Monday, September 28, 2015

Whig-ing Out

John Boehner has had enough.  He's taking his Orange Julius toner and heading back home, tired of having to babysit the unruly daycare which is the House GOP majority; a delusional, self-serving, herd of Machiavellian, grandstanding bullies.  Some ask what took him so long, but as the country ponders what comes next for the House leadership, Boehner's resignation symbolizes an undeniable reality coming into focus; the days of the Republican Party being a functioning political entity are nearly over, and to avoid the end of the party itself will require a sobering, Herculean, near impossible fundamental core change.

I know many will read this and insist I'm being melodramatic, or just a loony leftie trying to stir up controversy.  If you only think of me as a political hack, it's easy to brush me aside, but in truth, I don't want to see the Republican Party die.  Eighties era Republicans had some ideas I liked.  They were more socially liberal than today, and occasionally kept the Democrats from making mistakes by demanding a more conservative compromise.  I still have some political leanings which are more in tune with the moderate GOP of my youth, but like most of America, the current Republican Party represent nothing I can relate to.

This GOP mess can be traced back to Karl Rove and Dick Cheney's desire for power and money.  Back in 1992, when Ralph Reed offered George H.W. Bush, and the Republicans, the Christian Coalition as loyal foot soldiers, they were told to go away.  The Republicans knew the trade off would be too great, subjecting the party to an undercurrent of the personal agenda of a religious zealot and his followers.  They knew the 'bad' of such an alliance would grossly outweigh the 'good.'

Rove and Cheney are world class, self-serving, slime balls.  They grasped onto George W. Bush, knowing they could never achieve the power and money they desired by themselves, so by hitching their wagons to W., they set up a trajectory which would deliver what they worshipped.  To make their fantasies happen, they needed to recruit loyal foot soldiers; idiots who would believe their distorted lies as facts, fight the battles they were told to fight, and always blame and vilify the people they were told to hate.  They went to bizarre and preposterous houses of worship, which were led by power hungry narcissists.  They went to undisguised bigots; groups who were looking for more reasons to hate the races, religions and people they cursed.  They went to paranoid and silly compounds in rural America, which festered with anti-government lunacy.  They embraced, greedy, senseless, pseudo-libertarians who insisted they could somehow maintain the lifestyle they enjoy, but ignorantly contented they didn't need to pay for it.  It's these four stupid horsemen of the deranged Apocalypse they recruited, knowing it would lead to the ruin of the Republican party, but since they would be long gone when it eventually happened, they didn't care.  They were only in it for themselves.

It worked like a charm for two elections, but when the inevitable happened, and Rove and Cheney left office with no control of W.'s replacement, they abandoned their foot soldiers, flushing them into the sewer like an unwanted pet sucker fish. This unwieldy, confused, jumbled mass loved the taste of power they had under W., so they organized into the Tea Party.  By focusing on their never ending ability to turn themselves into a victim, an irrational distrust of the US government, and by embracing the bigoted hatred of President Obama, Latinos, gays and anyone else they never liked, they became a scorched earth weapon, a weapon political novices sought to wield.  As more politicians tried to woo them, their power grew. They initially blamed the moderate Republicans for losing the White House in 2008, and quickly ran them out of the party with screams of "RINO!" (Republican In Name Only).

Since 2010, after the Tea Party wrongly interpreted the traditional mid-term election downturn for the incumbent party as some sort of manifest destiny, the GOP has been stymied by the far right's platform largess, but because these dolts have a knee-jerk defense system which tells them they're never wrong, they started to look for whom else they could blame for their failures, namely not winning back the White House in 2012 and the inability of the current GOP to make President Obama do everything they want.  Their loose cannons started targeting the traditional Republicans, Reagan disciples who looked liberal from the extreme far right's vantage point.  They cheered at the Values Voter's summit at the news that Boehner, their great orange whale, had been vanquished, looking to embrace a new Speaker of the House who would do the impossible, force the President to do their their bidding.

This is not going to stop.  My guess is eventually the pro war Christians (yeah, I know), the 'not fooling anyone' racists, and the anti government establishment will turn on each other and the Republican Party will eventually cease to exist.

There is a comparable moment in American history to all of this.  The demise of the Whig Party in the 1850's was due to internal conflict as well.  People like Henry Clay and Millard Fillmore were trying to find ways to continue slavery in some states, but not in others.  Zachary Taylor and Daniel Webster (both who were conflicted at times themselves) were against the idea of continued slavery expansion, and party members like Abraham Lincoln, who were against the idea of slavery all together, where slowly leaving, or being pushed out of, the party.  The Whigs had the Presidency from 1849 to 1853, but by 1860, the party had mainly ceased to exist.

What can sane Republicans do today?  Not too much.  They either have to A) be quiet, nod their heads in agreement, and vote along with the crazy train to avoid being primaried out of politics, B) quit, and either leave politics or join the Democrats or an Independent Party.  If they have some opinions that are more attuned to the Democrats, it might be a good fit (The Democratic Party has shifted far the right as well, so it's not that hard of a reach.  Think Collin Peterson and Tom Bakk), but other more traditional Democratic positions might be harder for them to embrace.  As far as Independent Parties, they are generally feast or famine depending on the election cycle, C) form a new party, which is what happened to the Whigs.  Their demise lead to the Republican Party (and great legacies from Lincoln, Roosevelt and Eisenhower, and a 150 year run, which ironically could be over soon), or D) you could try to save the party with tough love.

The final option means this: for the elections in 2016, 2018, and 2020, traditional Republicans, and any moderates left, need to turn their back on the GOP in it's current form.  Don't blindly vote 'R,' don't write checks for candidates you mainly disagree with, and don't accept the party's embarrassing platform, written from a position of bigotry and hatred.  You HAVE TO sit out these three elections, not just one.  After the party fails to win in 2016, the loonies will be looking to blame all non-Tea Partiers.  By failing again in 2018, the far right establishment will lash out in an even more desperate and violent fashion.  Then, by failing in 2020, the census year, the redistricting year, the gerrymandered House falls, and with it, the enabling of the reckless right.

