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A Second American Civil War for Independence Day

by Eric Ferguson on July 3, 2018 · 1 comment

Artist's conception. Not actually an Alex Jones listener

Artist’s conception. Not actually an Alex Jones listener

I first heard verbally that the nutcase right had a new conspiracy theory that liberals are going to start a civil war on July 4th, which as I write this, is tomorrow. Damn, I haven’t even dug out my musket and bayonet yet! Anyway, I found the source, the source of so many tinfoil hat conservative conspiracy theories, Alex Jones (hat tip Johnny Wendell at Daily Kos).

Sane people know not to believe any of the craziness Alex Jones spews, but many trumpers believe him, including the Russian President of the United States, Trump. I don’t know what is more disturbing, that Trump and other bigoted lunatics believe him no matter how many times he’s proven to be making it up, or that some of them seem to want a new civil war. There’s an element of the extreme right that doesn’t want to start it, not because they don’t want it, but rather because everyone is the hero in his own story, which means they want us to start it. Mocking them is much more fun and much less deadly, so no. Hey guys, how are we going to start a war when you have all the guns? Could you share? Just to make the odds more even?

Of course, the Confederacy did get impatient waiting for the Union to invade and just went ahead and started the first civil war, so maybe best not to encourage them.


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MN-08: Chip Cravaack and public broadcasting

by Dan Burns on October 6, 2012 · 1 comment

Daily Kos is basing a fundraising drive for targeted House races on Mitt Romney’s Big Bird comment from the debate. Somebody remembered this.

“It is small, but the small ones add up. A bunch of drops in the bucket fill the pail,” said Chip Cravaack of cutting NPR’s federal dollars out of the entire budget. “We can’t keep on funding programs that are on [our children’s] dime, we have to stop. We have to look for savings anywhere we can.”

This from a consistent supporter of more tax cut welfare government handouts for the super-rich.  Of course, his own lifestyle is indicative of personal aspirations in that direction.  The man knows the middle class’s struggles, all right.

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A bit of patriotism and a bit of fun

by Eric Ferguson on July 5, 2012 · 0 comments

Earlier today, Big E posted the text of the Declaration of Independence. It was common in the early days of the republic for Independence Day celebrations to include a reading of the Declaration, perhaps reflecting a time when many more people were illiterate, and when oratory was an admired skill rather than one of those signals of liberal elite untrustworthiness. NPR has an annual tradition of having their staff read it during Morning Edition, and here is this year’s. Or here is this year’s:

That’s the patriotism, and now here’s the fun: one of dumber right wing lies disintegrating quickly, not that being shown blatantly false is likely to stop them from repeating it. Guess where Obama spent Independence Day?
Would you believe he spent it in France attending a fundraiser? You wouldn’t? Good for you, but the conservative media believed it, or at least got a kick out of passing it on.

Obama had to be somewhere though, right? Right: in America, presiding over a naturalization ceremony for active duty military personnel.

Here’s Ezra Klein reporting on the decision of conservative media to report but not check, in which Klein shows his sources, and below is the actual ceremony in case anyone holds out hope Klein was lying.

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Gary Knell assumes the office of President and CEO of National Public Radio today.  As I listened to the piece describing NPR’s situation relating to Congress, it sounded like NPR will be becoming more conservative to appease Republicans who will hate them regardless of what they do.  Republicans only desire is to entirely stop funding NPR and Knell’s job sounds like a thankless and fruitless task.

Knell succeeds Vivian Schiller, who resigned under pressure in March after a former NPR fundraiser was caught on camera calling the tea party racist. The episode led some conservatives to call for an end to federal funding for NPR, but Congress ultimately retained the funds as part of a budget deal in April.

Schiller was also criticized for firing analyst Juan Williams over comments he made about Muslims.

Juan Williams is a horrifically awful journalist and the Tea Party is demonstrably racist.  The NPR exec got suckered into a James O’Keefe/Andrew Breitbart scam in which Breitbart and Co. released heavily edited snippets.  NPR never fought back.  Mainly because their funding depends upon the teabagger minority in the US House of Representatives.  The teabagger minority becomes the piper that will be calling NPR’s tune.

Like when NPR stopped doing investigative reporting after Archer-Daniels-Midland became a major donor (NPR busted ADM for corruption back in the early 90s), I expect NPR’s reporting to rapidly go downhill to the low, low standards of CNN.  

