Representative Norton’s MkKarthyistic Kangaroo Kourts

Yesterday, we noted that Rep. Kim Norton – the soon-to-be retired legislator from Rochester who’s going to be pushing the various gun-control bills that the DFL is copying and pasting from their benefactors at Bloomberg – accused people who oppose US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s “idea” of barring anyone on the government’s double-dog-secret “Terrorist Watch List” from buying guns, of “supporting allowing terrorists to have weapons”.

No, I’m serious.  In an incredible display of the kind of logic that most adults were shamed out of using back in fourth grade, Norton accused Bryan Strawser of the MN Gun Owners Political Action Committee of supporting guns in the hands of terrorists:


And this introduced an interesting question: what does it take to get on the list?

From that noted conservative tool, the HuffPo, we learn that this watch list is something of a roach hotel; easy to get in, impossible to get out.  I’m abridging the copy from the HuffPo, which you should read in its entirety:

1. You could raise “reasonable suspicion” that you’re involved in terrorism. “Irrefutable evidence or concrete facts” are not required.

In determining whether a suspicion about you is “reasonable,” a “nominator” must “rely upon articulable intelligence or information which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts,” can link you to possible terrorism. As Scahill and Devereaux noted, words like “reasonable,” “articulable” and “rational” are not expressly defined. While the document outlines the need for an “objective factual basis,” the next section clarifies that “irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary” to make a final determination as to whether a suspicion is “reasonable.” So how could intelligence officials be led to put you on the watch list?

Funny they mention that:

2. You could post something on Facebook or Twitter that raises “reasonable suspicion.”

facebook twitter logos

According to the document, “postings on social media sites … should not be discounted merely because of the manner in which it was received.”

Someone who doesn’t like you reports you to a governnment bureaucrat, who thinks “what the heck, better safe than sorry!”, and will never be held accountable for it…

…and boom!  There you are!

(Whoops – can I say “boom” anymore?)

And if you think government wouldn’t do that?  Do you really think Lois Lerner was the only bureaucrat to abuse her authority for political ends?

3. Or somebody else could just think you’re a potential terror threat.

The guidelines also consider the use of “walk-in” or “write-in” information about potential candidates for the watch list. Nominators are encouraged not to dismiss such tips and, after evaluating “the credibility of the source,” could opt to nominate you to the watch list.

In other words, there are no checks and balances.

And these next two…:

4. You could be a little terrorist-ish, at least according to someone.

(Given the liberal fad of “Swatting” conservatives – calling the police to report a conservative is dealing drugs and child porn and guns out of their houses, to draw a swat team, it’s not an idle threat).  Or…

5. Or you could just know someone terrorist-y, maybe.

…should make your blood run cold, when you remember #6:

6. And if you’re in a “category” of people determined to be a threat, your threat status could be “upgraded” at the snap of a finger.

The watch-list guidelines explain a process by which the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism can move an entire “category of individuals” to an elevated threat status. It’s unclear exactly how these categories are defined, but according to the document, there must be “current and credible intelligence information” suggesting that the group is a particular threat to conduct a terrorist act.

And the Obama Administration has designated vast swathes of people who disagree with him as potential terrorists.

If you’re a pro-lifer?  Second Amendment activist?  Tax protester?  Land rights, Tenth Amendment, open-government, anti-war?  You name it – you could find yourself on the watch list for any reason.

Or…no reason at all:

7. Finally, you could just be unlucky.

The process of adding people to the terror watch lists is as imperfect as the intelligence officials tasked with doing so. There have been reports of “false positives,” or instances in which an innocent passenger has been subject to treatment under a no-fly or selectee list because his or her name was similar to that of another individual. In one highly publicized incident in 2005, a 4-year-old boy was nearly barred from boarding a plane to visit his grandmother.

And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.  There’s no due process; there’s noplace to file an appeal.

You’re screwed. Your liberties can be held hostage by any petty bureaucrat, any ex-spouse, anyone who really, wants to mess you up in the most passive-aggressive yet damaging way possible.

So I’d like to ask Kim Norton (if she takes questions, which she does not) – how many of our civil liberties does she believe should be subject to a secret list with no due process or accountability?

Komissar Kim Norton, MkKarthyist

We’ve gone around and around with Representative Kim Norton of Rochester.  Norton, who is retiring from the Legislature after this coming session, is going to be carrying Michael Bloomberg’s water; she’ll be sponsoring, so we’re told, a number of gun control bills.

Not that you can get a straight answer out of her; although she went into great detail in the Rochester Post-Bulletin in which she called for a “conversation about guns”, she also told anyone who wanted to engage in dialog (as opposed to echo-chamber monologue) that she really had no idea what she was going to put into any bill, and had nothing to talk about.

Which is kind of hilarious, if you think about it.

Of course, on Twitter over the holiday weekend, she found a specific proposal to support – from Bloomberg’s chief streetwalker in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand.

