Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fisking* Dayton's Humphrey School Lecture

Recently Gov. Dayton gave a Lecture to the Policy Fellows of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs of which local media have agreed amongst themselves to release only the audio to date. Getting the video into the public domain, where it manifestly belongs, is an ongoing story about which more later.

For now, I wanted to Fisk* the address that the Governor gave. I asked the Governor's Office if the speech existed in written form and was told it did not. In fact, no written record of any of the Governor's speeches since taking office can be found because none exist. He has no speech writer. He writes his own speeches, his communications office told me, and it shows. That he can't be bothered with a writer to craft speeches with vision and substance is telling. To be fair, he gives the same, tired, intellectually fossilized speech just about everywhere. We don't really have a full time fully functioning Governor, do we?

What follows is my best understanding of what the Gov. said Sept. 12 based on the audio provided by MPR. It can be found by clicking here.

Dayton begins by thanking Vice President Mondale who is in the audience, remembers he was hired by him for then Senator Mondale's staff in 1975. He learned about keeping his commitments & integrity then, you see, in that land of Jurassic Park liberalism. To change one's mind is tantamount, in this man's fixed-in-amber mentality, to betrayal of integrity. He learned everything--once--decades ago under vastly different circumstances and he's good for life, thanks.

What he means is: being dipped in stupid long ago means he doesn't need to keep up with new ideas in or out of government. This epistemic closure will soon be championed by Dayton later in his speech.

The day before his Lecture was 9/11 and the Governor told the audience he realized that on that day in 2001: "we were in for a rough ride." Well, yes, thanks so much for noticing. "Nothing will be the same after this." Right again.

He then applies the dread of post 9/11 to the current situation in our state. Why didn't we think of that? Because when I think of a budget short fall or a bloated anachronistic state bureaucracy closed for a mere 20 days, it puts me immediately in mind of the Trade Towers smoldering with the ashes of more than three thousand of my countrymen.

Apropos of nothing, Dayton brings up the recent 1988 book by Paul Kennedy: The Rise & Fall of the Great Powers. Dayton appears to be smitten by this tired, dated, middlebrow work of alarm. Nothing he says in the speech indicates he's read anything more current.

After oversimplifying the book, Dayton says national collapse is what we have to guard against. I'm in. I'm expecting to hear the alarm bells of a 16 trillion dollar national debt but it never comes.

Instead, Dayton jumps back in time (leaving the present to reminisce about the past is a disturbing feature of this Lecture) to the Clinton years to praise a budget balanced two years in a row. He fails to note that such only happened after republicans gained control of Congress. The previous two years were full of deficit, to use an inelegant phrase. I wouldn't be surprised if the the Policy Fellows themselves didn't know this. They're not exactly an impressive lot, nor, one gathers from the current state of academe, could they be.

Next? We're in the senate with Dayton again. Um, ok! Doing my best to follow, sir, because none of this hangs together and you're not yet five minutes into the speech. The senate scenes are a mashup of Bush bashing but weirdly mostly of when Dayton and Bush were at Yale undergraduate together. What happened to 9/11? Don't know, don't ask. Dayton tells one of his few W. jokes and the trained seals all laugh. There must be some comfort in life.

Dick Cheney is also thrown into the Yale Memory Mix.™ We should start a Gov. Dayton store. We could stock it with the most interesting inventory.

Continuing to recall things in ways that no other can, Dayton channelled Bush, saying the latter looked at President Ronald Reagan taking us down "a path of fiscal irresponsibility and getting away with it" and W approved. What on earth is this man talking about? Fiscal irresponsibility? "Getting away with it" from whom? Where do you locate the slight? "Getting away with it?" Sounds punitive to me. Tell us more about what makes you angry, Governor. The Humphrey School is a safe place.

Oblivious to the economic boom under Reagan (how is that even possible?), Dayton lurches toward President George H.W. Bush's political suicide of raising taxes. Naturally he praises it but that's to be expected of a liberal. So far, so good.

Incredibly, Dayton then says this "got us back on that track to economic growth and he paid the price politically for doing so." This is simply delusional but because it involved a tax increase it was a per se good. We had more economic growth under Bush One than Reagan? Anyone who believes that should not be a governor of any state nor, for that matter, in politics in a serious way.

The thinking isn't even simplistic. There isn't any thinking. This is a series, so far, of emotional associations interspersed with improvisational remarks.

At this point in the Lecture, we're not listening, we're observing the performer.

And what one sees is not reassuring: a basic, profound misunderstanding of the most simplistic economic principles, eg, tax cuts "cost" the state because all of your money (except his & his family's) belong to the state in the first instance. This is so ingrained that when you bring it to liberals' attention they really don't know what you're talking about for some time.

Dayton's memories of annual family meetings "up north" to discuss & decide wealth management issues is fascinating and as such is nowhere to be found mentioned by the Pioneer Press, StarTribune, MPR, AP or any local television station of which I'm aware. Why not? It's like he's an out of touch rich white guy: that meme is right in the media's wheelhouse. But no, nothing. It's almost as if they are covering for this appalling performance. That can't be though: local media talk truth to power and everything!

That Bruce Dayton guy made a big impression on little Marky and he's lived to please that impression his whole life, with substantial collateral damage to the public good.

Dayton travels furthest back in time in the first half of the speech when he quotes approvingly from Walter Heller. Doubtless most local media had to Google the name. I had to catch my breath: Heller is from the Kennedy Administration! Dayton is an intellectual mummy. Could he hold a sustained conversation with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? No and we all know it. Forget running again in 2014; I worry he won't make it until then even with the media's complicity.

Why is the Governor sharing these political ink blots with us? He goes on to bemoan tax cuts in Minnesota which has set us on a downward spiral. This man is planning a revision of our state tax code after the November election. Could anything be scarier?

He sees the tax code as helping to "reward innovation and success." No thank you, sir. That's the function of the private market. Is it possible for you to stay out of it in any meaningful way?

The next disassociative moment came shortly after when he "shared" a memory from youth: his "one summer job" at Target. Oh dear. This must have been worse than the two year compulsory military service for men and women in Israel, no? Marky was tasked with inventory and all that counting made him bored! He didn't know how to handle boredom then and he doesn't still, only now we get that inability to shake boredom expressed as antiquated public policy notions foisted upon us in a speech the media won't release on video.

When he spoke about the national debt he only got it wrong by two trillion dollars: 14 instead of 16 (which, Guv, was set during the DNC if you were awake for any of it).  No, you may not have elemental competence in your Chief Executive Officer. Dayton governs so poorly he gets the debt wrong before policy fellows. This isn't even mailing it in.

Citizens can make up their own minds simply by listening to the speech. It's only 25 minutes long. But audio is a good way for media to pretend to transparency while knowing full well the images are what do the damage in such situations. One tee vee station aired 20 seconds and even that was painful. No wonder the public has not seen the video of the speech, yet.

Disjointed. Incoherent. Devoid of leadership or ideas for the next few years. Keep in mind the title of this Lecture was:

"Minnesota's Future: Opportunities & Challenges"

All Dayton offers going forward is a listening tour. Original! He says he expects to hear "some" about taxes in a sort of "see how I suffer for you" attitude. Taxpayers are a bother, you see.

Near the conclusion of this train wreck of a Lecture, Father Bruce Dayton makes another appearance for, you see, he told young Marky, older Mark Dayton informs his audience, that "if you're going to put all your eggs in one basket, you better take mighty good care of that basket."

Just what the hell is the Governor talking about? What basket? Why would we put them all in just one anyway? What has this got to do with our state's future? He then gets off a few sentences about the University of Minnesota (if we can just identify and support its essential missions then economic prosperity will return to the state) and abruptly concludes.

This was the Lecture to the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs Policy Fellows before Vice-President Walter F. Mondale and current University President Eric Kaler?

No goals are outlined. No detailed synthesis of his first two years in office is provided. No mention of why republicans believe what they do and what, if anything, he can do to move toward the majority party in the legislature. He reveals his profound misunderstanding of Obamacare in saying that because "they" couldn't raise taxes enough on millionaires "they" had to shift the tax to medical devices. Does Governor Dayton mean "they" as in the democrats who alone passed Obamacare? That they? What if in his own mind Dayton associates "they" with republicans? It's entirely possible; entirely that unwell.

