Saturday, October 22, 2016

Flash in the Pan

On Friday's show, I talked about another fine Minnesota Republican who seems to be losing it in the Age of Trump, Leilani Holmstadt.  Holmstadt, the GOP candidate for SD54, sounded like a complete idiot when she went after the League of Women Voters on her Facebook page, insisting they're actually some stealth Liberal group, and allowed a litany of misogynistic and disgusting comments to be made about the women of the LWV underneath her post, comments she must agree with because she left them up on her Facebook page.  BlueStem Prairie had the original story, and a follow up where Holmstadt gets taken to the woodshed by the LWV.  Here are the two links for the stories:

Leilani has fallen under my radar this election cycle, because I've been dealing with Republicans who don't live in their district, who post racist memes on their social media, who don't pay their child support, who've declared bankruptcy, who've had sex scandals, who've taken to making jokes about bestiality, who are trying to hide from the Trump fiasco, who are proudly embracing Trump, or are Jason Lewis.  Since the first story on Holmstadt had to deal with her Facebook page, I decided to take a lookie.

I found this first:

Oh my GOD!  She would actually leave her daughters in a room with Donald Trump?!?  I get it, Republicans love to vilify their enemy to the Nth degree, but when you're backing Mr. Sexual Assault, trying to turn his disturbing and unforgivable behavior from a negative to a positive is WAY off base.  You've already, strangely, taken his side against women, but now you seem ready to offer your daughters to him as tribute.  WOW!

But politics aside, sometimes life gives you sweet, sweet lemonade.  I came across this message on Leilani Holmstadt's Facebook page:

Okay...I'm not sure about the etiquette of flash mobs, but one thing I don't think I've ever seen is them organized, visibly, via a public Facebook page.  The whole point of a flash mob is to catch everyone off guard, but Holmstadt wouldn't be the first politico to try to misappropriate a popular, youthful, social media fueled, cultural activity in a pathetic attempt to look cool.  

So, how did it go?


That's a total of 7, SEVEN people!!!  Leilani must not know what the term 'mob' means either, as this is far more an 'unruly milling about.'  For goodness sake, eight people liked the flash mob invite post.  What happened to the last guy?

Anyone with a small fraction of common sense would've known to not post this picture, as all it would be is an invite to ridicule and scorn.  Mission Accomplished!  Not to downplay her anti woman stance and her blind stupidity in regards to her daughters and Trump, but this is by far the dumbest thing I saw on her Facebook page.  

I think the next time he offers up a "flash mob," I think we should organize a far larger one, maybe with 15 or 16 people, to drown out all of Leilani's flash mob sadness.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Friday Link for 10/21/16

It is MEA weekend and so I've been out running around with the kids.

From on top of the Science Museum, looking out away from the downtown onto the Mississippi River.

The Conservatory (gorgeous),

The Carousel 

I'll make it quick tonight with two fun clips.  First is more Bad Lip Reading from...Bad Lip Reading.  It's Poetry Slam time, Presidential Debate Edition!

And for the the time of the year, some Halloween laughs from Jerry Seinfeld, still probably the funniest man in America.  Please click on the link and Enjoy!

Jerry Seinfeld on Candy and Halloween!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Another year, another birthday.  Forty eight this time.  Thanks for all the well wishes.  It's very appreciated.

Having kids who are 15, 12 and 9, I often get asked to explain what the good old days of my youth were like.  Looking back helps me understand the life of my ancestors; my parents, grandparents and so on.  My father grew up in the age of an ever shrinking globe.  He was born in 1929, and is still alive today, having witnessed the conquering of air travel, making distances which were year long journeys into a series of flights over two days.  The moon was something unattainable in the sky when he was a kid.  Today we've actually seen close up pictures of Pluto.  Distance grew smaller in his life.

His mother, my grandmother, witnessed the beginning of a northern Minnesota frontier; a wild and alien place when she was born there, it became a tamed wilderness by the time she died at 103.  She was born as Roosevelt was finishing out McKinley's second term.  She didn't make it to Obama's victory, but she saw the first African American man to be President actually campaigning.  She saw the first cars rolling off the assembly lines, watching them move from luxury item to mandatory family need.  She saw the Great Depression and was the first generation to live in the time of options, something her parents never really dreamed of.

When I look back on my life, obviously computers are the biggie.  When I was a kid, computers still hadn't infiltrated the workplace.  I remember my father having a job, something like "regional sales manager for applied products, midwest division," which begged to be downsized when computers started to get rolling.  I remember the first wave of computers sending a lot of people to the unemployment office in the late 70's/early 80's.  I remember floppy disks, and really crappy computer games, which seemed so cutting edge when they were introduced.  I remember the main use of my first computer being to write letters I would still mail to my friends, feeling guilty because printing off pages was too impersonal.  I remember the continued march forward in technology.

I've gotten quite a few birthday greetings via Facebook and Twitter.  It is by far the most common method of wishing me a happy birthday this year.  Ten years ago, as hard as this is to comprehend, it was mainly e-mail messages.  Ten years before that, 1996, was the first year I had an e-mail address. Only two or three people I knew had one, so most of my birthday well wishes came either in the mail, in person or over the phone.

I remember evening newspapers, and my father demanding we all be quiet as he watched the evening news.  I remember timing my phone calls to keep the cost down.  I remember preparing my show for three hours (for a three hour radio show) by ensuring I was at a library with enough time to either make notes, or pay the pricy copier costs of five cents per copy.  I remember my parents refusing to drive me to my best friends house five miles away, because he was "too far away for a best friend."  Today, some of my kid's more regular friends live 20 miles away.

I remember the freedom we all felt with cassette tapes.  I remember CD's being incredible when they were introduced, such a cleaner sound, but you couldn't record on them, so cassettes still dominated.  Eventually came recordable CD's and then MP3.  I can't remember the last full album I purchased.  I wonder what to do with the large box of CD's I have in the garage, as my next computer probably won't even be able to play the antiquated technology.

I remember watching something on TV I didn't like, or had seen twenty times before,  because the other four channels had nothing on I cared for.  I remember the original cable television, with 12 channels; The Weather Channel, ESPN with Australian rules football, MTV with wall to wall music, and CNN.  What was I going to do with all of these viewing options?  Today I have 150 channels I never watch.

I remember the joy of getting a letter in the mail, a brief update from a friend far away.  I remember sitting with friends and talking without glowing rectangles always at arms reach.

I remember my mother planning out meals, with meats defrosting days before they were to be cooked.  I remember the microwaves first coming into our house, and how awful the food out of them tasted.  Today, many people consider warming up a microwave meal 'home cooking.'

I remember gas stations being only where you got gas, and automotive supplies.  Slowly they added candy and soda, and now each one is a mini grocery store, many of them better stocked than some of the grocery stores of my youth.

I remember phones which were attached to the wall, and how the first wireless phones were only good for about 20 feet around the base, but you still felt so free!

I remember smokers EVERYWHERE!  I remember smokers getting angry if a restaurant had non-smoking seating, sitting next to non-smokers, blowing smoke in their direction.  Most of those people are probably long dead.

I could go on and on, but my kids mock me enough as it is.  I don't want to dwell in the past.  Just remember it.  Remember what you can, tell it to someone, and maybe it'll help them evaluate what they need to remember, as the world they grow up in disappears right before their eyes.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Quick Hits for 10/16/16

