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Monday, December 28, 2009
Can't Tell the Article Subjects Without a Scorecard

If the late and lamented Fraters Libertas Blog of Distinction Awards still existed (circa 2003 and 2004), this would have made the cut.

Worst Investigative Reporting by a Professional News Source

The age old wisdom of show business is that it doesn't matter what the critics say as long as they spell your name right. The Power Line guys can't even get that in this hard whack barked out by the City Pages:

Power Line barked openly and caustically a few years ago about Dayton as "an otherwise colorless, inept, demagogic artifact of alcoholic if not psychiatric rehabilitation." This morning, Scott Hinderaker uses the Dayton news to take a hard whack at the Star Tribune for allegedly burying Dayton's personal problems for years.

I'm guessing John Mirengoff and Paul Johnson will fire off a strongly worded letter to the City Pages editors immediately. And I don't even want to think about what the Hind Trunk and the Big Rocket might say.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Fly Away

More than two years ago, the Flying Imams case was dismissed by the local monopoly newspaper as unworthy of further investigation. The story included elements of vital issues such as terrorism, religious intolerance, transportation security, witness intimidation, government entities getting sued for big bucks. And the essential facts of the case were still in dispute by the parties involved (the imams, the airlines, and the police/airports commission). Yet, in the considered editorial judgment of the Star Tribune, the story was a total snoozer. From the editor then running the show:

I don't think the paper dropped this story, but I do think it had run its course. I would like to have seen a story delving into who these folks were, a good suggestion, but I don't think it's timely at this point. I think this is one of those stories that runs for a couple of days, then subsides.

Shortly thereafter, the Star Tribune editorial page looked forward to finally getting to the bottom of this case. Not through their own reporting, mind you. No, they were happy to complacently outsource the reporting to another entity, the US District Court.

The lawsuit that six Muslim clerics filed against US Airways on Monday is likely to prove as divisive as the incident which prompted it -- welcomed by those who see the episode as a case of religious discrimination, derided by those who believe US Airways responded prudently to suspicious passenger behavior. But the trial could prove useful to the larger public if it finally clears up what actually happened at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Nov. 20 -- the facts are still much disputed -- and if the judge sets out some guidance on what's appropriate behavior when cultures clash.

As I said at the time:

Yes, thank goodness the court system will be there figure out this "divisive" situation for us. Lord knows we don't have any other institutions in town with the resources and expertise to investigate facts and report them.

This just in, bad news for the Star Tribune staff patiently waiting around for the past 30 months for the court to finally clear up what happened.

A settlement has been reached in the "Flying Imams" federal lawsuit that was filed by six Muslim men who claim they were falsely arrested on a US Airways jet in the Twin Cities three years ago because of their religious and ethnic backgrounds.

One of the imams, Marwan Sadeddin of Phoenix, told the Associated Press that the settlement does not include an apology but he considers it an acknowledgment that a mistake was made. He said he couldn't divulge the terms because both sides had agreed not to discuss them publicly.

I guess we'll never know the facts now. And that's the final straw! I'm cancelling my subscription to the US District Court.

As far as the Star Tribune goes, I guess you have to admire their efficiency. They agreed not to discuss the case publicly years before the plaintiffs and defendants did.

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Friday, October 16, 2009
The Voice of a New Generation?

Saw a billboard this morning for local lefty talk radio station AM 950 touting their new tag line:

"The Voice of the Obama Generation"

I found it unusual that a radio station (or any media outlet for that matter) would tether themselves so concretely to a particular political figure. It would have been impossible to imagine a right-wing station like AM1280 The Patriot linking themselves in such a way to President Bush, even at the height of his popularity.

Despite claims that conservative media are "mouthpieces of the Republican Party" they've almost always been more about conservative political philosophy than Republican Party politics. Sometimes there is more overlap between those two areas than others, but there's also plenty of tension which has usually been pretty evident in conservative media.

Alternative motto which would also be appropriate for AM 950:

"The Voice of the Obama Administration"

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Friday, October 09, 2009
Best Served Cold

Caught this nugget in an interesting and well-researched piece on Minneapolis City Councilwoman Lisa Goodman in City Pages:

Goodman's strong, direct style has earned her enemies. They are reluctant to speak out against her precisely because of how much power she wields and her willingness to punish those who cross her.

"She's vengeful--sort of like George Bush--when you go against her," says one architect who has dealt with her extensively on projects. "She will eat you."

Vengeful? Like George Bush? Liberal attacks on President Bush ran the gamut from drunken village idiot to diabolical evil genius and pretty much everything in between. But I don't know where this "vengeful" bit came from. I can't recall specific incidents where we saw this Wrath of Bush in action.

But to the art school drop-out with a tilty desk, and a big ruler, a comparison of Goodman's vengeful nature to Bush's is perfectly apt. It was also apparently instantly understood and accepted by the CP's reporter.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009
The Best Medicine

Not sure which bit had me laughing louder as I listened to Minnesota Public Radio news this afternoon.

First up was the report that Hillary Clinton "planned to debrief her husband upon his return from North Korea."

Maybe if there had been a little bit more of that back in the Nineties...

Or the story where Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson was saying that the biggest factor in determining how he would vote on the health care reform bill was going to be "input from his constituents."

This is the same Collin Peterson who is afraid of having town hall meetings because he believes that a quarter of said constituents are bat-Shiite crazy.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Hero With a Thousand Faces

The newspaper the Pequot Lakes Echo catches up with Rep. Jim Oberstar promoting a new federally funded bike trail in northern Minnesota:

As chair of the U.S. House of Representatives' Transportation Committee, Oberstar is called the voice of bicyclists in the nation.
It's true, that's what he's called. In fact, at the Potomac, Maryland Pizza King just last week, customers could clearly hear over the public address system: Voice of Bicyclists in the Nation, your pizza is ready. Pizza ready for the Voice of Bicyclists in the Nation.

That's not to say there still isn't some confusion about how to address Chairman Oberstar when he marches into the room. According to a St. Thomas University press release (as previously reported on Fraters Libertas):
[Oberstar] is a past chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, where he became known as Mr. Aviation.
A good rule of thumb for constituents lucky enough to meet him in person, when Oberstar is wearing form fitting spandex shorts, he's the Voice of Bicyclists in the Nation, when he's wearing the beanie with the propeller on top, he's Mr. Aviation.

I can only hope it ends there with the nicknames, but it may not. It seems any transportation related issue or bloated bureaucracy this guy touches, he owns. He comes to personify their very essence and subsumes their identity. Therefore, we cannot rule out that Jim Oberstar is also commonly known by these transportation nicknames around Capitol Hill:

-- The Sultan of Light Rail

-- The Best Friend High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes Ever Had

-- Ethanolics Anonymous

-- The Man Who Loved Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials

-- Señor Pogo Stick

I see one nickname, that Oberstar no doubt covets, is already taken. Again from the Pequot Lakes Echo:
Oberstar praised Terry McGaughey, often called the godfather of the Paul Bunyan Trail, for his vision years ago to turn the abandoned rail bed into a paved recreational trail.
According to reports, in order to accomplish this, Mr. McGaughey wacked the heads of the other 5 paved recreational trail families, then made the railroad "an offer they couldn't refuse."

UPDATE: Another potential nickname for Oberstar: Teamster Snuggle Buddy

UPDATE II: Another alias uncovered:

It was during the Delta-Northwest merger discussions and related testimony before Congress that I first began to pay close attention to Oberstar's remarks and motivations. When asked if there would be any airline mergers, it was Oberstar who responded "Hell, no." Thus my nickname for the Congressman, Jim
"Hell NO"berstar.

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Monday, May 11, 2009
Why So Serious?

It is never a good sign for the country to see liberals being happy. It means they are getting their way. Hoping, changing, redistributing, and fundamentally remaking America in the mold of their Utopian dreams.

In case any of you conservatives haven't had enough bad news of late, here are four slideshows featuring pictures of a jam-packed ballroom full of local media liberals smiling, tittering, drinking, toasting, guffawing, back-slapping, slurping, noshing, sucking, and jackknifing with laughter.

The occasion was Minn Roast at the posh downtown Minneapolis Graves 601 Hotel. A fundraiser for the local liberal Web site MinnPost, largely staffed with Star Tribune and lefty alternative media cast-offs. Given the financial state of their chosen industry and profession, you wouldn't expect these people to be ecstatic with the state of the world. But it is clear something has got them jazzed. Wonder what that is?

Yes, these people are allowed to have their fun. They won, they continue to win, and the voters as yet have shown no signs of rebelling at their schemes and agenda. Sounds like the perfect time for a Gatsby-like demonstration of care free opulence and gloating. However, the unsavory aspect of these pictures wasn't the media members in attendance. It was the other primary occupation group in attendance. Liberal politicians.

I don't have a guest list, but the pictures alone reveal the presence of RT Rybak, Chris Coleman, Mark Dayton, Walter Mondale, Margaret Anderson Keliher, Larry Pogemiller, John Marty, Susan Gaertner, and Tarryl Clark. (One shot of the lonely, huddled mass of Republicans, Peter Bell and Marty Seifert, was also included.) In fact, Coleman, Rybak, Keliher, and Clark are shown participating in the on-stage comedic skits.