And her response (below) to MNGOPAC leader Bryan Strawser is one for the record books, and one that every Rochester voter should take up with Ms. Norton:  That’s right – for opposing denying civil rights to people who wind up on a non-transparent, easily-abused, unsupervised grab bag of names collected so willy-nilly it’s become the stuff of folk legends, for which the Feds don’t have to tell why, or even whether, you’re on it, Rep. Norton, one of the DFL’s inner circle thought leaders, equates you with a terrorist.

Remember when Democrats were opposed to mysterious starchambers handing down secret lists of enemies, with no transparency or accountability?  I’ll bet Rep. Nortdon does.

This is today’s DFL.

Question:  Do you suppose anyone in the media will question Rep. Norton on this?

Giving Up Freedom For Security…

France’s “state of emergency” is trampling whatever civil liberties the French may have actually thought they had.

Which, on the one hand, highlights what a different place the US is – where fundamental human rights are endowed by our creator, not an allowance from a benificent state (although big government has been leaching that away for decades, too).

And on the other, shows how fragile the freedoms are that we take for granted.

It also shows why the most important piece of gun legislation signed by Governor Dayton this past session was the law barring the State from confiscating legal guns during a “state of emergency”.

The Wrong Target

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals want to repeal the Second Amendment to stop gun violence. Seems to me the better solution is to repeal the Fourth Amendment.

If cops can stop-and-frisk anybody at any time for any reason or no reason, then there is no worry about racial profiling so cops can take guns away from the 8% of the population that commits 50% of the murders: young Black men in dangerous neighborhoods.

If cops can kick down any door at any time for any reason, they can disarm drug dealers who use firearms as tools of the trade, to defend their profits and kill poachers on their turf.

And if cops get a report about 20-something losers with a grudge, they can swoop in to take firearms before the next school shooting begins.

Why should anything about you be private from the government?  If you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide, right?

Joe Doakes

Heather? Jane?  Joan?

Rep. Norton?

I’d love to get their response…

Taking Back The Tenth Amendment By Default

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

America was founded on the belief that people were endowed by their Creator with certain rights, including the right to life, which carries with it the right to defend one’s life from those who would take it.  A gun-free zone denies effective self-defense which jeopardizes the right to life; it is an unjust law.


The classical philosophers from St. Augustine and Abraham Lincoln through Thoreau, Martin Luther King and Gandhi agree we have a moral duty to obey just laws, and a moral duty to disobey unjust laws.


Turns out, guns are common on that Oregon college campus despite the gun-free policy.   Lots of classical philosophers there.  Good for them!


Joe Doakes

That may be the best hope for democracy that we have; much of our society – at least between the Hudson and the Sierra Madre – is becoming in tune with the idea of nullifying laws by ignoring them.

At least when it comes to gun free zones, speed limits and the like.

You gotta start somewhere.


The American political class spends a lot of time imitating the British – or trying to – on things like national health care, traffic roundabouts, soccer, gun control…some of them even wish for a parliament.

But here’s hoping they can find the minimal guts to support something anyone smarter than Minnesota’s state government – meaning most everyone – knows is a huge, harmless improvement over the organic original, the e-cigarette?

The [Public Health England] report, which was overseen by Peter Hajek, a professor of clinical psychology at the Wolfson Institute for Preventive Medicine, and Ann McNeill, a professor of psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience at King’s College London, is very clear on the relative hazards of smoking and vaping:

While vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals which are present pose limited danger. It has been previously estimated that EC [electronic cigarettes] are around 95% safer than smoking. This appears to remain a reasonable estimate.

The evidence concerning e-cigarettes’ effectiveness in helping smokers quit is more limited but promising:

Recent studies support the Cochrane Review findings that EC can help people to quit smoking and reduce their cigarette consumption. There is also evidence that EC can encourage quitting or cigarette consumption reduction even among those not intending to quit or rejecting other support. It is not known whether current EC products are more or less effective than licensed stop-smoking medications, but they are much more popular, thereby providing an opportunity to expand the number of smokers stopping successfully.

It would seem to be a no-brainer; given a choice between losing the tar, the carbon monoxide, the second-hand smoke and the rest of smoking’s putative irritations, or keeping them but badgering them, go with A).

But “no brainer” is too complicated for Minnesota’s political class.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Eden: God created the world and holds all power over it. Residents have the right to do anything they please except eat of the fruit of one tree.

Monarchy: God delegated His powers to the king, who has the right to do anything he pleases. Residents have no rights, only privileges specifically granted to them by the king.  

United States of America in 1776: God gave all rights and powers to The People; the government has no rights and only the powers specifically granted to it by The Constitution.

Socialism: There is no God. Government bureaucrats hold all power and can do anything they please. Residents have no rights, only privileges specifically granted to them by The Party.

The Obama Administration . . . .

I’ll  take a guess; like Socialism, only with more snide pettiness.

Our Idiot Elite: Freedom Is Slavery, Winston

Was there a time when being published in The New Yorker meant you were a better, smarter, more capable writer than, say, a liberal blogger?

