David Brauer at the MinnPost checked up on the guy’s financial donations, as well as the new board chair Mike Sweeney’s - which ranged from “moderate Republicans” to “very liberal Democrats” over the course of the past decade and change. Brauer’s summary:
All in all, bipartisan, big-business-like, skewed toward the D.C. Establishment, with a whiff of fashionable Democratic insurgency late. (Obama was not yet a favorite when Klingensmith started giving.)
But here’s the part that caught my attention; Brauer says the previous publisher, Chris Harte, “pushed the page in a conservative direction” – defined by chair Sweeney and quoted by Brauer, as “My understanding of Chris’s view was that he wanted to be fair to both sides”, which media people seem to think is a radical departure, since they don’t tend to think the current media has any bias.
I mean, in his piece Brauer says the Strib is ever so slightly conservative these days.
But I’m putting words in Brauer’s mouth. I’ll let him speak for himself – here, writing about the new guard’s rap sheet:
I don’t expect conservatives to be pleased with this record, but many seem happiest ripping the Strib as the Red Star. Harte’s push toward the middle, or further, yielded few dividends with that crowd.
So let’s run down a summary of what conservatives would make of a sober look at what the Strib has done over Harte’s term:
Hired a single, solitary conservative columnist, Katherine Kersten
Promptly caved in to the whinging of a staff that believed that adding a single conservative to a stable that included DFL stenographers Lori Sturdevant, Nick Coleman and his replacement Jon Tevlin made the paper “too conservative”
Made the “Minnesota Poll” arguably less comically biased, with the dumping of the internal pollsters, the firing of Princeton, and the hiring of Mason Dixon (we’ll know in a cycle or two)
“More conservative?” I’d run with “marginally less North Korean”. It was a start, and a very slow one at that – one fought at every turn by people who think the Strib is juuuuust fine the way it’s always been.
I’d love to know from David Brauer – on precisely what grounds was he expecting “dividends” from the right?
While the Strib has some capable reporters (who have historically had an amazing and I’m sure coincidental propensity to go to work for liberal PACs, PR firms or the DFL after leaving the paper), at the editorial board level the paper has been since the Cowles era nothing but a glorified DFL PR firm.
As I noted about a week back, being a Second Amendment activist for any length of time – I started in the late eighties – is a little like being Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day; every time the argument cycles, you wind up answering exactly the same questions. Over and over and over.
Some of the questions -”aren’t you compensating for something?” – are stupid conceits. Some – “isn’t a gun in the home many times more dangerous to the owner or people he knows than to criminals?”, or “wasn’t the Second Amendment put in place to protect slave holders?” – are well-worn, long-debunked tropes that keep coming back, just like the villain in the last two minutes of a monster movie.
And others? Well, despite both sides’ oversimplifications, they keep coming back because the Second Amendment is a complex issue, full of historical, linguistic and legal nuance.
Notice I said “complex”. Not “inscrutable”. Because it’s Groundhog Day, and everything, including answering nearly all the questions, has happened before. Maybe several times.
Confederate soldiers. With guns. Be afraid; your betters have declared that the Constitution is all about slavery. Except the First Amendment, and of course the emanations of penumbras that give us abortion. But I digress. Prejudicial? Do you think? The MinnPost ran this in a piece about the Second Amendment, and I’m never going to let them live it down.
In stating the case that the Amendment is “a mess”, Black writes:
…the interpretation of any law must start with the actual language of the law as enacted. So, for today, let’s just put the text of the Second Amendment under the microscope. Here is its full text:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
It’s a marvelously unclear statement, to modern sensibilities – and yet for some reason it defined a policy, more or less, through nearly 200 years. Until the 1960s, nobody really questioned that the “…right of the people” in the Amendment meant anything different than “of the people” meant in the First, Third or Tenth Amendments.
We’ll come back to that. I’ll return to Eric Black…
…while noting that I’m getting that feeling Bill Murray had during the last three-quarters of Groundhog Day; it’s deja vu:
It’s a disaster. Seriously. Here’s just a sample of problems it presents.
What’s a militia? If you aren’t in a militia, does this have anything to do with you? Or perhaps (and this is roughly the current Supreme Court interpretation) what if “militia” is just an 18th century word for all the able-bodied males in a state who had better have access to arms in case their state needs them to secure its freedom even though they might not actually “belong” to what we 21st century-types would recognize as a militia, like a National Guard unit that you actually joined and were trained by and that actually has a command structure.
A fair point…
But if “militia” doesn’t refer to an organized group, what’s “well-regulated” doing in there? Who gets to decide whether the (actual or theoretical) militia you are in is well-enough-regulated to trigger (no pun intended) whatever impact the militia clause has? Who is doing the regulating? The state? The United States? The (non-existent but theoretical) organization of all the gun-owners in the state acting as self-regulators?
…and a vexing one.
Indeed, Black’s series seems to focus on three allegations about the Second Amendment:
It’s linguistically and legally inscrutable
In an era where the US has a standing military, it’s obsolete.
But the first two were rendered null and void nearly a generation ago. And the third exhibits a myopia about history, to say nothing of the Constitution, that needs to be actively fought.
But none of them are new. Indeed, it’s been nearly 20 years since the first two points were put out to pasture among people who are serious about the issue of the Second Amendment.
Everything you read or hear or watch on the news is subject first and foremost to…
The facts that are available to the reporter at the time they have to produce the report. In late-breaking news about spectacular events, these facts are very often wrong. After that comes…
…the reporters’ deadlines. Especially in broadcast media, especially Cable TV with its 24 hour cycle; they’ve gotta put something on the air. So often as not they’ll report what they have, whether it’s complete or reliable or not. After that comes…
…the institutional bias of the news organization. Now, as I’ve written in the past, I don’t necessarily think that all news media start out in the morning in a conference room with an editor exhorting the staff to “go out there and win one for the Democrats!”, except at the MinnPost, which seems to have taken over the Minnesoros Independent’s niche. But I think it’s fairly clear that most reporters’ personal backgrounds, educations, social networks and frames of reference are largely left of the proverbial center, and that at the very least confirmation bias is as much a factor in reporting the news as it is among consumers.
At the risk of sounding provincial, I trust Euro media more; they’re at least honest about their political biases. You read the Frankfurter Allgemeine for a center-right take (by European standards), and Die Zeit for a perspective from the left, and make up your own mind. European media dispenses with the fiction of objectivity, and for that I trust them more.
Dina Temple-Raston’s report re the Boston Marathon Bombings the other day was a classic example: before the dust had settled, the first words out of her (and NPR’s) mouths in re possible suspects were that the FBI was looking at “right-wing extremists” because it was Tax Day, and Hitler’s birthday, when they worry about right-wing attacks on government and foreigners.
Now, I’ll take Temple-Raston at her word that she reported something someone in the FBI said about the subject at some point. And given deadlines and the urgency of the story, she and NPR had to put something on the air.
The problem is that Temple-Raston’s report would make someone who doesn’t pay much attention – or who implicitly trusts NPR news – think that there IS an actual pattern of “right-wing” violence of any kind, to say nothing of spectacular attacks like Boston, associated with Tax Day, or that there’s some pattern of “right-wing” violence against foreigners in the US.
Neither is the case.
It’d have been like a news organization reporting the Catholic church’s sex scandals going to great pains to say “the FBI wants to rule out the gay community first”, when there had been no behavior that would have led anyone to casually conclude that the gay community was ever involved.
It would have been a made-up association; a symptom of systematic bias.
Just like “right wing violence on Tax Day”.
And yet NPR floated it as “news” until facts caught up with them.
Public opinion is driven by mass caprice. When the subject is “American Idol”, that’s fairly harmless (and where the hell is Ruben Studdard?).
When the subject is our civil liberties – especially the ones that are less popular with the coastal media “elites” that would set the popular tone? Less so.
P.J. O’Rourke, many of you know, is a conservative humorist and, as such, one of the great public intellectuals of the past forty years. In his classic A Parliament of Whores – which is rapidly pushing 25 years old and in a just world would be required reading in every high school civics class – O’Rourke summed up the capriciousness of democracy, defending the contrarian idea that our democracy is, in fact, protected by the most counterintuitively autocratic institution of them all, the Supreme Court.
The SCOTUS – and the Constitution that the SCOTUS is supposed to protect – is that way because it’s intended to be immune from the vagaries of public opinion.
