I’m No Lawyer…

…and I’ll leave plenty of room for those of you who are.

But as re Keith Ellison taking over the prosecution of the officers involved in the George Floyd case, I can’t help but think the following:

Hot Potato: Mike Freeman just got the most controversial case in his misbegotten career off his plate. He can’t help but be relieved to get this “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” monstrosity off his docket.

Priorities For starters, Ellison’s not trying the case personally – the head of his trials division is.

On the other hand, the MN Attorney General’s office, under a fifty-year-long series of DFL occupants (Ellison, Lori Swanson, Mike Hatch, Skip Humphrey and Warren Spannaus), has basically turned into a Better Business Bureau with guns, and a 1-800-ASK-GARY for political non-profits looking to harass businesses into compliance with their pet policies. I’m not gonna say the MNAGO doesnt have the expertise to prosecute a shoplifter caught on camera – but it’s not exactly been their front foot for the last, oh, couple generations or so.

I’m gonna guess the state’ll be paying a lot for “consultants” on this case.

A Charge Or Two Too Far: So let’s take a look – via my admittedly non-lawyer perspective – at the three charges. I’ll add emphasis to what I – again, a non-lawyer – think the “beef” is.

Murder in the Second Degree:

Whoever does either of the following is guilty of murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years:

(1) causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation

[(2) relates to drive-by shootings – clearly not applicable]

Subd. 2. Unintentional Murders. Whoever does either of the following is guilty of unintentional murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years:

(1) causes the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting; or
[(2) relates to killing people who’ve taken out restraining orders]

Now, let’s look at Murder in the Third Degree

(a) Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.

[(b) relates to selling drugs to someone who dies of an overdose – not applicable here – Ed]

Here’s Manslaughter in the Second Degree.

 A person who causes the death of another by any of the following means is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both:

(1) by the person’s culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another; or [several sections related to actions that don’t apply – the statute is linked, holler if you disagree – Ed]

So – knowing what we know now, what do you think is going to fly beyond a reasonable doubt?

That:

  1. The officers intended to kill Floyd while committing a felony offense – which would involve proving that “doing their jobs” was a felony? Or
  2. Unintentionally killed Floyd while committing an eminently dangerous act? You could say kneeling on someone’s neck might be eminently dangerous, and I might agree 100%, but qualified immunity – the doctrine that if one government employee gets away with something, they all get away with it – and the tactic is not completely outlandish, if discouraged, in police circles, might be a problem, here.
  3. The officers were culpably negligent and created an unreasonable (i.e., would fail to convince a jiury) risk.

The usual caveats apply: case law colors how statues are applied, and I’m not a lawyer.

But given that it appears to this non-lawyer that charging Chauvin with Second Degree murder was a) done to placate the crowd and b) find charges for the other three officers and c) looks like a very long shot, I have to wonder if they aren’t banking on, in effect, making a political statement and not bothering with justice.

Politics First: Being entirely a puppet of “progressives” with deep pockets, you knew Ellison was going to have to bump up the charges to…well, whatever he could get away with. The party he answers to needs to have a ritual stoning, or some other red meat to throw its constituents and, ideally, beat Republicans over the head with in the fall…

…without actually having negative consequences for the November elections.

Ellison, himself as graceful and fluid in his deflections as a German jazz band, telegraphed this during his initial presser, saying a trial would take “months”. Meaning – it’ll stay in the realm of political mud-throwing until after November, giving the DFL PR machine plenty of time to repair damage from the inevitable disturbances that erupt after Chauvin is acquitted for Second Degree murder (and, I can’t help but think, delaying that verdict until the depth of a Minnesota winter, deterring a lot of rioting).

Dear Virtue-signaling Political Demigogues And White “Progressives”

When the Irish underclass in New York City – themselves indentured servants, or descended from them – brutalized black slaves and freedmen…

When the serfs of Russian Eastern Europe, themselves slaves in all but name, terrorized and murdered their Jewish neighbors…

When the “white trash” of the deep south and all over the country – a pretty hopeless underclass even before the Civil War – joined the Klan…

When Germans decided that “subhumans” – Gypsies, Gays, the disabled, Slavs, and of course Jews – were a useful kick toy to exorcise their anger after the miseries of World War 1, Versailles and back-to-back economic collapses…

When people in Los Angeles took our their rage at a catastrophically unjust system on…themselves…

…in no case did they get any more justice, more freedom, more prosperity, more equality. Just the opposite, in fact. “Passing injustice on to others to get more justice for oneself” is batting .000 through all of history. At best it’s a record of horror and misery; at worst, it consolidates power in the hands of those who benefit from horror and misery (see “demigogues”).

Freedom, justice and equality aren’t like toilet paper aisles, with a finite supply to be doled out, or fought over, with haves and have nots. They are a store that can be – needs to be – continually added onto.

Anger is justified. It can be a powerful motivator. And one thinks you, pliural, would have figured this out after 2016, where leading with hatred and oppression got answered with people reacting to being hated and oppressed, to vote for a president you all find hateful and oppressive…

…are you seeing a pattern here, yet?

For those of you in the “Urban Progressive Privilege” set who are trying to spread the injustice around, rather than eliminate it? You think you’re helping?

See the list above.

Taking Sides

So as law biting, hard-working, taxpaying Twin City ends wake up to get another day under siege, it’s providence to ask yourself – whose side are your leaders on?

Not just comic book characters like our “Attorney General”:

Did anybody else watch Minneapolis Mayor Frey’s press conference yesterday? It looked like an outtake from “Reno 911”. Minneapolis needed a leader – a Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, John F Kennedy.

