Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just another day in the "news" room

Media bias is a subject near and dear to my heart, in part because I used to be a denier.

When I worked as a reporter, and conservatives would complain about media bias, I would smile and shake my head and say something like, "Oh, some reporters lean Democrat, but we all work very hard to report things straight and fair," because that's what I did.

But after a few years, it became fairly obvious to me that I was wrong. I watched fellow editors and reporters go out of their way to include their political slants in what were supposed to be "news" stories. As I got older it became obvious that I was in a business where 90% or more of my colleagues had liberal biases, and weren't afraid to show it.

And it's gotten worse over the years. A once-great news organization like NBC News is tangled up with MSNBC, an electronic version of a children's playground, where pseudo-journalists like Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews are free to voice their personal bigotry under the guise of "reporting." And on and on it goes across CBS and ABC, the New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, etc., etc...Liberal "reporters" bending and slanting the news in an effort to create a narrative favorable to liberals.

Today it may have bottomed out when the former Political Director of ABC News and head of Yahoo News David Chalian made a tasteless, racist joke about Mitt and Ann Romney. Not realizing there was a live microphone nearby, Chalian watched video of the Romneys waving and smiling and - in an apparent reference to Hurricane Isaac - said the Romneys are "happy to have a party with black people drowning."

(You can hear the audio here.)

Once Chalian was identified, Yahoo quickly fired him. But what's important to remember about this incident is that if it hadn't been on tape, nothing would have happened. In the background you can hear others in the room laughing at his joke. Without the tape, it's just another day at the office for these folks, calling Republicans racist and laughing about it.

Over the years, I've been in enough newsrooms and hung with enough reporters for this to all sound so, so familiar. The news you hear every day comes through the same filter, one of bigotry and prejudice against conservatives and their ideas.

There's no doubt in my mind that David Chalian and his colleagues aren't disappointed with his "joke," they're just disappointed that he got caught.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Whores for Obama

Just when you think the Obama campaign couldn't look any less competent, the geniuses running the show manage to make themselves look even dumber.

Now it's a "Republican Women for Obama" ad, in which several women look into the camera and claim to be long-time Republicans who are now turned off by the party and so they are going to vote for Obama.

First of all, the premise doesn't even stand up to reason. What about the Obama administration would any long-time Republican find attractive? The record deficits? The push for higher taxes? "You didn't build that"? The assault on religious freedom?  The race-baiting? The increased regulation? Obamacare? The stagnant economy? Anyone who looks at the Obama record and says, "Yeah, I'd like four more years of this" was clearly never a long-time Republican.

Undeterred by the fact that they couldn't find any long-time Republican women who favor Obama, the campaign just made some up. Specifically, they found Maria Ciano. In the ad she says the Republican Party was "once in line with our views."

But if you got to Maria's Facebook page (before it was hastily taken down), you would find that she "likes" the following pages and/or links:

Democracy For America
Tar Sands Action
Amy Goodman
Barack Obama
Being Liberal
Bernie Sanders Tells You A Secret the GOP Would Rather You Didn’t Know
Miss Piggy Delivers the Best Takedown of Fox News We’ve Seen All Month
Think Progress
The Best Quote From Barack Obama We’ve Seen This Week
Dow and Monsanto Join Forces to Poison America’s Heartland
Climate Reality
The Amazing Victory Scored With Obama That More People Should Be Talking About
The Sierra Club
The Buffett Rule
Obama For America–Colorado
Denver Young Democrats
Latinos For Obama
Michelle Obama
Veterans For Obama
I Love It When I Wake Up In the Morning and Obama Is President
Obama Truth Team
Democratic Party

So, yeah, she's a pretty hard-core Republican.

But even though she's been registered as a Democrat in Colorado since 2006, she agreed to sit in front of a camera and tell bald-faced lies on behalf of her beloved Obama. There's a name for women like that.

It turns out that prostituting yourself for Dear Leader runs in the family. Maria's mother, Delia Ciano, is another one of the women in the ad. And she also has a long electronic trail of Twitter posts demonstrating her long-standing membership in the Democratic party.

It's NOT surprising that the Obama campaign could find a couple women willing to besmirch their own honor and credibility on behalf of The Chosen One, but it's surprising that they were stupid enough to think they could get away with it.

In this day of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, comment sections, chat boards, etc., most of us have left an electronic trail that makes it pretty easy to figure out where we stand politically.

