Monday, December 30, 2013

Rep. John Kline & The Minnesota Tea Party Paulers

Coleen Rowley, former G-man, one of three of Time's People of the Year 2002, and legendary local Leftist, who I knew beforehand only by sight, sat directly in front of me two rows into the audience seating, fairly staring at me the whole time. For a long moment, it was as though we two were the only ones who knew what was about to begin.

What was this?

I ran late driving to Buffalo, MN for a fundraiser for Wright County republicans the evening of November 23rd, having been asked a few weeks earlier in a Twitter direct message by Walter Hudson (who was the evening's moderator) if I wanted to be on a "foreign policy" panel. Sure, I said, me being me. Only later did a friend point out that on Facebook Walter had styled the event as "Hawks vs. Doves."


Milling about at the Buffalo American Legion were both Tom Emmer and Phil Krinkie, making small talk with those who had showed up. Where was my candidate, Rhonda Sivarajah? Cloistered away by those who know nothing about how to run a federal campaign? Beats me. Rhonda's running as bad a campaign as Tom did when running for governor. No one, apparently, can penetrate her bubble. Sound familiar? Here's hoping there's still time for her to turn it around.

At any rate, there I was: defending Israel, my neo-conservative piñata status certified. The Rowley crowd was weirdly stuck in time: what about Vietnam? Seriously. And: can we ever expunge the stain of overthrowing Mosaddegh? The line of questioning was, frankly, as stale as an Almanac show with a panel of Larry Jacobs clones. I was ready to be passed a joint.

Some current events managed to be referenced: what about civilian casualties of drone attacks? A pity, to be sure, but war has always had collateral damage. As I pointed out by way of contrast, Palestinian terrorists deliberately target civilians. The Israeli military does quite the opposite. So does the United States of America.

This meant nothing to the co-panelist seated on my right: he managed a reference in due course to John Mearsheimer, the co-author along with Stephen Walt of "The Israel Lobby." I didn't have time to unpack that coded little mention for my audience; we would have been there all night if I had gotten started. The latent anti-semitism of Ron Paul and his ridiculous followers fairly filled the room. When I called Ron Paul anti-semitic the gentlemen to my right stood up to leave in a huff, refusing "to be called an anti-semite." This, of course, I had not done and he was easily persuaded to stay on the dais. Most people are.

My ideological ally on the panel, David Strom, later remarked that immediate umbrage was taken at the mention of Paul's anti-semitism while the two of us, in the course of the evening, were compared to Nazis. I can't speak for David but I would have gotten a bit more concerned about being called a Nazis if I took those who thought such of me more seriously. Or seriously at all.

Foreign policy was uni-dimensional in that crowd: military action alone. In fact, as I tried to explain, foreign policy entails much more than that and, indeed, military action can be said, in certain respects, to represent its failure. To paraphrase Mia Farrow's Twitter biography, I was trying.

What empire was the United States claiming in undertaking President George W. Bush's wildly successful PEPFAR program in Africa, which has saved tens of millions of lives? Engagement with China has been crucial, never more so than after the death of Mao and the ascent of Deng Xiaoping whose policies lifted hundreds of millions of souls out of desperate poverty and in our very lifetimes. The West and its forces of freedom (quaint, I know) won the Cold War against the USSR without firing a shot (proxy wars admittedly excepted). I mentioned Natan Sharansky tapping on his prison walls to other captives that Reagan had called it the focus of evil in the modern world. I had kind, although not wholly unreserved, words to say about Edward Snowden, whom Ms. Rowley had seen in person in Russia a few weeks earlier. It takes genuine courage to make such a trip and, though it might strike some as incongruous, I had a lot of respect for her in undertaking it. These people are living out their principles at no small cost. It's not hard to respect them more than the parasitical lobbyist types like Weber, Coleman & Pawlenty, even though I disagree with much of their world view.

Experience trumps ideology. Except when it doesn't. I made a point of looking directly at Rowley when I said "If the predicate of your foreign policy views is that what's wrong with the world is America, I don't need to know anything more about you. I've seen that movie."


I recapitulate my little adventure in Buffalo because it further informs my thinking about what is going on in Minnesota's Second Congressional District, currently represented by John Kline. Here we have the clearest example of the remnants of Ron Paul's followers in Minnesota reorganizing under the Tea Party rubric. What's deceptive, of course, is that while the general Tea Parties organized around the country are quite tired of ever expanding government and its infringement on personal liberty, almost none have the blame America and/or the Jews mentality that so infects Ron Paul and his minions. In other words, they're adults. 

I understand the need for refurbishment: by the time he left the national stage Ron Paul was a laughing stock. His candidate for senate in the 2012 Minnesota race was an object lesson to republican parties around the country what not to let happen in their own. Some of that candidate's enablers still seek higher office this cycle. They fail to see that 2012 was Paul's high water mark; that the tide has gone out. 

Being mostly a spent political force in their own right, the "liberty" movement has either invaded or created Tea Party groups by which to advance their goals. I call it Paulism Without Ron. Shrill and strident, dogmatic and insecure, this group attempts to pass itself off as somehow representative of the larger republican body politic. They are not, of course, but that doesn't stop them from demanding that they be treated as such. 

In CD 2 they have fallen in behind the specious David Gerson, who seeks the republican endorsement which the Tea Paulers™ hope to deliver, thereby forcing Rep. Kline into a primary if he wishes to return to office. They pillory Kline for his record and large parts of it should come in for excoriation. That said, it's folly to the point of political suicide to remove him from the ballot and replace him with some low rent demagogue who could be easily beaten by a competent, moderate democrat. 

The anti-Kline people like to hold up fatuous things like Freedom Works' scorecards, which for Kline shows only something like a 42% rating. Have they a clue about the frauds constituting Freedom Works? Are they aware it paid Dick Armey 8 million dollars to go away and never bother the group he helped start? Probably not, but every time you get an email from the sleazy Matt Kibbe, Freedom Works' current head, be sure to give generously because don't tread on me! I'm certain CD 2's middle-class and lower middle class won't mind it when he again spends $15,000 in a single 3 day weekend at a  luxury hotel, as has been his wont. 

Freedom Works is playing them for suckers, although no one currently can match the fleecing ability of the repulsive Glenn Beck. If you're hitching your wagon to either of these two stars, your destiny does not lie in future Minnesota republican politics. And if your idea of a constitutional scholar is Kris Anne Hall, I'm to be forgiven for laughing in your face. You can stay dumb but you're not about to dumb me down, thanks. Nor, I would guess, are most other republicans in or out of CD 2. 

The juvenile attempt to deny Rep. Kline the endorsement is of a piece with the juvenile foreign policy on view in Buffalo last month. However they want to mask themselves, the Ron Paul followers are fellow travelers with Rowley on many, if not most, issues. They are by no stretch of the imagination republicans in the traditional sense of the word. Consequently, those of us who want to win elections in order to change public policy have every justification for calling them out, for marginalizing them, for defeating them.  

It's hard to say if Kline will be denied the endorsement. If he is, it's hard to see how he would not win the primary and go on to win another term. If Gerson obtains the endorsement, it would be more confirmation that when the inmates take over the asylum, a recommendation from the asylum's management is worthless. The same holds true for the race in CD 6 to replace Michele Bachmann, as it does in the governor's race and as it could in the US Senate race. 

The future viability of the Minnesota republican party lies in the primary process, far from the out of touch, inbred activists who take turns upholding one cult after another in that strange process known as the endorsement. To the extent that the Tea Paulers™ hasten the day of the endorsement's demise, I'll be the first to thank them. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Phil Krinkie Torches MN GOP Potemkin Villages

In a simple act of astonishing integrity, Phil Krinkie, republican candidate for Congress from Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District, today announced that he would not participate in so called "debates" which charged attendance and from which the public or media was excluded. He was referring to upcoming debates hosted by GOP CD 6 and the Freedom Club.

In doing so, he burnt to the ground the fraudulent, hypocritical and incompetent Potemkin village that constitutes the republican establishment in CD 6, as well as delivered a body blow of truth to fatuous, hydroponic groups like the Freedom Club, which pretend to influence but which, in fact, are nothing more than a plaything of their creators, Bob & Joan Cummins, they of the marriage amendment which set back republicans in Minnesota a generation.

It's hard to overstate what Krinkie has done in giving notice to the good old boys network (and the women who want to be in them). The shockwaves of his decision should last long after this coming cycle. These upcoming debates are a fraud and he said as much. Or so it seems to me.

