The left, when it goes on its occasional jag of unearned intellectual superiority, is given to referring to itself as the “Reality-Based” community – as opposed to the conservative “Faith-Based” notion, which the left tends to regard as a quirk at least, a dangerous belief in superstition at worst.
Sally asks Suzy over for a play date. Suzy’s mother learns through neighborhood gossip that Sally’s family recently adopted a man-eating Bengal tiger named “Roscoe.”
The foreshadowing could have been more hamhanded, to be fair; she could have named the “tiger” “Pakinheet”.
Ignoring the advice from animal experts, Sally’s parents have decided not to enroll the family in tiger training due to their busy schedules.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Instead of keeping this known killer in a cage, the family lets it roam freely in the house. …The reason Sally’s parents decided to adopt Roscoe is for protection. They believe that simply owning an untrained beast will ward off any human predators who consider entering the house. Even though they live in a quiet and peaceful neighborhood, they feel one can never be too safe.
In Melissa Schulte’s special little world (where “peaceful neighborhoods” are immune to violent crime, naturally), a firearm is a carnivorous animal with intelligence and appetites of its own
An hour into the play date, the phone rings at Suzy’s house. Her parents answer to the sound of sobbing on the other end. It seems the warnings about Roscoe just fueled Suzy’s curiosity, and she could not resist a look at the beast.
Look – if you own – a gun, keep it as secure as you need to given your circumstances. That’s just common sense.
Nobody wants to get that call – or be responsible for it.
But this post isn’t about gun safety. It’s about how very badly-informed our neighbors are. Schulte:
Would you believe that nearly 40 percent of American households have a Roscoe in their midst?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Roscoes,” otherwise known as guns [Ms. Schulte; the American Academy of Ham-fisted Symbolism has revoked your card from over-use - Ed], cause twice as many deaths in young people as does cancer, five times as many as heart disease and 15 times as many as infections.
Which means the American Academy of Pediatrics needs to have its figures audited. The CDC puts the number around 70 children a year killed by firearm accidents. Every one was a tragedy, every one could have been avoided – but it’s a tiny fraction of the number killed every year in the swimming pools that “Suzy” swims in, the car that “Suzy’s” parents drive or even from falling off ladders and playground equipment.
Despite the shocking statistics showing that household firearms are infinitely more dangerous to the people inside the home than any outside threat, gun owners still become indignant when the government attempts to moderate their Second Amendment rights.
Actually, we get indignant when newspapers like the Strib broadcast twaddle like the above paragraph without any check. It is quite simply a lie, devolved from a 1993 study media wrenched out of context, and that in fact showed that provided nobody in the house is an alcoholic, drug addict, or has a criminal record, a firearm is 400 times more likely to deter a crime than hurt someone unjustifiably.
THAT makes us indignant.
Many gun advocates justify their stance by saying the problem is not the gun; the issue is the irresponsible gun owners who leave weapons available to children.
However, without strict laws as to how firearms should be stored in the home, most guns are as unpredictable in their potential to kill as a man-eating animal.
Remember – the left calls the right “superstitious” and “Irrational”.
I got this email from a friend of mine who works in a sector that interacts closely with government:
Earlier this year staff members of a Minnesota Congressional Delegation met with workers of a state agency to discuss the sequester. They asked the gathered workers to relate stories of how the sequester was hurting Minnesotans. None of the gathered workers could think of any immediate problems but assured the delegation that they would send along anything they could.
Mitch, perhaps someone will take up the mantle of “the sequester hurt very few.”
And oh, the tidings of woe the Strib “found”. I’ll let you read it on your own.
Now, I have no hard evidence on which to base my conclusion; just a couple of observations.
First: Journalists rarely stumble upon their own stories. The myth of the old school gumshoe reporter hanging around city hall or the Capitol looking for isolated threads of a story to start pulling does exist – largely in places with Republican politicians. But they get stories fed to them, too, by special interests.
So why did theStribfind tales of sequestration horror that nobody else could find? Because somebody – meaning “some group or organization that either lives off of government, or works to further the politics of those who do” – fed them the story.
