Blogs and the MSM

Unlike a lot of bloggers I like newspapers. Without the MSM (mainstream media) a great many of the bloggers who fancy themselves pundits would have little to say. My friend Tom West had it about right in a column he wrote for his little publication the Budgeteer last week. He pointed out that most of what the blogging community writes about originally came from newspapers.

Having an opinion is easy. Having someone else’s opinion is even easier. Since the Republican paranoia about the press bubbled over in the 1980’s Republican’s believe that all reporters are liberal and report accordingly  That’s what group think will do once it has you in its grip.

Yes, reporters tend to be liberal. Surveys of reporters have borne this out. I think it comes from their college liberal arts degrees. The “liberal” in liberal arts means well-rounded more than it means politically liberal. In fact, that’s long been one of the aims of liberal arts colleges compared to community colleges or trade schools. Liberal arts graduates are expected to read widely, if shallowly, about a great many things.

I’ve always been struck by how many reporters, no matter how politically liberal, take their educations and turn it into healthy skepticism. Most have been quite open to conservative criticism of big government and our permissive society. I think its much more accurate to describe journalists as pragmatists rather than as polemicists let alone liberal polemicists. The blogging community on the other hand has a lot more polemicists. What is a polemicist? Think of them as being persuaders or, if you prefer, propogandists.

Because young people are abandoning newspapers in favor of second hand but free blogs I’m a little worried about our future. So, long as they don’t retreat into something like Fox News simply to have their prejudices reinforced America will likely survive this phenomenon and retain its open minded and vibrant culture.

Now that that’s off my chest, I can go back to my polemics.

Whack a Mole – With malice toward some

My cousin’s husband designed an experiment that got written up in the Washington Post. Using a whack-a-mole game with celebrities, dictators and American politicians he demonstrated the virulent ill will of Democrats and Republicans toward each other’s leaders. When they played the game with half Republican and half Democrat  politicians they were so intent on whacking the opposition that they got low scores.

Independents did better because they didn’t play favorites and were equal opportunity whackers. There was more to the study but my blog is quite
content with this synopsis.

“I don’t apologize for being narrow-minded”

Tom DeLay, humble as always, tells “THE WAR ON CHRISTIANS” conference; “Sides are being chosen, and the future of man hangs in the balance!” … “The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won, and if we put our trust in Christ, they never will.”

DeLay’s Christians will win when the world ends and they go to heaven during the Rapture. (I hope they don’t discover that the jihadists got there first and got first dibs on the virgins) The enemies warring against DeLay’s Christians are folks like me who are trying to prevent the Republicans from terracide.

More examples of Republican, er Christian, policies: 

Jailing clergy who shelter illegal immigrants.

Waterboarding prisoners who may, or may not, be guilty of terrorism.

Silencing scientists whose research suggests a human impact on global warming or other environmental threats. 

A Bill Clinton Republican

I made a big deal out of voting for Bill Clinton in 1992. The Trib quoted me on its front page promising to vote for him. I’d given up on Ross “Sailors shouldn’t swear” Perot and George HW “I’m not a wimp” Bush. Clinton struck me as a pragmatist and was. He stole sensible Republican ideas and that, not Monica Lewinski, is why the rabid GOP Congress impeached him. He threatened to bring the Democrats back from the grave that Ronald Reagan had dug for them.

So, my challenge as a Democrat will be to reinvigorate that part of the party for the nation’s good as well as the Party’s good. We can’t afford to let America become the next France.  Newsweek’s, Robert J Samuelson explains.

Keeping History Straight

I think it was yesterday that I got Howie Hanson’s email blog and was surprised to see Senator Yvonne Prettner Solon accused of voting against the DECC expansion because she had voted for the DFL bonding bill which did not include it. I was going to comment on it here and suggest that she really had to vote for bill and then fight to have the DECC added later. Apparently someone else, Perhaps, Yvonne, pointed this out to Howie. When I went back to check the blog archive all reference to Prettner-Solon’s vote had vanished.

One convenient thing about blogs is that they can be instantly changed. I make changes all the time when I discover some darned typo or realize that my facts are wrong. Unless someone comes in and copies my mistakes to a cache file somewhere I can remove my mistakes at will. Its a little like airbrushing out a pimple.

I still recall the famous pictures of Stalin’s cronies in the before and after the purge photos.

Here’s one with and without Uncle Joe’s 
good natured little executioner, Yezhov.

Doran’s Demise, Weber’s Analysis, and the Ultras

After posting the email from the Dreckless folks I reread Vin Weber’s analysis of Doran’s departure from the race for Governor. I agree with Vin. When I went to the DFL caucus I voted for Doran myself. His measley 6% of the straw vote is probably what drove him from the race even though it looked as though he would challenge in the primary.

Weber is probably right that Doran would have been the most successful candidate but the ultra’s in the Democratic party are as enamored of people on their end like Howard Dean as ultra Republicans are enamored of their Santorums and Brownbacks. What’s a centrist to do?