  • Let's start with the disturbing video of the Edina Police clearly overstepping their bounds.  They manhandled an African American man whose only crime was walking around a construction site in Edina, getting slightly close to the shoulder line, with Edina Police in turn treating him far rougher than they should have.  Edina Police say they only treated the man, Larnie Thomas, the same way they treat everyone else.  As a white man who lived in Edina, that's the largest pile of horse crap I've ever heard.  There is NO WAY, they do the same thing to a white guy, even if the white guy was drunk as a skunk.  I've witnessed the drunk and disorderly behavior of Edina kids, white kids, as they almost seem to try to get into trouble, and the police don't even bat an eye.  Nope, this was pure harassment of a man because he was African American, plain and simple.  Thomas was stopped for WWB, 'Walking While Black.'
  • Since Edina wants to insist this incident has nothing to do with race, let's have a little history lesson about Edina.  Edina originally (pre-1900) was actually a very inclusive town, but it all changed when they became a "Sundown Town," so called because the city passed laws which insisted people of a certain ethnic groups (in the case of Edina, African Americans and the Jewish) were to be off the streets and out of town by sundown.  While they were developing certain parts of Edina in the 1900's, deed restrictions were used to keep Edina as caucasian as possible, with language such as:  "No lot shall ever be sold, conveyed, leased, or rented to any person other than one of the white or Caucasian race, nor shall any lot ever be used or occupied by any person other than one of the white or Caucasian race, except such as may be serving as domestics for the owner or tenant of said lot, while said owner or tenant is residing thereon." How charmingly racist!  Even though such restrictions were struck down by the Supreme Court in the 1940's, Edina was still trying to be their own little slice of the Aryan Race well into the 1960's.  In certain Edina neighborhoods, neighbors were trying to get African American homes condemned, as a way to drive them out of their own personal 'Lily White Dale.'  Proud 1960's Edina-ites insisted Edina contained "Not one Negro and not one Jew."  And let's not forget, due to very small minority population 'invading' elements of the east side, Edina actually split their school district into two in the early 1970's, with 'white as snow' Edina West and 'less than 5% minority population, but still too ethnic for West kids,' Edina East.  It was less than ten years later, after Edina East kept winning boys state hockey championships, Edina West folks starting asking themselves if having one school district with a tiny minority population would be such a bad thing, eventually reuniting the district in 1981.  My sophomore year at Edina was with the seniors who were the last group to be separated, and they insisted the small east side minority population was the only reason the schools were split.  Yes Edina, you do have a history with this sort of thing, and no, it's not ancient history.
  • One of the more interesting aspects of the tape of Larnie Thomas' arrest is who took it.  Janet Rowles is a professional mediator, appears to be caucasian, appears to be more affluent than most individuals recording questionable police behavior, and was trying desperately to calm the officer in question down.  She clearly saw an officer overstepping his bounds.  This element, her mediation during the video, is more damning evidence against the officer, accentuating the racism far past what our eyes see alone.  She's comes across as a better police officer, suggesting a community friendly solution, as opposed to the overzealous officer who's throwing Thomas around like a rag doll.  In regards to the officer in question, there's a bi-polar element in the way he communicates with Thomas and Rowles individually.  He seems to treat the white woman taping him with a very different tone from the one he uses on the individual he's harassing.  And since the person video taping is not some 20-something kid, friend of the victim, or an opportunist trying to make a buck, this video becomes much harder for the Edina Police to wipe aside.  Maybe Edina Police should hire Janet Rowles to teach them some professional mediation skills.  They clearly need them.
  • Is the Presidential Election of 2016 actually coming down to this:  the first woman in US history with a realistic shot at the office, taking on someone who could be the most misogynistic candidate ever to attempt to win the White House?  If someone was to offer this script to the Lifetime Movie Network, they'd insist it was too unbelievable.  It doesn't seem real, and as we dig through the ugly history of Donald Trump, exposing the disturbing, disgusting and demeaning behavior he's prides himself in, it almost seems like the Republican effort against Hillary Clinton boils down to them trying to find the ultimate antithesis of her.  Weird.
  • When you combine these stories (another African American getting treated unfairly by police/Trump exposing the ugly reality: almost all women have been, to some extent, sexually abused and mistreated by men, under the false argument the abuse is socially acceptable behavior within certain circles) maybe our awareness of these issues means we're witnessing something good.  Our acceptance of this continued atrocious behavior is wearing away.  It'll still take years, if not decades, to eliminate just these two injustices alone, but if we can at least start to see the abuse, and accept it's continued existence is unacceptable, maybe we can start to build on hope.  To paraphrase Tony "ClownCar" Cornish, only with sanity and dignity:  "Here beginith the lesson."
  • Finally, I leave you with a dark, gnawing fear in my heart.  I'm terrified the Russians, the Nazi's or just some delusional Trump fan will attempt to kill Hillary Clinton.  Right now, its the only option that gets them a win.  They're not going to be able to overcome the Trump missteps, and every day he seems to be getting more and more unhinged.  The Russians would have a tremendous amount to gain from a Trump victory.  Since their leader, Putin, has killed off most of his enemies, is it too hard to believe there might be Russian para-military in the United States today, plotting an assassination attempt?  The Nazi's were a laughing stock, until the Cheney/Rove GOP voter initiatives started to welcome them into the mainstream.  You think they want to go back?  And as far a a lone wolf nutbag, how many years of absorbing right leaning media screaming "they're going to kill everything you love, kill everyone you know, and take all your money, unless someone stops them!" do you think they need before they finally become convinced killing their political opponents is what Jesus wants them to do?  Trump himself has insisted the election is already fraudulent.  My guess is the guns are going to be coming out soon.  If not for Hillary, then for her supporters, or for the protesters at their rallies, or for the media they hate for reporting the truth, or for the polling places on election day.  If any of these tragedies comes to fruition, then we need to hold the enablers from the right accountable for what they've wrought.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Friday Link for 10/14/16

WOW!  The revelations about Donald Trump this week...seriously, 7 days ago, we were just beginning hear about the tape from the bus.  Today, the number of women accusing him of inappropriate contact is growing by leaps and bounds every day, while he seems to be in full Beer Hall Putsch mode.

Make sure the Republicans you know don't try to avoid acknowledging their role in creating Trump.  They might not have supported him this election, but they're all responsible for his being the 2016 option.  You ever post a birth certificate meme?  Your fault!  You ever insist Sarah Palin was a great choice for America?  Your fault!  You ever watch the evening programming on Fox News and insist it was actual news?  Your Fault!  You ever purposely ignore the inexcusable behavior and comments of the GOP for the last 20 years?  Your Fault!  You applaud the insane "destroy government before ever working with the other side" mantra of the GOP?  YOUR FAULT!

I'm off to party tonight.  I need to forget all of...this.  Remember VOTE on November 8th!

Ichabod Crane was always one of my favorite Disney cartoons, but it really doesn't get good until the last bit.  No one will criticize you if you jump ahead.  Enjoy some Fall entertainment in the form of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.  It's not the best video but it's still better than watching more of the ick.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Look in the Mirror

It's incredible how badly the GOP brand has been damaged this election cycle.  The party's standards, unbreakable ideals from 30 years ago, principles handed down by the GOP God Reagan himself, are now ashes, burned to keep the party faithful warm as they embrace an ice cold candidate, Donald Trump, a candidate who's everything they've fought against for the last few decades.  Trump, by embracing racism, islamophobia, misogyny, and homophobia wrapped in a bogus, dirty 'family values' wrapper, and by insisting he'd be very anti-abortion and 'huge' for business, has become the candidate they blindly follow, as they eradicate the moral code they still foolishly think they're abiding by.

How bad is it getting?  One example:  this last summer, Republicans were going out of their way to discriminate against the transgender community, in some cases proposing multi million dollar solutions to the false problem of transgender people using the restrooms they gender identify with.  The party of small government and personal liberty was proposing universal state wide gender databases, an idea which would come with a massive expansion of governmental overreach and taxpayer cost.  They also suggested Crotch Cops, people stationed at restrooms across the country to actually serve as 'inspectors,' abusive goalkeepers invading individual's genitalia to determine if it was safe to let them go tinkle.  They did this all under the false narrative 'it's to prevent creeps from grabbing people's genitals.' 

Three months later, they're now not only supporting a candidate for President we have on tape boastfully bragging about grabbing a woman by her genitals, but the same exact people behind the bathroom bill nonsense are making ludicrous excuses for Trump's inexcusable behavior.  And this is only one example of hundreds I could make.

Let's face it, the Republican Party is no longer about winning with their candidates.  It's about defeating their perceived enemies, antagonist du jour's they've falsely hyper-inflated to video game levels of super-villainy.  They take a regular politician, turn him or her into Hitler infinite, and then insist the best way to deal with their self created problem is to nuke the country.  In their reality, Tump's the nukes they're cheering on, as they stand on the targets!

If you're a moderate Republican, and you're voting for Trump, I don't understand you.  There's nothing he's proposing which is remotely moderate.  Trump is extremism for extremism sake, so you voting for him officially negates any ability for you to claim you're a moderate ever again.