Dayton is as economically ignorant as Obama but for different reasons. How lucky for Minnesotans to have failed executives on both the national and local level, together with a national and local media that seeks to protect them at all costs. Strange days.
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness Of Gov. Mark Dayton

Why is it some children of enormous inherited wealth react to their condition by inflicting themselves upon the greater public under the misnomer of public service? If quizzed, none of us would recall asking these strange creatures for any assistance that they, by chance, might possess in governing ourselves. No, we're good, thanks.

Were that it was so easy to stop them. Minnesota's misfortune is to have had Mark Dayton insist that his destiny lay in such oppressive public service on our behalf. First he acted out on the national stage as a senator and failed as only such a hot house creature could. After his single term of absolutely no consequence (hint: that's called waste) some of us had hoped he'd do the "I want my own vineyard" bored wealthy thing or perhaps gotten involved in artisanal chocolate production. For those who main goal in life because of wealth is not to feel irrelevant, the possibilities were endless. Could he not have glommed on to Bill & Melinda's feel good social experiments? Surely from among the panoply of useless United Nations programs and causes there was one he could internalize? If it were sheer ego, why not freshen up a salad dressing line with his mug on the bottle and give Paul Newman a run for his money? He could have meetings and everything!

No, not our luck. In what had unavoidable masochistic overtones, Dayton decided he wanted to act out on the state level (again) by insisting he was governor material. That he won the office is no proof whatsoever of that premise and to date his performance is irrefutable evidence of its lack. He jammed his own party by running in the primary and using his own money. Either or both of these conditions usually elicits the loudest of clucking from democrats but, after Dayton beat Tom Emmer by a 8,000 vote whisker, they soon enough fell in line. The governor could be managed, they were told.

Gov. Dayton's first two years have been abysmal. What was it he wanted to do as governor anyway? Wouldn't a house and senate controlled by republicans offer him the perfect opportunity to lead? To show compromise? To get things done as these political types like to pretend they can? If one was a real leader instead of a lost soul looking for external housing to shore up the inner, yes. But a leader is not who Gov. Dayton is and it is not who he will be in the coming two years, either.

Last week the Governor, sounding like a vaguely fascist mandarin, simply insisted without any intellectual depth or sustained engagement that taxes must increase because of his perceived need of all that government must do. His idea of the size & scope of government is not open to discussion. There is no opting out from it because he knows best. What's that called again?

He made his statement at what, until just yesterday, I had been led to believe was simply a speech reported on by the press. Instead, as MinnPost reported the day before (as did the Pioneer Press), it was a University Lecture. MinnPost polished the knob by saying that the title "university lecturer" could be added to Mark Dayton's resume. No, really.

Yet what shocked is that this was a lecture grandly titled: "Minnesota's Future: Challenges and Opportunities" given to the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs Policy Fellows (there's more intellectual diversity among supporters of Ron Paul by orders of magnitude; the Fellows are the stuff of David Mamet's nightmares). This was a liberal/progressive/left confab with Little Lord Fauntleroy in attendance.

But wait there's more! The event was closed to the public.

Pardon? Is this possible? Is Common Cause Minnesota on it? From whence shall our help come? Surely the event was taped and surely I will get my hands on it. Try making it private. The entire speech and question and answer session should be posted on the Humphrey School's website without delay. This event was not a private function.

Why would the press acquiesce in this? Access? Or just the usual hot dish politics? Both?

I listened to the audio of the Governor's 25 minute speech. It is appallingly bad. To learn only after the fact that it was a university lecture proper for a set of fellows was mind boggling. He spoke from notes as best from what I could tell. Meandering, at times pointless, at others a non-sequitur minefield, his speech revealed that there is serious trouble with our Chief Executive.

Our Governor's visual performance at this public event is what is being deliberately withheld from the public. What an odd thing to say about Minnesota politics.

But if the visual matches the audio, voters may well be in for a shock. Listening to several bizarre passages on the audio, none intrigued me more in wanting the visual as when Gov. Dayton spoke about his family's annual gathering to discuss wealth management. He reminisced about advice concerning the public good from his father and uncles. He's still executing orders from childhood! I wanted to clap my hands together loudly to snap him out of it while listening to this psychological excursion.

MPR and the StarTribune failed to note that this was a resume enhancing "university lecture" before the Humphrey School Policy Fellows with the President of the University of Minnesota in attendance. MinnPost stated that "Some media may attend, but it's not open to the public."

Do you see? People like us are not allowed in. Media, who are liberals by another name, "may attend." In other words, no one here but us squishes and we squishes will report on it. Media criticism can't possibly be this easy in this town, can it? Because I'll become quickly bored.

It's telling that media do not consider themselves the public. Has this ever been said before? Remember, these people think exceptionally highly of themselves and as having a combative posture toward power. What a laugh! In fact, if power flows from their favored party, they are eager to be co-opted and, as their publishing shows, used to advance that party's interests.

The StarTribune reported only that Dayton spoke "at the University of Minnesota." Not untrue and therefore meets the StarTribune's low threshold for accuracy and completeness.

MPR reported that he spoke "to a group" at the University of Minnesota. Also not untrue and apparently reported this way less any MPR listener assume that the Governor was walking around campus talking to himself.

The Pioneer Press was fuller, saying that the Governor gave "a speech at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs." Even that, however, was insufficient to convey the importance of the event to its own participants. Minnesota University President Eric Kaler attended the Governor's Lecture to the Humphrey School Policy Fellows. Indeed he should have: it was a very big deal.

"Some media may attend, but it's not open to the public." Remember that phrase.

In his so-called lecture, the Governor proclaimed that the failure to raise taxes would be the death of this country. Failure to raise taxes would be the death of this country. I swear you can hear the sounds of bobble heads on the audiotape. Revenue or death!

How is this relic our Chief Executive? He called raising taxes an acid test of his. Could anyone in the press appreciate how astonishing that truly is?

Not really. The introduction to the story in the Pioneer Press started out: "Count on Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to swim against the tide."

Really? That wet a kiss?

The StarTribune wrote that Dayton had come back from a summer of silence "roaring." There's a neutral term. Fact check, please. It also wrote that the Dayton-responsible statewide government shutdown last year was "bruising." Actually, no one noticed the shut down very much (myself I felt filled with more liberty) which led to Dayton's capitulation 20 days later to the republican legislature's budget. But it is "bruising" now because an election is upcoming and that's how democrats want the issue colored. Consider it done!

"Some media may attend, but it's not open to the public."

Dayton is wildly out of touch with the times across this country. Where has he been since 2008 for him to have said that "public investments do create jobs." Is there even a flicker of a brain wave there? They create jobs but the wrong kinds of ones and even then frequently they don't last. Public investment does not equate to economic growth. This fundamental economic principle is exceedingly difficult for liberals to grasp because spending makes them feel like they are doing something. That their policies fail so routinely and disastrously without another thought also keeps liberals from holding themselves to account. Detroit is the physical manifestation of liberalism. Imagine if that city came to the end it has under republican governance. Democrats with a byline, as Rush Limbaugh called the media, would be all over that important story.

Did anyone get the chance to ask Gov. Dayton if he'd chatted up fellow democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo about his work in New York state? It's an open question whether he'd take Dayton's call but that's another matter altogether. Has our governor heard of reformist democrat governors? We seem to have a leader who is intellectually uncurious about whether anything on the policy side may have changed since he first got into politics just yesterday in 1975. Are his handlers equally thick? Perhaps it's all one encompassing bubble? I hadn't considered that before.

Besides taking money from you in the amounts that he knows best in order to spend it on your own good, Gov. Dayton last week also disassociatively proclaimed he'd like to open trade with Cuba.

What? No, just no Governor. What are you thinking? You're aware you're in 2012, aren't you sir? Minnesota is surrounded by vastly more economically vibrant states. You may have heard of something called a boom (but not a firework so relax) in North Dakota. South Dakota has been siphoning jobs and businesses from Minnesota for decades now. Wisconsin? You know, Gov. Scott Walker who you are so very not?

How does our Governor bring nothing to the table of ideas but stale, failed ones? The laziest of postures are being struck. This begs the question just who are the Governor's current handlers? Who actually is part of the process that informs him as to what he thinks is good governance? We don't really get much coverage of that important and interesting subject. The lecture to the Humphrey School Fellows was just such an opportunity and therefore went largely unreported.

There was, fortunately, a ukulele player on Almanac last week so our media didn't let us down completely.

Eric Ostermeir, blogging at Smart Politics, had a fascinating overview of the dark, strange, paranoid, apocalyptic words the Governor used in his speech. Is this how liberals make themselves feel alive? More alive? Purposeful? (I feel assaulted when that word is used.)