Yes, to save the Republican Party, the GOP needs to lose control of the US House.  What is fueling these extremists is the creation of safe districts which allow a Louie Gohmert and a Steve King to run with very little consequences for their actions.  The entire GOP system needs to be broken down to it's base core.  You can't primary these people as the system is rigged for them to win.  You can't outspend them as the money people who bankroll the far right today don't want independent thought.  You have to break the party down and pick up the pieces worth saving, while throwing out the elements which should've never been part of the party in the first place.

The Democrats shouldn't just sit idly back and think they're off the hook for the next three elections.  A major reason the Republican Party emerged out of the 1850's was because of inferior Democratic candidates and positions as well.  Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan were horrible Presidents, both elected because the Democrats felt like they didn't have to try.  Both also dealt with the slavery issue by putting their fingers in their ears and screaming "I can't hear you!"  If the GOP doesn't fix itself, and if the Democrats run bad candidates, you're only asking for the disenfranchised traditional and moderate Republicans to start up a third party, a party which will take the Independents and moderate Democrats along with them.

One thing which is definite.  When you look at the George W. Bush administration, and their failure to stop 9/11, their torture campaign, the invasion of a country under false pretenses, the creation of ISIS due directly to their consistent bad foreign policy, their horrific economic decisions, their ineptitude with Katrina and their part in imploding the world's economy, and then you add their likely destruction of their own political party to boot, how can you not consider them the worst administration of all time?  But Rove and Cheney, they don't care.  Their rallying cry, and the rallying cry of their ilk, has always been, "Screw you, we got ours!"

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Friday Link for 9/25/15

Hockey!  I can't play it to save myself, but I love watching it.  For pure excitement, no sport is better.

I love the Wild too.  I am so excited for the beginning of the 2015-16 season.  I took my father to the first matchup the Wild had with the original Minnesota team, the former NorthStars, now just the Dallas Stars.  We sat row 1, on the ice, on the Wild goalie side for the 1st and 3rd.  We won that game 6-0.  The next morning, the fledgling ESPN website featured a picture of our goalie, Jamie McLennan, with my father right behind him waving a towel.  He told me it was one of his favorite hockey memories.

With that, let me bring in Keith Olbermann and a hilarious take down of the fake history and prestige sports leagues and franchises wrap themselves in.  As the NHL tries to romanticize the Original Six, Keith does a great job of exposing the myth the league has successfully turned into fact.

By the way, isn't it time for Olbermann to get back into the political ring...PLEASE.

WARNING - heavy sports content, but funny!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Scott Walker is out of the 2016 Presidential race, his campaign imploded by a mistaken thought process; Americans can be sold a crap sandwich and be made to believe it's a sirloin steak.  The wealthiest Americans, who've tried to rig the election, guiding their selected stooges to the mantle of leader of the free world, and who 100% backed Walker only two months ago, are staring in disbelief at the burning embers of their system, done in by what they thought was their biggest asset, the red meat far right.

Donald Trump, a blow hard billionaire, was their undoing, and even he doesn't have a lock on the GOP nomination.  He's given the 'established' process fits (as has Ben Carson) by taking away their loyal followers.  They relate to the racist and xenophobic elements the Republican party has recruited over the last 15 years better than the established candidates, mainly because they rarely have to walk back their deranged comments.  To see how quickly this has devolved into a mess for the GOP, think about John McCain having to publicly shame a woman at a rally in 2008 for insisting Obama was a Muslim.  Today, you'd lose points if you didn't fully agree with a psychopath insisting Obama is Hitler's love child.

Another problem the GOP is having is one we've seen played out the entire history of the country; a political party, living in the shadow of a beloved President, manufactures years of candidates who insist they represent the spirit of said beloved candidate.  George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and FDR all had their respective parties candidates insist they were the second coming of their idols, for numerous election cycles afterwards, usually with comical results.  We're nearly 30 years since the end of Reagan's term, but the GOP still tries to inhabit his shadow.  One slight problem with shadows, the later in the day it gets, the longer the shadow becomes.

Modern Republicans don't have a clue who Reagan was.  I'm not saying Reagan was good (oh hell no!) but they took an opportunistic sound bite actor, turned California politician, who rewarded his backers with disgusting handouts, trickle down economics, a war on workers rights and massive budget deficits, but who worked with, and befriended, Tip O'Neill, possibly the most liberal Speaker of the House ever, and turned Ronnie into a Action Movie superhero/Gordon Gekko/Rambo/anti-women/Sgt. York/homophobic/Die Hard/hippy shooting/whites first/├╝ber-Jesus Christ deity.  No one could fulfill that legacy, but it doesn't stop them from trying, once again, with comical results.

Scott Walker destroyed workers rights in Wisconsin, in a hope he would draw comparisons to Reagan's take down of the air traffic controllers.  It's pathetic.  He purposely hurt the citizens of Wisconsin, just to inflate his national name recognition.  Does anyone think Scott Walker embodies anything at all about Reagan, outside of a die job and a suit?  Funny thing, Scott Walker's unmissable bald spot is the perfect analogy.  Sure, if you squint and you're far away, he looks a little like Reagan but then he bends over to tie his shoe, and you realize you've got the wrong guy, even from a distance.

The GOP money machine wants Trump gone, so they are throwing money at other candidates, and ordering the media they own to pounce on him, sensing weakness after the 2nd GOP debate.  Will it work?  I don't know.  As the field wanes, they'll throw a few dollars around, but my guess is they're changing strategy.  They're likely going to shift their spending in the next three election cycles, 16, 18, and 2020, to state legislatures.  They need to maintain GOP majorities in them so, after the 2020 census, they can continue to gerrymander the US House into a near impenetrable fortress of conservative dominance.

Scott Walker was never there.  He was a ghost, a myth.  He was a hollow suit, the flavor of the month, yesterday's special.  He was a zombie.  Maybe that's why they reference them on a certain television show as Walkers.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Friday Link for 9/18/15

I am going to make it easy tonight.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail turns 40!

First up is the official trailer for the re-release of the movie.  The original trailer from 1975 had the same opening.  When I first saw it, as a voice guy, I couldn't stop laughing for 20 minutes.  After the first minute, it's an all new trailer!

Then there is Tim the Enchanter.  I love when Arthur says, "I can see you're a very busy man."  The movie is perfect and there are so many lines (Your father smells like elderberries! I'm your son! Message for you sir!).  Enjoy a laugh on a Friday.