Here’s the money quote from Parliament (with emphasis added):
“In the final D-day invasion results, Normandy was a decisive winner, with 54% of the votes, while 43% of American soldiers thought we should re-invade North Africa and only 4% favored a massive land, sea and air attack on the folks back home.” There wouldn’t even be any democracy to defend if our every national whim were put into law. We’d sacrifice the whole Constitution for those lost kids on milk cartons one week, and the next week we’d toss the Rights of Man out the window to help victims of date rape.
After every crisis large and small – drug abuse, naughty words in music lyrics, gay marriage, food poisoning, people opposing gay marriage, mass murder – there are, inevitably, calls to reconsider whether freedom is really all that much more important than public safety.
And always, always, there’s someone out there willing to profit politically from those calls.
Especially when there are children involved. Propose cutting welfare? ”Children will starve!”. Propose paring back teachers union benefits or pensions? “Kids will turn stupid. Invade Iraz? The anti-war movement ten years ago made a grab for “absolute moral authority” by parading Cindy Sheehan in front of the cameras, after she lost her child (an adult who’d volunteered for the Army) in Iraq. And it worked – until Sheehan went batspittle crazy and started making Mike Malloy look pretty well-balanced.
Anyway – this impulse is never as powerful as after an ugly mass shooting – and Sandy Hook, in which a deranged “adult” targeted children because they were children, was the ugliest since the Stockton Massacre in 1988.
There’s no question about it; losing a child is the most awful thing a parent can experience. It strikes a chord in just about every parent, one way or the other. It’s impossible for a parent not to feel something way beyond sympathy. Some respond “I have to protect my children”.
Others respond “someone’s gotta protect my children”.
A group of the Newtown/Sandy Hook parents were flown to Washington last week, their every motion from leaving their homes to getting on Air Force One to arriving at the White House to listening to President Obama’s angry rant over the failure of his bill recorded in minute detail. (It’s worth noting that it was only the right Sandy Hook parents were invited - and that for some reason no parents of black kids murdered in Chicago showed up)
They believed, I’m sure, very sincerely that the Senate’s bill – which would not have impeded their kids’ murderer in the least – was the right response to their childrens’ deaths.
But the prominence they got in the media – from a President who was desperate to pass his bill in the Senate, to get his vote in the House to try to use guns as leverage in swing districts in 2014, and to draw attention away from debt, deficit, spending, taxes, an ongoing war and the gathering disaster that is Obamacare? That was pure, distilled cynicism.
Twin Cities talk show host Bob Davis – morning guy at AM1130, which is a cheap copy of AM1280, and a guy who gave me my first shot at trying talk radio again, ten years ago last January when I filled in for him for an evening on his old KSTP-AM night-side show – has taken a ton of flak for his remarks about the exploitation of the Sandy Hook parents and their grief (and especially other parents’ fear):
I have something I want to say to the victims of Newtown or any other shooting, I don’t care if it’s here in Minneapolis or anyplace else: Just because a bad thing happened to you doesn’t mean that you get to put a king in charge of my life. I’m sorry that you suffered a tragedy, but you know what? Deal with it, and don’t force me to lose my liberty, which is a greater tragedy than your loss.
I’m sick and tired of seeing these victims trotted out, given rides on Air Force One, hauled into the Senate well, and everyone is … terrified of these victims. I would stand in front of them and tell them, ‘Go to hell.’
The responses – on both sides, really – miss two key points:
Davis is fighting cynicism – the Administration’s exploitation of the parents – with cynicism; major-market radio lives by the dictum “all publicity is good publicity”. Wanna picket the station? Send hate mail? Burn Davis and Emmer in effigy in front of the TV cameras? The folks at the station say “Great, go for it!”. The station can’t pay for publicity like this. (No, literally – they can’t. KTCN’s owner Clear Channel is freaking broke).
Davis is right – but is focused on the wrong people.
The parents? Yep, they’re awash in grief. They’re trying to bring some meaning to a really, really horrible loss. I sympathize with them.
Every parent worthy of the title does.
And the people who booked them on Air Force One, and who made sure they got prominent placement (some might say “overkill”) in the media, and who made sure they were staring down from the gallery at the Senators as they voted on the President’s bill, which would have been meaningless in fighting crime, would have made law-abiding gun owners more vulnerable to confiscation, and which was never intended to do anything but increase the Democrat party’s fortunes in 2014?
NPR’s Nina Temple-Raston intones to her white, upper-middle-class, degreed, free-range-alpaca-wearing, Volvo driving audience last Wednesday that the Boston Marathon Bomber was probably a white extemist…
…because right-wingers love April.
It’s the anniversary of Waco, Columbine and Hitler’s birthday, after all.
I wasn’t aware the Klebold and Harris were right-wing figures. Hitler shouldn’t be, although some on the “extreme right” have accomplished that ex post facto.
It’s also the month of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. But not a word about Jewish extremists, for some reason.
This was two days before we learned that the alleged bombers weren’t right-wingers at all.
This year’s battle to destroy the Second Amendment is dead – at least in DC.
I’ve said it for years; the gun control debate is the most ironic battle in American politics.
The left – the movement that floats on Soros and Rockefeller and Allen and Opperman and Messinger money – loves to paint itself as the party of the working stiff, the fabled “99%”; it likes to pretend the right is white, rich and disconnected from the world. The left, back to its historical roots, is built on the idea of struggle between classes.
And yet gun control is the most class-focused debate in America today. Our elites – of both parties, in some cases – loathe the Second Amendment, or at the very least think it’s a quaint doddering relic. It’s the American mainstreet – the real 99% -that supports the Second Amendment.
Whatever the merits and popularity of the specific measures that went down to defeat in the Senate on Wednesday, I think the Establishment fails to appreciate the depth of American support for the Second Amendment. NPR and other media have lately noted a growing libertarian trend in American politics. That’s not just about taxes, Obamacare, marijuana, and marriage equality. It also involves gun rights. After each high-profile shooting, support for gun control rises. But it tends to fall again in short order, as public opinion reverts to the baseline of strong support for gun rights.
And the fact that controlling guns is only a vital issue to 4% of the people indicates that the vast majority know the score; guns don’t kill people, people do.
I’m going to add emphasis below:
I was struck by this poll graphic in the Washington Post on Wednesday. Despite the virtually unanimous support for stricter gun control in the national media, along with other opinion shapers such as Hollywood and the universities, and despite the mass shootings that have received so much attention in our modern world of 24-hour news channels, Americans are becoming more convinced that guns make your family safer.
The media in particular exhibits a persistent form of Pauline Kael syndrome on the subject of guns; they accept gun control as an ideal almost completely without question, and seem nonplussed that the nation ignores them.
But yet they continue their narrative – that the NRA is a astroturf checkbook advocacy group supported by Big Gun and Big Business. Yesterday, some in the media breathlessly reported the departure of Adolphus Bush from the NRA board as a “blow to the NRA”.
It’s not. The group’s membership is up nearly a quarter since Newtown. It’s just shown the entire country that it can shut the media down on Capitol Hill. It’s just shown it commands more of the hearts and minds of this country’s real people than the President does, at least on the gun issue.
“So let’s drop the pretense. Most politicians standing in the way of background checks for firearms don’t really believe in freedom or limited government. They simply care more about controlling immigration than they do about controlling guns.”
You say that like it’s a bad thing.
Lawmakers being more interested in curbing law-breaking than attacking the law-abiding?
One of the worst aspects of our current hyper-polarized political climate is that many institutions that the American people used to rely upon for something close to objectivity and reliable, politically-untinted information have turned into partisan propaganda.
Journalism is long gone, of course; the notion of the “objective” media died among anyone who pays attention nearly four decades ago. The civil service bureaucracy is largely beholden to the big government unions. Clergy at all too many mainline Protestant and Catholic churches are air-headed liberal chanting-point-bots.
And now, the left is trying to co-opt science – or at least how the public perceives science.
One of the cultural left’s favorite conceits is to try to wrap itself in the trappings of “science” – or, like the Wizard of Oz, at least enough trappings to keep the ignorant in line.
The list of titles lends credibility to Dr. Miles’ responses. And apparently Ms. Perry thinks that’s enough.
As we’ll see, it’s not.
Establish The Boogie/Straw Men – Perry opens the door for the de rigeur nod to Alinsky:
MinnPost: Do you believe that public-health officials are doing enough to reduce gun violence?
