Civil Disobedience

I’ll confess – I never thought I’d see the Catholic Church act up against big government.

The Missouri Synod Lutherans? Sure. But Twin Cities catholics? I’d given up hope.

Happy to admit I got that one wrong.

Minnesota’s collection of Bishops have joined with the conservative Missouri Synod Lutherans to defy the Governor’s absurd “10 people in church” order.

So we’re clear on this – to an administration full of people who roil with contempt for business, faith and science, fifty people on a restaurant patio is juuuust fine. Eleven people in a church, whether a tiny United Church of Christ congregation in Eveleth or the Cathedral of Saint Paul, or the Living Word megachurch for that matter? Not.

I’ve been personally pretty cautious and conservative about my own interactions with people – but the Walz Administration has “departed controlled flight”, reason-wise. I’m sure their goal isn’t to actively breed contempt and disrespect for government – but if they were, I’m at a loss for how they’d do it differently.

The Bishops’ letter is below the jump.

Continue reading

Tone Deaf

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

600,000 Minnesotans lost their jobs this Spring. The $1.5 billion surplus is now a $2.5 billion deficit.  DFL legislators want to give 50,000 state employees a 2% raise in July.
 
My thought: there are 50,000 state employees?  That’s a lot of bureaucrats.  And it does not include all government employees – teachers, county or city – only state government.  Are we sure that’s as lean as we can get?  No fat to trim?  None?
 
The Republicans are holding strong, for now.  Let the state employees strike.  Give them a taste of their own medicine, going without pay like so many others.  
 
State employee unions hold Walz’ leash.  Time to give it a yank.  
 
Joe Doakes

Being a public employee union makes you not only “essential”, but more valuable to Tim Walz’s Minnesota than the people who are paying the taxes to support them.

If Daudt and the House GOP give up their cards on the bonding bill, I may go back to the Libertarians after all.

Government By Slogan

Gym class is one of few parts of high school – mostly junior high – that I’ve actively tried to blot from my mind. Don’t get me wrong – some of the gym teachers at my high school might not have been sadistic sociopaths. Some of them may have grown as human beings. I’ll leave it to divine judgment.

I do remember that many of ’em, when they weren’t articulating the humor they found in making the less team-sports-inclined kids feel like fish out of water, communicated primarily in slogans, to the depth of “no pain no gain” and “loooong slow distance” and other such repositories of the wisdom of Western Civilization. I don’t remember much, but I remember the slogans.

I thought about that when Governor Walz explained his new testing policy on Friday. Emphasis added by me:

Gov. Tim Walz coined the phrase “Minnesota moonshot” to refer to his goal for COVID-19 testing in the coming weeks.

It’s a “moonshot” because the level of testing he says is necessary is hard to imagine in current conditions.

Over the past six weeks, Minnesota labs have run more than 39,000 total tests statewide. Before the state begins returning to normal, Walz said he was aiming for some 5,000 tests per day or 40,000 a week.

And another story came out Friday as well, spelling out the details. I’ve added some emphasis:

Walz has said that a massive increase in testing — both tests that diagnose people who have the virus and tests that determine whether someone has developed antibodies to fight the virus — is necessary to restart parts of the economy.

Walz is planning to use $36 million from a state COVID-19 fund for the first phase of a several-step process: A three- to four-week period in which Mayo Clinic and the U of M will create a central lab to accommodate the expanded testing. Clinics and hospitals around the state will also be ramping up their efforts to take samples from potentially infected patients, which they will then send to that new central lab

The state is also planning to establish a virtual command center, to coordinate the state’s response with health care systems across Minnesota. The center would help determine where the tests are needed most on a given day, and how best to quickly address outbreaks that occur.

A new website, in which patients can see exactly where all the testing sites are among other resources, is also in the works.

Well, I”m glad there’s a plan.

Or was, anyway.

The sharp-eyed among you, and those that still pay attention to the Minnesota media, may have noticed something – the first story, announcing the Governor’s “moon shot”, was a month ago, and the bit with the “details” – really, a list of aspirations fit entirely for public relations use, which is all it takes for most Twin Cities media to run the story – came out a week later. A month after the “moonshot”, after the “three to four weeks” the governor called out for getting the state – with its formidable concentration of hospitals and immense public health bureaucracy – up to 20K tests a day, we’re noodling along around 5,000, on a good day, and that’s pretty recent.

And you can scan the Twin Cities media every day looking for any sign that a single reporter is going to follow up on the complete flop that Walz’s slogan turned into.

Not only are we testing at 3/4 the rate of South Dakota, and 1/3 the rate of North Dakota – we’re lagging every Minnesota “progressive’s” rhetorical punching bag, Mississippi, by a solid quarter.

Governor Walz is a gym teacher. God love gym teachers – but chanting “no pain, no gain” isn’t going to move any needles.

Not outside of Twin Cities newsrooms, anyway.

Science Fiction

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Pretend Covid is a Science Fiction/Fantasy story.

