Thursday, March 22, 2018


I, like many people, am trying to figure out how to interpret the latest revelation that Facebook, whether willingly or unwillingly, handed over tons of personal data from it's members to the political operative organization Cambridge Analytica (CA), the data mining service, partially owned by the wealthy GOP supporters the Mercer family, run by Republicans like jackass Steve Bannon, and an organization which was used extensively during the 2016 election to help Trump win.  There are revelations CA was far more of a political player, blackmailing and compromising politicians to garner power, control and victories.  They have a strong connection to Trump, claiming their work got him elected.  They're even taking credit for creating the 'crooked Hillary' meme, and encouraging the Trump/Russian scandal, with demands for more Russian info dumps of the Clinton/DNC e-mails to Wikileaks, emails they knew the Russians hacked, all in an effort to help Trump.

It's normal for a political campaign to run ads and smear campaigns, but this was different.  Facebook, along with many other companies, uses algorithms to monitor what your doing, a devious way to market directly at you.  It's why if you click on a Minnesota Twins t-shirt deal you start receiving more offers for Twins gear and t-shirts.  Facebook is the largest company doing this, with information on billions of people whether they like it or not.  You surrendering your personal data was part of your sign up agreement.  For a political campaign to harness this information, using the same personal information mining which shows you coupons for baby things the minute you find out your pregnant, or airfare and hotel recommendations from when you searched a vacation spot, is new.  It allowed them to guide voters to behave in a certain way, in this case either voting for Trump, or convincing people to protest the election, because "they were positive Hillary would be FAR worse than Trump" (not even possible).  They were able to target specific blocks, in specific districts, in specific states, allowing them to undermine the popular vote winner.

When you factor it all together, from Papadopolous to Roger Stone, to Wikileaks, to Guccifer 2.0, to the meetings with the Russians, to the lies about the meetings with the Russians, to the attacks which successfully drove the Trump fans rabid, to the manufactured hatred between the Clinton and Sanders supporters, to Russian hacking, to the shocking results of November 8th, 2016, you realize the US was played.  Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and the rest of the social media websites were the game board on which Trump's people moved the pieces.

Was Facebook active participants in the greatest heist of all time, or we they only counting their money in the corner, not paying attention while a political organization was picking their customer's information clean?  I guarantee we'll never know the truth.  If they were working with Trump and the Russians for more than just profit margins, that information is long deleted.

To understand this better, Adam Ruins Everything did an exceptional explanation of the true cost of social media back in December of 2016 (about 2 months too late):

On Wednesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, realizing his billion dollar baby is in seriously jeopardy, went on spin mode, acting like they were just as violated as their customers, swearing to make sure their user's personal information is better protected from here on out.  Mind you, this was after Facebook consistently lied about the extent of Russian and political manipulation during the 2016 campaign, only dropping to their knees when the CA scandal revealed 50 million users had been played like a fiddle.  Zuckerberg and Facebook are scared, hence this time I think they'll stop serving us up like a Sunday roast.

Whether or not you close your Facebook account is up to you.  I always stayed away from the clear attempts to access my personal information, and ignored the clear political manipulation.  If you're like me, you mainly use Facebook to show family and friends photos of the kids.  I'll probably keep my page open.

One overlooked outcome of this move by Facebook is how much this is going to damage the ability of Republicans to manipulate voters; not the rabid Republicans who viciously hate all things Democrat, but the rest of us, the people the Republicans have had a shocking amount of success in convincing to stay home and not vote.

When President Obama came into power, Republicans came up with a game plan to get back into power.  They only needed to have their base (29 to 33% of the population) show up and vote to secure victory, as long as they could prevent a large swath of America from voting.  They started gerrymandering to the extreme, took away voting rights, installed voter ID rules, purged registered voter lists, and created numerous hurdles to prevent people from being able to vote in Democratic areas.  On top of that, they started a campaign to convince people they didn't need to vote, that it didn't matter who won any given election. They started with the message 'all politicians are bad, so stay at home as a form of protest.  Make a bold statement!'  If you didn't vote, the only statement you were making was you were easily manipulated.

