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30 Minutes with Ken Martin

by JeffStrate on January 13, 2017 · 0 comments

State DFL Chair Ken Martin and Tim O’Brien take measure of the 2016 election and the future of Democrats in Minnesota and the nation on this half hour Democratic Visions special. Martin and DFL Vice Chair Marge Hoffa took office in 2011 and are seeking a third term as DFL Party leads. Martin and Hoffa have a campaign website.


As of the publication of this post, only former State DFL Associate Chair Donna Cassutt (2005-2011) is challenging Martin. Cassutt served with state party Chair Brian Melendez who announced his retirement two days after the guberantorial vote recount that confirmed in December 2010 Mark Dayton’s win.   Cassutt has a campaign venue on Facebook.


Democratic Visions is an independent community access CableTV and internet program handcrafted by southwest suburban, lefty volunteers. I’m in my ninth year of producing the thing.



Mike Gelfand has long been the metro area’s most edgy and humorous sports and political scold. Although “Stretch” no longer splashes vinegar on KQ’s Morning Show, he podcasts on Mondays and Fridays at about 1:15 p.m. on Bob Sansevere’s “The BS Show” at   Mike occasionally supports Democratic Visions, in its Quixiotic mission to rescue local lefties from the pundits, snoozers and wonkers of Almanac, Esme and AM950.


Gelfand welcomed me to his St. Louis Park backyard a few days after the Democrats left Philadelphia for the two of us to co-anchor the edition of Democratic Visions that would need to slog through the dog days of August and the annual plague of State Fair boosterism.


The two of us introduce an exclusive, 1988 interview I conducted with legendary WCCO-TV newsman, Dave Moore in Loring Park. Dave comments about the silliness of TV news, his then diminishing anchor role at Channel 4, the notable news magazines and documentaries that he fronted, and the fondly remembered “The Bedtime Newz,” an occasional TV news send-up that Moore confesses was not that good.


Our August initiative also includes a post Hillary nomination remix of the Junk Yard Democrats’ rippingly fun cover of “Who Let the Dogs Out” (now sporting Bernie and Hillary cameos) and  humorist Jon Spayde, in the guise of his “Professor of Negativity” character, ruminating about campus political activism and passing snippy judgement on several local colleges and one infamous, national, for profit, online University.


Regulars and staff of the Golden Leaf Tobacco gathered for the cigar lounge's wake on July 22nd, its last night of operation. Photo by Mohamud Mumin/Copywright 2016.

Regulars and staff of Golden Leaf Tobacco gathered for the cigar lounge’s wake on July 22nd, its last night of operation. Photo by Mohamud Mumin, Copyright 2016.

The half hour, however, begins with my brief eulogy of Golden Leaf Tobacco, the Minneapolis premium, cigar sampling lounge that operated on Lake Street between Bryant and Colfax Avenues. Until it closed its doors on July 22, “The Leaf” was the kind of institution to which Damon Runyon would have assigned his Underwood Six typewriter. During my three years of visits, The Golden Leaf was an ever changing, collegial carnival of the successful, wounded, thoughtful, entrepreneurial and humorous; of the NHL /MLB/ NFL flatscreen addicted; of the informed and ignorant of American politics, business, literature, cinema, cigars and food. For me, it made life during these strained political times – survivable. And I could read books with paper pages while savoring a hand-rolled cigar un-interrupted by drunks and waiters.


Here’s the link again.



Democratic Visions On cableTV


Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 —
Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.


Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.


Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.
Program is lived streamed during airings


Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Community Channel 15 — Thursdays 2 p.m. For other times see schedule


Democratic  Visions is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington.  Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.


Corporatocracy and the State Auditor

by Invenium Viam on June 8, 2015 · 1 comment

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end.

I’ll never look into your eyes, again.

