E-Democracy forums, and held steady at about 10 hits a day for the first nine months or so.

My traffic has grown, and remained, really big by regional standards since then.  But as I’ve said for years, I have always done it for me, and would still do it if I were my only traffic.  The blog has brought an avalanche of blessings, the greatest of which has been a great group of friends – Brian, Atomizer, Sisyphus and Chad (an email from Brian was the first indication I found that there were other bloggers in the Twin Cities, back in mid-2002), Ed, John and Scott, Mr. D, King Banaian (whose blog is offline for the duration of his legislative career, which for Minnesota’s sake had best be long and successful), Brad Carlson, Michael Brodkorb and his various successors at MDE, James Lileks, Learned Foot, Derek and Nancy and Guy and the whole crew over at the DogsKatie, Gary, SheilaPianomomsicle,  Ringer, Roosh, Bogus, and the entire True North syndicate, and the whole MOB, really, which led to the radio show (which is itself headed for an anniversary next month).  Beyond that, it’s been a long train of personal and intellectual growth – or maybe “growth” – and a constant introduction to opportunities that I’d never dreamed of ten years ago.

So I’d still do it just for myself – but I’m glad I don’t have to!

Anyway – thanks to all your regular readers, and the new friends (and occasionally adversaries) that’ve popped up over the past (gulp) decade.  God willing and with a tailwind, we can do it again!

Picking At The Veneer

Brian Lambert wants someone to do the reporting for him, in re my piece last week on the Koch flap:

Mitch says he’s friends with the two names involved in the incident. So call them up and have them, you know, emphatically, explicitly deny on the record what everyone is tittering about.

Heh.  Brian’s a kidder. He kids.

Nobody’s denying anything to me – partly because I’m not calling anyone to ask anything.  At this point, I don’t much care, because:

  • All I care about is the way forward for the GOP.  There’s a much bigger story in this flap than a bunch of high-level canoodling – and the MNGOP needs to focus on its future – not on feeding the Media’s agenda. Speaking of which…
  • Any digging I do do, will not be for the benefit of the mainstream media.  Any of them.  The Twin Cities’ mainstream media is nothing but the PR arm of the DFL.  Don’t believe it?  Compare the “rectal exams” the mainstream media gives to GOP candidates compared to the gauzy, soft-focus fluff jobs that Barack Obama and Mark Dayton got and continue to get.   Major, serious quesitons about Mark Dayton’s alcoholism and mental health were “covered” by one single Strib piece run eleven months before the election – which is about ten and a half months before anyone outside the wonk class was paying attention.  This is the template for all Twin Cities media political coverage.  Pass on details about GOP rhubarbs to the media?  Why not call them in to Ken Martin while I’m at it?
  • Mr. Lambert? If you can’t show me some evidence that you never, not even once, said about Clinton and Lewinski “It’s just about sex!  Moooooove on!”, then really, we have nothing to talk about.
Sorry, Media.  You spent decades staking out not only the GOP but individual Republicans as the enemy.  Don’t be surprised if we take you up on it once in a while.

What The Hell Are We Supposed To Think About The MNGOP?

Brian Lambert at the MinnPost h quoted me the other day:

Minnesota’s most prominent conservative bloggers are oddly quiet about the party’s exciting weekend.

Minnesota’s “most prominent” conservative bloggers – Powerline, Ed Morrissey – don’t do much coverage of local politics much less the inner workings of the MNGOP.

Of course, those of us who do cover the state – Gary Gross, True North and the Dogs – certainly did cover the “exciting weekend”; most of them were there at the Doubletree along with me.

But Lambert noticed I’d been writing on the subject:

But at Shot in the Dark, Mitch Berg takes a run at it:

Lambo grabbed a lengthy quote from this piece here.  It ended with this bit:

And yet the GOP — which, for all its faults, is the only actual transparent political party in this state (if only because nobody, but nobody, cares about the Independence Party) — is going to have to get through some of this BS to go forward.”

…and he added…:

… But just “some” of it.

Yep.  Just some.

I said it on the radio over the weekend, and I’ll stand by it; the whole incident is going to be a good thing for the MNGOP, if it tackles the issue head-on.  The party’s in debt:  so tackle the debt.  The party lost its statewide races and two recounts: so figure out what we need to do to fix it.  None of this is brain surgery – politicians do it, for chrissake.

And we’re going to tackle it a year before the election.  Oh, the media will do what they can to keep it current – but by next election time, the GOP will be out of the metaphorical woods, loaded for bear, with new leadership and (if a lot of us have our way) explicit confidence that we are on the right path financiallly.

The media – Lambert among ’em – what the GOP grassroots to look at the task at hand and get depressed and discouraged.

There is no reason for this.  The turmoil of this past two weeks is good news.  The GOP will be a much stronger party – as long as we tackle this head-on.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent. As Usual.

This blog’s first post (other than “hey, look, I have a blog!”) back in 2002 was about a firearms-related issue – the battle for concealed carry, as it happens.

And since then, it’s fair to say I’ve written a post or two about the second amendment and the civil and human right of self-defense.

But I’ve never been a “gun blogger”, like the late Joel Rosenberg or the great Clayton Cramer.  It’s one of many issues I consider vital.

But since the Evanovich shooting two weeks ago, I might forgive newcomers to my blog for thinking I am a gun-blogger.  It’s been a hot topic around here.

Not strictly on the subject of the Evanovich case – but squarely in the gun wheelhouse, and a subject on which the Evanovich case only barely avoided being germane – was this bit form the MinnPost last week, from that noted civil rights firebrand Brian Lambert.

Now, I’ve known Brian for years – indeed, on my first day at KSTP in 1985, he was filling in for Geoff Charles; Lambo is literally one of the first people I ever met in the Twin Cities media.  And he’s not a bad guy.

But I don’t think it’s unfair to say he was a leader of the “never let facts or information get in the way of giggly uninformed snark” school of reporting long before blogs and Jon Stewart made it cool.

His subject?  Tony Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill, which was going to get a renewed push in the Legislature in the upcoming session even without the impetus of the Evanovich case; it’s a powerful swing issue among Minnesota’s mass of shooters, who have been a quietly but disproportionally powerful constituency in Minnesota for over a decade.

Remember last winter and spring’s scuffle over an expansion of the so-called “castle doctrine,” giving homeowners more legal protection in the event they needed to gun down someone on their property?

