Pain

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

My wife as a 40-year history of low back pain.  It’s been good lately,
but she stumbled and fell the other day.  Now, she’s in intense pain,
can barely move.  We’ve been icing and heating, ibuprofen and Tylenol,
not helping.

Because of the opioid crisis, she cannot get stronger pain medicine
without a diagnosis.  She can’t get a diagnosis without imaging (MRI). 
She can’t get imaging without a doctor’s order. She can’t see her doctor
because she’s out of town.  So today we’re going in at 6:00 p.m. to see
some new doctor hoping for an imaging order and some temporary pain
relief, a couple of Vicodin, just to get through the night.

It’s insulting, it’s shameful, it’s infuriating that a senior citizen
must lie in pain because some bureaucrat is worried about junkies
getting high.  If I knew where to get black-market Vicodin, I’d buy it
in a heartbeat.  And don’t even get me thinking about sticking up – I
mean, peacefully protesting – my local drugstore.  I’ve already got the
mask.

Joe Doakes

I had some exposure to this issue during the session – I was involved with some friends, drumming up phone calls to help reform the “Reforms” that led to the situation Joe describes, “reforms” that made it possible for the authorities to destroy the careers of doctors who prescribed painkillers out of line with untrained bureaucrats’ recommendations.

Talking with Representatives on the subject – including my own “representative”, Rena Moran – was a truly horrifying experience. One got the impression that the original “Reforms” had been pure ass-covering for the legislators (and neither party was blameless, not that I’m going to give Moran any slack), and with asses covered, they were done discussing the issue.

I used to joke that for Ron Paul to achieve the goals for which he campaigned in 2008 or 2012, he’s have had to have staged a libertarian coup d’etat, and imposed liberty by force via an absolute libertarian dictatorship.

That’s becoming less and less facetious over time.

Timing

A friend of the blog emails:

Do I have this right? The pandemic has reduced commuter travel as employees and students work from home. The buses all say “essential travel only” and are not allowing the crowds they once had. Honestly, they probably don’t even have the crowds- fewer people are using the bus right now. I haven’t been on a bus lately, but I still get the texts about reduced service. Several times a day, buses aren’t running for all sorts of reasons.

Yet, despite all of this, Metro Transit employees were set to get a 2.5% raise and a $1500 bonus? The hospital where I work cancelled raises, eliminated CEU money, and cancelled the Holiday parties and meals because elective surgeries were cancelled for 2 months. Yet, these transit employees think their bonus and 2.5% raise are “crappy offers” and rejected the offer, voting for a strike?????

 I rarely use such language, but seriously, WTF is wrong with these people? I mean, look around- they ought to be happy with being employed, let alone a raise this year.

If Metro Transit struck now, who would know? 

Other than the people the DFL and their public employee union enablers want to keep miserable anyway? 

Heroes Walking Among Us

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Went for a walk, saw this sign, having trouble identifying the symbol for “government bureaucrats.”  


Hey, we’re essential, you know.  Those papers aren’t going to shuffle themselves.  
Joe Doakes

Sardonic as Joe is, he knows as well as anyone that government workers of all kinds are the most essential workers there are. They’re public employees union members – the backbone of the DFL.

They’re essential to his and the DFL’s power.

But we all knew this.

Surprising Nobody (Who’s Been Paying Attention At All)

“Unexpectedly”, Minnesota’s neighbors – well, at least the ones run by people who came up through the world of business, rather than public employment or the non-profit/industrial complex – are kicking Minnesota’s passive-aggressive tush at dealing with Coronavirus.

You could look at it in terms of deaths per million (South Dakota is 1/3 Minnesota’s rate; North Dakota, half). You could look at it in terms of ICU utilization (all are doing all right, but it’s interesting to imagine how much better the lower-density states would be doing but for the ravages of Obamacare on rural healthcare).

Oh, yeah – and testing?

Which Governor Walz, for about the tenth time in six weeks put out there as the dispositive factor in re-opening, notwithstanding the fact that Minnesota’s bureaucracy is no better at un-flattening the curve with tests than it is at managing its budget?

Oh, what do you think? Numbers as of yesterday.