                                      The End, the Doors



“Two people went into a back room in the middle of the night, behind closed doors, and made some decisions,” State Auditor Rebecca Otto told Eric Eskola and Cathy Wurzer on Almanac last friday night. “And so only those two people know why they did it. … This is about trying to strip and gut a constitutional office … that is the people’s office.”


It’s also about stripping Minnesota Senators, duly elected by their constituencies, of their legislative powers.


It’s also about stripping the power of self-government from the people — who elected those Senators to their Constitutional offices — to choose the kind of state government they want by electing people to represent their well-being and interests at the seat of government.


And it’s about a brazen corporate power-grab of the powers of a constitutional office that answers directly to the taxpayers for how money is spent and how the business of government is conducted.


This, friends, is what a corporatocracy looks like. Did you think that when it came is would look like the Hollywood dystopia of Logan’s Run, or of Blade Runner? It will never look like that.


It will look like what we’re seeing in this covert attack on the State Auditor’s office: the loss of self-government to powerful moneyed interests.


Think about that for a minute. Two individuals took it upon themselves to circumvent the processes of government, to bypass the Minnesota Senate, and to thwart the will of the people who elected them, thereby to achieve purposes that are detrimental to the residents and taxpayers of the state.


At least now we know from the Star-Tribune story posted Sunday, June 7, who the two malefactors are: House Majority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Strib reporter Ricardo Lopez had this to say about it:

Approved by the House, the measure — which would gut the role of the state auditor, Democrat Rebecca Otto — had never been heard in the Senate. Yet that night, Sens. Sandy Pappas and Jim Carlson, leaders of that bill’s conference committee, were being instructed by Bakk’s chief of staff, Tom Kukielka, to approve the controversial change.


“Do it,” Kukielka said, according to one senator’s recollection of the conversation. Pappas and Carlson told the Star Tribune that Daudt and Kukielka had insisted the change was a crucial part of top leadership’s final agreement. [emphasis mine]


And while Rebecca Otto, speaking in the person of State Auditor, may have been unable to ascribe motivations to the pair, former State Auditor and later Governor Arne Carlson in his blog post Raw Politics and the Office of State Auditor was less reluctant in his willingness to call a spade a spade:

Now, why would Senate Democrat leadership accept a Republican proposal to virtually eliminate the office of the State Auditor which is held by a Democrat incumbent?


The answer likely has little to do with the issue of privatizing the office by permitting local government to contract out their audits and all to do with the incumbent’s stance on mining leases and, particularly, the proposed copper mine located in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. It should be remembered that in addition to an audit responsibility which charges the State Auditor with oversight of the more than 20 billion dollars spent by local governments, the State Auditor also serves as a constitutional officer elected by the people of Minnesota. As such, she serves on the State Executive Council, the State Board of Investment (pension investments), Land Exchange Board, and a variety of other state boards. One major issue that regularly arises is the management of state lands including the issuances of mining leases.


In politics as in life, the simplest answer is probably the right one. Arne Carlson has been around politics a long, long time. And while State Auditor Rebecca Otto is right that only the two individuals who entered that room at 3:00 a.m. in the dark of night can know what words were spoken between them, it’s clear that their motivations must have proceeded from an equally dark intent — one not meant to see the light of day. Otherwise, why did the House and Senate leaders feel the need to sequester themselves so completely, so that not even their aides and the committee chairs could know what was said? Could it be, merely, as Daudt claims, to rubber stamp a set of budgetary provisions (see esp. Sec. 3. [6.481] COUNTY AUDITS.) already approved by the House? Could it be as innocent, as Bakk claims, as allowing the remaining counties in the state to conduct their own private audits as 28 others are now doing and as requested by the League of Minnesota Counties — a claim now disputed by that organization’s spokesmen?


As former Governor of Louisiana and former US Senator Huey Long liked to say, “That dog don’t hunt.” Was that set of provisions in the budget bill really worth circumventing the entire Minnesota Senate and the voters who elected them? Was it worth forcing the budget committee leaders to include the language in a bill they knew had not been vetted by their colleagues? Is it worth gutting a constitutional office that is one of the pillars of good government in Minnesota and a defender of the taxpayers interests nationally recognized for excellence?