As I’ve noted a few times in this space, the cultural left, regionally and nationally, is in a panic over the news that the libertarian-conservative Koch Brotehrs are pondering buying some newspapers, including the Tribune Group.
Last week in the MinnPost – a web publication formed by a former Strib publisher which serves largely as an afterparty for an array of former Strib, PiPress and City Pages writers – Eric Black has a story on the potential Koch purchase of theStrib, told in a tone that reminded me of a scary story a parent might tell a fussy toddler to keep them from jumping out of bed:
Businessman Mike Sweeney, currently serving as chairman of the Star Tribune, says it’s the best gig he’s ever had. He says that covering government in a one-party state presents special challenges to a newspaper. He asserts that the paper is living down its old “Red Star” reputation. And he completely rejects the popular canard that the paper’s economic interest in the new Vikings stadium influences its coverage.
Leave aside the patent balderdash of the Vikings reference; it remained to regional conservative blogs to show the gaping holes in the revenue plan for which theStribwas a constant cheerleader.
I’m more interested in the “Red Star” bit. Black goes into no details – but his wording implies that Sweeney indicated that there was a “Red Star” reputation to “live down”?
That would be a big admission, coming from a paper whose party line for forty years has been that they are they objective center, and it’s their critics who are the extremists.
It might have been an interesting subject for inquiry, depending on who attended the conversation – but as Black notes…:
In an interview with Larry Jacobs at the Humphrey School Tuesday…
…only our media and academic Brahmin “elites” are ever invited to that conversation.
Which may be why the conversation always reaches the same conclusion.
Anyway, on to the chase:
Oh, and Sweeney said that when the current ownership wants to sell the paper – a time that is in the foreseeable future – if the only willing buyers are the Koch brothers, then such a sale could happen.
Cue the scary music.
The “K” word has been uttered.
The question arose on a question from the audience, undoubtedly inspired by some recent suggestions that the Kochs might experiment with buying newspapers.
“The time is coming when Wayzata Investment Partners [the partnership that owns the biggest share of the Strib] will want to sell. I spent time on it today,” he said. The owners are certainly interested in what price their property will fetch, but they are also mindful that to a city like Minneapolis, a newspaper like the Strib is a “community asset.”
“We also have a special role in the community,” Sweeney said. He said “community asset” more than once. I assume that’s supposed to imply that owners would allow certain non-financial considerations to enter their thinking.
His attempt to imply what he wasn’t willing to say caused Jacobs to tell him that he was leaving the possibility of a Koch purchase “up in the air.” So Sweeney tried to leave it at this: When the owners are ready to sell, if the only offer they get comes from the Koch Brothers, “it could happen.”
You can take that how you choose. My best guess is that that’s something of a warning to other potential buyers not to put the current accidental owners in that position.
There’s so much to talk about in those five grafs:
What Community? – Sweeney asserts a statement that is itself a question that the entire regional left begs; the Strib is an asset to the community.
The obvious response is - no, it’s not, it’s a business, albeit one that’s enjoyed a few decades as the senior partner in a duopoly in a dying industry – someone needs to ask the question “so what part of the paper does Sweeney consider to be the “community asset?”".
So what’s the asset?: Is it the existence of a newspaper, period? Well, a Koch Brothers purchase would probably put that existence on firmer ground, even if they didn’t change a single thing. And if, as seems likely, they do as Fox News did – run a straight news operation with an overtly conservative editorial board and columnist slate, more or less exactly the opposite of the Strib we’ve known this past fifty years – then voila, there’d be no change!
But it’s not the existence of a newspaper that matters to them; it’s the existence of a center-left newspaper with an editorial board and columnist bullpent and newsroom culture that carries the water for the soft-left DFL establishment in this state, that’s the important part. That is the only thing threatened by a hypothetical Koch takeover – in the same way that Abraham Lincoln’s head was the only thing John Wilkes Booth ruined in the production at the Ford Theater.
A Community Let Down: No surprise here; I think that if the Strib wants to claim to be a “community asset”, it has a tough hill to climb.
But let’s take Sweeney and Black at their words; let’s say the Strib is a community benefit.