Krinkie told Mark Sommerhauser of the St. Cloud Times that "[p]eople shouldn't have to pay to hear where candidates stand." He went on to note that Tom Emmer, the gum on the shoe of Minnesota republicans, consciously avoids functions where media might be present or attendees are considered less than favorably disposed to him. Emmer is a coward, in other words. No news there but refreshing that Krinkie called him out in a respectful but deadly honest way. You can read Sommerhauser's article by clicking here.

Emmer recently was too scared to attend a forum for all candidates hosted by St. Ben's & St. John's University republican students. Excuses were made but everyone knew he was intimidated by being onstage before an educated audience. Dominating the endorsement process is the only way this mediocrity can get to Congress; best to keep him underexposed while pretending he's the frontrunner.  

The 6th CD debate is December 14th. The organizers are, almost to a dolt, Emmer supporters. This debate was manufactured after the negative publicity stemming from Emmer being afraid of college students at St. Ben's and St. John's.

The Freedom Club sponsored debate is set for January 13th and is equally a joke. Bob Cummins founded the group and has already maxed out to Tremulous Tom. These Potemkin events are an insult to any thinking republican, in or out of CD 6. That Phil Krinkie has called them out for what they are gives hope to anyone wishing the Republican Party of Minnesota can become more than the same stale, unaccomplished insiders we see each week on "At Issue" or "Almanac."

Krinkie's "emperor has no clothes" moment can also be applied, if not by him than by others, to RPM Chair Keith Downey, another pawn of Bob Cummins, and to the pigs-in-the-trough DC establishment that is attempting to foist the human ipecac Mike McFaddin upon us.

None of this will do if we want to win elections again. Republicans in Minnesota need to take the control for selection of our candidates out of those stale, tired, hacks who are in it for the money and the jobs. Phil Krinkie, by saying simply and honestly, the truth about current conditions shows us how.

Kudos to him.

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK 50 Years On: Remember Strong Women?

They don't make them like this anymore. Jackie Kennedy boarding Air Force One by herself with her husband all over herself.

Click on the photo to enlarge, as they say.

For Jane

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sen. David Hann's Messaging Incompetence

Yesterday Republican Senate minority leader Sen. David Hann told staff and fellow senators that he had hired as Director of Research Bill Walsh. Together with the current Communications Director, Brad Biers, he will be responsible for the republican senate caucus messaging.

The cumulative effect of Sen. Hann employing these two men, who simply do not know what they're doing, is akin to hiring Captain Smith to be at the helm of the Olympic had he survived the voyage of the Titanic. Smith's a known quantity, to be sure, but what on earth would be the substantive case on the merits for bringing him aboard? Apparently in the republican senate and house caucuses, familiarity doesn't breed contempt but a job offer, no matter how mediocre or outright incompetent the friend. Super.

The extraordinarily poor judgment exhibited by Minnesota legislative republicans since 2010 can fairly be reduced to that: friendship put ahead of whether a particular person is best suited for a particular position. Once ensconced, of course, those straphangers are virtually impossible to remove, even if there were brains and spine enough in leadership to want to do so.

A defining moment for me came when, as a State Central delegate in 2011, I watched the assembled Senate and House leadership, together with hangers-on and wanna-be's from their respective caucuses, line up behind Tom Emmer on the dais in support of his bid to be our Republican National Committeeman. One after another they prattled, utterly unable to read the mood of the delegates before them. Obsequious, vain, shallow and stupid: I may never see so many morons in one eyeball-full again before I die. Or at least before the next State of the Union address.

"I have Chris Christie on speed dial!" bellowed the guy who looked, and still does, like a used car salesman. The assembled legislators behind him clapped like trained seals. It's embarrassing when people who demonstrably are not think they're the cool kids.

The majority of us voting delegates on the floor turned to each other with a look that said: "These people just got elected and constitute a republican majority? We're in worse shape than we thought." The State Central Committee refused to reward failure, mediocrity and "friendship" and elected Jeff Johnson the RNC committeeman. Those on the dais went on to lose our majority status in as short a time as humanly possible; they deserved to be beaten with thin white Birch sticks.

Republicans live with that fallout to this day, only with some of those same failed people now haunting the political scene, not only unchastened but even, if possible, politically dumber than they were then.

Today, Brad Biers is in place solely because Sen. Hann likes him as a friend and colleague. He has no skill whatsoever in crafting and maintaining effective political communications. This doesn't appear to matter; if it did he'd be gone.

Hann indicts himself twice by adding the demonstrably failed Bill Walsh to the mix. The provenance of his failures is impressive, in its own depressing way:
  • His mentor, Tom Mason, was the genius in the 1990 Senate race who came up with having Rudy Boschwitz invent and play the "I'm more Jewish" than Paul Wellstone card because Rudy's kids were raised Jewish, Paul's Christian. That worked out well because not only do most Minnesotans actually not know any Jews, they don't much care for religious so-called divisions to be used as a decisive factor in electing one of them to federal office. No one who knows Boschwitz believes him to be a jerk but Mason's infamous "Jewish letter" made him out to be one. Boschwitz was the only incumbent senator not reelected that cycle, showing just how good we Minnesota republicans are at being screw ups. Mason's role in promoting Walsh simply cannot be overstated.
  • Walsh came up with the ill-fated "tip credit" issue when he worked on the Tom Emmer gubernatorial campaign in 2010. No amount of alarm or panic could dissuade this tone deaf communications "guru" that the issue was killing our candidate. When the not very political person on the street knows about the goofy guy who thinks restaurant and bar servers make $100,000, you know the cause is lost. Unless you're Bill Walsh. To be fair, the inner circle of the Emmer campaign was as message-incompetent as he was. Perversely, they currently all, in one way or another, now seek to be rewarded. Whatever happened to failure having consequences?
  • On top of the tip credit idea came the "town forum" harebrained scheme which resulted in a lovely, endless, video loop of the man who would be governor being showered in bright shiny pennies by some leftist loon activist. Emmer practiced his method acting by being a server in a Mexican restaurant, kind-of sorta undercover but with the campaign taking grainy, faux cinéma vérité video. We won't even go into when Walsh, as Executive Director of the Republican Party, left sensitive party documents at Moscow-on-the-Hill, a Russian restaurant in St. Paul, the last time anything interesting happened there because its food was and is abysmal. 
Rep. Matt Dean is also another influential booster of Walsh; indeed the latter is said to be the former's right hand man. You can make of this what you will; despite what some feel, I don't, in fact, blog or tweet everything I think.

Walsh also recently served in varying appalling capacities in the RPM under the tutelage of Chair Keith Downey. The messaging from the party during that time was so poor it defies description. The length, the tone, and the content of party messaging were all incompetent.

But Walsh is a friend of Keith's and it's Keith's friends who get hired or are given favors. The cronyism is worse than it has ever been under any previous chair & that takes some doing. Apparently (its never been announced to my knowledge) the party has an Executive Director making $125,000 who hailed from a healthcare company and has never worked in politics before. His qualification? Friend of Keith's.

Downey himself was given enormous financial support by Bob Cummins via the Freedom Club, whose members pretend they count; they don't. It's pretty much just Bob and Joan; eat your lunch. At any rate, so poor a candidate was Downey that even the hundreds of thousands spent on his inept campaign couldn't rescue him. Downey is doing the best he can repaying the favor to Cummins by giving contracts to Civis, Cummins' group, in excess of $300,000.

Oh yes: Downey fancies himself gubernatorial material but then some days so do half of the populace.

When Downey was unable to get Walsh hired by the party, Sen. Hann stepped in to reward the loyal apparatchik. Sen. Hann himself floundered at the end of his race last year and many thought it quite possible he'd lose. Cummins poured in money and, unlike Downey's, Hann's cause was not lost. Of course republicans lost both the house and the senate and no one was to blame! It just happened.

Cummins was the foolish engine behind the traditional marriage ballot initiative; our majorities in the legislature had neither the ovaries nor cojones to stop that completely stupid idea which caused enormous damage. There's a whole creepy evangelical angle to a lot of these relationships that I can't go into because I can suppress nausea for only so long.

Here we are then: a minority party that has learned nothing about either governing nor about how to message while in the wilderness, repaying incompetent friends because they are friends. When we need to be at our messaging sharpest, using the gale-force winds of the Obamacare debacle to advance our vision of less government while not abandoning traditional safety nets, we have people who are without a clue, calling the President a communist or a socialist.

Does anyone in the republican party realize we're north of the Mason Dixon line?

And what of the other republican senators? They seem missing in action but each of them fancies himself a leader. How can they see abject failure at every turn and do nothing? Practice, apparently.

