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.

Dislocation

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?

Bark For Your Treat, Part IV

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

My neighbor just renewed her Permit to . . . okay, you get the picture.

The Revolutionary War started in 1776 and ended in 1783.  The Constitution was adopted in 1787, four years after the war ended.  What were the Founders doing all that time?  Thinking.  Studying.  Debating.  Trying to answer the most basic questions: what is government?  What is it for?  What is its purpose?  What should it Do and what should it Not Do?

Some people wanted a king, some wanted a strong parliament, some wanted the power of government severely limited.  As for the people who favored the Constitution, we know what they were afraid of and why because we can read their thoughts in pamphlets.  We know which rights they found particularly important to protect from government, because they made a special point of adding the Bill of Rights as the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

The Founders warned us that the right to keep and bear arms is the right that secures all the others.  If The People lack the means to force the government to back off, The People do not have Rights, they merely have Privileges awarded on whatever conditions are set by whomever is running the government at the moment.  My prior posts on Permit to Vote, Permit to Pray, Permit to Publish are intended to highlight just how differently modern society treats the right to keep and bear arms, a distinction the Founders would have found utterly abhorrent.

Joe Doakes

Pretty sure our founders would have long since moved on to another country if they came back to life today.

Poland, maybe.  Some place that appreciates freedom.

Rights, Schmights

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails as part of a theme he’s had for a couple days:

My neighbor just renewed her Permit to Reproduce.  She’s good to go for another five years.

You didn’t know about that?  Oh yes, it turns out that Deciding to Have a Child is not a Right protected by the Constitution, it’s a Privilege given by the government to those who qualify.  Applicants must be over 21 years of age, reside in this country legally, take a class at personal expense, demonstrate proper technique before a certified evaluator, show photo ID and submit an application with payment of fees to the County, authorize release of medical data and criminal history . . . it’s fairly involved, requires planning ahead and costs a bit of money.  But the permit is necessary to ensure no child is born unwanted, or born into poverty.  It’s a common sense birth-control requirement.

Wait, did I say Reproduce?  I meant Carry.  Sorry, my bad.

Joe Doakes

Someone’s gotta make sure we’re using our rights correctly.

Bark For Your Treat

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

My neighbor just renewed her Permit to Publish. She’s good to go for another five years.

You didn’t know about that? Oh yes, it turns out that Publishing a blog is not a Right protected by the Constitution, it’s a Privilege given by the government to those who qualify. Applicants must be over 21 years of age, reside in this country legally, take a class at personal expense, demonstrate proper technique before a certified evaluator, show photo ID and submit an application with payment of fees to the County, authorize release of medical data and criminal history . . . it’s fairly involved, requires planning ahead and costs a bit of money. But the permit is necessary to ensure safe spaces for readers, free of controversial opinions and micro-aggressions. It’s a common sense speech-control requirement.

Wait, did I say Publish? I meant Carry. Sorry, my bad.

Joe Doakes

It’s OK.  In another generations, everyone will grow up believing rights come from government.

Trulbert: A Comic Novella About The End Of The World As We Know It


Welcome, Instapundit Readers!  Thanks for stopping by!  By the way, one of Glenn’s commenters referenced “Berg’s Law” – here they are.


My first book, Trulbert, hits Amazon on Monday; it’ll be available for Kindle and compatible e-book readers.

Trulbert___A_Comic_Novella_About_the_End_of_the_World_As_We_Know_It_-_Kindle_edition_by_Mitch_Berg__Literature___Fiction_Kindle_eBooks___Amazon_com_

The book asks the rhetorical question “What if the world shrugged before Atlas did?”

What if every Libertarian purist, every anarchist, everyone who ever walked out of an IRS audit, got their fondest wish, and – poof – government disappeared overnight?  What would happen?

Would the world spontaneously sort itself into a functioning order, and society – now the assortment of individual, autonomous bits of pure reason that some of the Founders dreamed of – prosper and be perfectly happy?  Would mankind spontaneously order the world into the Best Possible one?