Before Dr. Miles gets to his answer, I’d like to draw your attention to Berg’s Seventh Law: “When a Liberal issues a group defamation or assault on conservatives’ ethics, character or respect for liberty or the truth, they are at best projecting, and at worst drawing attention away from their own misdeeds.”
Dr. Steve Miles: No, I don’t, and partly it’s because they’re hamstrung. Since 1996, the NRA, which also functions as an anti-science institution, has cut U.S. funding for gun-related research from a public-health perspective by over 95 percent. So, in terms of impairing the types of data collection and data analysis that’s necessary to do a public-health perspective, we’ve currently wound up in a situation where the science itself is impaired.
“Racist”. ”Anti-Woman”. ”Bigot”.
They’re all slurs that the cultural left uses to try to cow conservatives into silence and compliance.
But the public health community impaired its own science decades ago by allowing itself to be co-opted into an arm of the gun control movement. ”Public health research” is paid for by anti-gun groups (a fact that’s never reported by a media that seems to have lost interest in afflicting the intellectually and politically comfortable). Indeed, an amazing preponderance of “academic inquiry” into the Second Amendment is paid for by anti-gun organizations like the Joyce Foundation – legal, political, and academic, across the board.
As to the actual “science” that Dr. Miles is flogging? We’ll come back to that.
Facial Absurdities – Next, Miles turns to the left’s canonical notion that without guns, everything would be juuuuust fine:
MP: What do you think will most surprise your audience on Wednesday about gun-violence statistics?
SM: Clearly, everybody understands that having a gun available increases the lethality — that is, the deadliness — of the suicidal impulse. If one has a suicidal impulse and there is a gun available as opposed to a knife, then the suicide attempt is much more likely to be lethal.
I’ll give Miles this much: everyone knows that mental illness and guns don’t mix.
But availability of guns has little to do with suicide rates. The suicide rate in the US is statistically identical to that in the UK, with its celebrated gun ban. It’s a shade below Cuba, where only police and the military have guns. It’s 15% lower than Hong Kong, where guns are not part of the culture; a little over half those of China and Japan, where civilian guns are strictly banned.
One – or Dr. Miles – could reply “but that’s a matter of cultural differences”. And then one would be onto something, something that applies across the gun control debate.
We’ll come back to that, too.
What’s so interesting is that it’s also true for homicide. The idea advanced by the NRA people is that homicides are basically done by monster criminals. But what really seems to be going on is that as the number of guns increases, as more houses have guns, as the gun saturation in the society rises, it’s the availability of guns that turn ordinary interpersonal disputes, including domestic disputes, into lethal events.
And if sheer availability of firearms were the dispositive factor in determining whether disputes turned lethal, then the streets of DC and Chicago would be relatively placid, and rural Montana, Utah and North Dakota would be shooting galleries.
But the opposite is true.
And in fact one could note that murder in, say, Chicago - where guns are legally illegal – is far from evenly distributed; some neighborhoods are as safe as suburban Fargo, while others are vastly more dangerous than Baghdad.
And one could fairly note in response that parts of the rural South – where guns are generally very available – have fairly liberal gun laws and high rates of violence. But cities in those same areas are often quite statistically placid.
So when Dr. Miles says…:
So homicide looks very much like suicide in being gun-prevalence-driven.
…one must add “except when you look at actual facts and stuff”.
And? And? AND? – One of the left’s favorite tactics in the gun debate (as with so many debates) is to give an emotionally-chilling (and thus manipulative) factoid with no context whatsoever.
Right on cue:
MP: One of the statistics in your presentation that jumped out at me was the high number of American children who die in gun accidents. As you note, the accidental gun death rate is 11 times higher among 5- to 14-year-olds in the U.S. than the combined rates of 22 other high-income developed countries.
Hm. That must be some number.
SM: It’s a very sad number.
And I’m sure when we see that number – the number of children killed in accidents – it’ll make our hearts ache.
When you have a gun in the house, for kids there is a 16-fold increase in the risk of a lethal accident involving a gun.
So what’s the number?
So, despite what everybody says about gun education and gunlocks, it just doesn’t work.
Hm. OK, so I’m sure the number will bear this out.
What’s the number, again?
A gun in the house is an accident just waiting to happen.
So you say, Dr. Miles. So what’s the number?
MP: As you also note in your presentation, the NRA…
What’s the number?
According to the CDC, in the entire US, in 2010 (the latest numbers the CDC provides), the number of kids below 15 killed by firearms was…
And yep, every one of those deaths is a tragedy. Education and gun locks are no guarantee, but they do help. So does training gun owners in general.
But as a “public health” issue, accidental firearms deaths come in well below:
Accidental poisoning (220)
Car accidents (forget about it; 1432)
And about the same as the number killed in falls (74).
And so I have to ask (since no “journalist” ever will) – while, as a parent, I recoil at even one child dying in an accident, I have to ask; what was Ms. Perry referring to when she said “One of the statistics in your presentation that jumped out at me was the high number of American children who die in gun accidents?” Tragic, yes. High?
Schools Of Red Herrings Say “Huh?” – Miles next goes after the notion of armed self-defense with a hearty “I know you are but what am I?”
MP: As you also note in your presentation, the NRA often says that guns prevent their owners from becoming crime victims. In fact, they claim that huge numbers of gun owners find themselves in situations each year in which they are forced to use their weapons to defend themselves and their families.
SM: I spent some time tracking that down. [And by "some", Miles apparently means "not a whole lot". But I'm getting way ahead of myself - Ed.] Mostly, they cite an article from 1995 by Kleck and Gertz, which cites 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year. But the Cato Institute — which is an anti-gun-control conservative group — took a different approach. What they did is [search] eight years of news clippings. They found only a few hundred events over those eight years — somewhere around 450 or so. That’s a long way from 2.5 million.
This paragraph presents its “data” so very, very misleadingly that if I were a teacher grading Dr. Miles’ paper, I’d swat him on the knuckles with a ruler and have a word with him about intellectual honesty. To try to introduce him to the subject.
Let me count the misstatements, frauds and lies in the above statement:
Only Two Sources? – Miles cites Kleck (whose seminal 1991 work Point Blank has been the main source for all sides in the debate), and an article by Cato – and that’s it? Our choices are 2.5 million a year or 450 over eight years? No reference to the FBI (which estimates about 80,000 deterrences a year)? Or even Kleck critic David Hemenway, who attempted to “invalidate” Kleck with an estimate of between 55,000 and 80,000 defensive gun uses per year?
Misstating Cato - Cato’s research was of a completely different scope and intent than Kleck. While the research leading to Point Blank was a detailed, academic, scholarly investigation of national figures (Kleck is a professor of criminology), the Cato piece was a glorified blog post, and admitted as much: “it is important to remember that news reports can only provide us with an imperfect picture of defensive gun use in America”; the Cato piece also notes that “Gun control proponents cannot deny that people use guns successfully against criminals, but they tend to play down how often such events take place. The purpose of this map is to draw more attention to this aspect of the firearms policy debate”.
So Miles’ approach – compare an informal survey of news coverage to a detailed, peer-reviewed study of the subject – is academically ludicrous as well as intellectually void.
When one looks at the number of justifiable homicides — which does not include, for example, instances when citizens deterred a crime — even so, one is talking about less than 100 a year. So these events where there is a defense-of-gun use are actually extraordinarily rare, especially when one puts it in the context of somewhere around 30,000 gun deaths per year.
And why so bloodthirsty? Isn’t deterrence better than killing?
The Slow Steady Drip - Miles next moves to the case for turning doctors into agents of the state, and the Joyce Foundation:
MP: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians talk at least once a year with parents about the danger of guns. Why is that important?
SM: I think one of the things that’s important is for us to de-sanctify guns.
Their words, not ours.
We should treat a gun like we would any other risk factor for injury. We know that tobacco is a risk factor for injury, and we ask about it, even though there is no medical use for tobacco. We recognize that the non-use of bicycle helmets is a risk for injury, and so we ask about those. And we should ask about guns because this is an important way to protect the public health.
And in the first two cases, doctors and their data have been used to further political as well as scientific ends. There’s neither a constitutional right nor any especially emotional imperative to ride without a helmet; smoking is filthy and dangerous, but while the public health case against the practice is justifiable, the political infringements on free association, property rights and individual choice are precisely why many gun-owning liberty-conscious people are pushing back at “scientists” poking into our personal data…
…to feed an attack on something that is a constitutional right.
