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!

Monday, September 12, 2016


Yesterday was the 15th Anniversary of 9/11.  I still remember watching as the towers were attacked, as the Pentagon was attacked, feeling afraid, wondering when it would stop.  I remember the brave men and women running towards the carnage.  I remember New York City, and the country, shaking as the towers fell.  I sadly remember realizing I'd just witnessed a lot of people dying.  I remember the country being different afterwards, how we all changed.  I remember the skies being free of planes for weeks afterwards.

A way we remember 9/11 is to say "9/11: Never Forget," but many people who post this meme on social media are not being honest.  Many want you to "Forget," rather than "Never Forget."

They want you to "Forget" the incredible level of incompetence the Bush Administration had prior to 9/11; throwing out most of the Bin Laden info they were handed by the Clinton Administration because it had nothing to do with Iraq, downplaying warnings of planes being used as missiles to  attack targets in the USA, taking the entire month of August, 2001 off for a vacation, with the press secretary justifying the length of the vacation by insisting the Bush Administration had "complete control of government," and the Bush Administration (astoundingly!) ignoring intelligence briefings warning of an attack.

They want you to "Forget" the First Responders from that day; the First Responders who've had to fight the Republicans tooth and nail to get the medical coverage and benefits they deserve from doing their job, medical coverage and benefits they were promised over and over again by the Republicans in the days after 9/11, the same Republicans who love photo ops with any First Responder from 9/11.  For the record, many First Responders from 9/11 have died due to health complications directly brought on from doing their brave job fifteen years ago.

They want you to "Forget" what the victims of the tragedy deserve; answers to how this happened and who helped make it happen, with a complete investigation into Saudi Arabia's involvement, answers to why the Bin Laden family was allowed to fly out of this country afterwards, pretty much the ONLY flight that happened after 9/11, and compensation for the victim's long suffering families, more than an annual offer to show up at a 9/11 tribute for a political photo op.   They want you to "Forget" the survivors from that day, and their medical needs.  And they desperately want you to "Forget" the survivors and the family of the dead who dared questioned the motives of the Bush Administration and Republicans in the years after the tragedy.

They want you to "Forget" the intentionally incompetent handling of the US armed forces after 9/11; not the very justified attack on Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, but the White House's inexplicable command for the troops to 'stand down' when they had Bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, the decision to attack Iraq, initially justified as "they were the REAL ones behind 9/11," but when that unraveled, "they're going to attack us like another 9/11, only this time with mushroom clouds and biological weapons," (all of which were lies), the clear lack of any plan for managing Iraq after combat ceased, outside of giving the Iraqi's oil to Bush Administration oil company friends, the 4,424 US military killed in action, and 31,952 US military wounded in action in a completely unjustified war, and their mismanagement of Iraq directly leading to the creation of ISIS.

There are only three things many people who say "Never Forget" want you to never forget;

  • Muslims attacked us
  • Any victim from that day whose family isn't asking fair and appropriate questions
  • The dark, gut wrenching feeling we all had that morning, a swirling mixture of fear and anger, a trembling rage political opportunists try to manipulate to get you to hate what they want you to hate.

Maybe we should revise the expression - "9/11: Never Forget - Any of It."  I won't.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Friday Link for 9/9/16

The Friday Link is short and sweet today.

Not only has Marvel created a monster movie franchise which shows no signs of slowing down (I an't wait for Doctor Strange this fall and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 next summer) but apparently they're also very good at comedy.

Chris Hemsworth got back into Thor mode to explain why exactly he was not to be seen in Captain America Civil War.  Enjoy!


Abortion! Many people might be asking why I'd want to even delve into an issue usually argued from both sides at the volume of Krakatoa.  For me, it's seeing the GOP, a political party with very little safe political fodder in the age of Trump, run back to this issue, their political safe house, partially safe due to the reluctance of many people to talk about abortion.