I dimly remember such a time.

But in reading Kalefa Sanneh’s “The Hell You Say” – an apologia for gutting the First Amendment and letting government decide how much freedom of speech we really need, because that’s the way Europe does it.

It’s a target-rich environment of bad research and lazy writing, a bit of journalism of entitlement that would fit in on Minnesota Progressive Project.

Yep.  That bad.

I picked one bit – in which Sanneh argues that unregulated speech as we know it really only started in the past 100 years due to – wait for it – white privilege:

This, in essence, was Justice Holmes’s rationale, in 1919, when he argued in an influential dissent that antiwar anarchists should be free to agitate. “Nobody can suppose that the surreptitious publishing of a silly leaflet by an unknown man, without more, would present any immediate danger,” he wrote. Free-speech advocates typically claim that the value of unfettered expression outweighs any harm it might cause, offering assurances that any such harm will be minimal. But what makes them so sure? America’s free-speech regime is shot through with exceptions, including civil (and, in some states, criminal) laws against libel.

Right.  But defamation requires both untruth and actual, tangible, real damages.  It’s intentionally hard to win a defamation / libel case.  For good reason.

By what rationale do we insist that groups—races, communities of faith—don’t deserve similar protection?

Races?  Who would file the petition?

Communities of faith?  Boy, are us Christians going to go to town when we lawyer up.

Many free-speech arguments turn on a deceptively simple question: what is speech? It’s clear that the protected category excludes all sorts of statements. (The First Amendment will be of no use to someone who writes a fraudulent contract, or who says, “Hand over your wallet and iPhone,” and means it.)

And in not knowing the difference between Speech and Robbery,Sanneh has not only forever destroyed The New Yorker as a source of useful journalism, but ousted Grace Kelly from her throne as the least cogniscent writer in the world.

The howlers come with a density that I’ve only rarely encountered, much less tackled.

Indeed, so insidiously bad is the piece that Greg Lukianoff mobilized ten free speech advocates to tackle and beat Saleh’s piece unconscious.

Read Sanneh to see the id of today’s left in action.

Read Lukianoff to see it dismembered.

There’s your assignment for the day.

Thoughts While Listening To Some Ron Paul Supporters Debating Whether To Support Rand Paul

CHUCK (a city councilman): Hey, the hardware store is on fire! Everybody grab a hose and a bucket!

BILL: Enh. All politicians are corrupt!

CHUCK: Yeah, but the hardware store! Lots of flammable paint! If it goes, all of Mainstreet burns down!

FRANK: All politicians are corrupt!

CHUCK: Right, right, you don’t like politicians, I get it. But all of your jobs are about to go up in smoke…

AL: To pretend there’s any difference between one politician and another is just stupid.

CHUCK: Right, right, got that. Look…actual fire, here. Needs to get put out. Are you hearing me…

STEVE: they’re all crony capitalists…

(Crowd natters away as a large “FOOOM” sound is heard, as the hardware store disappears in a large, multicolored gout of flame)

BILL: See! What good did politicians do?



Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

St. Paul wants to spend $1.2 million for body cameras, half of it a grant from the feds.

GoPro costs $500 each.  For the good ones.  Retail.

And there are chinese knockoffs for under $200 that, according to some sources, are even better.

But the political optics aren’t right for that…

What are we buying with the rest of the million dollars?

Joe Doakes

That would be so interesting to find out…

The Improper Wiring That Dare Not Speak It’s Name

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Guy who’s nuts shoots up his own apartment and sets fire to it.

Another guy who can legally own guns because he wasn’t committed.  The judge let him go.

The problem isn’t guns.  The problem is nuts.  The civil commitment laws make it nearly impossible to put away nuts where they’re unable to obtain guns.  If it were easier to obtain civil commitment, there’d be fewer of these incidents and less work for ACLU lawyers . . . a win-win!

Joe doakes


Which is why it’ll never happen.


Vicious Circle

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

It’s videos like the arrest of Sandra Bland, of cops who act like that, that make ordinary citizens lose respect for all police, which makes police feel more insular and more dependent on each other so they close ranks to protect all cops, even the crappy ones.  It’s a self-inflicted vicious cycle.

And the fact it’s a White cop abusing a Black woman on video isn’t just bad optics; in this Presidency, it’s automatically a racial incident.  The cops as a whole can’t seem to understand that each of these incidents not only inflames the Black community, it’s distasteful to the White community too and reduces our willingness to put up with it.

Look for some cops to get ambushed soon.  That’s how things are handled in the strata of society that can’t raise $500 bail to get their loved one out of a Texas jail – they have no meaningful access to the “justice” system so they utilize “alternative dispute resolution” which comes in 9mm parcels.

I took vacation days to stand the flag line with the Patriot Guard to honor fallen Marines returned from the war.  Armed citizens are taking vacation days to stand guard outside unarmed recruiting centers in Tennessee.  Nobody would volunteer to stand guard over cops having lunch so they aren’t ambushed.  There’s a deep and important lesson there, if only they would learn it.