Let me guess – “gun them down” just to “watch them die?”

In the liberal subconscious, there seem to be a powerful, maybe chemical, urge to keep repeating “law-abiding gun owners are all depraved maniacs” endlessly, in the hope that it’ll ever actually be true.

Lambert cites some questions from that wellspring of care for the less-fashionalbe civil liberties – the mainstream media:

He has (second-hand) questions.  I have answers.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel throws up an editorial on precisely that legislation floating around over there in Badger Land: “Today’s quiz:

1) Just exactly what problem are lawmakers trying to solve with a proposal to extend new legal protections to people who shoot intruders in their homes, vehicles or businesses?

The problem is that in Minnesota (and Wisconsin), self-defense law is vague on what’s called the “Duty to Retreat”.  In Minnesota, the law says you have to make a “reasonable” effort to disengage from a situation in which you are being attacked and “reasonably” fear being killed or maimed.  What does “reasonable” effort mean?

It depends on where you live. A county attorney in the Red River Valley will likely see it differently than one of John Choi’s eager young DFL-bot assistants.

So, Brian Lambert – on what other civil, human right do we tolerate that level of vagueness?  Especially vagueness that is based entirely on local political fashion?  More importantly, on what other civil/human rights do you tolerate this sort of “make it up as you go along” approach to the law?

2) What is it about the current system that isn’t working?

In a nutshell:  if you, a law-abiding carry permit holder, are approached in, say, your garage or your car – which are not covered under Minnesota’s current “inside the home” exemption to the so-called “duty to retreat” – the question “did you make a reasonable effort to run away”, made in a fraction of a second in the dark under mind-warping pressure, will be answeredby some pencil-necked U of M-grad assistant County Attorney sitting in a warm office, guarded by sheriff’s deputies with metal detectors, and all the time in the world to work up whatever theory his boss wants him or her to work up.  They – in their due time – could decide you “should have” hit the gas, or run for the house, or just given the attacker what she wanted – and force you go to trial, with your freedom on the line, even if the shooting was utterly justified in every other way.

3) How many homeowners are sitting in jail because they were simply defending themselves against intruders inside their houses?

We’ll come back to that.

The answers are:

1) There is no problem.

2) The current system works just fine.

3) None.

The first two are matters of (blinkered, context-deprived) opnion.

The third is at the very best a misleading answer – and the wrong question, to boot.  Better questions would have been “how many honest, law-abiding citizens had to exhaust their lifes’ savings defending themselves against charges that revolved around prosecutors asking “did the accused try hard enough  to retreat?””.  Or “how many honest, law-abiding citizens, faced with an endless battle with a county attorney’s office that they could not afford, were hammered into taking plea bargains that destroyed their legal futures and infringed their civil liberties, in exchange for staying out of jail after shootings that were otherwise perfectly justified?”   In Minnesota, the answer to that last is “one that I can rattle off to you right now, and if you gave me a few minutes on the phone I could probably come up with half a dozen more”.

There is no need to change state law to allow for a “castle doctrine” defense (“castle doctrine” as in “your home is your castle”). Indeed, doing so could put some innocents in greater danger.



I mean, the statement was made with some perception of authority; feel free, Brian, to provide an example of “danger” to “innocents” in the 31 states that have some variation of Cornish’s law on the books today.

I’ll wait.

The above answers come by the way, from Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and the Criminal Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin, made up of more than 600 prosecutors, judges, criminal defense lawyers and academics. That’s a reliable set of expert witnesses.”

Well, no. It’s a set of witnesses with an agenda; leaving aside their political affiliation, “stand your ground” laws remove County Attorneys’ discretion.   Prosectors like having discretion.  Government loves having discretion.  See George Wallace.

Your expert is my “appeal to false authority”.  Not to mention…

Yeah, but tell any of ’em to just try and walk across my lawn.

…snark.  Always, always the snark.

Lambert: “Art Is Politics!”

(SCENE:  Liam Branbert and his wife Slainte, midly disheveled, under the covers, smoking cigarettes).

LIAM: “So did the earth move for you?”

SLAINTE: “Sure, a little”.

LIAM: “But did it move in a progressive way, or kind of a conservative way?”

SLAINTE: “Um – I dunno?  Why?”


(And scene).



Well, on the left, nothing is too absurd.

Which brings us to Brian Lambert’s little poison-pen blog post about Scott Johnson’s observance of Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday.

Other than the melodies, I always wonder how conservative ideologues (ir)rationalize the work of people like Bob Dylan? (Likewise, T-Paw claiming to be a big Springsteen fan.)


For starters, because a great piece of art – I’m talking everything from Bach to Darkness on the Edge of Town – connects with people on a way that is much, much deeper than politics.  Although with some on the left, maybe nothing goes deeper than politics.

But I digress.   Scott, my friend and former NARN co-host, is as articulate a music critic as there is:

“In his outstanding City Journal essay on Pete Seeger (“America’s most successful Communist”), Howard Husock placed Dylan in the line of folk agitprop in which Seeger took pride of place. Husock’s essay is an important and entertaining piece. Dylan is only a small part of the story Husock has to tell, however, and Husock therefore does not pause long enough over Dylan to observe how quickly Dylan burst the shackles of agitprop, found his voice, and tapped into his own vein of the Cosmic American Music. Looking back on his long career, one can discern his respect for the tradition as well as his ambition to stand at its head. On 1964’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ album, Dylan foreshadowed his break from the folk movement in ‘Restless Farewell,’ the album’s closing song.”

Lambert – for whom Randy Rhodes (the host, not the guitarist) may be the most evocative artist:

By his next birthday I’m guessing Johnson will have transformed Bob into the poet laureate of The Heritage Foundation.

Or – here’s a radical notion, albeit not a Radical one – he’ll enjoy it.

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan turns 70 today.

I’ve been rediscovering him lately; I’m pretty literate on some of his first-generation descendants, but for various reasons I never really marinated my head in Bob Dylan.


So – may it please the unjustifiably-self-righteous Brian Lambert, here  he is.

Included mainly because I couldn’t find a Dylan version of “Ballad of Hollis Brown”.

(Lambert’s bout of madness? I’ll dispose of that tomorrow).