And in a nation of more than 300 million people, the Obama campaign couldn't find enough "Republican Women for Obama" to make an ad, so they found a couple dim bulbs to make liars of themselves and put it up as an ad purporting to show how upset Republican women are with Mitt Romney, thinking that no one would ever find out. I mean, really, how stupid can you be?

Do you really want the people running this administration and this campaign to run the country for another four years?

Friday, August 24, 2012

A little hope for the future

My own lifelong relationship with golf is on the rocks right now, for reasons I'll probably get around to writing about later, but this summer I will play the fewest number of rounds of golf I've played in probably the past 40 years.

But if anything brings me back, it might be this: Grandson Sam, on his 3rd birthday, on the first tee at Red Wing Golf Club. This picture brings me a lot of happiness!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A sea change in the heartland

Take a close look at this picture.

Hardhats? Check.
Denim work clothes? Check.
Marching en mass? Check.

Is it a group of workers going on strike? Are they marching for higher wages and "social justice?" It's an election year, so maybe - like good, obedient union members - they're on their way to attend an Obama rally, right?

Well, none of the above.

What these coal miners - and about 2,600 of their co-workers, family members and friends - are doing is standing in line to attend a Mitt Romney rally near Beallsville, Ohio.

The Obama campaign loves to talk about "fighting for the middle class," but here is the middle class incarnate. Hard-working men and women who want to have a job, own a home, send the kids to college and have a retirement waiting for them.

And they understand that the Obama years have not moved them any closer to those dreams. Obama's open hostility towards oil, coal and natural gas - phantom "green jobs" in pie-in-the-sky wind and solar developments are the White House's preferred pipe dream - is a threat to their way of life.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 54-year-old miner Tim Wiles and many of his colleagues are excited about Romney.

“This election is his and Paul Ryan’s for the taking," Wiles said. "They need to be bold and remind people of what we stand for, that we are the backbone of this country. We make things. We provide energy for the state, food for our families, and businesses are sustained around the county because they make money from us."

You can read polls and splice numbers all you want, but this seems certain: If unionized mine workers are willing to stand in the hot sun, lined up to hear a Republican presidential candidate, Obama has serious problems.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

His friend, Leo.....

When I was growing up - and this is hard for my children to believe - the Twin Cities had FOUR daily newspapers. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul had morning and afternoon dailies, and in our household it was the afternoon Minneapolis Star that greeted me when I arrived home from school. Their page B1 columnist was a guy named Jim Klobuchar, who doubled as one of the Vikings writers during football season.

His columns seemed clever, worldly and insightful as he wrote about football and politics and growing up in Ely and current events in Minneapolis. I enjoyed his work, and it probably played a part in pushing me towards my journalism career.

Except he was a fraud. First the Star suspended him for making up quotes, and then they suspended him again for working as a speechwriter for Gov. Rudy Perpich on the side and by the end of his career he was not much more than a target of ridicule and pity.

About the time Klobuchar was slinking away (and afternoon papers were going the way of the dodo) my interest turned to a young Tribune columnist name Joe Soucheary. He wrote sports, became a sports columnist and then a general columnist. His column the day after the U.S. beat the Soviets in the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" game remains a classic more than 30 years later.

We met in the early '80s, after I reviewed one of his books in my own newspaper column. I can't say we were close friends, but we bump into each other from time to time and have a nice chat, most recently at a Wild game last year. "Sooch" has become more famous as a radio host - he is the Mayor of the small town of "Garage Logic" on 1500 AM, and also in syndication - but he has continued to write a column for the St. Paul Pioneer Press over the years.

And, as he wrote today, dozens - maybe a hundred - of those columns began with, "My friend Leo, who has a cabin up north....." They were always entertaining, full of homespun wisdom and tales from the lake. I once asked him if Leo was real - perhaps remembering all of the Klobuchar writing that turned out to be fraudulent - and he assured me that Leo was very real, and a genuine character.

Well, Leo's identity was revealed in today's column, but I won't spoil the surprise. Just click here, and you can learn all about Leo, and why Sooch spent so much time at the cabin. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The coming barrage of lies about Paul Ryan

Picking a running mate is often called the "first presidential decision" a candidate makes, and if that's the case, Mitt Romney hit a home run in choosing Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. I written about Ryan before, at a time when almost no one outside his district and Capitol Hill had heard of him.