It’s a business. Romantic (and wrong) notions that the Strib ever served a higher purpose are subject to all sorts of debates among journalists and news consumers – but Sweeney has a fiduciary responsibility to his investors to get the best return he can.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails in re the Wisconsin legislature voting to evict a liberal “watchdog journalism” group from the UW Madison offices they’ve been occupying rent-free.
Journalists are the next favored minority? So they must continue to receive free rent at the public university? Or else it’s a huge Republican scandal?
The numbers are not working. They claim to be operating on a $400,000 budget. I don’t believe that for one second. Not with 4 paid “professional staff” and 4 interns, paid. Even with free rent, utilities, paper and donuts I don’t believe they would meet that budget. I just don’t believe they are paying themselves low enough salaries to make that number work. So that tells me there is hidden money funding them in addition to other support, like the free rent, utilities, donuts and paper.That’s the real issue. The U at Madison, a bastion of liberal nonsense, is funneling taxpayer resources into a Liberal organization by the backdoor. So lock the door. Makes sense to me.
This is what responsible adults do when cutting the budget – they throw out the freeloaders. This group has never heard of that notion because they live in Madison, a responsible-adult-free zone.
Joe links to a Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel piece in the Pioneer Press, which sets up the story:
An independent, nonpartisan investigative journalism organization facing expulsion from its offices at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is doing what one would expect from an investigative journalism organization.
“We are mounting an aggressive response,” said Andy Hall, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Hall was granting interviews Wednesday with media and watchdog journalists and bloggers across the country.
Whenever the media strenuously claims another media organization is “independent and non-partisan”, you may be assured they are not.
And if knowing them by their sponsors doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, then know them by their work:
In 2011, the center broke the story about state Supreme Court Justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley getting into a physical altercation.
The “story” they “broke” turned out to be a gross distortion that the “WCIJ” spun into a political stunt to benefit the Wisconsin Democrat party as they got ready to wage the battle over the legislative and gubernatorial recount. The WCIJ is no less a bunch of partisan hacks than their fellow Soros project, the late, unlamented Minnesota Independent (and, it’d seem, its up-market replacement the MinnPost).
The freeloading “journalists” should not only be expelled from their publicly-funded digs, they should be perp-walked out while being pelted with rocks and garbage.
The MInnPost is an organization I’d very much like to respect. It includes a raft of people I’ve considered good reporters.
But over the course of Minnesota’s gun debate over this past session – brought on by Minnesota DFL legislators launching a raft of authoritarian gun bills, including at least one that called for confiscation of certain firearms – the MInnPost has shown a very crafty bias toward the anti-Second-Amendment crowd. From Erik Black’s series suggesting that the Second Amendment was just too complicated for modern people, to the fawning coverage the entire publication gives Heather Martens (“Executive Director” and one of very, very few actual members of “Protect Minnesota”), down to Doug Grow’s apparently pre-written slime job on Representative Hilstrom’s compromise “good gun bill” during the past session, the MinnPost has supported the orthodox anti-gun line to a fault.
No, correlation doesn’t equal causation. The fact that the MinnPost threw all sense of objectivity and journalistic detachment to the wind this past session on the gun issue and getting a nice-sized grant from a group that has bankrolled anti-gun groups around the country for over a decade could be purely a coincidence. And it’s not like opposing the Second Amendment doesn’t come along with the left-of-center beliefs most of the staff hold.
Given the outcome of the legislative session, the tone of Tuesday night’s meeting sponsored by Protect Minnesota was surprising.
Heather Martens, who leads the organization that long has been a force for advocating for stricter gun-control laws, urged the 23 people who attended the North Minneapolis meeting to think about the “successes” that came out of the session.
On first blush, that may seem like a hard thing to do, given that gun-rights organizations got all they wanted: No universal background checks, no limits on magazine capacities, no assault rifle bans.
But “Protect Minnesota” doesn’t exist to convince people. It exists to manipulate the media – and, via them, the people.
Confederates! With Guns! Defending Slavery!
Which may be what led to this next statement by Grow (with emphasis added):
And by the end of session, cowed legislators refused to even have a floor vote on anything resembling major gun-law change.
That’s just wrong.