Falling Off The Cliff Notes

Brian Lambert, writing at The Same Rowdy Crowd, laments the the state of journalism’s self-congratulatory, clubby order of high-priests-of-information that allowed Rolling Stone to “scoop” the establishment press (or should we say, the more-establishment-y press) on the McChrystal story; the idea that RS beat the NYTimes and the rest of the mainstream/dead-tree/agenda/establishment media to the story mortifies him…

…and strikes him as part of a larger pattern:

As bad/squirrely as McChrystal’s attitude was, as revealed in the Rolling Stone piece, I don’t know that it compares to the spectacular failure of what I facetiously refer to as “business journalism”. Talk about an off-site publicity/fanzine approach coverage. There’s no question the Pentagon and Congress will cut off access in a split second if they think you’re likely to print something negative. But on a Main Street level, where homey little Mom and Pop operations like UnitedHealth, Denny Hecker, Tom Petters, etc. operate, the coverage, until the moment of (shocking!) collapse is invariably one of uncritical reverence and, well, fanzine adoration. Jack that up to the national level and you see prevailing attitude toward AIG, Lehman Brothers, CitiGroup and Goldman, Sachs … prior to the implosion.

In other words, the “gatekeepers”, the Fifth Estate, the institution that it is claimed comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable, the one that constantly tells itself and whomever us us still pay attention that it is what keeps Democracy viable, isn’t doing its job.

Of course, if you’re a Twin Cities conservative, it’s not news; the entire weight of the Twin Cities media has been harnessed to the DFL’s needs for so long it’s hard to care anymore.

So if the “establishment” media don’t actually dig out the hard stories, and exist primarily to get their collective id in the form of Barack Obama or other such sonorous bobbleheads elected to office (and obstruct and defame their party’s opponents), then what early good do any of them serve?

Sullivan links to a blog post by ex-Marine and award-winning writer, Davis Morris, who says, “It’s an unfortunate staple of Beltway journalism that has bled over into war reporting that most reporters are loathe to burn their sources by writing derogatory things about them. To be blunt, most reporters are as career-obsessed as the officers they’re interviewing and they don’t want to poison the well. This is doubly true if the officer being interviewed is a four-star general. There is a simple reciprocity involved: if you want to be invited back to ride on The Boss’s helicopter, if you want continued access, you’d better not write about his soft spot for strippers and gin.”

Substitute “business reporting” for “war”, and “CEOS” for mere “officers” and “executive jet” for “helicopter” …

Or substitute “covering state senate and US senate votes” for business or war, and “Barack Obama” for “CEOs”…

…and you get the same idea.

Are we seeing a pattern yet?

Now, Matt Taibi, also over at Rolling Stone, (on the blog), weighs in ripping Lara Logan. (Does the title, “Lara Logan, You Suck”, tell you anything?) CBS’s implausibly good-looking Chief Foreign Correspondent for essentially accusing Hastings (of the McChrystal expose) of unprofessional journalism.

Taibbi, who has written some terrific stuff about Wall St. sharks (post-facto, alas), holds nothing back defending the “outsider” journalism game from the Revenge of the “insiders”.

“I have been there, when some would-be “reputable” journalist who’s just been severely ass-whipped by a relative no-name freelancer on an enormous story fights back by going on television and, without any evidence at all, accusing the guy who beat him of cheating. That’s happened to me so often, I’ve come to expect it. If there’s a lower form of life on the planet earth than a “reputable” journalist protecting his territory, I haven’t seen it.

Which is, of course, where we bloggers come in. We have beaten the stuffing out of the mainstream media so many times we’ve lost count.    And we’ve taken the MSM’s demonstrable lack of integrity from meme to joke to truism to weary bromide in less than a decade.

So – why should anyone care what they say anymore?

Can we finally stick a fork in the entire milieu of the “professional journalist”?   Extinguish the entire cult of the high priests of knowledge?  Acknowledge the fact that the “journalistic profession” (actually a glorified craft, even at its best) is a fossil?

Myth list: Faeries, World Champion Cubs, Reporters Who Actually Know Stuff

You live, you learn.

After eight and a half years of covering the journalistic geography in this town, some of the basic contours are as well-known as my bike ride to work; Lori Sturdevant will be a dozey DFL hack; Nick Coleman will be a thud-witted and utterly predictable DFL hack; Brian Lambert will be a rapier-witted but peek-a-boo DFL hack.

It’s rare that there’s anything new to cover.

And to be fair, the Strib’s John Tevlin isn’t exactly “new”; to be fairer, most of us who’ve been blogging for a while have sort of gotten numb to the Strib’s columnist’s row; we’re like drug addicts who need more and more of our chosen drug to even get a buzz.

Fortunately (?), the latest Tevlin column is dumb enough to crack the silt-like coating of ennui that chokes me whenever I try to read the Strib’s opinion pages.

When I read in Tuesday’s paper that Tom Emmer, the GOP-endorsed candidate for governor, claimed that three servers at the Eagle Street Grill in St. Paul “take home over $100,000 a year,” I high-tailed it over to the restaurant to get a piece of the action.

Reporter races to cover a story in a bar?  Flea bites dog as it bites man.

Emmer chose Eagle Street for a campaign stop to argue that the state should drop minimum wages for workers who earn tips, which he claims would help small businesses.

I wasn’t the first one in the door, but I was close. A guy with “Kevin” stitched on his shirt waited on me.

“Can I have an application for one of those $100,000 jobs?” I asked. Kevin looked like I’d just done a dine-and-dash on him, and I sensed it had not been a good day on Eagle Street.

I’m interested in the reaction the left in the Twin Cities – the DFL, the various echelons of leftybloggers at their command, and the Strib – have had to Emmer’s suggestion that the hospitality industry might benefit, and create more jobs, by returning to the same exact law Minnesota observed until 1990 – allowing restaurants and bars to pay less than minimum wage, because food servers can be expected to make more, sometimes much more, in tips; as Emmer noted, sometimes much, much more.

The reaction:  “What?  Every waiter and waitress will make $100,000?  Waiting tables pays better than being a low-level Java programmer?”, every one of them seems to find it amusing to ask in mawkishly mock amusement.

I sometimes wish they’d turn that keen sense of, um, humor to some of the other, more-carefully-focus-grouped claims that candidates put out there:

“Haha, Mark Dayton – so when we “tax the rich“, our whole five billion dollar deficit will vanish, right?  Poof, gone, ancient history?  Cool!”