They got pajama boy.

Blue Fragility: “Science!”

I’ve been pretty stringently self isolated since March 16. I’ve got my reasons – a number of people in my family and immediate social circle with immune and cardiovascular problems, as well as a mother in memory care and a father who is doing quite well, but he’s 82, so why chance it, anyway? I’m blessed with a job that allows me to work from home. It makes perfect sense for me to do so.

I believe the closest thing we have to scientific consensus – drawn from decades of experience in operating rooms worldwide – is that masks don’t prevent anyone from catching viruses; they prevent them from being spread from the infected to other people. Which is my operating room staff wear them. And if you were able to get all the worlds asymptomatic yet infected people to wear masks, I suspect you might cut the infection rate down by a fair chunk.

That being said, I think the current orgy of virtue signaling over masks is largely pseudoscientific logrolling – a festival of malinformed logrolling and bandwagoneering.

And with that, in turm, being said, I’ve worn a mask twice in the past week: both times to go to Menards, which requires masks. It’s private property, and it’s about 7 miles closer than the nearest big box home improvement store that doesn’t require a mask. Putting on a cheap surgical mask for 10 minutes burns up less of my time than driving all the way to Home Depot.

Wearing a mask, in short, is purely a matter of contingency, not belief.

And I believe that Mayor Frey’s order that all people wear masks while in any indoor public accommodation in Minneapolis is, if not pointless, then merely virtue signaling of the most callow order.

And yet, if I had taken the call from the Strib’s “ Minnesota“ Poll, I would’ve come down on the “make everybody wear a masks” side of this fairly dimwitted bit of propaganda, which appeared as an at taken out by the DFL on the various Star Tribune online properties over the weekend. It read:

74% of Minnesotans have worn a mask in the past week

Minnesotans support the lockdown!

Now, we don’t know how many people among the “74%” in this “Paul” are like me Dash people who wore masks for utilitarian or social reasons, rather than out of any conviction that Governor Walz is anything but Way over his head and being led around by a bunch of party hacks whounderstand neither business nor science.

And, obviously, we have no idea how many of them are committed mask wearers, like this woman, whose mooring in the world of science is clear and utterly unassailable:

That’s the thing I love about “ progressives”: their absolute, categorical commitment to science and reason.

But the Democrats – and some of their apologists in the “center” – are claiming this isstar Tribune Minnesota poll is a mandate for the governor.I don’t think that necessarily means The DFL, the posters or the various media organizations involved (the Strib, MPR and KARE11) are stupid.I think it means they are counting on Minnesota voters to be stupid. And doing their best to keep them that way.

Unimpressed

The governors “reopening plan“ – it might be better referred to as a “slow strangulation plot” – Might not actually be is designed to destroy small businesses, especially in low density parts of the state.

 

But if it were, it would be hard to tell what they would do differently.

 

Representative Mary Franson voiced her displeasure yesterday:

I’m in decent health – I’ve never missed the 80 pounds I lost over the last two years less than I have this last two months – and so I have to say in all honesty, I’m a lot more worried about surviving governments response to this epidemic that I am the epidemic itself.

That’s not to say I don’t take it seriously, Karen: I have people in my family who are in several of the various risk groups.But it’s time for the real people of the state to ratchet up the opposition.More later this week, maybe.

Blue Fragility, Part VI: Lysenkoism Vs. Actual Science!

Those of us who favor a safe, science-driven re-opening of the economy are frequently derided by the “shut down until ______” (fill in the blank du jour) crowd as either callous or ignorant.

But looking at examples of states that have managed to combine generally good public health outcomes with a relatively sane course on economic re-opening, two patterns emerge:

1) those paths tend to be steered by governors with experience in the private sector – the likes of Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Doug Burgum of North Dakota and especially Ron DeSantis of Florida) treat science as a way of finding the truth, as opposed it being a tool to coerce compliance.

2) The success tends to follow a parade of calumny in the “blue” media – followed by the media moving on to another story when none of the predictions pans out.

The response to Governor DeSantis’s plans early in the epidemic (the sky was going to fall!) and now (it didn’t!) is illustrative:

An irony of the national coverage of the coronavirus crisis is that at the same time DeSantis was being made into a villain, New York governor Andrew Cuomo was being elevated as a hero, even though the DeSantis approach to nursing homes was obviously superior to that of Cuomo. Florida went out of its way to get COVID-19-positive people out of nursing homes, while New York went out of its way to get them in, a policy now widely acknowledged to have been a debacle.

The media didn’t exactly have their eyes on the ball. “The day that the media had their first big freakout about Florida was March 15th,” DeSantis recalls, “which was, there were people on Clearwater Beach, and it was this big deal. That same day is when we signed the executive order to, one, ban visitation in the nursing homes, and two, ban the reintroduction of a COVID-positive patient back into a nursing home.”

DeSantis is bemused by the obsession with Florida’s beaches. When they opened in Jacksonville, it was a big national story, usually relayed with a dire tone. “Jacksonville has almost no COVID activity outside of a nursing-home context,” he says. “Their hospitalizations are down, ICU down since the beaches opened a month ago. And yet, nobody talks about it. It’s just like, ‘Okay, we just move on to the next target.’”

Perhaps more understandably, The Villages, the iconic senior community, was a focus of media worries. According to DeSantis, as of last weekend there hadn’t been a single resident of The Villages in the hospital for COVID-19 for about a week. At one point, the infection rate in The Villages was so low that state officials were worried that they were missing something. “So I got the University of Florida to do a study,” he says. “They did 1,200 asymptomatic seniors at The Villages, and not one of them came back positive, which was really incredible.”