The article is not lengthy but it is extremely observant in distilling Gov. Dayton and his performance last week. To read it click here.  It's almost as if Eric is onto something. Like a story.

It's telling that Gov. Dayton has nothing but exaggeration and the gloomiest of language with which to go into this fall's election. Grounded optimism requires a leader. General "can do" attitude usually works wonders with people. But this strangest of all Minnesota governors has no capacity whatsoever for that which smacks of the positive. To the contrary, his internalized conflicts leave him continuously searching for solutions which he then projects onto us by way of out of touch, top down, diktats whose implementation gives him psychological satisfaction. Of course that last bit was sheer psychoanalysis but wasn't it fun?

The reporting, as it were, suggests that democrats will increasingly use Gov. Dayton as legislative races heat up. I hope they're correct about the upside offsetting the down because this governor is the best reason why the DFL shouldn't get the legislature. Making him your poster child is fine with me. But having Gov. Dayton urge voters to increase taxes by voting democrat may not be the best way to get said votes.

Perhaps democrats didn't notice there's no shortage of issues with which to run against Minnesota republican legislators. But the lemming instinct is strong among progressives; when your ideas are weak continuous mutual reassurance they are strong is essential. What cliff? Forward.

If the Governor wants to make raising taxes the "acid test" of this election, it's an open question whether democrats can deflect that mistaken approach with something more likely to bring them to a majority in either chamber or, God forbid, both. I don't pretend to know the inner workings of the DFL, its legislators or activists and so can't hazard a guess as to which is more likely to win out.

I do know if it's a battle over raising taxes to fund more useless government, republicans will have the upper hand consistently across all legislative races. Why Dayton is channelling Walter Mondale's 1984 convention promise to raise taxes I've no idea.

I do know that it didn't work then and it won't work now.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Twitter & The End Of The Fourth Estate

Twitter has destroyed journalism as we have known it to date in America. The worst mistake anyone in the press or the media or journalism (do those words have sustained meaning today?) could have made in the age of the internet, smart phones and tablets was to have joined yet another new social medium which counterintuitively limited not just your words but your very keystrokes.

The mainstream media was reduced to its essence. The result was its demise.

On Twitter, journolists (shall we let them in on that word?) found themselves in the cyber presence of equally if not demonstratively sharper minds, much, much quicker wit & an ability to marshall facts as readily as the imagination of Bob Woodward. The few good ones from the herd shone. The rest, refusing to admit they were subtantially less special than before going on Twitter, gamely strode on.

Unfortunately, in doing so they brought the scenery down of what was left of the media game. The royal family in the United Kingdom, say what one may, did manage to survive its encounter with the media. Not so the media itself, which must be the definition of meta.

On Twitter, the media were defeated by journalism itself. Not by just the bright activists on both political sides but by the ability for other media from other countries on Twitter to link to a fascinating array of stories about the United States which our own press, as it were, kept from us. Why would they do that?

The question didn't last long and people starved for information instead of rubbish were off and running. It wasn't that these websites weren't online before Twitter; they were. What Twitter does is make the static web dynamic and with its rich content you have something unlike we've ever seen before. I've thought long enough about this to think the media as constituted today is at an end. I can see it from my house in my pajamas you might even say.

Media personalities, reporters and producers on Twitter, at various times and in sometimes quite revealing ways, eventually could not but help let their personalities come through. On the one hand, we were reassured that they were human. On the other, they themselves (take a bow) confirmed every known defect, vanity and shortcoming conservatives had long ago come to believe they possessed.

I'm not really sure if media and liberals on Twitter realize that the conservatives there stand around looking at the wealth of confirmatory evidence, wanting to shake our heads. Because we can't, we use avatars, our own buzzwords (this means you won't know you're being mocked), and hash tags (the pound sign #) which have almost become the exclusive provence of the right.

In hash tags conservatives reign supreme. Hash tag games are our most deadly weapon in this aspect of Twitter and largely for our own, self-congratulatory amusement. Again, some media standouts are in our league. See how the tables have changed?

Information is the name of the game though, no? Yes. Here marginal or clearly erroneous information is corrected quickly and efficiently. There is the speed of light, which we can't experience, and then there's the speed of Twitter, which we can. I recommend you experience it for yourself.

Tonight we're waiting to see what the American media will do with an explosive report from the British newspaper The Independent. From the material there, it seems very likely that Secretary Hillary Clinton was knowingly and grossly deficient in her prime directive as our Secretary of State: to safeguard the lives of her State Department employees. The story can be read by clicking here. This comes, of course, as we learn President Obama did not attend approximately 60% of his daily intelligence briefings.

The point is that much more information is needed and the media have no natural interest in obtaining it. They will be forced to report about their team. It has been a very long time since they did. It's at junctures like this that I recall the attitudes of those going into journalism: high minded if not prideful, certain of their commitment to truth and a belief that life could not inculcate in them sometimes wildly contradictory beliefs and opinions. And, of course, worship of that mythic goddess Objectivity.

What makes this development all the more remarkable is that it is coming at the end of a tumultuous week within Twitter & the media given the sickening and catastrophic murder and violence in Libya and Egypt.

Doesn't everyone know where they were when they learned "our Ambassador" to Libya had been murdered? I believe they do. I know I do. It almost never happens. When it does, that veneer of civilization is thin to the point of disappearing.

Without recapitulating days of back and forth, conservatives on Twitter were astonished to see the instinctive herd mentality of the media form almost immediately upon the news of a dead Ambassador, three more American citizens, and a consulate burned out if not to the ground. Carter! we heard their Borg-like minds shriek in the Twitterverse. We expected the usual apologies for incompetence that they'd automatically provided throughout the Obama administration.

What we could not have known is that in their feral, corrupt panic they'd have the shamelessness to attempt to make their journalistic reason d'etre the blaming and destruction of Mitt Romney. Ambassador Stevens died a horrible death: choking to death in a burning building. Romney put out a statement and the rest is well known: the media liked neither its content nor its timing. Obama condemned the statement before he condemned the violence at the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

Any number of misrepresentations and lies were made by the media in its ongoing attempt to sustain a negative narrative against Romney. But the various narratives kept suffering from factual, ethical cardiopulmonary failure and couldn't be resuscitated. One by one they were cast off. Those for whom the media pretend to write were having none of what they wrote.

On Twitter, for the first time, media encountered a kill zone with them and their biases the kill. It is said that information wants to be free and with Twitter the media were not able to contain all the information before it had been shaped to their desired narrative. I wasn't the only one who saw, in real time, journalists deal with being out journaled. Fascinating, actually. I'm wondering now if it wasn't even anthropological?

Because conservatives were looking for the facts, any errors were quickly remedied. Some facts might be bad news for our side but we wanted them anyway. Yet because the media were now hopelessly propagandizing for President Obama, their narrative held no weight, being made out of their political prejudices and professional, ethical betrayals. Contempt for the media was involuntary.

And for themselves? Media were largely unaware of the fatal damage done. Over four consecutive days, across every platform imaginable, most of this country saw institutions which pride themselves on the enormity of their duty to the public in regard to truth and veracity debase themselves for the most pedestrian of political reasons. Repeatedly. Stupidly. Mindlessly.

Twitter was where all the action took place because it was the unknowing kill zone for media lies. Because lies were, at times, what it became: conservatives watched most of the Fourth Estate lie in the interests of a failed democrat President and say to us they weren't doing what was manifestly the case. We thought we'd seen it all when NBC News deliberately edited audiotape of George Zimmerman to make him look racist because the overwhelmingly white, liberal, guilt-riden media are obsessed with race. If only their attention resulted in racial progress instead of tension. Progressives so dislike progress they make sure it rarely happens.

The story remains to be played out for some time. I'm hardly predicting media vanishes per se. But its encounter with its dishonest, dirty self is one it will not be able to withstand. This post is best seen as a downpayment on a longer essay on this topic.

In the meantime, Twitter, like money, changes everything. Between now and the enormously important election of November 6th, there will be more battles with the media. This week's battles, however, mark a turn from which things can never return.

Everyone tweets and blogs now. Everyone, so it seems, has a smart phone. Everyone's a journalist but Twitter makes it impossible for the old order to endure.

Because when everyone's a journalist, there is, mercifully, no journolism.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mutual Media Seduction: FOX 9 & Brodkorb

Michael Brodkorb, continuing his return from the land of the politically dead, went on FOX 9 News last night to talk politics on a show which looked like a pilot for something FOX wants to run up against "At Issue." Watching the show I was reminded of Faye Dunaway copulating atop William Holden to what looked like a more than satisfactory climax all the while talking market share in the landmark movie "Network." Paddy Chayefsky is what Aaron Sorkin hopes to be in the next life.