“So, Matt Entenza – if we put just another two billion dollars into our education system, that will prevent one single more Afro-American kid from being shunted onto the “fail track”?  Just another two billion?  OK – so for ten billion, can we get every single kid in the Minneapolis school system into Yale?”

“Margaret Anderson-Kelliher – if we spend more money on “stimulus” work for the public employees unions…” – OK.  Sorry.  I can’t even get sarcastic about that anymore.

One thing I can get sarcastic about still is the contempt Jon Tevlin feels for working people:

Yeah, I said “contempt”.

“I’m a columnist at the newspaper across the river, and I could use a pay upgrade,” I said. “When can I start?”

I came prepared for a job interview, just in case. Even though I had no experience waiting tables, as a columnist I have plenty of experience being insulted by drunks late at night. I did tend bar for about three weeks at a place called the Goosetown Lounge, in New Ulm, to augment my paltry salary as a cub reporter, and I am known to mix a pretty good margarita.

A good waiter or bartender can take years to not only learn the tricks that separate the great from the OK – including the greatest trick of all, getting a job at a place where people spend lots of money and tip really really well.  I’m not sure if Jon Tevlin thinks that the waiters at, say, Manny’s – people who earn $200 tips on tables that run up $1,000 tabs – are the “cub reporters” of the food service business, or if he thinks he could impress one of the staff at the Saint Paul Grill with his bartending tales.

But in waiting, as with just about every other trade – carpentry, user experience design, medicine, plumbing, running a checkout station or a bookstore, the law – it takes years of experience to rise to the top of the trade.

Looking at the likes of Frank Rich, Mo Dowd, Lori Sturdevant and Jon Tevlin, it’d seem that journalism is the exception to the rule.

The owners said they have loyal employees who earn a good living, but that the tip credit change would save them more than $30,000.

One longtime bartender familiar with Eagle Street said that based on prices and clientele, he’d be surprised if anyone who relies on tips at Eagle Street makes much more than $50,000.



So a worker who makes, by any measure, a modest but potentially-comfortable living from a job that requires no formal education or training, and who literally won’t notice the “cut” in the minimum wage, is offset by the fact that, I suppose, not every waitress is making $100K…or…huh?

Wade Luneburg, secretary-treasurer for Local 17 UNITE HERE, said such a cut would hurt many workers who barely get by.

Some servers and bartenders earn a decent living, he said, “but if you are talking about someone at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Slayton, they are usually women making very little in tips who have no health insurance,” said Luneburg.

With the likes of Jon Tevlin and Wade Luneburg, it’s always the stupid extremes; waitstaff either make more than registered nurses, or they are one step below crack whores.

“What Representative Emmer is saying is really reprehensible.”

Well, no.  Tevlin and Luneburg are being reprehensible; they’re doing their best to hop up and down and heap ignorant mockery on a statement that was, at the end of the day, perfectly correct; waiters who are making $25-50K a year won’t notice the money they lose to the tip credit; the woman at the Whistle Stop in Slayton might just have more options when the Whistle Stop’s competition can afford to hire another waitress (and maybe someone can teach out of state Minnesotans that a quarter is not a suitable tip for a $20 ticket.  Just saying).  Or maybe not.  There are no guarantees…

…except one; raising minimum wages cuts the number of entry-level jobs.

By noon, the owners had already fielded numerous angry calls. In fact, Geisen said, “lobbyists” who set up the Emmer appearance were on their way down to smooth things over and correct his quote, something that seems to be a full-time job these days.

Sort of like correcting Nick Coleman used to be.

Geisen ran off to fight another fire, and I had to feel for the guy. So I threw down another buck.

“That’s for Tom Emmer,” I said.

I was just trying to do my part, the poor giving back just a little bit to help out the rich.

The bad news?  The Strib just keeps getting dumber.

The good news?  The DFL must be really desperate to be spending this much effort courting the “waitress at a crappy 3:2 bar” vote, and courting them this badly.

Krugman Warned You!

As Lefty pundits from the esteemed Paul Krugman to the unhinged Brian Lambert have pointed out, it’s only teh dum ignant racist conservatives who oppose healthcare.

Keep that in mind when you read this detailed takedown – on both liberal and conservative principles – from  Glenn Beck:



1. This is a universal health care bill.

The bill is neither universal health care nor universal health insurance.

Per the CBO:

  • Total uninsured in 2019 with no bill: 54 million
  • Total uninsured in 2019 with Senate bill: 24 million (44%)
2. Insurance companies hate this bill

This bill is almost identical to the plan written by AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009. The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former Wellpoint VP. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on October 30, 2009, health care stocks have risen 28.35%.
3. The bill will significantly bring down insurance premiums for most Americans.

The bill will not bring down premiums significantly, and certainly not the $2,500/year that the President promised.

Annual premiums in 2016, status quo / with bill:

Small group market, single: $7,800 / $7,800

Small group market, family: $19,300 / $19,200

Large Group market, single: $7,400 / $7,300

Large group market, family: $21,100 / $21,300

Individual market, single: $5,500 / $5,800*

Individual market, family: $13,100 / $15,200*

4. The bill will make health care affordable for middle class Americans.

The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product that they can’t afford to use.A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.
5. This plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which makes health care affordable. Many Massachusetts residents forgo health care because they can’t afford it.A 2009 study by the state of Massachusetts found that:

  • 21% of residents forgo medical treatment because they can’t afford it, including 12% of children
  • 18% have health insurance but can’t afford to use it
6. This bill provide health care to 31 million people who are currently uninsured.

This bill will mandate that millions of people who are currently uninsured must purchase insurance from private companies, or the IRS will collect up to 2% of their annual income in penalties. Some will be assisted with government subsidies.
7. You can keep the insurance you have if you like it.
The excise tax will result in employers switching to plans with higher co-pays and fewer covered services.

Older, less healthy employees with employer-based health care will be forced to pay much more in out-of-pocket expenses than they do now.

8. The “excise tax” will encourage employers to reduce the scope of health care benefits, and they will pass the savings on to employees in the form of higher wages.

There is insufficient evidence that employers pass savings from reduced benefits on to employees.

9. This bill employs nearly every cost control idea available to bring down costs.

This bill does not bring down costs and leaves out nearly every key cost control measure, including:

  • Public Option ($25-$110 billion)
  • Medicare buy-in
  • Drug reimportation ($19 billion)
  • Medicare drug price negotiation ($300 billion)
  • Shorter pathway to generic biologics ($71 billion)
10. The bill will require big companies like WalMart to provide insurance for their employees

The bill was written so that most WalMart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage.
11. The bill “bends the cost curve” on health care.

