Minnesota Senate Candidate Mike McFadden Wins Another Blockbuster Endorsement

Molly_McFadden_adSaint Paul, Minnesota – In news that could shake up Minnesota’s previously sleepy U.S. Senate contest, Republican candidate Mike McFadden announced today that he has landed the endorsement of his young daughter Molly McFadden.

“With just two weeks left in the campaign, we decided to launch our October Surprise,” said McFadden, a CEO of an investment banking company from Sunfish Lake.

Ms. McFadden’s announcement was made through a new television ad produced by the McFadden campaign.  The transcript of Ms. McFadden’s ad follows:

My dad, Mike McFadden, is running for Senate.  He really tries.  But he’s not very good at this political stuff.

Problem is, dad’s super honest.  He works hard.  And he’d rather help people than attack them.

Dad’s been all over Minnesota telling people about his plan.

But I can tell you this:  He’s a good guy, with a great heart, and he’ll give everything for Minnesota.”

The announcement continues a red hot streak for the McFadden campaign, having secured the endorsement of the candidate’s Obamacare-hating peewee football players, fiscal analyzing son Conor, and now his political analyst daughter Molly.

“Amazingly, Mike is on the verge of getting endorsed by every one of his offspring, while liberal Al Franken hasn’t been endorsed by a single McFadden child,” said McFadden campaign spokesperson I.O. Koch.

In a rare moment of political harmony, the Franken campaign released a statement agreeing with Ms. McFadden:  “While we dispute the ad assertions that Mike is honest, doesn’t attack people, and has a plan that he is sharing,  we cannot disagree with the ad’s observation that Mike “is not very good at this political stuff.”

Note:  This post is satire.  Though Mike really did release a series of sappy ads featuring endorsements from his young players, son, and daughter, the reaction quotes are fabricated for my own amusement.

Pearl Jam, Still Living the Promise of Rock

Lambert_to_the_SlaughterRock and roll, which hasn’t died yet, had a good night Sunday at the Xcel Center.

To a truly packed house — lines to the mens’ room 50-60 deep, and god help the women — Pearl Jam delivered a three-hour reminder of the vitality and, you might even say, purpose of tribal entertainment. The Seattle-based band is a long ways (25 years) past its “grunge” origins. Lead singer Eddie Vedder, guitarists Mike McCready, and Stone Gossard, bass player Jeff Ament, drummer Matt Cameron and keyboard player Boom Gaspar are certifiable rock stars/legends, and are wealthy and revered as such. But the original promise of the power of rock music on a grand scale still has its hooks in them.

That they are less familiar to mainstream America than say, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, The Who and others of that magnitude — acts to whom Pearl Jam regularly pays homage — has as much to do with their own well-considered ethos than as their musical style. Although the pulsing, grinding waves of sonic sensation that is the grunge signature of many of their fan favorites has particular appeal to adolescent males — and the adolescent in most males — who delight in being rendered semi-conscious by sound and fury.

The band has famously fought Ticketmaster over the gamed-out corporate control of both ticket pricing and availability. They’re outspoken advocates for environmental issues wherever they go, women’s freedom of choice, (which partly explains why the audience isn’t entirely male), progressive politicians, (the mis-administration of George W. was cut no slack) and innumerable other functions of a truly cooperative, caring society. (The head of the U of M’s Children’s Hospital made a featured appearance midway through Sunday’s show.)

While you sometimes wonder how much of the lyrics and “message” of rock songwriting gets through the impact of the sound, Sunday’s show, like all Pearl Jam shows was an extended sing-a-long, with fans drowning out Vedder on the chorus to most of the 32 numbers. Pretty clearly the crowd in the house both understands and appreciates Pearl Jam’s underlying ethos.

None of the community-bonding ethos and tribe-around-the-bonfire camaraderie would happen of course if it weren’t for the fact that Vedder and the band are so damned entertaining. They’re disciplined show biz pros who completely understand the value of simultaneous physical and emotional fun in creating a mass mindset. There’s good money in fun alone, less in messages about personal and public morality. But the act that can blend the two lives in rare company.

Personally, I really do try to check myself before launching into a righteous-geezer tirade against vapid, cutie-pie/pin up pop stars, factory-stamped “country” acts all with the same t-shirts and big hats, misogynist, self-adulating rappers and the endless outpouring of essentially soulless entertainers desperate most for the perks of fame. That sort of thing is too easy. Fish in a barrel. Not to mention a cliche.

Better to acknowledge the rare act that believes in something beyond itself and has the vitality and chops to deliver it night after night (Pearl Jam does it all over again in Milwaukee this evening). A purpose — “evolution, baby” as Vedder sings — beyond mere cash flow was a central tenet of the music that allegedly shaped several generations, meaning Bob Dylan, Bob Marley on through Springsteen and U2. At least that’s the way fans of the form like to remember it, and be reminded of it.

Although, that said, the lines for the Pearl Jam merchandise tables were nearly as long as for the toilets.



Conservative Pressler Would Ban Abortions, While 68% of South Dakotans Support Keeping Them Legal

In an increasingly interesting and competitive U.S. Senate campaign in South Dakota, former Republican U.S. Senator Larry Pressler, now running as an Independent, is consistently portrayed by the news reporters as a “moderate.”

It’s ludicrous to characterize Pressler as a “moderate.” After all, his most recent votes in the U.S. Senate were 100% against women, teachers, students, gays and workers, he has voted for cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and he stilll speaks out about wanting to cut those programs even more in the future.

Pressler_Would_Overturn_Roe_Vs_Wade_-_YouTubePressler has also said in no uncertain terms during this current campaign that he would make abortion illegal.
Not regulated, mind you.  Not scaled back.  Illegal.  He would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that has kept abortion a legal option since 1972.

After Pressler banned abortions, he would allow states to make abortion legal again if they choose, but we all know that many states would keep abortion illegal, and make millions of women into criminals and victims of botched back alley abortions.

Even in a red state like South Dakota, banning abortion is not a mainstream position.  In the most recent polling I could find on this issue, a Sioux Falls Argus Leader survey, only 25% of South Dakotans say that abortion should be illegal.

Instead, an overwhelming 68% of South Dakotans want to keep abortion legal, either “legal and the decision to have an abortion should be made by the woman without government interference (34%),” or “legal but restricted to very specific circumstances, such as rape, incest or to save the life of the mother (34%).”