The only race republicans in Minnesota have a realistic chance of winning next year is taking back the House of Representatives. If those in that chamber learn nothing from the ongoing failures of the party and the Senate, Minnesota will be doomed to be a one party parody of progressivism for the foreseeable future.

"Optimism is cowardice."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Twin Cities Media Bias & Race Reporting

Ich kann gar nicht so viel fressen, wie ich kotzen moechte 

I can't eat enough to puke as much as I want to

—Max Liebermann

In June of this year the United States Supreme Court ruled a section of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. Without getting into the legal weeds about the subject, this decision had been coming for years. In fact, in a prior case involving similar issues, the Court fairly begged Congress to look at its statutory scheme in light of its apparent constitutional infirmity. This is called deference to a co-equal branch of government; it's the opposite of judicial activism.

Congress did nothing and so, in due course, the Court ruled accordingly.

Demagogues were quick to jump on the decision and characterize it as five Supreme Court justices finally having gotten their way to hurt African-Americans in this country. Because, on the Left, if you disagree, you aren't just wrong, you're racist, bigoted, homophobic, you name it. The majority may as well have worn white robes on the bench instead of black according to these hacks.

Locally, DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler made The Drudge Report by tweeting that Justice Clarence Thomas was an Uncle Tom. Often over-looked was his equally repulsive claim that the other four justices in the majority decision were "accomplices to race discrimination." Twitchy has a good run down of the tweet and various reactions that can be read by clicking here. Full disclosure: I hadn't realized until researching this post that one tweet quoted is mine. Ah, the glamor.

I noticed at the time that our local media treated this otherwise career ending move with exquisite care. In effect, the local media took down every insincere, ass-covering word Winkler uttered in a panic to salvage his career and left it at that. DFL handlers handled their Eddie Haskell, and otherwise fierce seekers of truth and power holding accountable types merely repeated what was said. No hard questions. No outrage. No suggestion that the tweet betrayed a mindset unfit for public office.

Mission accomplished: one could feel the reluctance of local media to cover the story but they did the minimum. Democrats can't be racist; that's the opposite of the narrative they advance at every opportunity. One guy on their team screws up but no problem: they had his back.

The Star Tribune story, which can be read by clicking here, shows as much. The word racism never once appears. That's not an accident. The most honest the story gets is saying "racial slur" which really, when you think of it, isn't quite the same, is it?

As telling, the reporters supinely feed the demagogue from their team a soft question: will use of this term on social media "hurt his future political career?" Winkler is given as much ink as he likes to say no, he's really a good guy. The article could not have been easier on him than if he had written it.

To show you how pathetic the coverage was, the article states at one point "Winkler soon learned just how offensive the term is to some. . ."

To some? Would those reporters say that of the word niggar? Of course not. Their job was to save Ryan, the ersatz educated democrat, whose political ambition is in inverse proportion to his talent. Consequently, only "some" could take offense at the use of Uncle Tom. See how that works?

City Pages was equally quick to give Winkler political cover while pretending to journalism, the outre, brave kind. To City Pages, he was in "hot water" for using a "racially insensitive term." No use of the word racism in this reporting either. Go figure. You can read its coverage by clicking here.

City Pages too largely lets Winkler write the arc of the story. No challenges from that quarter. No: will you resign? Perish the thought! They save that for their political enemies. When Winkler repeated for the umpteenth time the preposterous claim that "there seems to be some debate" about whether calling a black man an Uncle Tom is racist, you'd think he'd be challenged simply for taking his journalistic interlocutors for abject fools. But no. You're all in when you're all in.

FOX 9 News did manage to use the word racist but wrapped up its reporting that gave the last word to Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels who ignorantly claimed the decision destroyed the advances of the civil rights movement. Had FOX 9 any desire to educate its audience (a dubious proposition given that we're talking television) it would have said that the majority pointed to the very success of that movement for making the 1965 based statutory criteria obsolete to the point of unconstitutionality. Another disclosure: I had originally been asked to be interviewed for that story but declined. Given the inarticulateness of who they scrounged up in my absence, I regret the decision. FOX 9's reporting can be viewed by clicking here.

Politics In Minnesota covered the story by reporting on coverage of the story. If you're not paying attention it's almost enough, if done well, to make you think such constitutes actual coverage. Which, of course, it is not. By repeating the coverage (think of journalism at 35,000 feet) one would be surprised indeed if the story sought anything new or asked out loud whether Winkler should resign. Naturally, it did neither. Its water bug journalism™ can be read by clicking here.

The local Associated Press coverage was a masterclass in bias, both factually flawed and ideologically tilted. Guess what word is never used in that story either? That's right. The story claims "[t]he ruling makes it tougher for federal officials to prevent states and localities, primarily in the South, from adopting policies that add barriers to voting." That's simply, breathtakingly wrong but said with an unearned air of factual authority. Reading the press these days actually makes people dumber.

The story quoted no republican, made no mention of the national attention brought to the tweet and couldn't bring itself to use "racial slur," instead demoting Uncle Tom to a "connotation." Viola! Democrats must have a peace of mind republicans will never know by having the Associated Press in their back pocket, although, to be candid, it's a mighty crowded media-filled back pocket. Of course, national and local media were largely silent when we learned that President Obama had secretly obtained telephone records of reporters for the national Associated Press. You're all in when you're all in.

Compare this forced coverage, then, by local press to the laughable hysterics over a posting of a tasteless analogy to slavery by a hapless Chisago County republican activist to the county's Facebook page. We've all seen the grotesque bumper stickers that bark: "Don't like abortion? Don't have one." The Facebook page had an image of a slave auction making the same non-sequitur point: don't like slavery? Don't own a slave. Stupid.

Ah, but here was something per se racist because any mention of slavery by a republican makes it so and local press was keen to jump on it. Jump they did. To my dismay, almost no republican rebuked the race mongers on foundational grounds: the analogy to slavery is always tasteless and wrong. It does not constitute racism itself. Of course, this was lost in the flood of faux outrage which local media both reported on and added to. I'm pro-life and am always careful never to call abortion "another Holocaust." Well meaning types on my side of the issue who do so are wrong but not anti-semitic.

The same holds true for the posting by the Chisago County Republicans. We can't seem to learn how to push back, question premises and start another narrative. To be sure the media will fight us in that but that's how the game is played. "There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn," said Camus, and so too is it with the dishonest, biased media, despite seeing them die by degrees in the internet age.

The Star Tribune's coverage was typically hyper ventilated: "Local Republican Group's Facebook Page Sparks Firestorm."

Really? Why firestorm? Oh right, it fits the reporter's and the newspaper's narrative. The story goes on to note national coverage about the posting, including the number of views and other analytics. There was no such notice of the Winkler Uncle Tom remark, no reader was informed his tweet was covered by BuzzFeed and then The Drudge Report.

Wouldn't that qualify as a "firestorm?"Any honest person would think so. The story included quotes from Republican Party Chair Keith Downey who wouldn't know how to message if his party's life depended on it. Which, by the way, it does. DFL Chair Ken Martin sanctimoniously weighed in, all full of concern despite liberal policies which have proved ruinous for blacks in America. Martin never condemned Winkler's Uncle Tom tweet, something the article made a point not to mention. You can read the vastly different coverage of this incident by clicking here.  

Only Republican Party Secretary Chris Fields, himself a black man, made the sensible point that a poor analogy does not make the maker a racist, an anti-semite or whatever the subject matter of the analogy.

City Pages, naturally, was not to be outdone in the faux outrage department. They have low information readers to pander to! "Chisago County Republican Party Publishes Extremely Racist Facebook Post." Where to begin?

Is there a secret, brain-dead liberal stylebook that could be shared with us knuckledraggers so we know when something is: 1. a racial slur, 2. a racially insensitive term, 3. a connotation, 4. racist and 5. extremely racist. Actually, we've no need of it. We know how the terms are applied. We just remain amused at how well media regards themselves. It's like they don't think anyone is watching. As someone said, journalism is the only business where what the customer of the product thinks is unimportant. You can read the City Pages article by clicking here.

You can read the brief coverage given by the Pioneer Press by clicking here. The Pioneer Press used an Associated Press story when it covered the Winkler Uncle Tom tweet.

It's not often that Minnesota republicans and democrats both have a racially tinged story with which they must deal. Here, each had one within five months of the other. The vastly different ways local media handled each instance tells a reasonable person all they need to know about the state of play for republicans in the local media market.