The bill ignored proven ways to cut health care costs and still leaves 24 million people uninsured, all while slightly raising total annual costs by $234 million in 2019.“Bends the cost curve” is a misleading and trivial claim, as the US would still spend far more for care than other advanced countries.

In 2009, health care costs were 17.3% of GDP.

Annual cost of health care in 2019, status quo: $4,670.6 billion (20.8% of GDP)

Annual cost of health care in 2019, Senate bill: $4,693.5 billion (20.9% of GDP)

12. The bill will provide immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition. Access to the “high risk pool” is limited and the pool is underfunded. It will cover few people, and will run out of money in 2011 or 2012Only those who have been uninsured for more than six months will qualify for the high risk pool. Only 0.7% of those without insurance now will get coverage, and the CMS report estimates it will run out of funding by 2011 or 2012.
13. The bill prohibits dropping people in individual plans from coverage when they get sick. The bill does not empower a regulatory body to keep people from being dropped when they’re sick.There are already many states that have laws on the books prohibiting people from being dropped when they’re sick, but without an enforcement mechanism, there is little to hold the insurance companies in check.
14. The bill ensures consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to challenge new insurance plan decisions. The “internal appeals process” is in the hands of the insurance companies themselves, and the “external” one is up to each state.

Ensuring that consumers have access to “internal appeals” simply means the insurance companies have to review their own decisions. And it is the responsibility of each state to provide an “external appeals process,” as there is neither funding nor a regulatory mechanism for enforcement at the federal level.

15. This bill will stop insurance companies from hiking rates 30%-40% per year.

This bill does not limit insurance company rate hikes. Private insurers continue to be exempt from anti-trust laws, and are free to raise rates without fear of competition in many areas of the country.
16. When the bill passes, people will begin receiving benefits under this bill immediately

Most provisions in this bill, such as an end to the ban on pre-existing conditions for adults, do not take effect until 2014. Six months from the date of passage, children could not be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, though insurance companies could charge more to cover them. Children would also be allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. There will be an elimination of lifetime coverage limits, a high risk pool for those who have been uninsured for more than 6 months, and community health centers will start receiving money.

17. The bill creates a pathway for single payer.

Bernie Sanders’ provision in the Senate bill does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, so no, it doesn’t create a pathway for single payer.

Obama told Dennis Kucinich that the Ohio Representative’s amendment is similar to Bernie Sanders’ provision in the Senate bill, and creates a pathway to single payer. Since the waiver does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, it is nearly impossible to see how it gets around the ERISA laws that stand in the way of any practical state single payer system.

18 The bill will end medical bankruptcy and provide all Americans with peace of mind.

Most people with medical bankruptcies already have insurance, and out-of-pocket expenses will continue to be a burden on the middle class.

  • In 2009, 1.5 million Americans declared bankruptcy
  • Of those, 62% were medically related
  • Three-quarters of those had health insurance
  • The Obama bill leaves 24 million without insurance
  • The maximum yearly out-of-pocket limit for a family will be $11,900 (PDF) on top of premiums
  • A family with serious medical problems that last for a few years could easily be financially crushed by medical costs

UPDATE:  Oops.  I screwed up.  The article and table above wasn’t from Glenn Beck.  It was from Jane Hamsher, writing at usually far-far-far-far-left uberblog Firedog Lake.

And yeah, it’s done with an aim toward promoting single-payer, which is certainly not my goal.

But it’s a decent digest of everything that’s wrong with Obamacare, abortion funding aside.

Obviously stupid racists.

Meet The New Meme, Same As The Old Meme

On the one hand, I don’t know that anybody quibbles about Lori Sturdevant being a bought-and-paid-for (figuratively) tool of the left – someone who is the mirror opposite of the “extremist” conservatives she clutches her pearls and complains about during the course of every single legislative session.  She’s pretty well thrown in with the radical dogmatic left; there’s really no need to argue about it.

Except that she’s still employed by the Strib; there, she writes as a “general” columnist, which might tell the uninformed reader that she’s actually passing on unvarnished, “objective” information, rather than shilling for the DFL.  Sturdevant is no more detached or “objective”  in covering politics than David Brauer or Brian Lambert.

But how would the casual Strib reader know this?

Simple; most of them don’t.  Which is just fine by whomever is paying the bills.

Oh, yeah –Sturdevant favors single-payer healthcare, as she makes perfectly clear in her weekend mash note to Roseville senator John Marty, who I’d say has served as a sort of dimestore Paul Wellstone, except that the left and Sturdevant would likely think of that as a compliment.

The possibility that Americans would join hands and buy health care all together has found no traction in Washington.

[Aside:  Notice with Sturdevant how “bipartisanship” is always something warm and fuzzy like “joining hands” when it’s a DFL initiative like socialized medicine, but some sort of climate of mean hatred when it’s something like tax cuts?]

But at the DFL-controlled Minnesota Legislature, the idea has been quietly marching through committees, three in the Senate, one in the House.

If something is “quietly marching” – just like Martin Luther King! – then  it must be a great idea, right?

Well, no – the DFL, which never met a spending program that didn’t make a tingle run up its leg, has a supermajority in the Senate and an almost-veto-proof margin in the House.

The Minnesota Health Plan is propelled in the Senate by former and current DFL gubernatorial candidate John Marty, a seven-term legislator from Roseville. Marty recognizes that with GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty in office, a single-payer health plan has no chance to become law this year.

But health care politics will change rapidly in the next few years as the status quo becomes increasingly untenable, the senator predicted.

The whammy here is that the system by definition can only get less tenable – because it is perfectly tenable today.  Sturdevant, being a bobble-headed repeater of DFL talking points, likely doesn’t know it, but John Marty does, and is lying; 92% of Minnesotans have insurance already, of one kind or another.  And insurance in Minnesota, regulations aside, is fairly affordable compared to states like New York or New Jersey.  And of the 8% who don’t have insurance, the vast majority either don’t want it, which should be their right, or are part of a relatively tiny minority who actually can’t get any insurance.