But, considering the importance of this issue, we need to talk about abortion and choice.  Not only because we have to come to grips with this issue at some point, but to stop political opportunists from using this issue to drive a far right religious agenda on the American people.  How many other issues are tethered to abortion, as abortion gets voters to the polls?  Also, the idea some don't even want exceptions in abortion law for victims of rape and incest, or in cases where the life of the mother is in jeopardy, is unacceptable.  How can any Christian Conservative think they're doing God's will when they tell a husband and three children that their wife/mother needs to die because the current baby she's carrying will kill her?  And additionally punishing the victims of rape and incest, with some states actually giving their attackers parental rights?  Please...

Before I get into this, let me address two aspects.  First, it hasn't escaped me I'm a male of the species, hence (duh) I can't have a baby.  Where my marriage gives me some input into decisions involving my wife and my children, any man demanding certain abortion laws be enforced on women would be like a random woman weighing in on what types of treatment men can and can't receive for prostate cancer.  Would I, or any man, ever accept that?  No.

Also, the abortion debate is hinged on the specific moment the anti-abortion community has deemed as "the beginning of life," the moment when male sperm fertilizes the female egg.  This is a totally arbitrary timeline.  If you're so convinced a small clumping of developing cells is life, then you should be outraged every time a far more complicated, complex grouping of cells is wasted, such as in war, famine, and executions.  You're the ones who've labeled a specific point (a small grouping of cells) as "the beginning of life." I'm just pointing out your hypocrisy on that specific point.  I could easily go the other way too; if sperm and egg combined make life, then how can we discount the living sperm and living egg individually.  It's like saying eating chocolate or peanut butter individually is Satan's work, but if you have a Reese's, you're divine!  The exact moment a female egg is fertilized by sperm being 'when life begins,' and the decision to waste that same life a few decades later, are determinations made by human beings, not God.  Let's remember that.

With that out of the way, let me share my personal viewpoint:

Outside of cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother, I, Matthew McNeil, am personally against abortion.

Didn't see that coming, did ya?  Yes indeed, I'm against abortion, as is my wife.  I can say definitively, we would never have an abortion if my wife was expecting.  We'd take the baby to full term and love it.  Even if we didn't want the baby, which is a freaking ludicrous hypothetical, we'd carry it to birth and give it up for adoption rather than aborting.

I just made a lot of Republican heads explode.  If I'm a Democrat, and I'm indeed Democrat blue, tried and true, through and through, how can I be anti-abortion?  It's because abortion is a personal issue, one we all need to make individually.

This is usually the point where snarky pro-lifers will float the scenario, "What if your daughter got pregnant?  Would you be for abortion THEN???"

First off, ick!  Secondly, if my young daughter was pregnant, one could make a very strong argument I've already failed as a parent, horrifically.  Republicans know this, so they try to use it as a way to force a false morality upon my decision making process.  "Because I screwed up before, I now need to treat my pregnant teenager like a pretty, little princess, making all the decisions for her, because I'm daddy."  The genie's already out of the bottle.  If she's old enough to make her own decisions in regards to consensual sex, she's old enough to make other adult decisions in her life, regardless of how much I might disagree with them.  I will be her father.  I'll let my opinion be known, but regardless, I'll support her decisions, as a father should, not grab her by the wrist and drag her into a church or into a clinic.

You may be asking, "Matt, if you're a Catholic, how can you have such a cavalier attitude in regards to your child having an abortion?"  Religion is also a personal thing.  How you choose to worship (or not worship at all) is up to the individual.  I've asked God for guidance on this issue, and I feel very comfortable with the positions I have in regards to my Catholic beliefs.

But for anyone who tries to 'gotcha' me on this, Christians cherry pick the heck out of the Bible.  Many people use the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill" to justify their anti-abortion stance, but they ignore it when it comes to the death penalty.  And before you say the whole "eye for an eye" stuff, Jesus' own words in Matthew 5:39-44 told us to stop that.  Jesus, the man who makes Christian's Christian also told us, unequivocally, to feed the hungry and take of the sick without question (or shame standards), and the Bible tells us, clearly, to welcome strangers from strange lands, without exception.

