Cue Captain Renault

The big news in the alt-media world in the Twin Cities last week was the MinnPost’s profile of Michael Brodkorb.

Michael has been rhetorical catnip for both sides of the aisle for the past decade or so.  When he was “Minnesota Democrats Exposed”, especially in his pseudonymous phase before 2006, he was the Minnesota left’s Public Enemy #1.

And his role in the scandal that whipsawed the GOP’s majority in the Senate a few years back made him non grata in a lot of GOP circles.

I’m not one of the conservatives that tossed Michael under the bus; I’ve considered him a friend ever since I first met him – when he revealed on my show back in ’06 that he was MDE.  I’m not going to say that I agree with all his choices, but I’m not the one to cast the first stone.  I’m also not on board with his approach to politics these days – but that’s something I’ll tackle issue by issue.

And I have some questions over a lot of what he says in the MinnPost profile.   Which would make for an interesting conversation, on or off the air.

But to me, the interesting part of the MinnPost profile isn’t so much the unpacking of the past couple years of Brodkorb’s life; it doesn’t cover all that much new ground.

No – the interesting part for me is lines like…:

“Republicans couldn’t distance themselves fast enough. It was a vicious mix of schadenfreude and shunning.”

“You understand the tactic [of scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners PR]? Now you see it as having become counter­productive?

“Do you advise Republicans that [an aggressive, ideological approach to the media] only marginalizes them among general voters?”

“The “fringe of the fringe” of course is great fodder for the media. Every experienced reporter knows they’re fringe people saying fringe things”

“Well, the obvious irony is that for a lot of people around here they look at you and see the guy who kind of invented the partisan bomb-­thrower game”

And especially this one:

“But the tone and traffic you generated with [your writing] certainly helped … in establishing your bona fides within the party and achieving the post you held with the Senate”

The writer, of course, is Brian Lambert.

Now, Lambert’s not a bad guy.  But while I laud his sudden commitment to civility and reason, it’s hard to separate the Lambo in this piece from the Brian Lambert who was throwing partisan rhetorical rocks and garbage at conservatives years before it became the fashion.  Literally – my first encounter with Lambert was on December 18, 1985 – my first day as a screener at KSTP.  And Lambo was sitting in for Geoff Charles.  And he was not an iota less disdainful of and condescending to conservatives then than he was in his years at the Pioneer Press (when the “tone and traffic he generated with his writing helped establish his bona fides” for a job with then-Senator Mark Dayton), his turn as the liberal id of the old “Janecek and Lambert” show, and pretty much everything he’s ever written at the Twin Cities Reader, the Rake, MinnPost, and whatever I’ve forgotten in between.

And I’m thinking his solicitousness toward Brodkorb is going to be a new corollary to Berg’s 11th Law (“The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected”); perhaps “the Republican that Democrats don’t pelt with rocks and garbage is the one that does their throwing for them”.

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.

The Boogeygun Is Everywhere!

The night before the infamous “Saint Valentines’ Day Massacre” – in which Al Capone’s Italian mob rubbed out much of Bugs Moran’s Irish gang in Prohibition-era Chicago – the Italians spent a sleepless night assembling their Tommy Guns from parts they’d purchased around and about Chicago and its surrounding area.

And before going out to massacre innocent locals or groups of high school kids, Mexico’s loathsome narcotraficantes frequently spend days in machine shops, a patiently milling and drilling and cutting bits and pieces of metal into workable weapons.

Yeah, of course I made that up.

Criminals in America’s most crime-ridden cities – Chicago and Camden and DC and New Orleans – can get illegal firearms far easier than the law-abiding citizen can get legal ones, and there’s no assembly required.

But in the imagination of the American left’s ninny chorus in the media, criminals are real do-it-yourselfers.   Because you can get “assault weapon parts” on EBay; I’m going to add some emphasis:

Yet for as little as $500, anyone with an eBay account can purchase all but one of the dozen or so necessary parts.

The only missing piece of the gun – the lower receiver

Let’s stop right there.

