Narrative Slide

Jeremy Joseph Christian kills two in an anti-Muslim rampage on a train in Portland, Oregon.

Word gets out that Christian was a “white supremacist”.  Media assume that means “Right Wing Pro-Trump Hate Criminal” – and brows are furrowed as our  high priests of knowledge obsess over What It All Means.

Then, it turns out Christian is actually a Sanders guy.

Writing for Willamette Week, Corey Pein said he interviewed Christian during [a “Free Speech” march in Portland], and the alleged killer chanted the n-word and threw Nazi salutes. Pein writes that amid Christian’s rants about Jews on Facebook, he expressed support for Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein for president. The Willamette Week writer describes that as a “distraction” others will seize upon as they contradict the narrative of Christian as a real white supremacist.

Simple fact – and Berg’s 19th Law has controlling legal authority, here – is that Christian was a nihilist, if you want to credit it as an actual train of thought, and apparently deeply mentally ill if you don’t.

Either way?  The mainstream media promptly lost interest.

But Don’t You Dare Say The Media Has A Narrative

Does this look scary?

I’m pretty sure it was supposed to look scary.  It’s from Channel 5, last Friday.

The Associated Press ran pretty much the same headline on their story.  If I’m feeling charitable, I’d assume the web producer at Channel 5 was too busy and under informed to change the AP’s hed.  If I”m not feeling charitable – and let’s be honest, I’m not – we can assume Channel 5’s producer shares the same myopic narrative that the AP’s writer does, and shares the same desire to inflict fear upon the audience at the thought that some Minnesota buyers might be able to buy guns without background checks.

Shiver!

Now For The Truth:  The truth is a little less scary; the BATFE has decided that Minnesota carry permits are sufficient substitute for the NICS background check; when a carry permittee – who, by definition, is over 21, has no criminal record, has passed a background check and a training course on skills and legal knowledge – buys a gun, they don’t need to get the online or phone-in background check in addition to their carry permit check.

That’s carry permittees  – of whom there are a quarter million in this state, and whose rate of criminal offense is nearly two orders of magnitude lower than the general population.

Not quite as scary-sounding when you put it that way, is it?

It Is To Laugh

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I had forgotten how carefully Liberals at the New York Times scrutinized President Obama’s nominees to the federal bench, to avoid politicizing the judiciary.  I’m sure they did, right?  Because if not, if they’re only worried about it when The Other Side does it, then it’s not a matter of high moral principle, it’s a matter of hypocritical partisanship, and that doesn’t bother me at all.

Joe Doakes

I believe Joe’s got it figured out.

Calling All Davids

Last week, we noted that the Strib had rejected an op-ed by Sarah Cade – a center-left African-American woman who happens to be a competition shooter, a friend of mine, and the owner of one of the most rightous ARs I’ve seen.

By way of trying to outflank the Strib’s abusive monopoly on political opinion publishing, I posted her entire op-ed on this blog last week in its entirety.

Yesterday came news that, with the advance of a “Stand your Ground” bill to hearings in the House Rules Committee this week, the Strib ran a series of fact-free opinion pieces against the legislation – but not a single piece in support.    Against the fact-free – and largely Bloomberg-financed – dreck, not a single word of learned response was allowed to see the light of day in this state’s misbegotten “newspaper of record”.

I”m just a little blog.  I’m David’s left toenail, going up against Goliath.

Well, you and me – we are David’s left toenail.

I’m going to urge you do a couple of things:

  • Pass Sarah’s article around; I’m going to reprint it again below the jump.
  • If you’re on social media, post this on Twitter.  (I’ll also be posting on Twitter, as dirty as that makes me feel).
  • If you’re a Facebook user, share Sarah’s Facebook post, with the facts of the situation and the text of her op-ed.   .

It’s not much.  But it’s the best that we can do.

And every once in a while, David gets in a lucky shot.

More on the “Stand your Ground” hearings later this week.

P.S. to the Strib:  it’s been a while since I publicly said I sincerely hope the free market drives that little DFL PR shop you call a “newspaper” out of business for good.

The more things chance, the less they change.

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The Strib: Fake News Opinion

Remember Paul John Scott?

He’s the “writer from Rochester” who wrote the infarmous op-ed in the Strib last year telling fellow (what else?) liberals that it was OK, even necessary, to expunge all Trump voters from  your life and social circle.

Rochester?  You Owe Us An Apology:  Scott has a writing style reminiscent of a junior high girl writing Sylvia Plath fan fiction while listening to Goth-teen music.  And that’s the best thing I can say about him and his writing.