Quick Hits for 9/18/15

*** - After the GOP debate, it's become clear the deceptive video attack on Planned Parenthood was a manufactured ruse, likely encouraged by GOP operatives, to give Republican candidates a topic to hide behind, a topic their most fervent followers will always support.  My gut feeling?  This was encouraged as a way to prevent GOP candidates from having to weigh in on the Confederate Flag issue, a topic which terrified the right, but is now gone from most media coverage today.

The Planned Parenthood video tape is a lie!  It's been proven to be a lie!  It was highly edited to make it seem like people were saying things they just did not say.  Anyone using said tape to validate their political stance is knowingly using a lie to promote their own agenda.

At the debate, every GOP candidate insisted they would be the one who defunds Planned Parenthood first.  I don't think most of them would, as even they know the services Planned Parenthood provides, which is overwhelmingly medical services and exams not related to abortion, would be hard to replace in most communities.  Also, if they get rid of Planned Parenthood, they get rid of one of their liberal boogymen, a villain they lean heavily on when it's election season, perfect for firing up the zealotry.

My real problem is with CNN.  They're not supposed to be Fox News, who giddily promote the video as truth.  They are supposed to be better than that.  CNN knows this video is a lie, but they let any reference to it go unchallenged.  Not only are they guilty of being crappy debate moderators and journalists, they're enablers, spoon feeding the GOP the ability to say, "since CNN never questioned the video, it must be true."  Media in this country sucks right now, and Bernard Shaw and Peter Arnett would be ashamed of what has happened to their once trusted network.

*** - Anyone who says the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed was justified needs to explain the following three things.  First, if the school was so concerned it was a bomb, why wasn't the bomb squad called and the school evacuated?  MacArthur High School was never concerned it was an explosive device, and only regular Irving, Texas police officers responded.  Second, Ahmed never said the clock was anything but a clock, replying every time he was asked with, 'it's only a clock."  Since the Irving Chief of Police has stated the officers knew it was only a clock, BEFORE they arrested him (9/17 MSNBC), why did they arrest him?  There was no crime, he was telling the truth, there was no danger to anyone at the school.  If the school still felt disciplinary action was warranted, they could've given him detention, suspended him, or at least called his parents to come pick him up, which they didn't do until after the arrest.  Third, if the school and mayor both acknowledge this was nothing but a kid and his science project, why the need to insist he was guilty of doing anything wrong?  MacArthur High was quick to insist Ahmed was guilty of violating policies, making sure every parent at the school knew about the manufactured threat, even though the school clearly didn't take the threat seriously themselves (see question one).  Law enforcement and the mayor insist the arrest was warranted, but outside of vague comparisons to real bombs, something the officers knew was not a concern (see question two), they offer up nothing but smug self righteousness.

Ahmed was arrested for being a 14 year old Muslim. Irving, Texas is full of idiots.  End of story.

*** - This morning I got to talk with Briana Bierschbach from MinnPost about the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, or MSOP.  If you had not heard, the program is violating the rights of its prisoners buy trying to create a 'do-over' in regards to the sentences handed down.  Example - a prisoner is tried and found guilty of a sex crime, they're sentenced for 15 years, they serve those 15 years, and then the state insists we can't release the prisoner, attempting to hold them, in some version of a prison, for their entire life.  The problem here is the lack of proper sentencing at the time of the trial, but they can't solve that problem with people already in prison.  We're eventually going to lose the appeal process completely, and the state will be sued for millions of dollars for violating the prisoners rights by not releasing them after they have served their time.

If the state wants to make serious sex crimes a lifetime sentence, they could do so.  They won't.  Why?  Not because a lifetime sentence is a harsh penalty or because of the cost of housing the prisoner.  Nope, it's because if they create such a rigid standard, wealthy people won't be able to buy their way out of it.

*** - It's time to retire the term Political Correctness, and all of it's versions (PC police, etc.).  It's primary purpose is to hide disgusting stereotypes and behavior in plain sight.

John Fugelsang had a sensational essay on bullying.  He talked about how we need to stop referring to it as 'bullying' and refer to it for what it really was, abuse.  He was right.  We use the term bullying to make horrible mental and physical abuse seem like a harmless prank.

When someone brings up political correctness, or the PC police, they're almost always using it to try to divert criticism away from something horrible they have done or said.  "I just gave my secretary a little swat on the caboose, but due to political correctness, my boss wrote me up."  "I was just making the comment that all Muslims are terrorists, but then the PC police showed up to insist I was wrong."

The term "Political Correctness," in any version, is used to validate sexism, misogyny, racism, assault, anti-semitism, homophobia, islamophobia, and amazingly jackass-ian behavior.  If you hear someone sarcastically refer to "here comes the PC police" or how "we're all slaves to political correctness," say loud and proud, "yep, you're right, it isn't politically correct to be a (racist, sexist, homophobe, etc.) so stop acting like I'm the bad guy for pointing out your horrible and unacceptable behavior, and either change or go away."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why People Vote

After last night's GOP debate, I decided to quickly revisit something I'd said earlier this week.  It was in reference to Bernie Sanders' trip to Liberty University and how it was a solid political move.  I juxtaposed that with Hillary's horrible summer on the campaign trail, using the comparison as a springboard to explain the four reasons people vote for someone:

1) They like you.
2) You inspire them.
3) You are something new and different.
4) They hate the other guy you're running against.

Pretty much every voter's vote falls into one or more of these categories.  When you apply it to past elections, it shows the more of the categories a candidate falls into, the more likely they are to win the race.  In 2008, President Obama was able to garner large chunks of voters in every category, but especially in 1 and 2.  John McCain clearly had people voting for him in categories 1 and 4, but very few people voted for him because he was inspirational and no one voted for him as something new and different.

Going back to 2004, John Kerry had a lot of people voting for him due to reason 4, but he was having trouble getting anyone to like him outside of the core base Democrats.  With W. having solid 1 and 4 numbers, he took the win.  In 2012, It was Mitt Romney's turn to have that scenario play out.  There was a huge turnout for him in the 4 category, but not enough to offset President Obama's once again strong numbers in all four.

So applying the formula, what can we garner about the primary races for each party?  It still applies, although it may be harder to see the final outcome before it unfolds.

