Crowds Pack College Theater as Congressman Tim Walz Makes Rare Town Hall Appearance

Tim Walz makes a rare public town hall meeting in Rochester’s RCTC Charles E. Hill Theater Thursday. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

By Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium Online

Congressman Tim Walz-D, CD1 of Minnesota, looking dapper and hip in blue jeans, brown leather shoes, button-down shirt and blue blazer, met with constituents in a rare town hall meeting on Thursday in the Rochester Community and Technical College’s Charles E. Hill Theater.

It was rare because Walz, who won back his seat in the House of Representatives by the narrowest of margins last election cycle, rarely meets with the regular public, only donors. But this was different and the glib and professional looking Walz helped himself greatly in the effort.

There were a lot of issues discussed at the town hall, which was packed to standing room only at the edges where Walz made a brief statement in the beginning before answering questions from the audience non-stop for two and half hours. The subject matter of the town hall ranged widely from the disputed fate of the failing Affordable Health Care Act, to National Security and Immigration. But there was one big take away.

Walz will not rule out a run for the Governorship of Minnesota.

A lady in the crowd asked the Congressman if he would run, eliciting his response. Many of the crowd showed their opposition of such a move, preferring him to remain in his current position. Still, there was a lot of applause as well when the Congressman said he would not rule it out. That applause may be indicative that a win for Walz in a governor’s race is at least possible.

Governor Mark Dayton, the incumbent, will be through with his latest term in two years and is not expected to run again. Dayton has been struggling with cancer and had a scary moment at his latest State of the State address when he passed out briefly at the end of his speech.

Running for Governor instead of his old seat in the congress may be a good move for Walz considering the slim victory he had over Republican challenger Jim Hagedorn the last time. Hagedorn is an able campaigner and has run against the incumbent twice before. With the unpopularity of the ACA and Walz’s liberal stances in a largely conservative district, three times might be the charm for Hagedorn. Conversely, Walz might make a much better showing in the statewide race especially factoring in blue areas including the Twin Cities Metro area, Rochester, Duluth and the Iron Range areas.

While Walz has said he won’t rule out such a campaign, he has not acknowledged a desire to run and it isn’t a sure thing. We’ll just have to see.

Congressman Tim Walz answers questions from the public during a town hall meeting in Rochester Thursday. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

Meanwhile, in the two and a half hours Walz spoke to constituents, several things became clear:

1. There is a lot of concern about ACA and medical coverage in general and the ACA has failed to meet the expectations of the voters in meeting its promises of lowering costs, increasing coverage, and increasing or maintaining choice. Indeed the opposite is true for many, which the congressman freely acknowledged.

2. People are concerned about immigration, especially of refugees from areas of concern named in the travel ban enacted by the Trump administration and challenged in the courts. Walz acknowledged those fears saying that national security concerns are a real issue, but stopped short thereafter, saying that it was wrong to demonize an entire sector of people, namely Muslims, who worship differently and have different cultural practices.

3. Walz would like the public to believe that health care is a journey and not a destination. He says he would like to see an ACA fix rather than an out and out repeal. Indeed he joked about a repeal and replace that came back on November 9, after an election cycle where it can do little damage to politicians struggling to win in elections, a common tactic used several times by the Obama administration. Many don’t think this is a terribly funny joke as their health care insurance provided in part by their employers have been cancelled and not replaced. Many others feel tied to their jobs when other opportunities avail themselves, because the coverage at a new employer may not be as good as what they have in their current job. Still many others have not gotten insurance, despite tax penaties, because they are healthy and don’t have jobs that will allow them to afford the coverage and high deductibles.

4. People are concerned about their privacy considering the knowledge that the government has the technology to spy on their telephonic conversations and internet usage. One attendee commented to the congressman that while privacy is important, the idea that a sitting National Security Advisor having his private phone conversations listened to and recorded shows the nation’s enemies what our capabilities are. NS Advisor Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was recently allowed to resign his new post after it became clear that he was having phone conversations with Russia prior to the election.

One question that seemed to take the discussion on a completely different tangent was the concern of one attendee who was against the so-called militarization of police forces. He son was on the local police force and was a current member of a SWAT or tactical team. Walz allowed that seeing officers in heavy gear and uparmored vehicles created a tension between cops and the community, but also said he favored legislation that provided equipment for local officers to be well protected in the execution of their very dangerous and hazardous duties of protecting the public.

In Walz’s appearance Thursday, he seemed to be very adept at playing both sides against the middle. Nothing he said in the meeting seemed to be outrageously right or left. If you’re a national security guy, you might be lead to believe that Walz is as worried as you. But then he denounces efforts by the Trump administration in carrying out his duties as commander in chief by temporarily banning refugees from Muslim minority countries of concern also black listed under the Obama administration. If you were for the ACA, you might believe that Walz is for improving it and are worried that Republicans will throw it in the trash. If you thing the ACA is a failure, you might get a sense that Walz is actually for a fix that might actually just be repeal and replace.

