Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On It: Reading Minnesota's Liberal Blogosphere

As a general proposition I suppose it is more true than not that political activists tend to speak mostly to the like-minded. And yet a republican in Minnesota can learn a great deal not just about the loyal opposition but, appallingly at times, ourselves by reading some of the leading blogs on the left. Of course there is the usual agenda driven, unthinking types online but I'm speaking of those blogs that I try to regularly read which are unsentimental, mostly fact driven and simply well done.

Aside from looking at how other people blog, readers of Minnesota's liberal blogosphere will find some fairly penetrating analysis and coverage of issues and problems that republicans should be covering, if not in the first instance, then at least in tandem with our gravely mistaken friends on the other side. I also include those on Twitter who may or may not write a blog.

I was put in mind of this when I read Steve Timmer's piece on Left.MN called "Tony Sutton: The Gift That Keeps On Giving." Timmer reports on findings issued by the speech deadening, sclerotic Campaign Finance Board (CFB) concerning a complaint filed by (who else?) Common Cause Minnesota over a $70,000 payment to Sen. Dave Thompson for media consulting. I've previously characterized that arrangement as a no show job in exchange for not running against Sutton as chair. Both men strongly and consistently have denied it was such. The CFB's finding number 7 states there is no probable cause for the conclusion I've previously drawn. Mostly, however, that seems to be the case because the Board couldn't find up from down in the MN GOP reporting system. If one is looking for exoneration they'll have to do better than to say the books weren't cooked, we didn't keep any.

What's interesting to me is that I have not seen a republican blog address this development. I think Timmer places too much blame on Sutton and doesn't delve all that much into the Thompson services allegedly provided. But it's his blog, right? The point remains that to know what is going on in our party, republicans should cultivate the habit of reading opposing view blogs. Ideally, we should have been covering this development along with Timmer.

His article can be read by clicking here. Aaron Klemz and Tony Petrangelo also write for Left.MN and are equally required reading.

Bluestem Prairie, written by Sally Jo Sorensen, is perhaps first on my list of liberal blogs to read to find out what fresh hell has or is happening in the republican party of Minnesota. Unfortunately, she rarely disappoints. Sorensen was previously surprised, then gratified, to learn that her blog was cited in Mary Igo's deposition before the CFB concerning Count Them All Properly, Inc. with respect to yet another complaint brought by the laughably "non-partisan" Common Cause, Minnesota. I should know because I sent Igo the Bluestem post which came up in her deposition. Full disclosure: I continue to represent Igo and the three other board of directors in that matter which is proceeding before a three judge panel of the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Bluestem is consistently fact filled, aggressively partisan in the most competent way (is there anything better?) and wide-ranging in its coverage. Agreement with what is being presented there is not the point; the point is to learn of things that should concern republicans and about which they will not find in the so called mainstream media. To the extent Bluestem covers items in the news (and all blogs do at some point), the additional, detailed analysis is worth the reader's time. At least that has been my experience.

Several days ago Bluestem went after House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt over what it perceived to be a shifting definition of "compromise." I was fascinated by the concern, always a sure sign we are doing something right. Of course, the left is concerned because it has conservatism's best interests at heart. The blog post constituted an ur-meme which was then attempted to be launched on Twitter. But Twitter is a kill box for all sorts of things pushed by the left, including baseless memes hoped to be picked up by the overtly sympathetic media. The compromise blog post can be read by clicking here. 

I've argued for some time that not only do we need to push back against narratives that hurt us politically, we need to frame them in the first instance in ways that advance our political beliefs.

Just yesterday Bluestem had an excellent report on P2B Strategies and Daudt's previous association with it. That not to be missed post can be read by clicking here. 

Did you know that P2B was paid to lobby the House Republican caucus to go along with the disastrous marriage amendment? I didn't. And that was a throw-away remark in this post (the original post linked there credits the excellent reporting of Briana Bierschbach of Politics In Minnesota).

We can't really compete if we're learning about ourselves from Sally Jo, no offense Sally Jo. Nor am I naive enough to think that simply trashing our own is somehow helpful progress (it isn't and I put my defense of Rep. Mary Franson and her food stamp remarks as Exhibit A in how not to shoot our wounded: democrats never do).

Three days ago Bluestem reported on MN GOP's financial reports in some detail. Click here for an eye-popping look at our own financial affairs.