I had a front row seat for the 2000 Iowa Straw Poll.  W. was the eventual nominee because Karl Rove realized Bush was strong in categories 1 and 4 (to a point), but very weak in categories 2 and 3.  That's why Rove dramatically limited the public's exposure to W. in Iowa, keeping him out of the spotlight, making him seem new and different.  He wasn't.  He was his dad, version 2.0, but he still 'looked' different because he wasn't seen, like Bigfoot.  When he did emerge from the shadows, it was down to him and McCain, who at that time was very strong in the 2nd category.  Rove and Cheney waited until South Carolina, where they appealed to the racist element of the GOP, implying McCain had an African American child out of wedlock, a racists distortion of his adopted Bangladeshi daughter, and that he somehow, through his time as a POW, had become a sort of Manchurian Candidate.  This skyrocketed W.'s category 4, and diminished McCain's category 2, and the rest is history.

2008 was fascinating for the Democrats, because you had Hillary already appealing to her supporters in categories 1, 2 and 3, but out of nowhere came Barack Obama, who also had very high numbers in the same categories.  It took the entire primary season for everyone to realize Obama's numbers in category 3 were enough to override Clinton's numbers in category 1.

For this cycle, the GOP process is being controlled by whomever resonates in category 3.  I really don't think category 2 applies to anyone on the right (maybe Huckabee with Kim Davis followers, to a point) and even though I think Trump has a lot of people who fall into category 4 against him, those votes are sprinkled around the numerous other candidates, so it doesn't hurt him that much.  Carson, Fiorina and Trump are getting better numbers because they're 'new and different,' going beyond category 1's "who do you like" aspect of the race, so far.

The Democrats are more interesting.  Bernie Sanders is getting strong numbers in 1, 2, and 3.  Clinton is still the one to beat, but her numbers in 1 are taking a beating with her over managed campaign.  I think Joe Biden's potential could really make the election tough for both of them, as he will garner strong numbers in 1, 2, and 3.

Then again, it's September, 2015, and the Twins are still in contention.  I have other things to focus on right now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Crosses to Bear

I am Catholic.

(DISCLAIMER! - You do or don't do whatever you do or don't want to do.  This is not about trying to convert anyone.  I only bring it up to give you perspective.)

I've been trying to get Amanda Marcotte from Raw Story on the air to talk about her sensational article which absolutely tags the conservatives behind the Kim Davis debacle correctly.  Here's a link:

I don't want to break down the article too much, outside of saying her analogy about the sore loser baseball player is spot on, that these people have an agenda which may or may not include overthrowing the Federal government, and they have a violent temper.

Christianity is being ruined by people who have an agenda, wether political, monetary or personal.  Let's call this what it is; Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee, and numerous other anti-gay freaks dislike the sex acts gay people commit.  They don't seem to mind when heterosexual couples partake in the same sexual acts, but fine.  It makes them uncomfortable.  Good news for them, the vast majority of them will never have to participate in said sex acts.

But for some reason, that's not good enough.  They want to kick open the doors of gay people's houses and stop them from doing the gay sex in private, or, if they legally can't do that, they want to  be able to treat them differently in society.  They are obsessed with stopping gay people and in turn, gay people sex.  I know they'll say, "it's not about the sex Matt."  Let me respond:  Yes it is!  I'll let everyone ponder that.

In a desperate attempt at legitimacy, they wrap themselves in the handful of passages the Bible has on the issue, freely and gleefully distorting them a will.  Mind you, Jesus never preached against homosexuals (just because he praised heterosexual marriage doesn't mean he condemned gay marriage), so the anti-gay folks need to find other places in the Bible to validate their hatred.  They focus on two parts of the Bible they insist proves all Christians need to hate gay people.  First, Paul's letters to the Romans.  That was Paul, not Jesus or God, but Paul.

Second is an Old Testament goodie, Leviticus! If you really are insisting Leviticus is God's word on this earth, verbiage which can't be challenged and distorted, you really need to go read Leviticus, and the rest of the Old Testament, before you open your mouth.  There are plenty of things we no longer follow or believe from the Bible (but Matt, God would want us to eat shellfish now!), but because gay sex acts done within the privacy of a gay person's residence so offends some people, they'll distort and manipulate scripture any way they can to prove their hatred is righteous.

Jesus didn't hate gays or lesbians.  He loved us all.  If you say the Bible needs to be followed to the letter, but you're not practicing the Bible as written (does your church have a roof?  Oops!) then it is YOU, as an individual human being, who is choosing to hate, and YOU are ruining the good teachings of Jesus by picking and choosing the Biblical passages that fit YOUR ulterior motives, stoking YOUR anger, while ignoring all the biblical passages which YOU find inconvenient or contradict YOUR outrage.

Christianity can be a good thing.  As these opportunists make the church an unappetizing litany of hatred and condemnation, they overshadow the positive messages the church has, messages we all can rally around.

My church is a progressive Catholic church in Eden Prairie.  I love it.  The priests we've had/have are exceptional, and have helped guide me and my family through the sex abuse scandal, and around the diocese leadership, whose misguided, anti-gay campaign emptied out the pews of many Twin Cities churches.

My priest had a sermon a few months back, which included a slide show.  "Where do we find God's love and happiness?"  The slides started with a picture of a young adorable baby, a kind looking grandmother, a puppy.  He stated, "It's easy to see God's love in those faces isn't it?"  Then came a picture of someone sick, followed by one of a homeless person.  "Same God.  Same love, but a different perception, isn't it"  Then came the picture of President Obama.  "What's the matter?  Wasn't he a cute baby at one point too?  Doesn't God show his love through him as much as anyone else?  Just because you don't agree with him, does that make him less of a symbol of God's love and happiness?"  It was a strong message.

On Sunday, he pointed out something many people ignore; the cross itself is a symbol of a horrible death, a tortuous method of punishment at the time of Christ.  I asked myself, how many people would be Christian today if instead of a cross it was a noose, a electric chair or a lethal injection hanging around their neck?  The cross is not just a gold "t", and we shouldn't become ambivalent to the violence it represents from back them, OR the violence of today.  As Kim Davis' supporters talk about throat punching anyone who disagrees with them, or wants to follow her around, armed, in the 'hope' there is an opportunity of a shoot out with government officials, how many of them would eagerly grab the wood and nails if it meant crucifying gay people?