If you know anything about guns, you know that “I got everything I need for an AR15 but the lower receiver” is a little like saying “I got an entire car – except the frame”.

can be bought secondhand from private sellers who post classified ads on other websites, such as Armslist.com. The receiver is the only regulated part of the gun, but there are workarounds for obtaining one, too. Partially complete receivers can be purchased privately without a background check or serial number and finished by buyers themselves, or they can be built from scratch at home to sidestep having to register the finished gun.

In other words, if a crook wants an unregistered AR15, the options are to gather a bunch of parts – a barrel, a bolt and bolt carrier, a stock, a forearm, a couple of hundred bucks worth of goodies – and then either:

  • buy a complete lower receiver, which must be transferred through a Federal Firearms Licensed-dealer (with paper trail).
  • buy an unfinished lower reciever and, using non-trivial skills and tools – metal drills, a metal router and a few others – finish it.  And by finish it, we mean to a rather fussy level of tolerances; the AR15 is no zip gun.
  • Put all the parts in their junk drawer and buy a complete, stolen AR or AK from any number of sources; stolen guns, gangs, or Eric Holder.

It might be simplistic to say that “if criminals had the skills needed to assemble a complete, shootable AR, they wouldn’t need to be criminals.  But only barely.

It is, of course, the latest attempt by the US media to manufacture a gun crisis – which is easier than manufacturing the guns themselves; as a Mother Jones correspondent couldn’t very well conceal a couple years ago, back when the AK47 was still the left’s official boogeygun (again, emphasis is mine):

The hosts collect our paperwork without checking IDs. We don eye protection and gloves, and soon the garage is abuzz with the whir of grinders, cutters, and drills. Sales of receivers—which house the mechanical parts, making a gun a gun—are tightly regulated, so my kit comes with a pre-drilled flat steel platform. Legally, it’s just an American-made hunk of metal, but one bend in a vise later and, voilà, it’s a receiver, ready for trigger guards to be riveted on. Sparks fly as receiver rails to guide the bolt mechanism are cut, welded into place, and heat-treated. The front and rear trunnions, which will hold the barrel and stock, are attached to the receivers.

Sounds easy?

Well, I know there are machinists in my audience.  But to the less handy among us – say, Mojo writers – it’s a non-trivial exercise.   I love the illustration in the Mojo story:  “Making your own receiver – the part that holds the firing mechanism – requires no background check”.  Which may be true, but it also requires a non-trivial set of metalworking skills and tools.

You’re a crook.  What’s easier; spending an evening with a bunch of people painstakingly assembling  an AK (or the much fussier AR) from scratch, or buying one from a fellow crook in a tenth of the time?

It’s not confusing to anyone who’s not an NPR reporter.

The NYTimes: They Know What Matters

In the interest of telling all the news that fits (the narrative), the NYTimes has turned its crack Democrat party relations group political journalists loose on…

Scott Walker’s accent:

Out on the presidential campaign trail, Gov. Scott Walker has left “Wiscahnsin” back home in Wisconsin. He now wants to strengthen the economy, not the “ecahnahmy.” And while he once had the “ahnor” of meeting fellow Republicans, he told one group here this week that he simply enjoyed “talkin’ with y’all.”

 

The classic Upper Midwest accent — nasal and full of flat a’s — is one of several Walker trademarks to have fallen away this month after an intense period of strategizing and coaching designed to help Mr. Walker capitalize on his popularity in early polls and show that he is not some provincial politician out of his depth.

The Times also notes, for the aid of the brain damaged, that Walker, who is running for President, has changed his focus from Wisconsin to National issues.  Thanks, Times.

NPR at least had the intellectual honesty to talk with a linguist who noted that people tend to tailor their own accents to their audiences.

Which may the reason the Times hasn’t written about this:

Or this:

But I’m going to suggest “intellectual honesty” has nothing to do with it.

The Blonde Is Obviously Guilty

When the usual suspects – 99% of Twitter users – jumped on board in attacking ESPN correspondent Brett McHenry for her altercation with the folks at an impound lot, I thought to myself “let’s hold out for a moment here”.