Aaron Rupar blogs at City Page's The Blotter as well as being carried elsewhere in that publication from time to time. I said last week on Twitter that I found him to be the most consistently interesting journalist in the Twin Cities and I meant it. He has made The Blotter his very own; I'm not sure how anyone would take it over if he were to ever leave City Pages. Think of Page Six crossed with New York Magazine with a large measure of personal style that's impossible to pick up in any journalism class. Whatever "it" is, Rupar has it. The general link to The Blotter can be found here.

Eric Austin writes at Outstate Politics with an admixture of deadliness and humor. His blog can be accessed by clicking here. If you think liberals are without a sense of humor, you need to read Austin. Being out of the Twin Cities (he lives and works in St. Cloud as a teacher) provides a refreshing take on political skirmishes.

Minnesota Progressive Project is blog home for approximately a dozen writers, each with their own style, approach and skill level. Look at their offerings by clicking here.

There are many other fine liberal bloggers; explore the ones listed here and look at each site's blog roll of those who they themselves recommend. Add them to your RSS reader and you have a convenient way to learn what the opposition thinks of us and, increasingly, due to their majority status, of themselves.

Each of these bloggers are on Twitter as well, adding yet another dimension of fun for those of us in the minority for the next two years. Republicans have an enormous task ahead of themselves in making themselves into a party worthy of majority status in either legislative chamber let alone finding and putting forth candidates who can actually beat Gov. Dayton or Sen. Franken in 2014. Liberal and progressive bloggers have something to say in this regard, mostly about how we became our own worst enemy. Yet they can also indicate, albeit unwittingly, what we may be getting right as we take our first tentative steps into 2013 and the political wilderness.


dipper said...

*I think Timmer places too much blame on Sutton and doesn't delve all that much into the Thompson services allegedly provided.*

Indeed. Not that Mr. Sutton is deserving of great sympathy, but it appears he's been cast into the desert in ritual atonement for sins not entirely his own, and for those of Senator Thompson in particular. You've not ended your interest in this. Will anything come of it?

Dana John said...

Nice piece. Coming from the left, myself, I often tell my progressive friends the same thing -- If you're not tuned in to Fox News, conservative blogs, etc., you're missing (at least half) the boat. Appreciate your efforts. Honest. As you know, good journalism and writing sometimes fall by the wayside in the blogosphere.

Colin said...

While this piece was generally good quality, I had a special laugh at this line: "Nor am I naive enough to think that simply trashing our own is somehow helpful progress (it isn't and I put my defense of Rep. Mary Franson and her food stamp remarks as Exhibit A in how not to shoot our wounded: democrats never do)."

It's like the author completely forgot Kerry Gauthier. We did not simply shoot the wounded. It was a freaking firing squad. Sure we were polite, but the DFL calls for resignation came fast and furious. I would do the same for Rep. Franson if she were on our side. If you cannot hold your own people accountable, what good are you?

Anonymous said...

Sutton was the Chair of the MN GOP - the buck should stop with him. Don't cut him or anyone else in a decision-making position any slack. When offered the consolation prize(as so many, many, many others before him)for losing the race for Party Chair, Thompson should have said No. But like many, many, many before him, he took the money. There are so many others - beginning with the former Executive Director, whose payments and financial decisions should be investigated as well. It is another reminder that the "Party" is not defined by those people who lack integrity and embarrass us. The Party is all of us and our beliefs.

There are those who call me Tim said...

Petrangelo is good. Klemz ain't bad. With Timmer, though, I'm assuming you're just cutting another lawyer a break. Maybe if it was your house he'd videotaped and posted on his blog, you'd think differently. He's more like Ken Avidor's dissipated uncle.

Eric Austin - funny? Maybe you need to read him longer, or dig farther back. A bunch of conservative blogs called out his excusing the bullying of Mary Franson's daughter because her mother supported the Marriage Amendment. Still laughing?

Sally Jo Sorenson is capable enough writer and reporter. I read her. But she's got two things that just bug the piss out of me. She does a *lot* of snark, and really doesn't do it well - dial it back hon.

And she feels the need to put a comment on, near as I can tell, every single comment that comes into her blog, or at least every single critical one that she bothers to publish. And she screens out a *lot* of critical comments. That's her prerogative. But curating and editing every single comment seems really, really insecure. And that's fine, she 's got a right to do that too. But smacks of taking oneself way too seriously.