The GOP plan worked, and in 2010, 2014 and 2016, one of the reasons they had victories was because so many people stayed home.  One hundred and eight million eligible voters stayed home in the 2016 election alone.  2012, with the popularity of Obama, the Democratic Party overruled their plans, showing how a wildly popular Democrat can still offset their massive manipulation.  Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote, wasn't as well liked as President Obama.

If Facebook is serious about stopping their personal data collection practices from being used for political manipulation, then the Republican party has a real big problem.  NOTHING is a better platform for discouraging Democrats from voting in large numbers than Facebook.  Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and other social media sites are not as comprehensive at disenfranchising the public from elections in large numbers.  TV, print media and mailers are nowhere near as effective.  Without Facebook to convince Democrats to stay home, and with a refreshed and extremely energized Democratic base, the Republicans are looking at a potential blood bath in 2018.

The GOP is trying to find a solution to their problem.  Prepare yourself for mysterious "progressive" candidates and Green Party candidates who will attempt to steer your votes away from the endorsed Democratic, like we saw  in the Minneapolis City Council race.  In Montana, one Green Party candidate has been exposed as a far right bigot.  Candidates in sheep's clothing will be a common theme, so be diligent.

To all people who insisted "I won't vote for Hillary in 2016 because she's worse than Trump," you got played.  Don't be ashamed of it, own it and realize we all can be manipulated.  Vow to never allow it to happen to you again.  When someone on social media who seems like they have a lot in common with you tells you they're protesting all Democrats by either voting Righto, voting for a third party candidate with a mysterious background and zero chance at winning, or how they plan on sitting the election out and "you should too," don't believe them.  Block them, delete them and realize they're trying to get you to work against your best interests.

If, after 2016, you doubled down on your hatred of Hillary Clinton and truly do believe she would've been worse for America, you're a fool and I can't help you.  Go seek professional counseling.

The most important thing for 2018 and 2020 is to get registered, get active and vote.  #2018IsEverything!  If Trump, the Republicans, Cambridge Analytica and the Russians can't use our social media against us, then maybe we actually do have fighting chance.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Friday Link For 3/16/18

First off, carrying over from the post from earlier this week, here is the new Avengers: Infinity War trailer:

Oh MY!!!!  That looks kick caboose! It's just not fair for DC right now.

Second up for you is another 'avenger.'  It's the exceptional segment where Jimmy Kimmel points out Trump isn't even following his own standards when it comes to 'Made in the USA.'.  It amazes me how many people voted for him saying he was going to bring jobs back to the US, but here we are a year plus into his term and he still doesn't get the majority of his own name brand products from US companies.

Will they hold Trump accountable for his lies?  Nope, they're fools who hate Democrats more than they love their country, their religion and their own well being.  Meanwhile, Kimmel spanks Trump and his boys pretty good!

Finally tonight, some St. Patrick's Day Love, from the Muppets.  I posted this a few years back, but it's good.  Most people will be singing like this by about 11 PM tomorrow night.

Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day weekend everyone!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Blue State Ball 2018

It's time for my annual recap of the big night from AM 950's annual Democratic Party get together, The Blue State Ball.

My usual disclaimer, I do not complain about quality of photos when I ask others to take shots for me, especially since my phone is getting old and takes forever to focus!

We had a hoot of a time at the same location from last year, The Blaisdell Mansion in Minneapolis!

It's a great location in south Minneapolis, with a huge venue room in the back you see below!

We had sponsor tables set up before the big night began.

The first to arrive were the National hosts, which I was happy about.  We've had situations in the past where flights get delayed and for the first half hour I'm the 'VIP.'  For those past years, I apologize!  

First up was one of the smartest people I've ever met, Thom Hartmann.

