Quintuple Whammy

A year or so after he finally departed the Minnesota Vikings, the City Pages has finally pulled its collective head out of Chris Kluwe’s ass long enough to do some reporting about the taxpayer-funded improvments to Zygi Wilf’s real estate portfolio the Vikings and their stadium.

And while Corey Zurowski’s piece is not quite on par with the reporting the Pages did during Steve Perry’s heyday, it’s not bad.

Oh, yeah – as anyone who was reading conservative blogs before 2010 knows, the stadium is a lousy deal for taxpayers:

Minnesota and Minneapolis taxpayers are on the construction cuff for a combined $498 million — the state $393 million and the city $150 million. [But don’t 393 and 150 add up to 543? – EdIn both cases, the public funds are being floated by taking on debt, not cash.

At four percent and change, that means $26 million in interest alone in the first year.

Plus maintenance and the inevitable “improvements” that’ll be needed.  Read the whole article for the whole story about the principal, interest and taxes.

And King Banaian reminds us that on top of all that (and the minimal economic benefit it’ll bring, and even that mostly in the form of money that would’ve been spent elsewhere being spent downtown), the e-pulltabs that were set up to float the state’s share in this bit of larceny are taking money away from other Minnesota non-profits, including many that aren’t run by billionaires from out of state:

The number of bingo halls using paper, not electronics, is down to six in Minnesota after the closing of St. Cloud’s Bingo Emporium….State Senator John Pederson of St. Cloud says the tax on pull tabs was raised to 36-percent last year to help fund the Vikings stadium, which put paper-bingo halls in a “very, very difficult situation.”

Oh, well.  You’ve gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, right?

Day Late, A Couple Billion Short

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

NOW they get interested in transit from downtown St. Paul to the airport, AFTER we destroyed University Avenue for a train that goes nowhere and nobody rides.

 

http://riverviewcorridor.com/

 

So there’s only one bus line to the airport.  Do they need more?  How many people ride the bus to the airport versus a cab or courtesy shuttle van from their hotel?

The problem, of course, is that the transit plan isn’t a transit plan.  It’s a development plan.

Amazing American Grace

The conclusion of Kevin Williamson’s piece on what the Fourth of July really means:

To be an American is to know a blessing that none of us has earned or merited, to have liberty not because we deserve it but because of who we are — endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights. None of us has earned that liberty, but we do have the opportunity — and it is precious — to live up to it. The Union army once had the courage and the confidence to march singing “Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!” Those men were facing a national crisis and physical horrors worse than anything our generation has known, or is likely to know. They endured: We have now seen 239 years of liberty and prosperity unprecedented in all of human history, a longer span of time than that which separated the Year of the Six Emperors from the fall of the Roman empire.

Call it the historical version of a lucky break?

No. Call it amazing grace. Glory, glory, hallelujah.

He compares liberty with the Christian notion of Grace – something we can have, but we can never earn by our own merits.

And you should read the whole thing.

Happy Independence Day weekend!

Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of NARN

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – is on the air! I will be on from 1-3PM today!

Today on the show, I’ll be talking about the week that was – Greece, of course – and about Independence Day and where we are today.

Don’t forget – King Banaian is on from 9-11AM on AM1570, and Brad Carlson has “The Closer” edition of the NARN Sundays from 1-3PM.

So tune in the Northern Alliance! You have so many options:

Join us!

Ghost Of Crisis Future

“Progressives” the world over are pretty much all the same.  Kevin Williamson on the Greek crisis:

When Greece’s sham economy went ass over teakettle, it agreed to a bailout package, finalized in 2010. That deal is now widely blamed by the Left for exacerbating Greece’s economic crisis with excessive “austerity.” The problem with that line of argument is that there was no Greek austerity: Greece lied about its debts before the crisis, and it lied about its reforms after the bailout. It didn’t take the meat axe to its public sector: Greece went out and hired 70,000 new government employees instead. It stopped selling government assets, which it had agreed to do, and government’s share of GDP actually increased rather than declining.

Lying about finances to lull the gullible?  Sounds like the DFL to me.