Joe Doakes

Joe says “look for cops to get ambushed soon”; not sure if he’s counting the two New York cops killed late last year, in the wake of the Ferguson and Garner incidents.

In my 22 years in Saint Paul, I’ve met some good cops, and I’ve met some bad ones.  But it’s dawned on me in recent years that at the moment, “Law Enforcement” as an institution is perilously close to becoming the “Standing Army” that our forefathers warned us about; the arrogant mercenaries that care less about the people they’re defending than about the government that pays them.

I’m hoping some of the good cops figure this out sooner than later.

A Small Liberation

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has smacked down the Gestapo-like no -knock raids  on conservative dissidents:

In a ruling [yesterday] morning, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rendered official what observers have long known: Wisconsin Democrats did, in fact, launch a massive, multi-county “John Doe” investigation of the state’s conservatives, featuring extraordinarily broad subpoenas and coordinated “paramilitary” raids of private homes; the “crimes” that provided the investigation’s pretext were not crimes at all, but First Amendment-protected speech; and the legal theory underpinning the investigation was bunk, “unsupported in either reason or law,” as the court put it.

I can maintain a certain amount of intellectual attachment for most political stories – but the Wisconsin KGB makes me genuinely furious:

The raid victims have suffered severe, long-term consequences as a result of these raids. Almost to a person, they say they no longer feel secure in their own homes. They report watching what they say, terrified that overt political involvement could lead their homes to be invaded again. One victim said, “I tried to create a home where the kids always feel safe. Now they know they’re not. They know men with guns can come in their house, and there’s nothing we can do.” Another victim — whose son was home alone when police arrived, guns drawn — is haunted by this chilling thought: “He could have been in the shower. They could have broken the door down. He could have been shot. Over politics.”

The prosecutors involved need to be removed from public life.  I almost tried to type “public service”, but my fingers stopped and started smoking.   In a just world, they’d be perp-walked out of their homes in their underwear in front of the mocking and jeering of their former victims.

A free society can only remain free while the majority are pulling in the same direction – toward freedom.  Laws are, tautologically, needed for “the rule of law”.  Laws – especially excessive laws, which covers most “campaign finance” laws – are also the footholds by which the unscrupulous eat others’ freedoms.

You’re Crazy To Dissent!

In the 1970s – during Leonid Brezhnev’s kinder, gentler version of the Soviet Union – the gulags of the Lenin and Stalin regimes were largely replaced by “psychiatric hospitals”.

Since disssent from government was considered a mental illness in the Soviet Union, naturally, dissidents needed “treatment”.

Author Dinesh D’Souza – one of the Obama administration’s most prolific and articulate dissidents – got caught up a few years ago in one of the web of speech rationing laws. These laws – commonly referred to as “campaign-finance laws” – are intended to, and eventually will, make all political speech and activity, including (I predict) this blog, potentially prosecutable.

Judges and bureaucrats referring to speech as “illegal” is nothing new; it’s the battle freedom will always have to fight.

But using the psychiatric profession to beat down dissent?  It’s baaaack; D’Souza’s judge has ordered him, for a third time, to seek psychiatric treatment:

D’Souza’s defense counsel Benjamin Brafman provided evidence to the court that the psychiatrist D’Souza was ordered to see found no indication of depression or reason for medication. In addition, the psychologist D’Souza subsequently consulted provided a written statement concluding there was no need to continue the consultation, because D’Souza was psychologically normal and well adjusted.
But Judge Berman, who was appointed by Bill Clinton, disagreed, effectively overruling the judgment of the two licensed psychological counselors the U.S. probation department had approved as part of D’Souza’s criminal sentence.
“I only insisted on psychological counseling as part of Mr. D’Souza’s sentence because I wanted to be helpful,” the judge explained. “I am requiring Mr. D’Souza to see a new psychological counselor and to continue the weekly psychological consultation not as part of his punishment or to be retributive.

Point of basic logic to Judge Berman:  if you’re “requiring” the treatment, you’re not doing it to be helpful.

I Like To Be In America

To a big chunk of the left – and not a few on the far libertarian fringe – America is the worst thing ever.

I don’t bother prodding “progressives” too hard on the subject – why bother?

But with Wahhabi Libertarians, I’ve had a bit of sport asking “OK – if someone gave you an airplane ticket and told you to go somewhere with greater regard for personal liberty and freedom, all and all, where would you go?”

When I get an answer – and it’s a minority that actually tries – it’s usually someplace that’s made a big splash legalizing marijuana or raw milk or hemp jeans, or some other such vital freedom.   Almost inevitably, a quick examination shows the place they want to move crushes free speech, has a confiscatory tax structure, bans civilian gun ownership, has indulgent police powers, or some such.  The exception – the current Libertarian parlor subject, “Liberland“, a small “libertarian state” on the Danube between the Czech Republic and Croatia – would seem to be on the brink of being repoed by the Croatians.  And a liberty that can’t be defended is only a liberty until someone bigger and nastier takes it away (which is among the subjects of a certain book released last month and currently priced to move)

Anyway – the US takes its shots from the left, the right, and the none-of-the-above.  Including yours truly, at times.

