The DFL is running amok, enacting all kinds of seriously stupid legislation. And it’s the Republicans’ fault, because they’re not holding them back.
The Republicans ran for election on social issues, which the Strib ridiculed at the time, and lost. Now, the DFL is pushing through their extremely leftist versions of the same social issues the Strib mocked the Republicans for running on.
You hated our opinions when we were running for office so you did everything in your power to make sure we didn’t get elected. But now that we aren’t in office because we didn’t get elected, you blame us for that, too.
He references a column by Strib board chair Mike Sweeney; you should read the link.
David Brauer at the MinnPost checked up on the guy’s financial donations, as well as the new board chair Mike Sweeney’s - which ranged from “moderate Republicans” to “very liberal Democrats” over the course of the past decade and change. Brauer’s summary:
All in all, bipartisan, big-business-like, skewed toward the D.C. Establishment, with a whiff of fashionable Democratic insurgency late. (Obama was not yet a favorite when Klingensmith started giving.)
But here’s the part that caught my attention; Brauer says the previous publisher, Chris Harte, “pushed the page in a conservative direction” – defined by chair Sweeney and quoted by Brauer, as “My understanding of Chris’s view was that he wanted to be fair to both sides”, which media people seem to think is a radical departure, since they don’t tend to think the current media has any bias.
I mean, in his piece Brauer says the Strib is ever so slightly conservative these days.
But I’m putting words in Brauer’s mouth. I’ll let him speak for himself – here, writing about the new guard’s rap sheet:
I don’t expect conservatives to be pleased with this record, but many seem happiest ripping the Strib as the Red Star. Harte’s push toward the middle, or further, yielded few dividends with that crowd.
So let’s run down a summary of what conservatives would make of a sober look at what the Strib has done over Harte’s term:
Hired a single, solitary conservative columnist, Katherine Kersten
Promptly caved in to the whinging of a staff that believed that adding a single conservative to a stable that included DFL stenographers Lori Sturdevant, Nick Coleman and his replacement Jon Tevlin made the paper “too conservative”
Made the “Minnesota Poll” arguably less comically biased, with the dumping of the internal pollsters, the firing of Princeton, and the hiring of Mason Dixon (we’ll know in a cycle or two)
“More conservative?” I’d run with “marginally less North Korean”. It was a start, and a very slow one at that – one fought at every turn by people who think the Strib is juuuuust fine the way it’s always been.
I’d love to know from David Brauer – on precisely what grounds was he expecting “dividends” from the right?
While the Strib has some capable reporters (who have historically had an amazing and I’m sure coincidental propensity to go to work for liberal PACs, PR firms or the DFL after leaving the paper), at the editorial board level the paper has been since the Cowles era nothing but a glorified DFL PR firm.
This story caught my eye this morning; Mark Zdechlik (Mitch silently double-checks the spelling) at MPR reported the Senator Hann’s likely upcoming vote on Gay Marriage is at odds with…
…his district’s vote on the Marriage Amendment:
Last fall, fewer than 4 in 10 voters in Hann’s Eden Prairie district cast ballots to define marriage in the state Constitution.
Still, Hann intends to vote against the bill.
“I have always supported the law that we have on the books today which defines marriage to be between one man and one woman,” he said.
So I’m wondering; how often does Minnesota Public Radio News plan on “exposing inconsistencies” in politicians’ votes?
Because I’d be interesting in hearing about the dilemma facing the DFL Senators – Stumpf, Skoe, Saxhaug, Tomassoni, and Majority Leader Bakk himself – who are likely to vote party line whose districts voted by 2:1 or better for the Marriage Amendment.
And on what votes can we expect this level of media scrutiny? For example, I’m going to hazard a guess that a majority – maybe a supermajority – of Rep. Savick’s district opposed Michael Paymar’s gun grab bills. How will the voter know if the media doesn’t tell them?
Or is it only certain issues? Or perhaps only a certain party whose votes will be scrutinized like this?
Or perhaps only those of conservatives who are seen as likely challengers to Mark Dayton?
(CORRECTION: Senator Bakk’s district opposed the Amendment. I checked the wrong district…)
In Eric Black’s three part series about the Second Amendment a few weeks back (part 1, 2 and 3), Black – writing in the MInnPost, which operates in part through the generosity of a big grant from the anti-gun zealot Joyce Foundation – notes the not-exactly-earthshaking conclusion that the Second Amendment can confuse people.
Ooh! Confederates! That must mean the MinnPost is writing about bitter gun-clinging Jeebus freaks again! Seriously, MinnPost – I’m never letting you live this down.
And the underlying themes of his series were – as I read ‘em – that the Second Amendment is:
Linguistically and legally inscrutable
We’ll address the first two of these today.
Black notes the definitions that vex a surface-level reading of the Second Amendment:
What’s a militia? If you aren’t in a militia, does this have anything to do with you? Or perhaps (and this is roughly the current Supreme Court interpretation) what if “militia” is just an 18th century word for all the able-bodied males in a state who had better have access to arms in case their state needs them to secure its freedom…But if “militia” doesn’t refer to an organized group, what’s “well-regulated” doing in there?
It’s a good question. But it’s hardly a new one.
For much of US history, it didn’t need an answer – since hardly anyone questioned the notion that Militia meant…
…both. The Militia Act of 1903 codified what had been followed in practice since the Militia Act of 1792; the the Militia was composed of…:
The Organized Militia – the National Guard and the Naval Militia, and…
the Unorganized Militia – every able-bodied male between 17 and 45 years of age who wasn’t a member of the Organized Militia. In other words, everyone. Including Eric Black.
But even answering “it’s in the law!” misses the most important point.
The answer to the question “What does the Second Amendment really mean?” started taking its currently definitive shape with the publication, about 20 years ago, of “The Embarassing Second Amendment“, by Dr. Sanford Levinson. At the time, Levinson was a professor at the U of Texas School of Law; the article appeared in the Yale Law Review.
Levinson was and is an arch-liberal with portfolio, who described himself then and now as a card-carrying ACLU member who was very uncomfortable around the notion of civilians owning guns. He’s no mossy originalist; he’s called for a Second Constitutional Convention.
The article – about 80 pages, half of them footnotes – is a highly detailed analyis of the textual, historical, structural, doctrinal, prudential and ethical history of the Second Amendment, its related case law, and analysis of all the above.
And the conclusion was all wrapped up in the title; Levinson, unabashed anti-gun liberal that he is, is embarassed to conclude that the “NRA” was right, and the gun-grabbers were wrong.
It came out a solid decade and a half before the Heller decision, but it was one of the key waypoints on the path between the silly, collectivist post-Miller-decision miasma and the Court’s curent stance on the issue. It was the argument that started even arch-liberal Laurence Tribe on his path from dismissing the originalist interpretation (as Levinson notes in the article) to acceptance that the Amendment is in fact a right “of the people”.
The road to Heller and McDonald started with Levinson’s article.
And he started from the same question Eric Black did: what does “well-regulated militia” mean?
In textual terms – the strict reading of the words? Not much help there: “The text at best provides only a starting point for a conversation. In this specific instance, it does not come close to resolving the questions posed by federal regulation of arms. Even if we accept the preamble as significant, we must still try to figure out what might be suggested by guaranteeing to “the people the right to keep and bear arms;” moreover, as we shall see presently, even the preamble presents unexpected difficulties in interpretation.”
But in historical terms? Things are clearer:
Consider once more the preamble and its reference to the importance of a well-regulated militia. Is the meaning of the term obvious? Perhaps we should make some effort to find out what the term “militia” meant to 18th century readers and writers, rather than assume that it refers only to Dan Quayle’s Indiana National Guard and the like. By no means am I arguing that the discovery of that meaning is dispositive as to the general meaning of the Constitution for us today. But it seems foolhardy to be entirely uninterested in the historical philology behind the Second Amendment.
I, for one, have been persuaded that the term “militia” did not have the limited reference that Professor Cress and many modern legal analysts assign to it. There is strong evidence that “militia” refers to all of the people, or least all of those treated as full citizens of the community. Consider, for example, the question asked by George Mason, one of the Virginians who refused to sign the Constitution because of its lack of a Bill of Rights: “Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people.” 48 Similarly, the Federal Farmer, one of the most important Anti-Federalist opponents of the Constitution, referred to a “militia, when properly formed, [as] in fact the people themselves.” 49 We have, of course, moved now from text to history. And this history is most interesting, especially when we look at the development of notions of popular sovereignty. It has become almost a cliche of contemporary American historiography to link the development of American political thought, including its constitutional aspects, to republican thought in England, the “country” critique of the powerful “court” centered in London.
One of the school’s most important writers, of course, was James Harrington, who not only was in influential at the time but also has recently been given a certain pride of place by one of the most prominent of contemporary “neo-republicans,” Professor Frank Michelman. 50 One historian describes Harrington as having made “the most significant contribution to English libertarian attitudes toward arms, the individual, and society.” 51 He was a central figure in the development of the ideas of popular sovereignty and republicanism. 52 For Harrington, preservation of republican liberty requires independence, which rests primarily on possession of adequate property to make men free from coercion by employers or landlords. But widespread ownership of land is not sufficient. These independent yeoman would also bear arms. As Professor Morgan puts it, “[T]hese independent yeoman, armed and embodied in a militia, are also a popular government’s best protection against its enemies, whether they be aggressive foreign monarchs or scheming demagogues within the nation itself.” 53
Which gets us into the third of Black’s conclusions, which we’ll come back to later in the series.