If you're a fiscally conservative Republican, and you're voting for Trump, I understand you even less.  The tax bills he's proposing would triple the national debt.  His insane ideas of building walls and throwing out all undocumented people would cost in the trillions of dollars, and will not work.  Trump's mere victory would send this country into an economic slide, with American companies likely leaving US soil to prevent from experiencing a total economic catastrophe, so you voting for him officially negates any ability for you to claim you're fiscally conservative ever again.

If you're a Reagan Republican, and you're voting for Trump, you're betraying everything Reagan ever stood for.  Only the most intentionally oblivious fool would not see the clear ties to Putin and Russia. Reagan would've NEVER allowed a foreign country to potentially influence the policy decisions of the US.  A recent Newsweek story ( pointed out Trump has undeniably gotten fed political smear talking points from the Russian Government and Wikileaks.  Trump is a puppet of Putin, so you voting for him officially negates any ability for you to claim you're a Reagan Republican ever again.

If you're a Christian Conservative, and you're voting for Trump, you're betraying almost everything the Bible stands for.  I'm not the one who brought religion into this discussion, YOU DID, so don't get angry when I point out your massive level of hypocrisy.  You wrap yourself in one political point, abortion, a topic I addressed quite thoroughly in the September post titled 'Abortion.'  A reminder, many Democrats are personally against abortion and Democrats don't force people to have abortions, regardless of how much your fever dreams tell you they do.  And as you micro focus on abortion, or stopping gay people (something which is far more about your strange fascination with how gay people have sex), you ignore pretty much every other Christian teaching, from both the Old and New Testaments.  Trump doesn't care about the hungry, sick, homeless, needy, elderly, children, strangers from strange lands, or any other subgroup Jesus indisputably tells us to care for, so you voting for him officially negates any ability for you to claim you're standing for Christian values ever again. 

For God's sake Republicans, look in the mirror!  Turn off the Fox News.  Turn off the extremist right wing media.  Turn off your racist and derogatory social media feeds, and use YOUR brains for once.  Realize who exactly you're getting into bed with, and what it will cost us all if he wins.  You could come to grips with Hillary Clinton not being the demagogue you've turned her into, but a reminder; you don't have to vote for ANYONE.  This is not a "I have no option but to vote for Trump" scenario.  My rant isn't an attempt to trick you.  It's an attempt to save your souls.

If you vote for Trump, I'll never take you guys seriously again, even if Trump gets walloped on November 8th.  You'll have proven to the world your morals, beliefs values and standards are not real.  You'll have proven you're too stupid for us to listen too, ever again.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Locker Rooms

Last Friday, an incredibly offensive video from 2005 emerged from Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, where he describes his propositioning, belittling, intimidating and sexual assaulting of women, including married women, to entertainment reporter Billy Bush, a conversation both seemed to be very proud of at the time it was being recorded.  This conversation was recorded when the microphones these two jackasses were wearing were still live, but the cameras were off.

Trump's primary defense of these comments is that he and Bush were only partaking in 'locker room talk,' implying this is some sort of acceptable conversation when men are alone in locker rooms.  Setting aside the asinine thought process this kind of conversation would EVER be acceptable, regardless of location or gender makeup of the crowd (BECAUSE IT'S NEVER ACCEPTABLE!), it does give me an opportunity to clear up some misconceptions and cliches which are being perpetrated by a sexual abuser running for office.  Let me explain what happens in men's locker rooms.

Locker rooms are not some venue where the male only environment perpetrates lewd and disturbing conversations.  It's not like men love going into locker rooms, because, "even though I'm a doctor, husband, church leader, and father, I can't wait to talk about the hot bod on the chickie poo I saw in my office the other day!"  Locker rooms are usually very quiet, with everyone keeping to themselves.  Men don't talk to each other in locker rooms, and when it does happen, especially when it's a complete stranger, it's awkward and uncomfortable.  Why are you talking to me as I'm naked, taking a shower?  If it does happen, it's almost always a sports related conversation, but frankly, most will shy away from neutral communication in a room full of naked, or partially clothed, men of varying ages.  It's really not acceptable.  It's like striking up a conversation with the guy the next urinal over.  This isn't the place most men are looking to make friends.

But yes, when men get together in a male only group, regardless of whether it's in a locker room, hunting cabin, or just going out drinking for the night, a small percentage of men will think it's a safe environment to talk about women, minorities, or other religions in a derogatory way.  It's not acceptable, and when it does happen (usually due to the intake of liquor), the rest of the group usually tells the fool to shut up.

I was at the Ridgedale YMCA a few years back, in a male only group of white men in the weight training area, when an older gentleman, I'm guessing around 60, started in on why the NFL were fools to allow black men to be quarterback, as he insisted African Americans lacked the physical ability to do so.  There's no way I was going to let this racist attack go unchallenged, and I proceeded to dismantle his uneducated argument point by point, finishing him off with by telling him, "if I ever hear you say anything else so bigoted and inappropriate again, I would report you to Y management."  I never saw him again.  Three other men came up after I confronted him, saying thanks for knocking him down, insisting they were about to do the same.

Most men, regardless of location or group gender make up, are decent people who don't tolerate jackasses.

The kind of man who makes derogatory and demeaning comments about women, or other races and religions, usually has some specific characteristics.  They're usually described as 'from humble backgrounds,' which is better translated as 'not too intelligent, lacking confidence, lacking basic social manners and desperately looking for some coveted acceptance and admiration from their peers.'  They usually walk into conversations feeling inferior, aware of their limited social skills, so their bragging about sexual conquests is a foolish attempt to impress men they feel inferior too.  They don't understand most men aren't impressed by such bluster and boasting, and are actually offended by the inappropriate conversation.  When they go after minorities or religious beliefs, it's usually because of the false assumption, "since it's a room full of white Christians, they clearly must all agree with me!" No, we don't.

I should mention this also seems to be the feeling at most GOP rallies and events today.  "We're in safe company so enough about this PC culture crap!"

It's funny these people don't realize most men can see through this false bravado.  Real men don't need to brag about their sexual prowess or conquests.  My experience is the only people who do are lying.  It's the Canadian Girlfriend paradox.  If you're telling us how great your sex life is, most of us know you're making it up.  People who have satisfying sex lives and interesting sexual experiences don't ever talk about them.  They don't need to.  When I see Trump's tasteless grandstanding, wether a real life accounting of his illegal and immoral lecherous behavior or a completely fabricated story of him bragging about assaulting women, I see a guy pathetically attempting to impress other men.  Let that sink in for a second.  By the way, the only thing more pathetic is the loser who's impressed with such ignorant, criminal, misogynist, and perhaps fictitious bogus tales (Billy Bush).

Trump is trying to use the 'locker room' excuse as a way to imply "all men do it."  No they don't!!!  The vast majority of men are offended by such comments and all Trump is trying to do is cover his caboose by giving all men a bad name.  Donald Trump, you don't speak for me.  From the bottom of my heart, "Shut up, you jackass!"

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Friday Link for 10/7/16

I'm not really in the funny mood on a Friday night:  Donald Trump's sexual assault admission tape, being reminded of Rep. Jim Newberger's racism, being shown new reasons to hate Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, and pathetic losers who want to dress up like clowns (but to be fair, all four categories can be labeled as pathetic losers dressed up like clowns).

To turn this frown upside down, how about the Daily Show?  Why not!  They've been putting out top notch product lately, so I'll hand them the stage.

***WARNING - A lot of rough language, especially Ronny Chieng's piece, but considering the level of racism he's addressing, it's justified.  YOU'VE BEEN WARNED***

First up Lewis Black in a Back in Black from Wednesday night.  This was almost as good as the Fox News/Nazi rant he did a few years back.

Then Trever Noah dismantles Tomi Lahren and her incredibly stupid video clips.  

Finally, it's Ronny Chieng who has a very big problem with the incredible level of racism shown by the Bill O'Reilly show to the Asian community.  It's hard to understand how even an incompetent organization like Fox News would allow a piece like this get anywhere close to on-air!

A lot of bad language!  

The video won't post, so here is the link:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mob Rule

Ever since the First Presidential Debate, little more than a week ago, I've been flabbergasted at the continued passionate support of Donald Trump by people who proudly considered themselves Republicans.  These aren't the crazy folks who embody the Tea Party movement, or militia types who've been welcomed to leave their compounds and enter the modern Republican party.  These are people who, although I disagreed with them on some issues, seemed sane.  Their continued following of Trump has left me asking how they can still be so in love with Donald.  Then, I witnessed the GOP Vice Presidential nominee, Governor Mike Pence, and his debate performance.  Now things are starting to make more sense.