My sense is that while the Republican powerbrokers lost their party to their extremists the Democratic power brokers have a little more influence. I could be wrong.

Thank God for primary elections. They are the one place that party averse voters can go to punish candidates that pander too much to the ultras.

Minnesota’s newest blog

No Corey,
I’m afraid I have a newer Minnesota political blog than you have.
I took a look at yours. Good writing, huh? Well, the powerful graphics with Dean Johnson’s head superimposed on another person’s body shaking Bill Clinton’s hand or with a poster of Lenin in the background….woo hoo…this  is quality stuff.  And Vin Weber is associated with you? In flagrante delecto indeed!
“Dreckless?” Is that meant to be an oxymoron?
Best Regards,
Harry Welty 


—– Original Message —–
Sent: Sunday, March 26, 2006 9:04 PM
Subject: dreckless – Minnesota’s newest political blog
Greetings from dreckless, the state’s newest blog discussing political people and events here in Minnesota. Since we began publishing in mid-January, we’ve been delighted and humbled by the interest our readers have shown. To be honest, we’ve been surprised at the number of visits we receive each day!
“What?” you say. “Yet another blog?” 
In our first posting, back in January 17, we layed out our reasons for starting yet another blog. As the fomer Executive Director of the Republican Party of Minnesota, I believe that we have a unique perspective on political people and events here in Minnesota.
“Who is we?” you ask.
Dreckless is fortunate to have as a contributing editor, former Republican Congressman Vin Weber who now serves as managing director of Clark & Weinstock, one of Washington, D.C.’s premier strategic consulting firms. Take a minute to check out his latest analysis on a bright spot for Republicans.
We’re delighted to also be joined by my former colleague at the Republican Party of Minnesota Jonathan Blake. Jonathan and I have worked together for a number of years and it will take only a minute of reviewing some of his postings to see that he has an impressive writing style all his own.

So, take a moment and check us out. We welcome your active participation in the coming months and look forward to hearing from you.
Corey Miltimore


Minnesotans gays and the shriveling Republican base

A recent poll suggests that a majority of Minnesotans now oppose the DOMA law (Defense of Marriage Act) being pushed by religious conservatives and their Republican lackeys. This is a change from a year or two ago when voters were afraid that gay marriage might be forced down the state’s throat.

Today it looks like the religious conservatives are the ones pushing DOMA down Minnesota’s throat and Minnesotan’s are spitting it back out.

There is, of course, no guarantee that DOMA would lose in a referendum. Having it on the ballot will drive social conservatives to vote and and possibly defeat less motivated voters. Stalling is probably the best defense that Democrats who oppose DOMA could pursue. Time is on their side as even religious conservatives rethink their opposition to the granting of civil rights for gays.

Republicans pushing for this referendum are in a death spiral on this and other subjects. Voters who object to gays being treated with some measure of legal protection are becoming more scarce. Yes, if this were on the ballot these voters would feel impelled to come out and vote but they will continue to shrink election by election until the Republicans get very little milage out of DOMA.

Additionally the Republicans are pushing hard on a very strict anti-immigration policy. While this might be good tactic for the next election it will have the long range result of scaring away hispanic voters who were poised to become part of a permanant GOP majority for years to come. Any party reduced to such short term strategies is foreclosing on its future.

Oh, and I heard Governor Pawlenty’s appraisal of Iraq on the radio today. Boy, was he ever subdued. Maybe he’s a traitor too, which seems to be what the most ardent Republicans think of anyone who expresses any doubts about Bush’s success in the middle east.

Saturday Research

After two weeks of constant posts I let yesterday slip by without one. I hope my seven readers weren’t too disappointed. Seven readers is what I claim for my biweekly column in Duluth’s tabloid the Reader Weekly – “the best paper money can’t buy.”

For last week, the second of its existance, this blog has averaged 300 daily hits. Since it has a couple dozen pages that suggests 20 to 40 visiters a day. It goes without saying that my select readers are the creme de la creme.

Its not as though I didn’t have anything to say but yesterday was more of a day for catching up with my reading and reflection. Among the most interesting articles I read was a review of Kevin Phillips new book American Theocracy. Phillips was the prescient young conservative who predicted the conservative sweep of America back in the late 1960’s. He’s spent much of the last two decades slowly recoiling from the worst excesses of that revolution. He’s one of my intellectual heroes. Phillips sees very little “conservative” in today’s Republican Party.

Another article which caught my eye was a NY Times Magazine piece written by Zev Chafets. It begins with a short, mortifying description of Lynchburg, Virginia, but goes on to give a remarkably charitible story about Liberty University’s debate team. I’d read about their success a few weeks ago and had thought about writing a dismissive column about the team and the ambitions of its greatest champion the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Falwell’s been reported as saying that he’s training a new generation of  young lawyers who will sweep America with their verbal skills to promote good religious and conservative values. Its just the latest example of the Republican penchant for organization.

“Conservatives” have been methodical in the sweep the Phillips describes. Like the Avis car rental company having to work harder than number one Hertz Rental, conservatives had to work harder to best Democrats who ruled the roost until the Reagan Revolution.