As to the notion that the “Right of the people to keep and bear arms” refers to a National Guard that the founding fathers didn’t envision:
Consider that the Fourth Amendment protects “[t]he right of he people to be secure in their persons,” or that the First Amendment refers to the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It is difficult to know how one might plausibly read the Fourth Amendment as other than a protection of individual rights, and it would approach the frivolous to read the assembly and petition clause as referring only to the right of state legislators to meet and pass a remonstrance directed to Congress or the President against some government act. The Tenth Amendment is trickier, though it does explicitly differentiate between “state” and “the people” in terms of retained rights. 42 Concededly, it would be possible to read the Tenth Amendment as suggesting only an ultimate right revolution by the collective people should the “states” stray too far from their designated role of protecting the rights of the people. This reading follows directly from the social contract theory of the state.( But, of course, many of these rights are held by individuals.)
(If you haven’t read Levinson’s entire piece – you need to. It’s one of the most politically influential law-review articles in recent history – and it’s not a bad read, either).
As to “well-regulated?” Levinson doesn’t address it directly – in the parlance of the 1790s, it meant “can do the job”, or “can hit their targets”, a definition that’s changed in the past two-odd centuries -because it’s irrelevant. It’s a right of the people, necessary to the preservation of a free state. It’s a secondary question at most, in the lee of the real question “what is a right of the people?”.
As noted in Heller, it’s not an absolute right; states can ensure that people who aren’t good citizens, felons and the like, don’t get guns. They can legislate the types of guns, within reason; the whole “can you get a flamethrower or a cannon” argument is a strawman, although it’s worth arguing on its own merits (if I’m a law-abiding schnook with a .380 or a shotgun, why wouldn’t I be with a howitzer or a bomb?).
The “What does the Second Amendment Really Mean?” argument – like the “The Second Amendment existed to protect slavery!” argument we dispensed with a few months back – is a manufactured controversy, a re-hashing of questions that were answered literally decades ago among those who pay attention to the issue.
But the gun control movement rarely makes its appeals to people who pay attention to the issue.
Up next – probably Tuesday – the notion that the Second Amendment is just plain obsolete.
The number of gun killings dropped 39% between 1993 and 2011, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in a separate report released Tuesday. Gun crimes that weren’t fatal fell by 69%. However, guns still remain the most common murder weapon in the United States, the report noted. Between 1993 and 2011, more than two out of three murders in the U.S. were carried out with guns, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found.
But is the word getting out?
Despite the remarkable drop in gun crime, only 12% of Americans surveyed said gun crime had declined compared with two decades ago, according to Pew, which surveyed more than 900 adults this spring. Twenty-six percent said it had stayed the same, and 56% thought it had increased.
And how does that happen?
It’s unclear whether media coverage is driving the misconception that such violence is up. The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., were among the news stories most closely watched by Americans last year, Pew found. Crime has also been a growing focus for national newscasts and morning network shows in the past five years but has become less common on local television news.
There’s nothing “unclear” about it.
On a non-partisan level of cynicism – crime makes for ratings. If it bleeds, it not only leads – it sells papers and gets people to tune in.
The fact that the “guns are out of control” narrative supports the Administration for which the mainstream media serve as a Praetorian Guard? Two hits for the price of one.
As I noted about a week back, being a Second Amendment activist for any length of time – I started in the late eighties – is a little like being Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day; every time the argument cycles, you wind up answering exactly the same questions. Over and over and over.
Some of the questions -”aren’t you compensating for something?” – are stupid conceits. Some – “isn’t a gun in the home many times more dangerous to the owner or people he knows than to criminals?”, or “wasn’t the Second Amendment put in place to protect slave holders?” – are well-worn, long-debunked tropes that keep coming back, just like the villain in the last two minutes of a monster movie.
And others? Well, despite both sides’ oversimplifications, they keep coming back because the Second Amendment is a complex issue, full of historical, linguistic and legal nuance.
Notice I said “complex”. Not “inscrutable”. Because it’s Groundhog Day, and everything, including answering nearly all the questions, has happened before. Maybe several times.
Confederate soldiers. With guns. Be afraid; your betters have declared that the Constitution is all about slavery. Except the First Amendment, and of course the emanations of penumbras that give us abortion. But I digress. Prejudicial? Do you think? The MinnPost ran this in a piece about the Second Amendment, and I’m never going to let them live it down.
In stating the case that the Amendment is “a mess”, Black writes:
…the interpretation of any law must start with the actual language of the law as enacted. So, for today, let’s just put the text of the Second Amendment under the microscope. Here is its full text:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
It’s a marvelously unclear statement, to modern sensibilities – and yet for some reason it defined a policy, more or less, through nearly 200 years. Until the 1960s, nobody really questioned that the “…right of the people” in the Amendment meant anything different than “of the people” meant in the First, Third or Tenth Amendments.
We’ll come back to that. I’ll return to Eric Black…
…while noting that I’m getting that feeling Bill Murray had during the last three-quarters of Groundhog Day; it’s deja vu:
It’s a disaster. Seriously. Here’s just a sample of problems it presents.
What’s a militia? If you aren’t in a militia, does this have anything to do with you? Or perhaps (and this is roughly the current Supreme Court interpretation) what if “militia” is just an 18th century word for all the able-bodied males in a state who had better have access to arms in case their state needs them to secure its freedom even though they might not actually “belong” to what we 21st century-types would recognize as a militia, like a National Guard unit that you actually joined and were trained by and that actually has a command structure.
A fair point…
But if “militia” doesn’t refer to an organized group, what’s “well-regulated” doing in there? Who gets to decide whether the (actual or theoretical) militia you are in is well-enough-regulated to trigger (no pun intended) whatever impact the militia clause has? Who is doing the regulating? The state? The United States? The (non-existent but theoretical) organization of all the gun-owners in the state acting as self-regulators?
…and a vexing one.
Indeed, Black’s series seems to focus on three allegations about the Second Amendment:
It’s linguistically and legally inscrutable
In an era where the US has a standing military, it’s obsolete.
But the first two were rendered null and void nearly a generation ago. And the third exhibits a myopia about history, to say nothing of the Constitution, that needs to be actively fought.
But none of them are new. Indeed, it’s been nearly 20 years since the first two points were put out to pasture among people who are serious about the issue of the Second Amendment.
The foot of the Minnesota Vikings’ punter will no longer be in his mouth.
Chris Kluwe: so focused on his job
There is a truism in all professional life that your cost, real or perceived, cannot outweigh your value. Once that threshold is crossed, there is often little incentive for an employer to maintain such an employee.
Of course, that truism seems to take an extraordinary beating when it comes to being applied in the world of professional sports. Athletes are excused all manner of crimes and statements while staying employed. Kobe Bryant hardly suffered despite allegations of rape. Michael Vick emerged from jail for the cruel practice of dog fighting and resumed his NFL career. Mike Tyson’s been in and out of jail three times. If he goes back a forth time, apparently it’s free.
Chris Kluwe: so totally focused on his job
In that light, the Minnesota Vikings’ expected release of outspoken punter/gay-marriage advocate/musician/video-game enthusiast/Deadspin contributor/gameboard store owner/all-around stunted adolescent Chris Kluwe hardly seems fair. Kluwe has maintained a decent-to-high punting yards average since joining the NFL (notwithstanding his drop to 22nd in the NFL in 2012). And in a league that doesn’t even have a punter in their Hall of Fame (another source of Kluwe-influenced controversy), Kluwe may be the most relatively famous punter in history.
Kluwe’s departure will make the Vikings locker room a lot more dull because he is incredibly intelligent, articulate and passionate about societal issues. He’s a fascinating individual in a sport that breeds conformity. The NFL has become so big and so powerful that players often cling to political correctness for fear that a ripple might swell into a tidal wave. Kluwe is that surfer dude on top of the wave, hanging 10 on any issue that stirs his emotion.
“No single thing that I do defines me as a person,” he said. “Just because I play football, that doesn’t define me as a person.”
Chris Kluwe: like so very focused on his job
The message is unmistakable – Chris Kluwe’s gay marriage advocacy cost him his job. And Scoggins et al are correct…sort of.
Kluwe’s value to the Minnesota Vikings was as a $1.4 million a year player at a reasonably expendable position. Simply put – you don’t get to be a distraction if you’re easily replaceable. And by every definition, Chris Kluwe is a distraction. Kluwe has run his mouth on issues beyond gay marriage. He’s been fined for “campaigning” for Ray Guy to get into the Hall of Fame. He’s appeared on the website Deadspin several times over the 2011 NFL Lockout where he attacked numerous players over their views.