We are often told in my church to welcome all, and our priests hammer that home.  Not just in a casual greeting on Sundays, but we are encouraged to welcome everyone, like the family who is escaping violence in their homeland, the migrant worker just trying to find any job, the hungry children whom we walk past everyday, the homeless person who might be dirty and smells, or any person who is different from ourselves.  Do you welcome them?  You should.  It's very likely your ancestors probably fell into one of those categories.

On Sunday, at the beginning of his sermon, the priest brought up a story about being Christian in our modern world.  He told of a college student, majoring in business, who went onto a great job, fast tracked for upper management.  A senior executive decided to take him under his wing and show him some of the benefits of senior management.  At a conference, they walked into a room, were offered drinks, and he was told the women there were purchased for the evening, a perk for the senior executives, so he should indulge himself.  The young man didn't.

When they had returned from the conference, he was called into the senior executives office and sternly asked what his problem was.  He said, "I'm Christian and I wasn't comfortable with that."  The senior executive told him they would 'excuse' his behavior, this time, but he needed to get on board with the program.  He was gone from the company a few weeks later.

A lack of humanity, spirituality and morality is a plague in our corporate world.  Many in that world worship money, wealth and power over all.  The family of the kid who died after eating tainted food gets sued out of court.  The refusal of the insurance company to cover the claim they promised they would.  The tricks and legal acrobatics designed to take advantage of people.  For profit colleges which don't offer a good education or any future, eagerly taking thousands of dollars from the students they've lied to.  The corporation who knowingly poisons the land, water and air in the name of profits.  The under the table negotiations which end up costing hard working people more, because of cronyism.  The outright stealing of people's money, but because it was done in a suit and tie in an office building, it's somehow considered less of a crime.  The mistreatment and abuse of the workers, with long hours, low wages, no benefits and no retirement, just so executives can have their conferences.

This is why I laugh at these modern Christian movies which vilify gay rights activists, college professors, scientists, journalists, the medical profession and anyone who thinks screaming prayers in someone's face, even as they are dying at an accident scene, is not a good idea.  They have their agenda too.

We have too many people ignoring the truly needy in our world, who instead choose to focus their attention, purposely or blindly, on a minor issue, a molehill issue they want to turn into a mountain, an issue which they insist is the primary purpose of the Christian faith, but an issue God and Jesus would never endorse, all the while turning our attention away from the real problems plaguing us as a society.

But enough of me preaching.  Stop hating gay people due to your over fascination with the sex acts they perform.  That's on you, not them.  And stop taking a good religion and destroying it by trying to fulfill your personal agenda.  Please.  Individual crosses are hard enough to bear with out you guys weighing them down.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Friday Link for 9/11/15

The Food Network: once a gleaming pillar of gastronomic excellence, now a pathetic network geared to over-eating, mediocre family restaurants and zero-value cooking competitions.  As a food guy, a person who watches cooking shows to learn how to cook, I don't watch it anymore.  The best chefs have all left, or been fired, and in their place are glorified line cooks whose culinary ability seems to have been burned away, like the tastebuds in one's mouth after eating a lava hot piece of pizza.

Ina Garten is the last hold out of quality cooks from their once juggernaut lineup.  Even Alton Brown, the brilliant host of Good Eats, is nothing more than a tragically misused version of Wink Martindale anymore.  I remember when Giada de Laurentiis was the weakest chef on the network, looking like a doe eyed intern compared to the rest of the line up.  Today, she's one of their top talents, but more likely to host a talent show then wow me with a recipe.

Ten years ago, the Food Network went with style rather than substance, and have become a hollow shell of what they initially represented, but they're not the only ones.  Bravo used to air operas, Discover Channel used to have science and societal based programming, and the History Channel used to air historical programming.  Heck even the Weather Channel rarely has weather on anymore.  It's cheaper and easier to put on reality crap or a cheap competition show than it is to do real programming.

But nothing on the Food Network makes me sadder than watching Sandra Lee.  I know she is struggling with cancer.  This post is not about that, and I hope she recovers soon.

This post is about what Sandra Lee represents to cooking; a sad, pathetic attempt at making the term 'chef' apply to any idiot who pours a can of hormel chili on a bag of Fritos.  Her use of 70% pre-packaged food in her "recipes" is such a joke.  Her entire career is some sort of attempt a validating lack luster and incompetence.  "I made a Duncan Hines cake!"  Well that's great, but that doesn't make you a chef.  It means you followed the instructions and baked a box cake, so don't act like you just made beef wellington.

I also don't like how she validates daytime drinking.  I don't care how flashy your drink looks, it's not healthy to encourage drinking like that.  I'm no prude, but how many people watch her and start having a drink at 11 AM?  She's got the blender going early!

Anthony Bourdain, an amazing chef, author and traveler, knew it was time to leave The Food Network when she came up to him at a network event, put her arm around him and implied they were equals in the kitchen.  His criticism of her and the Food Network for hiring her, are spot on.  Some of her segments have not only been hard to watch, but culturally obtuse and insulting (Search: Sandra Lee Kwanzaa Cake).

For a laugh, here is a montage of her crazy style from her show.  I do laugh when I see this, but I also cry a little for the Food Network that is long gone.

The Broken Media, Part 2

I love it when I post something and the validation for my thoughts come at me the very next day.

This morning, the Star Tribune ran front page, above the fold, the story of an indictment being handed down to Bill Davis and his son Jordan for misusing $250K in taxpayer money, while the senior Davis was the director of Community Action of Minneapolis.  It would've been the main story on the front page if not for the tragic murder/suicide in Greenwood.  The Davis' are African American, and I believe they're Democrats.

Is it a legit story?  Sure it is, although I don't think it's front page above the fold material.  For some reason, the Star Tribune did, but when a far worse story of abuse of taxpayer dollars happened, done by a white Republican, I don't recall the Star Tribune putting that story above the fold, or even on the front page.

State Senator Sean Nienow, a Republican from Cambridge, was the subject of a civil complaint earlier this year, filed in US District Court, where he stopped making payments on a Small Business Administration loan he and his wife had received.  He stopped making payments 18 months after he received the loan, and owed in the realm of $750K, three times the amount abused by Davis.  Not only that, but the story of Nienow's loan approval opens up even more questions, some real head scratchers.  He somehow secured a 600K+ base loan with the title of a house worth less than 150K, for a business idea ( a summer camp location service for upscale clients) which was weak at best.  Okay...