North Dakota 54,330
South Dakota 22,009
Nebraska 21,253
Iowa 21,206
Wisconsin 17,695
Minnesota 17,625

Bear in mind, progs in the audience – this is in terms of tests per million.

The businesspeople – who largely happen to be Republicans, but that’s more an effect than a cause – are doing the job better.

Suppose Minnesota will learn the lesson?

The Turning Point?

The media and the Walz administration – pardon, largely, the redundancy – is waving around a bunch of polls by a bunch of left-leaning pollsters showing overwhelming support for keeping the state’s economy shut down until…um, they’ll get back to you on that.

I’ve noticed that an awful lot of those supporting a vapor-tight lockdown until (insert yet another set of Walz Administration goals – I have a hard time keeping up with ’em) have steady incomes that aren’t going anywhere. State workers, employees of schools and universities, non-profiteers in sectors with revenues that aren’t going anywhere.

But all that might change soon. From yesterday’s Governor’s presser:

Gov. Tim Walz says he’s not ready to rule anything out _ including layoffs and furloughs of state employees.

I’m gonna suspect that starts some DFLers thinking critically about risk aversion.

Government Is The Things We Do Together – Stupidly And Arbitrarily

A Long Lake restaurant tries to put on a drive in movie, complete with take-out food with all the socially-distance, plague-aware trimmings.

The state shut them down:

Birch’s On the Lake has lost around 70% of its regular revenue while doing take-out only during the stay at home order.

The owner came up with a plan to do a family night at the drive-in outside the Long Lake restaurant.

“It sold out in a day,” Burton Joseph said.

The plan was to hand out notes to customers explaining the safety rules: stay in their cars, maintain distance, and no alcohol. They would be allowed to call in an order for take-out to eat in their cars.

On Monday state officials told Joseph they could not have the event.

“If we’re coming up with the ideas to keep everyone safe at this point I feel like they deserve to give someone a chance,” Joseph said.

Yet again: we have a government run by a man who’s never had a significant job in the private sector, at the head of an administration that has nothing but contempt for businesspeople…

…telling the people who actually have the interests of not only their business, but the customers and communities that are their livelihood, and who have greatest stake in providing creative solutions to our mutual problems, how to behave.

This is the sort of thing that delegitimizes government authority, and leaves you with a Ukraine, a Belanus, a Venezuela.

Science!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

King Walz the First angrily denounced right-wing kook websites speculating that the newest plan to placate the coronavirus involved sacrificing virgins.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “Our plan is simply to have Joe Biden sniff their hair. It has been amply demonstrated that no person has died from coronavirus while having their hair sniffed by the President-Nearly-Elect. The plan has worked, works perfectly, continues to work, and anyone who questions or criticizes it is a science denier.”

King Walz did not specify how virgins would be selected, or their virginity verified, before being sent to the undisclosed location where Candidate Biden is in self-imposed quarantine with a small harem.

From the Capital, Joe Doskes, reporting.

In related news, the State of Minnesota Heath Economist neither confirmed nor denied that his office uses sheep entrails for “modeling”.

Epiphany

A friend of the blog emails:

My child is not going to public school. Now that we are doing home based learning, the school continues to provide the excellent education we expected. We have a high quality teacher who gives a daily schedule that has my child doing educational work, physical activity related to the daily lesson, and 2 daily live meetings online with the entire class. This is how I envision the home school program should look. Advanced grade levels at this school are doing online group work in addition to the daily meetings with the entire class. This school is taking learning seriously. But, they were before being sent home, too.

My colleagues who have children in public schools have a different story. They tell me all their kids get is “busy work.” They tell me their kids are no longer learning anything and that home based learning “just doesn’t work for public schools.” “It’s a joke, really,” they tell me.

I honestly believe a percentage of the problem is the parents- they may be too busy to be involved, dealing with other family members, dealing with this economic crisis, etc. But, I also wonder if they have forgotten their own school experiences. Or how involved were they when their children were in actual school? In my view, a lot of public school is busy work. Why would their home program be any different?

I have a hunch that for kids whose notion of ‘education’ is learning from what goes on around them in life and applying their innate curiosity to the found opportunities the world is full of, this period could be a fantastic learning experience.