The Conservative War On Straw - Boogeymen! Boogeymen!
MP: Rush Limbaugh has said that this makes doctors “deputies [and] agents of the state.”
SM: Rush Limbaugh and his partners have made many claims [about the Affordable Care Act] that are not scientifically based, including death panels and all the rest of it, and this is just more of the same.
Managed Care is “death panels”, and who the hell cares?
I think the issue here comes down to anti-science. In many ways, the pro-gun groups, including the NRA, act like other industrial anti-science groups, such as the tobacco lobby and the soft-drink manufacturers when they were trying to defend soft drinks in school. What these groups do is construct false facts, and they do their best to prevent real science from being done. That’s what we’re seeing with gun violence as well.
But as we’ve shown throughout this piece, it’s Dr. Miles who’s constructed “facts”, omitted more, and beggared the notion of intellectual inquiry in his appeal to ignorance and incuriosity.
Bonus question: Does it ever occur to Susan Perry to press Miles on any of this?
To: Strib “Hot Dish Politics” Blog
From: Mitch Berg, long-time ex-subscriber
This is a screenshot of the online Strib this morning:
The Strib is devoting its usual vast space to whatever it is that advances the DFL’s narrative and undercuts the party’s opposition. In this case, the non-story that a pro-marriage group compared their opposition’s propaganda effort to that of the Nazis.
I know. Baaaaad marriage group. Godwin Godwin Godwin. No Nazis here.
The thing is, I’m scanning back through a decade and change of Strib coverage, looking for evidence of earnest tut-tutting about eight solid years of what was at one point the cultural left’s supreme intellectual statement, the “Bushitler” reference…
…and, mirabile dictu, I’m finding not a thing.
This comes, of course, at the end of a solid decade of clucking from the Strib editorial board about the need to “return civility (like we had when the DFL and the “Independent Republicans” were basically the same party with different hairdos) to politics”, wrapped up with constant badgering about the “toxic influence” of all the “vitriol” that the right-wing alt-media (and sure, maybe the left juuuuust a little, but mostly the right, according to the Strib, ignoring a decade and change of inconvenient fact) was making politics ugly and hateful and just not as fun for y’all as it was when Elmer Anderson and Wendell Anderson and Nick Coleman Senior painted each others toenails on the floor of the House Chamber.
And so a pro-traditional-marriage group has transgressed the narrative and compared the gay-marriage crowd with Josef Göbbels, and the Strib makes certain the left’s high-horse dudgeon is transmitted verbatim.
Because goodness knows the mainstream left has been so very, very scrupulous about being true to and literate about history in dragging Hitler references into the national conversation.
The thing is, there is a time and a place for invoking totalitarians.
There are legitimate comparisons between things we see today and things people saw 80-85 years ago in the streets of Germany; the drift of one side or the other to the extreme, the use of extremely martial rhetoric (“Wars” on this and that and the other group, designed to get one constituency or the other whipped up), the beating up boogeymen, the use of compliant media to serve as a regime’s praetorian guard…
…well, I’m getting ahead of myself, now.
Suffice to say, Star/Tribune, that your concern for civility and the historical sanctity of Hitler references (says me, mit meine Nebenfäche auf Deutsch und Geschichte, und die Jahre ich an diese Subjekte studiert, and you can look up exactly what that means on your way to learning the damn subject for real and not at the trite, Hollywood-via-Junior-High history level most Americans know it) is observed, its hypocrisy noted, and its sincerity mocked without mercy.
Winton – a former DFL activist who told of seeing the economic light after going into business – is running as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, and not as an endorsed Republican, per se. I attended his kickoff rally a few weeks back in Minneapolis, and had a pretty singular experience for a GOP activists, standing in the same room and cheering along with people who’d opposed the marriage amendment (which Winton also opposed) and listening to Ashwin Madia, a couple of lesbian marriage activists, and Winton’s business partner extolling the candidate’s virtues.
And it was in that crowd, I thought, that one might see a successful challenge to DFL hegemony in Minneapolis; a candidacy that attacks the DFL’s weak spot in Minneapolis – its incompetence at running a city – while ignoring the GOP’s big weaknessses in places like Minneapolis.
Now, some – including my friend John Gilmore – have asked “is Winton Republican or conservative enough?” He, and they, point to the fact that Winton is a former Democrat, and was in fact a prominent enough activist through 2008.
As a former Democrat myself, I’m pretty forgiving of Road to Damascus conversions. And if you want to grill a candidate to assess the sincerity, or at least integrity, of their beliefs, then a debate could be a fine place to do it.
And there’s the problem.
The Minneapolis mayor’s race is an expressly non-partisan one. Party identification doesn’t appear with candidates on the ballot.
The Humphrey Center – the U of M’s Poli-Sci think tank and, if you ask conservatives, DFL hatchery and retirement home – is hosting a debate of these candidates this coming Wednesday.
The DFL ones.
Let’s rephrase that for impact; the Humphrey Institute – a public institution whose mission is at least ostensibly not “furthering the DFL’s interests and hindering their opposition” – is hosting a debate for a non-partisan office in the city in which the Institute resides. And they’re only inviting DFL candidates to it.
According to the Winton campaign, he has been invited to a second debate. At this second debate – which will have virtually no media coverage – Winton will appear on a panel with Bob Carney and Leslie Davis, a couple of perennial candidate who are shunted into a side-debate to isolate the comic relief from the “Real” race…
…which, the Humphrey Institute has decided in its infinite institutional wisdom, is among the DFL candidates, who will get the “real” debate.
This brings up a couple of questions:
Is the Humphrey Institute serving as a DFL campaigning tool?: Why the seemingly arbitrary cutoff at “DFL”, in a race where every candidate goes to the final ballot (Minneapolis uses “ranked choice” balloting, resulting in slow, unreliable elections with no need for party endorsements or primaries. Having a fully-partisan “debate” is not only against the Humphrey Institute’s stated mission – it’s supposed to be irrelevant to the contest at hand.
Is this a debate or a DFL campaign rally?: The Humphrey Institute’s planned event will include five DFL candidates who differ on policy only in the most tangential incidentals. That’s not a “debate”, it’s a support group meeting.
“Debate” implies “difference of opinion”: But this “debate” – the one the U of M will actually publicize, the one the media will attend – studiously ignores a sharp, articulate candidate who sharply differs from the DFL on some issues where the DFL itself knows it’s vulnerable – spending, taxes, regulation, public safety, infrastructure.
I asked the Humphrey Institute’s Dr. Larry Jacobs about this last week.
When you’re a conservative, distrust of the media – like most large institutions – is part and parcel of the job.
You probably accept that, for whatever reason – from systemic bias to cultural confirmation bias to being paid off by George Soros – that the media has a comprehensive bias toward the left.
And you notice it on some issues more than others. For example, you notice that anti-gun groups – for example, “Protect Minnesota”, led by Representative Heather Martens (DFL – 66A), a woman who has never, not once, uttered a substantively accurate or true original statement about guns or the Second Amendment – gets breathless, slavish coverage from the Twin Cities media, whose mania for “balance” obscures, in their coverage, the fact that the pro-Second-Amendment movement includes thousands of actual activists, while Martens’ group and the other antis muster…
…well, Martens and about a dozen of her pals.
And it doesn’t take a political rocket scientist (?) to notice that while their groups have virtually no electoral clout, Martens is apparently a big enough cheese among DFLers on Capitol Hill that she gets treated like, well, a Representative herself.
So after the hearings broke up last night, I watched who went where for a bit.
After he got done with the media, Rep. Paymar lit his afterburners and ran for the bleachers to meet Representative Martens and Jane Kay from Action Moms:
Kay, Martens and Paymar, talking about how much clout they have when those Million Moms finally show up. Someday. Honest.
DFL stenographer and former Strib columnist Doug Grow – now with DFL PR shop MinnPost – painted Jane Kay’s toenails:
Hey, maybe his story about last night won’t be pre-written!
And at the end of the night, you had pretty much every anti-gun activist in town gathered with the DFL PR coalition:
Grow, Kay, Nick “I’m Not The DFL’s Monkey” Coleman (from “The Uptake”), a staff guy and Martens talking, presumably, about what a bunch of wingnuts their opposition are.