***

President Trump is at the table with his senior advisors, discussing how
to deal with Covid.  Suddenly, a being appears in the room.  Eight feet
tall, red, horns and tail, leering.  People scream, Secret Service try
to rush the President out but the doors won’t open.  They shoot but the
bullets fall to the floor without harming the being.  Eventually, the
being flicks his fingers and everyone freezes in place.

“Enough.  I’m here to collect my due.  You – Orange Man – you’re going
to do exactly as I tell you.  Understand?”

The Orange Man does nothing.  “Oh, my bad,” the being says, flicking his
fingers at the Orange Man, who is suddenly able to move.

“Who are you?  What do you want?”

“I’ve been known by many names but I like the first one, best.  I am the
Light Bringer.  I brought you the opportunity for total power, through
the Covid virus.  And you wasted it!  You idiot – you had the perfect
chance to declare martial law, drain the swamp, clean out the Deep
State, cripple your enemies, restore your country’s greatness and
establish a world-wide empire – but instead you let those morons in the
state capitols run around like idiots ordering people to Stay Home and
now the economy is in such bad shape you’re in danger of losing
everything I gave you.  Well, that’s going to change.  You’re going on
television.  You’re going to announce that you can cure Covid,
completely.  That nobody will ever die from that virus again, anywhere,
in the whole world.  And all it’s going to take is one small favor.”

“What favor?”

“I want you to sacrifice your son to me.  Kill that one person, and
everyone else is saved.”

“Are you kidding?  That’s ridiculous.  I’m not doing that.”

“Why not?  There’s historical precedent.  Abraham was willing. Ivan the
Terrible and Peter the Great both did it,  Herod killed two of his
sons.  What’s the problem?  Any sacrifice is worth it, if it saves even
one life, right?”

***

If it saves even one life.  Now we know where that idea comes from.

Joe Doakes

After the news about the state’s Covid modelers, it doesn’t even seem all that terribly far-fetched.

Models: Garbage In, Garbage Out

I watched Governor Walz’s presser last night. My impressions (borrowing a bit from David Strom):

Old And In The Way – The data used in this model is 3 weeks old. The pandemic is three months old in Minnesota at this point. That means the model is ignoring a solid quarter, almost a third, of the data available – and, being most recent, very possibly the best data. I hate to throw the word “useless” around willy-nilly – but if this alone doesn’t make the model useless, I’m completely bumfuzzled.

Older And Out Of The Way – The model don’t distinguish between populations in hotspots like Hennepin County and the rest of the state. In Minnesota, at present,99% of the Covid deaths are concentrated in 3% of the population. 80+% of the deaths involve 1% of the state. And yet they apply those percentages to the entire population. This is the sort of thing that’d get sent back for rework in the private sector.

And basing mortality predictions across the entire population on numbers that are so flawed at the concept level is bad math at best, dishonest at worst, and a tool used to deceive the people either way – the equivalent of a Star-Tribune poll that draws statewide conclusions based on a massive oversampling of Minneapolis DFLers.

Under Bus Shoved – And since the overwhelming majority of deaths involve people in long term care, the model tacitly assumes that nursing home residents will do nothing whatsoever to protect their population. Which is possible, although there are a whoooole lot of lawyers out there who will likely impel them to try to do a lot better than they are, sooner than later.

The model banks on long-term incompetence – natural, perhaps, for bureaucrats, but not necessarily representative of the population at large.

Conclusion – the Walz administration is using this model to flim-flam a state that, signs show, is getting tired of being lied, condescended and talked down to.

You Get The Government You Pay For

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Campaign contributions for exemption. Nice.

There is speculation that the revelation that the “World’s Largest Candy Store”‘s getting rated as “essential” because their owner is friends with and a donor to Waltz created optics that were starting to hurt Walz, and between that and the fact that Minnesotans are actually acting less sociallyi-distant than Georgians (who opened up to great calumny a few weeks back, and aren’t dying off in droves) led to yesterday’s modest, token relaxation of the shutdown.

We certainly see what it takes to get the governor’s attention.

Techno Peasants, Arise!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There’s definite technological and age bias in the Governor’s Stay Home order.
Sure, curbside and drive-thru are open. But to pick up at the curbside, you must place an online order, and I can never make their menu website work. Old people are less tech-savvy. The order is age discrimination.

And to go through the drive-thru takes a million years because all the people who formerly parked to go inside and talk to one of the three order-takers at the counter, are now waiting to talk to the one order-taker on the tinny box. Cars at Chick-fil-A are backed up all around the parking lot, out across the driving lane, all the way to Barnes & Noble. I can never understand what the order-taker is squawking. Probably slight loss of hearing, what with being old and all. Again, more age discrimination.

What was wrong with going to Keys, sitting in a booth where the nice lady would take my order for meatloaf, bring me some water and bread, I could relax and read a book until my order came?

Joe Doakes

I’m thinking about building a replica of Mickey’s Diner (the one on West 7th, not downtown) in my basement.

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

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

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

Oh, yeah – and testing?