Or would the baser impulses of human nature – laziness, demagoguery, evil, or unfamiliarity with the works of Ludwig Von Mises – rot the utopia from the outside in?

The book explores those questions through mankind’s greatest analytical tool – broad, tongue-in-cheek hamfisted satire.

The book takes place from the perspective of a group of neighbors in South Minneapolis:

  • Paul Hendrickson, a mild-mannered, anxiety-prone married father of three and project manager at a Minneapolis healthcare claims software company, and his family
  • Hana Codriciu, a Romanian immigrant and budding American success story, owner of “Dripping With Irony”, a coffee shop plagued with hipsters but percolating with promise
  • Dave Os, firebrand libertarian activist and unpublished anarcho-capitalist philosopher
  • Myron Ilktost, henpecked Methodist church deacon
  • Jessica Hardman, glamorous TV anchor and hard-nosed journalist in the tradition of Chelsea Clinton

Together, these people and a cast of thousands navigate a world where the old assumptions are as obsolete as an iPhone 3, and are changing faster than Google’s definition of “evil”; a world with simultaneously no authority and infinite power.

A world pretty much like ours, only upside down.

Trulbert:  A Comic Novella about the End of the World As We  Know It is available for pre-order today and tomorrow, and will be released on Amazon on Monday!

On Talking With Every Large “Libertarian” Organization In Minnesota

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is picking out a cordless drill at Menard’s.    Egbert FLEGEL, Chairmain of Liberty Uber Alles Minnesota, almost literally bumps into BERG.  

FLEGEL:  Hey, Merg.

BERG:  Hey, Egbert.  What’s new?

FLEGEL:  Oh, we’re just carrying on the fight for liberty.  We’re about to put together the Liberty Uber Alles 2015 scorecard on the Minnesota Legislature.

BERG:  Ah. So what issues does the scorecard focus on?

FLEGEL:   Well, the Minnesota GOP got in the way of restoration of felon rights, marijuana legalization, raw milk legalization, they didn’t fight hard enough against photo license readers, they stood in the way of marjuana legalization, they dropped the ball on data deletion, they didn’t work hard enough to kill the “Kingfisher” cell-phone-eavesdropping system, they didn’t fight hard enough for Constitutional Carry, they didn’t do enough to atone for opposing gay marriage, they didn’t work for marijuana legalization, they’re still pro-life, they allowed the DFL Senate and Governor to increase the budget, they didn’t decriminalize Marijuana, they failed to legalize gambling, they failed to roll back the taxpayer subsidies of stadiums, they didn’t roll back property forfeiture, and they didn’t legalize marijuana.

BERG:  Huh.  Not very liberty-friendly.

FLEGEL:  Nope!

BERG:  How about the DFL?

FLEGEL:  The who?

And SCENE.  

Expectations

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The newest racial incident involving police:

I had to laugh early in the tape when I heard a girl with a Black accent yell at a cop “I’m calling my mother on you.”

Honey, if you had a Mother worthy of the title, you wouldn’t be threatening to call her on the cops; you’d be praying to God the cops didn’t call her on YOU.

If I went home and said: “Mom, the cops were mean to me at the race riot,” I’m dead certain her response would NOT be: “Those dirty sons of guns, oppressing your First Amendment Rights, we’ll sue them.”

I’m dead certain her response would be: “You went to a race riot?  What the Hell is wrong with you?  Wait till your Father gets home.”

Of course, I had a Mother who gave a damn and a Father who came home.  I guess I need to check my privilege.

Joe Doakes

The “Texas pool party” incident has been interesting on a couple of levels.

Counting Those Chickens:  The burgeoning “Cops are guilty until proven innocent, because Video!” crowd that is so in vogue on the left and among some Libertarians should get some pause with this case, as it seems – if you believe the pushback from the police union, anyway – that there was a big ugly incident before the video starts, with trespassing and fighting and assaults, which the local, mostly black, residents called in to the police.

