Wait – They’ve Been “Concealing” Their Bias?

Conor Fredersdorf, writing at the Atlantic, says something I’ve been saying since long before I started this blog; it’s time to ditch the 20th century American notion of “objective” journalism.

He does it in defense of a part-time NPR staffer who was fired for appearing, with a sign, at an “Occupy” rally.  To old-school journalists, that’s a big no-no, at least ostensibly; in theory, the ideal was that journalists be above it all – to “report from nowhere”.

Fredersdorf’s idea is familiar to anyone who follows European-style journalism – where reporters, and outlets’, opinions aren’t necessarily no-go territory, but where reporting is fair and accurate and, opinions aside, balanced:

That ought to be the pitch that newspapers and public radio stations make to their audience. It might go something like this: “Yes, the field of journalism attracts more liberals than conservatives, more Occupy Wall Street participants than Tea Party ralliers, more urban dwellers than rural Americans, more college graduates than people without degrees, more Democrats than Republicans, more English majors than math majors, more secular people than religious people — and although we value diversity of thought, experience and world view on our staff, the core of our value proposition is that we’re accurate in our reporting, fair-minded in setting forth arguments and perspectives even when we don’t agree with them, transparent about who we are, attune to our biases and constantly trying to account for them, and insistent that we be judged by our output, not our political or religious or ideological identity, or what we do on weekends. Judge us by our work, and if you challenge it in good faith we’ll engage you.”

Well, that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

I mean, in theory I’m right there with him – at least for purposes the future of American journnalism.

The problem is, for purposes of describing how jiournalism theoretically works today, every part of the proposition is false.  The media – especially in the Twin Cities – does not value diversity in the newsroom.   There is no honesty about bias – when Nick Coleman can do a program on an Air America affiliate but yet still get praised as an “old-school gumshoe reporter”, where the Minnesota Poll and the Humphrey Institute polls can traffic in decades of inaccuracy whose pro-DFL bias is only thinly plausibly deniable, what’s the point?

And if Fredersdorf wants the media to be judged by its output – well, there’s a problem there, too. We’re talking about a media that worked overtime to examine (at best) and demonize the Tea Party, while bearing the “Occupy” movement along with gauzy soft focus.  They go over conservatives’ backgrounds with fine-toothed combs (except as re checking facts and providing sources), but let Barack Obama skate to the White House without a peep about his inexperience and background.  And they fabricated one very big story about George W. Bush.

And since Fredersdoff brought it up – why, yes – I’d love to bring my “good faith” challenges to the regional media over the way they tortured the facts for a full week in the Evanovich shooting story to support a “gotta be careful about those gun owners!” narrative.  Or on how Rochelle Olson reported, back in 2006, on Alan Fine’s “domestic abuse” arrest, taking care to excise every fact from her “output” that would have diverted from the narrative that he, Keth Ellison’s challenger, had a blotted record.

Who in the Twin Cities media would like to start “engaging” with “good faith challenges”?  Or is this something you’ll all just fob off on your ombudspeople for a careful whitewashing?

It may seem like a good idea to avoid the “perception of bias” by insisting that media employees hide who they are from the audience. Perhaps it was once even tenable. It no longer is. To build your credibility on viewlessness is to concede, every time an employee of yours is shown to be a sentient, opinionated person, that your credibility has taken a hit. To tout and enforce your viewlessness is to hold your own reputation hostage to reality; it makes your credibility, the most valuable thing you have, vulnerable to every staffer’s Tweet, or incriminating Facebook photograph, or inane James O’Keefe hidden video sting operation. She claims to be neutral, but look, while out at a dinner with friends we caught her on camera saying that she thinks Obama is a better president than was Bush. See! She was hiding her liberal views from us all along!

Who is even fooled at this point?

Nobody who actually reads the Twin Cities media, to name one.

The American public understands who makes up the press corps, or more likely, has an exaggerated idea of how liberal it is precisely because the lack of transparency and pose of viewlessness seems conspiratorial.

 

That, and the fact that the breaches in “viewlessness” always, inevitably,l every single time, break to the left.

Is any reader of this article shocked or even mildly surprised that a Brooklyn-based freelance Web journalist working part time at a New York City public radio station held up a cardboard sign during an Occupy Wall Street protest? If that totally banal and predictable event is the thing that gets you upset as a journalistic manager, if you think that it is the threat to your program’s credibility, you misunderstand the present media landscape.

And there Fredersdorff has a point.  The problem is a lot bigger than some NPR web prole carrying a sign at an “Occupy” rally.

But Fredersdorff has what I think is a deeply naive faith that the current mainstream media has the integrity to “engage” with anyone but itself.

That Dare Not Speak Their Names

Bob Von Sternberg’s piece on the weekend’s festivities, entitled “Union marchers swell ranks of OccupyMN protesters, join in march on banks”, fills you with a lot of things – like the urge to sing “The Internationale” (or at least “Look For The Union Label”).

Whatever it does, though, it doesn’t do – or at least it doesn’t explain – one thing.

See if you can figure out what it is:

Union leaders headlined a day of OccupyMN street theater Saturday, capped when about 300 protesters marched peacefully across downtown Minneapolis, denouncing the region’s three biggest banks.

“Banks got bailed out — we got sold out!” was one of several chants delivered during the march.

Yeah, I’m upset about that, too.  Banks getting bailed out, while me – part of the private sector – had to suck it up and tough it out.

And those union guys – well, they surely took it in the shorts.  Right?

“We’ll be in the streets until the one percent give up some of their wealth to the 99 percent,” said Elliot Seide, who heads the union representing 40,000 state, county and municipal workers. “This protest is going to change this country. It ought to be all the people who share the wealth of this great nation.”

Yeah, those private sector unions suffered mightily…

…er, wait!  Elliot Seide?  What union is he from?

Why, he’s from AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees!  And they, up there with the banks, were among the “winners” that Obama picked with its bailouts.

Why would Bob Von Sternberg leave that out?

It’s just an oversight, I’m sure.

Onward:

Javier Morillo-Alicea, president of the union that represents 5,000 janitors, security guards and commercial housekeepers, told the crowd, “This movement will change this country,” adding that its overarching goal is to have “the richest 1 percent pay their fair share.”

Hold it – Javier Morillo-Alicea?  President of “the union”?  Which one?

SEIU Local 26.

But…why would Von Sternberg not mention this in his account of the event?

“We need to stand up and yell and be the 99 percent,” said Michelle Sommers, president of the union that represents Metro Transit bus drivers. “We need to get off our couches and start acting like the 99 percent.”

Oh, Ms. Sommers is with the Amalgamated Transit Union.

And all three of these representatives of public employees unions – who were among the biggest beneficiaries of Obama’s bailouts – referred to themsevles as “part of the 99%”.  It’s inaccurate, of course; they’re the 36.2% of the 18% – that’s about 7% of the whole population – that works for government employee unions and can expect better pay and vastly better benefits and pensions than most of us, entirely at taxpayer expense, without regard to their own performance or the taxpayers’ fiscal health.

And they’re demonstrating at an even endorsed by President Obama to, well, support President Obama.  To keep that gravy train all gravied up.

Now – why do you suppose Von Sternberg couldn’t mention even the names of the unions involved?

Peaceful

To my liberal readers: I’ll send you on your way to “FACTCHECK” me on the total number of actual vioent incidents at every Tea Party (not dubious associations made by people dying to pin anything they can find to the Tea Party) in the past three years.

It will come to much, much less than has happened in Denver in the past 48 hours.

About eight officers scuffled with a group of protesters, according to The Denver Post, and police confirmed to the newspaper that they used pepper spray and either rubber bullets or pepper balls to break up the crowd.

Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said protesters knocked an officer off his motorcycle and other officers were kicked by demonstrators.

