It’s Like A Sidewalk, I Suppose…

Joe dogs, Park emails about a recent court decision:

The hallway outside your apartment is not part of your home, even if it’s a secure building.
If you are attacked in that hallway, you are not allowed to defend yourself, you must retreat into your own apartment.
The court probably got the law right based on current statutes. Which explains why we need Stand Your Ground legislation more than ever.
Joe Doakes

that’s the big catch about winning cases in court – you have to start from a basis of good law.

And Minnesota has a long way to go.


When the founding fathers created our Constitution, one of their biggest fears was that of the standing army.  In Europe at the time (and in most dictatorships today), the Army was a professional, full-time force, frequently composed of mercenaries whose loyalty to the local king was purchased; in larger kingdoms, it was composed of units from different parts of the kingdom, who had no loyalty or affection to the people of the local province.

The Army, in short, was an agent of oppression.

The first municipal police department (in London in the 1820′s) on the other hand was an attempt to distance itself from the idea of the military.

Kevin Williamson at NRO goes through the squandered legacy of Sir John Peel, the inventor of the modern police force.   Peel’s nine guidelines to the then-new Metro Police are – or were – a standard for cops for well over a century:

The first order of police work is, according to Peel, “to prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.” The second principle is “to recognize always that the power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions, and behavior, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.” He called this “policing by consent.” The policeman, in Peel’s view, was a citizen: “The police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

And the importance of the uniform.  The bright colors and towering headdresses of the uniforms of post-medieval Europe (still worn by the Guards at Buckingham Palace) were intended to try to intimidate the opposition, especially an opposition of peasants and rabble that didn’t have uniforms:

In that context, the function of the police uniform is simply that of an imprimatur — of the municipal government of London or of New York or Mayberry. It tells little Peter Pat whom he can trust.

We seem to have lost that idea:

Our contemporary and increasingly militarized police uniforms are designed for a different purpose: the projection of force. Peel organized the Metropolitan Police as an alternative to “military repression,” but we, in turn, have turned our police into quasi-military organizations: Armored vehicles roam the mean streets of Pulaski County, Ind. Why? “It’s more intimidating,” the sheriff says.

Cops will note in response that there are times when they do need to assert control – to “intimidate”.  That’s true.  But that “time” is not “when in contact with a general public that is exercising its right to protest”, among quite a few others.

The more I think about it, the more it seems modern law enforcement has become the standing army our founding fathers were worried about.


What do I think about what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri?

Re the Brown shooting:  On the one hand, American police do a lot more shooting than any other police force in the world.  More shots were fired in that single incident in Ferguson than were fired by the entire German police force in six whole weeks. 

On the other hand, African-Americans do get a disparately-harsh response from law-enforcement.   It causes some to prejudge all cases involving black shooting victimes.

On the third hand – that cuts both ways.  We don’t know the facts – not all of them – about the Brown shooting, but we’ve seen the media whitewash the likes of Darren Evanovich, trying to create a racial incident out of what turned out to be a perfectly clean self-defense shooting. 

On the fourth hand, if Brown was going for the officer’s gun, that’s a legitimate cause for self-defense.  Even for a regular citizen.  If someone grabs your gun, the law doesn’t require you to read his mind as to what he intends to do with it. 

On the fourth, we may not ever really know why the scuffle happened, or exactly what happened. 

And that, in fact, is the only real response I have to add.  Remember the media’s reports in the first hours, days, even weeks after Columbine?  Virginia Tech? The Giffords and Aurora Theater and Newtown shootings?  Remember how close to the actual facts of the stories they got?

Not at all.

So I’ll wait for the facts to shake out, assuming they ever do.

Regarding the Police Response:  I’ve written before about how I oppose the militarization of the police.  And the first couple of days of the Ferguson PD’s response was the Keystone Kops led by Major Frank Burns.  Oh, don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with the DoD selling military firearms and armored vehicles to police departments – provided they sell them to law-abiding citizens, as well.

And yet when the Ferguson Fusiliers were withdrawn and replaced by the kinder, gentler, New-Ageier Missouri State Police?   The violence ebbed ,then came back as bad as ever, prompting local, black residents to wonder to the media why the cops weren’t shooting looters.  And now the National Guard is involved. 