If I remember correctly, the Star Tribune placed that story on the front page of the B section, below the fold.  I'll check the next time I'm at the library and I'll post an update here when I confirm.

Now for the record I think both of these stories should be covered.  The one involving a Democrat - 250K, front page above the fold.  The one involving the Republican, a sitting Senator - 750K, buried in the back of the paper.

Not only did they down play a FAR larger abuse of taxpayer dollars by the Republican, and not only did this story not immediately warrant their news department following up with a story on how he even qualified for the loan, the Star Tribune's story actually downplayed the amount Nienow and his wife owed, referring to the original loan amount of $613K in the headline, implying it was less of a crime, even though he clearly owed 750K.

I also did get two people brining up a comparison between Jim Newberger, the Republican Representative from Becker who made the racist "joke" about north Minneapolis, and Rep. Ron Erhardt, the Democrat from Edina who made less than civil comment about the bird flu crisis in the Minnesota farming community.  They were insisting Newberger was ignored by local media, while Erhardt was ripped apart.  I remember both incidents getting covered, and Erhardt deserved grief for his tone deaf remarks, but Newberger was covered FAR less in the Twin Cities media.  Also, the media drove the chants of shame towards Erhardt, but after Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he wouldn't make Newberger apologize on the House floor, the same place he made the insensitive comment, the Twin Cities media made the story vanish.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Twin Cities News Has Broken

A few weeks back, Minnesota Republican House Representatives Tara Mack and Tim Kelly were ticketed for nuisance when a Dakota County Sheriff's Deputy spotted their vehicle in a regional park parking lot, approached it and, as he reported, caught the lawmakers "making out," with Rep. Mack's pants being listed as "unzipped" and "pulled down."  Both Mack and Kelly are married, but not to each other, and both are Representatives of the political party which insists it's the party of high moral fiber, Christian standards, and a wholesome way of life.  Both Mack and Kelly insisted the Sheriff Deputy was making up the story, with Kelly even going as far as suggesting it was the beginning of a smear campaign against him for the 2016 election.  Mack and Kelly insisted they were only in Lebanon Hills Regional Park for a "document exchange," but their story had some serious holes developing, such as why they couldn't exchange documents in the St. Paul office building they both share, why they decided to meet in a park no where near either of their districts, and in the day and age of electronic communication, why wasn't this document available in some sort of electronic form?  Quietly, on the Friday night before Labor Day weekend, both lawmakers paid their nuisance fine, insisted they were innocent of any wrong doing, and refused to comment further.

Mack and Kelly are grown adults.  People fall in and out of love all of the time, and the notion that two co-workers might have felt a spark for each other is nothing new.  I would've hoped they were adults about it, talking about any problems with their perspective families before going through with any potential affair, but my criticism is not about their implied affair.  That's their business.

I do raise an eyebrow in regards to the 'insisting they're innocent, but paying the fine' aspect of it.  If I was accused of something of that nature, and I knew I'd done nothing wrong, I'd be screaming bloody murder to clear my name, not paying the fine.  That aside, my biggest problem with this whole fiasco is how the newspapers, and most of the media in the Twin Cities, showed their pro conservative hand in their lack of coverage of the story.

Briana Bierschbach, the exceptional writer for MinnPost, said it best, political journalists HATE stories like the Mack/Kelly one.  Legitimate journalists don't want to cover it, but they have to due to the nature of the individuals involved in the infraction.  But what is becoming undeniable is how the media, on stories of this nature, ask one question first; what party are they from?  If it's a Republican, the story is written from a "nothing to see here" perspective, but if it's a Democrat, it's written from the "For Gods sake, the sky is on fire and we are all going to die!" perspective.  Neither is right.

The idea of media having a 'liberal agenda' is a made up lie to force US's mainstream media to the far right; a scarlet letter 'L' to terrify news rooms and editors.  The Republican's war wasn't with outfits like Democracy Now, a clearly pro-Progressive/Liberal news outlet (which for the record still reports their news stories fairly), but rather the NBC's, ABC's, CNN's and CBS's of the world.  The right wanted to make sure the narrative of any news story was pro-conservative from the get go.  This meant all responsible journalism had to go, and, frankly, they've far exceeded expectations.  In the last 25 years, conservatives have bought, threatened, paid off, tricked, bribed, acquired, fired and black listed reporters and editors labeled bad because they maintained a standard of neutral reporting and journalistic integrity.  This war on the media was never about facts; it was about driving an agenda.

This conservative bias has permeated down to the local media, with examples everywhere. The owners of broadcasting companies openly support Minnesota Republican candidates for office, even hosting fundraising events for them.  The media companies controlled by these people then seem to incorporate a double standard for political ad buys.  The company refuses left leaning ad buys against their candidate, insisting factual errors, whether they exist or not, negate them from running the ad against the Republican, but anything goes when it's an attack ad against the Democrat, even allowing bold face lies.  How about the Ebola scare, where the media in this town also drove the national narrative "ebola is everywhere(!), and it's the Democrats fault?"  Then, the day after the election, it just stopped, vanished as if Emily Litella said, "Never mind!"  And we should point a finger at 'pointer-gate,' the made up story by KSTP 5 which was nothing more than a political hit piece on Democratic Mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges; a story so outrageously stupid, it was mocked internationally in it's blatant attempt to smear her.

The Mack/Kelly story got very little coverage in this town.  The Pioneer Press was the first to have it, and they HAD to run it.  What they did was bury the story on page 3, nearly apologizing for having to report it, and writing it from a very pro-Mack and Kelly angle.  Over the next few days, a few media outlets mentioned it in passing, but usually as an "in other news..." story, or only as an online feature.  Even when Kelly and Mack paid their fines, seeming to contradict their assertions of innocence, pseudo-acknowledging culpability, media in this town shrugged it's shoulders and turned away.