Chris Kluwe: so super duper focused on his job
Worse, Kluwe’s tactics are the epitome of his generation – foul-mouthed personal attacks against anyone who disagrees. Pro-lockout players are “douchebags” who stand for “pretty much the definition of greed.” His opponents are “a**hole f**kwits”, which also suggests he’s a plagiarist since I’m sure he stole that from Oscar Wilde.
In truth, the media needs Chris Kluwe’s release to be about his vocal and abusive activism. Because admitting to solidarity with Kluwe’s political views, and his ability to deliver good copy to sportswriters and sports radio networks, is harder than portraying the SoCal punter as a victim of a 1st Amendment NFL crackdown. Does anyone seriously believe that if Kluwe had come out passionately against gay marriage (ala Matt Birk), and saw his production dive, that those arguing against Kluwe’s release today would be defending his penchant to “hanging 10 on any issue that stirs his emotion”?
Chris Kluwe: so focused…on finding his next job
Kluwe mocked even his own Special Teams coach for suggesting the punter needed to focus on his job with the hashtag “so focused.” Here’s hoping that Chris Kluwe finds the time to focus on realizing that being a public relations bully to those who don’t share his worldview isn’t the best way to advance what’s left of his career.
The New York Times – the apogee of American journalism, yessirreebob – has reported that a government program started under the Clinton Administration to settle discrimination claims by black farmers in dealings with the Agriculture Department was rife with fraud.
It started out as a small, measured payout. The Justice Department thought it might wind up costing less than they’d feared.
They were wrong.
On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.
The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud.
“I think a lot of people were disappointed,” said J. Michael Kelly, who retired last year as the Agriculture Department’s associate general counsel. “You can’t spend a lot of years trying to defend those cases honestly, then have the tables turned on you and not question the wisdom of settling them in a broad sweep.”
Everything you read or hear or watch on the news is subject first and foremost to…
The facts that are available to the reporter at the time they have to produce the report. In late-breaking news about spectacular events, these facts are very often wrong. After that comes…
…the reporters’ deadlines. Especially in broadcast media, especially Cable TV with its 24 hour cycle; they’ve gotta put something on the air. So often as not they’ll report what they have, whether it’s complete or reliable or not. After that comes…
…the institutional bias of the news organization. Now, as I’ve written in the past, I don’t necessarily think that all news media start out in the morning in a conference room with an editor exhorting the staff to “go out there and win one for the Democrats!”, except at the MinnPost, which seems to have taken over the Minnesoros Independent’s niche. But I think it’s fairly clear that most reporters’ personal backgrounds, educations, social networks and frames of reference are largely left of the proverbial center, and that at the very least confirmation bias is as much a factor in reporting the news as it is among consumers.
At the risk of sounding provincial, I trust Euro media more; they’re at least honest about their political biases. You read the Frankfurter Allgemeine for a center-right take (by European standards), and Die Zeit for a perspective from the left, and make up your own mind. European media dispenses with the fiction of objectivity, and for that I trust them more.
Dina Temple-Raston’s report re the Boston Marathon Bombings the other day was a classic example: before the dust had settled, the first words out of her (and NPR’s) mouths in re possible suspects were that the FBI was looking at “right-wing extremists” because it was Tax Day, and Hitler’s birthday, when they worry about right-wing attacks on government and foreigners.
Now, I’ll take Temple-Raston at her word that she reported something someone in the FBI said about the subject at some point. And given deadlines and the urgency of the story, she and NPR had to put something on the air.
The problem is that Temple-Raston’s report would make someone who doesn’t pay much attention – or who implicitly trusts NPR news – think that there IS an actual pattern of “right-wing” violence of any kind, to say nothing of spectacular attacks like Boston, associated with Tax Day, or that there’s some pattern of “right-wing” violence against foreigners in the US.
Neither is the case.
It’d have been like a news organization reporting the Catholic church’s sex scandals going to great pains to say “the FBI wants to rule out the gay community first”, when there had been no behavior that would have led anyone to casually conclude that the gay community was ever involved.
It would have been a made-up association; a symptom of systematic bias.
Just like “right wing violence on Tax Day”.
And yet NPR floated it as “news” until facts caught up with them.
Public opinion is driven by mass caprice. When the subject is “American Idol”, that’s fairly harmless (and where the hell is Ruben Studdard?).
When the subject is our civil liberties – especially the ones that are less popular with the coastal media “elites” that would set the popular tone? Less so.
P.J. O’Rourke, many of you know, is a conservative humorist and, as such, one of the great public intellectuals of the past forty years. In his classic A Parliament of Whores – which is rapidly pushing 25 years old and in a just world would be required reading in every high school civics class – O’Rourke summed up the capriciousness of democracy, defending the contrarian idea that our democracy is, in fact, protected by the most counterintuitively autocratic institution of them all, the Supreme Court.
The SCOTUS – and the Constitution that the SCOTUS is supposed to protect – is that way because it’s intended to be immune from the vagaries of public opinion.
Here’s the money quote from Parliament (with emphasis added):
“In the final D-day invasion results, Normandy was a decisive winner, with 54% of the votes, while 43% of American soldiers thought we should re-invade North Africa and only 4% favored a massive land, sea and air attack on the folks back home.” There wouldn’t even be any democracy to defend if our every national whim were put into law. We’d sacrifice the whole Constitution for those lost kids on milk cartons one week, and the next week we’d toss the Rights of Man out the window to help victims of date rape.
After every crisis large and small – drug abuse, naughty words in music lyrics, gay marriage, food poisoning, people opposing gay marriage, mass murder – there are, inevitably, calls to reconsider whether freedom is really all that much more important than public safety.
And always, always, there’s someone out there willing to profit politically from those calls.
Especially when there are children involved. Propose cutting welfare? ”Children will starve!”. Propose paring back teachers union benefits or pensions? “Kids will turn stupid. Invade Iraz? The anti-war movement ten years ago made a grab for “absolute moral authority” by parading Cindy Sheehan in front of the cameras, after she lost her child (an adult who’d volunteered for the Army) in Iraq. And it worked – until Sheehan went batspittle crazy and started making Mike Malloy look pretty well-balanced.
Anyway – this impulse is never as powerful as after an ugly mass shooting – and Sandy Hook, in which a deranged “adult” targeted children because they were children, was the ugliest since the Stockton Massacre in 1988.
There’s no question about it; losing a child is the most awful thing a parent can experience. It strikes a chord in just about every parent, one way or the other. It’s impossible for a parent not to feel something way beyond sympathy. Some respond “I have to protect my children”.
Others respond “someone’s gotta protect my children”.
A group of the Newtown/Sandy Hook parents were flown to Washington last week, their every motion from leaving their homes to getting on Air Force One to arriving at the White House to listening to President Obama’s angry rant over the failure of his bill recorded in minute detail. (It’s worth noting that it was only the right Sandy Hook parents were invited - and that for some reason no parents of black kids murdered in Chicago showed up)
They believed, I’m sure, very sincerely that the Senate’s bill – which would not have impeded their kids’ murderer in the least – was the right response to their childrens’ deaths.
But the prominence they got in the media – from a President who was desperate to pass his bill in the Senate, to get his vote in the House to try to use guns as leverage in swing districts in 2014, and to draw attention away from debt, deficit, spending, taxes, an ongoing war and the gathering disaster that is Obamacare? That was pure, distilled cynicism.
Twin Cities talk show host Bob Davis – morning guy at AM1130, which is a cheap copy of AM1280, and a guy who gave me my first shot at trying talk radio again, ten years ago last January when I filled in for him for an evening on his old KSTP-AM night-side show – has taken a ton of flak for his remarks about the exploitation of the Sandy Hook parents and their grief (and especially other parents’ fear):
I have something I want to say to the victims of Newtown or any other shooting, I don’t care if it’s here in Minneapolis or anyplace else: Just because a bad thing happened to you doesn’t mean that you get to put a king in charge of my life. I’m sorry that you suffered a tragedy, but you know what? Deal with it, and don’t force me to lose my liberty, which is a greater tragedy than your loss.
I’m sick and tired of seeing these victims trotted out, given rides on Air Force One, hauled into the Senate well, and everyone is … terrified of these victims. I would stand in front of them and tell them, ‘Go to hell.’
The responses – on both sides, really – miss two key points:
Davis is fighting cynicism – the Administration’s exploitation of the parents – with cynicism; major-market radio lives by the dictum “all publicity is good publicity”. Wanna picket the station? Send hate mail? Burn Davis and Emmer in effigy in front of the TV cameras? The folks at the station say “Great, go for it!”. The station can’t pay for publicity like this. (No, literally – they can’t. KTCN’s owner Clear Channel is freaking broke).
Davis is right – but is focused on the wrong people.
The parents? Yep, they’re awash in grief. They’re trying to bring some meaning to a really, really horrible loss. I sympathize with them.
Every parent worthy of the title does.
And the people who booked them on Air Force One, and who made sure they got prominent placement (some might say “overkill”) in the media, and who made sure they were staring down from the gallery at the Senators as they voted on the President’s bill, which would have been meaningless in fighting crime, would have made law-abiding gun owners more vulnerable to confiscation, and which was never intended to do anything but increase the Democrat party’s fortunes in 2014?