The legislators weren’t so much “cowed” as organizing behind Deb Hilstrom’s Good Gun Bill (Ortmann’s in the Senate). Half of the House, comprising reps on both sides of the aisle, co-authored her compromise bill. And when the backroom “negotiations” between the metro DFLers (who were carrying Heather Martens’ water to the point that one, Rep. Alice Hausman, let Heather Martens do her job for her) broke down, the bills were scuppered from the floor by a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and responsible outstate DFLers.
But that doesn’t fit the “big bad NRA!” narrative, does it?
History Is Written By Those With The Printing Presses
Grow carries on his stenography for Martens (emphasis added):
Martens told the group there was victory in the bipartisan support for $1 million to fund a law that requires the state to file data with the feds on those who should be prohibited from owning firearms.
The law requiring the state to file the data was passed in 2009 but was never funded, essentially making it useless.
Will Grow mention that it was a DFL legislature that scuppered that funding? The metrocrat Democrats didn’t want a bipartisan-backed background check to give the impression that it worked better than actual harassment of the law-abiding citizen.
“But Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln…”
Grow feels obliged to list the outcome of the tiny group’s self-therapy session:
Phone-banking (more than 1,000 calls to legislators sitting on the fence).
Legislators reported that constituent calls ran at least 50:1 against the DFL’s bills.
Media coverage was complete.
Yeah, the suspense was killing us on that one.
That’s what Heather Martens does – get friendly media coverage. She’s the Larry Jacobs of the gun issue – the one, single, sole person that every Twin Cities “journalist” calls for the left’s take on guns in Minnesota.
We’ll come back to that.
“Wait – That Was Your “Intellectual” Argument?”
One of the other “Successes”, according to Grow:
Finding a “visceral” message, one that appeals to the emotions as well as the intellect.
I got a laugh there.
Emotion is the only message Heather Martens’ group has! Talk with any of her group’s “members”, I dare you. You’ll get a broadside of anger and grief over Sandy Hook (but never, ever Chicago, or any other crime scene where the kids don’t look like the children of NPR executives) – and not even the faintest whiff of an “intellectual” message.
Although, as always, I do invite Heather Martens on the NARN to make that “intellectual” case. I’ve been asking for nine years, now.
You Don’t Do Business Against The Family
As Martens via Grow noted above, one of their “successes” was “complete” media coverage.
Now, there’s no surprise there. Most of the media editors and producers in the Twin Cities support gun control. Other reporters, I suspect, haven’t the depth of knowledge on the issue to know that pretty much everything Heather Martens has ever said on the issue is a lie.
But Doug Grow’s piece – really, his entire history covering Martens for the MinnPost – has been at a level of obsequious fawning that outstrips the rest of the media.
Well, I’ve got a theory. And remember – it’s just a theory. I’ve got nothing but circumstantial evidence to back it up.
But do you remember way up above, where we pointed out that the MInnPost gets big bucks from the anti-gun Joyce Foundation?
This might not be “conflict of interest” for Grow, in any actionable sense of the term. But I’d think that identifying the fact that both Doug Grow’s and Rep. Martens’ jobs are paid for, in whole or part, by a non-profit supported by liberal plutocrats that is the single major funder of anti-gun organizations might have been worth a mention.
Again, correlation doesn’t equal causation.
But given the complete abandonment of any sense of balance or concern for fact on the part of the MinnPost in covering the Second Amendment issue – not to mention Grow’s obsequious. fawning, toenail-painting coverage of Martens and her “group” this session - ”causation” doesn’t seem like a big stretch.
MPR’s Daily Current – whose Keri Miller is as reliable a PR flak as the DFL has – talked about the upcoming Governor’s race – with a panel of media libs:
After the Friday Roundtable taping wrapped up, Kerri threw one more question to our guests off the air: “Who is emerging as a GOP candidate to challenge Dayton?”
Patricia Lopez: “I don’t even know if that name is out there yet.”
Steve Perry: “The name I keep hearing in sort of an ‘if only’ vein from Republicans is Julie Rosen.”
Lopez: “She has not said ‘no’ and [I heard her give] what sure sounded like a stump speech. She just dropped by the office and I thought, ‘That sure sounded like a stump speech.’”