Imagine if this was two Democrats caught in the same exact situation.  Both major newspapers in this town would run the story front page, above the fold.  They would report on hypothetical sexual acts, deeming each politician a pervert, calling for their immediate resignations.  The news departments of television and radio would follow suit, with exposes on the families, talking about the web of lies each politician was weaving.  The media would cover GOP press conferences live, amplifying the right's call for full investigations, demanding apologies from anyone who ever voted DFL, insisting all party leadership resign, and forcing everyone to only think of Democratic deviant sex come election day.  Bookend this with political ad buys, partially funded by the media owners themselves, mudslinging and smearing like a full contact, finger painting class in a swamp.

Then, the day after the election, when it all just stops, the GOP and the media's political 'experts,' will insist the sex scandal had nothing to with the election results.  "No one EVER mentioned the sex scandal.  This was a rejection of DFL ideals!"

Think I'm exaggerating?  How about the manufactured outrage when the Dems were accused of boozing it up in the Capitol, or the way the Wellstone Memorial was turned into a weapon against the Dems, with GOP'ers insisting THEY were on only ones showing any REAL respect for Senator Paul Wellstone.  This is their game plan, and they've played this game and won, over and over and over again.

Mack/Kelly should be covered, and not in an apologetic or bias manner.  It should have been featured in most major news casts, not left for tertiary news outlets and fringe reporting formats.  It shouldn't have led the news, but it should have been there.  I don't think it should've been covered like a meteor crashing into the planet, but it should've been covered, whether the journalists like to or not.

The news days of my great uncle Cedric Adams are long gone, wiped away, as was predicted by the great movie 'Network,' 40 years ago.  The best bet for us is a new cultivation of competent news outlets, ones not driven by the accounting departments, ones like MinnPost.  Until then, here's the link for the Japanese animation version of the Mack/Kelly story.  For some reason, while the Twin Cities news media yawned, they thought it was worth covering, and funny, they rightly call out the distance to the parking lot Mack and Kelly used, and how it was nowhere near St. Paul.  I shouldn't have to go to the other side of the planet for actual fair and balanced Minneapolis/St. Paul news coverage.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The 2015 Minnesota State Fair

Quick Hits for Labor Day, 9/7/15

* - It's Labor Day, time for us to reflect on what our lives would be like if not for the work of the Labor Movement and unions.  We'd all be working today, starting at the break of dawn and working until the boss said you were done.  You'd be lucky if you didn't work seven days a week, as true ultra capitalists didn't care about religious doctrine in the age before worker's rights.  You got paid barely enough to get by, usually in credits at the company store.  You didn't get sick days, breaks, or overtime.  You didn't get a 40-hour work week, minimal pay, or vacation days.  There was no healthcare, pensions or retirement accounts.  There was no safety regulations, and no one mourned if you were seriously wounded or died while performing your tasks.  There was no retirement, or minimum working age either.  Eleven year olds were working next to 70 year olds.  You were a line item on an accounting form, next to paper, pencils and staples.   It was an employment system much more akin to a fiefdom, where one person exuded complete control over all aspects of the people beneath them, but, in America, it wasn't some ancient title which granted you such power, but money, buying off law enforcement, judges and politicians, ensuring your way of life was the only way of life.  And if you dared complain or get out of line, they took you out back and shot you, evicting your family from their house and the community after the funeral.

The 1950's were great (although we weren't dealing with minority rights and women's rights, something we still need to address today).  They were great because it was the Golden Age of workers rights.  Even the conservatives back then understood an equal tide raised all boats.  Since the 1960's, Republicans have been doing everything in their power to undo the workers rights we've earned in this country.  Looking east into Wisconsin, and seeing the nightmare worker's world created by Scott Walker, it shows how close we are to returning to a fiefdom system on the 1890's.  I believe in Democracy, I believe in fair and responsible Capitalism, I believe in fair wages and a fair tax rate imposed on all citizens, in all income brackets, and I believe in workers rights.  The only question I have for people who make less than a million dollars a year, and who continue to vote Republican, is why don't you?  The GOP's official platform is to take away your rights.  They use the frustration created by their own employment policies to whip up an anger campaign against 'perceived enemies,' all while eroding worker rights further and further, to the cheers from the GOP voters.  Happy Labor Day, and remember, if you keep voting Republican, it will eventually be renamed 'Hard Labor Day.'

* - Speaking of Republican history, think about World War II and how we look at FDR today, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, the war in the Pacific.  Even though we rightly continue to debate the use of nuclear bombs to end the war, the conflict itself is viewed as this noble cause, stopping the Axis powers on their quest for world domination.  In 60 years, how will we look back at the Bush administration?  We can point out 9/11 failures, Hurricane Katrina, obscene cronyism and the economic collapse, but to do an apples to apples comparison, lets focus only on the Iraq War.  The W. Bush administration started an unjustified war in Iraq, cultivating public support off the country's raw emotions from 9/11, costing thousand of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, trillions of dollars, completely mismanaged Iraq afterwards, due to administration arrogance and short sightedness, and destabilizing the entire Middle East, just so Dick Cheney's corporate buddies could have the greatest government funded payday in US history.  No one will fondly remember the Iraq War or the W. Bush administration's actions, but then again, maybe this is the reason conservatives are trying so hard to rewrite high school text books; to change the facts into something more GOP friendly, a propaganda technique the far right learned from Communist Russia.

* - I keep hearing from angry leftie guy about how Democrats are no better than Republicans, and how I'm part of the great misinformation machine because I endorse the Dems.  Please.  I've pointed out the differences between the Democrats and the Republicans numerous times.  To say they're the same is fool hearted, and a simpleton's mindset.  There are problems which have permeated both parties, namely the influence of Wall Street, but I'm sure if John McCain would've been in office the last 6 1/2 years, this country would be in a VERY different place.  That aside, I'm not against a third party, but I'll fall back to what I've said before about them.  Give me an option that's real, not something which might exist in four election cycles.  Give me something to talk about, a party that can compete nationally, not just for one city council seat, in one major urban city.  When you show me something, I'll pay attention.  And for the record, Bernie Sanders is running as a Democrat.  You do realize that don't you?  To imply the Democrats are a lost party, but then praise Bernie is purposely omitting his party affiliation in an misguided attempt at achieving hipster political uniqueness.