Could something as simple and innocent as what is being claimed by the two majority leaders really be worth all that? And is it worth the fight that Speaker Daudt is now making to keep the language in the budget bill regardless of the Governor’s demands that it be excised and ignoring the warnings of legal scholars that the provisions are not constitutional?


No, it doesn’t pass the smell test. There’s surely a hidden agenda here. It seems much more likely that there were promises and offers made that weren’t in the best interests of the people of Minnesota, but were in the interests of a few power brokers at the capitol, otherwise the thing would never have been done the way it was. We may never know what those promises and offers were, but we can be sure that they are the prime movers working behind the scenes of this debacle.


This is not what Democracy looks like. But it is what Corporatocracy looks like. Be warned.
Comments below fold.

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Memorial Day ~ A True ‘Theft of Valor’

by Invenium Viam on May 24, 2015 · 0 comments


For some, the grief is forever.

Call him drunken Ira Hayes,
He won’t answer any more.
Not the whiskey-drinking Indian,
Nor the Marine who went to war.

The Ballad of Ira Hayes — recorded by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan
& others; written by Peter La Farge


Speaking as a veteran on Memorial Day, you might indulge me as I voice a couple of gripes about this day and the absurdity it has become.


First, I hate the commercialization. Everywhere you look, there’s a Memorial Day Sale. Every fast food joint is trying to cash-in on the long holiday weekend while insinuating some kind of quasi-patriotism by “free” offers to active military and veterans including free “Freedom” Fries at Wendy’s, free boneless chicken wings at Hooters, and a free “All American Burger” at Shoney’s.


I hate the fact that to take advantage of the free stuff on offer vets have to show a military ID or discharge papers, because others who never served a day in uniform have taken advantage. I hate the thought that a homeless vet who might actually need a square meal, but who doesn’t have his sh*t together enough to lay hands on his discharge papers, could be denied a hot dinner because the fraudulent among us have kept him from it.


Hooters Tribute

For others, it’s a way to turn a quick buck.

I hate the thought that the rank commercialism I see all around me is a means for businesses, from profit motives, to cynically exploit America’s honored dead. If the offers were really meant out of a sense of patriotic gratitude, as opposed to exploiting a commercial opportunity, why not simply provide meal coupons to the VA clinics and hospitals, and/or the veteran’s support and social services organizations, where they can be distributed to needy veterans whose needs are known to the staff, as opposed to putting the onus on the vet to prove that he’s a vet?


Or is the real purpose simply to put butts in seats over the long Memorial Day weekend that serves as a kind of Kick-off to Summer? I hope that’s not the case, because someone would have to be a real low-life — I mean like a low-life maggot child molester — to do something as inherently wicked and insensitive as that. And allow me to include the advertising agencies who take part.


I hate the fact that free stuff is offered to living veterans on Memorial Day at all. Veteran’s Day is different. On Veteran’s Day we honor living veterans. So honor the vets on Veteran’s Day with as much free stuff as you like. But on Memorial Day, we honor our dead. And dead veterans don’t need your free stuff. They don’t even need your gratitude. They just need your respect. It would be far better to give free stuff to the surviving spouses and children of dead veterans, who are no longer there to protect and support the families they once loved — because they gave their lives for the country they once loved.


It seems to me far more patriotic for a restaurant owner to offer a free meal on Memorial Day to 10 dead veteran’s families, as opposed to 100 living veterans, or to provide a $10,000 scholarship fund for a veteran’s children, as opposed to spending $10,000 in loss leaders and advertising to promote a business. It would be far more patriotic for a hotel owner to offer a surviving wife or husband with young children a 3-day vacation in a poolside room with free room service and cable movies. The surviving spouse probably needs a vacation with his or her spouse dead and gone. That, to me, would be honoring the dead veteran, by supporting his or her living kin. I doubt anything of the kind will ever happen, though. Because that would actually be charitable, as opposed to being exploitive of our service dead like some kind of shameless moral degenerate.