I was put in mind of Dunaway & Holden's mutuality, as it were, by what I saw last night on my tee vee after attending the media ignored (double agent  Cyndi Brucato was there) John Fund appearance in support of voter photo id.

I hadn't wanted to launch Minnesota Media Monitor™ right now because I have my hands full. But after taking notes from last night's show, I realized that this post would be my initial entree into that thankless task. Having said that, don't look for another media blog post from me any time soon.

The show started out pretending to report news: a substance free report on the Chicago teachers strike. This story was reduced by FOX to disputes over evaluations and principals' discretion to fire demonstrably lousy teachers. Nothing about drop out rates, illiteracy and the outrageous salary demands by these people who should be fired outright.

Next came two stories: first, a small Minnesota fire but everything is BIG when it involves the land of hot dish politics. You heard about Obama's shout out to Minnesota, dincha? Almanac had several segments on it.

Second, mere seconds of air about the Stillwater lift bridge being closed temporarily for repairs because lift bridges.

Now on to the main bill and the get of the year: Michael Brodkorb is in our petting zoo.

First, of course, came window dressing and badly at that: some talk of presidential fund raising, a mashup of polls (just guess who they favored? Hint: this isn't national FOX, it's local urban farmers FOX). But the axis question of the show came soon enough, more or less, to whit:

"What does the President need to do to keep up his lead?"

This is called a media narrative because the truth is the opposite of what is being reported: Obama is in big trouble so consequently he is ahead. Yes but the bounce? Look up the definition of bounce: they end. The point is to show in a favorable light the candidate they prefer. And to keep that partisanly framed narrative going through election day. Don't forget early voting (an abomination) will start soon. This style of coverage is designed to effect that under the rubric of news. I'm feeling postmodern.

Next came a token bit of a clip by Jeff Goldberg talking to a man and woman on, you know, the street.

It was as you might expect from Jeff's producers (hello Minnesotans, news is "produced." Yes, I realize you don't know what that means) and it was hot dish, not hot that scatological word. Hot dish politics, (as utterly representative of the reporting scene generally), puts the journalistic bar so low they make Kurt Bills look like a winner. I'm hearing some blue buses bearing bromides are coming on the market November 7th.

I also understand it finally dawned on the hapless Kurt Bills that he was used as a tool by Keith Downey in order to further the latter's gubanatorial ambitions. After Pawlenty & Dayton, the governorship bar is not low, it doesn't exist. How else to explain Kurt Zellers thinking he's leadership? I was hardly by my self in watching him fail. He, alone, seems to have missed his own performance. Is there a Hazeldon for political staffers who have risen too far above their abilities?

Speaking of which: the MNGOP seems to reaping the whirlwind of its appeasement of the Ron Paul crazies whom, with empirical evidence, are not, in point of fact, republicans. New blood, these Vichy Republicans told me, oblivious to vampires. If you're sick of hearing me talk about this topic, imagine me! More on this another time soon.

Back to FOX 9's Brodkorb Fest (FOX 9 ran promos in the afternoon about Brodkorb's appearance which is how I understand MN GOP Chair Pat Shortridge learned about it). A telephone call between the two, at the instigation of the Chair, ensued and yes, I heard both sides. Unhelpful.

After Goldberg's pointless clip with two white people on Marquette Avenue the topic changed, with no segue, to the Electoral College. Why?

To continue the media narrative. After rattling off OFA talking points about the latest manipulated polls, Jeff summarized for the exceptionally stupid Minnesotan who had not yet gotten the message: "things are looking a little bit tough for [Romney]." Well thank G-d for that, no?

By this time it wasn't just Jeff who was looking stupid: it was everyone on the show thus far. I could not imagine it would get worse. Which is to say . . . .

Tom "I used to be an investigative reporter, the only one in the Twin Cities, come to think of it" Lyden then said: Romney's pulled his ads in Pennsylvania. False Tom. Romney wasn't up on air in PA. Brodkorb didn't know enough to refute that. That is a measure of how off he is on his game. I'd rather have a dead Brodkorb than a neutered one.

That we are lied to our face by the media daily is but a truism. They went into journalism to change the world. Nothing self-aggrandizing in that. They think highly of themselves and you should, too.

Lyden, reprising his role in slashing Andy Brehm to ribbons on air a few weeks back [for whose unpreparedness in that interview there is no excuse], then said:

"Is there a way for Romney to win?"

Gee, Tom, I don't know. Maybe in something called an election? But you tell us because, you.

Why isn't your question: "Is there a way for Obama to win?"

We all know why. Why belabor the point?

Remember, these ace reporters had not yet mentioned the economy to this point in a presumed educated (for television) environment in a presidential race. And they think themselves knowledgeable enough to lecture us. Right.

Brodkorb proved entirely co-opted which is why he should not appear on tee vee for some time. Which, of course, is precisely why FOX 9 News wanted him in the first instance. We won't allow him, however, to become our Steve Schmidt.

Yet he was David Brooks in moronically saying that Mitt Romney needs to move to the middle, at which bobble head Randy Mier readily agreed: da midl. Anything about President Infanticide moving from the outer edges of the left political universe? No.

Mitt Romney? He IS the middle and I've been road kill for him locally fending off purity crazies and Ron Paul zombies. As someone said about these types on Twitter: forget elections, let's win arguments!
But for Brodkorb to say something as useless, if not outright wrong, as that is indefensible.

The intro to this segment by Lyden was classic media herd narrative: Romney has had a change of heart about some aspects of Obamacare. Untrue but on he droned. Pro tip: Yuval Levin on NRO's The Corner and anything Jennifer Rubin. I'm confident when you find the truth you won't report it.

The side show then moved on to Michele Bachmann. One stood in awe of the bravery of local media bringing her up. Such courage. The usual questions were asked. Norah Ephron, I mean Nancy Nelson, provided the more naked talking points the hosts couldn't quite bring themselves to say. Brodkorb punted but I give him full points. Some senate caucus staffers (aim high!) at O'Gara's last night were said to be unimpressed with his defense of Congresswoman Gardasil. Such an observation reveals why they remain staffers.

Still, Brodkorb erred by going on tee vee, even under the fake auspicies of FOX local which is a head fake to those used to viewing FOX NEWS cable nationally.

Being forced to watch local news was something of a revelation to me; I never watch. I knew why last night again.

Norah was suitably effusive in congratulating Tom & Randy on their new show at the beginning of her segment. The viewer who didn't know that this was the pilot for FOX's competition with "At Issue" would have wondered what the fuss was about. The hosts drank it in, South Park-like.

Weirdly, Tom Lyden whined about Michele Bachmann not being accessible to the local press. But she's the stupid one, right? He claimed she was allergic to the local media.

She has a great deal of company.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Clint Eastwood Political Rorschach Test

Clint Eastwood's brilliant interview of an absent President Obama during the Republican Convention's final night is a singular example of an earthquake happening while the political classes and media pretend not to notice.

Of course, they did notice but only to bemoan the performance they completely failed to comprehend. Media, dishonest & low as ever, dilated on the unscripted nature of the performance. Really, it doesn't take much thought to realize had Eastwood been scripted the effectiveness of his address would have been muted to the point of failure. It worked in large measure because every moment while we watched him we knew Clint was making it up as he went. Authenticity is often demanded by the media yet when it is encountered in real time--at a Republican National Convention no less--the whining begins.

Make no mistake: the press understood instantly that Eastwood had broken through their filter with a withering criticism of a failed president the media has protected at all costs, including the scraps of whatever integrity they possessed.

More distressingly to me, however, were those on my side who didn't get it. The Empty Chair has become a national meme. Twitter is filled with pictures of various empty chairs in an enormous range of settings and locales. The symbolism of an empty chair is perfect for the vapid, badly educated Obama and his disastrous administration. Photos of empty chairs will remain a hilarious leitmotif of this election down through November 6th.

Here's a tip to my fellow republicans: if media collectively start screaming bloody murder about something we've done or are doing, carry on. That's the surest sign that we are effective in the moment.

And it was just a moment. Some say it knocked Romney off message but there's approximately zero evidence for that. To the contrary, his and Ryan's appearances since the convention concluded have been packed. August represents the third consecutive month Romney has raised 100 million dollars. The selection of Ryan fundamentally changed, to use an Obama phrase, the presidential race. At a minimum we've argued Medicare to a draw, if not slight edge. The enthusiasm gap terrifies the democrats, as well it should. Media know it and consequently will never write about it.