So how did DeSantis go about responding to the epidemic? It began with the data, and trying to learn the lessons of other countries.

The “Red” states’ approaches (and to be fair, California’s) spared their states the carnage that befell New York’s nursing homes (and Minnesota’s, as well); a dispassionate, scientific approach to the data (as opposed to the governor’s desired conclusions, as in Minnesota) led them to protect their most vulnerable – in stark contrast to the policies of New York’s governor (and increasingly, Minnesota’s).

I’ve been calling this response “Blue Fragility” – the tendency of our society’s “gatekeepers” to lash out in anger and frustration at the realization that their version of “science” is as much about browbeating and logrolling people into submission as it is about systematic inquiry leading to knowledge. It helps deflect away from several fairly inescapable conclusions one might get from observing this pandemic:

  1. High density “blue city” urban lifestyles – like the Met Council is mandating in the Twin Cities – are not “resilient” against pandemics. High density living, transit-centered lifestyles, open plan offices, bars and restaurants are all hotbeds of contagion in a way that, at least anecdotally, lower-density areas – even as in Los Angeles as compared to New York – just don’t.
  2. When you mix science and politics, you don’t get scientific politics. You get politicized science – better known as “propaganda” and “logrolling”.

Blue Fragility is causing some shutdown proponents to “kill the messenger”; I had a prominent Saint Paul political operative tell me “small towns are going to get the s**t kicked out of them”, with an almost evangelical glee, like he was looking forward to watching all those MAGA-hatted bitter clingers’ suffereing.

And it prompts people to deflect away from the success story to, frankly, “dog bites dog” stories like this – where a “covid denier” who is quite visibly high risk of contracting the disease…contracts the disease. Surprise, surprise.

It’s easier to mock and taunt one’s opponent than engage them – when that’s all you’ve got.

Let’s Make Sure We’re Clear On This

“World’s Largest Candy Store”, (run by a buddy and contributor to the governor and his campaign): absolutely essential, and above question as to its impact to the community.

Chain of rural Minnesota bars that employs dozens, in areas with very, very case rates (because they are very, very low density), but who make a point of defying the regal power of the state executive branch?

Bring down the full weight and power of government!

Imbalance

Bob Collins’s descent into madness notwithstanding, Minnesota Public Radio is in general the best, least systematically biased newsrooms in the Twin CIties. It’s a low bar, but they get over it by a hair or two. On a good day or the right issue, Tom Hauser at Channel 5 might join ’em above the bar – but I digress.

(And we’re referring to the newsroom, here – not their programming, which is largely Democrat PR).

So one of the greater injustices of this whole epidemic is that MPR and American Public Media (APM) are buying out a slew of long-time staffers, including some fairly decent reporters…

…but Keri Miller – who may be an even more sycophantic DFL toady than Esme Murphy – just keeps jabbering on.

Science Fiction

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Pretend Covid is a Science Fiction/Fantasy story.

***

President Trump is at the table with his senior advisors, discussing how
to deal with Covid.  Suddenly, a being appears in the room.  Eight feet
tall, red, horns and tail, leering.  People scream, Secret Service try
to rush the President out but the doors won’t open.  They shoot but the
bullets fall to the floor without harming the being.  Eventually, the
being flicks his fingers and everyone freezes in place.

“Enough.  I’m here to collect my due.  You – Orange Man – you’re going
to do exactly as I tell you.  Understand?”

The Orange Man does nothing.  “Oh, my bad,” the being says, flicking his
fingers at the Orange Man, who is suddenly able to move.

“Who are you?  What do you want?”

“I’ve been known by many names but I like the first one, best.  I am the
Light Bringer.  I brought you the opportunity for total power, through
the Covid virus.  And you wasted it!  You idiot – you had the perfect
chance to declare martial law, drain the swamp, clean out the Deep
State, cripple your enemies, restore your country’s greatness and
establish a world-wide empire – but instead you let those morons in the
state capitols run around like idiots ordering people to Stay Home and
now the economy is in such bad shape you’re in danger of losing
everything I gave you.  Well, that’s going to change.  You’re going on
television.  You’re going to announce that you can cure Covid,
completely.  That nobody will ever die from that virus again, anywhere,
in the whole world.  And all it’s going to take is one small favor.”

“What favor?”

“I want you to sacrifice your son to me.  Kill that one person, and
everyone else is saved.”

“Are you kidding?  That’s ridiculous.  I’m not doing that.”

“Why not?  There’s historical precedent.  Abraham was willing. Ivan the
Terrible and Peter the Great both did it,  Herod killed two of his
sons.  What’s the problem?  Any sacrifice is worth it, if it saves even
one life, right?”

***

If it saves even one life.  Now we know where that idea comes from.

Joe Doakes

After the news about the state’s Covid modelers, it doesn’t even seem all that terribly far-fetched.

Pass This Around, Part II

It was Sunday, October 20, 1985. I was a scrawny, 22 year old kid who’d been relocated to the Twin Cities – at this point, a couch in Burnsville – for exactly five days. I’d already had a couple job interviews (for jobs I would not get), and had just finished looking at a rental room in Powderhorn Park (which I also didn’t get), and was taking a brief culture day, visiting the old Northern Lights (long gone), First Avenue and Seventh Street Entry and Schinders.

I walked up Sixth Street, a little hungry, but willing to part with a little bit of my small supply of cash for my first big city meal. I wandered over past Hennepin, and saw a neon sign beckoning to me: Murray’s, home of the Butterknife Steak.