Republicans in Minnesota are particularly inept at messaging. When they find themselves in a jam, unfortunately usually of our own making, they cannot rely, like our friends on the other side, on the good graces of the media to tamp down the controversy, to have our backs.

Like national media, local media have taken sides. We pretend otherwise at our peril.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Against Sanitizing Lou Reed

Culture in our day has become so degraded that there's almost nothing left that would shock us. This is conceding the point that the purpose of culture is, first of all, to shock us. Nothing could be further from the truth but I'm not optimistic in these times. Culture should last, should obtain, should be above the temporary, Banksy. It's not the latest unwashed hip hop tattooed freak who will be on welfare in their later years because the "interest" or the "scene" died out, only to be written up in his later years by an equally unaccomplished journalist.

It's not the rubbish that fills most of our modern museums.

Lou Reed died Sunday at 71. Pretty much no one saw it coming, which is to his and his wife's Laurie Anderson's credit. Reed had a liver transplant in May. Sic transit gloria mundi. 

What I saw on Twitter and elsewhere was a repulsive blend of nostalgia and treacle. It's as though the people who "remembered" Lou Reed had no idea of how original he was; how, to use a word I genuinely hate but in this instance is warranted: transgressive. In Lou's lexicon: fuck you, eat shit and die. Seriously, that was him.

That was Lou, but at the time of his death he been tamed, writer of some wankish song "Perfect Day," which was hardly a signature of his. It was covered endlessly and approved of by the mind numbed in suburbs around the world on the day of his death. Another kind of death, I would think. But I'm with Christopher Hitchens & Richard Dawkins: we really only do die once. Apologies to my Hindu friends.

Pablum is universal. Reed never embraced all those variations of "Perfect Day" but surely appreciated the royalties and no one would begrudge him that. Was that song really Lou Reed?


What was real was the faux (?) but shocking, for the time, homoeroticism, the genuine drug addiction, the brilliant musician, the rare survivor of that terrible, terrible man Andy Warhol (seen above left taking a picture of Reed and some hustler who doubtless didn't live long after). Besides William S. Burroughs, there's no one I wish more to be in the hell I don't believe in than Warhol, the Piped Piper of Lost Souls. He liked to watch.

If you don't know the sad tale of Edie Sedgwick, you should. I recommend the book "Edie" by Jean Stein & George Plimpton. Lou Reed refused to cooperate in the book. Once you've outgrown that which kills many of your peers, you're too busy staying alive to look back in detail, especially if you're not exceptionally proud of your own conduct. If you want to understand the aging mentality of those who currently govern Minnesota, you can't go wrong reading the book. Just keep in mind they haven't grown out of it. You can buy the book by clicking here. 

The worst aspect of Reed's death is his transmutation into something innocuous. That's the last thing he was and the last thing for which he should be remembered.

Try thinking of a white singer in our age singing anything like this:

"I wanna be black, have natural rhythm
Shoot twenty feet of jism too
and fuck up the jews

I wanna be black, I wanna be a panther
Have a girlfriend named Samantha
and have a stable of foxy whores.
Oh, oh I wanna be black

I don't wanna be a fucked up
middle class college student anymore"

. . . . .

Those very same fucked up middle class college students went on to define a great deal of so called American modern culture. In the process, they remade in their own mind's eye Lou Reed. The emasculated men tried to lessen the one with serious balls. You could see them with their withered genitals all over Twitter Sunday as they pretended to speak to his death. The academics speaking to the original street hustler. Patti Smith must have been laughing all that time.

No. No thanks.

His post-Velvet Underground masterpiece album and title song was "Street Hassle." The lyrics below only hint at the music. If you mourn his death, buy it.

A) Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda whipped out her wallet
The sexy boy smiled in dismay
She took out four twenties 'cause she liked round figures
Everybody's queen for a day
Oh, babe, I'm on fire and you know I admire your
body why don't we slip away
Although I'm sure you're certain, it's a rarity me flirtin'
Sha-la-la-la, this way

Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Hey, baby, come on, let's slip away

Luscious and gorgeous, oh what a humpin' muscle
Call out the national guard
She creamed in her jeans as he picked up her knees
From off of the formica topped bar
And cascading slowly, he lifted her wholly
And boldly out of this world
And despite people's derision
Proved to be more than diversion
Sha-la-la-la, later on

And then sha-la-la-la-la, he entered her slowly
And showed her where he was coming from
And then sha-la-la-la-la, he made love to her gently
It was like she'd never ever come
And then sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
When the sun rose and he made to leave
You know, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Neither one regretted a thing

B) Street Hassle

Hey, that cunt's not breathing
I think she's had too much
Of something or other, hey, man, you know what I mean?
I don't mean to scare you
But you're the one who came here
And you're the one who's gotta take her when you leave
I'm not being smart
Or trying to be cold on my part
And I'm not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve
But you know people get all emotional
And sometimes, man, they just don't act rational you know,
They think they're just on TV

Sha-la-la-la, man
Why don't you just slip her away

You know, I'm glad that we met man
It really was nice talking
And I really wish that there was a little more time to speak
But you know it could be a hassle
Trying to explain this all to a police officer
About how it was that your old lady got herself stiffed
And it's not like we could help her
But there wasn't nothing no one could do
And if there was, man, you know I would have been the first
But when someone turns that blue
Well, it's a universal truth
And then you just know that bitch will never fuck again
By the way, that's really some bad shit
That you came to our place with
But you ought to be more careful around the little girls
It's either the best or it's the worst
And since I don't have to choose
I guess I won't and I know this ain't no way to treat a guest
But why don't you grab your old lady by the feet
And just lay her out in the darkest street
And by morning, she's just another hit and run.
You know, some people got no choice
And they can never find a voice
To talk with that they can even call their own
So the first thing that they see
That allows them the right to be
Why they follow it, you know, it's called bad luck.

C) Slipaway

Well hey man, that's just a lie,
It's a lie she tells her friends.
'cause the real song, the real song
Where she won't even admit to herself
The beatin' in her heart.
It's a song lots of people know.
It's a painful song
A little sad truth
But life's full of sad songs
Penny for a wish
But wishin' won't make you a soldier.
With a pretty kiss for a pretty face
Can't have it's way
Y'know tramps like us, we were born to pay.

Love has gone away
And there's no one here now
And there's nothing left to say
But, oh, how I miss him, baby
Oh, baby, come on and slip away
Come on, baby, why don't you slip away

Love is gone away
Took the rings off my fingers
And there's nothing left to say
But, oh how, oh how I need him, baby
Come on, baby, I need you baby
Oh, please don't slip away
I need your loving so bad, babe
Please don't slip away

Lou Reed 1942-2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Progressives' Institutional Slavery

A week ago today, I had a random conversation on Twitter with Tom Lyden, a well-known television reporter for FOX 9 News in the Twin Cities. I don't know Tom much but I like what I do: he's refreshingly himself on and off air and his Twitter presence is not to be missed. He tweeted that his friend, FOX 9 anchor Robyne Robinson, had gotten a new job as "arts and culture director" at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Who knew? I scoffed at the make-work-for-liberals-nature of the position. Airports are hell and they'd all be better off piping in Brian Eno and delivering luggage faster.

Lyden was prompt in insisting on its value because "institutions make us." Apparently anything qualifies as an institution because this position is a bureaucratic slot paid for by users of the airport, most of whom would fail to notice, let alone appreciate, some absurd "cultural" focus on tater tot hot dish. Yet I realized Lyden had given me an insight into the progressive mind-set. This post isn't about Tom; our Twitter interaction is only its point of departure. In direct messages, Tom & I talked about this; they remain private. What follows isn't directed toward him per se but to the larger progressive understanding of institutions as I see it.

That institutions have effect is but a truism. Progressives seem never to have advanced much beyond that in their thinking, however. Which institutions, with what effects? Strip away policy fights, as important as they are, and this is the bedrock issue, the bedrock question progressives and conservatives not only don't agree over, but whose views are so diametrically opposed that they might each be said to be considering a question wholly separate from the other one.

Which is odd. Because with enough discussion between them, instead of talking past each other, some actual progress might be achieved between progressives and conservatives.

The idea of man as perfectible animates most progressive ideology and, hence, legislation. Indeed, knowing better in this regard than the unwashed largely gives progressives a pass from themselves for being heavy handed and wrong. They are congenitally unable to see themselves as such, of course. Good intentions: that's all there is to liberalism. It's the easiest, laziest political mindset to adopt. No wonder the uneducated and dependent flock to it, encouraged by the Chicago mindset of politics. That mindset is governmental dependency masquerading as concern. What's in it for you?