But he’s gotten another op-ed in the Strib, which makes me think that the Strib must be getting paid by some government program to employ otherwise unemployable writers.  Or maybe that Scott saw some senior editor in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.

Now, I’m not writing you to “fisk” Scott’s op-ed – entitled  It’s the guns, stupid. But that doesn’t affect you, right?” in the hyperventilating, “everyone’s a hypocrite!” style that’s become so popular among the snowflakes.  The article – which is little but a bunch of “Everytown” chanting points gurgitated with no more critical analytical thought than my dog puts into fetching my shoes in the morning – isn’t worth my time; I’ve it a million time.  I’ll blow through its most egregious offenses later.  Probably.  It’s almost too stupid to bother with.

But I’m not here to talk about John Paul “I Have Not Yet Begun To Whinge” Scott.  I’m here to talk about the Strib.

Not Even Punching Tickets Anymore:  It’s been a pattern at the Strib for decades, now.   If you’re anti-gun – no matter how dim, fact-free and risible you are (Heather Martens, Nancy Nord Bence and their ilk seem to have an open invitation to write any time they want) or even the dreary Scott – you can pretty much measure the curtains for your byline.

Dissent?  Well, other than a few letters to the editor from “Fudds” seemingly chosen for their half-literate irascibility, the Strib will not publish an op-ed, no matter how good – especially, I suspect, because it’s good.

So who did the Strib pass over for including in the op-ed section?

My friends at the MN Gun Owners Caucus have been diligently trying to place an op ed – any op ed – challenging the flood of anti-gun drivel that romps and plays in the Strib’s op-ed section.

Among them was this piece by Sarah Cade, a shooter and activist.  Also   She wrote a piece in defense of HF238 and HF188 – the “Self-Defense Reform” and “Constitutional Carry” bills that were introduced this session (and, shamefully, died).

I’m going to publish her submission to the Strib in its entirety – because someone has to.  Judge for yourself which is a more worthy effort:


COMMUNITIES OF COLOR NEED STAND YOUR GROUND

Sarah Cade

Minnesota desperately needs common sense gun laws – just not the ones you might think. Bills HF238 and HF188 sought to remedy unreasonable components of the current system, but were not included in the public safety omnibus.  These bills should be included as amendments.

Sarah Cade.   Photo: Oleg Volk. Courtesy Sarah Cade.

HF238 included a provision commonly known as “stand your ground.”  Stand your ground laws serve an important purpose for communities of color: they defend the innocent from overzealous prosecution. Ideally, a self defense claim should center on whether your use of force was reasonable under the circumstances, not on whether you could run faster than your attacker or whether you memorized the blueprints of the building before making the split second decision to defend your life.

Stand your ground removes the requirement to prove you could not retreat in court.  Rather than forcing you to prove a negative, it places the burden of proof where it belongs: on the state. The concept that a person is innocent until proven guilty is a cornerstone of American justice – or at least it’s supposed to be.

In reality, exercising your right to self defense leads to further victimization by the legal system. As a person of color, I know that racial stereotypes make a judge and jury less likely to give me the benefit of the doubt than my white peers. I also know that the legal system will attempt to intimidate me into taking a plea bargain for a crime I didn’t commit. These problems are compounded if I’m poor, don’t know my rights, or can’t obtain competent defense.  Stand your ground laws help protect me from a system that chews up and spits out people who look like me.

Contrary to the misinformation put out by Minnesota’s leading gun control group, stand your ground does NOT allow you to shoot people for wearing a hoodie, it does not allow people to “shoot first,” and it does not allow people to shoot anytime they feel subjectively threatened.  In fact, it’s hard to repeat those statements with a straight face if one has even a passing familiarity with Minnesota’s byzantine web of self defense laws (although they helpfully make the point that our laws need simplification and reform so laypeople can understand them).

Stand your ground would not change the requirement to act reasonably. Just like under current precedent, in order to present a valid claim of self defense, a person must have BOTH an “actual and honest belief that he or she was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm,” AND “the existence of reasonable grounds for that belief.” (State of Minnesota v. Baker 1968)

“The lack of a duty to retreat does not abrogate the obligation to act reasonably when using force in self defense.   Therefore, in all situations in which a party claims self-defense, even absent a duty to retreat, the key inquiry will still be into the reasonableness of the use of force and the level of force under the specific circumstances of each case.” (State of Minnesota v. Glowacki 2001)

Despite overblown claims of racism, stand your ground is not in itself a racist law — mostly because there’s nothing to enforce. Instead, it is a DEFENSE that is invoked to protect the rights of an individual in court. It helps people of color defend themselves successfully from a predatory legal system that is stacked against them at every level, from arrest to sentencing.

