Recent Posts

Media oversight

There are Democrats running for president, really

by Eric Ferguson on July 31, 2015 · 2 comments

Usually when only one party’s nomination process is getting covered, it’s because it has such a big advantage in the district in question that the other party has no realistic chance. Pick, for example, any one of roughly 90% of congressional districts. So it’s kind of strange that the Republicans are getting all the attention in the presidential race since the election is probably a toss-up and if it isn’t, it’s because the odds favor Democrats a bit. However, Democrats just can’t match the Republicans for entertainment value. Not even close. Much as the media wants to pretend Bernie Sanders is somehow equivalent to Donald Trump (he called Mexican immigrants rapists, but you called yourself a democratic socialist, and isn’t that just as crazy?), and as much as we’re learning the phrase “Clinton rules” regarding how any unproven allegation will be treated very seriously, the truth is no Democrat has the headline grabbing crazy to compete with Republican candidate … hard to pick out just one. And so many. Figuring out how many they have was faster by multiplication than addition, at least until Jim Gilmore became the 17th and made it a prime number.
 
Anyway, there really are Democrats running. Here’s a bit of Hillary and Bernie. This first video is an interview Bernie gave Vox (Vox not Fox, that’s not a typo). You might notice something that makes him a stronger candidate than the media generally give him credit for. He’s able to give a straight answer to a question in a few words, and then he can elaborate if given time (which he is here) to show he knows what he’s talking about. I’m guessing that comes from being a frequent guest on liberal talk radio, which may have a puny audience (liberals, did you even know we have our own talk radio?) but taking calls gave Bernie a lot of practice answering questions within commercial radio’s time limits from the sort of people who vote in Democratic primaries.
 

 
This video is a clip of Hillary speaking to the National Urban League. TPM found this the newsworthy bit as she went after Jeb Bush, but I listened to the whole speech and thought another part was more interesting. Alas, unlike someone at TPM, I couldn’t work out how to clip and embed the part I wanted. C-SPAN, why must you make embedding so difficult? So I give you this link to the whole program. The part I recommend starts at 49:20 and goes to 55:15. She eloquently talked about how we need to change our attitudes on race, and particularly how those of us who haven’t had to live with discrimination have to start listening to those who have, and stop assuming our experience is the same as everyone else’s. Her whole speech goes from 41:00 to 1:05:00. This is TPM’s clip:
 

 
Comments below fold.
 
…READ MORE

{ 2 comments }

 

political-manipulation“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.”

                                               George Orwell

 

As many times as I’ve wondered how some GOP pols and pundits can stand to look at themselves in the mirror, I’ve also wondered how they maintain such disciplined messaging. Do they get paid? Is it the discipline of the paycheck? Do the internet trolls, who comment on every political news story in the Strib by slamming Dems and excusing Pugs, get paid by someone? If not, how do they manage to stay on message so relentlessly?

 

Respect. If Dems could stay on message the way Pugs do, we’d own state government for the next ten generations. The problem for Dems, of course, is that so much of GOP messaging is factory-made and based on lies. A lot of our liberal friends in elected office have a tough time telling Lies-by-Design. Which is much to their credit, ethics-wise, but it puts Democratic candidates at a real disadvantage with the broader electorate when you consider that half the population has below average intelligence, hence are more easily misled than smarter folks. I don’t mean that in a mean way: it’s just a statement of fact. A significant portion of the population is more easily convinced of things that are untrue because they lack the cognitive and perceptual abilities that smarter people have. In how it frames it’s messaging, the GOP media machine utterly depends on that simple truth for the party’s continued existence.

 

Admittedly, it’s a lot easier for the GOP to keep churning out mass-produced mendacity like a Chinese plastics factory when spineless news anchors and chickensh*t political reporters are only willing to serve up softball questions to candidates and pundits. The accounting department long ago took over control of policy in the newsroom and the watchword ever since has been Revenue-Revenue-Revenue. Keep it light, guys. Don’t make enemies. Don’t offend anybody. We need to keep the ratings up to make goal each quarter. Your bonus depends on your cooperation. Your jobs depend on annual growth.