Expect many false equivalencies between Democrats and Republicans.  Also expect NPR to let Republicans lie more often without push back or any analysis of their truthfulness or accuracy.

[NOTE: I’ve been a long-time member of MPR]


NPR CEO forced out today

by JeffStrate on March 9, 2011 · 2 comments

Reuters (and other news services) report this morning that dissing comments uttered by National Public Radio (NPR) senior fund raiser Ron Schiller about the Tea Party have prompted the “resignation” of NPR President  and CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation).  An NPR insider has reportedly told Reuters that Ms. Schiller was forced out by the NPR board.  (more below the fold).

Ron Schiller was secretly taped by covert conservative operatives pretending to be possible donors during a meeting.

I here plead that Joe Bodell and the Big E not fire themselves for their own takes on the Tea Party and to go easy on the rest of their irregular platoon of blogging buccaroos  with similar opine.  I do recommend you all give yourselves a 20% raise in MPP salary for shining the torch were some remain afraid to.
Heres the link to the Reuters report:…

As of 11:00 a.m. today here’s what that report says:

Reuters) – The head of National Public Radio resigned on Wednesday after the organization’s chief fund-raiser was secretly videotaped criticizing conservatives and questioning whether NPR needs its government funding.

The resignation of president and chief executive officer Vivian Schiller came as Republicans in Congress, some of whom have long opposed what they see as NPR’s liberal bias, were targeting public broadcasting as an area for budget cuts.

On Tuesday, senior fund-raising executive Ron Schiller, no relation to the CEO, quit after being taped making disparaging remarks about members of the conservative Tea Party movement during a private lunch with conservative activists posing as potential donors.

A statement from the chairman of the NPR board of directors, Dave Edwards, said the news of Vivian Schiller’s departure coincided with “a traumatic period for NPR and the larger public radio community.”

Edwards’ statement said the board accepted her resignation “with understanding, genuine regret and great respect for her leadership.” NPR’s media reporter, however, sent a tweet saying that Schiller was forced out by the board.

NPR has been campaigning to retain its federal funding as Congress seeks deep cuts in many areas to address a huge budget deficit.

NPR says only about two percent of its revenue comes from federal funding, through grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and federal agencies like the Departments of Education and Commerce.


Don’t be caught by the global warming quiz

by Eric Ferguson on December 11, 2010 · 0 comments

In a recent Quick Hit, TonyAngelo linked to a Science Friday interview with Rep. Bob Inglis, accused by other Republicans of crossing to “Satan’s side” for accepting global warming is real. I’m actually looking at the introduction to the interview, where host Ira Flatow talked about a survey on global warming where most respondents got the answers wrong, and read three questions.

I thought these questions were just a bit tricky, and actually I have an argument with one of them. Here they are so at a minimum, if those of you reading this ever get surveyed, you’ll look like the smart ones.

True or false: The Earth’s climate is warmer now than it’s ever been. Is it warmer now than it’s ever been? The majority of the 2,000 people surveyed said true, but that’s false.

My quibble here is you have to catch “ever”. It’s easy to fill in the phrase “warmest year ever” or “warmest decade ever” which we hear with some frequency, but that means on record, not going back to when Earth was molten, when it was a bit toastier than now. It was warmer when the dinosaurs were still around (and I don’t mean the defenders of DADT). So what? The climate is changing now, so fast that changes that usually take millennia are happening in decades. For species living in the climate as its been the last several hundred thousand years, the temperatures tolerated by triceratops just isn’t relevant. I guess in hindsight that’s more than a quibble. Best move on to number two.

Actually, I’ll move on to number three, since I have an argument with two and that will take a bit:

Number three. What’s contributed more to rising sea levels so far? Is it A) melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean; or B) warmer ocean temperatures. Sea ice, melting sea ice, or warmer ocean temperatures.

When you hear “Arctic” and “melting sea ice”, did you think “polar”? Did you think only of the Arctic Ocean and not Greenland or Antarctica? Strictly speaking, sea ice doesn’t raise sea level for the same reason melting ice cubes don’t make your drink overflow the glass. Water does expand as it warms, so the warming ocean does raise sea level. It may not be an effect you can see in your bath tub or drinking glass (after the ice cubes melted) but given the volume of water in the ocean, sea level is rising from the increasing temperature.