And with all of that, it’s good, refreshing, and a useful perspective-check to remember the contortions some people go to to get here.

With A Rebel Yell

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Mark Steyn has a column up concerning the loss of American spirit in the present generation.  He’s onto something.

Firecrackers and bottle rockets have been illegal in Minnesota since I was a kid so my Dad had to drive to Wisconsin or South Dakota to get them.  My mother was stern with my brother and me: I don’t care what the song says, you can NOT start shooting fireworks at the dawn’s early light, you must wait until 8:00 a.m. because the neighbors are sleeping.  The entire rest of the day was an agonizing exercise in rationing – can’t shoot them off all at once, got to make them last.  A boy who ran out of firecrackers or bottle rockets before dark might die of embarrassment.

This year, I was up at dawn enjoying coffee in the peaceful stillness of my back yard.  Hmmm, no firecrackers?  Weird.  My wife dragged me to a craft sale in Roseville, quiet as church.  Did the entire metro go to the lake?  Where are the fireworks?  I didn’t hear my first explosion until nearly noon.  Seriously, there’s more gunfire in Frogtown on any ordinary Saturday than fireworks I heard on the 4th of July.

This nation is going down the tubes.  When ordinary citizens can’t be bothered to flout petty regulations, we might just as well call England and say “You were right, we are too stupid to be independent, sign us up for colony status.”  If I must be a serf to a ruler by fiat served by uncaring bureaucrats in a far-off city, I’d rather it be London than Washington, D.C.

Joe Doakes

Well, there was plenty of rebellion in my corner of Saint Paul on Saturday evening…

Amazing American Grace

The conclusion of Kevin Williamson’s piece on what the Fourth of July really means:

To be an American is to know a blessing that none of us has earned or merited, to have liberty not because we deserve it but because of who we are — endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights. None of us has earned that liberty, but we do have the opportunity — and it is precious — to live up to it. The Union army once had the courage and the confidence to march singing “Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!” Those men were facing a national crisis and physical horrors worse than anything our generation has known, or is likely to know. They endured: We have now seen 239 years of liberty and prosperity unprecedented in all of human history, a longer span of time than that which separated the Year of the Six Emperors from the fall of the Roman empire.

Call it the historical version of a lucky break?

No. Call it amazing grace. Glory, glory, hallelujah.

He compares liberty with the Christian notion of Grace – something we can have, but we can never earn by our own merits.

And you should read the whole thing.

Happy Independence Day weekend!

Community Hygiene

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Sen. Harry Reid wants expanded background checks:  “Is that asking too much? Couldn’t we at least do this little thing to stop people who are mentally ill . . . from purchasing guns?” Reid said on the Senate floor.

Den. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) specifically mentioned an effort aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of people diagnosed with mental illness.

President Obama noted last week that once again, someone got a gun who shouldn’t have had access to it.

The South Carolina church shooter sparked the talk but he wasn’t mentally ill, not according to existing law.  So Democrats are using bait-and-switch tactics to argue for restrictions on people who have Not been diagnosed with mental illness but who act strangely, hold unpopular opinions or have few friends.  After all, we must Do Something, before those lone-wolf weirdos snap and kill people.  Sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

One small problem:  it’s unconstitutional.

The Second Amendment was adopted to ensure Congress would not regulate firearms, because the Founders feared an arbitrary and powerful central government like the one they’d just thrown off.  In the Founders’ time, it was universally understood that children, felons and the mentally ill shouldn’t have firearms and those limitations continue, under District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 US 570 (2008).  But who are “the mentally ill?”

Federal law prohibits ownership by a “mental defective.”  There are court cases discussing whether “mental defective” is different from “mentally ill” for gun control purposes (mental defective might mean “retarded but not dangerous” and thus not be a disqualifying condition).  Leaving aside that hair-splitting, Federal law defines “mentally defective” as having been adjudicated such or committed to a mental institution. 18 USC 922(g)(4).  The Code of Federal Regulations, 22 CFR 478.11, further clarifies that “adjudicated” means a determination made by a court.

Yes, but so what?  Federal law, federal regulations, Congress can simply change them, right?  That’s where it gets tricky.  There are a long line of Supreme Court decisions holding that when the government acts to deprive a person of a fundamental Constitutional right, that person is entitled to Due Process consisting of, at a minimum, notice of the charges and a meaningful opportunity to be heard before a neutral decider.  That means a court must make the decision, after hearing, at which the burden is on the government and the accused has a chance to rebut the state’s case.

You’ve heard it’s nearly impossible to get a person committed these days, no matter how much they need it?  Clayton Cramer’s book “My Brother Ron” is a heartbreakingly frank, scrupulously researched account of how civil liberties lawyers created the case-law that now controls.  And the case-law is not limited to civil commitments: Due Process extends to mental illness for purposes of gun control, which means the government cannot deny guns to people merely because they are weirdos, act strangely, hold unpopular opinions or have few friends.

What the President and Democrat Congressional leaders propose to do is precisely what the Founders explicitly designed the Constitution to prevent.  The plan is unconstitutional on its face.  Of course, that’s never stopped Democrats before.

Joe Doakes

As we saw last week, the left isn’t above writing new law from the bench to suit “community” demands.

Liberty’s Broad, Broad Brush

Sometime today, check out Walter Hudson’s “Fighting Words” podcast.  I’m appearing on the show, along with Senator Brandon Petersen, talking about the “Liberty Minnesota” legislative scorecard.   I’m speaking in the dissent.  Sort of.

We’ll come back to that.

First Things First: Kudos to “Liberty Minnesota” for doing what too many “liberty” groups won’t; at least starting to get its hands dirty in the world of policy and legislative process.  Too many “liberty” groups, or at least too many “liberty” people, seem to think that sitting respendently above the fray snarking at activists to “Vote Harder!” and “Hey, how’s changing the party from the inside going for you?” with knowing, clubby chuckles amongst their fellow echo-chamberites is striking a blow for liberty.

So credit to Liberty Minnesota for doing the scorecard.

Now, the criticisms of the scorecard basically broke down as follows:

  • The final tabulation showed that Republicans and Democrats were tied at 33%.
  • The selected votes were cherry-picked to make Republicans look bad and Democrats look…not as bad as they are.
  • The selected votes were naive and betrayed a certain innocence about politics.

Let’s address each of them.

How’s That Again?:   Now, to be fair, the first comparison may be more properly leveled at some of “Liberty MN”‘s “liberty” supporters, who promptly took to social media and said “Look!  We were right!  There really is no difference between Republicans and Democrats!” and, in one particularly absurd factoid, “Tara Mack is worse for liberty than Phyllis Kahn”.

And my observation – and it’s only a personal observation – is that “Liberty MN” is pretty diligent about documenting and castigating Republican shortfalls on liberty issues, while glossing over the DFL’s crimes pretty lightly.  Again, it’s a personal observation.

Still, to the best of my knowledge, that’s not the line Liberty MN has taken in re the scorecard.

But even using “Liberty MN’s” numbers exactly as they are, from their scorecard (manually transposed to a spreadsheet), it’s not quite so close (while allowing that there might be some frictional errors from my manual transcription of numbers):

  • Entire Legislature:  Republicans 39% – Democrats 28%
  • Senate:   Republicans 48% – Democrats 19%
  • House:   Republicans 36% – Democrats 33%  (Either I made an error with the numbers, or Liberty MN did).

Among leadership, by the way, it’s even more lopsided:

  • Senate:  Dave Hann 65% – Tom Bakk 19%
  • House: Kurt Daudt 50% – Paul Thissen 33%

Hemp In, Raw Milk Out:  Still – any scorecard that shows the GOP and the DFL tied for “liberty” scores in the House must show us a problem – mustn’t it?

Take a moment to look at the issues that “Liberty MN” scored:

Click on it to see it full-size.

If you read the list, you notice a couple of things.  The issues certainly are “liberty” issues, all right; there’s a grab bag of economic, privacy, First, Second and Fourth Amendment, freedom of choice, tax and spending, environmental and other bills.

And at first glance, I observed that…:

Battle Lines:  These are not issues that largely break out on partisan lines.  Sunday Liquor Sales and the keeping of License Plate Reader data and many, many others among them break down on different lines; religious/union versus liberty, rural versus urban, religious/union versus free-market, Phyllis Kahn versus serious people – very few of the selected issues broke out by party.  Which is fine – as the estimable Walter Hudson says, it’s good to measure politicians on liberty issues qua liberty issues.

But it’s certainly not like 2013-2014, when many liberty issues – gun grabs, MNSure, forced daycare and PCA unionization, advancing business taxes and spending – did largely break out on partisan lines.

Still, I could cut the results some slack – except that the results are being used to try to wedge the GOP.  But then that’s not really Liberty MN’s fault.  What is their fault is the next two bits:

Take Two Freedoms:  Not all “Liberty” issues are included.   I’m not just talking about the omission of four of the five gun bills, including the Emergency Powers restriction, which struck me as by far the bigger liberty bill (but was also fairly bipartisan).