Us gunnies? We had the fun down front:
Second Amendment attorney David Gross mixing it up with an anti who claimed we should “learn our history”, that firearms confiscation had nothing to do with the Holocaust. The anti, by the way, reportedly had walked up to the child of one of the GOCRA members in attendance and said “You’ll grow up to be a better person than your father” at a hearing last week. These people ooze class, don’t they?
I was down at the State Capitol yesterday for a press conference, as Representative Deb Hilstrom (DFL Brooklyn Park) introduced the gun bill/s we talked about yesterday.
The bills, as we noted yesterday, would exert the state to solve actual problems – close gaps in the background check system, add mandatory penalties for using guns in crimes or possessing them illegally…
…y’know. Controversial stuff.
At the presser, I saw a big group of legislators from both chambers and both parties lining up to support Hilstrom’s proposal. Reps, Senators, Democrats, Republicans – it was probably the most bipartisan assembly I’ve seen that wasn’t in the lounge at the Kelly Inn after hours.
Not just legislators; guys in uniform. They weren’t just there for the fun of it – guys in uniform never are. No, they were from the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.
And I saw media. Oh, lord, did I see media.
And Heather Martens was there, naturally; where there is truth about the Second Amendment, Martens will be there. To lie. And lie and lie and lie (note to the media who bothered to speak to her; she has uttered not one substantial word of truth in her years at the capitol. Ask me).
And the “groups” she represents put out a call for their “membership” to turn out in force to oppose this bill – probably remembering the hundreds of Second Amendment supporters who turned out daily to oppose the DFL’s gun grab bills a few weeks ago.
We’ll come back to them.
One person who was not there was Doug Grow, from the MInnPost.
To be fair, I haven’t seen Grow in person in over 20 years; I might not recognize him.
Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, has discovered again that there is no comfortable middle ground when the subject is guns.
At noon at the Capitol, Hilstrom, standing with Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek and Rep. Tony Cornish, the gun-toting legislator from Good Thunder, introduced a gun bill that she said “can bring people together’’ on the volatile subject of guns.
No, no bias here.
The Astroturf Consensus
Grow, like most of the Twin Cities mainstream media, labors under the delusion that there’s a large, organized mass of people supporting gun control, and that they were out in force yesterday.
Her words were still echoing in the Capitol when critics, who had hoped for much stronger actions from the Minnesota Legislature, lambasted the effort of Hilstrom and a bipartisan group of 69 other legislators to “close gaps’’ in current state gun law.
“This is just a band-aid over a huge problem,’’ said Jane Kay of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, an organization formed in the days following the mass shooting of school children in Newtown, Conn.
Only in America can a two-month old pressure group with fewer members than there were legislators standing behind Hilstrom get the breathless adoration of the media. Which is what “Moms Demand Action” and “Protect Minnesota” both are; astroturf checkbook advocacy groups funded by liberal plutocrats with deep pockets – with “membership” numbers in the single digits.
Provided they share the goal of fluffing the left’s withering narrative on gun control.
Of course, Grow wasn’t the only offender; Pat Kessler of Channel 4 asked Hilstrom why the bill included no universal background check which, he asserted, “70% of Minnesotans oppose”.
The correct answer – the polls ask people about background checks without explaining the consequences of those checks as the DFL and Governor Messinger Dayton currently propose them; they will result in a de facto gun registry, which is a necessary first step to universal confiscation.
More on gun-related media polls in another piece soon.
The Pre-Written Story
But Grow himself is the real problem here. His piece, while short on the sort of insight that actually engaging people on both sides of the issue might have given it, is long on evidence that Grow wrote the story long before yesterday’s press conference.
There’s the inflammatory reference to every leftymedia member’s favorite boogyman:
The bill has the support of the National Rifle Association, presumably because it does nothing to require background checks on all gun sales and because it does nothing to restrict sales of military-style weapons or even the quantity of rounds in ammunition magazines.
The bill has the support of gun-rights organizations because instead of wasting time and effort putting niggling restrictions on the rights of the law-abiding that didn’t affect crime in any way the first ten years they were tried, they actually address the real problem; criminals, the insane, the addled, and the holes in the data the state sends to the Feds for the background check system.
(And while the NRA makes a nice, recognizable, stereotyped boogeyman for the lazy propagandist, the NRA actually has very little to do with the day to day heavy lifting of the gun rights movement in Minnesota. It’s the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance that turned out 500 or more people a day to attend the gun grab hearings a couple of weeks back. Grow either doesn’t know that, or doesn’t want people to know that. You know where my money is).
More evidence that Grow wrote the story entirely off of DFL and “Protect Minnesota” chanting points?
Despite the fact that it’s a bill that authors hoped would unite people, it seems to be dividing. Yes, there was a mix of Republican and DFL representatives standing with Hilstrom, Cornish and Stanek. But there were no law-enforcement organizations represented at the news conference where the proposal was unveiled.
Here’s the video of the press conference:
See all those guys in uniforms?
Scroll in to 1:12. That’s Sheriff Rich Stanek, Hennepin County Sheriff, speaking on behalf of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.
Either Grow is lying, or he wrote the entire story with no knowledge of the facts of the story.
Short On Fact, Long On Jamming Words Into Peoples’ Mouths
Grow follows by saying…:
There also were no DFL senators, though presumably the bill will be as attractive to outstate senators as it appears to be to many outstate DFL representatives.
Grow throws that in there as if it’s a substantive fact related to the bill itself. It’s not. While most outstate legislators no doubt remember the DFL debacle of 2002, it’s also more than plausible Tom Bakk wants to keep his powder dry.
In other words, presence of no DFL senators is a non-factor, unless you’re a low-information reader.
Grow next swerves through fact – and in so doing, undercuts his own premise. I’ll add emphasis:
Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, and the chairman of the House public safety committee, has indicated he has no desire to have the bill heard by his committee. Paymar is pushing a bill that would require purchasers of guns at flea markets and gun shows to go through background checks.
Yet, given the large number of co-authors with Hilstrom, there likely are ways for the bill to weave its way through the legislative process.
Yes. There are a large number of co-authors; so many they had to submit it not one, not two, but three times to get them all on. Over half of the House is signed on as authors of the bill.
Michael Paymar wants to thwart the will of the representatives of over half of Minnesota’s voters?
Putting Thirty Shots From An AR15 Into A Strawman
Finally, Grow takes his whacks at some of the legislators who’ve violated the DFL’s narrative:
[Representative Tony] Cornish, usually a lightning rod in the gun debate, said he was taking a different role regarding the fate of this bill.
“Several of my statements (in the past) have been controversial,’’ he said. “Today my role is to be a peacemaker.’’
No sooner had he said that than he uttered a statement that raises the hackles of those hoping for stronger gun measures.
“I want to thank the NRA for helping (on the bill),’’ he said. He went on to say that the bill “contains nothing for gun owners to fear.’’
Er, who’s “hackles” got “raised”, here? And why?
Was it the involvement of the NRA? Your dog whistles aren’t our problem.
Or was it the quote about gun owners having nothing to fear? Is that the actual goal, here?
Hilstrom, in her seventh term, refused to talk about her true feelings of the bill. Rather, she kept speaking of the importance of “passing a bill that will solve real problems.’’
She did point out that she never has sought the endorsement of the NRA and that in the past she has received a “C,’’ “D,’’ and “F’’ from the NRA.
If she’s doing the right thing – which, for a majority of Minnesotans, is “solving problems”, rather than attacking the law-abiding gun owner – then I don’t care if she’s a life-time “F” rating. And I don’t care about her true feelings; I don’t care if she’s being used as an escape hatch by the DFL to get out of the embarassment of the Paymar/Hausman gun grab bills.
Finally: I owe the Twin Cities media an apology. I’ve said that Larry Jacobs is the most over-quoted person in the Twin Cities media. And he is. David Schultz is right up there.
But in the “single-issue” category, Heather Martens – “Executive Director” and, near as we can tell, one of less than a half-dozen members of “Protect Minnesota” (and de facto representative of House District 66A) and a woman whose entire body of public assertions is lies, dwarfs them all:
Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota, derided the bill as “NRA-approved.’’
Boo! Boogeyman! Hiss!
Listen, MinnPost-reading dogs! There’s your whistle!
“Any bill that fails to address the gaping holes in our background check law falls far short of the public’s demand for the right to be safe in our communities,’’ Martens said in a statement.
And there’s another lie. The bill does address the gaping hole that exists in the background check laws.