However, anyone who hears “melting sea ice” and thinks “polar” has a point, because it’s not like sea ice is melting while Antarctica and Greenland stay frozen, and ice over land definitely adds to sea level as it reaches the ocean. Moreover, hearing that melting sea ice doesn’t raise sea level could lead to thinking melting sea ice isn’t a problem when it’s a big problem, and not just for Arctic wildlife. The ice reflects sunlight and helps lower global temperature, while the open ocean is darker and absorbs heat, creating one of the feedbacks that make it tough to predict just how fast changes will happen. So the question isn’t wrong, but it does go in the wrong direction.

Now the one I argue with:

Number two. True or false: Banning aerosol spray cans worldwide will help reduce global warming. Most people thought so, but the answer is no.

The answer is yes, but I get what they’re getting at. Ozone depletion and global warming are often conflated by the general public, but they’re two different problems, and they don’t affect each other. Mostly. The pollsters would have been a lot better off asking the straightforward question, “are global warming and ozone depletion the same thing?”

The main culprits in ozone depletion are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which used to be used in aerosol cans, and their use has been drastically reduced, which is why ozone depletion is no longer an urgent issue. However, CFCs are greenhouse gases too. They’re not major greenhouse gases, no, and without the carbon dioxide we keep pumping into the atmosphere, we wouldn’t care that CFCs are greenhouse gases. The ozone layer would be long gone before temperatures would start rising.

It goes the other way too, in that global warming worsens ozone depletion. The effect might be too small to worry about, but it’s there. Greenhouse gasses trap heat in the troposphere, so less heat gets up into the stratosphere, where the ozone layer is. Ozone becomes less stable at lower temperatures, so while carbon dioxide doesn’t destroy ozone, it does make the ozone layer more vulnerable.

My argument is that by this strict definition, the people who got it wrong actually got it right. It’s almost like the pollsters wanted to add confusion instead of clarification.

That might not matter if we were all rational people who enjoy science and just want facts, but deniers are looking for anything they can take out of context and mischaracterize. “See, they can’t even agree on whether these problems are connected or not.” We’re dealing with people who are looking for the thread of uncertainty that can be pulled to unravel all of climate science. We’re dealing with people so willing to use an over-generalization in the news media to make their point, that they still point to news magazine articles on global cooling from the 1970’s to prove scientists have no idea. These dodgy survey questions just play into their hands.


What Is the True Nature Of The Fox News Network?

by SJGulitti on October 25, 2010 · 0 comments

The recent firing of Juan Williams by NPR for comments made on the Fox News and his affiliation with that network has created an interesting sidebar to this now all too familiar affair. The renewed scrutiny of NPR for its alleged liberal bias has resulted in an interesting byproduct. That byproduct is an increased level of attention now being paid to Fox, its parent the News Corp., and its wealthy conservative CEO, Rupert Murdoch.

The practice of allowing candidates to solicit campaign contributions while appearing on Fox News is a significant departure from what is generally considered television news broadcasting. Mr. Murdoch has abided this practice along with his own well-publicized million dollar contributions to Republican campaign organizations and other efforts to promote positions on the far right. That raises a fundamental question: Is Fox a legitimate news organization or has it morphed into something between a news organ and a political action operation even to the point of being considered a shill?  
A shill is defined as: “a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.” A political action committee is defined as:”a type of political committee organized to spend money for the election or defeat of a candidate.” Mr. Murdoch has a record of promoting conservative ideas no matter what the cost. He has continued to prop up the conservative “The New York Post” in spite of its staggering losses to the tune of between $15 million to $30 million. According to Business Week magazine: “The Post has lost so much money for so long that it would have folded years ago if News Corp. applied the same profit-making rigor to the tabloid as it does to its other businesses.” What then is the purpose of the continued support of a newspaper the commentary of which often resembles old-fashioned agitprop? There can only be one logical explanation and it’s because the Post represents Mr. Murdoch’s primary organ for presenting the conservative line in what is one of the bluest regions in the country and he is willing to spend whatever it takes to do so.