According to data collected by the Tampa Bay Times, stand your ground provisions are more likely to be used to successfully defend black people than white people.  Black people are 16.8% of Florida’s population, but make up 33% of SYG acquittals, while white people are 77.7% of the population, but account for only 56% of acquittals (note that the homicide rates for blacks did not increase, so this discrepancy is NOT due to the myth of suspicious whites shooting first. Instead, it means more blacks are avoiding unjust prosecution).

As a person of color who is also a gun owner, I know that HF238 and HF188 would help me, and people who look like me, to protect ourselves. I know similar provisions are common in other states (the majority of states have some version of stand your ground; over ten have permitless carry), and that the hysteria about these laws is fueled by fear rather than rational analysis.

I also know that our justice system is plagued with racial inequality at every level. Stand your ground doesn’t change that, as it’s outside the scope of one bill to solve such pervasive problems. However, it does help defendants of color avoid unjust persecution, and that’s a step in the right direction.

Sarah Cade is a competitive pistol shooter and a volunteer Team Leader for the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.  


So let’s get this straight.  The Strib spiked Cade’s well-written, reasoned, impeccably researched article upending the left’s narrative on the gun issue, but published a rank, uninformed recitation of fallacious chanting points by the mopey Plathbot Paul John Scott.

Surprised?  No.

Want better from our media?  Absolutely.

I’ll deal with the few points in Scott’s little outburst that need addressing below.

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No Facts Were Used In Writing This Column: Des Moines Register Edition

Iowa passed a self-defense reform law in its most recent session, mere weeks ago. Commonly called “Stand your Ground”, what it does is removes the “duty to retreat” – which is really a “duty to remember a lot of state statutes about attempting to disengage” – from the affirmative legal defense for self-defense.

Now, if you’ve followed this blog, you know the continuum of events:

  1. “Stand your Ground” law is proposed.
  2. Newspaper columnists write alarmed, “sky is falling”, uninformed stories about the subject.
  3. A bunch of other stuff happens.

The Des Moines Register and Daniel Finney are no exception.

And I’d like to try to do something about that.  Ignorance is a tragedy.  Let’s stop the tragedy.

It Wouldn’t Be An MSM Article about Guns…:   Finney starts off with some history.

In this case, history of newspaper people’s myopia:

 

About 20 years ago, when there was an outbreak of shootings in the metro, The Des Moines Register ran a list of tips suggesting what people should do if they were caught in the crossfire.

This was the photo that the Des Moines Register ran with the online version of this piece. No, no scaremongering here.

One of the tips was duck and find cover.

This list generated a lot of laughter, both in and out of the newsroom, because the advice was seemingly so obvious that it engendered a, “No, duh” response.

But for those who remember Nick Coleman as a columnist, that’s not quite a low enough standard.

But I digress:

These days, though, “duck and cover” is out of fashion.

Earlier this month, Gov. Terry Branstad signed sweeping changes to Iowa gun laws that include expanding the so-called “stand your ground” laws.

That part is true.

I point it out because it’s just about the last part of this column rooted in objective fact.

Out Standing In The Field::  Finney isn’t the only one on the Register’s staff that doesn’t really get the law:

As standout Register Statehouse reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel writes, the new law says you don’t have to duck and cover or run away.

Instead, if a person is “any place where the person is lawfully present,” they may defend themselves with deadly force.

Further, the law says “a person may be wrong in their estimation of danger or about how much force is necessary ‘as long as there is a reasonable basis for the belief … and the person acts reasonably in response to that belief,'” Pfannenstiel reported.

real “standout” reporter would have asked a few more questions, and found out that that’s pretty much how the “Reasonable Person” standard works.    If a complete stranger revs up a chainsaw and charges toward you yelling “I’m going to kill you, you sonafabitch”, and you shoot her, and deep in her heart she actually intended to stop at the last second and tell you it’s an elaborate practical joke?   The law doesn’t expect you to be a mind-reader – and no reasonable person would ever convict you for it.   –

At any rate, when Mr. Finney says…:

I wish Polk County Attorney John Sarcone and his colleagues the best of luck figuring out how to interpret what a “reasonable basis for belief” of someone feeling they’re in danger.

…you can tell he needs to talk with an even stand-outier capitol reporter, because they have to do it with every single self-defense case today.  