The Charlatan Caucus:  Of course, where there are grievances, there will be grievance vultures.  And sure enough, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are on the scene – which in and of itself devalues much of the local community’s complaints. 

As bad, in their own way?  The media – which continue lead with inaccurate info, when they’re not making the story about themselves.

Just Oooooone More…

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals want to raise the federal gas tax to provide for highway funding. Great, if the money actually went there. Politicians are too eager to dip into the Highway Trust Fund for mass transit, deficit reduction, underground storage tank removal . . . .
Every time they raise the issue, they tell the same lie: “This time it will be different. It will be for highways, bridges, infrastructure. Well, and bike path paintings on the road. And art. And relocation money for historically significant artifacts that are near major construction projects. Well, maybe something for racial harmony too.”
Joe doakes

There cold be a 12 step group for government spenders. Only with the government inflation rate and union guarantees it’d be more like 600 steps before long.

On Your Own

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

This legal analysis is interesting because it starts from the basic assumption that the police have NO obligation to protect citizens from crime. The police create an obligation to protect you only if they go out of their way to make the situation worse than it was before they intervened.
The obvious implication of this “no obligation” ruling – coupled with the Supreme Court’s holding that individuals have a Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms for self-defense – is that the fundamental legal principle of public security in American law is . . . you’re on your own.
Which Conservatives have known all along, but it’s nice to see the Courts spell it out so clearly for us. Now, Liberals, do you have any questions?
Joe Doakes

I’m gonna guess “no”.

Emperor Barack The First

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals resent the Constitution because the requirement to wait around for Congress to act constrains the President from doing good things for the country on his own initiative.
But for that pesky old scrap of parchment, the President would be doing all the things he won the Nobel Peace Prize for. If only he had the power to act.
In other words, they want a king.
joe doakes

“Progressivism” is fundamentally totalitarian.

Savage Was Right

Joel Doakes from Como Park emails:

More and more, Liberals remind me of the princess who couldn’t sleep on the pile of mattresses because there was a single pea under them. It tormented her, she was wretched, miserable, unable to function because of that tiny flaw in her otherwise perfect existence. Liberals act like that all the time:
That woman who was upset because opposing counsel was SHOUTING at her in email, a clear case of unprofessional cyber-bullying.
The school principal that expelled the 2nd grader who nibbled a Pop Tart into the shape of a dangerous assault weapon.
Barak Obama and Eric Holder claiming the only reason people are upset about their Anti-American policies is because of subtle, persistent racism.
It’s as if Liberals believe Disneyworld is the ideal world and if we all try just a teensy bit harder, we can make it happen in all our lives, everywhere, all the time, for free.
Living in a fantasy, unable to distinguish what is real from what is imaginary, that’s the definition of mental illness. Or Liberal. Take your pick.
Joe Doakes

they do seem to try to have things both ways…

Eggs For The Omelet, As It Were

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Michelle Obama wants grocery stores to install talking grocery carts that will encourage shoppers to buy healthier food.
I predict that as soon as my medical records become part of Obama-care, the NSA will monitor the bar code scanner as I load the talking grocery cart with purchases and when it sees the package of Hostess Ding Dongs, a red light will flash and the cart will shout “HELP HELP UNWISE FOOD CHOICE IN AISLE THREE” until a Team Member arrives to take away the unhealthy item to replace it with a nice head of broccoli.
I can hardly wait.
Joe Doakes

It’ll have to do until the kids are trained to do the ratting-out more reliably.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

. Connecticut mother leaves 11 year old child in car, gets arrested by police.
California mother leaves 12 year old child in car while she visits bank, gets shot by police.
Is it just me, or is “child protection” getting out of hand?
Joe Doakes
Como Park

Like all those Vietnamese villages that had to be destroyed to protect them…

Satirically Speaking

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

. Governor Mark Dayton (DFL- Minnesota) astounded his critics today by amending his legislative proposal to include $100,000,000 of new bonding authority for the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority. “for too long, Republicans have said the Democrats won’t put their money where their mouth is. That ends today” said governor dayton. “starting immediately, every state County School District and city employee must reside within 3 blocks of the light rail line. This will demonstrate our commitment to light rail and show the public that everyone in the government has the public best interest at heart. I, myself, am moving to an apartment at University Avenue and Western Avenue, so I can ride the light rail to the capital to work. This new bonding Authority will give the government money to subsidize employees mortgages so they can relocate closer to the right location. I encourage all Metro DFL representatives to do the same.”