 

Take, for example, the remarks that MN Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt made earlier this year about Minnesota’s improving economy, covered by MNPP here:

“Part of this economic confidence,” Daudt told reporters with a straight face, “is there is balance restored in state government.”

To her credit, Pioneer Press Capitol Bureau Chief and political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger challenged Daudt on that one and made him own the lie by forcing him to double-down on his BS. That’s what real political reporters do. The news media, after all, is not supposed to be a handy conveyance for politicians and pundits to drop trou and squeeze out some verbal dookie. That’s what concession speeches are for. Rather, it’s supposed to be an information forum where readers and audiences go to learn something as close to the truth as can be discovered and published. Political reporters aren’t doing human interest stories: there should be an apparent bias and overt partiality for the truth, regardless of which political party offers it up. Any impartiality the news media sustains should be to ensure that all offenders of truth are equally vilified, not that all lies are given equal ink and air time. As Churchill once said, “I refuse to remain impartial between the fire brigade and the fire.”

 

Which just gets to the nut of why Republicans complain so bitterly about media bias. The fact is they get exposed as liars and frauds more often than Democrats do simply because they tell a lot more lies. They have to. Their policies are founded on lies. Trickle-down economics for example was one of the biggest B-F-L’s ever perpetrated on the American people. So was WMD’s.

 

But I digress. Returning to the subject at hand, now some months later, we see the very same BS message that Herr Daudt was disparaged for last March surfacing again in our political discourse, when Cathy Wurzer put this question to their political panel on the July 10 broadcast of Almanac (~44:58) —

Wurzer: “The state forecast just came out — [another] $500 million to the good. What does that mean? Do you think we’re collecting too much in taxes … just a better economy … what do you all think?”

I’ll assign that question a rating of Four Softballs [@@@@] …

More Below the Fold

{ 2 comments }

The Far Greater Threat of Domestic Terror

by SJGulitti on June 24, 2015 · 0 comments

After obsessing for the past year, or more, about whether or not the Obama administration will ever bring itself to utter the words “Islamic Terror” or “Radical Islam” one can only wonder when conservatives will wake up to the greater threat, that once again, is seen to be emanating from the far right. To wit: “In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.”

 

The recent racially driven terror shootings in Charleston once again bring to the fore the threat that I detailed below in “Coming Unhinged on the Far Right”. The Charleston tragedy shows that the underlying issues outlined in 2010 are still salient, relevant and no less dangerous today.

 

What is most interesting in the aftermath of Charleston is that even though folks on the far right, like Bill O’Rielly, admit that it was an act of terror, they cannot resist using the tragedy to promote an ongoing anti-progressive political agenda. The aftermath of the Charleston terror attack is seen by the talking heads on the far right as an opportunity for the “America haters” and “race hustlers” to launch a new round of attacks against our country. They ignore the fact that many of the alleged “America haters” and “race hustlers are merely pointing out the enduring shortcomings of race in American society and all the problems resulting there from.

 
…READ MORE

{ 0 comments }

After reading Star Tribune columnist D.J. Tice’s column on the collapse of the 35W bridge it’s apparent he gets the concept of motivated reasoning, but not to the point of recognizing when he’s engaging in it. He takes one fact, that the gusset plates were built too thin, and weaves a whole narrative of an unavoidable accident that absolves the Pawlenty administration, were it true. His convenient cherrypicking of facts ignores the inconvenient fact that bridge inspectors had warned of potential failure of fracture critical components, and recommended structural work to include the gussets.
 
From the MPR link:
 

The recommendation made in the November 2006 report was rejected, but one expert in the sound-based monitoring technology said even the suggestion that so-called “fracture critical” sections of the bridge were susceptible for cracking should have sent up a warning flare.
 
“For somebody to be looking for cracks to initiate in a fracture critical member begs the question, why?” said John Duke, a professor of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech who’s researched acoustic emission monitoring.
 

“When a fracture critical member is discovered to have a crack, that bridge should have been shut down yesterday,” he said.

It may not have been certain that such work would have found and fixed the gusset issue, but it was at least likely, and doing the work definitely would have made it impossible to blame the collapse on lack of maintenance. However, the decision was to go cheap and just resurface. After all, proper repairs would have cost more money, and nothing was more important than avoiding the tax increase that would be unavoidable if we were to really fix our infrastructure.
 