First it was Richard Vigure who cultivated massive lists of conservative leaning folks for his direct mail fundraising. Then it was the establishment of dozens of conservative think tanks to promulgate and diseminate conservative dogma. Then it was a legion of politically street smart young political operatives raised from the ranks of College Republicans which were tended to with care by the National Republican Party. The Moral Majority brought in religiously orthodox but independent churches, knitting them together and weaning them from their traditional disdain for the temporal world of politics. Finally, when Republicans took control of Congress, it was the K Street Project which put a gun to the head of corporate America forcing it to hire eager young Republicans almost exclusively. Those lobbyists then saw to it that the lion’s share of Corporate PAC money went to Republicans.

I suspect that Falwell’s young debators will find it more and more difficult to win over Americans when, like seeds, they are finally broadcast onto the Earth. The incompetence of President Bush and whistle blowers like Phillips will inocculate America against the worst excesses of fundementalist self righteousness. 

This will resemble nothing so much as the conservative movement’s inocculation of America against the smug self righteousness of Liberals in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Curious George Hoot

Check out the marvelous cartoon “Curious George” by R J Matson on Cagle Cartoons. Hit the thumbnail for a larger picture.

Its hard for me to believe that I was reassured that Bush picked Dick Cheney to be his Vice President in 2000. Now it looks more like Cheney picked Bush to be President so that he, Cheney, could run the country without kissing all those babies and shaking all those hands.

Its also hard to believe how much Republicans chortled about the nation’s good fortune after 9/11 because Bush was the President and not Al Gore.

I have a different attitude now. Aren’t we lucky that JFK was in charge during the Cuban Missile Crises and not George W Bush?

On 2nd Thought – Only Prettner Solon is Embarassed

Plato described the metaphor of the cave with a campfire casting people’s shadows on it. He said that people watching the shadows from the other side of the fire couldn’t really be sure what the people casting the shadows were doing. So it is with politics. That’s why I wrote my own on-line political diary a few years ago; to move people past the fire and shadows closer to the behind-the-scenes action on the Duluth School Board.

Today’s story in the DNT suggests to me that the DECC’s omission from the Senate bonding bill has Tom Bakk’s fingerprints all over it. Bakk tells us that the 11 percent of bonding that the Senate plan directs to the Arrowhead is such a big deal that losing the DECC expansion isn’t all that important. Duluth’s most important proposal on its bonding wish list, is not that big of a deal! The proposal which has our voter’s seal of approval! Whoa!

Where is Bakk coming from? Well, getting the DECC in the bonding bill could squeeze out funding for other projects on Bakk’s wish list. The last two reaportionments both used Duluth precincts to pad northeastern Minnesota’s legislative districts with their shrinking populations. The vast majority of Bakk’s Senate District 6 lies north of Duluth. He’s in an awkward position to push for the DECC if he doesn’t want to lose these other projects.

It’s also entirely possible that the ambitious Bakk has other objectives which the DECC interferes with. I’m sure he’s paying close attention to the troubles of his caucus leader, Senator Dean Johnson. The Republicans have beaten Johnson up for “sanding over the truth.” (see previous entries) The Republican’s ethic’s investigation could weaken Johnson enough so that the DFL Caucus might consider replacing him. That someone could be Tom Bakk. If so, Bakk doesn’t dare get too greedy in the bonding bill. By doing so he would antagonize his potential supporters. If Duluth’s losing the DECC helped Bakk move into the majority leader’s office, well, it would be a small sacrifice – for Bakk.

This at least is what the shadows on the cave wall suggest to me. But like Plato warned. I could be completely wrong.

Senate DFL stiffs Duluth – Embarasses Bakk and Prettner-Solon

Word came yesterday that the Senate DFL left the expansion of the DECC off its bonding bill. There are two competing theories to explain this decision. Senator Keith Langseth, the Chairman of Capital Investment Committee, has suggested the first: that sports complexes just don’t deserve bonding. A second theory is that DFL Senators are angry that Republican Governor Pawlenty didn’t include enough projects for other DFL districts.

If the first theory is true then Duluth’s citizen lobbyists will need to persuade legislators during Duluth Days that the Arena complex is much more than a “sports complex.” They must stress that the Arena is such a vital economic engine that local voters overwhelmingly voted to pay for half of it.

If this proposal dies because of DFL opposition it will impose a terrible humiliation on Duluth’s two Senators Tom Bakk and Yvonne Prettner Solon. It would mean that the DFL caucus is treating Duluth the same way that Democrats are often accused of treating African Americans – as guaranteed votes for which no real effort need be expended to keep their votes.

Senator Langseth may be hoping to leverage the DECC expansion so as to add more projects for other parts of the state. If he fails he could simply doom the DECC. Governor Pawlenty has already gotten credit for putting the project in his bonding bill. If it is not funded Duluth voters will mostly remember that it was the DFL that killed their economic hopes not the Governor.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."