I've gotten a sense that a lot of people are changing their minds since last Thursday night.  Eastwood gave something unlike anything anyone had ever seen before at a national political convention. But by today there's not much excuse for seeing this performance piece as anything but brilliant. Do yourself a favor and watch it again. Click here.

That sensible democrat Mickey Kaus noticed the shift in how to understand Eastwood. He wrote the day after:

Old CW: Eastwood a  disaster.
New CW: Eastwood brilliant, but Romney incompetent because his advisers fell for previous CW that Eastwood a disaster.

Too many republicans, and not just Romney advisors, fell for that media generated conventional wisdom. Do you think Andrew Breitbart would have? Well do you, punk?

Equally astute was Teri Christoph, co-founder of Smart Girl Politics, who tweeted:

"The fact that Obama and his campaign team are now saying nice things about Clint Eastwood tells me Clint is very popular with independents."

That's pretty much the game, isn't it? Let's hope republicans can be as smart as Team Obama, enjoy the laugh Eastwood provided, smile at the new verb "Eastwooding" and suppress laughter at the discomfort it brought the media. Phew, how much more can one 82 year old man do in a 12 minute speech?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hitler Learns Mark Ritchie Loses Voter Photo ID

Yesterday the Minnesota Supreme Court decisively rebuffed the lawless political thuggery of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie in his attempt to subvert the role of the Legislature in fashioning constitutional ballot initiatives. Not only did it refuse to strike from the ballot entirely voter photo id as requested by the arrogant and now far left League of Women Bolshevik Voters, it required Mr. Ritchie to use the title for both the traditional marriage amendment and voter id.

Local press on Twitter let their masks slip as news of the decision broke. Laughably, few of them cared to explain--even in Twitter form--the holding of the majority decision and its rationale. Instead, lowest-common denominator like, they quoted from the most reactionary and intellectually unsubstantial justice on the court, Justice Page. I was surprised I was surprised.

The worst, of course, were the democratic politicians who preened and twirled, fainting onto their Twitter divans. The end of Minnesota was nigh, according to their none too persuasive analysis. I expect David Schultz to be trotted out as the fake neutral expert that he's been created by the media to be and hold forth in sonorous terms about how the legislature can now lie to the people of Minnesota. If you want an unserious justice, welcome to the shameful jurisprudence of Alan Page, from whose opinion this idea sprang, as it were.

I had the above video ready to go for the last week or two. I tweaked it today in order to take out some more colorful dialogue. Minnesotans will lap up "Fifty Shades of Grey" but feign shock at blunt language on blogs and in tweets. I'll have more to say about the Court's extremely important decision but for now, the hypocrisy of the DFL is sufficient. As I tweeted (in far fewer words) earlier: you might be a liberal if you approved of Chief Justice John Roberts deferring to Congress in the Obamacare decision but are upset with the Minnesota Supreme Court for deferring to the Minnesota Legislature.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Paulers Lose Rules Vote, Whine About Tyranny

Friday the Republican Party in Tampa, through its rules committee, voted to tie the selection of convention delegates to the results of each state’s Republican primary. How extraordinary is this? Not very to any balanced observer but to the Ron Paul zombie delegates and their toadies it was the definition of "an Establishment power grab." Please.

As the Washington Post put it: "Romney allies said primary voters expect national convention delegates to be loyal to the primary winner." Again, just how out of control is this expectation and now rule? Why have primaries at all if the results will not carry through to the convention delegates?

Unfortunately, the usual Ron Paul drones decried the move, effectively bemoaning that a political party acted in its own perceived interest to keep it for those who believe in its principles. The bastards! Ron Paulers, by their own admission, are not republicans. Am I the only one listening to them? Perhaps. At this May's endorsing convention I was called by The Weekly Standard the convention's "persona non grata." I was so pleased by that I could hardly stand myself (thereby joining many, no doubt).

Marianne Stebbins, the accomplished organizer behind the strength of Ron Paul in Minnesota, said last week in an interview that liberals had many good ideas. What would those be, pray tell? Partial birth abortion? Confiscatory tax rates? Oh, sorry: legalizing pot. Got it. This is a small, intellectually stagnant world. You're welcome to it. No Jews allowed.

Sen. Julianne Ortman rightly observed on Twitter that the rule change was a good thing. No, she was promptly scolded (what is it with scolding in the MN GOP?) by Chair Pat Shortridge. It's a bad thing. That was it. Ex Cathedra like. Why preventing the damage the Paul people have done to the state party is something he can't grasp is only a mystery until one realizes he was put in place with the help of Pat Anderson and just enough "liberty" types at last year's State Central Committee meeting. Here, however, the national party had to step in because of the manifest incompetence and shameful collusion of the state party (Minnesota isn't alone, however). I suppose it's natural that children whine when adult supervision appears.

Both Anderson and Shortridge asked me to stop tweeting about Ron Paul and his insane supporters for the two weeks before that meeting in order to woo enough of them to put Shortridge over the top. I did because I wanted Shortridge to be chair. Nothing has changed in that regard despite the two of us slapping each other around a bit on Twitter last night. I personally loathe Twitter fights so I feel I've let myself down. And Shortridge doesn't have a proper forum to explain why he thinks this is bad for the future of the Republican Party because he's busy in Tampa. I would invite him to write something for this blog about his perspective and I will publish it unedited. I ask only one thing: has he forgotten all the non-Ron Paul people in the party? Anything for us from leadership?

Stebbins tweeted a link to the laughably left-wing Buzz Feed (which probably has the most disliked "reporters" on Twitter) that carried a story which was negative against the change generally and against Ben Ginsberg in particular. Go figure.

Fired RNC Committeewoman Pat Anderson tweeted that the vote was "fairly close." The vote was 63 to 38. Words must have different meanings when you're high on liberty and in Tampa.

She also said that "this was a states' rights issue." Stop and appreciate this comment.

What does Anderson think is a states' rights issue? No matter her response, the self-regulation of any political party of any political creed is not a matter of states' rights by definition. Political parties, this just in, are not sovereign states. Anderson plans, I'm told, to vote for Ron Paul. Q.E.D.

Pat, a bogus 10th Amendment bromide to the tribe is best directed to the Tea Party. Your melting base in the MN GOP are the Ron Paulers. You do know, don't you, what they say about Answered Prayers?

Equally pandering but considerably more constipated was Jeff Johnson. Jeff. Johnson. Tweeted he:

"Convention Rules Cmte supports allowing RNC to change Party Rules w/o convention vote. Terrible change."

He never elaborated but hopefully he's taken his own smug advice condescendingly given out to the state convention in May and gotten over it. Get over it, Jeff. How does it feel?

I understand MN GOP Deputy-Chair Kelly Fenton flew to Tampa on Saturday. She's used to figuring out which way the wind blows so I'm not worried about hurricanes. 

Herewith how she, Kurt Bills, Doc Severson & Pete Hegseth appeared on your television Thursday:

John Gilmore & Barbara Malzacher. Yes, this is what its come to. We're as alarmed as anyone.

I was contacted late Wednesday evening and told Kurt Bills would endorse Romney the next day. Delegates and Alternates were being sent an email that night and media the next day would be alerted with a "kick ass" statement. A written statement was all that was being planned. I could hardly believe my ears.

I hung up and called Mike Osskopp, campaign manager for Kurt Bills. I stressed that this was a perfect earned media opportunity that should not be missed. Hold a press conference, please. I could feel the heat of the light bulb going off over his head through the phone. He thanked me and said he needed to talk to David Fitzsimmons and Dave Strom. Right. Before the call ended, I encouraged him to edit the press conference video, embed it in an email and send it Friday morning to every republican in the state asking for ten dollars.

When Hegseth arrived for the press conference he noticed there was no signage. He contacted Malzacher for help who in turned contacted Kelly Fenton. She was at the state fair. No one had contacted the party to alert them of this endorsement and press conference. She dropped everything and got there timely. Signage appeared as well.

So while Pat Shortridge can sneer to me on Twitter that he'll put his time in the trenches up against mine any day, I was trying to help the senate campaign as best I could, as was Barbara Malzacher. We're not exactly fans of Kurt Bills but his endorsement of Romney was an overdue and welcome development. One could say we got over it and jumped in--unpaid and scrambling--to help pull off an unremarkable press conference. The bar is so very low.