Murray said seven protesters were arrested, including two for assault and one for disobedience. He said some demonstrators had received medical treatment on the scene, but no one had been taken to a hospital.

Now, the real point is this: remember when every dodgy, questionable (and questionably) racist sign, expression of pique, dubiously-linked incident or dodgy endorsement was evidence that the Tea Party was proof that the conservative movement was racist?

Here’s the tally so far, according to John Nolte at Big Government

  1. NY: 10/1/2011 — Police Arrest More Than 700 Protesters on Brooklyn Bridge
  2. Madison, WI: 10-27-2011 — Madison Occupiers Lose Permit Due to Public Masturbation
  3. Phoenix: 10/28/2011 — Flier at Occupy Phoenix Asks, “When Should You Shoot a Cop?”
  4. NY: 10/18/2011 — Thieves Preying on Fellow Protesters
  5. NY: 10/9/2011 — Stinking up Wall Street: Protesters Accused of Living in Filth as Shocking Pictures Show One Demonstrator Defecating on a POLICE CAR
  6. NY: 10/7/2011 — Occupiers Rush Police … More
  7. Cleveland: 10/18/2011 —  ‘Occupy Cleveland’ Protester Alleges She Was Raped
  8. NY: 10/10/2011 — ‘Increasingly Debauched’: Are Sex, Drugs & Poor Sanitation Eclipsing Occupy Wall Street?
  9. Seattle: 10/18/2011 — Man Accused of Exposing Self to Children Arrested
  10. 10/12/2011 — Iran Supports ‘Occupy Wall Street’
  11. Portland: 10/16/2011 – #OccupyPortland Protester Desecrates Memorial To U.S. War Dead
  12. Portland: 10/15/2011 — #OccupyPortland Protesters Sing “F*** The USA”
  13. Chicago: 10/17/2011 — COMMUNIST LEADER Cheered at Occupy Chicago
  14. 10/15/2011 — American Nazi Party Endorses Occupy Wall Street‘s ’Courage,‘ Tells Members to Support Protests and Fight ’Judeo-Capitalist Banksters’
  15. Boston: 10/14/2011 — Coast Guard member spit on near Occupy Boston tents
  16. Boston: 10/11/2011 — Boston Police Arrest Over 100 from Occupy Boston
  17. New York: 10/11/2011 — “You Can Have Sex with Animals.”
  18. New York: 10/15/2011 — Harassing Police with Accusations of Phony Injuries
  19. New York: 10/9/2011 –  ‘Occupy Wallstreet’ Protesters Steal from Local Businesses
  20. New York: 10/25/2011 — Three Men Threatened to Kill 24-Year-Old Occupy Wall Street Protester for Reporting Rape
  21. Baltimore:  10/18/2011 — #OccupyBaltimore Discourages Sexual Assault Victims from Contacting Police
  22. Portland: 10/27/2011 — Occupy Portland’s Attempt At Wealth Redistribution Ends In Theft
  23. Los Angeles: 10/14/2011 – Anti-Semitic Protester at Occupy Wall Street
  24. 10/27/2011 — A Death Threat From an Occupy Wall Street Protester
  25. 10/27/2011 – Anti-Semitic Tweet From Occupier or Sympathizer
  26. Boston: 10/20/2011 — Occupy Boston Doesn’t Want Police Involved in Rape
  27. New York:  10/5/2011: Anti-Semitic Occupier Screams About Jews, Israel
  28. New York: 10/4/2011 — Occupier Taunts Jewish Man
  29. Boston: 10/2011 — Occupiers Block Street
  30. New York: 10/2011 — Occupier Tries to Steal Police Officer’s Gun
  31. New York: 10/27/2011 — Occupiers Block Traffic, Get Arrested
  32. Oakland: 10/27/2011 — Occupiers Throw Garbage at Police
  33. Oakland:  10/19/2011 — Abusive #OccupyOakland Protesters Ban Media from Tent City
  34. Eugene, OR: 10/19/2011 — Occupiers Displace Farmers’ Market Threatening Hundreds of Jobs
  35. Portland, OR:  10/18/2011 — Capitalist Offering Jobs at Occupy Portland Finds Few Takers
  36. NY:  10/20/2011 — #OccupyWallStreet Threatens Businesses, Patrons
  37. NY: 10/14/2011 — Violence Breaks Out During #OccupyWallStreet March Toward Stock Exchange
  38. NY: 10/14/2011 — Protesters March On Wall Street, Scuffle With Cops
  39. Oakland: 10/19/2011 — #OccupyOakland Protesters Threaten Reporter
  40. Oakland: 10/26/2011 — Occupiers Scuffle with Police
  41. Oakland: 10/24/2011 — Protesters Storm, Vandalize, Shut Down Chase Bank
  42. Dayton, OH: 10/22/2011 — Protester: ‘F*ck The Military, F*ck Your Flag, And F*ck The Police’
  43. Chicago: 10/14/2011 –  Protesters’ Message At #OccupyChicago Rally: ‘Destroy Israel’
  44. NY: 10/23/2011 — #OccupyWallStreet Supporter Rants Against Israel, Jews
  45. NY: 10/22/2011 — #Occupy Kid: ‘Burn Wall Street, Burn!’
  46. NY: 10/21/2011 — New Yorkers Fed Up With Noisy, Defecating Protesters
  47. Oakland:  10/21/2011 — Occupy Oakland Evicted After Reports Of Crime And Intimidation
  48. Oakland: 10/19/2011 — #OccupyOakland Out of Control: Rats, Graffiti, Vandalism, Sexual Harassment, Public Sex and Urination
  49. Chicago: 10/26/2011 –  Occupiers Under Investigation by FBI for Links to Terrorism
  50. Cleveland: 10/29/2011 — Rape Reported at Occupy Cleveland
  51. Dallas: 10/24/2011 — Police Investigating Possible Sexual Assault Of Teen At Occupy Dallas
  52. Bloomington, IN: 10/26/2011 — Man Claims Occupy Bloomington Protesters Drugged, Handcuffed Him
  53. NY: 10/10/2011 — Sex, Drugs and Hiding from the Law at Wall Street Protests
  54. Glasgow: 10/26/2011 — Woman Gang-Raped
  55. Boston: 10/23/2011 — Occupy Boston Protesters Arrested For Dealing Heroin – With 6 Year-Old in Tent
  56. Portland: 10/16/2011 –  Sex Offender Registers Occupy Portland Camp as Address
  57. Denver: 10/15/2011 — Occupy Denver Demonstrator Accused of Groping TV Photographer
  58. Lawrence, KS: 10/25/2011 — Sexual Assault Reported at Occupy Camp
  59. Minneapolis, MN:  Bricks, Rocks, ‘Riot Supplies’ Discovered by Police
  60. Phoenix, AZ:  10/27/2011 — Neo-Nazis Patrol “Occupy Phoenix” With AR-15′s
  61. Chicago: 10/26/2011 — Occupy Chicago Invades City Hall
  62. 10/26/2011 — ACORN, Occupy Email Talks About Assault on Banks
  63. 10/26/2011 –  OccupyWallStreet Strategy for Reports of Violence Against Cops
  64. Chicago: 10/26/2011 — Unrepentant Domestic Terrorist Bill Ayers Wows Occupiers
  65. Chicago:  10/25/2011 — Ayers Coaches  #OccupyChicago, Callsg for School ‘Occupations’
  66. 10/26/2011/ — Occupy Protests Have Jewish Leaders Concerned
  67. Wash DC: 10/27/2011 –  OccupyDC Leftists Provoke Police – Hang Flag on Top of DC Statue
  68. Albuquerque, NM:  10/26/2011 — Occupy Squatters Riot With Police
  69. San Diego: 10/25/2011 — Flag Used as Chew Toy by Occupier’s Dog
  70. Oakland: 10/25/2011 — Occupiers Throw Bottles at Police
  71. NY: 10/27/2011 — Occupy Wall Street Protesters: Rush Limbaugh Is Bigger Threat Than Al-Qaeda
  72. 10/27/2011 — Occupy Wall Street Launching First Nationwide General Strike in America Since 1946
  73. NY: 10/28/2011 — Fox 5 News Reporter Assaulted at OWS
  74. 10/28/2001 — Total Occupy Arrests Made Thus Far: 2750
  75. Nashville: 10/28/2011 — 30 Arrests Made at Wall St. Protest
  76. NY: 10/20/2011 — Former Marine Tries to Taunt Police into Violence
  77. NY: 1023/2011 — Islamist Group Joins with Occupy Wall Street
  78. Los Angeles:  10/13/2011 — Roundup of Overt Occupy anti-Semitism
  79. NY: 10/12/2011 — There are No Anti-Semites at Occupy Wall Street. Except for This Guy
  80. Missoula, MT: 10/20/2011 — Drunk 11-Year-Old At Occupy Missoula, Adult Arrested
  81. Oakland: 10/28/2011 — Bounty Out On Police Officer?
  82. Manchester, NH: 10/28/2011 – Woman charged with pimping teen recruited at Occupy NH rally
  83. San Diego: 10/28/2011 – 40 Occupiers arrested
  84. Boston: 10/24/2011 — Occupy Boston Vandalism of Banks
  85. Boston: 10/25/2011 – Store Owner Suffers 4 Break Ins Since Occupy Boston Began
  86. Portland: 10/28/2011 — Portland Police: Buckets of Excrement Scattered Around #OccupyPortland Camp
  87. Seattle: 10/20/2011 — Two Possible Occupiers Charged With Assault
  88. Seattle: 10/18/2011 — Armed Felon Arrested at Occupy Seattle
  89. Seattle: 10/18/2011 — A Tent Fight and (At Least) One Arrest at Occupy Seattle
  90. Seattle: 10/17/2011 — Over 50 Cops Clear Westlake Occupation, Make Eight Arrests
  91. Seattle: 10/13/2011 — Cops Arrest Several Occupy Protesters
  92. Seattle: 10/13/2011 — Chanting Protesters Surround Police After Officers Arrest Two
  93. Denver: 10/29/2011 — Protesters Clash with Police at OWS Denver
  94. Austin: 10/13/2011 – Occupy Austin protesters arrested for blocking cleaning Crews
  95. Calgary, CN: 10/28/2011 — Occupiers do $40,000 in Property Damage
  96. Cincinnati, OH: 10/21/2011 — 23 Arrested, Remains of  protests fill two dumpsters
  97. Sacramento: 10/19/2011 – 9 arrested in ‘Occupy Sacramento’ protest
  98. Sacramento: 10/13/2011 – Four More Occupy Sacramento Demonstrators Arrested
  99. Austin, TX: 10/22/2011 – Man Arrested After Knife Incident at Occupy Austin Camp
  100. Nashville: 10/29/2011 — Tenn. Protesters Arrested For 2nd Straight Night
Are some of them dubious bits of guilt by association?  Possible – we Tea Partiers certainly got used to it.  But leave out all the mis-uses of the First Amendment, and all of the changes that don’t pan out (and Nolte is still counting, by the way) and it’ll still come to many, many times more violence, perversion, sloth and concrete racism…