His plan will gain adherents because it would cure more of what ails the costly health care system. It would insure everyone, cover all medical needs, provide the purchasing clout needed to reform the way medicine is practiced, and thereby drive down premium costs.

If I can perform no other service in this debate, I want to make sure you, gentle reader, who is likely to go to a healthcare protest,can read behind the code words Sturdevant just used.

  • “Insure everyone” – even if you don’t want it, orif you like the plan you have now just fine!  Even if you move here strictly for the free health care (with no intention of paying anything meaningful into the system).
  • “cover all medical needs” – they do mean all medical needs; viagra for 68-year-old real estate agents; chemical dependency treatment; sex change operations; since John Marty and the extreme left wing of the DFL is involved, abortions will be part of the package at some point or another.
  • “provide the purchasing clout needed to reform the way medicine is practiced” – which is a nice, benign way of saying “provide a monopoly that can dictate prices to doctors”.  Who, inevitably, leave the business.  Which, inevitably, constricts the supply of care.  Which either means the state raises what they pay, or start rationing the care that is available.  Which is precisely what has happened in every single state, county or nation that has ever socialized healthcare.
  • “drive down premium costs” – in the same way that union healthcare plans “drive down co-pays” – by passing the costs on to other people.  And when it’s government involved, you know where the buck stops starts, right?


Marty pegs the savings in total state health care spending, public and private combined at 20 to 25 percent.

Provided the conditions of the “pegging” stay static – which never, ever happens.

That claim faces a mountain of skepticism, even from his fellow DFLers, because he is talking about “government-run health care.” But his notion isn’t to put the Legislature in charge. It’s to create a quasi-governmental agency with a board selected by nonpartisan county commissioners, empowered to contract with local and regional providers of health care services and manage their care.

Sturdevant, knowing she can’t dazzle you with brilliance, is baffling the gentle reader with – well, Sturdevant.Again with the code words:

  • “Quasi-governmental agency” – Being “quasi-governmental” is like being “quasi-pregnant”.
  • “nonpartisan county commissioners” – Please.  County commissioners are as non-partisan as, well, Lori Sturdevant.
  • “Empowered to contract with providers and manage their care” – A phrase that is so carefully crafted as to be almost dazzling in its misleading brilliance.  But if this board is “empowered” to compete against private health insurance companies, they do it with government subsidies, which drive down the apparent cost (because everyone’s premiums appear cheaper if someone else is paying for them!) and increase at least the initial fund of money available.  Which puts the private companies at a disadvantage and eventually drives them from the market.  Which leaves the “quasi”-public plan as the main player in the market.  Which, as more people flock to use the artificially-low-priced services, costs the taxpayers more.  Which means the board will “negotiate” lower prices with providers.  Which means providers leave the business (as they have in Canada, Sweden, the UK, France and every other place where socialized healthcare has been attempted). Which means that either the wait for services grows longer (as they have in Canada, Sweden, the UK, France…), or the “board” gives in and pays out higher prices, but then either has to make up the difference by charging higher premiums (which nobody can afford by themselves because, remember, you’re paying for Honest Eddie’s little blue pills and Dave’s sex change as well as little Raymond’s appendectomy), or raising taxes – which won’t solve the problem right away anyway, since replaceing doctors and nurses takes years, and doesn’t work if you’ve made medicine a wretched government job anyway.


That should sound familiar to the 13 rural (and Republican-dominated) counties of PrimeWest Health, a county-based health care purchasing system for low-income people that’s been turning in impressive cost savings in recent years.

But if it sounds familiar, it’s just the voices in the listener’s head, because there is virtually no similarity.

While PrimeWest Health may well run into exactly the same pathologies that we noted above, and for exactly the same reasons – like the Massachusetts health system did – it is at least something that makes more sense than Marty and Sturdevant’s fantasy; it attempts to solve the real problem (uninsured low-income people) rather than the imagined one (insuring everyone for everything).

That, indeed, has been the greatest danger of the healthcare debate lately; aided and abetted by people like Al Franken in last week’s rally, and Lori Sturdevant in the media, the left-voting crowd in Minnesota is chanting less “public option now!” and more “it’s just like free enterprise!”, without knowing just how wrong they are.

Day Late, Millions Short

Brian Lambert shows why KTLK-FM had such a rocky start in the Twin Cities, in a piece that purports to be about Air America tanking; along the way, it also shows why liberalism is starting to gasp for air in the age of Obama.

Lambert starts with the genesis of his short-lived radio show:

I was summoned to a meeting with Clear Channel Communications “talk radio guru”/consultant, Gabe Hobbs, after only a couple weeks on the job. Having just spent a chunk of the previous 15 years covering radio consultants, or more accurately, the inanity and chaos they left behind, I was prepared to sit across from a complete cartoon.  (OK, not every radio consultant I had met or interviewed was a “complete” cartoon. But that’s a little like saying “some cigarettes are good for you”, to which you reply, “yeah, the ones you don’t smoke.”)

Lambo got that one right.  But I digress.  But so did he.

In their wisdom the local Clear Channel group had decided that “a WCCO for the 21st century” was the way to go for the FM talk experiment they were starting up.

Which was how I put it at the time; for whatever reason, a generation of consultants decided that conservative talk was dead (based largely on wishful thinking after the 2004 election), and tried floating the “all things to all people” format all over the country, including KTLK and KSTP-AM.

After saying that he wasn’t sure what to make of the idea of dogs and cats playing together, Hobbs conceded he was intrigued by the righty-gal vs. the lefty-guy dynamic. And then he got to the nut of modern (conservative) talk radio.

(I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but I swear the essentials are accurate.)

And he’s right about the consultant’s opinion being accurate – an awful lot of “talk radio gurus” deeply hate conservative talk; some of them are ideological liberals, but most of them are just dying to come up with a take on a format that clicks, somewhere, and makes them millions of dollars in consulting fees.  It’s not going all that well, by the way, after almost 20 years of trying.

One of the problems is the contempt these people have for “the talk radio audience”.  Mr. Hobbs would seem to have shared his with Mr. Lambert:

“Try to keep in mind,” said Hobbs, “that the average listener for a show like yours is a 42 year-old guy who doesn’t follow the news all that close but is listening because he doesn’t want to be left out of the discussion. What he wants from you is something he can bring to conversations at work and at home. Something that makes it appear he’s in touch with what’s going on. You’re not here to educate him so much as you are to give him a few ideas he can throw out to feel like he’s part of the conversation.”