During the first Presidential Debate, Trump was insultive, combative, childishly interruptive and obsessed with personal vendettas and issues (has ANYONE called Sean Hannity?).  He followed up the worst debate performance I've ever witnessed with A WEEK of him, and his entire staff, body shaming a former pageant contestant, culminating in a series of bizarre text messages early on the morning of September 30th, with one encouraging all Americans, including kids, to watch a non existent sex tape of said pageant contestant.  Over the weekend, he insisted his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was guilty of sleeping around on her husband, former President Bill Clinton, even though he has absolutely zero evidence of any affairs.  He then started mocking her health.  Then came the bombshell revelation from the New York Times; he personally, not professionally, lost ONE BILLION DOLLARS in a single year, a devastating annual loss for a self proclaimed wildly successful business man, a loss which was so staggering, he was able to qualify for the IRS pity party program, allowing him to not pay ANY taxes for years.  Finally, a mere week after his horrendous debate performance, he decided to put a cherry on top of his crap sundae by indirectly criticizing soldiers returning from combat suffering from PTSD, implying only weak people have an issue with PTSD.  WOW!

Going back and reading that last paragraph, I'm stunned Trump has any pull within the old elements of the GOP.  Reagan era Moderate Republicans, Reagan Republicans themselves, Fiscal Conservatives and even the Christian Conservatives should all be abandoning him, not necessarily for Hillary, but at least not supporting something they've never been.  Instead, large portions of those four groups still LOVE Trump, and still think of him as their savior.  I couldn't figure it out.

Then came the Vice Presidential candidate debate Tuesday night; Mike Pence for the GOP, and Tim Kaine for the Democrats.  Although Pence did a better job than Trump (not exactly the highest hurdle to clear) he was desperately denying he or Trump ever said all the nasty things he and Trump have said, all the stuff we have them on tape actually saying, undeniable lies which Pence knows he can't get away with.  Why would he even say they never said them?  By 6 AM yesterday morning Hillary had already taken Pence's denials and placed them in a commercial, juxtaposing him next to himself saying the things he denies having said.  Pretty good stuff.

Then it hit me.  He's saying they never said this things because the people who support Trump need the validation to keep marching in anger.  If Trump and Pence ever acknowledged the things they've said, their rational supporters would start to question why they're supporting them, so they create a validation; "they insisted they never said it, so good enough for me!  Now I'm off to the next Trump rally to hear more!"  We are looking at a Republican Party far less like the political party of the past, and far more like an unruly mob; angry, seething and looking to take out their enemies any way possible.

It's not necessarily their fault.  They've been brainwashed by 20 years of far right media fueling their hatred of all things Democrat.  For awhile, it was Barack Obama taking the primary thrust of their combined hatred, but he was always the warm up act.  The pure hatred the modern Republican embraces has always been micro focused on Hillary Clinton, and now's the time to let it all out.  Their internal insanity, which is usually confined, has been unleashed, and much like a mob marching to the jail, wanting to dish out mob rule justice, they're marching in unison to their goal.  Funny thing, I don't think their real goal is a Trump victory, rather their main goal is stopping Hillary from winning without thinking about the consequences.

Historically, when mobs have formed and done heinous acts (lynchings, arson, running a certain ethnic group out of town, going after a politician they don't like, open rebellion in the streets), there are two separate mindsets in place:  the mindset of the mob combined, and the mindset of the individuals within the mob.  We've all seen the photos of lynch mobs of the past proudly smiling as they point to the lifeless hung body, while their kids play at the corpses feet. Unforgivable.  But when people who were part of the lynch mob are confronted individually, there's a whitewashing to their actions.  "Sure I was there, and maybe there were one or two people doing bad things, but the most of us had nothing to do with the dead body," says the person in the photo smiling as they point to the victim.  They convince themselves of a reality which doesn't exist to validate the bad behavior they might've participated in.

By the way, this is why Allied Commanding Officers insisted on marching the German citizens past the barely alive living and the piles of the dead from the concentration camps.  They wanted the German people to own their shame, never being able to push it off onto others.  It was their fault, as a nation, no exceptions.

The Trump mob isn't to the point of heinous acts, like lynching, but they're already dabbling in violence.  At their rallies, people scream white power, cheering on the harsh language geared at minorities, women, Muslims, gays and Latinos.  They gleefully applaud when the crowd starts attacking a protester; punching, slapping and kicking, convinced their violence is justified.  When they come out of their rallies, they immediately rewrite history:  "I wasn't the guy punching the woman with the kid.  I would never encourage anything like that!"  Yes you were, or at least you were cheering it on like it was a winning touchdown!

Trump figured out the modern GOP id better than the rest of the GOP field.  There's a shocking amount of Republicans who want to call African Americans the N word, want to throw all Latinos out of the country, regardless of where they were born.  They want to smack their female coworker on the caboose, demanding sex when they want it, and if the wife at home gets out of line, they want to be able to smack her around to 'teach her a lesson.'  They not only want to scream "Jesus Hates You" in gay people's faces, but they actually want to make gay existence a crime.  They want to torture a Muslim, any Muslim, even people who look slightly Muslim, feeling as if it's some sort of payback for all terrorism.  They want to take the wealth from those who disagree with them, making them pay for the world they think they should be able to enjoy for free.  Trump saw this internal sickness, and corralled it like a master rancher.

Not ALL Republicans have these traits, but you all see them being displayed as the bellwether of your party.  Instead of calling out the bad behavior, you either rationalize it away as a much smaller percentage than it really is, act like you can't hear anything, or insist Hillary is far worse so you tolerate it.  You're the problem.  If the four GOP elements I mentioned earlier, the Reagan era Moderates, Reagan Republicans, Fiscal Conservatives and the Christian Right all woke up, realized this is not how you want to be identified, by a candidate and his mob of supporters who represent pretty much everything you've fought against, then the mob wouldn't have the power anymore.  The mob gets dispersed.

Instead, you all clap along with the hatred, keeping your mouth shut even when you hear your party embrace the worst of humanity, as you all angrily march towards November.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Take it to the Bank

Wells Fargo is (unfortunately) my bank.  On Thursday, I went over to their offices in Hopkins, and demanded to see every account opened in my family's name.  They complied, very quickly, and after I confirmed I wasn't abused by my own bank, I expressed my disgust at having to actually come to the bank to confirm the bank hadn't defrauded me, a customer!  The banker, a nice enough guy, said, what I presume to be, the Wells Fargo ordered standard response; "We got rid of the 5300 bad apples!"  I went OFF on him for saying something which 1) was ignorant, and 2) assumed I was a complete moron.

In case you missed it, what Wells Fargo did, in the post-2008 age of responsible banking, was disgusting.  Wells Fargo wanted to continue to look like a growing financial institution, but the problem for them was the only way you grow as a bank is to get additional new customers, or to have your existing customers expand the number of accounts they individually have.  Wells Fargo's solution was to start, illegally, opening up accounts in their own customer's names.  These accounts were opened without the knowledge of their customers, and were usually closed before anything bad happened, but in many cases, penalties and overdraft charges were placed upon the unknowing customers.  Wells Fargo was basically stealing from their own accounts.  The expanded account base made it seem like Wells Fargo was expanding their customer base, and it allowed them to keep up with Wall Street expectations, falsely inflating the stock price, and allowing the bank's executive class to steal millions of dollars in fraudulent gains.

Let me take a quick moment to explain the modern Wall Street.  Used to be, if you were a publicly traded company on a Wall Street market, your stock price was directly tied to the quarterly performance of the company.  If a company had a good quarter, their stock prices went up.  If they had a bad quarter, the company's stock went down.  The stock market was meant to be a marketplace for wealthy investors to find up and coming businesses who might give them a return on their investment.  Occasionally it was a great return, but most of the time is was luke warm at best.  The company's success was generally tied to the health of the US economy as a whole, and the quarterly internal company reports.  The stock market was never intended to primarily be a 'get rich quick' scheme.  There were always some people who'd gamble on future earnings, but it was considered to be reckless and unwise to gamble money like that.