NPR’s Nina Temple-Raston intones to her white, upper-middle-class, degreed, free-range-alpaca-wearing, Volvo driving audience last Wednesday that the Boston Marathon Bomber was probably a white extemist…
…because right-wingers love April.
It’s the anniversary of Waco, Columbine and Hitler’s birthday, after all.
I wasn’t aware the Klebold and Harris were right-wing figures. Hitler shouldn’t be, although some on the “extreme right” have accomplished that ex post facto.
It’s also the month of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. But not a word about Jewish extremists, for some reason.
This was two days before we learned that the alleged bombers weren’t right-wingers at all.
This year’s battle to destroy the Second Amendment is dead – at least in DC.
I’ve said it for years; the gun control debate is the most ironic battle in American politics.
The left – the movement that floats on Soros and Rockefeller and Allen and Opperman and Messinger money – loves to paint itself as the party of the working stiff, the fabled “99%”; it likes to pretend the right is white, rich and disconnected from the world. The left, back to its historical roots, is built on the idea of struggle between classes.
And yet gun control is the most class-focused debate in America today. Our elites – of both parties, in some cases – loathe the Second Amendment, or at the very least think it’s a quaint doddering relic. It’s the American mainstreet – the real 99% -that supports the Second Amendment.
Whatever the merits and popularity of the specific measures that went down to defeat in the Senate on Wednesday, I think the Establishment fails to appreciate the depth of American support for the Second Amendment. NPR and other media have lately noted a growing libertarian trend in American politics. That’s not just about taxes, Obamacare, marijuana, and marriage equality. It also involves gun rights. After each high-profile shooting, support for gun control rises. But it tends to fall again in short order, as public opinion reverts to the baseline of strong support for gun rights.
And the fact that controlling guns is only a vital issue to 4% of the people indicates that the vast majority know the score; guns don’t kill people, people do.
I’m going to add emphasis below:
I was struck by this poll graphic in the Washington Post on Wednesday. Despite the virtually unanimous support for stricter gun control in the national media, along with other opinion shapers such as Hollywood and the universities, and despite the mass shootings that have received so much attention in our modern world of 24-hour news channels, Americans are becoming more convinced that guns make your family safer.
The media in particular exhibits a persistent form of Pauline Kael syndrome on the subject of guns; they accept gun control as an ideal almost completely without question, and seem nonplussed that the nation ignores them.
But yet they continue their narrative – that the NRA is a astroturf checkbook advocacy group supported by Big Gun and Big Business. Yesterday, some in the media breathlessly reported the departure of Adolphus Bush from the NRA board as a “blow to the NRA”.
It’s not. The group’s membership is up nearly a quarter since Newtown. It’s just shown the entire country that it can shut the media down on Capitol Hill. It’s just shown it commands more of the hearts and minds of this country’s real people than the President does, at least on the gun issue.
“So let’s drop the pretense. Most politicians standing in the way of background checks for firearms don’t really believe in freedom or limited government. They simply care more about controlling immigration than they do about controlling guns.”
You say that like it’s a bad thing.
Lawmakers being more interested in curbing law-breaking than attacking the law-abiding?
Er, wait – no. They’ll be busy filing paperwork to find out who’s been SWATted:
Smith said the department will also stop broadcasting the “swatting” calls so news organizations can’t hear the location of the star’s home. The media will now have to file a public records request, which can take 10 days.
One of the worst aspects of our current hyper-polarized political climate is that many institutions that the American people used to rely upon for something close to objectivity and reliable, politically-untinted information have turned into partisan propaganda.
Journalism is long gone, of course; the notion of the “objective” media died among anyone who pays attention nearly four decades ago. The civil service bureaucracy is largely beholden to the big government unions. Clergy at all too many mainline Protestant and Catholic churches are air-headed liberal chanting-point-bots.
And now, the left is trying to co-opt science – or at least how the public perceives science.
One of the cultural left’s favorite conceits is to try to wrap itself in the trappings of “science” – or, like the Wizard of Oz, at least enough trappings to keep the ignorant in line.
The list of titles lends credibility to Dr. Miles’ responses. And apparently Ms. Perry thinks that’s enough.
As we’ll see, it’s not.
Establish The Boogie/Straw Men – Perry opens the door for the de rigeur nod to Alinsky:
MinnPost: Do you believe that public-health officials are doing enough to reduce gun violence?
Before Dr. Miles gets to his answer, I’d like to draw your attention to Berg’s Seventh Law: “When a Liberal issues a group defamation or assault on conservatives’ ethics, character or respect for liberty or the truth, they are at best projecting, and at worst drawing attention away from their own misdeeds.”
Dr. Steve Miles: No, I don’t, and partly it’s because they’re hamstrung. Since 1996, the NRA, which also functions as an anti-science institution, has cut U.S. funding for gun-related research from a public-health perspective by over 95 percent. So, in terms of impairing the types of data collection and data analysis that’s necessary to do a public-health perspective, we’ve currently wound up in a situation where the science itself is impaired.
“Racist”. ”Anti-Woman”. ”Bigot”.
They’re all slurs that the cultural left uses to try to cow conservatives into silence and compliance.
But the public health community impaired its own science decades ago by allowing itself to be co-opted into an arm of the gun control movement. ”Public health research” is paid for by anti-gun groups (a fact that’s never reported by a media that seems to have lost interest in afflicting the intellectually and politically comfortable). Indeed, an amazing preponderance of “academic inquiry” into the Second Amendment is paid for by anti-gun organizations like the Joyce Foundation – legal, political, and academic, across the board.
As to the actual “science” that Dr. Miles is flogging? We’ll come back to that.
Facial Absurdities – Next, Miles turns to the left’s canonical notion that without guns, everything would be juuuuust fine:
MP: What do you think will most surprise your audience on Wednesday about gun-violence statistics?
SM: Clearly, everybody understands that having a gun available increases the lethality — that is, the deadliness — of the suicidal impulse. If one has a suicidal impulse and there is a gun available as opposed to a knife, then the suicide attempt is much more likely to be lethal.
I’ll give Miles this much: everyone knows that mental illness and guns don’t mix.
But availability of guns has little to do with suicide rates. The suicide rate in the US is statistically identical to that in the UK, with its celebrated gun ban. It’s a shade below Cuba, where only police and the military have guns. It’s 15% lower than Hong Kong, where guns are not part of the culture; a little over half those of China and Japan, where civilian guns are strictly banned.
One – or Dr. Miles – could reply “but that’s a matter of cultural differences”. And then one would be onto something, something that applies across the gun control debate.
We’ll come back to that, too.
What’s so interesting is that it’s also true for homicide. The idea advanced by the NRA people is that homicides are basically done by monster criminals. But what really seems to be going on is that as the number of guns increases, as more houses have guns, as the gun saturation in the society rises, it’s the availability of guns that turn ordinary interpersonal disputes, including domestic disputes, into lethal events.
And if sheer availability of firearms were the dispositive factor in determining whether disputes turned lethal, then the streets of DC and Chicago would be relatively placid, and rural Montana, Utah and North Dakota would be shooting galleries.
But the opposite is true.
And in fact one could note that murder in, say, Chicago - where guns are legally illegal – is far from evenly distributed; some neighborhoods are as safe as suburban Fargo, while others are vastly more dangerous than Baghdad.
And one could fairly note in response that parts of the rural South – where guns are generally very available – have fairly liberal gun laws and high rates of violence. But cities in those same areas are often quite statistically placid.
So when Dr. Miles says…:
So homicide looks very much like suicide in being gun-prevalence-driven.
…one must add “except when you look at actual facts and stuff”.
And? And? AND? – One of the left’s favorite tactics in the gun debate (as with so many debates) is to give an emotionally-chilling (and thus manipulative) factoid with no context whatsoever.
Right on cue:
MP: One of the statistics in your presentation that jumped out at me was the high number of American children who die in gun accidents. As you note, the accidental gun death rate is 11 times higher among 5- to 14-year-olds in the U.S. than the combined rates of 22 other high-income developed countries.
Hm. That must be some number.
SM: It’s a very sad number.
And I’m sure when we see that number – the number of children killed in accidents – it’ll make our hearts ache.
When you have a gun in the house, for kids there is a 16-fold increase in the risk of a lethal accident involving a gun.
So what’s the number?
So, despite what everybody says about gun education and gunlocks, it just doesn’t work.
Hm. OK, so I’m sure the number will bear this out.
What’s the number, again?
A gun in the house is an accident just waiting to happen.
So you say, Dr. Miles. So what’s the number?
MP: As you also note in your presentation, the NRA…
What’s the number?
According to the CDC, in the entire US, in 2010 (the latest numbers the CDC provides), the number of kids below 15 killed by firearms was…
And yep, every one of those deaths is a tragedy. Education and gun locks are no guarantee, but they do help. So does training gun owners in general.
But as a “public health” issue, accidental firearms deaths come in well below:
Accidental poisoning (220)
Car accidents (forget about it; 1432)
And about the same as the number killed in falls (74).