But you wills scour the “scorecard” in vain for any mention of:

  • The gas tax – a crushing attack on economic freedom, especially for the poor.  The GOP voted against it; the DFL supported it.
  • E-Cigarette regulation – a pointless regulatory assault on a legal, safe product that many are using to quit smoking – which may be the real reason for the assault.
  • Mandatory Pre-Kindergarten – perhaps “liberty” people don’t have kids.  Maybe they all home school.  I don’t know.  But I do know that the move to jam more kids into the public schools is not a position libertarians should support, it is  a position the DFL supports, it was DFL Governor Tina Flint-Smith’s Dayton’s short list of “Top priorities”, and it was at the very least a politically motivated appropriation and at most an expansion of state indoctrination.
  • The battle over the Pollution Control Agency’s Citizen Review Board, which is essentially an appointed, unaccountable group of environmental extremists who have veto power over mining – ergo “economic freedom” in Northern Minnesota
  • Any mention of efforts to reduce the power and scope of the Met Council.  Granted, none of those measures got anywhere in the Legislature – but then, neither did many of the issues that “Liberty MN” did select, like Phyllis Kahn’s bid to lower the voting age to 18.
  • The budget.  It certainly grew.  The GOP participated in the growth – although they controlled one chamber, and there’s a DFL governor, so the GOP’s power was limited.  And let’s be honest; it grew less than in either of the two DFL-controlled sessions; it was the third smallest increase in the past forty years.  That’s not ideal, but it’s not chicken feed under the circumstances.

Four of those six are, by my reckoning, fairly vital liberty issues.  All of them but the budget were pretty much GOP initiatives.  Several were flat-out GOP victories.  Including any of them would have changed the voting, especially in the House of Representatives.

Not sure if Liberty Minnesota thinks that’d be a feature or a bug, but I do plan on finding out.

I Wanna Make Some History:  So because of the bills selected and, arguably, not selected, you have all sorts of unintentional comedy.

  • Alice Hausman, a woman who never met a gun she wouldn’t grab or a private-sector dollar she wouldn’t seize, tied with laissez-faire Tea Party firerand Cindy Pugh.
  • Rena Moran, who would jam a single-payer healthcare system down your throat with both of her feet, outscoring Tony Cornish.
  • Tax hiking, gun grabbing govenrment power pimp Jim Davnie outscoring Kelly Fenton.

And on, and on, and on.

And so because of this selection of largely nonpartisan bills, The scorecard gives, intentionally or not, the impression that the GOP – a party that his lip service, often very imperfectly, to liberty – it’s basically the same as the DFL, Minnesota’s softcore Socialist party, the party that historically pimps for tax hikes, bloated budgets, high regulation, suburbs subsidizing intercity spending, gun control, The party that opposes school choice and economic development in the iron Range, when a cursory reading of history shows what an absurd Lee that is.

Question:  do you think if any votes on the six issues above – all of which had at least as much visibility in the legislature this session as some of the bills “Liberty MN” selected – had been considered, any of those absurdities would have persisted?

Clubbing: Oh, yeah – about the title.

A liberty supporter might say “liberties are liberties – we’re not going to pick and choose between them”.

And in the abstract, and for those of “liberty” groups, that may be perfectly fine.

But do I think the gas tax and mandatory pre-kindergarten or the Met Council affect more liberty for more people than, say, Sunday liquor sales? I certainly do, and I’m going to guess most people do too. Do I think a fourth amendment issue like license plate reader data is more important than a lifestyle issue like lowering the drinking age? I do – and I’m going to guess most people who pay attention to the ongoing decay of the fourth amendment do, as well.

Liberty people may not give weight different liberties. I do – and I think the failure to do so is a critical witness of the sort of scorecard.

I think that especially with as large and broad a swathe of votes as Liberty Minnesota used for their scorecard, they might have done well to break the issues up into categories – Personal Freedom, Economic Freedom, Social Freedom, Limiting Government and the like, and giving sub-ratings to legislators by category.  That may be counter to Liberty MN’s purposes; I think it serves Liberty in Minnesota’s purposes.

But To Summarize:  Again, I applaud Liberty Minnesota for doing this.  I hope it’s a step toward mobilizing some actual political clout on behalf of liberty issues in the legislature, and at election time – something the “liberty movement” in Minnesota has largely avoided so far.

Furthering the Discussion:  I’m currently looking forward to having Karl Eggers of “Liberty Minnesota” on my program on July 11 to discuss this.  And if you’re reading this, Karl, I just telegraphed my punches.  Merry early Christmas.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Laptop hard drive died, extended warranty sent tech to my house to replace it.  Charming Black woman, prompt and efficient but thick accent.  She’s from Ethiopia.  She said that if you get crosswise with the government, yourproperty can be seized and bureaucrats will harass youdeny you permitsaudit you.

I was afraid to ask her – are you talking about Ethiopia, or about being a Conservative in the United States of Obama?

Joe Doakes

To quote a great American statesperson: what difference does it make at this point?

Pod And Fury…

The Tea Party and me go way back.

In 2009 and 2010, I spoke at a couple of the big Tea Party rallies, including the big Tax Day 2010 rally at the Capitol, as well as more in other, smaller locales.

That’s me. Tax Day, 2010, addressing a couple of thousand people at the Tea Party rally on the State Capitol Mall. First person to call me a Camicia Nera gets smacked.

At the time, the Tea Party was a fairly organic thing; lots of little groups of people, angry about Obamacare and taxes and immigration and gun control and the general sense that Obama was going to sap the bejeebers out of whatever liberty, economic future and choice we had left.