Even after Minnesotans looked at our roads and bridges and realized deferred maintenance had resulted in a deteriorated condition, Tim Pawlenty was so determined to please the taxophobic poobahs of the Republican Party that he vetoed a small and insufficient gas tax increase. It was passed over his veto by legislative supermajorities that included some brave Republican legislators who paid a high price for defying the anti-tax crowd that thinks infrastructure is free.
 
I wonder if Tice is warming up to argue that a thin gusset on the 35W bridge proves we don’t really need to raise the gas tax to fix our roads and bridges. Would we rather pay a little more for gas, or always wonder if the “fracture critical” parts were found and fixed? Or maybe it’s just normal that a Republican wants to help politicians of his party who are still dodging responsibility for the bridge. I’m willing to grant that 100% avoidance of all screw-ups is impossible, or at least so close to impossible as to be unreasonable. The real question then is the willingness to figure out how you screwed up, and Republicans, apparently, are nowhere near such willingness. Maybe that’s why they want to repeat the mistake, deferring infrastructure repairs to avoid a tax increase. Call it the fingers-crossed approach to maintaining old infrastructure.
 
Sure, we don’t have to raise taxes, because we have another option. We can just let our roads and bridges keep rotting; not a great option, but yes, an option.

{ 0 comments }

Big Media Sucks: Madmen Big Finale Spoiler

by Invenium Viam on May 12, 2015 · 0 comments

60's bs
Cringe-worthy, even back then

I wanted to title this post Big Media Sucks: Told You So Edition but most normal people already know Big Media sucks and nobody likes to witness self-congratulatory displays — which seem uncomfortably to Minnesotans like a form of public auto-eroticism — and which means I wouldn’t have gotten any readers.

 

So I decided to reveal/spoil the jaw-dropping, series-ending Big Finale of Madmen instead. Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to know how Madmen ends before the actual broadcast next Sunday, stop reading now.

 

The deal is, you gotta indulge me and read to the end of this post. Only then shall you have your just reward, Grasshopper.

 

Last month, I pointed out that Big Media was only too happy to chicken-little the April jobs report to shill more useless retail crap to the Great Unwitting Unwashed, as if 126,000 jobs was something more than a minor speed bump in Obama’s truly astonishing and historic record of continuous employment growth. See: Obama’s Economic Policies Achieve Full Employment During Record 61 Straight Months of Private Sector Job Growth.

 

In light of how RW media has continued to denounce the Obama Recovery from the Great Recession as weak and lackluster by applying the wholly invalid measures of past cyclical economic downturns — as if they were one-in-the-same-thing — and all the while completely unchallenged by the brainless mediators at CNN and elsewhere who get six figures each year to look pretty on-camera, but not paid a dime to think on their feet — in light of all that, Big Media owes it to the American public to explain how badly you folks all have been bewitched, bamboozled and beguiled by a continuous stream of RW lies nested within lies like an endless series of mendacious Matrushka dolls. But, of course, admit fault they never do and up pay they never will.

 

So now we have the April jobs report, which says:

America can breathe a sigh of relief. The economy is improving with the spring weather.

 

The U.S. added 223,000 jobs in April, a healthy pick up after a disappointing March and about in line with what economists surveyed by CNNMoney projected.

 

April’s strong job gains reflect a trend the country saw last year: job growth cooling in the winter months, then gaining momentum into the spring.

 

“They are good numbers,” says Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones. “It’s reassuring that we saw job growth rebound to above 200,000.”

 

The good news doesn’t stop there. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%, its lowest mark since May 2008.   CNN.COM

 

See, kids? You only had to wait about a month to find out that Big Media was bloated chock full of impacted rancid h*rsesh*t in how it reported the March job numbers. Those Big Media hucksters can’t stop trying to chump you folks for loose bills. But you’re not chumps, are you, boys and girls? That’s why you come here, to MNPP, to commandeer your political opinions and insights from knowledgeable sources with no money in the game and a least a dram or two of personal integrity. Good for you. And smart move. We at MNPP live to serve.

 

I wonder why Fox News viewers can never seem to figure out that they’re getting played daily for bunch of clueless rubes? Home schooling? It’s like never catching on that you never win at Three Card Monte. Whatever the cause, it’s not my problem.