To a 22 year old enamored of the forties, of Casablanca, of guys in felt greatcoats and fedoras driving 1946 Buicks, it was one of those things my dreams of the big city were made of.

But not quite yet. Not on my budget.

I turned and walked into Lyon’s Pub and had a burger and a Bass Ale. And I plotted – someday, when I’ve “made it in the big city”, I was gonna go into Murray’s, in a nice suit, with my improbably gorgeous and out-of-my-league girlfriend, and have a waiter treat me like I was something other than a flea-bitten recent college grad in a rust-bucket 1973 Monte Carlo, and order exactly anything we wanted.

Someday. Not that day – but someday.

Well, I didn’t “make it” quite to the extent of my fantasies at that age. Although in some ways, I did a lot better than I’d imagined. And in recent years (especially now that I can fit into a much better -looking suit), about a year ago I started thinking – maybe that someday is here?

And I’m hoping I didn’t wait too long:

Hang in there, Mr. Murray.   I’ll be there ASAP when this nonsense is over.  

Anecdotal Evidence

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

When people have confidence in the government’s ability and willingness to protect them, people do not stock up on toilet paper, bottled water, or bullets.

My Permit to Carry is up for renewal. Went to several stores for ammo to go practice. The shelves are bare. .38 Special, 9 mm, 10 mm . . . all the self-defense pistol rounds are gone.

Long gun is no better. .223 are gone. I suppose it could be urban terrorists stocking up for their assault rifles, getting ready to commit an atrocity; but that doesn’t explain why all the deer rifle rounds are gone. The .243, .308, 30-30, and shotgun slug shelves are empty, too.

Ignore the polls telling you how much everyone loves being locked down. Their shopping habits tell a different story.
Joe Doakes

I don’t like going all conspiratorial.

But if I did, I’d almost say that:

  1. The polling showing all the acceptance (and, shortly, the approval for the DFL’s positions) is to invoke the bandwagon effect, suppressing Republican turnout
  2. The state plans on pushing mail-in balloting to take advantage of the mass of fraudulent registrations around the state.

Someone prove me wrong.

Let Them Eat DoorDash

Well, at least someones having fun during this epidemic.

“Earth Day” brought out the climate ghouls, who helpfully pointed out that Covid had done in three months what decades of their activism couldn’t – “cleaned up” the world by dumping a lot of it into poverty.

Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate evangelist, did caution her fellow warriors not to be too “optimistic” about the pause in carbon pollution because the ­so-called climate crisis “is not slowing down.”

But other activists seized the pandemic opportunity to push their agenda, as Democrats tried to shoehorn their Green New Deal into economic relief bills.

“Neither Greenpeace, nor Greta Thunberg, nor any other individual or collective organization have achieved so much in favor of the health of the planet in such a short time,” Spanish scientist Martín López Corredoira crowed on the Science 2.0 blog.

Just as I’ve observed that support for drastic lockdowns (outside of hotspots and groups of the very vulnerable) are tightly correlated with people with government paychecks or show-biz residuals, the whole notion of profiting politically from the pandemic is closely related to class privilege.

But you know that already.

What Manner Of Sorcery Is This?

Most of the various states of emergency distinguish between “essential” businesses and, well, everyone else.

These “essential” businesses possess a level of expertise and competence that, clearly, leaves lesser busineses in the dust. They are able to enact policies and procedures for public safety that are so far beyond the ken of the mere prole, they are indistinguishable from magic.

I saw some of this voodoo at an “essential” local merchant – and was nearly struck dumb by the grandeur of its reasoning. And it made me think “This, truly, is the level of intellectual and scientific chops that separates the wheat from the chaff”.

What was this voodoo?

Brace yourselves:

Continue reading

Culture Clubs

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Rush Limbaugh discussed a column by Sarah Hoyt offering a theory why the COVID-19 virus erupted in some places, but not others.  It’s all about the culture.  

Of course, Americans have been endlessly lectured that all cultures are equally valid; therefore, new arrivals to our country have no obligation to assimilate to our way of doing things.  That makes me wonder about virus hot spots in America.  There are virus outbreaks at pork processing plants in Worthington, Minnesota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  They are “hot spots” in states with otherwise low case levels.  Why there?

Dig deep into the reporting and discover the links.  “Walz suggested the outbreak may have spread from Sioux Falls to Worthington, noting many plant workers are employed by both JBS and Smithfield. “There’s also a lot

of family members that work in both plants,” he said. JBS employs more than 2,000 people in Worthington, drawing a diverse workforce of immigrants and refugees from East Africa, Asia, Mexico and Central America.”

Question: do immigrants/refugees have the same tendency to obey the government’s hand-washing and social distancing orders as the German and Norwegian settlers around them?  Or do recent immigrants/refugees tend to ignore the government in favor of continuing their own cultural hygiene practices, which may be different from the recommended practices?

Is diversity still our strength, or has it become our Achilles heel?

Joe Doakes

While Joe may have a point, I suspect it’s more physical than cultural.

I’ve been referring people to a couple of CDC articles about studies in Hong Kong and South Korea, where it appears the virus spreads through droplets carried by air currents through densely packed places – like restaurants, buses and trains, tightly-packed open plan offices – and, I suspect, places like meat processing plants with lots of forced air ventilation, especially plants where workers weren’t taking precautions like wearing the masks that, it seems reasonable, might prevent droplets from being sneezed out.

Are there cultural issues? Sure. Mobility appears to be a big one, as well – whether between Sioux Falls and Worthington or between Wuhan and Las Vegas

…provided conditions are right to see to the spread of the virus once the people are in the same room.

“The Surge”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

No surge = no lock down.  Open Up!