He is best known as a "budget wonk," who knows as much as any human can know about the federal budget. But in addition to his knowledge, he is articulate and personable as well, and he put those talents to use creating a series of videos that explain - in terms virtually anyone can understand - the disastrous fiscal path we are on. They're brief, but insightful. Here's the first one:


The second one explains the coming crisis in Medicare. Here it is:

Now, here's what you're going to hear over and over in the next few weeks from the slimy folks running the Obama campaign: Paul Ryan is a heartless jerk who wants to balance the budget on the backs of old people by killing Medicare.

Here's the truth: If we don't fix Medicare very, very soon. It's not going to be there for ANYONE. Not you, no me, not anyone under the age of 50. There's an old fiscal adage that goes something like this: Anything that cannot be sustained, won't be.

Medicare cannot be sustained as it is, and anyone that says it doesn't have to be fixed is lying to you. The cruelest thing you can do is NOT fix Medicare, because if you don't, it's going to go broke.

And after three years in office - and seeing what the future holds - Obama has done nothing to fix the problem. And when Ryan had the guts to present a solution to the problem of our crushing debt, the administration sent Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner up to Capitol Hill to criticize Ryan's approach. As you can see in this clip, Ryan showed Geithner the mountain of debt in front of us and asked what HIS solution was. Hit the "play" button and you'll hear Geithner admit, "We don't have a solution. We just don't like yours." That's not only irresponsible, it's cruel and heartless.

The choice is this election has become very clear: We can re-elect Obama and continue down the path to fiscal ruin, towards a government that can't pay for Medicare, Social Security or any of its obligations, or we can put people in charge who recognize the problem and are willing to solve it. 

If the American voters decide to listen to the lies that are on the way from Team Obama about Paul Ryan and the federal budget, then the collapse of the nation's finances is on their head.

What can you do? Whenever you hear someone say "I don't know, the Republicans sound like they want to get rid of Medicare," you can tell them the truth, and show them the Path to Prosperity videos. Or you can say nothing, and watch things crumble.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Paul Wellstone killed Joe Soptic's wife

If ever you needed an explanation for why Obama should not be re-elected, he and his team provided it this week with one of the most disgusting, slimy and dishonest ads in the history of political advertising. And when called on it, they flat-out lied about it.

The ad concerns a former steelworker named Joe Soptic. The steel mill at which Joe worked was losing money and was purchased by Bain Capital - led by Mitt Romney - in 1993, and Bain tried to turn the company around. Six years later, in 1999, Romney left Bain to go run the Salt Lake City Olympics.

In 2001 - two years after Romney had left Bain - the mill went bankrupt (amid a variety of troubles all across the American steel industry) and Soptic lost his job (after being offered - and rejecting - a buyout offer).

Soptic's wife continued to work at her job, which gave her health benefits. A couple years later, in 2003, she lost that job, along with her health benefits. A couple of years later, sadly, she developed cancer and died.

And the Obama campaign - through a "super PAC" supporting the president - claims that Mitt Romney is responsible for her death. "I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he's done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned," says Soptic, in the ad.

So, let's put that timeline together again:

Romney leaves Bain in 1999.
Soptic loses his job in 2001. He also loses his health benefits, but his wife still has hers.
Soptic's wife loses her job and health benefits in 2003
She dies in 2005.
Therefore, according the Obama campaign, Mitt Romney killed her.

With this kind of logic, her death can be pinned on anyone. For example:

In 1995, Paul Wellstone voted for trade sanctions against Japan
As a result, U.S. steel exports suffered
As exports lagged, Joe Soptic's plant struggled, eventually closed and left him without health benefits
Then Soptic's wife lost her job
Then she got cancer and died.
Therefore, Paul Wellstone murdered her.

Now that we've found the real killer, let's get back to the ad. It was quickly and loudly condemned virtually everywhere, with even lefty outlets like CNN and The Washington Post calling it disgusting and false.

Confronted with the absurdity of the ad, Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, tried to distance herself from it, but she did so by telling one whopper of a lie. "I don't know the details of this man's story or the ad," she said.

We know that's a lie because back in May, Cutter hosted a conference call for reporters that featured - you guessed it - Joe Soptic himself. He peddled his little tale of Mitt's complicity in his wife's death, and at the end of the call, Cutter said "Thank you, Joe. We really appreciate you...sharing your experiences."

