Indies Rejecting GOP “Cuts Only” Sermon

At some point, Republicans will have to leave the cozy confines of the Tea Party rallies, Lincoln Day dinners, right wing blogs, and conservative talk radio echo chambers. At some point, they have to listen to independent voters. After all, rare is the candidate who can win a general election without earning a sizeable proportion of the 51% of Minnesotans who call themselves “independents.”

When Republicans do start listening to the indies, they’re not going to like what they hear.

Do I hear an "amen?"
“Cuts only” is what the GOP is prosletyzing these days. In Minnesota, their insistence on filling a budget shortfall without new revenue led to a government shutdown and another Republican borrowing binge. So Republicans mostly won the policy fight, but will they win the 2012 electoral fight?

A MinnPost poll published yesterday found that very few Minnesota independents are shouting “amen” to the “cuts only” sermons that conservatives have been so vigorously preaching. While 22% of independents support the cuts only Republican approach, more than three times as many (72%) support using a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, the approach DFL Governor Dayton advocated. That’s a 50-point spread, and other recent polls have had similar findings.
Continue reading “Indies Rejecting GOP “Cuts Only” Sermon”

This House Is Clean…We Think

As Ellen noted last week, the Rowdy Crowd was the site of a hacking incident that – among other things – shut us down for about 10 days.  I’m pleased to report that after days of diligent scrubbing, the house elves report that all of the offending links and defacements have been removed.  We lost about six months of content and had to manually edit a couple hundred additional posts to remove ersatz links to a spam farm.

We have great faith in the house elves since…to paraphrase Pogo…they is us, BUT there’s a chance we might have missed a couple.  So, if you see a weird link to something that says “financialtime” or an embedded link that looks out of place, don’t click on it.  Drop us a note and we’ll dispatch an incident team to the site immediately.

The good news is that – if there are any links – they’re almost certainly in old posts that no one in their right minds would visit.  New posts – from mid-June on – we’re pretty confident are clean.

Thank you for your attention and that you for flying SRC airlines.

– Austin

 

Sometimes You Have to Make ‘Em Feel the Pain.

So much happened while we were hacked, down and rendered incapable of providing the great public service of our bloviation. We apologize to you as we continue to treat the shock to our systems.

But let’s see: Mark Dayton shucked his “tax the rich” crusade and settled for slice of Tim Pawlenty lite. He agreed with the modern conservative accounting regimen of budget-balancing-by-not-paying bills and taking out third mortgages. Today’s pledge-signing GOP loves that stuff. It protects the “job providers”. But it’s pretty disappointing to see a liberal Democrat concede to it.

Then, Rupert Murdoch’s influence-peddling “news” operation was caught in multiple frauds and crimes and is having its layers peeled back and splayed open like a Blooming Onion, not that his employees the Wall Street Journal opinion page or FoxNews see any relevance in the issue at all.

And in DC, Barack Obama, who long ago accepted something Mark Dayton didn’t have the stomach for, namely that when your opponent actually believes in the cleansing fires of Armageddon, you have no real choice other than to plan accordingly, and make them feel the consequences when they crash they burn.

I’ll save for later the role the governing ethos of Murdoch’s empire has had on both Dayton and Obama, Minnesota and the country, other than to say every raging apocalyptic needs a venue to broadcast his craziness. Some stand on street corners and preach the end of time. Others go on Sean Hannity’s show and claim that slamming shut the debt ceiling will liberate the job providers.

In one way it was good The Same Rowdy Crowd was down and out when Dayton signed his deal with Amy Koch and Kurt Zellers. Given a couple of days to think about it I regard it as less miserable than I did in my first reaction. The $500 million in bonding is maybe a quarter of what’s needed, (while you still have a AAA rating with some of the houses). But it is better than nothing. Nothing … and trusting that with fatter profits the state’s 1%ers will exercise a further sense of noblesse oblige and maybe rebuild the 494-35 interchange. Also, getting a cease-fire (until the 2012 session) on the GOP’s mail-order messiah shtick was worth something. I’m talking about the shtick where, to listen to allegedly credible adults, God and the Constitution require them to bring righteousness and propriety to our liberal-pagan land via state-issued IDs, more guns and fewer gays.