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

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

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

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

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

Suppose Minnesota will learn the lesson?

Just One Life

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Governor Walz killed a man today.  He won’t be prosecuted for it. He’s
safe behind papers and attorneys and statutes.  But the man is dead by
Governor Walz’ act, same as if he’d done the deed in person.

Governor Walz killed a health care worker today.  The dead man was laid
off from a hospital.  They couldn’t afford to keep him. They were losing
too much money since the Governor banned non-emergency medical treatment
to keep hospital beds open for the surge of Covid patients that never
came.  But for the shut-down, the dead man would have been at work,
caring for patients, doing what he loved.

Governor Walz killed a father today.  The dead man was married, with
children ranging from 3 to 9 years old.  His wife is still in shock.
Family is staying with her.  The older ones are quiet, trying to
understand.  The little ones hear: “Daddy’s gone to Heaven” and ask:
“Yes, but when is he coming home?”  They don’t understand why he’s never
coming home.  None of us do. There will be no visitation, no memorial. 
They are illegal.

Governor Walz killed a son today.  The dead man’s parents still live in
the house he grew up in.  The father, in his 90’s, crying, asking, “Why
him, Lord?  Why not me? He had so much to live for.” The Governor claims
he had to shut down everything to save lives. But the lives saved are
those like the father – old, sitting at home, waiting to die – which are
never weighed against the lives lost.

Governor Walz killed a brother today. He was the smartest of us all: honors graduate, advanced degrees, quick with a quip but heart as big as the world. He was my baby brother.

Joe Doakes

My condolences to Joe’s family – to say the least.

Pass it around.

Safety First

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

King Walz the First announced new emergency measures to combat the coronavirus.

Effective immediately, anyone entering a store to purchase groceries must stand on one foot and flap their arms like a chicken. The evidence proves that no person has died from the virus while doing that; therefore, it is the only sure guarantee of safety. That, plus washing your hands,

wearing your mask, and avoiding religious worship services, will save your life and the lives of others.”

When pressed for the details, King Walz’ press secretary admitted there was no scientific evidence flapping your arms like a chicken would work, but it would amuse the governor and therefore was mandatory. Failure would be prosecuted by $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.

Republicans in the state legislature were too embarrassed to seek to overturn the order. Instead, they were working on a bill to repeal the crime of adultery. “We have to get our priorities straight,” the Minority Leader said.

Joe Doakes, reporting live, from the capitol.

It’s only satire if it’s pretty much not true.

Press Conference

SCENE: THE PRESS natters away, focusing their cameras and exchanging black-market hair stylists, waiting for a conference with POLITICS, GOVERNMENT and REALITY.

Shortly, the three enter the room and move to the podium. POLITICS – a dapper, 30-something man with CEO hair and a perfectly cut suit, steps to the microphone.

POLITICS: Welcome, and thank you all for coming out to this joint press conference. We’re going try to take this opportunity to clarify our mutual, cooperative response to the Covid virus in Minnesota. Before we take questions, I’d just like to say “We’re all One Minnesota, and we’re all in this together. (). Anything to add?”

(GOVERNMENT, a morbidly obese woman in a frizzy red “Karen” hairdo and a slightly long in the tooth pants suit, sticks her head awkwardly in front of POLITICS to get to the mike).

GOVERNMENT: I’d just like to add, that not are we all not in this together and practicing a second or subsequent Minnesota is subject to reporting, citation and arrest.

POLITICS: Thanks, Government! Anything to add, Reality?

(REALITY, a slovenly man resembling a larger, fatter Danny DiVito, wearing an ill-fitting red track suit and carrying a Jimmy Johns sandwich whose paper wrapper he’s been rolling down like the skin of a banana, nudges himself to the mike.

REALITY: This process has remorselessly worked its say down to a series of haves and have nots. (Shrugs)

POLITICS: Thanks. Again, we’re all in complete agreement.

(PRESS nods as one)

POLITICS: Any questions?

PRESS (in unison): So when can MInnesota businesses return to normal?

POLITICS: We’ve developed, in cooperation with Government and Reality, a 12 step process of steps and levers that will be the red lines leading to re-opening. Care to elaborate, Government?

GOVERNMENT: Yes. I’d just like to say, I’ve never had a job outside the public sector, and I don’t actually trust businesses to do anything but exploit the people.

REALITY: You’ve got people who are neither scientists nor businesspeople making decisions for and on behalf of both. If you expect anything other than a glorified junior high school production of West Wing, you probably watched way too much of the actual West Wing.

POLITICS: Thanks. As I said, One Minnesota. Next question?

PRESS: What does the science tell us?

POLITICS: We are using the best data science tells us.

GOVERNMENT: Anyone using or repeating information from scientists not on the approved list will be facing serious consequences.

REALITY: The “science” is being applied via a layer of sociology, and at best everyone is winging it and nobody has a clue what the future holds.

POLITICS: Thanks. We are all in this together. Next question?

PRESS: What are your current preconditions for getting back to normal.

