Friday, March 29, 2019

The Friday Link for 3/29/19

For this weeks Friday Link, a trio of great baseball moments!  Since the season kicked off, let me get you in the mood.

First, a FANTASTIC scene from the movie Moneyball, where Brad Pitt's manager offers Chris Pratt's washed up catcher a chance to get back in the game.

The second clip has some bad language!  You've been warned.  Kevin Costner meets his new pitcher, Tim Robbins, in Bull Durham.

And finally, let the optimism reign!  To keep your hopes alive for 2019, let's revisit the best plays of the 1991 World Series.  I remember watching this in the barracks in Germany in the middle of the night!  I won a lot of money from all the military guys who loved the Braves!

Play Ball!  Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hope Springs Eternal

I'm at the point of the year when I can check off the constant tick of politics and brush off the failures of Minnesota's horrific winter sports season.  Baseball is back!

There's nothing more optimistic than a baseball fan on the first day of the season.  For goodness sake, I've seen Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Oriole's fans with smiles on their faces!  And why not, as the clean slate of a 0-0 record gives you hope for the year. You never know.  One pitcher becomes the superstar the organization was expecting, the veteran has a return to greatness for one final run for the pennant, or the rookie developed faster than anticipated and breathes fire into a team which will last for years to come.  Remember the 1991 Twins were supposed to be the worst team in baseball.

Unfortunately for the fans of most teams, especially in the modern age of the game, their World Series fever is very treatable, long cured by the end of the second week of the season.  The way teams like the Red Sox and the rest of the best teams are built, with massive superstar contracts and a roster filled with cyber-metric filtered specialists, a team on the rebound hopes for a wild card spot, at best.

The Minnesota Twins are in an interesting position.  They're starting their post-Mauer era.  Frankly, I have NO idea what to expect from this team.  Whereas certain things are familiar, like Sano being injured or their being apprehension over Buxton's potential, the rest of this team is a freaking mystery.  They played well during Spring training, and there was little drama.  They're the blankest slate I've seen in years.

Let me play both sides of the same coin.  This is good because it could mean we surprise teams, a 'who are these guys' sneakiness which catches the loaded squads off guard, leading to surprise contention talk well into the late season.  This is bad because it could just be an organization going through the motions and looking like they're making moves while actually doing very little to make their team a contender.  Only time will tell.

Until I'm painfully proven wrong (again), I'll presume the Twins are headed for a winning record.  Then again, I'm a sucker for the home team and ignorance is bliss.  Play ball!

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Friday Link for 3/22/19

This week has been light because I was visiting my mother in South Carolina, and then I've been dealing with a cold for over a week.  I am finally starting to feel better, but now my voice is starting to crack, something which was apparent on the radio show today.

I'm taking it easy tonight, which means I won't be going to a Friday Fish Fry (my usual tradition for Friday's during Lent).  Instead, I'll post a trio of fish related videos for you!

I think Gordon Ramsay is an exceptional chef.  I get tired of his yelling angry persona (what he's known for in America) because it disguises how good he really is.  His recipes are quick, easy, fresh, and delicious.  If he were to ever open a chain in the US, I'd be a regular.  Here he is with a few different variations on fish.

Next up, how about a historical cooking with one of my favorites, Townsends.  Warning, this is a fairly graphic 'fish cleaning.' You've been warned!  Interesting cooking technique.

And for those who want to see the fish win, The Muppet's Swedish Chef.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Friday Link for 3/15/18

Hey everyone!  Short but sweet this week, but some great information for those heading to Mexico for Spring Break.

Earlier this year, Shayla (a fine Minnesotan!) did a series on her video channel 'Living on a One Way.'  In it she breaks down the do's and don'ts in regards to travel in Mexico.  Regardless of what the fear mongers say, Mexico is an amazing place to visit and Shayla absolutely gives you top notch information.  I know (in Minnesota) Spring Break begins for various school districts next week, so be prepared before you head to a foreign country.

The last thing I said is my most important piece of advice I can give you.  Mexico is a foreign country.  If you foolishly go there thinking being an US citizen gets you some sort of advantage, you are grossly mistaken.  Not that Mexican people aren't friendly and welcoming; of course they are, but if you get stupid, bad things will happen.  