Obviously I can appreciate Shortridge's view that people who blog and tweet don't really do much for the party, although messaging is always important. Speaking of which, it would have been nice to have had some push back when our imbecile of a Vice President, Joe Biden, came to town. But no, nothing. When Romney came, the vapid mayor of Minneapolis pushed back and the usual tattered group of people happy to be dependent on government were trotted out for a fake protest near one Romney fund raising event. See how this works?

The fund raising was enormously successful from what I've heard; close to four millions dollars. Or eight Alida Rockefeller checks. Still, such is the state of republicans in Minnesota that Jack Meeks was unable to successfully beg for a mere $25,000 to stay behind. I can't blame the Romney people; why waste money?

Today the whining by the fake republicans reached fever pitch. In a press release that is the, shall we say, gold standard of sore losing, Stebbins complained that "Liberty Republicans" were being frozen out. Excellent. Ron Paul and his supporters are a kook fringe element that have no place in mainstream, conservative republican affairs. Instead of showing leadership in opposing them in Minnesota, Pat Anderson, Jeff Johnson, Pat Shortridge and Kelly Fenton, each in varying degrees and kind, accommodated them with disastrous results. They should be the last to complain about matters being set right, having made a hash of things themselves. Your narrow self-interest is not synonymous with the party's.

Nauseatingly, Stebbins claims the high road of principle when she's never addressed Paul's long, well-documented history of anti-semitism, belief that 9-11 was an inside job and other odious ideas. Instead, she brays that “[e]ven non-Ron Paul delegates and MNGOP party officials recognize the significance of the RNC actions goes beyond its direct effect on Liberty Republicans."

Even? That's telling. Don't be fooled, Marianne, that the Gang of Four with you in Tampa represents Minnesota republicans. Does 51.5% ring a bell with you?

Even Craig Westover was dragooned into Stebbins' press release [or maybe even wrote it; something about the tendentious style was familiar], obediently saying that Romney might just be as bad as Obama. Now there's a mainstream republican sentiment! At the end of the day, the Ron Paul people, as befits any cult, are simply tiresome.

Apparently Paulers are getting the vapors on that thing known as Face Book and predict some sort of dramatic floor fight over these changes. Rest assured the rest of the convention delegates loathe you even more than the substantial majority on the rules committee. The changes will be approved in a flash. Minnesota republicans thank Ben Ginsberg and the other adults at the RNC for solving a problem our local leaders not only refused to confront but collaborated with for their own gain. I hear housing prices in Tampa are cheap. Perhaps the Minnesota delegation should think of buying. There's nothing here for them should they return.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Those Conservatives Who Put Winning Second

One person on Twitter reduced the fatal statement of Todd Atkin about rape, pregnancy and abortion to this observation: "Conservatives don't really help themselves when they attack their own.” Why yes, that's what this is all about.

How about conservatives who are terminally stupid and wield campaigns of utter incompetence but whose self-promoted high moral courage is more often spoken about than lived?

Todd Atkin, winner of the Missouri republican primary, challenger of Claire McCaskill, essentially said that if raped women have a biological function that is triggered to prevent pregnancy. Does the reader have any idea what it's like to have typed that sentence as a conservative?

If he hadn't missed a one-shot groveling apology with which he could truly abase himself, Atkin could have gone to ground, quietly raised money, shared his psychiatric records with potential donors, and have been rolled out in late September or early October for a decent win. Claire McCaskill is the electoral opposite of Amy Klobuchar. This seat is one of four US Senate seats needed to retake the majority by republicans. Everything that could go amiss, did.

First, Todd Atkin won the primary. In this, MO resembled MN in offering up its weakest candidate because oh look, over there, purity. See how it shines, my precious?

Next, Atkin gave an interview in which, somehow, he said what is summarized above. Baffling, to be honest. How does one invoke the abortion topic in such a profoundly ignorant manner?

Realizing the mistake if not its enormity, Atkin's issued a weird, non-apology apology, both underlining his original misstep while apparently trying to repudiate it. When conservatives have a hard time discerning what a conservative is saying, rest assured the media will run even more riot with it than is their usual shameful custom.

Sean Hannity, whom I find impossible to listen to, as opposed to Rush Limbaugh, fairly begged, from what I could read, Atkin to realize the gravity of his mistake and to leave the race. No he said, for reasons I've yet to grasp.

Then came the surreal news that this train wreck was going to appear tonight on Piers Morgan. More bafflement but by this time the temperature of conservatives on Twitter was quite high. Enough. This is the balance of the US Senate and we know full well what is in that balance. Must we nationally come down like the proverbial ton of bricks and change the state of affairs?


Next, it was let be known that the hapless Atkin would not, after all, be appearing on Piers Morgan. The mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging conservative collective let out--what else?--a collective sigh. Alas, no taxpayer funded Heart of the Beast puppet masks were available to us in which we could celebrate. The oppression of The Man lay heavy on our hateful shoulders.

Morgan's producers, of course, were not about to let a good ratings thing get away and so they embodied the American national press by interviewing an empty chair. Who was dumber, we conservatives on Twitter wondered, Piers Morgan who personifies the louche state of American media, or the chair, who, with that lighting and all, did, one could say, have more dignity than Joe Biden?

I could, I must confess, see Don Shelby, our Ted Baxter, in that empty chair. Talk about meta. 

Previous to this money had been vanishing all day for Atkin. It's a very odd experience to see money for a campaign disappear like that on Twitter. Perhaps some dull witted but self-esteem heavy layabout could apply for a Minnesota Legacy Grant to explore that further someday.

The next act in the scene was out of Star Trek: he's dead, Jim.

It seemed too late in the news cycle, especially after the spectacular bungling all day long, for the Atkin campaign, if anything was left of it, to say it was over.

Would anyone in America not begrudge Todd Atkin the best sleep he is possible to manage? No. Then quit in the morning with our thanks that you will not be forgotten.

Amazingly, some "name" conservatives were wondering if sanity wasn't really a ruse for madness? Who knows, once you travel to the intersection of Crazy & Purity street? Atkin should stay; their tone-deafness making them all the more convinced. Comparisons were made with democrat scandals where the curr managed to survive. But this is like pointing to a cadaver and imploring him to realize others were not dead.

Erick Erickson. Dana Loesch. Both bemoaned wanting to win, which requires removing Atkin, with eviscerating conservative principles, which it manifestly does not.

Do they need to get out more? Leave the post-Breitbart (I die a bit every time I write that) cocoon and talk to others?

I don't know. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Primary Day: Kurt Bills Falls Into The Abyss

Tonight Ron Paul hand picked first time candidate for statewide office and cheesy high school teacher Kurt Bills put in one of the worst performances of a Minnesota Republican Party endorsed candidate in tonight's primary election. As of this writing, the results show Bills received a naked 51.31% of the vote in his race for the US Senate. David Carlson, a veteran of thre tours of duty in Iraq, received 35.21% of the vote while the very strange wayfarer Bob Carney, Jr. received 13.48%. Both competitors were invisible, for the most part, before today's primary.

How does the crackerjack Bills campaign respond to such a calamity? By bluster and bravado in a press release issued while its candidate was being made a national laughingstock. Here is that press release:

Kurt Bills Wins Big in MN Senate Primary

Kurt Bills Wins Big in MN Senate Primary

Tea Party, Ron Paul, and “Paul Ryan” Republicans Unite Behind Bills

BLOOMINGTON, MN—High School economics teacher Kurt Bills soundly trounced his Republican primary opponents, setting up a contest between Bills and incumbent Senator Amy Klobuchar.

It was a contest between the Tea Party/Ron Paul wing of the Minnesota Republican Party and their establishment opponents.  Bills, a political newcomer, is a high school economics teacher who first ran for office only 4 years ago; he won a city council seat in 2008, defeated a Democrat incumbent for a state legislative seat in 2010, and won the Republican endorsement to run against Klobuchar in 2012.

Bills has run unapologetically standing up for free enterprise, for a common sense foreign policy, and against monopolies and crony capitalist ventures such as bailing out wall street banks.

Bills’ meteoric rise in the Republican Party coincides with the growth of the Tea Party and Ron Paul movements in Minnesota. As an economic teacher, Bills has run as an unapologetic proponent of ending government intervention in the economy, and scaling back US military interventions. He is a strong opponent of the Federal Reserve.  Bills’ campaign theme is “Econ101.”

It’s a message that resonates in populist Minnesota. One of his opponents, David Carlson, ran a harsh television advertisement directly taking on Bills’ ties to Ron Paul; it backfired.

“Don’t underestimate the Tea Party energy out there,” said Bills.

