Point/Counterpoint: Rumors Of Its Demise Are Exaggerated

There are those who say that political blogging is dead – replaced by Twitter.

To explore the issue, I present a Point/Counterpoint debate between myself and my evil twin brother Jed.

MITCH:  Is political blogging dead?  Who cares?  As long as I enjoy doing it, it’s alive!

JED: Solipsistic as always, Mitch.  The larger point is this; if all political communication is going to have to squeeze down to 140 characters (less links), then completing the de-evolution to Duckspeak is really just a formality.

The winner:  Both of us!

That is all.

It’s Starting To Grow On Me

My “evil” twin brother Jed sent me an email:

Mitch,

The overwhelming positive response I got from debuting “Planet Terry” yesterday on your blog really was the wind beneath my wings.  I think this might be my future, after all.

I thought I’d share my latest work with your audience first.

Many thanks to you and your many readers.  Say hello to Marisa for me.

Your twin brother,

Jed

He also sent another edition of “Planet Terry”:

PlanetTerryStrip3 

I think he’s onto something.

My Evil Twin Jed Is Back

Periodically, I feature work from my evil twin brother Jed. 

Jed isn’t “evil”, per se.  It’s just that twins are just that much more dramatic when they are one’s diametric opposite.  And Jed loves drama.

He also loves trying new things.  He’s changed careers.  Again.  After spending five years as a forensic intellectual property lawyer, he’s decided to change paths, and become a cartoonist.  With that in mind, he’s sent me the first strip of his first effort, called “Planet Terry”.  I’ll let Jed describe it:

Planet Terry is the story of a young planet trying to find its way in the universe. 

Here it is:

PlanetTerryStrip1

I dont’ know that it’s all that good. I don’t know much about cartooning – just the obvious stuff, like “Swiftee’s a better cartoonist than Ken Weiner”.

Anyway. Jed wanted to say hi.

Hi.

I think we’re all set!

Jed Liveblogs His Seance With Sigmund Freud

(Note from Mitch:  I got this from my “evil” twin brother, Jed.  He believes in some funky stuff, including spiritualism and seances.  While I post his occasional pieces, I don’t necessarily endorse his views).

“It’s come to my attention that certain local bloggers have been trying to invoke classical psychoanalysis in critiqueing blogs – namely, in this case, my brother Mitch’s.   In one rather febrile case, a local blogger attempted to co-opt Sigmund Freud in order to “analyze” (via the “inundation with stereotypes” modality) last week’s “Hot Gear Friday” on World War II firearms.

So to set the record straight, I’m going to attempt to go to the source; I’m going to contact Doctor Freud himself in the next world

I believe this may be a blog first; certainly it’s a first among MOB blogs.

I’ve gathered some spiritualistic objects about me; I’m burning incense; I’m getting into a deep trance, attempting to commune with the spirits…

…wow.  He – or his spirit – has a Yahoo Chat account!  Who knew? 

I will include the transcript of the seance chat – the “chateance”, I guess – below.  This should be exiting.

SigFreud: Allo – wem hat mich abgewocht?

JedBerg: Sorry to disturb you, Dr. Freud. 

SigFreud: Kein Problem.  Was ist denn deine frage?

JedBerg:  Thank you.  I have just a couple of short questions… 

SigFreud: Schieß sofort!

JedBerg: Very well!  First question: does your theory of “compensation” have the faintest thing to do with enjoying shooting?

SigFreud: ROFMLAO!  Solche Quatsch!  Nee – regelmäsige waffeninteresse is gesund!  Es bedeutet ein wohle, gesunde…kraft in diesen welt!

JedBerg: “Kraft” – you mean in the sense of “Power, confidence, self-respect”, like that?

SigFreud: Ja!  Doch, natürlich!  Mein beliebte wort dafür is “Mojo”.

JedBerg: OK, thanks…

SigFreud: …anders zum glauben is…krank!

JedBerg: Really?  Do I hear you right – believeing otherwise is sick?

SigFreud: Ja!  Bring die männer in die weiße jacke!

JedBerg: The white jackets?  Wow.  That’s serious.

SigFreud: Doch.  Nächst!

JedBerg: OK.  So say someone likes to make snarky comments about others…

SigFreud: Das is ganz fabelhaft!  Wenn mann “speaks his mind” in seine eigene name, das ist gar gesund!