And forgetting all the Old Testament references to God ordering kids killed (and there are quite a few), personal responsibility for your sins is what Christian teachings are based on.  If you're Christian, aren't we all judged by our own actions on earth?  When it's time for my judgement, I can't point to anyone else and say, "they told me to do it."  A Christian God wants you to be responsible for your own actions, and to not force your will onto others.  If you are going to be one of those people who demands strict adhesion to Biblical verse when it comes to validating your pro-life stances, or condemning gays, then you're a MASSIVE hypocrite to ignore the Bible when it goes against your political leanings.

Anti-abortion Christian Conservatives, can I ask why you're even following the Republican Party anyway?  Ever since Roe v. Wade, the Republicans have been gobbling up campaign checks from pro-lifers with the promise, "if you put us in power, we'll pass a Constitutional Amendment making abortion illegal."  From 2003 to 2006, the GOP had complete control of the US House, US Senate and the vast majority of state legislative bodies, more than enough Republican votes to get it passed.  How many Constitutional Amendments did the Republicans introduce?  Zero.  None.  Not one.  They could've easily passed one, but they decided they'd rather have you rubes keep writing them checks as opposed to follow through on their 30 years of promises.  They never wanted you to focus on any other part of the Bible, so they quietly pushed abortion to the back burner, and didn't bring it back up again until it became clear they were going to lose big in 2006.  When you start bringing up abortion in 2016, have an answer ready on why you continue to vote Republican when they've proven they will not follow through on their anti-abortion promises.

The United States is founded on a simple principle, separation of church and state.  The founding fathers didn't want to have one religion, or one version of a certain religion, making the rules for all citizens in this country.  They just didn't, no matter how much revisionists try to insist they really wanted a Christian nation.  If I'm a true American, I need to realize my personal decision on abortion is based on my personal religious beliefs.  If I'm being guided by my version of religion, that's my choice, and my choice alone.  It shouldn't be used as a bellwether for everyone else.  If I'm truly American, it is my job to go out of my way to make sure I'm not forcing my religion on others.  That might be difficult for some, but it's what the founding father's wanted, none the less.

Let's take a few minutes to talk about the term 'pro-life.'  There's one undeniable element of American culture; as many of us claim to care about children, our laws and governmental systems are specifically geared to only focus on the baby, while the baby is in the womb. The mother's health care and quality of life needs during pregnancy are often ignored, and this country is anything but pro-life the minute after the baby is born. Once the baby takes mom's exit ramp, mom and baby are greeted with a shocking lack of societal support for new mothers and families:  skyrocketing day care costs, education costs, the lack of livable wages for everyone, especially single mothers, subpar transportation options, the drastic slicing of social safety net programs, shame hoops we require those seeking government assistance to jump through, the lack of quality housing, and a legal system which seems, at best, indifferent, all while far right zealots call you a lazy moocher who's leeching off of hard working Americans.  If you're a woman who knows she's going to have to tackle all of this on her own, with very little support from the people who demanded you take the baby to term, the choice about abortion becomes more real.  If we cherished the lives of children, and their mothers, half as much as we care about unborn babies, the choice for some wouldn't be so bleak.

What about giving a child up for adoption?  There are a lot of wonderful families who've welcomed in a new family member via adoption, but for an adoption system based in a country known as the land of plenty, with so many 'pro-lifers,' there are some negative realities.  It's hard to exactly know how many kids are growing up in a group home or foster home who are not currently in the process of being adopted.  The number of kids needing a home seems to be between 100,000 and 150,000.  Currently there are over well over 300,000 Christian churches in the United States.  If only one family from every two to three churches adopted one child, there wouldn't be orphans in America.  That doesn't seem like it should be such a big hurdle, yet it doesn't happen.