“Grassroots Republicans aren’t just angry at Democrats for mortgaging their future; they’re angry at Washington DC.,” argued Bills.

“There is a prairie fire of populism in the Midwest. Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan for VP is feeding that fire. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa are now all in play in the presidential race. That same energy will carry my own campaign across the finish line,” Bills concluded.

Which stoned intern wrote this fiction? Does the campaign think the reader doesn't notice a lack of numbers in the release? Soundly trounced? A 51 to 49 win is not trouncing, even for the marginal liberty denizens. Bills has run a lousy campaign, going to safe areas (parades!) and never reaching out to moderate democrats and independents. Indeed, Bills has made no overture to the base of his own party which he and his unserious, moronic Paul supporters pretend he represents. Tonight the base told something the Bills campaign didn't, apparently, understand until tonight: we're not that into you.

And a backlash against David Carlson's completely true ad about Ron Paul? Toke up! Andy Parrish asked me if I had a hand in that ad and I told him no. This happens to be the truth and the truth about Ron Paul is available to anyone with an internet connection. Carlson had exceptional production values and was up on TV air before Bills. Who do they blame for that? The Jews again? 

Amusingly, the Paul supporters on Twitter tried to blame the base for not endorsing the alien transplant who has done nothing to make himself a real republican instead of a living sock puppet of the failed, odious Ron Paul. One friend of mine, a candidate this time actually, blamed the embarrassing primary numbers on low turn out. How do you educate such a mind set? Then again, she thought Emmer's tip credit idea was a teachable moment so I may as well never try.

The amazingly stupid & out of touch "film" 'Staring Into The Abyss' the campaign released weeks ago introduced Bills as a fool and illegitimate candidate. He's running for the Senate. There are only 99 others. One might wish to take note.

The second attempt at video coherence was incoherence bordering on plagiarism: Busy Kurt, also known as ripping off the dead Paul Wellstone. This was a frame by frame remaking of Wellstone's video showing him in fast motion having government control every aspect of our lives. OK, I jest but the idea was terrible. That no one killed it, instead of green lighting it, shows just how poor the talent is on the Bills campaign. But really, is it any worse than the candidate himself? No.

Bills' legislative supporters were noticeably absent on Twitter tonight (shades of the legislators who supported Emmer but ran away after his endorsement because, well, they're losers). Party leaders, such as they are, were mute in their praise of this smashing win. The requisite MN GOP press releases were issued so one is at least comforted that the mechanics of a functioning state-wide party were in order. But Shortridge, Fenton, Johnson & Anderson lead a fool's brigade to Tampa. They made a conscious decision to align themselves with what they thought was the ascendant movement in the party. Yes, the very definition of leadership, that. Someone should break it to Jeff he'll never be governor. One assumes the other three know how to dog paddle.

Bills' abject press release attempts to co-opt both the Tea Party and Paul Ryan. Sorry, the first is legitimate, organic, decentralized, not crazy or Jew hating and doesn't think 9/11 was an inside job. Paul Ryan has, literally, nothing to do with Kurt Bills but, given that he voted for TARP, would not the Paul zombies have problems? Yes. No matter. When you almost lose your own primary in a party that heretofore respected greatly the endorsement process, you ought look to yourself for fault instead of, Obama-like, blame others who have nothing to do with your incompetence.

Kurt Bills demonstrably cannot do this. That he let the above press release go out shows he knows nothing of personal responsibility or any understanding of the fundamentals of politics. This augurs poorly for the general election against Amy Klobuchar, who is Minnesota mediocrity incarnate. But, as the saying goes, you can't beat something with nothing.

My friend Maggie Mulvaney coined the Twitter hash tag #TwentySevenPercent. It's a way of saying, on Twitter, that we don't think Bills will get above that amount of the vote come November. All of us who use that hash tag would be delighted to be wrong. After tonight, though, we might have to lower our expectations to comport with the new reality that set in. And the idea that the Bills campaign will take down just those who are on it is fanciful. Too many were involved in stepping aside at every level of the MN GOP for this spasm of Paulism to have taken place. We actually know who you are because you told us so to our faces.

I'm told elephants don't forget.

Correction: This post initially said, incorrectly, that David Carlson had served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. It has been corrected to reflect three tours in Iraq.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Unsurprising Return Of Michael Brodkorb

Today Michael Brodkorb announced the launch of his new website: With this he announced in no uncertain terms his return to the world of politics, both locally and nationally. I am a close friend of Michael's, as he is of me. We make no apology for our bad judgment in this regard.

What is interesting is the reaction to the launch of his website: almost universally praised, even by his ersatz opponents. Minnesota politics became milquetoast without his presence and republicans generally missed his leadership with, yes, Amy Koch. His lawsuit proceeds apace and it is for him to speak to that, when and where, not I. This isn't what happened today.

What happened is one of the sharpest, albeit bald, minds has return to Minnesota politics. For my side, this is a cause for celebration. For the democrats, it's an object lesson in the transitory nature of morality, of whom they are its least defenders. Republicans understand human nature; democrats deny it. I know full well who has the better of the argument.

His website was launched in a timely manner given that state primaries are tomorrow. Who has better insight into those DLF and GOP races than Brodkorb? No one, especially the lazy Capitol Hill reporters he used to spoon feed and with whom he still desires a good relationship for purposes of spin and mutual manipulation, unlike this writer. Someone has to tell it like it is.

So I do. Gone is the third person of Minnesota Conservatives.

Welcome back Michael.

"The future is unwritten."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hubert Humphrey: The Happy Failure

On August 4, 2012, in quintessential Minnesota fashion, a statue to Hubert Humphrey will be unveiled at the Minnesota State Capitol. No measured reflection on his failed legacy has appeared to date in local media. To the contrary, puff pieces on the Institute for Mediocrities, also known as the Humphrey Institute, have popped up in local and national press. How unsurprising.

Let's review this failed life which will shortly be honored for all the wrong reasons by the unctuous perjurer Bill Clinton and numerous lesser lights, which makes for dim viewing indeed.

First, the one, unqualified moment of excellence in Humphrey's life came rather early, in 1948 when as Mayor of Minneapolis he bravely spoke before the Democratic convention and addressed segregation and anti-semitism. Fine and well but hardly substantial and long lasting enough in and of itself to warrant a statue and the resulting adulation. One should keep in mind, though, the penchant of the Left to lie to itself (current presidential polls come to mind but the examples are legion).

Humphrey then went on to burnish his liberal credentials in the 50's only to sell out to Lyndon Johnson by becoming his vice-president. The arc of this failure and eclipse is set out succinctly in "Remembering Hubert Humphrey" at The Heath Post. It can be read in full here.

What is lost in this feel good nonsense is that liberals of the day turned on Humphrey. This inconvenient fact will be ignored by the oleaginous politicians who gather two days hence and pretend to be the successors of HHH. MC is certain they fail to understand how this damns them. But look for reflexively positive media coverage of the event; to write anything else would take courage.

Having hollowed himself out on matters of core principle, Humphrey's slide into disgrace was complete after his loss to Richard Nixon. As the Heath Post notes, he left no great speeches, no great written works. Liberals will have no body of thought that will sustain the legacy of Humphrey except for their own self-serving need to promote dependency on government and redistributionist policies that have failed everywhere. But that's all they've got so they will go with it, confident in their belief that the media will advance the chosen liberal narrative.

What won't be covered is that Humphrey's contemporary was Ronald Reagan (damn it) who like chuckles was born in 1911. If Reagan had died in 1978, as Humphrey did, the Heath Post notes tartly, conservatives would be quoting and referencing him for several generations, so great was his written body of work by that time.

Hubert? Nothing of the kind. There is liberalism and its inheritance. Actually, one can legitimately see Humphrey as the compromised hand maiden to big government, social engineering and failed public policies which still plague America and which those gathering before this cheesy statue seek to bolster.

The local repository of Kim Jong Il-ism of the Humphrey variety is, of course, the Humphrey Institute ensconced in the increasingly mediocre University of Minnesota. One would be hard pressed to think of a leader that that institute has produced. Instead, those wishing for perches on the upper branches of state bureaucracy flock to its programs. Haven't you always wanted to be senior management at MN DOT?

The Humphrey Institute offers a veritable progressive dim sum of choices, however, from which to choose. One can get a degree in Civic Engagement (whatever that is), Community Building & Neighborhood Revitalization (the jokes write themselves), Energy Policy (environmental wackos form the borg here), Politics & Governance (think Nanny Bloomberg; we know better than you rubes), Race & Social Justice (the laziest minds will be found here), and State & Local Government (in which the Institute becomes the feeder of choice to the parasitic state bureaucracy where the only diversity that is lacking is that of thought).