Greece’s problem – and you’re seeing it here, too – is that “progressive” economists (and the governments who love them) have the wrong measure of economic health:

As one Greek supporter of Tsipras’s wheedling told the New York Times: “We’re all pensioners here.” Indeed, and that’s the problem. A society’s wealth may be measured by its consumption, but its wealth consists of its production. One cannot consume what has not been produced, and consumption can exceed production only as long as your credit lasts, and credit — n.b., congressional clown conclave — is never eternal. Greece has too few people working in productive business enterprises and too many receiving government checks, either as employees or as welfare recipients — a distinction that is increasingly difficult to make in Greece and elsewhere.

Keep that in mind, as America’s employment participation rate drops below its lowest levels in a generation or two, even as our population  – especially the population with a Greek-like love of getting something for nothing – grows.

Ryan Winkler Should Thank George Takei

Because Winkler is no longer the most ineptly, tone-deafly racist commentator in recent American history.

I’ve had the odd chuckle as George “Mr. Sulu” Takei has oozed back into a wry, giggly mainstream prominence.  He can be a funny guy.  And he’s got an interesting story; growing up in an internment camp, building a career in Hollywood at a time when an Asian couldn’t get a break, yadda yadda.

But someone’s gotta slap him:

In a nasty, racist rant captured by a Fox affiliate in Arizona, former Star Trek actor-turned-gay rights activist George Takei lashed out at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, calling him a “clown in black face.”

Here, a man who became famous sitting on a TV set pushing fake buttons and saying “Warp Factor Five, Aye-Aye” and running a snarky but occasionally hilarious Facebook account, gaysplains to one of America’s most accomplished jurists…

…not only using terms that are groaning with racist baggage, but also legally full of Roddenberry dust.  Thomas is, unfortunately for Takei, correct.  The Obergefell decision was, like Roe V. Wade, conjuring up law from nothing – or, worse than nothing, pure emotion.

Back to snarking on Facebook, George.

From The Top

Caught on Twitter a little while ago, Minneapolis Police chief Harteau said:

@ChiefHarteau: @CrimeWatchNE @MSP my officers and the community see too much gun violence and little if any is due to self-defense.

Not sure when Chief Harteau got so bloodthirsty.  Self-defense only rarely ends with someone dead.

In theory, you’d think someone with 28 years in uniform would know that.

#DiverseObservancesDontMatter

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Some members of Summit Avenue Assembly of God Church wanted to show their appreciation for police.  They planned a celebration, lunch, photos of kids with officers, petting zoo, a fun way for members to say “Thanks for your service” on a Saturday afternoon.  Almost didn’t happen.

 

St. Paul’s Black Lives Matter objected to showing appreciation for police.  Protesters disrupted worship service in the weeks prior to the event.  The celebration had to be changed to include firefighters and other first responders to avoid further protests.  The church had to assign members to a security detail (my wife was on the foot patrol team with radios to report any sign of trouble), the television news showed up hoping for conflict, the volunteers were so alert for trigger warnings and micro-aggressions they were exhausted from stress.  That’s one “community celebration” that’ll never happen again.

 

You know, if I were a fiendish racist scheming to convince a bunch of polite, moderate Christians that Black people are selfish, hateful and bigoted, I could not possibly have conceived of a better tactic than these “activists” did all on their own.  Way to go, morons; you’ve turned back the racial relations clock a hundred years in that congregation.

 

Joe Doakes

Y’know, it’s high time someone organized a group.  Perhaps call it #BlackNeighborhoodsMatter.  Represent the majority of people in inner city neighborhoods – who don’t condone police bias, but who support a strong aggressive police presence in the neighborhood because it helps lower the crime rate that disproportionally plagues the neighborhoods.

But of course, the people who’d start such a group are too busy working and raising families, I’m going to guess, to be able to do much organizing, marching and agitation.