The public factory school model is not designed to foster that.

I’ve also heard – anecdotally, natch – that some public school parents, coming face-to-face with their kids curriculum for the first time, have been genuinely horrified at the, well, general uselessness of the whole charade.

One hopes that feeling carries through when the crisis is over.

Officer Friendly

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There’s a video of two Calumet County Wisconsin Sheriff’s deputies hassling a woman because her kids went to the neighbor’s house to play. 

In response, the Sheriff posted this message:  

The problem with both the video and the response is the attitude.  This is the kind of behavior that gets people upset at law enforcement.  

Look at the male deputy in the video.  His tone is berating.  His attitude is condescending.  His body language is aggressive.  The Sheriff says the Deputy is there to educate the mother, that the deputies were not there because of a violation of the order.  But that’s what the deputies accuse her of – violating the order by letting her kids play at the neighbor’s house. 

The male deputy’s posture and word choice is confrontational.  He doesn’t educate, he berates.  It angers me just watching it.  He did nothing to de-escalate the situation.  
The female deputy’s passive-aggressive behavior is little better.  She doesn’t educate or placate, she’s there to document the contact for future prosecution because now the mother has been warned.  And the mother was uncooperative!  That’s going on her Permanent Record!  

That is the sort of officious, snotty, condescending, infuriating behavior by petty tyrants that causes unrest, as in “unrest in the Middle East” or “another day of unrest in Northern Ireland.”  People who can’t behave professionally in customer-facing positions should find another line of work.

Let me be perfectly clear for law enforcement and other people of limited intellectual ability: I am not calling for people to shoot cops.  But if this woman had and I were on the jury, I’d vote to acquit.
Joe Doakes

There’s something about “public service” that brings the worst out of a certain type of personality – the kind wonderfully parodied by Rainn Wilson for nine years as “Dwight Schrute”.

Although this isn’t funny.

Sycophants

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

On Friday, when Minnesota had 14 cases of the virus, Governor Walz announced schools would remain open because health care workers needed daycare so they could go to work and fight the virus.
 On Sunday, when Minnesota had 35 cases of the virus, Governor Walz closed the schools except for children of health care workers who need daycare so they can go to work to fight the virus.  Everybody else’s kids, stay home. But not to halt the spread of the virus – no, it’s to give administrators time to figure out how to teach kids who aren’t in school. 

Basically, this is another “in service” week, when teachers and administrators try to recreate the wheel that Phoenix University already invented, what every home-schooled parent already uses: distance learning.

Now.  In the middle of the pandemic.  Now, you start thinking about the possibility of doing something different.  Now, after all those years of criticizing and belittling home-schoolers as ignorant and fearful racists, afraid their kids will catch cooties from The Other; now, you’re adopting their methods without admitting they were right all along.

And the Twin Cities media praised keeping the schools open as bold leadership on Friday; and praised the decision to close the schools as bold leadership on Sunday; without ever mentioning the two decisions made two days apart are completely contradictory.

Here’s an alternate possibility.  St. Paul teachers were on strike last week.  If the governor had closed the schools, they wouldn’t have been paid.  So they quick settled the strike and now they’re back to work at full pay when the schools close.  Lucky for them, they settled.  Almost as if they were tipped off.

Joe Doakes

The DFL and the Teachers Union…connected?

Say it isn’t so!

That’d be like saying “progressive” journalists had a sub rosa agenda or something.

And that’s just crazy talk.


“Good Faith”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Even if the FBI had a good faith basis to open the inquiry, it did not have one to continue the inquiry.  
And what about all those unmaskings? FBI wiretaps Trump campaign, gives information to Susan Rice in the White House, and it ended there? Nothing got forwarded to the Hillary campaign? Do we believe that?
Joe Doakes

If The People can’t trust the institutions that ostensibly protect democracy, then democracy is in trouble. 

Transfer Of Wealth

Chicago teachers are on strike.

Again.

But it’s not just for them, this time. Nosirreebob.