I hate the fact that veterans themselves have been suckered by all the quasi-patriotic media frenzy into ostentatious displays of having served. There was a time when veterans served their terms of enlistment and then went home to get on with their lives, to raise families, and to help build their communities with quiet dignity. There was a tradition of maintaining a reserved demeanor about having served. Nobody made a lot of noise about it. There was no such thing as the modern crime of ‘Theft of Valor’ (punishable under statute, as if such a thing were even possible), because no one would consider parading themselves around falsely as war heroes. On every block in my neighborhood growing up, there were a half-dozen war heroes. Most were untouched by combat. Some bore the scars of burned flesh, a disfigured face, missing fingers, or shattered limbs.



Lance-Cpl. Ira Hayes

Others bore scars unseen, whose suffering was less apparent, the men like Ira Hayes who live amongst us. They suffered the horrors of war in silence, unable to pour out of their heads the sights, sounds and smells of combat that had once poured in. Those veterans, whose sense-memories had been etched forever by the high-octane adrenalin of combat, could forget nothing and suffered a private inner hell replete with private demons. They tried to kill those demons with whiskey and pain pills. They might have wished they themselves had died in combat. Instead, they met less prosaic ends: frozen dead to their porch steps, impaled on the steering column of the family car in a head-on collision with a bridge abuttment, or with their brains hanging from a dank basement ceiling. We do not judge them because we cannot judge them. We can only include them among our honored dead.


I hate the fact that politicians have politicized military service, have attempted to colonize the political “moral highground” by showy and noisy displays of support for the military services and for veterans. I hate their loud, obnoxious, breast-beating condemnations over the sins of those less pretentious, less classless, and less overwrought than themselves in their supposed “gratitude” towards those who have served. I hate the fact that political leaders attempt to equate the sacrifice of our veterans, and in particular our honored dead, with support for their political ideology, religious values, world view, foreign policy, domestic policy, and racial or tribal identities. The typical condition of a combat infantry soldier is cold, tired, hungry, wet and scared. At other times, he’s hot, thirsty, hungry, tired and scared. Whatever his current condition, I can guarantee that the only thing on his mind is when he’ll next be dry, warm, rested, well-fed and safe. No one who stands a watch in the dark of night ever thinks about the merits of this or that political ideology. And it seems a safe bet to me that not one among our honored dead ever felt his sacrifice was only for white people, or only for black people, only for Christians or Jews, only for Republicans or Democrats, only for Protestants, or only for Catholics.


The sacrifice of those honored dead we Americans memorialize was a sacrifice for the rights, the freedoms and the dignity of all Americans. Flag-draping politicians who attempt to pervert the meaning of their sacrifice to the service of political expediency should be shouted down and vilified in the public arena as the low-life maggots they truly are. And while I think it’s fine to make money in business, to exploit the sacrifice of those we memorialize, to seek competitive advantage and gain by capitalizing on the day we’ve set aside in remembrance, that’s what I would call a true ‘Theft of Valor.’ Those who engage in such behavior need to be denounced.


We need to recover our sense of national identity and national purpose. The more that demagogues use military service and veterans in attempting to claim a distinctive class of patriotism, and to meanwhile drive divisions between us, the more loudly we should object. We need to call attention to those who exploit the sacrifice of America’s honored dead for political gain, or for profit. The sacrifice of those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” should be regarded, as Lincoln declared at Gettysburg, as a sacred secular act — one consecrated “far above our poor power to add or detract” and one that should be protected by law from exploitation for commercial purposes.