This idea that the news media mindlessly calls anyone who camouflages themselves with an “Independent” label a “moderate” shows just how shallow political reporting has gotten.  Politicians who make abortion illegal, cut Social Security and Medicare and vote 100% against women, teachers gays, students and workers are hardly “moderate.” They are, by any reasonable definition, on the far right.

- Loveland

Affleck v. Maher. Traditional Liberal Meets 2.0

Lambert_to_the_SlaughterFinally, a debate both worth having and worth listening to.

And obviously I’m not talking about either the Governor or Senate “debates” here in Minnesota. Until they give awards for bland and stultifying the four main combatants in those fights will go unrewarded and ignored for their powers of inspiration. (See Joe’s post on that issue.)

But the face off between Bill Maher and actor Ben Affleck on Maher’s HBO show last weekend was a far .. far … more provocative beast. Week in and week out Maher’s panel is invariably the most compelling “debate” moment on TV, for the simple reason that unlike the DC talk shows, “Meet the Press”, etc., his cast of characters doesn’t include John McCain and glaze-inducing, market-tested “messaging” gets slapped down with unabashed glee. (Here’s a link to a Salon follow-up with Maher.)

The topic last weekend was the liberal misconception that being a liberal means being open and accepting of anyone’s beliefs, without skepticism or criticism. The fact that Affleck missed that point and leapt immediately to charges of racism is what made the moment so interesting. Liberal v. liberal. Hollywood traditional variety v. envelope-tearing.

Specifically, Maher and atheist author Sam Harris (“The End of Faith”, which I highly recommend), were arguing the point that while, yes, organized religion in general is not something they regard as, shall we say, an evolutionary advantage, Islam is a particular problem. Arguably the most conservative of all the world’s major religions, with exclusion, restriction and intolerance toward women, gays and non-believers baked (or widely misinterpreted) into its central tenets, Islam’s propensity to affirm violence currently compares with the worst excesses of Christianity, Judaism and whatever else, which for those up on The Inquisition, the Crusades and the routine invocations of God at every call to battle is really saying something.

Maher and Harris make the point that being a liberal means having a responsibility to identify and speak out against intolerance in whatever form it appears, even when it comes wrapped in the supposedly sacrosanct cloak of another person/culture’s “faith”, i.e. whatever they choose to believe. Affleck the Hollywood heavyweight, instinctively playing the mass audience card, lost barely a second conflating this argument with racism and white fear of inherently violent, gun-wielding blacks.

You can watch the interaction for yourself, but what is on display is very traditional liberal thinking (Affleck’s), where true liberals take a maternal attitude toward all cultures and beliefs, essentially on the grounds that it is antithetical to “liberal values” to making large scale criticisms of any culture (Islam being more culture than race, despite Affleck’s knee jerk inter-mingling with racial bigotry). Put another way, freedom of religion means that if they say they’re doing it because they believe it is the word of God who are we to disagree?

By contrast Maher and Harris are arguing, what for them at least, and I tend to agree, is a kind of Liberalism 2.0. An upgrade in both critical thinking and public courage that says today’s liberals, fully cognizant of science, evolution, modernity and an inter-connected planet, have a responsibility to call out intolerance wherever they see it, regardless of its time-honored, “divinely-ordained” trappings and self-righteousness.

I don’t hear either Maher or Harris arguing for some kind of secular jihad against Muslims. Far from it. Respite from the millennia of religion-sanctioned violence is their overall objective.

What they are saying is that if you are as committed to the full rights of women and minorities as you say you are, you seize opportunities to argue that suppressing those rights is never acceptable. As in anywhere by anyone, a professed religiosity be damned. This applies to cynical cultural/religious conservatives in the United States and no less cynical, self-serving mullahs abroad.

The ironic bind, which makes liberals of Affleck’s ilk jump the tracks, is that a call for a reasoned, sustained protest against religious-inspired intolerance sounds like a call for  … intolerance.

And that is part of what makes this debate so interesting and vital. It would do liberals a world of good to argue out this point.

Where is The Vision of “Progress” From Minnesota Progressives?

Can someone please tell me what Governor Mark Dayton, Al Franken and the DFL Legislature plan to do with another term in office?  Because I have no earthly idea.

I know what they have done in the past, and it’s impressive – an improved economy, health care system, and fiscal outlook.

franklin_roosevelt_new_deal_campaign_button-_Google_SearchBut progressives are also supposed to lead the way forward.  The dictionary says a “progressive” is “a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.”

Where is the “new” part?  Where is the “advocating” part?

It’s entirely possible that I’m not paying close enough attention, because this campaign season is putting me to sleep.  But I can’t discern where these top DFLers propose to take Minnesota.

  • ACHIEVEMENT GAP PROGRESS?  For instance, the education achievement gap is a morally shameful and economically perilous problem.  What specific solutions does the DFL offer that are sufficiently bold to at least narrow that persistent gap?
  • CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRESS?  Climate change is the most urgent problem of our times, and Minnesota remains hopelessly addicted to dirty coal-fired power plants and cars dependent on environmentally destructive fracked petroleum.  I know the DFL supports more renewables and less fossil fuels, but how exactly are they going to realign financial incentives to make that more of a reality, and not just rhetoric.
  • COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY PROGRESS?  College is increasingly important for earning a good living, and increasingly out-of-reach for middle- and lower-income families.  What progressive ideas does the DFL offer to address this important challenge?
  • RETRAINING PROGRESS?  Many unemployed and underemployed workers lack the career skills to thrive in a fast-changing economy.  While increasing the minimum wage and funding job-creating bonding projects are great steps, what specific education and training help does the DFL offer to help those workers adjust to our economy’s new normal?

Does the DFL have a “secret plan” for more progress on any of these issues, like the secret plan President Nixon promised to end the Vietman War?  If so, why is it secret?    I just finished watching the PBS televention series about the Roosevelts, and I was reminded that Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor reaped political rewards by fearlessly advocating for bold solutions to society’s toughest problems.

Again, Minnesota DFLers  have earned reelection.  They have a strong record of paying back schools, implementing reforms that have a record 95% of Minnesotans with health insurance,  improving tax fairness, increasing the minimum wage, passing marriage equality, funding job-creating infrastructure improvements, delivering all-day kindergarten, and balancing the budget on-time, in a fiscally responsible way.  That’s very impressive work, at a time when extreme Tea Party-backed Republicans have offered only mindless obstructionism.