That’ll happen when the Democrats in Congress sign up for Obamacare.

The Peter Judiciary

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The President of the State Bar Association explains the drive to change how judgeships are filled:

“ . . . formalize our current informal practice of filling vacancies by gubernatorial appointment, rather than by election; implement a merit-selection process for judges at all levels of the judiciary; create an evaluation process where a commission comprising both lawyers and nonlawyers will assess judges’ performance based on objective criteria, and publicize these evaluations to the public; and require judges to take part in retention elections rather than participate in “contested” races that, in reality, are rarely contested and involve voters who often have little to no information about the judges whose names appear on the ballot.”

Right now, vacant judgeships are filled by election except when an untimely vacancy occurs, then the Governor appoints judges recommended by the Judicial Selection Commission. The Commission members are listed here and you can draw your own conclusions about whether they are likely to recommend Liberal candidates and whether a Democrat governor will select a Liberal candidate. Giving the Governor power to appoint all judges means control of the judiciary is removed one more step away from the people they’re supposed to serve, one more step toward total DFL control over all three branches of government.

The Commission is required to evaluate candidates based on the criteria in Subd. 8 of the statute. These criteria are not merit-based, they are almost entirely worthless. Only three of these criteria can be measured: are you a women, are you a minority and how many trials have you had? All the other criteria are so subjective the Commission doesn’t dare rely on them for fear of being labeled sexist, racist or part of the Old Boy Network. So basically, the best qualified candidates under the statutory criteria are the ones who have tried the most cases.

But counting trials is a lousy way to select judges. It’s a shoddy lawyer that takes every case to trial; real skill lies in negotiating an out-of-court settlement that satisfies all parties. The only lawyers who can afford to indulge in trying cases are prosecutors, public defenders and insurance defense lawyers, which explains why the trial bench and now the Court of Appeals is loaded with judges who have no experience in the wider practice of law such as family law and real estate law. That, in turn, explains some of the bizarre opinions issued by the Court of Appeals in recent years. It’s not that judges are howling idiots, they just don’t know any better.

Appointing judges who don’t know the law is bad enough. Expecting citizens to mount campaigns to remove those judges is worse. Far from institutionalizing excellence, we’ll be insulating mediocrities from any prospect of accountability. So – perfect for the DFL. Rotten for everyone else.

Joe Doakes

if there’s one thing the conservative side of the aisle has done very badly, it is explain why their constant fussing about judicial elections actually matters.

So I think Joe has done a great public service, here, today.

Among The Bitter Gun-Clinging Jeebus Freaks

Insulting Iowa farmers…

…is probably not a great idea if you’re running to represent them in the Senate.

That’s Iowa Democrat Bruce Braley. He’s running against Chuck Grassley (who is, partly in the interest of disclosure but mostly as a matter of fun trivia, either a very distant relative or at least someone whose ancestors come from the same village in Norway as my paternal grandmother’s family) – but most importantly, he apparenly is banking on “people who went to law school” putting him over the top against “people who didn’t”.

Demand Integrity!

Keith Ellison, speaking to the Democrats’ greatest public intellectual, Bill Maher, had the following exchange:

“Why doesn’t your party come out against the Second Amendment? It’s a problem,” Maher asks, to which Ellison replies, “I sure wish they would. I sure wish they would.”

I with the Democrat Party would do it, too.  It’d be a sign of integrity. 

Even with the extra context that the City Pages’ Aaron Rupar is careful to note (for Ellison):

It should be noted, however, that earlier in the segment Ellison said, “I don’t think you have to eliminate ownership of all guns in order to get some common-sense gun rules.” So what he means in saying he wishes Dems would come out against the Second Amendment isn’t totally clear.