Liberals persecuted Daniel Patrick Moynihan for showing actual results, for showing the actual results of their policies, ie, destroying the black family in the midst of that government institution known as The Great Society. This was in the 1960's, if you can believe it. They haven't changed.

"Institutions make us" however, is a key insight. It represents, yes, hope. Who's against hope? The question, however, is always whether a particular hope is warranted. My sister Karen Gilmore
Egan, dead ten years this past September 2 of metastatic melanoma, hoped to the end, beyond the point the rest of us non-dying knew to be futile. Shockingly, she taught me how not to die; her hope was unwarranted. Hollywood usually doesn't option those kinds of stories.

I raise this otherwise very personal anecdote because that's exactly what moves most liberals: some sad sack tale of what the rest of us would otherwise consider the human condition. Their ability to transcend is nonexistent; their penchant for politicizing every aspect of human experience according to their policy lights is endless. This is poverty by another name.

For as smart as liberals, unconvincingly, try to tell us they are, some emotional one-off story will do for them going forward with unsound public policy. Results don't matter; when was the last time one of them told you to look to outcomes to prove their point?

Simone Weil once wrote that "love has no direct connection with rights."

Liberals, thinking ever so well of themselves, want to love through enforcing "rights," usually ones never thought of as rights before. Enforcing them through state power on others. This contradiction is beyond their Kenwood attentiveness to those with whom they never socialize. Doesn't everyone write a check? See you at the next Headwaters event. Or maybe encampment?

By abandoning the human and trusting in the institutional, liberals fail themselves and the "others" they purportedly seek to help. Liberals trust the wrong institutions and disdain authentic ones.

Heterosexual family is the most authentic and successful institution known to mankind across all cultures bar none throughout recorded human history.

In a departure from some of my more conservative friends, I'll take same sex married men and women as adoptive families in a heart beat. Why? Because "love has no direct connection with rights."

Yet my liberal friends would not see traditional family, in that sense, as authentic but "socially constructed." The three year old boy who wants to be a girl? Authentic! Right.

Few of us know how to think clearly without presupposing the worst in our opponents. This is regrettable. For me as a conservative, that is hard to do, given the ugly track record of liberals. Get back to me when my side produces a movie "The Death of a President" like the Left did about W. Liberals are wonderful people though, just ask them. Yet on a personal level, the ones I know really are. The disconnect between liberals as people and liberalism as a destructive ideology is substantial. Shop Kingfield Market while ignoring exploding poverty rates under Obama.

I also recently had an interesting interaction on Twitter with a progressive I follow, Geri Katz @gkatz. She had tweeted something in connection with Betsy Hodges, her preferred candidate for mayor of Minneapolis, that dealt with "gaps" involving race or income. I replied, suggesting that the true metric which should concern progressives and conservatives aren't those old, easily-manipulated benchmarks but that of married versus unmarried, regardless of income or race. She asked for more.

I provided it but didn't realize one of my sources, journalist Jonathan Rauch, had the politically correct sexual bona fides as a gay married man but whatever. I went to his analytical point which, to my way of thinking, is the only thing that should interest anyone:

"Marriage is displacing both income and race as the great class divide of the new century."

Single motherhood is the surest route to poverty for mothers and their children yet discovered.

To state this truth is not to show indifference. That's the lazy liberal retort, the kind of response that make thoughtful conservatives think "why should I bother?"

But we must bother, despite sometimes hackish responses from the other side. Honest liberals, truly caring ones, will move past the fund raising monikers of race and income to look thoughtfully at the source of our problem. The unmarried contain all ethnicities but certainly the poorer ones. What now?

Perhaps we'll have to wait while bien pensant liberals are finished congratulating themselves about same sex marriage before they buckle down to address the truth of our socio-economic troubles. But if someone like Jonathan Rauch, and many others, can see the problem, why can't others on the Left?

Liberals want to invent new institutions while ignoring or misshaping the oldest, most successful ones. They are eager to create institutions, traditionally thought of in their-oh-so care-free-minds as that which enslaves. But no, they want to create more in the hopes of perfecting human nature. The magical thinking that a "job" as "arts & culture director" at a medium United States airport is one such route displays this mindset to a fare thee well.

Welcome to progressive institutional slavery whose jailers will never understand themselves to be.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thinking Thoughtfully: Sixth District Fundraising

Fundraising numbers for the quarter ending September 30th were released today for those republicans vying for the chance to succeed Michele Bachmann in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District next November. Most reporting, and tweeting, has been of the lazy "here's a number" sort of thing. In fact, total numbers tell only a part of the story of what is going on in this race.

Establishment candidate, failed gubernatorial candidate and George Soros lobbyist Tom Emmer raised the most money for the third quarter of 2013 but his numbers plunged dramatically nonetheless. In the first three weeks of the race he raised $225,000. In the next three months he raised only $150,000, not coming close to keeping up the pace. Withering this early is a deeply troubling sign.

But let's go further into the numbers because readers of this blog are not low information anything. Of the $225,000 raised, about $76,000 cannot be used in the primary, only the general election. This is because a limited number of donors "double maxed-out," meaning they gave a total of $5,200, half of which can be used now and the other half in the general election. That leaves Emmer with about $150,000 from the prior reporting period.

It's reasonable to assume a significant portion of Emmer's most recent numbers, $150,000, likewise contains dollars not available until the general election, leaving him with less cash on hand than might at first appear to be the case. Whether that proportion is the same with respect to third quarter numbers as it was to the second quarter we don't know just yet.

Emmer did, apparently, spend $75,000 in the second quarter. That's quite a burn rate and one which it's fair to ask if his donors are aware of. He has four paid staffers and office space resulting in an estimated monthly burn rate of approximately $25,000. For a shoe-in, that's enormous. One fundraiser expressed her surprise to me that, given Emmer's competitors show every sign of going the distance, he would spend this profligately. Then again, judgment has never been Tom's strong suit. The political barnacles who attach themselves to his ship aren't especially astute either.

Another way (they're legion) of seeing Emmer's unimpressiveness is to look at Rep. Erik Paulsen's experience. His first quarter haul (in the 4th quarter of 2007) of fundraising for the Third Congressional District was $390,000. That was six years ago and Paulsen raised more in his first three months than Emmer has in four months and he was a statewide candidate! If you find Emmer impressive, my guess is you are not.

The Emmer Borg also preened that it had 1,400 individual donors. This means the lists Emmer has bought, rented or previously owned have been beaten to death. The five, ten and twenty dollar donors are spent. To see this as an example of some grand, organized campaign is simply to be an unpaid cheerleader. The more informed of us don't take such puffery seriously.

Finally, the current federal shutdown has many Americans distrustful of politicians. Many members of the Senate and House of Representatives are not taking paychecks during this time. If the past is any experience, Emmer would have his snout in the federal trough.

When Emmer was in the Minnesota legislature he continued to draw his salary during the state government shutdown of 2005.

Phil Krinkie, also running to replace Bachmann, reported approximately $340,000 of which $300,000 was a personal loan to the campaign. Emmer supporters snicker because of this fact but money is money and Emmer remains a lousy candidate who has overstayed his modest welcome in Minnesota republican politics.

What those sycophants don't say, of course, is that Krinkie now has $100,000 more cash on hand than Emmer. This is because all of that money can be spent in the primary. Phil Krinkie has quietly served notice that he isn't going anywhere and that a lazy coronation of someone who thinks he deserves public office won't be happening in the Sixth.

State Sen. John Pederson raised approximately $52,000 in the third quarter of the year with about $40,000 cash on hand. To date Pederson has raised around $87,000.

Finally, Anoka County Commissioner Chair, and my preferred candidate, Rhonda Sivarajah raised approximately $180,000 of which $150,000 was loaned to the campaign by her and her husband Ran. The same Emmer dullards denigrate her own self-funding but, weirdly, are quick to call it good news when other republican candidates can self-fund against DFL incumbents.

It's especially important that Sivarajah voted with her pocketbook for herself this early in the campaign. The lazy media and ur-republican pundit narrative was that Emmer was a field clearer. This is as laughable as saying he has a record of accomplishment. He'll be as inconsequential and as much a tedious show horse as the retiring Michele Bachmann if elected to Congress.

Voters in the Sixth District deserve the time to get to know Rhonda and her sterling record of genuine accomplishment. Time favors her, disfavors the retread. I'm disappointed some well known republican women haven't publicly supported her; it makes me rather disinclined to listen to their complaints about the position of women in the Minnesota Republican Party. Or is what is operating here that old Anatole France maxim: "Friendship among women is only a suspension of hostilities?"