Besides the actual budgeting of the budget deal, (kind of a big part of the deal), what still galls me is that Dayton did not bring any heat to the feet of those who brought the state to its entirely self-inflicted crisis. For all his noble talk of requiring more from those with the most, Dayton’s messaging never took the “class warfare” complaint and reversed polarity. As in every other state and DC, the script from which Zellers, Koch and their Tea Party freshman take their rationale and talking points is calculated to protecting the advantages of the most advantaged, and slide sacrifice off on the middle class. That middle class needed a call to emotional arms it never got from Dayton.

Where was a unions, teachers, public employees, outraged partisans rally on Capitol Hill, a la Wisconsin only in nicer weather? Where was a TV campaign along the lines of what recall groups in Wisconsin are currently doing to GOP legislators? Was a call put out to politically creative types and liberal benefactors, here and across the country, to drive home an indelible message that the crisis, such as it was, was entirely avoidable and due exclusively to a GOP theory of government and accounting with no credible mooring in 21st century reality? What would the effect have been on Koch, Zellers et al of say 50,000 people on the Capitol steps, with speaker after speaker eviscerating the GOP’s bogus claims of financial rectitude and reminding all gathered who is first among equals in the GOP equation? Reminding the public the real fight today is for the health of the middle class? Or the impact of, as I say, two or three sharp-edged TV ads in heavy rotation for a week? Hell, Dayton himself could have paid for the latter.

Bottom line: Dayton allowed the state GOP to wander away from the shutdown protected by a fog of ambiguity.

The point of course is that the GOP’s solemn-sounding talk about deficit and reckless spending is a line of verbiage that only the most credulous chumps — and “balanced” reporters — continue to treat as true and legitimate. Everyone else can run the numbers and grasp the stunningly obvious reality that this is only about protecting the assets and the asset-producing systems of the already wealthy, the people who underwrite the careers of the “public servants” doing their work.

Obama, a more talented politician and far less a lone wolf than Dayton, appears to have known from last fall’s election that getting the GOP caucus to vote to raise the debt ceiling in a responsible way was something John Boehner was never going to be able to do. While Obama’s White House script may be coming a bit too much from Doris Kearn Goodwin’s “A Team of Rivals”, as opposed to the GOP’s from David L. Koch via Karl Rove, even Obama accepts the value of maneuvering your opponent into the painful position of the unambiguous perpetrator of a fraud against logic and society.

I still believe the true engineers of America 2011 — Wall Street — will hold sway with the 236 GOP House members and 41 Senate Republicans whose first allegiance is to Grover Norquist. But even if the country falls into default, (something a big chunk of that same pledge-signing crowd thinks is just liberal scare tactics), and Obama is damaged for such a self-inflicted calamity happening on his watch, all the facts and gearwork is in place for Obama to deliver a killing blow in the 2012 elections.

No big change ever happens without first some kind of shock or pain. No pain, no gain, you know. And sometimes, when the stakes are very high, you have to have an instinct and a strategy to target pain on the most cynical knaves in an intense and unequivocal way.

“Watch,” “Warning,” WTF?

Confession: I have no idea what this means.
This is a blog about communications, and communications is never more important than when catastrophic weather is fast approaching.

For decades I have been warned by earnest news meteorologists about weather “watches” and “warnings.” Nearly every time, I confess that I have to stop and say “wait, which one is the serious one?” By the end of the tornado season I sometimes have it straightened out again in my head, but then I forget it all by the following spring.

Yes, I know, this says more about my modest cognitive capacity than the clarity of weather communications. But it does speak to both. Unfortunately, I can’t get smarter. But the National Weather Service (NWS) could get clearer.
Continue reading ““Watch,” “Warning,” WTF?”

Rupert Murdoch: The Story Thus Far

Is Rupert Murdoch evil? Or brilliant? Or lucky? So immense are his holdings that a list is the only way to explain what they are.