The videos break down into 1) what to know before you go, and 2) safety tips.  Enjoy.  Shayla is a hoot!

Have a great weekend everyone and travel safe!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

What the Hell Does it Take???

In 2015, Speaker of the Minnesota House Kurt Daudt mysteriously had $13,000 in credit card debt forgiven.  With some of the debt, the debt was vacated at the request of the creditor, who then asked the courts to end the case with no further costs to either party.  How rare was an arrangement like this?  Out of 650 cases researched at the time, only four (0.6%!!!) had been forgiven in the same way, with death and bankruptcy being contributing factors in those cases.  Daudt's debt was not forgiven in a manner available to most people who had credit card debt issues.

Kurt Daudt was neither dead nor was he filing for bankruptcy.  One of the legal teams who helped vacate Kurt's debt was part of a law firm who lobbied for political causes in the Legislature, including lobbying the Legislature on behalf of another Daudt creditor who had also settled their financial grievance with the Speaker of the House.

For anyone who just read this, MASSIVE red flags should've gone off.  Here was a fiscally compromised Speaker, the head of one of the two branches of the Minnesota Legislature, having $13,000 in debt disappear, with a lobbying firm (at least) partially to thank for such an act of benevolence.  At the very least, an extreme conflict of interest seems to have been uncovered, AT BEST!

You'd think the Twin Cities media would've picked apart this story, digging deep to find out if any wrong doing occurred.  Outside of City Pages, Minnesota media didn't look too deeply at all.  A few outlets had interviews scheduled with Daudt, but he canceled, instead issuing a press release where he acted as if this was a private matter.  It wasn't, as the Speaker of the House could potentially get calls from the same lobbying firms who's co-workers helped Daudt's debt disappear.  The public had a right to know what was going on, but the media shrugged their shoulders, implying "he doesn't want to talk about it" was a viable defense for their lack of coverage on what could still be a fairly large bit of corruption.  We don't know the truth, and I guess we'll never know.

Journalism is dying.  Their death can be contributed to a few different causes:  the purchase and large scale consolidation of media (especially print media), sales staffs having ultimate control over content, and online competition.  One cause which doesn't get mentioned, but one which I think is the biggest contributor of all, is simply crap journalism.

In Minnesota, I think there are maybe 5 journalists who carry the mantle of journalistic integrity, who are worth reading and who do a consistently good job. That's it!  Beyond those five, NONE of the remaining "journalists" in town would get hired as an intern in a 1970's news organization.  Most modern journalists need to have the story nearly spoon fed to them.  They're writing copy from select information they've been given, converting it into a format friendly paragraph, with no intent of looking past the minimal facts they've been presented.  Journalism today has more in common with a classified ad of the 1970's than it does with the stories which ran on page one back then.

This system is extremely easy to exploit, and the Republican machine does it with ease.  Republican press organizations assemble the talking points they want in a story and then, under the guise of being helpful, send the story nearly written to the journalist.  This allows them to make sure maximum coverage is given to stories which make Republicans look good and Democrats look bad.  It also allows the opposite stories to get overlooked.  Overworked and frazzled journalists, with minimal encouragement, take their copy points and run with them.  Think of the Ebola story from a few years back.  It was the number one story in every media outlet in the country, until he day of the 2014 election, when overnight the Ebola story disappeared.  I asked multiple journalists in town about what happened to 'the story of the century,' and they all shrugged their shoulders, offering no excuse on why something which dominated their own news cycles all the sudden didn't exist.  It didn't exist anymore because the Right stopped pushing it.  The goal was to scare people before the election, and when they were done, they stopped spoon feeding the media the narrative.

Last week, local media was all a flutter about US Representative Ilhan Omar's alleged anti-Semitic remarks, remarks which, when looked at in the harshest light by her most vicious critics, could be flimsily labeled anti-Semitic, but they were far more critical of official Israeli policies in the Middle East, especially in regards to the Palestinians, and critical of established US Conservative 'Israel over the US' policy.  Before anyone jumps on me, there was an element which alluded to loyalty pledges, something which was used in the past to discriminate against the Jewish people (and many others), but Omar's comments about loyalty pledges was undeniably about her own choices, not trying to force anyone else into one.