Let's also acknowledge rates of adoption for white babies are much better than the rates of adoption for minority babies.  If you find out you're pregnant, determine you can't raise a child, and are forced to think about putting a baby into a group home/foster care system for their life, with no guarantee they will ever get adopted, having an abortion seems to be a less complicated path.

And we can't ignore the shocking amount of people, mostly men, who love the act of creating babies, but want no responsibility for the baby after it's conceived.  Jackasses come from all races and social economic statuses.  You can shame them; they don't care.  You can jail them; that only wastes more resources, and a parent can't provide and nurture from a jail cell.  As long as you have people more concerned about their personal gratification than anything else, you're going to have pregnancies, single parents, children given up to a system, and abortions.  And no, mandatory sterilization of American citizens is not an option.

These facts are hard to hear, but they prove we'll never address the abortion debate effectively until we make this discussion more than just pro-choice verses pro-life.

I'm not trying to make light of the tough choices women make in regards to abortion.  I've had friends, women and men, regret their decision to have one, and I've seen entire families crumble at the decision to have the baby.  Life is full of tough choices, hence why we should allow people to make their own decisions, and offer a maximum amount of support for our citizens, regardless of which path they take.

Do you want to know the main reason I, as someone who's anti-abortion, wouldn't be for making abortions illegal?  It's because the vast majority of anti-abortion politicians aren't for making it illegal either.

Let me float two illegal abortion scenarios.  In the first is the Canadian route.  Abortion tourism would be a boom industry, for those who could afford it.  For those who couldn't, their options would be either back alley abortions, with a very high health risk to women, or a child placed into a Dickens-esque orphanage system, or a child born into a society which condemns them for being born, because they're "using up my tax payer dollars!"

How about a more likely scenario.  In this scenario, things would be the same as I described above for the non-ultra wealthy, but common sense should tell you wealthy Americans wouldn't tolerate the politicians they've paid for forcing them to visit Canada for their health care needs.  They'd demand legal abortions in their own hometown.

The day Republicans make abortions illegal in the USA, specialty clinics will instantly pop up in upper class strip malls across the country.  These clinics will offer anti-baby-oscamy's, a procedure which is the exact same procedure as an abortion, only with a new name.  The rich will be able to waltz in at any time and make an appointment for an anti-baby-oscamy, without anyone batting an eye.  The gold plated health care plans will even cover anti-baby-oscamys.  The talking heads of today who scream "abortions are evil" will be back in front of the TV cameras, only this time they'd be screaming about how no one should ever question an anti-baby-oscamy.  "How DARE you try to step between a innocent patient and her anti-baby-oscamist!  That's a PRIVATE matter!"  Abortions will be legal and easily obtained for the wealthy in America, and completely illegal for everyone else.  That's why I'm against making abortion illegal.

To review:  I'm personally anti-abortion, but feel it should be legal in the United States.  You make your own choice.  If we ban abortions, we need to make sure there are exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, but we shouldn' make abortions illegal because they'd never be completely illegal for everyone, only illegal for the non-wealthy.  We also have a tremendous amount of satellite issues we need to address, as we have this discussion.  Live your own life, be happy with the decisions you make for yourself.  Stop trying to force your religion on everyone else.  Don't be a jerk.

And if you say you're pro-life, prove it to me by insisting the social safety net programs in the USA need to be expanded BEFORE we'd even consider making abortions illegal, making the safety net programs completely comprehensive, so they'd blanket everyone, like a baby.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

State Fair 2016

Hey all!  I know it's been a light week, but things are busy with school starting back up.  Here are a few photos from the State Fair.  I have a HUGE post coming, maybe tomorrow.

Descriptions where needed:

233,000 on Sunday.  Officially the 2nd largest city in Minnesota.

I love the llama in the image.  The llama costume contest is one of the best aspects of the fair.

Horse racing competition.

Food competitions.

Both of these were taken up in the Horticulture building, the center of which is always decorated in a very cool way.

This 3D beach was by far my favorite art piece in the Fine Arts competition.