Well, it must work; Pew shows that Limbaugh’s audience is better-informed on news and current events than the average American, testing about the same as the famously-smug NPR audience in terms of overall knowledge.

Which is – even Lambert might admit – at odds with what the consultant had to say about ’em.

Well, maybe Lambert wouldn’t admit it:

Since this image so thoroughly gelled with the image I’d had for years of the Limbaugh Dittoheads…

The point being that talk radio doesn’t square well with having contempt for one’s audience.  Consultant Gabe Hobbs’ advice famously splattered; KTLK-FM’s first incarnation, the “WCCO for the 21st Century” famously cratered on impact.  (Does anyone remember their first lineup?  Colton and Guest in the morning?  Pat Kessler? Sarah and Brian?  Dan Conry?  They wanted to be all things to all people so badly they practically adopted Norwegian accents).  Part of it was the concept; part of it was some of the talent wasn’t that talented.  But mostly, it’s that whether people really are as stupid as Gabe Hobbs thinks they are (and that image “gells” with that of Lambert, who is lest we forget one of the Twin Cities foremost media columnists) or not, they can tell in this day and age when they’re being condescended to.  When the whole concept for your format is based on the kind of cynicism that Lambert and Hobbs shared, you think it doesn’t show?

It did!

No, really:

A radio audience of middle-aged guys who, for whatever the reason — distraction, indifference, laziness and/or stupidity — haven’t done their own homework on the big events of the day but want to pretend they have among their workmates, pals and spouses, by staying up to date with the bumper sticker slogan du jour. Hmmm, and I guessed “Make Love Not War” wasn’t exactly what these guys wanted to repeat down at the office, across forklifts in the warehouse, or over dinner, to impress the wife and kids with how tough it is out in there in a real man’s world.

That is, of course, the conceit that drives the entire mainstream media; you, the people, are bunch of mindless cattle that need your news, your entertainment and everything short of your food carefully pre-digested for you, lest you choke from trying to think about something too big. Information is too precious a gift to get in too big chunk – at least for all of you lumpen peasants.

No.  Again, really:

Beyond Hobbs’ carefully parsed point, is this: The “pretense” of thoughtful consideration, at least in terms of a commercially successful narrative delivered via mass media, requires much … much … heavier doses of simplicity and indignant finger-pointing than scholarly nuance.

Lambert mentions “simplicity” – as opposed to condescenscion – like it’s a bad thing.  As if making complex ideas “simple”, or simpler, isn’t among the most important missions for all of journalism, from Edward R. Murrow through NPR down to the Highland Villager.

This is all a lot of set-up for a couple thoughts on the little-lamented demise of Air America, the “liberal alternative” to the monolithic presence of conservative-radio. There are roughly 12,500 radio stations in the U.S., 22% fall under “news/talk” and “religious”. The former describes a few, like WCCO, and WBBM in Chicago, but mostly its conservative talk,  and the vast majority of the “religious” are conservative-driven. Moreover, a significant of those conservative stations are full-power licenses, broadcasting across the entirety of  all of the biggest metro areas in the country. By … stark … contrast, from its inception in 2004 Air America was confined to much lower-power AM stations that only barely blanketed the entirety of the few  metro markets they could buy in to.

Lambert, the media columnist who chided [his mental caricature of] the conservative talk radio audience’s “simplicity”, apparently needs to oversimplify the issue himself.  Radio stations aren’t sinecures; every format has to prove itself at every station, every time the ratings “book” comes out.  Big conservative talk – Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck – settled on big AM stations because it pays the bills.

And the fact that Air America had to “buy in” to metro markets shows what an awful concept it was.  Becuase nobody pays to get Limbaugh.  The Rush Limbaugh show (and Hannity, and Beck, and Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Dennis Miller and every other conservative show that matters) is free to the stations that carry it, provided they agree to carry the network’s commercials, 5-8 minutes worth per hour.  That’s it.

If there were any organic demand for Air America, they’d have been able to do the same.  But there was not.  So in New York, Chicago and LA, they had to pay radio stations to carry the programming.

And even that didn’t work.

It’s not as simple as saying “conservtives got all the big stations!”, but it’s in fact the truth.

But the bigger problem — by far — is the mindset of your average liberal, who, in my unscientific survey is a somewhat different animal than Gabe Hobbs’ mythical under-informed 42 year-old male.  For one thing, if the gender breakout of national delegates is any indication, the average liberal is more likely to be a woman than a man. But, in my experience, there’s also the very familiar liberal quality of believing you already are the smartest guy/gal in the room, which means you hardly need some cartoonish radio bloviator spoon-feeding you your “fact of the day”. More likely — if you’re a liberal in the media — the liberal audience with whom you think you are simpatico will rear up and quarrel with every interpretation of statistics, trends and historical reference you dare make. They know better and if just given the chance could do better.

Which is an interesting view which, I suspect, has more to do with Brian Lambert’s view of himself than the NPR/MSNBC/Air America audience’s actual merits.

Where conservative media audiences display a startling affinity for what I’ve called “The Big Daddy Guru Complex”, pompous-to-preposterous all-knowing father figures, liberals, more often than not, maintain the attitude that “big daddy” is a bit of a ponce, and needs to be brought down a peg.

Dunno, Lambo.  I sat in front of a room full of Air America fans with Matt Entenza, Michael Medved and Fast Eddie Schultz a while ago.  And the AA fans were a lot more prone to chanting pre-approved slogans and hissing on command than the people to stage and ideological right, if you catch my drift.

The idea is a trend in search of evidence; the closest they come to “evidence” is the fact that, yes, people listen to Rush Limbaugh.

But it’s a fact of human nature that any mass group of people gets pushed, or pulled, by someone, and that the best way to pull is not through the mind, but through the heart; Someone who captures the group’s fancy on some level; Martin Luther King, Richard Simmons, Rush Limbaugh, Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton, Lech Walesa, John Lennon, Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan all led people in improbable directions by simplifying complex ideas into forms their followers could feel as much as think.

Lambert quotes a few talking heads re the “problem” liberalism under Obama faces, and concludes:

The takeaway is this: The Conservative narrative dominates this country because it is simple, asks (and requires) nothing of its audience other than that they accept it and express a kind of rote indignation … at others.