Let’s Take A Break From The Column For Some Actual Facts:  Mr. Finney:   there are some subjective but firm factors that everyone has to meet to claim self-defense; I wind up citing them on this blog so often, I made a separate page for them.

  • Don’t be the aggressor
  • A jury would believe you legitimately feared being killed, maimed or raped
  • You use only the force needed to stop the threat
  • A jury would believe you tried hard enough to disengage before resorting to lethal force.  What’s “hard enough?”  In Minnesota, that’s the subject of a dozen pieces of case law; I’d imagine Iowa is – or was – the same.   “Castle Doctrine” laws eliminate this in your home.  “Stand your Ground” eliiminates this, and only this, anyplace else where you have a legal right to be.    And that is all.  You still have to convince the cops, the prosecutor or the jury of the other three criteria!

Situational Awareness:  Back to Mr. Finney:

I’ll use an example from my own life. I used to walk a 3-mile loop in my parents’ east Des Moines neighborhood. Periodically, I crossed paths with a woman who was also out walking.

Every time the woman saw me, she crossed to the other side of the street. I understand that. She didn’t know me.

I’m 6-foot-4. I’m heavy. And, especially in the fall, it was getting dark out.

While most violence, including rape and homicide, is committed between people who already know each other, the woman was being cautious. I was a large man she didn’t know at twilight.

Better safe than sorry.

Well, yeah – that’s common sense.

But common sense doesn’t trump ignorance.  As we’ll see with Mr. Finney’s next bit:

I tried to keep an eye out for people around me, but I was also listening to my workout mix cassette tapes (yeah, I’m that old). On hills, sometimes I put my head down and gritted through the climb.

What if I was walking at a fast clip and happened to come up behind this woman or bump into her?

It seems to me the way that law is written, she could shoot me dead, and the law, as written, would say she was free to go.

This is far-fetched, of course.

No, it’s not far-fetched.

It’s ignorant.

Mr. Finney:  If she shot you, would a jury believe you posed a threat of death, mutilation or rape?  A real jury, not a fantasy nightmare jury?

Not sure how you behave around strange women in the dark, Mr. Finney, but as a 6’5 guy with an air of calculated menace living in a neighborhood full of college-age women, I go out of my way to appear innocuous and unthreatening when out and about after dark.

Of course, Finney is not merely ignorant about Iowa self-defense law; knowingly or not (I tend to think most reporters don’t know better and never get around to asking, because their editors never make them); he’s trafficking a lie about “Stand Your Ground”, one that I see, almost unaltered, from uninformed columnists all over the place; “Stand your Ground means you can shoot people who make you nervous”.

As we’ve pointed out in this space countless times in the past, it’s an ignorant myth.

I’m going to ignore the rest of the article; it’s no better-informed, but it’s off topic.

But Mitch – Why?:  You might be thinking to yourself “Mitch – you’re fisking yet another reporters’s badly-informed column about a law he or she clearly doesn’t understand.   For like the 1,000th time in the past 15 years.  Why?”

Because Don Quixote is my role model?

Well, maybe a little.  But there’s a more important reason.

I sent Mr. Finney an email, gently setting him straight on his many factual errors.

But if you know some 2nd Amendment activists in Des Moines, feel free to have them send Mr. Finney the link to this piece (his email address is at the bottom of the article).     Because newspaper columnists, for all their vaunted contact in the community, tend to live in echo chambers – especially columnists in “blue” cities like Des Moines (to say nothing of Minneapolis and Saiint Paul).

And sometimes, a little dissonance makes the chamber a little less echo-y.

Just Doing Their Jobs

To:  The Star/Tribune
From:  Mitch Berg, Deplorable Peasant
Re:  You’re Not Even Trying To Deny It Anymore, Are You?

Dear Strib:

I’ll take the headline of this piece as a tacit – and, let’s be honest, redundant – admission that your paper isn’t so much a “journalistic” endeavor as a PR arm for the DFL.     You’re taking run of the mill dissent, and romanticizing it (using a term that should never, ever be “romanticized”).

I could say more – but that’d be pretty much bouncing the rubble, wouldn’t it?

That is all.

Breslin

Jimmy Breslin died over the weekend.  He was 88.

We’ll come back to that.