Governor Walz justified the initial Go To Your Room! order because the computer model predicted a surge of Covid cases coming to overwhelm the hospitals. 

Doctors were scrambling to add ICU beds to handle the surge of cases expected to hit in Late March-Early April.

Estimates of the incubation period for Covid vary between 2-14 days with 5 days being the most common.  If there was a pool of infected people in Early March getting read to overwhelm the hospitals in Late March – Early April, they’d have arrived by now (it’s April 26th as I write).  They did not.

Governor Walz explained the need to extend his order until May: the surge had been delayed by his order and now would arrive in Late May-June-possibly July.  The computer model predicted it with a 95% confidence level.  If he rescinded the order now, the surge would come rushing forward, overwhelming the hospitals.
But the 14-day incubation period is unchanged.  Where are all the infected people hiding?  If they were sick enough in Early March to overwhelm us in Late March, why haven’t they surged already?  Why July – what are they waiting for? 
Ah, but just because people have no symptoms, doesn’t mean they can’t spread it to other people who Will develop symptoms.  Mild cases, or asymptomatic patients, can cause a surge, as reported by a study of Chinese cases

Yes, but for how long?  A person gets the virus, an active case but no symptoms, she can spread it to others, but how long is she contagious?  Doesn’t she eventually get over the virus, develop antibodies, become inactive, stop spreading?   I can’t find a link answering that question but it’s critical to the next phase of the inquiry

The new excuse to extend the order is Testing and Tracking everyone so we can identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and quarantine them to prevent them from infecting other people who will surge into the hospitals, overwhelming them.  Tracking is necessary before the state can re-open for business.  

But people who are not contagious can’t spread the virus so tracking them won’t help stop the surge.   Only a permanently infectious asymptomatic super spreader could have remained contagious since March and also remained hidden this long.  Is that who we’re searching for?  How many are there?  Is it even possible?  I suspect not, even though I can’t prove it, because otherwise authorities would explain that’s who they’re searching for – Covid Mary – be on the lookout.   

As it stands, there is no surge and nobody to cause a surge: not here, not anywhere in America, not anywhere in the world. The virus is burning itself out, as they all do, until cold-and-flu seasons hits next Winter, as it always does. 

There is no June surge coming.  Somebody is lying.  Could be the Governor, could be the U of M who developed the model, could be the World Health Organization, doesn’t matter.  What matters is that the incubation period is 14 days.  Anybody who had the virus before we went into lock-down, would have symptoms or developed the antibodies by now.  Without a surge, there’s no justification for house arrest.  Lift the order now. 

Joe Doakes

Let Them Eat Leisure!

A frienc of the blog emails:

I think the Ayd Mill Road bikeway passed tonight. I’m not opposed to the bikeway concept. But I cry at the level of insensitivity of some council members. There are many people who “budgeted and planned” to feed their families, pay their rent, run their business and suddenly a pandemic occurs. So, they take that money that the budgeted and planned for and stretch it out to do the basics. 

And while reliable, safe transportation is a basic, a bikeway that basically leads no where is really not paying for basics.

But, as it stands, there continues to be less and less reason for people to come to St Paul and more and more reasons to head elsewhere, so I guess might as well make a bike path that serves the leisure class. And to CM Jalali’s point, they’ll certainly “deserve it” when there is absolutely nothing left in St Paul.

The other day, a media story noted that the Covid crisis was forcing the Twin Cities’ mayors to stop playing Sim City and start focusing on the basics.

That didn’t last long.

Brian Stelter Goes Full-Bore Plath

CNN journalist info-tainer Brian Stelter – who is employed, and has at least six-to-seven figure income – is feeling a little down about the pandemic:

Never go full-bore Plath.

“If It Saves Just One Life”

To those who portray the response to Covid as a binary choice between “staying inside for a few more weeks” and “killing grandma” the justification often comes down to “if we can save just one life…”.

It’s the same form of emotion-driven logrolling that drives many peoples’ responses to a depressing list of issues, from gun control to welfare policy.

And those approaches, being logrolling emotional manipulation as they are, almost never ask the same question from the other perspective. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that the most prescriptive of the “Lock It Down”-ers are people with public union jobs, or who can live on residuals.

They need to. Increased unemployment kills.

Opioids, alcholism, violent and property crime and suicide all spike, hard, when unemployment rises. Let’s look at the increase in deaths from opioids alone:

2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper finds a 3.6% increase in the opioid death rate per 100,000 people for a 1% rise in unemployment. There were 14.6 opioid death rates per 100,000 in the United States in 2018. If we use the more conservative estimate of a 20% unemployment rate without a quick return to lower levels, then there would be an estimated 59.4% rise in deaths per 100,000, leading to an increase of 8.7 deaths for a total of 23.3 for opioids.

With a current U.S. population of 331 million, there are 3,310 groups of 100,000, meaning there is potential for an additional 28,797 deaths from opioids annually. Consider that for 2018, the Centers for Disease Control reports that there were 67,367 deaths from all-drug deaths, with 46,802 of those coming from opioid use. The 46,802 deaths were considered an opioid crisis. A possible 75,599 should not be dismissed quickly.

And those increases carry over to other areas – crime, suicide, domestic abuse, pretty much every one of life’s travails and miseries.

I’m not one of Jason Lewis’s “Rip off the Bandaid” crowd. I have people in my family with all sorts of reasons to be concerned about lung problems. But then I’ve got a job where i can work from home (God willing). I have options.

Know any people in your life who don’t?