Of course it is.

Ellison believes the Democrats should endorse the idea that civil rights and liberties are gifts from the government to the people.  Things to be doled out by a wide, benificent government to the gabbling rabble they are chose to rule. 

Ellison just wants the Democrat party to reclaim its legacy as the party of people who decide who gets what rights – just like it did under slavery and Jim Crow. 

It’s perfectly clear.

The past two decades, senior citizens have swung from left to right, overall:

In 1992, 53% of senior citizens, on average, identified as Democrats or said they were independents but leaned Democratic, while 39% identified as Republicans or leaned Republican, resulting in a 14-percentage-point Democratic advantage in seniors’ party affiliation. Last year, 48% of seniors identified as or leaned Republican, and 45% Democratic, a three-point Republican advantage. The full 1992-2013 party affiliation trends for seniors and younger Americans are shown on page 2.

I think that makes sense – these are people who were trying to get through their prime earning years during the Carter administration, and who get how important an economic recovery can be.

Name report notes that young people are moving more Democrat – which is, I think an artifact of the fact that 20 years ago, during the Reagan administration, “young people” had much more recent examples of the stark contrast between conservative and liberal economic policy. People under the age of 24 today grew up with the better part of a decade of “Bushitler” from their schools and entertainment and, I suspect, have very little memory of even the relative restraint of the Clinton years, much less actual conservatism.

Which is, I suspect, going to be a huge challenge for the GOP. But no worse, I suspect, than the one that had to overcome between 1974 and 1980.

Doakes Sunday:

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Mitch, you’re always going on about the Labor Force Participation Rate and why that proves the government’s unemployment statistics are at best, wrong and at worst, intentionally misleading.  Since the government is headed by the President and he’s a Black man, plainly, you’re just a big ole racist.

Here’s a guy who’s as big a racist as you but he had a larger megaphone. Comfort in numbers?

Joe Doakes

There is no comfort in these numbers…

Faint Damnation

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Report finds no evidence of widespread sexual misconduct in Secret Service.  Good to know.

Of course, that depends on what “sexual misconduct” means.  We all remember “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

And what “widespread” means (get your mind out of the gutter, we’re talking about sexual misconduct not . . . oh, never mind).Joe Doakes

The bar for “right” versus “wrong” has been set so low these days.  , a snake could get over it without jumping.

The American Chilton © Manual

It was almost 20 years ago that Newt Gingrich earned his claim to fame, engineering one of the most radical turnarounds in the history of American politics; flipping Congress to the GOP for the first time since the Great Depression. 

And he did it using one of the most radical techniques in the history of politics; telling the people what his movement stood for, and what it’d stand by

It worked; the 1994 elections were one of the most sweeping turnarounds in American political history.  The ’94 election did for Congress what Reagan did for the White House; put conservatism on the table. 

It didn’t stick, of course; the Gingrich Congress gave way to the Frist Congress.  The Class of 94 slowly went Beltway Native.  But noting that merely proves one of the most important points of political activism; it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Getting people elected is only the first half of the problem; keeping them honest is just as important.

But that’s history.  I’m here to talk about the present.

A New American Repair Manual:  Of course, the name “Contract with America” had that patina of legalism that smacks of the same thing that gave us the problem in the first place.  The System.

I think conservatives need to revisit the notion of putting down a hard set of…not “campaign” promises, but lines in the sand, things that separate them from the Democrat party for all to see.  Something that everyone, from a movement conservative to a college kid looking for a job to a working, not-overly-political family with a cancelled insurance policy and a skyrocketing premium can look at, compare with “Hope and Change!”, and find some red meat to support. 

It’s not a “Contract”.  It’s a repair manual.  Sort of like a Chilton © manual for the 2014 United State of America. 

Here’s my suggestion for that repair guide:

It’s Your Money – Not Government’s!:  Return all personal, inheritance and capital gains taxes to 2004 levels, immediately.  You earned it.  You use it. 