The media today – or at least, people of a certain age (i.e. older than me) who are still in the media – remind me of circus performers telling inside jokes about what the ringmaster did after that one show in Lincoln, or of mailmen amongst themselves about the worst breeds of dog to encounter, or  city bus drivers reminiscing about the foibles of that old model of bus that got retired a couple of decades ago, unlamented by anyone but, well, them.  They remind me of any group of clubby, beleaguered insiders who turn the foibles, peccadillos and petty miseries of their callings into legends in their own minds.    Not like World War II veterans telling niche anecdotes from a little tiny window of the fight to save freedom.  Just guys who did something most people don’t care about all that much, building it in their minds into something worthy of the life they built around it.

Unlike arthritic old circus hands, mailmen and bus drivers, journalists buy newsprint by the rail car and ink by the barrel – so they can inflict their particular tales, traditions and argot onto the rest us.  And lest anyone accuse me of ridiculing other people, I am one of them, at least as regards the radio industry.

I remember hearing some longtime Twin Cities journalists talk about Nick Coleman leaving the Star/Tribune.  “He was a great, old-time newspaperman”, one of them said.  “One of the best”.

Why, I asked.

What followed was an explanation I can’t possibly reproduce here – but it boiled down to Coleman epitomizing what an old-school “ink-stained wretch” was supposed to look, act and write like.

And I thought “this is the Nick Coleman who made an outsized contribution to the decline and fall of journalism.  If he didn’t like you, he’d just make s**t up; he’d conjure up community groups from his imagination,  or make up facts when he didn’t know enough to dig, ask or wait for the real ones.  And he played a bigger-than-average role in the financial ruination of the field he, and the journos who reminisce about him, try to earn a living in.

But no matter.  Journalists are like those hold each other to a standard that only they understand, and really only makes sense, or matters, really, to them.

And so Nick Coleman is a hero, while journalists who actually do what journalists are supposed to do but don’t know the secret handshake get mocked and derided by the bus drivers.  Er, circus geeks.

Damn.  I mean journos.


Along those lines, Journos like to tells themselves their mission nis to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”.

It’s pretty inevitably b******t.  Most reporters spend their careers covering city council meetings and one-car crashes and writing obits and, today, probably selling ads to help their outlet get by.   Their biases are irrelevant, because their beats are all about the mundanities of civic and public life that are just too boring for partisanship.

But Jimmy Breslin, like Studs Terkel and Jim Klobuchar and, heaven help us, Nick Coleman, was on a different plane.  A columnist as well as a reporter, or maybe a reporter who got to have opinions, a pioneer in what they used to call “New Journalism” – subjective, advocacy-oriented, opinionated, journalism that put white and black hats on its subjects…

…rather than letting the reader do it for themselves.

To journos – and consumers of a certain outlook – it was brilliant, pioneering stuff.  And it certainly did pioneer the idea of the journalist as the crusader rather than the crier, the seeker of goals rather than the reporter of facts – as the ones who could comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.  As being able to fight, as one of Breslin’s obituary writers said, for the little guy.

I found out Breslin’s regard for the little guy, straight from the horse’s mouth.  I met Breslin once, back in 1986.  He was doing a book tour, back when book tours meant traveling the country and doing radio live in the studio; I booked him on the Don Vogel show.

This was in the wake of one of Bernard Goetz’s trials.  Vogel asked him a question about Goetz – an electrician who’d been mugged, over and over, and reacted famously by shooting a group of muggers in the subway with an unregistered gun (only celebrities and politicians could get handgun license in New York – and that’s still pretty much true).

Breslin oozed contempt for Goetz.   It was sneering, visceral, hateful – as if the thought that a mere hoi polloi’s life was worth defending itself violated the public order.

But Goetz wasn’t “the little guy” to Breslin or the “journalism” establishment who aped him.  The criminals – with whom the purveyors of the myth of New York in the sixties and seventies had long since made fitful peace – were the little guys; not predators, not even pests; part of a zen-like symbiosis that one had to tolerate to “be a New Yorker”.

To the likes of Breslin and his many many imitators.

He was there for the right little guys.

Like most journos.

But never let it be said I speak ill of the dead.  Breslin did write one thing in his long career that rocked me back on my heels; the piece he wrote about the surgery he underwent a few decades back for an aneurysm.   Positively brilliant.  I can’t find it, but I will keep looking.

NPR On Al Capone’s Vault Trump’s Tax Return

On “Morning Edition”.

NPR Reporter:  “…if it weren’t for the “Alternative Minimum Tax”, Trump would have paid a net tax rate of 3%”.

NPR Anchor:  “Right – but there was an alternative minimum tax, and he paid a net rate of about 25% – considerably higher than Barack Obama and double what Bernie Sanders paid.  So why the pointless “what if?”   You’re “reporting” a complete nothingburger, here.”