Leaving aside the poison-pen fuming about the audience’s motivations – Lambert’s wrong, but then he’s supposed to be wrong about conservatives.  Simplicity in a narrative is a good thing.

And at the end of the say, it’s not all that simple.  Conservatism itself takes a lot more mental energy to wrap ones mind around than liberalism; the ideas of abstemiousness, enlightened self-interest, and rejection of instant gratification both personally and culturally are tough ones for modern people to choke down.

As opposed to leaden cop-outs:

Given the lack of 2000-plus radio stations to amplify a counter-narrative,

Which is balderdash; the liberals have four broadcast networks, NPR, and practically every newspaper in the country.

It’s just that their narrative, at the moment, isn’t selling, and certainly isn’t up to the competition it’s getting in the marketplace.

I actually let this post sit for a couple of days as I tried to figure out how to respond to this next line:

as well as liberal resistance to paternalistic “guru-ism”,

Remembering the masses of liberals who “rejected guru-ism” by chanting in unison waiting for Obama to appear, I’m going to have to keep thinking about it.

Obama and the few bona fide liberals in D.C. are at a profound disadvantage when it comes to a very real battle of relentless accusation and sloganized consensus-building , which, sadly, is what works quite effectively on largely apolitical 42 year-olds who just want to sound like they know what they’re talking about.

And just like Gabe Hobbs, Brian Lambert leads with the contempt.  We’ll see how it works.

And he says about the Chicago politican…:

Bottom line: The burden to deliver such a message of constant attack — utterly justified in the case of how this economic disaster started — falls to a guy, Obama, who finds shamelessly demagogic rhetoric and divisive-ness-baiting beneath him and his idealistic standards of statesmanship.

Speaking of simplification.

It Just Occurred To Me

I ask people on the left, constantly, “so what, precisely, is the problem you have with Katherine Kersten – besides the fact that she’s a conservative?”

The closest thing I’ve seen to an answer that wasn’t solely fueled by politics was “she was never a reporter; she’s nothing but a think tank writer”.  In this story – one you usually hear from people in the media – the idea that spending years becoming a hard-drinking, dyspeptic “ink-stained wretch” is the bit of seasoning in the human stew that makes a columnist a columnist.  It’s sort of an echo of Nick Coleman’s  classic explanation of why he’s better than bloggers,  “I Know  Stuff”, where “stuff” equals “reporter” stuff – as if the life experience we all bring to the table doesn’t really give one a useful perspective on anything.  To these people, knowing the double-dog secret ace reporter handshake is the only real qualification.


Another one – and this one is overtly partisan – is that “Kersten is closely linked to Power Line“.  I’ve heard it from any number of Twin Cities’ lefty writers, although Brian Lambert actually wrote it.

Now, I’ve seen a few leftymedia types jump from that to “Kersten and Powerline have the same opinions”, as if it’s unthinkable that four conservatives would have some occasional synchronicity, and ignoring that they, the critic, was usually in completely sync with “The Daily Kos” at any rate…

…but that’s not really the point.

I’m curious:  the leftymedia says that Kersten having the occasional episode of synchronicity with Power Line is a bad thing…

…while Nick Coleman  – the columnist against whom Kersten is constantly unfavorably compared because his decades as a reporter and columnist and just-plain observer – can get a complete pass for writing an uncritical, incurious, note-by-note regurgitation of a liberal think-tank piece to which Coleman added not a whiff of his vaunted no-nonsense reportorial curiosity or experience or world-weary inquisitiveness.  Indeed, Coleman added nothing but a little brow-beating prejudice.

So let me ask, again – what is the comparison, here?  Other than politics, of course?

Cult Of Personality

I’ve ripped on talk radio’s “Cult of Personality” – the belief, against all rational evidence, that “celebrities” make good talk radio hosts – for years. 

It’s been a cancer on the business for a decade and a half, both locally (for years, KSTP-AM has figured that newspaper columnists and TV reporters are perfectly  suited to host talk shows, despite a decade and a half of foisting flops like Pat Milan, Jesse Ventura, Katherine Lanpher, Nick Coleman, Jim Souhan and others on their poor audience; KTLK-FM briefly partook in the same madness with Brian Lambert and Pat Kessler) and nationally.  For everyone who’s forged meat ‘n potatoes success at talk radio after coming to the business as a celeb – Dennis Miller, Bill Bennett, Michael Medved – there are piles of Al Frankens, Mario Cuomos, Joe Scarboroughs, Marc Marons, Chuck Ds, Janeane Garofalos, Mika Brzezinskis, Monica Crowleys and Jim Hightowers buried head-down in the cement on radio’s Cadillac Ranch. 

Radio management seems to miss the key lesson of this past twenty years; the real successes in talk radio are radio people (Limbaugh, Laura Schlesinger, Hannity, Beck), or people who learn (or hire the learning) to do radio (Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage) as entertainment, rather than either preaching or extensions of their own celebrity.

All that being said, I’m genuinely of two minds about this dispatch from the radio rumor mill:

While not exactly shopping the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential candidate, sources say Palin representatives have been quietly testing the waters to see how much interest radio syndicators have for her.

Sources say Palin hasn’t committed to radio either, but rather it could be a possible next step for her. 

On the one hand, I think she could be dynamite, especially with the right sidekick (airchecks available to syndication execs on request).

On the other?  It’s not many people who can do radio really, really well as a sideline to other ambitions.

I don’t know that I see it happening, but it’ll be an interesting couple of months.

But They’re Utterly Balanced Up Til Then, Right?

The WaPo writes about a colleague’s job change:

Senior Producer Sasha Johnson announced Monday she’s leaving journalism to serve as press secretary at the Department of Transportation, meaning yet another member of the Fourth Estate has left to join the Obama administration

Isolated jump?  As the artcle notes, hardly.  The WaPo piece notes the large number of reporters who’ve taken jobs in the Obama administration.

It’s not just in DC, of course; reporters in the Twin Cities have long found jobs waiting for them with left-leaning governments and pols.  A very partial list; my old colleague Karen Louise Booth jumped from being MPR’s Capitol Bureau chief to being head of communications for the DFL.  Brian Lambert left the Pioneer Press to work for Senator “Brave Sir” Mark Dayton. A scan of spokespeople for any variety of local DFL pols shows a who’s who of former producers, reporters and executives.

Indeed, it’d be interesting to start a list of our own.  Other examples, if you know ’em?  Put ’em in the comments!