We could begin by reminding the nation that our honored dead represent all of America: all colors, all religions, all regions, all economic backgrounds, all ethnic backgrounds, every state and every territory. Just once, I’d like to see a President in office issue a call to the American Indian first nations to send their representatives to Washington in a great Memorial Day convocation, to bring with them their service banners bearing the symbols of their nations and the names of their honored dead, our American honored dead among the Indian peoples. It would be an object lesson in the truth of our motto E Pluribus Unum for those who think their skin color or heritage accords them a special place in American life.


Some might call that a special consideration shown a minority group at the expense of the white majority. But I would call it an overdue recognition of the service and sacrifice of some of our fellow Americans, whose contribution in the nation’s defense over many generations — in fact, from the very foundations of this Republic — isn’t well known and for some Americans isn’t known at all. It would also serve as a move toward reconciliation of past grievances and injury among brothers at arms and a recognition of our shared history and shared love for the nation.


I have but little hope that anything of the kind will ever happen. Instead, I have real fear that this day will continue to devolve into an orgy of commercialism and politics and it’s true meaning and purpose will be smothered by unending greed and ambition.


not sure cartoon

But I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

“So from today forward, YOU are the language police. From today forward, these are the words NEVER to say again.” Dr. Frank Luntz, author of The Luntz Republican Playbook


For some time now, I’ve been advocating that Democrats and other progressive leaders take a page from the Republicans and start using more effective language when they give interviews to reporters and talk to voters. For some reason, no one seems too interested.


Maybe it’s because nobody much cares what I think, which is only reasonable I guess. Or maybe they don’t like the idea of copying Republicans. Or maybe they think that adapting the terminology you use in communicating with others is somehow dishonest. Although anyone with a brain routinely adapts their terminology when speaking to children, parents, spouses, bosses, cops and judges.


On the outside chance that they just need some concrete examples of what I’m talking about, the following ten items are Dr. Luntz’s recommendations to Republicans about words never to use, with some of his suggested alternatives, and some of my suggested alternatives.


1. Never say ‘capitalism.’ Instead say ‘free market economy.’

Agreed. Democrats should never say ‘capitalism’ either. At least, not without modifiers. Instead, use the term ‘zombie capitalism’ or, even better, ‘bandit capitalism’ whenever we refer to the Big banks, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Wall Street and all multinational corporations of any stripe. Everybody hates those guys anyway, so most people are happy to have you compare them to the mindless undead and criminal marauders. When the opposition refers glibly to a ‘free market economy,’ remind your audience that Republicans hate government regulation, so what they really have in mind is an unregulated free market economy, which is just another term for bandit capitalism.


Then use the opening to drive a wedge between the Greedheads and the Bible-toters by re-purposing the story of the loaves and fishes as a capitalist morality tale. A Capitalist Jesus would have made a killer profit selling the same loaves and fishes over and over again to the starving multitude … sort of like tranches in CDO derivatives. Then, according to Republican economic theory, otherwise known as magical thinking, His Holy Windfall Profits would miraculously trickle down to the poor. Instead, Jesus TOOK the property of successful members of the starving multitude and GAVE IT to others less thrifty and disciplined like some kind of early socialist. And, really, how Christian is that?


2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, say that government ‘takes from the rich.’

Agreed. Except that Democrats should say that government ‘takes from everyone‘ — not just the rich — and that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike … but it falls more on the fat man than the skinny man. Because he’s fat.


3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers’ instead.

Agreed. Republicans should forget about winning the battle for the middle class, because their policies since Reagan have driven more half of the middle class into the lower class and in that sense the GOP has already won that battle.


Democrats should point this out constantly. And Democrats should always use terms like ‘the shrinking middle class’ and ‘the middle class in crisis.’ Another good meme to use would be ‘Republican successes in their War on the Middle Class have resulted in one-third of all American children now living in poverty, one-fifth of American households are now food insecure, etc.’ All of these are good alternative constructions for the very good reason that they also happen to be true.