And so I have to ask (since no “journalist” ever will) – while, as a parent, I recoil at even one child dying in an accident, I have to ask; what was Ms. Perry referring to when she said “One of the statistics in your presentation that jumped out at me was the high number of American children who die in gun accidents?” Tragic, yes. High?
Schools Of Red Herrings Say “Huh?” – Miles next goes after the notion of armed self-defense with a hearty “I know you are but what am I?”
MP: As you also note in your presentation, the NRA often says that guns prevent their owners from becoming crime victims. In fact, they claim that huge numbers of gun owners find themselves in situations each year in which they are forced to use their weapons to defend themselves and their families.
SM: I spent some time tracking that down. [And by "some", Miles apparently means "not a whole lot". But I'm getting way ahead of myself - Ed.] Mostly, they cite an article from 1995 by Kleck and Gertz, which cites 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year. But the Cato Institute — which is an anti-gun-control conservative group — took a different approach. What they did is [search] eight years of news clippings. They found only a few hundred events over those eight years — somewhere around 450 or so. That’s a long way from 2.5 million.
This paragraph presents its “data” so very, very misleadingly that if I were a teacher grading Dr. Miles’ paper, I’d swat him on the knuckles with a ruler and have a word with him about intellectual honesty. To try to introduce him to the subject.
Let me count the misstatements, frauds and lies in the above statement:
Only Two Sources? – Miles cites Kleck (whose seminal 1991 work Point Blank has been the main source for all sides in the debate), and an article by Cato – and that’s it? Our choices are 2.5 million a year or 450 over eight years? No reference to the FBI (which estimates about 80,000 deterrences a year)? Or even Kleck critic David Hemenway, who attempted to “invalidate” Kleck with an estimate of between 55,000 and 80,000 defensive gun uses per year?
Misstating Cato - Cato’s research was of a completely different scope and intent than Kleck. While the research leading to Point Blank was a detailed, academic, scholarly investigation of national figures (Kleck is a professor of criminology), the Cato piece was a glorified blog post, and admitted as much: “it is important to remember that news reports can only provide us with an imperfect picture of defensive gun use in America”; the Cato piece also notes that “Gun control proponents cannot deny that people use guns successfully against criminals, but they tend to play down how often such events take place. The purpose of this map is to draw more attention to this aspect of the firearms policy debate”.
So Miles’ approach – compare an informal survey of news coverage to a detailed, peer-reviewed study of the subject – is academically ludicrous as well as intellectually void.
When one looks at the number of justifiable homicides — which does not include, for example, instances when citizens deterred a crime — even so, one is talking about less than 100 a year. So these events where there is a defense-of-gun use are actually extraordinarily rare, especially when one puts it in the context of somewhere around 30,000 gun deaths per year.
And why so bloodthirsty? Isn’t deterrence better than killing?
The Slow Steady Drip - Miles next moves to the case for turning doctors into agents of the state, and the Joyce Foundation:
MP: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians talk at least once a year with parents about the danger of guns. Why is that important?
SM: I think one of the things that’s important is for us to de-sanctify guns.
Their words, not ours.
We should treat a gun like we would any other risk factor for injury. We know that tobacco is a risk factor for injury, and we ask about it, even though there is no medical use for tobacco. We recognize that the non-use of bicycle helmets is a risk for injury, and so we ask about those. And we should ask about guns because this is an important way to protect the public health.
And in the first two cases, doctors and their data have been used to further political as well as scientific ends. There’s neither a constitutional right nor any especially emotional imperative to ride without a helmet; smoking is filthy and dangerous, but while the public health case against the practice is justifiable, the political infringements on free association, property rights and individual choice are precisely why many gun-owning liberty-conscious people are pushing back at “scientists” poking into our personal data…
…to feed an attack on something that is a constitutional right.
The Conservative War On Straw - Boogeymen! Boogeymen!
MP: Rush Limbaugh has said that this makes doctors “deputies [and] agents of the state.”
SM: Rush Limbaugh and his partners have made many claims [about the Affordable Care Act] that are not scientifically based, including death panels and all the rest of it, and this is just more of the same.
Managed Care is “death panels”, and who the hell cares?
I think the issue here comes down to anti-science. In many ways, the pro-gun groups, including the NRA, act like other industrial anti-science groups, such as the tobacco lobby and the soft-drink manufacturers when they were trying to defend soft drinks in school. What these groups do is construct false facts, and they do their best to prevent real science from being done. That’s what we’re seeing with gun violence as well.
But as we’ve shown throughout this piece, it’s Dr. Miles who’s constructed “facts”, omitted more, and beggared the notion of intellectual inquiry in his appeal to ignorance and incuriosity.
Bonus question: Does it ever occur to Susan Perry to press Miles on any of this?
Dana Milbank reflects the exposed id of the spoiled, cossetted, inside-the-beltway journalist in exactly the same way as Nick Coleman, Doug Grow and Lori Sturdevant do for the self-absorbed, smug Twin Cities journalistic “elite”; all of them wrap a lot of high-minded-sounding wrapping around “being a hack for a party narrative” .
But a hack is a hack – and Milbank may never have been hackier than in today’s piece about an NRA press conference which revolved less around reporting and analyzing the news than in comparing it with Milbank’s narrative and, worse, the prejudices he’s accreted on the subject over decades of being an “elite journalist” and damn glad to tell you so.
But give Milbank this; he doesn’t bury his lede. He really, really doesn’t like gunnies (emphasis added):
The gun-lobby goons were at it again.
The National Rifle Association’s security guards gained notoriety earlier this year when, escorting NRA officials to a hearing, they were upbraided by Capitol authorities for pushing cameramen. The thugs were back Tuesday when the NRA rolled out its “National School Shield” — the gun lobbyists’ plan to get armed guards in public schools — and this time they were packing heat.
About 20 of them — roughly one for every three reporters — fanned out through the National Press Club, some in uniforms with gun holsters exposed, others with earpieces and bulges under their suit jackets.
In a spectacle that officials at the National Press Club said they had never seen before, the NRA gunmen directed some photographers not to take pictures, ordered reporters out of the lobby when NRA officials passed and inspected reporters’ briefcases before granting them access to the news conference.
The NRA has been the target of an awful lot of what would be called “hate speech” if directed at any regular schemiel. Death threats have been the least of it, the background noise.
If a media outlet were the target of this much hatred – whipped up by the likes of Milbank – do you think they might tend to their security?
Hint: Try to walk in to the Washington Post office without an armed security guard giving you a brusque once-over, if you don’t have an employee pass. Get back to us.
It’s The Beltway Way - Provinicalism? Milbank’s got it!
By journalistic custom and D.C. law, of course, reporters don’t carry guns to news conferences — and certainly not when the person at the lectern is the NRA’s Asa Hutchinson, an unremarkable former congressman and Bush administration official whom most reporters couldn’t pick out of a lineup.
Let that be a lesson, peasants; your worth is proportional to how much you’ve hobnobbed inside the beltway lately.
Everything They Need To Know About Policy Analysis, They Learned From Aaron Sorkin – Milbank rattles off the left’s shopping list of shame:
Thus has it gone so far in the gun debate in Washington. The legislation is about to be taken up in Congress, but by most accounts the NRA has already won. Plans for limiting assault weapons and ammunition clips are history, and the prospects for meaningful background checks are bleak.
Watch any of Aaron Sorkin’s poli-tainment; “The West Wing” and “The American President”. Liberal orthodoxy is always presented, without question, not just as the only rational approach, but the only approach. Which is one thing when you’re watching an overhyped TV show. It’s another when you’re reading the blithe assumptions of the “elite” media…
…in this case Milbank, who’s assuming that:
“Limiting assault weapons” is of any use in fighting crime. It’s not; violent crime has dropped like a rock since the end of the 1994 Ban, even as the number of “assault weapons” in general circulation has ballooned).
Limits on “ammunition clips” (grrr) are equally useless; even if criminals obeyed the law, mass murder is not a function of magazine size; having extra magazines is of much more use to defenders than attackers.
The background checks being proposed, above and beyond the NICS system, are of any use in fighting crime. They’re not. Criminals don’t take background checks.
And yet all three are presented critically, as if questioning any of them is too absurd to think about.
If You Can’t Dazzle ‘Em With Fact, Baffle ‘Em With Strawmen – Milbank presents the facts that fit the narrative and ignores the pesky stuff next:
Now, The Post’s Philip Rucker and Ed O’Keefe report, the NRA is proposing language to gut the last meaningful gun-control proposal, making gun trafficking a federal crime. Apparently, the gun lobby thinks even criminals deserve Second Amendment protection.
“Gun trafficking”, depending on your definition of the term (and Milbank doesn’t define it, and I doubt that someone who refers to “Magazine Clips” would know how to define it if he had to) is already illegal, at various state and federal levels (unless you’re the Department of Justice, ironically). The “gun trafficking” bill that Milbank refers to, the Elijah Cummings bill, is a sloppy thing that would ensnare a lot of innocent gun transfers with felonies worth 20 years in prison, and the NRA is right to oppose it.
Not because “the NRA thinks criminals deserve” protection, but because it believes the innocent do.