I said “Should”.  They won’t, of course.   Dogma means never having to say you’re sorry.

Pathology Verging On A Berg’s Law:  As we’ve learned after every high-profile mass-shooting, as well as after every controversial, racially-tinged event in recent years; the mainstream media will get all the basic facts wrong for the first 2-3 weeks.  Any impression of any ambiguous event will be colored by the fact that the mainstream media – everyone from CNN to MPR – will, without exception, be simultaneously be playing the story for sensationalist ratings, and have coverage that is entirely at the mercy of sources who are in the bag for one side of the story or another (and that side is usually the “progressive” one).

The media won’t give honest coverage to a story like this, or Ferguson, or Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown, until it’s not a “sexy” headline-grabber anymore.

Hobby Horses:  Don’t get me wrong.  I have a serious beef with bad cops – and lazy, entitled and incompetent ones, too.  I’ve encountered some of each in my time in Saint Paul – along with good, even excellent, ones who came through when my family and I really needed it.

And I understand why young (and not-so-young) black males and their supporters are concerned about prejudice and the dangers it brings.  I say this while remembering that young black males do commit a disproportionate amount of crime.

And, most interestingly, while the “Cops are guilty until proven innocent” crowd has a thin veneer of urban activists, that veneer is wrapped around a lot of white liberals – and, increasingly, libertarians, who, God bless ’em, are as white as it gets.

More interesting still?  I’ve seen research that shows black inner-city residents support aggressive, strong policing.  Not every aspect of it, and not everything aggressive cops do, of course – but they, the people who live daily with the worst that urban culture provides, tend to want the cops to have a solid, aggressive (and fair, and just, and even-handed) presence in the neighborhood.

As with most such stories? I’m pretty much sick and tired of everyone.

Force Protection

It seems the St. Paul Police Department and/or the Ramsey County Sheriff office (the article is a little unclear on which) has gotten itself involved in a First Amendment case.

Now, to me, the case itself, involving a police dustup with of those “First Amendment activists” who seems to have all the time in the world to prowl the streets with a video camera trolling for the faintest whiff of police misconduct – is less interesting than this quote from an officer of the St. Paul police union (Emphasis added):

“I don’t know of a time in our profession where we as cops have needed to be any more vigilant about our personal safety and the security of our facilities, than the present,” said Mark Ross, treasurer of the St. Paul police union.

Blame it on cable TV; cops aren’t the only ones who think it’s the most dangerous time in history.

It’s not:

Even with the uptick in the past year or two, it’s less dangerous than it was five years ago.  Or ten years ago.  There are are 1/4 fewer cop killings than there were 20 years ago.  And less than half as many as a little over forty years ago; 1973-74 were more dangerous than 9/11.

I added emphasis to this part:

“There are safety considerations too numerous to list as to why a person making videos of police officers and police facilities creates enough reasonable suspicion to stop, detain and identify somebody engaged in that type of activity.”

Too numerous to list?  No, I think it’s worth a little time and discussion.

Go ahead and list the “safety considerations” of people videotaping cops, officer.

Every last one of them.

I get it; the “video activist” involved was one of those pains in the ass who’s constantly sniffing around looking for something to wave around; he’s sort of like an assistant county attorney, if you think about it.

But let’s hear the “safety considerations” that a guy with a camera offers you that every other person out there, no matter what they’re doing, doesn’t also present every police officer, everywhere.

I’m serious.