In essence, Walz was soft on specifics when it came to individual policy decisions that he would support or oppose, only indicating that he didn’t want to “diminish anyone’s concerns”.

When asked if he supported the continued federal funding of abortion provider Planned Parenthood, for example, Walz simply said “yes” and left it at that. There was no discussion of how Walz felt about the realization that P&P was actually selling the body parts of aborted fetuses for profit to medical research companies and whether or not he felt that practices was wrong and the practitioners prosecuted.

If you were looking for a kill stroke that showed Walz as a radical leftist as his voting record seems to indicate, you didn’t see it in this public appearance. What you did see is the slow acknowledgement that the Obama administration’s chief accomplishment, the ACA, is not living up to expectations and desperately needs to be fixed, repealed or replaced. Walz’s support of the law is likely the chief reason he nearly lost the last election round and why he should probably seek another office where his chances are better.

Watch a video of highlights of the town hall meeting below.

 

Share This:

Real Journalism: The Unreported World now Available on Netflix

 
by Jeremy Griffith
The American Millenniuim

Journalist Kiki King of Unreported World with freedom fighters in Kobani, Syria. – photo credit Unreported World

The camera viewfinder pans over her and you catch a glimpse of a running girl in body armor and blue kevlar helmet, but then her image is gone again; replaced by sky, debris in the streets, sky again, a devastated city with an explosion in the far distance. British reporter Kiki King is in the Syrian town of Kobani with her producer and cameraman covering the ongoing war between Kurdish Freedom Fighters and Isis. They’re running across a dangerous road as snipers attempt to engage them, which is why the camera has such trouble focusing on the action. This is British TV Channel 4’s debut on Netflix of the journalistic public affairs program, Unreported World, which appeared this month.

The TV show Unreported World has been a staple of British TV since 2000, but with the advent of streaming channels and a desire to get away from Fake News and into more entertaining and engaging journalistic efforts Netflix has adopted a season of 8 episodes, each lasting 24 minutes apiece. The first of these episodes is the one described above, called The City That Beat Isis. In the 24 minute episode, King and her cameraman talk with fighters in the besieged city of Kobani as they try to liberate it from Isis. There isn’t much of the sprawling town to save, much of it is in ruin, destroyed by war and coalition air strikes aimed at dislodging terrorists. You can see distant explosions, coalition aircraft circling overhead leaving long white chemtrails, bodies in the streets, and broken buildings. You can see the fear in King’s face as she plods along in her reporting, giving the blow by blow of what is happening in the contest over the city. The crack of bullets can be heard in the background as she reports. At one point, a rocket lands very near her, and the camera falters again as the camera operator seeks cover. “That was very close,” King says, very deadpan and British.

After watching three of these episodes, I’m hooked. As a journalism junkie, I’m enthralled by good reporting and this new series, while being very old, is actually new to America and it has a lot of variety. News junkies like me will dig it. It’s very much in the vein of Vice News and Vox, very edgy with real content from areas of the world often neglected by the mainstream media. The second episode in the season shifted to America where another female Brit takes a look at young rodeo participants in the American south, some of the contestants are as young as 8 and 9 years old and their parents allow them to participate in dangerous sport more traumatic on the body often times than pro-football in the NFL. The episode is entitled, America’s Cowboy Kids.

The kids are typical southern kids, very respectful of the reporter interviewing them. “Yes, Ma’am!” and “No, Ma’am!” are often their replies to the reporter’s questions as they describe why they love their sport and how they struggle through the inevitable injuries and disappointments that come with it. The families involved are very religious, and you see them praying before competition. You can feel a lump in your throat as you see young kids in full protective gear get on to a bucking steer in a shoot and prepare to ride it for a full eight seconds, exactly like the highly paid professional bull riders they idolize. The parents are looking on. The gate opens and the enraged animal explodes into the open arena, attempting mightily to dislodge its rider, which doesn’t take long. There’s a tense moment where the child continues to ride, sliding off precariously to the side as the steer prances and spins. Then the child falls off, and a sharp hoof comes down hard, dangerously close to the child’s body. The rodeo clowns distract the animal and pull it away. The boy gets up from underneath, and runs to the side of the arena and climes the fence. He’s ok.

I really get the sense that the reporters and producers of this series really have their fingers on the pulse of the world and show stories with real drama and impact. Every episode follows a similar pattern, but the formula doesn’t diminish the show, because the stories are so interesting. A very professional looking man in a finely tailored gray suit, introduces the show at the beginning before tossing over to the reporter in the field. There the storytellers take the viewer of the guided tour of the land, issue and concept they are reporting on.