But we live in an impatient “what have you done for me lately” world.    To prevent an electoral setback a few weeks from now, DFLers need to fire up their progressive base enough to get them to vote at higher rates than they typically do in non-presidential year elections.  And in terms of a bold new progressive way forward, Minnesota DFLers haven’t offered much to fire them up.

- Loveland

Note:  This post also was also published by MinnPost.

Strib Does Great Adrian Peterson Reporting, Then Buries It In 40th Paragraph

Star_Tribune_Peterson_articleThe Star Tribune’s Mike Kaszuba, Rochelle Olson and Paul McEnroe did outstanding investigative reporting in today’s paper, raising important questions about the operations of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s charitable foundation, the All Day Foundation.

The majority of the article focused on other issues in Peterson’s past that had been spotlighted in the news media, but had not been aggregated into one article.   I have followed Peterson’s career fairly closely, and had forgotten about many of those issues, so the the aggregation itself was a service to readers.   Though the Vikings work hard to promote Peterson as a model citizen, the article points out that that characterization has been overstated.

While most of those issues were old news, the portion of the article about Peterson’s charitable foundation broke new ground.  In case you missed it, as many Minnesotans probably did, here it is:

Peterson’s indictment has also thrown a spotlight on his charity, Adrian Peterson’s All Day Foundation, which focuses on at-risk children, particularly girls. The charity shut down its website following the September indictment.

The charity’s 2011 financial report showed $247,064 in total revenue, and listed just three organizations that received money. A fourth outlay, entitled simply “clothing for needy families,” listed “unknown” for the number of recipients.

In 2009, the charity said its largest gift, $70,000, went to Straight From the Heart Ministries in Laurel, Md. But Donna Farley, president and founder of the Maryland organization, said it never received any money from Peterson’s foundation. “There have been no outside [contributions] other than people in my own circle,” said Farley. “Adrian Peterson — definitely not.”

The East Texas Food Bank, based in Tyler, said it received money from Peterson’s foundation in 2009, although the foundation’s tax filing for the year listed just one donation to a food bank — the North Texas Food Bank, based in Dallas.

Colleen Brinkmann, the chief philanthropy officer for the North Texas Food Bank, said that while her agency partnered with Dallas Cowboys players, she could not recall ever getting money from the All Day Foundation.

For some reason, this portion of the Star Tribune story didn’t appear until the 40th paragraph of the story.  It didn’t get the stand alone story such a new revelation deserves.  It didn’t get in the headline.  It didn’t get into the first 39 paragraphs of the story.

So, is that end of it?  Doubtful.  Because while many Star Tribune scanners probably didn’t make it that far into the tome, it’s a safe bet that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did.

- Loveland

Haunted by Nickelback

Lambert_to_the_Slaughteri don’t really know anything about Nickelback, but Google is convinced I do.

If you are as uninformed (not to mention as culturally deprived) as I am, Nickelback, “… a bunch of fatuous frat boys” to quote one reviewer, has earned a reputation as “the worst band in the world”. Says Steven Hyden at Grantland, “After forcibly ingesting The Best of Nickelback Volume 1 for professional (or perhaps sadomasochistic) purposes, I can affirm from personal experience that this band’s music sucks. (Or, more accurately, suuucks.)4 Nickelback distills every cliché about bad white-guy durr music in a convenient one-stop package — the vocals bellow like an excavator tongue-kissing a gravel pit and the riffs sputter like amplified lit farts.”

So in other words … really bad.

Personally, I’m not aware of ever hearing one note of any of Nickelback’s (allegedly) turgid, derivative anthems. Although something loud and horrible was playing at a trucker bar in Ajo, Arizona last winter. All I know is that Nickelback’s name comes up every time a conversation turns to “really shitty music”.

So a couple months ago I’m over at MPR interviewing The Current’s program director, Jim McGuinn, and as a way of wrapping up I ask him if there’s any band who’ll probably never get airtime on his eclectic pop music station? As he mulls his choices I tossed out Nickelback’s name, to which he laughed and said, “only in some highly ironic context.”

With that, I go home, open Google Docs and transcribe my interview with McGuinn, including the line about Nickelback, which is then published at MinnPost.

That’s the beginning. middle and end of my interest in Nickelback. But it’s only the beginning of what Google believes is a ravenous hunger on my part for all things Nickel and Backy, because within days, and ever since, whenever I open Google on my Google Nexus 5 phone I’m greeted by breaking news, gossip and marketing touts about … Nickelback. Nickelback tour dates. Nickelback set lists. Nickelback-licensed emesis bags.

Clearly, Google’s algorithms are convinced I’m a Nickelback fetishist. The kind of sad, pathetic bastard who’ll buy one ticket to a Nickelback show, (because what Nickelback fan could ever get a date?), park himself in the front row and yell himself hoarse demanding a 20-minute guitar solo off their greatest hit … assuming I knew the title of even one of their (alleged) songs … much less their greatest “hit”.

And that’s Google’s interpretation of my cultural interests it is sending to me. I can only wonder what impression of me the uber Cloud is peddling to the multitude of social and commercial interests tapping Google’s servers for access to the highly-sought-after 63 year-old white male suburbanite power washing his driveway while listening to Nickelback demographic. The way this is going, I truly expect Christmas-season discount offers for Nickelback hoodies, framed/concert-used Nickelback guitar picks and Nickelback-sanctioned douche bags, (since “douche bag” and “Nickelback” seem to be synonymous among the pop music cognoscenti.)

As much as I tell myself to laugh it off — and ignore the taunts of buddies to whom I’ve told this story — the experience only aggravates my aggravation at the cyber monitoring, analyzing and “repurposing” of my private information. Looked at through another lens, I cannot imagine hooking myself up to an iWatch or cloud-based health-monitoring system, or, were I not married, disgorging every quirk, kink and appetite of my personality into some on-line dating site, which as “60 Minutes” recently showed, is then harvested by literally hundreds of parasitic re-sellers.

It’s bad enough that I know about my issues with powdered wigs and mink whips. i don’t need offers from Amazon and The Smitten Kitten.

But hey, rock on, Nickelback.

Will Bakk Building Put DFL Back Out of Power?