That liberals in the media and liberals in politics would want to pal around together is not news. The cozy, bosom relationship that exists between liberal politicians and the press is also not surprising. (My favorite picture is of WCCO's Don Shelby and RT Rybak literally arm-in-arm while laughing and singing.)

The problem, fellow citizens, is that this wasn't just some after hours, purely social meeting of the media-politician industrial complex mutual appreciation society. No, this was a fundraiser for a news outlet. An outlet in the business of providing information about elected officials. And in attendance were dozens of these very elected officials, donating their time, money, and performance skills to help this institution stay in business. I wonder why that is?

Those not familiar with MinnPost might think their partisan agenda is clear, they are an explicit information arm of the Democrats, so this is no big deal. However, that is not what they claim to be. They fancy themselves to be a professional journalism site. A new media model for how the voting public can access news to help them make informed decisions. Their mission as articulated in the Minn Roast promotion includes this punch line: to keep serious journalism alive in Minnesota.

Serious journalism? So serious, that you have the Democrat mayor of Minneapolis, Democrat Mayor of St. Paul, Democrat Speaker of the MN House of Representatives, the Democrat Assistant Majority Leader of the Minnesota Senate, among others, performing like trained seals in order to keep them in business.

The conflict of interest for the media organization is obvious. "Serious journalists" should not be enlisting the subjects of their scrutiny in ensuring their financial well-being. And these long time veterans of the news business should know that by now.

But the more revealing aspect of the journalism being provided by MinnPost is the willingness of these Democrat politicians to participate in the first place. They apparently love the kind of journalism being peddled by MinnPost. They love the kind of scrutiny applied to their own actions (and the actions of their opponents) by MinnPost. They love it so much, they are willing to help raise money so that it can continue to cover them even more.

Maybe this is the new model for political journalism. At the height of the seemingly unclenchable monopolistic grip the Star Tribune had over Minnesota press coverage a few years ago, many conservative critics wished they'd just admit their biases and brand themselves with a party affiliation. MinnPost seems to have taken a half step toward this end by openly funding themselves through partisan activity. But they really need to go all the way and drop the pretense of being "serious journalism" and come up with a tag line closer to the truth. My suggestion: MinnPost, Democrats getting what they paid for.


Thursday, April 23, 2009
Vast Wasteland

For the third consecutive year, the Nihilist In Golf Pants has NOT won a City Pages Best Local Blog award. They didn't even win the Reader's Choice award, although a blog devoted to getting inebriated did.

When I first noticed the fact that the Nihilist had not won a City Pages Best Local Blog award since their first and only prize in 2006, I was afflicting the comfortable. Now, after three years of covering the Nihilist's futility accompanied by their sharp creative decline, I'm starting to feel like I am afflicting the afflicted. Fortunately, like the Nihilist himself, I have no conscience, so I have no problem with that.

The Nihilist's dwindling apologists are running low on excuses. Clearly it was not their stale stable of regular contributors that was holding them down. Even with the recent addition of two new "talents" their trophy case remains bare. Nor can the drought be blamed on the Nihilist's intellectually bankrupt status: a blog that writes in the voice of an arrogant, condescending dog won a City Pages Best Local Blog award last year.

Ah well, there is always next year -- if they can stay in business that long. Here are the blogs that are smaller than the Nihilist, yet have somehow managed to win a City Pages Best Local Blog award since 2006:

Culture Bully (1)

Mediation (1)

Faith Mouse (1)

The Cucking Stool (1)

The list grows and grows. One gets the sense the Nihilist's City Pages Best Local Blog award window is closing fast.

Speaking of the Nihilist, someone has created a new blog called Dump The Nihilist.

While we appreciate comments from all vantage points, this site is totally a forum for Anti-Nihilist viewpoints. If you have a problem with the blogs content, we suggest that you post here the comment that was deleted at the Nihilist in Golf Pants. However, we are also looking for comments in defense of the Nihilist, as we would very much like to point at you and laugh.
With this kind of grass roots pressure, I'd be surprised if the Nihililst makes it to Memorial Day. Developing.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Pound Your Fist & Cross It Off Your List

With the Minneapolis Star Tribune on life support in bankruptcy fighting for its very survival, it almost doesn't seem fair to indulge in our annual mockery of their on-going failure to capture the most sought after prize in their industry. Almost.

So without further ado, let's turn things over to our faithful correspondent Jim for this year's update:

For the nineteenth consecutive year, the Star Tribune has NOT won a Pulitzer Prize. They didn't even have a single finalist, although the online-only Politico did.

When I first started reporting, on the fact that the Star Tribune had not won a Pulitzer Prize since their first and only prize in 1990, I was afflicting the comfortable. Now, after five years of covering the Strib's Pulitzer futility accompanied by their sharp financial decline, I'm starting to feel like I am afflicting the afflicted. Fortunately, I am not a real journalist, so I have no problem with that.

The Strib's dwindling apologists are running low on excuses. Clearly it was not former editor Anders Gyllenhaal who was holding them down; his new paper, The Miami Herald, won a Pulitzer this year. Nor can the draught be blamed on the Strib's bankruptcy status: the Detroit Free Press has recently decreased home delivery to three days a week, yet they also won a Pulitzer this year.

Ah well, there is always next year--if they can stay in business that long.

In addition to the Detroit Free Press, three other newspapers have moved past the Star Tribune by winning a Pulitzer this year. They are: the Glen Falls (NY) Post-Star, The Las Vegas Sun, and The East Valley Tribune (Mesa, AZ)

(Previous years: (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008).

Here are the newspapers that are smaller than the Star Tribune that have somehow managed to win a Pulitzer Prize since 1990:

Miami Herald (9)

Portland Oregonian (5)

Sacramento Bee (4)

New Orleans Times-Picayune (4)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (3)

Baltimore Sun (3)

Birmingham (Ala.) News (2)

Christian Science Monitor (2)

Hartford Courant (2)

Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader (2)

San Diego Union-Tribune (2)

Seattle Post-Intelligencer (2)

Seattle Times (2)

Newark Star-Ledger (2)

Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal

Albuquerque Journal

Asbury Park Press (Neptune N.J.)

Biloxi Sun Herald

Block Newspapers, Toledo, Ohio

Boston Phoenix

Cincinnati Enquirer

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Concord (N.H.) Monitor

Daily Tribune (Ames, Iowa)

Dayton (Ohio) Daily News

Des Moines Register

Detroit Free Press

East Valley Tribune (Mesa, AZ)

Glen Falls (NY) Post-Star

Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald

Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune

Indianapolis Star

Investor's Business Daily

Kansas City Star

Las Vegas Sun

Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune

Los Angeles Weekly

Louisville Courier-Journal

Memphis Commercial Appeal

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer

Orange County Register

Philadelphia Daily News

Philadelphia Inquirer

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Santa Rose (Calif.) Press Democrat

Providence Journal-Bulletin

Riverdale (N.Y.) Press

Rutland (Vt.) Herald

San Francisco Chronicle

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Toledo Blade

Village Voice

Virgin Island Daily News (St. Thomas)

White Plains (N.Y.) Journal News

Willamette Week (Portland)

The list grows and grows. One gets the sense the Strib's Pulitzer window is closing fast.

Speaking of the Strib, Vox Day has created a new blog called Kill the Strib:

While we appreciate comments from all vantage points, this site is totally a forum for political viewpoints. If you have a problem with the newspaper's content, we suggest that you post here the comment that was deleted at However, we are also looking for comments in defense of the Star Tribune, as we would very much like to point at you and laugh.

He asked us for our thoughts on whether the Strib should in fact die. Upon reflection, I realized that the Strib has been dead to me for some time. In last few years, I've come to view its fate with almost complete disinterest. I look upon its current thrashing in the water with a sense of detached amusement. When the Star Tribune finally does go down for the third and final time, I won't celebrate or mourn its passing, but merely make note of it. Oh, so it's finally over then, huh?


Friday, April 17, 2009
Don't Stop Believin'

Steve Perry writing in the City Pages in 2004 on the perils of electing Bush-Cheney:
On November 2 we won't be voting for anything like the measure of change we deserve the chance to vote for. We will be casting our ballots in a referendum on whether we wish to pause and reconsider our march toward a homegrown American fascism.
Steve Perry writing for the so-called Minnesota Independent in 2008 on the perils of electing McCain-Palin:
Sarah Palin emerges from the most militaristic strand of contemporary evangelicalism; her brand of incipient theocracy excites the Christian base like nothing in living memory.
As I wrote back in September, if Steve Perry keeps making these wild predictions long enough (decades, centuries, millennia), one of these times he's bound to be right!

Breaking news, fans of a Republican dystopian future. Steve Perry has been monitoring the recent Tea Party protests by citizens concerned about government spending, control, and taxation and you'll never guess what he finds. From MinnPost:
Fear of falling on the scale that Americans are now experiencing inevitably spawns a widespread wish for order and security that has always raised the stock of fascism. Is there a Mussolini in the house?
That hip hop style name checking of the Italian fascist leader is a nice touch. If Steve Perry's assessment of the Tea Party movement is correct, I see it catching on at future rallies. Maybe some call and response between the emcee and the audience:

Where's Mussolini? Mussolini over here!
Where's Luigi Freddi? Luigi Freddi over here!
Where's Giuseppe Ungaretti? Giuseppe Ungaretti over here!