If You Can Keep It

I’m not going to say that this is the most depressing thing I’ve read in ages

…oh, the hell I’m not.  It absolutely is:

YouGov’s latest research shows that many Americans support making it a criminal offense to make public statements which would stir up hatred against particular groups of people. Americans narrowly support (41%) rather than oppose (37%) criminalizing hate speech…

And yes, as PJ O’Rourke reminded us, the ones who’d burn the Rights of Man to save the snail darter are mostly left of the aisle: 

…but this conceals a partisan divide. Most Democrats (51%) support criminalizing hate speech, with only 26% opposed. Independents (41% to 35%) and Republicans (47% to 37%) tend to oppose making it illegal to stir up hatred against particular groups. Support for banning hate speech is also particularly strong among racial minorities. 62% of black Americans, and 50% of Hispanics support criminalizing comments which would stir up hatred. White Americans oppose a ban on hate speech 43% to 36%.

 

And just so we’re clear – “stir up hatred” doesn’t mean “actively advocate violence”, which is already illegal.  This refers to, for lack of a better term, offensive speech.

I’m becoming genuinely depressed about the future of this country, as a country.

The Racism Of The Gun Grabbers: Part MMMXLVIII

I’ve had the occasional liberal complain to me that I’m being overly broad when I say that all gun control efforts are rooted in racism.

Why yes, of course, gun control’s history is rooted in the ongoing effort to disarm black slaves, freedmen, and citizens from colonial times through the Jim Crow era.

And yes, modern gun control was launched as a white liberal response to the inner-city riots of 1968.

“But surely things have changed”, they say.

Surely they have not; the secret committee that issues carry permits in Illinois, with no review and no accountability, is denying permits to law-abiding black people at a rate vastly higher than white Illinoisans (Illinosians?  Illlinoids?):

One such example, Michael Thomas was puzzled that as a former Air Force reservist who routinely carried a gun during military service and has never had a run-in with the law, was turned down, even though the law does not afford police the discretion to deny permits to those who meet the prerequisites and who are not legally prohibited. But Thomas is just one of more than 800 people who have been denied licenses by the board. This board meets behind closed doors and keeps its records and reasoning secret. Even when applicants meet all the criteria, the board says they have no obligation to explain themselves… even when it seems clear that the only disqualifying factor is the color of the applicant’s skin.

Thomas wrote to the Illinois State Police, requesting a review of the decision, assuming that it must have been a mistake.

“I have never been arrested or convicted of any offense, either misdemeanor or felony, in the state of Illinois or any other state,” Thomas explained in his letter. “I have no criminal record of any type.”

The state police sent him a letter back, saying that the board’s decisions couldn’t be reviewed. Thomas, they explained would have to petition a court in order to appeal.

Fortunately, guns remain the one area where the the tide of liberty is rising, and all boats are being lifted: 

So that’s what Thomas did. He joined 193 other Illinoisans – many of whom happen to be African Americans – in filing lawsuits against the state police. Interestingly, few Caucasians who applied for the permit in Illinois have found themselves denied, even when their records are a bit more tarnished (though without felonies), than Thomas’s squeaky-clean background.

It’d be unseemly for a Second Amendment supporter to deny a state – even a state as patriarchal and authoritarian as Illinois – its’ Tenth Amendment rights to administer laws reserved to it the way its elected representatives decide.

Unless, of course, the 14th Amendment is being piddled on.

Here’s hoping this case has the same impact as Heller and McDonald.

 

If You Can Keep It

Once upon a time, at the end of the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what the result had been – a monarchy or a republic.

Franklin famously replied “A Republic – if you can keep it”.

There are times I despair of the idea that The People of this country actually can keep it.

 

The LA Times Is To “Science” As Public Rest Rooms Are To “Rest”

I’ve been beating up media figures and their attempts to besmirch the Second Amendment and its defenders for most of the past thirty years, in one form of media or another; talk radio, newsletters, email list-servers, the blog, and talk radio again.

And I’ve noticed two major trends:

  • As the actual facts about guns and society get out to real people, and the pendulum swings ever-further in favor of human rights,  the true, die-hard orcs just get worse and worse, and sloppier and sloppier, at plying their dubious trade.  Example:  Heather Martens has never been one to fall back on fact in stating her case (she’s never once in her career made a substantial, factual original statement), but lately she’s sounded more and more like a banana-republic dictator protesting the health of her regime as things swirl down the drain.
  • On the other hand, the orcs continue to excel at their one useful skill; manipulating a biased, gullible and un-bright mainstream media.  And the latest tool toward that end is “science”.