In Effect, Y’all

All the effort from this past session paid off starting yesterday. The five new gun bills passed this past session are now in effect:

  • Governor Flint-Smith may not order firearm confiscations during states of emergency.  To me, this is the big daddy of ’em all.
  • Minnesota is now one of forty states that is compliant with Federal law regarding suppressors (aka “Mufflers for your Gun”, an accessory that is mandatory for hunting in some countries) and purchasing of long guns in non-contiguous states – both areas where Minnesota lagged federal law by three solid decades.
    • Also – on August 1, it’ll be legal to use suppressors while hunting.
  • Now, your carry permit is valid without any additional muss and fuss at the Capitol complex – the Capitol (not that you can get in there), the SOB, the SLOB (when it opens), the Supreme Court, the Minnesota Historical Society, and probably a few more buildings I’m forgetting.
  • Finally, our carry permits are now reciprocal with more other states.  No more stopping at gas stations in Moorhead or East Grand Forks to transfer something that’s legal in Minnesota but a gross misdemeanor in North Dakota from your pocket to your trunk.  So says a friend of mine.

This is all to the good.  But the question is – what next?

Obviously, we, the Real Americans of the Minnesota Second Amendment movement, need to focus on the big two; Stand Your Ground, and Constitutional Carry.  Both of those will be long-term jobs, though, depending on an even more human-rights-friendly legislature than we have, and a pro-gun, likely GOP governor.  That’s going to take some time and effort.  We can do it – and this blog is going to focus on both.

But in the short term?  I think banning physicians from asking about guns as part of routine patient screening would be a great place to start.  It’s an entirely political exercise, suggested by the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians and adopted by doctors both maliciously anti-gun and, mostly, those who don’t care.  And it’s nothing but an attempt to use the prestige of the medical profession to bully people out of owning firearms.  Several states have already acted; Minnesota should get doctors out of doing Michael Bloomberg’s work for him.

There are many things that need doing – but I think that’d be a good project on the way to the big win.

Settled Science

Spotify put together of the top Fourth of July music in their playlists.

And some of the results are a little surprising:

Click to see full-size.

Click to see full-size.

The heartland is, perhaps a little unsurprisingly, into Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”.

I was a little surprised to see Illinois go for “ROCK in the USA” by John Mellencamp – while Mellencamp’s native Indiana chose Greenwood over their rabid-blue favorite musical son.

A bit less surprising?  California and Florida chose “America!  F*** Yeah!”, from Team America: World Police.

The high-quality shock?  West Virginia going with “American Girl” by Tom Petty.  West Virginia – f*** yeah!

And while New Jersey went with Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, I was gladdened to see New York State opt with “Fourth Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”, from Springsteen’s 1974 The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle  album.  Kudos, WV and NY!

But the one that opened my eyes?  North Dakota, New Hampshire and Maine going with Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA”.

This struck me as odd.  So I dug deeper.

And I found this map:

Click for full-size image.

You’ll note that these are three of the five states in the lower 48 where Spanish isn’t the second most popular language.

The inescapable conclusion?

Latinos hate Miley Cyrus.

Community Hygiene

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Sen. Harry Reid wants expanded background checks:  “Is that asking too much? Couldn’t we at least do this little thing to stop people who are mentally ill . . . from purchasing guns?” Reid said on the Senate floor.

Den. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) specifically mentioned an effort aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of people diagnosed with mental illness.

President Obama noted last week that once again, someone got a gun who shouldn’t have had access to it.

The South Carolina church shooter sparked the talk but he wasn’t mentally ill, not according to existing law.  So Democrats are using bait-and-switch tactics to argue for restrictions on people who have Not been diagnosed with mental illness but who act strangely, hold unpopular opinions or have few friends.  After all, we must Do Something, before those lone-wolf weirdos snap and kill people.  Sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

One small problem:  it’s unconstitutional.

The Second Amendment was adopted to ensure Congress would not regulate firearms, because the Founders feared an arbitrary and powerful central government like the one they’d just thrown off.  In the Founders’ time, it was universally understood that children, felons and the mentally ill shouldn’t have firearms and those limitations continue, under District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 US 570 (2008).  But who are “the mentally ill?”

Federal law prohibits ownership by a “mental defective.”  There are court cases discussing whether “mental defective” is different from “mentally ill” for gun control purposes (mental defective might mean “retarded but not dangerous” and thus not be a disqualifying condition).  Leaving aside that hair-splitting, Federal law defines “mentally defective” as having been adjudicated such or committed to a mental institution. 18 USC 922(g)(4).  The Code of Federal Regulations, 22 CFR 478.11, further clarifies that “adjudicated” means a determination made by a court.