Did the story deserve some coverage?  Sure, but the wall to wall coverage Minnesota (and nationwide) media gave it?  There was clearly a manipulation of the media to make this story far more than it was.  Proof of that is the complete ignoring of Republican Iowa Representative Steve King's repeated bigoted, racists and anti-Semitic comments and actions which are FAR WORSE than ANYTHING Ilhan Omar has uttered.  It was only when people started asking "what about Steve King" did the media all the sudden let the story go, acting as if the whole problem had been solved by Omar getting a slap on the wrist from Democratic Leadership.

The media in this town all had the same talking points, the same narrative, and in more than a few cases, the exact same quotes.  They got played by the machine.

Here's where the failure of journalism gets really ugly.  On the 23rd of February, there was a pro-gun rally in the Minnesota Capitol Rotunda.  One of the speakers at the event was far right MN Representative Cal Bahr.  Cal took to the stage to rile up the gun kooks in attendance when his comments took a VERY ugly turn:

  • "There's a lot of us in this room that have had enough, and it's time to start riding herd on the rest of these people that want to take your rights away from you.  They will not go quietly into the good night.  They need to be kicked to the curb and stomped on and run over a few times."

WOW! A sitting Republican MN House Representative was in the Capitol Rotunda calling for violence against House Democrats who were writing common sense gun regulations.  It's clear he was directing these comments towards the Democrats and it's very clear he called for violence.  After numerous Democratic leaders called Bahr out, he didn't really apologize, rather made an excuse which blamed everyone else.  He lied by saying he never called for violence against people, only the bills themselves (wha...?), and then he said he never intended violence.  This was an outrageous cover story, easily foiled by simply watching the video.  For goodness sake, a Congressman in the Capitol was calling for Democrats to be violently attacked for writing legislation he didn't like.

For Minnesotans, this is undeniably a far more damning and scary story than the Right wing hyped up Rep. Omar fiasco.  You'd think journalists would be out asking BASIC questions: Was the MNGOP leadership okay with this threat?  Do Republican leaders condemn or condone his comments?  Should Bahr issue a formal apology?  Should Bahr be punished by House leaders?  Should Bahr be allowed to have a gun? Should Bahr resign?  The headline should've read "Bahr's Excuse for Calling for Violence Contradicted by his Own Statements."

It'd be great to see Twin Cities journalists to pursue this story with the same vigor and intensity they went after Ilhan Omar, or the intensity they went after ANY Democrat when they smell a feeble lead.  Instead, the media decided to stop doing their job the minute Bahr issues his lie filled excuse.  Since the Right wasn't spoon feeding them the talking points, they decided to was too much work to do a BASIC FOLLOW UP.

I know many journalists will read this and insist I'm out of line, that they did their job, and I just don't understand the nuances of writing news stories.  No 'journalists;' you miserably failed yet once again.  The follow up on Steven King or Bahr didn't require sifting through stacks of paperwork for hours, or meeting a mysterious source in the shadows of a parking garage.  It required making a few phone calls, cornering the politician in the halls of the Capitol, or doing a SIMPLE Google search.  These simple follow ups were too much for Minnesota 'journalists' to tackle.

Journalism will die because 'journalists,' who are so freaking in love with the movies which highlight the journalistic integrity of yore, are incapable of doing their job in 2019.  Outside of a few exceptions, they don't know how to write a good story, investigate a lead, or even write a competent follow up.

For the record, even if they did stumble upon a bit of journalistic integrity, my guess would be their sales focused bosses would stomp it out before hand.  They don't want to upset Republican voters who might buy an ad with the paper; who might consider cancelling their subscription.

So to salute the modern journalist, let's update the movies journalists love:
  • In All the President's Men..., when the White House stone walled them, Woodward and Bernstein shrug their shoulders, go back to the paper and say, "well I guess there's no story there."
  • In Spotlight, when they realized the story had been under their noses the entire time, they decide to ignore it as a way to cover up their mistake, instead focusing on something sports or puppy related.
  • In The Post, realizing the amount of work it would take to track down the Pentagon Papers, sort through them and figure out what exactly happened, they dismissed the story and wrote something which wouldn't hurt the social status of the paper's owner.
Wow, writing those three new descriptions really highlights how close to death modern journalism is.