While Minnesota DFLers controlled state government the past two years, they have done some very constructive things:

  • TRULY BALANCED BUDGET.  Unlike their GOP predecessors, DFLers balanced the budget without relying on irresponsible gimmicks and shifts, and they paid back public schools for the money the GOP shamefully “borrowed” from them.
  • TAX FAIRNESS.  The DFL also restored a bit of tax fairness to an unfair system, by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans who were paying a lower percentage of their income in taxes than other citizens.
  • 5 G’s.  Importantly, DFLers didn’t get bogged down with issues associated with “the five G’s” — gays, guns, gambling, God and gynecology — which tend to dominate under GOP control.  DFLers enacted marriage equality swiftly and efficiently — a very historic and important achievement – then moved on to other important non-G business.
  • ALL-DAY K.  DFLers passed universal all-day kindergarten.  While that’s not the first education investment I’d prioritize, it is a constructive move, and a publicly popular move.
  • JOBS AND INFRASTRUCTURE.  The DFL authorized and funded a long list of needed capital improvement projects that are rebuilding Minnesota’s deteriorating infrastructure and putting long-suffering construction workers back to work.
  • NO DELAYS OR SHUTDOWNS.  Finally, the DFL got its work done on time, and didn’t shut down state government, as the previous GOP-controlled Legislature did. DFLers mostly governed like grown-ups.

That’s a very nice body of work for the DFL to showcase to voters.  They should be proud of it.

If DFLers lose control of all or some of state government, it likely will have had to do with environmental factors they can’t change , such as low DFL constituency turnout in a non-presidential election and an unpopular Democratic President.  Their policymaking performance will not be their biggest political problem.

Minnesota_Senate_office_buildingBut there is at least one policymaking unforced error that is making things a bit more difficult for the DFL — the DFLers authorization of a new Senate office building.

The new Senate office building project is nowhere near as wasteful as Republicans claim.  It also is nowhere near as necessary as Senate DFLers claim.  But one thing is indisputable:   The political optics of the project are bad for the DFL during the election season.

Attack_mailing_PDF__1_page_Most voters won’t do a comprehensive financial analysis of whether DFL leaders are doing a good job stewarding their tax dollars.   They will judge fiscal stewardship based on an isolated example or two.  Republicans are working overtime to make sure that the Senate Office Building is the example voters use to make their judgement.

The Senate office building works well for the GOP on a political level.  First, the building is built for legislators by legislators.  On its face, that seems self-serving and arrogant to many voters.  Minnesotans don’t take kindly to self-serving and arrogant.

Second, this is not a pole building, and therefore can be made to seem extravagant.  The building renderings strike me as modest, responsible and utilitarian, but demagogues are making the Senate office building seem like something akin to Emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea.

The issue is obviously being overblown by Republicans.  This project represents only a small fraction of the entire state budget, and the argument for the building is strong, if you actually take the time to study and consider it.  But at-a-glance, voters perceive the building to be self-serving and extravagant, and Republicans realize most will voters only consider the issue at-a-glance.

In what is likely to be a close non-presidential election with little room for error, the DFL legislators can’t afford many unforced errors.  Choosing this year to build the new Senate office building is one very big unforced political error.

- Loveland

Where the Commissioner Meets the Archbishop

Lambert_to_the_SlaughterJust as every crisis presents opportunities for change, every scandal is a moment ripe for reconsidering conventional wisdom.

The NFL’s off-field domestic violence mess has inspired quite a lot of fascinating, long-overdue reflection on the role of a shrewdly marketed business enterprise that has truly made itself a major pillar of our culture, a bona fide secular religion as faith-based in its own way as any church.

Watching the Ray Rice-to-Adrian Peterson et al debacle unfold, with all the pathetic prevaricating of Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s sycophantic apologists has reminded me over and over again of the sex-abuse ridden Catholic Church, particularly here in Minnesota, as it is led by another wholly disreputable, discredited leader, Archbishop John Nienstedt. Both entities have wrapped themselves in vestments of impregnable propriety. Both have enabled abuse and both are now conducting “sham investigations”. Here’s Madeleine Baran at MPR on the Archdiocese, and our old friend Keith Olbermann at ESPN.

Likewise, the appalling behavior(s) of their respective employees followed by arrogant, tone-deaf official response now has both institutions in a similar situation, where the faithful — not all, but an influential minority capable of critical thought — are actively reexamining the faith and money they’ve invested in each. A reassessment long, long overdue IMHO.

A couple weeks back I read a terrific piece on the psychological appeal of the NFL for American men. I thought it was posted at Grantland, but damned if I can find it there any now. So, my apologies to the author, who took the power and profanity of the NFL to a higher, significantly more illusion-rattling level, by exploring just what exactly the league is selling.

The bottom-line of a very thoughtful piece is that the NFL, and really football everywhere in modern America, is one of the final, protected realms of unfettered masculinity, where men (and boys aspiring to be “men”) are encouraged and rewarded for performing as men “must” and “should” to achieve success. Obviously, since football is an entertainment this heretofore manly safe room is passed on/marketed as a fantasy for those who can’t play, but embrace it vicariously, feeling and asserting male privilege by adjacency.

Clearly, this line of thinking is way too touchy-feely and psycho-babbly for mass consumption. But the writer continued on to the make the salient point that the contact high men get off football, the wildly successful NFL in particular, isn’t just confined the sad yobs in their Vikings jerseys scraping and bowing to a beaming Zygi Wilf as he leaves the Capitol with a sweetheart deal that stick the rubes with over $800 million in debt by the time the next stadium is paid off.

No. The psychological power of the league’s message also resonates deeply with the smart guys, the suits and politicians who crave the glow of power and success emitted by the league. Recall again local legislators cramming to get in the photo op with Commissioner Roger Goodell when he came to town to deliver his ultimatum to pick up the tab for the Vikings/NFL … or else.

The (very) monied class is no more immune to the adjacency-buzz given off by the NFL than blue collar couch potatoes. The only difference is that the wealthy experience a special tumescence and dampness over the NFL’s vise grip command of its message, market and balance sheet. Association with the NFL, via corporate suites and/or ludicrously over-priced ticket prices and personal seat licenses being a display of status so vital as to be irresistible to any “player” in the game of commerce.

As a matter of status and survival human nature is all about keeping score, and the NFL, until now at least, has asserted and sold unapologetic dominance like very few other cultural institutions … other than organized religions.

The third leg of the league’s marketing magic is of course the sports media, who daily, hourly, minute-by-get-a-life-minute provide free marketing lift for 32 of the wealthiest men in America. The completely routine whoring of some of the most “credible” names in the country and local communities is taking a corrosive beating.