Blue Fragility, Part III

SCENE: Mitch BERG is out at Menards picking up some shop towels for making face masks out of. While looking around a corner, he runs smack-dab into Avery LIBRELLE

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG:   Ah, sssssss….sssshure is nice to see you.  How are you doing, Avery? 

LIBRELLE:   You conservatives sure did yuk it up over the Trump Virus spreading through blue cities. 

BERG:  No, nobody “yukked it up”.  But there certainly seems to be a correlation between pandemics and blue cities, which tend to be very mass-transit dependent, and have populations even denser than some of their mayors, like DiBlasio. 

LIBRELLE:  Hah!  Well, red states shall get their comeuppance!

BERG: Perhaps.   Epidemics follow biological rules, not political ones.  

LIBRELLE:  Pffft.   Look at South Dakota.   Governor Noem refuses to order South Dakotans to stay at home!  And now the virus is out of control!

BERG:  South Dakota’s case rate is very heavily skewed because of a big outbreak at a pork processor in Sioux Falls, which has skewed the state’s cases per million waaay up; as of April 14, South Dakota had 1,142 cases per million; Minnesota has 307.   But that’s very skewed – South Dakota doesn’t have a million people, so an outbreak causes a disproportionate jump in per capita numbers. 

LIBRELLE:   Not issuing draconian stay at home orders kills!

BERG:   Enh.  South Dakota’s death rate per million is 7, which is half Minnesota’s rate.  Both of those will change, especially if the cases in Sioux Falls manage to overwhelm the region’s healthcare system…

LIBRELLE: …which is will !

BERG:  …which it’s not.  And God willing it won’t. 

LIBRELLE:  Oh, you and your God and thoughts and prayers.  Science!   It shows governors need to put their foot down!  

BERG:  North Dakota, which has about the same population and population density as South Dakota and has taken a similar set of approaches to the epidemic,  but which has no outbreak like the Smithfield plant, has statistically similar cases and deaths per million as Minnesota with Governor Walz’s much more draconian approach.  And yes, the outbreaks have been going on about the same length of time in all three states.  

LIBRELLE:  MERG!   If Governor Noem hadn’t been a stupid red-state governor and issued a stay at home order, the Smithfield outbreak wouldn’t have happened!

BERG:  So what kinds of businesses are exempt and “essential” under the MInnesota shelter in place order?

LIBRELLE:  Essential stuff like grocery stores, liquor stores, Democratic political action groups, medical stuff…

BERG:   What do they do at that Smithfield plant?

LIBRELLE:   I don’t know.  It’s South Dakota.  I have no idea.  Aren’t they Amish?  I’m gonna guess Amish furniture.  

BERG: It’s a pork processing plant.  Where exactly do you think the food that the grocery stores sell, comes from?

LIBRELLE:  Amazon!

BERG:  Yeah, food processing plants are pretty much open everywhere…

( But LIBRELLE has skipped away, pushing  a cart full of plastic bags to use as make-shift head coverings). 

And SCENE. 

 

Another Modification

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Found another modification of the Governor’s Stay Home order, set for
release later this week:

***

Subjects! His Royal Highness, Timothy Walz the First,  proclaims a
modification to Executive Order 20 – 20, requiring Minnesotans to Stay Home.

Our computer models demonstrate conclusively, with scientific accuracy
heretofore unknown, that 2.5 million Minnesotan would would die if We
allowed them to go to the polls for elections in November.  Our highest
duty is to preserve the lives of all Minnesotans; therefore, We have
regretfully suspended elections for the duration of the emergency.  All
office holders will continue in office until elections can be scheduled,
hopefully within the next five years.

We realize this is an unprecedented step, but Minnesota faces an
unprecedented situation.  We respectfully request voluntary compliance,
and are establishing concentration camps in the northern portion of the
state for saboteurs, wreckers, kulaks, and resisters.

HRH T. Walz the First

***

Thought you ought to know

Joe Doakes

Plausible?

Time’ll tell.

The New Stasi, Part II

Bloomberg News – the news organization owned by the guy who wants you to have the same right to self-defense that the Chinese have – apparently fired a reporter who wrote a piece critical of the Chicoms, and went out of the way to shut up his wife:

Six years ago, Bloomberg News killed an investigation into the wealth of Communist Party elites in China, fearful of repercussions by the Chinese government.The company successfully silenced the reporters involved. And it sought to keep the spouse of one of the reporters quiet, too.

“They assumed that because I was the wife of their employee, I was the wife,” the author and journalist Leta Hong Fincher tells NPR. “I was just an appendage of their employee. I was not a human being.”

Read the whole thing. 

The report comes from NPR.   One would hope that that was due to actual journalists reporting an actual story.  

I said “hope”. 

Declaring The Causes That Impel Us

We’re into month two of the “State of Emergency” in Minnesota.

Let’s stipulate in advance – government does have emergency powers, and should have them, at least as a broad concept. One of government’s few genuinely legitimate roles is to exert its power to react to things that are beyond the power of the individual, or (rarely, at least in theory) subsidiary levels of government; invasions, natural disasters and, yeah, epidemics. We can argue the “should government have emergency power” question if you’d like, but it’s pretty much the status quo.

One of the obligations of a free people – and especially of a free people that wants to stay that way – is to push back when government overreaches. Not just in emergencies (although that’s the subject today), but always, on every facet of liberty. Conservatism holds that order and liberty exist in a constant state of tension; without order (or health) prosperity is impossible; without health, freedom is academic (subsistence farmers don’t have time to petition for redress of grievances); without freedom, order is onerous and, let’s be honest, prosperity is most likely concentrated among those keeping the order.