Here's hoping the good ones still left can find some way to carry on.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Friday Link for 3/8/19

For this weeks Friday Link, just back from my Friday Lenten Fish Fry:

Two complexity unrelated videos but both good in their own right.

First, how would you like to be one of the few people in a deserted outpost?  I mean seriously deserted, with more polar bears than people.  Welcome to Pyramiden, a abandoned coal town on the Russian island of Spitsbergen.  A wonderful National Geographic short describes just that existence, and outside of having to wear a gun constantly to prevent from getting eaten, I actually looks very cool (pun not necessarily intended).  How about the guy knowing so many languages, being a good tour guide, and also knows how to play music?  Makes you yearn for a time when we all weren't staring at a glowing rectangle.

And also give it up to Seth Meyers.  He occasionally lampoons certain movie and TV genres, and this last week he set his sights on the Newspaper movie, the movie which describes the media of the 1970's and how every journalist fantasizes about being part of some story with that kind of scope (usually as they purposely ignore stories which are right there waiting for them, but they, or their publisher, overlook).  Having watched All the Presidents Men... recently, this is spot on.

Have great weekend everyone, and be careful with the snow!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


Monday morning I made a comment on Twitter.  I believe the Federal Government should get to Alabama and Georgia and help the people whose lives have been destroyed by the spate of tornadoes which devastated the region.  I also made the point we undeniably will be helping many people who, when other regions of the US have experienced natural disasters (like Puerto Rico), were the ones screaming to NOT help those areas, as "THEIR WASTING MY TAXPAYER DOLLARS!"

Some people have called me out of line for making this simple observation, and think I should apologize.  I'm not sorry I said it and I will not back down.  I'm for helping victims of natural disasters, but I'm also for rubbing their hypocrisy in their faces while we do it.  It's the only way we'll teach these people they should be ashamed of their comments and actions, and it might be the only way to save the United States.

This weekend Frank Bruni had an exceptional editorial in the New York Times about how shameless the Trump administration is, and he's absolutely right.  Give it a read:

What Bruni so perfectly points out is how shamelessness is the greatest virtue in any modern day Republican.  For the same people who screamed how President Obama needed to resign after he called Kayne West a "jackass," because [paraphrasing] 'that level of language is beneath the office of the White House,' to now be applauding at how 'presidential' Trump is because at CPAC he called multiple investigations into him "bullsh!t" is a perfect example of how the Right has jettisoned their mortality.  The less shame you have, the higher position you can achieve in the Republican Party.

The GOP and their voters have become an upward focused excuse machine whose sole purpose is to validate Trump, his Administration, and all Republicans, no matter how much they railed against similar but far less egregious behavior in the past, no matter how indefensible the actions and comments which they're defending are.

We are dealing with the most shameless, unapologetic group of people in the history of this country.

Some examples?  I've written numerous times about any Christian who supports Trump.  We now find out via the Cohen testimony there might be additional payouts which Trump used to cover up affairs he's had with other women.  There could be 5 to 10 more Trump mistresses about, beyond the ones we already know about.  There's even a possibility Trump might've paid for a woman to have an abortion.  If it all is proven to be true, Trump's Chrisitan supporters will...PRAISE HIM MORE! Seriously!!!  They will, and talk about how a guy who (by all accounts) doesn't attend or practice any form of Chrisitan worship has been retroactively forgiven by God for his insane amount of inexcusable violations of Christian law.  Then they'll insist how President Obama, a man who wore his Christian faith on his sleeve, was always a fake Christian!

The Trump Administration is full of shameless people, with the king of shamelessness, Trump himself, sitting atop his dumpster fire with a grin on his face.  He's surrounded himself with a cast of characters (Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Felix Sater) who also excel at shameless behavior, incapable of emoting any level of remorse for their disgusting actions.  White House staffers who enter into the Trump fold either leave in haste or embrace the shameless standard.  Think of Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Mick Mulvany, people who at one time seemed to have a soul, but cashed it out the minute they entered into Trump's universe.