 

Thanks for indulging me. I needed to get that one off my chest.

 

So here’s the spoiler on Madmen. After his road trip of self-discovery and personal enlightenment, Don Draper returns to McCann a spiritually reborn ‘New Man,’ one finally at peace with himself and others (which tells you that his life-process of self discovery is sadly at an end). While he is pitching a brilliant new ad campaign to a big account, he falls out of a window in a final reprise of the show’s long-standing opening credits sequence and is killed. As he falls, he passes characters from earlier episodes in the series who wave him goodbye. Bye, Don. It’s been real. Or not. Mostly not.

 

Draper’s tragic end was foreshadowed on the May 3rd episode when he heard the wind-whistle coming from a large window in his new office at McCann and tested it to discover that the window glass was loose in the frame. An omen, you see. Now, knowing that no part of a television drama is included in the final cut unless it moves the story forward, what do you think that omen portends? Politically savvy folks like us know how to read the omens.

 

There you have it. You can Twitter your friends if you like. Just be sure to let them know you heard it here first at Minnesota Progressive Project. And report back here with your comments after the show!! We love comments. We really do.

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Corporate media is ready for Hillary

by Dan Burns on April 14, 2015 · 0 comments

hillary
 

{ 0 comments }

On the Monday, April 6, broadcast of Hardball With Chris Matthews, in a segment called “Get the Message,” Mr. Matthews suggested that many past successful presidential campaigns have had an inspired campaign theme. He cited presidential campaigns going all the way back to JFK.

 

  • Kennedy 1960: “Get the Country Moving Again.”
  • Nixon 1968: “Vote Like Your Whole World Depended On It.”
  • Carter 1976: “Leaders, For A Change.”
  • Bush 1988: “A Kinder, Gentler America.”
  • Bush 2000: “Compassionate Conservatism.”
  • Obama 2008: “Change We Can Believe In.”

Matthews then asked his panel which candidates would have the best campaign themes in 2016. I found their answers, for the most part, unimaginative and unedifying. So, remembering that we writers and bloggers at Minnesota Progressive Project do indulge from time-to-time in satire and satirical commentary — not to mention supporting fellow journalists in the innovative pursuit of new knowledge — here’s my offering of what will be the Top 10 Campaign Themes of 2016, presented as graphic renderings in alphabetical order.

 

 

Bush 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christie 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cruz 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huckabee 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pence 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perry 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rubio 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santorum 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walker 2016 Campaign Theme
Click to enlarge.

{ 0 comments }

MPR Poligraph needs a fact check

by Eric Ferguson on April 9, 2015 · 3 comments

In the latest “This guy wants to be president“, I railed a bit at fact checkers and the twisting they use to get weird results. MPR’s Poligraph is doing the same thing. The Poligraph writer, Catharine Richert, used to work for Politifact, which is so frequently terrible at fact checking that I don’t link to it, even when I agree with their conclusion. I fear they taught her their methods.
 

In this case, Poligraph said a statement of Gov. Dayton’s was accurate, but judged it misleading for lacking some context. Generally, complaining about a lack of context is something done when the context would change the meaning, whereas in this case, the context leaves the statement still accurate — unless “misleading” and “leaving out detail” have come to mean the same thing.
 

“The Legislature and the Governor did that 15 years ago: they returned the expected surpluses to the taxpayers,” Dayton said. “Within two years, those surpluses disappeared. It’s taken us over a decade to recover from those mistakes.”
 
It’s time for a history lesson.

…READ MORE

{ 3 comments }

Weeper of the House, John Boehner
It Ain’t Easy Being John Boehner

“Uh, Mr. President, where are the jobs?” Speaker of the House John Boehner

 

“Right in front of your swollen red nose, Yellowboy,” President Obama

 

One reason I write for this blog is because Big Media seems to have no long-term memory from which to provide perspective. In that respect, it’s kind of like voters.

 

At MNPP, at least we try to get something like perspective out there, if only for less imaginative mainstream media hacks to have something fresh to colonize. Call it professional courtesy.