Yes, but so what?  Federal law, federal regulations, Congress can simply change them, right?  That’s where it gets tricky.  There are a long line of Supreme Court decisions holding that when the government acts to deprive a person of a fundamental Constitutional right, that person is entitled to Due Process consisting of, at a minimum, notice of the charges and a meaningful opportunity to be heard before a neutral decider.  That means a court must make the decision, after hearing, at which the burden is on the government and the accused has a chance to rebut the state’s case.

You’ve heard it’s nearly impossible to get a person committed these days, no matter how much they need it?  Clayton Cramer’s book “My Brother Ron” is a heartbreakingly frank, scrupulously researched account of how civil liberties lawyers created the case-law that now controls.  And the case-law is not limited to civil commitments: Due Process extends to mental illness for purposes of gun control, which means the government cannot deny guns to people merely because they are weirdos, act strangely, hold unpopular opinions or have few friends.

What the President and Democrat Congressional leaders propose to do is precisely what the Founders explicitly designed the Constitution to prevent.  The plan is unconstitutional on its face.  Of course, that’s never stopped Democrats before.

Joe Doakes

As we saw last week, the left isn’t above writing new law from the bench to suit “community” demands.

Doctors Orders

If you’ve had a checkup over the past ten years, you may have noticed your doctor (or their nurses) asking you or your kids if there are any guns in the house.

It is, of course, part of a politically-motivated campaign to a) try to compile “public health” data attacking our right to keep and bear arms, and b) an attempt by left-leaning medical organizations to use the prestige of the medical profession to bully people out of owning guns.

I’ve always answered “No”. I figure “backdoor to registration”.

Turns out there may be a better approach to take. 

Thanks For Nothing, Idiots

For decades – like, four or five of them – the old municipal shooting range in Jamestown North Dakota was where people went to plink, to practice their skeet, or to polish their aim or, in my case thirty years ago this summer, learn how to shoot.

Now, when we say “Municipal Range”, that may conjure up images of grandeur.  Or civilizaation.  Not so with the Jamestown range, located by the Pipestem Reservoir, about seven miles north of town on US 281.  There was a firing line with a couple of rough wooden stands and a log hot line.  There were some target stands downrange, and, 300 or so yards out, a big berm that someone had bulldozed into place.

And for decades, it sufficed; most people followed the rules, because someone would teach them.  One of my friends from the neighborhood, an Air Force veteran of sorts, hauled me out there when I was 22, lugging my Remington Nylon 66 that I’d just bought with my returned dorm key deposit ($50 at Gun and Reel Sports), and showed me the unbreakable rules, and started me plinking.

Some didn’t have the same benefit, or just lacked common sense; when we were downrange setting our targets once, a couple of moron kids with a 20-gauge shotgun started popping off at clay pigeons.  They were off on the right side of the range, away from the rest of us (me and a couple of other guys who were off to my left, and also downrange with me).   Yes, I remember what birdshot sounds like passing by 20 yards away from me.  I also remember the sound of the guy who’d been to my left, apparently a service veteran, barreling across the field yelling like all the hounds of hell turned loose on the kid with the shotgun, who I’m going to bet has never made that mistake again.

And there the range sat, decade after decade, without any problems – until now:

Shooting sports enthusiasts will be without a range to shoot here after July 1. Bob Martin, manager of Pipestem Dam for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the rifle range located west of the dam will close on that date due to safety issues.
“The safety concerns started popping up eight years ago,” he said. “There have been additional buildings adjacent to the down-range area. Outbuildings there have three or four (bullet) holes in them”

Larry Kukla, secretary of the Jamestown United Sportsmen, said it was unfortunate the range had to close.

“It is a sad day, but for safety reasons we have to close the range,” he said.

Kukla – father of a classmate and a former teaching colleague of my dad’s – and his group did all the caretaking on the range for years and years.  Which is how a lot of stuff got done back there; local groups taking care of things of local interest, without much need for governement.

But always, always, there’s gotta be idiots; even though they adjusted the range, nearby buildings and even the range’s safety signs kept turning up with bullet holes:

“Between careless, inexperienced and just being stupid,” Martin said, referring to the source or sources of the stray bullets. “If you are shooting at the proper targets, it’s impossible to shoot off the range. But you know they’re not just shooting at the targets by looking at the (damaged) signs.”