The Government Diet:  Freeze spending at 2010 levels.  I know, that’s already too high – but Americans lack the stomach for radical change.  And economic growth will make that sustainable, eventually.  Especially if we…:

Rebuild the Economy:  Three points to this one:

  • Roll back Obama’s regulatory orgy – Especially those related to energy – because we’re gonna…
  • Drill, baby!  Drill!  – when Obama took office, gas was under $2 a gallon; with North America awash in oil, coal and natural gas, there’s no reason gas can’t be cheaper than it was.  Turning into a net energy exporter for the first time in over 40 years will be a huge boost to the economy – and start a domino effect that will, along with the regulatory rollback. 
  • Slash corporate taxes and push R&D tax credits.  The cuts will be more than repaid in revenue from new business and paying jobs. 

Focus On The Real Enemies:  On the one hand, stop warrantless domestic spying.  Immediately.  Completely.  The NSA and CIA exist for a reason – to protect us from foreign enemies.  Focus on them.  Put some teeth into the FISA warrant laws.  Stop the NSA, CIA, DHS and IRS from spying on, oppressing, watch-listing and persecuting Americans going about their daily business.  Reinstate the Fourth Amendment in all its prickly glory. 

And in the process, move from being the world’s policeman to the world’s ninja.  Stay out of foreign affairs that don’t affect us – and when we do get involved, do it judiciously, economically, and with an aim toward accomlishing a defined mission and getting out.  This is one area where the French have a lot to teach us.  Like the Frogs, we should become the porcupine – a porcupine with a baseball bat and a couple of rattlesnakes in the closet.  Remain magnificently above the world’s niggling jabbering squabbles, unless it’s something very important that’s utterly immutable to diplomacy.  Then hit it so hard they spend the next hundred years wondering what hit them.  Go home.  Let them pick up their pieces and reflect on the lesson they just learned.

Path To Dignity:  Focus federal welfare efforts on getting people to work.  Transition federal welfare spending to grants to state that use methods that show success at getting the poor back to work. 

Go Back To Your Own Doctor:  Repeal Obamacare.  Replace it with one of the Republican plans that leverage Medicaid while preserving the private market.  Abolish laws forbidding purchasing insurance across state lines.  We’ve invested half a trillion dollars in a failed website, and that’s only the beginning of the problems.  Cut it loose.  Abandon it.  Stop throwing good money after bad – and worse, screwing up the lives of average Americans. 

It’s not a contract.  It’s a repair manual.  Because that’s what this country needs after six years of our experiment of letting a bunch of giggly fratboys run the country; the country is like a frat house that’s going to need a summer’s worth of repairs to be ready for the fall semester.

So let’s start repairing things. 

And here, locally? :  Most of the same points apply here in Minnesota.  More on that tomorrow or early next week.


To:  Governor Dayton
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:   Remember all those pieces of paper you signed last spring?

Governor Dayton:

Yesterday, you told MPR News in re the new $90 million Senate Palace that Tom Bakk rammed through at the literal last possible moment of the last session…:

“I think the building itself is necessary … We’re talking about a project for the next century,” Dayton told reporters Wednesday. “But I think the price tag on it, and appearance of it, are a little high.”

Er, Governor Dayton?  You signed the appropriation into law.

Or at least we presume it was you, and not Carrie Lucking moving your hands.

That presumption looks weaker and weaker these days.

Dayton said he wants a more modest, less expensive version and planned to share his concerns soon with Senate leaders…The new building is needed to make up for the square footage lawmakers will lose once the renovation of the Capitol is complete, Bakk added. Under present Senate arrangements, the majority party is housed in the Capitol while the minority is housed in the State Office Building. Bringing Democrats and Republicans together under one roof is important, Bakk said.

Here’s a solution.  Mere blocks from the Capitol lies downtown Saint Paul.  It’s got a 30% vacancy rate – and I suspect that’s even higher in the gulch between Cedar and Jackson streets, where there is virtually nothing living (thanks, largely, to DFL policies).

Why not move the Senate into the old USBank building?  Or 375 Jackson?  The Hamm?   Alliance?  The Big Red One?

Or maybe Macy’s?   That’d seem…appropriate.

PS to Governor Dayton:  Nancy Pelosi was being just a little bit flippant, I think, when she said “you have to pass it to see what’s in it”.  It technically is your job to know what you’re signing into law.