At any rate, Rhonda Sivarajah clearly has the most electoral room to grow. By investing in her own campaign she has roughly equal the money to what Tom Emmer has on hand for the primary. You wouldn't get this realization from reading the superficial coverage of today's fundraising numbers.

It's not that there isn't anything new to learn about Emmer: it's that there is. He became a national, instead of state, laughing stock when his doltish endorsement of Integrity Exteriors & Remodelers was riotously mocked by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.  The original reporting on this was done by progressive blogger Sally Jo Sorensen although WCCO's Pat Kessler brazenly lied about finding it on his own and, disappointingly, was given credit for that demonstrable falsehood by Blois Olson in his widely read "Morning Take." When both the left and the right think local media suck, they have a problem.

As of this writing, The Drudge Report is highlighting a bill that has been introduced in Alabama to castrate sex offenders. Tom Emmer introduced a similar bill in the Minnesota legislature. Nothing says Minnesota like Alabama. Voters of any and all parties in Minnesota's Sixth deserve much, much better.

Unfortunately for Emmer, the low information donors have given most of what they can. That his numbers dropped precipitously this quarter shows that wiser, wealthier donors are wary of him at best, repulsed at worst. They haven't migrated to Sivarajah yet because she's not as well known as she needs to be. But she will get there. Phil Krinkie is a fine candidate but here, too, Sivarajah simply has the best record. Everything that turns off people is embodied in the serial failures masquerading as Emmer's political career; the very best, the things that give people some optimism that the system might possibly work, is embodied in Sivirajah's.

Emmer and his small band of supporters can content themselves, for now, that he's the frontrunner. But being the frontrunner isn't all it's cracked up to be. Just ask Marty Seifert.

Correction: This post first identified Rep. Jim Ramstad as raising $390,000 in his first reported quarter of fundraising for the Third Congressional District. In fact, it was Erik Paulsen running to replace Ramstad after he retired from Congress representing the Third.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Local Media Don't Report Obama's War On Them

"The Bush administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent."

The quote above, from The Committee To Protect Journalists Special Report: The Obama Adminstration and the Press, is accurate except for the one word that I added: Bush. The administration it actually references is President Obama's. Big news, wouldn't you think? Except that as of this writing the only Minnesota news outlet that reported it was the Duluth Tribune, running an AP story (AP!).

The Report details how fascist Obama has been toward the free press, how thuggish and vile his tactics to the free flow of information that keeps a democracy alive and vibrant. The Report quotes nothing but liberal journalists, which is another word for democrat flaks. Their sense of betrayal is delicious.

Read the report that Twin Cities media won't report on by clicking here.

What to make of local media who think so much of themselves and yet remain silent in the face of a report by their peers, by their watch dog? I'd suggest it tells you all you need to know about them. Had it actually been the Bush administration that triggered this report, they'd be all over it, howling in self-absorbed sanctimonious rage. That's a shtick they have down cold.

We've been here before, of course. Tom Scheck of MPR famously lied on Twitter last year claiming his account had been hacked when in actuality his DM expressing outrage that Clint Eastwood would mock the incompetent Obama was sent as a regular tweet. Minnesota Public Radio is a joke and shouldn't receive a dime of taxpayers' money, even before we bring up Kerri Miller, who brings new meaning to the word hack. It's like they think we aren't watching. We are though: my friend and radio partner Bill Glahn has written devastatingly about it. Click here to read.

MPR solemnly declared "social media editors" had been deployed to help Scheck but hacked accounts don't need anything save a new password, let alone "social media"editors. This happened only on Twitter, of course. The omerta code amongst the lazy local media obtained. Most readers of this blog probably have never heard of this incident before.

Pat Kessler, who I call Ted Baxter for a reason, is another case study in dishonesty. In 2011, he reported online anonymously what Todd Rapp had fed Ron Rosenbaum about the Amy Koch/Michael Brodkorb matter. Kessler pretended to gum shoe efforts in reporting this rather than admitting he was a sap used by politicos. Such wankery is what Pulitzers were invented for. Rapp is a commentator on, surprise!, MPR and talked about the Koch/Brodkorb matter. Disgusted yet by your tax dollars going to liberal propaganda? Rapp was given this information by uber-sleaze Geoff Michele. Who did Michele give his first interview about this matter to? Ron Rosenbaum. More lube?

More recently, Pat Kessler blatantly ripped off the original reporting of progressive blogger Sally Jo Sorensen about the pathetic and by now national joke of Tom Emmer's campaign video endorsement of Integrity Exteriors. I'm surprised he wasn't outraged when Stephen Colbert gave, appropriately, an on air acknowledgement to her last night instead of him. Pathetic. You can view that clip by clicking here.

Of course MPR, the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press and the AP all rallied around DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler in June when he called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an "Uncle Tom" on Twitter. His comment made Drudge, no small feat. Yet these democrats simply took that democrat's statement of ersatz apology and reprinted it wholesale. No questions, no outrage. Yes, they think you're that stupid. Yes, they think they're swell. Just ask them. Had a republican said something comparable the outrage would have been loud and tedious. Bob Collins would have another breakdown on Twitter. Dave Brauer and Erik Black would have tried to outdo each other's white liberal guilt, achievement gap be damned. Star Tribune editor patchouli Susan Hogan (this is what you do with a philosophy degree, she says) would have waxed tearful and female. We know the faux outrage from hypocritical liberals by heart by now. For a liberal of their own like Winkler though? Nothing. As I say, they're hypocrites.

Even I, however, am amazed at the silence of these eunuchs in the face of reporting by their own concerning the devastating effects of the Obama administration on press freedom. That local media keep from telling you about the report speaks loudly about their utter lack of integrity, their service to ideology instead of the facts.

Freedom of the press is too important to be left to what is called the press.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tom Emmer's Staggering Lack Of Judgment Redux

An especially astute republican insider once said of Tom Emmer, in connection with his narrow republican endorsement win for the Minnesota governor's race in 2010, that it was "like someone winning the lottery who suddenly thinks he's good at business." As if to leave no doubt and to put the knife further in between the shoulder blades, this adept added: "[U]ltimately nominating the Bill Buckner of Republican politics was probably not, in retrospect, the smartest idea." The insider who made those telling observations was Michael Brodkorb in an interview with MPR's Tom Scheck. The entire article can be read by clicking here.

I interviewed Brodkorb in connection with the MPR article for this blog on December 4, 2011. It's worth re-reading for its trenchant criticism of the embarrassing, pathetic Emmer campaign. Click here.  

Emmer went on to lose to Mark Dayton in a year that produced record republican victories across the upper midwest and the country generally. Emmer never apologized for his spectacularly poor campaign and for letting down the people of Minnesota. Indeed, when reference is made to his campaign's implosion Emmer insists nothing of the kind happened. This is perverse, if not clinical.

In 2011 he ran for National Republican Committeeman but lost to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. When the results of the election were announced he stormed out of the state central committee meeting room without so much as a handshake and a forced smile for Johnson. I don't know if he ever got around to doing the right thing and could care less if he did. The reaction that day was Tom Emmer. If you're small, petulant and thin skinned, he's your guy. Emmer's hard core supporters, generally a dim-witted and unsophisticated group, hate it when his conduct is brought up. Bombast and no substance impresses them; they're at a loss as to why it doesn't everyone.

Emmer, having no accomplishments in the Minnesota House of Representatives, went on to sell himself to the highest bidder as best he could. In office he was fiercely opposed to lobbying efforts to restrict certain kinds of oncology practices. As the guy who lost to Mark Dayton (Mark Dayton!), he needed a job and promptly hired himself out as a lobbyist for the forces who wanted government to restrict oncology practices that he had heretofore been steadfastly against. It's impossible to respect such a man.

He sold out to the National Popular Vote, a far-left, George Soros funded attempt to vitiate the Electoral College, even going so far as to "testify" before the Pennsylvania legislature in support of this travesty. Pay Tom money. He performs tricks. There's a word for that but conservative or principled isn't it.

He then went on to co-host a morning drive radio show in the Twin Cities where he repeatedly tore down fellow republicans because of his holier-than-thou complex. Emmer supporters resent it when this is pointed out.

That's it. The whole megillah. Zero accomplishments. Now he wants to force himself on the republicans of Minnesota's Sixth Congressional district. They deserve better and can have it.