….than have been confirmed at all Tea Parties, ever.

RIP Al Stene

Al Stene – who was thrust into the center of the Crow Wing County voter fraud scandal – has tragically passed away.

From a source close to the Stene family:

I just got off the phone with Sharon Stene. She said that Al had died yesterday of a heart attack. He had just returned home with James Stene after Crow Wing County had denied justice for the exploitation of their son James at Clark Lake Homes by Lynn Peterson. No one in Crow Wing County helped him and his son. In talking with Al before he left you could tell just how heart broken he was. I had never seen Al that way in all the years I have known him.

Let’s be clear on exactly what happened:  as we showed a few weeks back, there was clear, documentary evidence that four vulnerable adults who had been ruled incompetent to vote (along with Stene, who had never been ruled incompetent, but in testimony to the Crow Wing County Commission showed no interest in or knowledge of elections) were in the Crow Wing County Courthouse exactly when Monty Jensen said they were, and all voted, despite not only the court orders but the presence of group home workers who are supposed to keep their charges in compliance with the law.  The County Attorney convened a grand jury – which, in case the point is lost on you, essentially confirmed that everw single thing claimed by Stene, Monty Jensen and the Freedom Council was true, but nonetheless ruled (according to sources close to the case) that ignorance of the law is an excuse under Minnesota law, at least when it comes to election fraud.

This is tragedy beyond words. Please pray for his family. Al is in a better place, the is justice there.

I spoke with Al Stene.last spring,  He was furious at his son’s exploiitation at the hands of the group home staff – and at the sense of entitlement they expressed at his objections.

Just Searching For A World With Some Soul

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism!

  • Ed and I are on from 1-3PM Central. We’ll be talking about the week in review, and about a shooting in Minneapolis with an unusual result.  We’ve also got the GOP candidates for the St. Paul School board and the Bloomington (MN) mayor’s office, as wel ramp up for Tuesday’s elections.
  • Brad Carlson’s show – “The Closer” – will be up tomorrow, from 6-7PM!
  • The King Banaian Show! - King is on AM1570, Business Radio for the Twin Cities!  Join him from 9-11!

(All times Central)

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of sanity. You have so many options:

  • AM1280 in the Metro
  • streaming at AM1280’s Website,
  • On Twitter (the Volume 2 show will use hashtag #narn2)
  • UStream video and chat (at HotAir.com or at UStream).
  • Good ol’ telephone – 651-289-4488!
  • Podcasts are now available on the AM1280 page!  (Ed and I are #2 – Brad is #3).
  • And make sure you fan us on our new Facebook page!

Join us!

No Charges

Channel Five is reporting that the man who shot Darren Evanovich after he pistol-whipped a 53 year old woman last week won’t be charged:

That word today from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

But the sister of the dead robber faces two counts of Aggravated First Degree Robbery.

Authorities say they believe 20-year-old Octavia Marberry of Minneapolis has possibly been involved as an accomplice in this and two other store parking lot robberies.

Frankly, I’m just a tad stunned.

Even though the case was apparenlty a good enough example of self-defense to keep even the Henco Attorney’s office off the “good samaritan”‘s case.

The reporter for The Five did a signal job of actually getting the facts straight:

According to the criminal complaint, on Thursday, October 20th, a 53-year-old woman was robbed just before 10:00 p.m. outside the Cub Foods on 26th Avenue and struck in the head by a gun held by the robber, 23-year-old Darren Evanovich.

Minneapolis Police say their investigation showed that at least two other people were with him and one of them was Marberry.

After Evanovich took the woman’s purse, all three ran off in a northwest direction, police say.

That’s when a man who witnessed the robbery chased Evanovich.

According to witnesses, the man drove up to the spot where he saw Evanovich going through the victim’s purse and asked him if he wanted to give the purse back.

Witnesses say that’s when it started to turn ugly–Evanovich pointed his gun at the “Good Samaritan,” and moved towards him.

The man in the vehicle pulled out his handgun and shot Evanovich.

Authorities say after they reviewed the circumstances, they determined that the man “acted in self-defense.”

To be honest, I expected Henco Attorney Mike Freeman to try to find some pretext for throwing the book at the shooter.

I’m pleasantly surprised:

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said today in a press release, “While this man is to be commended for helping his fellow citizen in need, a note of caution is appropriate.  We prefer that armed citizens do not chase after criminals.  Too much can go wrong with deadly consequences.”

Nobody who took concealed carry class needs to be told twice.