* - And finally, the Minnesota State Fair.  I was at the Fair for a long time yesterday.  I'll post some photos later today on the blog.  I love the Fair, an over the top celebration of all things Minnesotan, without getting too weird.  Sure you can get non-Minnesota elements, like deep fried gator and frozen Key Lime pie on a stick, but at the heart of it all is a true Minnesota experience.  There was a girl standing outside of the Grandstand yesterday.  She was the ubiquitous State Fair girl,  doe-eyed elegance, looking both lost and found at the same time, a ghost of State Fair visitors from my youth.  I recognized her, but not because of retro fashion.  Quite the opposite, her outfit was all modern, but it was what she represented that was timeless.  I turned back and she was gone into the mass of Minnesotans, a phantom to be spotted again next year.  I love the Fair.  Try the mint chocolate milk shake at the dairy barn (you have to ask for it), and gyros, walleye sandwich, deep fried pickles, fries, pronto pups and even a Sweet Martha cookie or two as well.

Have a great Labor Day everyone!

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Friday Link for 9/4/15

If you listen to the show or read the station's social media feeds, you know I love art, and I love the modern mediums being explored with artistic expression.  The MIA and the Walker Art Museum have a few video art pieces which are exceptional (Chiho Aoshima, Jennifer Steinkamp, Doug Aitken, Bruce Nauman, Paul Chan, and others).

What I find fun is when you get someone who can take something deeply artistic and make appeal to the masses, slyly, through popular culture.  I don't think anyone does that better than the band OK Go.

OK Go have taken their music videos to the next level with numerous visual tricks and innovations.  They're probably most known for their music video for 'Here it Goes Again,' where they dance on running treadmills, but they've done so many different types of artistic expression in their music videos, it's astounding; all accompanied by their trademark catchy songs.

I say the band OK Go did these, but it's the directors, the artist teams and the band who design and create the videos.  Combined, they're the main artists.  OK Go, for the record, are the ones taking the risks, green lighting the projects.

If you browse their selections, do be careful for the occasional bad word.

Here's my favorite, the giant Rube Goldberg Machine for their song 'This Too Shall Pass'.  It's directed by James Frost, the band, and the folks at Syyn Labs.  Enjoy, and watch over and over and over again to catch it all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Slack Jawed, Stone Faced Silence

Republicans are funny, but in a scary way.  After 20 years of right wing opinion validation as their only news input, they've lost the ability to debate, interact, defend and counterpoint.  They're so used to having their point of view repeated back to them, they don't know how to process truths which call into question their believed reality.

Some examples:

I have conservative friends who insist the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal is the worst thing ever done by a politician (their words, not mine).  The fact she actually used private e-mail to interact and receive information as Secretary of State is tantamount to treason in their minds, but when you bring up the W. Bush administration's 'lost' 20 million plus e-mails, e-mails from the entire length of his presidency, official e-mails which used private and campaign accounts illegally, e-mails dealing with such topics as 9/11, the Iraq War and it's justifications, his re-election campaign, government contracts, Hurricane Katrina response and the banking crisis, e-mails which should have been archived by law, e-mails which could only have become 'lost' by purposely erasing the e-mails from multiple locations on multiple computers and on multiple servers, e-mails which were 'supposedly' 'found' in 2010, after lawsuits were filed, but with no independent review to validate them, and, conveniently for the Bush administration, the 'found' e-mails can't be seen by the public for decades; when you mention THAT e-mail scandal, you're met with slack jawed, stone faced silence.

I hear cheers from conservatives who applaud the actions of a few religious zealot county clerks in Kentucky, who refuse to issue marriage certificates to gay couples.  They're imposing their religious point of view on the people they're supposed to represent, hand picking what parts of their distorted Bible they follow, trying to hide in plain sight while they practice hatred, bigotry and homophobia on this country's citizens.  At the same time, conservative critics rip apart the Supreme Court calling them activist judges who should be dismissed for legalizing same sex marriage, but when you bring up to the same conservative critics how much they loved the same Supreme Court only a year earlier during the Hobby Lobby case, and when you point out there is absolutely no difference between what these county clerks are trying to do in Kentucky and what the far right in this country is terrified of, mandatory religious law being forced on the populace by individuals with an agenda, only they refer to it as Sharia Law; when you mention THAT counterpoint to their convictions, you're met with slack jawed, stone faced silence.

There's a GOP meme going around about President Obama never mentioning any police officer killed in the line of duty, in the last two years.  They juxtapose his alleged silence with further allegations of him praising the lives of African Americans victims of police violence, lives which the right wing media paint as 'criminals getting what they deserved,' but when you point out this is a made up story, showing them videos of Obama indeed praising police officers lost in the line of duty, and when pointing out he never praised a criminal, unlike the right's praising of Cliven Bundy, a man who IS a criminal, who refused to pay his grazing fees, fines and taxes, who thinks he can make up the rules as he goes, a man who encouraged militias to target Bureau of Land Management officials, government agents akin to law enforcement, with loaded weapons with intent to kill, while they hid behind women and children, when you mention THAT right wing criminal worshipping, with not one condemnation, even after his horrible pro slavery rant, you're met with slack jawed, stone faced silence.

The right lives in a bubble of their own making.  It's gotten worse since the end of the W. administration, when even they couldn't deny the massive failure of his presidency.  They have turned off any dissenting view point which contradicts their side being anything but the wholesome American Christian values side, or paints their opposition as anything other than anti-wealth, anti-famliy, anti-God Anti-Americans.

Here's where it gets scary.  Have you seen the GOP field for President?  There are only two candidates I'd even label as somewhat mentally capable of holding down the office of President (Kasich and Graham [not, in any way, an endorsement of either]), and neither of them have a chance on the Republican side.  The right wing's self validation bubble prevents them from looking at a Cruz, Trump or Carson and saying, "dear Lord, what are we doing?"  Nope, because their perception filters have made them blind, they look at the wart ridden, patchy haired, oozing flesh mass which has pulled itself out of the cesspool of humanity, and see the belle of the ball.

This is how you get vastly unqualified people elected into positions they can't manage.  Look at this Republican mess and realize their voters will ALL show up to vote for which ever Broom Hilda survives the GOP beauty pageant.  The left can laugh and shake their head, but at no point should they take what is going on in the Republican Party lightly.  If the GOP wins in 2016, it will be the Democrats who will be stunned, with slack jawed, stone faced silence.