(UPDATE:  The anchor never said any of that.  It was just a dream.  The “reporter’s” line is pretty accurate, though).

Focus

You’d never know it from watching/reading the WaPo, the NYTimes, NPR and the big three – but the American public trusts used car salesmen more than journalists.

Nope – not making it up:  According to an Emerson College, poll, the public trusts the Trump about a quarter more than the mainstream media:

The Trump administration is more trusted than the news media among voters, according to a new Emerson College poll.

The administration is considered truthful by 49 percent of registered voters and untruthful by 48 percent.

But the news media is less trusted than the administration, with 53 percent calling it untruthful and just 39 percent finding it honest.

Question:  what are the other 39% thinking of?

Today’s Facts, A Year Ago: Fake News Edition

The Daily Caller notes that the “database” used by the liberal media to try to create hysteria about mass shootings, overstates the number of such incidents by at least an order of magnitude:

The website “Mass Shooting Tracker” (MST) has been regularly used by news outlets, like The Washington Post and PBS, to claim “mass shootings” occur much more frequently than they actually do. MST uses an alternative definition of “mass shooting” that greatly overstates their frequency relative to the commonly-accepted definition used by law enforcement and academics.

MST openly acknowledges it uses the alternate definition to “punch a hole in the NRA argument.”…MST’s defines a mass shooting as any shooting where four or more people are injured or killed, not counting the shooter. This isn’t an official definition taken from law enforcement or academia, but appears to be originally created by anti-gun activists on Reddit.

Of course, it’s something that Shot In The Dark readers knew well over a year ago.

Fake News, Fake Leadership

Congress’s Democrat brain trust jumped on the news that former National Security Advisor Flynn had tweeted he was a scapegoat.

They were obliging enough to do it on video:

And who can blame ’em?  It was in the NYTimes and the WaPo.

Of course, it was fake news.  When it’s political and it’s in the Times or the WaPo, one should assume it’s fake, and verify.

It didn’t pass the stink test, of course.   When it comes to this administration, it almost never will.

Challenge Accepted

Chris “The Ken Doll Of News” Cuomo doesn’t like being called a “fake newsman“:

“I see being called ‘fake news’ as the equivalent of the N-word for journalists, the equivalent of calling an Italian any of the ugly words that people have for that ethnicity,” Cuomo said on SiriusXM.

“That’s what ‘fake news’ is to a journalist,” the CNN host continued. “It’s an ugly insult, and you better be right if you’re going to charge a journalist with lying on purpose.”

For startes, Mr. Como – no.  It’s not the same as the N-word.  The N-word is bestowed for no more reason than someone’s skin color.

“Fake News” is earned.  It’s earned by putting agenda before fact.   As the mainstream media has been making a habit of doing, and justifying doing, for decades, but more lately than ever.

 

“I Will Gladly Present You The Data Next Tuesday, If You Accept My Conclusion Today”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

When you read a science report claiming that 2016 was the hottest year on record, you might expect that you will get numbers. And you would be wrong.

 “Note to the New York Times: ‘trouncing’ and ‘blown past’ are phrases appropriate to sports reporting, not science reporting. Except that no sports reporter would dare write an article in which he never bothers to give you the score of the big game. . . . It’s almost like they’re hiding something. And that is indeed what we find.”

 Summary: Increase is one-hundredth of a degree but the Margin of Error is a tenth of a degree. So it’s all bullshit.  No, worry, these are “alternative facts” but since it’s the Left doing it, that makes it alright. 

 Joe Doakes

Narrative Uber Alles.

We Tried To Warn You

All you identity-politicians?  We tried to warn you; if your worldview is built around building up your own identity segment by punching down – which, in this day and age, inevitably ends up punching down on blue-collar white guys, a constituency that has only Larry the Cable Guy to speak for it – eventually those blue collar white guys are going to play identity politics right back.

Protesters?  Yeah, we kinda hinted that walking around dressed like lady parts was gonna backfire on you.  And it did.

And news media?  Your serial dishonesty – not every one of you, but the dominant social current in your trade?

For example – your crushing silence about the scope and sweep of Barack Obama’s executive orders?

John Podhoretz’s admonition is particularly relevant because so many of these Obama-era precedents did not get the left’s “creeping fascism” sense tingling at the time. To rend garments over these actions now only because the Trump White House is undertaking them is not just unwise; it’s insulting.