Or, just maybe, Steve Perry is wrong again about the fascism of American conservatives. Noted expert in the study of fascism, Jonah Goldberg, had this to say about the F word being applied to the current protests about Obama led government over reach:
How do I say this so people will understand? Fascism isn't a libertarian doctrine! It just isn't, never will be and it can't be cast as one. Anarchism, secessionism, extreme localism or rampant individualism may be bad, evil, wrong, stupid, selfish and all sorts of other things (though not by my lights). But they have nothing to do with a totalitarian vision of the state where individuals and institutions alike must march in step and take orders from the government.
If you think shrinking government and getting it less involved in your life is a hallmark of tyranny it is only because you are either grotesquely ignorant or because you subscribe to a statist ideology that believes the expansion of the state is the expansion of liberty.
That last part sounds about right: a statist ideology that believes the expansion of the state is the expansion of liberty. That could be the motto of most of the Twin Cities' lefty media.


Thursday, April 09, 2009
Blind Squirrels of Radio

The early news on KSTP AM1500's plans replace Dave Thompson and Bob Davis is not promising:

KSTP Radio, having booted two of its talk show hosts in the past week, is filling four hours every weekday with a duo from Madison, Wis., the AM station announced this morning.

Shawn Prebil and Chris Murphy debut today at 9 a.m., leaving behind their gig at WTDY (AM 1670).

In a news release, KSTP station director Todd Fisher said the two "will bring a dose of skeptical humor and subtle sarcasm to the Twin Cities' airwaves."

Skeptical humor and subtle sarcasm on the radio? Groundbreaking stuff there. Why, all the Twin Cities airwaves offer today is earnest humor and obtuse sarcasm. This is a most welcome change.

"While tackling even the most serious of topics, they are sure to hit a laugh in there somewhere."

Whoa, be careful not to over promise there. Are you really sure you want to guarantee that if we listen to a four hour broadcast there will be "a laugh in there somewhere"? Maybe that could be a promo to introduce the show: Find the laugh in today's Prebil and Murphy Show and win a pair of Twins tickets. Something tells me the pair's "hitting a laugh" will be about as common as Nick Punto hitting a home run.

UPDATE-- Just in case you were thinking I was being a bit premature in my judgement, we now learn a little more about KSTP's new dynamic duo from the Strib's revised story:

KSTP Radio (AM 1500), having booted two of its politically conservative talk show hosts in the past week, is filling four hours every weekday with a left-leaning duo from Madison, Wis.

A left-leaning duo from Madison? What are the odds?

When Prebil joined WTDY in 2003, he was described as the station's "newest voice of progress" by a 40,000-member labor union in southern Wisconsin. In a recent blog, he wrote: "What I love about the current political climate is Democrats are finally willing to stand up to fools like Sean Hennity [sic]."

Murphy, on his MySpace page, scolds Republicans for being too critical of President Obama: "To my elephant friends. You had your shot, your deregulation got us in this mess, you lost power, deal with it by working together with Democrats to fix it."

Four hours a day of skeptical humor and subtle sarcasm with an occasional laugh, all from a left-wing political perspective? Why am I suddenly longing for the days of Willie Clark talking about moving his cat?


Tuesday, April 07, 2009
What's About Bob?

At True North, Brad Carlson passes on the very sad news that Bob Davis Is Gone At AM1500:

Contents of an e-mail I received from AM 1500 KSTP:

Bob Davis is no longer with AM1500 KSTP. His last show was today, April 7.

Bob's contributions over the last eight years are appreciated and we wish him well. His effervescent demeanor, his always-ready belly laugh and his iconic head of hair leave a lasting impression on all who meet him.

Starting Thursday morning at 9am, we will have a brand new radio program for the Twin Cities. I could tell you their names (yes, a two-person show), but you have not heard of them. They are new to Twin Cities radio, but not new to upper Midwest radio and both guys have personal ties to the Twin Cities metro.

Sounds like Willie Clark times two. KSTP has now canned Dave Thompson (who is reportedly now in the running for MN GOP Chair) and Bob Davis within a week. Two of the few hosts on the station that I could listen to for more than five minutes with being bored or annoyed.


Who's On The Beat?

Interesting story in today's WSJ on what the decline of newspapers means for sportswriters (particularly baseball writers) and the teams they cover. It includes this classic picture of the Yankee Stadium press box in 1962.

The problem for those who make their living scribbling about sports is obvious:

For some papers looking to eliminate redundancies and cut costs, baseball, with its 162-game regular season, is low-hanging fruit. Tom Jolly, sports editor of the New York Times, says it costs the Times about $6,500 a month during the regular season to have a reporter follow the team on the road. Adding spring training and a trip to the playoffs, one baseball reporter costs the paper more than $50,000 per season on top of his or her salary.

Beginning this season, the Washington Post will rely on the Baltimore Sun to cover the Orioles, while the Sun will leave its Nationals coverage to the Post, part of a broader content-sharing deal being replicated at papers around the country. The Hartford Courant quit sending a reporter on the road with the Red Sox, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has cut its Red Sox road presence to between 35-40 games from 70 last year. And the New York Times now sends only one person on certain road trips that in the past would have called for two, Mr. Jolly said.

You won't find me shedding many tears if newspapers pare back the coverage they get from both beat and feature sports reporters. Over the years, far too many sports writers have become spoiled, coddled, and over-indulged. They've become far more interested in the sound of their own voice or the supposed importance of their written word than they are in simply performing their job. Which essentially is to tell me what happened in the game. Instead we've been forced to wade through piles of sanctimonious politicizing, self-aggrandizing philosophizing, and endless nostalgic waxing to try to figure out who won and who lost and why.

More concerning is how teams and fans will connect without the conduit of the daily newspaper:

Some teams and organizations say the decrease in newspaper coverage may hamper their ability to promote themselves. Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, wrote recently on his blog that to let newspapers die is a "recipe for disaster" for professional sports leagues because newspapers, however weakened, remain the leagues' best and only link to a mass audience. He said he has spoken to other sports executives about creating a league-backed "beat writer cooperative" to guarantee a minimum number of daily stories on each local team.

In Detroit, where the city's two largest newspapers recently cut home delivery to three days a week, research conducted by the local professional hockey team, the Red Wings, shows 65% of season-ticket holders get their Red Wings coverage from the printed newspaper.

We cancelled our subscription to the Minneapolis Star Tribune almost five years ago. And while I have never regretted the decision or seriously considered "taking" the paper again, the one thing that I have missed the most is the daily sports coverage. For football, it hasn't made much difference. When you're playing one game a week, it's pretty easy to keep up with the team with radio, television, and internet coverage. But for hockey, not having local coverage from the paper has had a noticeable impact in my ability to follow the Wild.

For baseball, it's even worse. When your team is playing 162 games over the course of a season and is in action most days of the week, the daily paper has always been the way that fans kept up with their local nine. The box scores, the standings, the league leaders, that day's pitching matchups, etc. There has always been something comforting about opening up the morning paper and reconnecting with the baseball world. Yes, you can get everything you do in the paper on the internet, but it's not the same.

As newspaper shrink or fold up entirely, it will be a challenge for teams to figure out news ways to keep that connection alive.


Thursday, March 26, 2009
I Thought Fargo Was In Minnesota

Attention members of the media (both local and national). It has recently come to my attention that geography is not a subject of emphasis at J school.

So please pay attention to the following. Fargo and Grand Forks are both cities in North Dakota on the Red River. However, they are about seventy miles apart and are quite separate and distinct municipalities.

While it is true that there was some flooding in Fargo in 1997, the city that was the site of devastation of almost Biblical proportions (fires, floods, etc.) was Grand Forks. The city that currently is being most threatened by spring flooding is Fargo. They are not--I repeat NOT--the same place and I would appreciate it if you could try to manage to keep that straight in your reporting.

Don't even get me started on the whole University of North Dakota--North Dakota State University thing either.

UPDATE-- Rick e-mails to also remind people that the Red River flows North. That's why Fargo's high crest is predicted to be reached on Saturday, while it Grand Forks it won't occur until sometime next week:

The predicted Red River crest range for Grand Forks has gone up. Again.

Wednesday's National Weather Service numbers said Grand Forks is expected to crest between 50 and 53 feet. Two days ago, the range was 48.5 to 52.5 feet. The prediction has risen steadily because of rapid melt and more moisture.

The latest bump was because of the precipitation of the past two days. The combination of rain and snow resulted in widespread precipitation of one-half to 1 inch in the region.

"The path of the storm was right through the heart of the valley," said Dan Riddle, a weather service senior meteorologist.

The crest at Grand Forks, protected to 60 feet, could come as early as Monday. When the crest does arrive, it will stick around.

"Grand Forks will be staying at major flood stage for at least a week," said Mark Frazier, weather service meteorologist.