Yes, sports “journalists” usually don’t rate much in the way of consideration. If Ancient Rome had had cable TV, ESPN would have made major bank covering gladiator fights.

But if there’s a group of people in the world that have not earned themselves much in the way of indulgence for their behavior, it’s the folks at tag and tow impound lots like “Advanced Towing”, where Ms. McHenry had her dustup.

Sure enough – a few days have past, and it looks entirely possible that Ms. McHenry’s outburst may have been rhetorical self-defense against a tag ‘n tow clerk who was, to put it politely, being a pig.

A review of the company’s Yelp page reveals many disgruntled customers who aren’t just griping over the fact they got towed.
According to NBC Washington, there have been incidents where the company towed cars with a golden retriever and even children inside.

Are you smelling what I’m cooking, “Mark’s” in Eagan, or Goebbels’ Towing in New Brighton?

Bert Circles Detroit!

Fox Sports North commentator Bert Blyleven called the city of Detroit “ugly” on Twitter.

When Detroit fans respond via Twitter, Blyleven urges them to do something that is… anatomically unlikely.

Now, I’ve been to Detroit a couple times. And I’m sure Blyleven was only referring to the parts that aren’t abandoned, stripped of all their copper and lead piping, caked 3 inches deep in graffiti, and completely devoid of all signs of decent human life.

Because if you leave that out, it’s not half bad!

Oops

Over the Easter Weekend/news hole, Rolling Stone magazine and their writer, Sabrina “Amoral Pig” Erdely, retracted their hatchet job University of Virginia rape story. I’ll add emphasis:

On Sunday, Ms. Erdely, in her first extensive comments since the article was cast into doubt, apologized to Rolling Stone’s readers, her colleagues and “any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article.”

She apologized to her readers, colleagues, and people who felt triggerwarned?

Well, isn’t that special.

Nothing for the people she falsely accused?  

The people she nifonged?

In an interview discussing Columbia’s findings, Jann S. Wenner, the publisher of Rolling Stone, acknowledged the piece’s flaws but said that it represented an isolated and unusual episode and that Ms. Erdely would continue to write for the magazine. The problems with the article started with its source, Mr. Wenner said. He described her as “a really expert fabulist storyteller” who managed to manipulate the magazine’s journalism process. When asked to clarify, he said that he was not trying to blame Jackie, “but obviously there is something here that is untruthful, and something sits at her doorstep.”

So Amoral Pig Erdely ran a story without even the faintest whiff of what used to be considered journalistic due diligence, buuuuuuuuut of course she’ll continue to “write” for Rolling Stone.  

It’s been my theory for most of a decade now that the “Society of Professional Journalists'” “Code of Ethics” is nothing but a framework by which media outlets can justify absolutely anything they do, even if only by pleading “we subscribe to the SPJ Code of Ethics”.

It’s very close to becoming a new Berg’s Law.

Silent Language

Winning the battle for the English Language is always a challenge when you’re a conservative. The left understands, and wages without mercy, the war for the language.

And for the most part, the media reflects the left’s view of how language portrays things.

So it’s been interesting watching the media coverage of the raft of Gun Rights bills.  In a Twin Cities media that will refers to using ones’ carry permit as “packing heat” so frequently it’s beyond satirizable, there’ve been some improvements.

This past few weeks, a bill that would allow Minnesotans to join 39 other states in owning mufflers for their guns has been advancing though committee.

And it’s been interesting reading the headlines that local news organizations having been using for the story (in this case taken from online coverage); do they refer to gun mufflers with techical accuracy as “suppressors”, or with conspiratorial, theatrical scaremongering as “silencers”.

Here are some examples, with emphasis added by me:

So minor kudos to the Twin Cities media; at least as re the very basics of language, you’re coming around ever so slightly.

Now, if we could do something about using the term “packing heat”, like, ever…

Stewart

There are many reasons to read Kevin Williamson’s piece about the departure of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show.  It may be the best single thing I’ve read about Stewart.