No, not the misnamed “gun show loophole”, which is another media myth. The real gap is the data that the state isn’t sending to the feds; the Hilstrom bill fixes it.
GOCRA’s Mountain, Grow And Martens’ Molehill
Leaving aside the fact that Grow got pretty much everything in this story wrong – and wrong in a way that suggests not only that he wasn’t at Hilstrom’s press conference but that he wrote the whole thing straight from chanting points long before Hilstrom took to the microphone – the most pernicious thing about Grow’s story is that it tries to create the impression that there’s a genuine battle between two titanically-powerful sides to this debate.
In terms of legislators? A bipartisan sample of over half of the House is on board co-authoring Hilstrom’s bill(s). A thin, runny film of metro-DFL extremists is backing the Paymar/Hausman/Simonson gun grab bills.
In terms of the public? Last month, GOCRA put out a call for people to come to the Capitol. And they did.
“Protect Minnesota” and “Moms Demand Action” put out a call yesterday for people to come out and protest against Hilstrom’s bill.
Here they are:
Well, not literally. But no, other than Heather Martens, nobody showed up.
There are literally more DFL legislators co-authoring Hilstrom’s bill than there are members of “Protect Minnesota” and the “Moms Demand Action” put together.
So how much money did Big Labor spend along with Big Lefty Plutocrat to buy the Governor’s Office and the Legislature?
If you believe the Strib, it’s “around $3 million.
If you believe the Strib is going to tell the truth about DFL perfidy – and especially the big money behind the DFL, I’ve got a 50% stake in the next Lindsay Lohan movie to sell you.
Bill Walsh, long-time Minnesota political operative, did a little digging into the story – and he’s got something the Twin Cities’ mainstream media doesn’t want to give you; the facts:
I’m publishing his piece as a guest writer at Shot In The Dark today.
Unions Spent $11.1 Million in 2012 to Buy Friendly Legislature for Gov. Mark Dayton
Bill Walsh, Shot In The Dark Guest Writer
A few weeks ago the Star Tribune published an article about campaign spending in the 2012 election focusing on two big individual donors – Alida Messinger and Bob Cummins. The conclusion? Each party has a big donor that gave lots of money, it’s all a wash. I’m afraid this story is all we’re going to get from the Strib on campaign spending analysis. Today, in an otherwise well written article on union influence at the capitol this year, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes that unions “put at least $3 million into elections.” I guess $11.1 million is “at least” $3 million. She’s only off by $8.1 million.
I took the time to go through the campaign finance reports of 111 different union organizations in Minnesota and nationally for the 2012 election. Spending ranged from Education Minnesota at $1.8 million to the Bemidji Central Labor Body AFL-CIO Political Fund at $250. State and local unions accounted for $9.1 million in campaign spending with national unions kicking in the other $2 million.
It took some time to come to the right numbers because many unions give money to each other for joint spending initiatives. These numbers reflect the net spending after backing out contributions between unions. It goes without saying that over 99% of the money went to DFL candidates and causes.
I blame myself for not getting this research to the StarTribune before they published today’s article. It really would have added some punch to their story.
For example, when talking about the nurses union asking the legislature for new staffing ratios that will drive up health care costs, it would have been useful to point out to readers the nurses union spent over $500,000 helping DFL candidates win back the legislature last year. As a matter of fact, that probably should be mentioned every time the media covers the progress of this legislation.
Likewise, when discussing AFSCME’s attempt to force unionization on small private childcare businesses, it would inform the reader to mention that seven different AFSCME organizations gave a total of $1.6 million to DFL candidates and causes in 2012.
The list goes on – Education Minnesota is trying to resurrect their statewide insurance pool legislation, MAPE and AFSCME are getting new generous employment contracts, the minimum wage is being increased and Dayton is following through on his promise to raise taxes on the rich.
But business spends a lot too, right? Wrong. It’s hard to get anywhere near $11.1 million if you add up the business money spent in the 2012 election. A business friendly PAC called Minnesota’s Future spent $1.2 million while the Chamber of Commerce-supported Coalition for Minnesota Businesses spent just $283,000 on the 2012 election. We all know the MNGOP received little support from the business community and the two legislative caucuses combined to spend only $4.1 million, and not all of that can be attributed to business.
According to today’s Pioneer Press, however, business interests do spend a lot on lobbying. The Campaign Finance Board reported that business interests spent $17.4 million lobbying the legislature during the 2011 session.
This may be the key to understanding today’s political environment. Unions spend heavily getting sympathetic Democrats elected to office. Once they are in place, it doesn’t take much money to lobby –the jury is already selected.
Business on the other hand, spends relatively little on the nuts and bolts of campaigns and prefers to hire lobbyists to try to influence the debate after the legislature has been selected.
First, Republican legislators need to hammer away on the $11.1 million unions spent to buy this legislature for Gov. Mark Dayton. They need to remind the public and the press at every opportunity to follow the money. Pay to play has never been more obvious in Minnesota.
Second, the business community needs to shift some of its resources to where it matters: the 2014 general election. Business will never match the collective self interest and desperation of the unions, so we need to reach a higher level of cooperation if we hope to recapture the House and win back the governor’s office in 2014.
This, after a gubernatorial race where the DFL outspent the GOP on the order of 2:1, and a legislative race with a nearly-as-dismal margin.
And in a piece by Rachel Stassen-Berger with 23 paragraphs, Governor leading DFL donor Alida Messinger got one paragraph and a brief shout out in the lede.
Indeed, the raft of liberal plutocrats who have essentially taken over the entire DFL messaging operation took up exactly six of the 23 paragraphs, along with a brief mention that “Corporations and unions still pour cash into elections”.
The rest of the piece was largely focused on GOP individual donors who, it is noted, largely sat out the election, or focused on single issues. The influence of ABM, which essentially entirely controls the DFL at least in terms of message, is ignored.
Well, not quite:
Blodgett and others said she is not the type of donor who makes demands of the beneficiaries of her largesse.
Not “ignored”; “whitewashed” may be a better term. I mean, if Jeff Blodgett says Governor Alida Messinger behaves herself, that’s good enough for me!
\Of course, when you can act unilaterally with impunity, demands are superfluous…
I sent the following to Nick Coleman – the “Executive Editor” of Twin Cities’ videoleftyblog The Uptake, which appears to have jettisoned all pretense of being anything but, well, a videoleftyblog – after reading his email to the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance last night:
I caught your note to Andrew Rothman on Facebook.
As a rigidly law-abiding gun owner, I have a special interest in policing my own.
So if you would please: from whom are you getting this “growing sense” at the Capitol?
Any actual legislators you could name? Did they have complaints about any specific behavior, from any particular attendees?
If they felt intimidated, was there a reason they didn’t notify Capitol Security – who said, Mr. Rothman noted, that the crowd was better-behaved than most?
Finally, Mr. Coleman – as you have publicly acknowledged being a carry permit holder, how do people “find it possible” do do anything around you, knowing that you may be armed? It’s a serious question.
Thanks in advance.
I’m not exactly expecting an answer. The one time Nick answered a question of mine, it was…
2008: Joseph Sparkman is found hanging from a tree in a rural area with “pro-GOP” graffiti scrawled on him. The media leaps to conclusions, blaming the right. It turns out Sparkman, as one of his last demented acts on earth, opted to try to use his death as a crude smear of the conservatives he hated, including Michele Bachmann.
2009: After the media publicly assumed a Republican or “Tea Partier” vandalized the Colorado Democrat party headquarters, it was discovered that the vandal, Maurice Schwenkler, was a Democrat hoping to smear his opposition.
2010: After Joseph Stack flew his plane into an office building in Austin TX, the media assumed he was a right-winger. He turned out – naturally – to be a left-winger.
2012: ABC News broadcasts report – picked up by other media – that James Holmes, the Aurora theatre shooter, was a Tea Party activist. He was very much not.
2013: After a killing spree teed off by a screeching, shrill leftist political screed, Christopher Dorner’s left-wing politics pass with scarcely a mention in the media.
It seems an odd time for them to rediscover the virtues of detachment, doesn’t it?
David Brauer of the MinnPost - which seems to be peeling more of the wrapper off the idea that it’s a partisan DFL PR site every week, perhaps filling the “void” the Minnesota “Independent” left – tweeted about the crowd at the hearings for the Paymar Gun Grab yesterday:
Now, David’s a good guy. About as white as they get, by the way, but I do try to focus on the content of mens’ souls rather than the color of their skin. Not sure where I got that. But I digress.