As my carry teacher, the late Joel Rosenberg, told us over and over again, shooting in self-defense is the second-worst possible outcome.  Your kids growing up without a parent, when you yourself did nothing wrong, is worse.

Matt McKinney’s Whitewash Job

Earlier this week, when three media outlets (WCCO-TV, KSTP-TV and Rick Kupchella’s Bring Me The News) released near-simultaneous hagiographies of Darren Evanovich – the Minneapolis man who was shot by a “good samaritan” with a carry permit after Evanovich allegedly robbed and pistol-whipped a woman in a grocery store parking lot – I said (in the comment section of an MPR piece on the subject), somewhat hyperbolically, that this looked like a concerted campaign by the media to whitewash Evanovich and demonize the shooter.  The Twin Cities media, of course, have always hated “shall-issue”, and have spared no perversions to “journalism” to try to kill it.

I thought I’d seen the worst the Twin Cities media had to offer.

I was wrong.  So very very wrong.

Mark McKinney at the Strib has delivered what may be the worst piece of journalism I’ve ever seen on a Second Amendment issue in  my depressingly-long career of finding awful journalism on the subject:

Nine days before his death, Darren Evanovich stopped by the south Minneapolis office of MAD DADS to say hi to V.J. Smith, who heads the local chapter of the street anti-violence program.

Evanovich made a video aimed at kids contemplating the thug life:

“Jail is not fun,” Evanovich confides at one point, “Not being able to see your brothers and sisters grow up isn’t fun. … You don’t see nobody. You have no friends once you step in there.”

We know how this ends, of course; last Friday, Evanovich (and, allegedly, his sister and one other accomplice) went down to the Cub on 26th and Lake.

McKinney relates the story – sort of:

On the evening of Oct. 20, a little more than a week later, a 53-year-old woman was accosted in a supermarket parking lot off E. Lake Street. The stranger was armed with a handgun, and after taking her money, he struck her in the head with his weapon, police said.

That sounds so cold and matter-of-fact.  Let’s put this in some context.

Evanovich – as we related this morning – robbed a woman twice his age, a Hispanic woman who cleans offices for a living.  He beat her in the face, with a pistol, giving her two black eyes and a bad cut and, let’s not forget, a very legitimate fear of being shot dead in a parking lot.

McKinney – with emphasis added to loathsome bits of agenda journalism:

A man nearby saw the attack. He had a state permit to carry a pistol, and he had one with him. He chased the robber behind a restaurant and shot him dead.

How does that read to you?  Like “the man” stalked, tracked and hunted Evanovich like he was a wild animal, perhaps?   Like Evanovich was just a leaf in the autumn wind, blown into the wrong place at the wrong time, the wrong parking lot with the wrong remorseless Dirty Harry wannabee?

No mention of the facts from the police’s statement on the incident: that Evanovich allegedly turned and pointed his own gun at the “good samaritan” (according to some accounts, fired a shot at him); indeed, only the most oblique possible reference to the fact that Evanovich was carrying a gun that could still be considered “honest”.

No mention of the fact that had the shooting been even in the least bit ambiguous, the shooter would have been detained, arrested, booked and charged pretty much immediately.

Apparently nobody involved in the case had any choice!

No, really:

The investigation ensnared Evanovich’s sister, Octavia Marberry, this week when she was jailed on allegations of fraud and aggravated robbery. She had been with Evanovich the night he died, and according to their mother, held him in her arms as he took his last breath.

Back that up a minute, here; Marberry was allegedly part of the robbery.  She allegedly participated with her brother in giving an older woman the choice “give us your grocery money or we will kill you” – the act that directly led to the chase, her brother’s alleged move to end the life of the man chasing him, that would justify the “good samaritan’s” alleged shooting and, finally, the heart-rending scene McKinney favored us with.

Evanovich grew up in Minneapolis and Gary, Ind., one of five children.

“He has a good, loving family, and he has lots of friends. He wasn’t 100 percent bad,” his mother, Mary Evanovich of Minneapolis, said in an interview Thursday.

Two members of that loving family were apparently involved in pistol-whipping a Latina working-stiff-ette, of course.

Look – I’m a parent.  I’m not going to do the end-zone happy dance over someone getting killed, even if it’s justifiable homicide.  As much “fun” as I had raising my own kids, I can’t imagine what it must be like watching yours go off the rails as badly as Mary Evanovich’s seem to have.

But let’s eschew the bullshit, here.  Darren Evanovich’s death is a personal tragedy; the path that led him to that godforsaken parking lot was a social tragedy.

But the shooting?  That was (so it seems right now) self-defense; as the late Joel Rosenberg taught us all, the second-worst of all the possible outcomes – if you were the “good samaritan” seeing a gun pointing at you in that wretched alley.

UPDATE: A source – let’s call him “Zack” – with extensive knowledge of the issue and some knowledge of the case – wrote an email to McKinney.  He sent me a copy.  He reached about the same conclusions, but more economically. I’ll include it below the jump.

Continue reading

Why 9-9-9 Is A Great Idea

It’s the time of the campaign season for Republicans to go to war with each other.

Well, not really “war”; more like a tug of war.  If you’ve read this blog any length of time, you know the analogy I’m going for.  Politics isn’t a sprint.  It’s not even a marathon.  It’s a tug of war – or really an endless series of tugs of war, for control of everything from the Presidency down to the Soil and Water Commission, not to mention the various political parties,.  It’s a tug of war where, every two or four or six years, you take a snapshot and see how far to your side of the mud puddle your side has pulled each of the ropes.

And it’s the GOP’s turn to tug like mad.

Herman Cain has been pulling way about his weight, so far in this cycle.  And supporters of other candidates are pulling in response.

My friend Gary Gross at Let Freedom Ring is one of them, in a piece entitled “Why 

Why 9-9-9 is stupid is because it’s being proposed by a Republican. If Democrats want to propose it, then they own that proposal. If a Republican proposes and passes it, then Democrats raise that rate, Democrats can rationalize it by saying they’re just raising a tax created by Republicans. In essence, they’d be saying ‘it must not be bad because Republicans proposed it’.

There is a good point there – but let’s be honest, any tax reform can be hijacked by the party in power.  It’s incumbent on candidates and parties to not only propose better ideas, but wield the electoral power it takes to defend them.  Even Reagan’s reforms got hijacked, in not a few cases.

Frankly, a pretty impressive case can be made that 9-9-9 is capable of doing alot more damage than the current tax code. A fairly easy case can be made that Rick Perry’s flat tax and Newt Gingrich’s tax overhaul are significantly better tax reforms than 9-9-9.

That’s all true, well, and good.

Now – go out on the street, or even into a GOP meeting, and ask anyone to explain Perry’s flat tax proposal (although it’s really not that hard).  OK, how about Gingrich’s plan?

Indeed, how about getting interested but non-wonky voters to explain any tax reform ideas of the past 30 years, correctly?

Tax reform proposals have two problems.  The complex proposals, like Gingrich’s, are in the realm of the wonk; nobody who doesn’t live and breathe politics knows a whole lot about them.  And the relatively simple ones, like Perry’s?  There’s the big problem; to the extent that any politician has ever really talked about them, it’s been largely in the form of lip service.  No serious candidate for President has ever seriously pinned their campaign on radical simplification of the tax code.

Serious, radical tax reform has never been anything but a side show in any Presidential campaign, even within the GOP.

And that is why Cain’s proposal is a wonderful thing, in concept if not in actual details (because Gary and the other critics are right; a national sales tax would be a problem); because Cain is, to my knowledge, the first serious presidential contender to try to make adoption of a flat tax a real campaign-defining issue with voters – the kinds of voters who, bless their hearts, do need a catchy, easy-to-remember formula.

Do we need a better one than 9-9-9?  Absolutely.  But 9-9-9 has made a flat tax – some kind of flat tax – part of the political conversation.  And while I might favor something more like Perry’s plan (I’d personally like to see a flat 15% corporate tax and a 15% personal tax on income above the poverty line, as well as Perry’s cap on federal spending tied to the GDP, a ban on bailouts, and a balanced budget amendment), at least the subject is seriously on the table.

The details, we can work out – but it is vital that this issue get out of the side-show tent and into the center ring.

And now that the issue is there, we can work out the details.

And that is a good thing.

Deterred: A Few Details

From the Minnesota Carry Forum, unverified but utterly plausible information about the pistol-whipping victim in the Evanovich case:

A little inside firsthand facts directly from the pistol whipped lady (my wife knows who she is from work) and overheard her talking today about it. There was 3 perps. (dead guy, his sister, one still unknown one) I don’t know why the news or police have not released that info unless they are looking for the third scumbag still. The mugged lady was told “give me your purse” to which she replied “fuck you” to the now dead mugger when he told her to give it up. Probably the reason she got hit. You wont get the most the facts by watching the news or police releases. She is in her lower 50,s, hispanic and now has 2 black eyes from the pistol whipping along with a small cut on the head.

So while it’s not odd that Evanovich’s sisters have mentioned this, one wonders if the media – who breathlessly carried their attacks on the shooter – know that Evanovich (and, allegedly, his sister) were engaged in brutally attacking a hispanic office cleaner for a few bucks?

A source with considerable knowledge in the area, asked his opinion of this case, writes about the speculation about the shooter’s case.  Asked what he thought about the good samaritan’s chances of getting indicted, he responded:

[Henco Attorney Mike] Freeman can always do what he wants, but he’s not completely tone-deaf, and…

  • There are LOTS of believable ways that this was a good shoot, and very few (and all pretty far-fetched) ways that it was not.
  • Who ya gonna believe? The heroic guy with all the clean background checks, or the felon in illegal possession of a gun while committing a violent crime?
  • The cops have essentially called it a good shoot. They might even be pissed if he gets charged.
  • There has been no real bloody-shirt-waving by the “community.” This little thug brought it on himself, and no one but his sisters are saying otherwise.

This could get much more interesting.  Stay tuned.

A Family Matter

Not a lot of updates in last week’s case in Minneapolis, where a “good samaritan” with a carry permit chased 23 year old Darren Evanovich after seeing Evanovich “pistol-whipping” a 53 year old woman in the parking lot of a grocery store.  Evanovich, so the story goes, ran and then turned and pointed a gun at the samaritan, who allegedly shot Evanovich dead.

Earlier this week, several Twin Cities media outlets – WCCO-TV, KSTP-TV, Rick Kupchella’s “Bring Me The News”, and Bob Collins’ column at MPR – all ran stories featuring Evanovich’s mother and sisters complaining that it was wrong that a citizen shot their son/brother – that the Samaritan should have called the police (without mentioning the allegations that Evanovich had pointed a lethal weapon at the Samaritan).

One of Evanovich’s other sisters apparently got a little more involved in the case:

Tuesday police arrested the sister of a robber who was shot and killed by a witness last week.

Officers believe Octavia Marberry was with her brother, Darren Evanovich at the time of the robbery at Cub Foods on 26th Avenue South last Thursday.

Marberry is facing charges of aiding and abetting her brother.

One of the sisters has apparently started a facebook page, “Justice For Darren Evanovich“.  Someone whose comments got deleted from that page started another, “Darren Evanovich Got Justice“, in response.  They’re both about as depressing as you might expect.

A Trillion Dollar Bribe

Obama’s numbers are in freefall – against generic and real Republicans.

Worse – for him?  He’s falling in the demographics that put him in office.  Even students.

Which must have something to do with his ride to the rescue of all those student loan holders:

In keeping with his new campaign theme of “we can’t wait,” President Obama today will roll out a plan to put more money in the pockets of some of the nation’s 36 million student loan recipients.

Obama has broad latitude in this area – certainly broader than the first two parts of his western campaign trip, underwater mortgages and subsidies for hiring veterans – because one of his early legislative initiatives was to have the federal government take over the student lending business in America.

Students are apparently now “too big to fail”.

Obama argued for the measure in 2009 as a cost-savings initiative, saying that the old system of privately issued, government secured loans reduced the amount of available money for needy students and also prevented the feds from making the system more efficient.

And we all know nobody makes systems efficient like the feds.

Here’s the part that should give you pause (emphasis added)

But Obama is now seeking to use that new power to obtain a taxpayer-financed stimulus that Congress won’t approve. The idea is to cap student loan repayment rates at 10 percent of a debtor’s income that goes above the poverty line, and then limiting the life of a loan to 20 years.

And you know what that means?  Money thrown away:

Take this example: If Suzy Creamcheese gets into George Washington University and borrows from the government the requisite $212,000 to obtain an undergraduate degree, her repayment schedule will be based on what she earns. If Suzy opts to heed the president’s call for public service, and takes a job as a city social worker earning $25,000, her payments would be limited to $1,411 a year after the $10,890 of poverty-level income is subtracted from her total exposure.

Twenty years at that rate would have taxpayers recoup only $28,220 of their $212,000 loan to Suzy.

The president will also allow student debtors to refinance and consolidate loans on more favorable terms, further decreasing the payoff for taxpayers.

Too bad the founding fathers said nothing about spending without representation…

Adios

Joe Doakes of Como Park – like me, a Ramco resident – writes:

Minneapolis wants the Vikings downtown, rather than in Arden Hills, and is willing to pay for the privilege of hosting those perennial losers.

When it comes to talking innocents out of their money, Tom Sawyer had nothing on the NFL. Minneapolis is about to learn that . . . again.

Better them than us.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

Go Bears.

Open Letter To The “Occupiers”

To:  ”Occupy…” in all your various and seemingly indistinguishable forms.
From: Mitch Berg – one of the 53%
Re: You Blew It.

Dear Occupant:

I’m Mitch Berg.  Most of you who are huddled down at Government Center – sorry, I just can’t call it “People’s Plaza” – right now probably think of me as “the enemy”, on one level or another.  But I’m a guy who works for a living, and pays taxes (oh, lord) and is not “too big to fail” and who reacted to the bailouts on Wall Street with the same anger – albeit not the same response – that you folks had.

And a call from my old friend Tom Swift on my show a week or so ago got me to thinking.

Tom pointed out that the “Occupy” movement had the potential to be every bit as big a deal as the Tea Party – if they had stuck with themes that really resonate with actual Americans; the revulsion with government (of whichever party) picking winners and losers, pouring public money into bailing out banks that then sat on the money (for whatever reason), and the roots of the foreclosure crisis, which is hurting the responsible just as much as the wanton these days.

But y’all blew it.  As Dave Ramsey notes, rather than protest around and about a clear message – like the Tea Party, which for a movement with no cohesive leadership is very “on-message”, as they say – the “Occupy” movement, says Ramsey, is…well, just a big fuzzy cloud:

The beauty of being vague is that anyone who has any emotion can get caught up in the excitement and join your crusade. They’ll just get mad at something and assume that you’re both mad about the same thing. Put a few hundred of these people together, and boom. You’ve got a crowd, a headline and a lot of attention … but no message.

And Ramsey isn’t one of those people telling you Occupiers to take a shower and get a job, necessarily:

A lot of people on Twitter are saying I totally agree with the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demands and goals. The only problem is that I have no idea what their demands and goals are. And neither does anyone else. If all you ever do is stomp around, yell and hold up signs protesting a million different things, sure you’ll get some attention, but over time, you’ll just look foolish. You end up coming across like a three-year-old having a temper tantrum.

This is what’s happening to the OWS movement. They’re being discredited because no one has stepped forward and really stated what it is they’re after. The whole group is just coming across like a bunch of jacked-up, jobless, wannabe hippies. That’s not going to change anything in this country. You’ve got to state your goals clearly if you want to accomplish something.

And that’s the big difference between the Tea Party and the Occupy party; the Tea Party got angry about something and seized on protest (and lots and lots of action) in response. Seriously, everybody can sum up in one sentence why the Tea Party exists, even some of its less-dim detractors.

But the Occupiers seemed to protest first, and try to figure out why later.  At a General Assembly meeting.

The Plan

A neighbor emailed me:

How to solve illegal immigration with the least amount of government intrusion.

From Conor Friedersdorf, an idea that will never be implemented:  grant amnesty to any illegal immigrant who came forward to show that he’d been hired sans documents, fine his employer, and give him a green card.

It’d spark compliance – and build a whole new reality TV genre, with thousands of new jobs!

Killed

Whew, image what they'd have paid me if I won at USC

The Gophers mortgage what’s left of their long-since tarnished Golden status.

If you’re possibly the worst team in 1-AA college football and your newly installed head coach (who has a limited history at coaching at this level) has won one game while being humiliated in several others, what would you do when finalizing a contract?  Probably not add two years and an extremely expensive buyout clause:

The University of Minnesota formalized the hiring of Jerry Kill as its football coach, announcing Tuesday that the two have agreed on a seven-year contract that pays $1.2 million a year in base salary and compensation for media appearances and endorsements…

There are also numerous performance-based incentives including winning the Big Ten ($150,000) [that's just cruel to include - Ed], reaching five conference victories ($50,000) and additional bonuses of $25,000 for the sixth and subsequent victories in a season [not a problem for the foreseeable future - Ed].

As Kill’s biggest critic points out, beyond the obvious idiocy of extending a contract from 5 years to 7 despite the program seemingly going backwards, the cost of ending Jerry’s contract virtually assures Kill will be the Gophers’ head coach well into this decade no matter how bad the team performs:

My first reaction upon hearing this was to assume that the additional 2 years were an exchange for a more favorable buyout structure, but according to the Star Tribune the University is on the hook for $600K/year for any years they buyout.  Odds are the University wouldn’t seriously consider Kill’s dismissal until at least the end of his third year meaning the cheapest buyout available to them will be a $2.4M buyout.  That’s one expensive fumigation.

The University’s policy seems to be to create expensive buyouts.  Tim Brewster’s buyout cost the U $775,000.  That was chicken feed by comparison to the Glen Mason buyout that cost $3.6 million – and likely forced the U’s hand in hiring the cheapest coach they could find at the time.

All this would be understandable if Kill had a major conference resume.  Instead, a coach who compiled a middling record in the Gateway Football Conference and the MAC has become the 51st highest paid coach in the NCAA.  Not impressive sounding?  It’s the same amount of money that Paterno earns at Penn State.  It’s more than Rick Neuheisel takes at UCLA.  And it’s considerably more than Danny Hope at Purdue pockets, and Purdue just thumped Minnesota 45-17 weeks ago.

One day, the Golden Gophers will hire an accomplished head coach.  Unfortunately with this contract, that day doesn’t look to arrive until 2018 at the earliest.

The World Tax is Flat

Ask yourself, tax code, do you feel lucky? Do ya, punk?

 Rick Perry stabs the tax system in the heart.  But under the plan, is it dead or simply pining for the fjords?

Steve Forbes must feel like he’s stepped into a time machine.

The 1996 & 2000 GOP presidential candidate briefly electrified the denizens of political wonkdom with his conception of a national flat tax to simplify – and eliminate – the current overcomplicated tax code over 15 years ago.  Forbes’ idea of broadening the tax base while reducing the individual tax burden proved a temporary hit – too much of one as most of his 1996 rivals embraced similar policies.  Unfortunately for flat tax advocates, the only candidate who didn’t rush towards the concept was nominee Bob Dole, and since then the tax as languished as more theory than practice despite its success in many former Soviet bloc countries.

That is until now, as Texas Governor Rick Perry has revived the concept, winning Forbes’ praise and liberal scorn.  The headlines have screamed about Perry’s new tax rate of 20%, but in most reports, the lead has been buried:

“The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20 percent or their current income tax rate,” Perry writes. “The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.”

 

The plan also drops the corporate tax rate to 20 percent and will temporarily lower the rate to 5.25 percent to promote companies working overseas to move to the U.S. along with implementing a “territorial tax system,” which will  tax in-country income.

 

The plan will eliminate the death tax and end taxes on Social Security, which would help an estimated 17 million Americans receiving benefits today. It would also cut taxes on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains.

The drop in corporate tax rate would put the U.S. as the lowest in the world (among major competitors; there are a number of nations with no corporate taxes).  And with most foreign economies unable or unwilling to respond in-kind with similar corporate tax rate cuts, the U.S. could be looking at an immediate repatriation of up to $1.4 trillion with the addition of a “territorial tax.”  Does that mean an immediate increase in jobs?  Not exactly, but a similar “repatriation holiday” for overseas corporations in 2004 spurred massive investments in capital and employment.

Lost in the corporate tax discussion has been Perry’s proposal to cap federal spending to 18% of GDP, or what would be roughly $2.54 trillion.  That’s under the projected 2012 revenues of $2.627 trillion and significantly under the Obama adminstration’s desired $3.729 trillion of spending.  Perry is obviously expecting that projected $1.4 trillion to soften the blow as increased income would (hopefully) spur GDP growth, raising Perry’s 18% beyond projected 2012 revenue levels.

The chief compliants from the right, much like with Herman Cain’s “999″ plan, are that Perry’s flat tax doesn’t go far enough.  Indeed, both leading economic fixes from the GOP field disembowel the current tax system but keep it wrapped together in some fiscal Eraserhead policy nightmare.  Both Cain and Perry’s proposals have foreign models to work from – Cain’s VATesque vision which has hindered Europe; Perry’s opt-out Hong Kong-like system which has worked well despite the complication of individuals being potentially able to switch back-and-forth from flat tax to the current system year to year.

Ultimately, Perry’s flat tax needs to be seen as the beginning of a new policy discussion, rather than as a destination.  A total overhaul of the tax code, while popular in spirit, likely polls poorly when the roughly 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal taxes figure out they might be forced to actually contribute to the system.  As proposed, few Americans will find themselves benefiting from the policy, but I think critics are thinking too short term and too little on the potential corporate effects of the plan.

Hope For Change

IHS Global’s economic model – reported by James Pethoukoukis – sounds a dire warning for The One:

“Based on the likely state of the economy in 2012, President Obama faces a steep uphill task to secure reelection. Based upon our forecast for the economy, our election equation projects just a 43.5% share of the two-party vote for the president, i.e., a heavy defeat.”

Pethoukoukis:

It may already be too late for Obama, given the lengthy lag between an economic turnaround and voter economic perception. Then again, maybe the Gray Davis model—use a huge fundraising advantage to squeak out a win—can be effectively employed by Team Obama.

As we saw earlier, you can expect the Dems to pull out their biggest advantage – plutocrats - for all they’re worth.  As it were.

But it’s not just IHS Global. Yale economist Ray Fair has a well-known election forecasting model that uses three economic variables to makes its call: a) growth rate of real per capita GDP in the first three quarters of 2012; b) growth rate of the GDP deflator in the first 15 quarters of the Obama administration, c) number of quarters in the first 15 quarters of the Obama administration in which the growth rate of real per capita GDP is greater than 3.2 percent at an annual rate.

Are you better off than you were four years ago?

The Plutocrat

Over the weekend, Baird Helgeson at the Strib did a piece – the first I’ve personally found – on Alita Messinger, the largest non-union bankroller of the various “progressive” pressure groups that have been doing all the DFL’s actual work for it this past couple of years.  As I’ve been reporting for the past year or so, Messinger – an heir to the Rockefeller fortune – was the main funder of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”‘s epic, toxic sleaze campaign that was the dominant – indeed, only – substantive output of the Dayton for Governor campaign last year (because, as this blog and the entire 2011 legislative session showed, he really had no other proposals).

Alida Messinger, an heir to the fabled Rockefeller fortune, has quietly given at least $10 million to candidates and causes over the past decade. Some recent gifts have been extraordinary: $500,000 to a group that last year backed her former husband, Mark Dayton, for governor. And before that, $1 million to help bankroll the ballot campaign for the Legacy amendment, which raised the state sales tax to create 25 years of new funding for conservation and cultural projects.

Once upon a time, the rich paid to improve life.  Alida Messinger pays to get government to get the improvements out of the taxpayer.

Now, Messinger is preparing for a new showdown that will be expensive, contentious and, for the first time, public.

She is vowing to do all she can to help the DFL regain control of the Legislature and get President Obama re-elected.

And I’m wondering if all those libs who’ve been wetting their pants over the Koch Brothers and ALEC will get the, um, juxtaposition?

Her millions could also become a force in the fight over the constitutional amendment on the ballot next year to define marriage as a union of man and woman — not gay couples. Messinger, 62, contends GOP politicians are harming Minnesota. “We are not a quality-of-life state anymore,” she said. “Citizens need to get involved and say we don’t like what you are doing to our state.”

She’s got a point.

Citizens; it’s time to get involved to blunt the influence of ofay, arrogant plutocrat dilettantes like Messinger.

Read Helgeson’s entire piece.  And then get pissed off.

They’ve got the dirty money – from plutocrats and the unions.  All we have is the desire to save this state.

Deterred?

We don’t really know what happened behind the Cub store near Lake and Hiawatha last week, in an incident in which one Darren Evanovich allegedly robbed a woman in the parking lot, pistol-whipped her, was chased by a Good Samaritan, allegedly drew a pistol on the samaritan, and was in turn shot dead.  I published the details that were available in the media last week; not much else seems to have come up, other than the fact that the Minneapolis Police declined to arrest the man – generally a good sign – and the Hennepin County Attorney’s office is evaluating whether or not to prosecute.

This didn’t stop Channel Five’s Tim Sherno from running a – I’m going to pick my words carefully – bizarre piece interviewing the sisters of the victim in the shooting.

Evanovich’s sisters say they know what their brother was doing was wrong, but they say the police should have handled the response because they’re trained to deal with crimes in progress.

I heard the audio from this piece – which is, sadly, not online at the moment.  And I almost drove off the road.

What do you think police “training” tells a cop to do, Evanovich sisters, when he sees a guy with a gun?

They are trained to order him to drop it and, if he doesn’t, shoot him without a lot of further ado!

Johnita Beal says the witness should have dialed 911, “Police could have been easily contacted, easily, and my brother would have been behind bars, or something like that, but no, he’s gone now.”

That is true.

And he’d have gotten away, since the police simply can’t be everywhere, and he’d have gone on to pistol-whip (allegedly) some other woman sooner than later.

But what about your brother, Madames Beal and Evanovich?  Leaving aside the robbery that started the incident – your brother is dead because he allegedly drew a gun on a guy who was chasing him for robbing and beating an old woman. Your brother could easily have killed the other man.  That – if the story checks out – is why it’s called “self-defense”.

Have you thought about that?

I’m sorry for your loss.  A brother is a terrible thing to lose.  But he might have made some different choices, under the circumstances – we see this, right?

And all the rest of you would-be robbers out there – if this story pans out, and the case is ruled justifiable (I’m crossing my fingers), does it give you any pause about, oh, I dunno, attacking and robbing people, and waving guns in the faces of people who lift a finger to stop you?

UPDATE: Rick Kupchella’s “Bring Me The News” spoke with Evanovich’s mother, who is claiming he was “the victim”.

Two stories doesn’t make a trend – it’s possible that two simultaneous, produced, sympathetic stories just happened to appear at almost the same time.

I don’t believe it, but it’s possible.

If you see any other media coverage, let me know.  Two is a coincidence.  Three’s a campaign.

Occupy Wall Street: Arise And Find Your Voice!

To:  ”Occupy Wall Street” in all its nationwide manifestations
From: Mitch Berg – one of the 99%
Re: Your Voice

Dear Occupiers,

You know that Obama, with his “too big to fail” and his Predator attacks and his caving in to the Neocons, is just another DINO.

You are looking for a candidate who gives your movement voice. And I think you have found her!

Lexington doctor Jill Stein launched a bid to become the Green Party’s presidential nominee today, saying the Occupy Wall Street movement shows voters are frustrated with President Obama’s stewardship of the economy.

Why settle for just a pale imitator who wants to co-opt the passion you bring to the table?

Why compromise?   Haven’t you all had to compromise enough already?

The Potemkin Commission, Part III: In The Bag

Yesterday, we talked about the main body of Kent Kaiser’s long, scathing letter (provided in its entirety below the jump) to the judicial redistricting panel.   In the first part, I covered his commentary about the map that “Draw The Line” and its “Citizens Commission” released.

Today – Kaiser’s comments about the commission, and about “Draw The LIne” itself. Emphasis is added.

Beyond my concerns about having only one, minimally critiqued map to consider, I have other concerns about Draw the Line, having to do mainly with the credibility and transparency of the commission’s products. As one of only two “known” Republicans (the other besides me being Anne Mason) on the commission of 15 members, I constantly stressed the need to verify that everything done by the commission was done in a nonpartisan way. Such verification was never made possible, and I really believe such verification was necessary in order to ensure the integrity of our deliberations.

And Kaiser pointed out exactly what I did a few weeks back; the “Citizens’ Commission” is nothing but a thin layer of astroturf on “Draw The Line”‘s leadership’s centralized push for a DFL-friendly gerrymandering job.

Kaiser brings up a number of points…:

My concerns about our commission’s credibility are grounded by several points and are shared by other commission members who have spoken with me individually.

• I believe the political leanings of some involved with and directing the actions of Draw the Line were problematic. The involvement of TakeAction Minnesota was of particular concern to me. TakeAction Minnesota is a liberal interest group that spent almost $200,000 on Independent Expenditures in 2010 against Republicans or in support of Democrats. The involvement of Common Cause was also of concern to me. While Common Cause supposedly stepped back from involvement with our commission once it was started, it is difficult to believe that there was no influence. Even the involvement of the League of Women Voters, with its liberal policy agenda, was of concern to me.

So Kaiser also notes the “commision’s” bias.

• There was a great deal of cross-pollination among these liberal special interest groups but no attempt to cross-pollinate with conservative groups. I do not believe that the appointment of a couple of known conservatives to the commission for the purpose of window dressing suffices in providing a balance or a cross-check.

As I noted in my earlier piece, on the Northern Alliance, and on “The Late Debate” – Kaiser and Mason are indeed Republicans and conservatives – and provided only the faintest waft of “balance” to a group, and a process, that was suffused in every other way with “progressives” and their agenda.

• In addition, I think it is problematic that the people doing the real work for the Panel’s consumption did not represent the political diversity of our state. David Wheeler, the program coordinator, is a former Duluth City Council member and is currently an elected member of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation, who was endorsed for political office by numerous DFLers including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, State Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), Duluth Mayor Don Ness and several Minneapolis city councilmembers. In addition, the mapping specialist who was hired at the last minute (Linden Weiswerda) and whom we originally thought was independent and nonpartisan turns out to have worked for President Obama’s campaign in 2008. Here, the staff clearly missed an opportunity to provide a sort of check-and-balance within our process—they easily could have found a Republican-leaning mapping specialist.