POLITICIANS: Well, obviously, sufficient testing.

GOVERNMENT: We have chosen the figure of 20,000 tests a day, for no reason that we choose to make available to you.

REALITY: And she could say 1,000, or 10,000, or eleventy-teen million, because after a month of yammering about testing, the daily tests performed are creeping along in the low four figures a day, and there is no visible indication that is changing, or for that matter that it’s going to matter, if indeed it turns out this epidemic has been active in the population since January.

POLITICS: Minnesota strong. Next question?

THE PRESS: Any others?

POLITICS: Standard public health practice would be to do contact tracing.

GOVERNMENT: Therefore, all MInnesotans must keep a list of all their contacts.

REALITY: This is pure fairy dust. Contact tracing is incredibly labor intensive work even for a disease with a fairly predictable means of transmission, like AIDS, and which spreads from symptomatic people, like Ebola. This is neither. Someone could unknowingly pass it on to hundreds of people before they knew they were sick. Contact tracing could be the CIvilian Conservation Corps project of the new millennium, employing hundreds of thousands of people, and we’d still never get it all done.

PRESS: How about a vaccine?

POLITICS: Our best and brightest are working 24/7 to try to develop one.

GOVERNMENT: We will be locked down until a vaccine is developed and tested, however long it takes.

REALITY: (Tosses the rest of the sandwich into his mouth, talks while chewing) Nobody has successfully developed a vaccine for a corona virus, and even if this is the first, it’ll take years – and if we shut down the entire economy nobody will be able to pay for the vaccine, much less developing it.

POLITICS: Last question?

PRESS: How about re-opening businesses?

POLITICS: We’ll re-open businesses according to the plan.

GOVERNMENT: And anyone not adhering to the common-sense, scientific plan will face consequences.

REALITY: (stifles a burp as he rumples up his now-empty Jimmy Johns bag) Look, the policy is utterly capricious today. There is literally no reason to keep a Walmart or a Menards open but shut down a Vape shop or a guitar store. There is literally no reason they can’t follow the same restrictions. Restaurants and bars and barber shops are more complicated, but do you honestly think a business owner is less suited to see to their own survival than… (nudges head toward GOVERNMENT).

POLITICS Well, thank you all for coming out. Remember – we’re one Minnesota…

PRESS: (as one) We’re One MInnesota…

POLITICS: And we’re all in this together.

PRESS: And we’re all in this together.

GOVERNMENT: Depart the room in an orderly fashion in the reverse order you came in, via the door you came though…

So Let Me See If I’ve Got This Straight

“We” – the Governor’s junta, at this point – can re-open Minnesota when we “have enough testing”, and we will be testing 20,000 people a day – or we will. We are assured is going to happen any day now.

Which we’ve been assured is happening any day now for over a month. And after a month of bureaucratic proclamations and excuses and deflection, we are testing about 10% of the rate that the governor says would make him talk about opening things up again.

And they wonder why people are protesting?

If The Tables Were Turned, Part 56,334,631

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“Governor Walz hates Black people and wants them to die.”

You know that would be the headline, if Walz were Republican.

Shutting down the schools is resulting in kids missing class, mostly Black children.  Walz is widening the achievement gap and condemning a generation of Black children to poverty and despair. 

Shutting down business resulted in layoffs, twice as many Blacks (25%) as Whites (12%).   Walz is shifting the economic burden of the pandemic to those least able to carry it.

Governor Walz’ Stay Home order – while appearing to be race-neutral on its face – is causing disproportionately larger harm to Blacks than Whites.  That’s prima facie evidence of disparate impact racial discrimination. In a Republican administration, the media would be screaming it from the rooftops. But since Walz is a Democrat . . . .

Joe Doakes

If Joe’s scenario were happening, Black Lives Matter would be blocking the freeway…

…although I doubt most people would notice these days.

Stunning

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“That which is not prohibited is permitted.”

It’s the underlying principle of American law. We inherited it from English constitutional law, which goes back at least 500 years. I suspect it was also Norman law and Roman law, going back more than 2,000 years.

Certainly, there were variations. And subpopulations had restrictions, there have always been slaves or persons treated differently. Religions imposed restrictions.  The guilds had rules. But the general societal rule throughout the history of Western Civilization has been to leave individuals free to do as they please, with limited exceptions.

Until last month, when Governor Walz flipped it on its head.

Everything is banned except those few items which are permitted. Every job is banned except those deemed essential. Every activity is banned except those deemed essential. Everything is banned, except.

Hitler didn’t do it.  Lincoln didn’t do it during the civil war. None of the Caesars did it. 

I’m not sufficiently familiar with non-western Traditions to know about other nations: Mao’s China, Pharaoh’s Egypt, Stalin’s Russia, Castro’s Cuba. Maybe they were all totalitarian states with everything run by whim of the Chief, and everyone bowing and scraping subserviently.

And now Walz’ Minnesota. We still have people commenting on Internet sites, demanding that the boot remain on their faces, insisting that people should be punished for violating the edicts. “No, no; don’t give us any of that freedom, we don’t want it.”

Stunning.

Joe Doakes

If we are smart…

…well, I was about to say “if we, The People, are smart we’ll make damn certain our legislature puts some guardrails around the executive’s emergency power in the future”.

Of course, betting on the wisdom of the crowd usually breaks one’s heart.

But not always. Five years ago, the Second Amendment groups in Minnesota got Governor Dayton to sign a bill forbidding the government from confiscating guns under a “state of emergency”, and foreclosing it from shutting down gun shops unless literally every other store in the state was also closed.

So it can be done.

Will we do it?

Current Events

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I went online to watch Governor Walz March 25 video explaining why the
Stay Home order was required. I think it’s useful to remember why we
started down this road.

In the video, Governor Walz explained that if we did nothing, upwards of
74,000 Minnesotans of all ages would die, from 6 months to 90 years
old. It was already too late to “flatten the curve;” testing didn’t get
started early enough. All we could do was push the peak out, delay it
until we could get ready for the surge of Covid-19 cases that the
computer model predicted was coming. If we did nothing, the surge would
hit in 6 weeks (May 8th). If we did nothing, 2.4 million Minnesotans
would be infected, 85% of them mildly, 15% requiring hospitalization,
and 5% requiring ICU care.

I’m not clear if Governor Walz meant 5% of the whole 2.4 million =
120,000 people in ICU; or 5% of the 15% who are hospitalized = 18,000 in
ICU. Either way, we only had 235 ICU beds at the time of the first
order. We didn’t have enough ICU beds, ventilators, masks to care for
that many ICU patients. Thousands would die, untreated.

If Minnesotans heeded his order to Stay Home, we would slow the spread
of the infection. 2.4 million were still going to get it, but not right
away. That gave us time to prepare for the ICU surge. With Stay Home
in place, the ICU surge would be delayed until late May or June. By
then, we’d be ready for the 120,000 (or 18,000) ICU patients. We’d
convert arenas, stadiums, motels, into temporary hospitals providing as
many as 1,000 ICU beds. Still had to work on getting ventilators and
masks, etc., but if we had enough time to prepare, we’d save lives.
Governor Walz asked for two weeks to delay the surge so we would have
time to prepare. That’s why the original order lasted two weeks.

I went online to watch Governor Walz video explaining the extension of
the Stay Home order. He said we were making progress. The infection
curve was pretty much flat. That’s good because it buys us time to
prepare for the surge, and there is a surge of hospitalizations coming.
We’re going to need a MINIMUM of 3,000 ICU beds starting in mid-May,
could last into July, could need more beds.

Current ICU bed capacity at the time of the extension was 1,000 but we
can double it in 24 hours, triple it in 72 hours. Another 3,000 beds
coming online in alternate facilities but not for Covid patients, those
are for displaced patients from other hospitalizations. According to
the model, we now have plenty of ICU beds but we’re still facing a
shortage of ventilators. We have 2,500, we need 3,000, we have none in
reserve, they’re all in use. They’re on back-order. Minnesotans need
to stay home to delay the hospitalization surge until the back-ordered
ventilators arrive. And there’s still a shortage of masks. Supply
chain disrupted world-wide. Minnesotans need to stay home to delay the
hospitalization surge until mask supply arrives.

The Governor assured us the experts were constantly updating the model.
Ro increased from 2.4 to 4.0 (formerly, we thought each infected person
transmitted it to 2.4 people, now it’s assumed to be 4 people, spreads
much faster than thought). Hospitalization severity and length of stay
also adjusted (didn’t say up or down). If we drop restrictions, the
surge of hospitalizations comes rushing toward us and we’re not ready.
Thousands will die. Stay Home to save lives.

My thoughts:

The plan originally was sold on the basis that this virus attacked
everybody, babies to elderly, we’re all equally at risk of dying from
it. Data from around the world (and around Minnesota) suggest that’s
not true. This virus attacks the same people as every other influenza
virus – seniors and those with a compromised immune system. The
scariest basis for the order, is gone.

The plan originally was sold on the basis that a two week delay would
suffice, we’d have time to prepare for the surge of cases. Because the
whole thing depends on a surge of cases slamming our hospitals in a few
weeks. The Governor’s models confidently proved it would happen, we
were going to get slammed, it was only a matter of time. Except . . .
Dr. Fauci of the CDC now says he expects this to be similar to a bad flu
season, maybe 60,000 dead nationwide. And nobody else is seeing a
surge. If there’s no surge coming, then the entire basis for the order
is gone.

Assuming the surge hits as planned in May, Governor Walz says we’ll need
3,000 ICU beds and we’re ready for that, but still not enough
ventilators or masks. No word on why that’s such a problem. If the My
Pillow guy can make masks, why can’t Minnesota figure out a way to
acquire them? Can’t we ask idled machine shops and metal workers and
backyard mechanics to cobble up machines? We only need a couple of
thousand more ventilators – how hard can it be? I’m guessing the
Governor means “FDA certified and approved” which, obviously, takes time
and raises the cost. How many patients would say, “Oh, no, don’t treat
me wearing that un-certified mask, leave me to die.” Can’t we by-pass
the certification process for this world-ending emergency?

The plan was sold on the basis that we’d be saving lives. The math
doesn’t work for me. Assuming the best numbers, if 18,000 will need ICU
beds but we only have 3,000, then when the surge hits we’re still short
thousands of ICU beds so all of those people are going to die. By my
math, the Stay Home saves 2,765 lives (the difference between 235 ICU
beds before and 3,000 ICU beds after). And who are those people? Based
on experience to date, they’re nursing home patients with preexisting
conditions who are going to die soon, anyway.

The cost of providing this end-of-life care is incredible. 375,000
Minnesotans have applied for unemployment. Our unemployment rate is
over 11%. And those are only the people who qualify. Small business
owners, restaurant owners, landlords, independent contractors,
commissioned sales – they don’t get unemployment. The Governor says
that with Minnesota’s generous unemployment benefits coupled with the
federal $600, many people actually will make as much or more then they
did before. I’ll believe that when I see it.

Point is, we’re shutting down the entire state for months, costing
millions, destroying wealth and lives and careers, turning citizens
against each other, betting a surge is coming and that we’ll be able to
buy a short end-of-life extension for a few thousand old folks. That
might be a wise public policy trade-off, or it might not. But it’s
something that ought to be debated in public, with the costs and
benefits weighed, not decided unilaterally and continued indefinitely.

I call on the Legislature to hold public hearings on whether to continue
the state of emergency, or to end it.

Joe Doakes

When Norway – as top-down communitarian a state as there is, which had a hard, sharp attack of Covid and a sharper reaction to seeing Italy and Spain’s agony, and closed down hard (and suffered more deaths than Minnesota, so far, with a similar population) – is moving to lift its lockdown now, even given their immense savings and the ability it gives them to ride out crises, that should tell us something.

Another Modification

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

This is weird – I keep finding these modifications but they’re not
mentioned in the media.


Attention Subjects!

His Royal Highness, Timothy Walz the First, proclaims a modification of
Executive Order 20-20 requiring Minnesotans to Stay Home.

It has come to Our attention that some of Our subjects are in flagrant
disregard of Our proclamations.  In one such instance, the violator
behaved in a loud, obnoxious, and boisterous manner which aroused anger,
alarm and resentment in the Royal Officers who were bravely attempting
to enforce Our order.  This behavior undermines the legitimate authority
of the Crown and threatens public safety.  Effective immediately, no
subject shall express disagreement with any of Our orders, on pain of
immediate and indefinite confinement.  As to such persons, the right of
habeas corpus is suspended for the duration of the emergency.

Our Attorney General has confirmed that Abraham Lincoln himself set the
precedent for this modification, and that it does not infringe the free
speech rights of Minnesotans.  Subjects remain free to express agreement
with Our orders in any form they like: in word, in writing, in artwork
or interpretive dance, even poetry.  The only restriction is on Hate
Speech, which is defined as any speech We hate, and which all decent
subjects should hate, too.

Thank you for your attention.

HRH Timothy Walz the First


Just thought you ought to know.

Joe Doakes

I’m sure I’m not the only one that can imagine Keith Ellison re-purposing the Sedition Act…

Declaring The Causes That Impel Us

We’re into month two of the “State of Emergency” in Minnesota.

Let’s stipulate in advance – government does have emergency powers, and should have them, at least as a broad concept. One of government’s few genuinely legitimate roles is to exert its power to react to things that are beyond the power of the individual, or (rarely, at least in theory) subsidiary levels of government; invasions, natural disasters and, yeah, epidemics. We can argue the “should government have emergency power” question if you’d like, but it’s pretty much the status quo.

One of the obligations of a free people – and especially of a free people that wants to stay that way – is to push back when government overreaches. Not just in emergencies (although that’s the subject today), but always, on every facet of liberty. Conservatism holds that order and liberty exist in a constant state of tension; without order (or health) prosperity is impossible; without health, freedom is academic (subsistence farmers don’t have time to petition for redress of grievances); without freedom, order is onerous and, let’s be honest, prosperity is most likely concentrated among those keeping the order.

Government power, like a handgun, is a necessary tool in extreme circumstances. And like any necessary tool, free people need to make sure that the newbie isn’t sweeping people at the firing range with her hand on the trigger, and that goverment isn’t getting drunk and profligate with its use, or abuse of power.

And I think we can make a pretty solid case that Governor Walz’s emergency declaration does exactly that.

First – Covid clearly is an emergency. There is a valid public health reason to treat it as more than just the flu. But the record shows different states taking very different approaches to the emergency, and with very different results; New York State went full-on Mussolini, but between having one of the most densely populated cities in the country and being run by bungling clowns like Bill DiBlasio, it didn’t work; California also went full-on tyrant, but it seems to be working. Other states went the other way; in the Dakotas and the rural west, it seems to be working out fairly well, while in Louisiana and Florida, the libertarian approach (combined with a lot of ill-advised, Italian-style revelry in the face of the threat) didn’t pan out so well.

Minnesota has trended more authoritarian. I get the rationale. But let’s be honest – even if you ignore the ham-handedness of the administration’s management of information (of which more later in the week), it’s fair to say the Governor and his Administration have clobbered civil liberties while reacting to the crisis – in many cases, wrongly.

So lets put together a list of the usurpations:

Life and Liberty

  • While the movement restrictions in Minnesota are fairly benign so far – serving more as a muted threat than an active clampdown – the idea of telling people not to go to their lake cabin (i.e., trying to prevent people from moving temporarily from a place of high desnsity and greater vulnerability to someplace safer) is an intrusion. And Mayor Frey’s active use of the police to curtail traffic isn’t just a muted threat.
  • The ability to visit family, especially in hospitals and nursing homes. To be fair, in many cases this is a private response to the epidemic – it’s why I can’t see my mother, notwithstanding the fact that her husband of nearly 30 years just died – but it’s driven by the response to government regulations and the litigiousness that government regulators have promoted.
  • We’re paying for a lot of government “services” of dubious value in the best of times, that we’re not getting at all today.

The Pursuit of Prosperity

Here, the DFL’s disdain for business and private property rears its head, above and beyond any actual response to the epidemic.

  • The right to transact business is clearly subject to arbitrary, and in some cases seemingly capricious, interference. Small businesses are shut down (as big ones, and business with more, better lobbyists remain open), in many cases without regard to the business’ actual susceptibility to the virus (lawn services? Landscapers? They’re pretty socially distant to begin with). Arbitrarily shutting down businesses regardless of their own instincts for self-preservation, ingenuity and ability to achieve some resiliency against the epidemic (like all the small grocery stores turning their lanes into one-way thorofares) qualifies as a taking in my book. Classic example – liquor stores are “essential”, but vape and smoke shops aren’t. It’s best that your vices not be politically unfashionable.
  • The assignment of “essential” status was clearly utterly politicized.
  • While it seems an act of charity, and might even be justifiable, barring all evictions and foreclosures is certainly an arbitrary taking without some sort of compensation. The idea that
  • Contracts are pretty much irrelevant – business are foreclosed by decree, in many cases, from fulfilling them, and the courts are closed for purposes of arbitrating the results.

Government Transparency

  • The Administration is making huge, life-altering decisions about the economy based on a model that seems to be giving very different results than most other models, and whose proprietors are keeping secret for the most paternalistic of reasons: “On Friday, [State health economist Stefan] Gildemeister said he had concerns that models that let anyone use them might be “irresponsible” because “it allows folks to make assumptions that aren’t very realistic ones.” While “transparency” isn’t necessarily a constitutional issue, the idea that state bureaucrats treat the math and code that they created on our dime like something they have to prorect from a bunch of drooling savages should make every freedom-loving citizen hot under the collar, and ready to vote a whole lot of scoundrels out of office in seven months or so.
  • The legislature, already prone as it is to operating as a “star chamber” with the Governor, Speaker, and the two Majority Leaders, has gotten even less transparent than before; online gatherings (kept just below legal “quorum” status) have been substituting for public committee meetings; policy is being made completely absent public scrutiny.
  • The governor’s “press only” press conference Friday – if that doesn’t bother you, what does?

First Amendment

  • The banning of group gatherings of all kinds – as opposed to pushing for voluntary enforcement of containment and distancing – pretty much forswears all protest against government overreach.
  • The enforced closing of places of worship – as opposed to strongly suggesting people wear masks, stay at home if sick, and observe spacing between family groups in services – is a clear violation of freedom of religion.
  • While closing places of worship by decree is onerous, many churches – including my own – closed voluntarily. But there are aspects to faith – Sacraments like Last Rites, Baptism and Confession, for Catholics, and there are many others in other faiths – that must be done in person, and where remote exercise is banned as a matter of doctrine. I’ve been informed of cases where priests have been barred from hospitals; no avenues left open for the administration of such Sacraments, whether through prudent adaptations (priests in masks and PPE, isolation rooms, whatever) or not. One administrative size fits all, whether talking about an ad agency or a church. This – not just the closing down, but the forbidding of any adaptation – has to be a clear violation of the First Amendment.
  • Freedom of assembly? Do I even need to say it?
  • Along with that – the right to petition for the redress of grievances, private or public, is pretty much toast until the courts decide to start meeting again.

Second Amendment

  • Many counties are curtailing the ability to apply for, or renew, carry and purchase permits.
  • The operation of the ranges necessary for taking permit training is pretty much shut down.
  • Thanks to a law passed by a bipartisan majority in 2015, government in Minnesota can’t confiscate guns, or shut down gun stores unless literally every other business in the state is closed, due to a state of emergency. This was an admirable bit of foresight – it doesn’t take a vivid imagination to see Jacob Frey, Melvin Carter and Kim Norton (frothing anti-gun ninny mayor of Rochester) sending their cops door to door in times like this. More on this later.