I thought about responding…:
#StuffWhitePeopleLike – see also “Any MinnPost columnist or staff meeting.
Because it is hilarious – southwest Minneapolitan Brauer, at the head of a staff of middle-class, NPR-listening, Volvo/Subaru/Prius-driving U of M/Saint Olaf/Carlton/St. Thomas grads that is more Caucasoid than the Hutchinson Rotary Club, yipping about the skin color of Second Amendment activists?
As is often the case, Nancy LaRoche had a better idea:
Brauer’s defense – everyone on both sides was white, and it’s “interesting who got defensive”.
Because the role of journalists is to “afflict those who are peevish about being perpetually slandered”, I guess. Especially as the Twin Cities’ media aids and abets the DFL in setting up the debate over Paymar’s gun grab bills as a contest between poor, beset, multiracial urban Minnesota and white, callous, redneck outstate Minnesota.
Sturdevant’s column echoed the DFL’s current regimen of happy talk for the people, in obligingly noting that the current plan cuts the sales tax from 6.874% to 5.5% (before the local taxes that your city, like mine, may have larded on top of it all) while extending the sales tax to other goods and services.
Lots of other goods and services.
The DFL has to “Pay” for a half a billion dollar pay-off to renters, as well as a shopping list of goodies for Governor Messinger’s Dayton’s other lienholders constituents.
What Sturdevant doesn’t tell the reader: the “broadening” will take a lot more money out of the state economy.
Page 10 of the “Budget for a Better Minnesota” shows that the net result of the changes to the sales tax will forcibly extract 2.1 billion more dollars from the “economy” (because apparently cranking up taxes on “the rich” isn’t enough to pay for A Better Minnesota.
Slide Ten from the “Budget for a Better Minnesota”, Click for a full-sized version.
In terms of specific changes to specific taxes? That’s on Page eight of the “Budget for a Better Minnesota”:
From the “Budget for a Better Minnesota”, page 8. Click for a larger view.
The Democrats’ big chanting points – “fairer” income taxes, the cuts in state property taxes – are farts in the wind.
The two big sources of revenue to pay for all of that”Better Minnesota” are, according to the slide above…
$4.2 Billion in new sales tax revenue (offset by $2.1 Billion from the rate cut), for a net hike of $2.1 Billion
$370 million in cigarette taxes which, as we showed on Monday, will most likely not be collected.
So the sales tax “rate cut” is a smokescreen to cover the fact that the state will be exacting much, much more from this state’s economy (and more still, once the cigarette tax inevitably flops).
Governor Messinger Dayton phrases this as something inevitable – and Sturdevant, like any good stenographer, passes it on that way:
But Dayton wouldn’t consider asking households to pay a tax when they hire a lawyer or tax accountant unless he asked businesses to do the same. Fairness demands as much, he argues.
“This is going to be a tough decade,” Dayton told the Star Tribune Editorial Board last week. “If people understand that we’ve got a fair system, they’re going to be a lot more accepting of what we’ll have to do” to meet a rising demand for government services while federal help shrinks.
Notice how “leaving more money in everyone’s hands and cutting spending” never crosses anyone’s minds, even obliquely? Even though that’s plenty fair?
The DFL’s had a standard dodge for that for the past forty years; “yes, you pay a lot of taxes, but they’re high quality taxes!”
He’s right: Tax fairness is important in a democracy. But competitiveness matters, too, in a place that aspires to be a player in the global economy — doesn’t it?
“Yes, but that needs to be measured in terms of value, not just taxes,” advised economist Art Rolnick, late of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve…the 50-year Minnesota success formula has been to invest in high-return “public goods” like a well-educated workforce, transportation and public safety. “We offer a great public environment,” Rolnick said. “That’s our edge.”
That’s been the DFL’s line – and, at the risk of sounding redundant, Sturdevant’s – for those entire fifty years.
But the world has changed a lot in those fifty years – and so has the upper Midwest.
In 1963, when the DFL was developing the tax policy that Mark Dayton just re-introduced with a huge arthritic groan last week, the Twin Cities were the unquestioned economic, political, educational, educational and social center of the upper Midwest. And the United States was the world’s only functioning economy; Japan and Germany were still rebuilding; China and India were third-world nations in the middle of disastrous socialist experiments; South Korea was ravaged by war and underperforming the communist North. Ours was the only economy that had the resources to both innovate and produce and export anything of value. We could afford to give union workers a wage double the going rate and a lifetime defined-benefit pension!
And Minnesota was an industrial, financial and educational hub of an agrarian region. The U of M was a big, powerful land grant research university surrounded by teacher colleges and ag schools.
Today North Dakota is kicking our ass economically – and even before Big Oil, Fargo was out-growing the Twin Cities based on medical and high-tech development. Wisconsin’s growth (especially after adjusting for Milwaukee) is better than ours (more later this week). And the education system in North Dakota has always rivaled and by some measures beaten Minnesota’s fabled system, at a fraction of the cost, while the University of Minnesota has become both a money vortex and a mediocre participant in the education price bubble.
And last week’s budget has more than a few businesses eyeing the environment across the borders – or around the globe.
So when Lori Sturdevant writes…:
When business folk come to the Capitol, they would do well to acknowledge that their competitive edge depends not only on how Minnesota ranks on taxes, but also on what those taxes buy.
…she, and the DFL for whom she shills, should not be in the least surprised if people start asking that.
They might not get the answers she and the Strib and the DFL have spent the last fifty years programming people to give.
The fact that Lori Sturdevant is a relentless shill for the DFL is one of those things that Minnesota conservatives have come to accept as background noise.
Her column from this past weekend – it’s entitled “Mark Dayton — A Man With A Plan“, and it paints Governor Messinger’s Dayton’s toenails about as much as you’d suspect from the title – almost serves to give you context as to why she’s such a DFL up-sucker. Sturdevant is apparently too innumerate and ignorant of basic economics to even pass as a moderate Republican.
Give Gov. Mark Dayton this much: He’s found a way to raise taxes that the business community appears to hate more than an income tax hike for the rich.
Dayton’s proposal to impose the state’s sales tax on the services businesses buy — legal, advertising, accounting, computing and the like — had by week’s end become Competitiveness Enemy No. 1. In volume and vitriol, business condemnation of that proposal was outstripping the reaction two years ago to Dayton’s unsuccessful bid for a new income tax bracket for top incomes.
(“Vitriol” has apparently become “any criticism of any Democrat”)
Sturdevant’s propaganda piece column faithfully passes on what have become the DFL’s big rhetorical bludgeons in this campaign:
Blame “the rich” who aren’t named Dayton, Messinger, Opperman, Mondale, Cramer…
Lie about the economy – those of Minnesota and other states
Give people a misleadingly incomplete picture of their own proposal
Promise wondrous things someday in exchange for metric poo-tons of your money now.
It’s Those Darned Indecisive Rich Businesspeople!: Sturdevant starts by trying to portray Minnesota’s small businesspeople as flighty petty tyrants who just can’t decide what it is they want.
What keeping up with the competition requires of a state, it seems, is a changeable, eye-of-the-corporate-beholder sort of thing.
Sturdevant would have you believe that the business community can’t make up its mind; while two years ago Governor Messinger Dayton’s entire message was a class-war-baiting tax assault on “the rich”, Dayton has broadened the attack to every business, everywhere.
Dayton’s new plan still raises the income tax by about $1 billion on the top-earning 2 percent of filers. But the marginal rate he proposes now, 9.85 percent, is down from 10.95 percent two years ago. Instead of tied for highest in the country, it would be fourth-highest, up from eighth-highest today.
Sturdevant misleadingly presents this as an either-or. It’s not. Both taxes were burdens on business, especially small businesses.
On the one hand, Dayton’s “fourth tier” tax would have had a huge impact on a massive swath of small businesspeople, especially successful small entrepreneurs running “Subchapter S” corporations who may have had incomes over $250,000 – dentists, consultants, salespeople, and a fair number of high-tech recruiters of my acquaintance (while not affecting liberal plutocrats like the Dayton family, most of whose income isn’t earned).
On the other? This round of increases hits nearly every business at every level; it combines a piddly decrease in business tax rates…:
Dayton seemed to be responding to some of the business lobby’s old anticompetitiveness complaints. He offered to reduce the state’s corporate tax rate from 9.8 percent to 8.4 percent, taking it from fourth in the nation to 12th.