This is big problem for Obama for a couple of reasons. First, it's against the law for campaigns to coordinate with PACs, and here we have the campaign up to its eyeballs in the preparation of a slimy, disgusting ad. An FEC investigation seems likely.

Secondly, it shows the depths the White House will sink to in an effort to win re-election. They can't win on their record of high unemployment, record deficits, record national debt, corruption and general incompetence, so they've chosen the road of gutter politics.

It's a losing road, and the act of a desperate campaign.

I only wish Wellstone had lived long enough to be called to account for the blood on his hands.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Will they ever learn?

It was nearly 10 years ago that Senator Paul Wellstone and several others died in a tragic plane crash, and it was at his memorial service a few days later that Minnesota's DFLers pretty much ensured the election of Republican Norm Coleman as Wellstone's successor.

They did so with an incredibly tasteless display at the service, which they turned into a big pep rally for Walter Mondale, the replacement candidate for Wellstone. They booed Wellstone's Republican senate colleagues who had traveled across the country for the service. They led loud cheers for DFL candidates and pretty much made asses of themselves at what should have been a solemn occasion.

The backlash was big and immediate. Most Minnesotans are able to separate partisan politics from the events of everyday life, and they were turned off by the partisan tone of the service. Coleman went on to hand Mondale the only electoral defeat of Wally's career a few days later, largely because of the way Democrats behaved at the memorial.

Less than 10 years later, the Democrats demonstrated that they leaned nothing from that debacle. Saturday, at the unveiling of a statue of Hubert Humphrey near the State Capitol, they turned the event into another partisan pep rally.

The old intern mentor himself, Bill Clinton, showed up and used his speaking platform to decry Voter ID laws. (Because, you know, Hubert would have been in favor of voter fraud.)

Not to be outdone, the Senate's dimmest wit, Al Franken, got up and gave a little speech in favor of gay marriage, somehow linking Hubert's opposition to racial segregation to the effort to rewrite several thousand years of the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage.

Clinton, Franken and others were remarkably tasteless in using an event designed to honor Hubert as a platform for their own political grievances. Which makes you wonder how they can be so tone-deaf and socially clumsy.

And the answer, I think, is found in the basic liberal mindset: That nothing important can happen without government.

Liberals believe - as demonstrated by the President recently telling business owners "You didn't build that" - that there is no higher power than government. Government is their church, it is their family, it is their reason for living, and because it's so omnipotent, no occasion can be inappropriate for partisan political talk.

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to believe that government plays a much more limited role in ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And when you don't view partisan politics as the answer to every one of life's little problems, you tend to believe that there are some instances in which political grandstanding is inappropriate.

I never knew Hubert, but in my years working in the Senate I went out of my way to talk to a number of old-time staffers who had been around him, and the overall impression I got was that he was a heck of a guy. People loved him, and he loved people. Northwest flight attendants told me stories about him making the D.C.-Minneapolis flight without ever sitting down, because he loved spending those three hours meeting and engaging with people. His political "joy" was genuine.

Regardless of that, I think he would have been appalled to see Saturday's event turned into a partisan event, and to see that his party still hasn't learned anything about respect, grace and taste.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Still a place where dreams come true

I realize this is a minority opinion, but I much prefer the Winter Olympics to the summer version. I find downhill skiing, speedskating, the hockey tournament and bobsledding all more exciting than gymnastics, swimming or basketball. And come on, badminton? Really?

But regardless of my preferences, I enjoyed a nice moment last night after Gabby Douglas won the women's all-around gymnastics gold medal and raced to embrace her coach, Liang Chow.

And while I realize it's a bit of a cliche, in that moment I was reminded again that America is still the great melting pot, and still a place where there are no limits on your dreams.

In that picture we have a young lady from Virginia, who found the courage at age 14 to leave her family and move halfway across the continent to - of all places - West Des Moines, Iowa, to pursue her dream of becoming an Olympian.

And waiting for her in Iowa was Liang Chow, a Chinese-born coach who competed for his native country for many years before accepting a scholarship to the University of Iowa so he could learn English and coach gymnastics. He became an American citizen in 2002.

Both of them pursuing dreams, both of them finding a place in America's heartland and, last night, both working together to produce another American gold medal.