Here’s Stefan Fatsis on the worst offenders. Here’s another, from Dave Edwards at Deadspin. Fatsis makes the always pertinent appointment about the difference between “access reporting”, where one never pisses off the subject at hand and “accountability reporting” which, well, which is something other than PR work. Day-to-day business reporting could do well with a heavy injection of the latter.

As with the Catholic church (and several other ossified religious organizations) this kind of truth-telling and public-shaming is both long overdue and healthy. For cultures to evolve, no institution should be allowed immunity from accountability.

And I say this as a fan of football, pro football in particular. Before the domestic abuse mess I was telling my cousin, a 20-year college football coach, that I was ashamed of how much pro football I watched last season. Not because I felt guilty about getting whipped up over a bunch of steroidal wife beaters and child abusers, but because the game is so entertaining to watch I wasted way too much time watching instead of tending to the weekend honey-do list.

As a television entertainment pro football has pro soccer beat ten ways to one, even with the NFL’s ridiculous glut of commercials. (Soccer will never cut it in the US if a championship game amounts to 90 minutes of tapping the ball back and forth at midfield, “strategizing” for essentially a home-run hitting contest in a vaguely comprehended overtime.)

The primary appeal being the precision and balletic beauty of the passing game, not the “bone crushing” attempted decapitation of receivers stupid enough to run a crossing pattern.

The credulous faithful of both organized religion and pro football may be having a tough time accepting the criminality and gross arrogance of institutions so vital to their sense of personal value, but as the NFL tells a player reeling from yet another concussion, “You’re going to have man up, pal.”


Hope for Adrian Peterson

Adrian_Peterson_wavingAs I wrote the day I first saw photos of Adrian Peterson’s abused son’s bloody welts, and read of Adrian’s admissions, I don’t want to cheer for Adrian Peterson any time soon, for fear that the child abusers of the world will confuse the cheering as indifference about Adrian’s child abuse.

I don’t mean to be judgmental.  I’m certainly flawed, and am not qualified to judge.  I just believe that the community’s priority right now needs to be protecting abused kids, not protecting Adrian’s career or my favorite team’s season.  And fans wildly cheering an admitted child abuser this weekend in New Orleans wouldn’t have helped the cause of abused kids.  So I’m glad Adrian has been sidelined.

But none of this means that I’ve written off Adrian Lewis Peterson.  I haven’t.  I still have hopes for my former favorite player.  High hopes.  Here is what I hope:

adrian_peterson_child_woundsI hope that Adrian gets awesome help from great parenting coaches, so that he can learn that abusing his children is abusing his children.  Not “tough love.”  Not “discipline.”  Not “good parenting.”  Abuse.  It’s an overused cliche, but the first and most important step in fixing a problem really is admitting a problem.

After Adrian learns that truth, and comes to sincerely believe it, I hope he speaks out about what he has learned, so that his revelations might help other abusers look at their own behavior in a new light, and maybe cause them to get help too.

I hope Adrian makes it clear to the abusers of the world that a parents’ responsibility is to get parenting help and learn the evidence about what’s best for children, instead of mindlessly repeating their parents’ mistakes.

Adrian has one of the world’s most powerful messaging platforms in the world at his disposal, and so I hope some day he uses that platform to speak out constructively on this topic.

Through all of these actions, I hope that Adrian earns back the right to be with his children, so that they can have a positive male parent in their lives.  His kids deserve it, and Adrian does too, if he first earns their trust.

I obviously hope that Adrian never again physically harms a child, employing the famous discipline he has exhibited in the weight room, practice field and stadium in his kids’ lives.

In due course, maybe profession football will happen alongside Adrian’s evolution into a better parent.  Maybe it won’t.  But if Adrian does those things, the net good he will have done for his kids and other abused kids could some day outweigh the harm he has done.

And if he does that, I will cheer Adrian once again, more loudly than ever.  And I bet I won’t be alone.

But it’s all up to Adrian now.  Not Zygi Wilf.  Not Roger Godell.  Not the Vikings’ corporate sponsors. Not Adrian’s lawyer.  Not Adrian’s PR advisors.  Not the Texas judge.  Not the fans.

I still have hope for Adrian Peterson, and I bet even his most ardent critics feel the same way.  But at this stage, it’s up to Adrian.

- Loveland

Note:  This post was also featured in MinnPost’s Blog Cabin Roundup.

The Three S’s Of How Democrat Weiland Could Win The SD Senate Seat This Fall

Could a progressive Democrat really win the U.S. Senate seat in a bright red state that gave Mitt Romney 58% of the vote?

Maybe, because of an unprecedented aligning of the political stars.  Democratic South Dakota Senate candidate Rick Weiland is within 6 points of defeating  former Republican Governor Mike Rounds.  Remarkably, the extremely well-known former Governor Rounds has remained stuck for months at just 40 percent support.

If Weiland can remind moderates and progressives that former GOP U.S. Senator Larry Pressler, who is currently trying to sweet talk non-conservatives, has an extremely conservative voting record, Weiland could win the seat with under 45 percent of the vote.  Because independent candidates’ support typically shrinks in the closing days of a campaign, peeling away Pressler’s non-conservative support is certainly within Weiland’s grasp.

In South Dakota?  How could that be?  There are three primary reasons:

  • Pressler_Reagan_BushSEGMENTATION.  First, there’s simple electoral math.  There are three prominent conservative GOP officeholders  on the November ballot — a former GOP state legislator with Tea Party support (Gordon Howie), former GOP Governor (Mike Rounds) and former GOP U.S. Senator (Larry Pressler).  That divides South Dakota conservatives in three, which is thrice as nice for the lone Democrat on the ballot.
  • Rick_Weiland_311_townsSHOE-LEATHER.  Second, by all accounts Weiland is running circles around his opponents.  In recent months, Rick “Everywhere Man” Weiland became the first candidate in South Dakota history to campaign in all 311 South Dakota towns, many of them multiple times.  In a state with only a few hundred thousand voters, those personal connections, and the work ethic they represent, matter.  Meanwhile the embattled Rounds has been jetting around the nation raising money from wealthy non-South Dakotans, and staying away from debates, while the long-retired Pressler has kept his nostalgia tour on a relatively leisurely schedule.
  • Rick_Weiland_EB-5_adSCANDAL.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is something called EB-5. EB-5 is a federal program that lets wealthy foreign businesspeople cut to the front of the green card line, if they fork over a half million dollars to a local business venture.    The “auctioning citizenship” aspect of EB-5 is extremely unpopular in itself, and Rounds administered South Dakota’s version of EB-5 in a way that allowed a Rounds supporter to run the program, hire himself to profit from the program that he was running, and screw up the program in ways that are incompetent at best and criminal at worst.  The result:  State and federal investigations, a steady stream of news media probing and red hot criticism from politicians of all parties, all aimed at the besieged Rounds.