Today we learned that Emmer cooperated in an endorsement video for an outfit known as Integrity Exteriors (the "T" in the logo is in the shape of a cross so we have that going on as well). Apparently this firm had done the build out of his current campaign office. Local progressive blogger Sally Jo Sorensen broke the story of this 30 second endorsement running on the CW channel in the Twin Cities. Her story can be read by clicking here. In short order it became a national story with Politico, the New York Times and respected political scientist Larry Sabato all mentioning it on Twitter.

Despite one friendly blogger's rush to judgment that this would be a one day story at best, no less than Roll Call has picked up on it. Roll Call anticipates that a complaint will be filed with the Federal Election Commission and though a severe penalty seems unlikely, the incompetence of Emmer and his hapless handlers shines through again. That's the real point. The Roll Call article can be read by clicking here. In addition, the St. Cloud Times, the Associated Press, the Pioneer Press, Mediaite and the kids at DailyKos all are reporting on the story. The same incompetent people who brought you tip-credit want you to think there's nothing to this latest foolishness. Except there is.

Paul Demko, of Politics in Minnesota, attempted to get an explanation from Emmer for this latest catastrophe but Emmer hates to be held accountable for his incompetence and begged off, claiming he was fundraising til the last minute on this, the last day of the third quarter. Demko's story can be read by clicking here. His campaign put out a statement that Tom simply made a video at the request of the company. That no money, in kind contribution or quid pro quo was involved misses the point entirely: Emmer has neither the judgment nor personal integrity for elected office of any kind.

Republicans in CD 6 should choose Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah: a true leader, one with solid accomplishments in advancing smaller government and lower taxes. Rhonda is thoughtful, not a blowhard. She knows it takes more than preening and surrounding yourself with yes-men to get real things done. Among other things under Rhonda’s leadership the Board has reduced the county property tax levy by 7.43%—the largest reduction of any county in the state and one of only two counties to reduce their levy; reduced county debt by $30 million; repealed the prevailing wage ordinance for projects that are funded exclusively with local property tax dollars; pulled county support for the Northern Lights Passenger Rail to Duluth and reduced lobbying expenditures by $200,000.

In addition, Sivarajah has been selected by the House GOP caucus for inclusion in Project GROW: growing republican opportunities for women. Learn more about this honor by clicking here.

The stale, old, white boy network has gathered around a genial, easily-manipulated, ego-centric mediocrity. Emmer will do as he's told; he's never been his own man. Just ask Linda Runbeck.

If elected, republicans will have to spend money every cycle defending him in what should be a relatively safe seat. If he wins the primary, he could easily lose the general election to a good DFL candidate. Then we'll be treated to another rendition of it wasn't Emmer's fault, nothing ever is. He should be avoided at all costs.

Republican primary voters should select Rhonda Sivarajah because she will make them proud. To learn more about the next republican Congresswoman from Minnesota, please click here.

The Return of Amy Koch

Last Friday former republican senate majority leader, and friend, Amy Koch took her place on the mind-numbing couch on TPT's Almanac program. Despite my justifiable disdain for this mediocre program, I was nonetheless delighted to see her there. Perversely, having been asked to appear on Wednesday for the Friday show, Michael Brodkorb (also friend) settled his high profile lawsuit against the Minnesota Senate that intervening Thursday. I'm not sure I believe in God but if He exists he must have a sense of humor. Who wants a joyless God? That would make Him a liberal and we've all had quite enough of them this side of the grave.

Koch dominated on the show's segment that consisted of former legislators from both parties. The first question, of course, was about the Brodkorb settlement.  The breathtakingly incompetent and repulsive for hire boy Steve Sviggum was given the first shot at answering the lame question put to him by married hosts Eric Eskola & Cathy Wurzer. They're so bad they make Stefanie Cutter on Crossfire look good. But public television and public radio are like public education: they embody the worst of their so called professions.

At any rate, Koch deftly responded to Sviggum's lame statement that, more or less, the guilty should be punished. As if he would know. She said, correctly, that the entire matter had been badly handled. As indeed it had: those loser senators who wanted to take out Brodkorb should have left Koch intact. I've always maintained Amy was collateral damage. Just our luck we didn't have smart enough male senators at the time to know what's what. Then again, I might underestimate them; they may have understood the sheer talent of Koch and, threatened, responded accordingly.

No matter. Amy Koch's appearance on Almanac only served to re-confirm her place of preeminence in the Minnesota political landscape.

Those who think her political career is over understand neither politics nor the human condition.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

MN Republicans & The Obscenity of 9-11 Truthers

Please click on the photo-above before continuing to read. I sometimes say, at the end of a post, that a photo can be enlarged. Here, however, it is crucial readers do first what I most often suggest last: click on the photo.

That's because there are human beings on those ledges, if you can call them ledges. Clutched onto the frames of windows never designed to be opened in buildings never thought to have been flown into.

Last Friday a local group brought in a Truther who had moved on since 9/11, as every good showman has since then. According to him & those like him, we killed those people you just looked at.

This charlatan's self-proclaimed mission is to be in search of the Truth. Aren't they all?

Google Ben Swann on your own.

It took me some time to realize that  preeminent Ron Paul supporters like Marianne Stebbins or Nathan M. Hansen, Esq., were not in attendance. Now why would that be? The groups that brought in this fraud seem to be different than the cultists who foisted the hapless Kurt Bills on us to run against Amy Klobuchar last year.

What appalled me last Friday wasn't that this infection of the Minnesota Republican Party finally brought to town their own political Cirque du Soleil, it's that republican candidates who think themselves serious and reputable attended, even sponsored this crime.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson was physically present before the VIP dinner but, from what I was told, didn't actually sit down to sup with the devil. Twitter has the photos. His campaign logo was featured on the scrim in the auditorium before the main event.

Also complicit was Phil Krinkie, who had a table in the foyer with literature and someone staffing it. Johnson did as well.

What's wrong with these people?

Not to be let off the hook is Dave Thompson, who I'm told had paid $200 in order to speak to the assembled believers of the theory that says 9-11 was an inside job. He only bailed out after those with a lick of common sense and some knowledge waved him off.  No points are awarded for the staggering poor judgment in wanting to speak in the first place. It is, though, in keeping with what Chris Van Guilder tweeted earlier in the week from the Carver County gubernatorial forum that Thompson fancies himself an "orator." Right.

I understand, if disagree, with candidates wanting to reach out to the so-called "liberty" people. If you want to infantilize yourself, knock yourself out. Johnson seems not to realize that the Ron Paul contingent is a shadow of itself. He misreads the zeitgeist continuously: get over it, he sanctimoniously lectured us in May 2012 at the MNGOP convention and then proceeded to complain forever about a rule change he didn't like at the RNC meeting that August in the hopes of ingratiating himself to the Paul faction.

It doesn't help that I admire Jeff personally and am grateful for his leadership for sound conservative principles on the Hennepin County Commission. Why he'd sponsor a 9-11 Truther gathering is simply beyond me.

The same can be said of Phil Krinkie and Dave Thompson: what were they thinking? Were they thinking? Yes, Thompson did not per se sponsor but had paid to speak. Krinkie didn't speak but had a table and recognition as a sponsor. It's all pretty much the same sin in my book.

I'm not like my liberal friends: I don't seek to extinguish speech with which I disagree. Let a hundred 9-11 flowers bloom. I do think, however, that lines can be drawn and cogently at that.

If you're offering yourself up for elected office as a republican in Minnesota, you have no business associating with ideas that make ourselves the murderers of ourselves, which is precisely what the Truthers believe. That you did so disqualifies you. Republicans should support anyone but them.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: I've been informed that Dave Thompson never paid anything when contemplating speaking at the event.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Syria, Eric Black & Liberal Agonistes

I haven't met Eric Black, a writer at MinnPost, but hope to at some point; possibly next year's MinnPost Roast when I expect a fair number of republicans (finally!) take up MinnPost's standing offer to participate in their yearly festivity. I do read him although not always closely depending upon his choice of subject matter. I get the sense that he is well thought of in the liberal Twin Cities community and, although our political views are rather different, haven't found him particularly strident or obnoxious. Both sides of the aisle could use more of this approach. For my conservative readers, I would characterize his writing as straightforward and thoughtful from, admittedly, the wrong point of view.

I bring him up in order to reflect on a larger point, using him in the process in what I hope is a good natured way: the confusion and division of the left with respect to President Obama's disastrous foreign policy leadership. You won't find much mainstream media discussion about it because, well, it's embarrassing even to them. You can find, however, if you look, reporting on the nation's foreign policy elite and they are appalled, mortified, gobsmacked, pick a word. After Obama's laughable performance before the Swedish media in which he claimed he didn't lay down a red line with respect to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, our faculty president President went on to St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit, where the United States continued to be shamed before the world.