JedBerg: Healthy?  Sure – except it’s not “in their own name”.  They’re all either anonymous, or talking through fake personas – like animals.  Dogs.  That kind of thing.

(pause in transcript)

SigFreud: So viel arbeit – und so wenig zeit. 

JedBerg: That bad?

SigFreud: Es macht man müde und… nah, sowieso “depressed”.  Das ist alles.  Beinahe gefällt’s mir daß ich Tod bin!   Nächst!

JedBerg: Wow.  Harsh.  OK, final question; doesn’t your very presence here in a seance from the afterlife refute your premises from Future of an Illusion and Moses and Monotheism?

SigFreud: LOLOLOL!  Ja.  Schoiße, nicht?

JedBerg: Heh.  You could say that!  Well, Dr. Freud, thank you for your time!

SigFreud: Kein Problem!  Chuß, und auf wiederschauen!  :-)

JedBerg: And to  you as well!

SigFreud has logged off 12:02PM

The light is fading….fading…

Wow.  I’m back.  Let me read the transcript…

…oh, crap.  I forgot – Freud was Austrian!  Well, dang. 

I hope that’s of use to someone.  

(Jed Berg, Mitch’s “evil twin”, contributes periodically to this blog.  He is a forensic personal injury attorney living in Darrien, Connecticut.  He is a life-long liberal Democrat, but will likely vote for McCain if the Dems nominate a candidate who is pro-choice, anti-gun, and pro-withdrawal from Iraq)

Bring Back The Goons!

My little-known evil twin Jed writes:

When Mitch and I were kids, our teachers used to tell us – threatening the President, even as a  joke, was a bad idea; the Secret Service was always watching for these things.  Our fourth grade teacher, Miss Walburn, told us the story about the kid who’d written a joking threat to President Nixon, and gotten a visit from the Secret Service.   

Last Sunday I watched Family Guy.  It was the episode where Stewie takes over the world, and Lois sets out to kill him.

The “climactic” scene is a battle between the two in the Oval Office.  In one scene, Lois, firing a Minigun a la Jesse Ventura in Predator, chases Stewie with a stream of bullets along a wall of presidential portraits, leaving a stream of bullet holes in the pics of the last seven or eight presidents, as the “camera” “pans” along.

Then the shot stops when we get to George W. Bush’s portrait, with two or three holes in it.  Lois stops, pauses, and fires a long burst that obliterates the portrait. 

Now, while I am second only to Mitch in my support for real freedom of speech, isn’t this sort of scene covered by some kind of law?  Couldn’t the Secret Service grab Seth McFarlane just for a little?  Maybe rough him up for a while?  Knock out a few teeth with a tire iron or something?

I mean, remembering the vapors the media got over even the most trivial “threat” against Clinton, and the conspiracy-mongering they do and the “climates of hate” they find – nothing?

Just a question for your readers, Mitch.

There’s a reason we call him my “evil twin”, of course. I don’t necessarily endorse everything Jed says. 

…To Just Plain Inexcusable

The Minnesota Monitor – the region’s Soros-funded propaganda outlet – has been doing its best, it seems, to burnish its rep as a “news” outlet; hiring Steve “Mister Furious” Perry, getting its staff to write more like reporters and less like snot-nosed polemicists, the whole thing.  Is it too little, too late?  We’ll see…

But at the end of the day, the site shows the danger of being a bought-and-paid for propaganda outlet; when its masters want propaganda distributed, truth is the first casualty.

Andy Birkey’s not a bad guy; he’s a fine writer, and he’s written some good stuff. But he covers the gay beat; while he’s no worse at Second Amendment coverage than anyone else in the local Soros/Leftymedia, this piece, frankly, starts with a basis in complete ignorance, and moves into utter fabrication.

Birkey doesn’t get far.

A National Rifle Association-backed bill is likely to be heard in the House Public Safety Committee this week, possibly Thursday. Dubbed the “Stand Your Ground” bill, HF 498 would make it easier to kill someone in self-defense.

That’s just plain wrong.