No, really;  Harvard professor David Hemenway pretty much leads off his piece in the LATimes by not only trying to wrap himself in “science”, but admitting that it’s a tool for bludgeoning people into obeisance:

 

One of the reporters I complained to said that he had covered climate change for many years. He explained that journalists were able to stop their “balanced” reporting of that issue only when objective findings indicated that the overwhelming majority of scientists thought climate change was indeed happening, and that it was caused by humans.

So we’re off to a great start.

Hemenway’s goal; to do to coverage of the Second Amendment what politicized science has done for coverage of climate change.

And the method toward this “science” is the kind of intellectual clown car that might pass muster with leftybloggers, but not with anyone who can outthink sea monkeys:

So I decided to determine objectively, through polling, whether there was scientific consensus on firearms. What I found won’t please the National Rifle Assn.

The NRA might not have been “pleased” by what Professor Hemenway had to say, but only because they, like all of us pro-human-rights media activists, are so un-freaking-Godly bored by refuting the same intellectual effluvium, over and over and over again.  Which, naturally, they have done.

But this is my article – and to paraphrase the great Dexter, it’s a wonderful day to throw rocks and garbage at BS that’s mislabeled “science”: 

My first step was to put together a list of relevant scientists. I decided that to qualify for the survey the researcher should have published on firearms in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and that he or she should be an active scientist — someone who had published an article in the last four years. I was interested in social science and policy issues, so I wanted the articles to be directly relevant. I was not interested in scientists doing research in forensics, history, medical treatment, psychiatric issues, engineering or non-firearms (for example, nail guns, electron guns).

Most of the scientists who were publishing relevant articles were from the fields of criminology, economics, public policy, political science and public health.

So let’s recap:

  • Hemenway sought “scientific consensus” – a term that is itself unscientific.
  • He sought it primarily from “researchers” in fields that are, except for public health, not really “sciences” at all, and are generally famous for their shoddy standards and politicized nature of their research.
  • He sought it from people working at institutions (and even moreso, academic departments) where Constitutionalist, Originalist, conservative/libertarian thought has been largely extinguished, where academics who exhibit same can find their tenure denied and careers threatened.
And his conclusion:

This result was not at all surprising because the scientific evidence is overwhelming. It includes a dozen individual-level studies that investigate why some people commit suicide and others do not, and an almost equal number of area-wide studies that try to explain differences in suicide rates across cities, states and regions. These area-wide studies find that differences in rates of suicide across the country are less explained by differences in mental health or suicide ideation than they are by differences in levels of household gun ownership.

I’ll let you read the entire thing at your own leisure; the howlers keep coming.

I’ll sum it up for you; Hemenway:

  • managed to find a stratum of academics who manage to generate “scientific” effluvium about the danger of guns that manages to ignore the statistical fact that while the number of guns has skyrocketed and the liberality of gun laws has vastly increased in the past 20 years, violent and gun-related crime has dropped by half
  • found “public health” researchers who claim – via “metastudies”, or studies of other studies – that suicide is related to the availability of guns rather than mental health, even though the suicide rates of many nations that strictly control or ban guns are vastly higher than ours.
There are times that I wish the orcs could at least come up with an advocate who’d make it interesting.

Open Letter To Governor Scott Walker

To:  Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconson and current #1 on my short list for President in 2016
From:  Mitch Berg, Irate Peasant
Re:  The Evil In Your State

Governor Walker,

As you are aware – since it’s been used against you – your state has a cranny in its law that allows prosecutors (inevitably “progressives”) to use the police to simultaneously harass and gag the subjects of their politically-motivated “investigations” (inevitably conservatives and tea-partiers).