It's a beautiful picture, and it makes me angry all over again that the political left works so hard to drive racial and class wedges between us. Look at it again: You'd never confuse that with a photo from the Russian or Chinese or Swedish teams. It's a purely American moment.

Someone once wrote - and I think I first heard Ronald Reagan say it - that you can go live in France, but it doesn't make you French, and you can go live in Japan but you'll never be Japanese. But anyone from anywhere in the world can move to the United States and become an American.

It's a sweet and noble thought, and it was illustrated perfectly last night in London.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One small sandwich for freedom....

Most of you will be familiar with the controversy currently surrounding Chick-fil-A, the chicken sandwich chain that is ever-present down south, and only recently making inroads in the northern part of the country. The family that owns the chain is devoutly religious, and they put their faith into action by closing all of their stores on Sunday, a type of Sabbath observance that seems quite quaint now, but was far more common just 30 or 40 years ago.

Their CEO recently gave an interview in which he expressed his belief that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, and this simple expression of belief (a belief that he shared with Barack Obama, until just a couple of months ago) gave the lefties vapors.

The Mayors of Chicago and Boston announced that Chick-fil-A restaurants were not welcome in their cities (because, you know, both cities have all the jobs they need) and the gay rights crowd announced a boycott of Chick-fil-A.

The backlash to this shameful bullying has been tremendous. People on both sides of the gay marriage debate pointed out that the Chick-fil-A chain does not discriminate against gays in hiring, in serving, or in any other way. The ham-fisted actions of the government officials was in response to a belief, not to an action, and most Americans understand the First Amendment well enough to know that government's not allowed to punish you for thinking. (At least not yet: If there's a second Obama term, all bets are off.)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee used his access to the airwaves to declare Aug. 1 "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" across America, and urged people who value freedom of speech to patronize a Chick-fil-A restaurant to demonstrate support.

That's not easy to do here in Minnesota. According to the corporate website, they have just three Minnesota locations. One is in Mankato, and another is in the food court at MSP airport, on the other side of the security checkpoints, making it impossible to get to.

The third location is - in a wonderful bit of irony - on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Right there in old Moscow-on-the-Mississippi, in the food court of Coffman Student Union, is a small Chick-fil-A "express" counter. It's only open on weekdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., but a few friends and I made plans to have lunch there today to express our support.

It turned out that several hundred other people did so as well. We arrived a little ahead of the crowd, about 11:30, but the line was already out the door like this:

We got our food and sat down, but not before making some small talk and meeting a couple terrific guys named Brian and Charles. I'll protect their last names because they both work in the "belly of the beast" of a government agency, and find that they have to be careful about sharing their political beliefs with co-workers. They were two great guys who joined our table and shared a conversation.

New Chick-fil-A friends, Brian and Charles

Ready for a great sandwich!
As we ate, there was a steady stream of people coming out the food court. While a couple of them had plates from Panda Express or the pizzeria, the vast majority were carrying trays full of chicken sandwiches and the magnificent waffle fries.

Outside, the line was getting longer. It now ran out of the food court, turned a corner, and went down the full length of a corridor before turning another corner. At noon there were easily more than 100 people in line, and when I left about 1:00 p.m., the line was longer, even though people were moving through and being fed very quickly.

What I'll remember the most was the almost joyous atmosphere. Strangers smiled and nodded at one another, knowing that we weren't just sharing a meal, we were sharing a little taste of freedom. They enjoyed knowing that we were - admittedly in a very small way - taking a stand against the left-wing bullies and their political correctness. There wasn't one iota of gay-bashing going on, it was simply a large group of people expressing support for the notion that we still have freedom of speech in this country.

Of course, because they've been losing in the marketplace of ideas, the left has decided in recent years that instead of continuing to compete, they will attempt to just shut their opponents up.

This is evidenced by a knuckleheaded U student named Matthew Haas, who is apparently leading a petition drive to have Chick-fil-A kicked off campus. He told the Minnesota Daily student newspaper that "my dream would be to see the restaurant removed from Coffman sometime this academic year.” The store was also egged last week, according to the Daily.

That's now the way of the left: Agree with us, or we will destroy you. The party of Obama, Pelosi and Klobuchar won't be happy until everyone who disagrees is silenced, or maybe sent to one of the "reeducation camps" that the Soviets and Chinese were so adept at operating.

It was great, for a day, to see a large group standing up to the tyranny of the left. Go over and get yourself a chicken sandwich some time.