Things started changing in the 1970's.  A new mentality started to arise; the Wall Street speculators insisted they were the REAL geniuses, and THEIR bets on future corporate earnings should be the standard the company was held too.  When the company achieved THEIR expectations, the company was rewarded, but when a company didn't acheive THEIR expectations, even when the company had a very profitable quarter, the company was labeled a failure, needing to be punished.  Many companies had great years, but because it wasn't as profitable as the speculators thought it should be, rightly or wrongly, the company suffered overall.  That's insane.  It's very Las Vegas:  I'm playing 21.  I have 17 and I tell the dealer to hit me, because I'm convinced the next card is a 4 or lower.  It's a Jack.  I then insist I didn't lose, rather the dealer is the real bad guy for not giving me the card I wanted.  It's a system based on false standards, very easily manipulated.  If you're a dishonest executive, all you have to do is find out where the speculators think your company should be, and then manipulate the profit margins of your own company to exceed it; instant millions in your stock portfolio.

Wells Fargo executives openly encouraged the fraudulent accounts.  They set quotas for their employees, with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf encouraging 8 accounts per customer.  The bank told their workers to make it happen, OR ELSE!  It's hard to determine where exactly the 'open fraudulent accounts' order came from, but considering the amount of money the executives made from a manipulated stock price, it clearly points to the executives themselves, and one in particular, Carrie Tolstedt, the executive head of the division where the fake accounts originated.  Carrie, when the reality of her illegal corporate manipulation was about to come to light, was able to retire before facing the music.

Let me go back to why I went off on the poor banker for insisting the bank was better because they got rid of the 5300 bad apples.  THIS WAS THEFT!  The executives not only stole money from their own customer base with their unethical practices, they did it so the bonuses and stock options they received would be worth 3 to 4 times more than they should've been. The 5300 low level employees who opened these fraudulent accounts did so under orders to do so, so to punish them, under the guise of 'we got the bad apples' is insanely short sided.  For goodness sake, Wells Fargo openly punished employees who tried to report the fraudulent behavior, complaints which clearly were seen by the executive class.

The employees weren't ordered to do this by a single low level manager, or his manager, or his manager.  5300 employees don't do this kind of manipulation without commands from the executives.  For Wells Fargo to imply they've solved the problem, by firing the employees whom they knowingly ordered to defraud their own customers, is an empty, comical solution.

We need to have FAR harsher penalties for this kind of white collar crime.  Many people in this country insist a liquor store robber who stole $50 needs to go to jail for 30 years, but when you talk about corporate banking executives stealing hundreds of millions of dollars via entrusted customer money and falsely manipulated stock prices, they shrug.  The executives who participate in this level of crime do so knowing they'll never face any punishment, let alone jail time.  The worst punishment many of these executives will get is a six figure payout from the company.

Carrie Tolstedt, the one executive we can definitively point to as the criminal in this case, will walk away with $124 million dollars in compensation from Wells Fargo.  She's 56 years old.  That means, if she lives to be 96, she'll have to find a way to survive on only 3.1 million dollars per year (if she doesn't make any more money on future stock value or interest).  If that wasn't tough enough for poor little Carrie, depending on her employment and retirement agreement, she might also have to live in a house paid for by Wells Fargo (THE SHAME!).  She might have multiple cars and a vacation home included as part of her executive class freebies.  All her monthly bills are probably covered for a few years, a common high end executive perk, and her gold plated health care plan for her and her family is likely covered for the rest of her life.  She'll likely have some sort of travel benefit, where Wells Fargo will cover her first class flights forever.  She'll still likely have her free exclusive corporate country club membership, her high end health club membership and access to the Wells Fargo tickets for every sporting and arts event her family wants to attend (in the luxury suites, of course!).   Wells Fargo might have even agreed to cover all of her family's high end education expenses, all the way through college.  But I'm sure she's learned her lesson.  AND THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT WOULD HAPPEN TO HER!  Is it any wonder we continue to have massive corporate fraud, perpetrated by a greed worshipping executive class?

We need to walk into Wells Fargo and grab Stumpf, Tolstedt and every executive who might have had a whiff of this fraud, drag them out by their short hairs and throw them into prison for the rest of their freaking lives!  They need to be made an example of.  They need to go to jail for violating the one thing a bank can't, the accounts of their own customers.  They need to go to jail for ordering their low level employees to break the law, and then acting like the low level employees came up with such a grandiose fraud on their own.  They need to go to jail for so being so brazen; for allowing the guilty parties to get their ducks in a row before the public became aware.  They need to go to jail because they are common criminals.  They need to go to jail because they stole millions of dollars.

Wells Fargo has historically wrapped their product within an image of a stagecoach riding the west, evading thieves and robbers, as they care for the money their customers have entrusted with them.  The updated version of their image should have the robbers and thieves actually holding the reins and driving the stagecoach.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Friday Link for 9/30/16

I've spent a lot of time focusing on the hosts of late night comedy television, as they break down the insanity that's a Trump candidacy, so for tonight, I'll focus on some of the better supporting players in late night comedy.

First off is the best, Jordan Klepper from the Daily Show.  This piece from two Trump rallies in Ohio and Wisconsin defies explanation.  WOW!

Next up, the very funny Ashley Black and Allana Harkin from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.  Their person on the street interviews are the best since The Daily Show went to the 2008 GOP convention.  Here, they wallow into debate watching parties for the Democrats and the Republicans from Monday night.

And then there's Kimmel.  His Lie Witness News is pretty funny, and this one was set up asking people about the Sunday night, non-existent debate between Trump and Clinton (not the actual Monday night debate).

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Stadium Didn't Make them Competitive

I went to the Minnesota Twins game on Saturday night verses Seattle.  They won, shockingly.  When the final out was recorded, the jumbo-tron on the center right wall flashed a very cool slogan:  "We Win, We Dance!"  That's great, unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of dancing this year at Target Field.

I'm going to try to dissect what the heck happened to the Twins this season, what has been their long term problem, and how do the Twins fix it.  I will freely admit many will disagree with me, but I stand by my theories.

Let's start with this season.  For me, it comes down to a lack of preparedness.  In an incredible display of incompetence, the team was 15-36 by Memorial Day.  They'd won only 15 of their first 51 games, and were officially out of contention before June, the earliest I've ever seen a team eliminated.  The Twins didn't come into the season ready to play.  They were out of shape, slow, inconsistent, and lacked drive.  This falls on their off season management, and their off season conditioning guys; from the front office, to the coaches, to the staff.  There's no excuse for this.  When you dig a whole that deep, not only do you have zero chance at getting out during the season, the Twins bad April and May have actually damaged this team for seasons to come.

As I write this, the team still has 6 more games to go, and 100 loses on the season.  They can't set the franchise record for loses (113 back when the team was the Washington Senators in 1904), but if they go 1-5, they'll have the most franchise loses since 1909's 110.  To avoid tying the Twins' record for futility (102 in 1982), they need to go 5-1 in their final week.  Smart money is on this being the worst Minnesota Twins team of all time when the final out is recorded on October 2nd.

I could probably mention their pitching too, but when you're this bad, nothing's going right on a team.  Their team batting average is .251, their opponents are hitting .284.  Their team pitching ERA is 2nd worst in all baseball at 5.11, and they've the second highest total of errors for the season of any team, at 125. It's hard to determine how bad this team really is, because they clearly quit very early in the season.  It's pathetic.

A reminder of the title of this entry:  The Twin's insisted, 'if we build them a new stadium, they'll be competitive.'  What the heck would they be in the old Metrodome, a AAA franchise?

This season is part of a larger overall problem the Twins have had for fifteen years, and although I've been very critical of how the team has worshipped Joe Mauer, Mauer is only part of the problem.

But first...

Twins, you will never escape the David Ortiz mistake.  NEVER!  You had a top ten all time player on your roster and you so poorly mismanaged him, trying to turn a pure slugger into a singles/doubles hitter ("it's how we do it in Minnesota!") you became a laughing stock, a cautionary tale.  In baseball history, the Twins and Ortiz will live on as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, player mismanagement stories of all time.  You'll never escape that.  Stop trying to turn every player coming through the system who shows a flash of talent into the next Ortiz.  There are so few players of that caliber, you're created an impossible standard for the developing players to achieve.  You've ruined too much up and coming talent, and are in the process of ruining Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton; neither is Ortiz.  Stop trying to prove everyone else is wrong about your catastrophic error; own it and move on.