The record crest in Grand Forks is 54.4 feet in 1997. The fact that the city is now protected to sixty feet should provide some measure of comfort to its residents, although I'm sure that they're praying hard for dry weather in the week ahead.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009
That's News to Me

It is not longer a surprise when the media tries to gin up a controversy over something Michele Bachmann allegedly said or did. After the many false alarms, I think most savvy news consumers, and the majority of her 6th district constituents, have taken to applying the "boy who cried wolf" standard to these reports. Ironically, the media's zeal to "get" Michele Bachmann tends to inure her to any criticism, even that which might be legitimate.

Legitimate is certainly is not the description of the current kerfuffle, summarized in all of its glorious distortion by this headline:
Bachmann urges "armed" revolt over climate plan
And this one in the Star Tribune:
Obama's energy cap-and-trade plan has Bachmann talking about a revolution
Typically it takes some time and effort to unpack the real facts behind these flash mob controversies. (I went through the exercise during the last election, debunking the panicked shrieking about Sarah Palin.) However, this case is easier in that I happened to have been on the other end of the phone line from Michelle Bachmann when she made her comments on NARN, First Team last Saturday.

To say the least, I was surprised that this interview made the Star Tribune and quasi-national news. Michele's comments didn't even merit a raised eyebrow among those in the studio. (And we have a very low standard these things. For example, during the commercial break, every brow in the room looked like the Gateway Arch when I announced I was considering Taco Bell for lunch.)

Taken in context, her comments were unremarkable. Certainly colorful and enthusiastic, but unremarkable for a conservative representative of a conservative district. I suspect that orientation is enough to put any of your comments on the wrong side of most reporters. But to help sell the story to the less jaundiced, they helpfully stripped all context from these remarks:

"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us 'having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,' and the people - we the people - are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States."
Restoring the context, surrounding this statement (and her entire point for being on the show) was her promotion of two public forums she's hosting with a researcher on the consequences of the upcoming Obama energy tax schemes. It was obvious that her comments about "arming" related to arming oneself with information and the "revolt" was about citizens opposing this legislation through normal channels (petition for redress of grievances, right to assembly, make known you're willing to force the bums who vote for it to look for other career opportunities, etc.)

Add context and you lose the story, of course. So, instead, the tactic employed is to play dumb about the full story, throw out a fragment of her words, get a defensive reaction from her staff, then print that in a skeptical "they say she meant this" fashion. Her reputation sufficiently harmed in the public mind, mission accomplished.

Compounding this unfair treatment is the inconsistency. If you gave this level of microscopic scrutiny (often provided by the local Dump blogs) and used the same reporting tactics on any politician, you could gin up just as many controversies and headlines and Bachmann has endured.

Let's give it a shot. Let's pick, oh I don't know . . . . Rep. Betty McCollum. The woman rated as the most liberal congressperson in the US House. (Does that sound at all representative of the people in St. Paul and Ramsey county? I digress).

Scanning through her public statements over the past few years, picking an average, garden-variety statement. Let's see, here's one about the GOP convention in St. Paul. What does she have to say?

OMG! Brace yourselves:

"The Republicans can take their convention to Guantanamo Bay where security won't be a problem"
Suggested headlines for our friends in the media:

McCollum Suggests Waterboarding of Republican Delegates


Republican convention has McCollum talking about terrorists

Go get 'em boys.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009
We're Just Not That Into You

Eric Black is a former ace reporter for the Star Tribune, a decades long employee. He now writes for the liberal web site MinnPost (imagine that). In a recent post on the uncertain future of news media, he noted in an aside:

I am convinced that the so-called objectivity, nothing-but-the-facts model
really doesn't do the trick, especially when the facts are being chosen, ordered
and told by reporters, 80 to 90 percent of whom are liberals.
A well-stated and refreshingly candid admission from an insider. And non-controversial, in terms of the facts presented. Anyone paying attention over the past couple of decades and willing to give an honest assessment, would tend to agree that an "objective" media was filled with political liberals. Apparently one or both of these conditions do not apply to the commentors to Black's piece, some of them liberal journalists themselves (imagine that).

The evolution of the comments and reponses in this thread is an amusing example of the typical pattern I've witnessed over the years. First, the common sense premise is stated, as Black did above.

Then come the angry, insulting denials:

What internet sites are you frequenting to reinforce your cockamamie notion that 80-90 percent of reporters are liberals?

I keep seeing these claims that 90% of journalists/media are liberals. Why is it I never see any proof of this? How about you post names and what party they belong to instead of making claims that are totally unproven and likely, from what I see, untrue?

It's the conservatives who are on my TV most of the time, not the marginalized liberals who are seldom, IF EVER, invited on TV. This is not because they aren't respectable OR CORRECT, but because conservatives create sheep who believe them when they say someone is not credible.
Then, when confronted with irrefutable arguments, such as Black's own extensive first hand observations and statistical evidence ....

Eighty to ninety percent of reporters as liberals is my estimate after a lifetime in newsrooms. But if you want some data, there are several studies. The most famous was a 1996 Freedom Forum survey in which Washington journalists told how they had voted in the 1992 presidential. 89 percent said they had voted for Bill Clinton, seven percent for George H.W. Bush, two percent for Ross Perot. The conservative Media Research Center cites data frmo other surveys involving other elections.
.... they change the subject, to another line of attack:

So what if reporters are liberal? The owners and controllers are conservative Republicans.
Next usually comes the argument that liberlism happens to be the unasailable truth and conservative thought wrong and hateful, so a liberal bias is required in the news. This thread is only a few comments long, so there's still time for it to reach this point.

Why are most lefty journalists so violently opposed to admitting what they see all around them in the newsroom and outraged at those willing to break the code of silence? MSM renegade Vox Day addresses this, with his thoughts on the latest liberal concern, news consumers pursuing their own confirmation bias rather than the objective news.

The appearance of talk radio, then Fox News, and now online alternatives doesn't mean that everyone is now locked in an echo chamber, it means that conservatives and libertarians are finally able to escape being subjected to constant left-liberal assault.
Left-leaning individuals like Kristoff are still safely ensconced in the same liberal echo chamber they've always inhabited ..... The only thing that has changed is that now everyone, of all political stripes, isn't forced to listen to just one side of the story anymore.
In short, they liked having us around. They miss us. More specifically, they miss the power to force their reality on us, whether we liked it or not. Can't blame them I suppose. A monopoly is a terrible thing to lose. But its gone like yesterday's headlines, and the quicker they come to terms with it, the quicker their healing can begin.


Thursday, March 19, 2009
Defining Wild Down

There was a time, perhaps not so long ago, when the employees of the City Pages would have defined a "wild" time as nothing less than a booze-fueled late brunch at a hip Uptown bistro, followed by a crypto-anarchist protest rally in front of a government building downtown, followed by post-protest bong session with some squatters in a Dinkytown tenement, followed by an in-store book signing with a dark, nihilistic, cult fave comic book author, followed by a meal of Oaxacan tacos at an acceptably grungy and ethnic Lake Street eatery, followed by drinking conspicuously downscale beer and listening to ironically popular music from the 70's on the juke box at the CC Club , followed by an Entry show by an up and coming angry, reggae-rap-ska-Mbaqanga fusion band from Japan, followed by a midnight showing of a film featuring an autopsy being performed to the music of Sleater-Keany at the Uptown, followed by all night, E-fueled, glow stick twirling rave at an abandoned Nordeast warehouse.

How times have changed. From today's City Pages:

Vice President Biden will be arriving in St. Cloud this morning for a town hall meeting about the economic stimulus and the middle class. Biden along with the Middle Class Task Force will arrive at the at St. Cloud Regional Airport at 10:15 a.m. for a 11:30 a.m. event at the New Flyer of America in St. Cloud.

Get ready for a wild afternoon!
Two theories: Either the years of fast living have finally caught up to the City Pages staff and its permanently altered their perception of reality. Or, the presence of Joe Biden is more powerful than any drug.

OK, third theory. The Barack Obama halo effect on liberals is even more powerful than we believed.

For some realism associated with the Joe Biden visit, check out the Nihilist in Golf Pants.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009
Can We Talk?

Just in case you weren't able to attend last week's "great conversation" at the taxpayer financed University of Minnesota--featuring Larry Jacobs, Walter Mondale, Seymour Hersh, and a crowd of sycophant sympathizers chortling about the evils of the Bush/Cheney regime--in person or listen to it broadcast on taxpayer supported Minnesota PUBLIC Radio the following day, word has it that MPR found the dialog so compelling that they're going to rebroadcast it tonight at 6pm. It's just a shame that there aren't more ways for the taxpayers of Minnesota to help chip in to spread the word about this terrific little chat.

I also understand that the next event in the U's "great conversations" series will feature Larry Jacobs, Vin Weber, and Mark Steyn discussing the perils of the Obama administration leading America down the path to Euro-statism. Ha, ha, ha. That would be the day.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Defining Success Down

This week, liberal radio talk show host Bill Press wrote an editorial in the Washington Post calling for the Federal government to intervene and save, coincidentally, liberal radio talk shows. Here he is at the height of his paranoia:
There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine -- and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.
I don't believe Bill Press actually believes in such a conspiracy. He's a shameless idealouge and huckster. Which is probably why he's particularly chagrined that he can't succeed where the likes of Sean Hannity have prospered.