Milbank is either too lazy to know the difference, or lacks the integrity to say so.
Boogeymen! – Next, Milbank – trapped in a world that he never made – whines about the state of the world:
If the NRA has its way, as it usually does, states will soon be weakening their gun laws to allow more guns in schools.
And why does Milbank think the NRA “usually” gets its way?
Because it’s a voracious all-powerful monster that consumes all in its path?
If that’s what it is, why does Milbank propose it got that way?
Because a solid, growing majority of the American people support it and its agenda. The NRA is rapidly heading toward five million members, and any legislative staffer will tell you that if a phone call representes the opinions of ten other people, then someone who’ll come out and shell out money to join an organization represents at least as many. There are more NRA members in the Twin Cities metro than there are actual activist members of every gun-control group in the country rolled up together.
That’s why the NRA is powerful; unlike their opponents, they represent actual people in vast numbers.
And all those uppity proles have just gotta piss Milbank off.
Dana Milbank, Low-information producer – Get a load of this next statement:
The top two recommendations Hutchinson announced Tuesday involved firearms in the schoolhouse. The first: “training programs” for “designated armed school personnel.” The second: “adoption of model legislation by individual states to allow for armed school personnel.”
Hutchinson claimed that his task force, which came up with these ideas, had “full independence” from the NRA. By coincidence, the proposals closely matched those announced by the NRA before it formed and funded the task force.
Oh, cry us a river, Dana. Everyone claims to be independent of their side’s 900 pound gorilla. Major media claim they’re not at the beck and call of the Democrats. Governor Dayton claims Alida Messinger doesn’t make him dance like an organ-grinder monkey. Let it go.
The task force did scale back plans to protect schools with armed volunteer vigilantes, opting instead for arming paid guards and school staff — at least one in every school. States and school districts “are prepared” to pay for it, Hutchinson declared.
The task force garnished the more-guns recommendations with some good ideas, such as better fencing, doors and security monitoring for schools, and more mental-health intervention. But much of that is in the overall Senate legislation that the NRA is trying to kill.
And why does Milbank suppose the NRA is trying to kill those passive “good ideas?”
Because they’re part of a bill with many noxious, stupid provisions.
Save It For “Lifetime Movie Scriptwriting” Class, Mr. Milbank – Milbank’s big finish is apparently also an audition for a Mad Max reboot:
If so, American schoolchildren may grow accustomed to the sort of scene Hutchinson caused Tuesday, protected by more armed guards than a Third World dictator.
Where does Milbank live?
A quarter of schools have armed guards already. In urban schools with over 1,000 students, the figure is already over 90%. Many schools feature metal detectors, pat-downs and permanently-assigned uniformed officers.
Our kids, bombarded by our onanistic, self-absorbed media with images of carnage that bely the fact that schools are safer now than they’ve been in decades, and that violent crime is down 40-odd percent in the past 20 years and is falling faster as the number of civilian guns explodes, are forced to endure “huddle on the floor and hope you don’t get killed” drills – called “lock downs” by more clinical-sounding school administrators.
Seriously – on what planet is “huddling in the corner and hoping you don’t get murdered” better than “there’s someone here whose job it is to protect us?”
Note to Dana Milbank: I’m sure your journalistic credentials, including your “independence” from the nation’s major gun control groups, are in order.
But if you were working as a PR flak for the Brady Factory, how would your writing be any different?
To: Strib “Hot Dish Politics” Blog
From: Mitch Berg, long-time ex-subscriber
This is a screenshot of the online Strib this morning:
The Strib is devoting its usual vast space to whatever it is that advances the DFL’s narrative and undercuts the party’s opposition. In this case, the non-story that a pro-marriage group compared their opposition’s propaganda effort to that of the Nazis.
I know. Baaaaad marriage group. Godwin Godwin Godwin. No Nazis here.
The thing is, I’m scanning back through a decade and change of Strib coverage, looking for evidence of earnest tut-tutting about eight solid years of what was at one point the cultural left’s supreme intellectual statement, the “Bushitler” reference…
…and, mirabile dictu, I’m finding not a thing.
This comes, of course, at the end of a solid decade of clucking from the Strib editorial board about the need to “return civility (like we had when the DFL and the “Independent Republicans” were basically the same party with different hairdos) to politics”, wrapped up with constant badgering about the “toxic influence” of all the “vitriol” that the right-wing alt-media (and sure, maybe the left juuuuust a little, but mostly the right, according to the Strib, ignoring a decade and change of inconvenient fact) was making politics ugly and hateful and just not as fun for y’all as it was when Elmer Anderson and Wendell Anderson and Nick Coleman Senior painted each others toenails on the floor of the House Chamber.
And so a pro-traditional-marriage group has transgressed the narrative and compared the gay-marriage crowd with Josef Göbbels, and the Strib makes certain the left’s high-horse dudgeon is transmitted verbatim.
Because goodness knows the mainstream left has been so very, very scrupulous about being true to and literate about history in dragging Hitler references into the national conversation.
The thing is, there is a time and a place for invoking totalitarians.
There are legitimate comparisons between things we see today and things people saw 80-85 years ago in the streets of Germany; the drift of one side or the other to the extreme, the use of extremely martial rhetoric (“Wars” on this and that and the other group, designed to get one constituency or the other whipped up), the beating up boogeymen, the use of compliant media to serve as a regime’s praetorian guard…
…well, I’m getting ahead of myself, now.
Suffice to say, Star/Tribune, that your concern for civility and the historical sanctity of Hitler references (says me, mit meine Nebenfäche auf Deutsch und Geschichte, und die Jahre ich an diese Subjekte studiert, and you can look up exactly what that means on your way to learning the damn subject for real and not at the trite, Hollywood-via-Junior-High history level most Americans know it) is observed, its hypocrisy noted, and its sincerity mocked without mercy.
Winton – a former DFL activist who told of seeing the economic light after going into business – is running as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, and not as an endorsed Republican, per se. I attended his kickoff rally a few weeks back in Minneapolis, and had a pretty singular experience for a GOP activists, standing in the same room and cheering along with people who’d opposed the marriage amendment (which Winton also opposed) and listening to Ashwin Madia, a couple of lesbian marriage activists, and Winton’s business partner extolling the candidate’s virtues.
And it was in that crowd, I thought, that one might see a successful challenge to DFL hegemony in Minneapolis; a candidacy that attacks the DFL’s weak spot in Minneapolis – its incompetence at running a city – while ignoring the GOP’s big weaknessses in places like Minneapolis.
Now, some – including my friend John Gilmore – have asked “is Winton Republican or conservative enough?” He, and they, point to the fact that Winton is a former Democrat, and was in fact a prominent enough activist through 2008.
As a former Democrat myself, I’m pretty forgiving of Road to Damascus conversions. And if you want to grill a candidate to assess the sincerity, or at least integrity, of their beliefs, then a debate could be a fine place to do it.
And there’s the problem.
The Minneapolis mayor’s race is an expressly non-partisan one. Party identification doesn’t appear with candidates on the ballot.
The Humphrey Center – the U of M’s Poli-Sci think tank and, if you ask conservatives, DFL hatchery and retirement home – is hosting a debate of these candidates this coming Wednesday.
The DFL ones.
Let’s rephrase that for impact; the Humphrey Institute – a public institution whose mission is at least ostensibly not “furthering the DFL’s interests and hindering their opposition” – is hosting a debate for a non-partisan office in the city in which the Institute resides. And they’re only inviting DFL candidates to it.
According to the Winton campaign, he has been invited to a second debate. At this second debate – which will have virtually no media coverage – Winton will appear on a panel with Bob Carney and Leslie Davis, a couple of perennial candidate who are shunted into a side-debate to isolate the comic relief from the “Real” race…
…which, the Humphrey Institute has decided in its infinite institutional wisdom, is among the DFL candidates, who will get the “real” debate.
This brings up a couple of questions:
Is the Humphrey Institute serving as a DFL campaigning tool?: Why the seemingly arbitrary cutoff at “DFL”, in a race where every candidate goes to the final ballot (Minneapolis uses “ranked choice” balloting, resulting in slow, unreliable elections with no need for party endorsements or primaries. Having a fully-partisan “debate” is not only against the Humphrey Institute’s stated mission – it’s supposed to be irrelevant to the contest at hand.
Is this a debate or a DFL campaign rally?: The Humphrey Institute’s planned event will include five DFL candidates who differ on policy only in the most tangential incidentals. That’s not a “debate”, it’s a support group meeting.
“Debate” implies “difference of opinion”: But this “debate” – the one the U of M will actually publicize, the one the media will attend – studiously ignores a sharp, articulate candidate who sharply differs from the DFL on some issues where the DFL itself knows it’s vulnerable – spending, taxes, regulation, public safety, infrastructure.
I asked the Humphrey Institute’s Dr. Larry Jacobs about this last week.
When you’re a conservative, distrust of the media – like most large institutions – is part and parcel of the job.
You probably accept that, for whatever reason – from systemic bias to cultural confirmation bias to being paid off by George Soros – that the media has a comprehensive bias toward the left.