Government power, like a handgun, is a necessary tool in extreme circumstances. And like any necessary tool, free people need to make sure that the newbie isn’t sweeping people at the firing range with her hand on the trigger, and that goverment isn’t getting drunk and profligate with its use, or abuse of power.

And I think we can make a pretty solid case that Governor Walz’s emergency declaration does exactly that.

First – Covid clearly is an emergency. There is a valid public health reason to treat it as more than just the flu. But the record shows different states taking very different approaches to the emergency, and with very different results; New York State went full-on Mussolini, but between having one of the most densely populated cities in the country and being run by bungling clowns like Bill DiBlasio, it didn’t work; California also went full-on tyrant, but it seems to be working. Other states went the other way; in the Dakotas and the rural west, it seems to be working out fairly well, while in Louisiana and Florida, the libertarian approach (combined with a lot of ill-advised, Italian-style revelry in the face of the threat) didn’t pan out so well.

Minnesota has trended more authoritarian. I get the rationale. But let’s be honest – even if you ignore the ham-handedness of the administration’s management of information (of which more later in the week), it’s fair to say the Governor and his Administration have clobbered civil liberties while reacting to the crisis – in many cases, wrongly.

So lets put together a list of the usurpations:

Life and Liberty

  • While the movement restrictions in Minnesota are fairly benign so far – serving more as a muted threat than an active clampdown – the idea of telling people not to go to their lake cabin (i.e., trying to prevent people from moving temporarily from a place of high desnsity and greater vulnerability to someplace safer) is an intrusion. And Mayor Frey’s active use of the police to curtail traffic isn’t just a muted threat.
  • The ability to visit family, especially in hospitals and nursing homes. To be fair, in many cases this is a private response to the epidemic – it’s why I can’t see my mother, notwithstanding the fact that her husband of nearly 30 years just died – but it’s driven by the response to government regulations and the litigiousness that government regulators have promoted.
  • We’re paying for a lot of government “services” of dubious value in the best of times, that we’re not getting at all today.

The Pursuit of Prosperity

Here, the DFL’s disdain for business and private property rears its head, above and beyond any actual response to the epidemic.

  • The right to transact business is clearly subject to arbitrary, and in some cases seemingly capricious, interference. Small businesses are shut down (as big ones, and business with more, better lobbyists remain open), in many cases without regard to the business’ actual susceptibility to the virus (lawn services? Landscapers? They’re pretty socially distant to begin with). Arbitrarily shutting down businesses regardless of their own instincts for self-preservation, ingenuity and ability to achieve some resiliency against the epidemic (like all the small grocery stores turning their lanes into one-way thorofares) qualifies as a taking in my book. Classic example – liquor stores are “essential”, but vape and smoke shops aren’t. It’s best that your vices not be politically unfashionable.
  • The assignment of “essential” status was clearly utterly politicized.
  • While it seems an act of charity, and might even be justifiable, barring all evictions and foreclosures is certainly an arbitrary taking without some sort of compensation. The idea that
  • Contracts are pretty much irrelevant – business are foreclosed by decree, in many cases, from fulfilling them, and the courts are closed for purposes of arbitrating the results.

Government Transparency

  • The Administration is making huge, life-altering decisions about the economy based on a model that seems to be giving very different results than most other models, and whose proprietors are keeping secret for the most paternalistic of reasons: “On Friday, [State health economist Stefan] Gildemeister said he had concerns that models that let anyone use them might be “irresponsible” because “it allows folks to make assumptions that aren’t very realistic ones.” While “transparency” isn’t necessarily a constitutional issue, the idea that state bureaucrats treat the math and code that they created on our dime like something they have to prorect from a bunch of drooling savages should make every freedom-loving citizen hot under the collar, and ready to vote a whole lot of scoundrels out of office in seven months or so.
  • The legislature, already prone as it is to operating as a “star chamber” with the Governor, Speaker, and the two Majority Leaders, has gotten even less transparent than before; online gatherings (kept just below legal “quorum” status) have been substituting for public committee meetings; policy is being made completely absent public scrutiny.
  • The governor’s “press only” press conference Friday – if that doesn’t bother you, what does?

First Amendment

  • The banning of group gatherings of all kinds – as opposed to pushing for voluntary enforcement of containment and distancing – pretty much forswears all protest against government overreach.
  • The enforced closing of places of worship – as opposed to strongly suggesting people wear masks, stay at home if sick, and observe spacing between family groups in services – is a clear violation of freedom of religion.
  • While closing places of worship by decree is onerous, many churches – including my own – closed voluntarily. But there are aspects to faith – Sacraments like Last Rites, Baptism and Confession, for Catholics, and there are many others in other faiths – that must be done in person, and where remote exercise is banned as a matter of doctrine. I’ve been informed of cases where priests have been barred from hospitals; no avenues left open for the administration of such Sacraments, whether through prudent adaptations (priests in masks and PPE, isolation rooms, whatever) or not. One administrative size fits all, whether talking about an ad agency or a church. This – not just the closing down, but the forbidding of any adaptation – has to be a clear violation of the First Amendment.
  • Freedom of assembly? Do I even need to say it?
  • Along with that – the right to petition for the redress of grievances, private or public, is pretty much toast until the courts decide to start meeting again.

Second Amendment

  • Many counties are curtailing the ability to apply for, or renew, carry and purchase permits.
  • The operation of the ranges necessary for taking permit training is pretty much shut down.
  • Thanks to a law passed by a bipartisan majority in 2015, government in Minnesota can’t confiscate guns, or shut down gun stores unless literally every other business in the state is closed, due to a state of emergency. This was an admirable bit of foresight – it doesn’t take a vivid imagination to see Jacob Frey, Melvin Carter and Kim Norton (frothing anti-gun ninny mayor of Rochester) sending their cops door to door in times like this. More on this later.