But if there is indeed a conservative media conspiracy choking out the voices of liberalism so fervently demanded by the marketplace, all I can say is that in the Twin Cities, we are getting SCREWED. Regularly heard in this market are numerous voices of the Left, on stations such as WCCO, KSTP, KFAN, 107.1, and of course the government funded news leviathan itself, Minnesota Public Radio. The conservative media conspiracy is by far the shoddiest executed conspiracy we've had since Cheney and Halliburton arranged the Iraq invasion in order to profit from those high oil prices.

Press does depart from the world of fantasy to offer some real world case studies of successful liberal radio stations that should be emulated across the country. This example caught my attention:
Station owners complain they can't get good ratings or make any money with progressive talk, but that's nonsense. In Minnesota, independent owner Janet Robert has operated KTNF (950 AM) profitably for five years.
Note how his first sentence about good ratings and making money loses half of its focus on the KTNF example. We'll have to take his word that the local Air America outlet is being "run profitably".  As far as their unnamed ratings go, let's just say they're low enough for them to be envious of AM1280 the Patriot's numbers.

But, far be it from me to dissuade liberal entrepreneurs from around the country from taking Press's advice and adopting the KTNF model. If they want to invest their precious savings and time in this effort, endorsed by Press as a winner, more power to them. In fact, I'll even help by passing along some of their best practices, as outlined by their most prominent former employees.

From former morning drive host Nick Coleman, an itemized list of how things are done the KTNF way:
1) Station management increasingly demanded control over "topics, tone and guests" and ordered certain hot button topics off limits, such as guns, gays and abortion.

2) Station management repeatedly disrupted program development by making mercurial staffing changes without my knowledge or consent.

3) The station, despite its on-air support for the "dignity of workers," mistreats its own employees (who have no union protections).

4) I do not like wingnuts, of any stripe.

Now here's a question to mull: can "liberal" or "progressive" talk radio prosper under an ownership that is neither?
According to Bill Press, YES THEY CAN!!!

Also, let's not forget the primary three factors in the success of any business: location, location, location. Tips on the KTNF way from former afternoon drive host Wendy Wilde:
The studios are located in a mold-infested basement, and management had a construction crew tear out the moldy basement walls and carpet, but that actually threw mold spores into the air and the mold dust is everywhere. Hepa filters helped some but I continue to get sick.
There you go, the keys to success in liberal radio in America. If others would only adopt these strategies around the country, the insatiable market demand for liberal radio will be satisfied without us having to resurrect that pesky Fairness Doctrine.


Monday, February 09, 2009
Relentless Verbal War in the Morning

Those of you still mourning the loss of Willie Clark at KSTP can take heart in this announcement from KSCJ in Sioux City about their newest radio show:

The Nash and Clark show offers an odd look at life from a pair unlike anything else on the radio today. Candice Nash and Willie Clark have been called the modern day Bickersons. The show's unmarried protagonists spend nearly all their time together in relentless verbal war. Brash, dangerously opinionated, wildly refreshing, Nash and Clark can be heard weekday mornings from 10:05 - 10:50 on Talk Radio 1360 KSCJ.
I think they're only given 45 minutes for the show because human beings can only stand so much wild refreshment before they go into shock and cardiac arrest.

Let's recount the other reasons were supposed to listen: an odd look at life, bickering, relentless verbal war, and brash, dangerous opinions. OK, that sounds like a pretty good start. But they ain't getting me to listen unless they can add some incoherent screaming, savage personal insults, vicious threats of physical violence, and uncontrollable sobbing. Something like the old Hugh Hewitt shows when he had Peter Beinart on once a week.

Also note their emphasis on the show's "unmarried protagonists". Knowing radio as I do, this is obvious foreshadowing. Within six months, expect a very special episode of Clark and Nash when the two get married on air. Followed by an announcement of their new show, expanded to a power packed 60 minutes. You thought they hated each other before, wait until they get married! Fireworks and fisticuffs guaranteed! Don't you dare miss it!


Friday, February 06, 2009
Great Moments In Public radio

Caught a wonderful exchange on Minnesota Public Radio this morning as Kerri Miller interviewed author John Edgar Wideman on his novel about race (to the best of my recollection, not verbatim):

Caller: Did John have an advantage over the white people from Pittsburgh because his package was so much bigger than theirs'?

Miller: I'm sorry, can you repeat the question.

Caller: I was just wondering if John had an advantage because the white people in Pittsburgh had such small packages compared to him.

To his credit, Wideman came back quickly with a witty if vulgar response about how perhaps packages could be used to shut the mouths of stupid callers. I think by the time he was done, the light bulb finally went off in Miller's head.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Changing of the Guard

Discouraging news on the mainstream media front. The replacements for Star Tribune metro columnists Nick Coleman and Katherine Kersten have been announced: Gail Rosenblum and John Tevlin.

Both are current employees of the Star Tribune (strike one). Ms. Rosenblum currently does the "relationships" column for the paper and is billed as offering a dramatic shift from the ideology of Katherine Kersten (strike two). And, (strike three?) Tevlin has been described as the following by some of the most aggressively partisan journalists in town.

Excerpts from Brian Lambert of MSP Magazine:

Tevlin, in my opinion one of the three or four best writers currently on staff, has a demonstrated facility with complex stories and a long history with the state and Twin Cities.

While not quite as much as with Nick Coleman, I regard Tevlin as a friend

"Other kids dreamed of being Fran Tarkenton when they grew up. I dreamed of being Jim Klobuchar," he said, in a quote that may haunt him the next time our media gang has drinks.

From David Brauer at MinnPost:

Tevlin is an old friend and I'm pretty psyched about his selection. An alt-weekly veteran, he's one of the Strib's best hard-news writers, a longtime local digger who knows the haunts and the backstories.

Tevlin is no shrinking violet, and no political eunuch, so folks worried that Strib columns will be attenuated that way probably have little to fear. If he speaks his mind, the Kersten crowd will get little satisfaction, but he's a champion of the underdog and a mocker of the arrogant more than a partisan hack.
Oh boy. "Champion of the underdog" is another way to say applying a filter on what is reported, making sure favorite protected classes are subjected to only flattering coverage, while political enemies are demonized. In other words, the same reporting you get from the likes of Coleman, Lambert, and Brauer. Not exactly the strategy I'd recommend for a foundering business trying to differentiate itself from its failed past and from its numerous competitors in the marketplace.

To be fair to Tevlin, Brauer and Lambert's assessments may be nothing more than wishful thinking. The archives of Fraters Libertas show this Star Tribune reporter showing up a couple of times. Once, when he was writing an article on the then vibrant social scene among right wing amateur opinion editorialists at Keegan. I described his output as "mostly accurate." And, as I recall, he seemed jolly and sociable, the type of guy you'd enjoy having a beer with.

However, a minor dispute did later arise regarding the accuracy of his reporting, from a local, angry, basement dweller.

Tevlin also appeared regarding a story about Star Tribune employee pilfering newspapers around the office, with this quote:

"The whole free newspaper-Romenesko leak issue is our version of the gay marriage debate," said Jon Tevlin, a staff writer. "We're deeply in debt, circulation is falling and profits are down 14 percent this quarter. So let's obsess about something that isn't really very significant."

My commentary from then still applies: "a reporter at the Star Tribune thinks that potentially changing the definition of marriage contrary to thousands of years legal precedent, without even allowing the people to vote on it, "isn't really very significant." For future context purposes, duly noted.

Ray of hope, Lambert tried to goad Tevlin into accepting the mantle of metro columnist partisan attack dog, and here was his response:

Well look, I know there is still a market for rage. I read it, and I hear it all the time on the radio. But it just isn't my thing. Even guys like (Jimmy) Breslin, who may have a reputation for it, really were best known for telling stories about the city. Breslin wasn't driven by rage.

If he indeed adopts this approach, it would be a good thing for the paper and the readership. There are a million stories out there in the naked city. Very few of the worthwhile ones can be found while wearing the self righteous "champion of the underdog" goggles. Plus, Lambert and Brauer will be thoroughly covering those anyway.


Friday, January 16, 2009
Bring Out Your Dead

Vox Day on the Star Tribune going on life support:

That's not why I have long disliked the paper, though. Its unique combination of clueless arrogance, incompetent economics coverage, and mindless cheerleading of all things Left was astonishing for a product of the Midwest. It was a paper produced by people who wanted to be living in either New York City or San Francisco, and it showed. The Red Star actually had a MORE annoying collection of Democratic columnists than the New York Times has ever managed to assemble.

This is, of course, tremendously amusing in light of all those people who used to try to give me a hard time for electing to write for an Internet site... which just happens to have a readership that is not only larger than the Star Tribune, but has continued to grow since I began writing there in 2001. I guess after the last newspaper dies, there won't be any real opinion writers anymore, we'll all just be bloggers posting away in our pajamas.


Monday, December 15, 2008
The Rest of the Story?