The Twins love being the little team that could, but the problem with that mentality is underestimating the amount of effort it takes to turn a team with little chance into a contender.  If you're not constantly giving 110%, you falter.  It's what happened in 2016, and it's been a recurring problem with the team since the mid-2000s.  Part of it is Mauer, and the decision by the team to focus every element of the organization around him, an effort to placate hometown fans.  I've said before, they created a whole bunch of Mauer fans who happen to like the Twin's, not the other way around.  Since 2012, the Mauer-centric mentality has actually damaged the team.  They've forgone good talent on the rosters, made bone headed on the field position changes and placed too much importance on a single player who's not worth half the contract he gets paid.

But the hometown hero mentality goes beyond Mauer.  When the Mauer-centric Twins failed, the front office looked for a scapegoat.  They focused on Ron Gardenhire, one of the best managers in the league.  They dismissed him, unfairly, and replaced him with another hometown hero, Paul Molitor, a nice enough guy, and a great player back in his day, but a manager who's style doesn't work at the major league level.  He consistently over-manages the team in the first few innings and under-manages them in later innings.  He needs to be more consistent overall, with a much bigger focus on late game situations.  He, and the rest of the current coaching staff, are responsible for the lack of 110% effort and they've proven they don't deserve another chance.

What do you do to fix this mess?  First, come to grips:  unless the front office opens up their wallet, big time, this team is at least three seasons away from being a contender, at best.  You need to fire Paul Molitor and the rest of the coaching staff, most of the training staff and a large part of the front office.  You need to stop hiring people who have a hometown connection, and instead start hiring the best people for your organization.  Make sure the few players you have who contribute (Dozier, Sano, Suzuki) stay on the roster, and start fresh with a combination of young talent from your minor league system, and at least six to seven proven veterans who can help direct the youth brigade.

You also have to solve the Mauer problem.  He sucks at 1st base, a bottom five player in the league, at the position.  I saw three games this year where due to his lack of correct positioning and understanding of the first baseman's role, he left at least five outs on the field.  These weren't errors, but rather mistakes a better first baseman would've capitalized on.

With Mauer entering into the last year of his contract, the Twin's organization has the power to change things.  I don't want to see Mauer gone; seeing him in a different jersey would be akin to Killebrew in Royals powder blue.  Plus, I think he still adds to an overall baseball roster, but he's a cog in the machinery, not a stand alone super player.  Offer to renegotiate his contract.  Negate the 2017/$23 million deal, give him 6 years at 12 million a year, and load his contract up with bonuses and incentives for performance.  No one else would be willing to give him anything close to that deal, so his options would be limited.  Part of the contract has to be him moving from first to right field.  He plays right for four seasons and then becomes a primary DH, who occasionally plays right.  This would free up a lot of money to bring in talent, allow the Twins to play current roster players at their best positions, and keep their main marketing image in house.  Heck, even guarantee him a coaching/managerial role in the minors after the contract expires.  If he decides to leave, let him walk away, but I'd doubt he'd go.  He'll be happy staying a Twin, and the team can move past the bad decisions which have gotten us to this pit of despair.

Stadiums don't get you wins and dancing, and they don't get you championships.  Good management and players do.  If the Twins remember that, and start giving 110% again, they might be able to make something good happen in a few years.  And in 20 years, when the organization starts bellyaching about the substandard Target Field, remind them the field was never an excuse for the David Ortiz led Boston Red Sox, at the 1912 built Fenway Park.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Friday Link for 9/23/16

Travel!  It can be the worst part of any business career.  If you don't travel for work, it might seem as if it's romantic and exciting.  It's not, well at least the getting to and fro part isn't.  Sure it's interesting at times, but airports, hotels, eating out, having to work in a strange gets old very quick.

Even the people I know who have fun travel jobs says it wears on them.  People I know in the fashion industry or who are event coordinators (setting up parties, meetings and conventions across the globe), they get wined and dined, but they usually can't wait to get home, especially when it means a long respite from the travel.

Once, when I was in the military, I was upgraded to first class on Lufthansa.  In the US, if they over book the flight, they basically tell you you're out of luck.  The German ticket executive couldn't apologize enough for the misunderstanding.  That was the nicest flight I've ever had.  I had a grilled steak for my meal.  They cooked it right there for me.  Trust me, it took away the sting of the travel experience.

This weeks Friday Link goes with a similar situation, although this guy hit the gold standard for upgrades.  Casey Neistat is a You Tube personality, filmmaker, co-founder of social media company Beme, and is a co-creator of the HBO series, The Neistat Brothers.  He also travels the world taking photos and working with video equipment.  On a flight from Dubai to New York, he got one of the more impressive upgrades ever, a $21,000 first class airplane seat!  Thank goodness he had some cameras so the rest of us can see what we're missing.  The windows are very cool, but the privacy door...that's just awesome. Watch and see:

It's amazing how the wealthy live.  If I had the money to fly like this all the time, I'm not sure if I would.  It seems like people are trying to create ways to take people's money, and the only thing they give back in return is the ability to brag.  Then again, it does look VERY nice.  I guarantee I'd never take a flight like this for granted.

The Lay of the Land

I need to ask a favor:  PLEASE support your local Progressive media.  Trust me when I say there's a very coordinated effort to rid this country of all political radio that's not right wing.  This isn't some delusional conspiracy theory; this is the reality I've witnessed.

Let me get one thing out of the way first.  Media as we know it today will NEVER return to what it was pre-1990.  It just won't.  We're never going back to the day where journalistic integrity ruled newspaper newsrooms, newsrooms which were fully staffed to cover all elements of the news in a community.  Television stations are not about to stop showing the fluff pieces which dominate their daily broadcasts, and AM/FM radio will never be the dynamic vibrant voice it once was.  The reasons for this are varied.  A lot of this is old technology, or a delivery system based on a non-technology world.  Owners looking to make a buck have trimmed these businesses to only 20 to 25% of the staff they once had, and are constantly screaming about cutting budgets even further.  Instant information and entertainment gratification via social media destroyed a lot of their momentum, and their pathetic attempts to adapt are akin to a dad adding antiquated slang terms to his vocabulary in an attempt to look cool for his kids.  Plus, the right, lead by Roger Ailes, killed it with their high intensity one sided opinion machine, which purchased all the media outlets they could, and the ones they couldn't buy, they manipulated by putting pressure on their ad revenue.

I love radio.  I have always loved it, from my first show at AFN Nuremberg in Germany, to the show I just did today.  I was meant to talk into a microphone and interact with listeners, and I can't imagine doing anything else, but even I have to acknowledge reality.  This medium, radio, with the idea of punching electricity into a big metal stick and creating a wave signal, which is picked up by tuning a radio dial to a specific frequency, within a 100 mile radius of the station, is horribly antiquated.  I know what the horseshoe salesman felt like when he started to see more and more cars drive by his blacksmith shop.  Radio, as we've known it for almost 100 years, is dying.

Don't worry, it's not dead yet, and as long as there are quirky local owners, who value delivering a good product, there will always be a few radio stations.  Eventually, most will either shut down or leave their terrestrial limits and head exclusively into the digital world.  It is what it is.

Taking all that into consideration, maybe my next sentiment is bailing water on the Titanic with a Dixie Cup, but there's still a good fight to be had, and I'm willing to fight it.

Conservative elements did a real number on our media.  They got rid of the Fairness Doctrine, and overnight media went from quality to ideology.  They eased up the ownership rules, creating media empires where twenty people decided 90% of what we all read, saw and heard.  They then went after public television and radio, the last bastion of non controlled media in many parts of this country.  Didn't matter it was only a five minute news cast at the top of the hour.  Any information they didn't own was to be destroyed.  For the record, the conservatives seem to have gained some control of public media through donations.

If you think about it logically, Progressive talk radio shouldn't be so non-existent in America.  More people identify with Democratic policies in the United State than Republican ones, and even in deep red states, large metro areas tend to have a more left leaning populace.  Why are there so few left leaning talkers in America, while some markets have four or five right wing talk stations?  Because a few people are infuriated at the thought of any opposing view being presented to the people.