The Humphrey Institute is to political leadership what the Iowa Writers' Workshop is to good writing: superfluous if not outright damaging. Don't look for it to fade, though. The statue dedication is liberalism's way of telling itself it still matters, has not failed spectacularly by any objective metric and is not destined for a comprehensive rebuke November 6th.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pauline Kael & The Minnesota Constitution

Pauline Kael, film critic for decades at The New Yorker, and, arguably, the single most influential film critic during her lifetime, famously is said to have remarked of the 1972 Nixon landslide reelection:

"I don't know how he won. No one I know voted for him."

MC was put in mind of this smug obliviousness when recent polling results were announced for the traditional marriage amendment that Minnesotans will be voting on this November. Since the last poll was released support for the amendment has grown from 47% to 52%. This increase in support comes despite an extremely well financed "No" vote campaign by opponents. The poll results must have come as a shock to them given that everyone they know is against it. Herein the problem.

The no campaign has set out to convince those pre-disposed to vote no to say so publicly. This time, apparently, corporations having a political opinion are just fine because it is left of center. Got it. But still, amplification of a message is not the same as broadening support for the message. Very little, from what MC can see, has been done in that regard by the no proponents. Trotting out a wayward Catholic priest or nun on Twitter to deviate from Church teaching is hardly new or convincing; Flannery O'Connor & Walker Percy had many hilarious things to say about those one-offs in their letters and writings.

No, the problem, as with so many liberal sentiments, is a failure to believe others can disagree with them in good faith. They must be haters, bigots, knuckle draggers & mouth breathers. Well great, then what? Anyone capable of being swayed (and there are more who are so capable than the liberal left or progressives think) is instead put off. Why? Because they've been insulted, not drawn into a discussion that values their concerns and reservations but instead puts those admirable qualities to shame. Liberals are axiomatic. Life is not. Voters with reservations about any particular liberal policy, let alone fundamentals like marriage, should be approached with respect, listened to and not shouted at and certainly not, from some unwarranted a priori vantage point, be called bigots. How can the obvious be so difficult to them?

Every state that has given its citizens a voice in the matter has supported the definition of traditional marriage. My, that's quite a lot of mouth breathers! Even California could not be persuaded. There, however, the left could not bring itself to face reality (would they be liberals if they could?). The outrage of progressives was directed against the Mormon Church, whose position on this issue is no different than the Roman Catholic Church, Muslims both Sunni and Shi'ite as well as Orthodox Jews and the world-wide Orthodox Christian Church.

Who made the real difference in the California marriage vote? Blacks and Hispanics. Don't look to the left to take them on. That would take courage and integrity and this is a crowd who excuses without much reflection he who took Mary Jo's life. Please adjust your expectations accordingly. 

Worse than the marriage amendment people though (MC sees young men & women wanting to marry their lovers; that motivation is impossible not to respect even if their tactics could be better) are the opponents of voter photo id, also on the ballot this fall. MC will address later the legal resolution of challenges to both amendments when the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled on them. Hint: both will remain on the ballot in some form.

Those against voter photo id employ essentially the same tactics against their opponents with essentially the same results. No one who thinks presenting a valid, photo id in order to vote also thinks: "Great, the poor and minorities will be shut out now." That's a construct of the liberal left, unable to posit good faith in opinions with which they disagree.

The extremely liberal former Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority decision for the US Supreme Court which upheld as constitutional the use of voter photo id. The other side really can't have it both ways, despite their desperate attempts. Amusingly, it takes umbrage when asked why it turns a blind eye to voter fraud. Usually it insists there is none, causing people to not take them seriously.

Polling shows even higher support for voter photo id than the marriage amendment; somewhere along the lines of 62 or 65%. There can be little doubt that this ballot measure will pass. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has attempted to skew the language of this and the traditional marriage amendment against passage by re-writing the titles to each that will appear on the ballot.

If a conservative Secretary of State had been so naked in his partisanship, the left would have been joined by conservatives in condemning that action. Here, though, because the left is afraid of the people it tiresomely insists it best represents, they are silent. They allow Mark Ritchie to disgrace his office, and by extension the people of Minnesota, because they want the outcome he seeks. Between Ritchie & Gov. Mark "let's give out half a billion tax dollars to millionaires" Dayton, the left in Minnesota is without integrity but don't tell them; they think they've cornered the market on it. Instead, Obama-like, they attempt distractions: Look! Mary Franson! Look! Michael & Amy. Sorry, voters are still not as dumb as the left always but always takes them for.

MC predicts both measures will pass and the same political spectrum that lacks the courage to either engage their opponents or condemn the thuggish Secretary of State will lecture the rest of us argumentum ad nauseam. Having tuned them out now, however, due to their arrogance and logical fallacies, the voters of Minnesota will pay them no mind November 7th.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

They're Over It: Ron Paulers Abandon Kurt Bills

Don't look now but that invasion of fake republicans, also known as Ron Paul supporters, have largely abandoned the hapless school teacher they corralled into the MN GOP endorsement for US Senate, Kurt Bills. MC happens to love people who say they told us so, especially because in this instance MC fairly led the charge against these politically unserious people who temporarily seized control of the endorsement mechanisms to hijack the party. But many others also saw the danger and sounded the alarm.

We told you so. Oh, and the endorsing convention wasn't even two months ago but who's counting.

How can one tell if the Paulers really have abandoned their hand picked candidate? Possibly by noting that the person who did the hand picking--Marianne Stebbins--has effectively withdrawn from politics due to what might more or less be called a civil war within the Paul zombie community. Yes, that's right, Stebbins isn't "doing" politics because her consignment shop business has suffered while she toiled in the vineyard of liberty. She has deleted her Facebook account and created a private one. She's going all Greta Garbo.

Thanks for the damage & abdication of responsibility, Marianne. You're leaving another campaign in the hands of David Fitzsimmons? What happened to that army of boots on the ground? What happened to Minnesota being electrified by headlines of "GOP nominates school teacher for senate race?" Where *is* that Ron Paul money bomb for Bills that we were told would raise a million dollars in one day?

Well? All of this is nowhere because Ron Paul supporters were interlopers, unconcerned with Minnesota politics generally and republican interests specifically.

One can see pictures of the Bills campaign as they are tweeted: the forlorn locations, dearth of supporters and those ridiculous buses that first premiered as props at the state convention in May. His campaign is without focus or purpose. Parades and attendance at insular fund raisers indicate a campaign that has failed to transition to a general election. Kurt, you've won the endorsement. Stop running for it.

Anyone in the party, the House or the Senate, want to take responsibility for the current state of affairs? No, of course not. They'll all pretend they didn't enable this train wreck to get the endorsement. They "had" to go along, you know. They worked behind the scenes to make things as good as possible. The rest of us were just "missiles" that needed to be "guided."

More than a few elected officials have deliberately sidled up to the remaining Paul supporters thinking they will be important in the next cycle for governor, senator, state-wide races and such. Perhaps they will but the obvious lack of principle shown this cycle hardly endears them to those of us who will be there in the coming two years. The real base will return but filled with disgust at those who occupy office with an "R" after their name. If they are counting on what they failed to do this year being forgotten, they are in for an unpleasant surprise. For some reason, the word quislings comes to mind.

RNC committeeman Jeff Johnson infamously scolded the state convention by demanding that people "get over it." He's going to have to make some sort of Checkers speech to rehabilitate himself among the non-Paul party base. Yet who knew that so soon after the debacle that was the endorsing convention, the very faction of the party he and others thought ascendant would forfeit the field, leave the game, make fools of them?

Well MC & many others did, to no avail obviously. The coming months will be excruciating to watch given the lack of money and volunteers that plague the Bills campaign. The Ron Paul supporters, leaving even sooner than could have been expected, will move on to Tampa, or raw milk, or hemp, or redecorating Mom's basement. They won't be an effective political force to help Bills win.

As for the regular, currently displaced, republican activist base?

Silence, cunning & exile.

Update: Stebbins apparently has her Facebook page back up after making the statements indicated in the above post. A reader also indicated she recently marched in a parade with the hapless Bills. Well good for her; one would think it's the least she could do for the risible revolution she spearheaded.

The point remains that neither in numbers of volunteers or in the surge of dollars have the Paulers come through for Bills. The window-dressing of a volunteer here or Facebook page there to one side, the Paulers have, effectively, abandoned Kurt Bills.