I see somebody woke up the Star Tribune long enough for them to confirm that Keith Ellison went to Mecca on the hajj this year (as previously reported on NARN and Power Line). A perfunctory, celebratory article appears today. Excerpt:
"For our relations with the Muslim world, it can only help to see an American congressman going on Hajj and mingling with the millions of Muslims from all parts of the world in Mecca," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "And from a domestic perspective, it sends a really positive message of religious diversity and inclusion in our society."
Speaking of inclusion and diversity, one of the primary events of the hajj is the address by Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti. As reported in the Financial Times, the highlights from this year's speech included:
Saudi Arabia's top cleric has used his annual sermon to Muslim pilgrims assembling for hajj to urge Muslim countries to renounce capitalism and form an Islamic economic bloc that adopts interest-free finance.

Grand Mufti Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh told worshippers assembling on the plain of Mount Arafat that global economies now caught in crisis were suffering the result of using interest as a bedrock of their financial systems. Under Islamic law, or sharia, paying or receiving interest is forbidden.
Obvious questions left untouched by the monopoly newspaper covering Keith Ellison's district:

Did Keith Ellison attend the Grand Mufti's address? What did he think of it? Is capitalism a good idea for Muslim countries? If not, is capitalism a good idea for any countries?

How about interest-based finance, is it something Muslims should engage in, particularly those in the US?

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I say embracing hard news stories of this nature and public service reporting helping us to get to know our elected officials might be the key to reversing this trend. Go to it Star Tribune!

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Thursday, December 04, 2008
In The Pit

Just in case you needed more proof that the best way to follow the Coleman-Franken recount is to not pay much attention to the day to day proceedings, consider the breathless headline from Tuesday's Star Tribune:

Senate recount: Pendulum swings to Franken

Wow, that's big news. Up until this point, Coleman has been ahead every step of the way. Something dramatic must have happened:

The U.S. Senate recount took two abrupt turns Tuesday, both boosting the prospects of DFLer Al Franken.

Franken unexpectedly picked up 37 votes due to a combined machine malfunction and human error on Election Day that left 171 Maplewood ballots safe, secure but uncounted until Tuesday's final day of recounting in Ramsey County.

Wow. An abrupt turn indeed. So where did that leave the margin at?

By the end of Tuesday, with 93 percent of the total vote recounted, the Republican's lead stood at 303 votes with the state Canvassing Board set to finalize results Dec. 16.

Which isn't much different than the lead that Coleman has enjoyed for at least the last week. And as of today, the margin is back to 316. I must have missed the Strib headline announcing "Pendulum swings back to Coleman."

Following up on Saint Paul's post yesterday, sometimes it's hard to tell if the Strib reporters are actually writing these stories themselves or just regurgitating what they're being told by officials and campaigns. Consider the matter of the second "abrupt turn" in the in the story headlined "Pendulum swings to Franken":

The day's other news -- which Franken's campaign quickly described as a "breakthrough" -- came when Ritchie's office asked local election officials to examine an estimated 12,000 rejected absentee ballots and determine whether their rejection fell under one of four reasons for rejection defined in state law. The Secretary of State's office asked that ballots that were rejected for something other than the four legal reasons be placed into a so-called "fifth category."

Later in the piece, we learned that the significance of this new development was up for debate:

The letter to local election officials comes as the Canvassing Board awaits a state attorney general's opinion on whether the board has the authority to count the ballots in the fifth pile, or if that is something that only can be ordered by a court.

Fritz Knaak, Coleman's lead recount attorney, minimized the impact of the move and said Ritchie's office was not asking local election officials to count any of the five categories of rejected absentee ballots, and had written those instructions in bold type in its letter. "They were not directing that those be counted, but they are being set aside. And, of course, we're not surprised, and that's fine," he said.

Franken's campaign heralded the news as a significant development, and said it came on a day when the campaign's own internal recount showed that Coleman's lead had dwindled to 50 votes. "[This] process is not complete until every vote is counted. And today's directive is an important step," said Andy Barr, Franken's communications director.

So let's recap. The Coleman campaign minimizes the impact of the move, while the Franken campaign "heralded" it as a "significant development" and a "breakthrough." Guess which way the Strib chose to characterize it? Hint: the headline for the story was "Pendulum swings to Franken." Our local objective, unbiased news source at its finest.


Friday, November 28, 2008
Called Out On The Matt

Riftimes e-mails on my post on a KSTP radio host named Matt:

I'm sad to say this, but a correction opportunity beckons!

I was also listening early Sunday evening, and share you're amazement at the host. It seemed that he was just saying anything that came to mind. I kept listening because it was so ludicrous. However, it was not Matt Thomas (who I'm not very fond of since he seems to take everything on his show way too seriously), but Matt McNeill. I remember because I made a mental note not to listen to him again! If you wish to confirm, a quick look at the KSTP web site shows that McNeill is on weekends, or you might check your inside 1500 sources. Thanks.

BTW - I enjoy your show on Saturday.

D'oh! Wrong Matt! I'm tempted to shift the blame for my error to KSTP for creating confusing by having two muddleheaded Matts on the radio in the first place, but I must take final responsibility. I regret the error.

However, since I did listen to some of the "best" of Matt Thomas on Thanksgiving evening I stand by my opinion that his show offers little in the way of insight or entertainment. The only thing he has going for him is there's another host at the station sharing his name who brings even less to the table.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Removing All Doubt

[11/28/08 Editor's note: Post corrected to reflect the correct Matt]

Unlike Atomizer, I've never been a big fan of the Matt Thomas McNeill radio show on KSTP. To me, he offers little in the way of insights when it came to sports and when it came to politics he sounds woefully out of his element.

Sunday night, I happened to catch a couple of segments of the show which only reinforced my opinion. Firstly, Thomas McNeill was talking about the BCS rankings and decrying the fact that undefeated Utah and Boise State were ranked below teams that had lost games. He said that the it was silly to compare the strength of the various conferences and he wasn't buying that a team from the Big Twelve with one loss was better than an undefeated WAC team. Taking this to its logical conclusion, if he had his way the BCS championship game would almost always end up featuring one of these undefeated teams from a weak conference that had played a cake schedule. Yeah, that would be just great (although arguably more entertaining than watching Ohio State get waxed again).

Later, Thomas McNeill ventured in to the deep waters of politics and was quickly in over his head. He was talking about how much he liked Governor Pawlenty and how he thought Pawlenty would have been a better pick for VP for McCain than Palin. He added that he didn't think this would have been enough to tip the election to McCain, but it would have been closer. Fair enough. So far. Then he went over the edge by saying that if McCain had chosen Mitt Romney for VP, he would have won the election. For a moment I wasn't sure if I was listening to Matt Thomas McNeill or Hugh Hewitt. Yeah, if only McCain had Romney at his side he would have reversed the seven point popular vote and 192 electoral college margins and defeated Obama.

Atomizer may believe that Thomas' McNeill's voice is the voice of a new generation (his generation), but I find him to be a local hack with very little credibility (and I am something of an authority on the subject of local radio hacks with little cred).


Saturday, October 11, 2008
Stop the Hate

Of course, we condemn any and every instance of hateful rhetoric, extremist accusations, lies, distortions, and death threats aimed at our political leaders. These actions damage our public institutions and constrain the ability of our elected leaders to do what is necessary for good of the country. It poisons the minds of easily fooled and polarizes our fellow citizens into ideological camps unable to cooperate and compromise with their political opposition.

Unfortunately, according to several news accounts of late. this behavior has become all to common in the public discourse. We call on those participating in these actions to immediately cease, to recognize their mistakes and the dangers they are provoking, and to make public apologies to those they have slandered and harmed with their rhetoric.

Let the apologies begin with these people:

Jim Walsh, snickering about the possibility of the President getting killed, in both the City Pages and MinnPost.

I'm here to say that Ike Reilly stood on a stage at an amusement park in Shakopee, Minnesota last night, in front of 200 or so hardy souls in f*cking hats and gloves and down coats, fending off winter and celebrating Halloween and Friday the 13th, and sang "Who says you can't take a shot at a president?" and "We're drinking to your assassination" three weeks before Election Day. And those might not have even been the best moments

Rage Against the Machine for calling for the execution (then, followed by a criminal trial) of the President.

The Star Tribune editorial board for their series of vicious slanders and poisonous distortions about the President and his activities.

.... should the right insist on trying to force-feed America its radical social agenda, the 2006 midterm elections could bring real congressional grief to the Republicans. This is still a centrist, tolerant society, and any effort to remake it into a conservative theocracy will bring swift, decisive repudiation.

Andrew Zimmern and Adam Platt at MSP Magazine for a steady stream of irresponsible hatred and lies directed toward the current President and the current Republican Presidential and VP candidate.

I have been in a major funk ever since the book-banning scourge of Wasilla, Alaska, was nominated for the Veep seat on the GOP ticket. She is a Bush clone of the highest order, and her selection shows that her running mate is no maverick, just a brain-dead moron for selecting her as his potential second in command.

How can a major party, check that, even a minor one, put forth this lunatic as a candidate for office?

.... don't these Republicans know the country hates their war, their abrogation of the Constitution, their manipulation of science, their attempts to politicize every once-sober function of government, and their attempts to label anyone who would disagree with them as unpatriotic?