Radio stations are controlled by ratings, and in large markets, you don't need a lot of ratings to make a lot of money.  With that being the case, why would a corporate radio owner decide to not program the ONLY left leaning, progressive/Democrat radio station in a given market, as opposed to the 4th or 5th right wing talker, sports talker, or Christian music station?  In a major market, progressive talk, when placed on a market competitive radio station, generally earns a 2.0 to 3.5 rating, far higher than the .02 rating the 5th overlapping talk station in any market would.  In LA, San Fran, NYC, Denver, Portland, Seattle, and other markets, the conscious decision was made to go with far lower ratings.  Those markets lost their only progressive talker because the owner would rather make zero money than allow left leaning talk into the market.  It's the only explanation that makes sense.

For those who try to argue my numbers are off, that progressive talk doesn't get that many listeners, let me share a story.  In Minneapolis, when Air America launched, they were pulling a 2.0 to 3.0 rating, very solid for a political talk station.  Then, one ratings book, they plummeted, to the cheers and high fives of the right, and never came back up.  In 2008, I was in a program director's office at a large radio group in town.  He bragged about how the radio group killed Air America's ratings, how when Air America was borderline top 10 in the market, the owner of the radio group called the ratings company, and initially insisted the ratings for Air America in town were a lie.  When the ratings company stood by their methodology, the owner threatened the ratings company.  The exact quote, relayed via this PD, "If Air America EVER shows up with higher than a 1.0 rating in the rating books ever again, I will cancel every ratings contract our company has with you; not only in Minneapolis, but in every market we operate in."  This was two years before I came to work at AM 950, and it was shared freely by the PD at the time.  And the ratings trends do match the story.  Is it so hard to believe this could be true?  Not hard at all.  Could it have happened in other markets?  Sure.  

If the ratings are truly random, then why did Progressive Talk never get above a 1.0 in Minneapolis again?  Logic would say the up and coming station, in a liberal bastion such as Minneapolis/St. Paul, a station who was hitting 2.0 to 3.0 over a period of time, should've had a few comparable, or close to comparable, ratings months.  Nope!  Apparently, according to the ratings company, everyone who was listening turned off in unison and never came back.  FYI - That doesn't happen.

A successful way to control the political leanings of local media are through advertisers.  There are numerous major advertisers, big corporate names, who refuse to advertise with liberals. They see the left as their enemy, not as an active client base looking for their business.  They usually hide behind the argument, "no one listens to you guys," (see how the ratings manipulation packs a double punch?) as they gladly write obscene checks to the conservative stations with ratings akin to Antartica.  Do liberals use plumbers, buy cars, eat food?  Yes, but regardless of how much you point that out, they look at you and say,"I don't care."  I would love to once go one the air and say "This business says they don't want any customers who vote Democrat.  They hate you and don't want your money."  I guarantee the station would get an immediate call from the business owner, complaining about how I've irreparably damaged their client base, but my first comment back to him would be, "I thought no one listened to Progressive talk?"

What's even weirder?  The pool of Republican money floating around to prop up conservative radio stations is amazing.  It's delivered through political attack ads drawn from war chest slush funds, corporate advertisers who make zero sense airing advertising (industrial cleaning equipment, food additives, distant communities badmouthing the local community to encourage people to leave for their town, international shipping corporations with very limited local client base), and millionaires and billionaires who fancy themselves the next William Randolph Hearst.

That's why you see right leaning political talk stations, who only have one tenth the listener base they used to, still have on air hosts getting paid on the high end of broadcast salaries.  These financiers used to get returns on their investment, back when right leaning radio dominated the US's radio waves, but ever since Rush Limbaugh's Sandra Fluke disaster, the ratings for right leaning radio have been cavitating.  Some stations have moved passed their conservative loyalty pledge and switched formats, especially after the national corporate radio show owners demanded obnoxious cuts of the local radio station's adverting, but the formats never went to a market exclusive progressive talk format, instead they usually program a sports or a market saturated music format.  The right leaning programmers have tried to make themselves feel better about their losses with the false argument, "at least we're better than the non-existent left talkers we ran out of business."

The salary issue is really hilarious.  While floundering conservative radio hosts make 7 figures, the left can't even get a fair salary for established talent.  When Ed Schultz resigned his show, there was a national casting call for the next big progressive mid day radio host.  I personally know three major personalities who expressed an interest, two of whom would've gotten great national ratings.  When the radio network trying to launch the show got to salary, they did the unimaginable.  They said, "you need to work for FREE(!), and after the first year, then we'll see."  They actually proposed their in house national talent should work for free.  Meanwhile, the same network was paying the conservative non-prime time hosts six figures.  I'm not sure if the radio network thought all progressives are stupid, or if this was their attempt to bury the format.  After all the prospective talent told them they could go F- themselves, they threw their hands in the air and insisted no one wants to host a Progressive talk show.

If I renounced Progressive talk radio today, and began insisting "I've seen the Republican light!"; if I came out as the former left leaning radio host who now loves all things tea party, much like Dennis Miller did, I'd be able to command five times the salary my wife and I make today, and I certainly wouldn't be worth it.  I'd just have to swallow my soul and let the money train roll on in.  I actually was approached six months after I started the Morning Grind and asked, 1) is my liberal slant an act, and 2) would I be willing to become a reformed progressive and host a conservative radio show?  He implied I'd be very happy with the potential money.  I said no.  This is not an act, and I believe in what I'm doing.

Progressive radio needs three things to exist.  The first are good radio station owners who know a good format when they see it, and are not afraid of the criticism they will receive from right leaning politicians, elements and some advertisers.  AM 950 has been blessed with great owners who are committed to the Progressive format.

The second thing?  Loyal listeners, and that is something we have in numbers.  I'm so impressed every time we have a live event and the place is packed.  I've been on top 5 radio stations in large markets and AM 950's stand alone events (the ones not tied to a sports team, university activity or major event, like the State Fair) are by far the most attended.  I'm truly blessed to have you listening and participating.

The third thing is advertisers.  I've had the privilege of working with great businesses over the 6 1/2 years I've been on AM 950.  One senior manager was telling me one of his employees was complaining the company's ads were running on the leftist station.  He responded, "only an idiot doesn't try to attract as many clients as possible, and the 'leftist station' is getting far better results with their ad buy than the two conservative stations, COMBINED!"  These results are something I've heard from many of our advertisers, which falls back to the loyal listeners point.

You can help make progressive radio work.  If you shop at a business, tell them to advertise on AM 950.  If you know someone who runs marketing at a large company, or is a start up business looking for their first visibility, tell them to advertise with AM 950.  If you're a business owner, advertise with AM 950!  This is pure capitalism, and we make money for our advertisers.  And the more businesses we have advertising, the more secure the format is.

If you're not in Minneapolis St. Paul, first get your Democratic/Progressive friends together and start demanding the local radio group owner flip the programming on the station with little or no ratings to Progressive talk, all day, 24 hour.  Then start contacting the business owners who need to advertise.  At the end of the day, regardless of manipulated ratings, if the listeners are there, and their telling the businesses they're there, progressive radio will live on to fight another day.

I'm not going anywhere.  I love what I do.  The podcasting will eventually come for me, but until I have to go, you can hear me by tuning in on your radio dial!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sick, Twisted People Who Need Help

The gun nuts are still at it, with the same tired arguments on why "guns rule, dude!"  They've still got the same made up statistics, the same incredibly manipulated studies, the same false historical comparisons and the same broken belief, "guns keep you safer."  I've given up trying to talk to them.  They're not worth any sane person's time.

A new Harvard/Northeastern University study beaks down gun ownership in the United States. There are 318,000,000 Americans in the country today (as of 2014).  There are 265,000,000 guns in the United States today.  One might conclude, when presented with those two numbers, more than 50% of the population must partake in gun ownership, but not true; not even close.  Looking further into the gun ownership numbers gives us the real picture.  Only 22% of the US population owns a gun (69,960,000).  And, shocking but not shocking, half of all the guns in America are owned by only 3% of the population (9,540,000).

I'm for hunting weapon ownership; guns designed for the purpose of shooting animals in the wild.  Although I would never own one, I also do believe in a person's right to own a self defense pistol.  I don't believe in carry and conceal and I don't believe anyone in this country should be able to purchase an automatic or semi automatic weapon, designed for killing as many human beings as fast as possible.

Some people, my guess would be at least 3% of the population, would look at what I just wrote and insist I'm against the 2nd Amendment.  No, not at all.  The founding fathers never meant the 2nd Amendment to be validation for people to own military grade weaponry in suburbia.  The 2nd Amendment says you have a right to bear arms, which I fully endorse.  It does not say what types of arms, just that you should be able to own a gun.  I'm for meeting that basic requirement, and very little else.