But I’ll leave you with this bit:

There are funny conservatives and funny liberals, but they tend to be amusing in different ways, which is why liberal efforts to replicate Rush Limbaugh’s success have failed in the same way as conservative efforts to replicate Jon Stewart’s. It takes a left-wing sensibility to have Lenny Bruce’s career; it takes a right-wing sensibility to have Evelyn Waugh’s.

And it takes a bottomless well of stupidity to rely on either mode of humor for a meaningful map of the world.

And fortunately for Stewart, that bottomless well is everywhere these days.

Media Quiz Time: The Answers!

Last week, David Chanen of the Strib wrote a piece – a decent one, actually – about the straw-purchase flim-flam that put a gun in the hand of Ray Kmetz, the New Hope shooter who was legally barred from owning guns at all.

And the story omitted something that almost no story about guns in the Twin Cities media has, in recent or even distant memory.

There was no obligatory, supercilious, and utterly wrong quote from Heather Martens!

Of course, several commenters, starting with Mr. D, got it within minutes of my posting this morning.  Y’all know me too well.

Still, this is a virtual rupture of the space-time continuum.

What next?  A Strib piece about politics that doesn’t quote Larry Jacobs?

I feel like anything is possible!

NPR: Omaha Beach Was A Rhetorical Battle…

NPR’s Teri Gross – one of the most overpraised figures in the American media, a woman who is to interviewing what Jay Cutler has been as a quarterback – busted out her deep thoughts about history and politics in a recent interview with American Sniper star Bradley Cooper.

Gross started with the obvious – NPR is soaking in bias (emphasis added):

“Clint Eastwood directed the film – and very well. He directed it very well, I think,” she said. “But I’ll tell you, after he interviewed the chair at the Republican National Convention, I thought, wow, I’d be scared to work with him after that. And I’m wondering if you had any reservations about, you know, having him direct the film knowing that he could interview the chair.”

Cooper laughed: “You got to ask him about that one time (laughter) if you ever get a chance to.”

But it’s Gross’s deep thoughts about the nature of mankind’s most brutal habit, and the place of morality, that is the real big news (emphasis added):

Gross also sounded strange when she insisted that people on the Left want to oppose the war, but support the troops, but “they draw the line when the troops had to do something like kill someone.”

In other words, they support the military when it’s just like another social program; when it’s thousands of people sitting around collecting checks and not really doing much.

 

Our Gatekeeper Class

Remember – the reason to distrust the alternative media, and keep your faith in the mainstream media’s veracity, is their reams and reams of gatekeepers and fact-checkers that ensure the story you get is the unvarnished truth:

On “NBC Nightly News” Wednesday evening, Williams read a 50-second statement apologizing for his characterization of the episode.

“After a groundfire incident in the desert during the Iraq war invasion, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” he said. “It did not take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in that desert. I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. . . . This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and, by extension, our brave military men and women, veterans everywhere, those who have served while I did not.”

Good thing “Politifact” got to this story…

…Oh, wait.

Well, good thing the media-ethics watchdogs at NPR’s “On The Media…”

…Dammit.

Snopes?

That Fourth Estate Of Ours

When was Mark Dayton’s last alcoholic relapse?

What sort of psychotropic medications is he on? And why?

Our media here in the Twin Cities doesn’t think you, mere peasant, have a “need to know”.

But never let it be said the Twin Cities media won’t hold big government’s feet in the fire over the tough issues!

Because, boy howdy, they sure will!

Discredited

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Star Tribune finally deigns to report that Department of Public Safety altered the Application to Carry a Pistol form, to include more than a dozen illegal questions. Heather Martens is fine with that.
Heather Martens . . . said some of the questions on the form reveal information that may not turn up in a background check. Further, she said, where 80 percent of the state’s gun deaths are by suicide, even the simplest questions may get honest answers. “I could say that some of those questions are very important questions, and there’s no downside to asking them,” she said. “I wish they asked everybody who is buying a gun, ‘Are you planning on killing somebody with this?’ and a certain number of people are going to say yes. That’s just the way it is

First, it’s not 80%, it’s less than 70%. Still tragic, but let’s be honest about the numbers.

