Minnesota Liberal

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Media: A Reflection of Reality Television

"You're Fired!", the Donald pointedly informed Stacy J on The Apprentice.

This is what I had to entertain myself with at 8:00pm last night on network television. The television entertainment equivilant of todays political media coverage.

Television line-ups today are dominated by reality shows; including Survivor, Big Brother, Trading Spouses, Who Wants To Marry My Dad, The Next Great Champ, etc. These shows hardly challenge the imagination. Often... they leave you wondering where in the hell they find their participants. Whether they are competing for monetary prizes or attractive mates- they are quite often willing to do anything while the camera is watching. These couldn't possibly be people I would find in my neighborhood, right? Sadly... wrong.

The shows are advertised as "dramatic." Flash to Fear Factor contestants devouring some type of intestine. Or "surprise filled." Flash to Fear Factor contestants devouring some type of intestine.

But what are we really getting from these? No more than we are getting from the media on politics.

There are several areas in which reality tv and political media are similar.

They edit everything down to black and white statements in order to create drama between characters (oops, I mean participants). For example, they show one line from Kerry's latest speech, then one from Bush's.

And don't forget about commentary! What would two talking heads be without two more. David Brooks chimes in on Kerry. First he half-heartedly praises the Senator and slightly chuckles before slipping into some diatribe about how Kerry is so out of touch with "mainstream america." Then E.J. Dionne responds by saying that he "respectfully disagrees" with Brooks. He spends nearly his entire appearence trying to refute what Brooks said, without ever really being able to control the discussion. Often it will be Tim Russert and a conservative guest (think Dick Cheney). They exchange questions and answers and you wonder if the guest just recently hired Timmy as their press secretary.

They also create roles for their characters (sorry, participants). In every reality tv show their must be an Angry (read Bitchy) woman. The media gives us Teresa Heinz Kerry, Condoleeza Rice, or Hillary Clinton. Don't forget your ditzy blonde girls- Jenna Bush/Ann Coulter. There has to be some kind of host (whose job it is to ensure as little intellectual discussion as possible). Enter Katie Couric or Matt Lauer.

I just keep finding myself hoping that, come November... the sweeps weeks for both television and the White House will result in serious change.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

One For The Books

A few years back, I took a class entitled "Writing History." We looked at history, as a concept, and studied several different ways in which it is written. (This class, at the UofM, was taught by John Troyer. He is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met and really a great writer. Try google searching him and read his stuff.)

Anyway... It is an odd concept. Who is it that writes school textbooks? Why do we trust these textbooks? Are textbooks biased in any way?

Many of these questions were very similar to those that were asked when the State of Minnesota was developing new school standards. What is it that needs to be learned by children to understand the history of anything?

One of the nifty little facts we learned was that the state of Texas has an enormous amount of influence over how textbooks are written.

In Texas, they have a law requiring all textbooks be approved by a state board. That board is made up of a majority of Republicans. If they disagree with any of the content within a textbook, they can reject it and ask the publisher to resubmit it after certain changes have been made. Too much language about contraceptives in sex ed books or evolution in science books, and you won't be getting your book published. And this is a big problem because Texas buys more textbooks than almost any other state. And it would cost too much money for a publisher to create multiple different versions of their book. So schools in Minnesota get the same textbooks that were written for the Texas Board of Education.

I was just thinking about this subject because I really wonder how the George W. Bush presidency will play out in these textbooks. With such divided opinion on nearly everything he has done in his 4 years, it leaves us with one question:
We must ask, what is our children learning?
- George W. Bush


Thursday, September 16, 2004


There is a great blog I would suggest everyone check out... New Patriot. Whether it is local, statewide, or national issues... they do a great job.

I think it is really important to encourage discussion that reaches beyond just one or two blogs. Our community offers a wide variety of opinions and ideas, and hopefully through the participation of many...we can make even more of a difference.


A Little Culture

I encourage everyone to go see "Carmina Burana"- the collaboration of Theater de la Jeune Lune and Minnesota Dance Theater. It is a great mix of opera, ballet, and poetry. Definitely worth the money. Both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press loved it.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Kill the messenger!

Apparently the Minnesota GOP Party doesn't like the Minneapolis Star Tribune's political polling.

They are telling the Star Trib to fire their pollster and hire someone else. Which of course makes sense because they don't bias all their information and sampling methods.

Just another example of the GOP's slime tactics. If you are not one of them... you are EVIL. Or an Angry Democrat. Well damn right we are angry. They have taken over our political system and put our country into chaos.

And if they want to play "gotcha games" with cameras... here is a fine example of the Republicans in this state.

This is the truck that was driving around near the Minnesota State Fair grounds. Until the driver was arrested. The truck is sponsored by Minnesota Citizens for the Defense of Marriage. If you go check out there events page, they were at the AM1280 The Patriot's state fair booth getting people to sign petitions for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The Patriot broadcast the Savage Nation- a program hosted by a man that has said he wants gays to get AIDS and die. This is a radio station that is frequented by the Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Senator Norm Coleman.