Read the bill. And then read this piece I wrote last week, in which I sum up the law-abiding citizen’s burden under current law when claiming self-defense. I spelled out the rules:

In Minnesota, if you choose and need to defend yourself or your family with lethal force, you must meet all four of the following criteria:

  1. You can’t be a willing participant in the struggle: you can’t dive into a fist-fight and then shoot your way out of it.
  2. You must reasonably fear death or “great bodily harm”: That means “a jury’s gotta buy it”.  And “great bodily harm” has a legal meaning; it means you gotta get hurt very, very badly
  3. The force you use must be reasonable under the circumstances: If the police come to your house to find a body with no knife or gun, but clutching your TV, Tivo and monitor, you might have trouble with this one.
  4. And finally, You must make every reasonable means to de-escalate the confrontation: That means you must back away from the altercation. In the home, that means you have to try to back away. There are limits, of course; if you are in a wheelchair, you’re not expected to develop superhuman strength and agility; if it’s -40 outside and there’s a howling wind and you have an infant, no jury and few prosecutors would fault you for shooting; if you have kids sleeping upstairs and your abusive ex-spouse has come through the door with a chainsaw, backing away is a very relative thing.

The bill changes nothing about the citizen’s obligation to prove that self-defense with lethal force was justified. It merely tightens up a few of the technicalities.

Let’s summarize what’s in SF446, starting in Subdivision 2 (Subd. 1 is definitions, although they’re worth reading as well)

  • It clarifies the circumstances under which defending oneself (or someone else) with lethal force is authorized. It changes current law in that it allows self-defense when someone “Reasonably Believes” (i.e. – a jury will buy it) they could sustain “substantial” or “great” bodily harm (#2 in the criteria above). These are legal terms with real meanings; we’ll get to them below. (Subdivision 2)
  • Subdivision 3 says an individual “may stand the individual’s ground in any place where the individual has a legal right to be, and may use all force and means, including deadly force, that the individual believes is required to succeed in defense. The individual may meet force with superior force, so long as the individual’s objective is defense.” In other words, as long as you have an otherwise legitimate claim of self-defense, (you meet all four of the criteria above), you are not obligated to retreat from the fight (criterion 4, above)
  • Subdivision 4 states that a homeowner may legally presume that someone (unknown to thehomeowner!) who is breaking into their house or car can be presumed to be a potentially lethal threat.
  • Subdivision 5 essentially states that the provisions above can be part of a legal claim of self-defense.

And that’s it. It means that a homeowner doesn’t have to figure in his head “if that’s a razor blade, does that mean I only have a fear of “substantial” rather than “great” bodily harm?” (Zealous prosecutors have put otherwise law-abiding citizens in jail over that in the past). It means that a homeowner doesn’t have to parse a burglar, rapist or robber’s intent when they find them in their homes (a friend of mine spent years and tens of thousands of dollars defending himself against a zealous prosecutor for shooting a warning shot at a burglar. In his or her home).

The bill would replace existing statutes that justifies the taking of life in cases where bodily harm or death is eminent, [let's cut Birkey some slack and assume he means "imminent" - Ed.] and create a broader set of circumstances for which “shooting first” is immune criminal prosecution.

Point of order: In self-defense situations, “shooting second” can be a really bad idea. I’m not sure who in the media came up with the “Shoot First Bill” meme, but it’s kinda a dumb one.

Introduced by State Sen. Pat Pariseau, R-Farmington, and Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, and supported by a number of Republicans, the bill is opposed by members of law enforcement and isn’t likely to pass the DFL-controlled legislature.

Part of the concern over the bill is that it diminishes the duty to retreat — that the first line of defense is not to kill, but to get out of harm’s way if it is safe to do so.

This “concern” is purely potemkin theatrics. There is no “duty to retreat”; to claim self-defense, one must currently show a “reasonable” attempt to de-escalate the conflict. Of course, “reasonable” means reasonable to a jury, sitting in a nice, secure jury room, in daylight, after having a county prosecutor ask them, rhetorically, “don’t you think he could have gone to the second floor, or out the door?” in a nice, brightly-lit courtroom, with all the time they need to make the decision.

Attorneys also fear that the bill could give criminals a license to kill.

“This expansion of the right to use deadly force would apply equally to criminals as to law-abiding citizens,” wrote Dakota County attorney James C. Backstrom. “It would create viable self-defense claims in situations like bar fights. It could allow rival gangs to shoot at one another with impunity. With no duty to retreat, anyone could claim they were responding to a threat of serious harm and were therefore justified in killing a person.”