And you notice it on some issues more than others. For example, you notice that anti-gun groups – for example, “Protect Minnesota”, led by Representative Heather Martens (DFL – 66A), a woman who has never, not once, uttered a substantively accurate or true original statement about guns or the Second Amendment – gets breathless, slavish coverage from the Twin Cities media, whose mania for “balance” obscures, in their coverage, the fact that the pro-Second-Amendment movement includes thousands of actual activists, while Martens’ group and the other antis muster…
…well, Martens and about a dozen of her pals.
And it doesn’t take a political rocket scientist (?) to notice that while their groups have virtually no electoral clout, Martens is apparently a big enough cheese among DFLers on Capitol Hill that she gets treated like, well, a Representative herself.
So after the hearings broke up last night, I watched who went where for a bit.
After he got done with the media, Rep. Paymar lit his afterburners and ran for the bleachers to meet Representative Martens and Jane Kay from Action Moms:
Kay, Martens and Paymar, talking about how much clout they have when those Million Moms finally show up. Someday. Honest.
DFL stenographer and former Strib columnist Doug Grow – now with DFL PR shop MinnPost – painted Jane Kay’s toenails:
Hey, maybe his story about last night won’t be pre-written!
And at the end of the night, you had pretty much every anti-gun activist in town gathered with the DFL PR coalition:
Grow, Kay, Nick “I’m Not The DFL’s Monkey” Coleman (from “The Uptake”), a staff guy and Martens talking, presumably, about what a bunch of wingnuts their opposition are.
Us gunnies? We had the fun down front:
Second Amendment attorney David Gross mixing it up with an anti who claimed we should “learn our history”, that firearms confiscation had nothing to do with the Holocaust. The anti, by the way, reportedly had walked up to the child of one of the GOCRA members in attendance and said “You’ll grow up to be a better person than your father” at a hearing last week. These people ooze class, don’t they?
I was down at the State Capitol yesterday for a press conference, as Representative Deb Hilstrom (DFL Brooklyn Park) introduced the gun bill/s we talked about yesterday.
The bills, as we noted yesterday, would exert the state to solve actual problems – close gaps in the background check system, add mandatory penalties for using guns in crimes or possessing them illegally…
…y’know. Controversial stuff.
At the presser, I saw a big group of legislators from both chambers and both parties lining up to support Hilstrom’s proposal. Reps, Senators, Democrats, Republicans – it was probably the most bipartisan assembly I’ve seen that wasn’t in the lounge at the Kelly Inn after hours.
Not just legislators; guys in uniform. They weren’t just there for the fun of it – guys in uniform never are. No, they were from the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.
And I saw media. Oh, lord, did I see media.
And Heather Martens was there, naturally; where there is truth about the Second Amendment, Martens will be there. To lie. And lie and lie and lie (note to the media who bothered to speak to her; she has uttered not one substantial word of truth in her years at the capitol. Ask me).
And the “groups” she represents put out a call for their “membership” to turn out in force to oppose this bill – probably remembering the hundreds of Second Amendment supporters who turned out daily to oppose the DFL’s gun grab bills a few weeks ago.
We’ll come back to them.
One person who was not there was Doug Grow, from the MInnPost.
To be fair, I haven’t seen Grow in person in over 20 years; I might not recognize him.
Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, has discovered again that there is no comfortable middle ground when the subject is guns.
At noon at the Capitol, Hilstrom, standing with Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek and Rep. Tony Cornish, the gun-toting legislator from Good Thunder, introduced a gun bill that she said “can bring people together’’ on the volatile subject of guns.
No, no bias here.
The Astroturf Consensus
Grow, like most of the Twin Cities mainstream media, labors under the delusion that there’s a large, organized mass of people supporting gun control, and that they were out in force yesterday.
Her words were still echoing in the Capitol when critics, who had hoped for much stronger actions from the Minnesota Legislature, lambasted the effort of Hilstrom and a bipartisan group of 69 other legislators to “close gaps’’ in current state gun law.
“This is just a band-aid over a huge problem,’’ said Jane Kay of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, an organization formed in the days following the mass shooting of school children in Newtown, Conn.
Only in America can a two-month old pressure group with fewer members than there were legislators standing behind Hilstrom get the breathless adoration of the media. Which is what “Moms Demand Action” and “Protect Minnesota” both are; astroturf checkbook advocacy groups funded by liberal plutocrats with deep pockets – with “membership” numbers in the single digits.
Provided they share the goal of fluffing the left’s withering narrative on gun control.
Of course, Grow wasn’t the only offender; Pat Kessler of Channel 4 asked Hilstrom why the bill included no universal background check which, he asserted, “70% of Minnesotans oppose”.
The correct answer – the polls ask people about background checks without explaining the consequences of those checks as the DFL and Governor Messinger Dayton currently propose them; they will result in a de facto gun registry, which is a necessary first step to universal confiscation.
More on gun-related media polls in another piece soon.
The Pre-Written Story
But Grow himself is the real problem here. His piece, while short on the sort of insight that actually engaging people on both sides of the issue might have given it, is long on evidence that Grow wrote the story long before yesterday’s press conference.
There’s the inflammatory reference to every leftymedia member’s favorite boogyman:
The bill has the support of the National Rifle Association, presumably because it does nothing to require background checks on all gun sales and because it does nothing to restrict sales of military-style weapons or even the quantity of rounds in ammunition magazines.
The bill has the support of gun-rights organizations because instead of wasting time and effort putting niggling restrictions on the rights of the law-abiding that didn’t affect crime in any way the first ten years they were tried, they actually address the real problem; criminals, the insane, the addled, and the holes in the data the state sends to the Feds for the background check system.
(And while the NRA makes a nice, recognizable, stereotyped boogeyman for the lazy propagandist, the NRA actually has very little to do with the day to day heavy lifting of the gun rights movement in Minnesota. It’s the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance that turned out 500 or more people a day to attend the gun grab hearings a couple of weeks back. Grow either doesn’t know that, or doesn’t want people to know that. You know where my money is).
More evidence that Grow wrote the story entirely off of DFL and “Protect Minnesota” chanting points?
Despite the fact that it’s a bill that authors hoped would unite people, it seems to be dividing. Yes, there was a mix of Republican and DFL representatives standing with Hilstrom, Cornish and Stanek. But there were no law-enforcement organizations represented at the news conference where the proposal was unveiled.
Here’s the video of the press conference:
See all those guys in uniforms?
Scroll in to 1:12. That’s Sheriff Rich Stanek, Hennepin County Sheriff, speaking on behalf of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.
Either Grow is lying, or he wrote the entire story with no knowledge of the facts of the story.
Short On Fact, Long On Jamming Words Into Peoples’ Mouths
Grow follows by saying…:
There also were no DFL senators, though presumably the bill will be as attractive to outstate senators as it appears to be to many outstate DFL representatives.
Grow throws that in there as if it’s a substantive fact related to the bill itself. It’s not. While most outstate legislators no doubt remember the DFL debacle of 2002, it’s also more than plausible Tom Bakk wants to keep his powder dry.
In other words, presence of no DFL senators is a non-factor, unless you’re a low-information reader.
Grow next swerves through fact – and in so doing, undercuts his own premise. I’ll add emphasis:
Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, and the chairman of the House public safety committee, has indicated he has no desire to have the bill heard by his committee. Paymar is pushing a bill that would require purchasers of guns at flea markets and gun shows to go through background checks.
Yet, given the large number of co-authors with Hilstrom, there likely are ways for the bill to weave its way through the legislative process.
Yes. There are a large number of co-authors; so many they had to submit it not one, not two, but three times to get them all on. Over half of the House is signed on as authors of the bill.
Michael Paymar wants to thwart the will of the representatives of over half of Minnesota’s voters?
Putting Thirty Shots From An AR15 Into A Strawman
Finally, Grow takes his whacks at some of the legislators who’ve violated the DFL’s narrative:
[Representative Tony] Cornish, usually a lightning rod in the gun debate, said he was taking a different role regarding the fate of this bill.
“Several of my statements (in the past) have been controversial,’’ he said. “Today my role is to be a peacemaker.’’
No sooner had he said that than he uttered a statement that raises the hackles of those hoping for stronger gun measures.
“I want to thank the NRA for helping (on the bill),’’ he said. He went on to say that the bill “contains nothing for gun owners to fear.’’
Er, who’s “hackles” got “raised”, here? And why?
Was it the involvement of the NRA? Your dog whistles aren’t our problem.
Or was it the quote about gun owners having nothing to fear? Is that the actual goal, here?
Hilstrom, in her seventh term, refused to talk about her true feelings of the bill. Rather, she kept speaking of the importance of “passing a bill that will solve real problems.’’
She did point out that she never has sought the endorsement of the NRA and that in the past she has received a “C,’’ “D,’’ and “F’’ from the NRA.
If she’s doing the right thing – which, for a majority of Minnesotans, is “solving problems”, rather than attacking the law-abiding gun owner – then I don’t care if she’s a life-time “F” rating. And I don’t care about her true feelings; I don’t care if she’s being used as an escape hatch by the DFL to get out of the embarassment of the Paymar/Hausman gun grab bills.