4. Don’t talk about ‘jobs.’ Instead, talk about ‘careers.’

Agreed. Democrats should only talk about ‘careers’ too. We need to point out that during Republican administrations and their War on the Middle Class 30 million Americans who once had ‘careers’ got ‘jobbed’ by GOP policies based on trickle-down economics and outsourcing and many were given new careers as jobless and homeless people.


5. Don’t say ‘government spending.’ Call it ‘government waste.’

Correct. But Democrats should point out that Republicans think government waste includes mortgage-interest deductions for homeowners, income tax deductions for dependents, low-interest loans and grants for college students, veterans’ health care and education benefits, unemployment benefits for the jobless, health care and food support for children in poverty; and earned benefits like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly. Incidentally, Democrats should ALWAYS refer to the safety net programs as EARNED BENEFITS, never as entitlements, which Republicans use with robot-like consistently since it makes them sound like expensive government give-away’s that should be eliminated. Or at least privatized by their bandit capitalist friends on Wall Street.


Whenever someone in the media uses the term ‘entitlements,’ you should fix them with a withering glare and say, “Did you mean to say, Earned Benefits?”


6. Don’t ever say you’re willing to ‘compromise.’ Instead say you’re willing to ‘cooperate.’

Agreed. Democrats should never say that we are willing to compromise either. That’s chicken talk for girly men. We should say instead that we are willing to cooperate, but on the basis of mutual concessions (which is the same thing as compromise). Point out that to cooperate without making any concessions is what two tots throwing sand at each other from opposite sides of the sandbox do. Then say, “Without some concessions from Republicans, voters can expect continued polarization and gridlock.”


7. The three most important words you can say to a female voter is: ‘I hear you’ or ‘I get it.’

Absolutely right. But Democrats should go a bit further. First say, ‘I hear you.’ Then say, ‘I get it.’ Then — to avoid coming off as a vacuous, patronizing dink — say: “We need to work together to counter Republican policies of economic, social and gender violence in their unending War on Women.” Then cap it off with, “Count ME on YOUR side.” That’ll get ‘er done for ya.


8. Out: ‘Entrepreneur.’ In: ‘Job Creator.’

Right. Let’s everybody knock-off all that entrepreneur talk. It’s sounds way too brainy and French and possibly even sinful, like other things deemed “French” in American post-WWII vernacular. (Dear Lord, have those people no shame? Remember, God is always watching and sees everything you do, even when you’re sure no one is around.) Instead, Democrats should always refer to the ULTIMATE job creators — American consumers. Then use it as an opening to talk about the Republican’s successful War on the Middle Class. For example, “We know that Republicans are skilled job creators, because whenever they’re in power American wage-earners, small businesses, students and families all get thoroughly jobbed.”


9. Don’t ever ask anyone to ‘sacrifice.’

Correct. Terrible word that, sacrifice. We need to stop all that naughty bad talk about ‘sacrifice’ and instead talk only nice good talk about ‘succeeding’ and ‘success.’ For example, “We’re all in this together so it’s ONLY FAIR that we should all SUCCEED or fail together. That’s why we need to tax the bejeezuz out of the Investor Class, because for the last 35 years they’ve been SUCCEEDing beyond all dreams of avarice at the expense of the rest of us, who actually produce the goods and services we all use. For more than three decades there’s been a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle-class to the Investor Class. It’s long past time for the rest of us to do some SUCCEEDing too.”


10. Never say ‘government.’ Instead say, ‘Washington.’

Without doubt. We should say, “Republicans hate Washington. They want and expect Washington to fail. They work hard to make sure Washington fails. So sending a Republican to Washington is like giving an arsonist a gallon of gas and the keys to the Fire Station.”

From Eric Ferguson: I found Luntz’s book online. Apparently it had gotten around at first as just an image, and some bloggers transcribed it into a searchable PDF. Glancing through it, I noticed Luntz warning Republicans that 2006 could be as bad as 1986. At least some of his advice was ignored as I recall, and I also recall 2006 being worse for the GOP than 1986. I guess Republicans also haven’t worked out how to win midterms other than don’t be the presidential party.