There is no picture of me eating a Pronto Pup.  After all the jokes we played on Bachmann and Perry, I can only imagine what photo editing would've been done to me.

This is a variation of a dahlia.  

Crop art is cool!

Senator Amy Klobuchar stopped for a photo, along with my youngest daughter.

Yes it's know how tired I was? (I intentionally did that)

This pano has a weird try color thing going on in it, but considering how much the lights were flashing, I am surprised it came out at all.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Friday Link for 9/2/16

This weeks Friday Link is a little Labor Day gem from Adam Ruins Everything, the series which started out as part of the CollegeHumor crew, but was so good, it..graduated (???) to basic cable...okay Tru TV, but heck someone there was smart!

The concept is tried and true.  The host, Adam Conover, deconstructs a common everyday myths about things, enlightening and educating in a very witty and well delivered style.  This reminds me of one of the original sojourns into this format, the great newspaper column, The Straight Dope with Cecil Adams.  In the case of Adam Ruins Everything, it's like the newspaper, for your eyes!  It also reminds me of Good Eats, back when Alton Brown cooked and cooked well!  Just click and you'll see the brilliance, and you might just learn something...

We'll go with Adam ruining the workplace for Labor Day.  This should make you pretty upset:

And he takes a few good shots at the NFL and concussions here:

And he even takes on funerals:

Enjoy, and have a great Labor Day weekend.  I'll have State Fair pictures on Sunday night!

Thursday, September 1, 2016


After the Metropolitan Council's unanimous vote yesterday ensured the Southwest Light Rail Line (SWLRT) would be built, I took to social media to celebrate.  Since I live in the southwest suburbs, and since the majority of my social media circle does too, most of the comments I received in regards to the light rail line, which will run from downtown Minneapolis, through the Chain of Lakes district, into St. Louis Park and Hopkins, then into the outer suburbs of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, were positive.  A few weren't.

Some friends complained.  The negative sentiment had to do with the trains running near the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis, and fell into the category of either "why are we ruining the natural beauty of the lakes" or "why are we damaging the natural eco-system in the lakes."  For every critical comment, my first follow up question was, "we're talking the 'Chain of Lakes' lakes, right?"

For those who might not know, the four lakes in the Chain of Lakes (Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun), are VERY urban lakes, within the city of Minneapolis itself.  At one time, in the 1800's, the city's wealthy started moving out of the downtown, booting early Minneapolis farmers off the land, so they could enjoy a more picturesque life, with a mansion on the shore of a lake within a few miles of the flourishing new town.  Over time, even though many upper class residents had moved to newer, further out, wealthy real estate developments, the Chain of Lakes always maintained a certain desire for the richest Twin Cities residents.  Today, the shoreline of three of the lakes are completely developed, mainly with multi million dollar houses, juxtaposing walking and biking trails which ring the shoreline, and Cedar Lake has less than a quarter of its shoreline undeveloped.

The idea a light rail train would destroy ANY natural beauty or any established eco-system on the Chain of Lakes which hasn't already been completely ripped up, polluted, rebuilt or annihilated is an absolute joke.  You might as well be talking about preserving the natural beauty and fragile eco-system at the Mall of America.

I'm a big supporter of environmental issues, and keeping Minnesota lakes clean is a big priority for me.  If you've been to a Boundary Waters lake in Northern Minnesota, you know what true natural treasures they are.  Seeing no cabins or houses on a shore, no boats or jet skis in the water, animals in their native habitat; it's wonderful.  The Chain of Lakes is not a pristine, relatively untouched northern Minnesota waterway.

Most of the lakes in Minnesota have been developed.  Drive out of the metro area and you'll see a few houses scattered here or there, but the lakes and riverways are packed with development, with only a few bays and coves without at least one cabin/house visible.  These lakes are a Minnesota tradition, usually filled on Summer weekends with people enjoying the water, filled in the Spring, Autumn and Winter with sportsmen.  The demand for lakeshore development has only grown, with even northern Minnesota lakes, once considered too far away from the metro area for a weekend cabin, now ringed with new buildings from the last 20 years.  But these lakes are not the Chain of Lakes either.  Many of them don't have a public boat launch, none them are surrounded by the population base of Minneapolis, and none will ever experience 1/20th the demands or pollution a Minneapolis lake does.  Non-Metro lakes are usually visited by the locals and cabin owners, a relatively small number of people.