Second, the percentage doesn’t matter; the questions weren’t asked on an Application to Commit Suicide. Suicides don’t get permits.
Third, as Rep. Tony Cornish pointed out, the questions are irrelevant because only information law enforcement needs is exactly what turns up in a background check.

Fourth, notice the smooth slide away from the subject at hand – Permit to Carry – over to her pet peeve – Permit to Purchase. Too bad the reporter doesn’t have a clue about gun rights, so she doesn’t notice she’s being lied to by misdirection.

Joe Doakes

Dear reporters here in Minnesota; why do you keep going to Heather Martens for information on firearms issues?

If you had a source in any other area who always give you false information, and always made your reporting wrong, would you keep going back to them?

There really isn’t any excuse for this, anymore.

The Bad News

Minnesota human rights advocates got the Department of Public Safety to roll back a series of intrusive and, I suspect, illegal questions on the Minnesota carry permit application form yesterday.

That’s all to the good – as I noted below.

Now, let’s talk about reporting.

Channel 5’s Beth McDonough reported the story.  You can go to the link to watch it; the fella in the maroon shirt is not “Corey Bowman”, but in fact Andrew Rothman, president of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.  Editing glitches happen.

But what I’m going to do is emphasize all of the elements in the online story that are prejudicial, signs of bias, or lead to much bigger questions – or would, if we had a news media that was interested in asking big questions of government, which we largely do not.

I’ll add emphasis to the parts of the story with the problems:

The way you apply for a permit to carry a gun in Minnesota is back to the way it was.

It’s all because of 18 questions on a new application. Some argue it asks for too much information.

Like a lot of Minnesotans Corey Bowman owns a gun, “being a hunter and avid outdoorsman.”

Helping to give Minnesota a reputation as the land of 100,000 guns. [1] In fact, 165,000 people have permits to carry, according to state records—the most ever in Minnesota.

To get a permit to carry, you have to fill out an application, one standard form. But before Tuesday, that application contained 18 fewer questions. Some of those include: whether you’ve been in treatment for substance abuse, fled the state to avoid prosecution or if you’ve been convicted of a crime as a juvenile.

Those questions lasted less than 36 hours online, because of backlash from gun rights enthusiasts.  [2]

“At worst, it’s creating dozens of additional opportunities for somebody to make an accidental mistake that results in the denial of their permit application or even criminal charges,” according to Andrew Rothman with the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.

The now-former application said the information was required, leaving the impression the permit couldn’t be processed without all the questions answered. And that’s okay with Corey Bowman.   [3]

These are the kind of questions that would pick out the people that don’t need to have the firearms,”  [4] Bowman said.

The Department of Public Safety told us it updated the permit to carry form to reflect changes made by lawmakers in 2014.   [5]

So let’s go through them one by one:

  1. Nobody has ever called Minnesota anything of the sort.  For starters, there are at least 2.5 million guns in Minnesota.  I get it – reporters like their snappy quips.  But please.
  2. Was Martin Luther King a “civil rights enthusiast?”  Are the people who are protesting police brutality “civil liberties enthusiasts?”  Were the Occupy Minneapolis people “rape and filth enthusiasts?”  No.  Someone who tinkers with model airplanes in his spare time is an “enthusiast”; people who fight for civil rights are “activists”.  Unless, apparently, it’s the Second Amendment.
  3. Well, that’s great.  Who the hell is Corey Bowman?  I’m sure he’s a fine person and al, but why is Corey Bowman’s opinion important to us?  He’s an authority on carry permit law because he’s a hunter?
  4. No.  The permits are issued or denied based on information that is available to police for the asking; criminal and court records and things in that weight class.  This was nothing but a petulant attempt to try to trip people up.
  5. What changes in the law?  Other than the domestic abuse law – which affected permits after they were issued, and for which the information needed to deny permits is already automatically available to the police – there were no changes in the law in the 2014 session that anyone I know can think of.

More on this, hopefully, tomorrow.