What about closer to home? I thought. Enter Eric Black's recent writings on Syria, of which there are three. They seem to me to distill perfectly the discomfort in addressing the current mess directly and, tellingly to me at least, seek not to describe current events so much as to prescribe how (liberals) should think about them. Their collectivist impulse, again, of which our friends on the left are genuinely unaware.

In his first piece, not under discussion here, Black refers fretting liberals to the never-to-be-trusted John Judis at The New Republic. Judis's article is titled "Not Sure How To Feel About Syria?" Feel? I suppose liberals don't think very often because they're not particularly good at it, so feelings are the way to go because how can a feeling be wrong? Besides, the stronger the feeling the better, more earnest the liberal. Let's all bike over to Kingfield Farmers Market now. Naturally, Judis, as Black points out, doesn't take a position on what Obama should do about Syria. He feels deeply about it, though!

Black's most recent article is titled "Some bigger questions beyond who wins or loses the vote on Syria." At the outset, Black is unable to say "Obama," only an unidentified "who." There is no other "who" and that's the problem. Obama only will win or lose the Congressional vote on authorizing military force in Syria. It's remarkable, really, this resistance to holding him accountable. Then again, once started there would be no end to totaling up this president's failures. Can't have that.

"This Syria thing is a big, complicated deal" is how he starts. Well, ok then, commence chin-pulling. How did it get to be a big, complicated deal? He won't tell us.

He does tell his, presumably fellow-liberal readers, how to think about it. In my experience, once told how to think about any given issue, liberals do so until the grave. They believe this a virtue and tend to give each other awards for it, be it in popular culture, literature or junk science.

Perhaps you have to be a conservative to appreciate how breathtaking it is to read "[w]atch out for the mainstream media narrative." Do go on, Eric, we're all ears. It took Syria and the hash of the Obama presidency to bring you to this epiphany? Any port in a storm.

He goes on to speak about the "objectivity paradigm," whatever that is, as well as to take a swipe at neoconservatives who, possibly he hadn't noticed, haven't been in charge for five years now. He does make the excellent point that "[t]his [debate over Syria] is a partisan stereotype scrambler and that is healthy." I couldn't agree more but, unfortunately, he leaves it at that. Exploring further why it is and what it may mean would have been a vein worth mining further. Here's hoping he returns to it in his future writing.

He goes on to engage in a Tevya "on the one hand, on the other" analysis in reviewing the evidence as to whether the Assad regime actually used chemical weapons. In getting to his as-of-now-he'd-vote-no conclusion, he takes pains to distinguish Syria from Iraq. "Bush was looking for an excuse to start that war" is how he puts it. He's usually more thoughtful, less objectively stupid, than this but remember: liberals are desperate to figure out what to do with this president without saying Obama is utterly incompetent in the job. That Syria is per se different from Iraq is a necessary lie for liberals. I understand; conservatives, of course, would just accuse them of hypocrisy and they'd be right.

Ultimately, one can feel the discomfort, Black says he agrees with Obama that if we don't act then the United States sends a message that using chemical weapons is ok. I searched but found no record of Eric Black writing anywhere when the world knew Saddam Hussein gassed fifty thousand or more Kurds that we had to respond militarily. He's trying to tell other liberals how to think themselves out of the box Obama has put them in; consistency has nothing to do with that.

Finally, toward the end of his piece there is this curious bit of weapons-grade incoherence:

"So, if a brief, relatively non-lethal show of U.S. force to punish Syria and diminish its capability for future uses of chemical weapons could occur with the likely effect of significantly buttressing the international prohibition on such weapons, without bringing on a parade of horrible unintended consequences, I think I would vote yes."

Not one of those series of delicate conditions, layered one upon the other (I counted six), obtain in the real world. Now what, Eric? Such is the thinking of people who believe recycling their bourgeois trash saves the planet. To have the right intent vouchsafes them from recognizing the disastrous outcomes their feel-good policies cause. It's illustrative of the tentativeness which liberals approach the world as it is, always having to condition any actual decision making with an insufferable welter of platitudes and magic thinking. Moral clarity, for liberals, is hard, almost wrong. They had no idea whatsoever what then Cardinal Ratzinger meant when he referred, in his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, to "the dictatorship of relativity." None.

Critical thinking is wholly missing from Black's musings on Syria. Any honest assessment would justly excoriate a stunningly incompetent president but this one is of the wrong skin color and party for him to do so. Obama has no credibility on the world stage and is seen as feckless and over his head by most foreign leaders. Establishment Washington is aghast at his complete lack of leadership. Black can't admit that, just can't get that real, as it were. Conservatives understand; we see such paralysis of truth daily from our friends on the left.

In this, it seems to me, Black represents the liberal condition, the liberal dilemma, throughout the nation. I'll be interested to see if he can analyze the coming events with a bit more clarity and even-handedness. I hope he avoids the "Obama lost the House vote because of hateful republicans" or the "this mess in Syria wouldn't have happened if House republican war mongerers had been shut down."

In either event, Black won't blame Obama. Obama doesn't blame Obama. Why should his acolytes?

Black's piece mentioned above can be read here.

He has two other pieces which predate that one and which can be read here and here.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Remembering Seamus Heaney

My friend, the local Jewish but universal playwright, Jenna Zark, said to me a number of years ago, in astonishment and with a bit of self-rebuke: "You're the only one I know who reads poetry."

I can't say how I found myself in this predicament, I just did. I hadn't taken a single poetry course in undergraduate nor none since then nor since graduating law school. It wasn't as if I hadn't wanted to but the formal structures of poetry, something grand, and the rise of free verse, with its hideous, Joni Mitchell-like confessional nature to it but without her talent, was an argument I could follow but not actually engage in. No matter how unlettered I might be in it as an intellectual construct, I knew that language found its highest expression, in every culture, in every tongue, throughout human time, in poetry. There is simply no argument.

Not so long ago, the "average" American could quote Longfellow. Now, we have poetry slams, which are a linguistic and cultural cancer. The correlation between those two things and the decline of public education is more than approximate.

Enormous coverage has rightfully been generated in the wake of Heaney's passing. I have only one bon mot to add, a small one indeed but, as it happens, actually happened to me with him. And long before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, an award far too often lavished on the untalented but politically correct.

As a "bright young thing" in the late 1970's at St. John's University, Collegeville, MN, I was tasked, along with other bright young things, to travel to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and fetch Mr. Irish Poet and bring him behind the pine curtain. This much, our mentors thought, we could do without adult supervision. They failed to take into account we were fetching Seamus Heaney, their intellectual construct, as opposed to a real, live, breathing, drinking human being. Also, an Irishman.

We found him, apparently, with no particular problem. What I remember to this day is the drive north toward St. John's. He had asked the driver of the car to stop at a package liquor store which he dutifully did. There seemed to be nothing more than several Guinnesses for each undergraduate and perhaps a pint or half a pint of Irish whiskey for the master.  The magic liquid, that devil, was enough for all of us to urinate somewhere beyond passing traffic into the fields of Minnesota. We continued on, literally laughing all the way. Heaney was a presence and, although too young to really know, we could at least tell we were in the presence of an exceptional man. The word poetry had not been uttered all this time.

Realizing we were to a man half-in-the-bag as we approached the concrete spire of St. John's, we tried to assemble ourselves. Heaney was both repelled and attracted to the architecture of the Abbey. A fellow Roman Catholic, Heaney was still, at this time, making allowances for the variety of its expression in the new world, the one in which his people and mine had fairly conquered, coming far from when the British would kill or imprison those who taught the native language, not Gaelic, thank you, but Irish.  So, so many years before Sinead.

We parked and trudged toward the President's Lounge or some such nonsensical but important place on campus, the place we had been instructed to deliver him to. This was all going according to plan but had gone wildly off course. We were the only ones who knew it, though, but with Seamus amongst us proclaiming all was well, who were we young ones to argue?

We arrived at "the end of all our exploring" and began to trundle into the lounge in which sat all the most important people of the University. The half-in-the-bag fellow bright young things went in first, pretty much giving the game away.

All but Seamus Heaney had gone before, I was directly behind him, the last to enter after our noble guest, having been Irishly fetched from the Twin Cities.

With a knowing smile at my youth, The Poet turned to me before taking the stage, and said to me, his fellow Irishman:

"I think the experts have diagnosed our condition."

Requiescat in pace.