For Democrats desperate for U.S. Senate electoral wins in a tough political environment, it’s quite possible that this equation could work:  Segmentation + Shoe-leather + Scandal = Senate Seat.  It could happen, if Weiland is able to raise enough money to get his message out and defend himself down the home stretch.

- Loveland

Vikings To Return To Full Strength Next Sunday With Return Of Gay Nuker and Child Abuser, Says Rackateerer

vikings_stadium_adrian_petersonNext Sunday’s game looks to be a proud moment for the storied Minnesota Vikings franchise, and, by association, all Minnesotans.

  •  Special Team’s Coach Mike Priefer, who got caught lying for months about saying that he wanted to nuke a whole class of humans because of who they love, is expected to be back after a three game suspension shortened, due to good behavior, to two games.
  • Star running back Adrian Peterson, who has admitted that he repeatedly beat a four-year child bloody with a stick, will be back from a one-game deactivation.

But don’t be concerned.  Zygi Wilf, the Vikings owner who has been found guilty of racketeering and fraud after a New Jersey judge found that “I do not believe I have seen one single (Wilf-generated) financial statement that is true and accurate,” has investigated and cleared Peterson and Priefer.

I love the Vikings, but these are just the facts.  This lifelong Vikings fan has to go take a shower now. – Loveland

The Vikings Must Release The Greatest Running  Back In Vikings History

Upon hearing the news that Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson was indicted for child abuse, Vikings zealots quickly flocked to sports talk radio to express themselves:

The Vikings have the worst luck.

I sure hope back-up running back Asiata is ready to step up.

Will Norv change his game plan, and will Bill have a counter move prepared?

Will the NFL be extra harsh on Adrian, because they are taking heat about their handling of Ray Rice?

How many games will we be missing him?

Now who should I start on my fantasy football team?

What makes me sick to my stomach is that I can’t keep the same trifling questions out of my head.

But the more I think about it, the more I’m in a very different place.  Now that Peterson has admitted that he inflicted those wounds on a four-year old child, this diehard Vikings fan hopes the Vikings immediately release or trade the best running back in Vikings history, so I never am tempted to cheer for him again.

Understand, I’m no sports hater.  I spend embarrassing amounts of time obsessing over sports, and save my most obsessive behavior for the Vikings.   I’ve had a particular man crush on Adrian Peterson.  His game changing talent, inspiring work ethic, and sheer entertainment value have been easy to love.

But here’s the thing:  My favorite player beat a four-year old child with a wooden stick. Until he bled. In multiple places.   A four-year old child.

“Yeah, but everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves a second chance,” say my fellow Vikings rubes.  “My dad spanked me to teach me right from wrong, and that made me the man I am.  I guess AP is so strong he just got a little carried away.”

No. No. No.  One of the more powerful men on the planet beat a tiny 4-year old child with a stick until he bled in dozens of places.  If reading that sentence isn’t motivating enough for you, close your eyes and imagine how that would look and sound if it had been captured on videotape, Ray Rice style.


I’ve never understood the logic of “my kid was physically aggressive so I’m going to be much more physically aggressive with him to teach him a lesson.”  That teaches a lesson alright.  Just ask Adrian, who reportedly was beaten by his father.

adrian_peterson_child_woundsBut for those who believe in corporal punishment, you still have to admit that there is a line that cannot be crossed, where corporal punishment becomes child abuse.

Where is the line?  If this child had one welt where one open-handed blow accidentally got out of control, maybe you could have a debate.  If this child was three times older, maybe you could have a debate.  But with multiple blood drawing wounds on a 4-year old, there can be no reasonable debate.  This is child abuse.

The law enforcement system and NFL will decide what Peterson’s legal and professional punishments should be.  I hope to God that the law enforcement system makes sure Peterson’s many children are safe from him, and that Peterson can get counseling to help him understand how messed up this inherited parenting approach is.

vikings_stadium_adrian_petersonBut whatever the authorities decide, and whatever corrective actions Peterson commits to, I don’t want a child abuser held up as the face of my favorite team.  I don’t want a child abuser representing my state.  I don’t want my tax dollars subsidizing a sports palace to showcase the child abuser.

Most importantly, I don’t want other rationalizing child abusers to see thousands of Vikings fans shrugging off that child’s bloody welts and cheering wildly the next time the admitted child abuser busts off a long run.  Because if Peterson remains a Viking, you can bet that will happen, and it will be truly nauseating.

As much as I love the Vikings and football, lots of things in this life are bigger than the game.  Standing up for abused children is much bigger than the game.   The nation’s child abusers need to see that the world will stick up for abused kids and hold abusers accountable, even the powerful and famous.

The Vikings need to immediately release or trade the best running back in Vikings history.  As much as that bites on a football level, it has to happen.

- Loveland

Congress Needs To Vote On Obama’s Proposed War on ISIL

I’m an Obama backer.  Though no President can ever be perfect, I admire what this President has done on the economy, health care reform, bringing home the troops from the Bush Middle East wars, and many other things.

Congress_war_declaration_authorityBut I disagreed with him last night when he said it would be “welcome” if Congress supported U.S. attacks on ISIL.  It would be more than welcome.  It would be necessary.

I’ll let others decide whether congressional authorization is constitutionally or statutorily required for a bombs and “advisers” action like this.   But strict legality aside, democratic principles dictate that a democracy’s representative body probe the executive branch’s plans and vote on authorization before we commit as a nation to the human and economic costs associated with a potentially protracted military engagement.

In 2008, I agreed with Obama when he said:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

With only a 15-minute presidential speech presenting one side of the argument available, none of us yet has sufficient evidence to make an informed decision about whether or not we should support these proposed attacks on ISIL.  Congress needs to do it’s job and give the nation a free and open debate, and a democratic decision.  If Members of Congress really want to “support the troops,” an informed, transparent pre-strike debate about the pros and cons of this military action would support the troops in a much more meaningful way than yellow ribbons ever could.