 

Witness Big Media’s reaction to the latest jobs report for March: the economy — we are told — created “only” 126,000 jobs, which the mainstream media was quick to use for their nightly broadcast and website email teasers as a lead-in, and which went something like: “OMG! The jobs report for March was ONLY 126,000!! The economy must be tanking again! We’re doomed, DOOMED!!! Let’s all crap our pants!!!”

 

Even the venerable New York Times couldn’t resist giving the report a long shadow — U.S. Economy Gained 126,000 Jobs in March, an Abrupt Slowdown in Hiring. It did attribute the downturn in new jobs creation to an economy impacted by horrible spring weather and chronically low gas prices. But it didn’t say that the slowdown was likely to be temporary until the twelfth graph when the feeble news-desk editor who cleared the story deigned to allow this little gem for the sake of adding some perspective:

 

“It was lower than expectations, without a doubt,” said Thomas E. Perez, the secretary of labor. “But I’ve always said that one month never makes a trend.”

Mr. Perez said that if someone told him last year, when the unemployment rate was 6.6 percent, that it would now be at 5.5 percent, “I would have said that’s an April Fool’s joke.”

Last year, the drop in the nation’s output that accompanied a harsh winter was followed by an unusually strong rebound in the spring. Job growth during that cold snap was also disappointing before surging ahead the rest of the year.

 

It’s that kind of 30,000 foot perspective that’s wanted in a story like this, but should be offered early, in the third or fourth graph, as opposed to a breathless, film-at-eleven dick teaser.

 

I know, I know. Adding balance and perspective to a news story which otherwise might be seen by the public as reflecting negatively on Obama, or the Democrats, or Godless Baby-killing Liberals (GBKL) in general, makes right-wing butt-hurt media trolls leap from their Barcalounger® Pegasus II™ 6-Position Recliners and scream, “Again with the liberal media bias! You f*kkers!” — a charge that, for inexplicable reasons, managing editors across the land seem to fear.

 

But why? Let’s remember that when Obama took office, there was a nationwide cadre of respected economists who said that the damage done to the economy was so severe it would take at least ten years to recover all the jobs lost and the Dow to once again top 11,000. And there was a lot of sentiment that with the enormous additional debt we’d incur trying to dig ourselves out of the hole we were in, the US could turn into a “zombie” economy alá Japan for another ten years after that. Instead, Obama’s policies created 12.1 million new private sector jobs in just 5 years and the Dow topped 11,000 on April 9, 2010, fully five years ago. The economy is growing at a healthy rate, maybe not gangbusters but the inflation rate is at 0%, the annual deficit has been cut by more than half, and real wages for American workers have begun to rise for the first time in decades.

 

Allz I’m sayin’ is there’s room for some perspective in the story, regardless of what a stringer of bushnesiac radcon coulter crackers have to say about it.

…READ MORE

{ 1 comment }

Don’t concern yourself with Strib polling

by Dan Burns on March 22, 2015 · 1 comment

schoolPerhaps you’ve seen this morning’s in the Star Tribune, purporting to show huge public support for “quality over seniority” in teacher layoffs. It’s a classic example of reducing a complex issue to a quick soundbite. Do you really think most parents would want to see their own kid’s beloved math teacher let go, because some newbie at a school with more privileged kids had those kids produce higher test scores?

 
Let’s be clear about what the education deformers want, here. “Quality” is to be “measured” by standardized test scores. This will force teachers to rote-drill students to the tests, rather than emphasize learning to think knowledgeably, rationally, creatively, and independently. Because if most kids grow up doing the latter, that spells longer-term doom for the plutocratic, warmongering status quo. Which is in fact what’s been going on for a while, and, obviously, said warmongering plutocrats are desperate to reverse that, no matter what vile, shameless means are employed.

 
It won’t surprise me if the rest of the week is devoted to poll questions like “Do you favor or oppose a gas tax increase?” and “Should the state refund the budget surplus?” Remember that if poll results other than “Who would you vote for if the election were held today?” mattered politically, this country’s policies would overwhelmingly reflect the progressive agenda that the public massively supports. And the MN GOP is still probably going to get crushed in 2016, and there’s nothing Glen Taylor’s Strib can do about that. Though he’ll make sure it keeps trying.
 
Comments below fold.
 
…READ MORE

{ 1 comment }