In episode 3 we are in Zimbabwe where a young hip looking black man with dreadlocks is covering non-traditional journalism/comedy critical of that nation’s longstanding and brutish dictator, Robert Mugabe. Reporter Seyi Rhodes introduces the viewer to a group of friends, white and black, who work together to produce edgy comedy and journalism criticizing Zimbabwe’s leader Mugabe. Collectively this group calls themselves Zembizi News, and their brave comedic efforts brazenly attacks the dictator and his yes-man state-run media. The dictator recently tripped on a rug at a political event and pictures of his fall have gone viral, giving these internet rebels a lot of material. Through Rhodes’s reporting we can see how dangerous it is for these talented comedians to be calling out their government. While it would be only natural for a comedy show in the United States to parody a politician, in Zimbabwe, it can be very dangerous and even lethal. Comedy takes courage in Africa.

Eight episodes of this series will not be enough for journalism connoisseurs like me. Netflix, please add more of this series and quickly. Even back dated issues are good. The ones appearing now are already two years old. I predict that Netflix will order more episodes which will be consumed quickly. I the meantime, there’s always You Tube. I have to see the next episode.

You can see a full episode of the report from Zimbabwe from Unreported World’s You Tube Channel here: https://youtu.be/g1wTucQlj9s

 

Share This:

Tucker Carlson Brutalizes Jose Vargus on Immigration

By Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium

Tucker Carlson and journalist Jose Vargus have a heated argument over Donald Trump’s new temporary travel ban. -image from Fox News

Jose Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and undocumented alien, went on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox last night to talk about Donald Trump’s immigration program, and the results were brutal as Tucker laid into the Filipino immigrant over his illegal status. 

You can watch the whole conversation on Fox above. It is easy to see here why Carlson’s ratings are through the roof as he takes Vargus to task on immigration. Over the weekend, because of a faulty rollout of a temporary moratorium of seven countries deemed too dangerous to allow immigrants from, airports around the country were clogged with protesters angry about people being denied access to the country. Many people, including green card holders were stopped and detained as their statues was verified. 

President Donald Trump announced through executive order that there was a temporary ban on travelers from seven failed states, mostly in Muslim majority areas, where it was deemed too dangerous to allow people into the country. Nations included on the list include, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Sudan. 

Unarguably, the implementation of this travel ban was anything but smooth. But, the United States does have borders and does have the right to limit travel when national security is at state, a fact Carlson establishes in the interview with Vargus. 

In their conversation, Vargus asked the deeper question about why it is that people are coming into the country in the first place and he’s not wrong to ask that question. It’s not hard to answer and though he has difficulty making is point, when he finally gets around to making it, the point is valid. The United States has always had an appetite for cheap labor. Immigrants sick of eating garbage in their own home countries risk becoming illegal aliens by jumping the border and finding work here. This immigration is fueled by weak willed politicians who want to have votes from these undocumented aliens come election time and who refuse to go after the companies that use the labor of these people. As a result, the United States victimizes these people, creating a secondary slavery where people too desperate not to come are forced over the border in search for a better life. 

The Philippines, which the US has a longstanding relationship, is no exception. That country has no shortage of skilled labor, but a lack of good jobs, which forces many to leave their homeland and seek employment elsewhere. Families are split apart, months, maybe years at a time as family members find work in far-flung areas like Canada, The  US, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Italy, etc. My wife, a Filipino immigrant, has relatives in all of these places. Family ties are stretched thin as family members spend long stretches of time apart. 

Meanwhile, journalist Jose Vargus flaunts his illegal status as he criticizes the American System that allowed him to have so much success. Vargus has had plenty of time to solidify his status in this country legally and he refuses to do it. He should take his journalism skills home with him, where he can do an in depth documentary on the President Duterte’s war on drugs, or he could make a film on the tragedy of homeless Filipinos still digging through garbage for food to survive. I recently downloaded a Filipino news channel on Roku and was shocked as I watched a short video on the problem. 

Bottom line is this. Tucker is right when he confronts Vargus with his opening question. How would the Philippines feel if people illegally occupied that country and took jobs away from local nationals in the midst of an economic downturn and labor glut. I don’t think President Rodrigo Duturte, who has been clear in his disdain for the United States, would play that game, and illegals would be immediately deported. 

The Nations of Europe have flung open the doors to immigration from Muslim majority countries, and the citizens there have soon regretted it. Large communities of Sharia observant men who refuse to integrate cause many problems for the locals. Crime is at an all time high and gun sales are through the roof as Europeans seek ways to defend themselves by means they never had the right to before. If the United States is to avoid the problems in Europe, then they need to vet people more carefully who want to come here, even if that process is in a state of flux for awhile. America is a land of immigrants, and it always will be. But the United States government owns the right to control the flow. 

 

Share This: