The S Word, Part I: We’re Just Not That Into Each Other Anymore

It’s said that America is the most polarized it’s been in history.

It’s not true, of course; the stretch from the 1890s into the Depression features some very stark social battle lines.  The 1828 election was kinda contentious.  And you might recall we fought a Civil War once upon a time.  Ken Burns even did a documentary about it.

In the past, we’ve fought – usually more or less civilly – amongst ourselves over a lot of things.  Slavery was a big one.  Approaches to federalism – and yep, that question usually manifested itself in re slavery, for the first fourscore and seven years of our nation’s existence – were a common squabbling point.  I suspect it was the topic of the year for the Debate team from 1777 to 1864.

And from the end of the Civil War until the Depression, the gulf between the Haves and the Have Nots was big.  Much bigger than it is today, even after five years of Obama exacerbating it for the benefit of his plutocrat pals.  No, seriously – no contest.

Of course, the different parts of this country have differed in the past – so much so that two of them spent four years fighting the bloodiest war in American history.  The contention?  Federalism, economic rivalries, whatever – they all tied back to slavery, one way or the other.

And in each of those conflicts – once the noxious legacy of slavery was extinguished – there was a general agreement; underneath it all, we were undertaking a valid national experiment.

As in “national”, meaning “everyone in the nation”. 

I wonder, sometimes.

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The Sick Of It All Manifesto

I don’t really like politics.

“But Mitch – you write a bizarrely-prolific blog about politics!  You host the top-rated radio talk show in the United States [1]Surely you are obsessed with politics!”

Nope.  Hate ‘em.

Can’t stand most politicians, either…

…well, no.  That’s not really true.  For all of the joking people make about the depravity of politicians, I’ve found most of the politicians I’ve actually gotten to know personally - most of them state and local, since that’s my social circle - to be perfectly good people.  Some of them very, very much so.

“Operatives?”  The staffers that work for politicians, and the campaign consultants and issue and organizations?  They’re a mixed bag in many ways – some of them greasy and sleazy, some of them really good people – but they seem to share a furious focus and a brutal work ethic.  I’ll give ‘em that.

But politics, itself?  Never cared for it.

Partly because the best description of politics – the one I used to shake my head at 20-30 years ago, and attribute to the conspiratorial and overly-excited and the perspective challenged – is actually the best one there is; the monopoly on the legal use of force.    While the line does get repeated by the conspiratorial, the jacked-up and those with warped perspectives, it’s also true; to paraphrase Kevin Williamson, if you stop paying your taxes or send your kids to a non-government approved school or build your house taller or wider than the local zoning ordinances permit or get your buzz on or produce milk or cut hair outside of current government tolerances, you will, sooner or later, if you carry on with it,  eventually wind up with people with guns and handcuffs and tasers at your front door, ready to take your property, your money and your freedom with impunity.

There are really only two reasons I’m involved in politics:

  1. Hi, We’re From The Government, And We’re Here To Help (you into a paddy wagon):  I try, in my own way, to try to make sure the “government showing up at citizens’ doors with court orders and guns” situations are limited to the absolute moral minimum; let’s save the SWAT teams for the meth-crazed robbery rings, and bother less with unlicensed Eritrean hair braiders or people who don’t pay their school lunch bill.  There is a place and time for government to use force; those places and times have been getting way too common for the past fifty years or so.
  2. Those things that can’t be sustained, won’t be:  Our national debt is greater than an entire year’s GDP; every iPhone sold, every ear of wheat harvested, every lawn mowed and pair of shoes bought and class taught, every single whiff of economic activity including you buying food for your kids, for an entire year, might pay most of our current debt, and it’s not going anywhere.  And that doesn’t ‘even count the entitlements, over 100 trillion worth, that are lurking beyond that; over an entire year’s output from the entire planet’s economy; every grain of rice harvested in Indonesia, every Android assembled in Hunan, every bit of economic activity on the planet, for over a year, would pay it off.  Ready to go without groceries for 12 months?    Well, of course not – that can’t happen.  Either can paying off all those debts, without gutting the economy.  This level of debt can’t be sustained – and it won’t be.

So outside of local government – trying to inveigle Saint Paul into maybe plowing and patching streets, instead of building trains and refrigerated ice rinks in one of the coldest state capitols in America – my main goals out of politics are to…:

Try to bring the economy in for the softest landing possible:  Remember those debt numbers?   Of course you do – they’re like two grafs up there.   Worse comes to worst, and people will look back on 1933 as the good times.  The road back from debt like that is brutally difficult if you do it right – and let’s be honest, neither of our major political parties is going to do a damn thing about it (although the GOP pays the task the most convincing lip service, and I suspect contains the very few people who have both the chance and will to try to affect policy beyond the “lip service” (or, in the case of the big-L Libertarian party, “pipe dream”) level.  And John Boehner isn’t one of them; of Minnesota’s current congressional delegation, Michelle Bachmann is the only one I’ve even heard try to explain the problem to voters.  And she’s outta there in less than a year.

My main goal in politics is to try to do what I can to make sure my kids, and grandkids, and their kids, aren’t living on soup lines and scraping for change under bus seats because of our current government’s profligachy.

Shall Never Disappear From The Face Of The Earth:  And it’s not just the economy, stupid; poor societies become ugly societies, but quick. If you think “majority rules” is an ugly thing today, at a time when even a long recession has left us more prosperous than any society in history, then mob rule during the mother of all depressions will certainly leave a mark on you.

Progressivism – and its much more evil older brother, Statism – never, ever wastes a crisis.  It used World War I and the breakdown of European power to establish statist governments in major countries; the Depression allowed it to metastasize in a more benign form to the western liberal democracies and constitutional monarchies.

Imagine what everyone from George Soros on down the ranks to Alida Messinger could do with a complete collapse of the world’s lynchpin economy, taking down the entire world’s economic order?

I stay involved in politics because if good people don’t try to maintain some control of – again, being honest here – the state’s monopoly on force, bad people most certainly will.

And Yet…:  The collapse of the economy doesn’t have to be all bad.  The fact that government will be unable to afford to do much will mean that people will have to do things they way they did them – almost invariably better, at least in the US – before World War I.

I’m unstinting in recommending the book The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure, by Kevin D. Williamson.  In it, Williamson points out that not only did the private market, and just-plain-citiziens, do most of the things that government does today, but did it much better and much cheaper.

Wanna privatize Social Security?  There’ll be your chance!

Wanna make welfare work-based, and end the decades of fruitless debate here in Minnesota?  Oh, it’ll be work-based all right.

Education?  A hundred years of government education modeled after the Prussian system (and intended more to stomp out radical immigrant allegiances and create “good citizens” than to “educate”), the literacy rate has scarcely budged – and when you consider than an eighth-grader in World War 2 (the average level of education back then) was more literate, and a better critical thinker, than most college Freshmen today, you can see there might be a better approach to the problem.

Healthcare?  You do realize that fraternal organizations like the Elks, the Moose and the like, as well as religious organizations, not only handled group health 100 years ago, and did it almost as effectively as employer paid healthcare today (to say nothing of MNSure), but did it in such a way as to ensure the growth rather than stagnation of the medical profession, right?

Law enforcement?  Yeah – the “Wild West”, where most “justice” and “law” was privately negotiated, was one of the most peaceful places and times in American history (provided you weren’t a native tribe; every premise has its gaps).  Even Dodge City and Abilene – both were vastly more peaceful than the law-clogged, politics-dominated fever swamps of the coastal cities.

But Wait!:  But don’t start bombarding me with Ron Paul quotes – because Libertarianism, especially the brutalist, Ayn-Rand-sodden variety popular among the Austrian-school fratboys that make up the driving force of the Big-L party these days (pushing out the raw milk and help set, although they share all sorts of rhetoric) is a loser with real people in the real world.

No, not liberty – the idea that we should be free, that our society should be a free association of equals, that we should all be equal in the eyes of the law and at the ballot box, and free to prosper according to our merit and energy.  Those are winners for most people; that’s why most of our forefathers came here. 

But today’s brutalist Libertarianism considers “community” a dirty word.  Which is fine – except that humans are a communitarian species.  We gather in groups, and establish rules amongst ourselves pretty instinctively.  Don’t believe it?  Watch a group of six year old boys playing in an open field.  Libertarianism resonates with me in terms of keeping “the community” from taking over and running the individual’s life, and making sure the “community” is focused as close to the individual as possible. 

And don’t get me started on the “anarcho-libertarians”, which is what too many of the Austrain-school fratboys think they are; while “anarchy” has a nice set of platitudes that pass for an “intellectual case”, they collapse over two key points:

  1. Human nature is not a “construct”. 
  2. Evil exists.

No matter what stasis you and your similarly-anarchic neighbors find amongst yourselves, in your existences as lone gentleman farmers on your farms in the hypothetical social void, at some point someone who doesn’t have what you want is going to come along and want what you have.  And they’ll realize that while you, Gentleman Farmer, are more than a match for him in a duel, he’s not going to come alone.  This group – let’s say they’re Methodists, because we know how warlike and acquisitive Methodist theology is – comes in groups of 15-30, because they are not anarchists. 

Human nature is not a construct.  Evil exists.  Not every human wants to take other peoples’ stuff by force – but enough do, that communities find it advantageous to band together to keep those pesky Methodists (or other aberrations of human nature) at bay. 

Which involves rules.  And the tension between authority and liberty. 

And a world that doesn’t fit nicely into that anarchist worldview. 

So there’s a conundrum.

The Problem, Of Course, is getting to the point where we, the not-stupid people, can drive society in a direction where, if (hah hah hah) and when the debt finally crushes our economy, it can recover in a direction that leaves us with more, not less, freedom.

More on that – much more – next week.

At any rate – that, and only that, is why I’m involved in politics, here or on the air or in my real life.

Beyond that, what’s the point?

And yet beyond that, what else matters?

[1] As measured in moral terms, not necessarily raw audience numbers.

…And Ask Questions Later

It’s looking more and more like Miriam Carey, the Connecticut mother who was killed last year near the Capitol  was guilty of nothing more than having a panic attack around the wrong cops.

The DC Capitol Police first called it a terrorist incident.  Then, they said Carey was on drugs.

Now?  Apparently she was just a flustered driver who panicked over cops’ response to her driving:

Columnist Mark Steyn memorably remarked, “Ms. Carey does not appear to be guilty of any act other than a panic attack,” and, “We are told Ms. Carey was ‘mentally ill,’ although she had no medications in her vehicle and those at her home back in Connecticut are sufficiently routine as to put millions of other Americans in the category of legitimate target.”

But now, it is a certified fact that Carey did not even have prescription drugs in her system when she was shot to death.

Even before that confirmation, it became clear months ago that there was no good explanation for why Carey was shot, and the story disappeared entirely off the mainstream media radar.

It’s been six months since the shooting, and the DC Capitol Police still haven’t released their report on the incident.

The list of explanations for this other than “the cops are closing ranks to cover up a major screw-up leading to the death of an innocent, panicky woman” is fast dwindling through the lower single digits.

The traditional deflection against charges of excessive police power and force is “if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear”.  The line is corrosively stupid on its surface…

…but if “making cops nervous” rates a bullet in the back of the head, then clearly even that very stupid line is wrong, these days.

The whole article is worth a read.

Oceania Has Never Bullied Eastasia, Winston

The bill that the Metrocrats chose to call the “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” passed the Senate. 

Let’s look at what’s in a name.  Because the name “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” is intensely misleading – almost to a geometric fault.

There are so many names for this bill that are more appropriate:

The Redundant Feel-Good Act:  Every school district already has a bullying policy.  It’s the law. 

The PC Payoff Act:  This bill - probably soon to be a law – is a chit being paid back to the DFL’s supporters by the party currently in power, creating not only a protected class of students, but a super-di-duper protected class. 

The Full Employment For Bureaucrats Act:  This bill – which creates a huge unfunded mandate on top of all the others foisted on our school systems, to the point where many districts are nothing but mandate delivery systems with occasional spurts of “education” – will create a whole new class of administrators.  And they’ll belong to unions, who donate their dues money to the DFL. 

The Full Employment For Trial Lawyers Act:  The bill makes the entire process of dealing with “bullying” even more legalistic than it already is.  Legalistic means “designed to be controlled, and especially litigated (at an exquisitely expensive hourly rate) by lawyers”. 

The Type-Cast Your Child For Life Act:  Everything related to everything that can be defined as “bullying”, no matter how torturously, will become part of a child’s permanent academic record.  Which will affect childrens’ future chances at higher education, jobs, the military, jobs requiring security clearances and the like, long after the child has grown out of whatever phase they were in when they were bullies (and that’s assume they were rightly and justly accused of “bullying”, since the bill is also…)

“Stasi Had The Right Idea!” Act:   Anonymous informants?  Giving those who accuse others of bullying complete immunity from consequences if it turns out that the accusations were fabricated? 

The “Further Proof That North Dakotans Are Smarter Than Minnesotans” Act:  Other states – including our grown-up neighbor, my home state of North Dakota – address bullying by addressing bullying, passing laws that address actual behavior rather than creating the infrastructure for a network of secret denunciations and…

The Ideology Police Act:  …making all beliefs that don’t toe the PC line, especially personal religious beliefs, however manifested or stated, a form of behavior that needs to be watched and suppressed, overtly or subtly, “for the good of the children”.       

The “Let’s Have More Bullying, Not Less!” Act:  Bullying tends to go up, rather than down, in places with bullying bills.   

The Metrocrat Power Grab Of 2014 Act:  The bill – which does nothing to address bullying of children that isn’t already covered by existing policies – does coalesce more power to indoctrinate, to punish dissent from the state-sanctioned social views, and to extort more from the taxpayer in the bargain.  And it does it during the last session during which the DFL is guaranteed absolute power.                 

Could someone in the legislature please see to this?

No Wonder The Left Hates Him So Much

Charles Koch, one of the “Koch Brothers”, the left’s current boogeymen du jour and donor of a tiny fraction of the money bequeathed to progressivism by much more “generous” liberal plutocrats, writing in the WSJ, with occasional emphasis added:

Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government. That’s why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process.

A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens.

That last emphasized sentence is going to be the subject of a couple of blog posts very soon here. 

The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.

The whole thing is worth a read.

The Kochs are fundamentally libertarian-conservatives; they have some stances that vex some paleos. 

Asking “progressives” to explain exactly what’s wrong with the Koch Brothers – especially in light of the fact that there are dozens of plutocrats that give much more money to the left – is akin to watching Daffy Duck sputter; lots of flying saliva, not much fact, logic or reason. 

So why do they do it?

Berg’s Seventh Law explains it all.

Kill The Bill

John Cornyn is right; Chuckles Schumer’s proposed “Media Shield” law creates two medias – a government-sanctioned media (which will, by necessity, have to dever to government to retain its favored status), and the rest of us:

“This is a bad idea and one whose time has not come,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate minority whip, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview. “Believe me, we will not be rolled over.”…Schumer’s proposal would exempt a “covered journalist” from subpoenas and other legal requirements to expose their confidential sources in leak investigations and other areas. Other lawmakers have proposed similar ideas in the past, but the effort gained new momentum after a series of revelations about controversial tactics the Justice Department was using to target journalists.

I’m not the only one who notes the irony – liberals like the media and Diane Feinstein are fine with the rabble being spied on – but they value their privacy.

(If we had a media that was a genuine antagonist and check on government, it’s still be a stupid but forgiveable bill.  But we don’t, and we haven’t in decades). 

This bill needs to die and be buried in a forgotten unmarked grave.

All Those “Jazzy Terms”

In Minnesota, if you are accused of a drug-related crime but not convicted, you can lose any property that the police and prosecutors say was used for the crime.

Seems prone to abuse to you?

It does to a lot of people.  There’s a bill to try to fix that in the Legislature – to require convictions before forfeiting property.

It’s getting flak from “Law Enforcement” and “Prosecutors”.

Guess why (emphasis added)?

Backers say the state’s civil forfeiture laws are long overdue for a little due process. The laws have become a growing source of cash for law enforcement agencies and were famously abused by the now-defunct Metro Gang Strike Force, which paid out $840,000 in settlements to ­victims who had their property illegally seized.

I suspect if you asked a whooooole lot of people on the street what the standard was, they’d say “conviction”.  They’d be wrong.

Under current law, police or sheriffs can keep property, vehicles and cash seized in drug cases or drive-by shootings — regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. If a suspect is found not guilty, they can still lose their property in civil court unless they can prove it was not involved in a crime. The bill would require prosecutors to return the property if there is no criminal conviction associated with the seizure.

And when I explain this to people who don’t follow these sorts of things, they’re non-plussed.  Then, frequently, upset; you’re not actually “innocent until proven guilty”:

 You have a kid who starts dealing a little weed?  And he gets on the County Attorney’s radar to the point where the prosecutor decides to try to squeeze him and those close to him to get to someone else?

Adios, property.

But it’s for the children.  Er, I mean, for law enforcement!

Lee McGrath, executive director of the Institute for Justice’s ­Minnesota chapter, said that between 2003 and 2010, law enforcement agencies supplemented their budgets with $30 million gained through forfeitures. That, McGrath said, represents a 75 percent increase despite a small drop in the crime rate. The bill has received broad bipartisan support.

And who opposes the bill?

[County Attorneys Association] Executive Director John Kingrey said his organization supports fairness and transparency in the state’s forfeiture laws, but that the bill is ripe for abuse.

“Drug dealers are smart people,” Kingrey said. “One of the challenges we have is we walk in the door with cocaine and $10,000 sitting on the table, with five guys saying ‘That’s not mine.’ Four of them get convicted, and the fifth guy says ‘That money was mine, I wasn’t convicted, give me the dough.’ ”

Good heavens.  That might require the county attorneys to do their jobs.

I’m going to emphasize this next bit:

It’s not just money, Kingrey said. Acquittals could also put guns back on the street.

Does anyone need to have this translated?  “Being found not guilty of a crime means people might get their property back?”

Anyway – they’re all lawyers, so the truth will be found under many interlocking layers of bullshit.  And here it is:

“Conviction is a very jazzy term, but it’s more nuanced,” Kingrey said.

“Conviction” may be jazzy.

“Innocent until proven guilty” is an AC/DC riff, plain and loud and unadorned and unmistakeable.  No conviction, no forfeiture.

Cut the weasel words, County Attorneys.  You’re running a licence to print money, and you don’t want the peasants to mess with a good thing.

Turnabout

I’ve said it for nigh-on 20 years, now; gun control is the class war the Left’s been barbering about for the past century.  And they are the patricians.

And the plebeians are winning. 

Glenn Reynolds notes something I’ve been talking about for the past half-decade; the legal, social and moral landscape of the gun question and the Second Amendment has inverted completely over the past 25 years:

Overall, the trend of the past couple of decades seems to be toward expanding gun rights, just as the trend in the 1950s and 1960s was toward expanding free speech rights. America has more guns in private hands than ever before, even as crime rates fall, and, after a half-century or so of anti-gun hysteria, the nation seems to be reverting to its generally gun-friendly traditions.

This is a state of affairs that seemed almost inconceivable a mere two decades ago, and therein lies a reminder: It often seems as if the deck is stacked, and change is inconceivable. Twenty years ago, the prospect of this kind of expansion in constitutional freedom seemed very dim. But in America, change, when it comes, can be sudden and dramatic — even when, as here, the general current of punditry and political opinion seems set in stone. Keep that in mind, as you contemplate other political issues.

And there’s an important lesson there; while the Second Amendment is in the ascendant, it’ll only stay there with constant vigilance and effort – and in the meantime, we have many other civil liberties that’ve been serving as bureaucratic playgrounds for decades now; the Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments in particular are in about the same state today as the Second was thirty years ago.

They Did, Indeed, Show Us

Missouri nullifies federal gun control, passing a law that bars the state from enforcing all federal gun control statutes, “past, present or future”:

The legislation specifically bans all state employees from enforcing or attempting to enforce any acts running counter to the proposed law. Such a tactic is an extremely effective way to stop a federal government busting at the seams. Even the National Governors Association admitted the same recently when they sent out a press release noting that “States are partners with the federal government in implementing most federal programs.”

That means states can create impediments to enforcing and implementing “most federal programs.”  On federal gun control measures, Judge Andrew Napolitano suggested that a single state standing down would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible to enforce” within that state.

We have another session of complete minority; we’ll be doing well to stand off more of Michael Paymar and Heather Martens’ bills.

This is one of the things that you get when the adults take over.

The New Normal

I first became a Second Amendment activist in the eighties.  It started out as an intellectual exercise – during my KSTP show from 1986-1987, it was mainly a libertarian though exercise.  It became much more personal in 1988, when I thwarted a break-in in my Saint Paul duplex with a .22 caliber handgun. 

At the time, there were eight “shall issue” states – states where the government was obliged to give carry permits to demonstrably law-abiding citizens who applied.  Most of the rest of the country, including Minnesota, was “may-issue”, better described as “arbitrary issue”, where getting a permit usually required some sort of social or poltical connection.  New York City was famous for denying permits to commoners but issued them liberally to celebrities and tycoons; the police chief in Bloomington Minnesota issued exactly one permit to a woman – his wife. 

And for over a third of the country, it was impossible to get a carry permit at all. 

And the burgeoning of applied Second Amendment rights since then has been one of the epic grassroots political victories in American history

David Kopel, writing at Volokh, charted the progress.  As of today, 2/3 of the American people live in shall-issue states, and non-issue states have dwindled – technically – to zero.  Arbitrary issue is now about 14%. 

And even that doesn’t fully show the magnitude of the swing:

Moreover, some parts of the Yellow “may issue” states are already issuing permits as if they were Green [Shall Issue]. In New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Delaware, permits are issued by local authorities, and in some jurisdictions, local authorities issue in a manner consistent with respect for the right to bear arms. Permits are rarely issued in Maryland, and are extremely rare in New Jersey.

The six hold-out states are increasingly isolated. Not counting tiny Rhode Island and Delaware, the four larger hold-out states each are all bordered mainly by Green [Shall Issue] states. (Mass. by upper New England and Connecticut; NY by Penn., Vt., and Conn.; NJ by Penn.; Maryland by Penn., Vir., and WV). It should also be noted that in two of Delaware’s three counties, permit issuance is often approximately what a Green [Shall Issue] state would do.

Big Liberalism posits itself as a battle between the little guy – “the 99%” in their self-serving lore – against the cigar-chomping “Monopoly Millionaire” tycoon caricature.  But the gun issue has shown the American political dichotomy as it really is; the plebeians are the majority of Real Americans who trust each other with civil liberty, versus a self-appointed patrician “elite” who believe that government (which disproportionally represents them) should have an unquestioned monopoly on force.

Imperial

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

We have a law student intern in my office. She’s taking Constitutional Law – Liberties, taught by a leftist female law professor who expects students to analyze abortion cases by finding the flaw in the conservative reasoning since, obviously, abortion is a constitutionally protected right and any attempt to infringe it is horrific. The whole notion of “original intent” is just a code word for slavery over women’s bodies.

So . . . we believe it’s self-evident that God gave you the right to life, but not until you’re born? God has a waiting period that only Harry Blackman could divine? Until the waiting period ends, society can unilaterally decide you have no rights and can be killed at whim, same as a pre-war Black, a Nazi Jew, a Soviet Kulak?

I suppose that reasoning is consistent with the President’s assertion that he has the power to order the execution of American citizens without trial on mere suspicion of terrorism. But it’s not exactly comforting. I sure hope Liberals in the government don’t decide to unilaterally revoke the rights of Christians or Conservatives. It would suck to be a refugee from my own country.

Joe Doakes

I think whole parts of this country are going to be refugees from “our own country” before this is done.

Expanding The American Gulag

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is asking for DUI checkpoints in Minnesota:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving gave Minnesota low marks in its new state-by-state evaluation of DWI laws.

To be fair and accurate, MADD will dock points from any state that doesn’t allow law enforcement to perform random no-knock breathalyzer and urinalysis raids in the middle of the night.

No, almost:

MADD, in particular, calls upon state lawmakers to legalize sobriety checkpoints, writing that they “will give law enforcement the tools needed to cut drunk driving fatalities.” (The organization also recommends requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DWI offenders.)

Minnesota is currently one of just 12 states that doesn’t allow law enforcement to conduct sobriety checkpoints.

Clearly there’s a drunk driving crisis in Minnesota.

Well, no.  There’s not.  Minnesota is well below the national average in the percentage of automobile deaths related to alcohol and alcohol impairment.

And despite MADD’s blandishments, there’s considerable evidence that random checkpoints aren’t especially effective at getting drunk drivers off the road, much less saving lives, as compared to the perfectly effective roving patrols.

Alcohol-related deaths on the road are down nearly 50% in the past 25 years.

But if MADD thinks shoving the police state’s foot in the door up to the knee by gutting the Fourth Amendment even more is the answer, maybe it’s time for America’s voters to send them off to political happy hour.

Out Of Both Ends Of Babes

SCENE:  Mitch Berg is at the pharmacy, refilling a painkiller prescription.    He notices a tap on the shoulder.  It’s Mr. Victor VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE, professional fraternity organizer, and Vice Chair for Education at the 5th CD Libertarian Party.

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Hey, Berg!

BERG (holding an acheing jaw in dire need of a root canal):  Hey, V-Molt.

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  What did we say about that?

BERG:  Oh, OK.  Hey, Viktor.  What’s up?

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  You’re a Christian, right?

BERG:  Yep.

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Kurt Tischer said “Everyone is born an atheist and an anarchist. People have to be taught religion and statism.”

BERG:  That’s an attack on faith, right?

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Of course.

BERG:  People are also born babbling unintelligibly, utterly self-centered, unable to live independently – without their family, which is the ultimate autocracy – and crapping and peeing all over the place.  Are these also desirable traits?

VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Clearly you are a RINO.

BERG:  Clearly.

(And SCENE).

The Cause Is Freedom

While Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” loses more members to defection (and, occasionally, conviction and incarcertation), Real America continues to rack up the wins.

This time?  The US Ninth Circuit struck down a niggling provision in California’s heretofore strict carry permit law:

California law has a process for applying for a permit to carry a handgun for protection in public, with requirements for safety training, a background check, and so on. These requirements were not challenged. The statute also requires that the applicant have “good cause,” which was interpreted by San Diego County to mean that the applicant is faced with current specific threats. (Not all California counties have this narrow interpretation.) The Ninth Circuit, in a 2-1 opinion written by Judge O’Scannlain, ruled that Peruta was entitled to Summary Judgement, because the “good cause” provision violates the Second Amendment.

The Court ruled that a government may specify what mode of carrying to allow (open or concealed), but a government may not make it impossible for the vast majority of Californians to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember – conservatives and Real Americans are winning some battles out there. 

The rest of conservative politics needs to follow the Second Amendment activists’ lead at grassroots politics:

  • Clear, specific message; no meaningless platitudes.  (This is the Victim Disarmament movement’s big handicap; all they have is platitudes.  Specifics are what kill them)
  • Massive popular engagement that stays passionate and committed, year in, year out. 
  • Willingness to put money and time where mouths are
  • Knowing the difference between a tactical bend and a “compromise”.  More on this later. 

Study and learn.

Signs We’ve Turned The Corner To Madness

Last years, I noted a number of episodes of police seemingly blazing away without much regard to actual “public safety”; a shooting incident at the Empire State building in New York City where eight of the shooting victims were innocent bystanders shot by cops responding to the shooter (who was killed after being hit several times)…

…and, most ominously, the erroneous shooting of two women during the manhunt for rogue cop Christopher Dorner.  Cops fired 103 shots at the women, who were riding in a pickup truck that didn’t resemble Dorner’s, had no weapons, and were delivering newspapers.

Both officers were cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting.

The scary part?

It is also worth noting that, if this were Dorner in the truck, it would have been highly questionable as a justified shooting since no weapon was present or shown to the officers. None of that seems to matter. It leaves a chilling message that police are at greater liberty to use lethal force (without positive identification or appearance of a weapon) when searching for a cop killer.

Criminals, indeed, have better protections against police error and overreach than law-abiding citizens do.

Perfect Safety

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The federal government has rules on who gets a pilot’s license. Most pilots think the rules set the standards too high, especially for little planes used in recreational flight.

Minimum 40 hours behind-the-wheel lessons, a medical exam, written exam, oral exam, and a flying test to demonstrate not just ordinary flying, but also emergency maneuvers and navigation over unfamiliar territory, all for a private pilot’s license to fly a little Cessna. The requirements for lessons and testing get harder the bigger your airplane, or what purpose you’re flying for.

If we applied the same standards to other recreational vehicles such as boats, motorcycles and 4-wheelers, nobody would ever use one.

The feds claim they only want to ensure safety. Setting the standard so high nobody can meet it means nobody takes off, so nobody crashes, so perfect safety is achieved.

I guess that’s how they’ll pay for Obama-care . . . nobody will ever get hurt again so it won’t cost anything to heal them.

And all we’ve lost is . . . our freedom.

Joe Doakes

Obama is betting long on the idea that the only “freedom” anyone really cares about anymore is “from want”.

Since We’re All About Equality, Here…

So according to a number of lawsuits working their way through the system right now, it’s OK to force bakers, florists, photographers and other such “creative” vendors who happen to be fundamentalist Christians to serve same-sex customers, on pain of being sued back to the stone age.

Very well.  By the same token…:

  • A Jewish tattoo artist has no legal right to object to giving, say, a Nazi tattoo.
  • A Native American baker had best not be making a fuss about making a cake with a Washington Redskins theme.
  • A black photographer has no legal business objecting to doing glamour shots for Confederate re-enactors.

Remember; no hate!

(OK, I cribbed the idea from Amy Alkon)

Occupy Vatican

Lighten up, Francis.

Most observers, Catholic or not, recognized the sea-change brought about by Pope Francis I.  An Argentinian Cardinal, Francis supposed a move left for the Catholic Church from the days of Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II.  While Francis hasn’t shocked many with his bending on social issues, his most boisterous attacks have been on economic issues – a move leftward he restated by declaring “unfettered capitalism” a “new tyranny.”

The move isn’t exactly unprecedented.  Pope Benedict XVI voiced deep reservations about modern capitalism. In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Benedict reiterated “progressive” stances in areas of public unions and economic redistribution; areas often overshadowed within the media by Benedict’s undoubted commitment to baroque liturgies and traditional moral norms.  The election of Pope Francis caused everyone from full-time Vaticanologists to the average Catholic in the pew to recognize a shift, a change of emphasis and style, and a laser-like focus on poverty from the new pope.  Continue reading

Big “L”, Small “L”

(SCENE:  at a chi-chi coffee shop in South Minneapolis.  Mitch BERG’s eyes go a little wide with sticker shock before he orders a light roast with room for cream and Splenda)

(As BERG turns to leave, he notices a table with three diners – Carpal POX, Garth MULLER and Viktor VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE.  He tries to slip out the door, but MULLER notices him).

MULLER:   Mitch!  Come over here! 

BERG:  OK.  (He puts his coffee on the table and sits).

Continue reading

The Non-Trivial Challenge

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails

. President Obama famously promised: “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” Turns out that was a lie. You can’t keep your policy if you have a “junk policy” that doesn’t cover things which we now pay for. To keep medical costs down, we’re forcing you to shift to Obama-Bronze which leaves less in your pocket, but it’s for the Good of the Nation so suck it up.

The problem with the lie isn’t that it’s a lie. The problem is it enabled Democrats to win election to protect Obama-care from repeal. And once Obama-care is up and running, it becomes the universal justification for all Nanny State intrusion into our lives.

“If you like your job, you can keep it.” Well, no, you can’t. You work a blue collar job. Your job has high risk of injury, which requires medical care, which we now pay for. So to keep medical care costs down, we’re forcing you to shift to janitor which leaves less in your pocket, but it’s for the Good of the Nation so suck it up.”

“If you like your hobby, you can keep it.” Well, no, you can’t. You jog. Your hobby has high risk of injury, which requires medical care, which we now pay for. So to keep medical care costs down, we’re forcing you to shift to collecting Hummels which leaves less in your pocket, but it’s for the Good of the Nation so suck it up.”

“If you like your home security, you can keep it.” Well, no, you can’t. You have a dog or a gun or both. Your home security set-up has high risk of injury (to yourself and also to burglars), which requires medical care, which we now pay for. So to keep medical care costs down, we’re forcing you to shift to a police whistle which leaves your family vulnerable, but it’s for the Good of the Nation so suck it up.”

Reader challenge: think of an activity in your life where Democrats could NOT justify intruding on this basis.

Joe Doakes

Correct though Joe is in  his simile, I’m behooved to announce “this post was brought to you by a grant from the American Troll-Bait Council”. 

Thanks.