Look at how shameless all DC Republicans have become!  They're purposed ignoring the undeniable evidence against Trump which came to light in the Cohen Testimony, maintaining a 'destroy Cohen at all costs' myopic Trump defense.  Senators and Congresspeople who would've HOWLED at President Obama if he tried to declare a National Emergency for some non-emergency reason, or if Obama overruled the intelligence community to get his family members top level security clearances, are silently complacent with Trump's behavior, defending the same actions they would've furiously marched with pitchforks and torches on the White House for only three years ago.

Senator Lindsey Graham claimed he was best buddies with former Senator John McCain only two years ago.  Today, he's silent while his party vilifies McCain's legacy, mocking the former Senator with a hatred and despise the right usually reserves for Hillary Clinton.  Every time John McCain is ruthlessly mocked, Graham's shameless indifference gets harder and harder to watch.

This has trickled down to the state level too!  Former Speaker of the Minnesota House Kurt Daudt and his senior leadership boldfaced lied to the Governor, Congressional Democrats, and likely MN Senate Republicans, promising funding for the SWLRT line was going to be in one of his bills.  When they caught his lie, added the funding back into the bill, and sent it back to the House for approval, he frantically gaveled the House to a close and ran out the door.  He then spent the next few months fighting tooth and nail to kill the transportation project.  This is only one of numerous shameless acts (what about that credit card debt, Kurt) former Speaker Daudt has done, with a smile on his face!

Rep. Cal Bahr definitely called for violence against the Minnesota House Democrats who were writing common sense gun legislation.  He made his threat in the Capitol Rotunda.  There's a live feed video version of it.  It's crystal clear what he was encouraging the crowd to do.  When called out about it, he boldfaced lied about what he said, implying it was everyone else fault for hearing him say what he actually said, not what he wanted them to hear.  The media in Minnesota, relegated to accepting this shamelessness as a Republican virtue, have actually allowed his non-apologetic, lie of an excuse.

And shamelessness has infected the Republican voter as well.  When tornadoes hit North Minneapolis, not only did the Republicans in the MN House and Senate shamelessly ignore a basic function of government, natural disaster emergency relief, they were cheered on by delusional zealots who had created a false reality to vilify the mostly minority victims.  Righto's insisted "when tornadoes hit Rogers and Hugo, we didn't need the government's help!  We pulled ourselves up by our own boot-straps.  THOSE people should do the same thing."  Funny story, when tornadoes impacted Rogers and Hugo, the government sent emergency relief, relief which was gladly accepted by those communities.  The shamelessness of eagerly accepting help from the government, only to say "but your devastated neighborhood shouldn't get help because your community has a lot of minorities who vote Democrat" shows you where a lot of these Righto voters reside.

And what about the local news man who preached about government waste and personal responsibility for decades, now suing the state because he slipped and got hurt on ice at the Capitol, acting as if his past comments don't matter?  If the guy got hurt because of government malfeasance, he should get recourse, but I'm not the one who screamed about people needing to stop expecting the government to take care of them and how people needed to show personal responsibility.  HE WAS!

This gets me back to the tornado tragedy of this weekend.  It's unfortunate, but it takes this level of disaster for these people to realize their shameless ways are wrong.  It's like may of the other cases we've heard about over the last few years:  the family who railed agains Obamacare suddenly having a child with a serious health crisis, having to sell off everything in an attempt to save the child's life, realizing affordable healthcare is a good thing.  The guy who says we should always bend government to help the biggest corporations, realizing the big corporations have polluted his ground water and he has no recourse.  The people getting a far smaller tax refund, or having to pay more, because Trump's tax plan (which was going to give them billions) was a boldface lie.  Watching your 100 year old family farm be sold off to the highest bidder after the unnecessary trade war you encouraged ended up making your crops worthless, costing you your family's legacy.

I hope the people of Alabama and Georgia get the help they need, but there's a very likely chance Trump will say "Sorry, that money is going to my border wall."  It's hard to keep screaming 'Build that Wall' standing in front of your freshly flattened house, as you realize help from the government isn't coming, but considering how shameless some of these poeple are, a few will be chocking back tears as they insist the unnecessary border wall is more important than their well being.