Steve Perry at the Minnesota Independent for deranged fear mongering about the nature of our Presidential and VP candidates.

On November 2 we won't be voting for anything like the measure of change we deserve the chance to vote for. We will be casting our ballots in a referendum on whether we wish to pause and reconsider our march toward a homegrown American fascism

Sarah Palin emerges from the most militaristic strand of contemporary evangelicalism; her brand of incipient theocracy excites the Christian base like nothing in living memory.

All the mainstream Democrats and good citizens of the Twin Cities who have happily marched in rallies over the past eight years (including most recently at the RNC) calling the President, among other things, a murder, lunatic, Nazi, and a terrorist. (Example here, scroll down to March 26.)

And, finally, the handful of idiots showing up at recent John McCain rallies:

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

The Secret Service confirmed Friday that it had investigated an episode reported in The Washington Post in which someone in Palin's crowd in Clearwater, Fla., shouted "kill him," on Monday, meaning Obama.

Palin, at a fundraiser in Ohio on Friday, told supporters "it's not negative and it's not mean-spirited" to scrutinize Obama's iffy associations.

But Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania an author of 15 books on politics, says the vitriol has been encouraged by inflammatory words from the stage.

"Red-meat rhetoric elicits emotional responses in those already disposed by ads using words such as 'dangerous' 'dishonorable' and 'risky' to believe that the country would be endangered by election of the opposing candidate," she said.

All of you, it's time to grown up and act like responsible citizens or shut the bleep up entirely. The future of our democracy depends on it. Thank you.

Post script: You may have noticed that only the last group has provoked front page articles deploring this irresponsible rhetoric and speculating on what affect it may be having on the nation as a whole. The press rightly condemns it now, as it pertains to Obama. Whereas, when it pertained to Bush, the press was more likely to participate in it than condemn it.

If the Democrats win the White House in November, I expect the institutional voices who have lead the Bush and Republican hate machine to be leading their next lynch mob against anyone who would dare level similar rhetoric against Obama.

Summarized in another way by the prescient Victor Davis Hanson back in June of this year:

.... the Left will suddenly wake up and realize that over the last eight years the country and indeed the English-speaking liberal world have done enormous damage to public discourse in reprehensibly and shamefully promulgating films, books, and essays about hating and, indeed, killing a President.

After destroying the protocols of good taste and decorum, an infantile 60s generation in their age and sobriety will now understand that they themselves (see Thucydides on Corcyra) are likewise in need of some shared standards of public expression, rightly fathoming that such easy venom weakens a free society.

Yes, the Left will suddenly adopt a new maturity about a President Obama, and responsibly demand of us all to excise from our vocabulary over the top hate speech, such as comparing an elected administration to Nazis or fantasies about killing American presidents.

And this, once again, will be as it should be -- albeit eight years too late.

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Monday, September 15, 2008
Sleep Restored

Related to my post on Saturday, Dave writes in with some background on Phil Hendrie

Glad to hear someone mention Phil. I've been hooked for a couple years now. Steyn, Lileks and Hendrie are the only three on the radio to make me laugh out loud.

Despite his willingness to EVISCERATE people regarding Iraq (which is hilarious!), AFAIK he's still firmly in Obama's camp. It's so frustrating. He and other 9/11 Dems speak so eloquently and passionately about Iraq, but are so wedded still to a few base lefty issues, they can't bring themselves to vote for 'the evil Republican'. Hopefully Omaba et al. keep stepping in it enough to sway enough of them.

And some good news:

Anyway, in case no one's forward this yet: his recent shows ARE available online without subscription:

(ED NOTE: Here is the September 12 show featuring the Jesse Ventura interview.)

See also

btw - i listen you you guys every Saturday. Thanks for making my yardwork palatable.

You're welcome Dave. That Is exactly why we got into the radio business, to improve lawn mowing productivity in the Twin Cities.

And thanks for the Phil Hendrie podcast links, my wee small hours are restored for their intended purpose.

The Elder Notes: I'm surprised that Saint Paul didn't connect these dots in Dave's e-mail:

* Steyn, Lileks and Hendrie are the only three on the radio to make me laugh out loud.


* i listen you you guys every Saturday.

Maybe we just have to tell the Pachyderm story on the air.

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Still Stalin After All These Years

I'm proud to announce the debut of a new feature on Fraters Libertas: Last Week in Stalin Comparisons.

Yes, we have scoured the information superhighway to find instances of reporters, commentators, pundits, and George Soros employees comparing Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin to other people, living or dead. It is our hope that through this exercise, we can learn more about Joseph Stalin and his modern day heirs in order to, if at all possible, avoid a 31 year reign of misery and tyranny in this country.

Let's go to the big board for this week - who was Joseph Stalin ....

Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin:

Putin, like Stalin, sees his country's "sphere of influence" being violated, with Russia being ringed by potentially hostile enemies, effectively controlled by the U.S. and other Western powers.

Russian Poet Vladimir Mayakovsky:

After he moved to Moscow, Mayakovsky like Stalin was expelled from school because he was more interested in revolution than study.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:

Chavez is a dictator. As he just demonstrated, voting returns that he doesn't like are ignored. His party controls the legislature in Venezuela and they pretty much rubber stamp everything he wants much like Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini's legislatures gave them pretty much everything they wanted.

Italian First World War General Luigi Cadorna:

Cadorna's orders were meant to terrorise his troops into unflinching obedience - like Stalin, he further encouraged them to go over the top by mounting machine-guns behind his own lines to fire on stragglers.

Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin:

We saw that in the book [banning effort]. That's essentially an authoritarian thing, especially if you look at the books she wanted to ban, one of which was called Pastor, I Am Gay, which was written by a local Christian conservative pastor who took a gentler approach to this. So there's another level to this. It's one thing to censor a book; that's frightening enough. It's an even more frightening thing to try and censor your neighbor, to try to put tape over the mouth of someone who lives right next to you and is a conservative Christian himself. That shows a real attention to detail that one finds in figures such as Stalin. I think there is a Stalinesque streak to her personality.

What have we learned from this week's contestants? You resemble Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin if you:

1) attempt to assert control of the states of the Caucuses region

2) are devoted to the principles of socialist revolution above all else

3) structure your country's legislative body in a way to automatically approve whatever you dictate

4) machine gun your own troops if they are not progressing to your satisfaction

5) attempt to remove "Pastor I Am Gay" from a municipal library*

Please avoid any and all of these behaviors if you wish to avoid being like Stalin. Or at least being called Stalin by drama queeen propaganda mills.

*incidentally, this allegation is actually false. It's use against an innocent person like Sarah Palin strikes me as Stalinesque in nature.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008
Up All Night

In other radio news, I accidently ran across the Phil Hendrie show late last night. Turns out his new syndicated show occupies the graveyard shift on KTLK. This is great news, and the biggest threat to good night's sleep since Art Bell went off the air on his latest semi-retirement.

For those who aren't familiar with Hendrie from his former syndicated show, or even his WCCO show back in the early 90's, he is a great comic talent and a radio original. Check out this web site for a podcast of his hilarious final WCCO show back in March of 1994. (Lots of other classic WCCO radio moments from the good old days there too -- assuming you consider lutefisk jokes from Charlie Boone to be good).

Hendrie does more than comedy. Last night featured a live interview with none other than our former Governor, Jesse Ventura. I guess it ended up as comedy, but it wasn't intentional. Jesse was there to promote his 9/11 Truther positions and to compare the modern America political environment to Nazi Germany. But Hendrie tripped him up at the outset by challenging some quote Jesse was attributing to Thomas Jefferson. Turns out it was an urban myth, some BS originating on the Internet. Jesse wasn't prepared to be challenged on this, didn't know how to respond, and the next 10 minutes degenerated into pouting and childish retorts of the "I know you are but what am I " variety. Hendrie then started pushing him on the comparisons to Nazi Germany, embarrassing Ventura to a level that he actually hung up the phone. I was stunned. Never thought I'd see the former brash bully of the local wrestling and political scenes run out the ring so easily.

Sadly, it looks like no podcasts of Hendrie are available for free download. His web site sells access via membership at $7/month. Charging for the content on the Internet? Who the hell does Hendrie think he is, Pajamas TV?

Hendrie is about as close as it gets for me to consider paying for Internet entertainment. But not close enough! Looks like he'll have to be enjoyed the old fashioned way, LIVE and ephemeral. The way radio was meant to be.

While I was Googling in vain for a place to find Hendrie podcasts, I did find a update on the latest activities of Gov. Ventura. For some reason he was in Arizona this week and added this contribution to their 9/11 memorial services:

It was a strange site for visitors at the Arizona 9/11 memorial today if they happened to see former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura try to debate a Valley firefighter about the World Trade Center fires.

Sun City West firefighter Bill Marshall was paying respects at the Arizona 9/11 memorial when former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura started questioning him about smoke color.

Ventura is skeptical about the World Trade Center fire. Marshall didn't want to hear it.

"I choose not to be involved in any kind of controversy over 9/11, sir" said Marshall. The firefighter also said he doesn't like it when people use 9/11 for political or commercial reasons. "I think it's quite disgusting actually."