And so America’s real one percent – the one percent of people who can’t be trusted to use a public toilet without smearing something on the wall – as ruined everything for everyone else, yet again.

Bills

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I overheard a young woman in the building talking on the phone in the break-room.  She’s stressed out today.  She thought she was current on her debt consolidation loan but the bank claims she’s been a month behind for ages.  Out of every $60 payment she makes, $40 goes to interest and $15 to late fees which means the principal has hardly been touched.  She and her live-in boyfriend have no more available credit and can’t get caught up because neither of them have an extra $60 that isn’t already promised to someone else.

I remember those days, when my family was young and struggling, when $60 was not a modest dinner at Red Lobster but an insurmountable obstacle.  Seems like a lifetime ago.  I suppose everybody must go through it – no other way to learn sacrifice, delayed gratification, habits of thrift.

Unless you’re a politician.  Then you just spend whatever you like on whatever you want.  Must be nice.

Joe Doakes

 

I Love A Happy Ending

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, the vultures at the Brady Institute for Gun Grabbing filed a large, punitive lawsuit against Lucky Gunner, an ammunition vendor where Adam Lanza apparently purchased his ammunition.

The courts threw out the suit with prejudice, ordering Brady to pay over $111,000 in court and legal costs to Lucky Gunner.

Lucky Gunner is donating the entire cash award to gun rights organizations around the country – depending on their vote totals in a national poll.

And the good folks at the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance would deeply appreciate as many votes as they can get.

Liberty’s Broad, Broad Brush

Sometime today, check out Walter Hudson’s “Fighting Words” podcast.  I’m appearing on the show, along with Senator Brandon Petersen, talking about the “Liberty Minnesota” legislative scorecard.   I’m speaking in the dissent.  Sort of.

We’ll come back to that.

First Things First: Kudos to “Liberty Minnesota” for doing what too many “liberty” groups won’t; at least starting to get its hands dirty in the world of policy and legislative process.  Too many “liberty” groups, or at least too many “liberty” people, seem to think that sitting respendently above the fray snarking at activists to “Vote Harder!” and “Hey, how’s changing the party from the inside going for you?” with knowing, clubby chuckles amongst their fellow echo-chamberites is striking a blow for liberty.

So credit to Liberty Minnesota for doing the scorecard.

Now, the criticisms of the scorecard basically broke down as follows:

  • The final tabulation showed that Republicans and Democrats were tied at 33%.
  • The selected votes were cherry-picked to make Republicans look bad and Democrats look…not as bad as they are.
  • The selected votes were naive and betrayed a certain innocence about politics.

Let’s address each of them.

How’s That Again?:   Now, to be fair, the first comparison may be more properly leveled at some of “Liberty MN”‘s “liberty” supporters, who promptly took to social media and said “Look!  We were right!  There really is no difference between Republicans and Democrats!” and, in one particularly absurd factoid, “Tara Mack is worse for liberty than Phyllis Kahn”.

And my observation – and it’s only a personal observation – is that “Liberty MN” is pretty diligent about documenting and castigating Republican shortfalls on liberty issues, while glossing over the DFL’s crimes pretty lightly.  Again, it’s a personal observation.

Still, to the best of my knowledge, that’s not the line Liberty MN has taken in re the scorecard.

But even using “Liberty MN’s” numbers exactly as they are, from their scorecard (manually transposed to a spreadsheet), it’s not quite so close (while allowing that there might be some frictional errors from my manual transcription of numbers):

  • Entire Legislature:  Republicans 39% – Democrats 28%
  • Senate:   Republicans 48% – Democrats 19%
  • House:   Republicans 36% – Democrats 33%  (Either I made an error with the numbers, or Liberty MN did).

Among leadership, by the way, it’s even more lopsided:

  • Senate:  Dave Hann 65% – Tom Bakk 19%
  • House: Kurt Daudt 50% – Paul Thissen 33%

Hemp In, Raw Milk Out:  Still – any scorecard that shows the GOP and the DFL tied for “liberty” scores in the House must show us a problem – mustn’t it?

Take a moment to look at the issues that “Liberty MN” scored:

Click on it to see it full-size.