Fourth Amendment

Fifth Amendment

  • With the courts pretty much closed your right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury is pretty much toast for the duration.
  • And the closing down of the Judicial Branch offices give defense attorneys – who, unlike prosecutors, have no online access to Judicial Branch records – a serious disadvantage in prepping for cases for when they can get to trial.

Privacy

  • Government is using your cell data to track the effectiveness of social distancing. While we’re assured that government and the big cell providers they’re in bed with aren’t mis-using that data, we all know that’s only as safe as the government’s least ethical employee.

Got more (specific to Minnesota, for now)? Leave ’em in the comments, please.


I gave the example of Minnesota’s gun rights movement’s successful drive to foreclose government’s ability to confiscate firearms and abrogate the 2nd Amendment during crises. Gun Rights groups in Minnesota are big, well-organized, and badly funded (you can sure help out) but make up for it in volunteer action and the justice of our cause.

The lesson, though? Minnesotans need to get together in the same way to put stronger guard rails on the other excesses of government emergency power we’re seeing.

Paging Governor Walz! Call From Mr. HIPAA

The governor has decreed that the locations of Covid patients will be given to first responders.

Not immigration status. Heavens, no. That’d put a “chlling effect” on their lives.

But letting them know if they have Covid?

Under Walz’s order, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will share the addresses of COVID-19 infections that are still contagious with the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which will distribute the data to 911 dispatch centers. Dispatchers will share information with first responders called to one of the addresses.

The order goes into effect immediately and lasts the duration of the state of emergency declared by Walz.

The virus had infected 1,336 Minnesotans as of Friday and killed 57.

“This decision is not taken lightly,” said Walz’s Friday order. “…We must implement safeguards to ensure that no one abuses this data.”

Meaning: we need safeguards – but the policy is in effect anyway. Feel better?

You know me – always looking for the silver lining. Maybe this is it – the ACLU is actually fretting about civil liberties again:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota has opposed sharing the data, noting that it won’t prevent infection because the count of positive cases is underrepresented due to a shortage of tests.

And boy howdy, do I ever wanna take a Covid test, so I can get a big scarlet “C” on my lapel.

I mean, when they’re available.

Appeal To Authority

Jim Fleming – a lawyer and good acquaintance – wrote on Facebook (and I’m quoting with permission):

“Well, the CDC says . . . .”

Every time someone starts a discussion with me, using this language, I steel myself against the loss of good humor. I do not trust the CDC. Period. Why? Because it is primarily a political organization, which sings the song of those who feed it the most bread. Proof?

Well, try this. In 1995 Criminology Professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, published the 1993 National Self-Defense Survey that argued that Americans use firearms to defend themselves (from display gun – no shooting to pull gun and actual shooting with fatal effect) on the order of over 1 million times each year. (Actually they said more likely two to three million times per year).

Of course the anti-gun lobby went absolutely batshit crazy and numerous attempts were made to discredit Kleck and Gertz. Results? Lions – about 11, “Christians” – 0. Kleck and Gertz repeated their studies several times with the same results. Numerous studies attempting to discredit them, were unsuccessful. The part the CDC played in all of this?

“In 1996, 1997, and 1998, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted large-scale surveys asking about defensive gun use (DGU) in four to six states. Analysis of the raw data allows the estimation of the prevalence of DGU for those areas. Estimates based on CDC’s surveys confirm estimates for the same sets of states based on data from the 1993 National Self-Defense Survey (Kleck and Gertz 1995). Extrapolated to the U.S. as a whole CDC’s survey data imply that defensive uses of guns by crime victims are far more common than offensive uses by criminals. CDC has never reported these results.” Forbes magazine, April 2018, author Paul Hsieh..

Now, in 2013, Father Obama (the smartest man in the world – just ask him) yet again ordered the CDC to conduct a study and this time “get the numbers right!” So, eating the bread and clearing its throat to sing, the CDC ordered The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine and National Research Council to conduct the survey. They did, and they came back and reported that, “Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence”: Matching the results found by Kleck and Gertz, lo those many years before. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”

Obama was outraged, primarily because he was going around telling everybody that it was not true. So,he ordered the results buried. (In the old days, they simply killed the report writers to silence their tongues, but modernly that is frowned upon) And the results were buried, from that day forward, until recently.

Moral: Just because officialdom spews a line of bullshit at you, does not, in any way, mean you have to lap it up like mother’s milk. Being an American, patriotically vigilant about liberty and justice for all, is hard goddamned work. It requires objective, critical thinking, every day. The herd cannot and will not do this. Those who do not run with the herd get really good at it.

Don’t be part of the herd. . .z . . .

We’ve got an awful lot of people in this country – including way too much of the media – who think “guy in a white coat” = “science” – and, by extension, “political appointee boss of guy in white coat” – “science”, too.

And the terrible job out schools do at teaching critical thinking is going to be an even bigger problem in 20 years than it is today, as all those Sander/AOC/Omar supporters become the generation that actually controls things.

Heaven help us all.

Priorities

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

St. Paul has no money to repair the streets…

…but we can afford to send a kid to blow the leaves off the sidewalk around the Rec Center, which is closed because we are all staying home for fear of $1,000 fine.
Joe Doakes

Kevin Williamson puts it well: Politics (in the larger sense – settling society’s matters by means of voting) is the least effective means of allocating resources there is.

Case in point.