I’m going to emphasize the next bit rather intensely:

This would seem to be patent misleading bullshit. There is nothing in Cornish/Pariseau’s bills about repealing the first of the four criteria; “one can not be a willing participant.  There’s nothing in the bill that would change any of the other requirements – that the fear of harm and the force used must be “reasonable”, as in “must convince a jury”.  Indeed, the bill states specifically that the law-abiding shooter may only shoot where the individual has a legal right to be (see above!); it says nothing about revoking any of the qualifications for a shooting to be considered self-defense!

I will be seeking comment from County Attorney Backstrom’s office on this statement, which would seem at best to be misleading, and at worst to be flatly at odds with legal reality, and issued for purposes of poltiical propaganda.  (Indeed, Backstrom’s op-ed piece, from which the quote is drawn, would seem to be a good candidate for a serious fisking).   I’ll (try to) be charitable, here; Backstrom could be talking about far-fetched technical defenses (when lawyers say things like “could create viable cases”, it means they’re stretching and stretching hard…).

The Cornish bill would remove some of the county prosecutor’s discretion in prosecuting otherwise law-abiding gun owners; it’d take away some of the need to parse the intent of people breaking into homes and cars.

That is all.

To pass this bill off as anything else with no attempt to get the broader legal and factual context is to serve as a DFL propaganda tool, and to toss aside any claim to journalistic credibility.

(I’d love to have left a comment about this in Birkey’s post – but apparently George Soros isn’t so flush that he’ll buy them a comment engine that actually functions..)

Jed Speaks

I got an email from my evil twin brother Jed:

I read Robin Marty’s evasive, straw-addled non-review of Indoctrinate U, and had to comment when I read this bit here:

As an English major, I picked electives that introduced me to many multi-cultural works. Yet my required classes instead embraced the “white, heterosexual males,” Norman Fruman opined in Kersten’s column that colleges were rejecting. I was given the works of Robert Browning while we skipped over his wife, Elizabeth, or even stranger, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was better known as a painter, over his sister, Christina. Complaints regarding the complete rejection of women writers for study in that class convinced our professor to give us a handout of “A Room of One’s Own” and the declaration that we can go “have a study group with it, or something.”

One simple explanation for this “disparity”; if one is teaching a required survey of Western Literature, Robert Browning and Dante Rossetti are both vastly more important figures than Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti. They matter more.

For someone who’s majoring in literature – toss ‘em all in there! But if you’re talking about a survey to show people where Western Lit has been and what it’s done? There’s no excuse for ignoring important authors (whiteness and maleness and straightitude notwithanding) in preference to usually-trivial female authors.

Jed, having been a lit major, has strong opinions about these things.

The Imp Of The Perverse Speaks

I figure – if Chad can have a “younger brother” who gets to say all the outrageous stuff over on Fraters, why shouldn’t I?

Anyway, I got this email today from my evil twin, Jed. 

I, like Mitch, am the foremost proponent of Free Speech you will ever meet (which makes sense, since – unlike all the lefties who’ve been caterwauling about “civil liberties” for the past seven years - mine, like Mitch’s as a talk show host, are legitimately under attack). 

Government should exert no restraint on reasonable free speech. 

But I have to ask; if Rodney King got whacked a hundred-odd times with billy clubs and batons for driving while black and high and lippy, couldn’t one capitol cop have spared one lousy whack upside the head of those shrieking, narcissistic crones who profaned Congress by shrieking their gibberish, yesterday?

Just one little smack across the face? 

Cuz I’d send the guy’s defense fund a couple of hundred bucks just to see it.

Again – that is my Evil Twin Jed speaking.  Jed and I don’t see eye to eye on everything.  But, evil though he may be, he’s my twin brother.

MITCH ADDS: While I’ve never been an Ike Skelton fan, I have to give him points for this:

The protesters “really p—- me off,” Skelton said, further characterizing them as “ass——s.” Rep. Duncan Hunter, the ranking Republican on the committee, then leaned over and drew Skelton into quieter conversation farther from the microphone, leaving Skelton’s further phraseology to the arena only of informed speculation.

Bonus:  you won’t hear the Republicans getting stricken with theatrical vapours for the next four years over Skelton’s remarks, as the Dems still are over Cheney’s equally-justifiable quip re Patrick Leahy (to whom Cheney’s advice still largely applies)