In the last two contract fights, the union brought up these issues, but they also had to concentrate on protecting their members whose jobs were being threatened by school closings and the opening of charter schools. The school district also had a budget deficit that made it difficult to argue for more resources.
This year, they saw an opening to try to win big on these social justice issues. The school district has more money after a change in the state’s funding formula and Lightfoot has said she believes schools need additional resources. The union also feels compelled to push these demands after years of budget cuts that led to staff losses in schools .
Many teachers say conditions in schools are unacceptable.
Lightfoot and her team have maintained they are committed to adding 250 more nurses, 200 social workers and more special education case managers to schools. But they say putting these promises in the contract would limit their flexibility.

Between the lines: it’s a weath transfer, from Illinois taxpayers to Chicago public employees.

Special “Elite” Media Messaging Bonus: Listening to MPR discussing the story this morning, “Morning Edition” host Bill Inskeep, talking with a Chicago NPR reporter, emphasized (and I’m very closely paraphrasing here): “Just to make sure we’re clear on this – the union is doing this for the kids’ well-being…”

Kamala Harris Is Everything That’s Ugly And Stupid About Government

The thing about “progressivism” is that while it flaps its jaws about “helping” the vulnerable, it inevitably ends up harming them.

Give them a $15 minimum wage and mandatory sick time? Get them laid off!

Attack landlords for the “quality” of housing they provide? Make housing unaffordable!

Kamala Harris, in her celebrated (by the media) record as a prosecutor, did more than her fair share of being unfair.

. Her crusade against the scourge of parents whose kids skip school, for example:

The good news is that post-CNN town hall, although much of the media lauded Harris and posted adoring articles about her acumen and likability, several took it upon themselves to resurface videos of Harris’s recent support for cracking down on truancy violations.
In 2010, for example, video shows Harris saying, “I believe a child going without an education is tantamount to a crime. So I decided I was gonna start prosecuting parents for truancy.”
“Well, this was a little controversial in San Francisco,” Harris noted, with a folksy giggle.
Another video showed Harris bragging about her power: “As a prosecutor in law enforcement, I have huge stick. The school district as a carrot. Let’s work together in tandem…to get those kids in school.”

Have I ever mentioned how much I love prosecutors who are drunk with their own power?

Her policies involved $2,000 fines, and even jail time, for parents whose kids missed “too much” school.

Which, people who actually pay attention to this issue will tell you, is a stupid, stupid plan, unless your goal is to paint yourself as “tough”:

…the people hurt by this carceral approach are the very people who are most likely to be financially crippled by a few fines. We’re not talking about wealthy people here, and generally speaking, criminal justice reform advocates fear using punitive means to “help” poor people because it can be so easy for them to get trapped in a cycle of unpaid fines that leads to jail time, which leads to time forcibly taken off of work, which leads to even less money and even less ability to pay outstanding debts.
None of this, you can imagine, helps children get a more stable home life with more attention from parents. 

With junior high and high school kids, truancy often isn’t something parents can control (while still holding down jobs, anyway).

With younger kids? If they’re missing school regularly, it’s usually not a matter of “truancy”; it’s problems at home, more often than not problems stemming from one personal or social pathology or another.

In what other area of society do we try to address this sort of thing with fines and jail time?

Kamala Harris is a public cancer.

Your Lying Ledger

A “Shoprite” store in Philadelphia is closing due to Philadelphia’s pop tax. 

Or so says the owners – someone with years of experience in the field, for what that’s worth:

Store owner Jeff Brown says this location has lost approximately 25 percent of its business over the last two years because of the tax on soda and sweetened drinks. 

The city, not to be “Mansplained”…er, “Bossplained?” “Enterepreneursplained?” Anyway, not to be taken to task by a mere prole, the city responded:

The mayor’s office responded with a lengthy statement pushing back against Brown.
“It is no surprise that Mr. Brown has decided to scapegoat the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, but neither he nor the beverage industry have yet to present any evidence that the tax has had any impact on sales. Here’s evidence to the contrary: an ongoing study by three of the most reputable academic institutions in the nation (Harvard University, Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania) finds the beverage tax has not affected overall store sales, contrary to other public claims by this supermarket chain.”
Brown says the 111 employees will be transferred to his 12 other supermarkets.