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This just in from the conservative news source Newsmax:

“Clint Eastwood surprised many people recently by saying he agreed with critics who have attacked his Oscar-nominated film “American Sniper….”
 “As he was leaving a West Hollywood restaurant Monday night, Eastwood was asked by TMZ what he thought about the recent criticism by Moore and Maher.”
“They were right,” he said.”
“Did Clint Eastwood Just Agree with ‘American Sniper’ Critics?” a Daily Caller headline asked.

The answer appears to be that he does — to a point.



Clint Eastwood: To a Point, Moore, Maher Right in ‘Sniper’ Criticism;


The recent terror attacks in Paris thrust the issue of terrorism, its relation with Islam, and how to defeat it back into the forefront of national debate. At the same time, it has created a wave of reckless rhetoric on the far right. That rhetoric while not amounting to treason, or approaching sedition, certainly falls within the definition of defamation. Because we are engaged in a global war on terror, should we not challenge such rhetoric and question its intellectual and logical underpinnings or lack thereof? Should not the proponents of such rhetoric be taken to task?


Since the Paris attacks, there has been a near endless procession of articles and commentary that seeks to portray progressives, the mainstream media and the Obama administration as being muddled and confused in their thinking regarding the terror issue. Representative of this effort is Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly. In his nightly diatribe against all things progressive, he has portrayed all of the abovementioned parties as avoiding the central issues of Islamic terror. In his opinion, they collectively act as apologists for radical Islam. O’Reilly justifies his position by way of a simple argument. If you are not talking about Islam in connection with terror, specifically using the phrases “radical Islam” or “Islamic terror”, then you are not on topic. He states it is difficult to “convince left wing zealots” of the gravity of the issue at hand and that, these people put our security at risk. The administration is portrayed as lacking an orchestrated approach and a well-grounded strategy. Simply put, Obama is disengaged from the fight. O’Reilly regularly mocks the fact that most Muslims are not overtly prone to violence in spite of the fact that there have been empirical studies that refute his position. See M. Steven Fish: Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence referenced below. He insists to a fault that the White House and the mainstream media consistently misreport on issues related to terrorism. Moreover, they shy away from a full-throated endorsement of “free speech” by declining to reproduce the controversial cover from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Also appearing regularly on Fox is Neoconservative Steven Hayes of the Weekly Standard who believes that the Obama administration largely focuses on Al Qaeda because, “They don’t want to admit that they aren’t prosecuting the war on terror”, and that “Day after day the administration dances around the term “Islamic Terror” and it confuses everyone.”


Fox News is not the only national conservative news organ to have so heavily invested in this rhetorical exercise. Even the National Review, once the most prominent conservative periodical in the country, has charted a similar course.  Editor Richard Lowry: “The Obama administration’s mind-bogglingly determined refusal to say that we are at war with “radical Islam,” together with the left’s evasions about Islamic terrorism means that there has been a haze of euphemism and cowardice around what should be a galvanizing event in the West’s fight against terror.” The National Review’s Jonah Goldberg argues that those who avoid using the phrases “radical Islam” or “Islamic terror and instead use words like extremist and terrorist think that we are merely at war with “unspecified extremists.” Even MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough made the outlandish claim that “Christians don’t go out and kill 3000 people in a reference to September 11, 2001. Readers could go “down market” from here and find all manner of such commentary in the tabloids, on the blogosphere, on FaceBook and on Twitter.



A pundit free, post mid-term Democratic Visions

by JeffStrate on November 13, 2014 · 0 comments


Democratic Visions Producer Jeff Strate learns from The Theater for Public Policy Director Tane Danger that policy wanks can be funny.

Democratic Visions Producer Jeff Strate learns from The Theater for Public Policy Director Tane Danger that policy wonks can be funny on stage.  Photo by Ron Levitus.