- Loveland

News Flash: GOP Activist Reveals That Veteran GOP Consultant Is Supporting A GOPer for Governor

Tom_HornerMinnPost reporter Cyndy Brucato is breaking the blockbuster news that 2010 Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner is, gasp, crossing party boundaries to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson!  The reporter breathlessly reports:

Another leader in the Minnesota Independence Party is gravitating toward support of a Republican statewide candidate.   Tom Horner, the Independence Party candidate for governor in 2010, is meeting this week with GOP candidate for governor Jeff Johnson to discuss joining his campaign.

Wow, if that happens, that does sound like huge news!

Unless you pay close attention to politics.

If you do pay close attention to politics, you know that Tom Horner is a long-time Republican staffer, supporter, consultant and pundit.  Before Horner spent one year as a right-leaning Independence Party candidate for Governor, he was the head staffer for Republican U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger, has advocated for Republican candidates like Norm Coleman his entire adult life, has long counseled Republicans, and served for many years as the Republican voice on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and other news outlets.

In short, for decades Horner has been one of the most visible Republicans in Minnesota. Reporter Brucato is aware of this because she was a lead staffer for Republican Governor Arne Carlson and Norm Coleman.  But she mentions none of Horner’s GOP bona fides in the article.

In other words, the real headline here is actually a wee bit less newsworthy.  It’s more like:

GOP Activist Reveals That Veteran GOP Consultant Is Supporting A GOPer for Governor


I like and respect Tom Horner a great deal.  Though we disagree on many policy issues, Tom is intelligent, has integrity, and Mr. Johnson is lucky to have his policy and PR counsel.    But let’s get real.  This hardly qualifies as the blockbuster news the reporter makes it out to be.

I support MinnPost relying on a ex-staffers of politicians for opinion pieces. That’s an appropriate role for an ex-staffer.  But they shouldn’t rely on ex-staffers from either party for news reporting like this, because their advocacy background naturally calls their objectivity into question.

While  the lede was blown way out of proportion, I did find a few things intriguing about the article that left me hungry for deeper reporting.  On taxes, Horner says:

 “I wasn’t opposed to raising more revenue, but the way the governor went about it is not in the best long-term interest of Minnesota. Just adding fourth tier only reinforces a tax system that isn’t suited to a global market. Maybe we need more revenue but tilt the policy much more to tax consumption and more to reward investment.”

And on health care, Horner says:

“MnSure is where Republicans could play an effective role. It’s good that we’re expanding access and covering children and have a more robust marketplace.  Now how do we control the underlying drivers of health care?”

The fact that Tea Party-backed Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson may be bringing in a pro-tax, pro-Obamacare consultant for policy advice raises additional questions that were not posed by the reporter:

  • Does Horner think tax increases were only needed in the past, or does he think that more may be needed in the future?  If so, which taxes would he favor increasing?
  • Which parts of health reform would Horner favor retaining?  Medicaid expansion?  Tax credits?  The insurance exchange system?  Pre-existing condition reform paired with the insurance mandates?  Other?  How would Horner propose Mr. Johnson could better control health care costs?
  • Does candidate Johnson share Horner’s opinions on taxes and health reform?
  • What do key Tea Party-friendly supporters of Johnson think of bringing in Horner to advocate for these positions?

The answers to those questions would have been informative, and would have qualified as actual news.

- Loveland

Conservative Pressler Attempts Facelift For SD Senate Race

Pressler_Reagan_BushOne of the more brazen political facelifts in recent memory is being attempted in South Dakota, where a ballot crowded with conservatives is causing conservative Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD, 1979-1997) to attempt to convince voters that he is now a moderate.

The former Republican U.S. Senator’s most recent television ad features this claim:

“I believe in taking the best ideas from both parties…”

That spin sells well with moderates.  But Pressler’s claim will come as a huge surprise to non-conservative policy advocates, given that Pressler’s most recent voting record ratings show him rejecting almost all non-conservative ideas:

  • National Education Association:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • National Council of Senior Citizens:  Pressler voted against their positions 90% of the time.
  • NARAL Pro Choice America:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • Human Rights Campaign:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • United Food and Commercial Workers:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • National Public Health Association:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • United States Students Association:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • Children’s Defense Fund:  Pressler voted against their positions 89% of the time.
  • Human Rights Campaign:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:  Pressler voted against their positions 100% of the time.
  • American Association of University Women:  Pressler voted 100% against their positions.

Source:  Project Vote Smart

Voting records speak louder than ad claims, and this not the voting record of a moderate.  This is not the voting record of someone who “takes the best ideas from both parties,” unless you believe conservatives have 99% of the best ideas, which of course makes you an ultra-conservative.

So why is long-time conservative Pressler trying to masquerade as a moderate in 2014?

Necessity.  There are two other conservatives – Republican Mike Rounds and Tea Party-backed former Republican state legislator Gordon Howie — joining the historically conservative Pressler on the ballot. Pressler is running a pretty distant third place behind increasingly strong Democrat Rick Weiland and Rounds, and he apparently doesn’t like the mathematics associated with splitting the conservative vote three ways.  So instead of running again as a conservative, Pressler is giving himself a moderate facelift, and hoping South Dakota moderates will somehow forget his conservative voting record in the U.S. Senate.

It’s understandable how South Dakota voters might forget the voting record of someone who has been out of office for almost two decades.  It’s a little more difficult to understand how the South Dakota news media, many of whom covered Pressler and know all about his conservative voting record, could neglect to expose a facelift that would put Michael Jackson to shame.

- Loveland

Reporters Let McFadden Have It Both Ways On Health Reform

You can’t simultaneously support deism and atheism, or capitalism and communism.  Embracing one makes it logically impossible to simultaneously embrace the other.  They are mutually exclusive.  If a candidate came out and claimed to be for both of those ideological constructs at the same time, in an attempt to win support from supporters of each idea, they would be the laughing stock of American politics.

If you doubt that, imagine if you saw these headlines in today’s news:

Dayton Tells Congregation “I Support Atheistic Christianity”

McFadden Tells Business Group He Embraces “Capitalistic Communism”

The candidates would be laughed out of the race for taking such absurd positions.

I submit that the same should be true of simultaneously advocating to 1) outlaw denial of health coverage due to a pre-existing health condition and 2) make health insurance coverage optional.  It’s defensible to embrace either of those two positions.  But it’s not defensible to embrace those two approaches simultaneously.