And fan favorite Norman Goldman!

The AM 950 staff was there too! Laura, Jennifer, Ryan 

And my AM 950 producers, Brett, Hunter and Eric!

After the doors opened up for the General Admission crowd, the political speakers got going.  We got the evening kicked off with the Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, who makes me feel REALLY old.  He gave a great rousing progressive speech.

  Our VIP for the evening was Senator Amy Klobuchar.  She is an amazing public servant, who thinks about her constituents before she votes.

We had three of the DFL Candidates for Minnesota Governor.  As I type this, I just read that the fourth, Tina Liebling just announced she's leaving the race, so technically, all of the candidates attended.  Rep. Tim Walz was the first to make an appearance.

Rebecca Otto, the outgoing State Auditor, has been at so many of these, and she was in attendance again, this time as a Governor candidate.

And Rep. Erin Murphy was able to attend too.  She ended up beginning the second half of the evenings speeches.  I should also note we did have a bit of an accident when an attendee fell.  Murphy, with her nursing background, immediately rushed to the woman's aide, leaving behind the politician cloak and becoming a first responder.  (Thanks to her and to all first responders who tended the woman)

They then let this jackass on the stage...

I introduced Norman...

Which then led to the local host after me, Mike McIntee.  He does such great work with The Uptake, a Minnesota version of C-Span, but with much better direction and content.  

And finally, Thom took the stage as the headliner!

Some of the local hosts, and friends of the station included musician Paul Metsa and host Ellie Krug, amongst others.

and Bill Luther, the former Congressman and one of my favorite all time politicians was there too!

And finally, the listeners, who I'm so grateful for everyday.

I leave you with regular caller, Gary from Minneapolis, tearing up the dance floor. 

See you in 2019!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

An Embarrassment of Riches

In my post-Blue State Ball, Daylight Savings Time shortened Sunday, I went and finally caught Black Panther.  Go see it.  It follows the Marvel comics origin game plan, but is more successful than Doctor Strange or Ant Man, both of whom offered a level of whimsy and light heartedness to their respective outings.  Not saying Black Panther is a serious drama, more that the origin story for the Black Panther character is just better, more gripping when transferred from the comic book to the movie theater.

I don't think enough is being said about Michael B. Jordan's take on Erik Killmonger, one of the villain's of this movie.  In what could have easily been a stereotype heavy, b-role villain, Jordan offers the perfect combination of comic book maniac juxtaposed against a layered, textured, broken man on a life mission.  He's one of many fantastic performances in the film.

This film also signifies a cultural shift; the caucasian public is changing, albeit slowly, in regards to their acceptance of minority character driven movies.  This is a fantastic movie, period, one unapologetically African American.  And the world loves it!

Let me marvel(!) at what Marvel keeps doing.  There have been 18 films in what's being called the 'Marvel Cinematic Universe,' the movies from when Iron Man opened in 2008 and beyond.  Iron Man, and the soon afterwards released The Incredible Hulk, were tied together with feelers, exploring if there was enough public interest in Marvel going ahead with an attempt to make an Avengers movie.  We all know the answer.

Marvel Comics doesn't have the most recognizable lineup of characters.  That'd be DC with their Batman and Superman.  Some might even call characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange extremely fringe.  The background stories of these characters are thick and layered, with movie studios insisting for years they weren't transferable to film.  And to keep pulling this off, they have to keep delivering films which have to be unique, but yet connect to the larger Marvel world, embracing locales ranging from outer space, to magical universes, to mystic realms, to fictional African nations to real world locations, all fitting into the same timeline.  This should not be working, but I'll be damned if it's not THE MOST SUCCESSFUL MOVIE FRANCHISE OF ALL TIME!