The argument that Fox News has become somewhat of a political operation is more than apparent when one examines the following evidence. Former Ohio Republican Congressman and now candidate for Governor, John Kasich, appearing during prime time on “Hannity” was given time to solicit campaign contributions while on the air saying:” If you have extra nickels or dimes, please send it our way.” According to Brian Stelter of the New York Times this is not the first time Kasich has used an appearance on Fox to raise money for his campaign. Quoting Stelter: “The channel was the subject of an election complaint in Ohio because Mr. Kasich was able to ask for money and display his Web site address during an interview in August on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox’s biggest prime time talk show. Mr. Kasich used to host a weekend show on Fox, and Mr. Murdoch has called him a friend.” Moreover Stelter points out that Fox employees have engaged in more direct political action both on and off the air: “Sometimes the most outspoken of the Fox hosts go out and raise money directly. Mr. Hannity has headlined several fund-raisers for Republicans this year. And just last week, Mr. Beck donated $10,000 to the U. S. Chamber of Commerce to defend it against criticism from President Obama – and challenged his radio listeners to donate as well.”  Beyond these various forms of political action is the fact that several likely candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination are presently on the Fox payroll or regularly appear on the network, including Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.

When you look across the political spectrum to Fox’s chief rivals: MSNBC, CNN and NPR you see several object lessons in how competing news organizations have different values. Political action at MSNBC, for example, is much more constrained, to the point that there is very little deviation from what could considered legitimate news reporting and commentary. Again quoting Stelter: “All this political activity has spurred at least a little bit of hand-wringing at the channels. NBC News, which operates MSNBC, recently reiterated its rule that employees may not engage in political activity, but said it had carved out an exception for some MSNBC hosts.” To date whatever exceptions exist at MSNBC, they are not even remotely close to the on the air solicitation of funds, public activities related to fund raising by network commentators or the employment of prospective presidential candidates on the network’s payroll which is presently the case at Fox. At NPR political activity of any variety is virtually nonexistent. In the final analysis what we have witnessed at Fox News is the evolution of a news organization into something beyond what is commonly considered political reporting and commentary into something short of a political action committee, a sort of quasi-political news organ if you will. That said shouldn’t the Fox News Network scrub the subtitle of “Fair and Balanced” from its headline banner seeing as it can no longer legitimately make that claim in light of the fundamental transformation that has taken place within the Fox organization?

Steven J. Gulitti


Two Takes at NPR and Fox on Juan Williams;…

Candidates Running Against, and With, Cable News;…

The New York Post: Profitless Paper In Relentless Pursuit;…


Daniel Schorr has signed off

by JeffStrate on July 24, 2010 · 0 comments

Daniel Schorr has left us.  Known to most as National Public Radio’s furrow-voiced, senior political commentator, Mr. Schorr had much earlier helped define and then was guided by the highest of  journalistic standards at the New York Times, CBS News, CNN and NPR.

For archival audio air checks and tributes  visit WNYC Radio’s website at

For a wrap that goes back to Schorr’s youth in the Bronx, visit the New York Times at…


Mud Soup

by The Big E on July 9, 2009 · 0 comments

Fresh soup tonight.  I won’t forget to serve it to you hot.  Woo.

Dave Mindeman reads Miss Hairdo so you don’t have to.

Liberal in the Land of Conservative:  Marty Seifert answers questions about the Laura Brod smears.

Aaron Brown has some news about the company trying to build the biggest boondoggle on the Iron Range.  They’re changing their name.  Aaron also has some not helpful news about Tom Bakk helping promote this boondoggle.

More about NPR looking really bad.

Winerev’s final post, his 157th, on the MN Senate recount/election contest/appeal.  Wow.  I’m still amazed by his herculean effort.

Arizona State Senator claims the earth is 6,000 years old.

Karl Rove was deposed for 8.5 hours over US Attorney firing scandal.


April Fools? Norm Coleman off the FBI hook?

by The Big E on April 2, 2009 · 4 comments

I awoke this morning to the news on MPR that Eric Holder, US Attorney General, will be letting former Senator Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens completely off the hook.  While it occurred to me that this might be a practical joke as it is April Fool’s Day, this appears to be real news.  I immediately thought of the repercussions to Minnesota’s very own most corrupt former Senator.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. However, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

While Holder is disgusted that the prosecuting attorney withheld information from the defense, he also cited other factors which I find disheartening.  Will the trend of the political elite not facing justice continue?

With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. His decision is said to be based on Stevens’ age – he’s 85 – and the fact that Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most important, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.
(my emphasis)

Would the Obama Deparment of Justice consider ignoring Coleman’s corruption because he’s no longer in the Senate?  Will this trend the political elite living under different laws than the rest of us continue?