Here’s why:  If you outlaw the insurance companies’ enormously unpopular ability to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions, but simultaneously make purchasing health insurance optional, millions of people would stay out of the insurance market until the moment they got sick or hurt.  After all, why would anyone choose to pay high premiums for years to protect themselves against the expenses associated with treating an illness or injury when they know that the insurance company will be forced to pay the treatment expenses after they suffer from the ailment? And if millions of people refused to pay premiums until the moment they need insurance benefits, the insurance industry would very quickly need to dramatically jack up premiums, or go bankrupt.

There is broad consensus about this.  The Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance, the Manhattan Institute, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the Pacific Research Institute, the Manhattan Institute, The Concord Coalition, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Families USA and many others have all said that a coverage mandate and preexisting condition reform have to be paired in order for the finances of health reform to work.

Mike_McFadden_scissors_obamacareYet when GOP politicians endorse those two mutually exclusive positions, almost no political reporters note the absurdity of it.  When reporters allow politicians to get away with simultaneously endorsing the part of Obamacare that outlaws pre-existing condition denials and opposing the part of Obamacare that mandates insurance coverage, they effectively allow those politicians to say something every bit as absurd as “I’m for capitalism, but I also support communism.”

For example Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate, and millionaire investment banker, Mike McFadden (R-Sunfish Lake) says:

Before we can make the kind of changes Americans deserve, we need to repeal the “Unaffordable Care Act” (which would repeal the coverage mandates)

…when we repeal and replace Obamacare, we need to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions actually have access to affordable insurance plans that cover their illnesses.

Any actuary will tell you that if McFadden and other GOP pols simultaneously enacted those two policies it would lead to a complete and utter meltdown of the nation’s health care finance system.  But almost no political reporters will.

- Loveland

Note:  This post was also featured on MinnPost’s Blog Cabin.

And the Stiffs Just Keep on Comin’

Lambert_to_the_SlaughterLacking anything resembling a passionate issue, this year’s political campaigns, certainly here in Minnesota, have acquired a common theme by default. Put one way it is: “How did we end up with this pack of stiffs and maroons?”

Colleague Joe has been lucid about one aspect of this. But then us fringy blogger types aren’t required to stick a sock in what we really think in the interests of, you know, “promoting a civil discourse”.

Translation: If you’re getting paid for what you write, never publish anything that might upset your mega-church going maiden aunt.

Today though, Strib columnist Jon Tevlin ventures about as far out on the institutional branch as he can get when he surveys the recent Tom Hagedorn/Michelle MacDonald/Keith Downey/Al Franken news cycle, and, after five paragraphs of promising never to sully himself with such gutter talk ever again, declares the lot of ‘em … “a bunch of idiots”.

Jon is a quality guy and a talented writer. (I.e. I’d really rip him if he were a putz.) But his first obligation is to play within the parameters of a mainstream commercial news organization, a business enterprise determined to maintain credibility across the entire spectrum of modern American, uh, “discourse”. Within that business plan, calling aspiring/elected officials “idiots” is a journalistic “no fly zone”.

No matter how ill-informed, craven, hypocritical and reckless, respectable/moderated journalism does not go to … “idiot”. Not even if there’s a clinical diagnosis involved. Juvenile name-calling is left to spittle-flecked bloggers with no advertising base to endanger.

These moments always reminds me of a lunch interview I had with the author Paul Theroux years ago. Theroux occasionally wrote for The New York Times, and struggled with the grand institution’s rules of order. Like the time he was assigned a piece on the physical experience of The Big Apple’s 1980s subway system. This naturally involved describing smelly piles of what the Times copy desk insisted he refer to as  “fecal material” polluting stations and platforms.

Said Theroux in essence, “It was classic Times. Struggling not to describe in language everyone understands what everyone sees under foot every day of their lives.”

The essential point here is to ask (again) how much better our political “discourse” might be if the “real media” described characters and events in terms all of us understand instantly and use every day? How much less of Michele Bachmann’s ludicrous circus act would we have had to endure if words like “lying”, “reckless” and “self-serving” had been deployed with near-daily regularity by the Strib, the PiPress, MPR, and the local TV outlets … instead of just the bed-head rabble of dyspeptic bloggers?

Given the appetite of today’s “movement conservatives” for “idiot discourse” and self-serving demagoguery, the media alone won’t be able to nudge that ship/garbage scowl into a channel of sanity. But let me argue that a professional reporting class permitted a vernacular beyond that which doesn’t induce indigestion in devout Mormons might loosen up some of the “stiffs” smelling up our public offices.

Mar(k) Dayton is probably beyond “loosening”. But how much more effective might Al Franken be if he felt comfortable melding both his innate satirical wit with his policy smarts? How much larger a public platform would he have, with benefits both to Minnesotans and national progressives, if he routinely spoke in a language everyone (other than Mormons and churchy aunts) immediately understands and uses every day? Would he, after applying a little comic lubricant, be more or less influential than the glaze-inducing grey cardboard character he’s playing today? A caricature acceptable enough for Times copy editors.

The commercial media’s role in a renaissance of public “discourse” would be, as it is now, to fairly assess the claims of partisan critics who will inevitably shriek and froth for their base any time Franken or any other politician talks and acts like a human being, as opposed to some committee-neutered corporate spokesman in permanent crisis management mode.

I don’t know if any of this would make me walk a block to listen to a stump speech. But it might at least convince me there’s some blood in their veins.


New Poll Shows Secret of GOP Candidate Jeff Johnson’s Early Political Strength

A new survey released today finds that Minnesota Republican gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson now trails incumbent DFL Governor Mark Dayton by just nine points, 39% to 48%.  Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, has never won a statewide race before.

Map_of_popular_surnamesWhile the findings are a surprise to some veteran political observers, a closer look provides a clue why the relative political newcomer may be showing so strongly.  About 78 percent of likely Minnesota voters who say they are supporting Johnson believe that he is either their co-worker (26 percent), neighbor (21 percent), business associate (17 percent), or relative (14 percent).

According to U.S. Census data, Johnson is the most common surname in Minnesota, surpassing the ubiquitous Andersons, Olsons, Petersons, and Nelsons in Minnesota’s top five.

Asked of 800 likely Minnesota voters, the survey’s margin of error is minus or plus 3.9 percent.

Note:  This post is satirical, false, and not-to-believed, but somehow also feels plausible.