If you read the list, you notice a couple of things.  The issues certainly are “liberty” issues, all right; there’s a grab bag of economic, privacy, First, Second and Fourth Amendment, freedom of choice, tax and spending, environmental and other bills.

And at first glance, I observed that…:

Battle Lines:  These are not issues that largely break out on partisan lines.  Sunday Liquor Sales and the keeping of License Plate Reader data and many, many others among them break down on different lines; religious/union versus liberty, rural versus urban, religious/union versus free-market, Phyllis Kahn versus serious people – very few of the selected issues broke out by party.  Which is fine – as the estimable Walter Hudson says, it’s good to measure politicians on liberty issues qua liberty issues.

But it’s certainly not like 2013-2014, when many liberty issues – gun grabs, MNSure, forced daycare and PCA unionization, advancing business taxes and spending – did largely break out on partisan lines.

Still, I could cut the results some slack – except that the results are being used to try to wedge the GOP.  But then that’s not really Liberty MN’s fault.  What is their fault is the next two bits:

Take Two Freedoms:  Not all “Liberty” issues are included.   I’m not just talking about the omission of four of the five gun bills, including the Emergency Powers restriction, which struck me as by far the bigger liberty bill (but was also fairly bipartisan).

But you wills scour the “scorecard” in vain for any mention of:

  • The gas tax – a crushing attack on economic freedom, especially for the poor.  The GOP voted against it; the DFL supported it.
  • E-Cigarette regulation – a pointless regulatory assault on a legal, safe product that many are using to quit smoking – which may be the real reason for the assault.
  • Mandatory Pre-Kindergarten – perhaps “liberty” people don’t have kids.  Maybe they all home school.  I don’t know.  But I do know that the move to jam more kids into the public schools is not a position libertarians should support, it is  a position the DFL supports, it was DFL Governor Tina Flint-Smith’s Dayton’s short list of “Top priorities”, and it was at the very least a politically motivated appropriation and at most an expansion of state indoctrination.
  • The battle over the Pollution Control Agency’s Citizen Review Board, which is essentially an appointed, unaccountable group of environmental extremists who have veto power over mining – ergo “economic freedom” in Northern Minnesota
  • Any mention of efforts to reduce the power and scope of the Met Council.  Granted, none of those measures got anywhere in the Legislature – but then, neither did many of the issues that “Liberty MN” did select, like Phyllis Kahn’s bid to lower the voting age to 18.
  • The budget.  It certainly grew.  The GOP participated in the growth – although they controlled one chamber, and there’s a DFL governor, so the GOP’s power was limited.  And let’s be honest; it grew less than in either of the two DFL-controlled sessions; it was the third smallest increase in the past forty years.  That’s not ideal, but it’s not chicken feed under the circumstances.

Four of those six are, by my reckoning, fairly vital liberty issues.  All of them but the budget were pretty much GOP initiatives.  Several were flat-out GOP victories.  Including any of them would have changed the voting, especially in the House of Representatives.

Not sure if Liberty Minnesota thinks that’d be a feature or a bug, but I do plan on finding out.

I Wanna Make Some History:  So because of the bills selected and, arguably, not selected, you have all sorts of unintentional comedy.

  • Alice Hausman, a woman who never met a gun she wouldn’t grab or a private-sector dollar she wouldn’t seize, tied with laissez-faire Tea Party firerand Cindy Pugh.
  • Rena Moran, who would jam a single-payer healthcare system down your throat with both of her feet, outscoring Tony Cornish.
  • Tax hiking, gun grabbing govenrment power pimp Jim Davnie outscoring Kelly Fenton.

And on, and on, and on.

And so because of this selection of largely nonpartisan bills, The scorecard gives, intentionally or not, the impression that the GOP – a party that his lip service, often very imperfectly, to liberty – it’s basically the same as the DFL, Minnesota’s softcore Socialist party, the party that historically pimps for tax hikes, bloated budgets, high regulation, suburbs subsidizing intercity spending, gun control, The party that opposes school choice and economic development in the iron Range, when a cursory reading of history shows what an absurd Lee that is.

Question:  do you think if any votes on the six issues above – all of which had at least as much visibility in the legislature this session as some of the bills “Liberty MN” selected – had been considered, any of those absurdities would have persisted?