It’s fascinating that the man who brings us Fox Views News also brings us the Wall Street Journal, which once was quite a good paper. Murdoch’s most enduring legacy, I predict, will be The Simpsons (no kidding.)

But it’s the British holdings we’re concerned with now because they appear to have Mr. M.’s 80-year-old bells in a wringer. The story thus far…

Beginning in late 2005, Court sycophants became concerned that someone somehow was learning of Royal Family Secrets. Because this suspicion involved a high-profile family, the venerable Scotland Yard was called in to investigate. Rumors began to circulate that reporters at Murdoch’s News of the World (henceforth called NoW) and The Sun may have illegally wiretapped and pinged the telephones of numerous celebrities, including the Princes William and Harry. This was high-level stuff, so hot that it resulted in the spring 2006 leak Harry had visited a strip club! The Sun’s precision headline: “Harry Buried Face in Margo’s Mega-Boobs. Stripper Jiggled . . . Prince Giggled.” I know some of you want to see a Royal between two boobs, so here you go.

Scotland Yard, deeply embarrassed, hastily concluded the wiretapping was performed by only two journalists, Royals’ watcher Clive Goodman and investigator Glenn Mulcaire. (The two had learned how to capture the PIN numbers of cell phones owned by Royals, celebrities, politicians, etc. Thus, they were able to listen to voice mail left on those cells and find “scoops.” By using pinging, the reporters could also physically locate someone.

(And here’s audio of Mulcaire explaining to another reporter how to capture a soccer coach’s number, courtesy of the NYT.com audio.)

The problem was that during its investigation, Scotland Yard came up with much more evidence that dozens – if not hundreds – of other cases existed where News of the World reporters had performed similar illegal taps. Most were of the celebrity ilk, such as listening in on voice mails of Jude Law, Siena Miller, Mick Jagger and, the greatest of them all, Hugh Grant.

However, and this just kills me, the Yard decided pursing the case “was a heavy stone that they didn’t want to try to lift,” according to one parliamentarian. Instead the Yard mumbled something about pursing terrorism (which translates into British as “pfroofreeing trzm”).

But, the Eugenie was out of the bottle. Numerous families filed police reports alleging the same violations against the NoW particularly. Since it was Murdoch the police clearly would have to go up against, they – like the Yard – did nothing.

What we didn’t know then but know now is that the most heart-wrenching, unethical, immoral and unforgivable tapping had already been done in 2002 on the cell phone of a missing 13-year-old school girl, Milly Dowler. Dowler was missing for six desperate months before her remains were found. During that time, NoW scumbags tapped into her phone messages, listened to those left by her desperate friends and family, erased messages when the inbox became full so that more could come in and, thus, confounded police as to whether or not the girl was still alive and/or where she might be.

When did all of this wrong-doing become known? Well, the NYT first blew the whistle in September 2010 on some of the shady practices in Murdoch’s papers when it interviewed, among others, former NoW entertainment reporter Sean Hoare who explained the widespread and editor-approved practices. NoW editors angrily accused the NYT of professional jealousy. And then everyone’s attention was taken up in the Royal Wedding and the “scandal” died down during the winter and spring of 2011.

But it would not go away. The Yard, caught in an unprofessional and illegal position itself, had to notify hundreds of shocked subjects that they, too, may have been subject to illegal taps..violations that had taken place years previously that the Yard knew about but did not bother to inform people of. (The number now stands at approximately 4,000.)

By early July of this year, everything exploded when a rival newspaper revealed the Murdoch’s News of the World had tampered with evidence in the 2002 Milly Dowler case.

Outrage was swift and very real.

On July 8, Andy Coulson, editor of News of the World from 2003 to 2007, was arrested for his connection to the scandal and other corruption charges. (It is worth noting that after Coulson left his editorship of NoW, he became – upon Murdoch’s recommendation – the communications director for current British Prime Minister David Cameron. Hmm. But don’t worry folks. Cameron cut short a visit to Africa to call for a special Parliamentary inquiry into the affair.)

Murdoch was forced to drop his attempted takeover of BSkyB cable in Great Britain, a multibillion-dollar move that would have given him the same power in broadcasting as he enjoys in print.