Looking at the 18 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (in order: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther) most critics, and a consensus of the people I quickly surveyed, agree The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Thor: The Dark World are the weakest entrants into the 'universe.'  Still, all three of those films are very watchable and entertaining.  The Rotten Tomatoes' score (a cumulative average of all the reviews for films) for those three films are 67, 73 and 66, respectfully, meaning their worst films are still better than most films in other franchises.

James Bond had The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, and The World is Not Enough.  Star Wars has Episodes I and II (yuck).  Lord of the Rings first three were fantastic, but the Hobbit trilogy was WAY too long.  Even Harry Potter, which is a wonderful series, has the long camping expedition known as Deathly Hollows Part I, AND it was only 8 films, not 18!

Compare this to DC's comic book characters, and it gets even more strange.  DC has characters who are wildly popular outside of comic book circles, and have stories which were written like they were thinking about film franchises the entire time.  Outside of a handful of exceptions (Christopher Reeve's first 2 Superman films, Michael Keaton's two Batman films, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, and Wonder Woman) they just can't seem to get it right.  When I was a kid, if you were to ask me what movie had a better chance of becoming an all time, top 10, worldwide blockbuster, Superman or Black Panther, I would've laughed at the question.  Today, I'm counting down the days to a movie about Ant-Man and the Wasp, while I am wondering if DC will scrap everything but Wonder Woman; screaming a Hollywood 'Uncle!'

Marvel can't make a bad movie, even when they troll the extremely obscure vaults of their history (Ragnarok???).  DC, with the movie ready comic book vaults can't seem to get out of their own way.  Both are experiencing their own versions of an embarrassment of riches.

I so can't wait for Infinity Gauntlet!

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Friday Link for 3/9/18

This week had zero posts (sorry) because I spent the week finally getting my family's historical films over to the Minnesota Historical Society.  They though they were special.

If you're thinking of trying to donate films to a historical group, here are a few hints.  First, make sure the films are of something unique.  Many of these places get people wanting to donate family films which are far more special for the family; not really historical documents.

Make sure they have historical significance, are old (pre-1950's, and especially anything pre-1930's), show an important moment, or feature important people.  Offer something more than the family at the beach.

Make sure what you're donating has significance to the group you're donating too.  If you're donating to the Minnesota Historical Society, the films should be more about Minnesota.  They have some relevance if they're filmed by a local, but if it's a bunch of film outside of Minnesota, then you probably would have a more receptive response from the historical group in that other area.

Know what you have!  You need to be able to tell them who is in the films, where they were shot and when they were filmed.  If you don't know what's on them, a historical society will not have time to track that information down for you.

Thanks for understanding the lack of posts.  This project is important to me.

For the Friday Link, we go back to Shayla with Living on a One Way.

Shayla and Seth are in New Zealand and they look like they're having a blast.  I encourage you to click on any of her videos and see how their trip is going, and don't be surprised if you suddenly get the notion to jump on a plane and head off.

The best thing Shayla can teach you about traveling is to be flexible.  If rain comes on in, change up your plans.  If the van breaks down, deal with it.  It's a little daunting, but she shows you how it's done.

A shout out to Seth too.  It's humbling trying something and realizing it's incredibly hard.  His surfing expedition was great to see because he stuck with it. He got far better results than I would've done.

Also, I love the feeling of being at a New Zealand Rugby match.  Great travel programs bring you to the place.  Nice job Shayla!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Friday Link for 3/2/18

This week I want to begin by reliving some of the best moments from the Winter Olympics, the closest finishes.  This includes Diggin's cross country skiing win for the US, the US women's hockey win over Canada, the US men's curling semifinal win over Canada, and the most incredible, the Gold medal tie in bobsled between Canada and Germany.  That's freaking amazing!

Due to NBC Sports not having a Blogger share option, you'll have to click on the You Tube link here:  Enjoy!

Alright, two fun ones for you for this Friday.  The first is the best parody of the Trump White House, Our Cartoon President.  Speaking of Canada, this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits.  I swear to God, I nearly we myself with this one minute clip.