This photo is Coleman with the right wing Northern Alliance bloggers at The Patriot booth at the state fair. And congrats to those bloggers. They have officially made themselves trivial. Check out their ongoing debate over the Bush National Guard memos at the Powerline blog. Continue if you want guys... but you still have not come up with any evidence that shows Bush fulfilled his Guard duties. Your leader was AWOL.


Friday, September 10, 2004

On a more philosophical note...

After a day and a half of typography forensics debate... let's take a step back from the everyday frustrations of being a liberal in this crazy Faux News world. Instead, I want to talk about the philosophical reasoning behind my political beliefs.

I believe that government is an important part of our society in maintaining security, health, transportation, education, civil rights, labor, and trade. I believe that those who have been blessed with the success this country offers should bear more of the financial tax burden, thus allowing those with smaller incomes to find relief.

Many conservatives would argue that government should be small and not interfere with our lives. But what is small? Where is it okay for them to interfere and when is it wrong?

Was it wrong when courts ruled it was unconstitutional to discriminate against women? minorities? homosexuals? Of course not.

They would argue that we should pay very little in taxes? How little? 2%? 5%? They don't know.

Many Republicans say that don't want their money going to pay for someone else's education or health care... even though they also enjoy the priledges that come from those taxes being paid. The better educated children are... the more productive and innovative they will be in the work place, the more successful businesses will be, and better products will become available.

The more we privatize and individualize our society... the more difficult we make it for a large portion of our society. But as a collective... we have the resources needed to increase the probability of success for everyone.

I recently had a conversation that made me think very hard about what I believe and why.

My libertarian friend Jon said to me,
"You know what I want? I want the right to fail."

Jon believes that our system of government is flawed because it spends so much money and effort trying to ensure that everyone is a success. He thinks that we should forget about those that can't make it on their own. Survival of the fittest.

I wanted to punch him in the face. I felt this anger because Jon is a very successful advertising/art student at MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design). I felt this anger because Jon has never been homeless, starving, without health insurance, without a computer, without hope. I felt this anger because he was spitting on the pain and suffering that millions of people in this country face every day.

Jon thinks that government should only operate on a local level. (Say one candidate represents a couple thousand people). Jon also believes that our two party system is a joke. He thinks that we shouldn't be voting for a candidate unless we agree with that candidate on 90% of the issues. (He believes that currently most voters only agree with Bush or Kerry on about 2 or three issues). What Jon doesn't realize is that he will never be happy unless he is representing himself. Everything is a slippery slope. There shouldn't be a federal government. There shouldn't be a state government. There shouldn't be a county government. Etc. You get the idea.

Jon is just an isolationist contrarian. He exists for only two reasons. To benefit himself. And to tell others they are wrong.

I hope one day Jon fails. Because maybe then he will realize why I care so much about his being successful. Jon's success could very easily affect my own.

Sorry if this posting doesn't completely make sense. I have a lot floating around in my head right now and it is hard to make sense of it all.

I hope to discuss these topics and issues further in future posts.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

An Anger One Cannot Properly Express...

I am sorry I have not posted in so long.

To start off... I feel very sorry for all the residents of Florida. Yet another hurricane (Ivan) is on its way. I hope the state is able to recover from all this mess. As if they didn't have enough to worry about with the upcoming election and the electronic voting machines.

As for our Commander-in-Failure, it is now open season. I can't wait to see all the flood gates open with a whole slew of new books coming out. Kelley. Hersh. Graham.

I really can't believe so many people do not know anything about Bush's rumored abortion, cocaine use, DUI's, etc. I was speaking to a friend today, who pretty well represents the uniformed voter who doesn't pay attention to politics, that had never heard about any of our current President's crazy past exploits.

I sometimes forget how little people know about what is happening in the world around them.

At first when I heard about Kelley's book, which will be considered a pretty trashy tabloid-esque depiction of the President's family, I was scared. I worried that it was this type of rumor-based journalism would hurt John Kerry and his hopes in the election. But after speaking with my un-informed friend... I realized that the more rumors about Bush that get out there, the better. It seems to be the only way of getting the media's attention. After the RNC Hatefest, featuring Zell Miller, and the Swift Boat Vets ads... everything is game.

I was surprised to see that the Star Tribune ran this AP story about Bush's military records. It is actually quite good, (although it doesn't quite point out the differences between criticism of Kerry's record vs. Bush's record).

I have seen lots of different blogs commenting on Bush's poll numbers lately. It seems that he has gotten a significant bounce from the convention and is beating Kerry by about 4 points. I really don't see what this has to do with anything. First of all, it is normal for a candidate to get a bounce after the conventions. Secondly, as we have seen in the past... the public falls for Bush's speechs everytime. He is one of the worst public speakers I have ever seen, but it never seems to hurt him.

So to summerize why the polls don't concern me right now... because Bush is running on a platform of Kerry can't fight the war on terror. The problem he faces is proving he has, in any way, been successful in that same fight.

We have a very successful question to combat the GOP.

"What hasn't George W. Bush screwed up while in office, and why should we give him another chance?"