The Chain of Lakes are drenched in population weekdays and weekends, during all times and seasons, an intermingling spot for all classes and people.  The trails around the lakes are usually packed to the gills with pedestrian traffic, while the roads are crammed with cars.  Most of the historic mansions have been torn down, replaced by McMansions, monuments to wealth for wealth's sake.  Even though the lakes are gas powered motor free, many electric powered motor boats, sailboats, windsurfers, canoes and kayaks cross the water throughout the day.  Two of the lakes are bordered by one of the busiest shopping districts in the city, Uptown, but considering the heavy metro population base, there aren't any quiet respites left on these lakes.  Train lines, bike lines, interstate roadways, major highways and crowded streets all wrap themselves around the Chain of Lakes.  The natural beauty and eco systems were long purged from these lakes, replaced with a urbanized, unnatural nature.  The beauty is far more sculpted hedges than preserved wilderness.  For goodness sake, this random photo was just published today by Paul Blume of Fox 9 (@PaulBlume_Fox9 on Twitter); a minuscule fraction of the trash and debris from one of the cleaner lakes, Harriet:

This is the 'nature' of a city.  I remember fishing Lake Minnetonka with my dad in the early 1980's.  We'd go out to the western side of the lake, parts which were ringed with farms and small fishing shacks, and quietly fish.  The last time we went fishing on the lake, in the mid 90's, were were relentlessly rocking in the wakes of ocean ready ships, buzzed constantly by jet ski's, and serenaded by drunken boaters and blaring music.  My father vowed to never fish that lake again.  "There's too much of the city on Lake Minnetonka."

If you're a Chain of Lakes fan or resident, and are attempting to use natural beauty or natural eco-systems as an excuse to try to stop SWLRT, give it up.  It's an urbanized culture, not a buffet line.  Your motivations seem far less flora and fauna based, and far more "not in my neighborhood!"  If you really want to play this game, fine!  Let's play:

Let's start by removing all buildings within two blocks of the lakes. All of them, no exceptions.  How can we preserve natural beauty and the natural eco-system with 6000 square foot, multi million dollar palaces encroaching on the lakes.  Not only do you have visual and natural destruction happening with those 'houses,' but those lawns and gardens are pouring fertilizers, chemicals and treated water into the lakes, and the cleaning solutions designed to keep the palaces clean are doing damage too.   How about trash, sewage and street drains, all violating the water quality of the lakes.  Let's next get rid of the roads, not only the lakeshore drives and the city street grids, but Interstate 394, Lake Street and every other main road which could leech oil, gas, exhaust and rubber into the water.  The paved bike and walking trails too.  How can you talk about natural beauty and eco-systems when you're paving a path of asphalt all around the preserved area.  If you are really for natural beauty and eco-systems, you need to remove every sign humans were ever there.  Maybe you have one or two unpaved trails to undeveloped viewing areas.  Maybe some kayaks and canoes could be allowed, but that's it.

Then, I'd be completely on board with stopping the SWLRT from going through it.  Absolutely.

Until then, as you stroll next to the shore, as you sip on your coffee while walking with your kids, or biking the dedicated bike lane, or running the trail, as you look from your front window or office window out onto the lake, as you manicure your laws with chemicals and non-native plant species, as you partake in the hedonism of Hidden Beach, as you try to impress the guy or girl you've been checking out as you grab lunch on the shore, as you skate on the ice, or play volleyball, frisbee, or walk your dog, as you splash in the heavily maintained beach areas, or just drive past at 45 miles an hour to get to your destination, don't try to convince me your argument against SWLRT coming through your neighborhood is based on anything natural.