And the second is a freaking instant classic from Jordon Klepper and The Opposition, as they head to CPAC and ask the attendees about guns.  Kobi Libii asks the question the NRA is terrified of being asked, "since you say more guns will make us safer, how many guns exactly is that, 10?  50?  75?"

Have a great weekend everyone!

Family Business

I want to apologize.  Lately I've not been doing too much in the way of posting.  Initially (January and early February), I'd become lax in my writing because I was burned out on the Trump Lists.  I'm so happy I stopped doing those.  The last three days alone would have been enough to make a list longer than the three week stint I posted in early January.  It's like a snowball rolling down a hill.

The last two weeks, I've been deep in a personal project which is very dear to me.  I'm trying to preserve personal gold.  My grandfather, Emerson Duncan McNeil Jr., was an avid photographer.  He made the most wonderful photo books when he was growing up.  This is one of my favorite photos, from the late 1910's, of my Great Great Grandfather, James Scott McNeil, holding the drum he carried for the Union in the Civil War.

And you wonder why I have no love lost for the Confederacy...for me, it goes beyond defeating the scourge of slavery.  It was a family matter.

My great grandparents on my father's side were both wealthy; big fish in a small pond. One was the town doctor, the other a foreman for one of the mines on the Iron Range.  Their two kids got married, and it was like local royalty being wed.  They were young and living in the roaring 20's, a time of great wealth in America, where the wealthy got wealthier.  

In the 1920's, my grandfather was given the newest high tech toy of the age, a 16 millimeter personal home movie camera.  This would be the equivalent of getting the newest iPhone of the age, one which wasn't available to the public.  Back then, it would be decades (40's/50's) before most people got their own home movie cameras.  He was making films when most people still didn't have photo cameras yet.  He got his movie camera (guessing) around Christmas 1928.  I can peg this pretty close because I have film of my father the day after he was born, in late March of 1929.  Those were some of the earliest films grandpa made.  My grandfather made many films, and although the camera he made them with is long gone, I do have the reels themselves.

When my father moved south for health reasons last year, I asked about the films.  As a history nut, one of the things which made me think was how I'd never seen any home movies from the 1920's to the 1940's, and wondered how many existed.  Sure movies of the day are still around (although many cinema films from before 1925 are lost to time), and I've seen news reels from the day, although not too many of them exist either.  Home movies from the 1920's and 30's?  I don't think I'd ever seen more than one or two, outside of my grandfather's.  Most home movies you see from long ago are 1950's and later.

I called the Minnesota Historical Society and talked with their film curator.  She was immediately very interested in what was on these films.  She said there are very few home movies from the era, and she had never heard of any coming from the Iron Range.  It also was an added bonus that longtime radio legend Cedric Adams, my great uncle, is featured in some of them.  She told me these films are likely the first from the region, and without a doubt, the only non-news reel films from the Iron Range she'd heard of.  The movies of the towns and lakes I had were likely the first ever made of those areas.

Since that day in Spring of 2017, I've been working on getting the films professionally cleaned and preserved (pricey!!!), and over President's Day this year, I took digital copies of them south, and went over them with my father, identifying the people, places and dates the best we could.  I'm in the process of handing these historic records over to the Minnesota Historical Society for preservation. I would love to keep them myself, but they are too important to Minnesota, and frankly my house is not the environment they should be stored in. 

That is what's been taking up my time.  Family business, but one of the greatest projects I've ever had the privilege of being a part of.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Friday Link for 2/23/18

Some funny stuff for you tonight!

John Oliver is back with a new season of Last Week Tonight!  He was missed.  The first breakdown he did this season was how Trump is being received outside of the United States.  Reminder, ALL of Trump's supporters insisted Trump would be FAR more loved than Obama ever was when it came to our allies and the rest of the world.  How is that going?