Fourth Amendment

Fifth Amendment

  • With the courts pretty much closed your right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury is pretty much toast for the duration.
  • And the closing down of the Judicial Branch offices give defense attorneys – who, unlike prosecutors, have no online access to Judicial Branch records – a serious disadvantage in prepping for cases for when they can get to trial.

Privacy

  • Government is using your cell data to track the effectiveness of social distancing. While we’re assured that government and the big cell providers they’re in bed with aren’t mis-using that data, we all know that’s only as safe as the government’s least ethical employee.

Got more (specific to Minnesota, for now)? Leave ’em in the comments, please.


I gave the example of Minnesota’s gun rights movement’s successful drive to foreclose government’s ability to confiscate firearms and abrogate the 2nd Amendment during crises. Gun Rights groups in Minnesota are big, well-organized, and badly funded (you can sure help out) but make up for it in volunteer action and the justice of our cause.

The lesson, though? Minnesotans need to get together in the same way to put stronger guard rails on the other excesses of government emergency power we’re seeing.

Modeled To Death

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Minnesotans know from experience that computer models are not perfect predictors. Every winter, the weatherman tells us, “We’re tracking a storm out of the Rockies that could bring between 2 inches and 9 feet of snow, depending on which direction the storm tracks.” We don’t shut down schools and churches and businesses Just In Case the worst case cenario might arrive. We wait to see and adjust our plans as better data becomes available.

I wonder if the reason we’re cowed by the COVID computer models is because we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that people in white lab coats know more than we do, so we should suspend critical thinking and trust them implicitly? I suspect that’s why presenters in television commercials and the cosmetic saleswomen at Dayton’s wore lab coats.

When the storm fails to appear, the weatherman doesn’t claim to have saved all our lives with his storm advisory. We know that’s bunk. There was no storm, he was Chicken Little.

If the virus storm fails to appear, I doubt Governor Walz will be as humble.

Joe Doakes

Invoking “Science!” (without the including the data to allow critical thought and analysis by those equipped to do so) or its weasel cousin the “evidence-based” argument is certainly a form of logrolling.

Distillation

From the American Heritage dictionatry, the word “Distillation”

  • n.The evaporation and subsequent collection of a liquid by condensation as a means of purification.
  • n.The extraction of the volatile components of a mixture by the condensation and collection of the vapors that are produced as the mixture is heated.
  • n.A distillate.

With that definition in mind: this article in the Atlantic is as pure a distillation of Berg’s Seventh Law as rhetorical chemistry will allow.

Definitions

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

New bill in the legislature.

Does “knows” mean “has actual knowledge” or does it mean “didn’t have actual knowledge, but under the totality of the circumstances, after reasonable inquiry such as a background check, should have known and therefore is presumed to have known, so it’s okay to punish him as if he had actually known the buyer was prohibited.”

Joe Doakes

I think in this case it means “whatever an ambitious prosecutor with ambitions in the DFL wants it to mean.

Serious Question

We’re told as of yesterday that Senator Klobuchar’s husband is in the hospital with National Healthcare VIrus.

In the statement, Klobuchar said [husband John] Bessler had a fever and was coughing up blood. He was checked into a hospital in Virginia and is receiving oxygen but is not on a ventilator.

“I love my husband so very much and not being able to be there at the hospital by his side is one of the hardest things about this disease,” Klobuchar said in a statement.

“While I cannot see him and he is of course cut off from all visitors, our daughter Abigail and I are constantly calling and texting and emailing,” she went on to state. “We love him very much and pray for his recovery. He is exhausted and sick but a very strong and resilient person.”

All these years pf campaign appearances and debates and fairground ops and every other kind of contact with her constituents, and I do not recall seeing any mention of John Bessier. Am I dense, or is the media softplaying his existence?

Or, for that matter their status (she’s in DC, he’s teaching law somewhere in Maryland)?

Speaking of Softpedaling: Ih this piece about John Bessier, the Channel 5 report helpfully finishes with this bit:

Klobuchar said she is working in the Senate to ensure Americans receive the help they need.

Sounds like reporter Rebecca Omastiak is bucking for campaign communications gig.

Watch Out For Those Russians!

So then you will ignore the Canadians:

For months, young people on university campuses across Canada have gathered to call and text American voters in the hopes of convincing them to support Sanders as the 2020 Democratic nominee.

“I see this as really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not just in American politics, but for left-wing politics around the world,” said Vancouver student Quentin Rowe-Codner.

The 22-year-old Sanders supporter did some research and discovered foreigners are allowed to volunteer for any campaign.

“I decided to start making calls and texts and I found that to be good and rewarding,” said Rowe-Codner. “But I started a little bit isolated just doing it on my own.” 

If the left didn’t have selective indignation, they’d have no…

…well, no. They’d just have undiscriminating blanket indignation.