The best PR agency in the world, Bell Potinger, was called in for “refuse de-odorification.” And it would be needed, quickly.

On July 15 Rebekah Brooks, editor of the NoW from 2000-2003 – when many of these atrocious activities took place – resigned.

She was arrested on July 17.

Also on July 15, Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton, who has been with Murdoch for 50 years, resigned. Dow Jones, of course, owns the Wall Street Journal, which used to be quite a good paper.

On the weekend, Murdoch visited the Dowler family and apologized numerous times for their injury. While the apologies were heartfelt, the family’s attorney says the Dowlers have indicated “they can forgive but not forget,” which translated into British means: “See you in court, bastard.”

On July 17, Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police commissioner and head of Scotland Yard, resigned. He denied knowing anything about the cover-up of illegal taps or new allegations of police bribery by reporters.

John Yates, the other top police official of Scotland Yard who reviewed phone-hacking evidence in 2009 and concluded there was no need for a deeper investigation, resigned.

Murdoch published a public apology to his readers on the same weekend.

And then on July 18..um, what happened again on Monday, the 18th? I know it’s something kind of important.

Oh yeah. Now I remember:

Sean Hoare, the former NoW entertainment reporter who first busted the NoW for its practices, was FOUND DEAD IN HIS APARTMENT! AND HE WAS IN HIS 40s! AND THE POLICE DO NOT BELIEVE HIS DEATH WAS SUSPICIOUS! AND HE WAS IN HIS 40s!

As Jon Stewart puts it, if the police – who are investigating allegations of bribery against them by the same man who is found dead in his apartment – are satisfied his death was not suspicious, then it’s OK with him, too.

That almost brings us up to date. At last week’s hearing before a select committee of Parliament, a hooligan tried to throw a cream pie (A CREAM PIE!) at Mr. Murdoch during his testimony. Although Murdoch got some of it in on his suit but not in the puss, the worst damage was inflicted on the miscreant who was promptly thumped by the 30-year-old Mrs. Murdoch, Wendi Deng. You have got to see this video. Wendi is in the beautiful pink jacket. (Versace, perhaps?) I am so impressed by her no-nonsense, take-no-prisoner, stand-by-her-man, leap-over-the-crowd defense of Murdoch. Seriously, Murdoch owes her BIG TIME for that. And, gentlemen. You must honestly ask yourselves: Would your wives do THIS for YOU?

It’s reported that Rebekah Brooks is staying with the current British Prime Minister, David Cameon. (He’s also the same person who called the parliamentary investigation. But, hey! Apartments are hard to find in London.)

Murdoch and Deng will continue to live nice lives. He did not know what was going on at his papers. Neither did his son. Neither did Rebekah Brooks. Nobody seen nothin’, see?

But former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who claims the NoW obtained confidential medical records of his son, summarized the situation best on Wednesday when he testified that victims watched “their private, innermost feelings and their private tears bought and sold by News International for commercial gain.”

In doing so, he said, “News International descended from the gutter to the sewer.”

P.S. On July 10, Rupert Murdoch closed the 168-year-old News of the World.

In Case You’ve Missed Us…

Dear Friends of the Rowdy Crowd:

If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been for the past two weeks, I can assure you we’ve not been a part of the government shutdown. Nor, as some have suggested, was I sequestered as a juror in the Casey Anthony murder trial. (One of us did, indeed, serve on the O.J. criminal trial back in 1995 but his name shall remain anonymous. 😉 OK, MK?)

The truth is our trusted hosting site WordPress.com was having a bit of a hiccup when it came to allowing new posts on TSRC. We were assured it had nothing to do with the quality of material found here regularly but was – how did they put it? – Just One of Those Things.

Please also know that we did think about you, about each and every one of you. That’s because Austin presented the rest of us with a scheme to charge each of you what he called “micro-payments” to read our posts. He’s such a dreamer. Loveland then answered perhaps we should pay each of you for making this blog one of daily discussion, debate and delight.

So, thanks for waiting for us. Thanks for being there. Take care and carry one.

-The Mgmt