Brian Bakst: “She would be headed for a primary no matter what, though, because that stadium legislation that she co-sponsored would be a non-sale within the convention.”
Rosen’s generally good, with a few unfortunate traits, most notably her penchant for being among the first to work “across the aisle” – an inevitable last resort when you’re in the minority…
…which she was not, back in 2012, she led a small group of Republicans to ingratiate themselves with Helga Braid Nation without bothering to get any spending concessions from the Governor.
Of course, working with the DFL sans quid pro quo is one of the key criteria on getting the media to accept you…
I direct you to Berg’s Eleventh Law (“The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected.”) and its various corollaries, especially the McCain Corollary (“If that respected conservative ever develops a chance of getting elected, that “respect” will turn to blind unreasoning hatred overnight”). You may be certain that if Keri Miller and Patricia Lopez are talking up Julie Rosen, that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has a campaign in the pocket against her, all ready to go.
Perhaps “Julie Rosen: Stadiums for the 1%”.
Lopez – the editor of that notable bellwether for conservatives, the Strib - notes:
Lopez: “Think about how hard it would be for Dayton to run against a moderate, Republican woman. Yikes.”
I’m not saying Rosen might not be an excellent candidate. I’m willing to be persuaded. Seriously.
But the fact that a round table of de facto DFL apparatchiks – Steve Perry, for Stu’s sake – are mutedly humming her praises can’t be a good thing, right off the bat.
Bill Glahn notes with appropriate incredulitythat Governor Messinger Dayton, who has presided over a government that has jacked up taxes, increased the state’s bureaucracy, and eliminated the sunset commission that was intended to prune the glut of superannuated state commissions that put help put the “big” in “Big Minnesota Government”, is now trying to wrap himself in libertarianism:
Republicans have tried to frame Dayton as a big-government, big-taxing Democrat. But his government streamlining pitch could appeal to independents, who could become a make-or-break factor in his re-election chances. Dayton’s approval among independents has slipped in recent polls.
Glahn, with emphasis added:
I suppose the Star Tribune could be correct. If independents have not been paying attention at all to state government in the last three years, then yes, a reform message may hold some appeal. Unlike the Star Tribune, I suspect that Dayton’s falling approval rating among independents is evidence that they have been paying attention to state government, and are not liking what they are seeing under one-party rule.
As the head of the executive branch of state government, Dayton could start streamlining any day. If permitting is cumbersome, he can change that. He needn’t wait for another election, or even another session of the legislature.
I agree with Bill – but I think he’s being too pollyannaish.
I think the Strib suspects the same thing – that Messinger Dayton needs his polling among indies buffed up.
And, being as they are part of Messinger Dayton’s Praetorian Guard, they are putting the story out there precisely to do exactly that; to give the DFL a chanting point for the 2014 campaign; “Dayton – the real liberty candidate!”
Attkisson is a dogged reporter, driven by a strong skepticism of government. Producers at CBS News once nicknamed her “Pit Bull,” a source said, because she gets on a story and won’t let go. But that is seen as both a strength and a weakness. Her drive can produce great journalism, but it can also cause her to push stories to the point that colleagues — especially those of a more progressive bent — suspect a political agenda.
Didja catch that? Doing what was one called a journalist’s “Job”, reporting on government, is now evidence of an agenda.
Anyway, it’s worth a read.
And it’s worth wondering – what if the Twin Cities had a reporter like this? One that cared more about reporting news than being accepted by the Twin Cities’ “elites?” Other than Tom Hauser, I mean?
The DFL is running amok, enacting all kinds of seriously stupid legislation. And it’s the Republicans’ fault, because they’re not holding them back.
The Republicans ran for election on social issues, which the Strib ridiculed at the time, and lost. Now, the DFL is pushing through their extremely leftist versions of the same social issues the Strib mocked the Republicans for running on.
You hated our opinions when we were running for office so you did everything in your power to make sure we didn’t get elected. But now that we aren’t in office because we didn’t get elected, you blame us for that, too.
He references a column by Strib board chair Mike Sweeney; you should read the link.
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…