The 2nd Amendment allows for us to ban certain types of guns from private ownership.  It allows for us to regulate gun sales.  It allows for us to limit gun ownership for people who have proven they shouldn't have access to a gun.  It allows for us to have mandatory safety training.  It allows for us to have mandatory background checks.  It allows for us to regulate magazines and bullets.  It allows for us to inspect all gun sellers inventory and make sure the guns are there.  It allows for the gun industry to be held accountable for their product (although the Congress has passed laws which prevent them from having any liability for the gun carnage they've clearly encouraged).  It allows for us to make gun locks mandatory.  It allows for us to force people to keep their guns at home.  It allows for us to even make membership into a 'well regulated militia' compulsory with ownership of a gun.  Yes it does!

Here's a reminder of the level of delusion the average American gun nut maintains.  After the tragic shooting of young children in Newtown, Connecticut, most Americans, over 90% wanted stricter gun regulations. The NRA, gun manufactures, their paid for politicians and a few million gun kooks said no.  They thought the solution should be 1) Gun towers at every school in the country, staffed with an armed guard during the school day, 2) fortified entrances to the school, ones which could be locked down internally, designed to withstand a car driving 60 mph, 3) metal detectors and armed guards at every entrance of every American school, 4) mandatory loaded guns on every school employee's hip at all times, 5) a full armory in the school front office with heavy automatic weapons at the ready, 6) bulletproof glass for every external window at the school, 7) a 20 foot impenetrable fence surrounding the entirety of the school grounds, 8) safe rooms in every classroom which could sustain a bazooka blast, and 9) bulletproof whiteboards for the kids, so they could defend themselves from the gunfire by wielding it like Captain America's shield.  As laughable as these 'solutions' sound, the gun fetishists were dead serious.  They insisted this would all work, and for the American people to not entertain the idea of common sense, legal, gun regulations.  What stopped their looniness was the price tag.  When they figured out it would cost around 200 million for every school in the country, they tried to pull it back to #4 only, but then realized they couldn't force people to carry guns.  That's not in the 2nd Amendment.

What percentage of the population is preventing legal gun regulation laws from being written? I don't think it's 22%, as I know many people with hunting weapons who are against the Wild West gun laws we currently have.  My guess is between 13 - 15% of the US population are the ones fighting for a mandatory, Walking Dead version of gun ownership for everyone.  The primary foot solders for the NRA probably consists of 5% of the population.  That's it.

These people are broken; they're not worth listening to anymore.  They're delusional fools who've fallen in love with their personal gun fantasy:

"Our gun kook hero is at the mall, getting his second mid morning snack, this one cheese covered, because it's closer to lunchtime.  Then it happens!  A Hans Gruber-esque military strike force, probably with ties to ISIS, has taken control of the mall. They have a nuke and are heavily armed.  They demand a billion dollars or they'll begin killing hostages, starting with the cute girl our gun kook hero is secretly in love with.  Thank God our gun kook hero illegally snuck his pistol into the mall today.  Even though he's never had any military training, even though he's never had any weapons training, even though he's 80 pounds overweight and hasn't exercised for more than ten minutes in years, even though he was a straight 'D' student with limited tactical and logical thoughts, even though he has suffered through self induced failure after failure and self induced mistake after mistake, he knows this is his chance to save the day, proving he was always right, and, more importantly, everyone else was always wrong about our gun kook hero.  He wipes the cheese off his chubby little fingers, draws his weapon, and prepares to kick some a..."

He's shot almost instantly, the first victim.  They then take his gun and use it to kill 6 more people.

You see, gun kooks never want their fantasy world to become reality, because they know reality would make their gun fueled fantasies incredibly pathetic.  Instead, they surround themselves with their pile of guns and keep repeating the other fantasy they've said over and over again; "these guns make me safer."

I hope they don't accidentally shoot themselves.  Damn you reality!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Friday Link for 9/16/16

Was there any doubt I'd be going with the triumphant return of Keith Olbermann tonight?

To begin, let me post this gem from back in his MSNBC days.  This was when the Republicans were calling for secession, because they hated the fact the President was black.  He absolutely takes Rick Perry to the wood shed:

Keith Olbermann is a hero for me.  Back when this country was making zero sense, he showed up.  He started asking the questions no one else dared ask, pointing out the injustices everyone else was ignoring, and became a royal thorn in the side of the W. Administration.

I'd always enjoyed him when he was on ESPN.  I was heartbroken when he left MSNBC.  I was heartbroken when he left The Current.  And when he left ESPN the second time, where he was primarily a sports commentator (hey, I'll take what I can get) I thought it was all over.

I've actually talked with people who've worked with him.  They said he's one of the smartest people they'd ever met.  Paraphrasing one of them - "His mind is just working on a different level than everyone else's, so he can seem personality negative, but he wasn't.  He intimidated a lot of people, including bosses.  I respected his intelligence and I really liked him."

He's also one of the smartest baseball minds I've ever heard.

Kudos to the geniuses at GQ who have given them a presence on their online media realm.  He's created The Closer, a 5-8 minute commentary segment where he goes for the jugular of the conservatives in America today.  So far, he's had four shows and already delivered the best takedown of Trump since Jon Stewart left the air.  Here are his first three segments.  The first one, "176 Shocking..." is 17:25, but it is SO worth it.

I'm glad you're back Keith.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Misunderstanding Protesting

We have a right in this country to protest, one that's protected in the Constitution.  Of all the rights we have, it's by far the one that's been the most curtailed in the last 30 years.  The founding fathers wanted you to have the right to have your voice heard, regardless if it's a screaming banshee cry or a moment of silence.

How badly has your right to protest been violated?  Many people today will never have their voice heard.  Politicians, by hyper regulating protesting behind false promises of ensuring your rights, have made a mockery of the right to protest, and today, if you wanted to protest either major party's political convention, you'd be relegated to an abandon industrial lot, miles from the venue, where as long as you didn't leave the designated 'protest box,' you could protest below a certain volume level between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, on a Sunday.  The founding fathers wouldn't be amused.

When the 99% protests broke out, the politicians, under orders from their big corporate donors, did everything in their power to limit the protests.  From re-designating public parkland, to mandatory curfews, to unreasonable noise and signage ordinances, to outright police harassment, the message the establishment was trying to send was clear:  "Your right to protest exists only when WE say it exists!"

Someone needs to tell them it doesn't work that way...

Many people feel as if they can dictate how others protest.  They fell as if the group or individual wanting to protest needs to talk to the people they disagree with first, to find out what's allowable.  "Your protest is fine, as long as I don't have to see, hear, read or acknowledge it."  That's bull!  When you start trying to limit people's voices, the people get louder and more in your face.

Black Lives Matter knows how to get in your face, as their protests have gotten a tremendous amount of coverage.  I personally feel as if Black Lives Matter has a very legit point, and I've no problem with them sending their message with the occasional highway closure.  Many people, mostly conservatives, feel as if BLM needs to concede, placing their opponents caveats and limits on their protests.  Their argument usually falls into this category:  "As long as you are not in people's way and being quiet, I have no problem, but blocking a public roadway is an OUTRAGE!"

Funny, many of the same people angry at BLM's highway blocking protests are livid at Colin Kaepernick, a back up quarterback for the San Francisco 49'ers, who decided to protest the same systemic injustices BLM has highlighted, by quietly sitting or kneeling during the national anthem at football games.  The anti protest crowd now insist their 'get out of people's way and be quiet' route is no longer enough.  "How dare anyone protest in a way other than how WE allow them to protest!"

Protesting is not for people who agree with you.  Quite the opposite, it's for people who disagree with you, and for the people who are intentionally or unintentionally ignorant to the cause.  The point of a protest is to get attention.  Many people, mostly on the right, don't like the message.  That's the point! If everyone agreed on every issue, or was proactive in trying to address people's problems, there wouldn't be a need for protesting, or at leasts the protests would be a lot smaller.

You want a protest to go away?  Shrug your shoulders, acknowledge the person protesting has the right to protest and go about your life.  If you stopped paying attention to it, they would stop doing it.  As long as you dedicate hours of media, countless print/online stories, and angry social media posts to the protesters, YOU'RE actually doing what THEY want.

Are you upset about that inconvenient truth?  Maybe you could lodge a protest, after all, it's the American way!