The whole thing – by Noah Rothman – is worth a read.

Poke The Rat

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

New York Times writes about Milo Yiannopoulos’ new bookFirst line of the story says Milo is “infamous” and a “Donald J. Trump” supporter. 

 Infamous – as in “a day that will live in infamy?”  He’s that bad?  Care to give us any examples, show us any bodies?  Guess not.

 And who the Hell is Donald J. Trump?  Is that the new President’s son?  Nephew?  Look, if you’re talking about the guy who just got elected President, why not call him that?  Identity would be certain and you could skip the middle initial, because there’d be no possibility any reader would confuse him with any other ‘President-elect Donald Trump.’

 Setting the tone of disapproval in the very first sentence is letting readers know we’re talking about a Bad Person that some publisher has unaccountably decided to publish.  Horrifying!  Other publishers didn’t want the book – might offend older and religious conservatives.  No wonder there’s controversy, as well there should be, from all right-thinking persons.  Oh, and one little detail that didn’t make the story . . . . it’s the #1 New Release on Amazon, presently ranking up there with Fahrenheit 451 in Censorship and Politics.  

 Hasn’t even been released yet, doesn’t come out until March, and it’s selling like hotcakes. Astonishing that a publisher might be willing to print a best seller.  What were they thinking?

 I’ve read some of Milo’s stuff.  He’s a gay British guy with a Greek last name so you might assume he’s a typical Liberal twit but no, he’s funny and completely unafraid to say what ordinary Joes like me are thinking.  I’ve never paid $13.99 for a Kindle book before.  This just might be the start, if for no other reason than to poke a stick in the eye of the New York Times.

 Joe Doakes

Remember when dissent was a virtue…

…well, some of it is, again.

Milo, and most of you, and me?  We’re not the right kind of dissent.

Journalism Without Limits!

Well, the title is a little misleading.  Where I wrote “without limits”, I guess I what I meant was “no bottom to the barrel”.

Because in the arc of downfall for the City Pages, from its heady days in the eighties publishing James Lileks, and its journalistic peak in the nineties, where they ran a lot of excellent reporting, the CP just keeps falling.

And every time I think “they can’t possibly get any worse as reporters?”   They somehow pull it off.

I didn’t think they could get any worse than Dan Haugen’s factual malaprops – but sure enough, Kevin Hoffman was right there with the onanistic panty-sniffing disguised as high-school-caliber schadefreud.  From thence, we’ve had a couple years of the ongoing gift of hilarity that is Corey Zurowski’s writing, which has been its own reward.

So given that the City Pages seems to have no lower limit, I’ll refrain from saying Pete Kotz’s piece about the GOP’s pushback on cities trying to jam down $15 minimum wage laws bespeaks any descent below any journalistic or factual pale.

Because there’s always more ground below the barrel.

But oh, lord – it’s getting worse.

Continue reading

Layers And Layers Of Gatekeepers, Part MMMLXVIII

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is leaving a downtown Saint Paul bar after happy hour with friends.  

As he fumbles for his keys by his car, MyLyssa SILBERMAN, reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, steps out of an organic tax accountant office.  Dressed in a hemp power skirt, her brunette-but-slightly-prematurely-gray hair cut into the style known as “ELCA Hair”, she wrinkles her nose on encountering BERG.

SILBERMAN:  Er, hello, Merg.

BERG:  MyLyssa.  A pleasure (He finds his car key)

SILBERMAN:  You and your show and blog are “fake news”

BERG:  Huh.  You don’t say.  Why’s that?

SILBERMAN:  You don’t have a staff of fact-checkers.

BERG:  .Like the Washington Post.

SILBERMAN:  Exactly.  The Washington Post has layers and layers of gatekeepers and factcheckers, all trained at Ivy League journalism schools to the highest standard of the journalistic craft.

BERG:  The WaPo ran a story last week about Russian hackers trying to bring down the Vermont power grid.  Until it turned out it wasn’t; just some malware on a laptop that wasn’t connected to any grid other than an AC plug.  Then they revised the story, and tried to re-focus it under the radar while going “um, nothing to see here” about their earlier claim that Russians  were trying to bring down the US power supply.

SILBERMAN:  Right.  The fact-checking worked.

BERG:  The “fact-checking” was entirely external to the Washington Post.  They were “fact-checked” by their audience and the rest of the media.  No different than my blog.

SILBERMAN:  No, Merg.  That’s false.  And I’ll tell you why.

BERG:  OK.  You do that.

SILBERMAN:  The person who pushed “publish” on the online revision?