Finally: I owe the Twin Cities media an apology. I’ve said that Larry Jacobs is the most over-quoted person in the Twin Cities media. And he is. David Schultz is right up there.
But in the “single-issue” category, Heather Martens – “Executive Director” and, near as we can tell, one of less than a half-dozen members of “Protect Minnesota” (and de facto representative of House District 66A) and a woman whose entire body of public assertions is lies, dwarfs them all:
Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota, derided the bill as “NRA-approved.’’
Boo! Boogeyman! Hiss!
Listen, MinnPost-reading dogs! There’s your whistle!
“Any bill that fails to address the gaping holes in our background check law falls far short of the public’s demand for the right to be safe in our communities,’’ Martens said in a statement.
And there’s another lie. The bill does address the gaping hole that exists in the background check laws.
No, not the misnamed “gun show loophole”, which is another media myth. The real gap is the data that the state isn’t sending to the feds; the Hilstrom bill fixes it.
GOCRA’s Mountain, Grow And Martens’ Molehill
Leaving aside the fact that Grow got pretty much everything in this story wrong – and wrong in a way that suggests not only that he wasn’t at Hilstrom’s press conference but that he wrote the whole thing straight from chanting points long before Hilstrom took to the microphone – the most pernicious thing about Grow’s story is that it tries to create the impression that there’s a genuine battle between two titanically-powerful sides to this debate.
In terms of legislators? A bipartisan sample of over half of the House is on board co-authoring Hilstrom’s bill(s). A thin, runny film of metro-DFL extremists is backing the Paymar/Hausman/Simonson gun grab bills.
In terms of the public? Last month, GOCRA put out a call for people to come to the Capitol. And they did.
“Protect Minnesota” and “Moms Demand Action” put out a call yesterday for people to come out and protest against Hilstrom’s bill.
Here they are:
Well, not literally. But no, other than Heather Martens, nobody showed up.
There are literally more DFL legislators co-authoring Hilstrom’s bill than there are members of “Protect Minnesota” and the “Moms Demand Action” put together.
So how much money did Big Labor spend along with Big Lefty Plutocrat to buy the Governor’s Office and the Legislature?
If you believe the Strib, it’s “around $3 million.
If you believe the Strib is going to tell the truth about DFL perfidy – and especially the big money behind the DFL, I’ve got a 50% stake in the next Lindsay Lohan movie to sell you.
Bill Walsh, long-time Minnesota political operative, did a little digging into the story – and he’s got something the Twin Cities’ mainstream media doesn’t want to give you; the facts:
I’m publishing his piece as a guest writer at Shot In The Dark today.
Unions Spent $11.1 Million in 2012 to Buy Friendly Legislature for Gov. Mark Dayton
Bill Walsh, Shot In The Dark Guest Writer
A few weeks ago the Star Tribune published an article about campaign spending in the 2012 election focusing on two big individual donors – Alida Messinger and Bob Cummins. The conclusion? Each party has a big donor that gave lots of money, it’s all a wash. I’m afraid this story is all we’re going to get from the Strib on campaign spending analysis. Today, in an otherwise well written article on union influence at the capitol this year, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes that unions “put at least $3 million into elections.” I guess $11.1 million is “at least” $3 million. She’s only off by $8.1 million.
I took the time to go through the campaign finance reports of 111 different union organizations in Minnesota and nationally for the 2012 election. Spending ranged from Education Minnesota at $1.8 million to the Bemidji Central Labor Body AFL-CIO Political Fund at $250. State and local unions accounted for $9.1 million in campaign spending with national unions kicking in the other $2 million.
It took some time to come to the right numbers because many unions give money to each other for joint spending initiatives. These numbers reflect the net spending after backing out contributions between unions. It goes without saying that over 99% of the money went to DFL candidates and causes.
I blame myself for not getting this research to the StarTribune before they published today’s article. It really would have added some punch to their story.
For example, when talking about the nurses union asking the legislature for new staffing ratios that will drive up health care costs, it would have been useful to point out to readers the nurses union spent over $500,000 helping DFL candidates win back the legislature last year. As a matter of fact, that probably should be mentioned every time the media covers the progress of this legislation.
Likewise, when discussing AFSCME’s attempt to force unionization on small private childcare businesses, it would inform the reader to mention that seven different AFSCME organizations gave a total of $1.6 million to DFL candidates and causes in 2012.
The list goes on – Education Minnesota is trying to resurrect their statewide insurance pool legislation, MAPE and AFSCME are getting new generous employment contracts, the minimum wage is being increased and Dayton is following through on his promise to raise taxes on the rich.
But business spends a lot too, right? Wrong. It’s hard to get anywhere near $11.1 million if you add up the business money spent in the 2012 election. A business friendly PAC called Minnesota’s Future spent $1.2 million while the Chamber of Commerce-supported Coalition for Minnesota Businesses spent just $283,000 on the 2012 election. We all know the MNGOP received little support from the business community and the two legislative caucuses combined to spend only $4.1 million, and not all of that can be attributed to business.
According to today’s Pioneer Press, however, business interests do spend a lot on lobbying. The Campaign Finance Board reported that business interests spent $17.4 million lobbying the legislature during the 2011 session.
This may be the key to understanding today’s political environment. Unions spend heavily getting sympathetic Democrats elected to office. Once they are in place, it doesn’t take much money to lobby –the jury is already selected.
Business on the other hand, spends relatively little on the nuts and bolts of campaigns and prefers to hire lobbyists to try to influence the debate after the legislature has been selected.
First, Republican legislators need to hammer away on the $11.1 million unions spent to buy this legislature for Gov. Mark Dayton. They need to remind the public and the press at every opportunity to follow the money. Pay to play has never been more obvious in Minnesota.
Second, the business community needs to shift some of its resources to where it matters: the 2014 general election. Business will never match the collective self interest and desperation of the unions, so we need to reach a higher level of cooperation if we hope to recapture the House and win back the governor’s office in 2014.
This, after a gubernatorial race where the DFL outspent the GOP on the order of 2:1, and a legislative race with a nearly-as-dismal margin.
And in a piece by Rachel Stassen-Berger with 23 paragraphs, Governor leading DFL donor Alida Messinger got one paragraph and a brief shout out in the lede.
Indeed, the raft of liberal plutocrats who have essentially taken over the entire DFL messaging operation took up exactly six of the 23 paragraphs, along with a brief mention that “Corporations and unions still pour cash into elections”.
The rest of the piece was largely focused on GOP individual donors who, it is noted, largely sat out the election, or focused on single issues. The influence of ABM, which essentially entirely controls the DFL at least in terms of message, is ignored.
Well, not quite:
Blodgett and others said she is not the type of donor who makes demands of the beneficiaries of her largesse.
Not “ignored”; “whitewashed” may be a better term. I mean, if Jeff Blodgett says Governor Alida Messinger behaves herself, that’s good enough for me!
\Of course, when you can act unilaterally with impunity, demands are superfluous…
To: Everyone in the USA
From: Mitch Berg, Peasant who’s been through it all before
You may not remember this, but we’ve been through all this before. Remember the “partial government shutdown”, back in the nineties? It was a whole big nothing-burger.
Oh, the Clinton Administration tried to make sure that the people felt whatever pain was generated – closing parks, cramping down on the voters. But as a rule, the whole thing affected nobody.
And here in Minnesota, we had a “complete” shutdown two years ago (which, again, wasn’t – the courts kept most of the government going as “essential”). It lasted a few weeks. Then Governor Messinger Dayton abandoned it, when he realized Minnesotans, for all his efforts to squeeze and scare them – shutting down state parks and highway rest areas, threatening to lay off teachers – barely noticed any difference. While the media did its best to prop up the Messinger Dayton line, the people of Minnesota heard the gales of calumny but saw and felt a big fat nada burrito. Even Governor Messinger Dayton – as cosseted and isolated from reality as his staff keeps him – noticed; on his trip around the state to whip up support for the DFL budget, he saw tepid crowds of union droogs, anda few professional protesters, and realized he had nothin’ (which may be why Dayton makes so few public appearances these days).
So it’s time for “sequestration” – the “radical” budget cuts that Obama and the super-di-duper commission agreed to as a stick to lead everyone to the “carrot” of an actual federal budget. We’ve been waiting nearly 1,400 days for a budget from the Democrat-addled Senate, so Washington figured a “stick” was needed.
By the way – how radical and drastic are those cuts?:
Yep. They’re not even cuts. They’re reductions in the increase. Indeed, almost completely worthless, if cutting spending is your goal, but really nothing but a fart in the wind; sort of like “dropping HBO” in your family budget, even though your gas bill is rising and your teenage kids are costing more and more.
Obama will try to make “sequestration” hurt; he’ll slow down the TSA lines, he’ll gundeck some ship overhauls and clamp down some military maintenance budgets, he’ll inveigle some big cities to lay off a few cops and teachers, he’ll shut down Yellowstone as the cameras record photos of crestfallen children. Hell, Joe Biden may even personally try to close the gates at Disney World.
But there is no there, there. It’s a scare tactic, engineered by Obama and his compliant media.