Anyone but me suspect hat Mr. Brown’s going to get an audit letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue sometime soon here?

Up next: a Harvard Study on how taxes have nothing to do with “Food Deserts”, no way, no how.

Miscarriage Of Justice – Part II

Yesterday, I started telling the story of Dr. Massoud Amin – a man who came to the US as a teenager with his parents after the Iranian Revolution, became a citizen, and rose to the highest levels not only of academia, but of national security, as one of the nation’s foremost experts in cybersecurity.

And then, in the middle of a rancorous divorce with more than a whiff of academic backstabbing mixed in, an overzealous prosecutor turned a paperwork discrepancy in a civil divorce filing into, literally, a criminal case.

Pursuant to that case, the prosecutor and the police searched Dr. Amin’s house, and confiscated Dr. Amin’s firearm collection,  planting the story of “The Iranian professor who collected a bunch of guns and swindled his soon-to-be-ex” – simultaneously defaming him to the left (“Serves the gun nut right!”) and the less-bright parts of the right (“Probably a terrorist!”).

The trial?  It was a comedy of errors – but not remotely funny.   All exculpatory evidence was suppressed, and that was just the beginning.   The ending?   A conviction – aided  by bizarre courtroom antics and some sketchy lawyering on both sides.

The prosecution is asking for a ten year prison sentence for a conviction that normally carries a years’ suspended sentence and probation for a first-time offender – which Dr. Amin, who held a top-secret security clearance until the conviction, most assuredly was.

Why so much irregularity in what started as a typical ugly American divorce?

We’ll be talking with Dr. Massoud about that this Saturday on my show.   Tune in, and call in if you havre questions.

Miscarriage Of Justice – Part I

Last year, a story broke that had a little something for everyone – where by “everyone” you’re referring to “incurious, uncritical consumers of shabby information”.

It involved a professor from the University of MInnesota, Dr. Massoud Amin.   Amin was convicted of “Theft by Swindle” for, it was alleged, concealing funds from his soon-to-be ex wife during a nasty divorce.

We’ll come back to that.

The story got liberals exercised because Amin was a gun collector (with, dare I say, a penchant for finding bargains).   That is a classic dog whistle for the left.

And for the, shall we say, less bright on the right?   A middle-eastern sounding name like Amin’s is enough to get the “WATCH FOR TEH SHARIA” crowd into a froth.

And the media coverage of his divorce proceedings – including the swindle allegations – were decidedly unsympathetic.

Sentencing in his trial is scheduled for November 9.

The client is obviously guilty – right?

Not so fast.  And according to sources with close knowledge of the case, the charges and conviction are well beyond a miscarriage of justice; they were the tip of an iceberg of shenanigans – borne of malice up against incompetence at best, cynical ambition at worst, all  slathered with a layer of legalism.

And when you peel back the onion, you still have something for everyone – among critical thinkers, this time:

  • A divorce from hell
  • City bureaucrats hamfistedly persecuting a law-abiding gun owner
  • A legal process that reads like something between Michael Crichton and Franz Kafka, tainted by racism and amoral careerism
  • And, at the end of the day, an American who has done decades of groundbreaking work defending this country from cyberterrorism, facing ten years in prison for something that, even if it were a legitimate conviction.
  • Which, given the evidence I’ve encountered, it was not.

More tomorrow.

The Trainee Is Obviously Guilty

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Got this email from HR today:

“We are happy to announce that Ellie Krug will be coming to provide a professional development opportunity on “Gray Area Thinking”. Ellie will share her personal story as we learn about human inclusivity. This will be first of a series of professional development opportunities available throughout the year. We value employee development and will make sure opportunities are available for all employees. This is mandatory and all employees are expected to attend one of the sessions.”

Somehow, I missed the mandatory half-day training on how horrible Minnesota white people are, what with having white privilege from slavery and all. I sure hope I can make it to this mandatory two-hour training session so I can learn how horrible straight people are.

It would be a shame if government employees accurately processed paperwork in a timely fashion, without being sufficiently sensitive to the plight of the mentally ill. Wouldn’t it?

Joe Doakes

In a system built on rent-seeking, consultants are going to seek rent.