BERG:  Yes…?

SILBERMAN:  And the person who started the printing presses?

BERG:  Right?  Yes?

SILBERMAN:  They were Washington Post employees.  Without them, the correction would have never gotten out.

BERG:  Huh .

SILBERMAN:  Also, you are a white male.  (Looks at bare wrist)  Oh, look at the time.  (Steps back into accountants office).

BERG:  (Rolls eyes, climbs into car)

And SCENE.

The Best Threat Money Can Fabricate

I’ll say it here and now:  “right wing terrorism” is a boogeyman that the left has been floating out there for decades to try to create a sense of urgency and alarm among their base.

There certainly has been some terror associated with the…well, not “the right”, per se; more like “the non-left”.  The “Klan” has nothing to do with mainstream American conservatism, much less the GOP, and never has.  Tim McVeigh was neither conservative nor Christian.  And by the time of the Murragh building bombing, even that wave of activity, whatever it was, was on the wane.

But with Donald Trump, a GOP Congress, 2/3 of America’s state legislative chambers in GOP hands, and a solid conservative Cabinet waiting to take office in less than three weeks, the left has been stepping up its efforts to create hysteria about “right wing” boogeymen under everyone’s couches – whatever the cost.

Cut to the “A and E Network’s recently-aborted documentary about The Klan.

Well, no.  Not about “the Klan”.  About a Venice, California-based documentary maker’s narrative about what “The Klan” was supposed to be like, whatever it took (emphasis added by me):

The KKK leaders who were interviewed by Variety detailed how they were wooed with promises the program would capture the truth about life in the organization; encouraged not to file taxes on cash payments for agreeing to participate in the filming; presented with pre-scripted fictional story scenarios; instructed what to say on camera; asked to misrepresent their actual identities, motivations and relationships with others, and re-enacted camera shoots repeatedly until the production team was satisfied.

The production team even paid for material and equipment to construct and burn wooden crosses and Nazi swastikas, according to multiple sources including Richard Nichols, who is one of the featured subjects of the documentary series as the Grand Dragon of a KKK cell known as the Tennessee White Knights of the Invisible Empire. He also said he was encouraged by a producer to use the epithet “nigger” in interviews.

“We were betrayed by the producers and A&E,” said Nichols. “It was all made up—pretty much everything we said and did was fake and because that is what the film people told us to do and say.

Rest assured, it’s not just a couple of hack producers for a hack cable network.  “Journo-list 2.0”, wherever and whatever and whoever it is, and the leadership of the American left itself are layout out this narrative from the top, and pushing it through the entire media.

What Is Best In Life?

In the TV series MASH, there was an episode featuring a statistician – an Army officer who predicted how many men would be killed or wounded given the parameters of an upcoming battle.    To the statistician character, it was all about numbers – “just business, nothing personal”, to invoke a line from a different seventies production.  To surgeon Hawkeye Pierce, the character who had to try to patch together the actual men behind the numbers, is was in fact personal.

At the end of the episode, losing his temper at the statistician, after showing the geek through the operating room, Pierce yells “the thing I hate about you isn’t that you’re good at your job.  I hate you for liking it so much”.

I have a similar reaction to people who try to boil all human behavior down into numbers, statistics and analytical models.

If blogs existed 50-60 years ago, a story like this would be accompanied by a photo like this. Good thing this is 2016, right?

Now, before you launch into some misguided jape about conservatives hating science, remember – part of my day job is, well, boiling down human behavior into numbers, stats and patterns.  A bigger part, at least for me, is finding the qualitative answer behind the numbers.

But I digress.  Among the many joys of this past election – the potential for a safe SCOTUS, a solid cabinet, no Hillary, no leasing of US foreign policy to the Saudis and Qataris – was the complete collapse of analytics in predicting (and, via our media, shaping) this past election.

The ana­lyt­ic­al mod­els for both sides poin­ted to a Clin­ton vic­tory, al­beit not a run­away. The Clin­ton cam­paign and su­per PACs had sev­er­al of the most highly re­garded polling firms in the Demo­crat­ic Party, yet in the places that ended up mat­ter­ing, very little if any polling was done. So while 2016 wasn’t a vic­tory for tra­di­tion­al polling, it cer­tainly took a lot of the luster from ana­lyt­ics. In the end, big data mattered very little.

While tinkering with stats can be fun, I’ve long loathed notion that all of human behavior can be boiled down into numbers.   And I’ll admit, the schadenfreud when the geeks fail to do so is glorious.