I'll let Mr. Oliver take it from here:

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Clearly Lesson Not Learned

Idiot NRA gun kooks are now pushing to arm teachers and education professionals in response to gun violence in schools, violence which can only be addressed by limiting access to guns.  Let's just run their scenario, shall we!  Here are a few 'ifs' you need to address before your master plan comes to fruition, morons:

Meet your new Geometry teacher!

IF you are willing to overlook the reality, that most people do not like guns, nor do they want to own them, nor do they want to own them and have them around young children (you will not be able to force mandatory gun ownership for teachers)...

IF you can come up with the billions in dollars it would take for teachers to be able to afford the guns (you will not be able force teachers to pay for the guns out of their own money)...

IF you can figure out a way to quell the fears of parents who HAVE THE RIGHT to NOT HAVE guns waived in their kid's faces 24/7/365...

IF you can come up with the money for the gun training classes teachers will need, which is more than a three hour lecture in a community center; something more like a ten to twelve week course, similar to the military and police, so they can safely have the weapon in a school environment around kids...

IF you can get the additional money the teachers will need for additional training, such as 'weapons combat in an urban environment, under a high stress situation'; training which is an additional ten to twelve weeks (training which will help the teacher not only figure out best shooting angles and circumstances, but will teach the teacher, who won't be wearing body armor, how to attempt to avoid being shot, while potentially taking a kill shot on an individual wearing full body armor)...

IF all teachers who are willing to be armed in a school are willing to have the weapon on their hip, with live rounds in the chamber, and safety off at all times (it would be useless to have these weapons in their desks, as a gunman entering their room would immediately shoot first.  These guns would have to be on their hip, ready to fire)...

IF these teachers just happen to be teaching in the classroom where the assailant attacks, and are able to keep their wits about them, get into a shooting position, draw the weapon, take aim, and fire while the children around them are getting torn to pieces in front of their eyes at an alarming rate...

And IF the teacher isn't the first one shot in the carnage...

Then maybe, MAYBE, the teacher might be able to save some of the kids.  It's incredibly unlikely they'd be able to get the lucky shot before the bullets started to fly.  The only way this would happen is if the gun wielding maniac is similar to a comic book villain, announcing what he's planning to do before he does it.

And who would be liable if a gunman did kill a few kids in a classroom where a teacher had a gun?  Even if a teacher stopped a gunman before the majority of their students were killed, would the teacher be blamed for the deaths of the one or two kids who died because they didn't react instantaneously?  My guess is right wing pundits and gun kooks would blame the teacher, not the crazed individual shooting the place up.

If not every teacher is armed, let me point out some other flaws with this plan.

Would an armed teacher actually leave a classroom of terrified children to fend for themselves, as the teacher attempted to run across a school campus to where an attack was occurring?  It seems to me the better option would be to have that teacher stay with their kids in their classroom, to keep them safe.  Imagine if the teacher left and a second assailant killed the kids in their classroom.

I know gun kook; "we'll just install $100K bullet proof doors in every classroom in America, and then put $50K bullet proof glass on every window in every school in America!"  Who's going to pay the trillions for that, fools?

And for the teacher desperately trying to get to the shooting, unless you're one or two doors down from the incident, your response time would be inadequate.  How many kids would be dead before the teacher even got there?  In many of these mass shootings, the carnage is done in two minutes or less.

Let's remember we've already tested this scenario.  A few years back, a Texas pro-gun group, The Truth About Guns, attempted to show that if one of the writers at Charlie Hebdo was armed during the terror attack on their offices, the terrorists would've been stopped.  They ran the attack over and over again.  They KNEW the attack was going to happen.  They HAD GUNS ready to use.  Everything was in their favor, and they failed to stop the attack, EVERY TIME.  As a matter of fact, in every scenario they all died, outside of one person.  The only one who survived was the one who left the building the minute the shooting began.

Tell the NRA to stop with the worthless plans we already know WILL NOT WORK!  It's time for gun  restrictions, gun rules and gun limitations, NOW!