…with a 5.5% increase in many of the costs of doing business and, for many service-related businesses, a 5.5% decrease in business (which is what adding a 5.5% tax hike does to any good or service, all other things being equal).
“Be happy to pay for a Better Minnesota”, Sturdevant says, “and shut up about it”.
“The Dakotas Do It Too!”: Liberal water-carriers have been painstakingly scouring Google for examples of taxes that the Dakotas have that Minnesota doesn’t yet, but that Governor Messinger Dayton is proposing.
And they’ve gotten the chanting points to Sturdevant, who throws on a little unearned contempt:
“It’s the most damaging thing we could do for competitiveness,” Minnesota Business Partnership exec Charlie Weaver said of taxing sales of business-to-business services. Minnesota would join just five other states — including South Dakota — in tacking the sales tax on so wide a range of business inputs…For 46 years, apparently, there’s been a Minnesota tax policy that this state’s businesses liked better than South Dakota’s version. Before Dayton flushed that out, who knew?
Sturdevant should leave the snark to Sally Jo Sorenson. Not that it’d improve her point, but Sturdevant trying to go Jon Stewart is a little like Judi Dench donning a “Hollister” hoodie and a sideways baseball cap.
Oh, she’s wrong. It’s one of many disconnected factoids that the left has been passing off this past week; “SoDak has business service taxes!” ”North Dakota taxes clothing!”. Yes, both are true; but those taxes are parts of overall tax burdens that are much lower than in Minnesota.
Sturdevant niggles and nit-picks and snarks with all the grace of a German jazz band about individual taxes to dodge the real point; both the Dakotas have lower overall taxes than Minnesota. And better economies.
Focus On The Luxuries, And The Necessities Will Take Care Of Themselves!: One of the left’s most damning and damnable conceits is that all economic economic activity, the “fruits of all our labors” – both of them fancy-schmantzy ways of saying “the money all of us work for” – are first and foremost government property, for government to use, and use as much, as it sees fit and then leave what’s left to the rest of us.
The governor has come around to the realization that compared with other states, Minnesota underutilizes its sales tax.
Or, put another way, the Governor Messinger Dayton sees that there is productivity in the state that could be further sapped.
He endorsed extending it to services when he saw that doing so would permit a drop in the overall sales tax rate from 6.875percent to 5.5 percent. That would move the rate from seventh-highest to 27th among the states, to the benefit of businesses and consumers who buy already-taxed goods.
Yay, a tax cut. It amounts to about a 20% cut to the sales tax rate. That’s a good thing, right?
Sure – but only if if you’re not getting…
An Incomplete Picture: Just as Governor Messinger Dayton sold the state bills of goods with electronic pull tabs, the “repayment of the school funding shift” and the cigarette tax, he’s doing it again.
So what does that mean?
It means Sturdevant is abetting Governor Messinger Dayton in yet another lie.
More tomorrow – including slides from that noted conservative tool, the State of Minnesota.
Minnesota newspapers, largely, supported Governor Messinger Dayton and the DFL. They largely not only bought the “Alliance For A Better Minnesota’s” bill of goods hook line and sinker, but most of them worked tirelessly to propagate it, and to squelch dissent from it.
They studiously avoided, almost completely, any reporting that would have impeded the DFL’s rise to power.
The Minnesota media, at large, were among the DFL’s most valuable players this past two electoral cycles. At the highest levels - the Strib, the PiPress, and at least the programming arm of MPR – they serve as the DFL’s Praetorian Guard.
But now? Now that the governor is tacking 5.5% sales taxes (for starters) onto print services, advertising and retail newspaper sales?
Business groups and retailers complain that the proposal would cost jobs. As he spoke to the Minnesota Newspaper Association, several editors and newspaper owners complained that a sales tax on newspapers would hurt their industry.
Tom West, the managing editor of the Morrison County Record in Little Falls, spoke about his concerns during a question and answer session.
“We are the ones who cover local government and state government, and we are wondering why you would think it would be a good idea to have less information about government and what government is up to,” West said.
(Slightly less cynical answer: “While your contributions to DFL hegemony were vital, you don’t have the same political clout as AFSCME, the SEIU or MPR).
(Cynical and partisan but realistic answer: “How about not just “covering local government”, but turnin a critical eye on the DFL? For once?”)
Others said that expanding the sales tax to newspaper ink, paper and advertising would result in job losses. Dayton said he understood the concern but did not back away from his plan.
Job losses only matter if they’re union.
Small papers aren’t union.
Big papers are – and we’ll see what happens there.
As to the rest of you newspapers? You got the government you mostly worked for, largely shilled for, and for the most part operated as in-the-bag PR agents for. Most of your editorial stances praised Dayton and the DFL’s return to power.
So now you’re saying you’re not Happy To Pay For A Better Minnesota?
BONUS QUESTION FOR DFLers: What do you think happens when you tack 5.5% onto the price of something?
All other things being equal, people buy 5.5% less of it.
Ponder losing 5.5% of your business overnight. Ponder hard.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails to elaborate on the subject of this piece, assailing the MinnPost’s Eric Black’s participation in the resurrection of the long-forgotten “Second Amendment Was Written To Protect Slavery!” meme:
I forgot about this when I wrote to debunk Carl Bogus’ law review article. Bogus relies for some of his historical evidence about firearms use on Michael Bellesiles, saying:
“Most militiamen were not even good shots. We think of men as having grown up with guns in colonial America. We assume they were sharpshooters by necessity. Did not men have to become proficient with muskets to protect themselves from ruffians and Indians or to hunt to put food on the table? Contrary to myth, the answer, in the main, is no. In reality, few Americans owned guns. When Michael A. Bellesiles reviewed more than a thousand probate records from frontier areas of northern New England and western Pennsylvania for the years 1765 to 1790, he found that although the records were so detailed that they listed items as small as broken cups, only fourteen percent of the household inventories included firearms and [Page 342] fifty-three percent of those guns were listed as not working. In addition, few Americans hunted. Bellesiles writes: “From the time of the earliest colonial settlements, frontier families had relied on Indians or professional hunters for wild game, and the colonial assemblies regulated all forms of hunting, as did Britain’s Parliament.”
You remember Michael Bellesiles? He supposedly studied probate records and found practically nobody owned guns in those days, so he wrote a book called “Arming America” saying the scarcity of private firearms ownership proved the Founding Fathers could not have intended the Second Amendment to refer to private firearms ownership, but must have intended it to refer to government militias.
James Lindgren at Northwestern University writes on The Volokh Conspiracy to remember his work taking Bellesiles down. And I know you remember how Bellesiles claimed to have lost his research notes in a flood.
No serious historian believes Bellesiles today. And to the extent Bellesiles is the foundation for Bogus, no serious legal scholar should believe Bogus, either.
Reading Bogus’ original article, most of the citations are to, well, himself. But listing Bellesisles is about on par with listing Milli Vanilli.
Brian Lambert may now respond with a dismissive, name-calling bit of snark before going back to metaphorically painting Mark Dayton’s toenails.
But the Governor released the budget at an 11AM press conference yesterday.
At 11:13, Carrie Lucking – the “Executive Director” of the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, one of the huddle of lefty non-profits via which liberal plutocrats and the unions launder millions of dollars and run the DFL’s entire messaging operation – tweeted:
Maybe Carrie Lucking is an incredibly fast reader.
A flurry of conservatives on Twitter wondered last night – is that how Lucking got enough detail about the budget, 13 minutes after it was announced, to call a critic a “liar?”
I thought that showed too much faith in Governor Dayton. I think it’s more likely ABM gave the budget to the Administration.
Either way – I need your help here.
Back in the 2000s, the media spun up a tempest in a teapot over Governor Pawlenty’s involvement with an outside group, and the potential impact that had on the Pawlenty Administration’s message and policies. It passed quickly, because there was no there there. But the media gave it its’ 15 minutes.
Does anyone remember the parties involved in that? I only remember the dimmest possible outlines of the episode.
But compared with the collegial clubbiness between the Twin Cities media – especially the Strib and the MinnPost - and the various political non-profits and advocacy groups, I think it’d be useful for comparison’s sake.
UPDATE: I need to point out that the heavy lifting on Twitter was done by Dave Thul and Sheila Kihne. They smelled the rat. I just wrote about it.