Shining The “Mammuthus Primigenius” Light On The Cloud

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Astonishingly, Hawaii does not have enough hurricane shelters for all its inhabitants. Reminds me of New Orleans. And Puerto Rico. And pretty much every other burg run by Democrats who have plenty of money for illegal immigrants, street mimes, diversity coordinators and homeless bums but not enough money to patch the streets or shelter citizens from disaster. I wonder if their Resilience Officer spent all his time organizing garbage collection, as St. Paul’s has? I’m sure that will be a big help when a tornado rips through the heart of town, or a blizzard knocks down the power lines.

Joe Doakes

Given our last brush with “Protect” Minnesota, it seems they consider genuine resilience to be a bug, not a feature.

Our Own Lying Tastebuds

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The reason that cases like this infuriate people is we know what’s going on behind the curtain.

The public wants to be protected from impure food.  The customers in the lobby can’t see what’s going on in the kitchen.  Commercial food preparation is hidden from view, it’s not transparent, we can’t evaluate how much risk we’re taking.  So we empower the government to inspect food preparers, to make sure they are sanitary.  Safe food preparers get a permit to sell to the public.  The $30 fee is supposed to cover the cost of inspections.

A kid selling bottled water from his porch is different because his food preparation is transparent.  We can see the seal on the lid.  We know the risk we’re taking.  And even if it’s a kid selling Dixie Cups of Country Time lemonade poured from a pitcher, we can see the kid and judge the likelihood he’s infected our drink with salmonella or E. Coli.  We can decide whether to take our chances.  In that case, we don’t need the government to inspect the kid’s kitchen and the kid shouldn’t need a permit to sell to the public.

If the public can make that distinction, instinctively and automatically, why can’t the bureaucrat?  Because the food preparers who had to pay for the permit will complain that letting the kid sell without a permit is not fair, the kid is cutting into their business, the bureaucrat should level the playing field.  That’s not a public health issue, that’s rent-seeking and it pisses people off.

People learn.

Bureaucrats and bureaucracies, it seems, never do.

Black Wednesday

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

First half property taxes are due May 15th. When I arrived at work this morning, customers were already lined up outside, waiting for the doors to open at 8 AM.

Retail stores open at midnight on Thanksgiving to serve customers. Banks are open on weekends to serve customers. Why aren’t we having extended hours when we know demand will be heavy?

Why doesn’t government have customer service?

Joe Doakes

It doesn’t need it.  While in the private sector “Service” means, well, service, in government it’s a euphemism for “showing the proles who’s boss”.

Our Slimy Overlords

Mark my words:  Any police official who refers to citizens as “sheep” (and, perforce, to police as “Sheepdogs” or “Lions”) needs to be escorted from public life, sans badge, gun, and power, with extreme prejudice.

Like Broward County sheriff Scott Israel – whose office didn’t have time to investigate nearly forty contacts with Nikolas Cruz, but has had time to act like…

…well, a Democrat pol in office:

Israel had been a Republican but ran for office as a Democrat. He was first elected sheriff in 2012, then re-elected in 2016. According to the Sun Sentinel:

The outreach workers, who mainly attend community events, are in addition to political activists and others Israel hired into community affairs roles, writing and designing printed pieces about the agency, and sharing it on social media. The employee log shows six hired into community affairs roles, their salaries totaling $388,729.

Israel’s opponents say he’s built a publicly funded political machine, paying back supporters with jobs and using them to keep him in office. They say the money could be better spent, particularly after the sheriff complained about not having enough funding to secure the county courthouse, where a murder suspect recently escaped.

Sound like the priorities in a city rhyming with “Every schmiberal city in the schmunited shmates” to anyone but me?

Oh, yeah – and this next bit?

Asked about the allegations, Israel responded, “What have I done differently than Don Shula or Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Ghandi?”

He also said, “Lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep.” That’s a paraphrase of a quote from the Game of Thrones character Tywin Lannister, a villainous public administrator known for promoting his family’s interests ahead of the government’s or the people’s.

Sheep.

That’s what he thinks of citizens.  Not unlike way too many cops.

It’s time for some changes in Broward County.