Clubbing: Oh, yeah – about the title.

A liberty supporter might say “liberties are liberties – we’re not going to pick and choose between them”.

And in the abstract, and for those of “liberty” groups, that may be perfectly fine.

But do I think the gas tax and mandatory pre-kindergarten or the Met Council affect more liberty for more people than, say, Sunday liquor sales? I certainly do, and I’m going to guess most people do too. Do I think a fourth amendment issue like license plate reader data is more important than a lifestyle issue like lowering the drinking age? I do – and I’m going to guess most people who pay attention to the ongoing decay of the fourth amendment do, as well.

Liberty people may not give weight different liberties. I do – and I think the failure to do so is a critical witness of the sort of scorecard.

I think that especially with as large and broad a swathe of votes as Liberty Minnesota used for their scorecard, they might have done well to break the issues up into categories – Personal Freedom, Economic Freedom, Social Freedom, Limiting Government and the like, and giving sub-ratings to legislators by category.  That may be counter to Liberty MN’s purposes; I think it serves Liberty in Minnesota’s purposes.

But To Summarize:  Again, I applaud Liberty Minnesota for doing this.  I hope it’s a step toward mobilizing some actual political clout on behalf of liberty issues in the legislature, and at election time – something the “liberty movement” in Minnesota has largely avoided so far.

Furthering the Discussion:  I’m currently looking forward to having Karl Eggers of “Liberty Minnesota” on my program on July 11 to discuss this.  And if you’re reading this, Karl, I just telegraphed my punches.  Merry early Christmas.

Whilst Travelling

What is one thing, besides mountains, that Colorado has that Minnesota doesn’t?

Amy Klobuchar giving them the unvarnished facts about her beliefs:

Senator Klobuchar was the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the U.S. Senate when she took office in 2007. She was interviewed by Walter Issacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, in one of the first events of the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival.

“What I will never, ever forget was this one mother who said they were all in the firehouse after the shooting,” [at Sandy Hook] said Klobuchar. “And one by one, the kids would come in from the school. After about a few hours had passed, the parents that were left knew that their kids were never coming back into that firehouse.”

Her story left the entire room quiet, the silence only being punctured by sniffling and crying.

“So when you sit there with those parents and think of the courage that they have and think that the Senate did not have the courage to pass a simple background check bill, it was really the lowest,” said Klobuchar, adding that the possibility that the Senate could do something about gun control would be a step forward.

Hmm.  She seemed pretty quiet about background checks in 2012 and 2014…

…here at home, at least.

Uncool

Here’s the send-off line of Michelle Malkin’s piece on the ill-advised nature of the Pope’s jeremiad against air conditioning:

If the pontiff truly believes “excessive consumption” of modern conveniences is causing evil “climate change,” will he be shutting down and returning the multi-million-dollar system Carrier generously gifted to the Vatican Museums?

If not, I suggest, with all due respect, that Pope Francis do humanity a favor and refrain from blowing any more hot air unless he’s willing to stew in his own.

What is Malkin talking about?

Read the rest of the piece.

I’ve been saying for years – when you add politics to science, you don’t get scientific politics – you get politicized science.

I can’t see how the same doesn’t go for religion.

Dislocation

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Laptop hard drive died, extended warranty sent tech to my house to replace it.  Charming Black woman, prompt and efficient but thick accent.  She’s from Ethiopia.  She said that if you get crosswise with the government, yourproperty can be seized and bureaucrats will harass youdeny you permitsaudit you.

I was afraid to ask her – are you talking about Ethiopia, or about being a Conservative in the United States of Obama?

Joe Doakes

To quote a great American statesperson: what difference does it make at this point?

I’ve Seen All Good Bassists

Music geeks over the weekend noted the passing of Chris Squire, longtime bassist for prog-rock icons Yes.

Now, as I’ve written innumerable times, I really listen to music on two levels; is the music technically adept in some way – singing, instrumental chops, production – and does it grab me in the liver and say “this song is something important to you”.

Much Noise, Signifying…:  Speaking for me?  Yes – of whom Squire was the only constant member from 1968 through his passing, as the band went through 18 other members over the years – was always plenty of the former, and only rarely any of the latter.