For the family of “Rachel” (not her real name), the ordeal began before dawn — with the same loud, insistent knocking. Still in her pajamas, Rachel answered the door and saw uniformed police, poised to enter her home. When Rachel asked to wake her children herself, the officer insisted on walking into their rooms. The kids woke to an armed officer, standing near their beds. TOP STORY: Ted Cruz Defends His Defense of the Second Amendment The entire family was herded into one room, and there they watched as the police carried off their personal possessions, including items that had nothing to do with the subject of the search warrant — even her daughter’s computer.

And for a  nice, Stalinist tinge to the whole thing?

And, yes, there were the warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t talk to anyone about this. Don’t tell your friends. The kids watched — alarmed — as the school bus drove by, with the students inside watching the spectacle of uniformed police surrounding the house, carrying out the family’s belongings. Yet they were told they couldn’t tell anyone at school. They, too, had to remain silent.

Governor Walker – if you want to seize the “liberty” high ground from Rand Paul, I urge you to use the full weight of your office against the public officials responsible for these Stalinist atrocities.

Your state’s “progressive” thugs in suits are doing Orwell proud:

  For dozens of conservatives, the years since Scott Walker’s first election as governor of Wisconsin transformed the state — known for pro-football championships, good cheese, and a population with a reputation for being unfailingly polite — into a place where conservatives have faced early-morning raids, multi-year secretive criminal investigations, slanderous and selective leaks to sympathetic media, and intrusive electronic snooping. Yes, Wisconsin…was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.

Oh, the court system is wending its leisurely way toward a decision, surely enough:

The first ruling, from the Wisconsin supreme court, could halt the investigations for good, in part by declaring that the “misconduct” being investigated isn’t misconduct at all but the simple exercise of First Amendment rights. The second ruling, from the United States Supreme Court, could grant review on a federal lawsuit brought by Wisconsin political activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the first conservatives to challenge the investigations head-on. If the Court grants review, it could not only halt the investigations but also begin the process of holding accountable those public officials who have so abused their powers. 

I’m going to hope and pray – and maybe find something more tangible to do – that the courts involved haven’t given in to complete madness, and that this whole criminal enterprise is exposed, humiliated and obliterated.

And so, Governor Walker, I’ll ask you this:  if the courts rule against the scumbag prosecutors (and if they don’t, I truly despair for the Republic), I’d like to urge you to make examples of these pieces of human garbage.  Arrest them in no-knock raids early in the morning; haul them out of their houses, in their underwear, in front of news cameras (and if Wisconsin’s chickensh*t liberal major media won’t cover it, give the conservative alt-media a call).  Have the trials on camera.   If they’re found guilty – and they’d best be – then stick them in the most maximum of maximum security.

Because if there’s anything worse than breaking the law, it’s perverting it.  And the sooner America’s Brahmins, the Prosecutor class in “progressive” cities, get the message – and the more brutally it’s rammed home until they do – the sooner this country can maybe start achieving some of that “Freedom” and “Liberty” mumbo jumbo.

That is all.

Trulbert! Part XXXVIII – The Matador’s Waltz

– 4:25 PM, November 7, 2015 – The Sub-Basement Under That One Really Undistinguished Office Building, on Nicollet, or maybe Marquette Avenue, Downtown Minneapolis, MN

Hendrickson raced up a stairway from the tunnel, hearing Ilktost’s footsteps echoing behind him.

He found himself in a dark room full of shelves.  He quietly padded off behind a set of shelves, willed himself to stop panting and listened.

He heard Ilktosts footsteps shuffle along…

…and past.

Continue reading

Trulbert! Part XXXVII – Armagitdown

 – 3:55 PM, November 7, 2015 – Inside the Federal Reserve, Downtown Minneapolis, MN

“Looks like they’re maneuvering to surround us”, Os muttered as he stared through the window from the second story of the Federal Reserve building.

“That’s what I’m counting on”, said Fleen.

The two men, along with Hendrickson, crouched behind a rough barricade of government-issue desks and file cabinets that they’d piled near the window as rough shelter from…

probably nothing they’ve got, thought Hendrickson, remembering how he’d seen the bullets from the socials tear through just about everything in their paths.

Fleen pulled a small gray case from his messenger bag, opened it, and withdrew an absurdly large pistol.  Looks like something from a comic book, thought Hendrickson.

“So you’re going to shoot at them with a pistol?” Os asked Fleen, his voice quavering and on the edge of despair.

“In a manner of speaking”, Fleen replied absently, loading a cartridge.

Continue reading

Trulbert! Part XXXVI – The Fat Lady Dons Her Helmet

– 2:45 PM, November 7, 2015 – Outside Forever 21 Stadium, Downtown Minneapolis, MN

The column of 40 socials came off the freeway exit from South Minneapolis, and rendesvouzed with Ilktost’s force in the parking lot of the new Viking stadium.

Close to 80 socials were now lined up and ready to press the offensive into downtown, along with a few hundred infantry that would support the trucks up close.

Ilktost stood as tall as he could in the back of the lead truck.

“Methodists!  There is no turning back!  If we lose, we lose everything!  So advance to victory – or death!”

The Methodists cheered, as Ilktost’s truck started moving up Chicago Avenue the other trucks falling into line behind, the whole column turning left on to Washington to begin the final push downtown.

Continue reading

Turn This Motherland Out

SCENE:  Happy Hour at the Nomad, in the Five Corners area of Minneapolis’ West Bank.  A group of Twin Cities Ron Paul supporters is having a happy hour before Rep. Paul’s speech at the U of M.  Mitch BERG is enjoying a Jack and Coke.  

Bill GUNKEL, chairman of the Inver Grove Heights chapter of Former Republicans for Ron Paul, notices Berg.

GUNKEL:  I wish Doctor Paul were running for president.

BERG: Well, at least you have Rand.

GUNKEL:  Pffft.  Rand has become a RINO squish.

BERG: Well, there is the little matter of actually having to get something done in a Senate with 40+ members who actively do like big government.

GUNKEL:  I’m surprised Doctor Paul hasn’t disowned him.

BERG: So why the animosity?

GUNKEL:  He’s gone all Warvangelical on foreign policy.

BERG:  Warvangelical?  More like realistic.  I mean, you have seen what Putin’s been doing, right?  Returning Europe to the Cold War?

GUNKEL:  Well, doy.  We make client states of all their former Republics, and we surround them with bases.  I daresay we’d be paranoid, too.

BERG:  Wait – did you just call breakaway parts of the former Soviet Union “their former Republics?”

GUNKEL:  Well, duh.  That’s what they are.

BERG: Well, in a sense.  But outside of Russia itself, the “former republics” were all either absorbed over history by the Czars, or forcibly annexed by the Soviets.  Anyone that spoke for independence, or even autonomy, would wind up in the Gulag.  And if the Soviets felt “their” republics were getting uppity, they’d turn the screws.  The Soviets starved millions of Ukrainians to death in the thirties to enforce their land policy.  They also deported entire ethnic groups from their ancestral homes, and replaced them with Russians – which is why Crimea “broke” from Ukraine last year.

GUNKEL:  Doctor Paul never talked about this…

BERG: …I don’t imagine he did…

GUNKEL:  …so I don’t believe it.

BERG:  Of course you don’t.  There’s a reason places like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia and many others revere Ronald Reagan; he gave them their chance at self-determination and getting out of the Russian orbit – in some cases for the first time since 1920, in others for the first time in hundreds of years.   To ignore that is either ignorant or intellectually dishonest.

GUNKEL:  Sort of like surrounding the Russians with military bases.