One of my big memories of my big speech was asking the crowd “How many of you voted Republican in 2008?”. About half the crowd cheered.  “How many voted Democrat?”  A few people cheered, gingerly.  “How many voted Ron Paul?”   Many cheered lustily.  “How many would rather jab a screwdriver into your skull than vote for Ron Paul?”  Other cheered with gusto. “How many of you didn’t care because you hated politics?”  Many, many cheered.

What made the Tea Party so fun at the time was that it was that, as I discovered in my speech, it was a little bit of everyone.   And it worked; the Tea Party, and its outpouring of energy, was disproportionally responsible for flipping both chambers of the Minnesota House in 2010.

It was the biggest political tent I’d ever seen – because nobody involved knew enough to try to keep anyone out (except, of course, for liberals carrying signs designed to make the Tea Party look bad; we kept them out pretty handily).

The Tea Party – at least a part of the big, decentralized whole, anyway – seems to have unlearned that vital lesson.

Jack Rogers and Jake Duesenberg have built up a pretty big network of Tea Party groups around the metro.  The groups involve big monthly meetings, speakers, lots of education…

…and, well, I’m not sure what.

The other day on the Tea Party podcast with Jack Rogers and Jake Duesenberg, they took a run at the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance – one of the most accomplished, successful civil rights groups in the state.

Here’s what they had to say:

To closely paraphrase Duesenberg (it’s the first half of the clip above) – GOCRA does some big things, but they do it by playing the political game with politicians.  By doing this, they make incremental improvements, but fail to go for the BIG improvements in gun rights.

I think Duesenberg is trying to compare GOCRA’s approach – he calls it “Access-Based”, which to the non-access-based is a term that means “belonging to the country club” – with some of the more confrontation-based groups, whose model is based more around making a big noise (almost always in front of people who vigorously agree with you).  Groups like “Minnesota Gun Rights”, the Iowa-based group we’ve written about in the past, as well as some of the “liberty” groups that focus on building large groups of followers, and then…

…well, we’ll get back to that.

Of course, if you want to focus on confrontation, it helps to show you’re able to go politically medieval on your opponent.  For example:  while GOCRA certainly can work the “access” angle, they can also bring the political pain; ask the Capitol legislative assistants and receptionists how many phone calls they get when GOCRA puts out a call to their troops to melt the phone lines.  The phone lines melt; tens of thousands of calls, emails, letters and visits follow.  And behind those calls are votes; when GOCRA decided to confront the outstate DFLers in 2002 on “Shall Issue” carry reform, every single outstate DFLer that’d voted against carry permit reform lost their election.   Carry permit reform followed in the next session.

After 25 years of “access-based” lobbying mixed with “kicking opponents asses at the polls”, GOCRA has achieved something any grass-roots group should sit back and study; we’ve got a legislature where the GOP is 100% pro-gun, and where even the DFL is about evenly split, giving pro-gun forces a solid majority.  Think how much shooters in Colorado – where the push this past session was led by the “confrontation-based” National Association of Gun Rights, and was a complete fiasco – would like to have such a situation.

And between the combination of access-based influence carrots and “Bring the Pain!” political sticks, GOCRA got a hell of a lot done this session; barring gun confiscations in emergencies, repealing the capitol felony trap, expanding carry permit reciprocity, and bringing Minnesota into line with federal law on Suppressors and purchase of long arms in noncontiguous states.   Is there more to do?  Absolutely; much of it depends on getting a GOP governor into office.

So what has the Tea Party done lately?

I’m not saying that to needle Jack and Jake; I say let a thousand flowers bloom.

But when you say “GOCRA would like…” to a legislator, they sit up and pay attention – either because they like or respect GOCRA and its leadership, or because they loathe but fear them for what they can do at the polls.   And when you’re trying to get policy passed, being liked or feared are equally useful.

So here’s your question:  when it comes to influencing votes on policy, do people like and respect the Tea Party (or Jake’s guest, “Liberty Minnesota”, a libertarian group that seems to spend a lot of time riffing on Republicans and, occasionally, obliquely, DFLers) enough to extend themselves on their behalf when  it comes to voting on policy?

Or, failing that, do they legitimately fear what the Jack and Jake Brigade is going to do to them at the polls in November?

As someone who was doing the Tea Party before the cool kids were involved, I’d love to see the Tea Party legitimately do all three.

Can anyone honestly say they do?

Because until they do, they’re no better than the Libertarian Party; a bunch of people sitting around a room vigorously agreeing with each other.

Bonus Question:  To pick a constitutional liberty out of the ether for an example; how do you think “Constitutional Carry” – changing Minnesota to a “no permit” state, like Vermont, Alaska, Wyoming, Arizona or Kansas – is going to happen:

  • Via a judicious combination of carrots and sticks, both during sessions and on the campaign trail, to get the Legislature to pass it, or
  • People sitting around in rooms bellowing about how awful it is that it hasn’t been passed yet?

Any bets?