As to the former, the musical talent?  It was always the band’s long suit.  I, like a lot of guitar players of a certain age, grew up very pleased with myself for nailing the first part of “Roundabout”, and bobbing my head in awe at the rest of the song:

Admit it; if it weren’t for “I’ve Seen Good People” and “Roundabout”, you don’t know the words to the chorus of a single “Yes” song before 1984.   It’s not the most ornate Yes song of their first 16 years as a band – they frequently had songs that filled entire 20 minute album sides – and far from their least accessible.

But there’s no doubting the technical chops; Rick Wakeman’s virtuosic but gaseous keyboards, Jon Anderson’s fluid lead singing, and Steve Howe’s technically-impeccable and occasionally-brilliant guitar (why does he always look like he’s getting a prostate exam when he’s playing?).

But Squire’s bass is the most notable thing about the song; from the blazingly ornate yet reliable sixteenth-note runs during the verses, to the off-kilter pulse of the chorus, it’s really brilliant stuff.

Which, of course, made me nod my head and go “yeah, pretty brilliant – now where’s some music I actually feel?

Worse, Yes committed some terrible crimes against music.   Their trite, mawkish cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” deserves a tribunal, somewhere:

It was the first time I had actually felt some emotion besides admiration for their technical chops when listening to a Yes song.  In this case, it was unbridled hatred for murdering a great song.

But it wasn’t the last.

So – wanna start an argument with a “Yes” fan?  Tell him you didn’t hear a “Yes” song that you actually enjoyed until “Owner of a Lonely Heart”:

The band shed Howe (who went to join the dull as dry toast “GTR” for a few years) and added South African guitar whiz Trevor Rabin.  They also did three albums in a row produced by Trevor Rabin, the former lead singer of “Buggles” (“Video Killed the Radio Star”), who’d sung lead for Yes for a year before becoming one of the defining producers of the 1980s.

And again – underneath Rabin’s guitar and Wakeman’s un-Wakeman-y keyboards, Squire’s bass is absolutely subtle and ingenious.

The best way to get an old-school “Yes” fan to try to assassinate you is to say you prefer the song to their earlier work. But I do.  Far and away.  Assassinate me?  Bring it.

No Respect: I  wasn’t the only one who didn’t much care for Yes.  The Rock and Roll hall of fame has been cool to them:

In February 2013, Rolling Stone spoke to Squire about Yes’ legacy and the fact that Rush, but not Yes, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Logistically, it’s probably difficult for whoever the committee is to bring in Yes,” Squire said. “Rush is fairly simple. It’s the same three guys and always has been. They deserve to be there, no doubt about that. But there still seems to be a certain bias towards early-Seventies prog rock bands like Yes and King Crimson… In our case, we’re on our 18th member. If we ever do get inducted, it would be only fair to have all the members, old and new. So that may be a problem for the committee. I don’t know.”

Of course, the Hall of Fame – for whatever it’s worth, which is really not much – is dominated by critics.  And critics have always savaged the band, except for their brief flirtation with New Wave during the Rabin years.  Dave Marsh wrote in the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Buyer’s Guide:

Classical rockers with hearts of cold, Yes entered the Seventies as a creative example of post-Pepper‘s artistic aspirations, a musicianly alternative to the growing metal monster rock was becoming. It left the decade as perhaps the epitome of uninvolved, pretentious and decidedly nonprogressive music, so flaccid and conservative that it became the symbol of uncaring platinum success, spawning more stylistic opponents than adherents. … On Tales from Topographic Oceans, the bottom fell out …

Now, I had that particular Record Buyer’s Guide.  And I was as “rockist” as Marsh, who is most famous as the definitive biographer of The Who and Springsteen, and who has always compared all rock and roll to the MC5, and always will.

At it was via watching rock critics’ treatment of Yes during its various stylistic gyrations in the eighties – especially Marsh, my favorite as a teenager, and the single most promiscuous mixer of art and politics in the English language – that I finally realized something; that the real gaseous, bloated, self-important, pretentious, overblown, in-love-with-the-sounds-of-their-precious-creativity ones…

…are the rock critics.

RIP Chris Squire,

Quote Of The Day

I thought this was both appropriate and daunting:

“We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
— George Orwell

These days, it’s the only duty we’re going to have time to do.