"It should be a day of remembrance. Not politicking, not benefiting. Any of those things are quite appalling to me." He says he doesn't want to be involved in conspiracy theories.

Marshall says he was at the memorial to remember his fallen brothers and sisters - not to argue conspiracy theories.

Good to see Jesse taking the show on the road and not saving it just for us folks back home.


Somewhere My Love

Earlier this week, I heard Laura Ingraham advise that starting next week her show would be heard on different stations in some markets. Yesterday, I heard an ad on The Patriot talking about their lineup of hosts. A lineup that did not include Ingraham.

A quick look at the The Patriot schedule confirms that Ingraham is indeed gone. While I wasn't always her biggest fan, her show was usually an entertaining departure from the talk radio norm. I wonder where Twin Cities Ingraham fans will now be going for their daily fix.


Friday, September 12, 2008
If At First You Don't Succeed .....

Steve Perry of the City Pages in 2004, on the perils of electing George Bush:

On November 2 we won't be voting for anything like the measure of change we deserve the chance to vote for. We will be casting our ballots in a referendum on whether we wish to pause and reconsider our march toward a homegrown American fascism.

Steve Perry of Minnesota Independent in 2008, on the perils of electing Sarah Palin:

Sarah Palin emerges from the most militaristic strand of contemporary evangelicalism; her brand of incipient theocracy excites the Christian base like nothing in living memory.

Fascism, theocracy. OK, he's soon to be 0-for-2. Laugh at Steve Perry if you like, but if he keeps up with these dire predictions every election cycle, one of these times he's bound to be right!

I predict it will be the year 2856. Steve Perry, whose body will have long perished, but his brain will be kept alive in a jar in George Soros's basement, will release a statement on the Minnesota Absolutely Positively Non Partisan and Objective Journal of Reason and Science, saying:

If the carbon based life forms of the Greater Western Galactic Control Perimeter insist on achieving psychic consensus on the leadership of the Zytop Belinksgardarnde Contiuum, mark my words, it will be the beginning of a millennia of Fungal-Based Corporatist Anarchy. Hear me now!

If the murmurs I'm already picking up on my tin foil hat about the Stalinesque streak of Zytop Belinksgardarnde are accurate, I would not bet against this one.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008
Cooking with Gas

I'm officially tired of reading and writing about Andrew Zimmern. However, I'm dragged back in by his latest melt down which deserves one final notice. Up until now, he's kind of tip-toed around and avoided bearing his true partisan colors. Today, the mask drops and the pot boils over. His comments on Sarah Palin have got to be read to be believed:

I have been in a major funk ever since the book-banning scourge of Wasilla, Alaska, was nominated for the Veep seat on the GOP ticket. She is a Bush clone of the highest order, and her selection shows that her running mate is no maverick, just a brain-dead moron for selecting her as his potential second in command--or maybe he is the smartest man alive based on her resonance with some of the voting public. Are Americans that easily swayed from what has gone on for the last eight years?

Sadly, the one quote of hers that I just couldn't shake, the one that dominated the dinner conversation at Heidi's all night long on Friday, proved to be the one that was purely Internet mythology. Bigger than the secessionist sympathizing, the 'drill at all costs' theories, the pork issues, and bigger than Palin's assertions that the Iraq war is a mission from God and that community organizers are a bunch of do-nothings compared to small-time mayors, the one that really got to me was the Wannabe Veep's belief that "dinosaurs are 4,000-year-old Satan lizards."

It?s a funny one and seems to fit Palin like a glove. How can a major party, check that, even a minor one, put forth this lunatic as a candidate for office? Aren't you amazed? And the scariest thought is that statistically, McCain, due to his age and ill health will probably guarantee that Palin gets to be POTUS at some point, should they win the election. At this rate, Michele Bachmann will be touted as a potential Secretary of State nominee! You can see why I am upset.

Wow! With that level of seething and name calling, did Zimmern ever consider becoming a member of the Star Tribune editorial board?

First, the easy debunking of the foundations of Zimmern's rage:

1. Book banning - no, never happened. No legitimate source has claimed she has ever done anything of the sort. Even in a hit piece published in Time Magazine, the best they could come up with was a second hand claim from a political opponent that she inquired, on behalf of constituents, on the possibility of removing books with obscene language from the municipal library.

Please note, Time published this allegation even though its fact-checking, with the person who supposedly took Palin's inquiry, ended with:

That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment.

Couldn't be reached? What, she wasn't listed in the Wasilla White Pages when the reporter took a look? She was out field dressing a moose when the reporter stopped by? You're Time Magazine, find a way to reach her!

Reminds me of that great line from All The Presidents Men. Editor Ben Bradlee chiding his reporters to get proper sourcing on an explosive charge: we're about to accuse Haldeman, who only happens to be the second most important man in this country, of conducting a criminal conspiracy from inside the White House. It would be nice if we were right.

That interaction is probably apocryphal. Nevertheless, Time could use a man like the fake Ben Bradlee today.

2. Secessionist sympathizing - not true, not true. This claim is based on the front page New York Times report that Palin was a member of the Alaska Independence party for 2 years. Upon belatedly finding out the truth, the Times retracted the claim. I guess Zimmern isn't a Power Line reader. Maybe he should be.

3. The Iraq war is a mission from God - as characterized by Zimmern, not true. From the AP, her full quote, delivered while asking school kids to pray for the troops in Iraq:

"Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she said. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."

Sounds to me like she had some uncertainty there. Struggling with the unknown (God's will), while having faith that our national leaders are acting in a conscientious and moral fashion. I think that would describe just about every Republican, and a lot of non-Republicans who still love the country, value its institutions, and have a mature respect for the leaders our democratic process selects.

BTW, her words also echo another Republican from a rural area who had very little experience in matters like warfare, diplomacy, etc.

To a minister who said he hoped the Lord was on our side, he replied that it gave him no concern whether the Lord was on our side or not, for, he added, "I know the Lord is always on the side of right," and with deep feeling added, "But God is my witness that it is my constant anxiety and prayer that both myself and this nation should be on the Lord's side."

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Abraham Lincoln. In Zimmern's mind, another lunatic, no doubt.

4. her belief that "dinosaurs are 4,000-year-old Satan lizards" - Hee haw! But not true. It was an entirely made up quote, an intentional hoax by an Internet prankster. Apparently its making the rounds on the email networks of liberals. And now its infested the thinking of great minds on the Left like Matt Damon and Andrew Zimmern.

Granted, Zimmern says he now understands it's fake. Then he resorts to the 60 Minutes defense - it's fake, but accurate! (It's a funny one and seems to fit Palin like a glove.)

But he admits that this specific allegation "dominated" the dinner conversation between he and his smirking band of gourmands, supping at some posh Minneapolis bistro. Copping to this level of idiocy and superficiality should be kind of embarrassing for him. They actually believed for a time that a woman of Palin's education, experience, and accomplishment could believe this or would use these terms. I'm not sure there is sane person in this country, even the most ardent Creationist or Bible literalist, who would characterize their beliefs as such. Given how easily they were taken in, I get the sense that Zimmern and company believe that most Republicans/religious people/rural denizens have beliefs of this nature.

Maybe Zimmern should spend less time tracking down Chicken Testicle Soup Recipes in the back alleys of Timbuktu and more time getting to know the exotic ways of, say, Wasilla, Alaska. Or even the Twin Cities (outside of Uptown/Grand Ave.). He's a complete stranger to the real America.

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We are the wind beneath the right wing.

Listen to the Northern Alliance Radio Network on Saturdays from 11am 'til 3pm on AM 1280-The Patriot:

* The First Team 11am-1pm
* The Headliners 1pm-3pm

Podcast Archives

This week on The First Team:

Brian and John continue to voice their heated rhetoric and troublesome vitriol.

Read Alli reviews



3/20--Rick Perriello
3/13--Nancy Pelosi
3/6--Harry Reid
2/20--Keith Olbermann
2/13--Larry O'Donnell
2/6--Barack Obama
1/30--Carol Shea Porter
1/16--Martha Coakley
1/9--Mike Malloy
12/19--Al Gore
12/12--Harry Reid
11/21--Al Gore
11/14--Nancy Synderman
11/7--Roland Burris
10/31--Levi Johnston
10/24--Alan Grayson
10/17--Rick Sanchez
10/10--Barbara Boxer
9/26--Ed Schultz
9/19--Jimmy Carter
9/5--Chris Matthews
8/29--Dan Savage
8/22--Brad Pitt
8/15--Chris Matthews
8/8--Barbara Boxer
8/1--Bill Maher
7/4--Al Franken
6/13--David Letterman
6/6--Harry Reid
5/30--Drew Barrymore
5/23--Jesse Ventura
5/16--Wanda Sykes
5/9--Alren Specter
5/2--Nancy Pelosi
4/25--Janeane Garofalo
4/4--Damon Greene
3/28--Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
3/21--Charles Grassley
3/14--Seymour Hersh
3/7--DL Hughley
2/28--Sean Penn
2/21--James Clyburn
2/14--Chuck Schumer
2/7--Nancy Pelosi
1/31--Nancy Pelosi
1/24--Richard Lugar
1/3--Caroline Kennedy

2008 Loons of the Week

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