• While our mapmaker was a undoubtedly a hardworking individual, he ultimately had to make decisions on Draw the Line’s legislative map that the majority of our commissioners did not have time to examine, change, or weigh in on. Decisions about how to draw the map, about what criteria to emphasize in drawing the map, and about publicity and messaging about the map were determined heavily behind the scenes, by staff. Commission members were asked in a hurried way to consider and approve materials. Several of us had a “trust, but verify” attitude about the arrangement, thinking that there would be an opportunity to get independent verification that the numbers used to determine political indices of the final map were legitimate, yet there ultimately was no opportunity for verification of the work.

Remember – “Draw the LIne” and its apologists tell you that they are all about “transparency”.  And yet the proof was in the pudding.  And the process Kaiser describes is about as transparent as pudding.

Even when our map and report were set, they were “embargoed” until [Friday, October 21], the very last minute to send materials to the Panel, and thus they were not open to public comment, scrutiny, or criticism. This was especially problematic, I think, for a process that was billed as being transparent—it clearly was not transparent.

Kaiser’s conclusion?

I also hope that the map put forward by our commission, as compelling and interesting as its pictorial nature might make it, does not have undue influence in the Panel’s deliberations, for it and the method by which is was developed deserve to be scrutinized in ways that they have not been to this point.

Again, I urge the Panel to reject the map submitted by Draw the Line because the map drawing process was secretive and flawed and ultimately resulted in a poor map.

So a “non-partisan” group “dedicated” to “transparancy” created a redistricting plan that was none of the above, and created a potemkin “commission” to reduce the stench of illegitimacy.

This whole charade should outrage anyone of either party who values genuine multi-partisan discussion of redistricting. .

Continue reading

The Leopard’s New Stripes

There was a reason I always referred to Senator Wes Skoglund as “Lying Sack of Garbage“; it was because on second amendment issues (and a few others), his entire body of knowledge seemed to have been unquestioningly drawn from easily-debunked chanting points from anti-gun propaganda factories like the Violence Policy Center and the Brady Factory.

Uncharacteristically, on the issue of the stadium, the Lying Sack of Garbage turns into a crusading seeker of the truth.  And I say “better late than never”, as he  urges the voters and the Legislature to call the Legislature’s bluff - especially the bluff that they’re going to move if the state doesn’t give them what they want:

 I don’t blame them — the tactic often works for them. But no team can move without the approval of the NFL and, realistically, that OK will not be given unless it makes business sense to the league.

According to the Wall Street Journal in 2010, the Vikings rank sixth in terms of popularity as measured by Nielson’s local and national TV ratings. Actually, we tie with the Packers. There always has been talk that the Vikings will move to California, but how do California teams measure up? Only one is in the top half — the San Diego Chargers, which ranks 13th.

To be thorough, the team’s stats may fade a bit after this season…

…but it is a fact that year in, year out, winning and losing, through Bud Grant and Les Steckel, Minnesota has been a strong football market; it sells out games, it fills stadiums,it tunes in, it supports not only the Vikings, but the NFL’s franchise, better than most markets.

The NFL is a franchiser, no different than McDonalds except in terms of numbers of franchisees; neither of them wants to close a franchise in a money-making, attendance-drawing location.

Now,a franchise in a money-losing, unpopular location with no real football mojo?  Rumors among people who follow these things say Jacksonville – a low-performing, unpopular team in a city with no real football tradition and inadequate attendance – would be a much better contender for a move to LA…

…for every purpose but extorting a stadium out of the Twin Cities.

I hope the Legislature does the research and asks the team and the NFL these basic business questions before they commit taxpayer money to the most expensive capital improvement plan in Minnesota’s history.

Let’s hope Minnesota’s fable “intelligence” kicks in here, forcing the NFL to pick a more sane option.

If Skoglund can do it,anyone can.

 

The Potemkin Commission, Part II: Transparency Is For Peasants

A few weeks ago, I noted that “Draw The Line Minnesota” – a liberal astroturf group floated by fellow liberal astroturf groups Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Take Action Minnesota and the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits, but which nonetheless protests that it is “non-partisan”- had convened a “Citizens Commission” to take public testimony on redistricting.

Kent Kaiser, one of the members of that commission, is speaking up.  In a letter sent to the judicial Special Redistricing Panel, Kaiser notes the Potemkin nature of the “citizens commission” and, much more importantly, hammers the lack of “transparency” in a process run by a bunch of groups who support “transparency for ye, but not for we”.

The full letter is displayed below the jump.  I’m going to pull some money quotes, and add a bit of emphasis.

Kaiser cuts to the chase fast.  Many critics of the “Draw The Line” process have noted that it served, essentially, as the DFL’s map-drawing process (which, by the way, the DFL never actually did; the DFL caucus submitted no map proposal, despite having a fully-budgeted redistricting office).

Kaiser points out that that seems to be the case:

 Based on my experiences with Draw the Line over the past several months, I urge the Panel to reject the map submitted to the Panel by Draw the Line because the map drawing process was secretive and flawed and ultimately resulted in a partisan map that fails to reflect the objective demographic shifts that have occurred in Minnesota over the past decade. I think that because of its high number of incumbent legislator pairings and because it pairs only Republican members of Congress, the map is too likely to benefit the Democratic Party.

And “Draw The Line’s palaver about “transparency?”:

I am especially concerned that we commission members were not allowed sufficient time or access to the map to critique it objectively or to determine its implications before we were led to approve it..

…While I believe our commission did good work in agreeing on a set of principles for redistricting and in trying to get the public involved in the process, I am concerned that the process used in producing a map was ultimately no better than the State Legislature’s process. I know that I am not the only commission member to think this way.

Bear in mind that Kaiser wasn’t condemning the Legislature’s process; on “The Late Debate” a few weeks ago, he noted that the Legislture’s map adhered to the letter and spirit of the body of law that’s grown up around redistricting in the past forty-odd years in Minnesota.

Not to speak for Kaiser – he does that just fine himself – but I think the point is that for all “Draw The Line”‘s rhetoric, they are really just another partisan effort – and, in this case, one that actually yielded nakedly partisan results:

In a documented email sent to all commission members and staff, another commission member (of unknown political affiliation) voiced concern over the commission’s process, when he was stifled from discussing map alternatives in the last of our meetings. I quote directly from the email here:

The quote is in the full email; it notes that the “Draw The Line” map was, in short, pretty blatantly gerrymandered and, more importantly, was completely at odds with what “Draw The Line” claimed was the “Citizen’s Commission”‘s purported mission; they delivered one map:

‘ With one map, the committee had only one choice. That, of course, is not a choice. And the false claim that it was a committee drawn or even a committee guided map, I could not in good conscious endorse…

I’ve been calling it “the Potemkin Commission”.  That may have been unfair – but it’s pretty clear that the map is a Potemkin Map, delivered under false, trumped-up pretenses.

Despite the committee’s purported dedication to be open and transparent, the  most important part of the map drawing process—the map drawing itself—was notably not open and not transparent, even to the committee members. It was

done in private, “behind closed doors” as Draw the Line’s website puts it, by one or two persons with occasional contributions by some committee members. This is no improvement over the legislature.

The result speaks for itself. The committee’s website says the system is broken. The map the committee ultimately endorsed is substantially similar to the map that the broken process produced ten years ago. That is a severe indictment against the committee’s work in the committee’s own terms.

All of “Draw The Line”‘s talk of “transparency” and “openness” is so much baked wind.

Kaiser continues:

Maps are captivating. They are impressive and persuasive just by virtue of their pictorial nature. Yet our commission has said time and time again, and especially after analyzing our map’s high number of “pairings” of legislators, that our principles could fit many maps, and I hope the Panel will not be persuaded that our commission’s map is the best at applying our own principles, especially inasmuch as it was rushed through production and exposed to little critique or tweaking.

And – let us not forget – painstakingly hidden from public view until the last possible moment, which was last Friday, the deadline for submission to the courts.

More tomorrow.

Gary Gross also writes about Kaiser’s letter.

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