Rubbing their past stances in their faces is the only chance we've got to waking these people up from this shameless cult of Trump.  There are only a handful of times we'll be able to so perfectly point out their lack of shame.  I'm not going to pass this up.

It's for their own good.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Blue State Ball 2019!

Time for the annual photo wrap up of the Blue State Ball, the annual get together my radio station does!  Let's go!

First off is the Venue.  The Blaisdell Mansion in Minneapolis has been converted into a top notch location.

The first VIP was the triumphant return of Thom Hartman, the national host and noted author.  He had an incredible speech on the power of the 'cult' and what you have to do to break the cult leader's spell.  He said he changed his speech topic after he watched Trump on CSPAN.

Our second VIP was the wildly intelligent and hilarious John Fuglesang.  He hosts his own Sirius XM show, and has been to the Twin Cities for the Blue State Ball, the Sexy Liberal Tour and various solo performances over the years.  His fan base is strong!

Our main political speakers included Minnesota's longest serving politician, Rep. Lyndon Carlson.

Crowd favorite and DFL candidate for MN Senate, Richard Painter.

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutch! 

Other politicians how showed up included State Auditor Julie Blaha.

Representative Kristin Bahner.

As well as Representatives from the House DFL majority Samantha Vang and Mike Freiberg.

The whole station crew was there too, staring with my main producers Brett and Hunter.

Host Doug Pagitt 

And the main crew, including Chad, the station owner.

And the best dressed man of the night, producer Eric!

A lot of our other hosts were there too, like Robert Pilot and Uncle Curtis, Paul Metsa, and Ellie Krug.

Even former host Mike McIntee.

And here are two very important people.  Janet Robert and former Rep. Bill Luther are the ones who are responsible for Minneapolis/St. Paul having a progressive radio station.  They started it long ago and their commitment to the format is why we are one of the few remaining markets with a liberal talk presence.

And they let this fool back on stage too!

And we can't forget the great listeners who showed up!

We partied into the evening!

Thanks to everyone who came out and made it a great night.  It was a blast.  
We'll see you in 2020! 

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Friday Link for 3/1/19

For this week, I want to post something which I never knew existed, but is freaking spectacular.  In 1979, when Monty Python's Life of Brian was going into theaters, there were a lot of Christian folk who were offended.  The movie, which follows a young man, Brian, whose life takes plenty of twists and turns at the time of Jesus's rise in popularity and eventual crucifixion, does not pull any punches.

The movie doesn't mock Jesus, but it does create parallel moments in which Monty Python inputs 1979 reaction and rationality into first century Biblical sorties.  It does mock the people of the time, a prime example being the people at the Sermon on the Mount who were late, and hence were not near the front.  Also there is an all time classic scene with their version of Pontius Pilate who happens to have an unfortunate speech impediment.  Regardless, nuance is throw out when people feel their religion is being attacked.  The movie was banned in many communities.

Sometimes it's fun to go revisit historical moments, and 40 years ago, John Cleese and Michael Palin headed to the British show "Friday Night, Saturday Morning" for a discussion on the movie.  Joining them for the discussion is the Bishop of Southwark Melvyn Stockwood and a noted Chrisitan Malcolm Muggeridge.  To say this gets heated is an understatement.  This is almost a precursor of what we consider modern political discussion.

I highly enjoy the first part which is a fantastic look into the creative and decision making process of the film.  Cleese at the beginning of part two makes a very good point about the final scene and what it was actually portraying.

Both sides do make good points, although the 'pro-church' side does come across near hysterical at times.  It's the poise and determination of Cleese and Palin which is a joy to witness.  They fiercely defend their work, pointing out the church's failures and hypocrisy at getting so furious over a fictional comedy movie.  The 'pro-church' side's promise of how Monty Python's Life of Brian will soon be a long forgotten cultural waste is woefully off.  Their insistence people shouldn't see the movie drove people to the theaters.  Oops.

I've let my kids watch it (minus the Brian reveal scene) and they think it's hilarious.

This is long, but worth it.  It's in four parts.  Music at the end!

Have a great weekend everyone.  See you at the Blue State Ball!