BERG: Yeah – you do know that from 1945 to the late eighties, the Soviets maintained an expressly offensive military posture toward Northern, Western and Southern Europe.  Right?  And those bases were put there to defend against that ?  And honest people can debate whether and how much those bases are still needed against Putin – but they can’t deny the history.

Presuming they knew it in the first place.

GUNKEL:  Hey – was that a shot at me?

BERG:  Not as far as you know.

And SCENE. 

Questions For Ron Paul And His Disciples

I didn’t get a chance to see Ron Paul at the U last night.  And even if I had, I’m not sure I’d have gone.

Partly it’s because I just don’t so much care to listen to politicians in my off time.  Even politicians I generally like.  Unless a politician offered some major insights to Western Civilization – a list I pare down to Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and not a whole lot more – they don’t generally interest me (beyond those that are personal friends, which is a whole ‘nother thing).

I went to a happy hour before the Paul event, at the Nomad over in Five Corners.  A few people asked me if I were planning on going; I replied “No, sorry – I already had unicorn farts for lunch”.

Which is a little harsh and dismissive, I know.  I’m a former Libertarian, and agree with Libertarians about a lot of things…

…in theory.  And, in a lot of ways, in practice.  The idea of limiting government – getting it out of as many interactions we can between people, and limiting peoples’ interactions with the state, and the burdens the state places on the individual, to the barest minimum necessary – is good.  Also conservative.  And, in a perfect world, Republican – although the GOP falls woefully short of this ideal in so, so, so many ways that it gets depressing sometimes.

Ron Paul certainly has a way of stirring up activism.  He does it by talking about a brand of politics that relies on absolute adherence to what he calls – and his disciples chant – “principles”.  Principles are, of course, the bedrock of a cohesive philosophy, and the basis for any sense of integrity.  And when combined with an unwillingness to sully them with any contact with the ambiguities of the real world, they’re also a straitjacket that limits ones’ political impact, and even horizons, to the absolute distillation of ones’ beliefs and nothing more.

Which is satisfying to think about – spending one’s political days vigorously agreeing with people like you – and never, ever occurs in nature.

Anyway – I’d have loved to have gone to see Ron Paul last night – if he’d have been answering questions.  Because I have a few for him.

The Hothouse Flower: The easiest way for a “libertarian” conservative to get thrown under the bus by your disciples, Representative Paul, is to compromise on any political issue with any “liberty” aspect to it. At all. Ever. No matter how abstruse.

It appears as if it the “libertarian” base doesn’t realize that a good 40+ percent of the population is perfectly happy with big government, and that some sort of compromise – that being the origin of the term “politics” – is inevitable.

As a result, it would seem to be impossible to implement “a libertarian society” at a policy level, by legislative action (since legislatures inevitably involve compromise); the only way, in fact, to implement a “libertarian society” would be through a libertarian absolute, if wise and benevolent, dictator who imposed libertarianism on society from above.

How am I wrong here?

People Are Strange: One of conservatism’s core tenets is that humans, left to their own devices without any sort of overarching moral code, are fundamentally corrupt and untrustworthy.

Pure libertarianism seems to believe that people, in their hearts of hearts, are yearning primarily to be reasonable, and are spontaneously moral. I’m not sure that anything in libertarianism says this in as many words, but you, yourself, Mr. Paul, have imlied throughout your career that without some arbitrary authority figure and their monopoly on power, people – even nations – would behave in pure, enlightened self interest.

Which sounds cool, but it is utterly unsupported by history. In any large enough group of people, there’ll be somebody, or some group, they would rather take what other people have than produce it themselves. We call them criminals – unless they managed to find themselves wearing one mantle of authority or another, and which point they become “gangs”, or with enough authority, “government”.

And yet libertarian dogma – especially that of the anarcho-libertarians that eat up much of your movement’s bandwidth – constantly presumes that if we just didn’t have any authority, society would become a mass of gentleman farmers, coexisting, negotiating, and getting along.

What basis for this is, in any heterogenous society, in any of human history, is there?

That should be a good start.