The post mid-term election edition of Democratic Visions features no pundits, partisan strategists, Wednesday morning quarterbacks or smiley candidates. Instead, November’s Dem Vis sports humorously gifted wags, authors and theater types.


Tane Danger, director of The Theater of Public Policy, a sharp, improv comedy troupe; vinegary, retired drive time radio man Mike “Stretch” Gelfand, author Mary Stanik and humorist Jon Spayde help Minnesotans  figure out where we’re headed in our Mitch McConnell, Kurt Daudt, Paul Molitor and Sunday booze-buying futures.



Mr. Danger (that’s his real name – he’s a pastor’s kid with a Bush Foundation Fellowship at the U of MN’s Humphrey Institute not a punk rocker) wants you to know that The Theater of Public Policy has only two, election season shows remaining at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater on Lake Street at Bryant Avenue.


Minneapolis Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) joins T2P2 at 7 p.m., November 17 and MPR economics editor Chris Farell joins the company November 24, also at 7 p.m.


Should progressives go?   Well possums, Tommy Johnson and I saw retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson with T2P2 in October. The jurist, the jury improv comics and the menu at Bryant Lake Bowl got two, enthusiastic thumbs up from the Two Putter and myself.


Please find below links to current Democratic Visions segments and the programs cable schedule.


The Theater of Public Policy Exposed


Mike Gelfand: The 2014 Elections, Christmas and Baseball



The Evil That Men Do

by Invenium Viam on June 19, 2014 · 1 comment

mass murder in syria

Mass murder in Syria

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar.” Julius Caesar; Act 3, Scene 2.


In his WSJ opinion piece of June 17 (The Collapsing Obama Doctrine), Cheney lays blame for the internecine conflict now occurring in Iraq to President Obama’s allegedly failing policies with regard to mid-east terrorism.


Cheney claims the “… fall of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul and Tel Afar, and the establishment of terrorist safe havens across a large swath of the Arab world, present a strategic threat to the security of the United States.”


He doesn’t bother to explain how that threat is manifest, or even how he links the fall of those cities to “the establishment of terrorist safe havens across the Arab world.”


Moreover, he alludes to “… black-clad ISIS jihadists …” as if it were a reliable, foregone conclusion that they are a group of terrorists allied with al Qaeda and he deliberately conflates the two groups in his opening salvo against the president by saying “… it is worth recalling a few of President Obama’s past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda …” when the President never specifically mentioned ISIS in any of the public addresses Cheney cites. He neglects to mention that ISIS and al Qaeda are to some degree antagonistic towards one another due to conflicting goals and that, between the two, only al Qaeda has a global agenda.


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(From November, 2013)
My recent post ” For the Tea Party, Another Election, Another Defeat” has some disputing what I consider the established fact, that the Tea Party is in decline both in terms of overall popularity as well as in the numbers of people who identify as members of the movement. Simply put all one need do is Google “tea party identification” and there are more than ample references, including several from the right wing leaning Rasmussen Reports and Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze”, of what I pointed out is a now established fact. That said, here ya go:


“Tea party identification nationwide. Now 22%, was 32% at time of the 2010 election”.;”


Rasmussen Report of 1/7/13: “Only eight percent (8%) now say they are members of the Tea Party, down from a high of 24% in April 2010″
“Just 8% Now Say They Are Tea Party Members”;


“While polls show Tea Party identification dropping from 24 percent in 2010 to just 8 percent today, there have been key wins.” – “Tea Party Says ‘Don’t Write Our Obit Just Yet”;


Glenn Beck’s The Blaze: “while the Tea Party had once enjoyed 24% popularity, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, only 8% of Americans now identify themselves as members of the Tea Party…While that is the lowest it has been in the three years” – “Why Are Some Conservatives Targeting the Tea Party as a ‘Cancer’;


“Tea Party Identification In Texas” (February 2010 – October 2013);


Does anyone have any evidence that the Tea Party isn’t in decline either in popularity or membership?